snowshoes | elizaeveryday scrambling | elizaeverydaylooking back | elizaeveryday

track | elizaeverydaystuck | elizaeveryday copper in the snow | elizaeveryday ptoley in the snow | elizaeveryday

This morning church was delayed by an hour, so Alan and I decided to go snowshoeing.  We found a trail about a ten minute drive from our house.  After figuring out parking, we clomped down to the trailhead, which was obscured by a huge snowbank.  Alan scrambled up and over it–I went around.  The snow was deep and even with my snowshoes, I sunk down to my knees with every step.  Alan got as far as the trail head.  I fell and got stuck.  We turned around, and trudged back to the car.  It was a good idea, but the snow was too soft and too deep.


When we got home, Alan let the cats outside, and they also struggled through deep, soft snow.  They spread their paws out to increase the surface area, and kind of swam to the porch.  I think they didn’t like being stuck in the snow any more than I did.


Week Wrap-Up | Link Round-Up | October 26 – November 1, 2013

This week started with a lovely, lovely birthday dinner with some close friends from Rochester.  Alan and I drove back for the weekend, and it was such a nice way to celebrate my 30th birthday!

On house-buying/selling: we are SO CLOSE to closing on our Rochester house.  I can’t wait to say that it’s done.  We’re working on stuff for the Hartford house, since our contract has us closing by the end of November.  I actually really like where we’re living now, which seems like such a blessing to me.  It seems like a short-term rental should be miserable, but the apartment is great.  It helps that it’s not strictly short-term housing, we just happened to get a short lease, with flexible sub-leasing options.

Today Alan is working.  He only works every other Friday, and this is a long week.  We don’t have any plans for the weekend, although we’ve been trying to go on a hike every weekend.  I’ll post some pictures if we go.

I’m also starting a 31-day yoga challenge with myself.  I have a delightful 20-minute workout on this DVD (the “shanti” workout) that is such a good stretch and very relaxing.  I’ve been quite sore from going to the gym three times a week, and I think some yoga is just the thing I need.


Here are some links from the last *mumbles* months since I last did a link round-up:

11 Simple Ways To Be Happy  |  Your Super-Awesome Life

Angelina Jolie’s Breasts and the Bravery of Letting Go  |  Storyline Blog

Congo’s Superhero Moms  |  The Daily Beast  |  via Lindsey Cooper

Euphemisms about babies  |  Indexed

How to Cite Social Media in Scholarly Writing  |  Sage Connection  | via I Love Charts

The Incredible Case Of The Bank Robber Who’s Now A Law Clerk  |  NPR

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent   |  The Atlantic

Why You Need to Brag More (And How to Do It)  |  Huffington Post  |  via Anne-Marie Slaughter


Let’s chat!

What are your weekend plans?  How do you feel about daylight savings time?




…and then the sweet potatoes fell on the floor

Today was one of those days.  It wasn’t terrible, but enough little things went wrong that I felt weary and slightly sad by late afternoon.


Buying and selling houses is expensive, you know?  Alan and I are budgeting because we spent $1000 in the last few weeks on real estate costs: buying a title abstract and survey to sell the Rochester house, paying for an inspection for the Hartford house.  I know buying a house costs money (duh), but I thought it was mostly mortgage and such… So our grocery budget is pretty much used up for the week.


I looked in the mostly-empty fridge this afternoon, and then the freezer.  I found some leftover pork ragu and was pretty sure I had cornmeal in the cabinet for polenta.  OK: polenta and pork ragu.  That’s easy.  But I needed a vegetable.  I knew we didn’t have any greens; I usually serve polenta with braised kale or sautéed spinach.  I knew I had frozen peas, but that doesn’t seem to go well with polenta.  Oh, and I had two bags of frozen sweet potatoes!  I could cook sweet potatoes!


The first bag of sweet potatoes was opened, and super-freezer burned.  So I tossed them.  I read the directions on the second bag, and one of the recommended preparations was to roast them.  All right, this is shaping up into a nice dinner: pork ragu, polenta, and roasted sweet potatoes.  I opened the bag and poured them on a cookie sheet, and they were also freezer burned.  So into the trash can they went.


