Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winter March!

We have had horrible rain over the past few weeks which flooded alot of areas.  Our yard looks like a pond.  Todd and I went to bed on Thursday night, and woke up with this:

Looking down the street

The front of our house
Our driveway
My drive to work (took an hour and a half)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Fever

We are dealing with squishy muddy soil right now in NorthEast Ohio.  However, I can finally SEE soil!  When I go back through the gated area where Squiggy once frolicked around with Lana, I take a peek into the garden area.  I can finally see the mounds of dirt (and the plants I hadn’t pulled from last season! Shame on me!)  I am definitely getting ready to start planting in the garden!  The garden looks awful because there is no green and lots of mud, but I am thinking that I am going to start flipping the dirt, adding more soil to make the mounds a little higher, add some of the coffee grounds, eggshells and ashes I’ve been saving up, and get everything ready to start planting!  The first row I am going to start working on is the row for strawberries.

I am going to try my hand at strawberries again this year, and I know that I should be planting them right about now.  I still have to order them at this point.  I told Todd about my plans for strawberries, but he thinks I’m not good at cultivating them. When we had them in our Akron garden, we only had them for a year before we moved away (and we only got a half dozen strawberries the first year.)  Then, I planted them in the pots and didn’t water them.  It wasn’t the strawberries fault!  It was mine!  So…I am going to try it again.  We love strawberries, so I am going to do better this year with them, I promise.  Another thing I’ve always done wrong is not pinching the flowers off of them the first year.  I get too excited that strawberries will form from the flowers and eat the berries, but I hear that if you pinch the flowers off the first year, your crop DOUBLES the next.  So that is what I am going to try to do this year. 

I found a place on ebay that sells strawberries, but their season is over in the next couple of weeks. I am going to place my order and hopefully I will have my row ready for them by the time they arrive.  If I work on the garden just a half hour in the evenings after work for the rest of the week, it should be ready.  The only problem is that it is dark by the time I get home, and we have just one light outside.  Luckily, it’s close to the garden.  Hopefully I will be able to see what I’m doing!  I am planning on getting 50 strawberry plants for $0.35/each.  This includes shipping.

We have a pick-your-own place down the street from where we live.  I would like to get down there and pick some berries when they are ready and can some strawberry jam for Christmas.  That is the plan, at least.  We will see if it actually happens.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dog Bed

Since Lana has been an indoor dog most of the time when Squiggy passed a few weeks ago, we have been looking into getting her a doggy bed so that she can have a place all her own to sleep without being locked in the crate at night.

We looked at Ollies, a discount store, and found the beds for $19.99, and they weren’t quite big enough for our moose of a puppy.  We have kept an eye open on Freecycle for one as well as any store we go to.

I was driving to work one day last week and I noticed that someone down the street from us was putting their garbage out early.  There was a dog bed on the top and it seemed to be in decent condition.  I stopped to look at it and the guy came out with more stuff for the trash pile.  I was a little embarrassed, asking him if he minded if I took the dog bed.  He said it was wet.  So I said thank you and went on my way to work.  I called Todd and asked him to go take a look at it (he was off that day) more closely.  He did so, and he thought it was in good enough condition for us to try it out.  He said that just a little section was wet.  He immediately went to the laundry mat down the street (the bed is too big for our washer) and pumped in $3.50 for the large washing machine with some detergent, bleach and fabric softener.  He then put $1.00 worth of quarters into the dryer to get some of the dog hair off of the bed and then put it in front of our fireplace to dry the rest of the way.

We ended up getting a $30+ dog bed for $4.50.  The thing is, even if we bought a dog bed at the store, we’d still probably take it to the laundry mat to clean a couple times a year.  Todd doesn’t see that as an expense for the dog bed – I do.


Recipe: Taco Soup

A friend from work talked about how she made this awesome taco soup and how quick and easy it was to prepare.  I didn’t have all the ingredients for their recipe, so I found this one (that I had everything for!)

(please note, I changed the recipe a little)

1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 can whole corn (drained)
1 can kidney beans
16 oz tomato sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning

Tortilla chips, crushed (on top)

I threw everything into a pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Next time, I will put just 8 oz. of tomato sauce and then a can of diced tomatoes with chiles, but I didn’t have any.  It was still really good!

We put a dollop of sour cream a little bit of cheese, and dinner was served in no time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicks - Week 1

We have had the chicks for one week, meaning they are probably 8-9 days old right now.  Let me tell you, it feels like we’ve had them a lot longer than one week!  Within 4 hours, we lost one, and then about 24 hours later, we lost another, so we are down to just 4 of them.  They are definitely healthy and thriving at this point!

