The Amazing Adventures of Josie and Seb

July 28, 2010

My latest favorite thing

Filed under: girls in the world, neat! — Cate @ 5:03 pm

I love web comics. I love finding new ones that have hundreds of strips to catch up on and I love spending a whole day or evening or hour at work just going back and back reading and giggling to myself.

My most recent find is Hark! A Vagrant, which you can tell by its title is absolutely awesome. Even more awesome: there are a bunch of literary comics in the collection, a lot that are influenced by historical events and figures, and all of them flat-out hilarious.

Like so:

HA! As much as I am not a great fan of Austen or the Brontes, I love it when they show up in the comics.

My very most favorites:

But really. Go read them all.


July 7, 2010

Home Remedies

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, triumph! — Cate @ 9:49 pm

Being a person who gets poison ivy with some regularity (and who has sensitive skin that reacts very strongly to the devil’s plant), I have a routine for dealing with the itching and rashiness and general gross discomfort. Things like calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, hot hot hot showers, ibuprofen – and, of course, a trip to the doctor for some steroids. Since I’m currently a person without health insurance (or any money, if we’re being honest), when I was poisoned this time I figured, “no big deal – I’m sure I can fix the problem using my superior Google skills and a few items I already have in my apartment.”

Google is filled with helpful remedies like fels-naptha (huh?) and golden seal root extract (what?) and sage advice like, “go talk to your doctor and get a prescription for steroids.” Still, I was determined not to give up. There had to be an easy, cheap solution. For once, I would defeat poison ivy instead of poison ivy defeating me!

Home Remedy #1: Hydrogen Peroxide

Good old HP. So useful for so many things. Why not poison ivy? I was careful not to accidentally pour it on my hair and instead doused my ivy rash very liberally a few times a day. It only lasted for one day, because here’s the thing: HP doesn’t hurt.

I don’t know about you, but I subscribe to the belief that a remedy ought to hurt pretty bad (so you know it’s working). Can’t say for sure if HP would have cleared up the ivy, because I just didn’t have faith in its effectiveness and so abandoned it early on.

Home Remedy #2: Rubbing Alcohol

I read online that rubbing alcohol was especially effective if you scratched the rash in an extremely brutal way before pouring it on yourself. And wow – this one hurts. Hurts pretty bad. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic. Once the burning stopped and I was able to unclench my jaw, I noticed the itching had completely stopped. Score!

I repeated the rubbing alcohol method for a day or two, firmly believing that my rash was getting better. I was beside myself with triumph. “Doesn’t it look good?!” I would ask Joe, forcing him to look close at my rash. The sight didn’t make him puke, which I took as an excellent sign.

All was going swimmingly until I told my Mom about my miraculous cure-all and she said, “Catherine, don’t be ridiculous. We’re going to the pharmacy.” After that it not only completely stopped working – of course – but got even worse. The next day, Mom recoiled in horror from the sight of my bare shoulder, which led to a forceful application of…

Home (sort of) Remedy #3: Tecnu EXTREME

This is a sort of soap-lotion that you use to scrub your rash (or, if you’re me, your entire body). It has little gritty bits mixed in that supposedly break up the blisters so the medicine can get to the inner skin, but also there’s something in it that bonds to the poison oil so the whole nasty mess can be washed away. It’s not cheap, but thankfully I have a Mom who loves me and doesn’t want to see her only daughter succumb to poisons. (It’s also not expensive, by any normal person’s standards. It’s just more expensive than free and so, for me, is too expensive.)

I’m sad to admit it, but it needs to be said: this crap is the real deal. Wow. Sometimes it really is best to leave things to the professionals. I scrubbed myself down on Saturday and by today (Wednesday), the rash is almost completely gone. Not just not itchy – gone. GONE. Gone gone gone-itty gone.

So I didn’t end up solving the problem totally on my own, but at least it is solved. And I didn’t have to sell all my possessions to pay for treatment or even go to the emergency room this time, so…I’d say that’s a positive. Plus, I discovered a new miracle cure whose restorative benefits I can now screech about from every available mountaintop. I’m appointing myself Official Spokesperson.

