Basketball & Music

February 1st, 2016 No comments

The Friday before last we went to E’s high school for a basketball game since the school band plays before and during the game. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it since I’m not into sports, but it was surprisingly fun! The home team is really good and beat the visiting team by 30 points. The game definitely kept my attention which isn’t easy when it comes to sports. I was telling Joe that if forced to watch sports, the least boring ones are hockey, then basketball. I then proceeded to name a ton of other sports, including golf and curling, and then ended the list with football just to annoy him since he loves football. Honestly, I don’t mind it being on in the house but there’s no way I’m going to sit down and watch a game start to finish. I won’t even do that for hockey! I’ll go to a game, though.

When we entered the gym where the game was being held, Joe’s ex’s parents were in the stands and waved to us, so we went and sat with them. They are nice people and have always been friendly to me which I appreciate. I’ve spoken to them more over the years than his ex, in fact!

The following evening we ended up going to a local restaurant where Joe’s old friend from high school was playing drums with his band. It didn’t start until 9:30 pm which for us is nearly past our bedtime so it was weird to be going out so late. It was literally two stoplights from the house, though, so that helped. We ended up having a super late dinner listening to them play for an hour and a half. It was something different and I enjoyed it even though the music they played wasn’t my favorite (oldies).

Categories: Excursions, Kids Tags:

Panera Gift Card Hacked

January 24th, 2016 No comments

Yesterday we decided to have lunch at Panera so I grabbed my “new” gift card to pay for it since there was only $8 left on an older card. Imagine my surprise when the cashier told me the $50 card had a $0 balance! WTF? He was going to keep the card but I took it back because I was pretty sure I hadn’t used it and I wanted to look into it further. It’s been sitting with our other unused gift cards in the house because a) I don’t have room in my wallet for all the gift cards we have and b) we don’t eat at very Panera often.

This morning I went online to check the balance and saw that someone used the card within two days of each other last month. It only shows the store # but not the location, and there’s no way to search Panera’s site by store # so I can’t figure out where it was used. I searched several cities around here and even in other states hoping I’d come across the store # (since it’s only listed in the search results) but I couldn’t figure it out.

I called Discover and explained the situation and they were kind enough to reimburse me the $45 in cashback I had used to purchase the card back in 2014. I’m glad we’re not out any money but I’d love to know who stole the # and used it. Unfortunately, it will forever remain a mystery.

I don’t know if I’ll order another Panera card anytime soon since we visit so infrequently (obviously) and I don’t want to let any future gift cards sit around for so long again. I’m guessing whoever hacked their gift card system specifically targeted cards that had been dormant for over a year thinking maybe they were lost and they could get away using them. As it is I have gift cards from Red Robin and Bahama Breeze to use anyway.

Categories: Rants & Observations Tags:

Incoming and Outgoing

January 18th, 2016 No comments


We took to Craigslist recently to get rid of a few things. Even though we are less than pleased with our new mattress, we’re stuck with it, so the old one needed to go as it was taking up too much space. We quickly found an interested party because people love free and within a day it was gone. We didn’t get so lucky with our old 19″ tube TV or the broken 32″ LCD. There were two interested parties in the LCD but both of them flaked, so I told Joe to just put both TVs out on the curb the day before trash pickup to see what would happen and the next morning they were gone. So sometimes Craigslist works and sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth.


I ordered lots of Bath & Body Works stuff when they had their 75% off sale earlier this month. I had a $20 off $50 coupon so I went a little nuts. My cousin is to blame for getting me hooked on them to begin with, damn her!

Bath & Body Works Haul

I also ordered a wide angle lens for my camera.

Canon Wide Angle Lens & Hood

The funny part is I ordered it the weekend before my birthday in hopes it would arrive in time for us to visit the conservatory to try it out. The day before my birthday I received a notice from Amazon saying it was cancelled due to lack of availability even though when I checked Amazon it was there and in stock but mysteriously $20 more than before (and yes, both listings were shipped and sold by Amazon). The next day I went to a local camera shop to see if I could buy one but the only wide angle they had was a 3rd party one for $500. No thanks! Saturday evening I got on a chat with Amazon, explained the situation, and asked them to honor the original price, which they did. The kicker? The damn thing shipped almost immediately and I had it Sunday afternoon! Son of a…

So anyway, I haven’t really been able to test it yet but I think it will be great for landscapes. It’s 10-18 mm which is perfect since my next lens is 18-55 mm. We’re planning on going to the Chicago Auto Show this year so it will really come in handy then.

