Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's growing

Here's the jungle that has become my garden this year.

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This end is being taken over by squash and zucchini. I'm growing my squash plants vertically this year and it's working out pretty well.

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I've lost one of the plants but this one is kind of wrapping itself around the pole.

I've picked a lot of zucchini already, but have found that this variety doesn't keep very well. In just a few days it starts to go spongy.

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I've already harvested the green beans twice. I'm not sure how much longer they have since it's been so hot here lately.

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They have been taking over though so I'm sure the pepper plants will enjoy the space when they're done.

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There really are 6 pepper plants in that picture!

The tomatoes are as wild as they were last year.

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I tried really hard to pull off suckers and keep it tied to the stake, but it's so hard to keep up with! I have started pinching off the ends so they don't get any taller.

They are covered in little tomatoes though. Can't wait until they're ready to pick!

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I had bought an extra bell pepper since I wasn't sure if my seedlings would make it and it's doing great. Last night it already had 3 peppers growing on it!

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This marigold plant has flourished. It was just a tiny plant when I first potted it.

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My cucumbers are the only things that aren't doing so hot yet again. One of the plants has grown tall, the other I think has stopped growing altogether. I don't think I'm ever destined to grow cucumbers.

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What are you growing this year?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicken Adventures

This weekend on my trip to Dallas I also picked up my chickens. It was quite an adventure because I was supposed to pick them up on Sunday just before I left town. Only when I heard from the chicken man on Friday during my drive up I found out that I had to get them Saturday. He wasn't allowed to bring any chickens to sale to the Sunday event. So I called Virgina to make sure this was ok.

Me: Sooooo.....I have to get the chickens on Saturday. Do you have a patio we can keep them on?
V: Oh yeah. It's nice and private and backs up to a creek so I don't think anyone will mess with them.
Me: A creek? Do you have raccoons?
V: Yeah. There's this giant one that gave me the stink eye the other day. His name is Chrystal.
Me: Raccoons eat chickens.
V: What?
Me: Yeah, they rip off their heads and drink their blood.
V: I didn't know raccoons practiced Santeria.

(There were many jokes about raccoons and candles with chicken blood all weekend)

All I had with me was a wire dog crate so I found myself stopping at a feed store in Waco to buy a feeder and waterer and some feed.

Saturday we took off to get the chickens. It was a huge crowd that was there. Virg was surprised my chicken man was so popular. (Check out Dan Probst from Bageniece Farms near Dallas.) By the time it was our turn there were only two of the Rhode Island Reds and one of the Barred Rocks left - exactly what I wanted. When I told him that's what I wanted he said they were on hold for someone that had called ahead. After a minor internal freakout it turned out he was talking about me and soon me, Virginia and the girls were off.

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We stopped at Walmart after deciding they wouldn't be very safe in the wire dog crate I had and bought a plastic pet carrier. In the end though the chickens spent the night on Virgina's washing machine in her laundry room. We didn't want to risk a meeting with Chrystal the raccoon.

After a smelly drive back home (it's about 4-5 hours) I got home pretty late Sunday night, but we got the coop moved out from the garage and the ladies installed in their new house. We even introduced the dogs to them. It was funny at first because not a one of them realized there were now chickens in the yard.

Riley was the first to meet them. He was very indifferent towards them. Reese came next who REALLY checked them out. She was more of, "I will totally herd these chickens for you. If these chickens ever get out I'm your man."

Now Rufus. Rufus is the one that wouldn't think twice about eating the chickens. First he didn't know they were there, then we pointed them out and he was like, "CHICKENS! OMG CHICKENS! Oh - SQUIRREL" but then he came back and could not get ENOUGH of the chickens. He has scoped out every inch of the coop. Last night he even wanted to patrol the yard. I don't think it's a protection thing though. I think it's a "these are MY chickens. If anyone is going to eat these chickens it's going to be me. Raccoons, opossums, skunks, you get the hell off my chickens. They are MINE."

