Who needs kids when you’ve got cats?

That’s the crazy cat lady motto, sad but true. 

Beware the second photo — if you don’t like blood, don’t scroll down.

I came home from Wellington last night after a lovely trip to find a Winters on the front porch.  He was sitting very handsomely, but not putting any weight on his right front paw.  It’s the same paw he had to get stitches in a few months ago.  The same paw he’s torn out his dewclaw on.  It’s just a troublesome paw.

Winters' foot

Expensive cat is expensive

I couldn’t actually see anything wrong with it, but when I compared it to the other one by feel, he had a large amount of swelling between his dew claw and the rest of his toes.  Siiiiigh.

I made an appointment for him first thing this morning, and lots of money later, we have a Winters who is feeling much better.  He sort of looks like Frankenstein’s monster, though.  Fitting, with it being Halloween and all!

It was an abscess, so the vet knocked him out and gave it a thorough flush/clean.  He had a really high temperature as well, so he got a shot of antibiotics.  I get to play nurse and rinse it twice a day with salt water, if I think it needs it…hopefully it’ll drain and dry out soon.  And thank goodness there are no stitches or drainage tubes…he is really good at pulling those out, even with an e-collar of d00m on.

We’re back in for a follow up in 3 days.  It could be a lot worse, so I’m not complaining.  I love our kitties, and if it’s within my means to fix them, I will.

Not a lucky foot.

Not a lucky foot.

At least they cleaned his teeth at the same time and didn’t charge me for it.  I really do like this vet office.  They are wonderful.

Mini garden update:  Ben didn’t kill anything in the garden while I was gone!  I’ll do a full garden update tomorrow.

It actually looks like a garden now! Hurray!

Have you had any expensive vet bills lately?  I really hope not! <3 They are no fun.

A snapshot sort of Sunday

Ack, I’m behind a day!  And I just missed Sunday in the US by 40 minutes, so I can’t even act like I did it because of that either.

I blame Wellington for making my allergies go nuts and me being too meh to get this together yesterday.  I finally have my nose back today! The amount of nose that I usually have, anyway, which is to say probably half a nose?  I am allergic to cats, but more of other cats than my own cats.

On to the pictures!

Airport poppy

Pretty flowers at the airport! :) They looked like poppies, but I could be wrong?

Airport poppy

I really loved their colors! So vibrant :) Spring is definitely here!

Blue skies

I’m glad I remembered my sunglasses on this trip.  Usually I forget them, and end up getting bad headaches if I’m in the sun too much.

Office nerf gun arsenal

Obviously, our office is not a normal office by any means.  This is the fully-stocked nerf gun cabinet.  I choose to remain unarmed, as folks don’t tend to aim at unarmed coworkers as much!

Rainy Wellington morning

The second morning I was there, it was foggy and rainy, but I didn’t mind.  It was nice to stand outside, protected by an overhang, and listen to the birds greet the day.

Shya and Dauny

The later half of my trip, I stayed with some expectant friends & their kitties so I could attend their not-baby-shower party!

Jackolantern

The gathering was Halloween-themed!  Pumpkins (they were squash) were carved, and glorious spooky snacks were made!

Stuffed date cockroaches

Cream cheese & walnut-stuffed  cockroaches (dates) were my favorite.

Peanutbutter eyeballs

These white chocolate-covered peanut butter & rice cereal balls went down a treat, too.

Bat wings

I was too chicken to try the bat wings after I saw what color they were.  Very impressive!

Mystery flower

And there were pretty flowers there, too!  I’m unsure what kind this is, but it caught my eye and wanted its picture taken.

I had a really lovely time in Wellington :) I’m so lucky that my job can be done from home, but it’s nice to get to see everyone in the office once in a while and catch up with friends!

How was your weekend?  Doing anything for Halloween?