TECNU EXTREME, people. You can even “like” it on Facebook.

June 30, 2010

July? WHAT?!

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures — Cate @ 11:47 pm

June has been a happy, sad, crazy month – and also a lazy month. These are the highlights:

1. I bought a car!

Isn’t she beautiful? She is, I know.

I got an awesome 1-week honeymoon in which she and I were blissfully happy and then the “check engine” light came on. For a non-car-person like me, “check engine” can only mean, “oh god oh god please do something before I EXPLODE!” Luckily, she didn’t explode. Also luckily, the problem is likely one that’s easily fixed. She has an appointment with the car doctor to find out.

Sort of figured I’d get a little more time to just enjoy being a car owner before I had to deal with all the yucky realities of being a car owner, but oh well. Such is life.


2. Little Pocket Rocket, hound of my heart, passed away.

He lived a long and happy life, consumed more than his share of yummy food, and was snuggled and loved till the very end. I still cry when I think about it.

What a good dog.


3. My baby brother graduated from high school, which prompted our first real road trip with the new car, which turned into an even longer road trip because we decided to hit up Buffalo, NY as well. My enormously talented friend from grad school just published her first book, so Joe and Seb and I headed up to her hometown to celebrate her and see the sights.

Buffalo was a much cooler city than I expected, though we didn’t get to go as much as we wanted, given that we had the doggy with us. We did a lot of eating outside or in the car and spent half a day just driving around town, looking at cool buildings and exploring the harbor, etc etc.

Highlight of the trip for me was definitely getting to go out in the sailboat. Yes, we even brought Seb in the boat and he was a total champ. A little rickety on his feet when he got out, but hey…me too!


4. My first ridiculous sunburn of the season! Also, my first “driver’s” sunburn! Yes, I burned myself a lovely stripe down the length of my left arm and it’s settled now into a perfect summer tan. If only my entire arm – better yet, both arms – was tanned. But then, who I be without my ridiculous tan lines?


5.¬† My first full-body itchy bug bite of the season! Yes, it’s officially summer: the skeeters have found me…to be delicious. I am covered in itchy welts, head to toe. Awesome.

I also developed a weird rash on my neck/shoulder that at first looked like a sort of tentacle pattern. You know what that means, right? Obviously some kind of mutant jellyfish broke into our house and assaulted me in my sleep. Damn you, jellyfish!

Could be poison ivy…but I’m betting jellyfish.


6. I had a job interview today! For a job I really want! I’m trying to think positive but after being fired (which I’m still extremely bitter about) and almost six months of doors slamming in my face, my first reaction is not optimism. Still, cross some fingers for me, won’t you?

This could be the start of a whole new adventure…

April 24, 2010

The world is just awesome – well, most of it.

Filed under: neat!, pittsburghing, sadface, Uncategorized, work — Cate @ 11:16 pm

It’s easy to be cynical and grouchy (I oughta know, I play that game), but it’s also no great feat to find people doing really cool, generous things. Today I found out about Secret Agent L, a fellow Pittsburgher who has taken it upon herself to do random acts of kindness for people in the city. It might be some money tucked into a bar menu for the next patron to find or a goodie bag left at a bus stop – just little things, “day brighteners,” without any kind of hitch or ulterior motive.

First of all, I love it. And even better, she’s inspired other people to reach out in similar ways. Of course I wish I’d thought of it, but still…makes me very proud to live in this city.

It sounds like such a simple, silly thing to do, but it’s just those simple, silly, completely unexpected things that can make someone’s day and that’s a very positive force. I remember one day I was walking up Centre Ave and I happened to turn my head to look in a store window and I saw a little sticker on the window that said, “you are so beautiful.” Now obviously whoever left it didn’t leave it for me personally, doesn’t know anything about me, wasn’t speaking directly to me, but seeing it there lifted my spirits. I’m sure I smiled and said hello to a lot of random strangers¬† that day, and maybe that had an uplifting effect on their moods, too.

