Sunday, May 30, 2010

Every Pot in the House

Inspired by yesterday's enforced popcorn for dinner, I hit the grocery store and then went about making some healthy meal options.

First, Tofu Stir Fry
I marinated pressed tofu in the following for a few hours:
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp of grated ginger
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 apple juice
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low salt soy sauce
Then stir fried carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, green onions and some peppers before adding in the tofu and marinade (there's a lot of marinade... probably too much) and served it over quinoa.

That was lunch, and will be lunch for a few more days.

(For those people with tofu phobias, chicken works well here instead of tofu.)

Then I set about making veggie broth. I don't use prepackaged broth because of the salt content, and I can't bring myself to make meat broth. (I don't buy or eat meat that comes with skin or bones, because I live in denial.) I found this recipe for broth a few years ago, and use it for everything that calls for broth, regardless of the flavour the recipe calls for. I doubt anybody can tell the difference.

  • 1 parsnip
  • 4 carrots
  • a bulb of garlic, separated by not peeled
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • coarsely chopped parsley, to taste
  • 1 tsp salt (I usually skip this)
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
(Truth is, I usually use whatever veggies I have on had. Broccoli and cauliflower stalks and mushrooms almost always end up in there too. I would not recommend that you include brussels sprouts or asparagus, though. Those give the broth a distinct aura of eau de cat pee.)

Basically, throw it all in a big pot. Fill with water and boil the snot out of it. Then, let cool, drain, distribute into 2 cup portions and freeze.

Then, on to the corn chowder.
The corn on the cob that I bought last week was so good that I stocked up when I went back. Then reality hit, and I clued into the fact that, regardless of how good it is, I'm not going to want to eat corn on the cob six nights this week. I boiled the corn, then scraped it off the cob, leaving me about 4 cups of corn. I saved a cup for corn salsa, but used the rest for chowder.

  • 1 onion diced.
  • 3 cups of corn, divided
  • 4 cups of homo milk
  • 4 potatoes, diced and boiled until soft
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of chives
Brown the onions, add 2 cups of the corn, everything else. Heat but don't boil. After 10 minutes or so, use your submersible blender to blend about half way to thicken. (If you don't have a submersible blender, get one. Trust me.) Then, add the last cup of corn and heat some more. Serve with a side of sour dough bread and topped with about 1 tbsp of grated cheddar in each bowl.

Tomorrow will be the pork roast. I'll cook it up in the slow cooker, serve with a side of roasted veggies (probably cauliflower and asparagus) and topped with corn salsa.

Before I do that, though, I need somebody to come over and do my dishes for me.
Any volunteers?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mother Nature decides for me

I'm on vacation for the next week. I always book the first week of June off so that I can garden. I was going to add a shade garden in the single, small little spot of my yard that gets no sun.

It's good to add diversity to the yard, isn't it? Peonies, lilacs and roses are great; but every yard needs some ferns, right?

Actually, as much as that may be true, the reason why I'm putting a garden in is that I can't for the life of me maneuver the lawnmower into that corner of the yard. I figured that growing something in that area that doesn't need to be cut with any sort of regularity would solve that problem. So, I lay down plastic a month or so ago, and I was going to spend this week digging in a garden and planting shade loving plants.

Mother nature seems to have other plans. I woke up this morning to see big fluffy flakes falling from the sky, and it snowed all day long. Everything is white.

And so, gardening has once again been postponed. In the meantime, I've got a week off with nothing that I have to do.

Today, I read for a while, watched the season finale of Grey's and did a little painting. Oh, and I had popcorn for dinner. That maybe wasn't so good. I love popcorn, but it wasn't by choice this time: I had popcorn because it was either that or plain spaghetti noodles. The cupboards are seriously bare. I even had to make kettle corn because I didn't have any butter for regular popcorn. So, tomorrow I should probably go to the grocery store. Or order a pizza. I guess that depends on whether or not I can convince myself to get out of my pajamas.

Either way, I'm on vacation now; and apparently Mother Nature has decided that I'm going to be taking it easy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Stinking Cracks

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've got a problem with leaking in the basement again. I did a mental tally, and I'm pretty sure that there have been 11 leaks in 5 years (six summers) that I've lived here. First, there were four cracks, on opposite walls of the basement. They were patched from the inside, and that seemed to work for two of them. When the other two leaked, the builder came out, dug down below the basement floor on the outside and patched from the outside. That didn't work at all.

