Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Best Laid Plans (PHFR #11)

You know those trees I planted back in November?  Well, of the three I planted, only one is still living--the digdogs destroyed the two that I planted in the back yard.  I'm probably going to have to buy older trees if I want to plant them in the back yard--preferably at a size that the dogs can't chew up.  I actually thought that all three of them had died, since the one in my side yard didn't begin blooming and putting out leaves when all of the rest of the trees in the neighborhood did.

So, when I saw this, it made me incredibly


It is blooming and putting out leaves!!!


And, the pollen counts and weather have been cooperating lately, so I've been spending more time outside again.  Have I mentioned before that I love my deck?  I do, and I really want to replace it/spruce it up.  Eventually, I may see about extending the roof so that it is covered and I can sit outside when it is raining, but that is a project for another year. :-)  No one told me when I bought my house that I would perpetually have projects that I want to do on it.  Don't get me wrong. I love my house as is, but I keep looking at things and thinking, "this room would be better if..."  One of these days, I'm going to look around and say, "this house is perfect." At least I hope so!

I'm not sure the dogs like spending the afternoon/evening outside as much as I do.
Of course, having the dogs means that at least some of the things I want to change are because of them...See the scratch marks on the screen door?  At some point, I want to change the screen door and back door to a set that has a built in doggie door through both of them.  Then I don't have to play the "I want out. No, I want in. No, I want out" game that they play sometimes, and I don't have to worry about them when I leave for work.

Compost bin update:  

So, the inexpensive option is not going to work for me... The youngest digdogs figured out how to get into it, and had a grand old time playing in the leaves.  Once they were done, this is what it looked like:

This is actually about 2 weeks ago. They have since spread the leaves around the yard further through play.

So, I'm kind of back to square one, and will probably be buying some wood and power tools in order to build something that is dog proof.  I was really hoping that the cheap option would work, at least for a while! I saw some pictures of a 3 bin system, which look like they might be workable. They better be pretty big bins, though, as the leaves you see in this picture is only half of my front yard, and the front trees have since lost the last of their winter coat (what kind of tree keeps hold of its dead leaves until it grows new ones, anyway???), along with boatloads of what reminds me of the pollen stamens of non-bearing mulberry trees.


Taking pictures of the animals is always a bit tricky: 

Are they real, or are they Robo-dogs?!?!?
I love this picture except for the eyes--It shows that Ginger is finally warming up to Sassy, and that they could eventually become friends. I keep hoping, anyway. I have other pictures of them together under the table, which is Ginger's safe place, but they are either too dark, or Ginger looks incredibly sad and long-suffering.  

An example: 
See? dark AND sad.

But then they do crazy stuff like this:

I'm really a cat, mom! I promise!
Ginger usually does stunts like this when she feels like I'm spending too much time focusing on something other than her--in this case, it was my computer, as I was working on grading.  

And, when they are just being cute and sweet, it is often so fleeting that, once you get your camera, you've missed it.  I was lucky to catch Ginger cuddling with Bubba, though.

My roommate actually took the picture--I'm quilting in the background.
There is a reason why people should not allow me near gardens: I have the black thumb of death.  The newest proof:

These mini roses were really beautiful before Spring Break, I promise!!!

I thought that making sure it was nice and moist before leaving for spring break would be enough, but this is what I came back to. Thankfully, they weren't that expensive, and I was able to enjoy them while they lasted.  Since I've been here, I've bought 3 plants for my office, and only one is still living--my first orchid died over the summer because I over-watered it while I was working from home, and my current orchid is thriving here in my office.  I may need to give it away before I leave for the summer, or it may be doomed as well!

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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Power of the Word

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and the gospel is something that is a bit different from normal--as a congregation we get to interact and read part of the story, because the narrative of Christ's passion is broken up into parts, and those of us in the pews become the voices of the crowd.  This is something very powerful for me, and I don't know that I have ever gotten through the gospel reading on Palm Sunday with a dry eye.

The point where I tend to get a little teary is when we must cry out, "Crucify him."  It is a visceral reminder that I am the reason for Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and that I'm always one decision away from denying Christ as Peter did.

Yet again, I am in amazement at the wisdom of the Church and of the liturgical year.  This has been a rough lent, with my discipline and being able to follow through with my Lenten discipline being spotty at best.  However, I'm also so incredibly thankful for the reminder of Christ's sacrifice for each of us, and for this coming week when we finally celebrate our Risen Lord.

Even as the darkest days are yet to come, with Good Friday this week, we don't have to stay there.  As at the beginning of the Easter vigil, when we start with the words, "the Light of Christ," so too can we say with Isaiah, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!"

