Sunday, December 30, 2012


Inner Peace

Cocoa has started a trend. Five years ago, she ended up having all of her teeth removed because of stomatitis. Then this summer Bitty managed to have ten bad teeth that needed removing, leaving her with just her very front teeth (and not even all of those). She's not totally toothless, but most of the teeth she does have are the tiny little front ones so her "real" teeth count is two.

This has apparently made Gidget think that all the cool kitties were going toothless. This summer she only had two teeth removed and that apparently wasn't enough for her. A few months ago, she had another tooth removed. And Friday, she had her three remaining molars removed. She now matches Bitty fairly closely - all of her remaining teeth are at the very front (though she has one more "real" tooth than Bitty does).

Yep, the dental drama has not ended. Well, hopefully it will be over in a month after her recheck appointment. When we got back from vacation, Gidget was still air-chewing and started pawing some again. I was worried it was an ear infection or something non-dental that we were missing because we were doing dental-related hunting so we went to our regular vet and nope, still tooth-al. We thought we needed to remove two teeth but turns out three had "undergone root changes".

The good news is that if something has happened that has made Gidget's teeth go bad one by one, she only had a handful left to go bad. She's got so few teeth left, if we have to do another surgery I think Gidget will be sporting the toothless look, just like Cocoa.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Oh the Drama!

It's been a while since I've done a knitting post so I thought I would remedy that.

First thing: Christmas knitting! For multiple reasons, I'm not a fan of foisting my random knitting projects on people giving handmade gifts. Last year, though, I managed to give everyone on my list something knit. (I'm still not sure how that happened!) But this year I did much better and managed to only knit one!

Meet the Christmas Birdie!

Christmas Birdie

I think he's is quite charming. I'm not entirely sure why I keep finding myself attracted to Christmas ornaments when, thanks to the kitties, Dan and I don't really decorate. And yet...

I did manage to put the poor birdie's legs on slightly incorrectly but I tacked them down to make them more where they should be. Otherwise, though, it was a fun little knit - and it let me learn how to do duplicate stitch. Yay!

Slightly related to Christmas knitting, I knit something for myself over Christmas! We were traveling to visit family and my sweater project is so not a travel-able project. So I decided to make something that was portable and not too complex.

Camp Out Fingerless Mitts

Now I officially have a pair of fingerless mitts! They are nice and toasty - I enjoy wearing them. My one complaint about these is the yarn. I used Crystal Palace's Mochi Plus and I totally adore the colorway, but ugh!, the yarn is so loosely spun that it fuzzes like mad. So while I've worn the mitts for three days (mind you, I wore them for a fair number of hours on those three days) and now they look like I've been wearing (and washing) them everyday for months. Disappointing!

The pattern, however, was super-fun. I didn't follow the directions exactly (apparently I knit like I cook - I can't follow anything exactly) and I did something completely different than called for on the thumb. Anyway, I'm really pleased with the pattern (and my changes). It makes me want to make more - but in a less fuzzy yarn.

And now the drama... my sweater. Here is where I currently am on it:

Mass o' Sweater

I think I'm insane. First off, I have four balls of this yarn. It's lovely yarn - not just the color but the texture and how it knits up... I love it. But almost all of the balls are different - one is more color intensive, one is pale and two are almost smack in the middle of the other two. (Gotta love hand dyed yarn.) So I've been alternating all four balls as I knit my sweater. It's been... interesting but I'm pleased with how well all of them are blending together so it is worth it.

But now I've gotten to the sleeves. And I hate keeping track of row counts. And I have a past history of making things that should be the same size noticeably different sizes (due to gauge) when I don't make them at the same time. So I'm doing the sleeves two-at-a-time. Which means that I am rotating through four balls of yarn. On each sleeve. That's right, I'm knitting on something now with eight different yarns feeding into it.

But wait, there's more!

Right before we left for Christmas, I realized that I was knitting the sleeves with the wrong size needle! I had decreased needle size when doing the ribbing on the front band and forgot to switch back. Ack! I thought about just going on with it but this afternoon I ripped out the sleeves (which I hadn't gotten too far on) and started over. Ultimately, I knew the mistake would niggle at the back of my mind forever if I didn't fix it. Plus, a larger needle should maybe make the sleeves go a tiny bit faster.