I threatened legal action, and told him he'd need to bring in an engineer at his own expense if he didn't fix the leak once and for all. He brought in some guy who did a urethane patch that's shot through the crack at really high pressure and is supposedly fool proof. It seemed to fix the problem. That was year 2.

In year 3, there was a leak on the opposite side, which pooled in the middle of the basement. The builder came out, concluded that water had come in the weeping tile access hole because the water table was really high. (It was a really wet year that year, and it seemed logical.) He put a cap on the weeping tile hose thingy, and said it should be good.

In year 4, the same leak as year 3 showed up again. I had a good look around, realized that the basement windows had never been caulked, and caulked the snot out of them.

Last year, I thought I'd managed to go a full summer without a leak, but found a big puddle on the floor in September. It looked like it had come though the cracks that were fixed in year 2. Having given up on the builder (who has changed his company name, moved, has an unlisted number and is pretty much MIA), I called New Home Warranty. They sent out an engineer. He said that those urethane repairs are fail safe and couldn't possibly be leaking. Then he stood in the middle of the room, stared at the ceiling for a while, hummed a little bit and then left. I got a letter three weeks later that said he didn't know the source of the leak, but he was fairly certain that it wasn't structural... therefore New Home Warranty wouldn't help. I could appeal if I wanted, but I'd only have a week to do so. (One month after his inspection.) Mother Nature didn't cooperate during that week. There wasn't any rain, and the basement stayed dry.

This spring when we got our first rain, there was water in the same spot. I went down when it was raining one day a few days later, and saw it coming through the crack that had the fail safe urethane patch. Then last week, I went down stairs again, and found another leak on the opposite side.

I called a guy who seems to have a fairly good reputation for water proofing homes and he came out. It turns out that about the time the two cracks were repaired (for the third time), he had an apprentice who was stealing his materials and tools and doing jobs on the side. He said that quite a few of the more unsavory contractors in the business hired the apprentice because he cost a couple hundred less than him; but that the apprentice didn't really know what he was doing. He says he recognizes the work, and is pretty sure that's who did the repairs on the one side.

As for the other side, it has leaked just about every time we've had a good soaking that has blown in from the south. I don't know why, but it's not at all common for rain to blow in from the south around here... maybe 4 times in the last 6 summers. Something niggled at me last week when I saw that the rain was blowing in from the south, so I went to check. Sure enough, water was trickling over to the center of the room. Since I knew about the other crack, I pulled out the insulation on the wall. Sure as shit, one of the cracks that had been repaired the first year had opened up again.

So, dude's going to come out and fix them all next week. It's gonna cost me a cool $1200, which is a crap load of money; but in the grand scheme of things, I guess it isn't too bad to ensure a water proof basement. I was imaging having to dig down again on the outside, and that would cost ten times as much. Or, if my basement flooded after I'd finished it, I'd have a $1000 insurance deductible and then a fee hike. I suppose I'd rather pay for the preventative maintenance than the repairs. It's worth it to me to have the peace of mind; but I can't say that I don't resent every single cent of the bill.

I hope the builder is attacked by a colony of fire ants. I hope that they go straight for his crotch.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Random Monday

Yes, I know. It's Tuesday, but yesterday was a stat holiday so it feels like a Monday today. Things are all out of whack.

My cat, who is very lucky that I love him, sat on my desk last night while I was perusing Facebook, and happily munched down my wormy seeds. I can't tell you how happy I am that I smushed that worm for nothing. I'd blame him, but how does one not notice the cat that's sitting on the desk in front of you eat the seeds in the bowl that's also in front of you until the bowl is empty? My only hope is that maybe if I don't clean it, there might be some pretty flowers in the litter box in a few weeks. (Kidding.)

My friend Sean, who I met when he was a peace officer for a town north of here and therefore not a threat to me in any way, recently got a job as a peace office/traffic cop for the city. He started last week. Today, I came bombing down the road home, and saw Sean standing on the corner. I waved happily before I realized that he was running a speed trap. I may have - perhaps - been going over the speed limit.

A little.

All I can say is that the reason Sean didn't wave back better be because he didn't see me, and not because he was getting ready to fire me a nasty little surprise in the mail. Shouldn't there be a rule about giving your friends speeding tickets?

