Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Saab Story

 As far as love for inanimate objects goes, this girl is my baby. (Please ignore the rust on the front fender...I'm hoping to have that fixed next year.)

Stella Luna is 22 years old and this Christmas, I will have had her for 6 years. For the most part, she has served me well but since sitting 1.5 years in a family friend's barn (while we were metzing around), she has begun to show her age. 

(* On a side note, a man at a red light asked me a few days ago if I am the original owner of the car. WHAT??)

She made the long drive out from PA early in the year with no problems but the problems began not long after. 

It all started with some sputtering and stalling when I first started her in the morning but by the time my appointment rolled around, she refused to start at all. After lots of tries and a push down the hill, Michael and I finally managed to start her up and get her to the shop. 

Their verdict: faulty fuel pump. So we had it replaced (for a pretty penny...ouch!) and all but a lingering fuel smell, she was running great! 

Of course, this isn't to mention the fact that my key somehow got stuck in the ignition and would not, no matter how much turning and WD-40 we tried, come out. Unfortunately, the shop was unable to fix this before we left so Michael and I were stuck locking the keys in the ignition with the spare key and unplugging the batter every evening when we parked it (since some of the auxiliary lights stay on when key is in). A little goofy, but it worked.

We hit the road the next day for the wedding in Ohio and soon realized that the fuel smell wasn't just lingering. But since we weren't noticing any leaking fuel, we weren't too concerned. 

All was well until we were heading back from the wedding on the highway and the gas gauge suddenly fell to the bottom. Did the fuel gauge sensor die? Did a hold suddenly form in the bottom of the gas tank? Did the entire gas tank fall off? We had no clue but Stella seemed to be running fine so we kept going until the next gas station where we filled up the tank (just to see how much gas we really had) only to see gas come spilling out the bottom of the car.

We weren't far from our first pit-stop at Michael's Grandparents' house so we kept going despite some safety concerns. And thankfully, Michael's wonderful Aunt had phoned up her mechanic who agreed to take a look at the car (even though it was a Sunday). 

Thinking we wouldn't be able to take our car back, the initial plan was to take Michael's Grandparents' car back to Saint Louis and return to trade when Stella was back in working order. But after a quick look, the Mechanic said that there was a simple gasket leak in the top of the fuel tank (meaning no safety concerns with driving her) where the fuel pump had been installed and the fuel sensor was simply broken, so we would just had to pay attention to how long we were driving. Did I mention though that my odometer is broken? It's been broken for years (I probably shouldn't be publicizing this but since I stubbornly won't sell her, I'm not concerned) and hadn't been a real problem until now, when I needed to be paying attention to the miles passing by so I could calculate how much gas I was using. Amazingly enough though, there's an App for that! No, really. After a quick search on my phone I found an odometer app that uses the phone's GPS to track your miles. Using that app (and with a safety 2 gallon gas can in the trunk), we were able to safely (and without spilling gas everywhere) make it back to Saint Louis by using a few gallons, then replacing it.

After returning home, we dropped the car off and they immediately fixed the leak in the top of the fuel tank. 

To recap though, the following things are broken in my car:
Ignition switch (the key is stuck)
Fuel gauge
A/C (did I not mention this? That car ride to and from OH was the hottest, sweatiest time of my life but $1200 to repair is a bit much at the moment)
Oh, and I'll probably need a new clutch by the end of the year

I know it seems crazy to keep her around. I'm sure our families question my sanity at times but Stella really is a great car and in a few short years, she'll be considered a classic. That has to count for something...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Wonderful Wedding

If you are a Facebook friend, you know that this wedding weekend included a bit of a Saab Story (a.k.a. crazy car troubles). I am a bit of a superstitious person though, so until my car is happily back from the shop and not acting up, I won't be posting anything about the saga.

On a happier note: Megan and Mike's wedding was absolutely beautiful and we had a wonderful weekend with the in-laws and Michael's very large Ohio family.

Unfortunately, I suck at taking pictures when I'm having fun. Or I'm just too lazy to dig the camera out from the bottom of Michael's backpack. So a written account will just have to do.

We are very thankful that Michael has the ability to use flex time at work and this past week we used that flex time to make sure we were out of the house by 2 on Friday. After the (perfectly calculated by the GPS) 6.5 hr drive (with a pit-stop at Skyline Chili just before the Ohio border), we arrived in the tiny town of Russia, Ohio (pronounced Roo-shee) at around 10 on Friday night (which included the 1hr lost when we passed back into the Eastern time zone).

Ginny and Laura were there already and Grandma and Grandpa K. were still awake. We had a bit of time to visit before Grandma and Grandpa hit the sack in preparation for the big day they had ahead of them. The rest of us stayed up for a bit visiting, eating snacks and drinking wine (or, if you're me, spilling your wine on the floor) before crashing ourselves.

On Saturday morning, after breakfasts and showers, Laura, Michael and I set off for Columbus to meet up with David and Kathia for a pre-wedding lunch at Donatos (an Ohio chain pizza place that David raves about). After lunch and wine in the hotel room we all got prettied-up and headed downtown for the evening.

