Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Semi-Productive Holiday Weekend!

Twice-Stabbed Ladybird Beetle
I already posted about the work on the chicken's run...and we did get a little more done on that.  We got the backside (under the staircase) done yesterday, but after several issues, we weren't able to finish it.  We actually only got it tacked up, I have to go back out and add more staple/nail things (which I'm told are referred to as "steepels" in parts of the country).  We dug out both hammers for yesterday, the "other" hammer is a "wimpy 'girl' hammer" as my other half put it!  Where my hammer is a good 16 ounce construction style hammer, his is a dinky one that someone else bought him just so that he would have a "hammer".  It worked, but took a lot more effort than the regular hammer did!  While outside working on that, I discovered a black ladybug!  I know there's a way to tell species based on color and number of spots, but I forget what it is exactly (some ladybugs are poisonous and you can tell them by number of spots and maybe the location of them).  Anywho, this little guy just chilled out above my head while I hammered away.  We have a huge population of Ladybugs this year!  I like having them around to keep the aphids off my herbs and veggies (which were a bane for me last year)!  The photo is a little fuzzy, but he has three little red spots on that pristine black shell, very pretty.  As far as I can tell, this is a"Twice-stabbed Ladybird Beetle", they are the only species (that I could find in a quick Internet search) that are colored opposite the typical black on red pattern of all "ladybugs".  I found the best description here.  These are handy little guys to have around (the entire beetle species) as they are a great form of natural pesticide!  I even noticed at Fred Meyer a while back that they are selling bags of live ladybugs and Praying Mantis as pest control.  However, I would not pay the $8 for a single Praying Mantis just to turn it loose in my yard!  The ladybugs though, there was well over 100 of them in the bag!  I don't need to add more though, my own "natural crop" is huge this year!

I also deemed my "old" stock of Rhubarb "ready to harvest" yesterday.  At least, "big enough" for me to pull a few stalks off of!  The bags in the freezer really need to be used (I still have 4 gallon-sized bags from last year), but I really want some fresh stuff!  I only pulled the largest of the stalks, which aren't all that big, and they're all about as big around as the tip of my pinkie.  The bright color really pepped up my mood though!  I threw the leaves away (you can't eat that part and they are poisonous to dogs!), it seems like such a waste when those leaves are so big!  I believe I read somewhere that I have to keep the chickens out of the leaves as well...maybe it was the stalks, I'll have to go bone up on my Rhubarb knowledge!  I got about a cup of chopped stalk from this batch, I plan on cooking it into a nice sauce to top a Brownie with for an after-dinner treat tonight!  These are really red and juicy!  Most of the interior of the stalks was also red (I find those to taste a lot sweeter)!
And the brownies!  I have really been craving something "chewy" and "chocolaty", so I broke into my saved files of all the low carb recipes from other people.  I found this Brownie recipe in a file labeled "Jell's Cookbook" that I found when looking for all the great recipes that once lived on the "Sommersizing" forums.  I don't know the exact carb count, but it should be really low.  I modified the recipe slightly, so I used:

2 Eggs
1 stick Butter (1/2 cup) - I used a stick that had sat out in my butter dish over night in my 70 degree house, it was very soft!
3/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup Stevia in the Raw (the recipe said to use 1/2 cup Fructose or 1 cup Splenda)
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder (they sell this at WalMart!) (original called for 1/2 cup Dutch Process)
1/2 cup Chocolate Protein Powder (I use About Time brand*, 0 carbs!) (Original called for Vanilla)
The recipe also said to "pour" the batter into a greased 8x8 pan, mine was way too thick to pour, so I scooped it out and then used my finger and the spatula to smooth it into the corners.  Into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes (said 15-20 minutes) and then to sit on the counter a few minutes!  There was a thick layer of butter on top when they came out of the oven, so I dabbed it off with a paper towel (only because I didn't want to deal with a "greasy" snack).  I cut this test batch into 16 squares, but next time I'll cut it into 8 rectangles (we end up eating these two at a time anyway).  While they were still warm, they had more of a cake texture, but after they chilled out in the fridge over night, they had a nice chewy texture!  I think with a batch of low carb chocolate frosting (I'm still experimenting here, but the general idea is softened cream cheese, Splendalol.

So that was basically the last half of my 4-day weekend.  We spent the first half (my other half also had Friday off) playing Dragon Age and Dragon Age: Awakenings.  I was near the end of the original game, so I finished it, imported my character into the expansion and swiftly ran through that as well.  I was a little disappointed at how short the expansion was since it has taken me months of playing through (again) to reach the end of the game and it only took me a few hours (okay, 8 hours) to get to through the entire expansion!  Maybe we'll get Dragon Age 2, but I'm still resisting the urge to spend $80 on yet another video game!

Oh!  We also finally found my "something pretty" for loosing the first 25 pounds!  Bed, Bath, & Beyond had a lounge set on sale (front cover of the ad in Sunday's paper)!  We had to have it special ordered (as did three other couples who showed up after we did) because the store ran out of them!  This is a 5-piece set for $80 (we paid $70 after using the 20% off coupon also in the ad, after tax)!  The chairs adjust like old style recliners (like the kind they had at the swimming pool when I was a kid...a bar in the back with little hooky things to adjust it with) and it's two chairs, two ottomans, and a side table!  For the price of the whole set, we were considering getting a single lounger!  Of course, when the store employee put my email address in, he typo'd it...but I can still track it online by imputing the bogus address in with the order #...I just can't get the tracking emails!  I plan on calling today to see if someone can fix that.

*I have talked at length about this brand of Whey protein before, here, I still can't say enough nice things about it!  This was the first chance I've had to crack open my brand new jar of Chocolate flavor!  I love it!  I did "taste test" it a little as I was cooking (licked the powder off my finger) and it is really tasty!  They have four new flavors as well; Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Unflavored!  I can see many a "biscuit" being made from the unflavored one, as well as more savory dishes!  Also, I can nearly taste Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (using either the plain PB or Chocolate PB)!  And we can't forget Banana "Nut" Muffins!  Oh how I wish they had smaller containers for a lesser price!  Say, $25 for a one pound container?  I can't afford to stock up on all the flavors at $40 for each 2 pound container!  I still haven't opened my container of Cinnamon Swirl or any of my single serve bottles that I got in the last order (Mocha Mint, Peaches & Cream, Strawberry, Vanilla, Birthday Cake, and Cinnamon Swirl).  I got in on an awesome sale that was buy one, get one 50% off and they threw in a 6-pack of "toss 'n go" bottles for free!  I have had the Vanilla and Birthday Cake flavors before, both are excellent, I especially like making protein shakes with the Vanilla, with cream and water, and adding in a little Da Vinci's sugar free syrup to make it whatever flavor I feel like having!  I used these a lot when I was having lots of lows to help stabilize my blood sugars again after a low (much easier on the body than those yucky carbs).

