Monday, January 28, 2008

Depressing Day

In October, our dog Casey had surgery to fix a congenital hip problem. It was a really expensive surgery ($3000) but he's only four years old, we knew that the surgery would help him have a more normal life. Healing has been going great, no problems.

Over the past 2 weeks, he has developed this spot on his front leg. At first we thought it was just a sore, and he kept licking it and making it worse. It was about the size of a dime, red and irritated. When I took him to his final orthopedic vet appointment on the 9th, she said it looked like a hot spot and gave me prednisone and antibiotics to clear it up. It looked like it was working for about the first three days. Spot seemed to get smaller, got a scab over it, yay.

Then it started getting bigger, broke open and started just wasn't looking any better at all. So I took him to the vet here in town last Friday and she said it looks like a growth and he needed surgery.

Today, he had surgery to remove the growth. Vet called a little while ago and said that she wasn't sure without lab work, but it looked like a mast cell tumor to her.

My husband isn't as sentimental as I am. He says that if it's cancer, he doesn't want to treat it. We have already spent so much money on this dog (today's surgery and stuff cost around $700) that he just doesn't want to spend any more.

If you've read this far...please pray for our little guy. Pray that the lab results come back as benign and we can just go on with life. It truly seems like it is just one thing after another here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

This and That

Links from some of the blogs I read:

Baking Bites has some recipes for Girl Scout cookie copycats. I know that $4 a box is a little steep, but consider buying a box and then making her recipes when your cookies run out. By the way, all Girl Scout cookies are now Trans Fat Free. (Can you tell my daughter is a Girl Scout?)

TV Guide has daily updates and profiles on the Lost characters, to prep you for the season premiere next Thursday.

TV BigShot is a very silly pastime of mine. I have had a TV Network all year and I get to spend pretend money and make money when my shows do well in the ratings. My current rank is 747th out of 30,378 networks, so I'm not doing too horribly!

Freebies 4 Mom has excellent freebies, every day of the week.

I guess that's all for tonight, the family wants me to come cuddle!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So many things

Swimming around in my head, but no time to post. It has been a busy week and no end appears in sight.

Random thoughts:

I won't be watching the SAG awards. I refuse to pay homage to overpaid stars giving themselves pats on the back WITH the blessing of the WGA. If they can't write my TV shows (LOST) then I won't be watching their little love-fest.

Washington state governor race: Last night I had the opportunity to hear Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for governor. I am very impressed by his platform and will definitely be putting the word out in various ways to make sure he actually gets to keep the governorship this time.

Girl Scout Cookies--It's cookie sale time. Part of why I'm so busy right now is because I'm ferrying Grace the cookie seller extraordinaire around from place to place so she can look cute and sell many boxes just for that reason.

Anyway, I am reading up a storm and trying to get all of my ducks in a row for women's retreat sign-ups, which start this Sunday. If I can keep all of the balls in the air that I have up right now, it will be a miracle (is this paragraph filled with enough cliches?)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This and That Links

An interesting post over at Gather Little by Little--Kiss Your Debt Goodbye Lots of good information and inspiration to get out of debt.

Extremely interesting class action suit for anyone who has purchased a diamond in the past 14 years at Punny --I hope this doesn't turn out to be a hoax! I checked it out at Snopes and I don't see anything, and it's posted all over the web at different consumer sites. So my best guess is that it's legit. Let me know if you find out anything different.

How to Treat your Valentine from Families Northwest . Really excellent advice here! I especially liked the lists at the bottom of the 10 things women find romantic and the 5 things men find romantic. The men's list is only 5 due to this disclaimer "This is the edited list for men of non-sexual entries. The actual number one submission for most romantic from the guys involved some kind of sexual encounter initiated by their wives. I should have known. Nearly every man also mentioned food in some way.)"

That's all for today!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Defense of Food

My review of this book has posted. It's great to start the year off (actually, I ended the year with this book) with such a fascinating book. Its message is simple: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Yet to achieve this seems beyond most people.

I had the most interesting conversation yesterday with some women while watching the Seahawks (sob) game. I am right in the middle of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which I can say without exaggerating is changing my life. We were already on the bandwagon with eating more local foods, more vegetables, but this book is solidifying and giving me reasons to do what we're doing.

Back to In Defense of Food --the main thing I came away with is the astounding history of food lobbying and legislation in the US, as well as the increasing dependence on soy and corn for things other than strictly soy or corn as food.

Read it--you'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wish Lists

I've been tagged by Jessie so here I go to answer the questions:

1. Write two wish lists of five items each--one material wish list, and one spiritual.
2. Tag 5 people to complete this as well, and comment in their blogs to let them know

Material Wish List

1. A house with property so that I can have a big garden and raise some chickens.
2. Someone to clean my house once a week--the icky jobs like mopping and deep cleaning the bathrooms
3. Any of the 500+ items on my Amazon Wish List
4. A 2008 Toyota Hilander Hybrid (a girl's gotta dream, right?)
5. A laptop of my very own

Spiritual Wish List
1. A bright and cheery spirit at 5:30 am that allows me to get up and complete my devotion and prayer time without falling asleep
2. A group of friends to meet with and pray weekly about our deeper needs
3. An attitude of prayer about everything throughout my day
4. Family devotion time
5.To finish what I start when it comes to devotional/study materials. I'm getting ready to start Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be...and I want to finish it!

