Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

01/02 (Tue) – Purchased the lifetime subscription to UpNote and moved all my notes over.

01/03 (Wed) – Made some delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. For years this was Joe’s specialty, but when he got COVID the first time I decided to take his recipe and tweak it. Now we can’t go back to the original because my version, while more time consuming, is so much more flavorful.

01/06 (Sat)My friend came over for us to celebrate Christmas and my birthday.

01/07 (Sun) – Visited Morton Arboretum

01/09 (Tue) – Finally got around to trying this spiced chai (tea) we got at Trader Joe’s last year. It’s very good! One of the best teas I’ve had, in fact.

01/10 (Wed) – Nearly got run over in two separate parking lots while shopping.

First at Costco was an old lady backing out right as we were walking behind her car. Joe had to punch her trunk to get her attention. Luckily she wasn’t going very fast.

But the scarier incident was merely ten minutes later at Aldi when a lady in a giant SUV literally started peeling out of her spot, almost turning right into us as we were walking alongside her vehicle. She must have stomped on that gas hard because when she heard us yelling she ended up skidding in the spot trying to stop.

What the hell is wrong with people?

01/12 (Fri) – Did a major paper declutter/filing which was overdue (when isn’t it?)

01/13 (Sat) – Purchased Nintendo Online membership for the year so I could play some of the old Nintendo and Super Nintendo games. Namely, F-Zero and the Japanese version of Planet Puzzle League. What can I say, I like simple games.

Also installed a new Apple Watch screen protector after realizing mine had disappeared from my watch without me noticing right away.

01/14 (Sun) – Joe installed the new corner shower caddy, which we got from Costco for $60, in the upstairs guest bathroom.

I like that the shelves cannot slide down the pole like the old one that was using a rubber ring to keep it in place. It also looks nicer, and hopefully will not rust like the previous one. The thing I don’t like, however, is how the lowest shelf cannot be installed all the way at the bottom so that it sits on the corner of the tub. It holds the heaviest products, which makes it sag a bit, so all the bottles want to slide to the front. I find that irritating, and didn’t realize it would work that way until everything was put together. When Joe renovates the master bathroom, he’s going to put a large cutout in the shower so no caddy will be necessary.

01/17 (Wed)Recycled and donated multiple items and did some shopping.

01/18 (Thu) – Joe works across town so we took advantage of that and met up at our village hall to check out a small bimonthly indoor market where we purchased tacos, salsa (verde), egg rolls, and cupcakes. All items ended up being underwhelming except two of the cupcakes.

The flavors from top left to bottom right are vanilla bourbon, whatchamacallit, chocolate malt, and cannoli. We’d only get the first two again.

01/20 (Sat) – Joe did some more work on our dryer. The slides keep deteriorating, so earlier in the month he replaced a piece on the top inside portion of the door that had worn down and put in new slides. The dryer was still squealing a lot, so he replaced the bearing in it as well. They no longer sell dryers like ours so we’ve been really reluctant to replace it as not only would we lose precious space in the laundry room, which is already cramped enough, but most of the dryers we’ve looked at have sloped tops on them. Why, I do not know! Our laundry room is also the entrance into the house from the garage so the dryer is a makeshift table for us and needs to be flat (we have a liner on top to protect the surface).

01/23 (Tue) – I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. One polyp was found and removed, and even though the doctor thought I had issues with my esophagus, the biopsy results indicated otherwise. It’s a bit confusing, and I’m planning on making a follow up appointment with him to discuss everything further.

01/24 (Wed) – Cancelled Amazon Prime. It’s gotten so expensive at $140 annually, we rarely watch shows on Prime, and packages tend to get delayed so you’re not getting them in two days anymore. The breaking point came when they announced they’d be adding commercials to their Prime content unless you paid them $3 more per month for ad-free viewing. WTF? Even though, like I said, we don’t watch much Prime, it’s the principal of the thing. They keep jacking up rates and giving you less in return for your money. I think this will save us even more money in the long term since we won’t be placing orders until we have multiple things we want to buy.