I'll say it again just in case it's been overlooked before...this is the least expensive whey isolate protein powder I have found with zero carbs!  There are others, but they are twice the price or have 1-3 grams of net carbs per serving!  If you haven't tried them, go over to their site (linked above) and spend the $2.99 to try it!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chicken Coop/Run nearing Completion!

Yup, I said it, we're almost done!  Okay, we've been nearly done for quite a while now, but with the long weekend (my other half actually got 4 days off for it), we were able to finally get out there when it was both light and warm!  We got most of the 2"x4" wire fencing up this afternoon as well as digging a couple if holes and setting pressure treated 2x4's in them, attaching them to the underside of the deck, and attaching even more 2x4's to the bottom edge of the deck to extend it down a few inches so we could easily attach our fencing to it!  Oh, and we went to Home Depot to pick up the p/t 2x4x8's as well as another box of "steepels" and a roll of 24 gauge wire (found in the picture hanging department) to use to attach the hardware cloth to the 2x4 fencing. 

The first photo up top is of the "long side" of the run, it measures 15 feet in length!  I know because I had to measure it when I was attaching the hardware cloth above my head here (that's the wavy looking stuff up top).  The run isn't the full 15' though, on the side under the stairs and at the back of the coop, we have decided to attach the fencing to the back of the coop of either end and then just run hardware cloth over the top and bottom edges to create the "back wall", it's still 14' though!  The second photo (to the right here) is that back side, or rather half of it.  The other half hasn't been done yet, the weather started to get "yicky" so we headed for inside.  We'll get it finished tomorrow!  I also caught my other half in that photo, he was in both tries!  From the looks of things, those jeans are way too big...time to make him go shopping!  Such a hard task to do when you're such a tall guy (he's 6'6"!), nothing in the "normal people" stores are long enough!
Last, but not least, we have the "short side" that took up most of our time today!  The only thing holding up our deck is those white-painted 4x4s across the long side, that leaves a big 10' space on the shorter ends!  To help hold up the fencing (and provide a little extra support to the fencing), we decided to go pick up a pair of 2x4x8s, cut off the last 12" or so, bury a bit in the ground, and then secure them to the deck with Drywall screws!  The next little dilemma we faced was the added space we needed our fencing to run vertically, the long end is attached to a board under these runners so this is 6" higher up!  We remedied that by attaching pieces of 2x4 (from my stash of $0.51 boards) just below the runner on the deck, adding just enough length to make everything reach like it should!  Luckily, my helper is much better at cutting straight lines!  He was in charge of all cutting today and everything looks really nice!

We should be able to finish tomorrow, doors and all!  Then, I just need to get the girls moved in, fill the sandbox (it takes 3 bags to do so), lay a layer of pine shavings in the coop, and build them a roost!  They got too big for the little stick that fit in the brooder, so they've been sleeping on the floor of the brooder for a while now.  I have a nice piece of 2x4 all ready to go...just need to get it something to sit in!

After the girls are moved in, I'll get the security camera hooked up and a light set to a timer for evening and winter use.  I still need to figure out how I'm going to get the camera line into the house, but that shouldn't be too hard!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Adoptable Kitties & My Volunteer Orientaion...

Wednesday evening I finally made it to one of the Volunteer Orientations for SpokAnimal!  I had assumed (yeah, I know...) that since the application stated they would be contacting me, that they would, in deed, be contacting me prior to going to one!  I filled out my application a while ago and this was the third of fourth class since then.  I finally called, or more accurately, posted to their Facebook page and was told I could just show up to the next class!  I was a little disappointed in a few things, first off; they are not a no kill shelter and do euthanize if they need the space, the animal has been there "too long" or an animal is too sick or "behaves poorly".  The last two are pretty typical of all shelters, even the "no kill" I volunteered at in Bend occasionally had to euthanize for illness, they did not euthanize an animal because it behaved poorly in a stressful situation though.  Secondly, it would appear from the orientation that all volunteers do is come hang out with whatever dog/cat they feel like and come and go as they please.  I didn't get a chance to ask if volunteers help out in the clinic as well, but the gal doing it wasn't the volunteer coordinator, she is on vacation.  So, as soon as I get my email telling me I passed the background check (I'll be super surprised if I don't!), I can go play with as many cats & dogs as I want to, any time of the day (assuming they're open) or week!  I plan to spend a few hours, most days of the week there.  I also put in an application today to volunteer at the Humane Society, which is closer to my house.  SHS is definitely more structured than SpokAnimal as far as their volunteers go!  There are actual "job title" & responsibilities, as well as scheduled shifts.  This is more of what I'm used to!  For instance, their "Clinic volunteers" fall into one of three "titles"; Level One - Instruments (cleaning surgical implements...done that before!), Level Two - Pack & Prep (Packing said implements into surgical "packs" used for spays/neuters...done that too!), and Level Three - Recovery (Monitoring animals as they wake up from surgery...I started here when I first went to BSNP!).  From what I can tell, everyone starts out at "level one" and you have to work in that position through a minimum of 5 hours at SHS to move on, also a staff member has to agree you are ready to move on.  At BSNP, I started in recovery and toward the end of my time there (we moved to Spokane), I was cleaning and making packs on the weekends so they had all they needed to start Monday morning.  Cleaning is pretty much just letting them soak in the cleaner, using a little specialized soap to scrub of the stubborn spots (we used an old toothbrush), rinsing them and letting them air dry.  We kept all of our kits separated and together, so repacking was a cinch, you just laid the set on their "drop cloth" and put in clean gauze.  I would guess, since it is someone else's job here, they aren't kept together like that though!  I applied for both Clinic and the K9 Crew...  The K9 Crew also has three levels, "Woof Walker" (basic dog walker and treat giver, with the occasional bath thrown in), "Dog Deputies" (Dog walker (for the harder to handle pups), Canine-ality assessment giver, bather, & play grouper), and lastly "Canine Coaches" ("advanced" dog walker, work on manners & behavior issues to make dogs more adoptable).  I will have to ask when they call me (their page says they will call to set up an orientation and work shift with a mentor for training) if I can get involved in more than one "group"...I'd really like to also work with the cats, at the front desk, and even the outreach program!  But, I do understand them wanting people to focus on one area at a time for training purposes!

