Monday, August 31, 2009

Start Of A New Week

Monday mornings are always busy at our house, mostly because I'm catching up on "chores" I didn't get to over the weekend. Laundry, vacuuming, answering emails, blogging. Today the cats are all hanging out with me in the office (General and Romeo above) and for some reason everyone seems to be fighting already this morning. Now General is currently serving a timeout sentence in the guest bedroom, where he will stay for awhile until he calms down a bit. Below is the little hummingbird who comes to the feeder outside the office window. He's here pretty much every morning, as soon as the sun comes up.

Below is the rain gauge in the front flowerbed, and as you can see we've gotten a good bit recently. Yesterday it was pretty much all day long, and last week we had several days of severe weather. But I'm not complaining, because I haven't had to drag the hose or sprinklers out in many weeks now. All of my bulbs are finished blooming already, and only a few of my perennials have any flowers, but since this is the first year for everything, I'm not expecting a big show. The veggies continue to produce and I can't keep up we have so many peppers and tomatoes.

This weekend James finished up the work in the laundry room, and I now have a good deal of shelving in there, enough to keep all of my cleaning supplies, plus an extra rack to hang up the clothes as they come out of the dryer. I am very thankful to have such a handy husband. The extra storage and new, brighter lighting is much appreciated! I've never minded doing laundry, but having an organized space to work in makes it even easier.

Our next project is going to be installing ceiling fans. We went to Lowe's to pick out a few models (one of our choices, below) and inquired about installation. They charge a mind-boggling $100 per fan to install, so we're going to see if we can do some of them ourselves since we have a few good ladders. The ceilings in the four bedrooms are all between 11-13 feet high. But the sunroom is about 16 feet, and the living room is almost 20 feet. Not sure we will be able to do those two rooms, but I would rather shop around and find an electrician who is a bit more lower in cost than Lowe's. Who is not "low" after all!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home Opener

Saturday night was the home opener for the Atlanta Falcons. And although it is still pre-season, we headed up there for the game. We arrived at the MARTA station at the same time as one of James' co-workers so we all rode up together. We ate in one of the many many restaurants at the CNN Center (above). Then we walked over to the Georgia Dome (below) where the Falcons play. It was an 8pm game, and the big game on CBS so some of you may have watched it.

All the folks on the staff at the Dome were extremely friendly, and with it being opening night for the 2009 season I'm sure everyone was on their best behavior. As soon as we got in, a woman was passing out small survey cards that were good for one free drink from the concession stand (James filling his out, below).

The Falcons were playing the San Diego Chargers, and the game started with all the theatrics we've come to expect from the NFL. A lot of pyrotechnics for inside a dome, which surprised me.

We had really great seats, and since it was a pre-season game, the Dome was only about half full. And even though I'm a Tampa Bay Bucs fan, I still love football enough that I enjoy watching any team play. The game was actually very exciting, as the Falcons, who were down for most of the game, came back to win with just seconds left on the clock. Lots of folks had already given up and left by then, but we stayed to see the wild finish. Can't wait for the next game!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Check This Out

Today I discovered this really fantastic blog, called Nikon Sniper. He is a photographer and currently has over a thousand photos on his blog. His work is really nice, I found him just by accident, but his photos were so beautiful I just had to share. So check him out.

(photo below, from our trip to Dominica 2008)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Smoky Mountain Getaway

Well we are back from our nice little weekend getaway. Friday afternoon we left for a surprise trip over to Cherokee, NC where we cruised around town finding penny machines, then spent an evening at Harrah's. Before we moved, we used to go there about once a month, but we haven't been in probably a year now. Harrah's has beautiful rooms (ours, above) with a fabulous view of the mountains (from our window, below), and of course they have great restaurants as well. We always eat at Sycamore's On The Creek, although they have several dining choices there. James had unbelievably great luck at the casino, and let's just say I got a new Dooney purse from my generous, thoughtful winner of a husband.

