Thursday, June 22, 2017

Formidable Fence Fiasco

I'm up to my eyeballs in a fence frenzy.  We have to repaint our fence by the end of the month and I'm sure I know why...


The delightful lawn care company insists on weed whacking the bottom of our fence where there is absolutely no grass near it.  (The stuff above is moss)


Now I know the 2x4 are algae covered so that's a big contributor too but I'm beyond po'd that these d-bags insist on purposely hitting the fence once a week with their whacker.  I'm about 2 seconds from telling them what they can whack.

So we rented a power washer and the Mr blew off paint, chunks of the fence, small colonies of insects, my hostas and anything else in his way.


Then we got to sand it down to get it ready for priming which is a joy.



There is nothing I enjoy more than sanding in sweltering heat.


So I crisped in the sun for 2 hours yesterday priming the slats.  (He gets to do the insides and crevices)  I got 2 coats on most of it until my foot arches cramped so bad, I was forced back inside. Trying to straddle what's left of your hostas whilst not damaging newly planted lilacs proved to be too much for the dogs to bear.

We had our fence post replaced (finally!) and I was less than pleased the dude put back up a damaged slat despite having slats in his truck.  He's barely old enough to drink and I so didn't want him to prove me right but there you have it.  So now we have a gaping hole in one slat where the old gate hardware used to be and the damaged slat he put back up before he ran without taking our money. When the boss had to come back, the Mr said to replace the slats or knock $20 off since we'll now have an extra project we didn't have when they came.  $20 off it is.  Why can't anything just go as it's supposed to go?  *checks forehead to see if "poke the bear" is tattooed there*

This morning I'll go out and put the second coat of primer on the last few slats and the Mr will start his coats on the crappy parts.  Hopefully, we'll get a full day of drying and we'll have to cover it up because I think we're getting rain.  Grrrr.

Ever had a run-in with a contractor that left you with an extra project due to their incompetence?



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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grillin' Fool

When summer hits, it's time to fire up the grill and I don't know about your household but I am the grill master of my homestead.  Our grill is tiny because we have a tiny space to put it but it works for it just being the two of us.  I won't lie that I dream of a HUGE grill and/or outdoor kitchen but I doubt that will ever happen.  Sigh.  But these are some of my current faves that I use all the time.

This grilling basket is one of my favorites for Brussels sprouts, zucchini and all kinds of veggies on the grill.



This smoker box is also a hit with me because of the flavor it infuses into everything from turkey burgers to salmon to corn on the cob.


I just throw in some apple wood chips and once it starts smoking, it's time to whip out the gas mask because it always seems to be blowing directly into my face.

My newest toy I got last week was this Charcoal Companion Grill Station....


I was tired of using plates for the raw stuff then having to grab a new one for the cooked stuff and dragging out BBQ sauce and silicone brushes and all that jazz.  This lets me put the raw stuff in its own bin then I can stack the cooked bin on top once the raw is empty.  It's worked really well so far and I highly recommend it if you don't have a ton of prep/counter space by your grill.

I'll continue enjoying my gadgets and little grill space even if my brain wishes I were grilling in this space:

(Source)

Who is the griller in your house?  Do you have any fun grilling must-haves?


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Food Review: Annie's Macaroni and Cheese

I'm sure a lot of us grew up on Kraft Mac and Cheese in the famous blue box.  I remember making many a box as a latchkey kid so I'm all too familiar with the neon orange powder.  When I saw Annie's Macaroni and Cheese had a freebie at the grocery store, I decided to give it a go since it'd been eons since I had or made the powdered version.


Here's a peek at the nutritional info...


It's pretty comparable to it's Kraft counterpart except the carbs are quite different from what I compared on Kraft's site.  They list theirs as having 16g of carbs and you can see here that it's 46g of carbs.  But 40's is typical of pasta so I sure am curious how Kraft's version could be 16!!

You gotta love how pushing a bunny bum will open the box.


The macaroni looks pretty similar but thinner than I remember but that seems to apply to most everything these days.


But it cooked up to the pasta noodles I remembered.


So I drained it and then it was time for the magic powder.


Looks on par with the childhood stuff.

It even clumped like the childhood stuff.


(Remember when you didn't mind biting into those clumps as a kid?)

With a little skim milk and a few stirs, it was ready to roll.


So how did it taste?



Well, again remember it's been probably almost 6-7 years since I've had this kind but it tasted about like I remember except kinda bland.  I don't know if it's because of my adult taste buds or what but yeah, on its own it didn't taste like much of anything.  So it didn't taste like my childhood mac and cheese as far as having that slight bite of artificial cheese but given the reviews on Kraft's site of the newer no artificial anything not having any taste then I guess they're comparable?  When we both dumped ketchup on it, THAT tasted just like childhood but I'm sure that had more to do with the ketchup and the look of it than the actual taste of the product.  :-)

I certainly wouldn't steer people away from this especially if you want a healthier version.  They also have other flavors too so they might be a little higher up on the taste scale than this mild cheddar version.  I've always been curious about Annie's so I'm glad I got to try it and I'd probably get it again if we babysat and had some finicky eaters on our hands.

