Sunday, September 29, 2013

Getting Rid of Glasses?

Rabies update:  The results are in! NEGATIVE. Now I have to decide if I'm going to get that one last shot anyway (which means I'll only need 2 booster shots if something like this ever happens again) or say "Phew!" and ditch the last shot. What would you do?


Now onto the real reason for today's post:

I have worn contacts since, I think, the 6th grade. Glasses since 3rd grade.

I still remember the day I got glasses and realized that when you look at pine trees from afar you can actually see the pine needles. Defined! Each. individual. needle. It blew my mind.

Then, when I got contacts, I cried. I was so happy to see clearly without having glasses on. I could play softball without worrying about my glasses falling off. I could lay sideways on the couch to watch TV with my head on a pillow without my glasses being smooshed into my face. There were so many benefits to wearing contacts instead of glasses.

Thank God for contacts. My vision is so bad that even the "featherweight" lenses in glasses dig a trench into the bridge of my nose by mid-day.

But I'm finally ready to say goodbye to contacts, too! I want to wake up in the morning and read the clock without pulling it within an inch of my face. I want to be able to take a nap without waking up to dried-out contacts super-suctioned to my eye balls. And with the astigmatisms I now have in both eyes, it's getting harder for me to see clearly even with my contacts in.

So I have an appointment! A LASIK consultation. :) :) :) I am very excited and hopeful that I will be a candidate for laser eye surgery.

I'm within one week of my appointment, which means I cannot wear my contacts anymore. I have been in glasses since Wednesday afternoon, which is the longest span of time I have gone without contacts in 20 years.


It's not so bad, aside from the fact that when I'm applying my makeup I keep fogging up the mirror. My nose is practically pressed up against it in order for me to (sort of) see what I'm doing. And glasses make wearing sunglasses hard. At least we're not in Boulder right now where it is virtually impossible to leave your house without shades.

My consultation appointment is Thursday, October 3, so I will keep you updated!

Also, I'm trying out this new way to follow my blog... Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Do

Got my first midwest haircut today.

I know most men probably won't understand this, but the women should. I have been dreading finding a new hair stylist since moving to Ohio. Sadly, my favorite stylist in Boulder moved to Wisconsin back at the beginning of this year, so I have been without a haircut for about a year, probably. It was time.

Moving to a new town where we don't know anyone our age meant there was no one to recommend a good hairstylist. I have been checking out studios as we tool around town, and they all look like they cater to older midwestern women.

You know, variations on the short-cropped poof with bangs. Former Miss Dairy pageant contestants and such.

But I finally bit the bullet when I found an Aveda salon on High Street (the main boulevard through town). I had been to an Aveda salon in Boulder, and I know all their stylists have to be trained at the Aveda Institute. At least I think they do. So I figured this was my best bet.

Overall, the cut and highlights went okay. Aside from the fact that this woman tangled my hair like you wouldn't believe while blowdrying. I think at one point she was intentionally teasing it. And rather than stopping to work out the tangles, she just kept blowdrying and snagging the brush on the same tangle in the back over and over and over... It hurt.

When she was finally done, she pulled out what I thought was a flat-iron (that's what my stylist in Boulder always did). I didn't have my glasses on, so I couldn't see what she was doing.

When she was finally done and I put on my spectacles, I saw that she had CURLED my hair like ... a beauty pageant contestant!

Here she comes....

It's Miss America...

Milo likes it.

Now I truly feel like I belong in the Midwest. 

Thank you Midwest Aveda salon stylist for making me accepting me as one of your own.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Date Balls!

One thing I learned during the cleanse is that there are things at the grocery store that I never even knew were there! Things I probably walk past every time I'm there without seeing. But now there is something I have discovered that has forever changed my dessert world.

Medjool dates.

They are in the produce section, on those low shelves below the produce displays. And they are MAGIC.

Not magical. Actual magic.

