Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas decorations

Just thought I'd share a few pictures of our holiday decorations. It's hard to get good pictures without the camera flash, but with the flash turned on, I just can't capture the way it actually looks and feels... so my apologies for the blurriness!

Monday, November 16, 2009


We joined a winter Community Supported Agriculture a couple weeks ago. I had heard about it back in the spring from some friends and it sounded like a really neat idea. You pay a lump sum up front to a participating local farm and then every week you get a certain amount of fresh produce/eggs/meat for a period of weeks. I believe ours is ten weeks and we are two weeks into it. So far it's been great! We are getting to try a lot of veggies that neither of us have eaten before or pretty much strayed away from. So far we've gotten a hubbard and acorn squash, kale, collards, spinach, kohlrabi, variety of lettuces, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, and whole wheat flour. The kohlrabi was the weirdest veggie we've gotten so far, followed closely by this baked hubbard.. green alien egg anyone?

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with it yet, you are supposed to be able to use it like pumpkin.. we'll see. The acorn squash was really yummy though. I found a recipe in Joy of Cooking and it turned out really well. This was definitely the first time either of us had acorn squash and Glenn who is leary of winter squash, loved this combination of baked squash stuffed with apples, dried cherries, orange zest, apple cider, a little brandy and some cinnamon and nutmeg. I think my favorite thing so far has been the kohlrabi, probably cause it was delicious simply sauteed in a little butter. I think it would be good just plain raw too.

Another reason to love fall.. strange veggies!

Monday, November 9, 2009

MACE 2009 (warning, geekery)

This past weekend I went to MACE (Mid-Atlantic Convention Expo, a backronym if ever I saw one...), the "largest gaming convention in the Carolinas." I have no idea if that claim is true, but it was certainly a good-sized event, with a whole lot of gaming going on. My past gaming convention experience consists of only two extremes - Dragon*Con, attendance about 30,000 (!), and a one-day event put on by the UGA Gamer's Association, attendance about 30. So this event was, obviously, somewhere in the middle size-wise - I'd guess about 300 people were there, more or less.

As I see it, a con like this is a chance to try new games that I've never played before, so I consciously avoided any games that I'm already familiar with. As a result, I got to try five different game systems: Call of Cthulhu, Dark Heresy, Changeling: the Lost, Kobolds Ate My Baby!, and Savage Worlds. Conveniently, this also let me play in five different genres as well: 1920s supernatural horror, science-fiction Spanish Inquisition, modern urban fantasy, silly fantasy, and weird Wild West.

I quite enjoyed all five games - the people running the games at this con were clearly very good at this, and everyone I met seemed easy to get along with, which was a pleasant surprise. (Obviously, when you sit down at a gaming table with five strangers to play a game that half of you haven't ever played, you're taking quite a gamble...) The most impressive by far was the Call of Cthulhu game - the game master had detailed floor plans of the haunted house we were investigating, plus individual "newspaper clippings" that he handed out as we did our research in the town archives, and the journal entries from a madman that we found genuinely gave me chills, which I wouldn't have thought was possible in a convention environment (i.e., sitting at a table in a hotel ballroom with a half dozen other games going on around me.)

There were a few minor glitches - the gaming areas were all massively over-air-conditioned, while the hotel rooms themselves were overly warm, and two of my games were double-booked with other games at the same table - but that sort of thing is to be expected. All in all, I had a great time, and schedule permitting, I will definitely try and go again next year.

Anyone still reading this? Wow, brownie points for you! Now, go and read something more interesting! :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Our friends Eric and Leandra invited us to come along with them to SchnOctoberFest, an awareness and fundraising event put on every year by the local miniature schnauzer rescue group. I have to say, now that I've been, there's something about the feeling of being surrounded by dozens of mini schnauzers that you just wouldn't get from being among an equal amount of dogs of different breeds. Maybe it's just the sudden awareness that there are a LOT of schnauzers in the Triangle area, or maybe it's just the fun of seeing how many different sizes, colors, and temperaments that you can find among even a single breed, but it was unquestionably a thoroughly unique and fascinating experience.

The event was spread out enough that I wasn't able to get any pictures that really captured the sheer schnauzerness of it all, but at least I got a few cute pictures of our own "Barky von Schnauzer".

Pasha being coaxed into the agility dog tunnel. Not pictured: her U-turn and exit, 0.5 seconds later.

