Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Big O

Tell us about a time you found out after the fact that you’d been mistaken and you had to eat a serving of humble pie.

Today, I was discussing this writing prompt with Hubby, hoping he would give me a good idea of something to write about.  I was not disappointed.  We were having the discussion while driving in the car, and Hubby got distracted by a dental office where the dentist's name was Dr. Chips.  He then told me that this sounded like a knock off version of Pringles.  After a moment, he admitted that he would eat knock off Pringles called Dr. Chips.  I told him they would probably be filled with chemicals.  He said all food was filled with chemicals.  I emphatically disagreed with him.

He contended that everything is full of chemicals, because everything is made up of molecules, which are made up of elements.  And elements are chemicals.  I contended that pure elements were not chemicals, and that things like water and oxygen were not considered chemicals.  Chemicals were synthetic things, not things naturally occurring in nature.  I told him there was no way oxygen could be considered a chemical.  And I told him if I was wrong, it would be the subject of today's post.

Guess what I was?

From everything we have been able to find, the word "chemical" can accurately be used to describe
A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a chemical process.
 Based on that definition, elements, such as oxygen and hydrogen, would, in fact be considered a chemical.  As would water.  Hubby is still convinced that I am, in fact wrong (of course he told me he could never remember an instance when I was wrong, God bless him), because all the websites we looked at used phrases such as "chemical element" or ""chemical substances" to describe elements.  To me, this seems kind of a matter of semantics, but I am still willing to admit I was wrong.

NaBloPoMo November

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Beginning and the End

You're almost there! Tell us how you feel about endings.

Like most people, I struggle with transitions, particularly with endings.  Most of the time, endings of books or movies do not seem too bad.  They are contrived enough to sufficiently wrap up all the stray bits (though I have been known to give a loud WTF in a movie theater a time or two).  But in life, endings are rarely that tidy.

In the past I have had trouble specifically with endings I have to initiate.  The severing of relationships, romantic or otherwise, has never been easy.  I want to see the best in people, I want to help people, I want people to like me.  So it is hard to admit that sometimes it is just better to walk away.  I often second guess the decision, and carry around a lot of guilt over it.  Decisions to leave past jobs have also been difficult, even though I knew they were the right decisions.

Photo Courtesy of Joey Rozier
The older I get, the more I am able to reframe the concept of ending.  When one thing ends, another begins.  That is why, when you graduate from school, the ceremony is called commencement.  Commencement means beginning.  So, while it is fine to mourn the ending of one thing, it is also a chance to celebrate the beginning of another thing.  For example, the happiest part of my life started when my days as a single woman ended.

In short, sometimes endings suck.  Ending mean saying goodbye to a person, place, thing, or concept.  Even when you are saying goodbye to something unhealthy or damaging, it is hard.  Ask any addict.  But by saying goodbye, you are also saying hello.  From every ending comes a beginning.  And beginnings, well, I think those are pretty awesome.

NaBloPoMo November

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nearly 4 Years Later

How do you feel about the first blog post you ever wrote?

Sadly, I do not remember the very first blog post I EVER wrote.  This is because it was back when I had a MySpace page.  I blogged on there for a long time, mostly about my love life, but when I deleted that page, all those posts were lost in the shadowy passages of the internets.

So, instead, I will reflect on my first post on this particular blog.  I will wait a moment while you read are back?  OK.

Basically, I feel like this is almost identical to a post I would write now.  I write blogs along these lines all the time.  The post features a discussion with my husband, and showcases his quirky sense of humor.  Anyone who reads this blog often had heard me talk a lot about my husband, and has seen many an example of his hilarity.  I can already imagine that particular discussion playing out.  I probably said "this is so ridiculous, I need to tell someone else about it".  At which point I was inspired to start a blog.

We will still have ridiculous conversations like that.  And I still share a lot of those moments online.  The phrase "you need to tweet that" is said several times a week.

Still, a LOT has changed since that first post.  First off, this is what we looked like in February 2010.


We. Were. Babies!  We look so different.  Not better, not worse.  Just different.  My hair color, length, and style has changed probably 20 times since then (no joke).   (And WHAT is up with those eyebrows, geesh?) Hubby has grown a full, lush beard, and more than a few additional grey hairs.

When that post was written, we had just adopted or puppy, Dexter.  Now we have two adorable, grown up dogs.  We had been married less than 6 months, and I was adjusting to my new role of full time housewife.  Since then I have had a couple of part time jobs, and I just started a new one.  But I still relish being a housewife.

Since that time, we have helped family and friends through struggles, and they have helped us through some of our own.  We have become active within our community.  We have taken trips.  We have remodeled our home.  We have filled the subsequent years with love, and laughter.  The same love and laughter that is reflected in that very first post.

NaBloPoMo November

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Literary Christmas Tree

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I have been wanting to write about this for a while now!  After the tremendous success of our book page floor, I decided I wanted to undertake another bookish project.  Because I am a book reviewer, I get a lot of Advanced Reader Copies, or ARCs, of books.  These are, essentially, proof copies.  The usually do not having finished cover art, and they cannot be donated or sold.  Basically, they are intended to be trashed.  Because I get so many of these for reviewing purposes, they build up quickly, and I hate to just waste them.  So, I decided I was going to use them to make Christmas decorations.

