Floor It

As we were getting ready to continue with the next phase of home improvement, we were nearly swayed by a sexy new flat screen TV. However, practicality won out in the end, and we stuck with our original plan of replacing the linoleum in the kitchen with laminate floor.

Goodbye, linoleum.

Kristen's dad and brother did most of the work, but I pitched in where I could (moving appliances and standing around trying to look useful).

Foreman Eddie barks orders through his megaphone.

Other than some minor trim work and touch up painting, we finished things up late Saturday afternoon. We are quite pleased with our choice—now we just have to keep it clean.


Ten Things...

...You May Not Know About Kristen

Today Kristen hits the quarter century mark. While she has done some nice blog tributes for me on my birthday, last year I posted a cheese ball recipe on hers. This year I figured I'd better get on the ball (and I don't mean one that's made of cheese). Happy birthday, honey!

10. Instead of blood she has Dr. Pepper coursing through her veins. And instead of marrow in her bones she has thinly sliced salami.

9. She shares her birthday with chick flick queen Katherine Heigl and, um... Donald "Duck" Dunn, bassist for Booker T. and the MG's (sorry, slim pickins).

8. She has an irrational fear of birds. This made the potential trip we were planning to Bodega Bay where The Birds was filmed all the more enticing.

7. She loves to get funky with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

6. She does this great stealth walk that is a cross between an alien and a velociraptor. Ask her to show you some time. She'll never do it, but at least you'll make her blush.

5. She can make the world stop spinning by bugging out her eyes.

4. She was allowed to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street at a neighbor's house when she was 5. Freddy Krueger still freaks her out to this day.

3. She is a creature of comfort, yet she gets restless if she stays in one place for too long. Don't ask me how this makes sense.

2. She likes to modify regular words into her own unique language. Take the days of the week for example. Friday is "Freitertag." Saturday is "Snooterdoodle." Where does she come up with this stuff?

1. She has no patience for stupidity. This was one of the main things that attracted me to her.


Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Dave and I like to take vacations. Before Eddie came along, we used to decide a few weeks in advance that we were going to go somewhere, and we would do it. Of course, at that point, we had a lot more money and a lot more freedom. Since we got married, we've been to New York, San Francisco, Orlando, and Long Beach. Since Eddie was born, we've been to St. George, Logan, Cedar City, Oakley... you get the idea.

So by this year, we were aching for a vacation. We thought of all sorts of great ideas—none of which came to fruition. So here they are, the 2009 vacations we planned and didn't take:

Grand Canyon

Dave has never been to the Grand Canyon, and I have only been when I was really little, so I don't remember it. We thought it would be fun to take a road trip to see all the sites between here and there that we have never seen. I mapped out our route and everything... but then we realized that a long road trip with Eddie might be a recipe for disaster—not to mention the ridiculous gas prices of earlier this year and our lack of funds.

"Believe it or not, I'm walking on air..."


My family used to take a big vacation every year, but we haven't gone on one since Dave joined the family. This last spring, we planned to go to Orlando, Florida with the whole clan. After convincing my mom that the kids would enjoy it more when they are older, and realizing that none of us could really afford the trip, we scrapped the whole idea. It was supposed to be postponed until next spring, but now it will probably be postponed even longer because my sister-in-law is having a baby in March.

Southern California

We have both been to Southern California many times, but as it is the most convenient place to visit the beach from here, we considered a short road trip sans Ed. Plus, the Yankees were playing the Angels in Anaheim, so we thought it could be fun to see a game. I planned out all sorts of activities for us to do, including visiting Balboa Island (the site of one of our favorite TV shows, Arrested Development). But it wasn't to be. We reconsidered this trip later on when I found out that I could get into Disneyland for free on my birthday. Then we decided to re-do our kitchen floor instead. Ah, the joys of adulthood.

"There's always money in the banana stand."

Mexico Cruise

When the Andrews family Florida trip didn't pan out, we realized that we might not get a vacation at all this year. This sent me into panic mode and I started looking for bargain trips. I found out that it is reasonably cheap to take a Carnival cruise to Mexico and we considered that for a while. Needless to say, it never happened.

Northern California

We have been to San Francisco, but haven't seen much of the rest of Northern California. So we planned a road trip to visit such great places as the redwood forest, more popularly known as the Forest Moon of Endor, and Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds.

Doesn't this look relaxing?