Product review: Ecostore Auto Dish Powder

This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had a dishwasher, so I can say I was super excited to start using one.  Getting dishes done by hand in a small kitchen can be a nightmare because they add up so quickly, not to mention the countless sponges I’ve purchased over the years.

In the past couple years I’ve started buying products that are easier on the environment, and using a dishwasher should be no exception, so I purchased some ecostore auto dish powder.  I already use their liquid dish soap, which works pretty well — it’s not sudsy like normal dish soaps, but that’s not a bad thing! :)

Eco Store Auto Dish PowderI bought the 1kg bottle, which should wash approximately 51 loads of dishes.  At $9.50,  it is definitely cheaper than a 45 pack of your normal powerball tablet-type washing powder, so I was really surprised.  If you order direct from their website, http://www.ecostoredirect.co.nz , it’s only $10 for the 1kg bottle (shipping looks to be a bit much, though?).

Normally with the powerball type of detergent, the tablet sometimes sticks in the soap compartment of the dishwasher, wasting a cycle of water & electricity, and driving me nuts.

On the first load of dishes using the eco store powder, all of the powder was gone (yay) and my dishes look awesome.  There was no residue left on my dishes, and my glassware wasn’t the slightest bit streaky.

The back of the bottle does suggest you use this powder with the ecostore rinse aid, but I don’t think I’ll really need it.

Verdict:  I would definitely buy this again.  It’s cheaper than the mainstream, non-ecofriendly varieties of dish washing powders out there, which is a plus.

I would like to get an ecostore dish brush eventually.  They’re made of wood, cost about the same as a plastic one, and you can compost the head of the brush when it’s worn out and buy a new one for a relatively inexpensive price.

What eco-friendly dishwasher products have you discovered?

Knowing your gnomes

According to Wikipedia, garden gnomes are figurines of a “small humanoid creature, usually wearing a pointy hat, produced for the purpose of ornamentation and protection from evil sorcery, typically of gardens or on lawns.”

The most common story I can find is they originated Germany  in the 1800s, and became popular in other areas of Europe and “wherever gardening was a serious hobby.”  I’m seriously kicking myself for not thinking of them when Ben’s brother asked if we wanted any souvenirs from Germany.

For me, gnomes remind me of one of my favorite childhood television shows, David the Gnome.  I could watch that show for hours!  Even now, I wish to have it on DVD so my future kids could watch it.  Note to self, find David the Gnome on DVD.

I thought it would be interesting to research the varying opinions on gnomes.  What I found was definitely unexpected!

Gnomes are mischieveousGnomes are not always there to help.

For many others, gnomes are definitely real, sentient creatures who aren’t always benevolent!  Just take for instance, the How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack website.  According to the creator of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, there are different levels of gnome close encounters:

The First Kind

Observation of gnome evidence or shenanigans, such as footprints in the mud, frightened animals, or moved wheelbarrows.  Typical evidence indoors includes the smell of pipe smoke or observation of gnome whiskers (hair from a beard).

I’ve definitely smelled smoke in my garden before.  I don’ t think it was pipe smoke, though, so perhaps Russell prefers roll-your-own (rollies) cigarettes?

The Second Kind

Sighting of an animate gnome.  This means you’ve seen a gnome in motion — actually walking around.  They know better then to move when humans are watching, so you likely surprised them.

I’ve never seen Russell move before.  I guess he’s too fast for me.

The Third Kind

Combat.

Seriously? I hired Russell to protect my garden.  Not attack me!  I’m glad he didn’t come with his own axe or spade, now.

Gnomes are an oppressed people.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are folks who believe that owning gnomes is a form of slavery.  There are sites like Free the Gnomes (not affiliated with the Gnome Liberation Front) and organizations like the Garden Gnome Liberationists.

These people steal or ‘liberate’ garden gnomes and sometimes even paint them to conceal their identities! You can even find them on Facebook.  Pretty crazy, if you ask me.

I would be sad if Russell disappeared (or was ‘liberated’).  Heaven knows he’s not actually doing anything for my garden — he was probably asleep when the plantnappers came.