We all have to start somewhere.


In other news: I have a job! Yes, I am finally formally employed once again – go me. I’m now an assistant/jack of all trades/extra set of hands/etc at Vanilla Pastry Studio, aka the awesomeist bakery in the city. And it’s not all eating frosting and gazing at cupcakes, either (which disappointed me at first, I’ll admit) – this is serious business and they keep me seriously busy. You would be shocked by the number of cupcakes I haven’t eaten. But I have the opportunity to get my hands in pretty much every aspect of the shop, so it’s been a great experience so far.

Plus the owner actually pays a living wage which is, you know, very sweet. (See what I did there! Ha!)


News from the home front is not good. The always lovable and amazing Beagle that’s been a member of our family for twelve years (wait…twelve? or thirteen?), the irreplaceable Little Pocket Rocket aka Rocky aka Bucket aka Fat Hound Dog is in a bad way. My parents are doing their best to keep him comfortable, but that’s all that can be done at this point.

Seb is the dog that’s in the forefront of my life right now, but Rocky has always been my # 1. He’s absolutely the best dog in the world and I can’t even imagine a world without him in it. I’m going back east soon to say goodbye and kiss his sweet white face and cry buckets.

Rocketman on his birthday, 4-1-2010.

…The whole thing seems so surreal.

April 16, 2010

Impromptu roadtrip – first of many? (We hope!)

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures — Cate @ 6:51 pm

One of Joe’s friends jetted off to Europe a week or so ago (poor guy) and is letting us borrow his car while he’s gone. We’ve been having a blast driving around and actually doing things and not having to take a bus. It’s a lot of fun being able to run errands when we feel like it instead of when the bus feels like it or all at once one night when we can get a Zipcar.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, my partner-in-crime said to me, “Want to get in the car today and just drive and see where we end up?”

To which I replied, “Do bears poop in the woods?!” (translation: “Yes, absolutely, of course!”)

Another perk of not having a job…

In less than 30 minutes, we and the dog were strapped in and headed out of town. (Poor Josie always misses out on these little adventures.) Where to? We’d know it when we got there!

We took some hilly back roads in a vaguely northish direction, our only navigation being gut decisions based on, “I feel like going to the left,” or, “this road looks nice.” Since we weren’t on a time schedule and didn’t have a destination in mind, we could just enjoy the sights and wander along at our leisure.

Soon enough we found ourselves in the Allegheny National Forest.

As it started to get dark, we figured we should pick a place to spend the night. Bradford, PA (near the PA/NY border) seemed a good place to stop, just a little town along the way – or so we thought. Turns out, there’s a Pitt satellite campus up there PLUS the Zippo Lighter/Case Knives museum PLUS an adorable little downtown PLUS it has an airport AND a prison!

The radio waves were full of funny commercials about what an awesome place Bradford is to live and work. Maybe we hip young professionals will just relocate up there.

Thursday morning we left Bradford and headed eastish and southish, figuring we’d make a big loop and see some of central PA on the journey. We drove through a lot of teeny tiny towns and I’ve forgotten all their names except Emporium, because it’s fun to say.

Eventually we made it to State College, PA, home of Penn State. I’d never been to State College and Joe’s only been there once before, but he used his freakish memory to give me a tour of town and campus before we got back on the road. I think he must be part homing pigeon.

We made our way southish to the historic Lincoln Highway and followed that most of the way back home.

Along the way we turned off to find a covered bridge and ended up almost by accident at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville. The whole thing was sort of eerie, an outpouring of sadness in the middle of a huge empty space. I’d assumed that by now the actual memorial was done, but it’s still just “temporary” (weren’t there going to be trees? a little park?). Just a big fence with messages and mementos and a few bigger stones with plaques or engravings, plus the benches and the little people with everyone’s name.

We didn’t stay long. It was sort of emotional for me and people kept showing up and I didn’t want to be there with anyone else. I don’t know why I feel so private about it – obviously that’s what the memorial is there for, to mourn together.