Holy run on paragraph!  But now, to the fun stuff!  I went to Pet Smart today (on Newport Highway) and played with some of the adoptables that are there and I brought pictures home to share!
Meet "Dora"!  She is a 4 year old little girl who is great with kids!  Also, she was super lovie!  She was hiding in the back corner when we first got in the room, but as soon as my other half approached the cage, she was all about getting the loves!  Dora is available through SHS and is listed here.  Her card says "I'm a sweet lady who likes to talk.  I'm an independent lady who would like a forever home."  She is more than sweet!  She's also got very soft fur, more like soft kitten fur than "hard" cat fur.  $25 takes this sweety home.
Next up is the kittens...three of them here today!  Pictured is "Hogan", but all three looked identical.  These are the hardest kitties to find homes for, just because of their color!  Sweet as can be though and very playful!  They are roughly 2 months old and full of energy!  These guys are available through SpokAnimal for a $60 adoption fee.
Another in the SHS lineup today was "Savannah", she's a one cat kinda girl and doesn't play well with other cats, but she loves to be petted!  I gave her lots of pets and scratches through her cage bars after lunch today! $60 adoption fee applies here, she's only 10 months old!  Her card calls her a "Torbie", I've always called the coloring a "muted torty (tortoise)", very light coloring mostly a pale grey...

Home Alone...Gah! ;)".  And "Dibby" too...  I tried keeping track of all of my foster kitties in Bend, but because I hated doing the adoptions (no one was good enough for little fluff balls), I usually only got it second hand...I had three orange Tabby's, the boys went together to a family and the little girl went to a pet food store owner and she spends her days lounging in the shop and gets to visit her brothers when they come in with their new family (everyone lives in the same neighborhood)!  I also had a kitty we named "Cloud" that was a DLH (Domestic Long Hair) that was dark grey, he is living with a judge!  One of my fosters is also currently sleeping on my bed, lol.  Baby started out as a foster kitty, he found his forever home first though!  I really don't have anything invested in the cats, but it's nice to know they are successful in their stays in those tiny metal boxes none the less!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Plants & Dirt, Chicken Treats, & Home Invasion Scares

Gotta have dirt to go with all those pretty plants...I bought 3 bags full yesterday and promptly dumped them into a hole this morning....all three bags!  I could have used 6 more!  I would like to eventually fill in that stinking hole, someone thought the little hill in our yard needed a water feature before we got here.  It lasted until the first Spring we were here before I tore it out of the ground after one of my little tweety yard birds drown in it!  So, once I found that I can't even get the shovel in the ground where I originally was going to put the Raspberries, I immediately thought of this pit in my yard.  Perfect for filling with Raspberries!  So, that's what I did, I finally got the Raspberries out of their bags and into the dirt!  To my surprise, there were 4 plants in there too!  I thought I had 2 plants, woot!  They look a little wilty now, but I'm sure they'll perk up over the next few days.

Everything is growing really well right now, and the Ladybugs have showed up to help!  Everywhere I looked this morning there were Ladybugs!  I did have a small "accident" with my flowers I bought recently...I thought they were getting water from the leaks in the watering system (I'm still working out this year's kinks in it), but apparently they weren't so they were really dry and slightly wilty today too.  They are now (mostly) in new planters and well watered!  I do need to go get at least one more bag of soil, I have 2 window boxes left to fill with soil and the plants I have to go in them!
I did work on the watering system a little today, I have some planters getting too much water while others aren't getting enough.  I got some flow regulators the other day to help slow down the water in the planters that are getting too much and have fixed most of the leaks in the hoses.  So far I have proper water tubing going to everything on the right side of my deck, I had to stop for this morning when I realized I had forgotten my morning insulin and it was nearly noon!  I'll try to get it finished over the next few days...weather permitting.  The three "cauldron" planters are going to reside on my outdoor table this year, but I'm not bringing it outside until I fix all the leaking & spraying water issues (it's a wood topped table).

The herbs are doing good, the Stevia plant is even surviving!  Despite our best efforts to kill it too, lol.  The Catnip is out preforming the other herbs, but as this is my second year growing it, I expected it to take off early and stay strong for the season, it is not disappointing me either!  For the most part, everything is looking happy and green...my Morning Glories are just not handling being outside well at all and I suspect they won't last much longer, the leaves are looking "funky".  I think some sort of bug may be the culprit, but I haven't been able to see any!
The girl's got a new treat yesterday, well they got two new treats, both of which they absolutely love!  First, I got a bag if Meal worms while I was getting a new bag of feed (Purina Start & Grow now...this stuff is what they'll be on until they start laying).  I wasn't sure how they would receive these foreign objects, but they gobbled them up like they had been dreaming of them since hatching!  Next came a small bag of BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds)!  Gerty was the only one that went right for them, but the other two soon followed when they saw her gobbling them up!  I sprinkled a few over their feed at bedtime last night and I got met with happy chirps this morning when I turned the light on and they discovered the black goodies on their feed!  Still no crowing and they are 10 weeks old today!  I suspect I will be getting 3 eggs most every day starting in another 10-12 weeks!  We're halfway to breakfast!  I will control my urge to fry up the first eggs laid until there are enough for both of us to have them together though, I should only have to wait a few days though (from when they start laying)!

