Thursday, April 26, 2007

Road Trippin'

I had a wonderful few days in Massachusetts. I left later than initially planned on Sunday, but that was all right. Once I got up there, I checked in* and met up with the Woods at Qdoba. We enjoyed some food and then hung out a while at their new house - so cute!
The next day, Becky, Catherine and I went to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. We'd initially planned to go to Good Harbor Beach, but because of the Nor'Easter, a lot of Gloucester ended up underwater and is now being repaired. The day was fantastic and we had such fun hanging out , catching up and playing at the water's edge.

Later in the day, we went to Building 19... I was excited to go, but unfortunately found nothing that I wanted! Oh, well. I did try on some funny boots... I'll try to get the pic, since Becky took it with her camera! :) My feet looked like a muppet!
That evening, I got to see my long-lost friend Amy for some chips and salsa at Chilli's - something we did on countless times while in college!! We'd recently found each other again through MySpace, and it was great to reconnect. I missed her a lot!

The next day, I met up with the Wood girls again and we went to a very belated birthday lunch (and vanilla cokes!) at Johnny Rockets. I was supposed to be up in MA for Becky's birthday party in January, but ended up somewhere else instead! :( We wandered around the mall a little bit and perused some sale racks, got some ice cream, and went back to the house and sat on the patio to enjoy the sun for a minute before I had to get back into the car.

I got home in record time - just a touch over four hours! It was a great trip and I am so happy I had the opportunity to get away and play. The weather was amazing and it is always good to reconnect, both with old friends and yourself!

Pictures are here.

*A space of my own - yay! Or as Amy put it, "How grown up of you!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Small Green Update

So in talking more about the previous post, I do realize a few things that I do.

- I do recycle. My family separates out all of the plastic and glass stuff and sticks it in a big trash bag. When I go up to Matt's house, I bring it with me. They recycle, and actually have a recycling center in town where you can drop things off. So I just pretend that I live in his town and bring things to his house! And I've decided to take it a step further, by adding another big bag of paper and cardboard to my car so we can separate that as well - there is always so much paper in the trash!

- I reuse things. Recently I have been collecting small plastic containers, like yogurt cups and the like, for work. I use them for when I have the students color... instead of having 20-something students fight to get crayons out of a big bucket, they get a cup full of crayons to share with a partner. :) I also use shoeboxes and the like for storage, both at work and at home. They are a good size for desk supplies and small instruments. My dad likes this kind of alternitive storage, although he tends to take it to extremes! He keeps things like bolts, screws and nails in my old baby food jars, and hordes coffee cans. Maybe he is planning to build a new car out of the metal?? ;) We also reuse things like mailing envelopes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and cardboard boxes in terms of mailing, and gift bags as well. I have even been known to recycle wrapping paper... and some of you wouldn't know unless I told you I'd done it to you!

- We do recycle plastic bags. The supermarket has a bin for them, and we collect any that we get during the week and put them in when we're at the supermarket again, if they are not being reused by us, that is. And small ziploc-type bags get recycled at home - if they have had something dry in them (like cookies), they can be rinsed out and reused. The ones with raw chicken in them, however, get rinsed and sent with the plastic to the grocery recycling, though.

So I do some small things. But small is better than nothing. And being more conscious will bring me to a better place as the options become available.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It isn't easy bein' Green...

In honor of Earth Day, a lot of my friends have been talking about Green living, the Ecological Footprint test and whatnot. I took the test and found my lifestyle to be very taxing on the environment.

