Sunday, February 7, 2016

Snow Pictures & A Catch-Up Post

I seem to be sticking to a pattern of posting about once a month, so here’s the latest catch-up post, and some pictures of Duke playing in the snow.

We had a major snow storm (along with pretty much the entire east coast) on January 22nd. Our total snow accumulation was just under a foot. We also had extremely low temperatures, and crazy high winds. Nick and Duke loved it. Emma and I didn’t venture off of the screened in porch. I actually ended up not going outside for five days straight. I really don’t like snow! So of course I’m hoping that’s it for us for snow this winter. Come on spring!

I’ve changed the comment settings on the blog to require approval for comments on anything that’s more than 14 days old. The spam on the older posts was just getting out of control. Have any of you run into that problem? Any suggestions for solving it?

If you haven’t seen the movie Inside Out yet, I highly recommend watching it. We rented it from Redbox a few weeks ago and both absolutely loved it. There was a lot more to it than either one of us were expecting, but it still leaves you with the nice happy feeling that you expect from a cartoon.

Emma is still holding her own. She has been eating fairly well over the weekend, and has been a little more active and playful. There are definitely some bad days, but for now the good days seem to outnumber the bad ones.

So what about you? Have you had any snow? How are things going for you?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sixteen Things to Ring in 2016

Happy New Year! A couple of days late. Blogging took a backseat during the holidays, so here’s my catch-up and holiday posts all in one.

1. Emma is okay for the moment. I almost hate to write that, but it also feels good. It was a wonderful Christmas present. We’re dog-sitting my parents’ dog this weekend. He adores Emma, and she seems to be reveling in the attention and change in routine.

Sweet Emma!
2. It got really cold really fast here. We were running the air conditioner on Christmas Day, which was total bliss. By New Year’s Eve we were running the heat. Winter is my least favorite season, so I’m disappointed that it seems to be here in earnest now.

3. Brie, blue cheese, walnuts, and apricot jam is a truly amazing combination. We had this dish on Christmas, and now I can’t wait to make it again. Nick isn’t a blue cheese fan, so I did half without blue cheese. It’s good without the blue cheese, but with blue cheese it’s amazingly delicious. 

4. I had my yearly MRI to check on the hepatic adenomas on December 14th. I wasn’t really expecting results until after Christmas, but I got them the next day, and they were great. The largest one is now about a quarter of the size it was when the whole thing started two and a half years ago! We’ll continue with a yearly MRI just to keep an eye on things, but it’s looking good.

5. We started a new Christmas tradition with our next door neighbors. We’ve always exchanged baked goods, but this year we swapped out nights of cooking. It was fun, a little different (especially since there seem to be so many baked goods at Christmas), and getting a night off from cooking can be a nice gift.

6. We still have almost everyone’s Christmas presents. For various reasons we weren’t able to see most of the friends and family we normally see on or close to Christmas. The cats are thrilled by this since it means they still have boxes to sleep on and bows to tear up.

7. The upside to not getting to see everyone is that we were able to have a very relaxing day spent in our pajamas. Nick was off for Christmas, and it was wonderful to actually have a holiday together.

It still looks like Christmas here.
8. The downside (aside from not seeing everyone) is that we’re running out of places to stash people’s presents. The cats have already totally unwrapped one, and there just aren’t that many cat proof places in our house.

9. The other downside is that I really, really like one of the presents we got for my best friend Crystal. It’s a really pretty garnet ring. She and I wear the same size ring, so the temptation is real. Very real. But she’s my best friend, and I think she will really like it.

10. My phone/technology issues aren’t going away this year. I tried to call a friend last night and my phone informed me that it had been deactivated. After lots of frustration and on-line chatting with the company I discovered that because I have a new debit card (same account, the credit union just seems to really enjoy issuing new cards) my payment was declined. I had to text the information to my sister because you can only make payments over the phone. I’m not sure what plan I have now, but the phone is working again and Nick has promised to fix everything back to the way it was once he gets home from work tomorrow. 

Not the best picture, but it's a great ring
11. The no-kill shelter we adopted Cookie from makes a video at the end of every year with highlights from the year and information about the number of animals saved. For 2015 they saved over 6,000, which included the ones they took in after the flooding in South Carolina. It was the most successful year yet. 

12. We’ve started a list of all of the things we want to see/places we want to go that are within a day trip from home. There are so many things fairly close to home that we’ve been talking about doing, but never seem to get around to. We’re hoping a list will help.

