Monday, December 21, 2009

When I snap my fingers you will quack like a duck!

I was talking to my dad the other day when he mentioned that he would really like everyone together for Christmas in Illinois in the next couple of years. After our chat, every minute I was not involved in work, etc., I was thinking about what he said. I would love to be home for the holidays, but it has been out of the question the last few years since even the thought of an airport causes my heart to jump through my throat.

But I really want to have a snowy holiday with the ones I love again and be able to travel there without passing out in the ticket line for American Airlines. So I made the decision to look into other options to treat my anxiety. My therapist had suggested hypnotherapy since a car accident was the trigger to my anxiety disorder and hypnosis would be a way to tap into the emotions caused by the accident. I checked out hypnotherapy last year, but it could run $150 or more a session, so I quickly nixed the idea.

But I decided to look into it again and found a local practitioner with good reviews. I had a consultation with her today and I think that it went well. Even though I thought I was going to vomit when I walked in the door due to my anxiety, I felt quite a bit calmer once I sat down and started talking with her. She noticed my ice pack right away, which I constantly carry around with me because the coolness helps calm me down. The first thing she did was teach me a visualization to cool me down without having to carry around an ice pack, which was really interesting. She suggested imagining that I was in the shower and watching myself turning the water temperature colder and colder. I will definitely try it next time I am in a panic inducing situation.

We talked about the process and what hypnosis actually is. She usually suggests ninety minute sessions once a week for seven weeks to completely work on an issue. Then it came time for the cost and she told me she was not the cheapest hypnotherapist right out, but it would be less expensive if I decided to do the seven sessions instead of just one at a time. No matter which way you look at it though, it is expensive.

I walked out really torn because I want to explore all my options but I do not have money to throw away either. So I came up with a plan. Over the next two and a half months I will pull a small amount of money from each paycheck, which will equal half the cost. If during that time period I keep up with a decent diet, some exercise and listen to the relaxation CD I bought from her, Rommel agreed that we would withdraw the other half (he asked if they make guarantees though). This way there is no crazy withdraw from our accounts, I have time to see if the CD helps my stress levels, and I can do some research to decide if this is what I really want to do.

In the end, my dad said he was disappointed that I was not quacking like a duck. I guess you can't please everyone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The pups ... again

We were getting ready for work and Sunny was pawing at us every time we walked by, so I decided to break out the camera.

A day in the park...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Girl Stuff

I started trying to eat better last week, cutting out most processed foods, and it went well the first few days. Then my digestive system started to react to all the fruits and veggies I had been eating. I read that is actually a good thing, the fiber cleaning everything out. It could also be the food combinations I have been eating, which I need to read more about.

On Thursday I was desperately craving something like pizza and was quick to convince a friend to head to a local pizza joint for lunch. As for how much I ate, let's just say buffets are a very bad thing. I was in physical pain the rest of the afternoon.

Things kind of went downhill after that. I knew something was up because I did not feel quite right and I was craving everything that was bad for me. It turns out that I was about to start my period, which was a really good sign. Not a good sign in an afraid I might be pregnant way, but in a have not had my period in months due to stress. At least I know that my stress level is lower now, which is probably because my anxiety is not as bad.

So I gave in to some of my cravings over the weekend, but I am ready to get back to the good stuff. I made three days worth of green smoothies today and filled the cabinet with brown rice and brown rice pasta.

My big question is when will the cravings stop?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Buying veggies and cleaning cabinets.

Yesterday I really tried to prepare for a week of healthy eating. I stopped by the grocery store and filled my basket up with apples, bananas, carrots, sugar snap peas, and broccoli. I also bought plenty of brown rice and brown rice pasta because I want to avoid anything with white flour or wheat in it. I also knew that I would be craving something snacky like a cookie or cracker. I found a honey brown rice puff cereal that was not only organic but it only had five ingredients and I knew exactly what each one was. I figured it would be the best option when I want something sweet but crunchy, etc, instead of running for some sugar-packed junk.