Detail of tree- Steve's name tag

In August, I started thinking of ways to make decorations.  I covered some styrofoam balls with scraps of book pages.  I cut some pages into lines and used them to fill clear glass and plastic bulbs.  I used book pages to decoupage paper mache and wooden forms.  I shredded book pages and used in floral and burlap arrangements.  I made Victorian style floral cones from book pages.  And I used an entire book's worth of pages to make a tree skirt.  I even made book page chain garland.

Detail of Tree- Victorian floral

The results were more stunning than I ever hoped for.  I am completely in love with our literary Christmas Tree.

Full shot of tree

Because this was not your traditional Christmas tree, I decided to put it up early.  It has been up for about a week and a half.  The entire thing took about 3 books, again, one of those was entirely used on the tree skirt.  To make the skirt, I cut out 2200 circles of various sizes from the pages.  I hot glued them in overlapping rows on a cotton batting tree skirt.  It took about 7 hours to make the tree skirt.

Often I would work on these decorations while Hubby and I watched television, so I was able to put in a lot of hours without noticing it.  Over the course of 3.5 months, I made probably close to 100 ornaments, the chain, and the tree skirt.  I used burlap to make small bows for the tree, and the large bow for the tree topper.

Such an unusual tree needs something unusual underneath.  Vintage books, a vintage typewriter, a file drawer and card catalog drawer were just the thing.

Vintage typewriter and books

I am incredibly proud of this tree.  I think it turned out so lovely, I am not sure I will ever want to take it down.  You can see the full set of pictures of the tree here.

NaBloPoMo November

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Party, Pizza Party

Tell us about the favorite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.

If there were one food that I could not turn down, it would be pizza.  I really love pizza, all kinds of pizza.  It is my ultimate comfort food.  We are luck enough to be surrounded with some amazing mom and pop pizza parlors.  For a long time, every time we got pizza, we got it from a different place in our area.  Some were just ok, and some were amazing.  I dabbled a little at making pizza at home, and it would turn out pretty good.

Funny thing is, pizza usually made me feel like garbage.  It was so good while I was eating it, but then later I would be miserable, even if I only had one piece.  After investigation, trial and error, and working with a nutritionist, it was determined that have non Celiac gluten sensitivity, otherwise known as gluten intolerance.  It is not a life threatening thing, gluten does not cause me permanent damage, but when I eat gluten it makes me pretty sick.  So, I had to cut gluten out of my diet.

Do you know what has a ton of gluten in it?  Pizza.

This makes me sad.

The good news is, more and more places are offering gluten free pizza.  A few national chains, and several really delicious local pizzerias offer gluten free pizzas, plus many grocery stores are not stocking premade crusts, or crust mixes, so I have been able to make pizza at home.

A fall harvest pizza I made at home.

So, while I cannot eat at any old pizza place anymore, or grab a slice any old time I like, I am happy I do not have to give it up completely.

NaBloPoMo November

Tiffany's Tuesday Tunes: J is for Jazz, Man.

Have you ever loved something and not been able to explain why?  You can not find the words to adequately describe the beauty of the thing, the emotions is brings up for you, the way it mentally transports you somewhere else.  This is how I feel about jazz music.


I know next to nothing about jazz music as a genre.  I could not tell you about the various types of jazz, the origins of jazz, the musical terms or even my favorite jazz song.  All I know is that I think jazz is lush, alive, passionate, heartbreaking, sexy, and evolutionary.  When I listen to jazz, either in vocal form or instrumental form, I am transported to another time and place, one that sometimes feels more comforting than my own.

I prefer instrumental arrangements, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, etc., for times that I need quiet solitude, times when I want to be pensive.  When I want to just close my eyes and listen to a story, I prefer vocals, particularly Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald.  Sometimes, the improvisation gets a little to raucous for me, but I suspect that over time, I will come to appreciate that more.

A lot of modern music fans find jazz old, trite, and pretentious.  Yet this music laid the groundwork for so many modern genres; I feel like if they would just look a little closer they would see that.  I got my first taste of jazz as a child, courtesy of the Cosby Show, of all places.  With that first taste, I was hooked.

I hope you enjoy a sampling of some of the more recognizable standards and best known vocals in the business.  And listen closely to see if you can hear a hint of modernity.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Like a Deer in the Headlights

Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.

Living in Western Pennsylvania during fall and winter can be breathtakingly beautiful.  Driving Western Pennsylvania road during fall and winter can be an altogether different experience.  Because of the heavy tree coverage and abundance of county roads and state routes (as opposed to major highways) in our neck of the woods, one must always be on the lookout for deer along the roadside.  These critters stand there, waiting to jump in front of your car.  In a 20 mile drive of State Route 28, it is not at all uncommon to see at least 5 deer carcasses littering the side of the road.  I am telling you, we live in deer alley.  Just ask Hubby, in 10 years, he has hit 5 deer.  As a result, we tend to be extra cautious when driving during the height of deer season, particularly when driving at night.  The deer can basically appear from nowhere.


Toward the end of October, I was driving home from an adventure.  I had already been driving for hours that day, and all I wanted was to get home and go to sleep.  It was about midnight, I was on State Route 28 just north of Pittsburgh, not even to the portions that were super wooded.  I was just past an exit that lead to a pretty densely populated neighborhood when a deer appeared out of nowhere.  Even though I was not going that fast, it seemed inevitable that I was going to hit this huge deer.  I used my brakes, closed my eyes, and braced for the impact, praying it would be minor.

Imagine my shock when the impact never came.  I do not know how in the world I did not hit this deer.  It was literally so close to my car, I could have rolled down the window and touched it.  The only thing I can think is that it successfully jumped over my hood.  I never so much as tapped a hoof or rustled its fur.  I was so certain that I was going to hit that deer, it made no sense that I came out unscathed.