Pasha is usually either completely wired or conked out and dead to the world. Here, a rare, calm middle state is seen.

If you want some more pictures, check out Leandra's post about the event. As usual their pictures are much better than mine (Experience and a fancy camera really does make a difference compared to my amateurish point-and-shoot technique...!) but I think our dog is cuter anyway. ;-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blowing Rock

We spent last weekend in Blowing Rock, NC for our 2.5 year anniversary. (a whole quarter of a decade!) Blowing Rock is a very cute town, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent Thursday afternoon after we arrived walking down the main street of town and looking in all the shops. That night we had dinner at Bistro Roca Antlers Bar, a restaurant in town that Glenn had heard a recommendation for. It was really great food and I would recommend to anyone heading out that way. I just wish we had made it back there again!

Friday we had a full day of exploring! We started out first thing in the morning to Crabtree Falls. It was about a hour and half drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway...through some really dense fog. It made for quite a mystic drive - except for all the turkeys on the side of the road. The falls were beautiful and worth the hike back up the mountain.

After the falls we decided to embrace our inner kid and go "Gem mining." Or otherwise known as "sifting through gravel on the flume to find all of the stones they've added." It was great fun though. We found a lot of garnets, rubies, and quartz though nothing of any significant value. :)

The tricky task of "flume mining"

After working up quite an appetite trying to find some precious gems we stopped at the Little Switzerland Cafe a couple miles north of Crabtree Falls off the Parkway. Cute little place that locals and us tourists alike seem to enjoy. Next we were off to Linville Caverns, the only caverns in NC open to the public. The limestone formations look like they are straight out a sci fi movie. I was fine until they took us down this tiny little tunnel and started talking about how deep the water was beneath the grate under our feet. Yikes!

And here is an example of the pretty views we had driving back the Parkway.

We had a great time. Thanks Glenn for the wonderful trip! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Onto the next great adventure..

So now that we've had the house warming party and the house is in a livable state I'm feeling like its time for the next big (or medium, or even small) thing. Done with the house, onto the next project/idea/object of focus! ....Like, traveling!

Our Fall season is starting to fill up with trips and I'm really looking forward to it. While we were looking, buying, moving into, and settling into the house we didn't really go anywhere (nevermind that we had just got back from Ireland and Vegas, that's beside the point) but now that it's all over with I'm ready to hit the road! Well that, and I can see the end of summer is so very close and I will get a reprieve from sweating like a pig* - and be able to enjoy the outdoors again! Oh how I love thee, Autumn! So far there are a couple camping trips in the works, a quarter-decade anniversary trip to the NC mountains**, a trip to Busch Gardens, and a weekend trip home to see family. YAY

Back later with more info.

*I broke my summer hibernation rule by going to the Lazy Daze art festival this past Saturday. It was an awesome festival with a lot of cool stuff that we drooled over, boggled at the prices of, and a few things that we happily carried home. Some of these included a jack-o-lantern made from a propane tank and a few cute hand sewn pumpkins. (Again, can you tell we are looking forward to Fall??) We went early in hopes of beating the summer heat with no luck there - I almost drowned in my skin at one point. I thought we were moving somewhere cooler than GA. How sadly we were mistaken.

** Glenn has planned our anniversary trip with little input from me. Its great to have a trip coming up that I don't have to worry about planning. I'm really looking forward to seeing whats in store! :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Catching up and settling in

Wow… it's been six weeks since my last post… how'd that happen? Clearly I've been slacking off on the blogging — time to fix that!

So, what's happened lately? Nothing much… and by nothing much, I mean a lot!

The biggest thing is that we're really, truly moved in and settled in now. Everything's unpacked except for stuff that's staying in storage, the furniture is arranged in pleasing and practical ways, pictures and artwork are all in place on the walls… it's a wonderful feeling! We put in a major push over the last couple weeks to get everything ready for the housewarming party and it was worth it. It's amazing how motivational a deadline can be, isn't it?

