jennythereader: (Skif)
The idiot twins have no idea how close we are to not being able to put up with them any more.

Last night they peed outside of the box two times. The first was on the floor between the bed and the box. I discovered it when I stepped in it while I was getting ready for bed. The second time was even more blatent. I woke up at 4:30am, and saw one of the boys peeing on the bed between Tom & I. Between the dark and my lack of glasses I have no idea which one it was.

The peeing has been a problem ever since we moved into this house, and we are out of ideas for dealing with it.

This is what we've done:

- Behavioral stuff:
-- they're on prozac
-- they stay in Tom's & my bedroom, so they don't have to deal with Kailey's cat Socks or the dogs that Kailey grooms at home
-- everything they hit gets cleaned with with Nature's Miracle and/or vinegar
-- recently started treating hit spots with No-Mark
-- the box gets scooped at least every other day

- Medical stuff (they've both been diagnosed with crystals in their urine at various times, Skif has been diagnosed with and treated for a urinary tract infection):
-- they only eat the special food the vet recommends to prevent crystals
-- they get fresh water every day

Does anybody have any ideas for other things to try? I'll be calling the vet today to make an appointment to check if the urinary tract problems are back. The two ideas I plan on asking the vet about are adding wet food to their diet and switching them to distilled water.
jennythereader: (Skif)
The idiot twins have no idea how close we are to not being able to put up with them any more.

Last night they peed outside of the box two times. The first was on the floor between the bed and the box. I discovered it when I stepped in it while I was getting ready for bed. The second time was even more blatent. I woke up at 4:30am, and saw one of the boys peeing on the bed between Tom & I. Between the dark and my lack of glasses I have no idea which one it was.

The peeing has been a problem ever since we moved into this house, and we are out of ideas for dealing with it.

This is what we've done:

- Behavioral stuff:
-- they're on prozac
-- they stay in Tom's & my bedroom, so they don't have to deal with Kailey's cat Socks or the dogs that Kailey grooms at home
-- everything they hit gets cleaned with with Nature's Miracle and/or vinegar
-- recently started treating hit spots with No-Mark
-- the box gets scooped at least every other day

- Medical stuff (they've both been diagnosed with crystals in their urine at various times, Skif has been diagnosed with and treated for a urinary tract infection):
-- they only eat the special food the vet recommends to prevent crystals
-- they get fresh water every day

Does anybody have any ideas for other things to try? I'll be calling the vet today to make an appointment to check if the urinary tract problems are back. The two ideas I plan on asking the vet about are adding wet food to their diet and switching them to distilled water.
jennythereader: (Default)
Given that we're actually starting to take baby steps towards homeownership, I decided that I should actually write down some of my thoughts and the things I want to do once I have land to do them on. Some of these are realistic, while others are pipedreams or things that will take a couple of decades to pay off.

- As soon as possible after we move in, I want to build a dozen raised garden beds. I think 1 yard by 2 yards will be the optimum size for me, but I still need to figure out how high to make them. I'll start planting in one or two of them right away if it's the right time of year, and the rest I'll fill with scrap wood, brush, and soil for the hugelkultur method. I figure I'll add one or two beds to cultivation each year until I reach as many as I can handle.

- In the first round of planting I'm going with onions, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and maybe potatoes and hot peppers. Not sure what I'll add to later rounds.

- Stay organic. What's the point of growing my own food if it isn't going to be any better than what I can get at the store?

- Use local heirloom varieties whenever I can find them. Again, what's the point of growing my own food if it's no better than from the store or if it's not well suited to local conditions?

- I'd like to end up with 6 apple trees, 3 tart (pie) cherry trees, 3 sweet cherry trees, an edible crabapple tree, and a pear tree. This may take a few years.

- A strawberry bed.

- A grapevine.

- A raspberry/blackberry patch.

- I hate lawns that are cut so close to the ground that they look shaved. I like grass that's long enough to move when the wind blows.