One of the few sweet treats we could eat while cleansing were these date/almond butter balls called Joy Balls. And they do bring me so much joy when I need a quick fix.

They're these sticky energy balls rolled in coconut flakes and hemp seeds.

When the creators of the Conscious Cleanse were trying to tell me that frozen fruit is a dessert just as satisfying as cookies, these Joy Balls were a Godsend.

And they're made with Medjool dates.

You pulverize the sticky dates in the food processor with some other ingredients until you get a smooth paste, and I kid you not, when you take the lid off the food processor it smells like cookie dough. Now, I have been known to keep a log of that pre-made cookie dough in the fridge to eat by the spoonful as dessert. But now I can eat a Joy Ball and get the same level of satisfaction. YES! Equal satisfaction. I am not making this up.

If you want to experience the magic, you can search "date balls" on the internet and get all sorts of recipes, or you could buy the Conscious Cleanse book* for the recipe I used. I swear you won't get any porn site pop-ups from Googling "date balls." I tried it just to be sure. :)

*In the Conscious Cleanse cookbook, these balls are labeled as Protein Packed Almond Butter Balls and a different snack is labeled as Joy Balls, but I'm almost certain this was a mix-up. I made both recipes, and these (pictured above) are definitely the more joyous of the two. So if you get the recipe from the Conscious Cleanse, use the Almond Butter Ball recipe to get the delicious results above.*

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Adventures in DIY

Before today's post, a rabies update. :) How many bloggers get to type that?!

This morning I went in for my second round of the rabies vaccine. It took two hours, again! Ted says this hospital has two speeds: Slow and Stopped. We sat in the exam room for an hour doing nothing but wait for the pharmacy to send down the vaccine. Finally, they came in with 4 needles packed with fluids. The Immune Globulin, the nasty one, involved 5 injections into my index fingers - one injection directly into each puncture site. They fill the site with fluid until it puffs up like a blister. The one on the tip of my left index finger hurt the most, as there are more nerves in the tips of your fingers. After that, it was a breeze. They had to give me the rest of the Immune Globulin in the arm (since they couldn't get it all in at the site of the bites), then a different shot in the other arm, and a shot in each side of my butt. One of the shots was magenta! After the inundation of medication I had to lay down for about 20 minutes; I was feeling a bit woozy and my arms were aching.

Total needle pricks today: 9;  Total pricks so far: 11

Now I go back on Thursday and a week from Thursday for 2 more shots.

My advice to you:  Never get bitten by a wild animal.


Now on to today's real post!

Ted and I have had this hand-me-down lamp for awhile now. The curves are kinda cool, but the color and shade (not pictured) looked outdated.

Enter SPRAY PAINT. I decided to simply make it silver, switch out the shade, and see if that improved things.

I decided to just paint the whole thing, top to bottom. I never understood why it had that white part near the switch. After looking at these types of lamps on line, I see that it's supposed to look like a candle in a candlestick. So I should have left that white, I guess. Oh well!

I taped up the twisty switch and the cord (I later decided to give the cord a light coat of paint - FYI bad idea. It's all sticky now for some reason).

Here's how the lamp looked after a few quick coats of paint:

OK, getting a little better. It's not as shiny as I had hoped, but maybe that's because I just used the cheap ACE brand of metallic spray paint. I hear the Krylon metallic paints are better.

While painting on our back porch, I had a little visit from our neighbor's chihuahua, Cami.

Isn't she adorable?

The cats did not think so, despite the fact that they're both bigger than this dog. Even 9 lb Minnie.

Anyway, you may have seen the finished lamp with its old shade in this post. I'm still not loving it. Now I'm thinking I would like to paint it a glossy coral color, so it looks like ceramic or porcelain, and I still want to find a large drum shade for it. I'm learning how to do this DIY thing well as I go along!