I think we actually surprised people with how settled in we are now — we got more than one comment about how “it looks like you've been living here for years.” (I think they meant that positively — “you've got it all figured out and made comfortable” — rather than the opposite — “jeez, you've been here for two months and already trashed the place!”…)

Anyway, I've really been struck lately by how everything in this house already has meaning for us and memories associated with it. It's a really good feeling. I'm going to post some examples now — please bear with my ramblings, or ignore them and just see some of the house pictures you've been asking for (though now that we've had the open house, a lot of you have already seen this stuff by now!):

Of course the pictures on the wall themselves have a lot of meaning — our wedding, the places we've traveled together — but the stairway itself also makes me think of how Heather spotted the opportunity that this big blank wall presented, and how we worked together to get the pictures arranged and hung aesthetically. A real team effort!

Our office/guest room/craft room is full of thoughts and memories. The bookcases from our eight-hour IKEA shopping spree. My D&D books and miniatures, both old and new. Even the successful room layout itself, which came from Heather saying thoughtfully, about a week after we moved in, “This room just isn't working! What if we switched all of the furniture around the opposite of how we have it right now?” This is a really cozy, comfortable room, exactly as it should be.

Our “Mickey's Shadow” walls make the bedroom a wonderfully tranquil place. The bed frame was a spontaneous purchase when we found a deal too good to refuse, a pleasant change from our usual modus operandi (see also, 8 hours at IKEA). The comforter on the bed was made for us by my mother from the tablecloths at our wedding rehearsal dinner.

See what I mean? Memories and good feelings everywhere I look!

Monday, July 27, 2009

House Pictures

Oh yeah, people keep requesting pictures of the house. I'm not sure how to give you any more pictures of the house. Do you know how hard it is take pictures of the inside of a house? Very tricky indeed. I end up with furniture pictures mostly and that's not very exciting. So until you let me know what it is you want to see (or come visit!) here is the front again:

Huh, yeah this is when we first bought it.. now imagine crazy overgrown hedges with weeds around them. We haven't quite made it to the outside of the house yet. We are in serious need of some hedge trimmers and a weed whacker.* Glenn at least keeps the grass at a reasonable height thanks to a cool push reel mower I found on Craig's list. (No really, he wanted a push reel mower, I didn't surprise [punish] him with it.)

The inside consists of 2 upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom. The bottom floor is the living room, kitchen, dining nook, craft/office/misc/guestroom room. All with new floors that I think we mentioned before. :) So there, now you've seen everything.

*Well that, and some motivation to get out in the July sun to do anything with them.

Home Sweet Home

Oh look it's been 3 weeks since we posted anything on here. How did that happen? I'm so in awe of people that can consistently update their blog in a witty, informative, and entertaining way. Obviously that's not us. :)

So I'm finally feeling more settled into the house. We finished putting together all of the IKEA bookshelves* and have pretty much unpacked everything as well.** We even have the massive quantity of cardboard produced from the IKEA trip out of the house and innocently placed in our ex-apartment's recycling bin. Glenn and I did a pretty good job of dividing the labor. ...He did it all and I supervised. It requires a lot of work to find the perfect place for everything, you know? :) And much rearranging of things later, I think we've done a pretty good job of making it feel like home and seem more like us than the apartment ever did. We're even eating dinner at the table instead of on the couch in front of the TV...which is a shocker.

Pasha's getting a little better about the house now. Especially since all of the evil cardboard is gone. She is still insanely afraid of the storm drains in the neighborhood but as one friend suggested, maybe she knows something we don't.

We're having an open house in a couple weeks and I'm looking forward to showing the place to friends and family. Several members of both of our family's are coming up to NC, many for the first time since we've moved to NC.

Exciting times!

*We spent 8 hours two weekends ago in IKEA. Yeah, you read that right, 8 HOURS. I'm uncertain whether to be proud of that fact or highly embarrassed. I love IKEA because of all the options and customizability of it all but at the same time I'm somewhat debilitated by it too. Ask Glenn about the time we stood in the linen dept of IKEA for 2 hours. Yeah, and he still married me.

**Except for the craft closet, its a giant mess, full of boxes and anything else we don't know where to put. But that's what the craft closet is supposed to look like right??

P.S Comments are turned on now, finally. In case anyone is interested in leaving any bits of wisdom or thoughts for us. Thank you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hardwood floors are hard

Weew its been a crazy couple of weeks! Glenn and I enjoyed our long 3 day weekend just catching our breath after the whirlwind of activity since we closed on the house. Even though we're both still having trouble remembering to drive to the house and NOT the apartment, it's already feeling more like home than our previous apartments :-)

So since the last post.. after we had the carpets removed we began the leveling process. That was tricky involving lots of roofing felt and "high-tech" analysis with a long straight edge. Luckily, I had my husband, the expert leveler around to do the job.

