Monday, February 22, 2010

Week 8 - My New Laptop

In a week where my #1 goal was to catch up on everything I’d not done last week because of my reading binge, the highlight was getting my new laptop.

For years I’ve been limping along with my old desktop mac. I lost the ability to stream video long ago, which seriously cramped my TV watching because I don’t have cable and never hooked my VCR up to my new TV so I counted on Hulu to watch anything I missed. When I couldn’t do Hulu anymore, I just stopped watching a few shows. But the last straw came when I could no longer open pdf files. Yes, pdf’s - the files everyone can open, even with no software. So when Carolyn, who has been looking for a good deal on a laptop for awhile, called to say she had found a the perfect laptop, I jumped online and bought one for myself. It was delivered Friday so I headed home for a weekend of catching up.

Well, I did catch up on laundry, chores and cooking but also spent a chunk of time this weekend getting my new computer set up and watching lots of TV on Hulu. Not only is Hulu super quick, I can now stream videos on Netflix, which I took advantage of Saturday night. I don’t have wireless but my favorite chair and hassock are right in front of my desk so all I had to do was shift the modem a few feet and I’m up and operational. I’m sitting in my chair now typing away. Now I need to get busy and do my taxes, something I’m not looking forward to. Who does? Here’s hoping I get enough back to make a dent in the cost of my England trip. : )

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week 7 - Under the Dome

I started Stephen King's new book, Under the Dome, last Sunday night at bedtime. From that point until this Sunday night, I did nothing but read. If I wasn't at work, in the pool, driving or sleeping, I was reading. From first thing in the morning until I fell asleep at night with the book in front of my pillow, I read. No TV (except the Survivor premiere), no chores, no cooking - nothing! In a week where I worked 40 hours, went to water aerobics 3 times and prepped for the Wine & Dine, I still managed to read 1074 pages. I have not been so enthralled by a book since I first read The Stand in the early 80's. So chalk up this week to me being under the dome.

But that's not to say nothing of note happened. After the pool on Tuesday, I stopped at Belinda's house to pick up some cat food for Husker Cats and then was heading home to watch Lost (I would have given up reading for that.) But while approaching a red light on Cornhusker Highway, I went over the pot hole from hell and popped a tire, bent a rim and lost a hubcap. I pulled into the first available parking lot and called AAA. Good thing I had my book with me because it took them an hour to get there. By the time they had the donut installed and I drove home, it was nearly 9:00. Fast forward to the next morning when I start hunting for a rim. There was one in Des Moines so I paid $123 to get it shipped to Lincoln. On Thursday morning I picked it up and took it to T. O. Haas to get a set of long overdue tires. I was ridiculously excited to drive on the new tires. I really need to get a life! And had I not been driving on really bad tires, my rim probably would have survived the pot hole from hell. I just chalked it up to another instance of my procrastination costing me money. It's the nature of the beast. And can you guess how much it drove me nuts to drive slow on the donut? The manual said the max speed was 50 but I wanted to go 70 so split the difference, set my cruise for 60 and still was the slowest car on the road. GRRRR!

The library's Wine & Dine was Sunday so I spent a chunk of Saturday and Sunday dealing with door prizes, which I volunteer to do every year. I had already scavenged my house for items to put into baskets but also had to deal with repackaging and wrapping prizes that were supposed to be dropped off ready to give but were naked. Sheesh! We had an inch of snow overnight Saturday followed by 45 mph winds on Sunday morning, which lead to white out conditions. I tried to go to Fremont in the morning to buy a laptop but couldn't see the hood of my car and turned around just as they were closing the highway. (Not to let weather stop me from hitting a good sale, I ordered the laptop online so it'll arrive Wednesday.) The same winds kept about a third of the people who'd bought tickets from getting to the Wine & Dine but it went on regardless and was nice. But with only 20 pages left to read, I was watching the clock, impatient for the entertainment (a man who sang love songs, mostly from the 50's, who also did an unfortunate duet with his granddaughter) to be over so I could head home. I was out the door at the first possible chance. I finished the book (loved it!) and went to bed – a nice end to a non-productive but interesting week. Here's hoping this week is less "interesting."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week 6 - No More Foundation

The week started with my birthday. Since we have to bring treats to the office for our own birthday, a practice I HATE (why should I have to bake for my own birthday?), I brought donuts and cottage cheese dip to appeal to both the sweet and savory camps. Mary, Nora and Dale took me to lunch at Tico’s, which is an odd choice for me because my thoughts on Mexican are glop on a plate with cheese, but I wanted nachos so I picked it. Monday night was book club, so I brought banana cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert, which stood in for birthday cake. It is one of my faves and was super yummy so it worked. They even sang happy birthday to me. Add the 3 lots of chocolate I got and it was a nice birthday.