I quickly realized how lucky I was.  I continued to maintain an extra slow speed and use extreme caution for the remainder of my drive.  When I pulled up to my house, I said a prayer of thanks that I had been spared from the ordeal of hitting that deer.  I imagine the deer did as well.

NaBloPoMo November

Our First Christmas

This post was written from a prompt by Community Human Services Holiday Gift Drive in partnership with Pittsburgh Tweetup. To learn more about the CHS: Holiday Gift Project and how you can get involved visit:  View all the posts here.

 Prompt: “What is the nicest thing that someone has done for you during the holidays?”

When I first moved to Pittsburgh in 2004, holidays were pretty lonely for me.  Sure, I went home to visit my family for the actual holiday, but I always knew I was returning to an empty apartment.  When I had my own apartment in Ohio, I always decorated for holidays, because I knew my friends would come over to hang out and I would be able to do holiday entertaining.  But being new to Pittsburgh, and not really having anyone to entertain, I stopped decorating.  In fact, I left my Christmas tree and all my decorations back in Ohio, with my parents.

Fast forward to 2008.  Back then, Hubby was still newly acquired Boyfriend.  We had been friends for years, but only had been dating for a few months.  We already knew we were really serious about each other, so we were pretty stoked for the holidays that year.  Because Boyfriend and I lived about an hour apart, we would typically try to meet up once during the week, then he would come spend the weekend with me.  Around Thanksgiving, Boyfriend asked me when I would be putting up my Christmas tree.  I explained to him that I no longer had one, and I did not have the money to buy a tree and decorations.

The next weekend we made plans for him to come to my apartment after work.  He sent me a text letting me know he would be running a little late, and not to worry.  At that time, I lived in an apartment with a security buzzer, so I had to ring him in when he got there.  When he got to my door, I quickly realized why he had been running late.  He had stopped to buy me a Christmas tree.

He explained to me that we had to have a tree for our first Christmas together.  Once he got the tree inside, he told me that we were going shopping for ornaments, and he was buying them.  It was so important to him that our first Christmas together be perfect, and money was no issue.  I was pretty stunned at this highly romantic, totally selfless act of kindness.  He even made sure we got an ornament that said Our First Christmas.

This will be 6th Christmas together, and each one has been romantic and special.  But I will never forget what he did for me that first Christmas we were together, making sure it was perfect.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

Are you good at what you do? What would you like to be better at.

Am I good at what I do?  Well, I know there are plenty of people out there who do not think I do much of anything.  But the absolutely number one thing I do in my life is be a wife.  This is not anti feminist, I chose to make wife my full time vocation.  Not because I have to, or because I have no other options, but because I want to.  Shortly after we married, we made the decision that it no longer made sense for me to continue in my full time job.  It was a choice we made together.  So I embraced my role as housewife.


Some parts of that job are things at which I am great.  Cooking is probably my greatest job related skill.  I love to cook, Hubby loves having a wife that cooks, so it works out well.  By cooking most of our meals home made, I save money, and make it easier to insure we are putting healthy, nourishing food in our bodies.  Am I perfect at it?  Nope, there is always room for growth and improvement.  Along with the cooking, I do the majority of the shopping for the household, both food and goods.  I like grocery shopping, not so much clothing shopping, but I have gotten to where I am good at both, in terms of both efficiency and thrift.  Cleaning, well, I am not one of those women who loves to clean.  Our house is clean, but often cluttered (mostly with books).  I do somewhat enjoy doing laundry, I just dislike putting away the clothes once clean, mostly because we do not have room for them all.  Hubby and I split dishes and laundry, as well as pet related duties.  So, if I were given a work evaluation on my job as a housewife, I think I would meet or exceed expectations in all areas.  But again, there is certainly room for improvement, and hopefully I improve every year.

Beyond my main role as housewife, there are plenty of other things I do.  I am a crafter, an amateur photographer, a writer, a fund raiser, a community advocate, and an advisor.  These are all things that I really enjoy doing, and according to the feedback I have gotten over the years, I do them well.  Of my hobbies, I really want to improve my writing skills (something I am starting to work at) and my photography skills.

I will soon be starting a new role, working at a local library.  Everyone seems to think I am going to do a wonderful job at this, so I hope they are right.  I can tell you that I am incredibly excited, and have a million ideas brewing up in my brain.  Thank goodness for Pinterest, right?

So, what do I do?  I live my life, and I try to do it in the very best way possible, full of optimism, joy, love, and kindness.  That does not mean I do not wish I could be better.  Every day is a balance of gratitude for the abundance of blessings in my life, and a desire to use those blessings in even greater ways.

NaBloPoMo November

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Play's The Thing

Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

Play.  Such a small word for what it signifies for me.  For me, to play means to have time when you are not taking life so seriously, to flex your creative muscles, to challenge conventions.  I aim to do this daily, and honestly, it is one of the main ways I spend my time.


I play with my food.  Not in the way you are thinking, like making a chicken dance or something.  Ok, sometimes I play with my food that way.  But mostly, I play with food by creating new recipes.  I play with flavors, seasonings, textures, colors.  If I were a mad scientist, my laboratory would be a gigantic kitchen.  I tweak and adjust existing recipes, and create new ones.  I just love to play with my food.