Anyway. After that we needed a bridge.

We got home in the evening, all three of us pretty tired from a long couple days of being in the car. Josie was happy to see us – a little mad, too, but happy. I wish we could have stayed away longer and gone farther – up into New York, maybe follow the border to Maine and then come back along the East coast. Maybe next time…!

Joe and I really haven’t made a secret of not wanting to stay in Pittsburgh, but I think hanging around here one more year won’t be so bad if we can escape every once in a while.

At the very least, we’ll always have Bradford…

March 26, 2010

My inner artist is 8 years old…

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pittsburghing — Cate @ 1:14 am

And obsessed with destruction.

But I get ahead of myself.

Last night, Joe and I went out to the bar to watch the hockey game (they lost) and eat bar food (yum) and drink beer (mmm). Afterward, we headed to his buddy’s place to hang out for a little while longer. Now this buddy is an artist type and he has a little easel set up with some charcoal and likes to invite people to draw on it. Joe, being a similarly-minded artist type, immediately got to work on some kind of masterpiece that involved a lot of shading and buffing and fancy technique.

When Joe was done, they both turned to me and said, “your turn!”

I can’t draw. And that’s not just me being modest, I legitimately do not possess the power to put pen (or crayon, or pencil, or charcoal) to paper and produce anything resembling art. And, also, I sort of hate it. But they were peer pressuring me and calling me a loser* and finally bullied me to my breaking point** so I had to give in.

Behold, my drawing:

Just a happy little mountain. With lava. And fire.

Let’s break it down and really show off the detail here, shall we?

The mountain goat is excited that his mountain isn't covered in lava, but joke's on him! It's a T-Rex!

The fisherman is actually flaming about the head, but refuses to leave without some fish to show for his troubles (of which he has many, clearly).

The doe similarly on fire. Perhaps she's about to dunk her head in the river to put out the flames? Aw, shucks, the river is lava.

Rounding out our trifecta of fire, the bunny rabbit's tail is engulfed. Also, the side of the mountain is burning. Or maybe spraying fire.

Not sure that you needed it, but there’s five good reasons why I stick to taking pictures instead of drawing them. (I promise I’m not an arsonist. It started off as a simple pastoral scene, but the only colors he had were black and red and orange, so…you know. Fire was the next logical step.)

Upon its unveiling, Joe laughed and said, “wow, you’re so literal!” which I think is the non-literal artist’s way of saying, “wow, you’re so bad at this!”

Thanks. Ass.

*This may be a teensy exaggeration.
**…This too.

February 22, 2010

Weekend in Review

Filed under: googly eyes, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing, triumph! — Cate @ 3:02 am

Friday afternoon, inexplicably, our electricity cut out. Like any sensible young people, we decided to wait at the bar for it to come back on.

In our case, “the bar” was Sharp Edge Beer Emporium – yes sir, an EMPORIUM of beer! – and we arrived in time to take advantage of happy hour. Joe is not a huge fan of Belgian beers, which of course is their speciality, but they have enough other things that he was happy. I was happy too, because happy hour means cheap beer means I can try different things. I only had two, but they were both good.

Beer #1: De Konninck

Beer #2: Bavik

As it turns out, the Belgians can also fry a mean onion. Mmm onions.

Saturday, Joe took off to play with his friends and I watched season two of Tool Academy. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a GENIUS show about men who are tools and the women who love them, but wish they weren’t tools. So they trick them into going on a reality TV show where the men are enrolled in therapy and couple-strengthening challenges and eventually (we hope) come to realize that they shouldn’t be such tools to the women they love. It’s great – and it makes me appreciate Joe (my non-tool) so much more.

Ooh, such quality!

While I watched, I worked on a new necklace – pale pink rectangles and some darked pink squares. Used the leftovers for earrings and voila…I have successfully made a jewelry set! I find it very soothing. And pretty.