I'll continue to update you on the state of this lamp, as well as some other DIY projects I'm attempting.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Little By Little

As any procrastinator who has moved houses knows, it takes awhile to completely unpack and set up your new place. Little by little Ted and I have been finding a place for the things we use... and throwing the rest into the basement.

Did I mention that I love having a basement?

A while ago I showed you a little peek into the kitchen, and now I'd like to show you how the living room is coming together.

The piéce de résistance is the pelican photo, printed across 3 canvases. I finally got it up today, and I love the way it looks! In Boulder we had it hanging in our office, which ended up being more like our storage room, so I never got to see it. Now I'll see it every day!

I'm trying to base the colors in the room around that photograph, though you can the pillows don't match perfectly. I want to do ocean-y colors with an accent of coral/orange. I might swap out those little pillows for something light blue.

Also, that little table is going to get a paint makeover, and that lamp is a work in progress. It needs a drum shade, but so far I haven't been able to find one big enough! It'll probably get a new coat of paint, too.

And, as you can see, we still need an area rug and coffee table. My dream would be a sheepskin rug, to add a little texture, but I have a feeling those are pretty expensive.

On the wall opposite the couch is our TV and arm chair. I wish there were something I could do about hiding those TV and modem cords. Actually, looking at these photos is helping me "see" things I don't see with my naked eye. I just moved that basket over to the left to hide the cords. Duh.

We found that cute green sofa table at the antique store in town. It's hard to tell in the photo, but it has little claw feet! And those of you who ever tried to watch football or the Oscars on our last TV will notice and appreciate our upgrade.

Last, here is the entryway of our new home. You can see there are some photos there waiting to be carried upstairs and hung. Moving has made me realize that we have a ton of artwork! We won't even be able to put it all up.

So that's the living room for now. It's a work in progress, as we need to get some rugs, tables, and shelves in there. I'm just hoping we get the house set up and completely unpacked before it's time to move out.

Seriously. When you're dealing with a procrastinator like me, there is actually a chance that won't happen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Isn't it funny that you wake up every morning having no idea what might happen to you on that particular day? And by "funny" I mean "a little unnerving".

For example, when I woke up this morning I never would have imagined that I would end the day with a rabies shot in my butt. This after Ted and I decided last week to go with the cheaper health insurance plan since we're both so healthy.

But who ever expects to need a rabies shot?!

The story leading up to the rabies shot is not for the faint of heart, especially if your faint heart loves animals. Consider yourself warned.

I had just picked up my post-cleanse celebratory latte (the first in 2 weeks!) and was driving to my next errand when I noticed an animal in the road ahead. It was moving kind of funny, and at first I thought it was a squirrel. As I got closer, though, I saw that it was a small cat pulling its body across the road with its front legs. Its back legs were immobile, and I'm sure it had been hit by a car.

This was literally 200 feet from the vet where Minnie and Milo stayed while we were in Oregon, so I got out of the car to get the cat and take it to the vet. As I approached the poor thing I saw that it was a kitten - maybe 6-7 months old. She was a beautiful, fluffy calico.

I picked her up under her front legs, and I could tell she was scared. She frantically squirmed around and bit my finger several times, but she had those little kitten teeth so they just felt like pin pricks. I put her in my lap as I slid back into the driver's seat and she just went limp.

I pulled up to the vet, scooped up the kitten, and ran to the door.


This vet is closed from 1:00 - 2:00 every day, and though I pounded on the door, no one came to answer.

I knew I had seen an Animal Hospital somewhere in Oxford, so I ran back to the car, laid the kitten gently on our shopping bags in the passenger seat, and set out for the animal hospital. Unfortunately, as I laid the kitten down, I noticed that she was no longer moving though her eyes were open. I hoped she was in shock. I tried to feel for a pulse as I pulled out of the parking lot but could find none.

After a teary call to Ted to get directions, I burst into the animal hospital where they confirmed that she was dead on arrival. I washed my hands with their disinfectant soap, noticing for the first time that my finger was bleeding from several puncture wounds and had swollen so much at the joint that I could not bend it. The vet took my information and advised that I go see a doctor since this kitten appeared to be a stray.