Faster is relative, though, since rotating, untangling and keeping track of eight (EIGHT!) different balls of yarn slows things down a lot. But I'm in a pretty Zen place about it now because I really think this will end up awesome.

At least, I hope so. Oh, lordy, please make it turn out awesome.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Want My Money Back

The world still seems to be here. No pole shifts, no meteors, no massive Yellowstone volcano... This whole Mayan apocalypse is totally overrated.

I guess that means we need to go buy some Christmas presents.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Saga Continues


Well, apparently our dental issues with Gidget aren't done. She had stopped chattering her teeth in pain and progressed to a slow air-chewing expression of discomfort. But a few days after we got back from the cruise, she started pawing again. Nothing as severe as when this all started, but still. Pawing.

We went to our regular vet (the dentist is great, but I had a nagging fear that it wasn't tooth-related and honestly, if it wasn't I didn't expect the dentist to pick up on it) but the vet confirmed that she's all healthy. She suspected that the discomfort was coming from her top two molars, the only molars she has remaining, and recommended we have them removed.

Now Gidget has a dentist appointment scheduled for after Christmas to remove those two teeth. Naturally, as soon as I made the appointment, the pawing stopped (or has seemed to, at least). The air chewing has drastically reduced, too. But reduced is not stopped so I think things are still on schedule for another extraction.

I hope 2013 will be a pain-free dental year for Gidget! You know, if the world doesn't end tomorrow and all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh, the Irony

I learned something new today - I learned what a parsnip looks like!


I don't have a great familiarity with root vegetables beyond carrots and potatoes. Dan's expanded my knowledge to include beets and now I've cooked with parsnips. Yep, now I know that they look like a funny white carrot and they taste like a faintly-licorice-ish and bitter carrot (at least raw).

I made a nice, hearty venison stew with lots of lovely root vegetables. A meal that's great for winter, right? Totally!

Of course, the high today was mid-70s. I even had to turn the air conditioning on.

Oh well, at least the stew is really good, parsnips included!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cruise Wrap-Up

It took me only a week (well, a shade over) to get all of our cruise pictures edited and culled and posted! Go me! So if the thirty-some pictures I've posted on my blog aren't enough for you, check out this slideshow of the whole not-quite-250 shots!

Alternatively, you can click here to see the pics and go through them on your own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ft. Lauderdale

Alrighty! I've finally finished up with pictures! As uninteresting as you might think Ft. Lauderdale might be after such exotic locations like St. Martin and Grand Turk, it was interesting enough that I managed to take lots of photographs!


We went to the Everglades, where we took an airboat ride where we saw lots of nature!

Hiding Bird

Some nature was even close enough that my zoom was not needed at all. In fact, I could have reached out and pet some of the nature.


If, you know, I wanted to ensure I came home with a nub.

After that, it was off to Flamingo Sanctuary and Wildlife Sanctuary with their super-delightful botanical garden. And, yeah, flamingos.


While I took plenty of pictures of the flamingos, the above one in particular, I did manage to drag myself away to finally fill up my SD card with some of the lovely plants and flowers at the gardens.

Flamingo Gardens & Wildlife Sanctuary

Flamingo Gardens & Wildlife Sanctuary

Of course, there were a couple other wildlife-y things I had to snap pictures of, especially since, not only did nature exist in the gardens, the place was a wildlife sanctuary, so there were lots of birds that wouldn't be able to survive in the wild.




After starting our day early enough to see sunrise, we eventually made our way to the airport to wait a few hours for our flight. Dan and I were pretty tired, so we used this time well.

Thanks to my dad for the picture!

And that's it, that's our trip! Even though I've shared a number of pictures over the last week, it's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what I took. But I managed to get the 2,097 pictures I took to a more reasonable 247 that I think (hope) are worthy of sharing. I'll post a slideshow of those next.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grand Turk

Oops! I got a little distracted with a combo of housewife-ing and knitting and have let my picture culling slide. No more! I have Grand Turk done!