I play with my looks.  Anyone who has known me for longer than 2 months is likely to have seen me with at least 2 different hair colors.  I change my hair color and style frequently.  I go on binges where I paint my nails in unusual ways.  I play with clothing and accessories.  For me, every day is a chance to play dress up.

I play with my dogs.  Not a day goes by that I do not play with the dogs in some manner.  This past summer, the dogs learned to play fetch.  Soon they will get to play in the snow.  We play rough, chasing games, we play snuggle games, we make them dance, we pretend they can talk, we occasionally dress them up for photo shoots.  Our dogs are like living, licking, wriggling stuffed animals.

I play with toys.  Sure, maybe I no longer play with Barbies or Lincoln Logs, but I still play with toys.  We have more video and computer games in this house than I ever expected we would.  We play board games.  We play puzzle games.  We fiddle with smart phones, tablets, computers, cameras, GPS units, we purchase actual toys.  We are big kids at heart and I love it.

I play with words.  That is what this blog is.  In all the time I have been blogging, it has never stopped being fun.  I hope it never does.

I play with conventions.  People think they know me.  They have no idea.  Hubby used to say I was a mystery wrapped in an enigma, held together with duck tape and macrame.  I think it is one of my favorite compliments ever.  I hope I always keep people guessing.

So, what does play mean to me?  Well, to steal a line from Shakespeare, and totally reinterpret it, the play's the thing.  For me, play equals life.  I hope my life is always full of play, because when I am playing, I am really, really living.

NaBloPoMo November

Friday, November 22, 2013

If I Could Turn Back Time

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice: 

the ability to speak and understand any language 
the ability to travel through time
the ability to make any two people agree with each other

Oh BlogHer, you are making these too easy for me.  Obviously, I am going to chose the ability to travel through time.


The primary reason is that this suspiciously sounds like that super power comes with the title of Time Lord, and what Doctor Who loving girl would not want that?

But, additionally, I think that being able to travel through time would provide me with amazing educational opportunities.  Imagine being able to watch the Gettysburg Address live and in person.  Seeing the hanging gardens of Babylon.  Being present for the birth of our nation.  So many amazing moments in history could actually come alive!  I find this so exciting.

Being able to travel through time indicates that I could travel forward, as well as back.  Therefor I think it would be amazing to see where the country will be in another 100 years.  To go forward for the inauguration of the first female president.  See the triumphant day when cancer is cured forever.

With any power comes responsibility however, and I assume this hypothetical scenario is no different.  It would be difficult to fight the urge to stop horrible things from happening.  Stop Hitler.  Prevent Columbine.  Warn New Orleans about Katrina.  And stop myself from getting some of those perms in the 90s.  Yet, those moments are fixed in history, and could not be changed, for fear altering the future or creating a paradox.  Knowing that one false move could end humanity forever is heavy stuff.  Similarly, it would be hard to fight the urge to alter my personal history.  Prevent my own death.  Get the winning lottery numbers for next week.

Now that I think about it, I am not sure I want the responsibility that comes with being able to travel through time.  Unless, of course, I get to do it with The Doctor.

NaBloPoMo November

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Mean Streets of Kittanning

Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.

For a while, I worked part time at our local Tourist Bureau.  I loved the job because it was close to where I lived, part time hours, low stress work, and helped me promote my area that I love so well.  Our office is right in town, on the "main drag", and the building has large windows that make up both of our outward facing walls (it is a corner office).

One day, we got a phone call instructing us to lock our doors and take caution because there was an armed robber in town.  At first we did not take it too seriously.  Then we heard sirens, saw speeding police cars, and watched as the next block up was cordoned off.  There had been a robbery at the drug store on the next block up.  Shots had been fired.  This was all the information we had for a couple of hours.

We were incredibly frightened at the idea of an armed robber running the streets.  Because our office was small and unassuming (it used to be a bank office), we felt like we could be a target for the suspect to want to hide.  And with both of our outside walls being large windows, there was no way to hide.  I was petrified a bullet was going to come zinging through those windows at any moment.

Harriet Hammond - Pres. Nemours Gun Club  (LOC)
Not the actual shooter.  Courtesy of The Library of Congress.
Eventually we learned that a woman had tried to rob the drug store in an attempt to procure drugs.  An employee and a customer were able to wrestle the gun off of her, but not before she fired a shot into some shelves.  Something like this would be a blip on the radar in a large city, but to a small town like ours, it was really frightening.  I used to walk to that drug store from the office to get drinks or miscellaneous items we needed at the office.  Good thing I did not go for a walk that day.

I do not think I have ever felt so vulnerable in my life as I did for those few hours when all we knew was someone within eyesight of our office had a gun and was shooting.

NaBloPoMo November

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's All About Perspective

Think about something that drives you crazy. Now, think about something that makes you happy. Does it change your perspective on the former?

We absolutely adore our two mini-dachshunds, Dexter and Chloe.  While I obviously know that pet ownership is not the same thing as parenthood, we do consider our pets a part of our family.  We recognize that they have very distinct personalities, habits, and instincts.  Sometimes, those do not mesh all that well with my own personality, habits, and instincts.


I am very bothered by loud, repetitive noises.  Like dog barks.  Our dogs are not all that barky; barks are usually limited to when someone opens our front door (mailman, or one of us returning to the house), a signal that one of the dogs needs to go outside to potty, or in response to a loud disturbance outside.  Occasionally, something we do will spark an odd barking fit (Dexter often barks when he sees Hubby kiss me), but really, barking is really isolated, and intended to be an alert.

