Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's Talk Shoes

Shoes are a very important part of traveling. Especially when you know you're going to be doing a TON of walking. So I need your help. I need to find a couple of pairs of shoes to take with me. I want something that I can wear all day walking in a city and even transition into going out. Some things to consider:

1. Old Man Toe. Of course he's number 1. My foot hasn't bothered me much in the past few months and I'm back into most of my shoes. What I need though post surgery is:

Comfortable with some arch support. I have to put arch supports in almost all my shoes now (how old lady am I?). I also don't want to end up with blisters at the end of the day.

No flats. I basically can't wear any flats now. I need some kind of heel, but since I'm walking all day it needs to be a low heel. Think biker boots heel height.

Source: target.com via Faith on Pinterest



Source: target.com via Faith on Pinterest



2. Weather. Ok. It was 110 here yesterday. When we go on our trip it's going to be in the 50s with nights in the 40s. 50 is winter to me. It's a heavy jacket, multiple layers and boots. Every other time I've been to Europe it's been in the summer. I'm pretty sure I wore nothing but flip flops. The tennis shoes I brought never made an appearance. They just took up space in my luggage. Planning for winter is something new for me. Rain is also a factor so something water proof would be nice.

3. Versatility. I don't really have room in my luggage for 5 pairs of shoes. I'd like something I can wear with almost anything. I'm guessing brown would go with most of my clothes. I'd like something I can wear both over skinny jeans and under regular jeans so nothing too bulky. I don't have big calves so that's not an issue.







4. Price. Let's face it. I'm cheap. I'd love a fabulous pair of $200 boots, but I rather spend that on a fabulous meal or night in a hotel on the trip. So budget is $100 max. I'd really like it under $70. Less if I'm buying more than one pair of shoes.

So help! Everything I really love is crazy expensive. The couple I posted above are reasonable, but I worry about all day comfort. They don't all have to be boots, but they have to be cold weatherish. I guess closed toe would be the best way to say it. What are your favorite shoes that you can last all day in?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bits and Pieces

In an attempt to post more (life's been crazy) here are some little things of what I've been up to lately:

I'm still sick. As in I think I had a 2-3 period since the beginning of the month where I felt ok, but the past week and a half I've been miserable. Went to the Dr. again yesterday, or I should say they came to my office - I LOVE White Glove, and have a new round of meds. She said if this doesn't make me better I may want to have an XRay of my sinuses or bloodwork done to see if something else isn't going on. Isn't that fantastic news?

Two of the chickens are laying. It's cute to get a tiny egg and a large egg each day. I'm pretty sure it's Maudene who started first and Agnes who has just started. Midge kind of took a step back after her attack and looks no where near ready to start laying like the others. She doesn't have a comb.

This was the haul we got from Bountiful Baskets this week.

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It's a crazy amount of food for just $15.

Work has been insanely busy. Last week I did new hire paperwork for 40 new staff members and just yesterday I did 14. I think I still have another 20 to go this week. It's a very busy time of year for us and when you're not feeling so hot on top of it it's not so fun.

I'm ready for fall. September equals fall to me even though we're on 44th day of 100 degree weather here. I still think it means fall. I'm so ready for boots and soups and pumpkin recipes. In fact, my pinterest feed (if that's what you call it? I'm not sure) is full of fall things so I know I'm not the only one ready to beat the heat already. That's one of the things I think I'm going to love about our trip. Cool weather!

Oh and yes, our trip. It's my biggest time suck, but in a good way. We're going on a quick little tour of Europe! We're going to be in London, Prague, Paris and Rome. I have never been to Prague so I'm really excited about it. John's never been to Europe so I'm also really excited about that too. We're going to be flying from each city to the next. Airfare between European cities is like stupid cheap. Our flight from Prague to Paris, which is something like a 10 hour drive, is $38 FOR THE TWO OF US. Seriously, why can't we do that in the US? Of course the $38 really turned into more like $90 when you add in baggage fees, check in fees and fee to use your credit card. Yes. Fee to use your credit card. Isn't that a nice one? I actually discovered a site called eDreams that allowed me to use paypal to avoid the fees. Still, less this $50 a person? I can't even fly to Houston or Dallas for that price!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hi, I was Wondering if you Treated Chickens?

