Wednesday, March 30

thundershirt

Because there's a sucker born every minute, I bought one of these shirts for Buster recently. The short story is that I'm keeping it (they have a pretty good return policy). While it doesn't work (for Buster) for everything they have listed on their website, it works well enough for some things that it's worth keeping.

The two big things with Buster are barking and car sickness. Whenever Buster is in a barking mood, if I put the shirt on him, he just stands there like a zombie. Some people might think this is a negative, but it's actually an improvement on his normal behavior.

The big test came yesterday--Buster always gets car sick. I mean always. I don't remember a trip in the car that didn't involve me cleaning up dog vomit upon returning home. That is, until yesterday. Buster had a vet appointment so I thought that would be the perfect time to give the shirt a try. While he got pretty drooly early into the trip, he did not get sick yesterday! Now, I will say that the vet's office is only 15 minutes from the house, but seeing that he's gotten sick in less time in the car than that, we'll call it a winner. I hope to desensitize him to the car by taking him on longer and longer trips.

The shirt did not pass the thunder test, however. Both Buster and Alice are afraid of thunder. During one of the recent storms, they each had a turn in the shirt, but I did not notice any change in their behavior.

Still, definitely worth keeping.

Sunday, March 27

despicable me

We watched this movie at the beginning of the month. I just realized that I never blogged about it. It was pretty good, though it's not my favorite animated movie (I guess that honor would have to go to 'Up'). I would say more, but I don't remember a whole lot about it (other than the fact that Steve Carell's character was awesome).

Thursday, March 24

a touch of dead

Wow did this book kind of suck. On a positive note, it only took a few days to read. It was a collection of short stories based on the Sookie Stackhouse series. The main problem was that I had a hard time reconciling the stories to the timelines in the actual books. I'm not convinced that they could have even happened. The secondary problem was that the stories were not all that interesting. Nevertheless, I'm still looking forward to the next book, which comes out this summer. Time to read something else.

Tuesday, March 22

feeling winey

The past couple of days have been a wine extravaganza around here. On Friday, we racked a red wine kit. It's brand of wine kit that I hadn't tried before (RJ Spagnols). It has a simplified process, which I like. Plus, the kit had dried grape skins included, which is the way to go. Last year, I did a kit with grape skins and it turned out so much better than the ones without. I won't be going back.

On Saturday night, we bottled a batch of blackberry port. Yum! And, tonight I started a white wine kit, from the same brand as the first one we did. It was a white wine, but also had dried grapes, so I will be interested to see how it turns out. Normally, all of the white wine I make is pretty good, so I wonder if the grapes will add anything.

I have another kit sitting downstairs and another one that will be in at the end of the month. Beyond that, I'm thinking about doing strawberry wine again this year as I'm not sick of it yet and I only have a few bottles left from last year. The wine racks are looking a little bare, so this should help remedy the situation.

commence gardening

Despite the fact that it's supposed to snow this week, it's time to start planting! Well, inside, anyway. I planted a bunch of pepper seeds this evening. I did 24 green bell peppers, 20 cubanelle, and 4 jalapeno. I'll be sharing with the parents, of course. I haven't scoped out the next couple of weeks, but I suspect there will be more gardening activity soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 17

new obsession

Last fall had us thinking about buying a new house. While we were able to talk ourselves out of that idea, we have not been able to talk ourselves out of owning some land. It is doubtful that we would find a land/house combination that we'd like so that leaves us with building a house. I looked through scores of plans online and found a bunch that were really nice. Many of them were too large, realistically speaking, so I started scoping out some smaller houses (ones that are only a little bigger than our current house). I found this one set of plans I really like and the house is perfect--exactly what I'm looking for.

But, now we wait. One of the reasons we decided not to buy a house is that we'd like to get out of the Westmont School District (due to the tax situation). But, we don't want to move while Jake's still in school. The good news is that gives us some time to pull this off (or to change our minds). Worst case, our house will be paid off in December 2012. After that, we'll start looking for a lot (actually, I'm looking now, but we probably wouldn't be able to swing the purchase until the house is paid off). If we find some land, we'll buy it and then start looking for a builder when Jake's in high school, so we can move after he graduates. It's definitely a long ways off, but that's now the plan.