Saturday we made a trip to IKEA with E to look for a few things, including a TV stand for his room at home to hold the new TV we got him for Christmas. First we had breakfast in their restaurant which isn’t fancy, but super cheap. It was $8.78 for three people. You really can’t beat that. Plus when all was said and done it ended up being free because they had a promotion when you spend $100 or more they will refund you any restaurant purchases for that day. We laughed when they gave us that coupon because we never spend that much but we did because E’s stand was $68 alone plus we got some other small things including a rubber wisk, two cutting boards, 5 candles (2 for E and three for me), two silk flowers in pots, a candle holder, and a nightlight for the bathroom.


The candles are particularly interesting because they’re only $1.97 for 25 hours of burn time and they are very fragrant but not as much when you burn them. I don’t even know what that grey one is supposed to be (they don’t describe the scents on the packaging) but it smells awesome.


The nightlight was dubbed a ghost but it looks like a panda for me. It will eliminate the need to keep swapping the nightlight in the bathroom for my hair dryer which is a real PITA because that particular outlet is really snug and I have to jiggle the nightlight back and forth just to remove it. This new nighlight changes colors and is rechargeable to it will sit on the bathroom sink.

Yesterday we hit up a few places including Savers’ 50% off sale. Joe got two t-shirts and I got a sweater, a knitted beanie, an awesome pair of Star Wars pajama pants for only $1.50, and four new blankets to use in the rats’ cages.

Star Wars Pajama Pants

Fleece for my rats

We also stopped at the calendar store in the mall where everything was deeply discounted. I got a frog calendar to hang up in the my cubicle at work. I was using a generic one from our village but it’s ugly so $4 is a small price to pay to have something nicer to stare at three days a week.

New Card Games

We also picked up a hilarious board game I plan to give Brother #1 on his birthday and for us I picked up two card games because I love adding to our game collection. Our total for all four items was only $22 (which includes tax).

As you can tell, we definitely had more come into the house than leave, although size-wise it takes up less space.

Categories: Photos, Shopping Tags:


January 15th, 2016 No comments

Last year was a rather lonely one. We got together with friends here and there but not nearly as often as I would have liked. Everyone was always too busy (or they just said that because they don’t like us, who knows). This year I decided I had enough. You can’t force people to hang out with you, and as much as I love the small group of friends we have, I was growing frustrated with their lack of availability.

So I decided to join Meetup. I actually signed up on the site years ago but never went to any events. I forgot all about it too because when I signed up (again) I used a different email address so now I have two accounts. I joined a bunch of social groups and some game related ones and encouraged Joe to do the same.

I’m happy to report we attended our first meetup this past Tuesday evening and it was awesome! I didn’t even take a Xanax beforehand even though I was very nervous about meeting a bunch of new people.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the host greeted us and promptly split us up by assigning us to separate tables. At first I was freaked out, but she pointed out we were there to meet new people, not socialize with each other.

My table consisted of another host, and two women. A little later in the evening two latecomers, both male, joined us as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the conversation flowed and how no one really interrupted or had their eyes glaze over when I was speaking. Hell, my own friends aren’t that courteous! Then again, it might just be over-politeness when meeting new people. Either way, though, it was fantastic. I’m really looking forward to having more things to do socially this year.

There were a total of 31 people at this event but due to the small tables it didn’t feel overwhelming. We arrived around 5:45 pm and left at 8:45 pm since our “bedtime” is 10 pm! Of course, once we got home we were both too wired to sleep. Coupled with not getting a good night’s rest the night before, it kinda sucked, but was well worth it. We almost never go out on a weeknight so it was a welcome change to our schedule.

Here’s the interesting part – I posted on Facebook about our Meetup experience, mentioning that last year I suffered from several bouts of loneliness. Not ten minutes later I get a Facebook message from my ex asking if Joe and I would like to join him and his wife next weekend to see a comedy show. That’s odd for a few reasons:

1) We’ve gotten together once before in 2014 when I hosted a game night, and since then I’ve tried to plan something with them but they can never make it. I was even telling Joe on the car ride home from our Meetup that we were never going to hang out with this couple again (not for the lack of wanting to, but due to their unavailability).

2) I usually chat with his wife about these things. I very rarely chat with my ex because I don’t want her to think I have some weird hidden agenda. We dated for three months twenty years ago and it wasn’t serious.

3) The last chat I had with her included me telling her if she ever wants to come over, with or without her husband, she’s free to hit me up and she didn’t even acknowledge it. I figured that meant she wasn’t interested in hanging out with me (although if the tables were turned I would have at least said thank you or something just to be polite instead of flat-out not responding).

