Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shower Weekend...Take Two

I'm only slightly more awake today than yesterday.  I started out really well...but as the day crept on, the tiredness crept in...

Then, as punishment for the weekend imbibing, I did the 30 minute express workout at the gym at lunch.  This basically means, "In 30 Minutes...You'll Want to Puke."  But, in my head...it also means that those 30 minutes undid any damage that the various cheese steaks, wings, beers, burgers, cakes and pretzels did to my funny areas.

Today's episode is about the actual shower itself.  I really can't tell you the last time I went to an honest-to-God-ladies-only-Bridal-Shower.  I have always managed to be out of town or rundown with sick-o-shower-anemia.  Obviously, I couldn't miss this one (especially since the whole surprise trip was planned around it).

Amy's sister, Jenn - did a KICK ASS job on this shower.  I never, ever, ever want to be in charge of any shower ever because I will constantly compare it back to this one.

This cake was delicious -
although we had to drive to Lancaster to get it. 
It was a beautiful drive through Amish County. 
Except I had a lot of coffee prior to leaving.

And the party favors - little Yankee Candles! 
This is when it pays not to have any dudes at the party - they would have zero appreciation for these tiny gems of deliciousness.
And yes, I did take two. 
There were spares, I swear.

Here's the Table-of-the-Shower.  This is Michelle, Mimi, Drea, Kathy, Tara and Denise.  I haven't spend much, if any, time with any of these gals - but as soon as we all sat down...we pretty much forgot entirely about why we were there and went into full silly story mode. 

It was a perfect example of how a handful of strangers can get together and become close buddies in a matter of minutes.  Well, if they are of the female origin, anyway. 

That's Amy's sister and her...digging through the card box.  Who knew this was something you even needed?  Oh yes, my friends, not only for the shower, but evidently there has to be another contraption of sorts for the actual wedding where people can safely leave cards.  It could be a bird cage or a lantern or an over-priced over-sized yet occasion specific tissue box. 

And then there's this...
Here's my question...what's with the hat?
I didn't want to say anything, and maybe it's a Southern thing...
but at the showers I have gone to...
the bows were made into a bouquet to carry on rehearsal night.
Which seems less awkward.

All in all, the day was a resounding success.  Even the scrap booking went off perfectly.  Oh, wait, you wouldn't know about that as it was on the non-topicable list.  Yeah...so like a total idiot, I volunteer to be in charge of the scrapbook we'd all make for Amy.

Here's the thing.  I'm crafty (I got the moves).  I love Micheal's.  I love AC Moore.  I love glue.  I do not love realizing that there are *count-em* SIX aisles of scrap booking materials to choose from at any craft store.  Or that there are Scrap Cults and Clubs and Posses.  I literally started sweating every time I had to go back to exchange anything (and pretty much everything) because, of course, I couldn't buy the right stuff the first time around.

The really kicker of all of that?  It's actually a pretty cute little book we made.  Damn.

I know someday I'm going to make a fantastic bride.  I'm not one of those gals who is shy about the spotlight pointing directly toward me.  Presents?  Bring them on...I have no trouble sitting with a big pile of wrapping paper while everyone else yawns and wonders when it'll be over.  But if you look at this GINORMOUS grin on Amy's face...I gotta tell you...she may be giving me a run for the money. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

As it happens...I CAN keep a secret.

You probably wondered why I went 'dark' last week.  I mean, I've tried to stay in the habit of blogging on Wednesday-ish.  Last week, I intentionally skipped it altogether - which was tough, because I had a lot to say. 

Sadly, most of what I needed to say last week would have spoiled a BIG surprise for one of my BFF's...Amy.  See, last November, Amy decided to abandon our quest to become crazy cat ladies and got herself engaged.  I know what you're thinking - no worries, I'm fine.

Sometime in March, the plans began for her Bridal Shower - date picked: May 22nd.  Immediately, there were two worlds going - one in which Amy believed that her shower would not include myself or her other BFF, Denise (from California).  And the other world - where Denise and I were in cahoots with Jenn, Amy's sister...indeed, planning on coming to the shower in a top secret mission.

This has been very similar to the final episodes of Lost what with all the trickery, secrets and mystery.