01/27 (Sat) – Went to Woodfield Mall. It had been nearly a year since we’ve been in any malls at all (and the last time was Woodfield too, in fact). We no longer shop out of boredom (or for “fun”) and only when we need something specific.

They added a new anchor store called Primark which is based out of Ireland. I picked up a cheap pair of sneakers for walking on the treadmill since my old ones are literally falling apart. Was crossing my fingers they fit well (spoiler alert, they didn’t); these are the fourth pair of shoes I’ve tried. Not sure what is going on, but finding a comfortable pair of walking shoes has been difficult lately. Even the more expensive ones have been duds (such as the Pumas I got from Costco that I ended up returning). I did learn that I need the shoe to fit snugly (so even though I wear a size 8, I’m better off with a 7 or 7.5) and one that has a shape similar to an hourglass instead of just a wide toe box but narrow everywhere else.

The mall got pretty crowded by noon so we high-tailed it out of there and back to the safety of home, but not before picking up Bibibop. Luckily that location made everything as ordered!

Enjoyed the following movies and series in January:

Leo (Netflix) – An animated movie about a lizard (voiced by Adam Sandler) who talks to school children and helps them with life’s issues. Super cute and funny.

Self Reliance (Hulu) – Starring Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick, this was a pretty unusual movie that had you guessing what was really going on the whole time. Truthfully, the main draw was Andy Samberg’s cameo, which was a bit disappointing.

Interstellar – I’ve been meaning to watch it for years and after a recent discussion with a friend, who said it was one of their favorite movies, I felt it was time. Was it good? Yes. Would I ever watch it again? Doubtful.

Hijack (Apple TV) – Starring Idris Elba, this drama mini-series had enough intrigue and drama to keep my attention, although I didn’t find his acting in particular all that engaging.

Queenpins (Netflix) – Kirsten Bell is entertaining, which was no exception in this comedy about a pair of women who create a fraudulent coupon empire.

Ted (Peacock) – I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about this limited series, but after two episodes I really got into it. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with CGI these days. Ted looks amazing and blends in seamlessly with the actors. Plus the show is just funny.

School Spirits (Netflix) – What a unique premise – Maddie, a teen stuck in the afterlife, investigates her own disappearance with the help of her fellow dead schoolmates whose souls are also stuck on school grounds. It keeps you guessing until the last episode which still leaves you with questions, hopefully which will be answered in season 2.

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Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Today was supposed to be Wookie’s internal specialist vet visit (to address her kidney disease), that was scheduled over a month ago, and which Joe took a half day off work to attend. I woke up at 7 am to a text that was sent at 4:30 am saying the specialist wouldn’t be in the office and we’d need to reschedule.

I called the facility to confirm the text was legit, since the phone number it came from wasn’t the vet office, and the woman who answered told me oh no it was just some error the ultrasound tech made. It wasn’t until I read her the text that she put me on hold only to come back and confirm that yes, the doctor wouldn’t be in and I’d have to wait to hear from the department that can reschedule the appointment. Why do people talk out of their ass? What if I just took her word and went there, wasting both time, and money on gas, only to learn it really was cancelled? I swear, people don’t think before they speak!

So anyway, I asked her if I’m going to get a discount for the inconvenience. After all, I pointed out, if I were to cancel with less than 48 hours notice they would keep my $100 deposit. She assured me my deposit would be fine and applied to the rescheduled visit. I explained that wasn’t what I asked her. Seriously, I have very little patience for people who don’t actually listen! She said someone would have to call me back about that. She also tried to say something about just getting there and not handling that stuff. I told her I know she isn’t personally responsible, but she’s the one I’m asking to find out. Ugh!!! I thought this was implied. This happens too often where people who represent a company act like you’re personally accusing them of something. It’s so irritating! Is this what people mean when they accuse people of being snowflakes? This woman couldn’t handle being screamed at like I did when I worked customer service for the cable company. And to be clear, while it’s true I wasn’t happy with getting a last minute cancellation, I was certainly not screaming at her or being rude. Get over yourself, and do your job.