Gnomes are magical and wonderful, happy beings.

This one is my personal view.  They like living in our gardens.  People like the folks at PhenomeGNOME.com have a view which is similar with my take on garden gnomes, that they are “good-natured magical folk” and that catching sight of one is actually a wonderful thing!

Gnomes help animals & plants :)

If you’re lucky enough to have gnomes in your garden, your plants and animals  can only benefit from them — they are gardening gurus, and like David The Gnome, they help injured animals (when you’re not looking, of course).

I should probably put Russell back outside when I get home.  Maybe he’s just really new at this whole protecting thing.

But really, what would I know about what gnomes want?  Maybe I’ll do some research on that for a future post…poll some neighborhood gnomes, even.

What are your views on garden gnomes? :)

Images source: Mary Ferguson’s magical Etsy shop: PhenomeGNOME — please stop by her wonderful shop!  Mary was kind enough to allow me to feature her gnome pictures here, and I want to own all of them one day!  Now to just convince Ben & my family to buy them all for me…

Quick spring couscous salad

I don’t think I’ve actually shared any recipes yet!  This salad works great as a main meal (serves 3ish) or as a side (serves 4-5) if you take the tuna out.  I’ve been eating this a lot lately (since it’s gotten warmer out, at least) and love eating the leftovers for lunch the next day :)  The best part is it takes about 5-10 minutes  to prepare and tastes really fresh & light.

Spring couscous saladIngredients:

  • 100g dry couscous
  • 185g can of chunky tuna, drained
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 100g fresh or frozen veggie mix
  • 1T good extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (fresh is best)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Whatever chopped fresh herbs you have around, I prefer cilantro!  Parsley would work, too.

I usually start by putting my water jug on to boil and measuring out my couscous.

Place your dry couscous into a bowl that you can fit a plate on top of to seal in the steam from your boiled water.  I usually put my couscous into the bowl I’ll be eating my salad in, so I don’t create extra dishes.  Once your water has boiled, pour enough into the bowl containing your couscous to cover it by about 3-5mm, or whatever the package suggests.  Place a side plate (or large plate if you’re using a larger bowl) on top of your bowl.   If you can’t create a good seal using a bowl & plate, just use plastic wrap (I avoid using plastic wrap usually).

While your couscous is rehydrating, heat up your veggies in a small pot or in the microwave (I tend to use the microwave if I’m just using a frozen veggie mix).  If you would rather have a cold salad, pre-blanched veggies work fine!  Just make sure your veggies have a crunch to them still.

Drain your tuna, & cut up your avocado.  Place these ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl along with your veggies of choice.

Your couscous should be done by now!  Fluff it up with a fork and add to your mixing bowl.

Squeeze your lemon juice in, drizzle your olive oil, and get your salt & pepper in there and gently mix, so you don’t smoosh your avocado chunks into a paste!  Top off with your fresh herbs and you’re done!  I usually scoop mine out into the bowl I had my couscous in and put the rest into containers to eat for lunch the next two days.

You can pretty much substitute anything in this recipe for something else, except the couscous of course!  I tend to use whatever I’ve got in the pantry, fridge and/or freezer.

If you’ve got fresh garden veggies, peas give a lovely crunch, or if you want a more mediterranean feel, pitted olives & fresh tomato works a treat!

If you don’t like avocado, half of a small can of bean salad or about 130g of a bean & feta mix from the deli section in your local grocery store tastes lovely in this as well.  Substitute the tuna for shrimp or prawns and you’ve got a lovely seafood starter!  The possibilities are endless, really.

Couscous works with so many ingredients.  Have fun creating your own favorite couscous salad! :)

Join me in procrastination!