Then I tackled my pantry, well it is actually more like a small part of the pantry. Over five years I have managed to claim one large cabinet out of several in our kitchen. My mother-in-law uses the rest of them. It's a long story, but I realised it was probably for the best when I had to throw away almost two-thirds of its contents because they had expired. I originally just wanted to get rid of the junk but once I started the garbage bags just kept filling up. I have a tendency to buy things and completely forget I ever bought them, which was hard for me to deny when looking at a trash can full of unopened boxes and cans. More than anything it made me feel guilty for all the mouths that food could have fed if I had not wasted it and also the trash I was creating.

Once that job was done I washed all the veggies and placed them in bags so I could grab them on the way to work.

I finished off by eating some of the brown rice pasta with butter (I can't give up all the bad stuff just yet) and steamed broccoli.

Today I had a banana for breakfast, brown rice pasta for lunch, carrots and sugar snap peas for a snack, and then brown rice and steamed broccoli for dinner. And yes, there was a Starbucks green iced tea in there too. I know that it was pretty boring, but I am not really a big foodie and it was easy. I also have an "allergy" to quite a few fruits and veggies that causes slightly swollen lips and a scratchy throat. It's more annoying then anything, but after a few minutes I usually do not feel like continuing to eat them. When I tried the green smoothies in the past, I actually stopped reacting to them at all, which will hopefully happen again this time. I will incorporate more variety over time, but right now it is whatever is easiest.

I feel pretty good about today and excited about tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas and other days in December

We spent today getting ready for the holidays. Rommel and I spent a little time this morning decorating the front of the house with lights before moving on to addressing holiday cards. The list of people kept getting longer and longer and I ended up having to order another fifty cards. I just can't help it, I want to share pictures of our adorable pups with the world.

Then we moved on to the Christmas tree. We put it up on Thanksgiving, but had not gotten around to putting on the ornaments. We are slowly collecting ornaments with stories behind them, just like I grew up with, and it is fun to pause and think about where each one came from.

And I finally got around to the presents. The pile has been building on the floor of my bedroom over the last couple weeks and I honestly wanted to get them all wrapped just to get rid of all the clutter.

But to be completely honest, the day I cannot get out of my head is my birthday. In three weeks I will be turning thirty and am completely depressed about it. I am not one of the people who dread the big three oh or anything like that because I have never thought of birthdays as me getting older. Birthdays should not be a death of another year, but the celebration of everything you have lived through and everything ahead of you. And I do have a lot to celebrate this year, most importantly a wonderfully supportive husband and happy marriage.

So I am sure you are wondering what I am so depressed about and that is the fact that I am turning thirty but I physically feel a hell of a lot older than that. I have all the usual problems someone who does not exercise or watch their diet does but I also have the added difficulties of my anxiety.

My list of health problems:
  • overweight
  • debilitating back pain*
  • dizziness/vertigo*
  • stomach pains diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • migraines*
  • constant fatigue to the point where I am not able to do much more than go to work*
Everything with a * next to it can be attributed to anxiety/stress. Between my increasing anxiety and my heath, there was honestly a point in time that I did not think I would even be able to keep working.

Obviously my priorities have been out of whack and I need to reevaluate how I choose to live my life. At first I was all about changing everything at once, but I know that is just setting myself up to fail. So I am going to try and take it one step at a time.

The first step will be to eliminate the parts of my diet that are the "enemies" of anxiety. The four things that can make anxiety worse are caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar or as my therapist calls them, the cats. I do not drink and I do not smoke, so those are no problem. I do consume a small amount of caffeine, which may not effect most people, but can still give me the jitters. My big sin is sugar and oh how I love sugar. Sugar causes stress and stress makes me want sugar; it is an awful cycle.

So I will continue to drink my Starbucks green iced tea every morning while I try extremely hard to give up sugar. I will try to avoid all sweets and most processed foods, while filling up on more natural foods. Green smoothies will become part of my everyday diet again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Typical Sunday Evening...

Rommel and I are sitting on the couch in the living room watching some random TV show, when he notices me looking at him.