Anyway, to make the most of a crappy situation, we went to Chick-fil-a for breakfast since there was a free breakfast sandwich in our accounts for the Blackhawks winning or something. Then later on we ran some errands. I donated books to the library, including one called The Queen Gene by Jennifer Coburn I had won through Goodreads, which the author had signed inside. I feel kinda bad getting rid of it, but I can’t read physical books anymore with my eyes. It’s just easier to read on a device, plus it makes room in the house not holding onto stuff I’m not actively using.

After the library we went to the police station to recycle all the “drugs” I wanted to discard. I had a ton of stuff, some Rx, but mostly supplements, from when I was sick in 2019 and was trying anything and everything to get better. Everything had since expired, and most of it was useless anyway, but it was sad to think how much money was spent on all that stuff only to throw it away. I am grateful I don’t need any of it, though. For the most part I’m completely healthy again. There’s a drop-box for the drugs, but they have to give you a key to open it. The guy looked at the huge gallon bag I had (along with a quart-sized one) and said the larger one might not fit, but he had smaller bags if I needed them.

Luckily it did fit, and they took everything, even though there was a sticker saying they don’t take supplements (I asked him about it and he said it was fine as long as they weren’t in the bottle).

After that we stopped at the Sports Hub to recycle some batteries. Then we went to a place called Repeat Boutique to donate some items (finally got rid of a loud, but still working, Dirt Devil stick vacuum, plus a glass shelf we bought like two decades ago, amongst other things), and some clothing.

We decided to look for some cookware at TJ Maxx / Home Goods, but left empty-handed. We stopped at Bath & Body Works so I could cash in my free birthday item but ended up leaving when I realized to get a free $10 item you have to buy something else and sale items don’t qualify. So instead of a free $17 item like before, you get less and have to buy something full priced? No thank you. After I spend the gift card my friend gave me I think I really am done with BBW. All these stores are getting to be too much.

Speaking of, last year I placed an order with Macy’s for a deep skillet and a syrup dispenser. The latter arrived broken. With the weather I haven’t been able to get to the store to either exchange it, or get credit, since the closet store is still a decent ride. Today I thought maybe I could just ship it back, but if I start a return on the website, it says since I am not a Star Rewards Member, I would have to pay a $10 return shipping fee. I paid less than that for the item! I don’t see anything about there being an exception when they send a damaged item even though it makes sense there would be, but I cannot confirm that since it’s AI only if you try to chat with them. Even if you call them (and I had to Google for the number since they don’t put it on the website) it won’t let you speak to a human. What horrible customer service! I won’t be buying from Macy’s again.

Category: Pets, Rants & Observations, Retail Experiences  | Comments off
Sunday, January 14th, 2024

My friend K came over with her dog on the 6th to celebrate my birthday and exchange Christmas gifts. She got me some really cool stuff, although I can’t remember which were birthday vs Christmas now.

Dog calendar
Change purse made from recycled materials
$15 Bath & Body Works gift card
Happy Endings complete series on DVD
Plush chickadee that sings when you press the button (Wookie hates it)
Heather grey (looks more navy blue) bird t-shirt
Not pictured: a set of loofas that came inside a fabric bag with dogs on it

I like the bird related gifts the most.

Speaking of, Joe got me this awesome owl for my birthday. I had put it on my wish list and I love how it fits in with the winter decor I have currently in the house.

I hate having a winter birthday because the thing I want to do most is be in nature. This year we decided to drive around the arboretum since it had just snowed the night before. It looked really pretty and was the best option all things considered.