Ted met me in the emergency room, and two hours later I left with a tetanus shot in my left arm, a rabies shot in my butt, and a splint to immobilize my finger. Unfortunately, the state does the rabies testing, which takes over a week, and the series of rabies shots takes about a week to administer, so there was no time to wait to see whether the cat was rabid or not.

Today's shots weren't bad - I mean, I have several tattoos. Needles clearly don't bother me. But I was told by the doctor and two separate nurses that this Sunday's shots are going to be another story. I will have to get many shots all over my finger and arm. Then I have to go back a week from today for MORE shots. And what will these shots cost, you wonder? Let's just say that if I wanted to take my rabies chances I could forgo the shots and buy an airline ticket to Europe instead.

I think I'll stick with the shots.

Say a little prayer tonight for that poor little kitten. She was so precious. If I had it to do all over, I would try to rescue her again.

How NOT to Make Turkey Burgers

As Ted and I were cleansing during our family reunion in Bend, we thought we would try to lure some of our family members over to the Light Side (the Cleanse). So we offered to cook them Turkey Spinach Burgers from the Conscious Cleanse book, a recipe that sounded like only a gentle departure from their usual dinner fare. My family enthusiastically agreed, so on Saturday night we cooked.

I tripled the recipe since several family members said they would eat 2 burgers. Ted and I went to Whole Foods and bought 3 lbs of organic ground turkey, spinach, red onion, ginger, and sesame seeds - our main ingredients. 

This made many more than the predicted 12 burgers. We ended up with about 18 burgers for the 7 of us. Oh, did I mention that I forgot to measure out the spinach and red onion? We were so distracted by the piteously dull knives at the rental house that we ended up mixing in two whole bunches of spinach and a whole red onion, which I think was about 2x too much. We also had to pulverize the ginger in the Magic Bullet blender since the knife went limp at the mere thought of having to cut through something so fibrous. 

Aside from the fact that the burgers didn't really hold together, they still looked and smelled pretty good.

Sadly, they were not that good. As my brother said, biting into his turkey burger sandwich, "It's pretty good, actually... until you get to the turkey burger."

The texture was not what you would expect from a burger. My mom described it as akin to the texture of liver. It was oddly silky smooth. Perhaps it was due to the messed up ratio of ground turkey to chopped spinach and pulverized ginger.

Dinner got real quiet as everyone contemplatively chewed their liverized turkey. I went ahead and admitted out loud that this was not what most of our healthy recipes tasted like! (Please don't abandon the prospect of trying out the cleanse!)

Everyone started spouting off ideas of how to improve the burgers: 
  • Reduce the amount of ginger, or maybe if it were actually minced with a sharp knife rather than destroyed in a blender it wouldn't alter the texture of the burger.
  • Maybe we should leave the veggies out, make plain turkey burgers, and serve them on a bed of spinach and red onion.
  • Maybe adding in some spices like cumin or cayenne would take them up a notch.
  • Perhaps there just wasn't enough salt. 

As we tried to think of a way to save these unfortunate burgers, my aunt reached out across the table, and this happened:

That's my aunt picking up the glass, not intentionally spilling the contents. We would never waste wine that way!

It was like a sign from God. Of course!!

We all had a belly laugh over this one.

Moral of the story is, there was no way to save these turkey burgers (even the wine didn't improve the taste). And after trying to choke down the leftovers the next day, Ted and I eventually dumped them. We just couldn't.

Looking back, this might have been the beginning of the end for us... end of the cleanse, of course.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I *Heart* Oregon

Before we get to today's post, I just want to say that my heart and thoughts are with our friends in Boulder right now! We've been seeing images on the news and Facebook that are incomprehensible, and I know it will be a long road to recovery. Luckily, everyone we know is alive and safe. I hope my Boulder friends who read this blog can feel the love coming all the way from Ohio!