And just a random side note...My arm is peeling, I first thought it was "just my sunburn healing", but it's the arm that didn't get as much sun.  Then, it got worse!  My whole arm is peeling now, from my wrist clear up to my shoulder!  Last night, I noticed the same sort of peeling on top of my head!  It's just the top layer of skin, but it kinda has me wondering if I could possibly be allergic to chicken dander...  Do chickens have dander?  Eggs have never effected me (unless combined with a carb...).  I'm not too worried at the moment, I could use a fresh "look" anyway, lol.  If it gets worse or continues spreading to areas I haven't had sun exposure on, then I'll call my Doctor...until then though, I will be watching it like a hawk! 

Yesterday was a weird day all around.  I spent a good 3 hours out running various errands that included going to the feed store, the grocery store, and skipping a few shops after I got tired and was wanting a snack.  Since it was a cooler day yesterday, I had taken my dog with me.  This is a pure joyful treat for her, she lovesears ago held them off though!  No marks were left on the deadbolt, just the handle, so I'll be locking the deadbolt too...one more measure to keep my belongings safe!  Also, the dog won't be going anywhere for a while...she barks like she'll tear ya to shreds and she keeps all the neighbors apprised if anything/anyone is in front of my house that shouldn't be, lol.

Later in the afternoon, someone came knocking on my door...we get a lot of door to door sales junk here, I hate it with a passion and on a good day get great "happy feelings" when I can slam the door in someones face!  We have a no soliciting sign at eye level on our door...I have heard parent's tell their children that are selling wrapping paper/cookies/Kool-Aid (yeah someone sent their kids running through a strange neighborhood knocking on doors with no adult in sight!  The kids do not live on my street...) that the sign doesn't apply to them!  Yes it does!  If you want me to buy something, it applies!  My personal opinion on the signage (whether it "means it" or not) is that I have it there because I don't want anyone knocking on my door that I don't already know!  No survey people, no sales people, no damned kid wanting to annoy me!  Okay, I know harsh...but we get a lot of this sort of harassment around here.  I grew up where this stuff didn't happen, if you had to sell something for school, you sent it with your parents to work, you didn't go knocking on stranger's doors!  So the guy yesterday...he got as far as "I noticed your Monitronix sign here" before I flipped out on him.  Yes, I over reacted, but since I was still dealing with the stress of someone attempting to enter my home while I wasn't here...he deserved it.  I asked him if he also saw the sign that says no soliciting and slammed the door in his face.  Well, maybe I didn't over react, lol.  But, there was a strange man with a giant binder standing on my door step, asking about my home security system and if I was the owner of the home a mere few hours after a scare like that!  I'm a little paranoid at the moment, a few of the details, like the dog happening to be gone and the fact that my truck was still here, leads me to think that maybe my house is being watched by one of the neighbors that I don't know...  It's a little coincidental after hearing that I have a peeper!  If you see someone looking in someone else's windows, tell them about it ASAP!  Don't wait until the subject happens to come months down the road!  Okay, that's all I have to say about that...I could rant about this for pages, lol.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random thoughts for the Day & a To Do List

Previous Project
I have such a hard time getting motivated enough to get out of the house when my other half is away! Mainly because I am more than happy to sit at home and enjoy the activities I don't typically do while he's here. Yesterday, I finished a crochet project I've been working on for the last month and a half or so! I started it 3 trips ago (his trips out of town) and have only worked on it when he isn't home, save for last week, I was getting so close to the end and we just bought the 7-disk Harry Potter (years 1-6) boxed set on Blue-Ray! So, I spent several nights watching a HP movie and crocheting. After one last full day and an evening of my other half being gone...it's done! One more "baby project" off my plate! I may even give this one to the intended baby, lol. The last one I made didn't get finished until the "intended baby" was almost 4 years old! Needless to say, I did not give it to that "baby"...I thought about giving it to his younger brother, but it still wasn't finished when he was born either! Then, the other side of the family had a baby...but I didn't feel the style of the blanket fit very well with the parent's style. Okay, so I'm picky about where I send items I have spent that much time on! Said blanket is still up in my closet...but I'm a little attached to it now, I don't think I'll give that one away...even if I never get a chance to use it! This project had a much simpler design though...it worked up pretty fast! In a future post (6 months or so from now), I'll put up photos of all the projects I've been working on, lol. Can't give away the surprise this early!

But, back to today's "list"! I need....
  • Dog food
  • Chicken feed--not at same location of the dog's food
  • Coffee syrup--I heard a rumor they are on sale at Cash & Carry
  • Cream--Heavy with a side of whipping, please!
  • Dirt--Yep, I need dirt! The spot I had picked out for my new Raspberry bushes is not going to work! The dirt is so full of weed and tree roots, that I can't even get a shovel into it! New plan of attack is to fill the old pond hole (I pulled the liner out a few years ago) with soil and put the Raspberries there, on the side of the "hill" that I'd eventually like to turn into my garden plot, but as of right now is full of tree stumps (and my Blueberry pots). Three bags should do me...
  • Prescription--Someone rewrote my Test Strip script so that I now only get one box (200) for a month! However...even the way it is written, they only provide a 25-day supply instead of the 30-day supply! Yup, cheaper for the Pharmacy to only give me one box of 4 vials and ignore the need for a minimum of 5 vials! The script used to read "test 4-6 times daily"...someone has chopped off the "to 6" part! Of course, I am also testing 5-7 times a day right now due to feeling "off" and having a few lows...meaning I am running through the strips much faster than intended! All it really means for me is more trips to the Pharmacy though, our insurance covers 100% of the cost of strips, they make up for it on my Insulins though ($65 co-pay).
  • Connector thingies for my Auto Watering System (drip system for the flowers)
  • I know I'm forgetting something...but it's not the Bacon! I have 2 packages in my Refrigerator right now and a few more in the Freezer!
Being Diabetic is expensive! I was just peeking at my "spending report" for my insurance... For my "plan year" (July 1-June 30), I have spent $1237 (this is our out of pocket cost), but the "Cost of all Services" was $13,935! That counts all of my Vision, Dental, Medical, & Prescription costs, we saved 91%! Of that $13k though, $4,005 is applied discounts (money the insurance company refuses to pay or allow them to charge me for...otherwise known as the "padding on the bill" that folks without insurance get stuck paying). I am more than happy to day that I saved $12,698 so far in my plan year!