The weather was spectacular as well, as you can see below. This was taken Saturday around lunchtime, in the NC mountains, and it was still almost chilly when we stopped later to eat in Knoxville. We stayed at James' parents' house, and visited several hours with his granny on Saturday. Later we met his younger sister Cindy and her family- husband Richard, son Matt, daughter Meghan- for a great dinner and then a few games of bowling where Uncle James proved to be the big winner for the night. After that we headed out into the country to visit older sister Stephanie, husband Paul, and youngest daughter Sarah at their home, where we all watched the NASCAR race and laughed and talked for a few hours. Stephanie and Sarah had been canning veggies all afternoon, and my sister-in-law was nice enough to give me some of her beautiful rosemary out of her garden.

Sunday we had a nice lunch at his granny's home before we got on the road to come back. We decided to take the long way home, and try to add a few more to our penny collection, so we mapped out a few towns along the way home on Sunday. Unfortunately two out of the three stops were closed, and we only ended up with one penny to show for it. But we had a nice day and a beautiful drive, staying off the monotonous interstates and enjoying the scenic back roads through Tennessee and Georgia. We stopped at one cute little town where the state line apparently runs right in the middle (photos below). In TN, the town is Copperhill. On the GA side, it's McCaysville. It was already late on Sunday, so not much was open, but we knew just by the looks of it that we would have to come back again for a visit (and to get our pennies). Just a little farther south is Blue Ridge, where they have an old train that runs from Blue Ridge up to McCaysville. We picked up a schedule and are already planning a Saturday up there later this fall.

See what you can discover if you just get off the main highways and take the long way home!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tropical Tuesday

Not tropical in a good way, as you can see in the photo above. This was our Tuesday afternoon. For two days we've been getting pounded with storms, courtesy of feeder bands from Tropical Storm Claudette. Certainly not one to complain, because we were happy to see the rain on Monday and Tuesday, and the yard and plants concur. The kitties, however, had their outdoor time curtailed. Below, Romeo (on table) and Spider watch in the distance as the clouds grow darker and the wind starts to pick up.

But Maarten was already heading for the door, not too sure about the oncoming storm.

But this little guy, below, was hanging out on the BBQ grill even when the winds were whipping everything else around.

Spider stayed out for as long as possible, not even thunder or lightning scares her back in. When the rain comes, she will duck under the table or the grill, just so she doesn't have to come back inside the house. I usually have to go out and get her, or at least bribe her to come inside with a shake of the treat can.

After the weather cleared, James and I went the few miles to downtown Newnan to Fabiano's pizza (photo below from website) for dinner. Last night was trivia night, and we got there after the questions had started, so we played just for fun between the two of us. The restaurant was full, so we had to eat in the adjoining building, a bar and concert venue called the Alamo, which has a much cooler vibe. If it seems like we're eating out a lot lately, well, that's because we are. We both know it's time to slow down and get rededicated to the straight and narrow path called d-i-e-t. After our fun plans this upcoming weekend (more on that later), we plan to start Monday morning off on the right foot down that path!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Downtown ATL

On Saturday afternoon James and I went up to Atlanta, to spend a few hours. We wanted to figure out a few different stations on the MARTA system, because we decided it would be easier and cheaper to go to the Falcons or Hawks games this season on the train instead of driving our car into all that traffic. We live on the airport side of Atlanta, where the MARTA train runs to on the south line, but we went up to the next station, which as you can see by the photos of the planes overhead is still extremely close to the airport. We chose to catch the MARTA at the College Park station, because we can get there without ever getting on the interstate, and the parking is free. We rode it into downtown, to the Peachtree Center station, and walked a few blocks north to have dinner.

We ate at Max Lager's, where I had a pizza and James had a filet, and we shared fried cheesecake (one of my favorite desserts!). All of their entrees, including the pizza, is prepared on a wood-fired grill. They also have their own brewery there at the restaurant, and James tried a few of their different beers, some of which have not only won awards but have been voted the best beer in Atlanta. I'm sure this place isn't a secret, but it was a nice find for us, and we enjoyed their food and the atmosphere of a more upscale sports bar. We kept our eyes on several TV sets watching Tiger, the Falcons, and the Braves all at once. James checked out the upstairs to find a few pool tables, but we didn't stay and play. We said we would definitely go and eat there again.

