Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dental Procrastination, Not a Good Thing

Waffles.  What do waffles have to do with today's topic?  Nothing.  Today's topic is teeth.  Ok, so waffles have to be chewed so that makes them relevant, but not really.  I just wanted to show you a picture of the waffles that I made last weekend.  The extras went in to the freezer for future weekends.  I love homemade waffles so much more than store bought.

My teeth have been sensitive to cold for a many months now.  I wasn't sure which tooth it was so I just ignored it.  Then a tooth started hurting when I chewed.  I thought it was the same tooth so I called the dentist.  The tooth with the crown that I got in Mexico was the suspect but it turns out that I forgot that tooth already had a root canal so it couldn't be sensitive to cold.  My dentist said the tooth behind was the problem and he sent me to an endodontist today for a root canal (oh fun).  When I got there they tested the teeth and found that the back tooth was sensitive to cold so a root canal was in order but the tooth in front of it with the crown was sensitive to pressure.  The fix for that tooth is to cut in to the gum, put a filling in the root and sew it back up.  I had no idea they could do that and it sounds awful.

I decided to go ahead with the root canal because I was expecting that.  I survived and afterwards they gave me an estimate for the gum surgery thingy.  $1,100!!!  It seems that the cost of the root canal has drained my yearly funds for allowable dental costs.  I'm not even sure I have enough funds left to cover the crown that I need for the root canal tooth.  I'll be making some phone calls tomorrow to figure this out.  Maybe I can chew carefully until January when my benefits re-set or maybe there are other alternatives.  If I hadn't put off the root canal I could have had it done last year and then I would have enough to cover this years problem.  I'm always hoping my teeth will stop needing attention.  Every time this happens I am reminded why people used to just get their teeth pulled.  Implants are not in my retirement plan so either my teeth need to chill out or else I am headed for the inevitable dentures.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Prickly Pear Juice: The Easy Way

It seems like everyone in the gardening group is harvesting prickly pear fruit.  I thought I would have to steal some from the neighbor but when I was taking the trash out to the alley, I realized I had my own prickly pear and the fruit were ripe.  Just kidding about the neighbors although they wouldn't notice if I did take theirs because they are falling on to the sidewalk.

I have heard of people harvesting prickly pear fruit and then burning off the prickly parts, peeling them, and straining out the seeds.  It looked like a messy, labor intensive process and I wasn't interested in that much work.  Then, I read how to juice them the easy way from this website: Harvesting Prickly Pear

Pick, freeze, strain and I get prickly pear juice with barely any work plus it is fun to squish them as they thaw.  I managed not to get any on myself.  That's a colander lined with a piece of cloth on top of a metal pot.

After all of the fruit was thawed and squished, I was left with prickly pear blood.  Pretty color, yes?

The easiest way to store it is to freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes in a plastic bag.

Now, what to do with it.  I really need to expand my culinary knowledge.  Prickly pear juice can be used to make syrup or jelly or added to drinks, most commonly mixed drinks or lemonade.  Someone said the juice tastes like watermelon and bubble gum so that is exactly what I thought of when I tasted it.  It is supposed to mix well with the tartness of lemonade and that will be the first concoction that I will try.  For now, I am thrilled that this experiment was a success.  I can now add prickly pear juicer to my resume.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Few More Weeks of Heat

It feels like Friday.  I should be Friday.  Maybe I should have taken tomorrow off.  Well, too late for that.  I just have to go and get it over with.  The next 3 day weekend is coming up in two weeks but I haven't used my August vacation day so I could have a 3 day weekend sooner if I want.  This has been a depressing week.  As my sister pointed out, Robin Williams died on the anniversary of the day my little sister became ill and she never recovered.  My foster dog got adopted but I didn't get an new foster dog because the vet wasn't there to tell me about the dogs in need.  I went looking for a mom and pups that needed a foster home but all of the puppies got sick and the few survivors were split up in to different foster homes.  I left with an empty truck and I was sad.  I'll keep watching the dog-in-need updates and see if there is a dog who will fit in my house.

We barely got any rain on my side of town this week.  It keeps going north of here and flooding the streets.  I'm still watering my garden with the hose.  I finally got some yellow squash.  The plants from the spring didn't produce anything but my new plants are producing lots of blossoms and 2 squash so far.  It is still in the 100's and still humid although not as humid as many other states, just humid enough to keep my swamp cooler from cooling under 80 degrees.  Only a few more weeks and the rain will move on, my cooler will work again, the nights will cool off and then I won't be able to use the heat as an excuse anymore, at least, not until next May.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Post-Puppy Calm

Aww...what a lovely weekend.  Too bad it was so short.  Do I say that every weekend?  On Saturday, I got up early and got ready for the adoption event.  It was really close to my house for once.  Usually they are at least a 20 minute drive.  The puppy got adopted (did anyone really doubt it?) and the terrier had a couple who will come to the shelter on Wednesday after her teeth cleaning appointment and adopt her.  I also have 2 more people as back-ups for the terrier if the first people don't show.  She was really popular.  The newspaper intern even took her picture and wrote down her story.  Maybe she will be featured.