Grand Turk

I've seen things that said Grand Turk has the best beach(es) in the world. I could easily be convinced of this. However our visit was relatively beach-free as we hit Grand Turk on one of the few rainy days in the year.

Dan and I still had a great time walking around, though. There wasn't much to downtown but once we started meandering towards the beach, things became really interesting.

Grand Turk

Plus, wildlife! You know how I like that!




I told Dan that I was a little torn about Grand Turk. Of all the places we went, it was probably my favorite and the one I'd most like to return to (with St. Martin being second) but, at the same time, it's the only one that I didn't feel all that safe.

Still, I'd like the opportunity to go back and explore more. I mean, how can you say no to this?

Grand Turk

Oh, and want to know how classy Grand Turk is? So classy that when Dan went in a convenience store to buy a local beer (Grand Turk Ginger Beer), the cashier put it in a paper bag, popped the cap off and handed it to Dan.


Yep, that's apparently standard operating procedure for booze and Grand Turk. (The ginger beer was pretty tasty, too.)

I think of all the places we went, Grand Turk ended up giving the prettiest pictures. It resulted in several of my favorite shots from the trip, including this one:

Sea Fan

Saturday, December 8, 2012

St. Thomas

I'm getting to these a little later than anticipated. I was downed from a migraine and then related recovery for most of Thursday and all day Friday. But I'm back to picture culling and editing and have officially made it through St. Thomas!

St. Thomas

St. Thomas

We went to an aquarium there, which meant I took tons of pictures and very few came out. Some worked, though!


Of course, fish weren't the only wildlife we saw on St. Thomas. Iguanas were everywhere!

Another Iguana

No beach time on St. Thomas, though. Which was probably best so we didn't get toasted after spending so much time on the beach in St. Martin the day before.

Next up: Grand Turk and back to Ft. Lauderdale!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

And I have officially gotten through the St. Martin pictures!

Pulling into St. Martin

Personally, I think they are the prettiest since they include the beach at Orient Bay. Of course, that's not saying anything about my photography but rather about the scenery. Because, seriously, it's gorgeous.

Orient Bay

Yeah, it was tough hanging out there for the day. Of course, there was a naturalist resort just down the beach, so not quite all of the scenery was so gorgeous. (No worries, there are no pictures of that scenery.)

Hey, look! A boat!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Another tiny dribble of pics are done, these from our two days at sea.


Nothing too big here - bigger stuff is coming up next with St. Martin. Hopefully that will be tonight but it will most likely be tomorrow. I want to knit some!

One interesting thing: on our at sea days, we passed the same way (one day going south, one day going back north) and each time we hit a certain point, Google Navigation decided that we had transported to Europe.

Uhm, No.

I promise, our trip was only to the Caribbean. We didn't dash over to Italy at all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slowly But Surely

I'm gradually getting through my pictures! So far I've taken care of Days One and Two. The rest of the week should come soon. But until then, here's a tiny taste.

Leaving Ft. Lauderdale
Leaving Ft. Lauderdale

Princess Cays
Princess Cays, Eluethera, Bahamas

Tough Life
Princess Cays, Eluethera, Bahamas

Also, a little celebration: I've always had issues packing. In high school, I'd get so worked up, my mom would have to finish for me. As I've gotten older, Dan has discovered that I typically need alcohol to pack successfully (and without freakout). This time, however, I packed not only without alcohol, but in a carry on! I even have proof!


There was even enough room for a Happy-Doodle! (Okay, I did eventually eject Doodle so I could pack my toiletries. No kitties accompanied us on our vacation.)

Still Working On It...

I'm still slowly weeding through my cruise pictures. I've gone from 2097 pictures to 1549 to 757 in two passes. I still have a disproportionately large number of alligator and flamingo pictures though.

Until then, here's one picture I've gotten all straightened out. An HDR version of sunrise (yes, the one that comes in the morning) when we were coming back into Ft. Lauderdale.