Now let's talk about Oregon. I know this blog is supposed to be about Ohio, but I love Oregon. I am truly a Western girl, and I just feel at home there. Ted and I flew into Bend (central Oregon) on Thursday night and came home to Oxford late last night. 

The one thing you need to know about Bend is that it has the most earthy, amazing smell of any place I've ever been. You just have to breath deeply when you're there in order to take it all in. The closest I can come to describing it is this: Imagine the smell of a wood sauna when you first walk in. That warm, cedar-y, hot rock smell. That's Bend. And I love it.

On this particular trip to Bend, Ted, my brother, and I visited Smith Rock at sunrise. It was totally worth getting up at 5:30 to see the sun come up over these remnants of an ancient volcanic eruption. The rock is tuff - hardened ash - and is known as a spectacular place for rock climbing.

We were some of the only people there at that time, and we chose to hike up Misery Ridge Trail. It's not so  miserable, but it is very steep with lots of switchbacks and built-in stairs. My ass was burning!

The good thing about being on (and off) this cleanse, though, is that I had plenty of energy and didn't get that feeling that I was dragging like I usually do on a challenging hike. Score!

The views were gorgeous at this time of morning, and like I said, we had the place to ourselves. So we stopped for a few photo ops along the way:

Don't push me!

I am so glad we got ourselves out of bed for this one! We saw a few climbers, a guy walking a slack line a couple hundred feet in the air, and not one, but TWO blue herons flying along the river.

If you're ever in Central Oregon, I highly recommend spending a day or even just an early morning at Smith Rock. It's magical!

Monday, September 16, 2013

As Long As You're Falling Off the Wagon, Why Not Dive Head First?!

Well, it's been interesting cleansing while traveling and being with family. First off, I have to say that I am very grateful that my family members have been supportive of this cleanse. They tried some of our smoothies and even made a point of keeping the cookies out of sight so Ted and I wouldn't be tempted! Thanks, family!

That being said, we are here in Oregon celebrating my grandpa's 88th birthday and my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. And with celebrations comes cake. Really good-looking cake. Vanilla with white frosting. Ted's favorite kind of cake.

So we broke down. On Saturday Ted and I shared a sliver of cake. On Sunday we each had our own piece.

And then we went and had McDonald's breakfast sandwiches while going out to buy kale for lunch.

I think it's safe to say that we have fallen off the wagon. Hard. But we didn't really fall, I guess. It was a decision, not an accident, and we're happy with our choice!! :) Really, we are. I feel amazing after that Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit.

I'll post more about this later, but here's what I've learned so far from this 2nd attempt at cleansing:

1)  I can't expect to do it perfectly on the first try.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ted and I tried a cleanse this summer and lasted one and a half days. Then we started this cleanse and made it 5 and a half days. That's an improvement, and I am happy with our progress.

2)  Cleansing while traveling is really hard.
Even though my family was supportive of our cleanse and our need for adapted lunches and dinners, being out of our routine and being away from our own kitchen made it difficult to remain fully committed to the cleanse. I am super proud of us for making it through one day of airport travel while sticking to the cleanse, though! We packed ourselves a salad and some healthy snacks and did not give in to the temptation of Chick-fil-A!
3)  I've always thought of meals as a main course of a meat or grain and a side of veggies or salad, but really, meals should be at least 2/3 vegetables!
This cleanse attempt has definitely helped Ted and I eat more vegetables. Maybe to the point that I couldn't stand the thought of eating one more carrot stick or salad, which led me to McDonalds, but it was still worth the small shift we've made in our eating habits. 
I will put up more posts soon, about our time in Bend and another delightful Cleanse Fail, but for now I've got to make a kale salad for the airplane! I guess we haven't completely fallen off the wagon. After all, tomorrow is a new day!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

First Cleanse FAIL

Before we go any further, I want to clarify that Ted and I have not failed; we're actually doing quite well with our cleanse so far!