When I got home I took down the puppy corner and cleaned everything, bedding, floor, put everything back in order.  Today was more laundry and organizing.  I told gave myself the goal of cleaning off 3 places where I often put things on a temporary basis and then never move them again: the end of the counter, the table by the pantry, and, the worst place, the dining room table.  I had boxes and plastic packaging from my mother's phone that I bought 7 months ago and from my own phone bought 5 months ago as well as numerous, pens, markers, knick knacks, gum and mints.  My recycle bin is over-flowing.

I waited all week for the rain that was promised but none fell on my side of town.  I think the rain is promised for Tuesday or maybe Friday.  Hopefully, some time this week.  This week has 2 after work errands so far.  Grocery shopping and dropping the terrier at the shelter on Tuesday.  Other than that it should be a pretty quiet week.  Just the way I like them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Foster Dog Update

This week seemed like it took forever but I got a lot accomplished with the foster dogs.  On Monday I took my 3 puppies to work with me and I was going to smuggle them in to the back room but our engineer offered to puppy sit so I set the puppy pen up by his desk.  They were very well behaved and didn't make much noise or much of a mess.

After work we had a vet appointment and all of the puppies got an A+ for health.  The next day I had to get up early to take the puppies and their mom to get spayed.  The mom got rejected because she was still lactating and I had to take her to work with me.  It is very early to spay puppies at 8 weeks old but there are 1,000 animals at our county shelter and they need to get adoptable dogs in to new homes as fast as they can since new animals are coming in everyday.  A couple of my co-workers think it is cruel to split mom and puppies at 8 weeks but that is the usual age to adopt out dogs from breeders so I don't think it is cruel.  My co-workers haven't seen the conditions at the shelter and they aren't willing to foster any animals so I shouldn't let their opinions bother me.

After work I went back to the shelter to drop off the mom who was getting adopted later and to adopt out 2 of the puppies.  I only have one puppy left which isn't ideal because she misses her playmates.  I am letting her sleep on the bed which means I get to get up 2 or 3 times a night for potty breaks.  That is preferable to listening to a lonely whining puppy all night.  She went to work with me this week too.

One co-worker likes to torment my puppy and she learned quickly not to trust new people.  The other coworker came in and remarked that the puppy was hiding and decided it was because she should have been left with her mother for 10 weeks instead of 8.  Sigh.  Maybe if certain other people didn't torture my puppy it would be more trusting but, gee, I don't know anything about puppies.  This is ONLY my seventh litter of foster puppies.  Whatever.  Puppy is getting adopted tomorrow, I just know it.  We are going to the pet store where some of the other shelter dogs will be waiting for new homes.  I'm bringing my other foster dog along to meet people even though she can't be adopted until Wednesday.  I am hoping to come home puppy-free and then I will take a nap!

Here is a video I made last night of my foster dogs.  The white one usually snaps at the puppy but she was being tolerant that day.  Foster pups playing

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What's Growing Now?

The high today was only 90 with occasional rain.  It was a wonderful day to putter around, pull weeds and inspect my little plant minions.  I am looking forward to cooler about 4 weeks or so.

Here's my red bird of paradise, the desert type, not the tropical type.  I love this plant because it loves full sun and not much water and provides shade.  I have tomatoes in the pots.  I was supposed to transplant them somewhere but I have enough tomato plants and I don't know where I would plant them.  The bougainvillea, to the left, can take lots of abuse including having its leaves chewed off twice by some unknown assailant.

These are (were) the geraniums I bought myself for my birthday because I thought they would be easy to grow.  I should have bought Mexican petunias instead.  Maybe it is just being in pots that they hate.  It is awfully hot to be in a hanging pot.

My little watermelon plant is climbing the fence.  I didn't realize they climbed.  I should have planted this months ago.  No baby watermelons yet.  I don't think there is enough time for a watermelon to ripen even if one appeared.  I must remember to plant them sooner next year.

My moringa tree is finally planted in the ground.  Planting the seeds in the ground did not work since my dogs dug them up.  Planting them in pots first and transplanting has been successful so far.  It is sensitive to frost so I will have to protect it or let it die back this winter.  The gourds were planted late.  They still have 3 more months to make gourds.  We shall see if anything appears.

This is a bit hard to see but I planted some Hopi Red Dye Amaranth.  The leaves and seeds are edible.  I hope to plant more next year so that I have more seeds.  I have read they can be popped like popcorn or ground in to flour.

This is my baby plant nursery.  I have 3 desert willow trees and 3 red bird of paradise.  Maybe I can trade them at the next plant exchange.