Perhaps not the most iconic shot of our trip, but it was ready!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Updates Ahoy!

We're back! I'm not exactly the most diligent blogger, so you can be forgiven if you weren't aware we had gone anywhere, but we had! We have spent the last week cruising around the Caribbean!

It's going to take me a bit to go through all my pictures (there are over 2,000 of them, but I know that number will decrease greatly when I pick out just the good ones) so I'll probably be dribbling out picture (and blog) updates over the next several days.

But for now, the short version: Dan and I both got a tan (a much stronger one that anyone in the northern hemisphere deserves to have in December), ate lots of delicious foods and had a really great time!

More to come!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Orange Chocolate Part II

Many moons ago, I did a chocolate orange battle to help remind me what orange flavored chocolates I like best. Since then, I've picked up a few more orange chocolate bars but I've been saving them for a taste off instead of, you know, eating them. But it's time for that to change! I've begun the nibbling. So here's the round up:

Orange Chocolate Taste-Off Contender

Theo Organic Fair Trade Orange Dark Chocolate (70% cacao)
Nice chocolate/cocoa flavor but edging more towards a dry, powdery texture than creamy and rich. I'm willing to blame some that on this chocolate being old because it is only a few months before the "Best By" date. The orange flavor is light and sweet, more tangelo than "true" orange. Quite tasty though I do wish the chocolate felt a little creamier. And the orange flavor a bit stronger. The orange only comes in strong when I take a bite and munch on the chocolate for a while. My preferred way of eating chocolate - sucking on a corner until it melts - results in only mild flavor. Using teeth on chocolate makes me feel wasteful, so I'm a bit disappointed that's the only way the strong orange note comes through. Even with those quibbles, it is nice just not wow-ing. I would eat it again but I think I'd go for the Lindt version instead of this one in the future.

Orange Chocolate Taste-Off Contender

Equal Exchange Oraganic Orange Dark Chocolate (65% cacao)
Technically I'm two weeks past this chocolate's "best by" date. Oops. Must have been one of the ones I got on our vacation last year. So, grain of salt with this review, I suppose.

Yes, this is officially dark chocolate. I can taste the earthy notes (my dad always says it tastes like dirt, but I think it is good dirt) of the cocoa. It has a nice creamy texture when I let it melt a bit in my mouth. There are aspects that make me think it could edge towards powdery but it doesn't get there, so I really just read it as a rather dark chocolate. Chocolate-wise, it tastes pretty similar to the Theo, but creamier. Orange-wise, though, this one tastes a bit stronger. The orange taste comes in mostly on the end and aftertaste but it's nice - reminds me of the whack-and-unwrap chocolate oranges, but with a tiny little bite of zest on the end.

Overall, not knock-my-socks off, but tastier than the Theo and totally worth buying again.

Orange Chocolate Taste-Off Contender

Michel Cluizel Noir Aux Ecorces d'Orange (60% cacao)
This is not orange chocolate. This is a very nice, rich, creamy, dark chocolate with little hard pebbles of slightly chewy (but potentially rock-hard) crumbles of what is supposed to be candied orange peel or something similar. However, those little pebble of orange rocks are not very flavorful and the taste of orange is nowhere else in this chocolate. (The occasional one has a nice chewy texture and a good candied orange flavor, but those yummy little orange bits are outnumber at least three-to-one by the hard and flavorless supposedly orange bits.)

The chocolate itself is delicious and I quite like it, but I would never by this particular bar again (as I value my teeth too much to risk mostly flavorless orange rocks) but I would buy this chocolate in a plain format. However, for the purposes of this comparison, this chocolate is a big fat fail.

Orange Chocolate Taste-Off Contender

Valrhona Manjari Orange (64% cocoa)
I was pretty excited to see this one in the store. Manjari is my all time favorite chocolate so Manjari and orange? Sign me up! I'm not 100% sure the ingredients are safe for me, but hey, if I have a reaction, I'll know.

