Thursday, August 27, 2009


I know I posted that I would update this blog more now that I quit my job, but working on my house has really taken a lot of my time in the past few weeks. I had a few jobs that I really wanted to finish before school began since now I have time to start and project and commit the time it would require to finish. I wanted to remove all the damn mirrors that were left hanging on the walls when I moved into my house. I also had to fix the shower faucet that I broke a couple months ago, I broke the cold water stem so no leaking, but just only hot showers since I broke it. I also wanted to remove the wallpaper in the downstairs and paint the walls. My dad, who is retired, stayed with me for a week to help me work on these projects.

All these projects seemed as if they should take time to fix, but fixing the tub/shower faucet was a nightmare. After we took apart the faucet to figure out what the problem was, we spent the better part of a day driving around the city looking for the part to fix the broken valve stem. Eventually, I had to go online and order parts to fix it because no store, even specialty stores carried what I was looking for. I ordered several parts, but twice got something I had not asked for. And of course, they say if you open the item it cannot be returned, but you can't test anything without opening it first...and they charged me $10 each to ship the wrong item! In the end, my dad came back today to help me install a new tub and shower faucet. It took the better part of a day, but we did it.

Everything else just took time, it wasn't too frustrating, but just required labor. The mirrors came off the walls easily, but to my surprise, one wall of mirrors was hiding 3 layers of old wallpaper and a steel casement window that had almost rusted out. The wallpaper took a little effort, but came off pretty easily and the coats of paint on top is a huge upgrade over the wallpaper and floral borders. The window, though, will need to comeout and I'm having a contractor come over soon to look at it and give me an estimate on what it'll cost to replace.

Even after a week, it doesn't seem like that much it done, everything is just back to what it should be. But the window, though broken, doesn't leak and provides a lot of light into my once dreary house. As a reward for the work I did this week, I did finally buy the TV I've wanted for the past year, a 40" Sony LCD.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poconos Weekend

This summer marked the second straight summer that we went up to the mountains with some friends to visit Aunt Fran and Uncle Dave in the Poconos. Last year, it was Kim and I along with Aileen and Amanda, but this year we brought along Erme and Ihab since it was so much fun before. Kim, Ihab, Alex, and I left on Friday in the early afternoon to try to beat traffic and make it into the Mountains for dinner with Fran and Dave. We had a very nice dinner at Big Boulder Lake, outside on the patio and met up with Aileen, Erme and Amanda at the house before our night out.

In keeping with tradition, we spent the weekend doing many of the same things that we did last year. Since we only two days instead of the long Labor Day Weekend we had last year, we had to cut a couple things out. We didn't get to make it to Tribute Fest, which is a bummer, but after getting ripped-off by not seeing fake-Bono last year, we didn't want to set ourselves up for something that wouldn't deliver. However, we did get to do many of the fun things we did last year, but with more people, like karaoke at Shenanigan's, playing by the lake, BBQ'ing at AF and UD's big house, playing games, and drinking a little beer. When we first got to the bar at 10:30 for karaoke it was pretty sparse with only a few other people there, but that gave us a chance to sing a lot and get the most out of our limited time. I'm not sure who came up with the idea to play Charades (probably me) after the BBQ the next night at the big house, but it was the most fun I had on the entire trip. We all tried to make clues that weren't too difficult but that would be fun to act out, like Christmas Tree, Tabasco Sauce, or Hulk Hogan.

This year we had planned to do something new: whitewater rafting, but the dam release did not coincide with our trip so we decided not to take the lazy float down the Lehigh. All-in-all, it was a really fun trip and hopefully, we can keep going in years to come. It's always nice to get out of the city in the summertime to the Mountains where the air is cool and refreshing. Thanks to Fran and Dave for hosting us for the weekend and I hope we didn't wear you guys out to much!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trying to Blog More

I know that recently Kim and I have not been blogging as much as we used to. Part of that reason is because Kim didn't have internet for a while and was also starting a new job. A reason I haven't been updating as much is because I've been a lot more busy at work. However, now that Kim is paying for internet (wtf right?) and I am no longer employed, we will try to be less lazy, do more stuff, and write a little more.