Rommel - "Everything okay?"

Me - "Yup."

A few minutes later and I am still looking at him.

Rommel - "Are you sure everything's okay?"

Me - "Yup."

Still looking at him.

Rommel - "Do you want to take a walk and get some ice cream?"

Me - "How did you know?"

He knows me so well!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Family Vacation

We have seen dolphins and seals from our window. We have been boogie boarding in the chilly ocean water (and I swallowed a lot of the ocean water). We have been on very, very long walks every morning (4 miles long in case you were wondering) and toured the town. We have made special trips for milkshakes and peanut buster parfaits (I missed dairy queen sooooooooooo much, good thing we went on all those walks). There has also been a major amount of reading and relaxing. All my idea of a great vacation! Okay, to be honest I could go with the walking part but at least I will not have gained ten pounds when I get back.

Rommel had to leave early which was not part of the original vacation plan. We found out that his brother was coming in town for a wedding over the last few days of our trip and he needed someone to pick him up, etc. Rommel, being the wonderful person he is, volunteered to pick him up, let him use his car while he is in town, and then drop him off at the airport when he leaves. I completely understand it, but it still kind of blows since we only see my family twice a year.

Anyway, he left around eight last night and the rest of us watched Ghost Hunters, one of my favorite shows. I normally do not have too much of a problem watching ghost shows, but I decided to continue watching TV after everyone else headed to bed and I could not stop looking at the windows. I kept getting a creepy feeling and ended up running for my bedroom without turning out any lights. Once the windows were locked and the shades were drawn, I tried to sleeps, but it wasn't really happening for me. I had agreed to walk with my parents again this morning, but I was too exhausted. I made a mental note to only watch ghost shows when Rommel is home from now on.

We hit the farmers market today and a few little shops along the harbor. I got these fabulous ceramic day of the dead skulls that were hand painted and a few gifts for the people covering my job at work.

Once we were home I read for a few hours and then decided to take a walk on the beach by myself. It is so nice to take my shoes off and walk through the tide, the water soaking the bottom of my sun dress. Every time the tide went out it would sweep the sand from underneath my feet leaving this empty space. That's kind of what it feels like knowing this vacation is almost over, like something has been sweeping the time out from under me before I am ready.

Enough over thinking things! I still have two full days left and I intend to make the most of them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First day of vacation - Awesome!

We arrived in Oceanside yesterday afternoon and met up with my parents, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend. After a late dinner, everyone fell asleep pretty early, which meant we all woke up early this morning.

I got out of bed to use the restroom and found my parents and sister hanging out in the living room. I sat down with them and before we knew it almost an hour had passed. It was just so nice to sit around and talk about miscellaneous stuff like how our pets try to sneak food while we eat. We did not talk about anything serious or important, but it is a morning I would not give up for anything.

Rommel and I agreed to take a walk on the beach with my parents later in the morning. I had serious doubts that I would be able to walk as quickly as them let alone as far because my mom is a master power walker who walks at least four miles a day, but it doesn't hurt to try. Or so I thought.

We were not able to head out to the beach right away because the tide was hitting the breakers along the shore. We headed out on the first street from the beach and I was able to make it to the coffee shop, which was my parents' goal. They got some coffee and pastries before taking a seat on the pier for a short rest. Then we had to head back home, which is when my glutes started to ache. A few more blocks and my thighs started to burn. I kept shouting in my head "work through the pain, work through the pain!!!!" That ugly wooden fish on our beach rental was an absolutely wonderful site.

After a long bath to sooth my throbbing muscles and a short nap, we all headed out to the beach. Josh and Rachel braved the cold water to go boogie boarding while my mom and I played Frisbee. Even though neither of us can throw or catch a Frisbee, we had quite a bit of fun and entertained everyone else.

We were lucky enough to be able to celebrate Josh's birthday with him this year, so we wanted to make it really special. Dad barbecued dinner and Rommel and I bought an Oreo blizzard cake from Dairy Queen. We all sat down for a great dinner and watched Josh open his presents. He is a man of few words, but I think he really enjoyed it.