Overall, I think this is delicious but a bit of overkill. The taste of the Manjari alone is so fruity and tangy and fantastic, that mixing it with the orange flavor is both unnecessary and it kind of ends up almost lost in the wonder that is the chocolate. But there are these lovely little nuggets of super-orange hiding in the chocolate and oh, how I do enjoy happening upon those! That's when the orange flavor really pops above the fruity notes of the chocolate and really comes into it's own. It's like candied orange peel. Delicious, but I think I'll continue to take my Manjari straight.

Orange Chocolate Taste-Off Contender

World Market Blood Orange (42% cocoa)
Okay, this isn't dark chocolate, but it is blood orange. I had to try it.

It's good - the chocolate tastes darker than a measly 42%. The blood orange flavor isn't too strong or overwhelming... it's noticeable but doesn't necessarily scream blood orange. Rather nice, but honestly, it simply reminds me of the plain Manjari. Which is a good thing to be compared to but if it comes down between a flavored chocolate and a plain chocolate that tastes just as fruity but is darker, richer and smoother? Yeah, you can guess which I'll go with.

And that's it! I think between this and my previous post, I've investigated all of the orange chocolates I can find that are safe for me to eat. Huzzah! Overall, I don't think they make my perfect orange chocolate bar (or if they do, it's got ingredients in it that I must avoid). I think the Lindt and Equal Exchange are definitely worth having around regularly and I'll probably go overboard and get some Manjari Orange for those days I want to OD on sweet. Of course, I'll continue to keep an eye out for more delicious orange-ness!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Breadmaker is Sweaty

Yes, we currently have a sweaty breadmaker. But wait, we don't own a bread machine. That means I'm the sweaty one. (The lack of a bread machine is due to the fact that you aren't supposed to make gluten-free bread in a machine that has ever had wheat gluten bread in it... Not that I yet make gluten-free bread, but I like to have the option in case I want to feed it to my mom.)

I'm learning to bake bread. I've done a specialty bread before and I've done lots of beer bread, but currently I'm attempting to learn how to make plain white bread. Today is my second go. The first one... Well, it resulted in bread, but it was a bit dense since I had massively underkneaded it. Mind you, it was still tasty and we ate all of it, but I'd still like to do it properly. Which has resulted in tons and tons of kneading today. It's exhausting and very warm work. I had to turn the air conditioning on.

Technically, according to the window pane test for bread, today's bread is also a tad underkneaded but it is a ton better than my first go and I felt like my arms were going to fall off and I got much too overheated. So I called it good. And it was.

Homemade Bread

I did have some technical difficulties at one point that led to one loaf (the one on the right in the picture above) being less than pristine on top, but hey, I still think things turned out nicely!

And deliciously. Seriously delicious. Like, we-had-some-for-dessert delicious.

White Bread

I might be getting the hang of this bread making thing.

(Hopefully, those won't go down as famous last words!)

Overflowing with Kitties

Now that the weather has gotten colder (though I can still count on one finger the number of times the heat has come on), each night our bed ends up with an extra blanket on it - one made entirely of kitty. We've had up to five kitties on the bed at once and, let me tell you, it's really hard to move when the covers are stapled down in five places by weights that seem to get heavier the more I want to turn over. Sam is the only one that hasn't joined the group but I'm not sure if it's because he's fat enough that he's not as cold as the others, is afraid of being eaten by Happy or just doesn't think there's room (which doesn't stop any of the others, but maybe Sam is more polite.)

Of course, outside we've been running into kitty as well. Our neighbors on either side both have cats, but one neighbor's cats are rather skittish and stand-offish. The other neighbor, though, has possibly the sweetest cat in the world that doesn't already live with us.

Neighbor Kitty

It's a kitten, probably just under a year old, and she's adorably sweet and rumbly and demands attention constantly. Dan was fixing the fence this weekend and Neighbor Kitty apparently made quite a pest of herself. Well, 'pest' in the sense that Dan totally ate it up and adored the demands for attention and probably took longer to fix the fence than necessary but honestly, kitty cuddle breaks are union mandated, right?

Inspecting the Fence

Each time I went outside, I was greeted by a very noisy cat running towards me, purring, demanding attention and trying to get onto the porch when I went back inside. I think Dan and I both want to let her accidentally sneak into our house and, oops, never leave again.