May He illuminate our lives and our hearts, and may Lenten mourning be transformed into Easter Joy!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Breaking the 180 barrier (PHFR#10)

Monday morning was the first time I have weighed under 180 lbs. in a really long time.  I was kind of expecting to not keep the weight off, since Sunday was one of those weird food days when you end up accidentally missing a meal or two.  Amazingly, I'm still under 180 lbs, for which I'm really thankful. It also makes me


177.8 lbs.  This dress is actually a little loose, and only another 5 lbs until my next stitch fix box!
I'm also really happy that I'm doing well at sticking with the GAPS diet.  I tried another new recipe this past weekend, and am glad I did: Parsnip Fries.  Of course, after I made them, I realized that it actually wasn't GAPS legal, so I'm thinking of trying this with carrots instead of parsnips as some point. As an added bonus, you can actually buy carrot sticks already cut up, so the prep time would be way shorter!

They got a little brown...but the ones that aren't burnt tasted really good!
I followed the recipe, but the fries ended up burning.  I'm wondering if the size of my oven has something to do with that--I have an apartment size stove, so the half-sheet pictured is the largest cookie sheet that will fit in my oven (there is less than a half inch left of space all the way around).  I'm wondering if having the sides of the oven so close to your baking dish make the cooking go quicker.  Or, maybe it is just that my knife skills aren't uniform enough.

Yep, this is my oven. Cute, isn't it?
I've about come to the conclusion that I really need to take some cooking classes so that I can be better at the prep part of cooking.  I have a pretty good handle on what spices and flavors go together, although I tend to be a little boring in that department, but uniform cutting and presentation are not my strong suit.

I'll never compete for one of those cooking shows, but I would like to make the process of cooking less tedious, and I think knowing some of the prep skills would be helpful.


So, the evening of the Parsnip Fries, we bought a rotisserie chicken for dinner, and added some leftover butternut squash.  I have to say that the picture of dinner is definitely close to food porn.  I don't think I've ever been that good at taking a picture of dinner before. Maybe it is because I'm actually using my camera instead of the camera on my phone.

See the steam rising from dinner?
One of the other things I'm currently working on is adding more liquids to my diet--my real problem is that I don't particularly like drinking plain water.  This is why I usually resort to drinking carbonated or mineral water most of the time.  However, I'm also trying to economize on my grocery bill, so I've been looking for ways to do so.  Here is my solution:

I'm liking the taste, and, since I have the reusable aluminum bottles from when I worked at UTEP, I didn't have to make any kind of investment to create this solution.  I just have to be careful, because, when I drink from them in class, I'm incredibly tempted to crunch on the cucumbers while I'm teaching!


The weather has been BEAUTIFUL this last week, and it is fun to watch everything bloom.  In an effort to lower utility bills, we have been opening windows and turning on ceiling fans in an effort to refrain from turning on the A/C just yet.  The dogs are taking it in stride, although they will sometimes peer through the windows of the screen doors.  

Even though it is getting warmer, they are still vying for who gets to snooze on the quilt I'm working on, though.  I'm going to have to start another quilt immediately after this one is done in order for them to continue to have a place to sleep!

Ha-Ha, Bubba.  It is my turn!


One of the side-effects of moving to central TX and all of the wonderful, glorious green is that I'm really struggling with allergies.  I've been told by both my dr. and several friends that this area is notorious for being bad for people with allergies--we are in the middle of a valley, so pollen blows in, but it doesn't really blow out.  Since coming back from Christmas in the desert, I have had 2 rounds of antibiotics for bronchitis, and I'm currently on steroids.  I'm really hoping that the steroids help...otherwise, I may have to do antibiotics as well.  

I'm thinking that opening windows is not the best way to economize.
I'm also starting to realize that, when you don't like fish and you can't do dairy, figuring out what to eat for Fridays in lent is a struggle....I did curried lentil soup last week, and will be making meatless split peas this week, but I'm running out of ideas for what to eat.  I have a feeling that at least part of my weekend will be used to look for some interesting vegetarian recipes.

Split peas soaking so that I can throw them in the crock-pot tomorrow.
Lastly, one of the easiest breakfasts on the GAPS diet is eggs: fried eggs, scrambled eggs, veggie frittatas, etc.  I may become an egg if I eat very many more of them!  So, today, I had a bowl of fresh strawberries for breakfast.  They tasted really good, but they didn't stick with me for very long.  I was already feeling hungry again by the time I had been at work for 30 minutes.  So, I'm going to need to think of something else to have for breakfast, or at least think of some sort of supplement to fresh fruit.

Any ideas are welcome!

Breakfast this morning.  I love the contrast of the blue with the red of the strawberries.
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