FOOD 6.9




While I find this to be more than alarming, I do have to accept the fact that there are things I can not change... right now. I live in a townhouse where the association does not recycle. This infuriates me. But I know it is a money game with them and that they are not interested in change, unless it brings them more of a profit. Again, because of the fact that it is a rental property and not something that we own, there are things that we are not able to do, like replacing the windows and appliances and whatnot. This would help in terms of efficiency, but they are not changes for a non-owner to make. So I have to let them go.
My car likes gas. This is sad, but I cannot afford a new car, especially since I just paid off this one. So I will keep it running as efficiently as I can and look at something more eco-friendly when the time comes.
My new job causes me to travel considerably more miles to get to work, but again, I can't obsess over that. Hopefully when I move, I will be able to find something that is perhaps a better distance from work. Taking public transportation to my job is next to impossible, considering my job has me in different locations every day, including two days a week in which I am traveling from place to place during the day. In terms of local errands, I am happy to use my bike or walk if it is possible, but I do have to factor in distances, of course.
I do keep bags in my car for the supermarket. This confuses the cashiers at the market I go to, but that's just part of the fun. If I had my own place, I would love to try gardening as a source for veggies. I am certainly not opposed to learning how to prepare more vegetarian dishes, and in terms of "meat," I eat beef very rarely - but that is really more for health reasons. I eat at home and bring my lunch to work more often than not, so that helps reduce waste and garbage associated with eating out/fast food.
I like energy efficient lightbulbs (Ikea has a lot of them!), and we try to remember to turn as many lights off as possible when we can. We use a water economical shower head, which is pretty darn cool, especially since it came with a bunch of energy-saving ideas and a few other helpful things. Unfortunately, our home is poorly insulated so we tend to freeze in the winter, even with the heat on. But I am a fan of lots of blankets and heating blankets/bags, with the microwavable bags being a favorite in that they are infinitely reusable, (both as hot and cold packs) and retain their heat over a fairly long period of time.
So, I am not as environmentally friendly as I want to be. But I would like to know what I can do in my current situation, and then do things as I am able and as my life changes. I have met people who power their home completely by solar power and I think it is amazing - they actually sell power back to the power company! If I am ever able to afford to build a house, I would totally pursue the opportunity of doing things like that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Water Water Everywhere...

The Flood Stage for the river in my town is 5 feet. It crested at 12.2 feet during the Nor'easter this week. So many people in my town are still trying to dry out and clean up. It's heartbreaking. More of my pictures are here.

Chocolatey goodness

I love chocolate... but that's no big shock! One of my favorites is only available at this time of year... Cadbury Mini Eggs. I wait for them every year!! But what a surprise it was to find these in the Easter sale bin! They are fantastic... the dark chocolate is so smooth and velvety. They are now my new favorite!

...good thing I only bought one bag.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Never trust a fellow with a helmet on his head!

On Saturday, Matt and I had one of our "rambustifications" - an excursion into the City.

We took the train in and then picked a destination from a list of places we want to go. We chose the Lincoln Center tour. I highly recommend it! We didn't get the full tour (it's a Saturday afternoon and there are matinees galore!) but there were only four of us on the tour and we got a great tour guide who let us listen in on quite a bit of a concert at Avery Fisher Hall! :) We toured Avery Fisher Hall and the State Theatre, (peeking in on the aforementioned concert and and a City Opera performance!) and walked through the front lobby of the Met. (no peeking there, though.)

Next, it was time for lunch. Matt suggested the Jeckyll and Hyde Club. It was great fun. I'd never been there before, and we had a spooky time, getting seated right away, and eating in the grand salon. One of the entertainers at the club tried to get me to sing when he found out I was a musician, but I refused. I would have if he came back as he said he would, but he disappeared. Hmmm..... maybe he disappeared into the spooky attic. ;)

When we got outside, Matt started walking with a purpose and then hailed a cab. I started to wonder what was up his sleeve when he had us directed towards Macy's on 34th. Although he said he had nothing planned there, my guess was he had tickets to the circus, right down the street from Macy's. We've often talked about running away and joining the circus!
Boy was I surprised to discover that he did have tickets - for us to go and see Great Big Sea at the Hammerstein Theatre!!!

The show was amazing - two full sets of a mix of all of their current stuff and two new songs that will be on their next CD! They played many of my personal favorites, too, so I was especially excited! It was such fun to sing and dance and jump around. The crowd was an interesting mix of people, mostly 20's/30's, but kids and older adults as well. People were all really cool, too, considering that everyone wanted to know how the people around them found out about the group, being as they are not too well known here in the states, but are huge in their native Canada! The only crazies at the concert decided to push themselves in front of us during the second set, and it was quite obvious that they had more than something from the bar in their systems. That's not cool, and not typical at all for this type of show. Matt and the guy behind us had to keep "helping" the man in front of us maintain his balance and not fall on top of us all! But I won't let that be a damper on the great music we heard. If you've never heard them before, check out their site! It's a cool blend of traditional songs of Newfoundland and original music influenced by their Canadian history. It's contagious, let me tell you!
Yesterday's pictures are here!