Except, sometimes, it is not.  Sometimes, Dexter will sit downstairs and bark for no apparent reason.  And it drives me absolutely bonkers.  I will get very tense, and end up yelling at him.  Not something I am proud to admit.  It just gets me so frazzled, I cannot help it.

I think, really, what bothers me most about the barks is that he is trying to convey a message to me, and I am just not understanding.  It concerns me that he might have a need that I have not considered.  What if he is sick?  What if he is frightened?

The dogs bring us so much joy.  It is nearly impossible to have an awful day with the dogs around.  I have been under the weather for a few days now, and all the dogs want is to snuggle in bed with me, and give me get will licks.  I cannot imagine our life without them.  When we went to New York last month, we left the dogs with my sister for a few days.  It was the first time we had ever left the dogs with anyone.  Our house felt too empty, and way too quiet.  I would have given anything to hear barking.

So, the next time Dexter is driving me nuts with the barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark I just need to remember to be thankful we have the dogs here to drive us a little crazy.

NaBloPoMo November

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just Take a Deep Breath and Write

What’s the thing you're most scared to do? What would it take to get you to do it?

Oh this is easy.  I am scared to write a book.  The one thing I want to do the most is the one thing I am scared to do.  It has become a recurring theme in my posts over the past few years.

Vintage typewriter and books
What if I write something and everyone hates it?  What if I am terrible?  What if I have zero talent?  What if no one wants to read it?  What if everyone realizes that, when it comes to writing, I am a hack?

You see, I think some of the blog posts I write are pretty clever.  No one else really seems to agree.  I have never been one to write my blog for anyone other than myself, so it never bothered me that not many people read this, but sometimes I write something that I think is really worthwhile, and less than 25 people see it.  Part of the problem is I have squashed any communication with readers by closing my comments.  I have my reasons for this, ones I will not go into.  People can still comment on the links to these posts on Facebook and G+, so there could still be communication.  But unless I pay Facebook lots of money, most of the time my posts never show on people's timelines.  So, not many people read this, and of those that do, no one really gives me feedback.  My fear is that this has led to my having an altered perception of my writing ability, or lack thereof.

So, what would it take to get me to start writing for realsies?  Lots and lots of encouragement.  Hubby encourages me every day, as do a few other people.  But I am still lacking confidence in my abilities.  I know I need to just get over it and do it.  I wish there was a magic incantation or pill that would make me get over this fear, but there is not.

So, I will just keep whining, and taking baby steps, and hope that someday, I will get over this fear.  I suspect it will begin when I just take a deep breath, and write.

NaBloPoMo November

Tiffany's Tuesday Tunes: The Doctor's Companion

You guys!  This weekend is the 50th Anniversary of the very first episode of Doctor Who.   It is time to celebrate!


I will admit, I first heard of Doctor Who in the 80s.  A friend of my brother was obsessed with the show, and we all thought it was so weird.  Sci-fi was not all that popular at that time, not the way it is now, and rabid fandoms were not nearly as visible as they are now (I blame Twilight for making fandoms so popular).  I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be so Doctor Who obsessed as an adult.

When we got involved with social media a few years ago, it seemed like a lot of people were talking about Doctor Who.  We finally decided to start watching the modern series, it mostly just to understand what people were talking about.  We  quickly fell in love with the show.  We have watched every episode together; this is quite a feat for me, since I have been known to binge watch shows I love without Hubby.  But not this time.  I have waited to watch every episode with him.  We have not yet started watching the classic episodes, but I am sure we will.

What I love so much about Doctor Who is that, despite being labeled as sci-fi, the show is mostly about relationships between people (or beings perhaps is a better term).  My favorite Doctor is Ten.  He will always be "my" Doctor.  My favorite companions are The Ponds, mostly because they remind me of us.  As much as I would love to travel with The Doctor, I would not want to do it without Hubby by my side.

So, in anticipation of the big celebrations this weekend, I give you a playlist of some of the great music from Doctor Who.

Run, you clever boy, and remember...


Monday, November 18, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink

Tell us about a time when you felt out of place.

I am a very self conscious person.  It is not that I do not like being the center of attention; on the contrary, I enjoy all eyes on me, as longs as I am in control.  It is the moments when attention is on me without my control that I dislike.  That means anytime I am the oddball, or I embarrass myself, or I am not the norm.  And those moments, those not-the-norm moments, well they happen all the time.  Most notably, these moments happen in social situations.

Neither Hubby nor I drink.  It is not that we are not big drinkers, it is that we do not drink at all.  As in, less than 3 drinks a year.  Most people assume this is because we are prudish teetotalers (not in the least), weirdly religious (once again, that is a no), recovering alcoholics (HAHAHA that is funny), or cheapskates (well, we are, but that has nothing to do with why we do not drink).  In reality, I do not drink because I am gluten intolerant with a host of stomach troubles, so alcohol makes me sick for days, and Hubby simply does not like the taste.  There are multiple times when we both have wished we could drink, and enjoy it.

Over the summer, I saw a contest being sponsored by Construction Junction and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  People who had creatively reused materials for a home improvement or art project could enter their project.  I entered our beautiful book page floor.  I was ecstatic to learn that we had won.  Our prize was two tickets to The Steel City Big Pour, a huge craft beer festival in Pittsburgh.  So there we were, two non drinkers, headed to the biggest party in Pittsburgh.