Needless to say the chickens are NOT fans of Rufus. Whenever he runs into the yard they go about their pissed off clucking at him and head into the coop where they can't be bothered. Fussy little things.

I think they're enjoying their coop though. This is Maudene. The only one that will somewhat tolerate Rufus.

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This is Midge hanging out on the roost inside the coop (I plan on raising them. They were built in really low)

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Here she is joined by Agnes. They were not happy with Rufus who was trying to crawl into the coop while I took pictures.

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Rufus checking out the chickens and Nene having enough of it.

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The three ladies inside the coop - Agnes on the left, Midge in the middle and Maudene in the doorway (I wanted old lady chicken names)

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They're all around 14 weeks so we won't have eggs for another couple of months. The two Rhode Islands were also picked on so they're regrowing some feathers and will be fluffing up some. Poor Midge has a naked butt right now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Still Can't Believe It

Tuesday night I lost my engagement ring.

Yep.

I had taken my rings off in the Pilates room Tuesday night and put them in my purse. After working out I went to HEB and then Home Depot. On Wednesday morning I went to retrieve my rings and only 2 of the 3 were in there. I immediately dumped everything out of my purse. I didn't find them, but did find that a lotion bottle had opened in my purse and leaked on everything.

I did a quick search in the car because by now I'm running late. I got to the gym and asked if anyone had turned it in - nope. I checked the Pilates room. Nope. By now I had already told John about it. I called HEB and Home Depot and no one had turned it in. I called them both again before I left work and still nothing.

I got home and tore apart the bedroom in case it had fallen out while I was digging around in my purse. Nope. I did an entire search of my car and came up empty handed. Then I took John with me and we searched the parking lots of HEB and Home Depot. Still nothing.

This morning I called both stores again. Nothing.

I was SO SAD about losing it. I had put my rings in that same little pocket a million times and had never lost any of them. I didn't think I would be so depressed about it, but I was. Despite John trying to cheer me up I was still sad and mad at myself.

So when I got off work tonight (rather late) I decided to pop into Home Depot to see if I could find it - even though it's a huge store and we're now a full two days from when I lost it. I swore that if it had fallen out of my purse anywhere it was there. I had gone there on Tuesday night to pick up a few more bags of topsoil. I hadn't leaned down to pick them up with my purse on though. I had set it on a shelf (no one was around) while I loaded several bags into my cart. Tonight when I got to the store I saw they had added additional pallets with more soil. I thought there was no way I was going to find it, it had been crushed by a pallet.

Then I looked down and there was my ring.

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Right there in the middle of the aisle.

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I'm not kidding. It was in the middle of the main aisle of the outdoor section of Home Depot.

I snatched it up, put it back on my finger, searched for the center stone and eventually left the store in total shock.

My poor ring is totally mangled

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and the stone is missing,

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but I have it back.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shit my dogs do

Just some randomness I've caught lately from Reese and Rufus. Riley is just an old man that sleeps under our bed all day.

Speaking up sleeping - Julie calls this Cockroach position

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I've never seen him sleep like this before so it was pretty funny.

I think this is Reese's version of stealing the covers.

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I switched their food recently and the first day I had mixed just a little bit of the old with the new. Reese decided she only wanted the new and would spit everything onto the floor and only pick up the new food.

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Ruler of the House

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We've also caught him standing on the coffee table.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The 17 Day Diet

In answer to some tweets and comments here's some more info on the diet.

The book is called the 17 Day Diet. It's a newer diet book. I think it came out towards the end of last year and I know the author has been on a lot of TV shows and in the news about it. So yeah, it's a bit fadish, but I don't think that it's anymore so than some of the other diet books out there. My favorite thing about the diet is that I never really felt limited and I was never hungry.

Basically it's three phases and then a maintenance phase. The only counting that you have to do is that you have to eat two probiotic and two low sugar fruit servings (no melons) a day. One of the probiotic servings can be taken through a supplement. I usually just got it through yogurt or cottage cheese. You also have to drink eight, eight oz glasses of water a day. Sodas and coffee count as negative so you have to drink an extra 8 oz to make up for it.