Do you buy Annie's products and if so, what are your favorites? 


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Monday, June 19, 2017

A powerful weekend

Happy Monday everyone.

Friday we'd had enough with the initial contractor never contacting us so the Mr called and left a message saying if he didn't get a call back that day then forget it.  In the meantime, we both began looking elsewhere.  A place had an appointment in our area and said they could come out that day. The original guy got back to us and left a message.  Well, we weren't calling him back until we talked to the other contractor.   So the woman came out and looked at it and quoted us the same price as the original contractor and said she could have her son come out this Thursday or Friday depending on their permit situation with another job.  Sold.  We called back and left a message saying we wouldn't be needing him for the fence anymore as we told him several times we were on a deadline with that but if he could still do the floors the 30th as he said in his message and we'd like a confirmation on that.  We still haven't heard from him on that confirmation so the Mr said we'll just see if someone shows up the 30th.  I'm ready to do it ourselves despite the Mr's look of paleness that comes over him when I say that.  Maybe I'll just do it myself and screw all y'all men.  Mama is DONE with this crap and the day he's scheduled to do it, Aunt Flo will be firmly in town and I don't know if I'll be able to keep my mouth contained.

The Mr told the fence lady we had to paint and she suggested due to all of the algae that we really should power wash it.  That was a cluster of such gargantuan proportions I can't even talk about it and some of it was due to common sense precautions not being taken.  From the renting/loading of the machine to the actual wash to the hellacious aftermath. Please do yourself a favor and make sure your beloved has tarped everything first. That's about all I have to say about that.  *side eye*

Then there's the basement which is in the "worse before it gets better" stage.  I've got two small bags ready to donate and need a box or something like that to put more crap in.  I planned on working on it yesterday but we had to finish our grocery haul, got in a 3-mile walk in the blazing heat and then it was time to grill up some chow.



Turkey burger with caramelized onion topped with arugula, spinach and watercress and corn on the cob.  We were both so zapped from the walk, we could feel our energy slowly returning after dinner.

I hope all of you dad's out there enjoyed your day and you didn't get lame gifts.  The Mr always comments on how the dude's get the shaft for Father's Day and I tend to agree.  If the stores are any indicator, apparently you guys are all a bunch of drunk grillers!  HA!

What did y'all get into this weekend?

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Friday, June 16, 2017

What I'm Reading This Week #24

It's the weekend, yo!  Raise yer hand if you're excited!  :-)

Let's dive right into...




The Best New Healthy Trader Joe's Products from 2017- So Far  (I see a few I'm gonna have to pick up!)

Birth control pills recalled due to packaging error   (Seriously, if you take Mibelas 24 Fe birth control pills, read this!)

Why Weight Training Is Ridiculously Good For You  (In case ya didn't know)

7 of your favorite foods might be going extinct soon  (NOOOOOOOO!!!!!)

Foods To Help Lower Cholesterol Naturally  (Stock up!)

How a Healthy Gut Can Make You Happier   (I wish I liked fermented food.)

This Variety Of Onion Contains Highest Amount Of Cancer-Fighting Compound   (*runs to grocery store*)

A Simple Brain Trick For Dealing With Mean People  (Punching is not an option)

The First Things to Do After You Move Into Your First Home  (Uh, I can't believe they don't list the very first thing you should do which is change the locks!!)

Let's roast some asparagus!  (Love it on the grill too!)

Take a Rare Look Inside Carrie Fisher's Eccentric Home  (Wow, eccentric about covers it!)

Fleetwood Mac WILL Reunite With Stevie Nicks for a New Tour  (Yesssss!  Saw the original line up in 1997 for The Dance tour...highly recommended!)

Regular People Recreate 10 Corny Romance Novel Covers And It’s Hilarious  (I actually read Rogue when I was Fabio crazy.  Yes, I actually met him too...with the Mr.)

"I've Been Drawing A Comic Every Day For My Girlfriend For 5 Years"  (NSFW!  I almost peed just reading the first page.  Some of them hit too close to home.)

Tonight my mom is coming over for a cookout for a belated birthday celebration.  I wish it wasn't going to be so hot but hopefully, we can at least get some cloud cover to be able to sit out on the patio. I'm grilling up some BBQ chicken and corn on the cob and birthday dessert will likely be strawberry angel food cake.

What are you up to this weekend?


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

DIY on da Brain



With being thrown into forced reno and position of being at the mercy of others, my brain is ready to work but the workers are not.  When the proposition of a project is in front of me, I tend to start binging on DIY Network and HGTV for ideas.  I feverishly blow through DIY posts on blogs and d├ęcor magazines which then give me other ideas.  In the past week, this is what the Mr has had thrown at him straight from my brain to his ears…

1.  Molding on top of the front doors.
2.  New windows.
3.  Moving to a fixer upper that would allow us to stay here while we renovate this severely dilapidated house with no serious contracting skills of our own.
4. Moving to an old gothic revival house in our budget, out of state with 140 ft of lake access and 2 acres.
5. Putting up shelves and tin backing behind the washer and dryer.
6. Painting the walls and floors in the basement.
7. Drywalling the basement ourselves.
8. Laying vinyl floor planks in the basement.
9. Making a shutter side table.
10. Getting a 10-year-old 3 legged dog from a rescue so she can sit in my kayak while I paddle.