13. January is Pantry Challenge Month. It’s a good way to get back on track after the holidays and use up all of those impulse buys from the grocery store.

14. We are finally completely finished with AT&T, a.k.a. The World’s Worst Internet Service. We switched to Charter about three weeks ago, and it has been wonderful. Netflix doesn’t freeze, we can both be online at the same time, and it doesn’t take forever to attach pictures now.

15. Despite having a smart phone, I’m still sticking with my usual day planner for 2016. I just don’t get along well enough with the phone to trust my entire schedule to it.

16. Even if you’re not the type to make resolutions for the new year, there’s just something promising about a new, blank calendar. Maybe it’s just the idea of a fresh start.

So what about you? What’s new in your world for 2016? Or what is staying the same?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Still Blooming

Do you ever find yourself utterly shocked, surprised, and amazed by how well something turns out, or how long it lasts?

That’s happened to me with this pink Gerbera daisy. I have no idea how, but it’s still blooming. We’ve had several hard frosts; the kind where it takes a while to de-ice the car in the morning. But this little daisy is still blooming. 

My understanding of Gerbera daisies is that they’re a warm weather flower. I’ve planted one every year for the past few years, and I don’t remember one ever making it this long. Definitely not through multiple frosts.

I’m glad this year’s Gerbera daisy is turning out to be different. It’s planted next to the carport, so you see it every time you leave or come home. I really like pink flowers, so it makes me happy to see it every day. It’s just a nice little bright spot in the day. Cold weather is not my favorite, and I really don’t like it when there’s nothing colorful in the yard, so this little flower is making me incredibly happy.

So what about you? Do you have anything still blooming? Do you know something I don’t about Gerbera daisies? Do they always last this long? What little thing is making you happy right now?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Thanksgiving Song Edition

Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday. By far. It’s a day that’s all about spending time with the people you love. And cooking for them. What’s not to love?

I haven’t heard very many Thanksgiving songs, but I absolutely love this one by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I hope you do too.

So what about you? Do you love Thanksgiving? Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving song?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Peanut Butter and Cell Phones - Not A Good Combination

I’m not a very technologically savvy person at all. It’s usually Nick’s job to makes the gadgets and gizmos around here work. When it’s time to choose one for my use, I tell Nick what I want it to do, and he finds the best one, usually meaning the one I’m least likely to get incredibly frustrated with. He’s very technologically savvy. Opposites attract, right?

Dangerous to Cell Phones!
I finally joined the world of smart phones during the summer, and I’ve mostly been happy with it. I like text messaging a lot more than I thought I would, I love having a great camera with me all of the time, and being able to easily check recipes while I’m cooking has been wonderful. I’ve had mostly good things to say about the smart phone. I was really loving it on Sunday night when I tried a new recipe for dinner, and made this peanut butter oatmeal for breakfasts for the week.

Since I’ve had to cut back on soy, I had to switch to a different kind of peanut butter. I prefer the regular Jif, but it has soy. The Jif Natural doesn’t have soy, so I switched to that. It’s not quite as good, but it’s close enough. The biggest issue is that the oil separates and you have to mix it back up every time. It’s not usually that big of a deal.

We had dinner, watched some TV, and went to bed. I didn’t use my phone at all Sunday night.

Monday morning (because everything happens on Monday) my boss called me while he was driving between the two offices. He didn’t seem to be able to hear me even though I could hear him. I called him back from a land line, and everything was fine. I didn’t think much of it because reception can be fairly sketchy on the drive between the two offices. I just assumed he had made it to a better area by the time I called him back.

I called my sister on the way back from lunch. Even though I could hear her (and all of her comments about my habit of accidentally muting myself) she didn’t seem to be able to hear me at all. Several tests later, we determined that something was definitely going on with my phone. I could hear calls made or received on it, but the person on the other end couldn’t hear anything.  Text messaging was working fine.  Internet was spotty and weird. 

My sister was convinced I’d dropped the phone in water or some other liquid, and just wasn’t fessing up to it. Nick asked the same thing when I arrived home with the phone for him to fix. He took the phone apart and asked me if I’d fried anything in peanut oil, and possibly dropped the phone in with it. I’d like to say I have the right to be outraged over that sort of question, but it’s really not that far outside the realm of possible ways I mess up techno gadgets. But I typically cook with olive oil, so I knew I hadn’t dropped it in peanut oil.