I made a yummy dinner last night, from my new cook book. (Slow Cooker, by Cooking Light - original name, eh?) It's called Picadillo, and I can't explain what it is, other than to say it's a Latin American dish with ground round, dried fruit, lots of onions, tomatoes, olives and almonds. Except, typing this reminded me that I forgot the almonds. I served it on rice because the recipe said to, but next time I think I'll use couscous. Either way, my only complaint is that I now have enough of this stuff to serve a football team. I love trying something new and having it work out.

Tonight, it's corn on the cob for dinner. The first of the season.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I discovered lavatera flowers about ten years ago. My neighbour across the street had them, and gave me some of her seeds. Ever since then, I've been growing them each year from seeds that I harvested from previous crops.

The problem is the worms. Worms, gross me out.

If you think that's bad, you don't know nuthin. Those, my friends, are the seeds.

Every year, I muster up the nerve to clean out the seed pods and collect enough of these wormy looking seeds to plant the flowers that I want. Every. Single. Freaking. Year. I end up smushing a real worm that I've mistaken as a seed and tried to remove it from the pod.

Next year, I think I'm going to do it the old fashioned way, and pick up a packet of seeds on my way through the Home Depot.

Friday, May 21, 2010

An obervation

If you order polo shirts online, you should have a good look the buttons first. If the row of buttons is so short it won't go any lower than your collarbone, you might want to pass. Even if you don't feel the need to flash your cleavage all over kingdom come, such a high row of buttons makes for something of an optical illusion. It makes it look like your boobs hang low.

Score one of the salvation army pile.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blog Fog

I've got Blog Fog... I can't think of anything to write about, so I'm going to fall back on the ever popular (to bloggers, not necessarily to readers) list of things that nobody cares about.
  • For the last year or so, I have had really good parking karma. Nearly every place I go, I find a free parking spot waiting for me that's right up front and center.
  • I really hate to pay for parking. I can't think of a bigger waste of money than paying to leave my car somewhere while I go inside and pay more for the services I get wherever I've gone. I've been known to walk 10-15 minutes to avoid paying to park my car... but not lately, since my parking karma set in.
  • I've got long, thick, healthy and full hair with just enough red highlights to justify my temper. While I do blow it dry and smooth it out with a large round brush, I won't straighten it because I don't understand the appeal of straightened hair. I'm not sure why making it look flat and less healthy seems to be the thing to do.
  • I can't eat messy or drippy food. My OCD doesn't allow it. (I haven't had an ice cream cone in probably 25 years.)
  • ... and that's all I've got. I feel like I should have a fifth bullet (More OCD... things should be grouped in 3's, 5's or 10's) but I've got nothing. Blame it on the blog fog.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cross that off the Bucket List

My friend Ev has never been to an Ikea store. She always wanted to check one out, but for some reason or another, never made it. She's overheard a few of us talking about it, (how - despite the insanity in the stores - they have some pretty neat stuff) so she asked if she could join me the next time I went.

I went to Edmonton today, and told Ev that we could stop at Ikea if she wanted to come along.

We hit Mustards - a great little deli that Moosepants introduced me to a while back - for lunch. It was yummy with a capital YUM. (Although, I'm a little sad that fresh deli sandwiches is so rare that they're cause for celebration).

After that, we went to Chinz and Co, which has been one of my favorite decor stores since... forever. For some reason, it didn't do much for me today. They had a lot of neat stuff but instead of being inspired or drooling over the merchandise, I just walked around, admired the pretty things and then went on my way. I'm not sure if that's because I've finished decorating the main floor of the house and have no immediate plans for new projects; or if it's because I've finally succeeded in convincing myself that having new and pretty 'stuff' isn't worth the hit to the pocket book. Either way, it felt kind of weird to leave empty handed.

G&E Pharmacy was next, and we bought a lot. It's still got a wee little pharmacy at in the back corner, but this place is really all about pet supplies at discount prices. I stocked up on pet food, treats and cat litter for three months - I spent a pretty penny - but saved a tonne in the long run.

After that, we hit Ikea. I warned Ev how the building is designed to ensure that no matter where a kid is screaming, it will seem as though they're standing right beside you (and there Will Always Be screaming kids). I warned her about the people who stop in the middle of the aisle, and remain oblivious to the fact that they are completely blocking your way. I warned her about the never ending loopdeloops, and how you have to find your way all the way through the maze of the store before you can leave. I warned her not to try to take the shortcuts, because they'll just take you back to the start of the maze. And I warned her that she'll find something at the end that she wants, but that it'll be something she had to have picked up at the beginning of the the maze if she wanted to buy it.