So yeah.  Basically, I want to fix ALL THE THINGS.


This was only amped up to 11 by setting the depth on our new Ryobi Brad Nailer which does not require an air compressor and now makes us both think we could probably build a whole house from scratch with the brad nailer and new drill the Mr bought and YouTube.  Hey if this chick did it, why not us?  

But I had more pressing issues to deal with.  Since I couldn't move forward with anything on the forced reno's yet, I knew I could work on the basement a little since I could feel everything closing in on me every night when we worked out.  That's the thing when you live in a shoebox, you're forced every now and then to take stock in what you own and donate or give away to family/friends what no longer fits in its previous space.  The problem is, I'm allergic to dust so I can only be down there so long when I start kicking it up...45 minutes is usually my max.  I knew the area I wanted to work on, the out of control pantry shelves, but I wanted to move some of the items I use more often now to this other shelving unit...that's already full.  I started pulling off piles of heaped up Total Gym extensions covered in dust bunny farms and vacuuming them to see if they'll be donated or not.  I found old pictures and negatives.  See kids, negatives are what pictures were on before you had them printed. You didn't know if your picture you took at a concert or out with your friends was blurry until you paid to have it printed and find out.  So getting them back was a true roll of the dice.  We couldn't afford to take 127 selfies at 36 angles for one "good" picture.  What you got was what you got and I'm glad for it.  *stepping down from old lady soap box*  

I found the Allen wrenches the Mr has been looking for probably two years.  I put the old Gilad VHS' I could bear to let go of 5 years ago in the donate pile cuz mama ain't got no room for those!  I found one rogue Madonna style lace glove that will go in the childhood bin in the closet until I can find the other one because I'm never getting rid of those.   Those two shelves were the hardest and just need to be cleaned off before moving to the bottom two shelves which house old Etsy boxes full of stuff I couldn't sell so it'll likely be donated.  Time and money down the drain but oh well...I need the shelves more.  So the shelves are cleared off and I looked at the back of it and because it's one of those MDF jobbies that's like 20 years old, there's some slight warping on the back.  Well, that ain't gonna cut it anymore so I'll likely be giving it a chalk paint makeover and stain some plywood for some contrast on the backboard.  Then I'll brad nail that mofo.  *Beats chest gorilla style*

So I'm firmly in the "it gets worse before it gets better" phase of the basement and clearing it out for a workout space was less than fun since last night was cardio night.  Oy.

When you start a project do you binge on DIY videos/information?  Does it spark you to want to do multiple projects at once?

(This post contains affiliate links.  Should you choose to buy through them, I may receive a small commission to help with blog expenses at no additional cost to you.)

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Directions to the money tree

(via Pinterest)


It has been a WEEK...well, weeks.

Almost immediately upon our return, we got a gentle reminder that our back fence looks like crap so we have to paint it by the end of the month.  Well, we have a rotted out fence post that needs to be replaced so I figured we'd better try to get that done before we paint if possible.  We also have a hairline crack in our bathroom sink that we've been ignoring for almost 2 years.  Well, because the floor is looking dated from the 12-year old remodel and we'd need to have the floor done so they can measure for the countertop that will house the new sink we're now talking an almost full bathroom remodel.  We fear we're living on borrowed time with that sink so it's a necessity now.  Did I mention it's our only bathroom?  So yeah...we're about to be in the throes of a forced bathroom and fence redo. Tuesday we had a dude come out to give us estimates on the fence post and putting down the bathroom floor.  That'll be $650 total, please.  (About what we figured)  Still, it's like pulling teeth to get this guy to get back with us because we needed one thing changed and a timeline in place before we sign anything.  We even had a contractor squeeze us in yesterday and estimated DOUBLE the price for the job we wanted done, thought he recommended patching it with metal plates despite the fact 1/3 of the post is GONE and it's split from top to bottom.  The bathroom floor?  He wouldn't even LOOK at it saying he didn't want to do floors.  Um, excuse me????  I've heard from others it's insanely hard these days to get contractors to give you estimates and given I'm TRYING to go with mom and pop's over a place like Home Depot, they're not making it very easy.  Hell, the first guy we tried to go with didn't even bother to return our calls/texts so screw him.  I think I'm probably going to have to start painting the vanity where it sits currently so that when they pull it out to put down the floors, I can just paint the other side and anything underneath on the legs I can't see and then hopefully be able to seal it with wax at least on that side before it gets put back in.