And some people wonder why we haven't come up worth the $700 I need to get an insulin pump yet...that $700 is out share of the "start up" costs of buying a pump and all the supplies that go with said pump. We start with a $500 deductible, and our share of everything else is 20%...we have awesome insurance! I want an OmniPod...no tubes! And how techie is this thing?!

Just look at the comparison to two of the more popular pumps! I wanted a Ping (by One Touch) before I found this little guy...really the only thing that unnerves me is switching brands. I have used a One Touch meter since 1990! Yes, I had (and still do have somewhere) an "original" One Touch meter! Giant dark grey thing with a hinged door over the test strip (which took 10 times as much blood to get a good reading) and a battery that at the time had to be special ordered! N's or J's, I forget which, I have had meters that took both!

No tubes to get in your way or interfere with daily life
Truly continuous insulin delivery
No need to disconnect for showering, swimming, other activities
Auto insertion
Insert with the push of a button;
Built-in-Blood Glucose Meter
One less thing to carry and manage
 Integrated food library
Makes carb counting and bolus calculation easier
Suggested bolus calculation using integrated BG reading
Makes bolus calculation quick and easy
Small, lightweight pump

The chickens...still no real decent photos of them, one or more of them are always moving when I take one!  They are getting so big...sigh.  I can tell there is a definite weight difference amoungst them at this point and only Gerty (my BR) still "likes" to be picked up, Henri and Clyde squirm and through a huge fit, lol.  None the less, I keep trying to get a good photo...  I changed out their brooder yesterday evening, they got sand this time instead of the pine shavings.  I'm not sure if they're tipping the waterer or they are just producing a large amount of humidity just by breathing and pooping, but the shavings seemed "damp" yesterday.  I still had roughly 3/4 of the bag of play sand and they have lost the sandbox/skillet because they were just emptying it into the brooder anyway!  So, when it was time to refill the brooder, I dumped in the sand!  The girls had a grand time dust bathing all over the place last night!  Also, I've added a small dish if the chick grit.  I'm not sure if I just keep happening to be in there right after Clyde's meal time or if there is an issue, but ever since their last trip outside, she seems to always have a full crop!  She is the heaviest of my girls right now, so I'm not too terribly worried but will be keeping an eye on here none the less!  They had been upgraded from chick feeder to a 3 pound container last week, but since the container is bigger, it was hanging lower and so we've had a little issue with them throwing food everywhere!  Also, they have figured out how to get the nut to unscrew and dump the entire thing (I'm not sure if this was a happy accident or if they planned it)!  So, now I have the "food holder" part off and just the base attached to the little pole that connects everything.  I have it attached to a chain and can raise the dish higher...no dumped food this morning!  I really need to get the run built though!  My other half comes home just in time for a 4-day weekend...I'm going to have to strong arm him into helping get the run up then!  Maybe I'll make him a cheesecake as a reward, complete with Caramel and Chocolate sauce!

And the cats!  Last night, I pulled a couple of larger leaves off this year's Catnip plant and gave one to each of the cats.  They LOVE this stuff!  Unlike the dried stuff, which they both greedily eat, they just gnaw on the fresh ones and cuddle with them.  Actually, I still need to go collect the remains of the leaves from atop my bed, they both slept with the Catnip as it wilted into near nothingness!  In a few weeks, the plant will be large enough to get a "first harvest" off of and start drying for another fresh supply of dried 'Nip!  Stinks to high heaven in the house while drying, but the cats love it, lol.  I really need a food dehydrator...
Baby requires his fresh leaves to be torn...less work for him to get to the oils in the leaf, lol.  If left untorn, he ignores said leaf until it is prepared "properly"!  Frappy though?  She is a girl that knows how to get things done!  She immediately started chewing on hers!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

25 Pounds Lighter...

Technically, I hit this 2 weeks ago and am now past the 25 pound mark by a whopping pound (give or take a few 0.1s...6 of them on Friday!), but I finally got around to having my other half take a photo of me.  I hate with a passion those "Look, I took a picture of me!" shots...even if you think no one can tell you did it yourself...they know...they all know!  Anywho, so I had him snap a photo for me.  This entails (as always) showing him how to work the camera on my cell phone...  It isn't a "bad" photo...just not a good one, lol.  I hate, hate, hate how I look in photos...so, I'm hard pressed to find any actual photos of myself when I need them!

But, here I am in my size 22 shorts (2 full sizes down from what I was barely fitting into in October 2010), my new(ish) shirt (a size down here as well!), and my new "thing under the shirt" (2 full sizes down around)!  This time last year, I would have never fit into anything but my shoes!  Okay, maybe the socks...but everything else was extremely tight fitting!  Another thing to notice, if you really want to study me...is my multi-staged skin colors.  My legs?  They never tan, even when I try...so they stay that pasty white year-round.  My arms are both very tan, my driving arm (the left one) is much darker than the right though and they both have untanned "elbow pits" since I tend to bend at the elbow when resting my arm on the truck door as I drive.  Neck up is a variety of shades from "crusty, peeling" skin where the very burnt skin on the back of my neck and ear to the bright pink of new skin where the burnt stuff has sloughed off already.  I don't worry too much about "tanning"...cancer risks and all that, but I may try to even things out a bit this Summer, lol.

And, if your house is anything like my house...you bring out the camera (or the phone for that matter) and everybody needs your attention right at that moment!  My cats, dog, and even the chickens are the that way!  Rosie heard me click the camera mode on my cell phone on and she came out of nowhere to "pose" for photos, lol.  This one I did play with a little in the editing software that is built into Photobucket...saturation colors, sharpened a few edges...nothing to off the wall!  She's an old girl...her birthday is September 12, 2001, so she'll be 10 years old this year.  My childhood dog was also a black lab, by 9 years old, she was taking a daily dose of Thyroid meds, but she lived to be almost 15 years old.  I don't see any signs that Rosie is slowing down anytime soon either!  I think she needs a buddy...I got Rosie when Lickorice (that's what happens when you let a 9 year old choose the spelling) was about the same age she is now, maybe a year or two older though...  They were good buddies right up to the end!

Well, back to work for me!  I have Raspberry bushes to get in the ground and a watering system to install in my planters!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Singer Sew Very Easy House Party!