I follow Meredith’s blog, Life’s Crazy Joke and she is hilarious!  She recently blogged about her hubby and she having a list of celebrities they’re allowed to have sex with.  I linked the post to a friend of mine over IM, and here is the conversation that took place:

[12:18] Me: http://www.lifescrazyjoke.com/our-laminated-lists/
[12:18] Me: this is funny.
[12:20] Friend: lol
[12:21] Friend: you have one?
[12:21] Me: a list?
[12:21] Friend: mhmm
[12:21] Me: ya
[12:21] Me: currently
[12:21] Me: ian somerhalder is at the top
[12:21] Friend: OMG I FORGOT TO TELL YOU
[12:22] Me: o.o
[12:22] Me: WOAH
[12:22] Me: xD
[12:22] Friend: I realized the other day
[12:22] Friend: That when filming, I’m usually no more than about an hour away from that blue-eyed man
[12:22] Friend: since they film here in my city
[12:22] Me: i hate you
[12:22] Me: go to hell
[12:22] Me: rawar
[12:22] Me: *stomps off*

I know I’ve mentioned before my love of Damon from the Vampire Diaries. Unless my friend gets me a picture of him, she’s off my ‘lufflies’ category of friends on my IM list. *waves fist*  I don’t have many celebrity crushes at all, so I’m allowed to say this.

I should really be in the shower and then getting dressed, because I’m flying up to Wellington today (yay) for work and a friend’s not-baby-shower (it’s a halloween-do!).  But the clothes I’m going to wear are currently in the dryer (it’s raining!) and I needed to write a post today.  I’ll be away for a few days, so any posts that appear between now and … Sunday my time have been written in advance!

While I wait for clothes to dry, I shall show you some garden pictures!

Strawberry blossomsThe strawberries that I re-potted are loving life, looks like.  One of them sprouted two flowers the other day! I’m not sure whether I should pinch them off or not…I ended up putting the spare plant that wouldn’t fit into this trough into a pot of her own off to the side.  It’ll be interesting to see which of them do the best, the ones that already lived here or my newer ones I purchased a few months ago.

Sorry for the bad photo — it was really windy out when I took it and I couldn’t get the camera to focus on them closely!

little gem lettuce sproutMy little gem lettuces are doing well — I have about 10 sprouted, I think, but only 6-7 of them look amazing.  Some of them have decided to root themselves sideways so I keep having to reposition the little suckers in their pots!  Do they look a bit yellow to you?  They were even yellower than this a few days ago, before I fertilized everything.

I called Ben’s Dad about everything being yellow, but he said not to worry about it unless things are actually dying/wilting, and nothing is, so far.  He thinks it could have something to do with all the chlorine in our water at the moment (because of the earthquake screwing everything up)– he’s noticed a few client’s plants aren’t doing very well this year, when normally they’re amazing and the only thing that’s different is the water for them.

coriander cilantro sproutsMy coriander is sprouting!  That’s cilantro for you folks over in the US.  I couldn’t believe I missed it the first time I ordered seeds, so I sneakily ordered some with my flower seeds and forgot to tell you.  They came up pretty fast, too.  I have heaps more, so I won’t feel guilty about eating this entire pot’s worth pretty quickly, yum!

Here’s to hoping Ben doesn’t kill anything while I’m gone!  Last time I went to Welly was over a month ago, and things were relatively easy to look after as they’d only just sprouted.  It’s nice to see how far everything’s come, though! :)

And before I finish procrastinating, I have to show you what Ben’s brother brought me back from Germany!  His girlfriend actually made them, but he designed them after our four cats:

Beaded kitty coasters

They’re beaded kitty coasters!  I love them.  I think Winters is my favorite, it looks just like him. Apparently you just put the beads into this thing and then iron the other side (I would have taken another photo to show you that side but now I’ve run out of time).  I don’t actually want to use these as coasters.  I think I might frame them.

Ok, must actually get off my ass now! Wishing you a great couple of days!

How are your gardens doing?  Have you gotten any cool souvenirs from folks over the years?