It was kind of funny, actually, the fact that we won tickets to an elite craft beer event.  These were pretty coveted tickets, so we decided to go and make the best of it.  We spent about an hour and a half walking around, tasting food, taking pictures, listening to live music, and watching people have a wonderful time.  We walked away with a bag full of swag (mostly beer related).  We fully enjoyed the atmosphere.  But it did feel weird that we were not drinking any of the dozens of beers that were available for tasting; we were certainly in the minority, and could not help but feel a tad out of place.  Some people may think that those tickets were wasted on us, and while we may not have experienced it in the same way as most of the other people in attendance, we still had a good time.



The rest of my photos from this event can be viewed here.

NaBloPoMo November

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nerd Love

What do you love most about yourself? What do you love most about your favorite person? Are the two connected?

While I think there are a lot of great things about myself, and even more great things about my favorite person, the thing I love best about us is who we are together.  My favorite person, unsurprisingly, is Hubby.  And I absolutely love who we are because of each other.

I have always had nerd tendencies.  I wrote about that during last year's NaBloPoMo.  Sometimes, I take a look at the kinds of music or movies I like, the hobbies I have, the people I follow on social media, and the things I talk about, and I realize that the older I get, the nerdier I get, and I love every minute of it.  If someone had told my 8th grade self, with my mile high bangs and my pegged jeans and my painful attempts at being cool, that I would proudly proclaim my nerd status, I would have laughed.  But that is exactly how it has played out.

Way back in the day, before Hubby was ever Hubby, or Fiance', or even Boyfriend, one of the things that I prevented me from dating him was I just was not sure we were compatible.  I was still too worried about conforming to conventional standards of beauty, sex appeal, and coolness.  I thought that I had to be a specific type of woman in order for men to like me.  And when I acted that way, conforming to standards that were not really my personality, I did attract men.  Awful, selfish, unfaithful, manipulative men with whom a successful adult relationship was impossible.

When I finally came to terms with the fact that some of those conventional standards were just not me, and not what I wanted out of life, I became happier, I opened up, and I found the love of my life, in Hubby.  The longer we are together, the more we are ourselves.  And what ourselves have turned out to be are gigantic, boardgame loving, video game playing, book hoarding, Doctor Who watching, indie rock obsessed, zombie chasing, Reddit reading, NERDS.

We are constantly having nerdventures.  We spread our love of our nerd icons all over the internet.  Our life is full of laughter, and love, and very very nerdy dancing.

So, go ahead and call me a nerd.  I take it as a compliment; it is the best thing about me, and the best thing about the greatest person I know.

NaBloPoMo November

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Interview with Rich Uncle Pennybags

Interview someone — a friend, another blogger, your mother, the mailman — and write a post based on their responses.

So, yeah, I am sick today and confined to home, and no one is online for me to interview (being that it is Saturday and most people have lives).  My only alternative was to interview Hubby, but that is too boring, so I had him channel one of his favorite board game characters, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

He was quick to inform me that he does have a real name.  His given Christian name is Milburn Pennybags, but he never aspired to be a monopolist.  He actually wanted to be a dentist, but would YOU go to Doctor Pennybags for a root canal?  Not likely.  So, just like girls named Destinee Peaks, his future was decided for him, all based on his name.

Because he is awfully fond of that get out of jail free card, I asked about his first run in with the law.  As a scrappy young teenager, he stumbled upon some fellows wildly fond of  a newly marketed licorice candy, known as the Lick Whip.  The only problem was, it was in short supply.  Milburn promised the fellows he could obtain it for a modest investment fee.  In truth, he had no supplier, and no way to supply; but as word spread that Milburn had connections, new investors would throw money at him.  Whenever an investor complained that the product was never delivered, he simply used a new investor's money to pay off the complainant. Fortune smiled upon him when the local mercantile got in a shipment and Milburn was able to deliver to his remaining investors while making a mint.  His luck ended when the constable caught wind of the scheme.  Good ole Officer Ponzi.

Pennybags says that his favorite gameplay token is the racecar.  He claims there is something exciting and freeing about being on the open road.  Also, it reminds him of the time when he had a midlife crisis, left his wife Madge, bought a Ferrari and struck out on Route 66.  He met a buxom redhead along the trip, and traveled with her for a while.  Good thing he had one of those get out of jail free cards in the glove compartment, since the little lady lied about her age.  Ah, memories.

When talking about the shaky housing market and government bailouts, he states that "bailouts are for chumps and the weak.  It is all well and good when building houses on Pennsylvania Avenue, but when I saw hotels going up on Boardwalk, I knew it was too big to fail."  And that is just not how he rolls.  Literally.

As far as the future is concerned, Milburn is looking forward to retirement.  He says he will live out the rest of his days with his scottie dog, Stocks, and his cat, Bonds, in a nice little senior living community up in Marvin Gardens.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bad Habits and Flaws, According to Hubby

If you could quit one bad habit instantly without difficulty, which would it be?

I will admit that I had a hard time with this one.  It is not that I do not think I have no bad habits; I have tons of bad habits.  But I actually kind of enjoy most of them.  I swear.  I eat ice cream for dinner sometimes.  I am usually in the progress of reading 4-6 different books.  I push my favorite band on anyone who will listen. Even the bad habits that I do not enjoy per se are still not ones that I really care if they stop or not.  Things like leaving too many shoes in the entryway, letting junk mail accumulate, never really having all my clean clothes put away.  To me, these things are minor.  I just have so many other things I would rather be doing than worrying about these minor bad habits.