 I hope this doesn’t offend any of the chicken lovers out there (Linda,) but they really are dumb creatures.  Compared to my pigger (to whom I miss so very much,) these things have about 1/1,000th of the brain cells Squiggy had.  Then again, they are 1 / 1000th of the size of Squiggy!  I may feel this way because we had such a smart pig and the chicks are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  Lana is right in the middle.

At any rate, the chicks have about tripled in size over the past 7 days.  I thoroughly cleaned out their nesting area (aka a Rubbermaid container) and they are still eating the same food I put in the day we got them.  They will need the container (a small sour cream container) refilled any day now, but this 25 lb bag of chick feed may last the full 10 weeks until it is time to put them on laying feed.  They love-love-love the oatmeal I give them twice a day.  I let them eat that out of my hand so they get used to me feeding them.  I have not given them anything else at this point.  They definitely make a mess out of their water, so they get fresh water twice a day.  We may be investing in a waterer here soon.

I can only tell one of the birds out of the rest at this point, and that is one that I call “Runt.”  I thought Runt had a black feather on her be-hind, but I was mistaken.  It was caked up poop!  She was the smallest the first 3 or 4 days until we realized that the thing on her butt was poop and we (meaning Todd) got it off.  Now, she is clean and poops freely.  We think things may have been compacted inside of her. She is growing like a weed, catching up to the others!

The other three chicks are at various stages of getting their wing feathers.  It is really cool to watch them grow from fluff to feathers!  They really don’t have names.  I can barely tell them apart.  Until I am able to, they are called “the girls.”  Natalie (my niece,) chose names for them, but at this point, none of them have stuck because I cant tell them apart.

The first few days, they would teeter on their feet when they got tired, then their beaks would hit the floor, then they would just sprawl out to sleep.  Now, they lay like laying hens when they go to sleep.  It’s like their natural instincts have kicked in within the first week.

I handle the chicks at least twice a day so they get used to being picked up and loved on.  Lana has been in the room with me, but we have never let the cats in the room to see the chicks. We will keep it that way.  The chicks are still under a heat lamp.  They were supposed to be at 95 degrees the first week, and 90 the second and then 5 degrees less every week after that until it gets to 70 degrees in their nesting area.  We are keeping the heat lamp thermostat where it is at this week, and then next week we will turn it down a little.  It has been so cold here in Ohio, I want them to stay healthy!    

People talk about chicken poop stinking.  So far, we have not had an odor at all from the chicks.  I know they will be getting a lot bigger, and therefore, their poop will get bigger and smellier, but I think that if we keep their area clean, it wont be a problem.  I cleaned the paper shavings out after the 6th day because I was getting worried about it being too dirty in the area.  I have provided fresh bedding and turned the bedding nearly every day, but I didn’t want the bedding to get too dirty.  There was absolutely no foul odor.  I am even wondering if I should put the paper shreddings in garden because I don’t think it has enough chicken poop on it to do anything.  I will probably still do it, because it will eventually decompose and make the soil richer and keep the water in the soil.

The feathers on their wings are turning white, which makes me wonder what these little birdies will look like grown up.  I kind of had my heart set on brown eggs, but we may end up getting white eggs from these little peepers.  Only time will tell.

Todd has a book from the library on chicken coops.  He is sketching out what he wants to build, and hopefully that will be done by the time the chicks are a month old. 

Raising chicks thus far has been super-simple (except for the first 36 hours)!  I would highly recommend it.  I think that every child should witness first-hand how fast they grow, how to handle them, and to see where eggs come from! The first few days, the chicks were a little too fragile for the little ones to hold, but now, the chicks seem strong and healthy.  Maybe that is because I treated them so delicately because I was afraid of hurting them.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few updated pictures of the chicks:  


There are approximately 15 blogs that I follow regularly. I enjoy reading them, but at times, they make me feel bad about not only myself but our home life.  Am I the only one who gets annoyed with blogs that are ALWAYS so upbeat?  I wonder if these particular people EVER have a bad day.  Do you EVER trip over your own two feet and fall flat on your face like I do?  Does your house EVER have ANYTHING out of place?  Do you ever cry? Worse yet, do you ever bawl?  Do you ever get mad?  Are there times that you cant stand being in the same room as your husband?

I will tell you flat out, I am nowhere near perfect.  I know that no one is.  But there are people who show the world through their websites or blogs that they do no wrong.  They feel no sense of pain or disappointment.  To me, that’s not real life.  At least, that’s not MY real life. 