But last night's dinner recipe was the first one that was. not. edible.

So far our days look something like this:

  • 32 oz of warm lemon water first thing in the morning
  • 32 oz green smoothie, like so:

  • Lunch is leftovers from dinner the night before.
  • Dinner (and all other recipes) is whatever is recommended in our cleanse book.
  • 8 oz warm lemon water to end the day

Last night's dinner was to be Cauliflower Mashers with Mushroom Gravy. I was excited. This is essentially the healthier version of mashed potatoes with gravy. Yum! A warm, "comfort food" dinner!

Things started off promising. I cut up an entire head of cauliflower, thinking all along that this is going to be a major dose of veggies - score! That got processed in the food processor with some onion, olive oil, etc.

I rehydrated some dried crimini mushrooms and reserved the mushroom water for the gravy (I'm so smart, I thought. This is going to be extra yummy gravy!).

Once the cauliflower mixture was well processed it went into a big bowl. It looks just like mashed potatoes! I'm so excited for this meal!

But meanwhile I'm trying to ignore the fact that this pile of mashed cauliflower smells reminiscent of the inside of a jack-o-lantern.... Maybe the gravy will mask the odor. I'm sure it will taste great!

The directions in the recipe were to process the mushrooms with some water and other ingredients to make it tasty. Which I did. Then I was directed to pour the gravy over the mashed cauliflower and enjoy! Except my gravy didn't really pour....

Ted advised against posting this photo on the blog.

This is the point at which we should have just scrapped this whole project and ordered a pizza. Keep in mind that we are famished at this point and have been looking forward to dinner for the past hour.

But we remained strong! No pizza was ordered! We were told at the start of the cleanse to try new things, so we did!

And it. was. AWFUL.

Ted managed to choke down a whole bowl of it with a look of determination on his face, but I couldn't even stand the smell of it. It was really, really terrible. Raw cauliflower mashers? Raw mushroom "gravy"? What was I thinking?! Of course it was horrible! Those are two things I would NEVER eat raw! Well, maybe mushrooms, but still.

In the end, I found a leftover beet to eat for dinner, and we sustained ourselves with homemade black bean hummus, which I had had the foresight to make earlier in the day. Thank God.

Yay for us, though! We were met with a challenge and stayed true to the cleanse. :)

Next challenge:  We leave for Bend, Oregon this afternoon for the family reunion. You can look forward to some posts about that over the next few days!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cleanse Day 2: Kale Chips to the Rescue!

Well, we have successfully made it to Day 2 of the Conscious Cleanse.

We're fully immersed, and I have to say we're doing pretty well. The meals have all been pretty tasty. It's the in-between times we need to better prepare for. This is somewhat of a revelation, I have to say. I feel like Ted and I eat pretty healthy meals around here, but it's easy to ignore those "snacks" we choose to pick up between breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You know what I'm talking about.

That chocolate croissant with the morning latte. That late morning can of Coke. That bag of pretzels that shows up on your desk around 2:00. That post-school-dismissal gorging on birthday leftovers in the teacher's lounge....

I wasn't really counting any of those when I thought about my daily diet.

So now that I can't just pick up whatever is handy to eat when I'm hungry, I'm thinking a lot about my former snacking choices.

Honestly, though, a carrot stick does not sound like a satisfying snack. And I can only eat so many healthy nuts. So yesterday and today I've mostly just been gritting my teeth through the hunger between meals.

But I shall go hungry no longer! For I have discovered KALE CHIPS.

First of all, I LOVE kale. I could eat it everyday. Especially the lacinato, or dinosaur, kale. It's dark green and chewy and so much more satisfying than a cold salad. I usually just flash fry it in a pan with some olive oil and garlic. Yum.