So, in order to fulfill this writing exercise, I enlisted the help of Hubby.  I asked him to make me a list of my 5 worst bad habits or flaws.  This is the list he gave me.


First off, there are only 4.  He said that is all he could think of.  How sweet is that?  That, right there, is a sign of unconditional, true love.  And let's take a look at the 4 he came up with.

Doesn't give herself enough credit for creativity and should start writing.
I have been saying for years that I wanted to write a book.  And for years, people have been telling me I should write a book, maybe multiple books.  And I really want to.  But I am too scared to take the leap.  What if I am terrible?  What if people hate what I write?  What if no one buys it?  What if I try, and I just cannot.  So, I continue to put it off.

Watches too much Snapped.
I love the show Snapped, from the Oxygen Channel.  It is about some women going totally off of their beanpoles and killing people, typically the men in their lives.  The show creeps Hubby out, and he hates when I watch marathons of it.

Puts mushrooms in too many things.
I literally laughed out loud when I read this one.  You see, Hubby hates mushrooms.  I love them.  And I am the one who does all the cooking.  I think I have made it my secret quest to get Hubby to like them, so I tend to slip them into a lot of things I cook.  Sometimes I try to do it secretly and see if he notices (he always does).  He always says he does not care, and is willing to pick them out, but he must care a little bit, since this made the list.

Enables weiner dogs.
This is one we are both guilty of.  We have 2 dachshunds, and we spoil them silly.  As I am typing this, the dogs are snuggled into bed with me.

So, since these are my options, I think the thing I would most like to change is the first one.  I wish I did have more confidence in myself, and my ability to write something of quality.  I wish I had no fear.  I wish I could just sit down and pour my heart and soul into the screen.  Maybe someday I will.

Still, if these are what Hubby considers my worst bad habits and flaws, I must be doing ok in life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tiffany Trivia: Pittsburgh Edition

Write about whatever you'd like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

Today, I decided to kill a few birds with one stone.  I am writing to the prompt, reviving an old series from the blog (Tiffany Trivia), and addressing the "random facts about me" meme that is storming facebook.  Thanks for indulging me.

As a kid, growing up in the Ohio Valley, Pittsburgh was our closest local city, so I really considered myself a 'burgh girl long before I moved there.  I grew up saying y'inz and eating chipped ham sandwiches.  Plenty of my friends lived by the crick.  And even my small little town had its share of jagoffs.

So, it really should have come to no surprise that I ended up living in Pittsburgh for several years.  Even though I do not technically live in the burgh now, I still live close enough to visit often.  Today, I am going to take time to remember all my favorite things in Pittsburgh, and to discuss the quintessential Pittsburgh things that just do not click with me.  Pardon me if I slip into Pittsburghese now and then.


When many people think Pittsburgh, they think about watching the Stillers and eatin a Primanti's sammich.  Here is a little secret about me: I do not really like either of those Pittsburgh icons.  I know, I know, I should turn in my burgher card now.  Do not get me wrong, I do not HATE the Steelers, I just really do not care about football that much.  I also do not HATE Primanti's.  I just do not their coleslaw that much.  If I were going to do a Pittsburgh sports and dinner date night, it would be watchin da Pens and eatin a corned beef sammich from Sammy's.

Taking the incline up Mount Washington is always a fun burgh activity.  The view is gorgeous, a great place to take pictures.  But my favorite place ta look down on the city is the West End Overlook.  I used ta go there a lot when I lived there, and there would hardly ever be anyone there.  It was always a nice quiet place to go and reconnect with the world around me.  A close second is the view as you cross the Veteran's Bridge.  But usually I am goin to fast to enjoy it too long.

Everyone in Pittsburgh, at least the Sahth Hills where I lived, loves Fiori's pizza.  I admit, I have never eaten it.  Instead my favorite pizza place was The Pizza Company down in Castle Shannon.  Best breadsticks and wings ever.  That is one of the few places that actually tempts me to eat gluten.

Most burghs, at some point in their lives, spent some time carousing in the SahSide.  I never really cared much for bars, so I rarely went to the South Side.  Because I was more into exploring the community, I much preferred The Strip and the NorSide.

Some Pittsburgh things it is a given that I am gonna love.  Heinz Ketchup?  Yup.  Mr. Rogers?  Yup.  Dinosaur statues?  Yup.  Pierogies?  Yup.  Dippy eggs?  Aw yeah.  But the thing I love the best about Pittsburgh is her people.  Burghers are the best people on earth.  Sure, we may still have mullets, and wear jean jackets, and our idea of dressing up is wearing our "good" Stiller jersey.  Sure, we make the Pittsburgh left, and we slow down before the tunnels.  But Pittsburgh is full of the most loving, generous, creative people I know.  And no matter where I end up living, I will always be a burgher at heart.

A special Shaht Aht to everyone who understood every single word of this post, and mentally read it in a Pittsburgh accent.

Go Stillers.  N'at.

NaBloPoMo November

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Five Foods You Meet in my Refrigerator

Name five things inside your refrigerator right now and how you feel about them.

I thought this prompt was just a little too easy.  So I challenged myself to not only find five different kinds of things to talk about, but actual examples of that thing that matched their position on the list.  Finding five of anything in my fridge was harder than I thought it would be!