Later my friend came over to watch a movie and catch up. He also brought his Puggle, Aston, who’s a little over a year old and SO CUTE. I used to live with Aston and I wasn’t always his biggest fan, but you know how it goes…you move apart and learn to appreciate each other a little more.

Josie and Aston used to play, so I thought she’d be happy to see him, but it was Seb who really had a blast. I’ve never seen him play with another dog like he and Aston played. It was pretty adorable.

Then they laid down and napped for awhile. Awwwwwww.

Sunday I had a pretty lazy day – rebeaded my bracelet on new jump rings and now it’s strong and pretty. I even had some left over to make earrings. I am a MACHINE. I doubt I’ll be able to translate this to a money-making venture like I’d hoped, but it sure is fun.

Then me and Joe (mostly Joe) made Indian for dinner and I don’t want to talk about it. Ugh. Samosas.

And then the weekend was over. Not like it matters, though; when you don’t have a job, every day is the weekend.

February 14, 2010

SEE! I do stuff sometimes!

Filed under: adventuring, apartment, food, neat!, pictures — Cate @ 8:57 pm

While Joe’s been off lallygagging in the woods, I’ve been having a semi-productive weekend. Not only have I watched almost two full season of Doctor Quinn* (one disk left until the WEDDING!), I have washed just about every dish we own (ugh), made soup, baked bread, baked half a batch of sugar cookies and beaded a bracelet. Oh yeah – and managed not to kill Josie, though believe me when I say I have been sorely tested.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Friday I got a big package from Fire Mountain Gems filled with beady goodies. I knew I wanted to make something but I was feeling overwhelmed and not very creative and didn’t manage to do much more than look at the beads. Saturday I watched Doctor Quinn all morning (which as we all know is the best way to get creative juices flowing) and worked on a bracelet. It took me roughly four episodes. Actually, I think one was a double episode (twice as nice), so technically five episodes.

It was good practice and I like the outcome, but unfortunately the jump rings I used were too small a gauge to hold up to the weight of the stones. So it looks pretty, but I don’t dare wear it because it keeps falling apart. Listen to me – I’m totally legit as a beader!



Hard to tell, but it's made of rough-cut onyx stones.

It broke. :(

After I finished the bracelet, I did the dishes. I had to break them up into shifts – there were so many, the hot water kept running out. We’re total slobs, I admit it, but we’re working on that. It’s a process.

Then I watched more Doctor Quinn.

Around midnight I started making potato soup (don’t judge) and it was super easy and came out really well. In a move that can only be described as pure genius, I used some leftover bacon grease in the roux, so there’s a lovely bacony flavor even though it’s just veggies in the soup. Did I mention it was delicious? It was.

Josie was really bugging me while I was in the kitchen so I figured I’d give her some catnip and have a good laugh. She didn’t react to sprinkling some on the ground so I tossed her the baggie. She went absolutely batty, rolling around on the floor, mraring, jumping around. I got some cool videos of the insanity, but haven’t gotten them off my phone yet. When I took the bag away, she took it back. All night long I could hear her in the kitchen, doing whatever it is high cats do in the dark.

Later (I’ll in night owl mode lately) I made some sugar cookie dough to chill overnight. Joe asked me to try and make some different recipes. He’s the sort of person who likes to get something different every time he goes to a restaurant. I’m the sort that develops favorites and then sticks to them, and I guess this is reflected in my cooking. I certainly don’t ever tire of chocolate chip, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try something new.

Sunday morning (ish) I mixed up some bread I’ve been meaning to try. It was SO GOOD. And a great companion to my potato soup. Mmm, carbs.

It looks like a meatloaf, but it's a slice of bread.

After a bit more Doctor Quinn, I decided to try the sugar cookies. I thought it would be easiest to roll the dough up in a log and just slice cookies off it – like the ones you get in a store. Problem being, I’ve never actually done that before and it’s harder than I thought it would be. Mostly I just mashed piece together. My logs looked pretty sad.

They look sort of like little brains...

Bad as they look, they cooked up yummy. I’m no food stylist; looks don’t matter as long as it tastes good.