The pomegranates are looking good but I had to take some off because the poor tree was leaning.  They still need 6 or 8 weeks to ripen.

Another moringa tree in my big pot.  I planted purslane around it.

And this is the wild patch of purslane in my yard.  I learned from the gardening group that it is edible and nutritious but I still haven't done anything with it other than nibble on the leaves.  I really should align my eating habits with the food that is cheap and available like purslane.  I'll put that on my to-do list: Find recipes for weeds in yard.

This is my newest patch of garden.  The pole beans are climbing the fence and the squash is blooming.  The squash planted in the spring didn't produce at all.  I know people joke about planting too much zucchini but I don't have that problem.  I would be thrilled with any zucchini at this point.

My favorite sunflower in a pot of horse purslane.  I learned the difference between purslane and horse purslane this summer.  Horse purslane has round leaves, the other has oval leaves.  Turns out I have both in my yard.  The quail like the horse purslane so it is good for something.  Plus, I like the look of it.  Anything that is green without thorns or thorny seeds is welcome in the yard even if it is a weed to many people.

The sweet potatoes are taking over.  I ate sweet potato leaves 3 times and now I am sick of them.  I desperately need new recipes for them.  What's the point of growing vegetables if I won't eat them?

Only 2 tepary beans remain.  I had dreams of boiling my tepary harvest but now I will be lucky if I get enough beans to plant next year.

The tomato jungle is still going strong.  Pruning tomatoes is optional in the desert.  Many people don't prune to give the plant some built in shade.  I am reluctant to prune because I know the tomato worms will find me soon and will do the pruning for me.  That's the lazy way.  Why prune and pluck worms when I can do nothing and those 2 chores will cancel each other out?  

And lastly, another popular weed that I have learned about from the garden group.  This is a green variety of amaranth.  Once I found out what it looked like I just wandered around the yard until I found it.  More free greens to eat.  I really need to attend a 'how to cook with local weeds, I mean, plants' class.  All this free food going to waste.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

The week started out pretty well. I took a day off on Wednesday and visited with my sister and parents.  my father was even in good spirits.  They had a baby doll at the care home and my father was talking to it as if it were one of his grand-babies.  He was talking in complete, understandable sentences which is amazing for him.  He cannot usually find the right words to say.

The rest of the week went by quickly.  Thursday felt like Monday so I was happy that Friday come so quickly.  When I saw the puppies in the morning, the little gray one wasn't jumping around as usual.  I brought him to work and was very worried about him so when I couldn't reach anyone to make an appointment for me with the vet, I just drove there.  Luckily, I was there before their surgeries started and the vet was nice enough to look at my puppy.  I left him there and went back to work.  Unfortunately, I got bad news tonight that my puppy didn't make it.  I don't know what was wrong but he was the weakest of the 4 puppies and he had already had kennel cough and pneumonia and he was only 7 weeks old.  I hope the remaining 3 puppies can find good homes soon without anymore emergency vet visits.

I don't have any plans for this weekend which means I get to do my favorite thing, putter around the house and yard and do whatever I want to do.  Pull weeds, do laundry, take a nap, play with the dogs, watch Dr. Who, and hopefully, not spend any money.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mortgage Update for July 2014

Another extra payment!  This is my favorite day of the month.  $1,500 extra towards the principle which brings the total to $55,318.  Only 3 years and 2 months to go!  If I keep up the $1,500 payments it will be paid off a little faster than that.  3 years and 2 months is based on a more conservative $1,200 extra a month.  I wanted to leave some room for unexpected expenses (like when the heat drives me crazy and I buy an air conditioner.  No.  I can make it.  80 degrees inside isn't that bad, right?).  Right now I am focused on the mortgage and not on other expensive home improvement projects.  I can do this!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fuzzy Puppy Cuteness

Today I made the 40 minute trip across town with my fuzzy monster puppies for their shots.  I wish the dog pound was closer.  I supposed I could move closer if I really wanted to.  After 2 more weeks these dogs should be ready to go back and find good homes, or, well, any homes since the pound pretty much lets anyone adopt.  I hope they find good homes though.  Cute puppies aren't so cute when they pee on the rug and whine all night.  I can't keep them all though.

This morning the dogs slept in until 8:30am.  I couldn't believe it.  Usually they are up at 5:45.  The weather is still in the upper 90's and low 100's and humid.  Not Florida humid, just humid enough for my evaporative cooler to only make it 80 in the house.  I have figured out why I have trouble falling asleep at night.  It doesn't get cool enough for me to sleep until midnight.  The heat radiating in through the cement block walls doesn't help either.  I keep telling myself, only a few more weeks and then the clouds will be gone and the cooler will work again.  Not that I want the clouds to be gone.  I just want it to actually rain instead of only raining on the other side of town.