It's been a week or so since I had my party...well, more of a quiet afternoon at home with a sewing machine and my Mom for company, but anywho.  It was a bad weekend for any sort of get together in my (oh so humble) opinion!  Mother's Day was on Sunday and my party (along with the other two parties held in Spokane) were all on Saturday.  It probably doesn't help that I really don't have any "friends" in the area...acquaintances, yes, but friends are hard to make as an adult!  Also, I'm the only person I know in the area that sews, lol, or has any interest in it at all.  Yup, we live in a truly technical age.  None the less, my party of two had a great time!  The fabric that was sent for use at the party is this god awful teal with pink flowers...4 yards of the stuff!  Needless to say, we opted to go get other patterns to use, lol.  My Mother chose black and white prints for her "party project", I really like the looks of it!  We used black thread on the back (which when rolled up is the visible side) and a red/rusty thread for the interior to help showcase some of the decorative stitches she made.

The party project instructions failed to state how big the starting fabric should be cut to, so we improvised a little!  We found a great deal on Fat Quarters (18"x22" cuts of fabric) and ended up cutting those in half to create the project (using 18"x11" rectangles of fabric), making the end result roughly the same size as the one I made in the class I has to learn how to use the new machine.  The larger pocket in my Mom's finished project was designed to hold her glasses (she looses them often) and the other pockets can hold her sunglasses attachment, a cleaning cloth, and a little spray bottle of cleaner.  But, when all was said and done, she left it here for me, lol.

Along with the party project, we also made a round jewelry bag to match the rectangular one!  Using the other halves of the Fat Quarter, we cut out four rounds of fabric (in two sizes) and got to stitching them shut.  We had a pouch that we were copying, so this one isn't perfectly round.  I later went out and bought myself a set of circular cutting forms (I forget what they're really called) so that I can make more of these as gifts in the future.  I think it turned out really cute!  When we got to stitching the two circles together to form the pockets (6 in all), we added a bit of Cotton Ball to pad the center (the one we were copying from has some sort of batting stuffed in the center).
So, that's what we did!  It took us roughly 8 hours to do it, but that included going to the fabric store, going to WalMart when we realized we forgot to get ribbon, having Dinner, sewing two projects (although small), going back to Joann's to get a replacement machine (the first one stopped working!), and having a really good time!  A few days later, we went back to Joann's and I bought the sewing machine!  I can't tell you how nice it is to own a sewing machine that is younger than I am!  My "old" machine, also a Singer, is downstairs in the sewing table (big honking piece of furniture from the early 1960's) still...I don't think the new one will be able to go in there.  The old machine was my Great-Aunt Polly's sewing machine and she gave it to me just before she past away several years ago (I actually took it home after her funeral).  I doubt I will ever get rid of it, at least for now!  My plan, once we get our offices moved downstairs, is to turn my current office into a guest bedroom/sewing room.  The new Singer will sit on top of the the old Singer, the table is a great height and I suspect I can find a nice sized board to cover the old machine so that I can open up the table to continue using it.  I may even talk my Mother out of her old Singer (an original Singer, first one they made that was electric!) to use as a nightstand in the guest room...but that will take a bit more talking, lol.  She has an old treadle Singer that she offered me, and while I would love to use it as a cabinet or table somewhere, the wood is completely destroyed and I just don't have the means to fix it myself.

More of these little projects to come as I gear up for the Holidays!  We bought 15 (or so) of the Fat Quarters in all sorts of colors!  They were on sale for $0.99 each (half off) and were a lot cheaper than the rolls of fabric at Hancock's Fabric!  We did buy some fleece and worked on a separate project a few days later, but more on that much later!  I will say, I made my first ever (completed) piece of clothing though!

While out for dinner that Saturday, we saw a double rainbow(!) that I tried to capture while my other half was busy not stopping the car (like I had asked him to do).  Not uncommon, but very pretty none the less!  The "double" is to the left of the bright one, but to the right of the lamp post...it's pretty faint.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Chicken Related Stuff...

The girls have now been living in my laundry room for 9 weeks!  Can anyone else believe they have survived?!?  All the horror stories of dying chicks had me convinced I would inadvertently kill at least one of them by now!  Go me and a good dose of luck that everyone has survived so far!  Due to family visiting and poor weather, I really haven't gotten much done in the last several weeks.

Today though, today is another story!   Today, while basking in the warmth of a nice Spring day (in the high 60's), I got the pop door on the chicken coop and part of the fence up!  Okay, so I failed to get a vital piece up before we painted...but I can remedy that!  The door is (mostly) level, the latch is level (talk about a long process), and the hook has not one, but two eyes to go into!  The door is secured the same way the people door is secured, bolt action on top edge, hook & eye at the bottom.  The people door holds the other eye, this way, I can latch the door open for the day and know that the girls are safe from a gust of wind flinging the door around, also I can attach a small carabiner to a chain and secure the people door when I need it open for cleaning and such!  Win, win!  Of course, I failed to remember to take a photo with both doors shut...

I started with the new roll of 2"x4" wire fencing this morning/afternoon, but I really didn't get very far before I realized that I truly need help to maneuver that big roll around!  So, with the first two "panels" nailed (I'm using 3/4" Galvanized Poultry Net Staples, a fancy way of saying "2 ended nail") up, I moved on to another "issue" that needs dealt with.  There is an open gap where risers meet runners (or some such technical term), basically the vertical supports at the end of the deck have an open space to under the deck between the horizontal supports of the deck (the part we walk on).  I needed to figure out a way to cover them so "things" couldn't get in and the girls can't get out!  My solution?  1/2" hardware cloth, of course!  The space is 23" wide (how handy when the hardware cloth is 24" wide), so I just cut a section of the hardware cloth and started nailing!  I actually cut two sections, a single 15' piece was a bit too big for me to handle by myself, so I cut one 8' section and when it was up, I went back and cut a 7' section (I added a few inches for overlap too).  I got all of the larger section up and secured with many, many staples and the smaller one is secured along one long side and the short side that is the end of the deck.  I still have to secure the back side, where the extra inch is folded down and secured as well, and the shorter pieces where the deck supports cross it (every 24" or so).  It looks and feels like it'll hold up!  The large, open section to the left is where the door(s) are going.  My plan is to put two doors there (one opening in and the other out) so that I can fit a large piece of equipment in (you know, like the sandbox...) as well as insuring I have access during the winter (I don't want to have to shovel just to get in there every morning)!  Or I at least want to be able to let them out to get food & water while I shovel paths through the back yard!  That space is 52" wide by 61" tall (I have to duck or crack my head...I've done it both ways often while building this), so I can make two doors each 26" wide!  I need 20" of width clearance for the Gorilla Cart (wagon style thing I want), but I need 30" or so for the standard wheel barrow I want.  My other option for a door is 27" wide, I would not be able to get a standard (deep bucket) wheel barrow in to clean out the coop!
Clyde!  I believe she is "bottom chicken".