It's hard to believe this was all just the first day, but I am glad we are able to enjoy every moment together. It will go too fast; it always does.

Rainy Days

How can you not have a good day when you have the rare opportunity to where such fabulous rain boots?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rage Against the Meshugenah

I read this great book by Danny Evans entitled Rage Against the Meshugenah:Why It Takes Balls to Go Nuts. There was one particular entry that really stuck with me because it was like he was describing my struggle with anxiety not just his experience battling depression.

He talks about how he decided to try out for the track team in high school, but he was not in shape and had difficulty.

The first time I dared to brave an actual oval dirt track, I had my hands on my knees before a single lap. It hurt to breathe. I assumed at that moment that I simply lacked the stamina to endure something that long, that grueling, that intense.

Depression proved that hypothesis wrong. Recovery is a marathon. You stand at the starting line dressed in your fly Nike running gear. Your legs are muscular, your face awash with confidence and determination. Pop! The starter's pistol fire, but you can't move. The other runners take off past you, stepping around you, some of them cursing at your immobility. With you hands you grab your hamstring and physically move your right leg forward a step. It's infuriating. has the asphalt turned to quicksand? Have your shoes turned to granite? Each day you take one step, and when that day is over, you're completely out of gas. It's hard, tedious labor. You want to quit. You want to give in to your exhaustion, to just live down on the ground and let the heat radiating up from the asphalt burn your pain away. Why no just succumb? Wouldn't that be so much easier? Yes. Of course it would.

And that is what my life feels like lately, a whole lot of work that gets me almost no where. But my hope is in that word almost. The progress may be small, so small no one else even notices it, but it is progress.

There is one big difference in our experiences though. I would rather shot myself in the foot than go running.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Making my life easier...

I have a lot of artwork hanging in my house. Clean white walls are just the perfect way to showcase my eclectic collection of Andy Warhols, local artists' work, and other pieces. The problem is that each time I get a new piece, I feel the need to rearrange everything. I never get it right the first time and I will obsess over it until I get them the exact way I want them. It takes a lot of time to rehang everything and I end up putting quite a few holes in the walls.

So I began looking online for a system to hang all the artwork I have without having to get out a hammer and nails every single time. I was frustrated at first because even though most of the rails are cheap, the cables and clips can be really expensive, especially if you need to buy quite a few of them.

Finally I found the perfect gallery system called the Jrail. It was extremely simple to put up and blends into the white wall. There were a couple of choices for both the cables and clips depending on how much weight you are hanging, but since I do not have anything that is too heavy, I was able to go with the cheaper option.

In the end I spent about a hundred dollars for two six foot rails and around fifteen cables and clips. I actually bought a couple extra cables and clips in case I lose one at some point and will not have to order more. For the amount of wall space it covers, I think it was a good buy. The best part was that it only took me about fifteen minutes to arrange each wall, including leveling them all out. That is seriously a record for me and I was over the moon that it was so freaking easy.

Other than the spots where you can see the spackle from the holes I had to fill, I think it looks pretty fabulous.


My favorite holiday to decorate for is definitely Halloween. Yes, Christmas is fun too, but Halloween is crazy fun. I put up a ton of lights, including black and orange garland and a lit spiderweb. Rommel thinks I went overboard, put I did not even put all the decorations I had out. Other than a guy in a huge truck, who was obviously compensating for something, yelling "it's not Halloween yet you whore," I received some really nice complements from people walking by, so I am really happy.

I will have to take another picture during the day so all the signs and other little decorations are visible. There is plenty more than just lights.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My new obsession ... the dunny!

I was watching Aces of Cakes the other day and they were making a surprise wedding cake. The couple collected these designer toys called dunnies, so they were replicating two of them into cakes. Of course the cakes were amazing as always, but what I really liked was the dunnies.

