No More Guilt!

I have a collection of canvas bags that I like to take to the grocery store.  I was really good about taking them actually INSIDE the store with me when the enthusiasm was new.  Now they get taken out of the car for one reason or another and not returned or I forget to take them inside with me and am too lazy to walk all the way back out to the parking lot to retrieve them. 

So I end up taking home yet another group of white plastic bags and toss them in the recycle bin.  Better than nothing, right? 

I don’t know how many of you are crafty out there – as in arts and crafts, not sneaky little boogers.  But…today I ran across a website, http://www.myrecycledbags.com.  I think the original link was from Tiny Choices – another site in my weblog that you should really read on a regular basis.   Anyway….this woman crochets reusable shopping bags from strips of cut up plastic bags of all shapes and sizes.  She has instructions on how to make the strips and patterns for the bags.  Now it takes about 40 bags to make 1 bag, but what a great way to use them up!  I haven’t crocheted in years but I just might have to give this a try!  So now when I forget to take in my canvas bags I can go home guilt-free knowing that soon something good will result from my forgetfulness. 

I added the link to my weblog.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Keep it simple.

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Pass the Butter!

I received this information today via email from our local foods group and thought it worthy to pass along.  So here are some interesting  – and disturbing –  facts about margarine.  Comments inside brackets [ ] are mine. 

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and marketed it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings. [“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”  – it ain’t, trust me]

Margarine has the same amount of calories as butter [okay, not so bad]
Margarine is slightly lower in saturated fats at 5 grams versus 8 in butter [so where’s the bad?]

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study. 

Very high in trans fatty acids.

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers  HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.
Lowers quality of breast milk.
Decreases immune response.
Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact…. HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!
Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC.
This fact alone is enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).  [Eating the stuff is like mainlining plastic into your veins!]
You can try this yourself: [Disclaimer: I have not tried this but if anyone does, let me know what happens]
Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things:
* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny-weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? BECAUSE IT IS NEARLY PLASTIC!!! Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast? 

Now for some butter facts: [there is a lot more out there on the internet about the benefits of butter versus the fake stuff]

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where the few nutrients in margarine are there only because they are added!
Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.
Butter is natural!  It has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

So, that’s just a thumbnail about yet another frankenfood.  Another good reason to eat locally!  Explore your local farmers market for a vendor that sells fresh butter; contact your state department of Ag for local creameries or dairy farmers who might be willing to sell fresh cream for making your own butter.  Check out this video.

Have a great day everyone! Keep it simple.

Pet Care Partners – Boarding Kennels

Back in the dog treat business days I wrote a series of articles for my website.   Since its vacation season and sometimes its hard to know what to do with our furry family members  – insert wise cracks here – I thought I’d post one of the articles on boarding kennels.  Hope it provides some helpful info.   I’ve also added it to my Pets page.

Keep it simple.

Pet Care Partners: Boarding Kennels

 Chances are, at one time or another you will need to turn to someone else to care for your dog.  Perhaps you’ve accepted a work assignment that will keep you out of town for a month.  Maybe you’re finally going on that long awaited cruise.  Whatever the reason, you find yourself in need of someone dependable and trustworthy to care for Rover.  Although some dogs do best at home with a pet sitter, other dogs do better in a boarding kennel.  Consider your dog’s personality and needs before making a decision.

Things to know up front:  For kennels, pet boarding is a business.  Their success depends on volume as much as quality care.  Kennels care for many animals at the same time and your pet will probably be kept in a cage or run.  Don’t expect a kennel to give your pet the same kind of attention and affection that you do; it just won’t happen.  But good kennels employee people with a natural love of dogs that will be kind and gentle and care for your pet to the best of their ability.

