New Puppy!

Ever since Pepper passed away in March, we’ve been thinking about getting a second dog.  Well, “we” being me and the monsters.  That Man likes dogs well enough…. from a distance.  He’s not really an indoor dog kind of guy.  But Middle Monster wrote a powerfully cute Christmas letter about really really REALLY wanting another dog, and TM finally agreed.

I looked on petfinder.com first but couldn’t find anything that was a good match for us.  I wanted something boxer like, not too big, but that energy level.  Our poor old gentleman Pepper (Schnoodle mix) hated it when KC wanted to play with him.  She’s very high energy.  She could run up and down the stairs after a ball all day.  I wanted something she and the girls would really have fun playing with.

I never expected to end up with a PUPPY.

We found her on craigslist.  Supposedly the guy had bought her for his son he has on the weekends and the care throughout the week (without his kid there to help) was too much.  I say supposedly because “supposedly” she was wormed and mostly housebroken too…  and both of those were big fat lies.

I took her to our vet immediately the next day and she tested positive for both roundworms and fleas.  Poor baby.  We’ve also started her on her puppy shots, and until she gets all three, she can’t be around other potentially infected dogs.  Which means she gets to make the Christmas rounds with us this year.  (That Man is so thrilled.  NOT.)

She’s also “supposedly” purebred American bulldog but she can’t be purebred — she’s just too small.  But she’s awfully darned cute and we didn’t care about the purebred thing at all.  Plus smaller is good for us.

Other than the potty training (which is actually going pretty well), the hardest thing of all was naming her.  She needed a cute name to match her perky ears and assertive personality (she growled at KC upon their first meeting).  Mom and Dad wanted to name her Sunshine (so we’d have KC and the Sunshine band, snort), but the monsters didn’t get it.  They wanted to name her either Kona or Cocoa.

It was like WWIII around here, people.  So the puppy’s name is officially KoKoKoNa.  I hope she can live up to such a mouthful.  Here are both dogs pictured with the monsters (our Christmas cards this year):

Hug Your Loved Ones

We had the dreaded early AM phone call this morning.  When the phone rings that early, it’s never good news.

That Man’s father passed away unexpectedly in the middle of the night.  They were just here for Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time.  I’m so thankful that we saw him, that the monsters have grown up with him in their lives.  That Man is taking it especially hard — he’s very close to all of his family.

So go hug your loved ones and keep us in your thoughts, please.  The second funeral in a month is taking a toll on us.

Catching Up

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a nice day with lots of family.  I didn’t burn anything so that’s always a win.  My pecan pie set up perfectly this time.  I also decided to try and make a cherry pie for the first time.

Oh. My.  It was sooooo good.  Cherry pie’s definitely on my go-to list now and it was incredibly easy.  I was just shocked at how expensive the cherries were!  Two cans = $10 for one pie.

I’ve played a lot of Big Fish Games lately.  The new Mystery Case Files hidden object game was fun.  Then I hit the new Fishdom game too.  Yes, I play them all, even match games.  (Between my beloved sister and I, we probably own most of their games!)

Yeah, see how exciting I am?  The important thing to note here is that I haven’t been writing.  I just haven’t felt like it.  This is hugely unusual for me, especially for it to go so long.  I also haven’t done the greatest on my diet (see cherry pie above).  So I kicked myself in the fanny yesterday (easier to do now that it’s getting bigger again) and got back on the WW tracking and Power 90.  I was pretty sore today so I didn’t work out today, but I plan to get at least 3 days in this week and hit it full force next week.

I have to do this.  If you’re in a building that’s on fire, do you sit around and hope someone else will come along and put the fire out?  Or do you book it out of the building, even if you have to go out a window?  Yeah.  So here’s me jumping out the window and getting back on track.

As for writing, I did have the beginnings of the urge to work again yesterday.  A trilogy of titles came to me and they’re really strong.  Really interesting.  I let myself brainstorm a little on them today and played with my tarot cards.  It’s not the story I need to be doing, but a little work is a good sign.

Fair warning, Sig.  I’m coming for you.  Very soon.

Tales of a Leather Coat

Many many moons ago when we lived in Texas — 1994 to be exact — I bought a leather coat.

Now this was a big deal, because it was pretty pricy, and I hardly ever spent that kind of money on myself.  Even 18 years ago.  But I fell in love with this leather coat.  It smelled incredible.  Just remembering wearing the coat makes me smell it – that rich leather scent.  Mmmmm.  I loved that coat and I wore it nonstop (yes even in Texas where we hardly needed a coat at all).

Until it no longer fit.

Long-time blog readers know I’ve been doing Weight Watchers for almost two years now.  I’ve stalled out a little, but I’ve lost 80 pounds.  I still have a chunk to go, but I got to thinking about that leather coat.  I’m down to about what I weighed back then, or pretty close, but I couldn’t find the coat.

