10-24-11 Sunday (Rock Climbing!)

We met up with Mike and Billy for a roadtrip today!  Off to McDonalds for breakfast first and then a 2 hour drive.

First I want to tell you that we ate in a recently remodeled McDonalds close to home.  What a dumb remodel.  The majority of seating were picnic bench style or ottomans.  I'm not sure about you but I hate sitting to meal with no back support.  Jim says it's so people won't be comfortable and will leave sooner.  Probably so.  The other thing about the seating was that the few seats that did have back support seemed to be a hard surface with a piece of leather (or pleather) stretched over it.  Why bother?  No padding or fill, can't slide across the leather, and it probably tears easier.  It's like it looked comfortable but wasn't at all.

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My next observation was the help wanted poster.  I'm not down on anyone who works there.  You gotta start some where, or maybe you like it or maybe you'll be an owner or manager someday or maybe they have hours that work for you or ?  I just giggle at the "all majors" part.  Gee, they'll even take me if my major is accounting?  Spectacular!

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Onward to Chimney Rock State Park!   The drive was scenic, but not 100% spectacular.  There's still a lot of green and not as much brown, orange, blue, and yellow quite yet.  Blue?  Just checking if you're paying attention or not.

The elevator at the park was closed for renovations.  The walk up all the steps was grueling.  My knees felt like they were on fire.  We took many breaks to catch our breath and rest our legs.  We made it to Exclamation Point.  This excerpt from their website sums it up:

"At an elevation of 2,480 feet, Exclamation Point is the pinnacle of the Park. It exceeds Chimney Rock’s elevation by 200 feet. Standing here, you can feel proud and justifiably weary because you have just driven and hiked over 1,400 vertical feet from the entrance to the Park, which you can see way, way down in the valley."

Awesome views, tired bodies, empty stomachs.  It was already 2 and we were hungry.  Unfortunately we decided to skip the waterfalls.  The good thing is that on the way out of the park, we upgraded our passes to annual passes for $11 more per person.  So sometime in the Spring, we'll make the trek back to see the falls. 

Here’s the day’s photos:

For a late lunch, early dinner we ate at LaStrada Italian restaurant.  Italian sounded good to us AND they featured outdoor dining overlooking Lake Lure.  We over heard a server talking about a Charlotte location.  We confirmed with the guy at the hostess desk which turned out to be the owner/manager’s son.  They do indeed have a location here but 45 minutes away in the Wesley Chapel/Matthews area.  The food was delish.

That’s all I got!

10-19-11 Wednesday (Dangers!)

I kept pretty busy today.  There was a lot to do and I certainly didn’t get it all done.  I , of course, got some laundry done. 

I’ve been keeping things we don’t want in a pile for Goodwill.  Honestly the pile has grown into several piles.  We’ve decided to put what we can on consignment.  Unlike Goodwill, there will be some sort of monetary compensation, and unlike Craigslist, far less hassle.  So I took a few snapshots of the dinette furniture and gold couch, sent them to the consignment lady to see if she’d take them on.  She will.

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She only suggested taking photos of large items for pre-approval, smaller items can be brought in.

I sure miss Linen N Things.  The good news is that they still survive as an internet entity only.  The bad thing is that I hate ordering items that I’ve not seen in a store first, especially when it comes to d├ęcor items where colors may vary.  I took a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond and Anna’s Linens and picked up a valance for the kitchen window.  I want the Tuscan look sans the theme to appear every where.  I think they key is to have a few patterned themed items and the rest in complimentary colors.  I haven’t tried out my new purchases yet, I do have 3 from prior purchases to return because they were too sheer.

imageAbove: Stock photo from Anna’s Linen’s site.  I bought only the valance.

Next I went to a Kmart.  I haven’t been to one in a long time… mostly because the closest is 30 minutes away.  I did spot this while shopping:

2011-10-19 001Above: The straw placement.  Too funny.  They had a Buzz Lightyear too but his upper body swiveled and wouldn’t line up like this character. 

I struck out at Kmart.  There wasn’t anything there that I liked.  Once I got home I baked a cake.  Using a rose shaped Bundt cake pan that I have with some strawberry cake mix, I set out to create a gorgeous cake. 

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It’s been a few years since I’ve made it.  It always comes out so nice.  I then take a white icing and drizzle it down the sides.  It’s pretty… most of the time.

