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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Happy Veteran’s Day Edition: My Favorite Veteran

Happy Veteran’s Day! And most importantly, a gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who is serving or has served.

My favorite veteran is my grandfather, a.k.a. Dad Dog. I know, I know. That one needs a little bit of explaining:

I’m the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and when I was born I had three sets of grandparents (my mom’s parents were divorced and both re-married), as well as a set of great-grandparents still living. Being the long-awaited first grandchild, I spent a lot of time with grandparents.

The decision was made to come up with different names for all four sets to avoid confusion, and to help me learn who was who. At the time my paternal grandfather was caring for some puppies, and once referred to himself as their Daddy Dog.

The name mostly stuck. It became Dog, then Dad Dog for me, Daddy Dog for my sister, and Daddy Duck for my cousin (he was caring for orphaned ducks when she was little). I know it sounds odd, but it works for our family. 

In addition to caring for a wide variety of animals over the years, Dad Dog also served in the Army and Air Force (once the two became separate) until his retirement. I grew up listening to his war stories.

Once again, Happy Veteran’s Day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Dressed Up Dogs Edition

Yes, I’m one of those people. The ones who dress their dogs up for just about any reason. Or no reason at all.

In my defense, I’ve been dressing Emma for so long she probably thinks dogs are really supposed to wear clothes. And I think she enjoys wearing pretty little outfits. She has had a lot of them over the 12 years I’ve had her. Duke associates being dressed up with getting a treat, so I’m pretty sure he’d dress himself if he could. And I’ve only dressed up foster dogs who seemed like they were into it. Playing dress-up is voluntary.

I don’t think it gets much cuter than dressed up dogs, so for today’s edition of Happy Hump Day, I give you dressed up dogs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sandwich Day

Today is Sandwich Day. You can read more about it here, but basically it’s a day to appreciate sandwiches by biting into your favorite sandwich.

In honor of Sandwich Day, here are two of my favorite sandwich recipes:

Chicken Salad Sandwich:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley for cooking)

1½ cups seedless green grapes

½ cup seedless red grapes

1 medium apple, chopped (any kind works, my favorite is Granny Smith)

¼ cup honey mustard

2/3 cup Miracle Whip

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker with spices and cover with water. Cover and cook on Low for 3 – 5 hours. When chicken is fully cooked remove from water and shred with a fork. Allow chicken to cool to room temperature. Combine chicken with remaining ingredients, mixing well.

These are great on onion rolls or croissants.

Fried Green Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich:

Fried Green Tomatoes (click here for the recipe)
Loaf of French bread, sliced into pieces about ½ inch thick)
Sliced Provolone Cheese

Place one slice of Provolone Cheese on a piece of bread, top with tomato slice, top with a second slice of Provolone Cheese, top with second piece of bread. Butter top and bottom of sandwich; Heat a large skillet over Medium-High heat and fry sandwiches until golden brown on both sides.

So what about you? What are your favorite sandwiches? Will you be enjoying a sandwich today?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Coconut Aminos

I love soy sauce. I’ll just go ahead and put that out there. I could practically drink the stuff. I love Chinese food, in large part because they give you so many little soy sauce packets with it. I used to be the person drowning the bowl of white rice in soy sauce. I love that! I also enjoy making stir-fry at home. And of course using soy sauce. Lots of soy sauce.

However, after being diagnosed with hepatic adenomas two years ago, I decided to drastically reduce the amount of soy in my diet. (Soy can mimic estrogen, and they’re estrogen fed.) It hasn’t been easy to reduce soy. For one thing it’s in practically everything, and I love it.

I resigned myself to only very occasionally having soy sauce; usually at a dinner out for a special occasion or treat. And I completely stopped making stir-fry at home.

Then I heard about coconut aminos as a soy sauce substitute. I hadn’t found anything else that seemed like it would even come close to working as a substitute for soy sauce, so I decided to give the coconut aminos a try, and ordered a bottle from Amazon.

I tried a little plain before cooking with any. There’s no point in cooking with a sauce you can’t stand, right? I liked the flavor, so I decided to try it in place of soy sauce in a stir-fry. The stir- fry came out well, and I’ve since become a huge fan of coconut aminos.

In all honesty, the flavor isn’t just like soy sauce. It has a little more spice, and a little less salt to it. There’s also a suggestion of sweetness, but no coconut flavor. I think the spice is probably the biggest difference. You also have to refrigerate the coconut aminos once the bottle has been opened.

A bottle of coconut aminos is a bit more expensive than a bottle of soy sauce, but I consider it worth it to open so many food possibilities back up, and to avoid soy. I checked my local grocery store to see if they carried the coconut aminos, but only found soy aminos (so do be careful to read the label on any "aminos" if you’re trying to avoid soy), so I’ve been ordering it from Amazon.

So what about you? Do you like soy sauce? Have you tried coconut aminos? Have you found any other good soy sauce substitutes?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Jack ‘O Lantern Edition

Since Halloween is just a few days away I thought today’s Hump Day pictures should feature Jack ‘O Lanterns and other carved pumpkins. I wish I could take credit for the more interesting ones, but they’re all my friend Crystal’s handy work. She takes her pumpkin carving very seriously!

