Monday, January 31, 2011

Learning Money!

My precious grandson is in kindergarten.  All grandsons are precious aren't they?  His most recent task is to learn the different coins and their value.  He got to spend the night at my house this weekend so I decided to work with him by playing money games.

While I was cooking his favorite meal of pancakes and bacon, I put a handful of change on the counter and asked him to find all the quarters, then dimes, nickels and pennies.  I thought maybe that rummaging through the pile to find all same coin repetitiously would help him to remember.  Then I had him count how many of each he had.  Once it was done, we shuffled them all around and started over.  He really enjoyed this game.

After we ate, I showed him a coin and asked for its identity.  If he got it on the first try, he got a REALLY big high five.  On they second try, he just got a regular high five, then a little high five and then a baby high five.  He really want the REALLY big one becks it came with lots and lots of big smiles and praise from me!

Flash cards are great for learning.  I got a piece of card stock and cut four pieces then taped a coin to each one.  His favorite color is red so I took a red marker and wrote the name of the coin on the card.  I thought this would help him when it came time to learn to read the names of the coins. 

I used them as regular flash cards and then would turn them over and fan them out and tell him to "pick a card, any card" in a funny voice.  He loved playing the different games.  And, I was so proud because he was getting them right 100% of the time! But then I got wise and covered the written names with my finger - he wasn't quite so accurate!  Apparently his reading skills are more developed than his money-naming skills!

This is just one example of how learning can be fun for kids! 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Small, Quick and Easy Lasagna

Lasagna can be very time consuming and recipes usually make a very large batch.  A large amount is great when you want to freeze single portions for later.  It seems every time I do this, I use every pan and bowl in the kitchen!

The other day, I thought I'd like a good lasagna dinner but didn't want the usual production, so this is what I did.  I cooked four lasagna noodles - this step could have been skipped if I'd had the kind that don't need to be cooked first.  I mixed a Italian spices, garlic and salt and pepper into a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce.  I combined a 16-ounce container of ricotta cheese and an 8-ounce bag of shredded mozzarella cheese together. Now it's time to assemble my small lasagna!

First, spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Put a thin layer of the tomato sauce mixture (you can also use a prepared spaghetti sauce) in the bottom of the pan. Place two noodles side by side on top of the sauce.  Spread about half of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles.  I topped the cheese with a can of sliced mushrooms.  Pour about half the sauce over the top and place the other two noodles side by side.  Spread the other half of the cheese mixture over the noodles and top with the remainder of the the tomato sauce.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.  Remove the foil and bake for about ten more minutes.  Allow the lasagna to rest about 15 minutes before slicing. 

This yields about three or four portions of lasagna.  Serve it up with a nice green salad or steamed vegetable and you have a great meal! 

For the meat lover, browned ground beef or turkey can be added.  Also, I have made this recipe with a layer of spinach added to the center layer.  Thinly sliced zucchini squash is another good addition.  Cottage cheese is a good substitute for the ricotta - in fact some people prefer it! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Please Talk to the Patient!

This month, I have been able to accompany two of my family members to the doctor.  There seems to be a recurring theme - the health care professionals want to talk to me rather than the patient. 

I took my grandson who was sick to the doctor because both his parents were at work and I was available.  He is five.  He can speak.  They asked me where he hurts?  It's not my body so I politely commented that they could ask him.  Other times when I was asked a question better answered by the young patient, I would turn and ask him.  I guess my point is that if he is the one with the pain, he is the one who can best communicate where it is.

My 74 (just a few weeks from 75) year old mother fell at her job and injured her wrist.  She is a dishwasher at a busy restaurant.  She is amazing!  The health care workers kept asking me about her wrist as if I know how bad it hurts!  I suggested they ask her.  When it was time for the aftercare instructions, they stood at her bedside and looked right at me and told me how to take care of her wrist.  I suggested they tell her because I don't live with her.  She had just told them her son lives with her - I don't look much like a son! 

After she was settled in her house (where my brother also lives), I repeated the after care instructions just to make sure they both understood.  On my way home, I started thinking of how similar the visits were.  I'm not thinking my grandson felt slighted when they talked to me but I suppose it was quite different for my mother.  She has lived almost three-fourths of a century, raised six children (several years as a single parent) and still works a job I would consider grueling.  And these people were talking around her as if she wasn't capable.  I felt insulted for her!  I hope I was able to make her feel at least somewhat respected by directing the conversation back to her.