I knew I hadn’t gotten rid of it.  Even though I couldn’t wear it any longer, I loved it too much to sell or donate it.  But we’ve moved a hundred times (okay not literally but we moved from Texas to Nebraska to Minnesota to Missouri since then) and I had no idea where I would have put it.

It wasn’t downstairs in the spare closet.  It wasn’t in the unfinished storage area in the garage.  I went through several storage containers, wracking my brain to remember what kind of container I’d put it in.  Surely I wouldn’t have trusted any old plastic tub with my beloved leather coat.  No, I surely put it into one of those airbag things that suck all the air out and promise to keep out bugs and moisture.

Finally today I found one of those old airbags in storage.  Giddy, I ripped it open.  And there, my beloved suede leather coat.

But now, I hesitated.  Would it fit?  Would I be able to zip it?  It’s a fairly long coat, and it was always hard to start it (I’m bottom heavy).  After looking for it for months, I’d be so devastated if it didn’t fit…

But I’m pleased to say it DID fit.  Perfectly.  It doesn’t smell as good as I remember, but I’m sure once it airs out from being stored for nearly twenty years, it’ll warm back up to that rich leather smell.

It’s gorgeous.  I can’t wait to wear it this winter and remember how many years it took me to fit back into it.  And know that I’ll NEVER go back to not being able to wear it.  Until I lose too much and it’s too big this time.

Then I’ll find a new gorgeous leather coat.  This one black with lots of buckles and zippers!!!

Rough Week

Coyote Con was a blast – thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat with us!  If you have recommendations for next year, I’d love to hear them!

At the Evil Day Job, I’m under the gun to complete a project by the end of the month.  Yes, gulp, I’m running out of time.  I had plans to take Friday off to prepare leisurely for Coyote Con, but that didn’t happen.  I had plans to take off Nov 1-5 for NaNoWriMo…. but that ain’t happenin’ if I don’t get this project DONE.

Tomorrow’s the day.  I have to make it work.

So I’ve been stressed out, working longer hours, skipping working out, not eating the best, not writing….  All to meet this deadline.

And then my 87-year-old Grandpa had a stroke.  We dropped everything to get up to Kansas City to see him yesterday when the report was that he was slipping away.  Seven hours in the car last night, after working all day, and then working today (started 2 hours late), and my back is KILLING me.  I’m hoping to load up on Motrin tonight and hit the sack early.  No news about Grandpa, so he’s still hanging in there.  But the family is gathering.

Needless to say, there’s lots going on right now.  I’m just trying to hang in there too.  Make my deadline.  Pray for Grandpa and Grandma.  And prepare the monsters for the worst.

Then I’ll start digging Sig out again and tackle NaNoWriMo.

Howling Crazy

Join the Howl this weekend!

I’m in final crazy mode stressing out about getting all the final details for CoyoteCon worked out.  I’m not real thrilled with cometchat right now.  I still can’t get the Facebook plugin to work correctly and their emails so far have been frustrating to say the least (e.g. I can’t even get them to agree I have it installed where I and my hosting company have both confirmed!).  I will definitely be shopping for new chat software for next year.

Assuming I survive this year.

If you plan to come to Coyote Con this weekend, either set up a WordPress id (on CoyoteCon.com) or use Gtalk.  Those work.  I still can’t get Facebook to cooperate!

My last post was about Amish bread experiements.  I admit to giving up on the healthy aspect for this next batch… because no one would eat it.  Oh, I ate it, but I don’t need it and I don’t even really want it.  So to satisfy That Man’s sweet tooth, I went and bought the artificial pudding mixes and used plain old white flour instead of my delicious fresh-ground whole wheat.  I made a double batch (to use up as much as possible) and will be sending the extra loaf to work with him.  I’ll also plan to make up a loaf for my dad, but I’ll try making it healthy again for him.  He’s eaten even my most scary health-food creations!  (The last Amish bread made with whole ingredients wasn’t scary — just not as sweet and gooey as That Man wanted.)

Still slowly working on Lord Regret.  Most days I can get 500 words.  This morning, I only got 275… but it’s the first sex scene and those always give me trouble.  Dark and Early is still hard, but I’m still doing it.  If I don’t get my words in the morning, I just don’t get it done later.  I’m too busy.

I made Power 90 4 times last week.  The weekend was busy and I missed yesterday, but I made myself get back to it today.  Man, it’s soooo easy to fall back into bad habits… and incredibly hard to keep up new habits.  I kept telling myself “You’ll feel better after you work out.”  I finally did it, and yeah, I did feel better.  It’s just talking myself up into doing it!