1.  Fruit:  One Lonely Pomegranate

I have a complex relationship with the pomegranate.  I think I like the taste of it more than I actually do.  And there is a lot of messy work involved in being able to eat one.  You have to peel the skin open and retrieve the seeds which, if overripe, will shoot bright red pom juice everywhere.  The last time I tried to eat a pomegranate, I looked like I had blood splattered all over my face.  I think I am more attracted to how pomegranate seeds factor into the mythology of Persephone than to the actual taste of pomegranates.

Also, One Lonely Pomegranate would be an excellent name for a Long Winters cover band.

2.  Juice: Two cans of tomato juice

I actually hate tomato juice.  These cans are leftover from when I made gazpacho the last time.  Oddly enough I love gazpacho, despite the fact that it is pretty much spicy, chunky tomato juice.  Go figure.  I keep hoping Hubby will drink these, since he professes to love tomato juice.

3.  Creamer:  Three flavors of coffee creamer

For a long time, I was not drinking coffee.  During late spring, I had reduced my caffeine intake to nil in the hopes of  healing my stomach.  My doctor suspected I was in the early stages of a stomach ulcer, so I had to give up coffee, tea, and soda.  A while ago, we decided to see how things would go if I started drinking small amounts of caffeine.  So far it has been fine, so I celebrated by splurging on some different creamers.  I typically only drink one cup of coffee a day (if that), so I want to to be delicious.  The sweet cream flavor on the left pairs well with both my blueberry coffee and my mint mocha, while the cinnamon and red velvet are perfect for my breakfast blend coffee.  Now that mornings are cold, a hot cup of delicious coffee is the perfect way to start my day.

4.  Condiment:  Four types of mustard

Hubby does not like any type of condiments on anything.  He is the king of "chicken sandwich, plain".  I, on the other hand, love to play with subtle differences in tastes, and changing the way a sandwich comes together by layering different kinds of flavors.  Hence the 4 different mustards.  On the left, we have Grey Poupon (with white wine ooh la la) for when I am feeling fancy.  Next to that is a jar of my dad's homemade mustard, which is the good stuff that never gets shared, then a bottle of Heinz, because I am a Pittsburgh girl at heart (and no way will you ever catch me with anything but Heinz ketchup), and finally regular French's dijon, which is like the everyday dishware version of mustard.  (Believe it or not, we used to have a couple of additional kinds!)

5.  Cheese: Five Kinds of Cheese

If we were to make a song about the 12 days of Foodmas in our house, I guarantee this would be the lyric for the 5th day: FIVE KINDS OF CHEESE!!!!  We are major cheese fans in our house.  We may dis other types of dairy (cow milk bad, coconut milk good), but there is no such thing as bad cheese.  The examples you see here are deli provolone for Hubby's lunch, swiss for my lunch or breakfast, bleu cheese crumbles that I bought for a pizza I made, extra sharp cheddar for cheese and crackers (which we call chackers), and parmesan and garlic blend for pasta.

As for "how I feel" about these foods, well, they are food, so I really have no strong feelings one way or the other.  Except for those cans of tomato juice, they are big jerks and I hate them.

NaBloPoMo Prompts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Lipton Treatment

On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses? 

 What is your favorite word? My favorite word is not even a real word, it is a word my husband made up.  We often speak this weird language where we mispronounce words on purpose.  It has gotten to the point where we say these mispronounced words all the time, even in text message.  My favorite word is "snorgle" which is our term for snuggling with our dogs.

What is your least favorite word? Dump.  It is just so gross, and every mental image it evokes is disgusting.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Anything literary is a big turn on for me, in all three areas.  The same with music.  But I am also greatly inspired by acts of generosity and kindness by other people in the world.

What turns you off? Lying, and people who have to try to ruin the happiness of others, or purposely hurt others for their own sick twisted reasons.

What is your favorite curse word? Douchecanoe.  Not even sure it counts as a curse word, but it sure is a good word to whip out when you are mad.

What sound or noise do you love? Rain on the rooftop

What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of my dogs crying.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Probably a teacher or a nurse. My sister is a teacher, my brother is a nurse, and I admire them both for the amazing work they do.

What profession would you not like to do? Proctologist.  I deal with enough a-holes as it is.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I am so glad you I here, I have heard so much about you.  Of course I already knew it all, but people up here just love you.

NaBloPoMo November

Tiffany's Tuesday Tunes: I is for Iconic Instrumentals

I grew up in a musical family, and many of the family member continue to be musical.  Among us, we have played or do play guitar, Spanish guitar, bass guitar, air guitar (just kidding!), piano, clarinet, trumpet, oboe, and drums.  I think I got them all.  I may have left a few out.  We have been taught to respect music in all its forms.  Most often, the music we indulge in on a daily basis involves vocals of some sort, though our tastes include pretty much every type of music there is.  But, at the root of it all, we all have a strong love for the music itself, and the instruments that make up the score.


Sometimes, instrumental music is meant to simply be something to fill space, to float gently in the air behind the action of a scene, to keep things moving at a party, to relax and calm us.  We play this kind of instrumental music while we study, while we meditate, while we dine, while we sleep.  However, there are times when instrumental music is meant to be bold, definitive.  It controls a scene, it announces action, it evokes a very strong emotional response.

Today's playlist includes some of (in my opinion) the most iconic instrumental music I have encountered.  It is no surprise that many of the songs are from or used in movies or television shows.  These songs have come to symbolize those movies or shows, and all they embody.  The actors, the plots, the themes, the good guys, the bad guys, love, hatred, life, death.  These are strong, bold musical arrangements.  See how many of them you recognize by sound alone.  And pay attention to the strong feelings each one creates.