By the way, she loves her job and tells me it isn't hard!  My hat's off to her.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bird in the Snow

It snowed recently.  In a lot of the country, snow isn't that much of an event but where I live, it doesn't happen often.  I like watching birds play.  I had about half a loaf of french bread that was getting little white spots on it so I threw it out in the yard.  It wasn't long before the varied species of birds started showing up for a snack. 

I was moaning that it was impossible to photograph them because they would fly away as soon as the door opened.  I am a baby when it comes to cold so there was no way I was sitting out there waiting for the birds to come around!  Well, then I got to thinking!  This is my solution:  a tripod and remote shutter release!

I put the camera on a tripod and set it out on the porch.  I set the camera on an automatic setting and focused it on the bread laying in the yard.  I ran the cord for the remote shutter release through the door.  With this done, I positioned myself on a comfy chair inside my toasty warm house and waited.  When a pretty bird showed up, I'd just snap the photo!  Here is an example of the result:

Not exactly perfect, put there will be more time to perfect the technique!

Monday, January 24, 2011

French Dip Sandwich

French Dip Sandwiches are the best!  I got a hankering for one the other day and headed to the pantry to see what I could find.  I had some deli roast beef, provolone cheese, some small hoagie rolls and a can of beef broth.  Perfect!

I read the labels on most of the deli sliced roast beef and found that the Great Value brand had less fat than the others I looked at and it was a few cents less!  It turned out to be quite tasty as well.  Now for the steps for the sandwich:

  1. Slice some onion (right bottom corner) and saute them in a bit of butter in a saucepan.  I just cook them until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the can of beef broth to the pan.  You can also use beef bouillon.  I added a couple shots of Worcestershire sauce, but this is entirely up to you.
  3. Bring the broth up to a boil and simmer for a few minutes to incorporate the onion flavor.
  4. Add the beef to the broth and leave it in just long enough to heat it up.
  5. I dressed my hoagie roll with a bit of horseradish sauce, but mustard and/or mayo are tasty as well.  You can also toast the roll.
  6. Using tongs, remove the beef and some slices of onion from the broth and place on the roll.
  7. Top with provolone cheese.  Of course, if you prefer another type of cheese it will be good as well - this is your sandwich!
  8. Pour a bit of the broth into a small bowl for dipping.
  9. ENJOY!

This is a quick, easy and tasty sandwich.  You can easily make one or more to enjoy now and reheat to make another for later.

SMALL LIVING TIP:  You can easily freeze serving size amounts of the broth and beef for future French Dip Sandwiches!  You can either thaw in the microwave or stove top.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Casual Photo Shoots

One of my hobbies is photography.  I even won a ribbon and cash prize at an art show once!  I was so excited!  My friend, Brenda, said that if she'd have know how much fun it would be to watch me, she would have paid my entry fee! 

I take pictures of lots of things: buildings, trees, plants, nature and sometimes even people.  People are hard!  To pose people, you have to be comfortable telling people how to move and hope they stay still!  Recently, I've had the opportunity to shoot a couple of sessions that weren't planned.

The first was a session with a friend.  We started out with the typical posed shots.   I just wasn't feeling it and asked her to just start moving.  And move she did!  It was beautiful!  The shots showed her delightful personality and were so natural.  I'd love to post one here, but I haven't asked her permission so it just wouldn't be right.

The second was an impromptu session with my five-year-old grandson.   We were attempting to take pictures of birds outside the window when I turned the camera on him.  He had so much fun posing and making faces at the camera!  The results are absolutely wonderful!   Here is a sample:

You can see the rest of the photos at:

These were taken using a Canon XSi with the 18-15mm lens that came with the camera.  I used the auto/no flash setting.  I took these photos in my living room with natural light.  They are straight out of the camera -  not edited or cropped.  I love being able to work without a flash - I was able to get close to his face without the flash hurting his eyes. 

These two shoots were so much fun, I really want to work with more people.  I may have just found my method for photographing people successfully!


A Great Bowl of Chili!