I had some fresh sweet potatoes, so I thought that they might work: third time’s a charm, right?   I quickly peeled and chopped one large and two small sweet potatoes.  I also peeled six cloves of garlic.  I dumped the potatoes and garlic on the sheet pan, and drizzled some oil over them.  Then I sprinkled some salt and dried rosemary, and ground some black pepper over them.  I tossed them together–they were smelling good at this point, and stuck them in the oven at 450.


The pork had thawed, and smelled really good.  The aroma blended nicely with the roasting garlic and rosemary.  I set a timer for 10 minutes, and thought to myself that this dinner was coming together pretty well, considering.  My day still was kind of gray, but at least I’d have a nice dinner with Alan.


The timer went off, and I pulled the sheet pan out of the oven.  I went to the gym this morning, and the workout was some heavy lifting.  My wrists were a bit tired, and before I knew it, the sweet potatoes fell on the floor of the kitchen, like so:

sweet potatoes on the floor{the cats hoped that it was cat food; they were disappointed.  Also, for some reason I can’t get the photo to rotate…}


I briefly considered scooping the potatoes up and roasting them for another 10 minutes.  But then I thought that it’s been a few days since I mopped, and the cats eat in the kitchen, and so I called Alan.  He didn’t answer, and so I swept the potatoes up, making them the third bunch of sweet potatoes I had thrown away.


I thought for a minute that I could call the tomatoes and onions in the ragu the vegetable of the meal, but it just didn’t feel right.  [Side-note: do you consider tomatoes and onions to be vegetables when you plan your meals?  I guess I don’t.  If we’re having tomato sauce, I still want another vegetable.  And if I put a bunch of onions into a stew, I don’t think to myself that that stew is full of vegetables.  They’re ingredients, not vegetables. (Yes, I know that’s a weird non-dichotomy.)]


So I found a sad heart of romaine in the crisper.  After I had removed the wilted leaves, it was even smaller and sadder.  But made it into two tiny caesar salads, and I served dinner.  It was delicious, and I should be happy.  But I’m bummed about the sweet potatoes, and it just wasn’t a very good day.


Alan’s making some yonanas now, which might improve things.  And there’s always tomorrow!



Question of the day:

Do you consider tomatoes and onions to be “vegetables” when you plan your meals?  Have you had any recent kitchen disasters or disappointments?



Hello from CT!

We are slowly settling into life in Connecticut.  We’re in an apartment with a six month lease, but it looks like we’ll actually be in the house closer to November than March.  Fortunately, our leasing office said we can assign (sublease) the rest of our lease, so it should work well.

It took way longer than anticipated to get internet set up.  I was somewhat smug that I had made an appointment to install internet at the apartment last Monday (the 9th), but it got really confusing with self-installing and dead phone jacks.  They finally sent a technician, who unplugged the filter from the phone jack, and everything worked.  I asked him if that was the whole problem.  He shook his head and said no, that he had hooked up the cable in the basement before coming to the apartment.  That would help, yes.

We got a new bed, new mattress, new chest of drawers, and new sectional couch delivered from Ikea.  Alan and I picked everything out a week ago, but because direct deposit wasn’t set up for his paychecks then, I went back this week to actually place the order and pay for everything.  I didn’t feel comfortable loading up a cart with 86 lb. mattresses and 240 lb. dressers.  So I used the “pick and deliver” service, which was only $119 for everything, and they delivered it 24 hours later.  It helps that we live about 45 miles from the Ikea in New Haven!

I’m still assembling furniture.  I have everything put together except for the drawers for the bed.  It surprises me that I like putting together Ikea furniture.  I’m very much a “big picture” person: I really prefer to know the overview before I hear the details.   But that doesn’t work (for me) with looking through furniture instructions.  Instead, I have to just do the next step, and trust that it will all come together.  And it does.  It’s a very Zen-like experience for me, focusing on the present.