This is a busy week.  I prefer weeks when I can come home after work without running errands but I saved the grocery shopping for tomorrow and I need to stop at the Tack and Feed store.  Then a vet appointment on Thursday and pick up the seeds I ordered from the library.  And also, my sister is coming through town again and we are going to hang out with my parents on Wednesday so I am using a vacation day.  It should be an interesting week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can't Have the House and the Money

After visiting my property last week, I've been going in mental circles again.  I suppose it is good to review my options just in case I don't come to the same conclusions.  It's the middle of a scorching summer.  I can't do much except think.  I can't expect to go out to my property with all of the work that needs to be done and not want to run away screaming.  I reviewed my budget spreadsheet and tried to whittle away at it so that I can stay in this house where all of the infrastructure already exists.  The only problem is that my retirement money is in this house.  There is no way for me to keep living in the house and get the money at the same time.  I considered a roommate (not going to happen), living in a tiny house in the backyard and renting out the house (yard isn't big enough), buying another house (no more rentals!), but it just won't work.  I need to just stick with my plan and not worry about the mess out at my property because my focus right now is paying off my mortgage, not improving my property.  It's just so hard to wait.  It doesn't help that it is 80F in my house because I only have a evaporative cooler.  It makes me cranky and impatient and I start to think about buying air conditioning but I would need around $6,000 and in a few weeks I won't need A/C so I need to just not think about it.  And no more recreational shopping (dumpster diving is ok).  The only thing I should be ordering are free seeds through the seed library, which I did and they should be at the library tomorrow for pickup.  I love the seed library!  I get to pretend I am buying seeds and then grow some food.  So, I will try to be patient and stick to the plan and not think about all the work that needs to be done because it isn't time for that yet.    

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dumpster Diving with my Boss

On days that my boss flies out of town, he gives me gas money to pick him up from his apartment in the morning since I live closest to him.  Once I forgot to pick him up.  I got all the way to work and wondered where my boss was...oops!  This time I set my alarm for 6am and made it out of the house early.  As I pulled up I noticed that the dumpster was full of what looked like the possessions of a previous tenant.  Right on top were 2 big fiberglass pots, the kind I have been wanting quite a while now.  I even walked around Big Lots with 2 pots in my cart once but ended up putting them back because they were only half as big as I wanted and I just couldn't spent $20/each.

These wonderful dumpster pots were just the right size.  Only problem was, my boss was waiting outside for me.  Now, he's an understanding boss and he values frugality so when I asked him if he thought I could take them he said he didn't see why not.  We dumped out the dirt and I strapped them in the back of my truck.  I was thrilled with my prizes.  I tried really hard not to look at the other things in the dumpster.  The thought of good stuff going to the dump seems like such a waste but that was not the time nor place to do any in-depth digging.  Later, I looked up the price of similar pots from Home Depot.  I found some for $60.  Wow, I just pulled $120 from the dumpster.  My boss calls me 'trash digger' now but it was worth it to save them from the trash.

On my lunchtime walk, I picked up a semi-truck mud flap that had been on the side of the road for a few days.  I saw it there earlier but didn't pick it up because I couldn't think of a use for it.  Well, after work I was headed out to my property so I decided to use it to mark the entrance of my driveway.  Now instead of telling people to turn at the first thing that kind of looks like a driveway, I can tell them to turn at the mud flap.  It has a reflective strip along the top too so I can see it at night.  It goes perfectly with the rest of my trailer trash decor, and I do mean that literally since I have a trailer and trash.  Soon, when the temperature goes back to the 70's, I'll have to go pick up all that trash but not this week.  Wednesday is supposed to be 110F.  I have a few more months before I start on chores out there.

I did pick up my baker's rack that was in my shed  It will be at least 3 years until I move out to my property so I might as well use my things instead of just storing them.  I'm glad I brought it to my house because I was able to organize my gardening gear and it looks much neater.  Next step, fill those pots with dirt and plant more seeds!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Local Surprises

Here's a first for me.  Before today I had never been out to eat at a truck stop in my own town.  I heard good things about Omar's Hi Way Chef Restaurant, so when my sister came through town tonight, I suggested we try it out.  She likes to visit unique places and this place didn't disappoint.

I stole my sister's photo.
They serve breakfast, Mexican, Italian, American, and plenty of desserts including their famous DDHAP (deep dish hot apple pie) as seen on the Food Network.  I went in thinking that I would just get the apple pie but the smells wafting out the door made me want real food.  I ordered the chicken alfredo and my sister got some sort of Mexican breakfast plate.  The portions were huge and I brought home enough for lunch for the next two days.  I couldn't even think about dessert, unfortunately.  We will have to go back another time and maybe we can attack a DDHAP between the two of us.  If I don't eat all day I might be up for the challenge.  I should warn anyone who visits me.  We will be going out to eat at a truck stop!