I got off work early on Wednesday to get my tooth fixed, which happily did not require a crown but just a filling. That’s $300 more in my pocket. I had grand plans of getting all kinds of things done after my appointment, most importantly doing the last annual report for the Library Foundation and getting all the paperwork ready for the new treasurer. As usual, I procrastinated the library stuff in favor of sitting in the sun, reading and drinking tea. But once the sun went down, I did manage to make some dinner and a pie for Ed, my friend Donna’s husband who fixed my drip in the basement. I delivered it and then went to bed early because Thursday was going to be along day.

The plan for Thursday was water aerobics then meeting Lorri for dinner at Panera followed by the movies. That was until all kinds of crap started falling from the sky. In the morning it snowed, then it turned to rain and by the time I was leaving campus after water aerobics, the inch of messy slush was starting to freeze and I was hydroplaning on partially frozen slush over a base of ice. It was the worst drive yet this season so I was glad Lorri and I had cancelled.

By Friday night, I could no longer procrastinate the library stuff so dug into the bank statements with a vengeance. The annual report, which I’d started earlier, wasn’t tying. A couple of hours later, having gone through 12 months of statements line by line, I finally figured it out. Once I’d saved all the treasurer’s reports to a flash drive, organized all the bank stuff in a binder and finished the annual report, I went to bed and slept like a baby. I dropped it all at the library on Saturday morning and was DONE! After 7 years on the Library Foundation, all 7 as an officer, I am at last rid of it. And at the Friends’ meeting on Saturday, I learned that the Foundation was going to handle all the landscaping and I would only be able to help if I asked permission. Cross that off! My library volunteering is now down to just being a Friend. Life is good!

The weekend was nice. I ran some errands after leaving the library and then headed home to shovel the driveway and read in the sun with a cup of tea before meeting Lorri and her husband at the new Mexican restaurant in Wahoo for an early supper. Mexican twice in one week – unprecedented! The food and company were good and I got home early enough to get some cooking and neatizing done. I was trying to make a dent in my chores so I could spend some time organizing the craft room on Sunday.

Well, I did get a bit done downstairs but not as much as I’d hoped. The sun was beckoning me upstairs so I sat in the front room and finished The Year of Wonders (the library book club book), which was about the plague and very good. I also did a ton of cooking so have lots of healthy food for the week. And while the whole world was watching the Super Bowl, I started Stephen King’s new book Under the Dome, which is gripping so far and at 1000+ pages, I can see where next weekend is headed. Good thing I finished that library crap. : )

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week 5 - Catch Up Weekend

It was a nice week that seemed normal yet jam packed. I started the week in the dentist’s chair where I got the good news that I probably wouldn’t need a crown, just a filling. Yay! My evenings were what made the week feel so full. I knitted on Monday and then did water aerobics every other night. Four in a row is a record for me, which I survived just fine so I should make it a habit. While my exercising nixed any potential week night productivity, I finally had a productive weekend at home to finally catch up on things that have been on the to do list since break.

My weekend began with a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 on Saturday, which got me up and dressed ready to face the day. I had gone through my house that morning looking for things to include in door prize baskets for the Wine & Dine and came up with lots. I brought a few to the meeting to help get people thinking about what they could donate. From the library I ran a few errands and was home in time for lunch. I began my chores just as the sun came out for what felt like the first time in weeks. I put a chuck roast on to cook and got busy. By the time I sat down to supper, most of my chores were done. Helen was picking me up at 7:00 Sunday morning for my birthday breakfast at Mimi's so I went to bed early.

Helen arrived at 7:10 (earlier than I'd expected) and we had a nice breakfast of pain perdu (marmalade and cream cheese stuffed French toast.) Mimi's had always been on the must do list when I went to LA every year so it was fun to go again. We talked for a long time and still were home before 10:00, which meant I had the whole day and had already had some fun. I think this will have to become a birthday tradition. I spent Sunday reading in the sun (I had 200 pages yet to read on The People of the Book and book club was Monday night) and cooking.

I made banana cake for book club, cottage cheese dip for work and one of my new faves, polenta with chard, which I was inspired to try from this blog post. Now the original had a fried egg on top but I’d been making mine with sausage mixed with the chard and the whole thing topped with shredded cheese. Well, this time I didn’t have any sausage thawed so I tried it the original way, topping the chard with a fried egg and mixing the cheese in with the polenta. When the slightly runny egg yolk coated the chard? YUM! Try this recipe. And while you’re at it, try this recipe for cottage cheese dip. I found the idea for it on the web but it had no measurements so I’ve been playing with it and have it down. Everyone at work loves it too. Here goes….

Cottage Cheese Dip
12 oz. Cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded muenster cheese
1 package onion soup mix w/o onions (put the soup mix through a sieve and discard the onions or save them for something else)
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 chopped green onions, white and green parts

Mix together and chill. It’s great with crackers.
P.S. The original recipe said to mix it in a mixer, which I’ve never done but it might give it a creamier texture. Maybe next time.