I love to make a good pot of chili on a frigid winter day! It just smells so good in the house when it cooks!  It's like the aroma spreads warmness! This is the way I make chili:

  1. I brown about half a pound of very lean ground beef in a four-quart pan
  2. I add about half a medium onion, chopped to the beef so it can begin to cook as the meat browns.
  3. Add a couple stalks of chopped celery.  This ingredient can certainly be eliminated if you don't have it on hand or don't care for celery.
  4. Once the ground beef is cooked, I put about three tablespoons of chili power in the pan.  If you prefer you chili to be less spicy, use less or more if you like more spice
  5. Add a couple glugs  of cider vinegar and stir.  I don't know what the vinegar adds, but I've always done it!  Cook until the vinegar evaporates.
  6. Add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to let the tomatoes get warm.
  7. Add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce and about three cans of water.
  8. Add a 15 ounce can of kidney beans.  If you like another kind of bean, use them - this is your chili!  Also, if you like more beans, add them.
  9. Bring this mixture to the point of boiling, then reduce the heat and let simmer until you're read to eat - I think it needs to cook at least an hour for the flavors to meld.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste just before you serve.  If you add salt during the cooking process, it causes the beans to be hard.
In the picture, you can see the pan of cornbread I love to have with the chili.  I'll tell you how to make it another day!

SMALL LIVING TIP: When you have celery that you are not going to use right away, chop it into recipe-size pieces and place in a freezer bag and freeze.  When you want to cook with it, just take what you want from the bag and throw it in the pot. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

BBQ Pork in the Crock Pot

Crock pots are great for living small!  I have a two-quart crock pot and it is the perfect size for cooking for one.  I put a small pork loin roast in the crock pot and added some smokey barbecue sauce.  It cooked on high for about 4 hours.  I didn't get started until after lunch time and wanted it to be ready for dinner.  Had I started it in the morning I would have cooked it on low all day.

For dinner, I had the barbecue pork and green beans.  I simply put a couple inches of water in a one-quart pot and brought it to a boil.  I put in a nice portion of frozen whole beans in the water and cooked per package directions for about four minutes.  I lifted the beans from the water with tongs to keep water off the serving plate.  Once on the plate, I topped with a small dollop of butter and sprinkled on a bit of salt.  I didn't salt the water during cooking because it makes the beans tough and it takes longer to cook them. 

Because I like to keep my prep time to a minimum, I tend to cook only one vegetable - I just cook a double portion!  This also keeps cleanup to a minimum.  You could also add a nice piece of bread to this meal.

I should have taken a picture of this wonderful meal - oops!  Tomorrow, my barbecue pork will be served as a pulled pork sandwich.  Tune in to see what the side will be!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wall-to-Wall Shelf

So you've heard to wall-to-wall carpeting.  In a small space, storage is crucial to keeping clutter to a minimum.  Pearl Cabin is technically a two-bedroom house so I have a small room I use as an office/hobby room.  The long wall in this room has no doorways so I could safely build a shelf above the window stretching from wall to wall.

I built the shelf using recycled bi fold closet doors and 12" shelf brackets from the home improvement store.  I attached the brackets to the wall about 4 feet apart using drywall screws.  Be sure to attach to a stud so that the shelf will not collapse under the weight of the things you put on it.  Also a level is handy to make sure the brackets are level with one another. 

Next, I put the doors on top of the brackets cutting them to length.  I used a jigsaw to shorten the last door to fit.  I attached the doors to the brackets using screws. The finising touch was paint.  I painted both the shelves and brackets the same color at the walls to the shelf would not become a focal point in the room.

I used a collection of baskets, covered boxes and wooden boxes to hold miscellaneous items to put on the shelves.  I also store photo albums up there.  Games are stored in their original boxes.  I also added some interesting items such as the sock monkey and a plaque given to me by a friend.  I have a collection of globes that needed a home so I added cup hooks below the shelf and hung the globes. 

I love my shelf!  It adds a dimensions of interest to my office and gives me space for storage.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mac and Cheese - A Complete Meal

I love macaroni and cheese! 
 And I have found a way to make it into a complete meal. 