Copper and Ptoley are doing well.  They did not like the seven hour car drive.  Copper hid under the passenger seat for 99% of the trip.  Ptoley walked around for a while, before perching on the center arm rest and looking out the windshield.  It wasn’t long before he got nervous, and climbed into my lap.  He’d lay there for maybe a whole minute, before he decided he really wanted to be able to see out the window, so he’d make a loop back to the center arm rest.  He split his time between those two locations, never staying long in either.

They weren’t happy to be in the car, and they were even less happy to be locked into the bathroom for the next six hours.  The apartment is a loft, and the bathroom is the only room of the house that has a door that closes and latches–all the closets have metal bi-fold doors.  So the cats, their food, and their travel litter box hung out in the bathroom while we (mostly Alan–I had come down with a miserable cold the day before) unloaded the van.  They hid in the cabinet in the bathroom–poor cats :(

Alan seems to be enjoying his job.  He’s working on getting his security clearance right now, so his job duties are somewhat limited.  His office is in the unsecured part of the building, and the lab is secured.  He said the most common conversation in the cubicles is “let’s go to the lab–I need to talk to you about something.”  Despite the fact that all the employees’ offices are in the cubicles, I get the impression that he’s sometimes the only person there for portions of the day; everyone else is in the lab.

I got a new phone, an iPhone!  I’ve had a flip phone since forever, which has worked fine for me.  But being without internet, and without the ability to do things like look up bank balances, the decision to get a smartphone was reinforced in my mind.  I hadn’t been able to wrap my mind around a two-year contract for a ridiculous amount of money each month, so when a friend told me about Page Plus Cellular, I was intrigued.  I bought the phone (it works on the Verizon network with any Verizon phone) from Amazon Warehouse.  It’s a few generations old, but it was in a sealed package with all the original accessories, so I do not care!  And then I put a $12/month plan and a $10 prepaid card on the phone.  The $12/month plan is the lowest, and provides 250 minutes, 25o texts, and 10 MB of data.  I have cellular data turned off, and will turn it on if I’m out and about and need to look something up.  The $10 card is a cushion, so that if I use up the plan minutes/texts/data, I can draw from the card, which lasts 120 days.  So I could spend as little as $14.50 a month for iPhone coverage, which is awesome.

I also hooked my phone number up to Google Voice, so that I can have both a local number, and keep my old number.  It’s kind of like getting a new email address when you get married.  Plus, I can use the Google Voice app on the iPhone on WiFi (at home), and make calls without using my minutes!  It’s pretty nifty.

Lest you think my life is all new phones and new couches, 65% of the apartment is still boxes.  The decluttering never ends.  I’m hoping to consolidate between this move and the next.  And it’s hard to wrap my mind around settling into this apartment, if we’re moving again in a few months.  I have to go assemble more Ikea furniture and live in the present… or something…


I hope you have an excellent weekend!  Is it starting to feel like Fall?  Do you have any plans for the weekend?  I’d love to hear them in the comments!



waiting, again

I am on hold with Connecticut Natural Gas.  This is the third time I’ve called.  Apparently when they pull up my social security number it has my maiden name listed.  So they’ve requested that I fax over a copy of my social security card, and my marriage license.  I filed my name change with Social Security four years ago.  Sigh.

So I faxed it yesterday, but apparently it didn’t go through.  I found this out after waiting on hold for more than an hour.  The representative said to “just call back real quick” after I faxed it.  Ha!

It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have prepaid cell phones.  It’s cost me at least $10 to wait on hold so far…


We’re also waiting to hear about the offer we made on the brick house.  We weren’t planning on making an offer so quickly, but someone else made an offer, so it was now or never.  I love that house, and I’d be thrilled if our offer was accepted.  There are lots of other houses for sale in the area, so we’ll be okay either way.  And every time we make an offer, we get closer to having all the paperwork and such that we’ll need eventually, so that’s good.