Humm this is definitely taking longer than the ripping-out-carpet part...

Then we brought in friends to help with putting down the bamboo. This went pretty well and only took the majority of 2 days...

Looking good!

Awww so pretty! (Other 2 rooms not shown but just as pretty)

So that was that. Well not really. We ended up taking half the boards back up the following weekend to recut them around the door molding (with help from my parents who came into town to help us settle thinking that we had already completed the floors. Ha, tricked um!) due to some oversight on our part the first time around. And we've had to redo the quarter round twice, redo the caulking job, and repaint the molding. But you know, it was all part of the plan! Here we are 3 weekends later and we're almost done (with that).

Thanks everyone for all of your help with this. We'd have many many many more weeks left of working to get this done otherwise!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Adapting to a change of scene

As we were getting ready to make our move, one area of concern for us was how the animals would adapt to the change of environment. We expected that Pasha would adapt fairly quickly but Zeta would take quite a while to get used to a different household, but so far, it seems to be exactly the opposite.

We brought Zeta to the house the night before we moved, and she was seriously unhappy - she climbed inside her litterbox and hid there, and when we came over the next morning she gave no indication of having budged even an inch overnight. However, ever since we moved all of our stuff in (even with most of it still in boxes) she has warmed up and seems now to feel right at home - perhaps the familiar smells were all she needed? She's even more obsessed about getting to go outside than she was at the apartment (we actually lost her under the back deck for a few hours when she sneaked out once, but she came back out of her own accord) but other than that, seems to be the same silly cat as always.

Pasha, on the other hand, seems to still be out of sorts. She had some major stress-induced digestive upsets (vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool) during the first week after the move, although with some veterinary help that now seems to be under control. Furthermore, although she loves the fenced back yard, and generally is content wandering around the house, she's become very skittish - any unexpected noise we make causes her to jump, and she seems to have developed a phobia of holes in the ground (such as the AC vents in our floor, and the storm drains about our neighborhood). There must be some use to this behavior - instead of a drug-sniffing dog, we have a hole-avoiding dog. If you're not sure where the holes in the ground might be, just take Pasha for a walk and see where she flees from in terror. Problem solved!

But seriously, it's sad to see her like this - hopefully she'll get over the skittishness once she gets more acclimated to her new home. Poor dog!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just a quick note

So much to write about, so little time... updates about our house, our move, our dog, our cars, and so forth will have to wait until we find time to write about them, but for now, here's just a quick little note, an example of one of the reasons I love Heather so much.

The other day, she was at home, feeling bored and a little down, so she went shopping online... and bought us a Dremel tool. How cool is that?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Moving Day

This morning the movers are supposed to come and pick up all of our stuff and move it to our house. It's definitely been a long time coming.. and yet, of course, we still had a ton to get done last night. It was a LATE night and EARLY morning today. We are so glad we decided to pay someone to move our stuff! We have more than 2 people's fair share of stuff!!

We're off to take Pasha to Camp Bow Wow so she doesn't have to deal with the stress of the move, and Zeta is already tucked away at the new house.

Goodbye internet, it may be a while before I see you again!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our last few days in photos

(Note: due to a Blogger/Picasa glitch, the links to the full-size images got broken after we posted this - sorry!)

It's been pretty busy in our world the last few days as you know. I thought I would show you a few of the moments through pictures:

oh yeah, there are even more boxes now!

Gourmet first dinner at home..

The living room, before and after taking out the carpet!

Guys working oh so hard on removing the hard-wood entry way.

Thinking I'm a fan of "Mickey's Shadow" What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by.. more to come!

Homeownership, week one

We've been homeowners for half a week now, but it already feels like much longer, and the house already feels like home to me. I think that's a good sign!

Late last week we had a minor scare when our lender contacted us to inform us that she'd just learned that our mortgage had some additional documentation requirements that hadn't been communicated to us earlier. Fortunately, it was nothing too difficult to obtain, and we were able to provide it quickly enough that things could proceed on schedule nevertheless.

