About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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So We Followed All The Cold-Weather Advice…

One of them being keeping the faucets running to avoid having pipes freeze. Well, this is what we came home to tonight in the kitchen:



So Alex is now attacking the kitchen sink and washing machine pipes with his heat gun. The good news is that we should have the oil burner up and running tomorrow to help us ride out the remainder of winter. Even if we keep the thermostat at 55°, it will still feel like a heat wave!

I Want A Capybara!

No, I didn’t say my blog headline in a Veruca Salt voice.  But Cheesecake the Capybara has me going—how Internet folks react to cute things—squeeeeee!

Here’s Cheesecake, courtesy of Buzzfeed. Doesn’t her face look like she’s saying, “Cheese!”?


I’m no stranger to having odd rodents as pets—my sister owned two prairie dogs, Suzie and Squeakums, before the monkey pox scare outlawed having them. Then there were the 30 gerbils (long story). If I had the resources and lived in the right area, I’d totally look into getting a capybara. They look like such fun pets and Cheesecake just melts my heart.

Spring Is Here, The Earth… Sticks Out Her Tongue?

It’s the second day of spring. Each year on the first, my grandmother would sing “Spring is here, the earth rejoices…”

Today, it seems Mother Nature is instead sticking out her tongue. It’s been snowing all day!

A look at my defeated crocuses:



It’s supposed to go up to the low 50s this weekend. Let’s see if this was her last hurrah. I’m ready for the daffodils and warm breezes!

Three Really Annoying Things That Happened To Me This Weekend

It was a fairly good weekend, but three really annoying things happened to me over the course of two days.

The Bastard Squirrel

It’s nearly springtime, and that means one of my favorite flowers has made its appearance—the crocus. It’s also the start of flower photo season, and I love taking photos of Mom’s garden.

Alex and I were sitting in the car yesterday when I noticed a particularly pretty crocus arrangement: a purple and yellow crocus side by side. So I told Alex, “I’m going to go inside and get my camera so I can take a picture of the crocuses.” As if on cue, this squirrel with half a tail appears out of nowhere, and eats the purple crocus. I yelled, “You bastard!” and in response, he grabbed the yellow one and looked straight at me as he munched down.

Now I know why he has half a tail. That bastard.

Skittles Removes My Favorite Flavor

Alex and I later went to see Welcome To Lawn Guyland, and I bought myself a pack of Skittles (my favorite candy) pre-show. I’m a little OCD when it comes to eating Skittles—I shake out a bunch in my hand, and eat it in the following order: lemon, orange, strawberry, grape, lime. It was a little dark in the theater, but I was able to make out the colors and saved the best for last.  Lime is the reason I love Skittles so much, as you don’t find the flavor in many candies anymore.

There were three limes in this shake—or so I thought. As I popped them in my mouth, the familiar citrus flavor didn’t hit my taste buds. Instead, I was hit with the disgusting taste of green apple. I turned over the package, and sure enough, it said, “Now with Green Apple!”

I was irate. In 2001, Skittles tried pulling this green apple trick, but had a massive PR campaign and voting system to see which flavor customers liked better. I spammed every message board I posted on to ask people to vote for lime. Eventually, it won, and the green apple—which only appeared for a short time—disappeared into the candy black hole. Or, so I thought. Turned out it only disappeared into the Skittles archive.

I’m not the only one unhappy with the switcheroo. There are plenty of people voicing their displeasure of Skittles’ Facebook page. There’s only small consolation that a lime flavor made it into Skittles’ new Darkside mix (pomegranate, blood orange, forbidden fruit, dark berry, and midnight lime). Although I like the new mix, new Skittles products seem to have a difficult time surviving—remember 2007’s weird Chocolate Mix or 2010’s Fizzl’d Fruits?

I hope they listen to the fan base because green apple Skittles are awful. As one person in the blogosphere pointed out, the original fruit flavored all mixed well together, but green apple doesn’t mix well with anything. What an assault to my mouth.

When You Think Something’s Going To Tip Over, It Will

Mom loves houseplants. They’re everywhere—including the bathroom. There’s one in there that sort of looks like a mini palm tree, which she rescued from the doctor’s office where she used to work. Apparently, no one in the doctor’s office took care of the plant, so she kidnapped it and said, “Would you want to go to a doctor with dead plants in his office?” So the doctor let her take it home and nurse it back to health, and it’s been in the bathroom ever since.

It’s gotten quite big since then. Big enough that it was starting to flop over. Mom said to herself this morning, “Maybe I should tie it up using a cup hook and string”—sort of how we keep our Christmas tree upright. But she had to go to work and decided she’d take care of it this evening.

Tonight, we invited my cousin Annette over for pasta con le sarde, a Sicilian dish traditionally served on St. Joseph’s Day. (Both St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day were celebrated early in my house this year, with corned beef and cabbage on Saturday.) As you can see from the recipe, it’s a fairly intensive dish to cook. And just as I was about to add the chopped sardines to the pot, I hear CRASH! and Alex yell, “I didn’t do it!”

So I ran to the crash side, and indeed, it was something Alex couldn’t have accomplished (unless he has some ESP powers I didn’t know about). There was the plant on the floor of the bathroom, and dirt had flown everywhere. You know how it’s impossible to get glitter up off the floor after you spill it? Well, this is what the potting soil did. It was in every crevice of the bathroom, from the top of the toilet to the inside the bathtub, from the radiator vents to the gap under the door threshold.

I looked at the clock: Annette was due in half an hour and I still hadn’t finished the cooking or set the table. On top of it, Mom had cleaned the bathroom that morning. I grabbed every cleaning tool I could find and got right to work, shouting cooking directions at Alex as I scooped up as much of the dirt as I could and put it back in the pot. I couldn’t seem to get the plant upright, so I shoved it behind the shower curtain as a temporary hiding location (kind of like how I used to shove all my toys under the bed. Insta-clean!)

I took out Mom’s super-duper new wind tunnel vacuum and sucked up as much of the leftover dirt as I could, but it was everywhere. It took about 15 minutes to get almost every crevice clean. Finally, all that was left was the rug. Apparently, the vacuum is too powerful for the bathroom rug and wound up sucking it up into the brush. After playing tug-of-war with the vacuum, I decided to fold up the rug and throw it outside. In the process, whatever loose dirt was on the rug came loose and covered the entire bathroom again. Back to square one.

I finally finished, and I heard the doorbell ring. Thanks to the darn plant, my plans of having a nice chat and hors d’oeuvres by the fire before dinner went out the dinner, because it still wasn’t done by the time Annette arrived. I was able to make myself look somewhat unflustered (besides being a little to overzealous with the amount of sardines in the pasta) and the rest of the evening went off without a hitch.

Dog Days of Winter

Oh, this crazy weather. The past two days we had yet another Nor’easter (I think this one was Saturn, based on The Weather Channel’s recent initiative to name winter storms), which left many parts of Long Island with a half foot of snow, and even more as you went north toward Connecticut and New England. There wasn’t much in Islip—the few inches we’d gotten this morning has already melted to rising temperatures and rain. The South Shore supposedly received a lot less than the North Shore of the island.

There was enough for Obi to have some fun in the morning—she loves the snow, just as long as she doesn’t sink in it. She sometimes sticks her snout in it, leaving her with a huge, white beard. Here’s a photo of her this morning, leapfrogging around the yard:



And her after Winter Storm Nemo, which dumped 18 inches in Islip early February (she didn’t go out for three days, until the snow melted enough for her to not sink):



Both were the perfect opportunity to perfect her snow beard:



I think [twitname]JoeCascio[/twitname] said it best:

I agree.