Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday is Not My Day of Rest

I have needed to wash this new set of micro-fiber sheets that I bought from HSN and finally got to it today.  They are now on the big bed.  We needed to get more sheets for that bed and I wanted to see if these would be lighter and cooler.  They weren't very expensive so I'm willing to see if it makes sense to move beyond my 100% high fiber count cotton philosophy.  I also washed the sheets for the second bedroom which I mostly sleep in due to snoring and other considerations.   This was all fit in with a couple of loads of laundry, one of which I managed to line dry.
I did some grocery shopping tonight and stopped at the Dollar Tree to get a couple of boxes of stock.  It is hard for me to resist bargain beauty supplies.  The boxes of supplements (for hair, skin, nail) usually sell discounted on Amazon for twenty bucks a piece.  I'll probably go back to see if they have more.  There are a few eye make-up goodies too.  If I'm going to wear the stuff I might as well try some fun things like purple glitter eyeliner.  And yes, I'd wear that to work.
My clothes for the week are lined up.  It looks a mess so I will try to break it down.  One goal is to never repeat an outfit the next week.  That works well with the laundry schedule too!
This purple Simply Vera dress caught my eye at a thrift because I knew I had pumps that would go with it -- of course, I have not verified this and I am color-blind so I could be wrong.  I think my new glitter eyeliner pen will work well too.
This is another outfit -- I think I'll wear it Tuesday.  This silk tank is really nice and it might seem like a winter/holiday type of thing but I think you can work it into summer with lighter colored accessories. 
This is a "push the dress code" ensemble. It will be within the rules because it will hit my knees -- but it has a longer netting under-layer that makes it a little saucy. I plan to wear it with these black pumps and my net stockings.  I'll tone it down with plain pearls.

Well, that's it for my exciting Sunday. I managed to get in a power walk/trot and also used the shedding rake on the dog.  She had a visitor whom hadn't seen her since she was a pup and it was also a "Teddy Trifecta" day -- a swim, a walk and tosses in the field.

It was a good weekend for sure!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Free Ideas!

It is Buffalo Garden Walk weekend! While I only got to tour a few of the 350 gardens, the first one I walked into had my dream fence.  This is the fence I'd been unable to accurately describe to The Big Guy and Jimmy-Jam.  They just weren't getting the concept of me wanting it framed in and that included the top.  Being able to take a picture and have something to show them is a huge help.  This particular garden was in a sort of carriage style brick city home and it will be the site of the owner's wedding next weekend.
This is what the framing looks like from inside.  I like it because it is neat and it makes for a very even line at top.  There are a few other ideas popping around in my head but one of them is to hang a huge mirror within one set of the frames -- and I have the mirror in our basement.  While we don't do a lot of fancy planting we like having cocktails at night -- so cool lighting and reflecting surfaces are on my list of "wants."  We've already done well with lighting but I hope to improve on that.
This is one idea I really liked.  A wood screen with baskets.  These could easily be made using pallets and that's something I'm going to try to work in.
This is another cool idea.  That is actually a ceiling light mounted on top of some decorative scroll work.  I am going to use this somewhere for sure.  This was the porch of a lovely Victorian and the light just added to the charm of the porch.

The best part of this walk and the ideas is that they are free.  My friend Jim over at the Art of Gardening just relinquished his seat as president this year but has worked very hard with a number of devoted and passionate volunteers to make our garden walk an International tourist event.  I only made it to a small number of the gardens and there are many other events related to garden-tourism here.  It's a great way to steal great ideas and it's free -- what a bargain!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Three Pigs...

Every one at Chez Petite has the same problem.  We've all put on 15 pounds since I went back to work!  Maybe we should call the place "Chez Oink!"

We took Teddy to the vet tonight to deal with her hotspot once and for all.  She has gained 15 pounds this year!  Last year the two of us were out every day and taking swims and long walks.  Now that I am working, we just get about 20 - 30 minutes together a night.  I've missed swimming laps due to The Big Guy's hernia and he hasn't been able to exercise at all.  It's shameful, really!

As for the dog, she is now on a cycle of expensive vet antibiotics, steroid/antihistamines, and she got a steroid shot.  We were told that the ear wash we use can be put on her sores.  Then we did a full wellness blood panel and fecal test.  He told us that we can let her back in the water and that he didn't think she needed the cone of shame at this point.  We paid for an extra supply of the steroid/antihistamine pills because it's probably going to be a long summer.  If we need the antibiotics again, I'll ask for a script and fill it at Wegmans where they have special pricing on the stuff.