Closing was Monday morning, and it went smoothly. After being warned by our family and friends about how much paperwork we'd have to sign, we were actually pleasantly surprised by the number of signatures and initials required — yes it was a lot, but not some crazy mountain of papers. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that the sellers were already on the road to California, and only their agent was present at closing - it would have been nice to actually meet these people whose house we now own! (We did cross paths with them momentarily when we were first looking at the house, but that really doesn't count.) Also, their agent insisted that we not get the keys to the house until after the transfer of deed had been recorded downtown, which meant we had to wait more than two hours after closing before getting the keys. What's with that? It's not like there was anything more that needed to be done from our end — we'd already handed over our money and signed our lives away! In the grand scheme of things a couple of hours wasn't a big deal; it was just rather odd to us that she was such a stickler about it.

As soon as we got the keys to our new home, we sprang into action. We transferred our gathered tools and supplies in one load, picked up our new (used) trundle bed (for the office/guest room) and delivered it as a second load, then transferred all of the bamboo flooring (680 square feet of it!) as a third load. That's a lot of moving, and it was a great reminder of why we're having professional movers do the work of getting everything else from the apartment to the house - whew!

Since then, in the last four nights we've:
  • Taken up all of the carpet in the three rooms we're reflooring (this was surprisingly fast and easy!)
  • Taken up all of the carpet padding in the aforementioned rooms (this was surprisingly gross)
  • With help from our friends Eric and Leandra, torn up all of the tack strips and carpet staples left behind (this was surprisingly tedious)
  • Pried up the 3'x3' area of oak tongue-and-groove flooring at the front door (this was surprisingly fun)
  • Begun leveling the plywood subflooring - pounding down nails, sanding raised edges, etc. (this was surprisingly... ah who am I kidding, nothing surprising about it, really!)
  • Tested four different shades of paint for the upstairs bedroom, and started applying the one we decided on (with help from Heather's friend Krista)
  • Made approximately four hundred trips to Home Depot (actually, only three counting last weekend, but it feels like more!)
I think we're still on schedule to get the floors all installed this weekend... we just need to finish leveling the subfloor (roofing felt in the low spots, belt sander on the high spots), put down the underlayment (big rolls of the stuff - should go quickly), and lay the floorboards. Easy as 1-2-3 (hopefully)!

By the way, the color we decided on for our master bedroom? Disney "Mickey's Shadow". Why yes, we're grown-ups... can't you tell?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beach Trip

After more than two years living in North Carolina, we finally made it out to the coast for the first time on Saturday. While our good friends were headed to the coast for the whole weekend (helping work on a relative's beach house) we only had time for a day trip, as we needed to be home today to keep on packing for our imminent move (closing in barely two weeks!), but we were determined to make it out there!

Although we'd heard parking at the beach could be a challenge, I think people had meant that as "the parking lots are very full", rather than, as we discovered, "The difference between parking lot and sand trap is hard to spot until you've driven into the middle of it". Out of our three vehicles headed to the beach, two ended up overshooting the rightmost edge of the parking lot and got stuck in the sand. I'm amazed that the parking lot didn't have a fence, or at least a warning sign of some sort at the edge, as ours were not the only vehicles who discovered the sand traps that day!

After some unsuccessful attempts to free ourselves, we were fortunately aided by a couple of Marines (or so I assume, but crewcut muscular guys with tattoos plus Camp Lejeune nearby would seem to make it a safe assumption...) who happened by with their pickup truck and pulled us out of the sand. Huzzah!

Our sand trap adventures seem to have set the trend for the day. Two of our friends missed out on the beach altogether that day (the house work taking much longer than expected), one of the kids came down with a sore throat and an upset stomach, I lost my new sunglasses (note to self: either leave them on the beach when playing in the waves, or invest in a retaining strap of some sort!), and Heather got badly sunburned. But we didn't let that stop us all from playing in the waves, enjoying the fresh air, having entertaining conversations, and in general having a great time.


...and other words not found in Google.