Henri flew out when I opened the brooder and landed on the dryer, lol.
The girls have gotten so big!  I miss the little fluff balls that could all cuddle up in one hand while the other was free to do things like snap photos!   None the less, they still fit in my hand...but their butts hang over, their wings fall over my fingertips, and they cam only do it one at a time!  Not to say that they don't still try to all cuddle up in my hand at once, oh no...they continually try to see if they can in deed still do it!  My other half informed me last night that they are now cuddling together in their skillet/sandbox to sleep at night (he went down after "lights out" to put laundry in the dryer & "caught" them, lol).  I am shooting for them being in the coop by this weekend, but we shall see...my hand is killing me this evening from hammering in half of a 1 pound box of those staple/nails today, not to mention how my shoulder feels!
Gerty will not hold still for pics anymore!

I still have my concerns that at least one of my girls is really a boy...Gerty is so much redder in the comb and wattles than the other two!  But, from all the other "Is my BR a roo or a pullet?" posts over on BYC...I think I'm going to have to wait this one out!  One poster will say it's a roo based on the "red factor" while another will say pullet because the chick in question is so much more black than white (roos color in with wider white stripes while pullets have wider black stripes).  The debate continues with leg color (Gerty was a typical "pullet" colored chick when she was tiny) and so forth.  I have even asked the much groaned about (I know the nice people over at BYC have got to get tired of answering that question) roo/pullet question!  I get mixed reviews...the answers that always make me giggle though are the "that's a blah blah blah breed!" answers...
Gerty just getting her stripes (see, mostly black)!
Gerty the day I brought them home!

 I do realize my chicks are from a feed store (thusly also from a hatchery where color standards are sub-par at best), I did a lot of research on breeds before I ordered my chicks and am fairly certain the hatchery and feed store did not give me some rare breed of chicken, even by mistake, when they only order the most common breeds.  I would bet the hatchery would be calling and wanting more money if that happened!  You can see Gerty's comb color better in the video (since the photo is of her backside), she is very red in the face!  On the "not a roo side" though, at 9 weeks, no one is crowing!  I will try to get better photos tomorrow if I have time...but for now, I am going to consider them all pullets until somebody doesn't lay an egg, lol!
The girls are now eating nearly two full pint jars a day of food, either that or they are spilling it and attracting ants...and eating the ants!  Either way, the food is disappearing and I have an ant issue, lol.  With all that eating, there's a lot of pooing going in too!  I got nailed last night and didn't realize it until I was going to bed...not a pleasant surprise since I was in a dress with string type ties holding it up!  I got a good shower that included lots of soap and this morning my office chair got a bath too!  I don't know how I didn't notice that, but yuck!  I will remember to be more careful in the future, Henri absolutely loves shoulder rides and will not stay off my shoulder!  I actually don't mind...except for the pooing...I really think she saves a load just for me!  I have kept her off my shoulder until I see her poo and as soon as she's up there, BLAM! Every time...
Gerty & Henri...a few minutes before I got pooed on...

Spring and Summer Gardening!

Okay, technically it is Spring Gardening, but I will continue it throughout the Summer!  I had behaved myself this Spring and stayed away from the Strawberry plants as well as the Raspberry & Blackberry plants I really wanted when I was shopping (I did pick up a pair of Top hat Blueberry bushes though).  Much to my surprise, while I was out of town my other half called me with an offer for free strawberry plants!  This was more shocking due to the fact that he doesn't even like Strawberries!  I, of course, jumped at the chance for a few plants and went happily about my day visiting my family after driving my Mother back to Central Oregon last Thursday (I helped her clean the houses she cleans every Friday).  A few hours later (maybe only 30 minutes), I got another call from my other half wanting to know if I wanted any Raspberries!  Does this guy know me or what? Lol!

When I arrived home on Saturday, there was not a couple of plants (like I was expecting) but a potting soil bag full of them (one layer across the short end, but about 15 plants)!  Today, I got the Strawberries moved into a planter (a small Strawberry planter that has 4 side holes) and it is now residing on my back deck.  I have the Strawberries on a plant dolly thing so I can move it around with the sun, we'll see how they do...I may move the whole planter down to the hill where the Blueberries are right now as well!

My Raspberries arrived today and are also in soil bags (2 large starters, each in their own small soil bag)!  I can't wait to get them in the ground, but they will have to wait another day, I hammered so many staple/nails today that I can hardly use my right hand!  But, more on that later in another post...

I did go around the other day and check on my starts that I planted last Wednesday...a week later and while everything is still alive...nothing is really thriving.  I have an ant problem that I don't know how to solve safely with the chickens around.  Last year, I just coated everything in a nice thick layer of organic pest control!  What is doing well (finally) this year, is my Rhubarb!  The Spring of 2007 I dug it up and moved it to large planters in preparation of our move to Spokane at the end of that summer.  They never did well in the planters, but they survived.  Finally, mid-Summer 2009, I got them in the ground!  They did okay last summer, but never got large enough to pick and/or eat.  This year though, I already have a few stalks big enough to pick!  I am so excited to have my Rhubarb back!  I love making fresh Rhubarb stuff!  Though, being on a low carb diet now, no more Rhubarb cake for me!  For anyone interested...

Rhubarb Cake
  • Enough cut up Rhubarb to cover the bottom of your cake pan (I used a 9x13 rectangular glass pan)
  • Sugar (can sub in non-sugar alternatives, I have used Splenda...but I would suggest using the real thing here)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cake Mix (My personal favorite is the French Vanilla one, but any of the White/Yellow ones are good, my Mother likes using the Strawberry cake mix)
Put down a layer of Rhubarb, sprinkle a good amount of sugar over the top and then a layer of Cinnamon, you could mix the two and just sprinkle cinnamon sugar, but I find I get too much or not enough of one of the ingredients doing it that way.  This is really a "to taste" recipe...I love the tart taste from the Rhubarb and the Cinnamon can overwhelm that easily.  Top with cake mix (having followed directions on the box) and then sprinkle the top with Cinnamon and Sugar.