First, make macaroni and cheese using your favorite recipe.  I make it as follows:

  1. Bring a pan of water to boil - I use a two quart pan and do not salt the water
  2. Add the macaroni
  3. After the pasta has cooked about five minutes, add broccoli florets - either fresh or frozen - use as much or as little at you like.  If you don't have broccoli, use any vegetable that suits you personally 
  4. Once the pasta and vegetables are cooked, pour them into a colander to drain
  5. Cube the ham into bite sized pieces and add to the pan and let them heat through - I use fully cooked ham
  6. Add about a tablespoon of margarine to the pan
  7. Add about a quarter cup of milk - adjust the amount according to how much pasta you have.  I usually make about two meals worth at a time - the amount in the salad bowl above is for one meal
  8. Cut about three inches of Velveeta from the loaf and cube it.  Place it in the milk mixture to melt.  Use medium to medium low heat so that you don't scorch the milk or cheese.
  9. Add some sharp cheddar to the mixture to give your cheese sauce a bit of a bite.
  10. Add the pasta/vegetable mixture to the sauce and season according to your taste. I usually sprinkle a bit of ground pepper (that's the black grainy looking stuff you see in the picture) on the top.  It seems the Velveeta adds all the salt you need.
This is the way I make it but adding vegetables and ham to any mac and cheese dish will make it into a more healthy one-dish meal.

SMALL LIVING TIP:   Make two portions and refrigerate one for lunch the next day.  This dish reheats beautifully in the microwave.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ham Steak and Then Some

I make several meals from one of those fully cooked ham steaks that are about the size of a small dinner plate and weigh about a pound each.  They are prepackaged in the meat section at most grocery stores.  The other day I took one and cut it into portions about the size of a deck of cards. 

The first night, I simply reheated a serving in a pan and made sauteed mixed vegetables to go with it for dinner.  To make the vegetables, I put a small pat of butter in a pan and added coarsely chopped onions and let them start cooking.  I do this over medium heat so as to not burn the onions before they cook.  As they are cooking, I slice fresh mushrooms and add them to the onions. Then I dice zucchini and yellow squash into cubes and add them to the mixture.  I stir the vegetables a few times and cook until they are done - this a personal preference - I prefer my vegetables to have a bit of a crunch while others like them to be softer.  To make this a one pan meal, sauttee the vegetables and move them to a serving plate then heat your ham in the same pan.

My grandson came over for breakfast and his favorite meal is pancakes.  While his pancakes were cooking I put a slice of the ham on the griddle and heated it through.  He told me the ham was the yummiest!  I also will heat a serving of ham to go with my poached eggs for breakfast.

One of my favorite things to do is make grown up macaroni and cheese using part of the ham steak.  The directions for this dish are the subject for tomorrow's blog.

SMALL LIVING TIP: Finding ways to use one element in several dishes for different meals eliminates food waste and reduces the boredom of eating the same thing over and over again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Using Doors for Storage

I have been living in Pearl Cabin for a bit less that two years and am continuing to learn how to make every square inch of precious space count.  As I encounter a new problem area, I think on it and it seems I eventually come up with a solution.  One example is that I couldn't find anywhere to store the iron and ironing board.  I love to just leave it set up so it is very easy to access but not in this house! 

I finally remembered that I had seen a rack designed to hang ironing supplies from a door.  Off to the store I went and returned with the perfect rack.  Deciding that the most logical place would be the linen closet, I simply hung the rack over the door.  It's wonderful that if I decide to move it the rack doesn't cause any damage - this is important because I have been known to change my mind!  The rack holds the ironing board, the iron and the spray starch.  Perfect, everything I need is right there and put away out of sight.  Success!

I like shoes and have a lot of them - probably more than I need.  I found it difficult to find the ones I wanted to wear by digging through the pile at the bottom on the closet.  I thought and thought about this one.  At one time in history I had a rack that fit on the back of the closet door.  I wasn't really crazy about it because it really didn't hold enough shoes and didn't stay together well.  But that was many moons ago so I started searching for an updated model.  At the big box store, I found what appeared to be a great shoe rack so I took it home.

It has metal pipes that hold the white plastic sides together.  They are staggered so the shoes sit at a downward angle to keep them from falling off.  It was easy to assemble and in no time I had it hanging on the door.  I started putting shoes on it and it works just as I thought it would.  My closet has two doors that open like French doors so I have to open the other door a bit to get the door with the rack closed because the shoes made the door thicker.  But being that this is the only real annoyance, the pros far exceed the cons!