- I'm also not fond of lawns that are solid blocks of green. I like multiple shades of green, and even some color.

- I'd like to make a mix of native grass seed, violet seeds, clover, and a few fragrent herbs, and use that to fill in any bare patches on the lawn. I'd have no objection if the entire lawn ended up being things that smell lovely.

- A few chickens

- I'd like to grow the majority of the vegetables we eat, using saved seeds as much as I can

- a peach tree or two. I know it will take more effort than the other trees I have listed.

- a fruit salad tree, but only if I do the grafting myself.

- a patio and fire-pit that are comfortable for large groups

- interesting sculpture in out of the way corners

- a milk goat

- a rose garden. All varieties choosen for 1)their hardiness, 2)how well suited their blossoms and hips are for making food or cosmetics, and 3)how fragrant they are.

I also have a yard and garden board over on pinterest.

This list will get edited and added to, and the individual items will get changed and expanded upon. Some things might even get deleted.
jennythereader: (Default)
Given that we're actually starting to take baby steps towards homeownership, I decided that I should actually write down some of my thoughts and the things I want to do once I have land to do them on. Some of these are realistic, while others are pipedreams or things that will take a couple of decades to pay off.

- As soon as possible after we move in, I want to build a dozen raised garden beds. I think 1 yard by 2 yards will be the optimum size for me, but I still need to figure out how high to make them. I'll start planting in one or two of them right away if it's the right time of year, and the rest I'll fill with scrap wood, brush, and soil for the hugelkultur method. I figure I'll add one or two beds to cultivation each year until I reach as many as I can handle.

- In the first round of planting I'm going with onions, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and maybe potatoes and hot peppers. Not sure what I'll add to later rounds.

- Stay organic. What's the point of growing my own food if it isn't going to be any better than what I can get at the store?

- Use local heirloom varieties whenever I can find them. Again, what's the point of growing my own food if it's no better than from the store or if it's not well suited to local conditions?

- I'd like to end up with 6 apple trees, 3 tart (pie) cherry trees, 3 sweet cherry trees, an edible crabapple tree, and a pear tree. This may take a few years.

- A strawberry bed.

- A grapevine.

- A raspberry/blackberry patch.

- I hate lawns that are cut so close to the ground that they look shaved. I like grass that's long enough to move when the wind blows.

- I'm also not fond of lawns that are solid blocks of green. I like multiple shades of green, and even some color.

- I'd like to make a mix of native grass seed, violet seeds, clover, and a few fragrent herbs, and use that to fill in any bare patches on the lawn. I'd have no objection if the entire lawn ended up being things that smell lovely.

- A few chickens

- I'd like to grow the majority of the vegetables we eat, using saved seeds as much as I can

- a peach tree or two. I know it will take more effort than the other trees I have listed.

- a fruit salad tree, but only if I do the grafting myself.

- a patio and fire-pit that are comfortable for large groups

- interesting sculpture in out of the way corners

- a milk goat

- a rose garden. All varieties choosen for 1)their hardiness, 2)how well suited their blossoms and hips are for making food or cosmetics, and 3)how fragrant they are.

I also have a yard and garden board over on pinterest.

This list will get edited and added to, and the individual items will get changed and expanded upon. Some things might even get deleted.
jennythereader: (Opal *)
I remember Mom making this all the time when I was little, but I don't think I've had it since she moved to New York. This was definitely my first attempt making it.

The recipe as Mom gave it to me is in bold print, with changes that I made this time in regular print after the original. Any changes for next time will be after the instructions.

Chicken & Yellow Rice
  • 1 fryer, cut up I couldn't find anything labled a "fryer" at the store, so I used a "Grade A Chicken, split." It was 3.9 lbs.
  • 1/3 cup margarine I used butter, and rounded down to 5 TBSP (since 1/3 of a cup is a pain to cut from a stick)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder I used a heaping 1/2 teaspoon. There's no such thing as too much garlic.
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt I used seasoned salt.
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper I didn't measure this, just shook it generously over the dish.
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2.5 cups boiling water I used a pint of my homemade stock, and enough water to complete the measure.