Kennel choices:   Most vet offices offer boarding services.  While vet office care may be limited, with smaller cages and limited exercise opportunities, many people, especially those whose animals have medical needs, feel more secure leaving their pets with a trusted vet.  Other owners turn to private boarding kennels that can range from bare-bones to luxurious.  Sparse facilities do not differ much from vet offices.  Cages are usually small and exercise is limited to two walks a day.  More expensive facilities offer mixed playtime for dogs that are socialized, outdoor exercise areas, larger runs rather than cages, and grooming services (all of which may be at an extra charge).  Upscale doggy hotels are all the rage in some areas.  Your dog may receive a massage, bath and haircut, obedience training, soothing music and luxurious bedding while you’re gone. 

Where to start: Whatever level of care you decide on, there are some basic things to know and do before making a final decision on where to board your pet.  Price, comfort, health and safety are all valid concerns.  After all, you’re entrusting someone else with one of the most emotionally valuable things in your life. 

Ask friends, neighbors, family, and your vet or dog trainer for recommendations.  Then do a little background investigation.  If your state requires licensing and inspections, make sure the kennels you are considering are in good standing.  Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to the American Boarding Kennels Association.  This trade association promotes professional standards, requires members subscribe to a code of ethics, and offers accreditation for professionalism, safety and quality of care.  If you’re satisfied that a kennel meets basic requirements, schedule a visit. 

What to look for:  First impressions are important.  Sniff the air as soon as you walk in.  There should be no strong antiseptic smell or odor of urine or feces.  Some antiseptic odor is understandable in concrete areas, but if odors assail your nose as you walk in the door, you may want to consider another kennel. 

Look for a pleasant atmosphere.  Do the current boarded dogs look happy?  Do they come to the front of the kennel to greet you?  Dogs that lie to the back and do not interact are a bad sign.  Is the staff competent, confident, friendly and caring or do they seem harassed and irritable?  Are there a sufficient number of workers or are they short-handed and overworked?  Is the kennel owner ready and willing to show you where your dog will be housed and exercise areas?   If not, cross this one off your list. 

Make mental notes as you tour the facilities.  Are dog beds clean?  Look for clean food bowls and water bowls without scum or floating objects.  Are the runs clean or is there feces lying around?  It’s impossible to keep all runs clean 100% of the time, but you’ll be able to tell the difference between filth and recent deposits.  Is the kennel yard full of debris?  Is the building in need of serious repair? Is there good ventilation and a comfortable temperature?  If possible, take a look at the kitchen.  A clean kitchen is a good indicator of a clean pet area.  Get a tour of outdoor exercise areas and runs.  Are they protected from the elements?  Is the noise level overwhelming?  Although it is impossible to prevent dogs from barking, especially while someone is walking through the facility, the kennel should not be overcrowded to the point where dogs are constantly barking.  Observe any activities offered.  Note especially how aggressive dogs are handled. 

Brass tacks:  If your first impressions are favorable, then get down to details.  You need to know if pets are required to be current on vaccinations.  Some kennels now require that your dog be vaccinated against Bordetella, canine kennel cough.  Many kennels will allow you to bring your dog’s regular food.  It not only cuts down on their costs, but helps your dog adjust to kennel life.  If it is important that your pet stay on his regular diet, ask; don’t just assume.   What veterinary services are available?  Does the kennel have a vet on call?  You may prefer that the kennel call your vet if there is a need.  Make this information readily available and let your vet know that your pet will be staying at a kennel while you are gone.  Ask questions about feeding schedules.  If your pet needs regular doses of medication, make sure this service is offered.  Find out how much exercise your dog will be getting and how often they are allowed to potty.  Can you bring your dog’s bedding from home and his favorite toy? Is it important to you that a staff member be on the property around the clock?  If so, make sure this is the case at your chosen facility.  Be sure to get a breakdown of charges.  Some services are included in basic daily rates, some are not.  If price is an issue, get the details worked out up front so you won’t be surprised when you get home.  And last, but not least, trust your instincts.  If you just don’t feel good about a particular kennel, go somewhere else. 