During the first phase you can basically eat unlimited amounts of fish and poultry and what the book calls cleansing vegetables. The veggie list is actually pretty long and is made up of very normal veggies that I generally ate anyways. For the meats it's several kinds of fish - tuna, tilapia, salmon and then chicken and turkey.

I honestly never felt hungry during the first phase. It took a bit of planning sometimes for meals, but I was able to eat out just about anywhere - even fast food. I would order a grilled chicken sandwich for instance, cut the mayo, not eat the bun and sub a salad or fruit for the fries. I could do the same at a restaurant and order veggies instead.

My favorite thing for breakfast was strawberries, blackberries and plain yogurt with a packet of Truvia sprinkled on top. That was another reason I really liked the book is that the author suggests it. I've read in other books that stevia is actually better for thyroid problems so I use it for everything but baking.

The second phase brings in more foods - lean meats and some grains. You do a day on day off. So day on phase 1 and then day on phase 2. I haven't done the 3rd yet and haven't read up on it again, but I think it's pretty much every food and it's just managing portions.

The fourth phase is the maintenance where you get to choose which of the 3 phases you want to "stick" to. You stick to it Monday - Friday lunch which is usually pretty easy right? It's the weekends where we generally go wild. During the weekend you can have anything within reason and then get back on plan on Monday. He says in the book that when you see the 5 pounds added on the scale or to prepare for the holidays to go back to phase 1.

You also don't have to do every phase. If you hit your weight loss goal in phase 1 or 2 go on to phase 4. You can mix it up until you hit your goal. My favorite part of this whole diet is that it's flexible. Yes, phase 1 is limiting, but it's not extreme. I never felt like I was missing anything (except tortillas), I ate out quite a bit and really didn't have to go out and buy anything different than what I was already buying. I did stock up of large containers of yogurt and also bought more fresh fruit than usual.

Some things about the book that I don't really believe or didn't really stick to:
1. The heated lemon water in the morning. It's supposed to be cleansing, but I didn't really like it that much so I didn't really do it. I do usually have a glass of water every morning with my thyroid meds.
2. The green tea with every meal. Another thing I didn't really stick to. I do drink tea quite a bit and I did change it out or ask for green tea if they had it, but it gets mixed reviews on whether it actually helps weight loss. It also gets old having it 3 times a day.
3. Many of the reviews said not to believe in the science of this diet. The book says that you're basically tricking your metabolism by having low cal and then high cal days, but there's not a lot of proof behind it. I think the diet really is cutting carbs in the beginning, eating lean meats, lots of veggies and just eating well balanced and healthy foods.
4. The whole 17 minutes of exercise or the exercise DVD that you can supposedly buy online. Again, I've only bought the book and don't know much about the other things that are associated with the diet. It does say that you shouldn't really work out during the first phase because you're eating so few calories. This I believe. I still can't do a lot of excercise because of my foot and have been sticking to pilates twice a week.
4. Finally I didn't really stick to the diet to a T. Like all things you get what you put in. I lost 5 pounds in phase 1 and the books says you could do 10-15. I'm not sure if that's true or how healthy that really is. In the next phases you lose less. I also didn't give up alcohol - you can add it in during phase 3 if you'd like or coffee. I have my morning coffee with cream every day. Some have told me that phase 1 is similar to South Beach (I know nothing about South Beach other than what I've been told) except it's not all carbs and therefore not as extreme and you also don't have to start the whole phase over if you have a pig out day or a drink or go off the diet. This one is all about flexibility.

Right now I'm doing phase 2, but I'm not doing well at it and it's just pure laziness on my part. It's not that the diet requires any kind of special meals, but you do need to put something together and I just haven't really taken the time to do it. I'm almost always running late in the mornings. It's much easier to make toast or grab a granola bar than cut up fruit or make a smoothie. If I don't have time for breakfast in the morning, I really don't have time to make lunch for the day either. My weight is holding though and that's what I'm happy about.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mish Mash

I haven't had the time or energy to write too many posts lately so here's a bit of mish mash that I'd write about if I had the time.