We walked around downtown for a bit, it was very pleasant weather (see the sky in the photos above and below) and not too crowded in that area of the city. But we didn't really want to be out on the streets that night, so we headed south on our walk to Underground. Now, I know Underground is a really overly-hyped tourist attraction in Atlanta, but if you are coming here for a visit, don't waste your time- there are way too many other places to see. I've been there plenty of times in past years as a tourist, but as a resident I would tell people to cross it off their list.

We only went there Saturday night because they have several penny machines, and we needed those designs in our elongated penny collection. And, that will be the station we will be using when we go to the football and basketball games- just a few blocks of walking to get to the Georgia Dome and Phillips Arena, although we could switch trains to ride it all the way if we need to. So we wanted to check it out first without the gameday crowds. That part of town was still extremely crowded for just a normal Saturday night, and we didn't stay any longer than we had to in order to map out the vicinity. We've been to games at the Georgia Dome before, but not since becoming residents of the area, so we decided it was a nice night and a perfect time to do a little investigating. And a little eating!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Lazy Day

Wow, I'm finding it hard to come up with post titles these days, and even the posts themselves! Not much is going on around our house right now, as you can see from the photos of yesterday. This is pretty much how the kitties spent their day, in "their" room (it's really the sunroom but it's where we keep all their toys). Spider as usual spent most of the day out on the deck, she cries to go out there as soon as we get up in the morning and doesn't want to come in until dark. Most of the time, I just let her stay out there, but I go to the window at least every fifteen minutes to sneak a peek out there to make sure she's okay. Yesterday we had a big thunderstorm, and I was surprised when she didn't even flinch at the loud booms. Once it started raining, however, she wanted in.

Another session with my massage therapist yesterday. Last week I was pretty much pain free, but started to hurt over the weekend, and for most of this week I have been in a lot of pain. She worked on a different set of muscles in my leg and glutes, and told me to take it easy for a few days but don't sit around too much. Okay, that's confusing advice. Sleep evaded me last night and I had to unfortunately dip into the old pain meds again. I haven't been able to get on the treadmill since sometime last week, so that is a disappointment for me. But, I do see a light at the end of this tunnel, so I will just keep heading towards it.

The neighbor kitty, aka Olivia, is no longer welcomed at my house! This morning as I sat checking emails, I looked out the window to see her dashing into the brush across the street, and emerging with a young bunny dangling from her mouth. I ran outside in my bare feet to try and chase her down to make her let go of it, but she took off faster than I could ever hope to run. I know, it's a cat's nature. And that's why my kitties are indoor only! Well, except for my sunshine loving Spider, but she is way too fat and way too her mama!

Everyone have a nice day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home Improvements

Not much going on at the Truan household right now. We stayed in this (very very hot) weekend to get a few chores done around the house. James is still busy installing extra shelves in all of our various closets and pantries. I spent the weekend potting a few houseplants I picked up at Home Depot for two and three bucks each. I had a big collection of old pots down in the basement, just collecting dust, and decided it was time to bring them upstairs and get some use out of them.

Keeping the cats out of the plants is my main issue, they've been known to decimate one in no time. And although I sprayed them all with Bitter Yuck, they still had to check everything out. Spider found them right away, but General (below) is the worst offender. Even with the thick coating of stinky spray, his curiosity still got the better of him. And yes, I am the crazy woman who allows the cats up on the kitchen counters and dining room table and all over the furniture. We do have five, after all, and I can't watch them every second of the day, so I caved in and surrendered to it a long time ago...

James also installed a new light in my laundry room, and I really needed it in there. Although this house is brand new, it does have minimal (and cheap) lighting fixtures, which really gets on my nerves. As time and finances permit, we will eventually get them all changed out. Lowe's had this particular light on clearance awhile back, and we bought a few of them. Only $30, and I think it's gorgeous. The laundry room is almost done, just a little touch up paint required, and the final shelf installed, and it will be complete. Can't wait! James did a really nice job.