Prepare your pet: So, you’ve taken all the preliminary measures and selected a kennel for your pet.  Now you need to prepare Rover for his stay.  If the facility offers doggy day care services in addition to longer term care, give your pet the chance to try it out.  Take him once or twice for just the day.  Take special note of his first impressions and reactions.  Quiz the staff on his behavior and interaction with the other animals. 

Be sure your pet knows basic commands.  Make sure he is current on vaccinations and is flea-free (most kennels require it).  If your pet is going to be at the kennel for an extended time, you may consider a trial run of a weekend excursion.  This allows you to work out any kinks before the longer stay.  If necessary, teach your dog to sit before being petted or fed and to walk quietly on a leash.  Socialize him to strangers, especially if medication or grooming will be provided at the kennel.  Make sure he is accustomed to a crate if he will be in one at the kennel.  It will make the stay less stressful and fearful for your pet.

Prepare the kennel staff:  No one likes surprises, not even kennel staff who are accustomed to working with all animal personalities.  If your dog has any unusual fears, aggression triggers or other idiosyncrasies, be honest for the safety and well-being of all involved.  Let them know if Rover is not reliably housetrained, hates men or eats things he’s not supposed to. 

On kennel day: Exercise Rover before you turn him over to the kennel staff.  Leave the kids at home.  Walk in the kennel door, give Rover a gentle pat, tell him you’ll see him soon and let him go.  Long goodbyes, hugs and tears will only stress out your pet (and you).  He’s not going to hate you for leaving.  Go have fun.

Coming home:  One last thing, don’t be surprised or alarmed if your dog segregates himself and sleeps a lot upon coming home.  He is not upset with you or had a miserable time.  Dogs in kennels are awake from the crack of dawn until nighttime.  They are excited by barking dogs, meal times and visitors walking past them.  He may simply be exhausted. 

Boarding kennels can be a good solution for those times when your pet has to be left behind.  Do your homework and find the best facility for you and your pet.  It is well worth the time.  Your peace of mind and your pet’s health are your reward. 

 

Wisdom Teeth

Its’ been a tiring day – well, 2 days. 

My 20 year old son was scheduled yesterday – or so we thought – to have TWO wisdom removed.  We showed up at the appointed place at the appointed time.  Low and behold, this was only the “consultation.”  Communication is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  The person who made the appointment failed to pass along that little tidbit of information. 

So, after watching a video about all the things to expect – in other words, all the things that can go wrong  in oral surgery, the surgeon proceeds to come in and railroad us into getting all FOUR teeth removed because there is not enough room in his mouth; as he gets older the roots will continue to grow and there is potential for decay; why go through this twice – yada, yada, yada.  Then he says they will set up the appointment for the extraction.  Wait a minute!  You mean we’re not here to do it TODAY?!?   No!  This is just the consultation, but we can do it tomorrow.  Oh, and by the way, they will not do just local anesthetic.  No, this calls for putting him completely out.

Okay, we’re all adults here.  He had to ask off 3 weeks in advance to get here today, but fortunately he is taking off work for 3 days, so it’s do-able. 

Now, my fear level has drastically increased after watching the video.  All manner of images have started to play themselves out in my mind.  They put him to sleep and can’t wake him up!  He makes it through the procedure but a staph infection sets in and he dies! (like the music minister from our church back in the 80’s).   So, I’m in this mode all day and night.   Thanks!  Then comes the whole insurance approval thing.  I catch the dentist’s office in a “mistake” that would have cost me $400.  Thank goodness for a helpful customer service person in the insurance office who went out of her way to correct the errant billing person.

So, this morning finally arrives and the hours drag.  We’re not to be there until 12:15 and the poor kid can’t eat or drink anything.  So, being the good mother I am, I sneak a bowl of cereal while he’s in the shower.   (I know, this is all sounding pathetic at this point, but it’s my blog and I’ll whine  if I want to – or vent or whatever this is)

So, we pray before we get in the car and head to our doom.  I took a book to read and am partially successful in distracting myself from what is going on behind closed doors.  30 to 45 minutes with about 15 minutes in recovery.  Okay, I can do this.  I’m thinking to myself: “He is probably under anesthesia by now.  They are in the middle of it about now……” And then, only 25 minutes later: “Douglas’ Mom?  You can come back now. Everything went fine.”

