Sunday, June 30, 2013

Compare & contrast

I got into the fitness device craze . . . I wanted to get a Fit Bit Flex but it was back-ordered six to eight weeks. Lacking any patience, I bought a Jawbone Up, then realized I really did prefer the Fit Bit Flex instead. So I returned the Jawbone Up.

Some friends were interested in a comparison of the two devices so here you go -- my completely unscientific and utterly personal opinions:

Click the picture for a better view

One friend specifically asked if I thought the device is motivating me. I'd say yes, although I was already pretty motivated. It's just a nice, visible reminder that I'm committed to getting back to the level of fitness I had three years ago. With both devices, you get feedback either on your phone (Jawbone Up) or on the phone dashboard and by email (badges for achievements from Fit Bit). Yes, it's silly but it's still kind of nice and surprisingly motivating.

Both devices track my sleep (no idea how they know I'm asleep but they seem to be pretty accurate). I liked that the Jawbone Up told me how much deep vs. light sleep I got but on the other hand, the Fit Bit seems to recognize that I'm a restless sleeper (was restless eight times last night)

I also like that I can look at the Fit Bit dashboard on my phone and see where I am with my eating plan and activity plan for the day. After a couple of weeks, I should be able to identify trends with the goal of improving my health.

Have you tried any of these? What do you think?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

But I was here first!

Kent's renting some camera equipment to try out before he (maybe) buys any. All the stuff arrived yesterday and he's been like a little kid at Christmas ever since. I can't begin to tell you what all he's rented, although I do know one lens is a wide angle lens. So now I have a lot of wide angle lens pictures of all sorts of things and cats and creatures.

I like this one a lot and there's a bit of a story behind it. Last night I kept hearing what I thought was Eddie rattling our closet doors. I got up probably half a dozen times shooing him away from the doors but he kept going back. I put a blanket at the bottom, then a pillow, then another pillow all to no avail. Finally I said screw it and opened one of the doors. I figured if he wanted in there so badly then he could have the closet.

As I got back in bed, I realized I hadn't seen Chloe all night. She is almost always perched by my shoulder but not last night. Yes, you guessed it, she was in the closet but she didn't meow. She just kept rattling the door. Once she got out, she made a quick pit stop at the litter box and then curled up where you see her in this picture. But that's normally Eddie's place and he was not happy. In typical Eddie fashion, he just barged in and took over her spot.

Doesn't she look as though she's saying she got there first?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Random thoughts while running this morning

  • It's easier to run when the temp is 68° than 78° even when the humidity is 96% (which it was today). Still a sweaty run but not so miserable.
  • Asphalt really is nicer to run on than concrete. This didn't used to be the case for me but then again, that was before I started running in Nike Frees about five years ago. With the Frees, you really do feel the road and lo and behold, asphalt is softer than concrete.
  • I don't see how anyone can feel good running with long hair not put up in a pony tail or something. I don't like the feel of my hair flopping around my head when I run so back it goes, but I see others who must think differently.
  • I run in the dark, in the early morning hours. Partly that's to accommodate my work schedule and mostly it's by preference. Running later in the morning is just too dang hot (and it's plenty hot at 5:15).
  • My neighborhood has some lovely homes, not grand or pretentious but just lovely ranches with interesting mid-century touches. 
  • I still like running hills. They make for a great challenge and help satisfy my competitive nature.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He just wants to help

Kent and I did a little reorganizing of our fabric stash, which was threatening to burst out of the built in storage in our dining room. I reassured him our stash is quite small actually -- on one of the sewing blogs I read, a woman wrote that she has 20 giant trash bags filled with fabric. She knows how much she has because her sewing room flooded and she had to temporarily store her fabric in the garage.

Anyway. As you can see, Eddie only wanted to help us.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Family visit

I don't have much time to write a post today but did want to mention that my mother-in-law came to visit this weekend. She's a fantastic lady, I count myself very fortunate to have her as a mother-in-law. She got here Friday and left on Sunday. We didn't do much except we did drag her around to a fabric store and Costco on Saturday in some melt-your-eyebrows heat. Wore us all out!

Kent got this picture of her with me on Saturday.

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is why we can't have nice things

Really it's why I can't have nice things.

Cats have scent glands on the sides of their faces, the bases of their tails, on their legs -- really, where don't cats have scent glands? And they like to rub those scent glands on things that are important to them. Over and over and over again they like to rub.

Until you get something like this leg on my desk:

Notice where the black is all gone? That's from cats rubbing off the finish and rubbing on their scent. But the worst thing is they only do it to my desk, never to Kent's.

This is why I can't have nice things. They'll just rub em to death.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Salt Roasted Potatoes -- how to do it

I wrote about the salt roasted potatoes we had in Honolulu, but realized that pictures would go a long way toward showing how easy these potatoes are to make. Since Kent made the salt roasted potatoes again Sunday night, we got pictures all the way through the process.

Here we go!

We used a total of 10 small red potatoes, with five in each baking dish. We also use kosher salt because of the texture. I've read other recipes that use a mixture of rock salt and kosher salt and we'll give that a try. I don't think that normal salt would work as well since the salt would bake to solid rock-like consistency. If you try it with table salt, let me know how it goes.