Nick said there was a coating of what seemed to be peanut oil all over the inside of the phone. It had gotten past the cover and pooled in the microphone. He cleaned it out, all the while trying to figure out where the peanut oil had come from, and got the phone back to working normally again. (I’d also managed to turn off the WiFi, which explained A LOT of problems I’d been having with the internet.)

My only input was surprise that it wasn’t flour from the recipe I’d made for dinner the night before. I’d touched the screen with floury hands quite a few times. Then I remembered the peanut butter oatmeal and the separated peanut butter.

I’m a fairly messy cook. You can almost always look at me and tell what I’ve made because I’m wearing part of it by the time I’ve finished cooking. There usually aren’t very many clear surfaces by the time I’ve finished. Including the cell phone. Most things just wipe right off of it without any trouble. Except peanut butter, apparently. So today’s Public Service Announcement is to keep your cell phone away from your peanut butter. Far, far away.

So what about you? Are you technologically savvy? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve gotten on your cell phone?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The All Things Butterfly Edition

The new soap dispenser.
I love butterflies; they’re just so pretty and cheerful. Butterflies are definitely a theme throughout our house, and were at our wedding too. I usually lean toward cheerful colors, so it’s easy to incorporate butterflies into just about everything; from our wedding cake to one of Emma’s Halloween costumes, and everything in between.

The latest butterfly item is this great soap dispenser my Mother-In-Law bought for us over the weekend. It matches the shower curtain and toothbrush holder. I just love how cheerful it is.

So what about you? Do you like butterflies? Is there a theme you incorporate into everything?
Emma as a butterfly!
Butterfly Wedding Cake.

Butterfly Planter

Butterfly Curtains & Dishes (butterflies were NOT on the menu).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

An Update On Emma

I’ve been putting off this post because it’s one I really, really didn’t want to write. As I mentioned earlier this year, Emma was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. We’ve been treating it with medication, and things were going well, but she has the pituitary dependent kind, and now the tumor has started to grow. Things aren’t going as well now.

As the tumor grows it presses on the appetite center of her brain, which basically causes her not to register hunger. Emma has never been a particularly big eater, but now she has very little interest in food. She lost a lot of weight really fast.

Numerous vet visits and consultations with a veterinary nutritionist later, Emma is on an appetite stimulant that is helping some. The only real treatment for the tumor is radiation. We’re choosing, for various reasons, not to pursue that. It’s a decision I struggle with sometimes, but ultimately I just don’t think putting a 12 year old dog through 5 weeks of radiation is the right thing to do.

At the beach last month.
We’re told that at some point even the appetite stimulant won’t help. No one seems very sure how long it will continue to make any difference. Even on the appetite stimulant, Emma’s appetite isn’t what it should be. We’ve found that feeding her a wide variety of foods seems to help. She seems to be more interested in different flavors, textures, and scents. She also seems to like to be spoon fed sometimes. Novelty is our greatest ally right now.

Our phones are full of pictures of cans of food that Emma seems to like a little better than other things we’ve offered her. We’re cooking for Emma; chicken, turkey, various kinds of rice, and are trying to track down venison to try for her. We’ve even braved the baby section to buy her baby food.

Some days are much better than others, and we’re trying to feed her as much as possible on the better days. We know that end of life decisions are coming, we just don’t know when. We’ve talked a lot of things through with our vets and with each other. The good thing is that Nick and I are in agreement about things, and that we have a truly awesome vet. I hate what’s coming, but I’m so glad we have such a good vet who really cares about Emma. He called after he got the report from the specialist, and I felt a lot better after talking to him about our options.

Napping with Tara.
 For the moment, we seem to be having more good days than bad, and the bad days aren’t horrible. I’m taking both of those things as good signs. We’re trying to act normal around Emma, but we’re also trying to make sure the good days are really, really good days. She’s getting extra cuddle time, whatever she wants to eat, and every day we tell her what a good dog she is, and how much we love her. 

As I said at the beginning, I put off writing this post for a while; in part because I can’t talk (or write) about it without crying, and in part because I usually prefer to write about happier things. I finally decided to go ahead and write it because I’ve written a lot about, and shared a lot of pictures of Emma over the three years I’ve been writing this blog. As much as I hate it, this is part of her story. I also know that many of you who regularly comment are fellow pet people, and this is just the kind of thing that pet people share with each other, and sometimes some good advice, or at least the knowledge that you’re not alone comes from that sharing. And I promise my next post will be a happier one.