The Hallelujah Chorus!  There is my boy, awake!  Alive!  Sitting up and holding an ice pack on his face!  So, we take our home care instructions and he’s trying not to gag on all the gauze in his mouth. 

Hours later, here we are.  I think the bleeding has finally stopped.  He quit the gauze thing after 5 hours. Even though the bleeding hadn’t stopped completely the gauze was making him miserable.  So, I think we just decided not to worry about it.  The nurse told me it would bleed for “a couple of hours.”   Wrong!  You tell me a couple of hours and 2 hours later he’s still bleeding.  You say 2 hours, I want it to stop in 2 hours!  Irrational on my part, but just part of my stress. 

Two Lortabs.  He prescribed 30 and some antibiotics.  I can’t imagine that my son will need 30, so I only buy 10.  The throbbing set in after the numbness wore off, but he’s feeling better now.

Mac and cheese (an approved food from the list – there is a God!) is cooling on the kitchen counter.  I haven’t had mac and cheese in forever.   I’m getting goofy.  I think we are both mentally exhausted.  Its only 7:30 and I feel like I could sleep for days, but the Coke and candy I treated myself with while waiting for the prescriptions at Walgreen’s is kicking in.  

UPDATE:  He’s feeling better.  He took the whole dish of mac and cheese and a spoon and headed for the TV.  Guess I won’t get any after all.   My waistline doesn’t need it anyway.  “No!  You cannot get in the car and go buy a video!  You have 2 Lortab in your system and you’re supposed to take it easy for the whole weekend!”  A mother’s work is never done.  🙂

Keep it simple.

Garden Looking Good

I forgot the before picture, but here is the after. 

6-10-2009 004

Just use your imagination and picture plain dirt adorned with lots of weeds and grass that were getting to be a real hassle.  So, I mulched the strawberry beds with compost and hopefully that will be not only the end of my grass worries but also some  nice nourishment for the bed.  They are starting to put out new runners and the berries are very flavorful and sweet.

Gherkin blooms

Gherkin blooms

The cucumbers are blooming and this morning I noticed the first one almost big enough to harvest.  I will explore the web for some refrigerator pickle recipes.   The dill is also looking gorgeous – some are starting to get heads.
A little blurry but you get the idea

A little blurry but you get the idea

So, tonight if its not too humid, I should be able to sit outside and enjoy the beauty growing around me.  The new grass is filling in most of the bare spots and filling in around the flagstone patio nicely.  Its actually coming together.
Last night I planted some morning glories from a friend’s garden to climb on my trellis and some zinnias in pots.  Still need to get a nice geranium and some impatience or maybe some begonias.  I’ve put so much energy into the vegetable garden this year that the ornamentals have gone unattended.   The local flower stand has everything 30% off right now so maybe running late with the whole process will turn out to be to my advantage :-). 
Keep it simple.

How NOT to Plant Tomatoes

My tomatoes don’t look so hot.

I’ve said many times on this blog that I am a newbie at vegetable gardening.  The whole tomato thing is a prime example of my inexperience. 

I was so proud of my $1.50 pots – nice 12″ black plastic.  BAD CHOICE.  I planted my beautiful locally grown tomato plants, purchased from a locally owned garden center in my locally purchased garden soil and they were doing great – until the weather started warming up, that is.  An acquaintance who happens to be a master gardener mentioned that black plastic pots tend to retain the heat of the sun and will actually cook the roots of whatever is planted in them. 

Cooked tomatos

Cooked tomatoes

She suggested that the pots be buried.  I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.  But yesterday I noticed that even after an overnight blessing of rain, that the leaves were drooping badly, turning yellow at the bottom and a couple of the small Romas were actually rotting on the vine!   I guess she was right – darn it!