Sewing Class Project

A few weeks ago, my mom and I decided to take a sewing class at a local store. It was a lot of fun! We learned how to use a felting machine (so much easier than the technique by hand!), saw the embroidery machine at work, and crafted a small purse. The top picture shows the detail of my mom's felting with the overlaying flower, the second picture shows the unfinished purse (two pieces of felt and two zippers makes a purse with three pockets, if done properly!). The bottom is the detail on my purse, and the final one is the finished project. It is conveniently the exact size for a passport, making it a great choice for a lightweight travel bag! It was slated as a "beginner" class, but that was a stretch. I am a real beginner - I can sew a straight hem and that's about it - and it was hard! But I did it, and am proud of the result!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Knock, knock... Who's there? Uncle Sam!

First, a disclaimer. I am an honest, tax paying citizen. I don't try to cheat the IRS.

But I hate taxes. At least preparing them. It is amazingly frustrating.

But one good thing... if you don't make a whole lot (like me, especially last year!) then you can FreeFile with the IRS through a huge list of online providers. I went with H&R Block. The form was tedious but very straight forward and calculated a much better refund than what I'd gotten doing it the paper way. (we're talking over $100 difference!) Thanks, Matt. You're so Handy! :)

I couldn't get it to cooperate with the state filing (which is NOT free, fyi), but that's ok. I had done both federal and state on paper first, so I am just mailing in my state and online submitting the federal. And the fact that they do direct deposit rocks my socks... trust me, it is way faster. I used to work in a bank, so I know. :)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Unexpected

(to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

Stinky dead mouse, Stinky dead mouse,

In Matt's room, Where are you?

Searched for you all over,

But we didn't find you,

When you died, why'd you hide?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Miss President A to Z...

Age: 27
Beer of choice: Raspberry Lambic Beer (quite girly)
Career: music teacher extraordinaire
Dog's name: I guess Matt's dog counts... Keto
Essential item you use everyday: cell phone
Favorite TV show: Gilmore Girls
Game (favorite): I guess Monopoly
Hometown: a small town in Bergen County, NJ
Instruments: voice and piano, but I am quite out of "real" practice.
Juice: orange juice with pulp!
Kick (as in "Whose butt do you want to..."): there's a short list.
Last thing you ate: Key lime yogurt
Marriage: Soon. We're planning. :)
Name: Miss President!
Overnight hospital stays: two nights this January
People I was with today: (in order) parents, work people and students, Matt
Quote: "I was thinking that from here, you smell like cheese." (from Boston Legal, last night)
Regret, biggest: I don't know. I have regrets I'm sure, but none that particularly come to mind.
Status: Engaged :)
Time you woke up: 6:30ish
Underwear you have on now: I have some on. That's all you need to know.
Vegetable you love: carrots
Worst habit: clenching and grinding my teeth.
X-rays you've had: several chest x-rays.
Yummy food you ate today: chocolate
Zodiac sign: Gemini

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another update... a travel one!

When we went down to Florida for my grandfather's funeral, we had to drive due to the short notice and astronomical plane fares. One of the big things we all see on Route 95 south are the unending parade of signs for South of the Border. Being that neither of us have ever been there, Matt and I decided to stop there for breakfast! (This was after staying at a frightening place that looked charming but was a bit of a nightmare! Too bad they don't have a website!)

I think I've gotten my fill of SOTB now. But it was an experience we both had to have. What a strange place! It was kind of like a ghost town. But that might be different in the summertime, at the height of roadtrip season. But you can see the pictures here!

one of my delayed updates.

On St. Patrick's Day, Matt and I decided to go do something... but being that we hadn't planned anything, we scrambled to find something interesting to do.

After looking through the paper, we decided to go to Opus Entertainment in the Palisades Mall to listen to some live music (and eat dinner). It's really a cool concept, but a little awkward to be chowing down on a sandwich right in front of live musicians.

Two bands were playing that night - a punk band (i forget their name!) and a ska band - Third Wave Bandits. (also found here.) I must say that I enjoyed myself! As I said, it was unusual to be eating at a concert like that - it would have been cool to get up and dance, but there weren't many people there and it would have been a little strange! But hey - live music is always cool and exploring new genres is a good thing. :)