If I had any tip for a homeowner, it would be if something needs your attention, just fix it.  Because inevitably, all of those procrastinations of putting off until "someday" or "when we need to" end up all happening at the same time and then you're shelling out what feels like a lot more when it happens at once.  That is if you can get someone to call you back.

Then we got the pleasure of getting the last of my PT bill of $360 when I was told it was paid at the Mr's last appointment in April.  Supposedly an insurance issue.  Our insurance is the worst but I just can't justify paying double our current monthly rate for what some consider the "best" when they don't cover much more.  While I appreciate all that PT did for me, I don't consider paying $1500 for it a bargain especially when they're all exercises I could've easily found online.  I understand that the dry needling was also a part of that but even when that was done (about halfway through my sessions) I didn't see the price drop from that so what the heck am I being charged for??  Oh well, nothing I can do about it now except keep up my PT and hopefully not get back in that situation. But if you need PT, don't let my monetary experience keep you from getting help.  Your insurance/area could be better about it being covered.


You have any "forced" reno's on your hands this year?  Any you're putting off?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Food Review: Ritz Toasted Chips

Some of the grocery stores in our area will give away items to promote them (aka hook you) so we take advantage because then we're not out any money when I send it to work with the Mr.  

We recently got these Ritz Toasted Chips in Sour Cream and Onion.


Here's a peek at the nutritional info...


The chips are like Ritz crackers but obviously not round like the old school version.


It was actually hard to find full ones.  Those were the best of the bag, like most crisps, you can get some serious casualties between being packed, shipped and then unloaded.

But how did they taste?


We each had one and said, "MUST get these out of the house...now!"  They were so good we knew it would be easy to blow through the entire bag even though we're not really chip/cracker fiends.  The sour cream and onion flavoring are strong, velvety and the perfect complement to that cracker.  So I would suggest getting them for a gathering where you can't be alone with them.  They were gone at the Mr's work by 10 am and he saw someone literally took the bag and was throwing them back by the fistful!  We took a serving each before sending them to work and now when we see them in the store we walk past them really fast...that good.

Have you ever tried these?  Do you like sour cream and onion chips/crackers?

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Weekend recap

Happy Monday all!  Hope you had a great weekend.  It was, I believe the term is, "swamp @ss hot" in our neck of the woods and it's only just begun.  101 days until Fall.  Not like that means anything these days anymore.  Sigh.  I need to move to the northern tip of Canada.

Saturday we went to a small barn sale to see if there was anything worth drooling over.


While they had some cute things, there was nothing that caught my eye other than the arch window thingy on the bottom but I'd need two and they only had two different sizes so that shot that in the butt.  Probably for the better.  But we stopped by a nearby place that would be a new paddle spot for us so we just have to figure out when we can go that isn't totally gross hot and get on it.

Speaking of which, got our first paddle of the season in last Thursday...

Catchin' some shade


We stopped by a friend's shop to drop off some antiques that I was hoarding from my Etsy days because I need the storage.  Thankfully they weren't in so I didn't have to play the refusing to take money for the items game.  I know they can sell them, I'm not out tons of dough so it's all good.   They were my favorite items too so I'm glad they'll go to new homes.  It all became a big bummer dealing with petty crap from people and then I had two instances of broken items where I had to deal with insurance despite packing better than anyone has ever packed anything in the history of packing. Pfft.

Sunday was a lazy morning followed by a late brunch.

It was already stinkin' hot by noon and thankfully our umbrella out back shaded me while I planted our monsterra and vincas in the big pot and later we grabbed a palm from the nursery up the street, so I think I'm finally done with flowers.  I know I'm done with this weather.  I think we need to hide out in Martha's Vineyard where their weather is bouncing between upper 70's and upper 60's this week.  I just need a shack and our paddleboards and we can paddle during the week, hibernate on the weekends and that sounds like a good summer to me. Hmm...let me check the bank account and run it by the Mr.

Bank account laughed at me...so did the Mr.

Then it was laundry, workin' out and dinner before it was over.  The Mr proposes we have a 4 day work week and 3 day weekend.  Technically, he can do that but it would require working 6:30-4:30 pm and while it sounds good in theory, it might not be so fun when you're in the throes of it.

What did you get into this weekend?  Plant any flowers this year?


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Friday, June 9, 2017

What I'm Reading This Week #23

It's Friday and they're baaaack!

Let's just jump into...


13 Homemade Weed Killers That Work  (The title is a little deceiving but there are good weed tips in there)

These 4 Words Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss Goals in So Many Sneaky Ways  (Good to be aware of)

Aluminum Foil & 5 Other Common Kitchen Items That Are Toxic When Used to Cook  (Important to remember)

24 health 'facts' that are actually wrong  (Well bust my buttons!)

9 Ways to Actually Make Eating Well Fun This Summer  (Let the party begin)

Don't Let Loose Skin Prevent You From Reaching Your Goals  (True dat!)

19 Lower-Body Stretches for When Your Legs and Butt Are Sore As Hell  (I definitely used these our first week back in action)

Is Working From Home Making You Miserable?  (Good tips and I'll add make sure you get the hell outta the house on the weekend or you will begin to hate your own home.)