I was right on all accounts.

But. We found some really neat stuff. Somehow, I managed to hold strong and not buy either the black or the white rat for Tallulah.

All in all, I think it was a successful strip. We had fun. We got new stuff. Ev now knows what we're talking about when we discuss the chaos that is Ikea. I'm pretty sure that she'll never go back again.

After that, we got back in the car and headed home. I should tell you that it's a two hour stretch of highway to get home. This is important, as is the fact that you don't see any towns or cities between here and there. There are many signs, and lots of traffic, but other than that, there are very few signs of civilization. This is important, because about an hour into the drive, I looked down and saw that my gas tank was on Empty.

That's when I remembered that I had meant to fill the car up with gas this morning, before we took off. Or else, sometime while I was still in the city of Edmonton.

Let me tell you, if you want to add a little excitement to a road trip, running out of gas an hour into a two hour stretch of highway is probably not your best choice. Sure, it'll get your heart pumping, but not in a very good way.

Shortly after I realized how little gas we had, we passed a sign that said were were 93km away from home. I remembered that there's a truck stop 87km from home. It's on the wrong side of the highway - there are no stopping signs plastered on the side we were on - but I figured that was my best bet. Stop illegally on this very fast, very busy road; hightail it to the other side, and buy a jug of gas. Worst case scenario, I figured we were 6 km away, so it wouldn't be horrible if we ran out before we got there, and had to walk.

I told Ev I'd buy her lunch next week if we had to walk.

That's about the time that we passed a sign that directed us off the highway to go to a small town. Both of us had heard of the town, but have never been there. We weren't sure how far away it was, but we took a chance.. not sure why. We regretted that decision as soon as we got off the overpass and realized that we had 20km to go, but there was no place to turn around.

We didn't have a choice but to keep driving. Thankfully, our pretending to reenact "The little train car that could" and saying a few Hail Mary's to the little country chapel we passed did the trick. We got to the town and found the gas station on what I am fairly certain was the last drop of gas.

Note to self: Don't do that again.

Other note to self: If you do that again, you can apparently make it 20km after the empty gas tank light starts to flash. But just in case, don't do that again.

And, by the way, after we got back onto the highway, we drove past the truck stop I mentioned earlier. It doesn't sell gas anymore.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Questions

How can the evil neighbour honestly believe that two 10" (yes, inch) tall cedar trees, planted in 24" round pots on either side of his garage door really spruces up his curb appeal?

With a cream and taupe house, soon-to-be brown roof, black front door, and a purple front porch... should the rocking chairs be orange, raspberry or red? (Cover your eyes, colour phobes!)

How often can you eat popcorn for dinner before your diet officially becomes unhealthy?

If you forget to take your dogs to their grooming appointment and wasted at least 2-3 hours of the very in-demand groomer's time, how much should you grovel? What gift would be appropriate when she does agree not to fire you as a client? Gold, frankincense, myrrh?

What is it about purchasing a book titled 'Sh*t My Dad Says' that prompts Amazon to repeatedly recommend books about Apartheid in Africa, or scientific proof of Evolution?

How many vodka paralyzers are too many vodka paralyzers?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I am revolting. And by revolting, I'm referring to the verb, not the adjective. The adjective may apply as well, but we'll have to talk about that another time.

I am staging a revolt.

I went to see the internist last week. Right away, he asked me the last time I'd taken a true break for two weeks or more. I couldn't remember.

We talked about this for a while, and he said that my problem could very well be burnout. He reminded me that I had surgery in December, and that I'd taken less than a week off. I pointed out that I'd gone to San Diego for Christmas, but he said that 5 days doesn't count. The appointment lasted over an hour, and he told me repeatedly that I need to take time off.

Honestly, I wasn't buying it. I think there's something wrong with my body chemistry; and while I may not know what is causing it, I'm confident that it's not a lack of sleep, sunlight or downtime. We went back and forth a few times, but I left the appointment thinking that he felt a few weeks off to recharge would help me to get better.

The whole appointment seemed very non-productive to me. I was going to blow it off, but my dad and a few friends seemed to agree with him. Maybe I did push too hard after the surgery, because I actually feel worse now than I did before. Another friend pointed out that if I took the rest, I could rule out burnout so that they could concentrate on the real problem.

