Monday, January 31, 2011

Meet Bailey

Meet Bailey, our new Golden Retriever puppy.

Yes, we realize there are a lot of other "Bailey"s. We know a couple and my parents told us this too. But the name fits him to a T, and NO, not because he's the color of Baileys Irish Cream (which, I cannot remember tasting, although I probably have at some point). We named him that because a) the name fit him, b) there's a Bailey Hill in our town, and c) There's the Old Bailey in England.

Moving on....

He's pretty darn cute, even if he does have such long eyelashes that they make his eyes seem sleepy all the time.

And big sister Maddie is pretty beside herself. In fact, the only way we could get him to like his crate was if Maddie and his giant stuffed bear were inside his crate too. I know co-crating is not super-recommended, but after several sleepless nights, we decided to give it a try. Success.

Bailey's pretty darn smart. At 8 weeks old, we took him home, and a couple of days later, he learned the command "sit." He's also beginning to recognize his name, and we are working on "come" and "stay." He definitely already knows "No!"

And, crazily enough, he has about an 80% record at whining by the back door when he needs to go outside. Don't get me wrong... the first few days we thought he had a bladder infection because he was peeing very frequently and in small quantities. The vet said it was a mental thing, and since then, it's gotten better. The destruction of trees through paper towel usage is lessening. I also think having an older dog helps. He doesn't see her going in the house.

Maddie and Bailey play play play. Seriously. And they make a lot of noise doing it. Generally speaking, no barking, since Maddie knows not to do that, and we're working on the pup too. Instead, it's this garbled up rowr rowr, garl, barl, errrr noises as they tackle each other. Maddie likes to go into Bailey's crate and drag toys out. Bailey sometimes gets dragged along as he hangs on. Watch out, Maddie... he's about half your weight now, but soon he'll more than double you.

His favorite spot upon coming home (on 1/22) was the low shelf of the coffee table. But then, he started sticking his head through the side bars of the table to tease Maddie. We were worried that he'd get his head STUCK (and we'd have to dismantle and break apart the table), so we are attempting to curtail that activity.

Let's just say that while Maddie and the humans are excited, there are some... less than enthusiastic folks in this household about the new dog. In his defense, Paddington has NEVER been into Maddie. One swipe when she was little was all it took for her to learn to leave Paddington alone. Now, Maddie and Paddington can coexist, since Pads knows she will not bug him, and Maddie knows to leave him alone.

But the new puppy is a whole other issue. Pads can't trust the puppy to leave him alone yet, and we don't want Pads to swipe this dog in the face. Shoulders and down swiping is fine, but how to do you handle that? So, for now, Pads knows to leave when Bailey gets too close. I've been giving him a lot of extra love. He's a good cat... just not into dogs.

And Bailey? He's a big boy. Here he is with B on take-home day. On Friday, 1/21, he weighted 10.8 lbs. On Monday, he weighed 12 lbs. Now, granted, he had JUST EATEN when he was weighed on Monday. But the vet was still impressed by the pup's size on Monday-- he was 12ish lbs and only 8 weeks and 1 day old. We want a big pup, so we're happy with his size. Now we just need to monitor food....

This photo may make her look a bit crazy, but yes, Maddie is totally into the new addition. They're best friends, which makes us feel good about leaving the dogs alone sometimes and perhaps eventual kids. No, we're not planning anything now, but at least Maddie has another friend in addition to the humans. The cats were beginning to reach their last straw with the enthusiastic Maddie, and I think they're somewhat happy at the relief the new puppy has provided them.

So that's it! That's the new update. And no more animals for us. We're set!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fixing the old pages.

With two months of photos headed to me in the mail (as a note: order months separately from Otherwise, they will come mixed up and you will spend FOREVER sorting them), I needed something to do. Then, I realized I had a bit of a page to do. I think this is from February, so I'll need to make sure I plan well to accomodate these photos. At the very least, I can pull them off and reback them in better-looking cardstock.

Unlike some of my other scrapbook pages from the small album, these ones I made for what I thought would be my new 12"x12" album. But then I switched to 11x14. But, these are not really the look I'm going for anyway, so I think I can condense these three pages into one big page.
The coop page is really the only page where there is a theme. I like themes. Granted, I'm ok with the theme "Miscellaneous," because sometimes, well, you need a page to put all the Miscellaneous photos. But I'd like to make pages have more of a theme per page. I really liked the idea of having a title on a page to sort of zoom in the reader. Hm. Maybe not an official title, but at least a caption? We'll see.

I think it's possible to make these all work well together. And while some photos are cut in strange ways, I think, that by backing them with square edges, I can make these photos look coherent with the rest of the album without mussing anything up. Luckily too, these photos were put in with either rubber cement or tape, so it should be pretty easy to remove them without damaging anything.

Progress to come...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Scrapbook Rundown

My goal, as mentioned yesterday, is to get caught up on my scrapbooking by July. I'd like to have all the months from July 2009 onwards (since we got married in late June 2009).

But here's the thing: I changed book types and styles.

I completed November 2009 through February 2010 in my old book. It's a puny thing, 9"x11" pages with this plastic overlay on the pages that gets ripply. And then I did a few pages to complete February 2010 and the beginning of March 2010 on bigger, 12x12 pages, thinking I would buy that size book next.

But that size book had the same woes as the 9x11 book.

Then, I switched to the amazing, 11x14 book my friend recommended. PAPER pages. It's fantastic.

So now everything that was done should be redone. It's a much prettier system. So, I have months and months of things to finish, even more than I thought before.

I should add that photos for April 2010 and May 2010 have been ordered!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Scrapbooking update

Well, March 2010 is done! I already had two pages, and here are two pages more. I'm very happy with the progress.

Most of the lines are nice, straight, and equal. Sure, the occasional photo is off-center, and yes, I hand-write the captions. But I know that if I don't just plow ahead, it won't get done. So do a good job, but get the job done too!

One page was devoted to Maddie photos, since I had a bunch of her from this month.

The other page is devoted to yard projects and updates. I think I'm going to go over the words in the middle box to make them stand out a bit more. I do like having kinda sorta titles on each page. I may do that more frequently.
I'm also paying a bit more attention to layout. I can't be too precise, since I want to get it done. So I normally cut the photos, and then lay them out before deciding how to back them. It works. And I think it's the fastest way to create a good-looking final product.

Many more months to go....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Resolution!

Yes, I know it's the end of January. But I've decided another resolution: Be up-to-date on my scrapbooking by July.

Why July? Because it's an insane month, and I will surely get no scrapbooking done during that time. There is:

* A wedding in Minnesota (which we don't know if we will go, one will go, or we'll just go to crazy efforts to make it seem like we're there but not go)

* Family visits for both sides

* Friends visiting from San Francisco and Guam (!!!)

* Possibly a trip down south to SF, Napa, then San Diego.


In looking at my scrapbooks, I'm a year behind, with an additional couple of months to do from just after the wedding. Eek. But, I have my new scrapbook (thanks AlmostNeverClever!) and my new cutter, so I have no excuses.

So, approximately 15 months to do in 5 months. Three months of scrapbooking material a month. That's doable. If I aim for one month a week, I'll be done well before July.

We shall see.

Plus, there's the added benefit that I will be keeping the kitchen table clean because of needing to do scrapbooking. That's all kinds of excellent.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Air Wick Warning

We have an AirWick plug in thing, which provides constant good smells by the cat box. This is a good thing.

Now on to the bad thing. I purchased this refill pack last month.
I loaded it, and plugged it back in. Yes, it worked. But, a couple drops, unknown to me, got on my table due to the plug in thing leaking when I changed them out. And this is what happened to my table:
Yes, that's a decently long strip of completely stripped of stain and finish. The harmless, essential oil, ate through all of it! AHH!

Special warning out there to those of you with curious kids and pets.

I emailed AirWick, but their response was essentially: Look on our product. Your loss.

I haven't yet looked on their package (because who keeps that?!), but my argument is: if you market something as a natural, essential oil, but it has WOOD FINISH STRIPPING QUALITIES, perhaps you need to make that better known than in small type somewhere on the back of the box. Just saying.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Waiting for Dad to come home

This is how boring I am.

Starting about 30 minutes before B comes home, Maddie starts being dramatic. Granted, I was busy doing work, but me doing work means I'm not playing with her.

We start with dramatically plopping on the floor, of course near the front door, since that is where the new possible playmate, B, will enter.

Better aligning oneself with the door.

Waiting for Dad to come home...

Repeat: do you realize, mom, how bored the doggie is when you are working?

Finally settling herself RIGHT NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR. Look at that look of exasperation. Mom, you're SO boring.

Putting her head down, she is soooo bored.

But then: DAD!! Dad's home!!!

Blur of a dog butt in the right-hand side of the frame as she runs to get a toy.

Blur to the left-side of the frame as she runs by.

Happy dog, playing.

Blur corgi... play play play!

Play play play.

Oh Dad, I'm so glad you're home because Mom is SOOO boring!

PLAY! Dad's home!

Pulling on the rope toy and twirling!

Oh SO happy.

Yes. I'm boring. CLEARLY. Maybe I should start coming home AFTER B, that way the dog will do her happy tap dance and play for me.... hmmm.... Nah. After a hard day's work, I know how much B loves that happy doggie.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Simpliying and working.

We've been busy.

After a wonderful year last year in our yard, we're trying to simplify things now. We are on the lookout for a house, but we're in no big hurry. So, we can wait around for the right one to come along. However, we don't know when that will be. It could be tomorrow, it could be next year. So, we decided we needed to simplify our backyard. When the right house comes along, we figure we'll be up to our eyebrows in other things, and the easier the move, the less stress on us and the more likely we'll get deposits back.

This has forced us to review what we have going on in the yard. Obviously, we still want a garden. But, how heartbreaking would it be to suddenly lose all our vegetables and hard work if we found a house in June? We'd be forced to move out and abandon a flourishing garden in the backyard.

So, we've decided two things:
1) We're working on cutting ties to the property, making a move someday easier.
2) We're looking at alternatives for gardening space.

We're specifically looking at a 20x30 community garden plot, but that's not a guarantee because those are done on a lottery system. So, if we don't get one of those, we'll hopefully be gardening in the shared back lot with our neighbors, Vince and Joe. That way, at least we know the garden will go to good use. We can even come back and help them if we do end up moving. We'll know about the community garden in the next month or two, which will give us plenty of time to determine our next steps.

On cutting ties to the property, we've been doing a lot of work.

First off, and the biggest one, the chicken coop was sold:
I know. GASP! The coop! You only finished that in March!!! Sigh, yes, I know. But I do still have chickens-- four of them. So, while I feel like I've parted with a chapter of my life, I know it's ok. And honestly, the stress of "how to handle the coop" was greater than the stress of selling the chickens. The coop represented a $200 deposit, the chickens represented approximately $80, and the coop itself $300. If we waited until we moved, we'd be looking at substantially less because we'd have to either leave things behind (forfeiting the deposit and coop-- we wouldn't leave behind chickens) or selling things in a low-price firesale. Not great. So now, it is sad and vacant, but at least that's taken care of!

Next, I put an ad on Craiglist for plastic pots and plant trays. The area behind the chicken coop had become a "stick it" spot for all such things. Bleh. YUCK. But, for FREE, I got several interested folks, and, yesterday, a girl came and picked up everything. I kept a few big white buckets, that way I could someday easily transport the blueberries, but that's it. And the area, while still needing a few things cleaned up, looks much nicer (the red thing was there when we moved in, don't know what the hey it is).

We've been going through our home and yard and trying to determine what needs to go and what needs to stay. I'm happy to say that we're getting pretty close to being done with needing to sell things. We don't want to move "extra" stuff someday, and if that's the case, why are we hanging onto things?

Next on the project list is: cleaning up the side of the house and the yard. I want no junk in the yard or shoved on the side of the house. We'll see how that goes. That project may have to wait until after winter and rainy spring.

In the yard there are other things to do too. We need to trim the raspberries, weed them, and rebuild their trellis. While cute, I learned a lot about trellis-making this past year, especially: Sturdiness. I built this trellis using furring strips, which do not do well when being nailed together. They split. So, this trellis was not too sturdy to begin with. After a full year? It's suffered. I plan on just putting up four posts on each box, and then stringing wire or twine between them. Done. What a mess right now though, right?

B was wonderful this weekend and weeded the blueberries. I hope they come back in full next summer. They worry me with their winter dormancy. They had a rough time last summer and fall, and I hope they're ok. We will see.

In the garlic beds, one type of garlic has sprung to life: red janice. Must be an early garlic because none of the other garlics (which is typical) are sprouting.

I also sold my currants. I did some hard thinking and decided that while the currants were nifty, I much preferred blueberries and raspberries. so, we sold the currants. this gives us some extra garden space too.

Whew, right? But I feel much lighter. I'll feel even better when the rest of the yard is clean too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snowshoeing in the rain

My college roommate, Heather, visited this weekend. On Sunday, we headed into the Cascades to snowshoe.

Despite the warm, pineapple express weather that was nearly causing the meltdown of the entire mountain (and flooding in the valleys below), we plugged on and decided to snowshoe anyway... in the rain. Yes, it was 60* in the valley below and 40* at the pass.

However, in snow gear, the rain isn't so shabby. And we weren't out hours and hours where the soggy clothing would make us chilled to the bone.

So, out we went. A pair was rented for $8, and B and I had our own -- which, coincidentally enough, Heather gave us back in '09 as a wedding present. Pretty good wedding present, right? And they were Tubbs snowshoes!

I know. We have great friends.

I tried to take video and more photos of the Mads, but fumbling for gloves and the camera, while trying to not let the camera get wet did not result in good images. In fact, I thought I was taking photos and video, but I was actually not. I got one good shot, and that's it. DRAT.
Maddie was ecstatic. She LOVED the snow. She'd bound into the deeper sections like a bunny rabbit, doing Pepe le Pieu bounces. She'd occasionally face-plant, the product of her too-short front legs causing her to sink all the way up to her chin. She loved everything about the snow.

There was no one else on the trail, so we let her off-leash. This dog amazes me. She stays within about a 20-foot radius of her people, always trotting ahead, looking back occasionally to make sure we're on track. When we finally got near to civilization again, we clipped on her collar. Once we hit the pavement in the parking lot, she turned to mopey dog, and very nearly had to be dragged back to the car. This is the dog who loves going in the car, and is always bounding ahead on the leash as much as the leash will let her. But heading back to the car after the snow? She trailed us the length of the leash, head down, pouty, and coming very close to us almost dragging her.

The humans also greatly enjoyed the snowshoeing. The dog story is just more fun to tell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The new chicken digs.

As you may remember, I sold 10 of my 14 chickens this past week, leaving me with my four favorites. I must say, I like the move down to 4 chickens. It's much more of a fun hobby, rather than a utilitarian chicken operation.

However, the big coop that the 4 chickens were in moves out on Saturday (sold on craigslist), so I needed to find a temporary home for the 4 chickens. This will give me time to gather my resources at home, and build a nice coop, without feeling like I'm rushed. Plus, not being rushed will mean I won't spend as much money.

This is the eventual coop I want to make. Something totally movable, by 2-4 people, and not anchoring us to this place. I might make it more rectangular. We'll see.
This is a possible design too, but I do like the first one.

While both those designs are nice, I needed something in the interim. Preferring not to spend money on them, I examined my resources, while also considering the fact that it is winter and the hens need to stay secure, warm, and dry.

So, I took my cold frame...
And two of my potato beds (which were possibly getting moved this year anyway due to being too in the shade and producing crazily tall potato plants)...

And voila. A chicken coop. See, the cold frame was not tall enough inside on its own. So, I put it on TOP of the garden beds, which had been mostly dug out and emptied of dirt. I put boards on one side and attached chicken wire on the other. The boards are securely in, but I can remove them to access the water bucket. I covered the ground thickly with coffee chaff. The door "roof" can open up in warmer days, or days where it is not going to rain. But, on rainy days, I made it so it closes all but about 3-4 inches. That gives the hens enough ventilation, but keeps them toasty warm and dry.

As for the girls? They LOVE IT. The have been incredibly active and happy. In the old coop, they stayed dry, my not dry enough. My poor salmons would walk around with damp neck feathers looking like dreadlocks. I will likely need to replace the chaff more frequently, since they do dig through it to the dirt below, but that's fine. I don't mind doing that.
Here they are, dry and happily pecking away at breakfast.

So. It may not be the prettiest thing ever, but it perfectly does the trick. And my feathered friends are super happy. A better one will be built, but now I can take my time. I may even wait until spring and warmer weather! There is no rush with this set-up, and the hens get a lot more light than they used to (since their old coop/pen was covered with a tarp, keeping it pretty shaded). Happier girls.

And, the cost to me was $0. You can't beat that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Currently coveted kitchen items

There are several kitchen items I'm currently coveting. So, I thought today I'd post. I must admit that part of this post's purpose is to keep me from forgetting what these delicious things are called (at least, for the first two items).

The first up: Caneles. I recently discovered these AMAZING treats in at our town's farmer's market. Unfortunately, the stand was operated by an independent person, not affiliated with a particular bakery, so right now I cannot get another (since the market is closed until April). This is probably a good thing for my waistline.

As described by seriouseats, caneles have a dark, carmelized crust and a custardy inner. Yup, that describes them. However, they require molds. And this is the step I lack. I've tried to find them for relatively cheap, but so far, no luck. Maybe I should just get 2-3 and see if I can even get success? Hm.

So, here are the little copper molds. Delightful, right?

And the amazing finished product. Trust me, they taste amazing.

Next up: Krumkakes. These are made with iron little presses that squish the batter to a thin disk. The designs are intricate, and the finished product can quickly be molded into a cone or bowl shape too. I think they're pretty fabulous as disks. Crunchy cone-y.

And I must say, pretty adorable. Maybe I'll get one in advance of this year's holiday season? Maybe.

Finally, the most useful item of the three: a tortilla press. AND, my neighbor recently got one, so maybe I'll get to try this one out before ordering one. "But tortillas are so cheap!" you say. True, but if you're like me, you use 2-5 out of the package and then forget they're there. Stale package later, possibly complete with mold, you buy another package, wasting half the package of tortillas. Plus, I'd like to make my own. Maybe healthier tortillas? Something not made with lard? Or small ones to make cute appetizer tortillas? The possibilities are endless.

The little metal handle clamps the top lid down, so that the machine does the work for you, pretty much. You'll still have to cook the tortillas. I'd be interested in seeing how much effort this takes from start to finish. The other positive of this press is that it's easy to clean. FLAT surface. A plus in my book.

So there you have it! Three coveted items. We'll see which one moves to the "owned" category first!