Most People Will Never Understand My Eating Disorder  (Courtesy of the Mr)

6 Myths About Hospice Care   (Need to know)

6 Things to Consider Getting Rid of Before They Become a Burden for Your Kids  (Some surprising info)

Olivia Newton-John Reveals Breast Cancer Has Returned, Postpones Tour  (Big prayers going out to ONJ...my childhood idol)

Bride Who Is A Computer Engineer Doesn’t Have Any Girlfriends, So She Invites Her Bros Instead  (SOOO funny!)

For those needing to catch up on some yummy recipes you may have missed in May:

Spicy Candied Bacon (If you want to know how to get a dude to clean the house without asking, promise him this!  Okay, I'd do it without asking too if you promised me this.)

How to Recover from a Cookie Fail  (Cookie batch go south?  This will save your rump when all looks bleak!)

Sweet Potato Banana Croquettes  (Perfect for brunch or a side dish when you have one banana that's riper than ripe)

Homemade Baked Beans  (You'll never want the can again!)

Banana Bread French Toast (Give dad a Father's Day breakfast he'll never forget!)

I'm ready for the weekend.

What are you guys getting into this weekend?

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rebuilding



If you've been with me long enough, you know the drill.  We went on the big vacation of the year and ate like they were putting a mid-month ban on sugar and big breakfasts and we were storing for a lifetime of "remember how GOOD that was?"  This one was particularly bad because after months and months of running myself into the ground mentally, lack of sleep and doing work that basically isn't going to get me crap...I was done.  I was done trying to find time to fit in one more thing and that included a 30 minute workout even when we had the time some days and the space to do it.  (Our rentals are not always conducive to formal exercise like our Vermont Christmas cabin where every square inch was taken.)  We brought our exercise bands and I brought my balance board for PT and the board saw the light of day once.  But it didn't matter because I was done micromanaging myself and frankly didn't care about the consequences.

Yep, we're paying for that 17 day break big time.  We both agreed stepping on the scale would be a mistake of epic proportions and we were not mentally ready for that number.  What a scale thinks of my sodium bloat and immediate weight gain is not my business...getting BACK to regular habits is.  I don't know that I've ever had my body change so rapidly but yeah, I take full responsibility for every pound I gained.  For every bite of penuche fudge, every lobster roll and just generally every time I said "eff it."  It can be hard to come out of that mindset but thankfully I recognized the urge to skip our first workout back as an addict's mind and we did two laps around the neighborhood.  We usually do three for a 3 1/3 mile walk but neither of our bodies were havin' it.  It was a start.  The next day we did our first strength and it was just a 30 minute WATP Firm session.  Well, I forgot how many squats she does in that thing and I was pretty wobbly the rest of the week.  My inner thighs were on fire.  We had to, of course, scale back the amount of weight we were lifting and I'd just reached a personal best before we left.  I'll be back there soon.  When I approach the first week back food wise, basically anything I eat will be WAY less than on vacation days.  So I might sneak in a full PB&J on 2 slices of bread instead of open face.  (Scandalous!)  I know that coming off of full sugar basically every day means if I quit it altogether, I'll get headaches really bad and I did the first day so the next 2 days after we had some form of sugar like a candy bar or something and it staved off migraines and then we were fine.  I don't track my first two weeks back ever because I've eaten what I do for enough years to know what is normal.  It's about getting back into that habit of reaching for fruits and veggies at every meal and getting in a decent amount of liquids, etc.

By the following Sunday's workout, the soreness was almost gone and we had some PT sessions under our belts and had worked back up to our 3 laps even though the bods doth protest too much. We could feel our stamina returning as we did our 3+ mile walks a little easier and WATP 3 milers when it wasn't feasible to be outside.  Our goal the 2nd week was 80% on the workout front because trying to jump back in where you lead off is just asking for injury and I'd like to have a year without that, please.  Food wise, everything had turned back to a little more normal.  "Extras" were in the form of lite popcorn or hot tea when the urge to munch hit.  Though I admit we had some ice cream on Memorial Day because we just never do because we're always so friggin' militant.  So that was our one sweet last week.

This week, we're aiming for 95%-100% on all fronts.  Exercise has been about throwing in the harder stuff to get our bodies used to stuff like kettlebells and Turbo Fire and stuff like that.  I'm looking forward to getting back to my pre-vacation strength strides sooner than later but still need to carefully test my limits.  I've got paddling season upon us and pulling a shoulder or something isn't on my to do list.  I'm not going to sit here and say "we'll never do THAT again" because I used to say that and I know it's a promise I probably won't keep and I'd rather be real with myself.  Some vacations are worse than others on that front and I know if we're gonna play, we're gonna pay.  The tragedy would be gaining that weight and then going full lazy and never getting back to our routine.  Not happenin'. So we're in rebuilding phase and we've both agreed that we're not going to give a crap about the scale until/if we feel comfortable.  Honestly sometimes I wonder what the point is anyway.  I am one of those people whose moods are greatly affected by the scale and that's not good.  It sometimes makes me feel like all of the work I did was for nothing or I'll feel like it'll give me a license to go nuts because why bother?  I know, screwed up.  So yeah, we'll see.