Now I have an almost-made bracelet, a clean kitchen, homemade foods to put in my belly and goofy-looking cookies to follow-up. I guess these solo weekends aren’t so bad after all.

I look forward to seeing what Joe will make when I leave town… ;)

February 12, 2010

In Which We Venture Into The Snow and Return With Goofy Glasses

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 3:15 pm

Yesterday Joe and I hooked up the dogsled and made the long journey into town to run some errands. OK, not really. (We only have 1 dog and he’s old…not much of a sled team. Sorry Seb. Just sayin’.) The buses are back on track and for the most part the city seems to have dug itself out, so we were able to get around just fine. (Unless you count all the unshoveled sidewalks. This neighborhood sucks at shoveling their sidewalks.)

First stop: lunch at Chili’s. Joe got a giftcard for Xmas, so we figured we’d use it. My meal came with the saddest ear of corn I’ve ever seen. But it’s Chili’s in February, so my expectations were pretty low to begin with. Joe had equally sad little tacos. Not a great meal, all told, but it was free. And it makes me look forward to corn season returning…YUM! I think Chili’s must be looking forward to it, too, because they were pushing the summer drinks.

Uh? It's February?

We went other places and eventually ended up at the party store. In typical Cate Makes Bad Decisions fashion, the first thing I did was try on a St Patty’s hat covered in green glitter. Within seconds of walking in the door, I was also covered in green glitter. Joe had a good laugh or six. Luckily there were plenty of other things to fool around with and pretty soon I forgot about the glitter.

There are simply not enough occasions in one's life for one to wear a jaunty sequined top hat and veil.

I wish I’d bought that silly hat. I would wear the heck out of that hat! Forever!

Joe had to stock on goofy costumes for his Awesome No-Girlfriend Party With Awesome People Who Aren’t My Girl Awesome Weekend (whatever). I think I made him try on most of the stock of goofy glasses. Just like old times in Rite-Aid!

Joe's got a good head for wigs, right?

He offered to let me buy the pink wig for him, but I didn’t. Damn! He would have worn the heck out of that wig!

On the way out, I spotted a little piece of my childhood and got all nostalgic and misty-eyed.

Luckily, I managed to leave without stuffing my pockets.

Then other stuff probably happened but I don’t remember anything noteworthy. So we got back on our dogsled the bus and went home to watch some Doctor Quinn Law & Order. The End.

February 8, 2010

Winter wonderland!

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 12:58 am

We got dumpins of snow Friday and Saturday – Joe was a grumpy disbeliever, but I knew we were going to get lots of snow and I was right. It’s pretty surreal outside. Everything is buried. The city still hasn’t recovered – schools and businesses are closed tomorrow (Monday) still, some roads aren’t plowed, people still don’t have power, garbage pick-up is canceled, etc. Doesn’t bother me being stuck inside, but Joe and I have done our share of exploring and playing in the snow, too. Seb still does his business out-of-doors, you know.

Friday night around 10:30pm I wrapped up my camera in plastic bags and painter’s tape, snapped it onto the tripod and we went outside. There was only (only!) about 8-10 inches on the ground at that point and it was still coming down pretty hard. “Taking pictures” really consisted of putting down the tripod in random areas and hoping for the best. They turned out pretty nice, though. As we were walking down the alley behind our house, the power went out for the whole street. We ended up going home, warming up as best we could and watching Indiana Jones by candlelight until my laptop died (it may be in league with the Nazis to steal the Ark of the Covenant).

Saturday we got up, got dressed and went back outside. Joe thought to bring a yard stick (smart fella) and measured at various places – between 19 and 21 inches total. Not bad!! Seb bounded around the back yard a little, but mostly he followed Joe’s trails (me too…way less tiring).

It’s fun to be able to play in the snow or hole up inside if we want to, but I know this storm has been awful for a lot of people. Thank goodness we don’t have any emergencies that need attended to. We can just take it easy, snuggle and watch Law & Order. Hopefully the city gets back to functioning before too long. All the same, I’m not going to hold my breath over it…

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