I've been a long-time hobbyist user of Photoshop and related software, starting with (if I remember correctly) Photoshop 4.0 for Mac back in the mid 1990s. It's a fun program to just play around with (at least, it is if you're a geek like me) as the sheer range of functionality in the program makes it possible to create some truly remarkable (and/or hideous) results without hardly knowing what you're doing. (True experts can do even better, of course, but I make no claim to that level of skill!) Just to give you an idea of the things it can do, in the past I've used Photoshop to:
  • preview what my parents' house would look like if repainted in a different color
  • create matching sepia-toned pictures of all the dogs my parents have owned in the last 40 years
  • insert Mr. T into a group photo (long story...)
  • mock up a china cabinet design based on images found online that were almost right but not quite
  • remove extraneous tourists from the background of a picture of us in Las Vegas
  • and so forth. It's a very cool program!
One thing that I've lately found that I enjoy doing with Photoshop is applying various artistic effects to a photograph before printing and framing it, to give it a bit of a different spin. One result that I'm particularly proud of is turning a photo into an old-fashioned black-and-white silhouette. Last year I did this with one of our own wedding pictures as an anniversary present for Heather. The original image was quite high-contrast to begin with, which made this easier:

I'm especially proud of how Heather's veil turned out in the final image:

This spring, a copy of Heather's parents' wedding picture found its way into our scanner, so we decided to give it the same treatment as a gift for them. This picture was the reverse of ours, having light figures on a dark background instead of the other way around:

so I decided to stay with this style, and go for white silhouettes on black for a bit of a different look. It wasn't possible in this case to go for the same sort of effect with the veil (as I couldn't clearly define where the back of Cathy's head ended and where the veil began) but I knew I had to add some sort of detailing to keep the silhouette from becoming too shapeless. After some experimentation (and some excellent insights from Heather) we determined that less is more in this image, so I ended up only adding a few key outlines to the final result:

I find it interesting that the flowers and the edges of Cathy's train on the grass look so complicated, yet were really easy to create (a few quick Photoshop filters and bam!), while the parts that gave me the most challenge (the choice of which lines to include, editing eyeglasses out of the silhouette, etc.) look so simple in the final result. I wonder if most art is that way?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It's been almost two months now since our trip to Ireland, which has been enough time (for me, anyway) for the memories of the trip to transition from "Wow, that was amazing!" to "Good times... did those actually happen or am I just dreaming it?" And so, since one of the stated purposes of this blog is to help us capture our thoughts and adventures while they're still fresh in our minds and we haven't yet forgotten  them, I should go ahead and write a post about the trip.

We traveled to Ireland with Heather's parents on a great package deal including flight from Boston, rental car, and six nights accomodation in the villas at Adare Manor. This provided the framework for us to plan the vacation around - with a home base to return to each night, we could do day trips in various directions rather than having to figure out where to end each day.

Although driving on the left side of the road (which Heather and her mother both handled like pros - Mr. Smith and I chickened out...) was the first reminder that we weren't in Kansas any more, so to speak, it really hit home when we wandered over to the nearby golf course to explore the 600-year-old friary ruins 
smack in the middle of the course. 

Besides the age of the ruins, the other thing that struck us as different was how simply taken for granted it all seemed to be. No admission charges, no fancy signs, no fences, no other tourists - just the four of us, the ruins, and the occasional golf ball hitting one of the walls. Although we saw many other amazing sights on this trip, these ruins are special to us because we had them entirely to ourselves to explore. Amazing.

In fact, I would say that although we saw many of the famous sights (the Poulnabrone Dolmen, the Cliffs of Moher - which were beautiful, by the way - the Gallarus Oratory, the Rock of Cashel, and so forth), all of our best memories from the trip are of the places and sights that you wouldn't find on most maps.  There's just something about that feeling of discovery, I think, about having a place that feels like it was our personal secret, instead of just being another checkbox on the list of "Places Tourists Go To Take Pictures". There's nothing wrong with the famous sights and sites (they're famous for good reason!), but the lesser-known places have a definite appeal in their quietness and solitude.

One such place was the waterfall and hidden glacial lake at the top of the Connor Pass into Dingle. We did get a tip on finding that one from our Rick Steve's travel book, but it definitely wasn't on our map or in any of our other books. So peaceful and relaxing - we could have sat by the still waters of the lake, seemingly alone in the world, for hours.

We of course visited many pubs while we were there - fish and chips, live Irish music some nights, and of course, lots of beer. Guinness is said to be better in a real pub in Ireland, and I'd agree that this is true, but I found that I preferred Smithwick's myself. 

Heather was more looking forward to the hard cider, but found that the typical Irish brand (Bulmer's) wasn't particularly to her taste. Another reason (as if we needed more!) why we need to make a trip to England next - they have the right kind of cider over there!