We also ate lots of takeout for my birthday weekend. We got fajitas Friday night, Just Kabobs with my friend on Saturday, and Thai food on Sunday. I didn’t have to cook at all and we enjoyed the leftovers for days afterward too. So overall it was a nice low-key birthday with my favorite humans and dogs. :)

Here’s a list of all the birthday deals I received this year. Some of them just appeared in my mobile app (like Dunkin, Jewel, and Starbucks), so it’s always worth checking your apps for any rewards on/around your birthday.

** = rewards I’ve already redeemed
* = rewards I might still redeem
x = rewards I’m not bothering with

* Bath & Body Works – free $10 item – expires 2/6
* Beef Shack – $5 off – expires 1/31
x Cafe Zupas – free dessert w/ $5 purchase – expires 1/14
* Chick-fil-a – free brownie – expires 1/31
x Chilis – free dessert – 1/14
* Culvers – free sundae – expires 1/21
x Dunkin Donuts – 3x points
** Jewel – $5 off $5 or more – expiration date unknown
* Jimmy Johns – free side item – expires 2/6
** McDonald’s – free item from a choice of 7 items (3 breakfast or 4 lunch ones) – expires 1/14
x Nothing Bundt Cakes – free bundtlet – expires 1/15
x Red Lobster – Chocolate Wave Reward – expires 1/30
x Red Robin – free birthday burger w/ minimum purchase of $5 (dine in only) – expires 1/31
** Starbucks – free food or drink item of your choice – only good on your actual birthday
** Target – 5% off – expires 2/6

If it wasn’t so cold/snowy this weekend, I would have gone to Nothing Bundt Cakes but it isn’t worth the drive. They closed our local Red Robin (plus we’re still not comfortable eating inside restaurants) so that’s off the table. I should probably delete my Royalty account with them as I don’t foresee eating there anymore. The quality has taken a nosedive while the prices continue to rise, so as much as I used to love them, I’m not a fan anymore.

Category: Food, Friends, Holidays  | Comments off
Sunday, December 31st, 2023

I’m not going to link to specific events this year since my blogging has been terrible, but I did want to create a separate post to document a few of my 2023 goals.

Goodreads 2023 Reading Challenge

Clearly I underestimated how much I would read this year. I was going by past goals that I never completed, so do I aim higher in 2024? I’m thinking of 52 books (one per week) since I know summer can be a bit crazy. I will have time to read on the patio during the week, but the weekends will have me out in the forest preserves much of the time.

Fitness Recap

You can thank my Apple Watch for the motivation to exercise so frequently. It has become a habit now. I literally feel better, both mentally and physically, one the days I walk for 30 minutes or more.

Category: Books & Reading, Health  | Comments off
Sunday, December 31st, 2023

12/01 (Fri) – I woke up at 12:28 am to the faint sound of hooting. Excited, I ran to the bedroom window and opened it. Sure enough, the great horned owl was back! I could see it across the courtyard at the top of the same pine tree as back in mid October.

I ran downstairs to get my camera and got a few photos from the bedroom window. There’s no detail thanks to distance and darkness (although thankfully there was some decent moonlight), but the silhouette is pretty clear.

It also made a squawking sound I’d never heard before, which I was able to capture as well. I later learned it’s likely a female trying to find a mate. I was so excited it took an hour and a half to get back to sleep. I hope it comes back again soon!

12/02 (Sat) – Saw a Cooper’s hawk trying to hunt the neighborhood birds, but unsuccessfully.

Went to K’s birthday party which was even more fun than last year because 1) her extroverted neighbor wasn’t invited (she dominated the conversation) and 2) I felt more comfortable around her family and friends having already met most of them before. I particularly enjoy talking to her brother and his wife. They have similar interests and are so nice! K set me up with her heated blanket too so I was much less cold than last time which helped me stay relaxed. There’s nothing I hate more than being cold.

12/03 (Sun) – Sometime in November I was watching a TikTok where the person was showing how stirrup leggings are back in style. My eyes zeroed in a pair of adorable black leggings with dogs on them, however, and I could tell the person was at Walmart. I immediately went to their site only to learn the leggings were sold out both online and in store. Fast forward to us needing to visit Walmart for specific grocery items. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look for the leggings anyway, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a single pair all by it’s lonesome, that just happened to be my size! Obviously I was meant to have them. They are so stinkin cute!