It's been about a month or so since this happened and I just haven't had time to write about it. It's too funny not to share though. Warning though - there's lots of talk of chicken buttholes, yeast infections and the use of Preparation H. You may think you're reading a pregnancy story, but you're not.

I come home from work and the teenage girl from next door is waiting for me in my driveway. When I get out of the car she tells me, "One of your chickens has gotten out and your dogs are attacking it."

"Huh?"

Sure enough, the dogs were attacking a chicken. Somehow one had gotten out (I'm still not sure, but kind of think the girl may have had something to do with it, which is a whole other story) and John had been home early and let the dogs out before going back to work.

The poor chicken it happened to was Midge. She was pretty beat up too. They had pulled out her tail feathers and most of her neck feathers. I think the only thing that really saved her is that every time they tried to rip off her neck all they got were feathers. She looked AWFUL.

So I got her cleaned up and checked her for any puncture wounds. Did you know that a sweaty, featherless chicken smells like chicken? Seriously. It was weird.

She looked ok and I decided to keep her away from the others for the night just to make sure they didn't pick on her.

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A few days later she was still looking ok, but SMELLED and NOT like chicken. I checked out her backside and it was caked in poop. I sprayed her off and took a closer look and something just didn't look right.

You see, chickens only have one hole that does it all so you want it to work right. Especially since she looked like she was getting close to laying. I googled the causes and thought she may have vent gleet which is basically a chicken yeast infection. So I soaked her in an epsom salt bath, made a epsom salt water bottle for her and put some meds on it - Preparation H to help with the swelling. The next day she was still caked in poo again so I decided to look for a vet.

I know what you're thinking, "I would have just made her into dinner," but see, she was still small. Too tiny to eat really and plus she hadn't even laid an egg yet. Homegirl had yet to start earning her keep!

So it was an adventure trying to find a vet that saw chickens, but one did.

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I like to call this one Chicken in a Box.

It turns out Midge had some heavy bruising from the attack and one puncture wound. Oh, and a tear on her vent. Yes. My chicken a tear on her butthole. One that required stitches.

I got my chicken's butthole stitched.

Wait. It gets better.

She also required daily baths to keep her backside clean (it's a common problem in baby chicks when they get a thing called pasty butt and aren't able to poop so they die) and oral antibiotics.

Yes. Oral antibiotics. Twice a day.

How the hell do you give a chicken oral antibiotics you ask? Yeah, so did I. I googled. None of which really helped. So I developed my own method.

First I'd give her a bath. The bath was warm water and dish soap that was really more of a soak. I got splashed SEVERAL times. Our 12 year old nephew was staying with us at the time and thought it was HILARIOUS when Midge went all crazy in the tub. The hardest part was trying to catch her after I dumped the water out so I could rinse the soap off of her.

After the bath I'd wrap her in a towel (ever seen a wet chicken shiver? It's pretty funny. A wet chicken is pretty funny too). This is key so she can't get away and she can't scratch you. Then I'd pin her head next to my body so that she could only turn towards me or towards the syringe with the medicine. Because you know what? You can't force a chicken to open their beak. There's no magic spot on their jaw where they just open wide for you. Plus it doesn't take much to drown a chicken so you have to be careful to not just shoot it in their mouth if they happen to open wide. Basically I'd have to manage a way to get a bit of the medicine in her mouth so she could taste it. Then she would kind of open and close her beak quickly trying to taste it. I'd do this over and over again until the syringe was empty. It was probably a 15-20 minute process.