Do you get right back to your routine if you take a break from it while on vacation?

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Would we go back?

We're pretty set in our ways kind of people.  When it comes to traveling, going somewhere new can be exciting but if it's a bust then we'll feel like we wasted our time and money.  After 14 trips to Hawaii, we started wanting to see other parts of the country and while Martha's Vineyard and The Hamptons weren't a place that really excited us, we knew that many people did love vacationing there so we thought why not us?    So here's our personal likes and dislikes of each place.

Martha's Vineyard-

Likes:

The unique treasures 

From the Gingerbread Cottages, Flying Horses and Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs to just sit and do nothing in a beautiful setting.


Lighthouses

From West Chop to East Chop to the Edgartown Lighthouse over to Gay Head Lighthouse this island delivered for our lighthouse lovin' souls.


The people

Whilst I have no photos of the folks who inhabit Martha's Vineyard on the regular, I can tell you that before tourist season starts the people are SO nice.  Now I say before the tourist season starts because some locals were surprised at us calling their town folk nice but then laughed and said: "well, the season hasn't started yet so you caught us on our good side!"  I'm talking if we were coming out onto a main road from a side street and looking either way for a chance to get out, traffic would stop in both directions to let us out!  I don't know what they do where you're from but in our neck of the woods, that's unheard of.

Proximity

We stayed in Edgartown which isn't where you come in on the ferry but it was only about a 15-20 minute drive once we were off the ferry and out of its traffic jam.  Almost anything we wanted to see was no further than a 25-minute drive at most so that suited us just fine and made for fitting in a lot of sights on sunny days.

Echo!


The distinct advantage to going in the off season is the lack of people.  For crowd hating couples like us, that speaks our language!  We could walk the Gingerbread cottages at our leisure with no one but the painters fixing things up there.  We enjoyed Ocean Park on any bench we pleased rather than hoping one was available.  99% of every beach we went to was empty and while I'm sure the cooler temps had something to do with that, that is my element...crashing waves and fuzzy sweaters.

Dislikes-

What actually IS open?

Because we went during off season, this meant about 50% of businesses that are seasonal were closed.  So no Mad Martha's ice cream for us or a few other restaurants that received rave reviews.  Many stores that looked cute were getting painted to get ready for the season and weren't open by our departure which bummed us out.  We were told by locals that once the kids are back in school, come on back because seasonal places are still open usually until the first week in October.

Driving

We've encountered this pretty much in every New England state we've been to from Maine to Vermont...tailgating.  I'm not talking about your typical highway tailgating, I mean you're riding along minding your own business and it's as though a Subaru drops out of the sky and they get right up on your butt regardless of your speed but then they won't pass!  We've found that 9 times out of 10
as long as you stand your ground, they back off and deal with it.  But it's like come on, pass us already if where you have to be is so important.  This is the fastest way to throw the Mr into a tizzy and he gets tense typically but after a while, we just laughed about it.  So I guess just know going in that you're going to have people try to scoot you along but I have no desire to get a ticket on vacation.

Parking

It's an island, so parking is at a premium regardless but if we were having a hard time finding spaces when the crowds hadn't yet arrived, I have no clue how this place survives during peak season!  We heard you can easily spend an hour looking for a parking space just circling and circling.  Who the heck wants to do that!?  I can imagine tempers can easily flare as you encounter this every day trying to find a spot at the beach or eat at your favorite restaurant.

Wall to wall people

Now we thankfully didn't experience this but were told legends about it when we got there.  How a typically 15-minute commute can easily take an hour from this time of year until Labor Day.  Just know if you go during the summer months, it's going to be traffic jams on and off the road like any beach town.

Would we go back?

Absolutely!  When you're sad to leave a place, it's a good indicator it's gotten into your heart.  We saw everything (that was open) and even got to revisit a few places so I feel like a week was adequate time there but I wouldn't mind 10 days next time.  We both think this will be a great place to celebrate our fall birthdays either next year or the year after.  I think next time we'd explore the Cape Cod area too since I think it's the last place the Mr can still tell the jellyfish story that he hasn't taken me yet.

The Hamptons-

What we loved:

Walking our beach

Due to the time of year, it was completely empty so we could walk and enjoy it on our own.  Nothing like it!


Window shopping


Wandering around boutiques and antique shops was fun especially dreaming about how you'd fill your own beach house if you had money.  (Fresh Prince socks would not be on that list.)

Dream house hunting


For the homes that weren't covered in 20' high hedges and security cams every 20 ft (Spielberg), it was fun dropping our jaws at the ones we could see.  It reminded me of when we were dating and first married how we would go to the fancy parts around our city dreaming of what it would be like to have a house that big...or just bigger than 900 sq ft which would easily comprise a guest room in one of these joints!