I have more shoes than fit on the rack so I change them out by the season.  Out-of-season shoes are put in a plastic bin that rolls under the bed.  As the seasons change, I can easily swap the shoes out. 

Out-of-season clothes are put in space bags and stored under the bed also.  The seasonal swap-out of clothes also encourages getting rid of clothes that aren't going to be worn.  As you pack up for the new season, it is very easy to remember if you wore an item or not.  Just another way to save space!  If you donate unwanted items to a charity, remember to get a receipt as you may be able to claim the donation on your taxes.

I love finding ways to make life easier!  And living in 650 square feet is definitely a challenge so I get really excited when I find a new solution. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let's Cook Sausage!

Cooking sausage successfully has always been a bit of a challenge for me.  I always tend to get it too crispy on the outside and sometimes undercooked on the inside. Pork should always be cooked all the way through!  After much experimentation, I have developed this method which always seems to produce an excellent finished product - sausage patties that are cooked all the way through and beautifully browned on the outside.

I place the roll of sausage on the cutting board.  This one is my most-prized as it was made from a picture drawn by my favorite artist!  I use a steak knife and slice through the plastic wrapper and sausage making slices about 3/4" wide.  If you prefer a different thickness, this method will still be successful.  You can also make the patties by hand - its a personal preference.  I also find if the sausage is slightly frozen, it is much easier to slice.  Notice that I am using the light sausage - there is a difference in the fat and calorie content and I think it is quite tasty.

I place the slices into a frying pan which I have warming over medium heat.  They seem to cook more evenly if they are not touching each other.  This is the not the entire roll of sausage as I reserve some to make sausage gravy.  I will be blogging my method for making gravy later.  I let the patties brown slightly as the pan is warming up. 

Once the pan is warm, I add a small amount of water.

Then I cover the pan and continue cooking with the burner on the medium setting. I like using a glass lid because I can see what is happening inside the pan. This keeps me from lifting the lid to check on the sausage. Every time you lift the lid you release steam and heat and this seems to prolong the cooking time. After the sausage has cooked about five or six minutes, turn them to cook the other side. If the water evaporates, add a little more. 

Cook until they are done completely through.  If the second side doesn't have a nice golden color, remove the lid and let the water evaporate and cook them a bit longer to get the color you want. If I am uncertain if they are completely done, I use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is at least 160 degrees.  You can also cut into a patty for a visual inspection.

Remove the sausage patties to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb grease.  I find this method of cooking sausage gives me a nice, moist, well-cooked sausage that is as pleasing to the eye as it is the tongue!

SMALL LIVING TIP:   I cook the entire roll of sausage.  I store the leftovers in either a tightly-covered container or a sealed baggie in the refrigerator for another meal.  They also freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living Small

I started writing this blog in part because I have a friend who has a blog,, and she is having a ton of fun with it.  Also, I know several people who for some time have thought I should share some of the things I have come up with that help me live in a very small house.  And when I say small, I mean SMALL!  Pearl Cabin is all of 650 square feet.  This was definitely an adjustment for me - it's rather like living in a apartment without anyone living on the other side of the wall!  I have lots to share, so keep checking back.

Also, I have lived single for a very long time and have managed to figure out some things to solve some of the issues faced by people who live alone.  For example, how to cook for one.  I have shared a few of these ideas and plan to continue.  This is an important part of living small!

I love a bargain!  I plan to share some bargain-finding tips.  I'm not really sure folks are right but there are some that think I can squeeze the dollar!

Of course, I will write about other topics as the ideas pop into my head - I sometimes think too much and will occasionally get on my soapbox!  For those of you who have suggested I write a book - here it is!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prescriptions - Take an Active Role

In these economic times, finding affordable health care is becoming more challenging.  So many people have lost their jobs and along with the job, their health insurance. When they secure new employment, health benefits sometimes aren't part of the package.  In some instances, even if health insurance is offered, it's not affordable. Even with insurance, the co-pays for prescriptions are sometimes hard to reach. I certainly am not suggesting that I have all the answers nor am I telling you how to manage your health care, but here are a few things that I have found to help me. 