Garden wishes

This is a  list of what I want to have in my garden one day (wherever that may be):

1.  A lemon tree.  I use lemons in cooking all the time.  Everyday, if I can.  I love lemons.

2.  A lime tree.  See number one.  Limes are freaking expensive.

3.  A wisteria or two.  It smells soooo lovely.  And there’s a variety called black dragon (how cool is that?).  Might not mix well with kids or cats, though, as all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested…

Tulips4.  Tulips.  I want to give them a go one day.  Not sure what color to get yet.

5.  Lots of English lavender.  I like English lavender more than French, because of the flower structure.  It’s good for making sachets & pillows, and smells so good.

6.  More gnomes.  They rock.  And Russell could use the company.

7.  Gargoyles.  They would help protect stuff.

8.  Dragons.  They would play nicely with gargoyles.

9.  Cats.  Statues, that is.  They’re cute and don’t need feeding.

10.  An angel cat statue for Zeus.  We lost our dear Zeus last March very suddenly and I still haven’t gotten over it yet.  Some days I still tear up thinking about him.  Because he was white, he never got to spend much time in the sun, but I know he would’ve loved to.

11.  A faerie door.  I think I might be able to cross this one-off soon — I spotted a lovely one on trademe.

12.  A faerie sign.  This one is the funniest one I’ve seen so far. :)

13.   Some wind chimes.  I would love to get some of those big bamboo ones that sound really low and pretty, as well as a few lighter, tinkly kinds….I think Ben and I would like the larger ones better, though.  I’m keeping an eye on trademe for some.

13 things seems like enough to wish for at the moment, so I’ll stop here!  Hopefully I can cross some of these off one day!

Is there anything you’d love to have in your garden one day?

Shopping is the devil

No, I don’t actually believe in the devil, but if there was a devil, he would have invented shopping.  Shopping drives me to drink.  And to eat olives and little delicious cream-cheese filled peppers…

I went out after work today aiming to buy some baby shower gifts for two of my friends, some new shoes, and maybe a new shirt or two.

4.5 hours later, I came home with the baby shower gifts, and a pair of shoes (thank the Gods), but no clothes.

Why is it when I actually have the money, it’s so freaking hard to find what I want?  And when I have no money, I find awesome things that I love?!  It’s always been this way for me.

I ended up going all the way across town on the bus that orbits Christchurch (the orbiter) only to find out that the place where I usually find awesome shoes is now closed! WTF shoe store! How dare you do this!  The only other one that I know of was further away, so I went back to a mall nearer to my house to find baby stuff and shoes.

I had a REAL COFFEE when I got there.  It was amazing.  Now that I work from home, I rarely get a real coffee (espresso and not plunger).

The shoes I wish I'd found

No, these are not my new shoes.

A very stylish older lady and I tried on about 30 pairs of shoes together.  She decided to buy the pair I wish looked good on my size 9-10 wide, flat feet.  All you women out there who wear a size 7 shoe need to realize how freaking lucky you are.  I finally managed to find a pair that wasn’t awful on sale for $9.

I tried on at least 10 tops (and even a dress), and hated all of them.  Yes, they look awesome on the rack, but once they’re on me, they look horrible.  Sigh.  Some days I just can’t win when it comes to clothes.  Other days it’s like angels are singing and bathing me in pure light, and everything is awesome.

I really need to lose some weight!  The Beast and I have lots of dates lined up.  Sadly, I haven’t been doing my 28-day boot camp videos like my friend, Bethers, but I have been using the treadmill everyday, so that’s something, right?

Not that the scale is actually moving any.  I’ll not bore you with the details.  It’s probably because I’ve been drinking wine (not a lot) and eating olives and stuffed peppers.  In moderation, but still not helping me any.

After the shoe find, I spent another 1/2 hour in the baby department, stressing over what to buy because I haven’t bought that many things for babies, and not every mum-t0-be loves all the cutesy stuff out there…  Hopefully both of my friends like their gifts!  If they don’t, they can just sell it on trademe or give it away, I guess.  I’ve done my best!