I have friends from high school that I have reconnected with through Facebook.  They were not necessarily my best friends but people I enjoyed being with and going out with. I usually hung out with two of my friends, Rachel and Tina.  I always felt like the ugly duckling in the group.  They were (still are) so beautiful, wore all the best clothes, were very popular, thin, had boyfriends, etc.  There was a sweet gal named Brenda that signed up with us three to do kickboxing every week.  Rachel’s boyfriend (so handsome!) was the U.S. Champ in kickboxing, and we trained with him as our leader (among a group of 10 other people.)  We would take my big beast of a vehicle at the time (because we could all fit into the ’79 Ford LTD) and beat each other up for an hour a week.  We had great times working out together, and fun afterwards going out for ice cream and just chatting. 

I reconnected with Brenda on Facebook back in 2009, 10 years after graduating from High School.  We started talking about life and what we’ve been up to, and she said something along the lines that out of us “3 Musketeers” (as we were called), I was her favorite.  She said she never felt like she had to hide anything from me.  She said that she could open up to me because she knew I could relate to her so much better than the other two ever could, and that I was more REAL than my other two friends.  Oh, and did I mention that I can keep a secret with the best of ‘em?

My friend here at work (who is in her mid-50’s,) has told me more about her life than she’s told her best friend of nearly 40 years.  I know her deepest, darkest secrets that her best friend doesn’t even know about.  I am honored that she trusted me with them.

Oy! I’m getting side-tracked (on how perfect I am. LOL!) My point is that I am NOT perfect.  However, I am open-minded.  I am willing to talk about what I go through daily.  Whether it’s about my sex life (or lack thereof,) the awful pimple I have on my nose, the bad breath I wake up with in the mornings.  I fail sometimes but I am OK with picking myself up, kicking myself in the butt, laughing it off and trying again.  My marriage is sometimes rocky. I am f-a-t. I suffer from anxiety and depression.  I have a short fuse. I am not ashamed to tell you, the reader, about any of this.  I PRIDE MYSELF ON BEING REAL!  This is ME.  The good, the bad and the ugly!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Time to Start Car Shopping!!

This past week, something went wrong with Bianca.  Her front headlight went out.  So…I guess it’s time to start car shopping again.  All these “expenses” are just too much to handle.  She’s 4 ½ years old and she’s had new brakes, new tires and now headlights.  She’s breaking the bank.

In all seriousness, we are NOT car shopping.  I just think it’s funny that when one or two minor MAINTENANCE things go wrong, people start talking about looking for a new vehicle.  NOT US!  I still want to see her hit 250,000+ miles.  Right now, we are on 119,000.  Only 131,000 more to go!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saving Money on Vacations

When Squiggy was extremely sick, I told Todd that we needed to get away when the pigster was better, just the two of us.  We didn’t expect Squiggy would pass on us after three weeks of trying to nurse him back to health.

We tend to go away in May every year for our anniversary.  May is the time when we are completely sick of Ohio weather, and need to go someplace and forget about everything we are dealing with.

I wanted to go do something with Todd this month, and we may, but we are not able to make a long journey due to our schedules at work and meetings I have to attend.  I may take a Friday or Monday off that Todd has off, and we may go to Amish Country where we got married in 2007. 

At this point, we are looking for an extended weekend vacation.  I was thinking about someplace warmer than NorthEast Ohio, but not too far away so that we don’t have to spend the week.  Todd and I really enjoy forests, rocks, and scenery.  I noticed that there was the Monongahela National Forest within 4 hours driving distance from where we live in Elkins, WV.

I then went to my go-to place to look for affordable cabins in the area. We have stayed at two different cabins from this website and had nothing but great experiences.  One was on top of a mountain in Gatlinburg, TN.  The other was a week in Lancaster, PA in a cottage that a Mennonite family owned, right in the middle of Amish country.  I smile just thinking about the horse and buggy that went by daily, the fresh milk, eggs, yogurt and granola and the cows that would look through the windows from across the street. We want to go there again, we had such a great time (and we generally have a rule that we don’t want to go anywhere twice; we want to experience NEW things together.)

Since Squiggy has passed, Todd has latched on to Lana. I’m not saying that he didn’t love Lana before, but he is really attached to her now. He wants to take her everywhere with us all of a sudden whereas before, he wanted her to stay with Squiggy. After all, we got her to be Squiggy’s companion.  That being said, he wants to take Lana with us on vacation.