We did score a good "freebie" today.  TBG had his car inspected in February and we just noticed this week that they didn't change his sticker!  He had the receipt and the bill was on the computer at the shop.  So in order to get a new sticker he had to bring it in for another inspection -- which was free.  Now we have gained an extra five months on the inspection.  It's actually strange that we hadn't been ticketed because the police are vigilant here.  But it also shows you how observant we are!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back Yard Project Phase 2

This is how our yard looked when we first moved in.  The tree kept the ground shaded -- and damp/soggy after a rain.  Grass grew in clumps and it just wasn't very pretty.  Our dog was really wet and muddy a lot of the time.  Painting the house and garage and putting in a patio out back was our first project and we spent a substantial amount of money on that.

This is what the yard looks like today.  Literally!  The patio cost around seven thousand dollars to build which included removing the silver maple and grinding the trunk.  It was a big job to get the roots out.  Extra was spent on building an interlocking stone wall as well as a special circular pattern for the dining table.  We are happy with the space but are ready to take it up a notch.  The flagstone is nice but some of the smaller chunks shift out of place easily.  We are replacing as much as we can with very large pieces.  The fence in the back is not holding up as well as we'd like and the chain link fence is ugly.  So all of that is coming out and will  be replaced.
The constant war on wisteria is absolute torture so it is coming out too.  Our new neighbor said we can just build the fence as far as his garage and then cut in.  That will save us some money on wood and he won't have to worry about getting back there to clear weeds.  The "garden" needs a clean-up.  Someone gave us wild flower seeds and while some nice stuff came up, we are basically growing weeds.
There are some nice flowers and foliage in the bed so we'll hope to keep what is pretty and get rid of whatever is weed.  We've never regretted putting up the wall as it's a great additional seating solution when we have parties.

Our estimate is for seven thousand dollars.  The plan is for it to start Monday and take ten days.  I am hoping it stays close to plan.  It's not a job I want to drag out.

My contract is now renewed until the end of October so I am assured of a paycheck for four more months and will make myself invaluable enough to hopefully get converted to a permanent position.  While planning the yard is a bit of a splurge, we have the cash and can replenish the source over the next couple of months too.  I do see this as an effort that will enhance our quality of life and be a good house investment too.  There are no plans to sell any time soon but having a patio which we believe will last should help us down the road.  I'll be sure to post on the progress!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Dinner

This was not the exact piece of lasagne that I had for dinner, but it's a picture of a piece from the restaurant we ate at.  Mulberry's Cafe was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Although it is neither of those things.  It's a nice quality casual old world Italian restaurant that I'd wanted to go to for a while.  The place is popular so I knew a Friday or Saturday night would be tough. 

TBG is back from camp and we splurged.  It was not a cheap meal but I have a big hunk of left-over lasagna that he can have for lunch.  The food was prepared fresh and the service was good.  We drove to South Buffalo so it was a bit of a hike, but well worth it.

I try not to totally avoid more pricey meals out like this.  As great as the food was, it was super nice for me to see TBG really enjoy a meal.  We don't need a special occasion to go out for a special meal.  But then again, special meals are that way because they don't happen all of the time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday Night and I Think I'm Caught Up...

Boy did I get behind yesterday! I met TBG and the girlie at camp and she was going to stay up there with Daddy until tomorrow -- until I noticed a new hot-spot on her face.  She is back home and wearing the cone of shame.  The spot is getting treated with Gold Bond powder.  We are going to the vet on Thursday.  It is almost time for her yearly check-up and we are going to arrive at a better regimen for dealing with her summer allergies.  The Zyrtec helps a lot but TBG forgot it so she had a day without. I'm not certain that made a huge difference.  She might need monthly steroid shots this year since things are so bad.  This time she adapted to the cone much quicker.  They are not strangers after all!

I made it out to Dollar Tree today with the intention of buying chicken stock for a buck a box -- I don't have time to make stock like I used to.  Imagine my delight when I say boxes of vegetable as well as seafood stock.  This is why it's always worthwhile to visit the dollar store.  I also stopped in to Amvet's to pick up a few skirts.  There was an elderly woman with a walker and she was exhausted so I offered her a ride.  She lived back in our old part of town and it was nice to help someone like that out.  People say it's easy to be poor because you just sit back and accept your assistance.  It's not.  If you're poor, you have to take the bus on ungodly hot days and walk to boot -- after shopping at thrift stores.  No, it's easier to walk and drive around wherever you need to go!