I am also packing boxes this week.  It’s not difficult, but it’s been hard for me to do.  I don’t know if it’s the symbolism of moving, or the heaviness (literal and metaphorical) of all our possessions, or what.  It’ll all get done, because it has to get done.  I think I’m going to conscript my friends who come over for Ladies’ Night to help me wrap and pack dishes :)


I’m still on hold…  I just hope I can get through before they close for the day…!


Update: 25 minutes later, I’m still on hold.  But at least I can find some humor in the situation.  Instead of playing their desired message (something like: “your call is important to us; please stay on the line”), there is a computer voice that says “CNG message 2 dot wav,” which obviously the file name.  It’s pretty funny.




yard sale & farewell party

So things are happening fast around here.  We spent the summer noses-to-the-grindstone, anticipating Alan’s dissertation defense.  That was the big deadline, the big finish line.  Then, all of a sudden, it was over.  We went to Utah, we came back, I was sick.  And now it’s one week before Alan starts work!  When did that happen?!

We had been planning on hosting a yard sale Saturday the 17th.  I was going to spend last week preparing: sorting through stuff in the storage areas of the house (porch, garage, loft, basement), pricing items, setting up.  Instead, I rested and tried to recover from being sick.  It seemed like the yard sale was going to have to wait.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling better.  I hadn’t felt good in nearly two weeks, and the energy was stimulating.  I decided, in bed before I even got up, to do the yard sale.  I’d have two days to sort and prepare, but I could do it!  My mom came over Thursday to help, and Alan didn’t go in to work on Friday.  (He finished the changes necessary to his dissertation Thursday, so he’s kind of done.  He will clean out his office, and he wants to spend some time training group-mates on some laser stuff before he leaves.)

Saturday we woke up early (5ish), and set up the yard sale.  It was quite a success!  Let me tell you what we did, what worked, and what didn’t.


1. I read The Joy of Less a while ago, and had a great mentality when sorting our possessions.  Instead of asking myself “am I willing to part with this?”, I asked “is this ‘treasure’?”  I didn’t decide what to sell, I decided to sell everything, and then had to choose what to keep.

2. I priced things low.  I advertised the sale as a “nothing over $10” sale.  Some people got really good deals on the items with the highest value.  I ran out of $0.25 and $0.50 stickers first, because I priced things so low.  I wanted things to be gone, I didn’t want to get the most money for each item.  I didn’t want anyone to want something, pick it up, and think it was too expensive.

3. We sold home improvement supplies.  This was Alan’s idea, and it worked great.  We sold the faucet we bought and never used, and the left-over chain link from installing the gate across our driveway (40 feet for $10).  We sold PVC pipe ($0.25 to $1.00 per piece) and green-board ($0.50 for partial boards) and cement-board ($0.25 for partial boards).  We sold partial cans of spray paint ($0.25) and wood stain ($0.25).  It was a good portion of the sale, and it attracted more buyers, including people just driving by the house who stopped.

4. We advertised on craigslist and  In fact, I put up the ad first, and it had an option to cross-post on craigslist.  I still had to make the craigslist listing, but I could cut-and-paste some nifty html from gsalr.  It made the craigslist ad look nice: it had a map and a nice font.  It was easy and free.

5. I advertised for no early birds.  I don’t know if this made a huge difference, but it helped me not get stressed out when setting up.  In the ad I mentioned that prices were tripled before 8am.  That kept people away!

6. I made really legible signs.  I read some advice to simply make signs that say “yard sale” with an arrow.  I used some foam-board we had, and a huge magic marker.  I made the letters six inches high, and the arrow was seven inches high and 15 inches across.  We put out five signs.  Two were double-sided, so they could be read by traffic going either direction.  They went on the main roads leading to our house.  There was a single sign that pointed to our house if you came via a side street.  And there were two signs right in our front yard: one on the left and one on the right, for traffic going both directions.

7. We had a cooler of bottled water and ice.  We sold the bottles for $0.25.  It wasn’t a huge draw, but we did sell some bottles of water to people who didn’t buy anything else!