The wedding itself was beautiful. Again, I didn't think to pull the camera out of my clutch to take any photos but the inside of the church was a gorgeous blue with ornate white moldings. The ceremony was touching and the Megan and Mike were adorable. And Mike's grandfather did a very comical reading from John, telling the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding.

And after the wedding we stood out in the courtyard to take some family photos.

 Good lookin' group, right? Unfortunately, Tom was unable to make it to this wedding because it was the week before the opening of the newest play he's performing in. You can see that we kind of instinctively left a space for him in the photo. 

The reception was of course the most fun. And the only place I thought to take any photos.
 These sweet twins belong to Michael's cousin, who also happenes to be the bride's sister. Which meant that their dad was a bit overwhelmed with the two sweet ones while mom was in the wedding. Of course, Laura, Kathia and I were more than happy to give him a hand with the wee ones.

 Content siblings after a delicious dinner

 Soon-to-be married themselves!

Some of the family with the bride and that little girl in front? That's little Julie (she may get mad at me for the "little" part if she ever reads this, but she is the youngest of 3 in the family), another cousin.

The after party was a good time too. As you can see here, Michael made sure to teach his sister how to tie a necktie. 

Honestly though, we were pretty lame after that. We were all ready for bed by this point.

Sunday was the day that my car decided to throw in the towel so I won't go into it quite yet but you can look forward to a fairly comical string of events.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Harvest Time

 Cucumbers have gone from this....

...to this seemingly overnight.

And tomatoes have gone from this.....

...to ripe. 

Sorry, if you know me at all you know my obsession with tomatoes. So far, 4 tomatoes have been harvested but I am too impatient to take a picture before inhaling them right there on the balcony.

We're off today for another fun wedding weekend with family in Ohio. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my beloved Saab (just back from the shop two days ago with a new fuel pump) makes it without a hiccup.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things My Dad Taught Me: Part I of Many

 Pickled Eggs (and Beets)

1. Hardboil and peel eggs
2. Add to large jar

 3. Cook beets and cut into pieces (reserve cooking liquid)
4. Make pickle liquid (Equal parts cooking liquid and cider vinegar; salt, sugar and pepper to taste)

5. Add liquid to jar and sit on your hands for at least two days before devouring

*My dad is currently on vacation in Alaska with my Mom, brother, sister-in-law and nieces and I feel like giving away one of his secrets is a passive-aggressive way of showing my extreme jealousy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filling a Request

My Pittsburgh BFF Adrienne made a request in last night's e-mail thread: "More pictures of Pepin!".

And since little Pep is almost a 6 month old kitty (he's been with us nearly 4 months) I thought I'd do a photo post from our first 4 months with this loving and very entertaining little companion.

 First night with his new family

 Hiding out whenever I left the room

 Looking tiny on a big print

 Squished nap

Pretty posing

 One upset kitten after falling in the bathtub

 Get that tail!

 My blogging help

 Monorail kitty

 What cat steals tortilla chips out of the bag?

 Attack blur!

 Terrorizing my plant (this one currently has one leaf and is locked up in the guest bedroom...he doesn't eat them, he just rips them off and leaves them on the floor)

My kitchen hoodie help

 Someone got in the orange paint!

 This cat never sleeps in the same position twice

 The most recent picture of Pep

In four months he's gone from a 2.5 lb. puffball to a 7.5 lb. loveball that plays like it's his job.

He also ocasionally chews and eat things he shouldn't (one hair tie that went through and one shoelace prior) such as this camera wrist strap which led to a trip to the Animal ER last week. Thankfully the X-ray came back clean but he's been sincerely enjoying the Vet prescribed wet cat food for extra fluid -- just in case.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wedding Day!

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!
And now, back to business.

Wedding Day Schedule (Times are approximate)

Wake up

Realize there is a problem with the egg whites

After whipping un-whippable (yup, made up that word) egg whites for 45 minutes, send dad on a last-minute egg run to our trusty egg lady down the street
We think he woke her up

Ice the cakes and build up layers

Get my sister out of bed and make sure everyone has showers and is ready to head out in one hour

Leave for Williamsport with iced cake in the back of a VW wagon

Pick up flowers for cake at Bride's (Jess) apartment

(A little late) arrive at wedding and leave cake in car under a shady tree

Wedding starts

Leave ceremony to turn on the A/C in the car so the cake won't melt into a giant buttery puddle

Decorate cake with Michael and Zoey's help in the back of the car

Drive up to the tent and deliver the finished cake


And then, we we able to enjoy and celebrate this beautiful day and wedding. Thanks Ben and Jess!

And in the process we added the last of the girls to this generation of Sisters. From left to right: Chrissy (with niece or nephew #10), Heather (at thriftymomspot), me, Jess (the newbie), Natty, Katie (at Alaskarella) and Rosie

The Cake!
(Great choice on the flowers guys!)

This was too funny not to document; while waiting in line for the buffet, my mom noticed a small speck on the cake. Always the perfectionist, she pulled out the pin from her boutonniere and used it to remove the spot.

Pretty-girl Lucy provided much entertainment (she does a killer version of ring-around-the-rosie)

Ben and Jess cut the cake and very nicely fed it to each other and then I made a huge mess cutting it up for the rest of the reception-goers. Hot an humid days are no friend to Italian Buttercream.

One wedding cake down, 3 to go :-)