I thought about it for a few days - still not convinced - and then I called to see if he'd write a note so that I could take the time off if I chose to do so. (I don't have the vacation time, and more than 5 days of sick time has to be verified by a doctor.)

He wouldn't write the note.

Fine. That reconfirms to me that he doesn't really believe I'm sick. His telling me to take a break is Doctor speak for brushing me off. Because, really, if he did think that I had a problem; wouldn't he support me in getting better? If he thought medicine would help me, I seriously doubt that he'd refuse to write the prescription. So why wouldn't he write me a note to take some time off?

I'm actually not disappointed that I won't be getting the time off. What upsets me is that I don't think either my GP or the internist understand how truly crappy I feel. I feel like they've given up because they can't immediately find the source of the problem. They talk about the symptoms that stand out to them, they offer band aids for those issues, but they can't or won't figure out the underlying cause.

So, I'm revolting.

I'm refusing to take anymore iron. It's been less than a week, but already my feet are twice the size they usually are. I'm retaining so much water, I've got pockets of it on my calves and ankles. A week from now, when I'm really good and swollen, I'm going to go back to my GP and defy him to tell me there's nothing wrong. He'll find that my iron level - which was almost back to normal two weeks ago - has tanked without the supplementation of the nasty pills. There's got to be a reason for that.

I'll start taking the iron again after I prove my point. A healthy body doesn't lose that much iron in such a little time; and taking copious amounts of iron does not a healthy body make. Iron covers up some of the symptoms. It may cause a whole slew of new ones, but apparently, it covers up the problems so well that doctors can pretend that they don't exist. So, I'm going to uncover them, and really show him what I'm dealing with.

And believe you, me... what I'm dealing with is revolting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I am a snob

I went window shopping at lunch today... the kind of window shopping where you tell yourself you're going to get a treat, but in truth you know deep down in your heart that it's not going to happen.... and if it does happen, you'll be returning whatever you did buy the next day.

While I was window shopping, I was looking for new shoes. I've been wearing the same black shoes almost every day for a year, and they've stretched out so much that they don't stay on. I do have a serious need for new shoes. But they're not going to be in the budget for the foreseeable future.

ANYWHO... shoe shopping. It occurred to me that either I am really very narrow minded in what shoe styles I'll wear, or the styles that are out right now suck the big one.

I hate - Hate - peep toe boots. Some day, in the not too distant future, peep toe boots are going to be to this decade what mullets and skinny headbands were to the 80's. And we're not even done the first year of this decade.

Mary Janes should not have heals. Mary Janes are supposed to be flats.

Wedges are the roots of all evil.

And it was downhill from there. I had such bad luck not buying myself a pair of new shoes, I had no choice but to go oogle and not buy the new plate settings that I've been craving for months and have no plans to buy.

Then I got home, and I went online to buy some books. Really buy some books. Books are still my biggest financial vice. I know some people are supporters of libraries; and I think they're great in theory. I just can't handle the thought of finding other people's lunch, snot and toe jam between the pages of the book. So, I buy new. Books are the single one thing I haven't cut back on since I started this huge effort to cut back financially. I buy a lot.

I ordered three new books:
Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern

Either way, the point of this snobbiness story is that I am about 100 pages away from finishing my last book... we're talking some serious desperation this weekend. (Actually, I'll probably reread something, but that doesn't sound nearly as dramatic.) Either way, there's some time sensitivity to this order. I want it right away.

So, why, you might ask, will there be a 6 week delay? I wanted the original cover for The Help. For some reason, the cover of the book that's available now is different.

This is what it's been for months:

This is what's available now:

I am fully aware that the story inside the two covers will be exactly the same. The problem is, my first thought when I saw the new cover was that they made a movie from this book, and the people in that picture are actors in the movie. I have no idea if it's true, but I cannot stand having books once they're made into movies and the covers are changed to show the actors. I hate it, I really do. I have to have the book, and to have read it before it was a movie. I have to have read it before it became super popular. I have to a be a front runner.

Or, at least I have to appear to have been a front runner.

It's so important that I'm a front runner and have this book in its original cover that I'm willing to wait six weeks until it's reprinted. Yep, I'll delay buying a book so that it can seem like I bought it right away. It's all kind of logical, I know.

And no, I didn't consider running down to Chapters to see if they have one on the shelf that's available now.
That would make too much sense.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Sample Fairy

The sample fairy came by today while I was at work...