By the time I got home, my head was pounding (probably dehydrated, my bad) and all I wanted to do go home and take a nap.  I think I need to remember to take my iron pills everyday so I’m not so damn tired all the time.

Does anyone else have shopping woes?  I’m not the only one, right?

Image source via commons.wikimedia.org

A snapshot sort of Sunday

Another lovely Sunday today!  It actually was quite warm out this afternoon, before the wind changed and the temperature dropped.  While most of the country is watching the rugby cup final, I’m happy to say that I’ve been busy writing blog posts for when I’m away next week!  Rugby is overrated.

Anyhow, here are some shots from this week!  Spring has definitely settled in and looks like it’s here to stay :)

Royal gala apple trree

 The little apple tree is still growing! This was taken a few days ago — his leaves are even bigger now.

New garden security

Ben and I purchased new garden security in the hopes that Russell would take notice and feel a bit more inclined to help out around the garden.  It’s really hard to find good-looking gargoyles in New Zealand that are suitable for outdoor use! :(  If anyone sees any, please let me know.

Japanese maple tree

I had to sneak this one in — I think it’s the best picture of taken of the Japanese maple so far!

Leon on the beanbag

Leon’s become king of the bean bag in the lounge.  I’m quite proud of him for overcoming his fear of the sound it makes when he climbs on it!  It still scares Damara a bit.  He’s feeling better after his surgery now, but still licking at the suture line…it looks ok, though.  No infection so far.  I can see a few stitches at one end, hopefully he doesn’t pull them out.

rolly-polly winters

Winters was a very happy cat yesterday and followed me around the front garden, plopping to roll around every few feet.  I love a happy Winters cat.

Happy Winters

That’s the toe of my shoe peeking out from the bottom of this picture!  I need to buy another pair this week, before my trip to Wellington.  The soles on this pair are just about done.

Spying on the Moosecat

Moose on the clothesline post outside my office window.  Our landlord built that little box he’s in for their kitty, Westie, who moved in with the neighbor across the street a few years ago.  When we first moved in, she would sun herself there, but Moose has claimed it for himself.  I do feel sort of bad about it, but she doesn’t live here anymore!

I’m hoping everyone’s having a wonderful weekend and sending out best wishes for the upcoming week!  I can’t wait to publish some of the posts I’ve got scheduled!

To plant a garden is to believe in the future

What an awesome quote!

Unfortunately, googling told me that nobody knows who originally said this, so the author is unknown.

I’ve never thought about gardening in this light before — when I saw this line it was like a new world opened up in my mind!

Ben and I have been talking about the future a lot lately.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

I’ve never been one for huge plans before, but realize now that by planting a garden this year, I am actually committing myself to this house for a while, committing my life to this location.

I do really like this house, but I’m still not sold on the neighborhood.  I know that if push comes to shove, I can garden anywhere, but I really don’t want to move again anytime soon, so I’m hoping that the plantnappers and thieves have taken their fill of our things, and that better lighting at night will mean I feel comfortable here for a long time to come.

It’s hard not to think of the future in Spring, I think — so many things are pushing their way out into the sun and creeping slowly upwards.  I’m hoping everything looks really lovely in the Summer because of the things I am doing now.

I snapped this photo today of one of my scarlet runner beans finally coming out — if this doesn’t say ‘Spring’ I don’t know what does!

Scarlet runner bean sprout

Happy Spring :)

These beans were freaking huge, too.  Much larger than the king of blues variety I purchased.  I can’t wait to see it climbing on the fence behind it and producing some flowers and then eventually giving me beans :) It’s exciting to think about!

Last year I cheated a bit and bought most of my plants as seedlings, so I didn’t have to wait horribly long to see results.  I admit I’m not very good at waiting when I’m excited about things, so this waiting stuff has me a bit stir-crazy.  Grow little plants, grow!

What are you looking forward to?

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