I'm doing a new diet. It's called the 17 Day Diet. I bought it because it's pink cover caught my eye at Barnes and Noble and the reviews it got on Amazon were really good. It's basically four 17 day phases with the last being stick to either 1, 2 or 3 and eat what you want on the weekends. When you put on 5 pounds go back to phase 1. In my head I say 14 days which makes it easier although I go the full 17. I lost 5 pounds on phase 1. I didn't stick to it EXACTLY, but that's what's kind of nice about it. Yeah, you could lose 10 pounds or you could half ass it and lose 5. I'm happy with the 5. Since my December endo appointment I've lost 10 pounds. I need to keep it up though and stick to the diet more. Maybe next week. (There is supposedly some food order option which I honestly know nothing about except it's mentioned in more recent reviews. I make my own food which is another plus to the book - each phase comes with 17 days of meals. Again, not something I followed to a T but it's really helpful. We could all lose weight if someone just told us what to eat every day right?)

My garden is INSANE. I have pictures which I have not uploaded yet. Just imagine a wild jungle made of zucchini plants and tomatoes with some wild green beans mixed it. My green beans have gone completely psycho and are trying to take over my poor bell pepper plants.

John decided to do the tile in the master bath this weekend. Having had no say in the decision to finally take on this project I was less than enthused and very grumpy about having to spend my Sunday laying tile. (This project would probably never have been completed until we decided to sell our house or something had I been in charge). I AM glad that this project is almost over, ya know, 1 year later....

Oh - John also documented the entire tile demo and everything that comes along with it process. I'm going to make him write a post so things don't get totally boring around here. Of course, you'd also have to be someone that finds demo and tile work interesting, but I'm sure John'll make it funny in his own way.

I'm now the proud owner of Kobo eReader. It's a bit lighter than the Kindle, but supports all formats of eBooks so that was the tie breaker between the two. I've yet to ACTUALLY read something on it, so this is kind of the end of the review for now.

Current obsession - chickens. I have BIG chicken plans. BIG. I just have to get John to help me with it, but hopefully we'll have some chickens hanging out in our backyard soon. I CANNOT WAIT.

The other thing I cannot wait for? Girls Weekend. I'm getting together with Jackie, Virginia and Sarah S. to head to the Big D. We're staying at the Casa de Virg so we can splurge on all things spa related. It's going to be fab-u-lous.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Two Kisses for Maddy Book Signing

Last week I headed up to Austin to see Matt Logelin at Book People.

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It was a totally different experience from the time I went to see Pioneer Woman there, but was really cool and very relaxed despite the topic.

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Matt did a reading from the book. It was serious, funny and emotional.

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He also answered questions for quite awhile. Then it was time to get in line to meet him and get our books signed.

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He really took time to talk with everyone, take a picture and even invited everyone to meet up downtown and have drinks. When I told him I had to drive back he seemed genuinely shocked that I drove 2 hours in traffic to get there. It was worth it to hear him speak and to hear him share his story and experience. Very cool and fun evening. Thanks again Matt for sharing your life with everyone.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Surreal

Last night a cold front rolled in. Cold as in it was no longer 98, but rather 70. We decided to take advantage of the fantastic weather and grilled. Then we went a step further and decided to bust out the fire pit we bought on Christmas. So we headed out on a quest to find firewood. In May. In Texas. The state that has had 90+ degree weather for oh, all of April.

Out we went and found ourselves at HEB and found some grilling logs that we figured we could use in the fire pit. I also saw this girl

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and when I went to sign onto Twitter to share this picture of her

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I saw that Twitter was blowing up about a speech from the President that was about to happen. By the time we got home about 5 minutes later the news was everywhere.

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Something I retweeted but was so true. That's the power of social media for you.

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Meanwhile John and I listened to the news, I stayed on Twitter and we made smores.

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and I realized this:

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What were you doing?
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