And it's not that I can't keep a secret at all - it's that I tend to let things slip that I think aren't relevant at all to anything.  So, I have to go into full-avoidance mode fairly early in the game. 

I arrived in Pennsylvania Thursday night. Denise arrived Friday morning. This left us ALL day Friday to get excited for the surprise. Jenn had planned a big cookout with her parents, her husband and John and Amy.

Starting at 5pm.

Note to anyone trying to surprise Amy:  Make sure you keep John out of the loop as well. 

There will be more stories from the weekend ~ today's is just a short one. In a true sign of a great weekend - I could literally place my head on my desk right now and fall asleep...so trying to explain anything would be quite dangerous.

That's Denise and I - wearing these super cute t-shirts that have a Bride, a Groom and the word "Surprise!!" on them.  This was one of those good ideas that went totally awry the first time I tried to make them.  Take two was a win.  Even if we only got a few hours of use out of them. 

And here we are working on pages for the Scrapbook Project that I volunteered myself for.  Here are my thoughts on scrap booking after this experience:  Scrap booking is stupid.  Any craft that devotes six aisles to itself at Michael's is way to cocky.  People in the Scrapbook aisles are not quite right.  The great news is - our pages came out perfectly. 

You can just imagine the building excitement as 3pm went by...then 4pm...then 4.30pm...then a text from Amy saying not to expect them until 6ish-pm...then...what?!?!?!  Operation Surprise came to a screeching halt.

It was about this time that we started showing our hands...in our effort to 'encourage' Amy to come right over, we may have seemed a bit overly anxious.  This was the only hitch that got Amy thinking, "Hmmmmm"

Which was a bummer, because we pretty much had clear sailing.  But we were getting bored...and maybe a little buzzed.  
But it all worked out.  Denise and I (very logically) hid under the pool table inside (there was really no need to be under the pool table, but that didn't seem relevant).  And, one-by-one, we came out to surprise Amy. 

Okay, so more to come this week - we've still got to talk about the actual shower...and of course...my disdain for airports. 

In the meantime, I've got to lay my head back down on my desk and pretend I'm deep in prayer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I think I'm dating Ben Gay

We've had a really strange Spring so far here in North Cackalacky.  It's been up in the 90's...it's been near freezing (well, in the 50's - which prompted me to go to work in full winter attire).

Last Sunday called for Sunny and 70's.  I'm not sure what happened, but I woke up and decided to head to Home Depot to scrounge up some outdoor work - figuring it would be cool enough not to sweat.  As luck would have it, I arrived to find Landscaping Timbers on sale.  Perfect!

I've been wanting to spruce up my front walk for a while - and with a sale...well, heck, why not just do the front AND side yard.  As previously mentioned, grass does not grow well in my neighborhood, so anything I can do for my own curb appeal...that's affordable...is a bonus.

I went through ten eight-foot timbers on Sunday...a whole bunch of nails (to stake them)...several rounds with my circular saw (who needs a husband, really?) and when I finally called 'Uncle' had a much improved sidescape.

Looking out the front porch:
And looking back down the side of the house:

Now, before I go on - a reminder that men are stupid.  I came to work Monday super proud - showing off little pictures.  And what do I get from one of the dudes here?  "Why'd you do it like that??  Why didn't you stack the timbers to make big flower beds??"  I tried to explain that a) the ground SUCKS, so it is easier to pot plant and b) I live in a development with rules and c) I'm lazy....but he just kept going on and on. 

Newsflash!  When a gal shows you something she's really proud of, your only response should be, "Wow, that's great!"

Back to me.  So I go to bed Sunday night jazzed up, though a bit exhausted from the project.  I still had to finish off the 'beyond the AC Unit part' - just another 14 feet, so planned on that for Monday night.

And then it happened.  I woke up Monday morning and quickly became aware of exactly how many times I'd squatted down on Sunday.  I immediately calculated how many times I went from a squat to a stand.  Then did some more math on times I'd bent over and carried eight foot timber around and nailed stuff.

Holy God.  I was quite sure a quick look in the mirror at anything between by heels and upper back would appear an escape hatch from which all my muscles were jumping - on their way to find a host that would be less abusive and unkind.