Brown chicken in margarine. Place in a shallow 2 qt casserole dish. Sprinkle rice & spices over chicken. Mix the water with the pan juices & pour over chicken. Cover & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

********************
Notes for next time:
  • That chicken was not the right choice. The amount was OK, but I don't remember that many small bones when Mom used to make it. I'm not sure what I should have used instead.
  • Some of the rice was underdone. I think if I had used the right size casserole dish (I used a 3 qt dish) it would have worked better. Either that or more stock/water. Or maybe both.
jennythereader: (Opal *)
I remember Mom making this all the time when I was little, but I don't think I've had it since she moved to New York. This was definitely my first attempt making it.

The recipe as Mom gave it to me is in bold print, with changes that I made this time in regular print after the original. Any changes for next time will be after the instructions.

Chicken & Yellow Rice
  • 1 fryer, cut up I couldn't find anything labled a "fryer" at the store, so I used a "Grade A Chicken, split." It was 3.9 lbs.
  • 1/3 cup margarine I used butter, and rounded down to 5 TBSP (since 1/3 of a cup is a pain to cut from a stick)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder I used a heaping 1/2 teaspoon. There's no such thing as too much garlic.
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt I used seasoned salt.
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper I didn't measure this, just shook it generously over the dish.
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2.5 cups boiling water I used a pint of my homemade stock, and enough water to complete the measure.

Brown chicken in margarine. Place in a shallow 2 qt casserole dish. Sprinkle rice & spices over chicken. Mix the water with the pan juices & pour over chicken. Cover & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

********************
Notes for next time:
  • That chicken was not the right choice. The amount was OK, but I don't remember that many small bones when Mom used to make it. I'm not sure what I should have used instead.
  • Some of the rice was underdone. I think if I had used the right size casserole dish (I used a 3 qt dish) it would have worked better. Either that or more stock/water. Or maybe both.
jennythereader: (Bunny: I Can't Believe It)
My personal preference is for multi-floor homes. It's primarily an aesthetic preference, but I also think they do a better job keeping the public & private parts of the home separate and keeping noise away from the bedrooms.

Single floor homes also have their advantages. With my knees, being able to do everything without climbing stairs will make life easier in the long run. I do like the look of Arts and Crafts style homes, and I could hold my nose and live with a Ranch (even though I think most ranch-style homes have all the personality of a shoebox).

What I can't live with, and what we specifically told the realtor we aren't interested in, is a split-level. It combines all the inconveniences of a multi-level home with blandness of a Ranch.

So of course she included several split-levels in the list she sent us. *face palm*
jennythereader: (Bunny: I Can't Believe It)
My personal preference is for multi-floor homes. It's primarily an aesthetic preference, but I also think they do a better job keeping the public & private parts of the home separate and keeping noise away from the bedrooms.

Single floor homes also have their advantages. With my knees, being able to do everything without climbing stairs will make life easier in the long run. I do like the look of Arts and Crafts style homes, and I could hold my nose and live with a Ranch (even though I think most ranch-style homes have all the personality of a shoebox).

What I can't live with, and what we specifically told the realtor we aren't interested in, is a split-level. It combines all the inconveniences of a multi-level home with blandness of a Ranch.

So of course she included several split-levels in the list she sent us. *face palm*
jennythereader: (A Classic is a Book that has never finis)
For some reason I've been thinking a lot lately about one of the major messages from Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women and its sequels. The message is basically that you need to find a balance in life between work and play, and it's most clearly expressed in Chapter 11 - Experiments. Here's what I see as the money quote, from the very end of the chapter: "Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success".