Second, the great thing about kale is that it can be made into chips! No joke. I've never actually made them before, but I've had them at The Kitchen Next Door in Boulder, and in my opinion they're just as satisfying as potato chips (and a lot healthier).

I sort of lied in that last sentence... I had never made them.... until today! In fact, I am snacking on them right now...

Turns out they are very easy to make. Just strip the lacinato kale off the stems, wash it, and let it dry completely (you want crispy chips, not chewy kale bites).

Then mix up 1 Tbs lime juice, 1-2 Tbs olive oil, and 1/4 tsp sea salt.

Cut the kale up into chip-sized pieces and put them in a big bowl. Pour the lime/oil mixture over the kale and gently rub it all over the leaves. You want them all to be covered evenly.

Finally, bake them in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, and you've got kale chips!

The one thing I learned during this process (besides how to make kale chips) is that you can't have any overlapping leaves when you bake them. They won't get crispy. They'll still be delicious, but if you want crispy chips, I would recommend baking them in two batches to give the kale plenty of room to spread out.

So now that I have discovered how easy these are to make, I will be that lady at the grocery store with 8 bunches of kale in my basket. And everyone else will wonder what they're missing. Except you. :)

¡Viva la kale chip!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Freedom Has Its Price

I mentioned in an earlier post that our cats are getting supervised outside time, which they have been enjoying immensely.

Well, it was bound to happen that they would become dissatisfied with sticking to the perimeter of our building. Milo has taken to exploring the great beyond (beyond the end of the driveway, that is).

Yesterday he disappeared for about an hour. We roamed the neighborhood, calling his name and peeping into our neighbor's bushes. He's never been gone that long before. Not even close to that long.

We were all getting worried (Minnie included - she was yowling and searching around the yard for him), but we eventually had to move on with our day. Of course he showed up shortly after we gave up the search, to our great relief. And he was heartily scolded.

A lot of good that scolding did. This morning Milo took off again, almost as soon as he was let out the front door. This time a neighbor from across the street came over to ask us if we had lost a big orange cat. We rather sheepishly replied that we hadn't really lost him, but yes, we didn't actually know where he was at that exact moment...

The neighbor had spotted Milo entering the woods behind his house and invited us to come into his back yard to try to fish him out. Well, Milo was already deep into the thick undergrowth, and there was no way we were going in after him.

To make a long story short, Ted ended up taking the long way around to the other side of the woods (onto the playground of a nearby school) and found Milo happily exploring the school's nature trail, far from home, covered in burrs. He was rather unceremoniously and unhappily dragged home.

So, it looks like our big boy wants to be an outside cat. And for that he has to wear the appropriate attire:

He got his very first cat collar today. Now the world will know that he is not the King of the Feral Cats but rather a very loved house cat who has lost his way. It even has a reflective strip in case he doesn't make it home before dark - which I hope NEVER happens because I will freak. out. 

Minnie got one, too, just in case:

She is not pleased.  She has been under that bed for hours.

Milo, on the other hand, thinks he looks very handsome.

"If it means I get to roam freely, then put a collar on me!!"

We still have to get tags made, but he'll be free to explore soon enough.

By the way, anybody know where/how to get pet tags made?

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Glimpse Into the Kitchen

While I'm not quite ready to share pictures of all the rooms in our new house (still quite a lot of unpacking/organizing to do), I thought I'd share a few photos of where we spend our time here in Ohio.

Yesterday I did a complete kitchen cleaning and finally put away those last few things that hadn't found a home yet.

So here is where the magic happens:

Yep, that tiny little space is where I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year!

And do you think all our guests will fit in our 'dining area'?

We'll have to get some more chairs....

All in all, not too shabby. The only problems are that the dishwasher doesn't work so well (so we constantly have a mound of handwashed dishes in the drying rack) and a lot of the counter space is in the corners (kinda hard to use).

It's served us 'fine' so far. Here's what we made in our kitchen last night!

Yes, the fact that we're using the You Are Special Today plate indicates that we need to run the dishwasher....