Off to tag:
Flip Flop Mom

What is a CSA?

I have had a couple of comments asking about the CSA, so I thought I'd address that here. A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. What you do is buy a share in a farm--you pay a certain subscription fee in advance, and then you reap the benefits with a bag/basket/whatever of food each week from the farmer.

Our farmer is known as Farmer Susie. She has a farm we first joined last May, and all last summer/fall we picked up our weekly bag of veggies at the Farmer's Market. We were introduced to the joys of so many different greens and different vegetables that we either hadn't tried, hadn't eaten in a long time, or would just never have thought to purchase and experiment with.

It's the best way for us to get local, organic (although not certified, but who really cares) vegetables. The tomatoes were heavenly, Farmer Susie makes delectable garlic basil salad dressing, and I discovered something new--garlic scapes!

I'm a true garlic scape lover, and this year I will make as much garlic scape pesto as I can before they are out of season. I still have a little bit hoarded in the freezer for February or March when I am dying for something summer-fresh.

It has been an incredible experience for us, and my children are being quite adventurous. My son will eat just about anything if I put goat cheese in or on it, and my daughter adores anything made with fresh tomatoes.

To find a CSA near you, check out

Earning Things Through Surveys

I am a member of quite a few online survey sites, some where you earn points and the points translate to money, some where you earn money directly. Most of those send survey invitations and you answer one or two questions in order to see if you qualify to take a particular survey.

The one I have been a member of for the longest, where I get the best rewards, is Harris Poll. Even if you don't qualify to take the entire survey, you earn points each time you fill them out. You can earn between 10 points (for less than a minute) to 100 or more for complete surveys that take more time to answer. You then go to the points website and trade your points for different rewards--800 points gets you a $5 Starbucks card, etc.

I bought all of my teacher gifts with Harris Poll points this year. Each teacher got a $5 Starbucks card and they were very well received! Starbucks is one of the places (Unlike Olive Garden or Red Lobster) where $5 actually buys you something worthwhile.

I don't get any referral bonus for this, I just wanted to "share the wealth" as it were. Go sign up, you have nothing to lose.

You can see more money saving and making ideas here each Friday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Purple Potatoes, Oh My!

A couple of weeks ago, Farmer Susie included some potatoes in our CSA share. I put them in a paper bag and put them in the pantry, and then, like usual, promptly forgot about them.

Today I cooked roast chicken for dinner, and wanted to have potatoes with them, because that's what my family likes. So I remembered the CSA potatoes and started to peel them to cook for mashed potatoes. And oh my--they were purple! I thought at first that maybe they might be beets...but no, they look like potatoes on the outside. So I looked them up online and they are Peruvian potatoes, an heirloom variety.

I cooked them up and they were quite delicious. Once my son got over the fact that the mashed potatoes looked like purple frosting, but didn't taste like it, he ate quite a bit, as did everyone else.

Adventures in Vegetables!

Free Coffee Creamer

Here's a link to sign up for free coffee creamer. You can only do it once, but it's a great freebie!

Coffee Mate

Now, if they would only sell peppermint mocha at other times of the year...why is peppermint considered only a holiday flavor?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

DVD Review

My review of Reign Over Me has posted

Monday, January 07, 2008

Here's my first menu plan I've posted online. My goal was to plan my week's menus each Sunday so that I can have them ready for the week:

Monday: Uptown Down Home Chili (Rachael Ray 365) and cornbread

Tuesday: Parmesan Chicken

Wednesday: Beer Braised Pork Chops

Thursday: Roast Sticky Chicken

Friday: Homemade sausage pizza

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Win a Mixer!

A Cowboy’s Wife is having a contest on her food blog! You can win a Hamilton Beach® Stand Mixer and she’ll ship anywhere so everyone is eligible!