I splurged last night and bought a bag of already cooked tail-off shrimp.  I made half of it into shrimp salad to put into wraps for lunch this week -- adding in corn, grapes, cheese and vinaigrette.  My dinner tonight was pasta with beans, mushrooms, onion, shrimp and cheese along with a healthy glass of wine -- which I didn't really need since Emma across the street had already given me a glass.

This business of weekend housewifery with yard work thrown in is tough.  Yesterday I had to mow the lawn, pick up weeds, clean the car and deal with the trash.  It doesn't sound like a lot but I also found a load of laundry in the wash that someone forgot to hang up and that had to go through a cycle again.  Luckily, I had one outfit put together that I hadn't worn last week and there wasn't too much to clean up around the house.

TBG is back from camp tomorrow -- I can't wait until he's fully back on his feet.  I won't miss days of posting!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doing OK

We were going to enjoy a dinner out tonight because it's just been a busy week.  Then it became apparent to us that getting to the restaurant we chose was going to be tough because the annual Italian Festival is on.  No, we don't pay much attention to these things because we work during the week and go to camp on the weekends.  Even though we don't go every weekend, the alternate weekends are devoted to house stuff -- which I've had to double up on.

I decided to turn around and go home because we had a third of a loaf of bread.  Yes, I ditched dinner out just to make sure we didn't waste a loaf of bread.  I also knew I had the ingredients on hand for making a quick chicken Parm -- with homemade sauce made out of a can of San Marzano tomatoes.  We did also save about 25 bucks over the price of going out by eating in.

I had been preparing myself for my contract termination as I had only gotten an extension to the end of the month. Now it seems I'll be around longer. I'm not sure how much longer but I got some good news that was an uber pleasant surprise.  A major re-org which had put a lot of the communications work I had done on hold and also left me with a lot of hard to justify free time came through today.  The lady who hired me called me into her office and said that as part of the re-org, I was being moved out of her group into a newly formed communications group.  Two colleagues whom I have really enjoyed working with were selected for this and they threw me in because we all work together so well.  I could not be happier.

This may very well be a good sign for me. I don't have any guarantees but  it doesn't seem like they'd position me like this only to end my contract at the end of the month.  Tomorrow I am meeting with my new boss.  I'd taken a training class she led and also interviewed her for a newsletter article and I've had positive experiences with her.  I've also been tremendously lucky to have been hired by someone who has gone above and beyond to make my talents known.  That meant she's handed me off to another manager and I don't think that many executives would do that for someone who was taken on for a temporary project. 

For those who may have just stumbled on this blog, I am a over middle aged woman who had been out of work for almost a year.  If you pay attention to the media, I am a rather un-hirable demographic.  However, I have always had great skills -- but finding the right opportunity seemed impossible.  It would also seem that my age kicked me out of the running for most positions.  The truth is that I did not like anything I'd applied for so I am lucky I didn't get hired!  I took on a contract position to assist a project manager.  It was scary because it was in a business sector I had no experience in and for a technology I that I had no exposure to.  However, I did have administrative skills.  I was fortunate that the recruiter who found my resume believed in my abilities more than I did.  He made me see that something that intimidating was within my skill sets.

After I was hired, one of the projects I was slated for fell through.  I got called into a meeting with a new communications specialist to take notes and offer some feedback on account of the fact that I did have some web experience.  One thing led to another and I was able to show skills that impressed the person who hired me. She worked on increasing my visibility by giving me graphics based assignments that helped other project managers.  That got my work noticed.

We got through the important part of my main project ahead of schedule.  During that time, I learned a lot of new techie stuff and taught myself a lot of new stuff using tools I'd never been exposed to before.  Yes, supposedly older workers can't learn new skills.  I'm the type of person that just needs to get my hands on something and I'll figure it out.   I am inexplicably fortunate to have found a position that gave me a small open door as well as being recognized by someone who was willing to help push me through it.

While I have no promise that this will turn into something permanent, I am in a better position than I was before and the work I'll be starting on is truly exciting.  I believe if you always believe in the best and always do your best and show your best face to the world, the world will want you around.  I guess it doesn't hurt if you can make a quick chicken parm dinner in a half hour either?