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Conscious Cleanse

I do not do well with dietary restrictions. Back in July Ted and I tried a 3-day cleanse that was meant to give the liver a break. It was not a juice fast, but rather it was focused on eating 7 antioxidant-rich foods:

1) broccoli
2) almonds
3) blueberries
4) spinach
5) lentils
6) avocados
7) beets

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Ginger-Avocado Sauce.  
Source: Vegetarian Times

Sounds good, right? The broccoli stir-fries were delicious. The breakfast beet and avocado smoothies were not. And always, a half hour after eating one of these healthy meals, I would crave something crunchy and gluten-y the way a heroine addict must crave that next hit.

We made it a day and a half before breaking down and eating cheeseburgers and fries.

Anyway, it's time to reset my diet. I've gotten into some bad habits as far as coffee, pizza, and alcohol go. I have a feeling it's affecting my energy levels, skin clarity, sleep, and other things I'm not even aware of.

So I'm ready to try again! But I fear that after falling flat on my face in a sprint, I have signed up for a marathon. A 14-day cleanse, complete with optional pre- and post-cleanse steps that could stretch this diet overhaul into a month-long experiment in deprivation and mood-management.

I have signed up for and paid to participate in the Conscious Cleanse, created by Jo Schaalman and Jules Peláez. This cleanse is meant to remove common allergens from your diet (like soy, gluten [wah!], dairy, and sugar), let your body reset (I accidentally just typed 'resent' and thought about leaving it in), then slowly re-introduce foods to find out what bothers your system. Ted has courageously agreed to do it with me.

For part of this cleanse we will be at a family reunion in Bend, Oregon, and in my family, as soon as we finish breakfast we're asking, "What's for lunch?" That will be the biggest challenge next to forgoing bread, bagels, pita chips, and potato chips for two weeks. But, in the interest of thinking positively, I'm up for it! I'm ready!

We've already started the transition phase, drinking some green smoothies for breakfast and cutting out sugar and alcohol today. Tomorrow it's bye-bye caffeine. So for the next two weeks you will be hearing a lot about what we're eating around here. If you're not at all interested, well, it should be safe to come back to the blog in about 3 weeks!

BONUS:  You can get 10 FREE Conscious Cleanse recipes here:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Quickie Spray Paint Project

One downside to our kitchen is the lack of useable drawers and cabinets. The drawers are all super-skinny, and we couldn't find a silverware drawer designed for them. While we were shopping for storage containers at Target, I saw this little caddy on the clearance rack, and voila! Our silverware storage problem was solved.

It spins around and takes up very little space, so it works perfectly in our small kitchen. The orange looks nice and peppy, but it really clashed with the maroon countertop (and we're renting, so unfortunately, the countertop color is not in our control). The maroon doesn't look too bad in these photos - it has a more purple tinge to it in person. Blech.

Anyway, I decided I could easily spray paint the orange while working on another spray paint project, which I'll post about later.

The base of the silverware caddy was attached with a screw, which I figured could easily be removed for painting. 

I got out my pliers and, man, was that sucker on tight!! After much cajoling and just a tiny bit of accidental bending of the top ring/handle, I managed to get the base off the caddy.

Ha! Take that, screw.

I set the base on a yogurt container for easy and even painting around the edges. 

I couldn't get the top portion to detach from the silverware caddy (I thought it would just slide right out once I took the bottom off, but there was actually some sturdy construction going on there), so I got creative with some paper and painters tape to protect the dark gray baskets while I painted the orange top. I painted one side, let it sit for 20 minutes, then flipped that little ring over and painted the other side.

When it was dry, I put it all back together:

A little plain, but it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on the countertop anymore. Here is the Before and After side by side:

The Before picture actually looks better, I think! Waaah!! 

Oh well, in the long run I think it will be better to have fewer crazy colors in the kitchen (for my own peace of mind).