They do fit a bit tighter than their other leggings, which is a bummer, but I still love them. They are ridiculously warm too, so they are best worn when lounging.

On the same Walmart trip I picked up two boxes of Christmas Tree cakes, plus two pints of the Christmas Tree Cake ice cream. Yum! Also decided to try these gingerbread ice cream sandwiches, but was not overly impressed.

The flavor was definitely gingerbread, but the size for the price ($5 for a box of four) made them not worth it (and I believe there’s still two in the freezer at the time of this post).

We also received a shipment of Monin Syrups I had ordered.

Verdict – I do not care for the French Vanilla (will be sticking to regular vanilla moving forward) and the Toasted Marshmallow has a weird aftertaste that I do not love. The Pistachio, however, is good, as is the cane sugar, although I might just try liquid sugar from the store once it runs out.

12/05 (Tue) – Had a very frustrating experience with America’s Best in an attempt to get an eye exam. Part of the review I left online is below:

When I first called to confirm whether they accepted my vision insurance, I asked whether I should make my appointment online or with them on the phone. The woman I spoke with said she could do it. I made my appointment for 5:30 pm, and the woman said everything was set up in the system, including my insurance info. Shortly thereafter I received a text confirmation as well as an email. So far, so good.

Fast forward to the day of my appointment and I received two emails – one asking me to confirm my appointment, and another asking me to fill out some paperwork online. I completed both requests in the early morning hours.

Mid morning I received a call from them asking me to confirm my appointment and for my insurance information. I explained how they should already have that because I was told they set up my account during my initial call. The woman claimed there was nothing in their system for me, so I gave them my insurance information again and told her I would be there that evening at my appointment time.

At 4 pm I received another call from them asking if I could come earlier, at 5 pm. I told them I could not and the girl replied, “ok, see you at 5:30 then”.

I arrived at 5:20 and there were three woman at the counter. One asked me if I was using vision insurance, which was quite annoying. Why did they keep asking me this but never take down my answer?!?

Then some other women asked me what kind of exam I was there for. Once again, why did I fill out the form online if they weren’t going to retain that information?

I informed her that I was there for a glasses exam and also needed to have my eyes dilated. This woman SIGHED at me and said they probably won’t have time to do that because it takes an hour.

(Note: I had noticed when I came in the hours posted on the door say they are only open until 6 pm despite the website saying 7 pm).

I got fed up, told them to cancel my appointment, and left.

Honestly, it was difficult enough with Joe’s vision insurance to even find a place who could confirm we had coverage. His medical insurance is awesome, but the vision is total crap because it’s as if none of the chains (which is mostly what it covers) has never heard of it, despite them being listed as being covered in the plan.

We also got an updated tax assessment which means higher taxes next year, ugh!

12/08 (Fri) – When Joe got home from work we went to Cosley Zoo to see their Christmas lights. They were about as meh as always, unfortunately. Then we went to the decorated park by the Wheaton library. It was cute and mostly peaceful besides one screaming kid. We also drove to a nearby house that always puts on a good light show for Christmas. We just haven’t felt like driving too far to see Christmas lights this year, so it was a relatively short outing that ended with us picking up food from the Mexican place near our local library. We recently discovered they make some really delicious chicken fajitas at a reasonable price and can’t get enough of them.

12/10 (Sun) – Decided I was fed up with T-Vision streaming device in the bedroom, so we got a Roku from Target.

We installed it in the living room and then put the older Roku in the bedroom. Unfortunately, the new Roku remote was having issues, so we ended up exchanging it for a new one a few days later. Other than that, I love it! The new Roku remote has the ability to control the TV power and volume which makes it even more convenient than the older one.

Joe put up the Christmas tree and added lights.

12/13 (Wed) – Found out Andre Braugher passed away from lung cancer at 61.