Montauk area


There is just nothing like that lighthouse and the area is much quieter than the rest of Long Island.  I can see why Jimmy Buffet, Paul Simon, and other celebs have places in this area.  I do regret not exploring a few of the little parks on the way back but I think we just weren't feeling it that day and never made it back out there.  But this isn't actually The Hamptons so...

Old Westbury Mansion


This place just took my breath away and it was truly an amazing stop which I'll cover completely in another post but again, like Montauk...not actually IN The Hamptons.

Dislikes:

Lack of Wow factor

I'm guessing you have to be rich and famous to truly appreciate how "fabulous" The Hamptons are but we just weren't seeing it.  Yes, there are some cute little streets with a few blocks of quaint looking stores with moderate to big price tags inside but our town has those too.  There is a wine trail on the northern route but we're not wine drinkers so that didn't appeal to us.  Yes, there are beaches but after a while, they all look alike and we walked a beach somewhere every day on this vacation but I didn't see anything in The Hamptons that was as striking as places we saw on MV.  We even went on Main Beach in East Hampton which is supposed to be THE beach, looked both ways and the Mr said "whatchu think?" and I shrugged and said, "it's a beach" and we left.

Traffic

There is basically one main drag and because there are few relief roads, one fender bender or foam blowing off someone's $10 latte in the wind can bring traffic to a standstill.  It was in this traffic that we discovered a little Italian restaurant to pull off and eat to hopefully let it die down.  We asked if it was always that bad and he laughed and said that was nothing.  In the summer it's easily a parking lot for 60-90 minutes.  So again, since this is considered a summer hot spot for the wealthy and everyone else wanting to gawk at them, be prepared to be stuck behind a Maserati or Range Rovers and other cars with reps for being in the shop more than on the road.

Got bored easily

Once you see the couple things there are to see that were of interest to us that were in the actual Hamptons, you realize it's kind of a boring town.  I mean if Martha or Gwenyth are throwing a fabulous gathering that's one thing but the other thing is, you're probably not invited so...yeah.

Would we go back?

No.  The Hamptons is definitely not a week long destination in our eyes.  We think maybe a long weekend is appropriate and enough time to see everything including a drive up to Montauk.  Neither of us ever see any reason we'd ever go back there but it's checked off of the bucket list and if we were ever on Long Island again, it probably would be to go to some movie locations in Brooklyn and Queens and the farthest out we'd go maybe a stop at Old Westbury Gardens.  While I do love looking at big houses, you end up looking at more high hedges than anything else which basically makes it a rich people real estate d**k measuring contest.  It's kinda gross that way.  (Though I'm happy to report that Ina actually has the nicest home in her neighborhood and it's in a more "common folk" area of the Hamptons so she's just like the rest of us...but not really.)

Do you vacation in new to you places or stick with the same places?


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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Fabulous!"

I'm a big Ina Garten fan.  If you've watched her show for any length of time, you know she lurves her some Hamptons.  (Where she lives)  It's also a celebrity enclave for the likes of Spielberg, Martha Stewart, and many others.  So when seeing what was close to Martha's Vineyard, I thought it could be fun to see what all the fuss was about.

Our first full day was going to the end of Long Island to Montauk Lighthouse.


We are suckers for lighthouses and this one did not disappoint.  Matter of fact, when we were leaving, it's beauty brought me to tears.  It's just one of those classic lighthouses that are just what you picture when you think of the word.  We went up the spiral staircase to the top and got a nice peek out at the waves.  It was commissioned by George Washington and there were 300 feet of land around it when it was built but now there is only 100.  I can't even imagine the job of jacking that thing up to move it eventually.  The area around Montauk was certainly our favorite.  It's about a good 45-minute drive from the Hamptons.

On the way back, we would happen to be driving by Ina's house so let's give it a shot...


If I'd taken the bottom pic 1.3 seconds later, I would've gotten a shot of Ina and her friend unloading the trunks of their car from an undoubtedly fabulous day of shopping.  We slowed slightly, long enough to be busted by the friend who smiled and said she had some fans.  Then we felt like creepers and left.  She was dressed casually in a button up shirt, jeans and a vest and since hugging her unsolicited would land me in jail, I settled for the sneak peek and squealed like a sow.  I like to think they were coming back from Citarella with lobsters for their weekend seafood boil or maybe since it was Friday, she was fresh from the butcher with a split chicken to whip up for Jeffrey who would be home in a few hours.  How easy was that?

Fresh off our close encounter, we decided to head across the street to Home Sweet Home which is the windmill you may see her show on occasion.  (There are a few windmills across the Hamptons like this including Sag Harbor.)


Beautiful grounds but we didn't go in the museum though it looked lovely.  This was also the backdrop for the 80's movie Deathtrap with Christopher Reeves and Michael Caine.

Throughout the trip, we loved driving through fancy neighborhoods, including our own, and looking at the big elaborate homes...