We had a pig-sitter for when we went away when we had Squiggy.  My mom gave us Squiggy within months of marriage, so everyplace we went, we had to schedule the sitter.  It wasn’t cheap either.  We had her come twice a day to feed and play with Squiggy.  She loved Squiggy, and Squiggy loved her.* 

Now that we have a mobile animal we can take with us, I started looking at cabins that are pet-friendly.  I found one that is on 46 acres of secluded woods, has a fenced in back yard AND has a large crate for when we are out of the cabin.  How perfect is that?  The price of the cabin is not bad either, $111/night after tax.  The cabin has 3 bedrooms, a large porch, a hot tub, grill, all utensils, bedding, etc.  We need to arrive with clothes and Lana.

I’m not sure why I started looking at cabins instead of hotels, but let me tell you, even though we are paying just a LITTLE BIT more per night for the cabin, we have the cabin all to ourselves.  We have all the amenities that we would have at home (plus a hot tub which is a treat for us.)  We don’t have to pack as many clothes because we can wash them in the washer and dryer at the facility.  We prepare our meals at the cabin, saving us money!  If we go out to eat, it is usually for lunch, which is at a lower rate. And now, with taking Lana, we are saving $13/day on the cost of a kennel.  Also, on a trip like this, we will most likely do a lot of hiking (with Lana,) which means we may be having a sandwich for lunch at a park.  Many of the activities are free, including museums and trails.  Not to mention historical towns (I love old towns and antique stores!) 

There is ONE frivolous thing I am looking into doing while on this trip, and that is a train ride.  When Todd and I were on our honeymoon, we went on a train ride through the Yukon Territory while we were in Alaska.  We had a blast, and every trip we go on, it seems we go on some sort of train ride.  We may do so in the Monongahela National Forest, or we may just cheap out and skip the ride this time around.  We’ll see. ((Side Note: I asked Todd about the train and he said he'd prefer to save the money and just hike on trails.))

All I know is that it is always fun to experience new things, take in the sights, and enjoy our time together. 

What do you do to save on vacations?

*It may sound as if Squiggy was a pain, he wasn’t.  He just wasn’t mobile.  If we had to pay a sitter triple every time we went away, I would…just to have him back again.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Master Bedroom

I noticed that I hadnt posted anything on one room of the house that we use quite a bit, the Master Bedroom.  I love it in the Master Bedroom.  This was one of the FIRST rooms that was completed when we moved into the house.  It had some major structural damage (the floor sloped downward a good 5 inches,) but Todd fixed it.  I dont call him Super-Todd for nothing!

Not only that, this room is our safe haven.  We have many talks lying in bed, many laughs, and just good times (wink - wink.) 

Most of the furniture in this room is Todd's, except for the armoires.  It is amazing the same taste we have in furniture (and colors.)  I'm sure you notice that all of our rooms are painted the same color, and we have alot of browns and maroons, but those are the colors we like.  It is calm and relaxing to us.  There is ONE thing we bought together in this room just a few years ago, and that is a brand new mattress.  His was about 10 years old and in pretty rough shape.  We decided that we spend so much time in bed, that we would purchase a GOOD mattress that will last us a long time.  And that is exactly what we did.  We paid nearly $2,000 for the mattress and 2 pillows (amazing foam pillows) from a place that makes them locally.   It was quite a bit of money, but let me tell you, since day 1, we have slept like babies on this mattress.  Plus, we dont plan on needing a new one for a very long time.

At any rate, here are the pictures:

Book Reviews for Publishers

I have been doing book reviews by different publishers over the last several months.  I think I am going to go on hiatus.  It has gotten to the point that I feel I HAVE to read books in a timely manner and it has gotten a bit stressful. 

For me, there are times that all I want to do is read.  Other times, I could go a month without opening a book.  I am entering the month without wanting to even PICK UP a book.  So for now, I think I am putting the book review process on the back burner.  I have the list of books that I wanted to read this year for myself, and I think I will do that.  I have one more book to read and review, but after that, they will be books that I want to read.

Anyone else feel this way sometimes that reviews books for the publishers?

Book Review: What's He REALLY Thinking? by Paula Rinehart

What He’s REALLY Thinking? By Paula Rinehart is a book that proves how different men really are from women, but also that we were created this way.   Rinehart is a counselor and therapist who has been able to sit back and observe men and how they deal with certain topics and struggles, not to mention live with them (her husband and son.)  Rinehart was able to put into words for us women to understand the men in our lives and how we can lovingly co-exist with one another while minimizing conflict and/or misunderstanding. 

Paula Rinehart covers topics such as how men thing, how they communicate, deal with conflict, seek respect from others as well as their wives along with the one big one… SEX!  Why in the world do they want sex all of the time?  Rinehart covers this topic in a manner that is easy to understand and explains why men are such sexual beings.  She also covers how men deal with issues by doing instead of just talking about it.

The book was a good book, and a reference for women to help understand the men in their lives.                

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.