The Prize:
The winner will receive a brand new Hamilton Beach 4.5-qt. Eclectrics Stand Mixer, Pineapple Yellow!!
About the mixer:
From Hamilton Beach’s “Eclectrics” line, this all-metal stand mixer comes with a host of accessories - a Flat Beater for cakes and cookies, a Dough Hook for bread and a Wire Whisk for whipped cream or pudding. The 4.5-qt. stainless steel bowl comes with a Pouring Shield that helps prevent splattering while in operation. The pouring shield has a built-in chute for adding ingredients. Powered by 400 watts, the stand mixer has a two-way mixing action to ensure all ingredients are incorporated into the mix. The quick-release, tilt-up head assists when removing the bowl. 9 x 14 x 14-in. When you’re ready for a kitchen re-do, don’t call in the carpenters! Instead, “counterscape” your kitchen with Hamilton Beach’s retro-designed, affordably priced electrics in happy, sun-saturated colors. Their “Eclectrics” line includes updates to those classic appliances from the 1950s. All of their “Eclectrics” are available in six colors: Apple Green, Moroccan Red, Pineapple Yellow, Intrigue Blue, Sugar White and Licorice Black.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Goal Progress

I made some goals for 2008 and thought I'd update on the progress I have made this week. Bits and pieces of what has been going on around here:

1. Use each week's CSA vegetables creatively before the next week's veggies arrive--We had last week off due to Christmas, so I did have an opportunity to use some things. This week I have made a chicken pot pie using a bag of the stir fry veggies. Today I am making pork roast in the crock pot with parsnips, onions, and carrots that were getting on the verge of being bad. I pick up a new batch of veggies today, and although I haven't used up every single thing from the last time, I made a bigger dent than usual.

2. Check into a good source for a turkey for next Thanksgiving--I know, it seems a bit early to be thinking about this, but I realized that if I don't contact a farmer before he buys his chicks this spring, I might be out of luck. I found someone in the state that comes highly recommended, but I want to see if I can find someone a little closer.

3. Cook one new recipe each week--Today's pork pot roast comes from this month's issue of Cook's Country magazine. I had debated giving up this magazine subscription in order to be more frugal, but I realize that I cook from it tons more than Taste of Home, so I gave that one up instead.

4. Rely less on ready-made items--I must say this is going to be tougher on the kids than on me. The kids love chips, cup of noodles, chicken nuggets, etc. in their lunches. I am going to have to be more creative with lunches, which is going to take a lot more effort and some ear plugs to deal with the whining. Right now, we're still using up things we have. But on this front, I did make a loaf of bread this week, and I plan to make another loaf tomorrow. I have made yogurt twice, and everyone is eating it as fast as I can make it!

5. Less waste--We have been turning off the computers at night, which is something we haven't done in the past. I am making the kids use the 5 minute timer in the shower, which should also really help. I am trying to use things up before buying new.

6. Plan and stick to a budget--I did this month's budget and paid the bills. Even was able to budget for wrestling shoes and the wrestling fee.

So, that's this week. I am currently working on my RT reviews for January, due on Monday. I have seven books finished and ready to review, and one book I'm about halfway finished with. The remainder of today needs to be working on writing, and then reading.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lost Mania

Ok, I have never claimed that we aren't complete Lost fanatics, but it has reached a new fever pitch now that the fourth season is due to start on January 31.

We cracked open the 3rd season DVD set and have now been obsessively watching last season's episodes. We cannot seem to stop ourselves. We watched all day yesterday, and even after the kids went to bed and it was fairly late, LeeRoy said, "we can squeeze one more in today." Then right before I turned out the light last night he said, "there will be no Lost watching tomorrow while I am at work."

I cannot remember another time in my life when I was this into a television show. I am ready to go down to Hollywood and beg the Lost writers to go back to work. I think the fans would pool together and pay them what they're worth!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

December Reads/Year-End Wrap Up

176. Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke B-
177. The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn C+
178. The Note by Angela Hunt B-
179. Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine B
180. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan B+
181. The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart B-
182. A Matter of Wife and Death by Cindy Scanell and Ginger Kolbaba C+
183. Leaving November by Deborah Raney B
184. The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher B-
185. When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty B
186. Only Uni by Camy Tang B

Audio Books:
19. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz C+
20. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montbomery A

My favorite book of the year was definitely The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Other favorites were Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, and The Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn.

My least favorite of the year was Chasing Destiny by Eric Jerome Dickey (a book group read)

This year I started a book club at my church which is small but has a very dedicated group of attendees and readers, some of which I never see at any other events. I regularly participate in group reads from one online book group as well. I think that being able to choose my own books to review has made my reading enjoyment higher this year than in past years, because I am able to pretty much weed out anything I think I won't care for.

My goal for this coming year is to cut down on my RT review books so I have more time to read my tbr shelves and books from the library--more books for fun, fewer for review. I am heading toward burnout and I don't want to be at that point.

I would love to read 200 books in 2008...I was frustrated by my lack of reading time and commitment this year. But after everything that happened this year in general, my personal life was in an upheaval which really cut into my reading time. Summer definitely remains my most productive reading time, due to the lying-in the sun-watching-the-kids-swim factor.

January: 15 books, 3 audio books
February: 14 books 1 audio book
March: 16 books, 2 audio books
April 17 books, 2 audio books
May: 18 books 1 audio
June: 13 books 1 audio
July: 26 books, 1 audio
August: 13 books, 0 audio
September: 13 books, 1 audio
October: 13 books, 2 audio books
November: 15 books, 2 audio books
December: 11 books, 2 audio books