I feel like I'm not doing a very good job finding that balance. I get my eight hours of paid work in everyday, but it doesn't feel particularly useful. In theory I'm making a difference to people's lives, but that difference is so abstracted from what I do that it's hard to see. I put in another hour or two of work at home making dinner most evenings, and try to do some other random chores around the house then too, but I'm so drained by my unsatifying day job that all I want to do when I get home is collapse. So most days when I'm done with work and chores that's all I do. I plop myself in front of my computer and proceed to not accomplish anything for 3 or 4 hours. I'm not knitting, I'm not writing, I'm not embroidering, I'm not crafting, I'm not even playing Sims. I'm just bouncing from website to website, reading a little then moving on.

One of the few websites that has really been speaking to me is Down To Earth. Rhonda blogs about homemaking as her vocation, and makes it sound appealing in a lot of ways. There's definitely a significant part of me that would like to go that route. It seems like the days I feel most accomplished are the ones that I spend going back and forth between household projects and personal ones. I go to bed at the end of a day like that and I'm both physically and mentally tired, but feel satisfied, not drained.

I don't know... I said these weren't very articulate thoughts. :)
jennythereader: (A Classic is a Book that has never finis)
For some reason I've been thinking a lot lately about one of the major messages from Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women and its sequels. The message is basically that you need to find a balance in life between work and play, and it's most clearly expressed in Chapter 11 - Experiments. Here's what I see as the money quote, from the very end of the chapter: "Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success".

I feel like I'm not doing a very good job finding that balance. I get my eight hours of paid work in everyday, but it doesn't feel particularly useful. In theory I'm making a difference to people's lives, but that difference is so abstracted from what I do that it's hard to see. I put in another hour or two of work at home making dinner most evenings, and try to do some other random chores around the house then too, but I'm so drained by my unsatifying day job that all I want to do when I get home is collapse. So most days when I'm done with work and chores that's all I do. I plop myself in front of my computer and proceed to not accomplish anything for 3 or 4 hours. I'm not knitting, I'm not writing, I'm not embroidering, I'm not crafting, I'm not even playing Sims. I'm just bouncing from website to website, reading a little then moving on.

One of the few websites that has really been speaking to me is Down To Earth. Rhonda blogs about homemaking as her vocation, and makes it sound appealing in a lot of ways. There's definitely a significant part of me that would like to go that route. It seems like the days I feel most accomplished are the ones that I spend going back and forth between household projects and personal ones. I go to bed at the end of a day like that and I'm both physically and mentally tired, but feel satisfied, not drained.

I don't know... I said these weren't very articulate thoughts. :)
jennythereader: (Bear: Testing The Waters)
Buying the groceries, and doing most of the cooking, is my major contribution to the household.

I've been planning the menu out a week or so ahead of time, then going grocery shopping based on what I decided to make. The problem with this system is that I was spending more than I wanted to, especially on meat.

So what I've been trying to do the last few weeks is choose recipes based on what I already have in the house. My rule is that I try not to buy more than one ingredient per recipe, unless it's replenishing a staple that I like to have on hand all the time.

Once I get to the grocery store I go down the list and get all the specified stuff, and then wander over to the meat department. And that's where I get lost. See, my idea is to spend $10-20 on the best deal. But how do I decide what the best deal is? Are chicken drumsticks at $1.69/lb a better buy than boneless breasts at $2.19/lb? More of the breast is meat, but I can use the bones from the drumsticks to make stock. And what about other types of meat completely? Ground beef at $1.99/lb? Pork chops at $2.99/lb?

Any suggestions for how I can figure this out?
jennythereader: (Bear: Testing The Waters)
Buying the groceries, and doing most of the cooking, is my major contribution to the household.

I've been planning the menu out a week or so ahead of time, then going grocery shopping based on what I decided to make. The problem with this system is that I was spending more than I wanted to, especially on meat.

So what I've been trying to do the last few weeks is choose recipes based on what I already have in the house. My rule is that I try not to buy more than one ingredient per recipe, unless it's replenishing a staple that I like to have on hand all the time.