I was curious about these toys, so I looked them up online. The dunnies are designed by different artists all over the world, from painters to tattoo artists. Basically each toy is a compact work of art. The three inch dunnies are sold in different series, but they are blind boxes, so you never know which ones you are getting. I am not one to try and collect items slowly, trading, etc, to get what I want, so I looked them up on eBay. Jackpot!

Each dunny ranged from around $3.00 to hundreds of dollars for the rarer ones. I bought a few from the same seller so that I would not have to pay shipping for each individual item.

I should never have made that initial purchase. I have found myself checking eBay every day and seeing what dunnies are up for sale. I check kidrobot's website constantly to find out about the new series coming out. I even have a favorite artist, Amanda Visell. There is just such a huge variety and so many crazy points of view printed on these vinyl toys.

It has been a month and I think I now have 28 dunnies, 26 inch dunnies dunnies and 2 eight inch dunnies. Only three cost more than a few dollars because I am really trying to stay disciplined with what I spend. I spend a little more on one three inch dunny that was designed by a tattoo artist I really like and Rommel bought me an eight inch dunny by Joe Ledbetter, which is the tiger on the top shelf in the picture below.

What I really spent money on was an eight inch dunny by Amanda Visell. I loved the smaller dunnies she has designed and it just so happened that the larger dunny went on sale a couple of weeks ago. I was in a complete tither about buying it because there were only 1500 made and they went on sale at a particular time. I was on the computer with the credit card right at the exact time it went on sale nervously typing in my account name and password. I was so excited that I was able to get a hold of one before it sold out a couple hours later! I love the humor in it with a tree cutting off one of it's own branches.

Here are a few more of my favorites. You can see the diversity of the artists just between these three dunnies.

I am sure that part of the reason I became so wrapped up in them was because I was stressed and it was a good distraction. Well, I good distraction if you do not include the fact that it cost me money. So I am trying to reward myself with them now. Reward for what you ask. I am not sure about that part, but I will let you know when I figure it out.

Project Day

With my anxiety at a bad point, I have been spending more and more time at home. I love to spend time reading of course, but I just can't read 24/7, so I have been looking for a variety of things to do. After not finding a seed catcher for Ziggy's cage at the pet store, I decided that I might as well make one myself.

I just hemmed the top and bottom of a couple yards of fabric, threaded the elastic through it, and then sewed the ends together. It ended up costing more than a pre-made seed catcher would because the fabric was a little pricey, but besides being boring, you can also see all the seeds building up because it is transparent. Next time I need a seed catcher I will plan a little more ahead and buy fabric on sale.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Garden Update

I finally painted the stairs that I made to hold all the pots I planted seeds in. I could not go with any old boring color, so I picked bright orange to match one of the accent colors on the wall behind it. I think it turned out pretty well after six coats of paint. Since the seedlings are still fragile, I had to put a sun barrier so they would not burn. It ended up kind of looking like a stand at a farmers market.

A still have a few vegetables in the ground even though I am switching to containers. The cucumbers and squash are going crazy. Within the month we should have so much produce, we will be giving it away.

Bubbling Paint

Two hours, some paint stripper, and a power sander helped me create this:

A door with absolutely no paint on it! The best part was when Rommel asked why we didn't just buy a new door and I told him it was because we would feel the pride of our accomplishment when we were done, not that I believed it after hour of using the sander caused my arms to go numb.

The scary part of the project was watching what the paint stripper did to the paint on the door. For some reason bubbling paint just seems wrong.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I was sixteen when I was diagnosed with a panic disorder and a slight case of agoraphobia. Over the last thirteen years, I have had fabulous times, down right tough times, and a whole range of emotions. There have been times when I was thankful for the anxiety because it allowed me to appreciate the good times even more. I could enjoy those little bits and pieces of life that most people just pass by because I knew what it was like to have that taken away. There have been times when I was full of hate because I could not just go to the movies or go to a restaurant like everyone else. There are times when I feel guilty because I worry so much about how my problem affects others, especially my husband.

But times like this last week, I am just full of anger. I am angry at myself, a higher power for cursing me with this panic, and other people for not understanding.