Pacific Coast Highway

The last trip I planned was sort of a combination of the other California trips. We thought once again about ditching Eddie for a week, then driving I-80 to Northern California. After visiting Bodega Bay (which we still want to see), we would drive south along the Pacific Coast Highway, all the way to Los Angeles. I researched all the interesting things to see along the way and still think this could be a really cool trip to do. The only problem is that you need at least 5 days, but probably more, to really be able to enjoy the trip and do more than just drive and sleep.

It is now the end of November and the longest trip we have taken this year was to St. George for one night. Of course, if someone would like to sponsor a trip, my birthday is next Tuesday and I can still get into Disneyland for free that day. Anyone? Anyone?


Olive Garden Salad

Every time we go to the Olive Garden, Kristen orders the cheese ravioli without fail. The only time I can remember her getting something else was because they were all out of ravioli. As for me, I don't really have a favorite entrée. The prospect of endless salad and breadsticks is what gets me excited about eating there.

I have been meaning to search the web for the Olive Garden salad recipe for some time now. We've had a few get-togethers recently where we've been assigned salad, so that gave me the opportunity I needed. This is a close enough facsimile to satisfy my cravings. I guess now I just need to work on perfecting the breadsticks.

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup white vinegar
• 1 tsp vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp corn syrup
• 4 tbsp dry parmesan cheese
• 1 clove garlic minced
• 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tbsp sugar (optional)

Mix the dressing ingredients in a blender until well mixed. If this is a little to tart for your own personal taste, add a tablespoon of sugar.

• 1 bag American blend Dole salad
• 4 sliced rings red onion, halved
• 6-8 pepperoncinis
• 6-8 jumbo black olives, pitted
• 1/2 cup croutons
• 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
• Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• Peppercorns, freshly ground

Pour 1/2 package of the salad blend into a large salad bowl. Top with 1/2 of the onion, pepperoncinis, olives, croutons and tomatoes. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Add the other 1/2 bag of salad and more dressing to taste. Toss well. Top the salad with the remaining onion, pepperoncinis, olives, croutons and tomatoes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and ground black pepper.



As I was perusing the internet this morning, I stumbled across a sad bit of news. BMG Music Service ceased operations earlier this year. Truly this signifies the end of an era. For the uninitiated, BMG was a mail order club where you could purchase CDs at great discounts. They were most famous for their "12 CDs For the Price of 1" subscription deal. The only real catch was the shipping charges, but the cost breakdown was still something like $3 or $4 per CD.

During its mid-90s heyday, BMG was the key to building my CD collection. Not only did I sign up a few times myself, but I was also one of their greatest spokesmen. You see, when you got others to sign up, you were given more free CDs. At one point, all of my siblings and several friends became members thanks to my efforts.

But things changed with the advent of CD burners. No longer did you and all your friends each have to buy separate copies of the same CD. Then iPods came along and it was all over. I actually clung to my BMG membership well after my CD purchasing prime—I only closed my account a few years ago.

I haven't totally outgrown media clubs though. These days I am a member of the Columbia House DVD Club. My purchasing doesn't come close to rivaling the BMG days, but the quantity discounts do come in handy during the holidays when we are stocking up on Christmas gifts. You know, I get two free DVDs for getting people to sign up. Who's interested?


Let There Be Light

Since we won't be able to sell our house for what we bought it for until roughly 2017, Kristen and I have been thinking a lot about home improvement lately. On the top of the list is our kitchen.

The default lighting in there wasn't really cutting it, so we headed over to IKEA a few weeks ago to explore options. Eddie nearly blew a fuse pointing at all the lights, but in a way he helped us forgo our usual indecision in matters such as this (it took us two years to pick out a ceiling fan for our bedroom). As he ran around the aisles in a frenzy, we hastily made up our minds and came home with new light fixtures. I even managed to install them myself without anyone getting electrocuted.

Pendant over the kitchen table

Track over the cooking area

The new lights don't make the kitchen any brighter, but now it is better lit, if that makes sense. Next to go is the linoleum floor. We are tentatively planning to install laminate flooring over Thanksgiving weekend.


Tie Time

I've never liked wearing neckties. As an adolescent, the only redeeming thing about having to wear them was that I could get away with all sorts of crazy novelty ties, like Looney Tunes characters playing baseball. Another personal favorite from this era was the fish tie worn by my junior high band teacher. And I don't just mean the tie had fish on it. The tie was literally a fish body and the knot was the caudal fin.