Sitting physically hurt my legs.  Standing required a deep intake of breath.  And walking....became a planned event as I had to allocate an extra five minutes to get anywhere for 'warm-up' time.

I started popping drugs like I owned stock in the company. 

I pulled out the old heating pad and made a vain attempt to actually crawl inside of it.

And, oooooh, Ben Gay....my friend...my confident...the keeper of all my secrets....we have spent a LOT of time together as of late. 
There is no such thing as unscented BenGay.  Honestly, the smell doesn't bother me at all.  I want to know something is working it's way through the shards of glass that have replaced my muscle tissue in an effort to ease the pain. 

I want people around me to smell it and think, "Wow, someone's going through a battle right now."  Hell, I'd even go out in public on purpose just so people could smell me....but the effort, oh the effort.

Referring back to my athletic days - I knew that Monday wasn't going to be the worst of it...this was a going to be a multi-day issue.  And I was right Tuesday - just as bad.  Hello Ben, come on in....

And then today, like the sun bursting through the clouds after a week long rain (okay, a two day rain)...I was able to get out of bed with nary a grimace.  Thank you Ben!!

My only issue now is fate...I've got to finish off the last 14 feet on Sunday...it's supposed to be 80/Sunny and I will forgo sunscreen for a few shots of 15% Methyl Salicylate and 10% Menthol.

Dear Coppertone...I just came up with a brilliant idea for you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Turns out, the grass ISN'T greener

I've been slacking a bit in the blog world. I think when I started this project, I was planning on three times per week;  that quickly changed to twice per week...and now I'm aiming for Wednesdays-ish.  Turns out I had a lot of stories in my head - and once I got them out, the writing slowed for a bit. 

Anyhoo - this week, I actually have been busy as the designated Renegade Leader on my street. 

For some background - I live in a development that includes both townhomes and single family homes.  Those of us in the townhomes pay an HOA premium to have our yards landscaped (mowed, edged, seeded...just looking spiffy).

You can just imagine our surprise a few weeks ago when our whole street got letters indicating that we needed to repair the large bare spots in our grass as we were in violation of the covenants.  And, the letter, continued - 'this most likely happened because you are driving on your grass'.

Come again?
Well, obviously we are driving on our grass...in such an intricate way that we are not taking out the mailboxes on our way through.
Or the electric, phone and cable boxes. And, in some cases - at a 45 degree angle.

Our Violations Committee has lost its mind. 

So, I've spent the last two weeks out riling up the neighborhood.  I've also taken a ton of pictures of the bare spots.  And using my CSI/NCIS/SVU training, I was able to find the common denominator on the bare spots...and it wasn't that they were all part of a racetrack!

Hello Clay.  Filled with Rocks.  You are not helping. 

Many of my neighbors have lived here since the building of this development - and...shocking!, there has never been grass on most of these bare spots.

Evidently, the HOA just figured that out (twelve years later) and have got themselves in a bind over the cost of sodding the entire development.  Doh!

Have you ever tried to fight an HOA?  Next time I'll be taking a pin with me...because I'm pretty sure I'd rather poke a pin directly into my eye than go through this again.

I'll give you just one - my favorite - example of our meeting last night.  We've been asked to sod all bare spots (which means tearing out the clay, tilling, resoiling) - so we'll also have to adhere to a pretty tight watering schedule for the first month. 

Several on our street do not have spickets at the front of their homes - only in the back.  When one of those residents asked how she was supposed to water with no spicket, she was told to 'buy a watering can.'  Really?? 

Never mind that they want this all done now.  For those of you who haven't heard of North Carolina (and I'm assuming at least half of the Violations Committee hasn't) - despite that fact that it starts with the word "North..." it's actually in the south.  You cannot plant grass seed or sod at this time of year.  We've already started our 90+ degree days...it will die.

Now, I have no doubt at all that we are going to lose this battle.  Our only goal, really, was for the HOA to plant the sod and then we'd promise to take care of it.  But it was was of those meeting where you knew you were beat before you even got to utter one word. 

I guess there are positives.

I've gotten to know a lot of my neighbors.

And, in lieu of grass we can alter our landscape with mulch, stone or plant other things as long as we maintain it.  Do they sell Poison Ivy at the nursery?