8. We had lots of change (probably too much).  We withdrew $150 from the bank: 5x $10, 10x $5, 30x $1, and two rolls of quarters.  In retrospect we probably needed 5x $10, 5x $5, 15x $1, and one roll of quarters.  I had priced so many things at $0.25 and $0.50, that I felt the need for nearly a hundred quarters.  But I didn’t think about the fact that most people would buy more than one thing.  Plus, I’d often round down, to make people feel they were getting a really good deal.

9. I kept the change in a carpenter’s apron.  It kept the money on my person, and it was easy to pull out change.  It was also easy to switch the apron between me and Alan during the sale.  I handled most transactions, but I also left the sale several times to pick up more stickers (see #2), and to pick up some lunch.

10. We set out everything for free after the sale was over.  I put a curb alert on craigslist, and we told the neighborhood kids everything left was free.  They were so excited.  Their parents probably weren’t thrilled that they brought home so much junk, but it was fun to watch.  I did pick out a few high priced items that didn’t sell: a clarisonic mia face washer, a pair of unworn dansko shoes, and a nice coat Alan’s never worn.  We’ll bring those to Goodwill, along with anything that was left.  I think we’ll have just one box worth of stuff for Goodwill.


We made over $300 at the sale, which sort of surprised me.  (I say “sort of”, because I kept an inventory list as I priced the items, and I entered it into Excel.  I knew that the sum of what I had priced was over $300, and that surprised me.)  I said to Alan several times before the sale that I was most excited to get rid of so much stuff.  Making money was secondary.  Yard sales are such a win-win!


We held the sale from 8am to 4pm.  At 6pm we had some friends over for a farewell/congratulations Alan party.  I knew I’d be tired, so I planned a super low-key party.  I cut up a watermelon and a pineapple into wedges (finger food!), and set out the leftover bottles of water (#7 above).  I asked people to bring soda, beer, or chips/dip.  We ordered six pizzas, and an hour-and-a-half into the party I went out to buy a box of ice cream sandwiches.  We ate in the back yard, sitting on wooden arm chairs Alan brought from the house (we sold almost all our outdoor chairs that morning!).  It was the best party I’ve thrown in a while.

Our friends from church came (as well as my parents), and it was really great to sit and chat.  Most of the people had been in the first Small Group I joined, five years ago when I returned from China.  That’s where I met Alan.  That group has since dissolved: people got married, and had babies, and moved on from just being “young adults.”  It was so, so nice to be together again.  We talked and laughed until it got too dark to see anymore.

The reality that we’re moving has only just sunk in.  Alan’s first day of work is a week from tomorrow.  A week later the cats and I will join him.  There’s still lots to do, but it’s all very exciting!



P.S. Today is our anniversary–four years!



back from vacation

picnic area in Mill Creek Canyon

picnic area in Mill Creek Canyon

Alan and I are back from a long weekend in Salt Lake City, where we visited Alan’s parents.


Our trip was limited by my health, unfortunately.  My Achilles tendon injury prevented us from hiking.  And my general malaise put a damper on my weekend.


I’ve been fighting an infection for about a week.  I’m on my second (stronger) round of antibiotics, and I still feel miserable.  It’s likely that I’m just experiencing the side effects of the antibiotic: nausea, dizziness, light-headedness.  This antibiotic (cipro) also carries the risk of rupturing tendons.  So I’ve been extra careful with my Achilles tendon.


I also have an inner ear disorder that can make travel quite uncomfortable.  It tends to flare up when I’m sick or stressed out.  And in addition to making me feel dizzy, it makes me very likely to get motion sick.  I was miserable for most of the flights and threw up in the bathroom on both long flights (although it wasn’t as bad as throwing up in a bus bathroom–yuck!).


We’ve been home for about six hours.  I took a nap in my own bed, and am eating a snack.  The snack seems to be helping with the wooziness and nausea.


Back to Utah: we were able to do some fun activities despite my limitations.  On Saturday we went to the Great Salt Lake and went swimming.  I adored being able to swim and move without any pressure on my heel.  Sunday we went to church and then had a nice picnic in Mill Creek Canyon, part of the Wasatch range.  Yesterday we saw Man of Steel, did some shopping (work clothes for Alan!), and went to a super-fancy restaurant to celebrate Alan’s successful dissertation defense.