After seeing Julie & Julia last weekend, we were inspired to think of different themes or takes we could undertake and then blog about. I haven't thought of anything good, but for now, just sharing pictures and stories from our adventures.

Meanwhile enjoy this comic from

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last day at work

Last Friday was my last day (as well as Chris') at the Dreyfuss Lab. I'm sure that most of you know that Kim also left the lab the week before because she could not stand the prospect of being there without me. But I left on slightly better terms and like her, on to greater things--a Ph.D program at Penn studying Biochemistry. Regardless, leaving the lab after three years, was still a little sad for me: cleaning out the bench and desk I had for the last two years, sorting through and throwing away most of my samples, and of course saying good-bye to many friends.

However, in order to forget my wallowing, we had a happy hour in the lab and went out afterwards. Since Chris and I were the guests of honor, we got to pick the beer for our party; but neither of the beers we originally wanted were available, so I chose alternatives: a variety case from Unibroue and Clipper City. The case from Unibroue was very expensive ~$70, but well worth it, especially when you consider how tasty they were and that all of the beers in the pack were at least 8-9% alcohol. The Clipper City Heavy Seas case was less expensive, but packed a good kick with 4 beers featuring 7+% alcohol. Clipper City beers are very good, brewed locally in Baltimore, and tend to be cheaper than most offerings from other crafter brewers. The happy hour was nice because a lot of people that don't often make it out came and even Lili, notorious for leaving at 4:45 everyday stayed until almost 6:30 drinking and hanging out. And as a reward for my years of hard work, I even got a hug and kiss from Gideon!

After happy hour, we took the 34 Trolley to 50th and Baltimore Sts. to one of Chris' and my favorite places: Dock Street Brewery. Dock Street usually has 5-7 house-brewed beers on draft, but mainly, the have great food especially the fries and pizza. Kim left from her new job and met us there, while Chris rode his bike from work. They got the restaurant a little early, since the rest of us took the trolley from lab, which worked out since the restaurant was starting to fill when I arrived with the rest from work. We got several pitchers of beer, my favorite being the Amarillo Pale Ale, and three large wood-oven baked pizzas for the ten of us to share. Some people were tired and ready for bed while others had families to get home to, but the party raged on. Chris suggested another West Philly gem to take the party, the back patio at Gojjo

To the unsuspecting, Gojjo is just another neighborhood West African Restaurant, but the back patio is very nicely constructed with pavers on the ground, landscaping, sturdy tables, nice lighting and even a TV tuned to local sports. I did not know that the back existed, so I was skeptical at first but it was a really nice surprise. Chris' high school friend, Joel, met up with us here and we stayed for a couple of hours drinking and telling stories. In the end, we stayed past 11, drank 4 pitchers of beer for $34 (yeah cheap too!), and had a great time.

As always, more pictures on facebook

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kristen and Adam's Wedding

This weekend we were happy to attend the wedding of Kelly's best friend and our old friend, Kristen Z. (now Kristen P.). Before the wedding, though, there was a lot of traveling! I had off on Friday (since my last day of work was Thurs) and Mike took a half day so we hit the road around 12:30pm. We headed to Rockville, MD to pick up Mom and then drove to Dad's place in Richmond, VA. After some frustrations and then later good luck with traffic, we arrived in Richmond around 6:30pm and headed out for a nice dinner at Ruby Tuesday's and some shopping. We also discovered the reality show "Say Yes to the Dress", which follows salespeople and customers at a high-end bridal boutique, and it was surprisingly entertaining and appropriately wedding-themed.
Saturday morning, we left for North Carolina, all dressed up in our wedding clothes. We arrived in Raleigh just in time to grab a quick bite and meet up with Alex (who was visiting his other grandparents in Pinehurst, NC) before the big event. The wedding took place at Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh. Kristen was beautiful and the ceremony was lovely. Kelly performed her bridesmaid's duties admirably.
The reception was at the Hilton in Durham and we had a little time to rest up before a fun night of dancing. As always, the Dittmar family represented well on the dance floor, with Kelly starting off the dancing with Kristen's 8 year old cousin, Peter, who got just about every lady in attendance to sign his dance card. :) It was a great night and we were all so happy to be there to see Kristen take this big step in her life! (Check out lots more pics on Facebook)