Once I get to the grocery store I go down the list and get all the specified stuff, and then wander over to the meat department. And that's where I get lost. See, my idea is to spend $10-20 on the best deal. But how do I decide what the best deal is? Are chicken drumsticks at $1.69/lb a better buy than boneless breasts at $2.19/lb? More of the breast is meat, but I can use the bones from the drumsticks to make stock. And what about other types of meat completely? Ground beef at $1.99/lb? Pork chops at $2.99/lb?

Any suggestions for how I can figure this out?
jennythereader: (Default)
I have tomorrow off from work. I did not ask for the day off, and resent being told I have to use vacation time for it. As much as I dislike "use it or lose it" policies, I think it would annoy me less than this policy of "some people are letting too much vacation time accumulate, so everybody has to use two days worth on days that we choose."

Anyway.

My to do list for tomorrow is:
- Take Skif to the vet. He's due for some shots and a general checkup.
- Go jeans shopping. I had one pair die on me last weekend, and another is getting pretty worn out, so I need at least one new pair
- Get a haircut. My ends are looking pretty ragged, so I'm going to get an inch or two cut off.
- Get a manicure. (Second most likely to get dropped if time is short.)
- Grocery shopping. It's always a readjustment when the farm share ends and I have to start buying vegetables again.
- Finish the [livejournal.com profile] 2xcreative project (part 1). I just need to draw in the tree trunk on one side of the paper, and then do the embroidery.
- Pick a project or recipe from my pinterest boards and do it. (This is the one most likely to get skipped if I run out of time.)
- Make dinner
jennythereader: (Default)
I have tomorrow off from work. I did not ask for the day off, and resent being told I have to use vacation time for it. As much as I dislike "use it or lose it" policies, I think it would annoy me less than this policy of "some people are letting too much vacation time accumulate, so everybody has to use two days worth on days that we choose."

Anyway.

My to do list for tomorrow is:
- Take Skif to the vet. He's due for some shots and a general checkup.
- Go jeans shopping. I had one pair die on me last weekend, and another is getting pretty worn out, so I need at least one new pair
- Get a haircut. My ends are looking pretty ragged, so I'm going to get an inch or two cut off.
- Get a manicure. (Second most likely to get dropped if time is short.)
- Grocery shopping. It's always a readjustment when the farm share ends and I have to start buying vegetables again.
- Finish the [livejournal.com profile] 2xcreative project (part 1). I just need to draw in the tree trunk on one side of the paper, and then do the embroidery.
- Pick a project or recipe from my pinterest boards and do it. (This is the one most likely to get skipped if I run out of time.)
- Make dinner
jennythereader: (Blue Fractal)
I just did the math for how much money I saved last weekend by making my own chicken stock.

I made 6.75 quarts. My local grocery store sells low sodium, organic chicken stock for $3.99 a quart. That means that right now I have $26.93 worth of stock in the freezer. Maybe a little less, because while all the vegetables I used were organic, the chicken wasn't. Let's call it $25.00 even.

How much did it cost me to make?

Nothing.

Or at least, nothing more than I would have spent anyway in the course of a couple of weeks. Every major ingredient in that stock was something that a few years ago I would have thrown away. The meat and bones were the carcass of a chicken I had roasted earlier in the week. After we had dinner that night, we pulled all the meat we could off of it, and then stashed what was left in the freezer. The vegetables were things like carrot tops, celery leaves, slightly mushy leeks, and other things that I wasn't going to use in any other recipe. The only other ingredients were water, a little salt, a little apple cider vinegar, and some peppercorns.

Added: I maybe spent $5.00 on those additional ingredients. Probably less, but it might have been that much. That's at least $20 less than it would have cost me to buy the same amount of stock. That doesn't sound like much, but if I make the same amount every couple of months it will save me at least $100 over the course of a year.