So, I pull out the shovel and go to work trying to dig a hole.  Now, keep in mind that I have absolutely no upper body strength and we have hard pack clay for dirt.  My DH was kind enough to get out his phD – post hole digger – and promptly dug six holes for my tomato pots.  When we picked up each pot, low and behold, the roots were growing out the small hole in the bottom and were growing into the paving stones!  Even I should have known to drill holes in the bottom of the pots.  I really amaze myself with my own stupidity sometimes!  Anyway, he cut out the bottom of each pot and put a little garden soil in the hole, added a little water and set the whole thing, cage and all, into the ground.  I watered them well and went inside. 

A second chance at life

A second chance at life

I was a little afraid to peak out my kitchen window this morning, but I was happy to see that the plants had perked up overnight.  So, I’m hoping that getting the pots out of the heat of the sun and giving the roots room to grow will save my tomatos.  I need to pull off the bad parts and tie up a couple of places that are drooping badly, but otherwise, maybe they will actually make it. 

I will leave the pots in the ground when the season is over and next year just pull them out, amend the soil left behind and plant my tomatos directly in the ground where they should have been in the first place!  I didn’t want to put them in my new raised beds for fear they would crowd out other plants, but I see now that I could have dedicated an entire bed to them.  Oh, well, this is trial and error after all and this has been a HUGE error, but hopefully, one corrected and learned from. 

Keep it simple.

Thursday Ramblings….

Things have been crazy lately.  Moved the kid from one house to another down in Norman on Monday; husband out of town for aunt’s funeral and the house was a little too quiet with no one else to talk to but the animals

annie

I harvested the rest of the green onions to make room for cantalope planting; menu for tonight’s dinner: pork loin cooking in the crockpot as we speak, sauted green onions and green pepper with potatoes steamed in just a little butter, and maybe some of the swiss chard that just won’t go away.

Spent the ENTIRE day on Saturday in Stillwater with a friend for a quilting day.  Here are the results:

portobello market

The Stillwater Multi-Arts Center is a great community resource.  Edmond really needs something like it.  It has a huge pottery studio, weaving looms, a painting studio, and a really nice long-arm quilting machine.  For the mere cost of a 2-hour class I can sign up to use the machine anytime I want FOR FREE!   Its an hour drive from home, but to be able to load up several quilt tops and get them all done in one day would be wonderful. 

Let’s see, what else… trying to quit caffeine.  I am extremely sensitive of the effects of it.  And what’s weird is that now that I’m on the other side of menopause  – TMI for some of you 🙂 – the effects are different than when all the hormones were intact.   I’ve discovered that it is a hinderance to weight loss and I have become more easily agitated.  I used to never drink it because of the negative effects, but as those waned, I failed to see others taking their place.   So, I have been drinking iced tea every day which some of you might say is not big deal, but even relatively mild amounts of caffeine on a daily basis is bad news for me.  So, I am on day 2.  Yesterday I noticed fuzzy thinking and depression and mood swings which are symptoms of withdrawal – just after one day!!!  See what I mean about  being ultra sensitive?!?

Part of my depression issues yesterday, I think,  was the fact that the farmers market in my community has let another dog treat vendor in.  The young woman who bought my business (and is a coworker) was just getting the hang of it all and the summer business was beginning to kick in when this other guy shows up with his liver flavored powder and shortening ingredients.  I  feel guilty, like I cheated her or mislead her somehow, but since I did not know this was going to happen, I know I really shouldn’t.    blah blah blah   I even emailed the manager of the market and inquired as to why and really should have just stayed out of it, I guess.   I knew that selling the business to someone I know would have its issues and I guess this is one of them.    

So, let’s change the subject before I get all bent out of shape again.  

I read an interesting newsletter today from the Post Carbon Institute.  Here’s the link:

http://heinberg.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/206-look-on-the-bright-side/ – things are looking up.

10:15 – no work for the State yet.  Must begin.

Keep it simple.