Neighbor Kitty

But rumor has it that it is bad form to steal your neighbor's cat. But if something happens and the neighbors needed to find her a new home... Yeah, we'd be in trouble.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


It's been two weeks since my last post so I figured it was about time to post an update. Not much is going on but here's a little overview.

Gidget is off her medication but still experiencing some pain. Nothing as bad as before - she's now chewing air instead of violently pawing - so I'm hopeful it is just the remodeling suggested by the dentist. We have a dentist appointment tomorrow and shall see what she says. All of the other kitties are doing fine. They are much more cuddly now, especially at night, since it is no longer 100°+ outside.

Speaking of the weather, things have finally started to get cold. We switched over to the heat yesterday. It didn't actually come on during the day, but it might have snuck on in the night. Maybe. Things haven't gotten down to freezing yet outside, though, so my Romas are still putting off tons of tomatoes. Now if I would only water them...

My shoulder is doing good. I have some days that are perfectly normal but then I overdo it by attempting something like ironing and I have a few sore days. But I scrubbed the shower the other day with only some slight twanging the next day, and then only when I reached cross-body. I was doing some easy yoga regularly but fell out of that with the post-ironing pain. I need to get back to it - the movements have really helped me get my range of motion back.

I'm knitting on a cardigan sweater and having mixed luck. I ripped out about 5" of work because I wasn't liking how it was turning out. I initially had ribbing at the bottom and front bands, but I didn't like the proportions - the bottom band was so much smaller than the larger front band, which was pulling in (I figure I hadn't picked up enough stitches). So I ripped out the bottom band ribbing and am in the process of replacing it with a simple folded hem. Then I'll re-do the button band ribbing but in 4/1 or 5/1 rib instead of 2/2 rib. I think that will take care of the problem of the ribbing pulling in too much. Additionally, I'll be doing an i-cord edging (which will be on the bottom edges of the front bands) to make it neater than the wrapped edge I was doing before. All that (combined with picking up enough stitches on the front) and I should be a lot happier with it. Add to that, the fit is perfect and I greatly enjoy the color mix of the yarn, so yay!

And in the way it goes with all my larger knitting project, I briefly interrupted it to knit a little project, a little Christmas star.

Wonder Star

I think it's perfectly adorable (and the red is cashmere so it's delightfully soft, too) but after I finished it, I realized... we never have a Christmas tree. (Kitties, you know. They make it too much of an adventure.) So now I have an ornament and nothing to hang it on. Currently, it is hanging on the pull-knob of the barrister bookcase. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it but I'm still quite pleased with it. (And it's a great way to use up little bits of yarn!)

All this knitting though, and I must admit: I'm kind of itching to crochet a doily. Or knit a lavender-filled moth. Or, oh yeah, finish my sweater!

Oh, and I almost forgot! One of my New Year's resolutions was to try more tea vendors. I've successfully ordered from two of the three new vendors I mentioned back in January (TeaSpring (which I posted about) and American Tea Room (which I forgot to post about)) with Sugimoto being the odd man out. Well, I'm making an executive decision and calling this goal accomplished. The other week, I ordered from new-to-me vendor Verdant Tea specifically to get some of their divine-and-destinted-to-be-a-favorite Laoshan Black. Next year Sugimoto will still be a new-to-me vendor so maybe we can try again.

Of course, as far as other resolutions go, I'm oh so very behind on my 'read 24 "real" books' goal and am stuck on number eighteen. One behind where I ended up last year and I have a month and a half to at least tie. So I'm adjusting my goal to 'read more "real" books than I did last year'.

And I think I've exhausted every possible news topic. Well, other than Dan but nothing new there - he's working. A lot. Oh, he did make me an orange-honey wheat beer that's pretty fantastic. And he did another pumpkin beer which is practically pie in a cup. So the brewing is still going strong. We have bottle-conditioning beer in about half our closets.

So that's it, that's the news here. A gripping page turner, is it not? But all in all, it's doing pretty good, I think!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012