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I used Pam.  Pam let me down.  I think in the past I’ve used the flour spray (I didn't have any on hand).  Oh, and yes, I absolutely did drizzle the icing on it anyway.  Using my huge Tupperware cake holder, I entombed my disaster forever until Jim got home.  When he arrived, I joyfully shrieked, “I baked you a cake!”  He walked over, lifted the top, we laughed a lot and then had wine.  What’s wine got to do with it?  Absolutely nothing.  Perhaps if I had some prior to baking, it would have come out fine or I would have been too drunk to notice the deficiencies. 

Time to make dinner.  No, no, it went fine.  I made pork stir fry and it came out delish.  For something a little different, I bought a package of those Ramen type dehydrated cheap ass noodle things.  I discarded the 1260mg flavor salt packet.


The direction were a little amusing.  Read step 3, bold:

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The only thing better would have been some photo depicting the disaster.  Oh, like the one’s I’ve gotten before:

2008-09-18 Costco StaticAbove: Costco Sep 2008

2008-09-22 YS Danger SignAbove: Yellowstone Sep 2008

2008-09-28 CO BagAbove: A bag Sep 2008

2008-12-12 WA 27Above: Seattle Dec 2008

I live for this stuff.

10-16-11 Sunday (Sign, Sign, Nowhere A Sign)

We set off to make a bunch of returns and then to Shane’s Rib Shack for lunch.  We had 2 free meal coupons from a previous visit during some scratch and win type promo.  A free 3 piece chicken tender meal and a chicken tender salad.


I was surprised by the size of this salad.  The bowl was deep!  Of course I had to chose the fried tenders.  Mmmmm.


After lunch, we set off to a zoo approximately 45 minutes north of us.  Zootastic Park was a Groupon purchase Jim made a few months ago.  It was another zoo, similar to Tiger World that we had been to recently.  It wasn’t dumpy but not 100% professional either.  Some of the cages/exhibits didn’t seem quite right for viewing the animal.   Like a skunk in cage with a solid lower half that blocked views.  We later found out it was a monkey cage at one time.  Speaking of the skunk:

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The exhibits disappointingly lacked signage.  There was not a sign anywhere that told any info about the animal, not even what kind.  The visit starts with a tour and then you can roam around on your own.  The benefit of the tour is that most animals were removed from the cage, spoken about, and offered up the chance to hold or pet it.  The unfortunate part was the screaming kids, the slowness (for us) of the tour overall since everyone was offered a chance to hold or pet the animal. 

Overall, we enjoyed the visit.  Most of it was a giant petting zoo.  Here’s some more photos:

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2011-10-16 006Above: OK this one was just because the fly didn’t move.

2011-10-18 025Above: We purchased some interesting looking gourds.

After our zoo trip, we returned home to tackle a few projects.  Jim worked on the garage while I went grocery shopping.  Walmart sucks at peak times.  They just can figure out that if they’d keep the shelved stocked, customers will (a) have more to purchase and (b) be happier.

2011-10-16 022Above: Apparently Charlotte is very good about eating their veggies.  The frozen veggie aisle looked pretty sparse too.

2011-10-17 023Above: Jim installs 6 cabinets in his garage.  Yes, his garage, my kitchen.

2011-10-18 028Above: I installed this in the laundry room.  Isn’t it cute?

2011-10-18 024Above: I also purchased and installed a surround sound system.  Speakers to be mounted later.

2011-10-18 026Above: I built this chairside table.

Making progress.  There’s still SO much more to do.

10-15-11 Saturday (Automated)

I’ve been working on getting our X10’s sorted and eventually installed.  X10 is a geeky, tech, home automation type system.   The general overview is that with use of a computer, remotes and modules, it enables us to remotely control lights and such with macros, timers and remotes.   We have a ton of different modules. 


Our collection which I sorted by module:

2011-10-14 0072011-10-14 006Above: This is only 2 kinds of modules, the rest are in the box.

So anyway, there’s motion sensors, switches, outlets, plug in modules, etc.  We used a lot of these in our prior home years ago… especially for Halloween and Christmas lights.