Have you carved your pumpkin yet? Do you do a traditional Jack ‘O Lantern or something else?

Points if you recognized this as being the design on the South Carolina flag!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Cats In Boxes Edition

There’s just something about boxes that cats can’t seem to resist. I’m not sure what it is about boxes that they love so much, but I do know they look adorable when they’re in a box.

Howard & Milo

Milo (top) & Howard (bottom) - the orange guys stick together.




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Dessert Edition

It’s National Dessert Day, so I’m sharing dessert pictures today. I love the idea of a day reminding us to eat dessert.

So what about you? Will you be enjoying a dessert today? What is your favorite dessert?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Zucchini Frittata

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, and since today is World Egg Day it seems like a good day to finally share it.

I came up with this during the summer when we were being inundated with zucchini. My friend Beth and I had talked about the fact that quiche is a great way to make use of extra vegetables, but were lamenting the fact that while quiche isn’t a complicated dinner to make, it’s also not a quick dinner to make.

I wanted a quiche type meal that allowed for more advance preparation. I decided fear of the crust getting soggy was the biggest problem with prepping a quiche ahead of time, so I went with bread instead of a crust. Not only can it be prepped ahead of time, but it’s also delicious!

Zucchini Frittata:

1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 slices of bread, crusts removed

9 eggs

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Butter, for greasing a pie pan

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute zucchini and onion with salt and pepper until they’re soft. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Generously grease a pie pan with butter. Tear bread slices into small pieces and place in the bottom of pie pan. Layer zucchini and onion over bread.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Add cheese and milk. Mix well. Pour mixture into pie pan over bread, zucchini, and onion.

At this point, you can cover and refrigerate it for up to a day, or bake it if you’re ready to enjoy it now.

If you’re baking it now, heat oven to 350, then bake for 45 minutes, or until eggs are set, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

If you’re planning to bake it later, cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day. When you’re ready to bake it, remove the cover and place the pie dish in a cold oven for ten minutes. Set oven to 350, and bake for one hour, or until eggs are set, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


So what about you? Are you planning to eat eggs today? What is your favorite egg dish?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Riverbanks Zoo Edition

I love Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, SC. We’ve been going there since I was a little kid, and Nick and I go every year around my birthday. It’s a great zoo. The animals are well cared for, and the zoo does a lot of conservation work. It’s one of my favorite places.

I’ve been worried about the zoo and the animals with all of the flooding that’s going on there right now, so I was delighted to read on their Facebook page that the animals are safe. The zoo is set to re-open today, though the garden and bridge leading to it will remain closed.

In celebration of the animals’ safety and the re-opening of the zoo, I decided to share zoo pictures for today’s hump day pictures.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soggy Weekend

Are you getting drenched by Joaquin? We certainly are. It has been raining for over a week now, but it really started to pick up yesterday. I don’t think it has stopped at all today. We certainly don’t have it as bad as the folks on the coast, but there has been some flooding and road closures.

We’ve opted to mostly spend the weekend at home working on indoor projects and watching movies.

I did venture out into the backyard to get some pictures of the mushroom crop that seems to have popped up overnight, and the puddle right off the back porch.

So what about you? Is it an indoor kind of weekend for you?

Just off the back porch.  More and more of the yard is looking like this.

The mushrooms.
Not quite what we usually grow in the raised beds.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It’s World Vegetarian Day

Today is World Vegetarian Day, a day meant to encourage us to eat our fruits and vegetables, as well as to encourage people to become vegetarians.

I’m not a vegetarian, and neither is Nick, but we have embraced the idea behind Meatless Monday, and incorporate one or two meatless days into each week. Neither one of us are very keen on the idea of totally giving up meat, but we do like the idea of reducing the amount of meat we eat. You can read about some of the benefits of going meatless here from Meatless Monday.

One of our favorite meatless meals is veggie tacos. They’re quick, easy, and delicious. I don’t really
have an exact recipe for them. I just use whatever combination of vegetables we happen to have on hand, which is usually squash and zucchini (especially during the summer). I always add chopped onion and bell pepper (usually two different colors) and a handful of fresh cilantro. Saute the vegetables in olive oil, just until they start to soften, then add a package of taco seasoning, and cook according to the instructions on the package. I also add a can of beans, usually kidney beans or pinto beans, whatever we happen to have on hand. We also like to have rice in the tacos. In addition to being delicious, the rice helps absorb some of the sauce and keeps the tacos from falling apart quite so easily. Top it with a little shredded cheese, and you have a delicious meal.

So what about you, are you going meatless today? Are you a vegetarian? Do you participate in Meatless Monday? What is your favorite meatless meal?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Happy Hump Day - The Blue Sky Edition

In honor of Hump Day (and the work week being half over!) I’ve decided to start posting hump day pictures of things that I think are pretty, cute, cheerful, fun, interesting, or some combination thereof. I think we can all use a little of that halfway through the week.

We’ve had rain for almost a week now, and while I know we needed the rain, I’m desperately hoping for blue skies and sunshine soon. So of course today’s hump day theme has to be blue skies.

Are you getting drenched too? I hope your skies are blue and sunny. If not, hopefully the pictures can help tide you over too.
Jump Off Rock

Riverbanks Zoo


Charleston Harbor

Folly Beach