These represent the homes of merely the moderately rich because as you soon learn the motto in the Hamptons is "the richer you are, the higher the hedges."  These homes would only be in the low millions to maybe $20 million.  The ones you can't see?  WAY more.  Like the Something's Gotta Give home sold last year for $42 million.  I'd show you the pic but if you've seen one shrub, you've seen 'em all!

We had a beach house and had fun just shelling and watching the waves.


Of course, we did our share of shopping in places like our own town of Westhampton Beach and Sag Harbor but also a nice stroll around Southampton where you can find everything from seahorse canisters to Fresh Prince socks.


My other favorite stop beside Montauk on Long Island was the Old Westbury Mansion and Gardens.


Cruel Intentions fans may recognize it and it's just as beautiful and grand as in the movie.  There are also some creepy ass mannequins in there that I couldn't get away from fast enough.  I'm pretty sure they come to life at night.

Now the gardens?  Well, that was my idea of heaven on Earth.


If you're a fan of guilty pleasure movie Too Wong Foo...Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar like I am, then you recognize the back of the home from the final scene in the film.  Wisteria was in bloom and dripping from every corner with its intoxicating scent.  I think I stood under one of the trees for about 10 minutes just smelling the air.  The garden is too vast and wide to cover here so I'll be doing a separate post on it in the future.  If you're in NYC, it's worth the 40-minute drive to this amazing place!

It was a relaxing time but some of the best times we had were just enjoying nature in all of her forms.


On our way back to Tarrytown, we stopped and paid our respects to some people buried in the area.


Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz), Joan Crawford (who is enjoying a nice resurgence in popularity after the Feud series on FX) and Ed Sullivan (truthfully because he was in the cove right behind Joan.)

Have you ever been to Long Island?

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Back on schedule

We're firmly into the first full week of the summer months.  It's also my first full week back to blogging on my regular schedule.  I always give myself the month off that we take a vacation so when I come back I don't have to jump right back into it and harsh my mellow with deadlines.  This year we went to places we had preconceived notions of but no idea what to expect...Martha's Vineyard and The Hamptons.  Both locations are known for being the playground for the rich and famous and presidents...so we thought we'd crash the party.  Because it's the coast and because our weather patterns are now pretty much permanently screwed, we had some weird weather but nothing I didn't care for except the wind.  I prefer the cooler temps of spring and fall so mid-50's and being firmly in sweater weather was fine with me.

We made a pit stop in Tarrytown, NY to get us most of the way on day one and then drove the rest of the way the next day.  Of course, this meant we had to fit in two movie locations on the way.

The first was the adorable town of Mystic, CT...home of the Mystic Pizza as well as the town used in the movie of the same name that brought us all Julia Roberts.


On our initial stop through, it was closed but we hit it on the way back and must agree, it's a slice of heaven.  Nice and garlicky and if it's good enough for the local minister to be gabbing about the church budget then it's good enough for us.

The second location was Water Wizz in East Wareham, MA.


This waterpark is the star of our favorite summer kick-off movie, The Way, Way Back.  Definitely, an out of character role for Steve Carrell but the plot is so good and Sam Rockwell is just too good.  This park also makes an appearance in the comedy Grown Ups.

We boarded the ferry from Woods Hole, MA and stayed in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.  (By the way, there's no vineyard.)  Edgartown was the quintessential New England town with wood-shingled homes, big white churches and adorable shops and restaurants.


We stopped by to pay our respects to John Belushi while we were there.


We stopped by the Gay Head Lighthouse and Aquinnah Cliffs area which is where the "Welcome to Amity" billboard was in Jaws.


By far, our favorite spot on the island was Oak Bluffs.


From Ocean Park to their Gingerbread Cottages to the Flying Horses carousel and just lazy days spent dockside enjoying the bay, it was a spot we returned to over and over again.

Since basically all of Jaws was filmed there, we had to do our tour.


The Brody House has been remodeled but the house next door says "Little Jaws" outside.  Known locally as "Jaws Bridge", we had to yell "shark" when no one was around.  The pond where the shark swam in and took the dude's leg.  The sign for Amity Bank is still in the Edgartown Bank and if you ask politely, they have no problem with you taking a pic.  But I get the feeling the lady whose office it's in isn't a fan or got her undies in a twist at what a long summer it was going to be.  The "Alex attack" beach with the kid on the raft.  Then there's the town hall and it is basically exactly the same down to the little signs hanging outside of the doors and even the circle desk where they held the meeting to calm residents before some of them became chum.

We took the 3 car Chappy Ferry for the 95-second ride over to Chappaquiddick Island where Lady Gaga and Meg Ryan have homes.


It felt like we had the whole island to ourselves.  We made a stop at Mytoi Gardens, saw the Dike Road Bridge where the infamous Kennedy incident took place (Google it), had Cape Poge beach to shell to our heart's content and enjoyed the views of Edgartown before heading back.

Whew, that was a lot!  Come back tomorrow for the continuation.

Have you been to Martha's Vineyard?

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