I also finally finished repairing and repainting the old weathervane, and James installed it on the back deck. It's fairly heavy, and doesn't move too easily with the breeze, but we put it out there for decoration more than anything else. I've priced nice weathervanes in catalogs and online, and I think we did pretty good for our $5! I used spray paint that I already had, and I think it turned out well. Where else was I going to find garden art with a black cat on it, unless I did it myself!

Below is the great deal I got at Kohl's over the weekend. No, I don't need another purse, but I just can't help myself. They were running a great sale, I had an extra 15% off coupon, and a $20 Kohl's cash certificate, so I ended up getting this $50 purse for $6!! Can't pass that up. Great colors for a summer bag, and even into fall with all the oranges and reds. I am one of those women who carry around everything but the kitchen sink with them, and a dainty little purse just won't do.

This morning I've been busy making pepper vinegar with all the many dozens of cayenne peppers my one little plant is producing. I have so many I don't know what to do with all of them. Pepper vinegar is a staple on the dinner table here in the South, and it's used on everything from collard greens to black-eyed peas. Frankly, I'm not sure what we'll use it on, as I don't make greens (James loves them but I think they're disgusting). But I had a few old bottles down in storage, so I thought I would give it a try. I know my dad used to use it, so I'll have to make a batch for him too.

Off to yoga in just a few minutes, hope everyone is having a great day!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Neighbor Visits

Here is a rare sight at our house. All five cats in one place at one time. So of course I had to grab the camera. This is in our bedroom last night, and forgive the quality of the photos but for some reason my camera doesn't do well with the flash, everything has a yellow tint to it. It's like a Where's Waldo picture- can you find all five cats?

In the photo below, only three are left, and if you look closely on the window ledge, you will see Spider and Romeo about to go at it with each other. (Romeo is the one with his paw up, on the right, and backing away.) Spider doesn't really like any of the other cats, and she especially doesn't like any of them getting that close to her.

General just thinks they're both crazy...

But here is what the cats were all gathered around to look at. Down on the wall below, it's our neighbor kitty, who comes around at least twice a day. No matter where I've lived, it seems like the neighborhood dog or cat comes around my house. And I'm not even feeding this cat, I swear!

I don't know if it's a male or female, but I just decided female since she's so pretty and fluffy. She belongs over on the next street, but wanders over to our yard every evening like clockwork- at 6:00 I know I will see her coming over the hill in the backyard. I always "name" the neighborhood critters, so I've named her Olivia. (After the actress who played Juliet in the 1968 movie, since my Romeo seems to be so taken with her.) She's a huge cat, very friendly and loving, very talkative. And very punctual with her visits!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Off to Fayetteville

Not much going on today. I am "recovering" from my yoga class yesterday. I used to do yoga many moons ago- when James and I were dating there was a beautiful yoga studio around the corner from his place and I would go there and take classes, waiting for him to get home from work. But, it's obviously been awhile, and I feel it in my legs today. I definitely need to do it, my therapist said it will be wonderful to help me stretch out my muscles and get back to normal. I can excitedly say that after just three visits with her, I'm about 80-90% pain free finally. It's amazing. I have another session with her next week, and despite the bruising pain she will lay on me, it will be worth it and I'm looking forward to it. In the interim, I will keep at the yoga. They have classes at the gym every day, but I'm going to start off with twice a week, work my way up to more. My gym is only $25 a month! Can't beat that.

Romeo's yearly vet appointment went well. He is our calm, laid back friendly cat (above), so he always gets lots of attention whenever we go in. This was his first visit at the new vet, so everyone fawned over him, gave him treats, took lots of pictures of him. I don't know if it's his big size or his sweet disposition, but he got a lot of petting and kisses from the new staff. Even the doctor commented about what a good-looking boy he is. Not too bad for a stray cat who just showed up at our front door one day all those years ago! I think we'll like going to this new vet, he has four cats and several of them were there in the waiting room to greet us!