It all started with being a little overwhelmed. Papers were piling up on my desk, which is not that stressful in itself, but since the company I work was bought out, there is a lot more to consider. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and twin nephews were visiting from Seattle, which I was so excited about, but it meant a lot of going out. I can manage some restaurants, etc, but places with a lot of people bother me. The more I feel like I can't leave a situation, such as a shopping trip, the more trapped I feel and therefore more anxious. Luckily the kids were a great distraction and really tired me out.

The kicker was Simba's vet appointment today. It was one of those situations you know you probably should not put yourself in, but you just have to. Simba had a lump/cyst that needed to be checked out and I was the only who could take him. I was in what I call hyper drive all morning. I feel like I am moving in warp speed but not going anywhere. My mind keeps racing, going over what needs to be done. My heart is beating out of my chest.

We get out the door and to the vet's office. The waiting room was fine, but then we get into the exam room. Of course we have to wait quite a while and Simba was starting to get nervous and whiny. I began to get really warm and my heart started racing. I pulled out a cold water bottle I had in my purse and held it to my face. The cold helps calm me down in some situations and it is always a go to. But it was getting so hot and my stomach was starting to turn. I wanted to run out of that office so badly. I wanted to tell them to bill me and forget the whole thing, but what if there really was something wrong with Simba? My hands and arms began to go numb and my mind became fuzzy just like that feeling you have before passing out.

I finally opened the door and tried to get someone's attention. They apologized for the air conditioner not working because I obviously looked awful and sweaty. This was when I had to tell them what I was going through. Normally I do not have a problem telling people I have a panic disorder, etc., but I do not usually have to do it in the middle of a panic attack. They just kind of looked at me for a minute and then told me the vet would be right with us. It was obvious that they did not understand, but were trying to accommodate me. The doctor came out to get Simba and luckily he was very quick about everything. And of course Simba was fine. The lump is just a lipoma, which is really just a fatty cyst. I pay the bill and am finally able to run away.

I get home and have to deal with the aftermath of the panic attack. My stomach was sick, my head killing me, and I was completely exhausted. I canceled my lunch date and went to sleep.

Now I am just feeling awful. I am angry with myself for almost not being able to make it through the appointment and for having a panic attack. I am also a little angry with the people there even though it is completely ridiculous. Approximately 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety and 6 million suffer from panic. That is a lot of people, but most people you run into do not know anything about anxiety disorders. People think you are being too sensitive or over dramatic. But what I really hate is when people put the word crazy out there. They said that person with a panic disorder is crazy, that person with OCD is crazy, or even the person with manic depression is crazy. But you want to know something? We are not crazy and we did not ask for this. It is a biological condition; it is in our genes. I think the only crazy thing about any of it is not getting help or treatment so that you can live your life.

Enough ranting and enough anger. It is time to move on and keep trying to enjoy life!

Friday, July 31, 2009

It wasn't my fault, I swear!

I can grow tomatoes, green beans, peppers, peaches, and flowers, but indoor plants are a completely different story. I have had a peace lily and a bleeding heart for a couple of years, but they never seem to do well. I noticed the soil in their pots had quite a bit of mineral deposits from the tap water, so I decided to replace some of the old soil with fresh potting soil.

Two weeks ago they were alive, but today they are dead. I am a murderer. It was more like manslaughter because it was an accident though. They died from kindness apparently. Okay, it was really drowning, but I like to think of it as kindness.

But I want greenery around me indoors. I like to know the air in my house is clean from all the nasty chemicals in the world. But I can't have that because I can't keep the freaking indoor plants alive!

Maybe I will give it one more try or maybe not. I would hate to keep sacrificing the poor unsuspecting souls. I don't even kill bugs, why would I knowingly do that.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

They are ready for their close ups!

I was insanely lucky to spend most of Monday when my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and twin nephews, Nathan and Nico. They are the sweetest, most adorable boys in the world!

We enjoyed some dinner at In 'n Out, which they do not have in Seattle and we're craving. We had so much fun and I tried to take a lot of pictures.