Uh... OK. He's a big, burly, surprisingly good looking guy who would probably beat me up if he knew I called him a fairy.

...The roofing contractor came by today, and dropped off the colour samples for the new roof. He told me to pick one or two, and he'll bring out full-sized samples of them. Keeping in mind that these are man made, the colours will vary some and there will be highlights and shading in whatever I pick.

Right away, I narrowed my choice down to three. I've included black in these pictures as an option because it's the safe route; but I don't think I'll go with it. I've driven around and checked out some houses in town with the black, and I don't think I love it.

The colour choices from left to right are:

Timber Ridge
Western Sand
Lava Black
Almond Buff

Against the brick:

Yep... the floor of my front porch is purple. I love it. Not everybody else does.

Against the siding:

In the sun. The first two pics were taken in the shade.
I mixed up the order of the colours. I had to make sure that you were paying attention.

This is what I'm starting with, to give you an idea of the colours. The fence is pretty close to the cream trim, and since I live on a corner lot, its colour will probably matter as much as the house. Most people see my house from the back and side, which is just the solid taupe colour, with the cream trim and fence.

Way back in the beginning, before I picked concrete as my roofing material of choice, I was hoping to find something in a light beige-y cream. Then, I decided - for no reason that I can explain - that chocolate brown would be the way to go.

My initial thoughts:
  • The brown (timber ridge) is pretty good, but the dark will impact the heat of the house in the summer.
  • The beige (almond buff) is probably the most energy efficient colour choice, but I think it may be too close to the colour of the siding.
  • The mauve (western sand) is probably my favorite right now. It wasn't even really in the race until I realized how closely it matches the purple of the front porch. But - do I want to commit myself to a purple roof for the next 80-100 years? Probably not.

One other thought... some day down the road... 10-15 years from now, I'd like to change the siding to a light grey/blue board and batten

My Poor Table...

Once a year on the Mother's Day long weekend, there's a wholesale nursery nearby that opens up to the public. I went this year, and managed to find some great deals. Six packs of seedlings were $2 instead of the usual $6 or $8. 6" pots were only $6, and a full sized hanging pots were about half price.

I picked up three flats of snap dragons, marigolds, impatiens, freesia, pansies, tomato seedlings, dahlias and more... I probably managed to get half the annuals that I'll need this year. The only problem is that we're almost a month away from when it'll be safe to plant annuals outside. In the meantime, the plants need sun and shelter inside the house. And that means that they'll be living on my dining room table.

(The tulips are left over from last week's party.)

Until it warms up enough for me to plant them all, I'll be eating my dinners in my lazy boy chair.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Different Strokes

I met my neighbour a few years ago (at least a year after she had moved in) when she and her husband adopted two baby bull dogs. While I try really hard to respect my neighbour's space and not intrude, I couldn't help but suck up all my courage and to ask if I could come into their yard to see the puppies.

This is what they looked like back then:

This is what they look like now:

I'm really glad that I approached her. Jen and I have since become friends, and we often take our dogs for walks together. It's a bit of a motley crew, with two english bulldogs, a standard poodle and a wee little maltese. We get all sorts of comments, but we've noticed that it's rare for all four to get compliments at the same time.

Yesterday was a perfect example: Jen, the bullies, Tula and I all went on a long walk together yesterday. On our way back, a car drove by, pulled over and then the occupants got out. They ran up to the bullies, patted them, oohed and aahed over them and told us how much they love the breed. Tallulah and I stood to the side and - other than a 'no offence to the poodle' comment as they got back into their car - were pretty much ignored.

Jen came over and gave Tula a scratch, and we carried on. That's the way it seems to go. Either people love the bully breeds, or they love the hair breeds. Not many people are drawn to both, and neither of us are bothered when the other's dogs are singled out over our own.

It also helps that these things seem to even themselves out on their own. When we got home, we stopped in her front yard. Tula lay down on the grass, and the bullies milled about. Jen and I were talking about gardening when a truck drove by. The window opened, and the passenger leaned out to yell as they drove by. "OMG, I love that Poodle!"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Only at my house:

Because it wouldn't do for the poodle to carry a dirty rat, would it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Second Thoughts

For a brief moment in time, there was another post where this one is now. I had second thoughts and deleted it. If you happened to see it earlier and wonder what happened, you haven't lost your mind; I just changed mine. FWIW, it wasn't anything deep or telling; just not worthy of a blog entry.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Doctors, plants and books - oh my.