This one was a gut punch. Celebrity deaths don’t usually make me cry, but this one did. I’ve been obsessively watching Brooklyn Nine Nine recently and it’s sad to think there will never be a reunion. There probably wouldn’t have been one anyway, but now it’s certain, because it’s not B99 without Captain Holt, one of the best comedic characters EVER, and definitely my favorite character on the show (followed closely by Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta).

12/14 (Thu) – I finally got around to decorating the Christmas tree. In a stroke of good timing, I received a package from my cousin of a custom ornament featuring our late grandparents on their wedding day. Such a thoughtful gift! I immediately added it to the tree.

We also received two gift baskets from my parents which is not something they typically send. One was all Ghirardelli chocolate and the other a combination of things. My mom later asked me to review them and I was honest that I think they’re overpriced for what you get, particularly when the chocolate one is mostly milk chocolate and I prefer dark.

12/23 (Sat) – Placed a mobile order with Bibibop and ended up with entirely different ingredients than we asked for. I don’t know what was going on with that, but apparently I need to check the entire bowl moving forward, and not just glance at the part you can see through the lid since the proteins were the only things they got correct. They did end up issuing me a full refund when I complained, but that didn’t change the fact that my lunch that day, and the next day (they give you enough food for two meals) was ruined. I can’t wait until they open up a closer location so it’s not an hour round-trip.

12/24 (Sun) – We went to my parents for Christmas Eve. Brother #2 (B) didn’t come, so it was just me, Joe, my parents, and Brother #1 (J). We had a good time, even played a round of Aggravation before leaving at 8:45 pm.

12/25 (Mon) – A Cooper’s hawk visited us in the morning.

We exchanged gifts and then enjoyed leftovers from my parents (and into the following day). Joe got me a Cure t-shirt (A Forest), a monocular, some candy, and a few items from my Amazon wish list (screen cleaner, the Pink Stuff, and a protective wrap for my camera). I got him a Star Wars poster, LED gloves, and some candy. Lame, I know. He’s very hard to buy for and luckily doesn’t really want anything, so he wasn’t bothered by the gift inequality, but I still felt bad.

12/26 (Tue) – Headed to Target to see what after Christmas sales we could take advantage of. Sad to say they had nothing in terms of reasonably priced Christmas cards, which we needed, so we found ourselves at Meijer where everything was marked down 50% and the selection was great. Got three boxes of Christmas cards and some gift bags, so we’re set for years to come.

We also went to Bath & Body Works to check out the semi-annual sale where everything is 75% off. It was crazy crowded and we didn’t see anything worthwhile, so we left empty-handed. Other than the foaming hand soaps, I don’t really love BBW like I used to, and I have enough soaps to last me awhile.

12/31 (Sun) – Received an email from Nintendo about a sale on a game I haven’t thought about in years – Lumines.

I used to play it on the PS2. Since it was only $4.50, I decided to buy the digital copy of the Switch version. I immediately lost two hours playing it. Just as addictive as I remember! I love puzzle games.

New Years Eve isn’t really exciting, so we went to bed before 11 pm. Of course all the fireworks going off had us awake again at midnight. Bah!

Enjoyed the following movies and series in December:

Violent Night – This was on my watch list since last year because I heard about it after Christmas, and I just can’t watch Christmas movies once Christmas is over. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting – it was better. Fun movie!


I forgot how good this movie is (saw it for the first time last year). It’s too bad it’s only available via Apple TV because a lot of people are missing out on the fun. Do I like musicals now? Because I love this movie and there is a lot of singing! Who can resist charismatic Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds though? I would buy this on DVD if it was available.


Turn Dexter into a woman and take away his meticulous research and planning, and the need to dispose of the body, and you’ve got this show. It’s so good! I am sad we blew through the first season as quickly as we did but am looking forward to a second one.

Category: Animals, Celebrities, Family, Food, Friends, Fun & Games, Health, Holidays, Movies, TV  | Comments off