Amish Friendship Bread Experiments

That Man brought the dreaded gallon-sized bag of goo home from work the other day.  You know, the one you have to feed every 5 days and try to dump several bags of new goo on your friends and family.  Eventually they all start running in the opposite direction because they don’t want anything rotting on their counter.

So I end up doubling recipes, making tons of cake that none of us need.  On the bright side, it doesn’t tempt me at all, but the girls sure don’t need a bunch of rich cake to eat every day.

Besides, it’s always bothered me to put a box of artificial pudding in “Amish” bread.

So I googled and found all sorts of recipes that use the Amish starter for REAL FOOD.  This site had tons of recipes (both with pudding and without).  I had no idea that there were so many options!  Not just sweet stuff, but pancakes, biscuits and breads — anything where you’d use sourdough.  The Amish starter has a cup of sugar in it (each time I feed it), but I figure after 5 days or so, very little of the sugar is probably still there, although it’s definitely going to be sweeter than regular sourdough.

The first thing I tried didn’t turn out so well.  I made a chocolate cake using my fresh-ground whole wheat flour.  However, I don’t think I ground it quite fine enough, so the cake was a bit grainy and very heavy.  It also wasn’t sweet enough for the family, and not really chocolately enough.  They ate it, but it stuck around on the counter for days instead of disappearing.  Next time I’ll put chocolate chips in it, extra cocoa, and maybe a little more sugar.  I’m also getting better at grinding the flour.  I actually set a timer for a full 60 seconds in the VitaMix, because I just won’t grind it long enough if I don’t.

Tonight, we decided to have breakfast for supper:  pancakes and bacon, the monsters’ favorite.  I hardly ever eat pancakes, especially white flour ones made from a mix (again, family favorite is the “Pioneer” mix).  However, tonight they sounded really good.  I pulled out my Jane Brody cookbook and found my favorite multi-grain recipe (fresh-ground whole wheat and oats), but I tweaked it to incorporate the Amish starter.

At lunch, I put in 3 T of starter, along with the milk and flour for pancakes according to the recipe.  Mixed it in a bowl, and then set the whole thing in the oven with the light on to ferment all afternoon.  The recipe said to let it sit all night but I figured a couple of hours would be fine (although next time I’d probably use more starter if I didn’t have all night to let it work its magic).  Then for supper, I made the rest of the recipe like usual.

Man they were really tasty!  My favorite way to eat them is with a cup of no-sugar applesauce and a pat of real butter.  So good!

Have you ever made anything with the Amish starter?

Feeding My Addiction

If you’ve been reading here long, you know that I love coffee.  I’ve had all kinds of coffee pots over the years.  I’ve tried cheap ones.  I’ve tried expensive ones (to me, any coffee pot that costs over $100 is expensive).  I’ve bought green coffee beans and had them roasted to order.  I jumped up and down when Caribou Coffee opened, only to become…disillusioned.

Over time, my taste has changed.  I used to love Gevalia, for example.  I bought Kenya by the box.  Then I got sick of it and I can’t stand how it tastes now, even from other companies.  There’s a honey-cured bean (with some of the coffee fruit still on the bean) that we adored from Costa Rica, but we haven’t been able to order it for over a year.  Nothing else compares.  Even my old standby – Mahogany from Caribou – loses its taste if that’s all I drink.  It helps if I trade in other coffees, like Living After Midnight from Classic Rock, a local roastery, but…

Now I’m having problems with my coffee pot.

I’m hard on pots, I know that.  I make 2-4 pots a day.  By “pot” I don’t mean a full pot.  I make just enough at once to fill my favorite white mug, which takes about 4 cups of water on the measuring line.  I use a ridiculous amount of beans to get it as strong as I like, even with the 1-4 cup/Bold setting on this pot.  Yet it still doesn’t have that TASTE I want.

It’s hard to describe.  It’s like when you steal the first 1/2 cup or so out of the pot, when it’s really really strong and rich.  That’s what I like.  I’ve been making my coffee stronger and stronger over time, and cutting back on how much I make as a result, but this pot just isn’t making the coffee as strong as I like, even when I only make 1 cup at a time.  Plus it’s ridiculously expensive to waste so many beans.

Then this pot started leaking.  And it’s less than 6 months old!  I thought a KitchenAid would last longer than that.

Anyway, I’ve been eying an espresso machine as a result.  I wanted that rich strong taste that I crave, even if I get a much smaller cup at once.  (If I drank my white mug full of espresso I think I’d have a heart attack.)

We went to Everything Kitchen to try out some different pots (they were nice enough to demo them for me, which makes shopping so much easier).  I tasted espresso both from a Nepresso Pixie and a gorgeous stainless steel Saeco, fully automated.  I admit, I loved that Saeco.  The coffee was incredible.