Today was a sick day. I went to work, hoping that the day would get easier as it went on, but ended packing it in mid morning. I hate doing that. The amount of sick time that I've wracked up in the last year is embarrassing, but sometimes I can't just push through.

The anemia and the low albumin continue to be a problem. With that comes a bevy of symptoms that come and go, and have stumped my general practitioner. As much respect as I've got for my doctor, he seems to have run out of ideas. In the last month or so, he has started to throw out Hail Mary's, and suggesting that maybe my problems are caused by a sleep disorder or possibly mental issues.

I agreed to go see a psychologist. I don't think that it would hurt anybody to get a mental health checkup, and I'm actually looking forward to that appointment. However, I'm going more out of curiosity than because I think it'll help my current health issues. I'm quite sure that I am not imagining the swollen feet, the tingly sensations or the foggy brain.

My dad, on the other hand, isn't buying the Hail Mary's. He's the one who asked for the tests that reported the low albumin in the first place (Back Seat Doctor, anyone?!?) and then he demanded that my GP give me a referral to go see an internist. Honestly, that's a medical specialty that I didn't know existed; but if it'll help figure out what's going on, I'm all for it.

The referral was made, the appointment is this week. Hopefully progress will be made.

The Zadge's sista kindly provided a suggestion as to what the mystery plant might be, and requested a closer picture for more details. I wish I could comply, but this is what happened shortly after I posted the previous blog entry.

Garden pictures will not be available until further notice.

Keeping it in the family, the Zadge told her readers to stop what they're doing and to read Little Bee by Chris Cleave. She's a smart woman. I started reading it yesterday; and although I'm not done yet, I already agree. Excellent, excellent book.

In other news, the basement continues to flood. Not a lot, but water is still trickling in. There isn't a crack in the foundation that I can see, but it's weeping in from an area that was repaired a few years ago. Either the crack wasn't repaired properly, or else they damaged the weeping tile while they were working on the foundation. If they did that, which I suspect it is, water is pooling at the base of the foundation and soaking in through the foundation. The only way that I know of to fix that is to dig down to the weeping tile and replace it. Since the builder is MIA, and both insurance and New Home Warranty are unwilling to help, I'm going to be out a lot of money again. I'm not sure if it's funny, ironic or just plain sad that this problem cropped up on the day that I signed a contract for a brand new roof on my 5 year old house.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shade gardens and spring flowers

I'm trying something new this year to start off a new garden. I read that if you cover a grassy area up with dark plastic for a month or so, the grass underneath with die and the ground will get quite soft so that you can till it in easily. That seems better than spraying chemicals to kill the grass, and a whole lot easier than manually digging it out, so I figured I'd give it a try.

It doesn't look very good right now. In fact, I think that corner of the yard is looking like a junk yard; but it'll be a shade garden in a month or so. I'm thinking of lots of ferns, a few bleeding hearts and maybe a few hostas.

In other parts of the garden, more progress is being made.

Daffodils are blooming

The seedum is too...

And the mystery plant continues to be a star.

I really need to figure out what it is.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Whipping Cancer

I had a Pampered Chef party at my house today. May is their "Whip Cancer" month, and hosts have the option of donating a portion of the profits from their show instead of getting discounts on items that they want to buy.

I've never hosted a sale-based party at my house before. I've always had the idea that if I didn't host one, then I wouldn't be obligated to go to these sorts of parties at other peoples' houses if I didn't want to.

I figured that a fundraiser for cancer would be a good reason to break that rule.

So, I spent last week cleaning the house, I bought flowers, and then I cooked.

Aren't these tulips pretty?
There's nothing like having a party as an excuse to buy some flowers.

I made Pioneer Womans's stuffed jalapeƱos, except I followed the recipe from her book. The recipe from her cook book is a little different, in that includes green onions and grated cheddar cheese, then spreading BBQ sauce on them before cooking. I did it the way the book said, and they were a big hit.

I also did baked brie with some Raspberry Habanero sauce poured over it... major yum... and a big plate of fresh fruit.

During the party, we all worked together to make a trifle, which turned out a bazillion times better than I expected (I don't normally like trifle, but this was OMG Good.)

Long story short: we ate, we had fun and we raised over $250 for cancer research today. That's not a bad day at all in my book.