Have you taken any trips this summer?  What was the best part?  And is there any better feeling than sleeping in your own bed after a long trip?



Ptoley and the chipmunk

[With Alan’s help,] Ptoley has managed to catch a chipmunk three times now.  It’s the same chipmunk; it lives in our neighbor’s yard.

The first time, Alan called me to come watch.  It was the strangest thing.  Ptoley would carry the chipmunk around the yard, and then set it down.  When Ptoley set the chipmunk down it wouldn’t run away; it would fight with Ptoley.  In fact, it would jump on Ptoley’s back, like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

Eventually the chipmunk made it to some bushes and escaped.

The second time, when Alan called me to come watch I brought my camera.

And then this happened:


Where did the chipmunk go?



There it is!


getting the house ready to sell

I redid the kitchen last fall.

I just remodeled the bathroom.

The living parts of the house are fairly tidy (empty).  The storage areas (porch, basement, loft, garage) are not.  They have lots of stuff, and they aren’t very well organized.

We’re having a yard sale next Saturday (the 17th), which will go a long way towards clearing those parts out.  My goal is to either sell or pack everything that’s currently in storage by next Saturday.

There’s a small list of other things to do around the house: paint both stairways (the walls, not the stairs), hang two cabinet doors in the kitchen, install crown molding in the bathroom, take down photos, fill holes & touch-up paint.

I had a realtor come over today to look at the house.  I gave him our list of things to do, and we walked through the house.  He asked me if this was going to be a “spring sale.”

“Next spring?!” I asked, incredulous.


“Um, we’re moving in a month.  I want to get the house on the market ASAP so we can put an offer on the house I love in East Hartford.”

“Well,” he said, “this is a long list…”


So that was sort of a bummer.  It’s possible that he was thinking that Alan and I both work full time, and would only have evenings and weekends in which to work.  Alan’s dissertation defense is tomorrow (!!!), and hopefully he’ll be home more after that. [I know I said that when he turned in his dissertation, and he was home more.  But he still worked 60-ish hours a week, which doesn’t leave tons of time for projects.  After defending tomorrow, he has to make the changes his committee suggests, and he wants to write another paper for publication.]

If we’re both home during the day, and working on the house, I don’t see why we can’t get it done in a couple of weeks.  There will be heavy lifting clearing the storage areas, sorting our stuff, lots of painting, lots of cleaning… But we can do it, right?

I’m kind of bewildered right now.  Every day we don’t list our house is another day that someone else will make an offer on the East Hartford house.  I’m making progress, but my injury has slowed me down significantly.  I had hoped that we could list the house, and then keep working on it.


For the next 24 hours, I will focus on Alan’s dissertation defense.  Then we’ll revisit home improvement and listing the house.  It’ll be okay. :)




This & That

1. The weather finally broke.  I love not being constantly sticky, and not wilting at 11am.

2. The bathroom is almost done.  I have one solid day of work left, and that’s it!

3. I drove down to the Finger Lakes yesterday to celebrate my brother’s 28th birthday.  A bunch of my family is at my grandma’s cottage for the week.  My brother and his family are up from Virginia.  I swam in the lake with the dog, and then went out to a lovely dinner with the family.  When we woke up this morning the lake was choppy, and it was chilly with a breeze.  It was delightful (see #1 above), but not great swimming weather.

4. I bought a night splint for my achilles tendon injury last week.  It’s clunky and awkward to wear at night, but it’s made a HUGE difference already.  I wear it all night, and I rest my foot in it during the day if I’m sitting down for a while.  It keeps the foot flexed (and the achilles tendon stretched) so the tendon doesn’t tighten up.  I’m laying low until August 1st (at least), and then I’m hoping to take some test walks!

5. The best way to get me to clean the house is to send me on a trip.  I hate coming home to a dirty house, so I’ll do all the dishes, clean out the fridge, empty the garbages, tidy, change the sheets, run laundry–the works!