However, there comes a point in the maturation process when a boy must put away his novelty ties and become a man. For me, this transition came on my mission. When you have to wear a tie every day, you form certain stylistic preferences. Novelty ties weren't permitted anyway, but all of a sudden they just seemed kind of tacky. I didn't want to be that middle-aged dad you see at church wearing a tie with flaming Tabasco Sauce bottles.

All of my old novelty ties eventually made their way to the D.I., but for Christmas 2004 I received a New York Yankees tie as a gift. I wasn't sure if I would ever actually wear it, but kept it on my tie rack anyway. I eventually decided that it would be my championship tie. The next time the Yankees won the World Series I would wear it to church the following Sunday.

My championship tie has remained in the closet, virtually untouched since then, but 2009 turned out to be its year of destiny. As I put it on this morning for the first (and hopefully not last) time, I thanked my lucky stars I'm not a Cubs fan. Or an Indians fan. Or... well, you get the idea.

(MAJOR Nerd Alert)


Ten Things...

...I Love About Watching MLB on Fox

Before meeting Dave, I had very little interest in baseball, but in the past 6 years, I have been subjected to enough of it that I have started to actually enjoy watching some games. Since this was the first World Series that I felt compelled to really care about, I decided to dedicate a post to my favorite things about watching baseball on TV. And here they are:

10. Mocking Players' Faces
Dave and I have a new face we make at each other. It's called the "John Lackey."

9. Players' Spit-Takes
Or farmer blows. Lucky for us, we happened to watch the first few innings of Game 3 on my brother's HDTV. Thanks, A-Rod.

8. Constant Cup Adjustments
This postseason has inspired me to develop a line of custom made protective cups for professional athletes. I have no personal experience with this sort of equipment, but it seems to me that if you're wearing one every day, you ought to be able to get one that fits well enough that you don't have to adjust it after every movement.

7. Commentators
Since watching the MLB postseason, I have a new person to add to my Facebook list of "people I would punch in the face if I had the chance": Tim McCarver. Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough with my note-taking to get some of his really great quotes. However, I did like it when he predicted a "standing O" for Matsui during Game 6.

6. Close-Ups of Fans
Sure, some fans go to a game decked out in such a way that they are obviously hoping to get on TV. But most fans have no idea they are on TV and get caught looking really dumb. And then there are the ever popular shots of fans looking suicidal when their team is about to lose.

5. The Crotch Cam
Not only is the camera angle that I have dubbed "the crotch cam" useful in helping Tim McCarver incorrectly predict which pitches are coming, but it is also a very flattering shot of the catcher. You just don't get to see angles like that when you're at a live game.

4. Post-Game Interviews
I have to give the reporters a bit of a break because they rush out onto the field moments after a game has been decided, snag a player, and conduct their spontaneous interview live on TV. However, they could think of better questions than, "How do you think this makes some of the other players on your team feel?" or "You haven't had a good postseason. Aren't you glad you won anyways?" I also enjoy the players' generic answers, such as "It was a team effort and we really pulled through" or "We're going to have to step it up tomorrow night because they [the opponent] are a really great team."

3. Mocking Players' (or Coaches') Names
My new favorite name is Rich Dubee, the pitching coach for the Phillies. Every time his name was mentioned, I couldn't suppress my giggles.

2. Slow Motion Replays
Not even professional athletes—no matter how well conditioned—look good with of all their parts jiggling in extreme slow-mo.

1. In-Game Widgets Named for Sponsors
I got so distracted by the constant sponsor plugs during Game 1 that I started taking notes. Here are some of the sponsor-named widgets of the World Series:

• Home Depot Tools to Victory
• Auto Trader Ultimate Pitching Comparison
• Fox Business Network In-Game Box Score
• Wal-Mart Saving Moment of the Game
• American Express Take Charge Player of the Game

Finally, I'd like to take a moment to mention that aerial coverage of this post is provided by DIRECTV.


It Doesn't Get Any Better Than THIS

A few months ago Kristen and I took notice of an unfamiliar channel in our modest cable package—This TV Network—thanks to the strange and obscure movie titles featured on its program schedule (i.e. What's the Matter With Helen?). Soon we started reading the program summaries too, and that turned out to be just as entertaining as watching the actual movies, if not moreso. Since we are always on the look out for new blog content, we have been compiling the best summaries ever since. Let me stress that we have not modified these in any way.