I’m guessing due to her lack of response before she felt awkward messaging me herself, or maybe she really doesn’t want to hang out but he does. I’m not sure, but it feels awfully like a pity invite considering the timing. We probably won’t be going regardless because E is supposed to be coming over that weekend, although I need to make sure that’s still the case when he comes over tonight (we swapped weekends so he’s over two in a row).

Categories: Friends, Life Tags:

Extended Birthday Weekend

January 11th, 2016 No comments

I worked Mon-Fri this past week so I could have my birthday off on Thursday and Joe took Thursday and Friday off to spend it with me.

Thursday I woke up to this:

40th Birthday Decorations

Then we went to Egg Harbor Cafe for brunch and to the Container Store. Believe it or not, I walked out empty-handed. I love browsing that place so much but can’t bring myself to buy anything most visits. There was one thing that caught my eye but the line was ridiculously long for a weekday afternoon so we just left.

For dinner we went to Happy Elephant and then stopped at Carson’s to browse. Joe ended up buying a faux leather jacket that was 60% off. He looks quite sexy in it. I got a small wallet, but I teased him about his purchase and wished him a happy birthday. LOL

We only went into Carson’s to kill time before an improv show at the Laugh Out Loud theater.

For my own reference, here’s the actors we saw that night:

DJ Cashmere
Jay Gish
Jin Kim
Sean Sullivan
Rudy Voit

There were some other people in the first group we saw (the above are considered the main players) but they aren’t listed on the website which is unfortunate because the one guy really reminded me of someone and I wanted to know more about him. Oh well.

It wasn’t very crowded so we were in the first row which was cool because you could see everything well, but a little nerve-wracking since the actors depend on the audience for suggestions and would put you on the spot sometimes. That stuff makes me anxious but I did ok and by the end was shouting out my own suggestions. It was a good time. The last time we were there was nearly six years ago with a group of friends but two of them didn’t enjoy the experience as much as we did and one is sadly no longer with us as she passed away last year.

After the show we stopped at this interesting burger bar called Kuma’s Corner where they play heavy metal music. Usually that sort of stuff gives me a raging headache but I really liked the atmosphere. Too bad the food wasn’t all that. We shared an order of fried pickles and a burger, neither of which impressed us. That being said, we’d go back to try something else since we liked the place overall and the staff was very nice. Oh, and being a bar there was some interesting graffiti in the bathroom. I memorized a few to relate to my brother since we share the same dirty sense of humor but I won’t post it here other than to say that one gem had to do with farts and the other with penises. Oh, and someone drew a shark wearing a tutu on the wall which cracked me up.

Earlier in the week I asked a couple of friends whether they wanted to meet up for Friday might BINGO but only one of the four was available, so I ended up asking my mom if we could stop by for a game night instead. I would have loved to have a party at our place but my mom can’t visit due to her sensitivities, so I basically invited myself over instead. It was just me, Joe, my parents, and Brother #1. We had Panda Express (for me) and pizza (for my dad, whose birthday was on the 5th) as well as homemade chocolate cupcakes my mom made. She also bought me a yellow cake. “What, no lemon?!?” I exclaimed (she used to bake me lemon cakes when I was a kid).

Birthday Cake

Brother #1, who already gave me my main birthday present back at Christmas since he wasn’t sure when he’d see me next, gave me some dark chocolate, Sour Patch Kids, three boxes of Nerds (“what are you implying?” I asked him with a smirk), and this card because he’s a punk. It did make me laugh, though.


We played Smartass and Taboo which was a blast. My brother was my partner for Taboo and we beat Joe and my mom by one point. It was a fun evening! Even though we left just before 11 pm we didn’t get to bed until 2 am because we were a little wired when we got home.

Saturday we ran some errands including stopping at Noodles & Company for my free bowl of birthday noodles and Jamba Juice for a free five fruit frenzy. Glad I’m done with all that eating now! Once we got home early afternoon we hunkered down to ride out the snow that was expected to fall (although it wasn’t as much as they predicted). We watched Sleeping With Other People which was better than I was expecting, if not predictable.

Sunday I slept in a bit and we lazed around the house until about 4 pm when we decided to go out and grab some boneless wings.

Today I did my regular Monday cleaning and made some banana breakfast muffins. Not exactly looking forward to going back to work. I really enjoyed my five day weekend!

Categories: Family, Fun & Games, Photos Tags: