Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Indoor Lettuce

My latest idea is to grow lettuce inside. I've seen those kits you can buy to grow lettuce under a special light. I figured with as much sun as my kitchen window sees, I didn't need a special light.

While at the store the other day, I bought pea seeds. Yes, folks, I actually remembered to buy peas before May!! This is a banner year! While getting the seeds, I saw a packet for a neat looking variety of lettuce. Inspiration hit.

I bought a long planter and a packet of the neat variety of lettuce.

On Saturday, we planted the peas out in the garden that J had spent the weekend turning and getting ready for spring. While out there, I got the planter filled with potting soil, and planted the lettuce. I brought the planter inside, placed it in the window and watered. The packet said that it would sprout in 10-14 days, so I sat back and planned to be patient.
Look what I found today though, less than 72 hours later?

I am so excited!

Monday, March 22, 2010

New pets!

Ever since we sold Rudy, I've been keeping my eyes open at KSL's classifieds, watching for a new bird for M.

Last night, I finally found what sounded promising, as well as a screaming deal. The family was in the process of moving, and needed to sell their two cockatiels. Included was two male cockatiels, cage, toys, two books, food, bedding, etc. All for $25!!! Holy cow!
I immediately called, and M and I were over there within an hour. We met Sunshine and Freckles, who are both male. Freckles had a mate, and they'd actually had babies together at one point, but she died. As is common in birds, Freckles was starting to waste away from grief.

Sunshine had been abused in his previous home and had his wing broken but not properly cared for, so it didn't heal correctly. He was in a rescue when the brother to the owner of Freckles found him. They picked him up as a companion to Freckles, hoping he would ease his loneliness. They get along really well now.Freckles is on the left, Sunshine on the right

I felt like a total ogre though- the family had two little girls, around 6-8, and they were trying not to cry as they said, "You're going to take them NOW?" I gave their mom my card and assured her that they could come visit any time they wanted, and that I really, really meant it.

We got the birds home, and the kids were thrilled to meet them. Instead of attacking her like Rudy did, they started catcalling her! Believe it or not, she actually blushed!

I am really excited to welcome them to our home, and have high hopes. My only concern is they have no idea how old the birds are. So, hopefully they're not geriatric just yet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How I get a free Costco Membership

Before you get all excited, no, I do pay for my membership. However, I figure that it pays for itself. Let me count the ways:

First off, we buy the executive membership. It costs more($100 vs. $50), but you get 2% of each purchase back in the form of a gift check to be redeemed at the store. Our annual check is around $75. So, we're out $25 annually.

Second, we try to time our visits to the samples. Yum! If we pick a really great sample day, our family of 6 can get filled up for lunch on samples. If we'd taken the family to McDonalds instead, we would have spent about $25. So say we do that twice a month (which is an underestimate, sad to say), we "save" $600 a year. We end up buying many foods that we sample, so it's a "win-win" situation for Costco, the food manufacturers and us.

I will admit we don't eat that much fast food, so instead of McDonalds, I'll cook a healthy meal at home for $8. At $8 a pop, twice a month for a year, it works out to $192 a year.

If we didn't time our samples right, or it's a light sample day, we have to eat afterwards. So, we go to the cafe they have. We could make that visit even cheaper, but usually at least half of the family will either get the pizza or the salad, which is pricier than the hot dogs. Even so, our whole family eats for about $13, which is pretty amazing for a family of 6.

The products themselves are sometimes a great bargain and sometimes not. Sometimes the quality makes up for the extra cost. They also back all of their products and are great about returns.

Now, I think I shall go kiss a Costco employee. Hope I don't get arrested for assault.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lego Cake

There's a saying- "Jack of all trades, master to none".

I think that describes me. I dabble in a bunch of different things, but don't have the perfectionist abilities to truly excel at any of them.

Today is M's 10th birthday party. He requested pigs in a blanket for dinner, and a lego cake for dessert.

For pigs in a blanket, I used a basic roll dough, and let it rise. Then, I divided it in half. I rolled half of it out into a large rectangle, and cut it into rectangles measuring 3"x 4". Repeat with the other half of the dough. I then wrapped a hot dog in each one. They're rising right now, but they'll cook at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

For the lego cake, I made a 9x13 sheet cake. I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper so it would easily come out. After cooling a bit, I tipped it onto a cooling rack.

Then, I divided the cake into thirds. One of the thirds was divided in half so that I'd have a total of 4 "legos" when I was done.

I stuck it in the freezer for an hour or two, then made a big batch of buttercream frosting. Keeping it white, I frosted a thin layer on each cake for a "crumb coat". Stuck the cakes back in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Then I dyed the rest of the frosting and frosted each cake. To make the lego tops, I used large marshmallows that I cut in half and frosted. Rumor has it that they frost easier if you freeze them first, but I didn't try it that way.

I think the finished product is obviously amateurish, but still kind of cool.

The boys are all playing video games downstairs. I think I'll sneak out, leaving J in charge while I buy ice cream to go with the cake (oops!).

Selling the bird

We have made the decision to sell our blue fronted amazon parrot. We bought him last July, and he's never really adjusted well to living here. People complain about parrots being noisy. I think that the inverse is true in our case- I think WE'RE too noisy for him! We started out with the cage out in our front room, and he was obviously stressed out and overwhelmed. Didn't really like to have anyone approach him. We re-arranged things and put his cage back in M's room, and put his portable perch out in the front room. That way, he could come out and visit, but his cage was in a quieter place.

That helped, but he has still seemed overwhelmed by the sheer chaos that reigns in our home. To make matters worse, he has decided he hates K. He'll actively try to attack her if she gets too close. She can't go into M's room unless the bird is actually closed up in his cage. Rudy's favorite is M, with me being a close second.

The other deciding factor is space. His cage and perch take up a lot of space, and I am constantly whining about lack of space in this house. Since we have decided to stay here until we've paid off all debt and can afford THE HOUSE, I am trying to minimize possessions.

So, given his feelings about living here, his hate for K, and space, we've decided to let him go.

I've put an ad on KSL for him. So far, no irate phone calls from his previous owner (I tried to list him last year, and the last owner called and yelled at me). No scammers, either! Yay!

Last night, I got a very odd phone call. I missed the first call, and got an almost unintelligible voice mail. Called the guy back, and he offered me half the asking price. Umm, no. I pretty much told him I was completely inflexible on price. He asked if I could drive the bird to Salt Lake. I said that I'd consider it with a full price offer. He said he didn't have the money, but he'd call back if he could gather it.

5 minutes later, I get another call from him. It's now 9:45pm. He tells me that he's got the money, and can I leave now to take the bird down there? NO!!!!!! I said that I'm not going to Salt Lake til Saturday. He said that if the bird was still available Sat, then to call him, and he'd give me his address.

There's two other people who have said they want the bird, and are willing to 1- pay full price and 2- come to pick the bird up from my house.

There was one other college student who called who had me talked into buying just the bird and perch, and then I'd have to sell the cage separately. Given the other interest and the hassle involved, I think I'm going to call him back and tell him to make another offer.

I'm a little sad, particularly when I watch cool youtube videos of parrots who seem more personable and do tons of cool tricks. Then again, I suspect if it was just Rudy and I living here, he'd be a different bird.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's wrong with my foot?!

As anyone who knows me knows, I hate running. I really, really do. However, I don't know any fat runners, so I try to run at least once a week. Because my heart rate goes crazy when I run at a constant speed, the last couple weeks, I've been doing intervals. I've heard they help your heart rate slow down during exercise more than steady speed.

Last Wednesday, I ran on the treadmill. I ran for 1 minute at 7 mph, and then walked for 4 minutes at 3.5 mph. Repeated for 45 minutes or so, and then walked at 3.5 mph for 20 additional minutes.

When I got home, I noticed my right foot hurt a little bit. I shrugged it off. The next morning, it hurt to walk a little. I had noticed my feet hurting a bit more lately, so I figured it was time to get new exercise shoes. Ignored the foot pain.

Well, as the days have gone on, it's getting harder to ignore. There's a bruised spot on my foot, and if my eyes don't deceive me, there's a lump. I donated my old gym shoes yesterday, and bought a new pair today, but I skipped the gym today because of my foot (and because I donated my shoes yesterday figuring I'd find THE paid yesterday, which I didn't. Oopsie).

So, here's a side view of my foot. (yes, i do need a pedicure)

A view of both feet looking down. Do you see a lump?

I have not gone to the doctor. I'm afraid of one of two outcomes.

Outcome 1- The doctor says I hit it on something that I don't remember, and it's a simple bruise that will heal in a few days. Then I feel like an idiot.

Outcome 2- The doctor says I have a stress fracture of my navicular bone. Then I have to have a cast, crutches, etc. How does one drive with a cast on the right foot?