Klaus Kinski, Don Opper (1982) Escaped convicts break into the space station of hip android Max 404 and his creator.

What's the Matter With Helen?
Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters (1971) The weird mothers of two thrill-killers move to 1930s Hollywood and open a talent school for children.

Chris Mulkey, Catherine Oxenberg (1991) A reckless police detective teams up with a computer scientist and her high-tech dog, Niner.

Wesley Eure, Valerie Bertinelli (1979) A teenage genius invents a robot watchdog to bail out his girlfriend's father's home-security business.

Kid Colter
Jim Stafford, Jeremy Shamos (1985) A Boston boy escapes from spies and survives in the wild with tricks from his mountain man father.

California Casanova
Jerry Orbach, Audrey Landers (1991) A clumsy stagehand tries to woo a nightclub singer on his own and with lessons from a gigolo.

John Huston, Shelley Winters (1977) A marine biologist's trained killer whales rid the California coast of a giant octopus.

Puss In Boots
Christopher Walken, Jason Connery (1988) A miller's son leaves home with a cat who can change into a man of the world.

The Coca-Cola Kid
Eric Roberts, Greta Scacchi (1985) A corporate soft drink sales ace finds an Australian valley where everyone buys a local eccentric's brand.

Timothy Daly, Kelly Preston (1988) Two lawyers rescue a young woman from a supposed satanist with otherworldly powers.

Return of the Rebels
Barbara Eden, Don Murray (1981) A widow and a mechanic regroup their motorcycle gang 25 years later to teach an upstart gang a lesson.

The Three Wishes of Billy Grier
Ralph Macchio, Betty Buckley (1984) A rapidly aging teenager wants to find his father, play in a jazz band, and love a woman before he dies.


Hungry Like the Wolf

Dave has a lot more confidence in my sewing skills than I do. When we were contemplating our options for Eddie's Halloween costume, he kept suggesting that I make the costume. My opinion was that if we could buy a costume, it would look much better and save me a lot of frustration. Then, we chose a costume that wasn't widely available (Max from Where the Wild Things Are). So, I decided to give it a whirl.

I found a great beige fur fabric at Fabric Center in West Jordan. Following the measurements on the pattern (a Winnie the Pooh costume pattern borrowed from Cheryl), I bought the amount of fabric indicated. I remarked to the fabric cutter lady, "that looks like an awful lot of fabric for a toddler costume."

It was quite the chore to cut the costume out because the fabric was so thick and furry. Plus, as I cut, it shed. By the time I finished, I was completely covered in fur, as was our carpet. Soon, our entire house was covered in fur. I decided not to even attempt cleaning it up until the costume was finished. After cutting out all the pieces I needed, I realized that I was right: it was an awful lot of fabric for a toddler costume. I ended up with way more than I needed -- even after having to cut out some sections twice after messing up.

So I started sewing. The suit was fairly easy, despite the fact that I made a few freestyle modifications to the pattern. I sewed most of the suit in a little over an hour. I am very proud of the neat job I did on the zipper. We found some buttons on clearance at Hobby Lobby and sewed them along the center seam on the front of the suit. The easy part was done. The only things left to do were the hat and the tail, which I imagined to be terribly complicated. So I put it off for a while.

About a week before Halloween and I suddenly realized that I was running out of time and needed to stop procrastinating. I had to design the ears and figure out how to sew them onto the hat so that they stood up straight. With Dave's help and a lot of talking to myself, we finally figured out how to sew them on. I hope you'll agree that they turned out pretty well, all things considered. Even the designer wolf suit we could have purchased online for $60 didn't get the ears quite right. I modified the hat from the pattern to try to more closely match Max's suit from the Where the Wild Things Are movie. It ended up too big for Eddie's tiny head, but wasn't bad enough to warrant a do-over.

The tail was a cinch. I bought a strip of black fur, sewed it into a tube, flipped it right side out, and filled it with batting. Then I hooked it onto the suit using safety pins so that it would be easily removed. The fabric and batting are stiff enough that it doesn't hang straight down and drag, but sticks out just enough that it doesn't get in between Ed's legs when he tries to walk.

All in all, it turned out pretty well. Of course, after buying the expensive fabric, a zipper, buttons, thread, needles, and safety pins, and taking all the time to sew it, it might have been worth it to just buy one online. However, if nothing else, it has given me a little more confidence in my sewing skills.