While we were waiting for our food, Nathan showed me how many different emotions he can portray with a look.

First was the scary look.

The the sad look.

The crazy happy look.

The surprised look.

It's so hot in here, dramatic look.

I'm surprised it's cold in here look.

This has all worn me out look.

I cannot believe they are going to be four tomorrow. They grow up so fast!

And one last picture of Nathan and Nico with my Sunny Bunny. Like any children that do not grow up around animals, they were intrigued but scared of the dog. It took them a little while, but they came around to her. They even tried to feed her some cookies, but she just wanted a belly rub.

Apparently we need to work on our communication

Normally Rommel and I both take the dogs to the groomers. Simba and Sunny can be a little difficult for one person to handle. Sunny likes to climb all over the driver and Simba tends to bolt out the car door as soon as you open it.

It's been so hot and Simba really needed a cut. I could not manage to get out of work to help Rommel take the dogs, so I only made an appointment for Simba. Rommel walked Simba over in the morning and we went to pick him up during my lunch. Sunny had been upset because she thought Simba went on a walk without her, so I brought her along with us. I sat in the car with Sunny as Rommel paid the groomer and then I saw Simba.

"What the f**k did he do to him?" That was the only thing that came out of my mouth when I saw him. And this is why...

I was seriously ready to jump out of the car and scream at the poor groomer for making my beautiful lion look like Yoda when Rommel says, "Oh yeah, I told him to shave his head too." My fury moved to Rommel. We always have the groomer do a lion cut, which leaves the hair around the head and the tail long while cutting the rest extremely short. We ALWAYS get the lion cut!!! The only reason I did not freak out on him was because he thought even the long hair on his head would be too hot because of the recent weather. He was wrong, but he had Simba's best interest at heart.

So now I have my own doggie Yoga at home. My very own Doga.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Late Night Visitors

We always knew there were skunks in the neighborhood. Last summer alone Simba and Sunny were sprayed three times. So when we started feeding the stray cats, I was not surprised to see a skunk eating from the bowl late one night. Then we started catching glimpses more and more often and smelling that distinctive skunk scent in the middle of the night.

Then walking home from the grocery store the other night, Rommel and I spotted Flower, as my husband named it, eating on the porch. The first surprise was that it was still light out. The second surprise was that when Flower scurried away, it was to a burrow that lead underneath our house.

Rommel saw Flower out the next night with another skunk and blocked off the burrow, but I noticed a new burrow tonight when I was watering the lawn. They both showed up later in the evening and when I walked out the door, they disappeared under the house.

Rommel is ready to cover up the new burrow, but I cannot help and worry about the possibility of babies under the house. I cannot in good conscious close off access when breeding season for skunks does not end until August.

I also found out some other interesting facts about skunks when checking out their breeding season online. They are extremely good pest control and eat rats and mice. They eat 70% of the insects that are harmful to humans, such as black widows. They also live peacefully with cats, which makes me feel better about possible fights.

They have never made a motion to spray us even though we have been just feet away and we can always close the doggie door to keep the dogs from getting to close.

So I guess the question now is what should we name Flower's friend?

Sunday Projects

As of August 5th, Glendale is extending the restrictions when it comes to outside water usage. Before we were limited to watering yards and plants before 10 am and after 6 pm, no washing cars or driveways, etc. Now watering is limited to before 9 am and after 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and only for 10 minutes per area.

Believe me, I understand the reason for the for the restrictions and completely support it, but I also have a vegetable garden, plenty of flowers, and a few newly planted trees, all of which require quite a bit of water.

So this weekend I decided to alter one of the projects I was planning for the backyard. Originally I had planned on building a set of steps where the area you normally would place your foot would be open. It would create several four foot by one foot planters at varying levels. It would look amazing once there were plants filling each level, but it would also use quite a bit of water because the moisture would drain right into the ground. I did not want to give up the look of having different levels of plants or the idea of the steps, so I decided to build a set of steps that you could actually walk up where I could place a large number pots, which would require less water. I could still grow any kind of flowers or vegetables I wanted and it would actually be easier than growing them in the ground because I would be more in control of the soil.