We've had issues lately with Romeo marking, so all you cat folks out there, give me advice. This just started a few weeks ago. He's marking all over the walls. At first we thought he was just peeing, but after talking to the vet yesterday and describing the action (backs his butt up to a wall, shakes his tail, and pees all over the wall), the doctor said he is "marking" his territory. Don't know why he just started this! The vet said sometimes when male cats don't get neutered as a kitten, this habit develops. Romeo was probably over a year old when we found him and had him fixed. So, cat friends, what can I do about this sudden but certainly nuisance behavior?? None of the other cats do this, although we suspect Hairy may have some old-age related tinkling issues.

I am headed to do a few miles on the treadmill, my eating has been atrocious lately and I'm going to have to balance it out with exercise if I want to have a good week at Weight Watchers. Dinner out three nights in a row, yikes. Fun to be with the husband, bad for the hips and thighs, ha ha. Slowly and steadily the weight is coming off, and I want to continue the downward trend! My interview is this afternoon, over in another county, about a 45 minute drive, so I will be leaving a bit after lunchtime today. A little farther than I want to drive to work, but this is the first interview I've had since we've moved here, so I'll go in with positive energy and lots of hope. Although my leg pain issues are getting better, it is still sometimes quite painful to drive, so I'm not really looking forward to this afternoon at least in those respects. Will have to load up on Tylenol first!

Thanks for all the kind-hearted words about the hummingbird issue, guess I get a little soft in the head when it comes to animals. But, I still have hummingbirds at the feeder outside the office, so that cheers me up. Now, about that big frog my husband's car squished in the driveway the other night.....

Everyone have a great day, will be back on again soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Weekend Hangover

Hi all. It's been brought to my attention that I haven't blogged for several days and people were starting to worry about me. Please don't worry if I don't blog for a few days, it just means I'm busy or I don't have anything interesting to say!! Both of which were true over the past weekend. We were out on the town Saturday- went up to Atlanta for dinner here, and a movie, and didn't get home until 2:30 in the morning, been awhile since we've been out like that!

But Sunday morning we got up and walked our 10K trail again (below), then spent the evening out doing a little bit of shoe shopping on our tax-free weekend here in Georgia, and stoppin
g in at a local pizza joint. Lucky for my diet, I didn't like the pizza too much...

James and I stayed busy with a few small household projects while we were home, like the one below, where James is adding new shelves in the laundry room for all our cleaning supplies. He took down the old one, and will be putting up two new ones when it's all finished. It will also give me an area where I can hang up the clothes as I take them out of the dryer, which I was in desperate need of.

My project that I've been working on lately is the photo below. This is an old weathervane we picked up for $5 at an estate sale back in Charlotte. I've had it for about two years now, and have been meaning to get it fixed up. I had to sand off a lot of rust, and I primed it with two coats, so now it's ready to get painted and hopefully will be out on the back deck by next weekend. I just thought it was way too cute and unique, and no one else bid against us for it, so it will be worth the time and effort of repairing and repainting it. Of course you know the cat will be black...

The veggie plants are finally producing, and I picked all of this within the last few days. Lots of peppers, I don't know what I will do with them all! James ate one of the jalapenos this weekend, said it was really good. The plants are still loaded down with soon to be ripe items, so I will need to get a recipe shortly so I can use everything. I thought about making homemade salsa, I had a friend back in SC who did, and it was better than anything I'd ever had out of a bottle. Yes Dawn, that is one of my many Longaberger baskets, I still own and use all of them as I'm sure you do, too.

Not much else going on with us. I'm getting ready to head off to my first yoga class at the new gym, then Romeo has his yearly checkup at the vet. Since he is one of the better behaved cats, I don't have to chase him down and put him in a crate- he can go in on his harness and leash, which isn't so traumatic. Plus he is such a lovebug, he enjoys all the attention from strangers. Here are the kitties from the other night, devouring a spoonful each of tuna fish- their favorite treat.