FUN! Those eggs better taste great once she finally starts laying!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baked Eggplant with Savory Cheese Stuffing

I got an eggplant as part of my Bountiful Basket. I'm a fan of eggplant, but usually when I can order it elsewhere. I tried to make eggplant parm, but that didn't turn out so great. I wanted to try my hand at something new and something tasty and this recipe definitely hit the spot. (I'm posting my 2 person recipe, the link will take you to one for 4)

IMG_4768


Baked Eggplant with Savory Cheese Stuffing

(adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
Cooking spray
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion finely chopped
1 medium chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
1/1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut eggplant in half. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; cool on pan 10 minutes. Carefully remove pulp, leaving a 1/3-inch-thick shell; reserve eggplant shells. Chop pulp.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Mix breadcrumbs and olive oil, mix til crumbly.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, oregano, and garlic; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, salt, and black pepper. Stuff each eggplant shell with about 1/2 cup onion mixture; sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and lightly browned.

IMG_4762

I could have eaten the stuffing by itself. Yum.

This recipe was amazing. So simple yet filling. I also baked my eggplants the night before and stored in the refrigerator until the next day. They kept, well, but I wouldn't do it for more than one day.

Cooking Light suggests serving with white rice, I forgot and had a wild instant rice that I used instead.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Plum Freezer Jam

Julie and I tried out a thing called Bountiful Baskets this past weekend. It's a co-op that groups people together to to purchase produce at a discount that is then distributed to each member of the co-op.

So bright and early on Saturday we went to pick up our baskets and came home with our loot:

IMAG0154

I got a giant head of Romaine lettuce, 3 tomatoes, an eggplant, celery, a head of cauliflower, 17 plums, 7 limes, 8 bananas, and a box of strawberries.

All stuff that I either use or could figure out a use for. However, 17 plums are A LOT. We eat plums, but not that many. So I made freezer jam.

IMG_4766

Freezer jam is VERY easy. It's a bit less cooking and you don't have to process the jars in boiling water.

Plum Freezer Jam

2 1/2 pounds of ripe plums (4 cups finely chopped)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups of sugar

Do not peel the plums, remove the pits and finely chop (you can mash your fruit more or hit it with an immersion blender like I like to do)

Combine 3 cups sugar and 1 package no sugar fruit pectin in a large saucepan. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Stir in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Pour fruit and lemon juice into the hot pectin-sugar mixture and stir for one minute.

Pour into freezer proof containers leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion during freezing.

Let stand at room temp for 24 hours.

You can refrigerate for 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to a year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yum

I'm a big fan of Greek Yogurt. I like the thickness of it. I like the plain mixed with some fresh fruit and a packet of Truvia.

The other day though I picked up this one instead of my usual plain or honey flavored.



O.M.G. YUM.

I almost ate the whole container right then and there (I buy the large containers, not individual serving sizes). It was like ice cream. I see it as the perfect snack for one I'm wanting a sweet snack without going overboard. Just a few spoonfuls and I'd be good.

Go out and try it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Conversations with John

John and I were watching the first episode of Curiosty - a new show on the Discovery Channel which is promising to be a pretty interesting series.

The series premiere was Curiosity - Did God Create the Universe?. It was based on Stephen Hawking's view of the universe and how it was created. It focused on the Big Bang Theory which is something I learned in school.

So I asked John:

Me: Did you learn about the Big Bang in School?
John: *Looks at me as though I'm kidding* I went to CHRISTIAN SCHOOL.

A little later into the show.

Me: So what'd they teach you about what happened to the dinosaurs?
John: *VERY matter of fact* Noah's Flood.
Me: *died*

Part of it was John's delivery of it, but part of it was just that I had never thought of nor heard of that before. Call my religious education limited if you will or that I was taught in very liberal schools (which I was. I was never taught Creationism in school. In fact in High School English we studied the Bible as a book of historical fiction). In a way it just blew me a way. Changing climate? Ok. Giant meteorite crashing into the Earth? Yes. Noah's Flood? They definitely didn't teach me that one in school...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Maybe You're Allergic to Cats

This past week I slept on a pull out couch with my mom while Dad slept on a cot. We were surrounded by three cats all week and a couch that had to be burned due to an overwhelming amount of cat pee that had saturated it. I took some Benadryl almost every day. Cats don't always bother me. Usually it's John I have to dope up whenever we're near a cat, but sometimes I end up with a stuffy nose.