The first thing I suggest is to take an active role.  While the doctor is smart and knows the business of medicine, they don't know us like we know us.  If you are not understanding what the doctor is saying or it doesn't seem to make sense, keep asking questions!  Remember, you are paying the doctor! 

On the the topic of this blog - the cost of prescriptions.  This is another area of health care where we can take a more active role.  With the development of new and better drugs all the time, the doctor has many more prescribing choices.  These new drugs are great but they also seem to be the most expensive alternative and generics aren't available.  I suggest taking the list of $4 prescriptions from Wal-Mart and ask the doctor if something on that list will treat what ails you.  If there is, its a win-win,  you get the medicine you need and can still afford to eat!  I have noticed other pharmacies are matching Wal-Mart's pricing so you should have a choice of pharmacy. 

Another suggestion is to shop pharmacies.  Not only could there be a price difference but a knowledgeable pharmacists may have information about a program that can help.  Just let them know you are uninsured and that the cost of the medication is unaffordable.  There may not be a program, but you will never know if you don't ask!  Also, doctors aren't always aware of the cost of drugs because they are the prescriber not the seller.  Sometimes a pharmacist may be able to suggest a more affordable option you can ask your doctor about. 

I hope this post gave you a couple ideas to help better manage your health care and keep it affordable.  The most important message I want to convey is that we MUST take a more active role!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Soup for One

It's getting colder all the time!  I guess I should expect that-it's winter!  A good cold snap just makes me want to hole up in my snug little cabin.  Lunch time rolled around today and I was thinking a good hot bowl of soup would be just right.  I'm not one for canned soup so usually it is something I make in a huge quantity and eat for days and maybe even freeze some for the future.  It is a time-consuming lengthy project. 

I wasn't really up for that kind of project today so I got to thinking.  I know - thinking sometimes isn't good!  Lately, I have also been partial to oriental food so now I'm really thinking.  So this is what I did.  I put a pat of butter in a pan and added a small amount of chopped onion and let it start cooking.  I added some diced zucchini and sliced mushrooms.  I also diced up a bit of leftover pork tenderloin and added it to the vegetables.  When the vegetables were almost done, I put in a can of chicken broth and some garlic chili sauce for a bit of spice.  How much chili sauce - enough to satisfy your level of spice!  It's kinda like season to taste.  Then I added a bit of vinegar and some soy sauce - couple tablespoons of each - again add enough until it tastes good to you.  When it all came to a boil, I added some bean sprouts.  By the way, I was in the local oriental market and they had a huge one-pound bag of beautiful fresh sprouts for under a dollar!  I understand it's important to cook bean sprouts so I let the soup cook until they were done.  There you go - my version of hot and sour soup - and it was really good!

This was a quick and easy soup.  I used the ingredients I happened to have on hand so the next time I do this the ingredients probably will be different.  If you don't have garlic chili sauce on hand, I'd think using a sprinkle or two of crushed red peppers would add the zing you need.  Also, adding a beaten egg while stirring the soup would give you an egg "noodle" like what is used in egg drop soup.  You could add a rice noodle or even regular noodles.  The possibilities are endless!  It just take a few minutes and you have a great homemade soup for one!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dog Washing

Today was dog-washing day at my house.  You many question why this is an interesting topic.  Well, it's quite a production.  Typically, Joey the shitzhu is first.  But, he now thinks he has a great command of the English language and thinks "bath" means "run as fast as you can out the doggie door and hide".  I'm waiting for the day he realizes that you can't hide forever!  So today Louise got to go first.  Louise is a miniature weenie dog.  By the way, both of these dogs were given to me.  I think that there are way too many great dogs out there that people don't want and just can't justify paying for a dog.  Pedigrees really don't matter at all!  Both these dogs are altered so there will be no puppies here.  Okay, back to the subject - spa day for the dogs.

I pull the shower curtain up and over the bar to get it out of the way.  I have a handheld shower head so I bring it down to short-dog level and get out the shampoo.  I gather Louise up and head to the bathroom, wet her down and suds her up a couple of times.  After a thorough rinse, I bundle her in a nice thick bath towel.  Louise tolerate the bath quite well, but what comes next isn't that fun.  It's mani-pedi day!  She likes to sit up like a person so I have found this is a good position for nail trimming.  I keep her bundled and bring out one foot at a time.  I have found this keeps her from scratching the hand with the clippers.  She has black nails so it's hard to know just how far to cut so I find that if I stay on top of things and don't let her nails get too long I can just trim a small amount and all is good.  I typically trim her nails about once a month.  I find it is easier after a batch because they are softer.  I've read that if you let the nails get a bit too long that is it good to just trim a small amount each week until you get them shortened to the right length.  This is especially important when the nails are black.  We finish the mani-pedi and Louise gets her treat and she retreats to her bed.