I couldn't possibly fit all of the pictures into this post, so I'll just have to give you a link to our album instead. But I have to include one last image, from our last day in Ireland:

Friday, May 15, 2009


We went camping a couple weekends ago with some friends down at Jordan Lake in Apex, NC. After the torrential winds and rain on Friday afternoon (immediately AFTER we set up the tents!), it ended up being a beautiful weekend! The site was great too, right by the lake with our own little private mini-beach. It was a last minute trip which meant lots of rushing around trying to get everything together before Friday but it was well worth the effort. I really love being outdoors when the temperature is still mild enough and it isn't raining. I'll soon be heading indoors for the summer to weather (ha!) the unbearable heat and humidity.

Anyways.. it was Pasha's first camping trip and I think she loved it and we loved her being there ...except the part where she barked and growled at every single noise while we were trying to sleep Friday night. We weren't successful at convincing her that we didn't need her on watchdog alert, but thankfully she was a lot more chill by Saturday. She especially loved running at the edge of the lake and getting as disgustingly dirty as possible!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Well I got my official diagnosis yesterday at the doctors. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome with a touch of sub clinical Hypothyroidism on the side. You can find out more about PCOS here if you are interested. Given the nature of PCOS I'm going to go with the "less is more" approach to blogging about it. If you want more info you know where to find me. :)
Here's been my general thought process about it over the last couple weeks:

"Oh wow, that would explain all of these problems I've been having for years! It's not just that my body is falling apart!!"

"Oh.. no cure for it and it can lead to very serious health problems, not to mention fertility problems..."

"I don't think I like knowing my testosterone levels are very high. That does nothing to stroke my femininity."

"But there are some treatment options that should help with the symptoms."

"Oh you're saying if the metformin doesn't help with the symptoms then there isn't much else to help with them if we want to get pregnant anytime in the near future? AND I have to completely change my eating habits? YAY!!"

Anyways, I was in a pretty bad mood about it yesterday, (poor Glenn) but I'm not intending to stay in one. Its actually fairly common in women, one out of 10 have it. I know a couple myself so I will have a few comrades in this journey. :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

First House

So as you can tell from our previous posts we've embraced our (mostly) blissful domestication and are under contract for our first house.

Since our offer was accepted I've driven past the house about once a week just because. It helps that the house is only a few minutes from our apartment. (Hopefully they haven't noticed the black saab driving by every week!) I was glad to see that this week they finally put up the "Under Contract" sign.

Whats very odd is that up to about 2 years ago I would've said you were crazy if you told me I would be living in the suburbs in a house like this. I had no interest in a traditional house with its picket fence, a dog, or 2.5 kids. I was completely set on us living abroad or at the very least an urban loft somewhere. Look at us now! No kids, but the thought doesn't consistently send me screaming from the room like it once did. Funny how time can change things.

We've had a lot of fun so far buying the house and thinking about what we would like to do with it and really no major panic attacks to speak of so far. Hopefully that means we're making the right decision for us now!


An interesting wrinkle to our floor-purchasing adventures on Sunday was the fact that we do not own a truck or SUV. There quite simply was no way we could possibly transport 22 six-foot-long boxes of flooring materials in either of our small sedans. And since this was a clearance sale, we had to get our purchase off the lot by 6 PM that day - Lumber Liquidators was not willing to hold it for later pickup. 

Fortunately, our friend John offered very kindly to let us borrow his Toyota Tundra pickup on short (i.e., no) notice. Unfortunately, he needed it back by 6:30 PM that evening, so we needed to hurry, as it was already after 3:30 by this point!

While both vehicles are Toyotas, it turns out there's a world of difference between driving my Corolla and John's Tundra. I could feel my testosterone levels rising the moment I hoisted myself up into the drivers seat and sat behind the wheel of the truck. Before long I found myself grunting a lot and saying things like "I will crush you, puny Nissan!"... but that's another story. Still, I had no doubt that my newly elevated manliness was making me irresistible to Heather.

We got home with a truck full of flooring at about 5:20, which by our calculations meant that we had about 20 minutes to unload all 22 boxes, carry them up the flight of stairs to our apartment, and stash them somewhere where they wouldn't be too much in the way for the next month and a half. 

One of the many amazing things about Heather is how freaking capable she is. Not only did she quickly identify a number of out-of-the-way places to stash the boxes, but she unloaded at least half of the boxes herself, including carrying each one up a flight of stairs singlehandedly in 90°+ weather. I had to work hard just to keep up with her!