This picture is one we'd have found very helpful when trying to make these potatoes for the first time. These salt roasted recipes don't really say how much water to use, or salt either for that matter. Well -- use  enough salt to cover the potatoes entirely; moisten the salt with water to form a thick paste. You don't want it to be runny, just sort of sticky.

Cover the potatoes with your salt mixture and bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes.

And this is the other picture we'd have liked to see. The salt bakes into a hard crust, and you have to break it to get your food out. See the indentations left in the salt? Once you get your food out, just brush off the excess salt if you have any. Bonus: clean up is a breeze -- rinse out your dish and you're done.

Now you get to enjoy these amazing potatoes! I know they don't look like anything, but they are incredibly good. Best of all, even I -- a butter fiend when it comes to potatoes -- didn't miss or even want butter. They don't need salt or pepper either. They are that good.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Got three do-it-yourself remedies to share:

DIY weed killer: in a 32 ounce spray bottle, combine 1/2 C salt, a squirt of dishwashing detergent and fill nearly to the top with vinegar. Shake very gently to combine. Always shake before using and store in a cool, dark place. This weed killer is an indiscriminate plant killer so spray with care. It works best in full sun.

Odor destroyer: Put cheap vodka in a spray bottle. Spray the smelly spots on your work out clothes and wash normally. I am amazed how well this one works.

Castile soap mixture (in the blue bottle): Mostly fill a spray bottle with water and add a squirt of liquid castile soap. Anything that can be cleaned with water can be cleaned with this mixture. We use it on our wood floors to clean up cat gak.

L to R: weed killer, odor destroyer
& castile soap mixture
What do-it-yourself recipes do you have? Share with me, please!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

My dad with Doug & me and our kitties
Father’s Day is always a weird day for me. I’m part of a an extensively blended family – I like to say my family tree more accurately resembles a spider’s web what with the various step-mothers and step-siblings I’ve had along the way.

I’ve always just had two father figures though: my birth father and my dad. Barker was my birth father – I am the first of two children from his marriage to my mother. He and my mother split when I was very tiny and he remarried shortly thereafter. My mother didn’t marry again until I was six years old and that’s where Dad came in.

I was estranged from my father since I was 12 years old for good reasons. We had some contact again when I was in my early to mid-20s but nothing past about 1986. Nothing that is until one of my step-sisters reached out to me in 2004, looking to make amends for something she thought she’d done that hurt me. I learned then that Barker had died nearly five years earlier.

Growing up with Mom and Dad and my brother and two sisters, I never felt as though I fit into the family. I am the only one with brown eyes, like Barker, and I look a lot like him. I’ve long felt like I was an alien or some sort of imposter hiding with my blue-eyed siblings. And I always thought that Dad sort of felt that way too, just not quite sure about me or how I fit in – best example I can think of would be when a dog adopts a kitten, and somehow the two species make it work.

Even with that sense of not belonging, of being somehow the alien, I learned a lot from Dad. He might be surprised to hear this, but I think one of the reasons I am so very disciplined is because I watched him and learned to be that way myself. I also learned to stick with things, even when it’s difficult, and I learned to be generous when I have the ability to do so.

Here’s to you, Dad.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I made this!

I've been wanting a koozie (coozie?) for a while. I will occasionally drink a diet Coke but really don't like how the cold, wet can feels, plus the soda warms up faster than I want. But I refuse to pay money for a commercially made koozie with lame, slightly offensive sayings on them, even if they are just $1 each.

In the meantime, I've been wrapping my can in a napkin or paper towel and either tucking the ends in if it's a paper towel or else using a bobby pin which looks like this:

I think you'll agree that looks downright low rent.

Today I found a tutorial that sort of laid out how to make your own koozie. Only as it turns out the measurements were pretty much off and also the so-called koozie was more of a can wrap. It had no bottom. I don't know about you, but to me a koozie should have a bottom.

After completely redoing the basic pattern pieces (which included taking a full inch off the width of the material and shortening it by a half inch, oh and adding the round bottom piece), I ended up with a pair of me-made koozies:

Not too shabby, eh?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A slightly disgusting hack

We have a big, giant trash bin provided by our city. I mean, that bin is huge and while that's nice, it's also plastic which means it absorbs odor. Since we scoop the litter boxes daily, we've put seven bags of grossness into a big, giant plastic bin every single week since late January when we moved in. No big deal . . . until the weather started heating up a couple of weeks ago and I'm here to tell you it's a smelly situation now. The entire garage just reeks.

So last weekend I had an idea about how to solve the smell -- the poop pot.

We got a super cheap stock pot with a well-fitting lid and put down a layer of charcoal briquettes in the bottom of the pot. The daily bags of grossness go into the poop pot until Monday morning, when they get tossed into the big, giant plastic bin. Once the layer of briquettes no longer help with the odor, we'll toss them too. While the contents of the poop pot are still quite smelly, our garage no longer stinks to high, high heaven.