By this time, Joey has returned and I scoop him up.  Joey has things he likes to do better than get clean so he likes to pace up and down the tub.  It feels like I'm chasing him down all the time! At least he does stay in the tub.  He especially hates getting his face washed but he has long facial hair and it seems to gather dirt!  So after lathering and rinsing a couple of times, he gets conditioned.  I just use the leftovers of bottles of human conditioner after the shampoo is used up.  He smells so pretty!  I find the conditioner helps combing his longer hair easier.  His nails are much easier to trim.  They are bigger that Louise's dainty little nails but they are white and I can see the quick.  I can be sure not to cut his nails too short.  He doesn't seem to hate this process as much as Louise so it goes fairly smoothly.  I comb Joey's hair to make sure he doesn't have mats especially in his tail.  Then I usually dry him off with a hairdryer.  Joey gets his treat and joins Louise in a nap.

You'd think I'd be all done, wouldn't you?  Well, we've really just begun!  This is a great time to clean the bathroom!  I'm already damp and the bathroom smells like wet dogs.  So I scrub down the tub, sink and toilet.  Today I also take down the shower curtain liner to be washed.  Yes, you can wash your plastic liner in the washer.  Just put it in the machine with the towels and wash as usual.  It can be put in the dryer but just for a couple minutes to shake off the water.  I usually just hang it back up without putting it in the dryer.  The process certainly prolongs the life of the shower curtain liner!  A quick sweep and mop and the bathroom is all sparkly.  And I'm damper!  It's time for my shower and I deserve a bit of pampering!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Job Hunting

Since being downsized by the company I worked for in March, 2009, I have certainly been living an adventure!  I decided to use this time to do something I've wanted to do for several years-go back to school.  This spring I will be graduating with an associates degree in graphic design. 

I haven't many classes left to finish so have decided the time is right to get a part-time job.  So I sit down with my trusty laptop and start searching the job boards.  My, how times have changed!  As I search, I find I need to weed out the postings where investments are required.  Are these really jobs?  I was rather thinking I'd like to work and then be paid.  I'm not particularly interested in helping you get your start-up company off the ground.  I know you'll pay me if I should happen to sell something.  But I have a feeling that you're "hiring" anyone who responds thinking that if you have enough people on the streets someone will sell something.  See my prior comment!

Then I see one - perfect!  Part-time, sounds like  fairly low-stress, go to work, do your job, go home and get paid.  I'm seeing a few questions I haven't seen before, such as:  "How often have you had bad luck in the past year?";  "How reliable is the car you will drive to work?" Hmmm .... think they heard lots of excuses?

I can only hope my search continues to produce chuckles as I continue through the process.  And of course, a job!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cooking for One

Living alone can is a lifestyle all its own.  One of the challenges I often hear people speak about is learning how to cook for one.  Having lived alone for many years and finding eating out a hassle, I have managed to find things that work.  Maybe its time I share a few ideas.

It's the new year and as with a lot of folks, I've decided it's time to eat healthier and to possibly drop a few extra pounds.  I need to get back to the basics of preparing better meals.  Tonight I hauled out George Foreman grill and got started! I took a frozen hamburger patty out of the freezer and put it on the grill.  At the same time, I put a pan of water on the stove to start boiling.  When the hamburger started to thaw a bit, I seasoned it with a steak seasoning from a spice grinder flipping it to get the back side.  Once the water boiled, I put a nice portion of whole frozen green beans in the pan.  According to package directions, they should cook for three minutes.  Once they were done to my satisfaction, I drained off the water and added a bit of butter and sprinkled them with a bit of garlic powder.  By this time, the burger was done so I put it on the plate and put a bit of Worcestershire sauce on it. 

This all took maybe 15 minutes and I had a fairly healthy home-cooked meal!  And cleanup was a breeze as well!