In the end, we got all of the boxes unloaded in about 25 minutes and made it back to Garner to return the truck with a few minutes to spare - success!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend adventures and insights

The wealth of information available on the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is possible to learn about nearly any topic online. On the other hand, if the topic is a subjective one (such as, hypothetically speaking, "Does bamboo make a good flooring material that holds up well to daily traffic and the antics of wild schnauzers?"), one can spend hours studying the topic, reading opinion after opinion after opinion, and come away with nothing more than a headache and an increased sense of uncertainty. And on the gripping hand, for such subjective topics, it seems to be inevitable that whatever opinion one begins the search with, 80% of the content thus encountered will tend to express the opposite opinion. (Again, just as a hypothetical example, if one begins the search believing that bamboo is in fact a good flooring material, the vast majority of search results will express that bamboo is crap that scratches if you so much as look at it sideways and will make you rue the day you ever installed it...)

This is especially problematic for me, as I have an unfortunate tendency to believe that the Internet Google can answer any question (even truly subjective ones) if only I can manage to specify the correct set of keywords. Thus it is that I have spent about 10 hours over the last three days researching the topic of flooring materials (primarily cork and bamboo, but also laminate, hardwood, etc.), resulting only in the aforementioned headache and uncertainty. 

To try and actually make some real progress on this issue, we set out on Saturday to visit some of the floor stores in the area. And by fortunate coincidence, this weekend turned out to be the annual clearance sale at Lumber Liquidators. They happened to have both cork (a pretty pattern with reddish grains) and bamboo (like this) on clearance for less than $2 per square foot. We liked the appearance and the quantity of both floors. However, since this was a clearance sale, the floors were only available until Sunday (i.e., one day after we first visited the store.)

Now, if you know me and Heather, you know that we don't like to be hurried into making decisions. You probably also know that when rushed, our most common decision is to not make a decision - that is, to simply wait until the decision is made for us by timing-related factors beyond our control. So by default, we would almost certainly choose between the two floors by not choosing at all, and end up with neither floor when the sale ended. Easy, right?

Well, if you know us, you also know that we don't like to think of ourselves as being predictable, and we both can be a bit contrary. When we realized what we would probably end up doing, we realized that simply wouldn't do. Thus, at 3:30 Sunday afternoon, we were back at Lumber Liquidators, picking out the floor that we would buy. 

So now we have 680 square feet (22 boxes) of bamboo flooring stashed in every nook and cranny of our apartment. It may be a little crowded around here for the next month and a half, but we made a decision, and now we'll have nice looking floors in our new house - or will we? Maybe I should Google that...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Floor plans and furniture layouts

One of the most important questions when buying a new house is "Where the heck will we put all of our stuff?" Fortunately, the current owners were kind enough to provide a floor plan of the house, so I took the practical approach to this question. By which, I mean that on Friday, I scanned the floor plan into the computer, resized it in Photoshop to a scale of 1" = 2 feet, then printed it all out on half a dozen sheets of paper and glued them to a piece of foam core. (That's practical, right?) Then, armed with a tape measure, I made to-scale cutouts of our various pieces of furniture, allowing us to easily visualize what will fit where:

Not surprisingly, it was quickly clear that some of our stuff won't fit where we were expecting to fit it, so there was much shuffling of little pieces of blue paper on Friday night. (Yes, we're wild party animals!) We still haven't figured out quite where we're going to put a few things (the entertainment center and a few of our bookshelves in particular), so we'll have this thing sitting around our living room for a while longer at least. 

Being the geek that I am, of course, I've been thinking about future uses for my handiwork:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lets try this out

So since we've done a half-way decent job at twittering for the last 6 months (nevermind that we utterly fail at facebook), we thought we might be able to handle a *real* blog. And, since neither of us can claim a good memory as a particular strength of ours I like the idea of having something to look back on. 

Life has been pretty crazy for us the last 2 months. We're in the middle of buying our first house which is super exciting and totally scary. (I'm sure there will be lots more about that in later posts) We've also just got back from visiting Ireland for a week and Las Vegas in March. Another reason to start this blog now when we actually have something interesting going on unlike the other 10 months out of the year.. ;-) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And so it begins...

Hello, world!

This is our blog, for us, for our family and friends, and for anyone else who may be interested in reading. Heather and I will be using this blog to record our experiences, observations, and thoughts as we experience, observe, and think them. 

So let's get started!