I'd like to do the same sort of analysis for my homemade applesauce, but I didn't do as good a job tracking how much I made, and I didn't track how many apples I used for it at all. I suspect the savings aren't as dramatic as for the stock. /Added

I started with the stock instructions posted by [livejournal.com profile] meilin_miranda over in the BPAL forums a long time ago and adapted and changed to suit my taste. I've already started filling up the giant ziploc bag in the freezer for the next round.
jennythereader: (Blue Fractal)
I just did the math for how much money I saved last weekend by making my own chicken stock.

I made 6.75 quarts. My local grocery store sells low sodium, organic chicken stock for $3.99 a quart. That means that right now I have $26.93 worth of stock in the freezer. Maybe a little less, because while all the vegetables I used were organic, the chicken wasn't. Let's call it $25.00 even.

How much did it cost me to make?

Nothing.

Or at least, nothing more than I would have spent anyway in the course of a couple of weeks. Every major ingredient in that stock was something that a few years ago I would have thrown away. The meat and bones were the carcass of a chicken I had roasted earlier in the week. After we had dinner that night, we pulled all the meat we could off of it, and then stashed what was left in the freezer. The vegetables were things like carrot tops, celery leaves, slightly mushy leeks, and other things that I wasn't going to use in any other recipe. The only other ingredients were water, a little salt, a little apple cider vinegar, and some peppercorns.

Added: I maybe spent $5.00 on those additional ingredients. Probably less, but it might have been that much. That's at least $20 less than it would have cost me to buy the same amount of stock. That doesn't sound like much, but if I make the same amount every couple of months it will save me at least $100 over the course of a year.

I'd like to do the same sort of analysis for my homemade applesauce, but I didn't do as good a job tracking how much I made, and I didn't track how many apples I used for it at all. I suspect the savings aren't as dramatic as for the stock. /Added

I started with the stock instructions posted by [livejournal.com profile] meilin_miranda over in the BPAL forums a long time ago and adapted and changed to suit my taste. I've already started filling up the giant ziploc bag in the freezer for the next round.
jennythereader: (* Cross-Stitched Dragon *)
For the first time in a long time, I don't have any major plans for the weekend. I'll be working on getting boxes unpacked and generally making the place more livable, and I have some stuff Saturday evening, but I don't have any all day commitments!

That means I'll have time to be crafty. I've been using Pinterest to bookmark lots of recipes and tutorials, and now I want to actually do some of them. That's where you, my friends, come in.

Help me choose something from my Project Ideas list, and something from my Edible Projects list. There's also the Green Living list.

And if you want an invite to Pinterest, let me know.
jennythereader: (* Cross-Stitched Dragon *)
For the first time in a long time, I don't have any major plans for the weekend. I'll be working on getting boxes unpacked and generally making the place more livable, and I have some stuff Saturday evening, but I don't have any all day commitments!

That means I'll have time to be crafty. I've been using Pinterest to bookmark lots of recipes and tutorials, and now I want to actually do some of them. That's where you, my friends, come in.

Help me choose something from my Project Ideas list, and something from my Edible Projects list. There's also the Green Living list.

And if you want an invite to Pinterest, let me know.
jennythereader: (Default)
A food plan, that is.

Since I get my CSA box on Wednesdays, that's when the food week starts for me.

Wednesday: Stir-fry or pasta, whichever the veggies in the box seem more suited to.
Thursday: dinner out
Friday: an old favorite recipe
Saturday: Try something new
Sunday: Make a triple (or bigger) batch of something to freeze
Monday: another old favorite
Tuesday: Leftovers

Each week I'll try to plan exact recipes in advance, but this is flexible enough that I think I can stick with it.
jennythereader: (Default)
A food plan, that is.

Since I get my CSA box on Wednesdays, that's when the food week starts for me.

Wednesday: Stir-fry or pasta, whichever the veggies in the box seem more suited to.
Thursday: dinner out
Friday: an old favorite recipe
Saturday: Try something new
Sunday: Make a triple (or bigger) batch of something to freeze
Monday: another old favorite
Tuesday: Leftovers

Each week I'll try to plan exact recipes in advance, but this is flexible enough that I think I can stick with it.

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