When we went to the store to buy the step forms, I was blown away buy the $25 price tag of a four step form. So after borrowing a pen, I traced the form onto a $4 piece of particle board. I felt a little guilty, but come on, $25? I also decided not to put backs on the steps, which would not only save me money, but also allow larger pots to sit on each step and provide drainage. I walked out spending less than $15, which means I spent less than the cost of one step form to buy the materials for the whole set of steps.

The particle board was not the best idea since the steps will be outside, but if I prime them well enough, it should not be too much of a problem since we do not get much rain. Eventually I will paint it some bright color. I have been feeling orange a lot lately.

Once that is done, I have plenty of pots ready to decorate with once the seeds I planted sprout. I picked a few different types of herbs, marigolds, and California poppies.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Picture Pages

I had to take a picture of my mutant greens beans. You cannot buy anything like this in the store and they are organic! I usually eat green beans raw and it was so nice to be able to just pick the green beans, wash off a little bit of dirt, and take a bite. They were so good too.

Our peach tree is only a year old, but we already have peaches. The first harvest does not usually taste very good, but we are still hoping for some sweet pickings.

I love the idea of planting flowers in unusual planters, especially if they were items that were going to be thrown away. I was very lucky to find just that item at work this week. They are currently doing inventory, which means anything that cannot be counted goes in the trash. I was leaving work and noticed the lower part of a charcoal grill in the dumpster. Angela was nice enough to left me take it home and I placed a doublelicious hydrangea in it. Once it grows a little bigger and the bowl of the grill starts to show a little wear, it will look fabulous.

Finally, I planted African daisies all along the fencing to the tortoise enclosure. They do really well in the heat of the summer and they will help keep the dogs from getting to interested in Daisy and Squirt. I placed a border along the flowers today because sandy soil in the back yard does not absorb water right away. It tends to run everywhere but where you want it, so the border keeps the water where the flowers are. I have also been building a pile of rocks that we find in the back yard when gardening, etc., and this was the perfect area to place them. And yes, that is a tomato plant in the middle of my flowers. The tortoise enclosure used to be on that same part of the yard and apparently some of the cherry tomato seeds sprouted after I moved it. The plant was already flowering before I even realized it was there, so I decided to leave it.

Our very own forest in the middle of the city.

A little over a month ago I was searching Glendale Water and Power's website looking for their water conservation information when I came upon their energy conservation section. It said that they would provide three free semi-mature trees that would eventually provide shade for your home and cut down on the cost of power for air conditioners, etc. I was so excited because larger trees are not necessarily cheap, but also they have an arborist who comes out to your home to help you choose what type of tree would be best and where to place it. I have no problem picking out fruit trees, but when it comes to other trees, I have no idea what does well in California, etc.

The arborist came by the house and after viewing the yard, etc, we went through a book of about thirty trees. We finally decided on two tipuanas, one for the front yard and one for the back. Then we also picked a golden medallion for the back yard, which is a smaller tree that will have beautiful yellow flowers in the spring.

The morning the trees were supposed to arrive, I was like a child waiting for Christmas morning. The truck finally showed up and dropped off the three trees, stakes, and everything else we would need.

Then we got started on putting them in the ground.

Sunny and Simba were definitely interested in what was going on.

Rommel did most of the manual labor, such as digging the holes and moving the trees. I basically told him what to do, which I didn't mind too much.

After putting a border around them and putting down some mulch, we thought we were done. Then Simba decided he would bury his raw chicken leg under the tree, which meant we could not even get near it. Here he is guarding his prize.

So we put some fencing around each tree for now and they look great.

The tipuana that went in the front yard was in the best shape, but hopefully after a few months, they will all start growing.

I also transplanted the tiny orange tree we had near the tortoise enclosure so that it was more out in the center of the yard. It was not getting enough sun and water in the corner where it was, so I wanted to place it somewhere that was more open.