Wednesday, March 16

dead and gone

I guess I must have liked this book because I tore right through it. I even stayed up a little late last night to finish it--I only had a few pages left and just couldn't put it down. So, I only have a book of short stories to read (which I had forgotten about), then I guess I'll have to get back to my regular reading schedule.

Tuesday, March 15

oh boy!

It's almost time to start gardening again. Can you feel it? I can. I got my garden plans and schedule organized recently and ordered the necessary seeds, so I'm ready to go. I have high hopes for this season, much like every other year and I'm anxious to get started. I'm moving my herb garden and putting in an additional vegetable garden (8x8 feet) this year. The extra room is going to give me some room to experiment with some things I wouldn't normally plant, which is cool. Soon enough, I guess.

stairwell to heaven

One of our current projects is refinishing the stairwell that leads to the library/office area of the house. The original finish on them was shellac and the stairs are made out of pine. Years of oxidation created a cherry sort of color on them. I was hoping to just do a little scuff sanding and refinishing, but that didn't pan out. The problem was that someone put down rubber on the stair treads for traction purposes. After removing the rubber, we found that the stairs were much lighter in that area, so the treads had to be sanded down to bare wood. Brian and Jake handled these duties (phew!). They finished up a couple of weekends ago. I stained the treads cherry (ironically enough) and put a bunch of coats of Waterlox on them. They look pretty good now, but you probably wouldn't know they were refinished unless you saw them before. Once the Waterlox is finished curing, I'm going to paint the risers and the stair trim gloss white--that's up for the weekend. It's going to be a pain to do this (it will be a lot of precision paintbrush work), but I think the results will be worth it.

Sunday, March 13

the social network

The acting, casting, and direction of this film was undoubtedly great. However, I did not like the movie (nor did Brian). I know I'm in the minority with my opinion, but it was so boring (and the Zuckerberg character was an annoying twit). As Jake put it, he knew it couldn't have been good because every time he came into the living room "they were in a meeting" (referring to the legal scenes). How right he was. I wish I would have stuck with my initial instinct and not added this to our queue.

Friday, March 11

from dead to worse

After finishing the book prior to this one, I was afraid that maybe I was tiring of the series. However, the latest book proved to me that was not the case. I tore through this one in less than a week--it was just as good as all of the others. So, I'm ready to read the next one, which I will start tonight.

Sunday, March 6

tuna

Brian's been talking up Surplus City for about 10 years. Now that I've started up my craft business, I thought it might be worth a trip out there. So, we went there yesterday morning to check things out. Frankly, I was a little disappointed. I went there with a list, and that was my first mistake. They didn't really have what I was looking for. I did find some stuff I could use, so it wasn't a total bust. They did have some cool items there, though not related to crafts. I think it would be fun to go there and buy some of the unusual stuff they have, but that's a trip for another day.

After shopping, we intended on going to Red Lobster for lunch as we have a gift certificate to use. However, there was a 20 minute wait and I wasn't in the mood for that so we hit a drive-thru on the way home instead. I was really surprised about the wait. It's not like something special was going on yesterday. Maybe I'm just used to eating in Johnstown where you never have to worry about that. That said, we're going to go to the Red Lobster in Johnstown next weekend instead.

So, Altoona was a bust, but at least the rest of the weekend was good.

Saturday, March 5

all together dead

Yet another book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the previous ones, but it was still pretty good. Two more to go, then I'll have to wait for book #10 to come out this summer.

Thursday, March 3

i heart bgf

It's that time of the year again--time to sign up for Blue Goose Farm's CSA. This will be our 3rd year of membership. I really enjoy being a member. First off, it's nice to support a local farmer. Secondly, we don't eat near enough vegetables, but in the summer, between my garden and the CSA we sure get our fill. We are not ones to waste food, so I try to make sure everything gets eaten or frozen (or given away if it's something we really don't like, but that's not too often).

This year, in order to extend the harvest (or so to speak), I plan on learning how to can. While I freeze as much as I can, I think canning is a better way to go, storage-wise. Plus, you can can other stuff like soup and sauces--that would be awesome. I'll start off slow this year and see where things go from here. One step closer to self-sufficiency. Now, if I could only get some chickens...

Tuesday, March 1

sleeping with the fishes

I'm always surprised to find out that the fish survived the winter, but they did yet again. I was outside over the weekend and did a headcount, so that's how I know.

Soon, it will be time to get the pond running again. I'd like to get a power filter this year, but we'll have to see about that. It would sure make my life easier.