Simple recipe...I may try this again this year using the recipe I modified into a basic Vanilla cake (original was a Gingerbread Cake/loaf thing).  I'll have to "top" it with the Rhubarb though and let them sink through the batter.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

I have yet to get a decent set up on the deck for all my hanging baskets this year!  I have so many that I'm having to rethink and rework my watering system yet again!  I do have a few more recent additions that I purchased at Fred Meyer over the last few weeks...I bought a Pineapple Sage!  It's a Sage that smells just like a Pineapple!  I can't wait to give it a try in cooking!  I'm going to try to invent some sort of "Hawaiian" Salad dressing/vinaigrette with it.  The ideas are still flowing on just how to do that, but I'm going to bet I use Coconut Da Vinci's coffee syrup in it, lol.  I also picked up two Ivory colored Bell Pepper plants (I broke the first plant just above the first leaf set putting it in a planter).  This week I also picked up some new flowers, Fred Meyer has 4-pack pony packs on sale at the store near our house for $0.79 this week!  Not the best deal I've seen, my Mother got singles of the same plants at one closer to her house for $0.10 each!  But, it is the best price I've seen in my area!  I got a pack of Purple variegated Alyssum

If you look really hard at the top photo, you can see some of my hanging baskets where they are currently residing (still need to move a few around and get the watering system up and running into the planters!  The two largish planter off on the hill to the right are the Blueberries (Raspberries are going to the right of that hill as soon as I get out there to dig up the dirt a bit)!  In the bottom left hand corner, you can even see Rosie!  She had just caught sight of me sitting down for a minute and was on her way for a cuddle and a pat.  Really, she was trying to get me to let her back in the house...that dog loves being inside!  I need to cut a limb out of that big tree by the house, it snapped in January/February, but is still connected enough to produce foliage and it's blocking the sun to my baskets!  Anyone feeling brave enough to climb out on a half rotted deck railing and get on the roof of it (also rotted through in a few spots) to reach that thing?  It's going to cost us a good bit of change to call the tree guy out...I wonder if he'd do it for free since he gave us a 5 year guarantee on it 2 Octobers ago...lol.  That's what we get for working with an Arborist I suppose.  I'll look his number up this week or next, the branch is just too high up for me to handle alone.

Clothing and Weight Loss...

Last Thursday (a day before my "official" weigh in's, but I was out of town that Friday), I weighed myself and have officially reached my first mini goal of 25 pounds gone!  That means I get to treat myself to a "goody" of the non-food variety!  I really want to get some outdoor lawn furniture, lazy boy style lawn chair!  I just have to find one I'm willing to shell out the money for....WalMart has one on sale for $45, but I'm scared to try sitting in it!  I want something comfy that I can lounge around on and maybe get a tan in my backyard this year...  Until then, on to the next mini goal (50 pounds)!

As for clothes though...I posted a while back (a month or so) about my adventures in getting new pants, one of which I might add is already too big!  Over the last few weeks my Mother has also given me shirts that didn't fit her properly that do fit me quite well, one is even a 16/18!  I haven't been in anything under a 20/22 in a very long time!

Probably more info on me than you need, if you don't like talking bra sizes, stop reading here!

Well, I finally had enough of my "up top girl parts" falling all over the place!  So, off to Lane Bryant I went to get a free bra fitting (most places do these nowadays, you just have to ask) and I left with 2 bras that a two even sizes down!  And I have never believed the myth that your boobs are the first thing to go when you loose weight...I may have gone down in number by 4, but my cup size went up by 1 size!  Yeah, my girl parts are not shrinking!  I lucked out though and everything in the store was on sale for 40% off the day I went in, so I got two bras that fit me very well for $40!  I also took my mother along (and her tax exempt status) to save a little more there too.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Visiting Family...

The up side to driving down to get my mother for an "adult only" visit to my house (normally they bring at least one of our nephews along too) was getting to visit with the kids for a few days.  It was great fun to watch them play a modified game of "Duck, Duck, Goose!" combined with "Musical Chairs".  With every "Goose!" a chair was taken away and they ran around the remaining chairs until the adult leading the game (my sister) said to sit down.  In the case of the photo to the left, they were down to the final chair and rather than sitting in the chair, my oldest nephew grabbed the chair just as the middle one went to sit!  Leave it to a 6 1/2 year old to figure that trick out!  At 3, 5, and 6 1/2, this modified game kept them busy for a good 45 minutes!

Those green kid's chairs are a find I got at Winco for $3.48 a chair!  They aren't the greatest of kid's chairs, but for the price, they should last at least through this summer!  I did get all three boys to sit (sort of) still after the game though...  Of course, then I got them riled up by having them holler things like "cheesecake!", "Monkey Butts!", and things like that while I snapped away trying to get a good photo of all three!
Nephew #1 got busy playing "store" with items that he got from the Easter baskets I put together for them with items I got on clearance (50-75% off) after the holiday.  He was also "selling" (he wanted the plastic coins that came in the eggs) things like "Transformers Bubble Gum", which was really a toy he had on the play structure, or  "Ball Bread" that was a large grey ball that Nephew #2 picked out at the Dollar Tree 2 weeks ago when he was visiting us!
Nephew #1
Nephew #2
Nephew #2 did eventually get his ball back for his older brother's "store" though and went about trying to kick it into the swimming pool (that has yet to be cleaned and filled this year)!

Nephew #3 took time out of the rousing game of "Musical Duck, Duck, Goose Chairs" to "reattach" some bark to a tree...he made them wait too while he did tree surgery!

And in a rare moment alone while visiting...a wild rabbit came over for a visit with me!  These little guys (not so little in this case since it was a full grown one) are all over the place!  They kept my cats well fed when I was a kid, lol!  This rabbit though was safe from any kitties that day though, he hopped off to the realative safety of behind the play structure!