I went to work today while Jim worked on his beloved garage and shopping.  He did pick up 2 awesome dinette chairs:

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Tomorrow, we take a trip to a zoo.  Stay tuned…

10-12-11 Wednesday (The Lord Visits Walmart)

Yesterday I unpacked 2 huge boxes in the kitchen.   Jim and I call serving dishes, chaffing dishes, etc "serveware".   We've amassed quite a collection over the years.  We like to entertain. 
I unpacked the boxes and washed what I had room for knowing that today I'd be able to complete the rest. Success!  It was a big job.  I washed everything and then found a home for it all.  Here’s the stuff, keep in mind that some of it was put away before the photo was taken.  Oy:
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The Artimino Crystal flatware got cleaned and put away too.  Here’s a photo and blog entry about it from December.  We’re still looking for another set since we only have service for 4.  If anyone sees it in a Dillard’s or somewhere, please let us know!
I went grocery shopping.  Well, actually first I returned a bunch of stuff.    Oh the joys of moving into a new place... returns.  It's all about buying stuff, taking it home, not liking it, not the right color, incorrect fit or whatever and then returning it.  In fact, we do this so much during the new home process that we keep returns with receipts in a Rubbermaid Tote to await it's return to the store.  Really. 
Returns... that brings me to a rant.  You'll only understand or perhaps even sympathize with me if you shop at Walmart.  When you walk in the door with a return, the greeter swoops in, has to scan each item, punch a few things into his scanner gun to get it to print a sticker.  Meanwhile, the tiny printer doesn't do anything and ya just have to wait.  Finally a sticker pops out of a tiny printer.  Inevitably, the greeter has difficulty peeling back the sticker from the wax paper.  This becomes a process.  He/she then points you into the direction of the service desk.  Are you with me so far?
So the other day I walk into Walmart with 7,878,857 little furniture protector cushions and shelf grip that Jim bought in OVER-preparation of the move.  With the protectors, some throw rugs, and other things I no longer wanted, it must have been about 20 different items.  Now referring to the paragraph above about the return process and combine that with my 20 item return equals me throwing a little attitude.  Just a smidgen.  I purposely went into the entrance closest to the service desk and when Mr. Greeter intercepted me I explained that I had too many items for him to scan and that I'd be going directly to the service desk that was 25 feet away.  He said OK, but he was annoyed, I could tell.  I then went to the service desk and she immediately asked where my stickers were.  I explained that I wouldn't let him sticker everything because I had so much.  She said... ready?  "Lord have mercy."  I couldn't believe she said that.  She might as well said, "oh boy, here we go."  Her name was Alice.  At least twice I reminded her that if she had a problem helping me then to call a manager.  Twice she went silent.  After our transaction, I did eventually complain to a manager.

So today, I made returns.  6 of them.  I let the door dude scan everything.  It took forever.  It's like punishment for making a return.  Scan, push some buttons, print a sticker, affix sticker, repeat.  Once it didn't print and he had to do it over but then it printed 2 stickers.  Ugh.  Alice was not my service desk worker this time.
The other evening while Jim and I were driving home, a fox trotted across the road.  Trotted.  Get it?  Anyway, it crossed the road ahead of us.  Jim has spotted one several months ago and I was bummed I didn't get to see it.  Now I'm happy... in case you wondered.
Above: Not the actual fox we saw.
Speaking of wild life, today while running errands I saw bulls.  With horns.  Big bulls.  Big horns.  Only a few miles away from the house!  I didn't get any photos but next time I'll be ready.
Thursday night, Jim removed the coat closet shelving and created a coat closet slash appliance storage:
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Above: Jim mess of tools for the project.
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Above: Coat half
Below: Appliance half
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Jim double stacked the coat closet which, wait for it… doubles the hanging space.  The pantry has more room for things we don’t need or have.  In the end, we’ll have empty unused space but not to worry, all the while I’ll be thinking, “I have extra space and you don’t.” 

10-10-11 Monday ($20 Hath Septeber)

Some time Friday afternoon, Pete and T arrived from Michigan.  I happened to pull an earlier shift so I was able to join Jim and company for dinner. 

On Saturday while I was at work, Jim took them to Linville Falls and Little Switzerland.  I heard the views were wonderful, the falls great and the leaves started changing.  Unfortunately the restaurant Jim and I patronize often wasn't open due to some event going on.

On Sunday we had mimosa brunch at Mimi's. 

2011-10-09 003Above: T and Pete.

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We attempted to go to the Renaissance Festival.  We tried.  The traffic barely moved and appeared as though no end was in sight.  After wasting a half hour we changed direction and headed for a home show.  While in route, we passed a mall and it was decided to switch gears and get some shopping done.  Jim and I shopped, Pete and T humored us.  We didn't stay there very long.  We went home and planned dinner.

While at the mall, I spotted this changeable Egyptian calendar:

2011-10-09 010Above: It’s $20.  Imagine the price if September were spelled correctly?

The leaves continue to change.  I think we’ll need another trip to Little Switzerland next weekend.

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Jim and I didn’t work on the house this weekend; it was a nice break.