So was the sticker price at over $1200.  Gulp!!!

Needless to say, I didn’t spend that much.  But I did spend more than I’ve ever spent on a coffee pot before and bought the Pixie.  I was reluctant because I don’t want to chain myself to a pod-only system, but since I’m fairly tired of the beans I typically buy, it’s a risk I was willing to take.  Plus my other pot still works — it just leaks.  When I need to change things up, I can always make a traditional pot of coffee.

So here’s my cute little lime-green Pixie.  (My colors are black or red, but this was a demo model and I got a really good price on it.)  My only complaint so far:  I ran out of the sample pods way too quickly!  I was desperate enough that I drank the decaf ones today until my order arrived.

I’m not addicted or anything….

Crocheting Fool

I need to get my act together and start working on some Christmas gifts.  This year, I think I’m going to crochet a few things.

Just a few.  Ok, ok, who am I kidding.

You see, the problem is that if I make something for myself… I have to make 3 more just like it for the monsters.  So I made myself a pair of fingerless gloves… and 3 more pairs over the weekend.  I also completed a scarf and started another.  You know, for GIFTS!

Then I started working on a matching headband (without the big flower – I’ve never made one of those before), but I had to rip it out.  I messed up really bad.  I restarted it last night, and so far I’m okay.  I don’t *think* I’ve messed it up yet.  The first time I make something from a new-to-me pattern is always risky.  I’m a terrible pattern reader.  I usually end up taking it to my mom and have her decipher the directions for me, but I want to make something for her this year, so I can’t have her help me!

Here’s a terrible picture of my gloves, made with LionBrand yarn.  It’s a little itchy (a wool blend) but so incredibly warm!

The Hair-Smelling Zombies

I had a WHOPPER of a dream last night.

It wasn’t exactly a nightmare, but I woke up with an elevated heartrate and had a hard time getting back to sleep.  You know how sometimes you have a really GOOD dream and you want to slip back into that dream world but it’s too late?  You’re too awake?  Well it was the opposite of that last night.  I woke up, heart pounding, but started to slip right back into the dream.  So I got up, hit the bathroom, got a drink, crawled back into bed…

And had to fight the hair-smelling zombies again.

Let me ‘splain.

I was in a group of people that I did not know, standing in line.  Some guy was talking but I don’t remember what he looked like, only that he was in control and he was changing the people (US) in the room.  We were becoming zombies.  He lectured about how this was good and right and scientifically miraculous, blah blah blah but what it really came down to….

He didn’t like the way human hair smelled.

Yeah, what a freak!  Anyway, he’s giving all of us medicine that eliminates body hair, everywhere, and the side effect unfortunately is that we turn into zombies.

Evidently I’m okay with this.  (?)  I’m his favorite.  Even as the other people begin to react violently — more like zombies! — I’m completely normal and calm.  Until the zombies start smelling me.

Because I still have my hair.

I can’t figure out why the medicine isn’t affecting me, and all I can think about is what HE will do when he realizes that his favorite hasn’t lost her foul-smelling human hair.  I’m really getting anxious about this.  He’s willing to turn people into zombies just to get rid of their hair.  So what’s he going to do if his science fails on me?

At the same time, the other zombies keep smelling my hair and getting increasingly aggressive.  One in particular keeps bumping me and getting in my face.  Oddly, he’s shorter than me (NO ONE IS SHORTER THAN ME, especially grown men, but whatever) and very stocky, like a wrestler.  In the dream, I wondered if he was a friend of That Man’s family that I met one time about a hundred years ago.  It was hard to tell because he had no hair, no eyebrows, etc. and he was so stinking short!  I couldn’t get over it.

Anyway, he keeps bumping me, growling at me about my hair, and I’m so nervous.  I’m afraid he’s making too much noise and HE will notice that I still have all my hair.  I’m trying to stay quiet, but the bald short zombie starts poking me.  He’s hitting me in the back, that bump at the base of my neck where it meets my shoulders.  What is that thing called?  (In the dream, it was a mandela, I have no idea if that’s really what it’s called or not.)  It hurts, but there’s no blood or guts or anything, and I’m trying to stay quiet.

I still have my hair.

Whew, I know that doesn’t sound scary at all, but it was really disturbing.  And then the dream kept trying to suck me back.  That really worried me.  I so did not want to go back and find out what hair-smelling zombies would do to me.

Oh, did I mention that I got my hair colored today?  :mrgreen:  I joked with Apryll that I was having an axiety attack about what she’d do to my hair and came up with hair-smelling zombies the night before.  But what really made me burst out laughing was when I sat down in the chair (before she knew about the dream)…

And she smelled my hair.

*dies*  I always wear Moroccan Oil which smells divine.  Maybe that’s what the zombies were after!