The minute we left on Saturday I started to come down with the scratchy throat which turned into a headache a raging sore throat and a cough. I stayed home on Monday from work because I felt like hell and then called White Glove first thing on Tuesday morning. They met me at my office, left me with a sinus infection diagnosis and a ton of meds.

I made it most of the day on Tuesday and then a half day on Wednesday. This morning I woke up feeling like hell. My throat was worse than ever, my cough was painful, I wasn't rallying one bit so back to the Dr. I went.

Now they think my infection may be viral. I've got a stronger antibiotic (which White Glove warned me I may need if I didn't feel better) an inhaler, a steroid and some cough syrup with codeine which has been a lifesaver this afternoon.

My mom had started off with the same symptoms, but had gotten better. I called her this morning to tell her I was worse and her response was,

"Maybe you're allergic to cats?"

Me: Well yeah. Remember how every time I was around a cat when I was little I got sick?
Mom: Well we never actually had you tested and we had Kitty.

Yeah, Kitty was an outdoor cat so that maybe had something to do with it...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Regional Differences

Being back in Indiana made me remember some differences between Texas and Indiana so I'm a bit curious on what everyone else does.

Mustard or Mayo on burgers?

Coke, Soda or Pop?

How do you address a group of people (you all, ya'll, you guys)

What kind of meat is BBQ?

What would you say are the major food items or cuisine from where you live? (Like Maine - lobsters)

Do you have floor vents or ceiling vents?

These were just some that I could remember, any others that you notice when you travel?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The One Which Could Later Become a Book

This past week I went to Indiana and will have a post full of pictures and funny stories from my childhood and memories of my old hometown. Right now though I just have to get the crazy out. I want to remember this. The good, the bad, the ugly, the hilarity in it all if you can get there.

About a year and a half ago one of my grandpas died and I had the boss/job from hell and couldn't go when my entire family went up. So when I learned that my other grandpa died I knew I wanted to go.

So in the last week or so I:

Found out my grandpa had passed away via Facebook. Yeah...

Took two 20+ hour road trips with my parents. Can you believe being almost 30 and road tripping in a truck with your parents? It can be fun and awful all at the same time. Like when your dad wants to stop every hour to smoke. UGH. Or when he just goes on and on about the obvious scenery. It's sweet as in you would have been amazed when you were 5, but now you're almost 30 and dad, seriously? Then when you finally get to drive dad tries to grab the steering wheel and you have to have a serious discussion about "staying on your own side and to NOT touch the steering wheel" which your mom will find hilarious. And then when he finally decides to take a nap and you and mom can have a nice quiet drive through the country.

Went to a concert by myself and had a blast!

Got to see friends that I may not talk to very often, but can get in touch with it, through Facebook no less, and pick up right where I left off even if it's been 10+ years since we last saw each other.

Got to catch a glimpse of what it may be like when my parents get old. Have talks with them about what needs to happen now so that we don't have the same experiences they are having.

Have a great laugh with my mom when my dad tells me that I have permission to tell him to sit down and shut up when he starts to lose his mind.

To hear stories of family members I never knew about to and surprise my parents with a few of my own.

Couldn't remember how to get to my old house on the main roads but remembered where every back road took me.

Had that gut wrenching feeling when you don't even recognize your old house because it's basically been condemned.

Got to know that I was a great comedic relief for my parents on this trip. That despite what they went through I could help them find the hilarity in it all. I mean it turns out that maneuvering a cat pee soaked sofa out of a very awkward space into a truck, being told by Goodwill that they "don't take stuff like that", only to end up taking the coach to my cousin's farm SO WE COULD BURN IT could actually be pretty funny. Especially when you have to make a pit stop at the Kroger and get to see the horrified face of every customer that walks out of the store as they catch a whiff of cat pee.

Attended my grandpa's funeral, where there had to be a sheriff outside to make sure that his 3rd wife's kids didn't show up, where it turned out his ashes weren't even in the urn - it was empty, and I got to meet an aunt I never knew I had until I read the obituary.

So needless to say it was a week to remember and one I will never forget.
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