Fun Friday: Greyhounds!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “just for fun” post, and I thought Halloween was the perfect time to have one!  Today’s post is all about my favorite dog:  the greyhound!

lovely

Source.    Pin

For the past five or so years, I have volunteered with a greyhound rescue organization.  It all started when we adopted our first greyhound.  I have asthma, and some dogs bother, but greyhounds don’t.  I’ve always loved big dogs, and the greyhound is one of the few “big” dogs whose fur I can handle.  They’re not exactly hypoallergenic, but they’re close.

greyhound

Source.    Pin

Getting involved with greyhounds was a fluke, really.  A friend from high school’s parents were involved in the organization, and after college she told me what her parents did, and opened my eyes to the world of track dogs.  I did some research and learned a lot about greyhounds and greyhound adoption.  I was sold.  I knew that once I owned a home, I wanted a greyhound in it.

lazy greyhound!

Source.    Pin

When we finally adopted our first dog, it was a rough start.  Greyhounds are used to living with a lot of other dogs.  Cobalt (track name:  Killer Dragon) went from living with tons of dogs at the track, to living in a foster home that probably had five dogs total in it, to living alone with us all in the space of about a month.  The transition was hard for him (separation anxiety is no joke), and we struggled for several weeks before everything settled and he finally felt comfortable with us and our home.

Once we adopted, I started doing small things like volunteering to help run our auction.  Then we started fostering and babysitting foster dogs.  Eventually I started to edit the monthly newsletter.  We were hooked on greyhounds.

Bwahaha!

Source.    Pin

When Cobalt passed, we were incredibly sad, but as I prepared to finally move to Arizona, I knew I wanted to adopt on last time from our awesome group.  I kept meeting dogs and sending the husband information about them until we were down to two dogs we liked.  I had them over to my house and we did a little Skype meeting between the dogs and the husband.  The dogs left, and we talked.  And then we decided we couldn’t decide (we each picked a different dog as our “final” choice), so we decided to adopt both.  And that is how we ended up in a crazy, cross country drive with two dogs I adopted the night before.

Greyhound

Source.    Pin

Greyhounds are awesome pets.  They are easy to care for, they sleep a lot, they require little exercise.  A large number of them are good with kids, and many of them are good with other dogs.  Some of them have high prey drives and can’t live with cats, others belong in homes with other greys.  Each dog has it’s own personality, so you’re bound to find one that’s right for you and your situation.

Greyhound

Source.    Pin

All of these pins and more can be found on my Greyhounds board.

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Pumpkin Spice

Since it is fall, everything pumpkin spice is in the air!  I was determined this year to find a recipe for pumpkin spice coffee syrup so I could have a PSL at home any time I wanted.  I found this recipe and knew I had to try it.  For the syrup you will need:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Pumpkin pie spice

And for the latte you will need:

  • Strong coffee or espresso
  • Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • Milk

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks on Me board.

pumpkin spice

Review

You guys, this was a real loser.  I was super disappointed with how it turned out.  For one thing, my grocery store doesn’t carry pumpkin pie spice, so I had to make some of my own by combining cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice.  I don’t know that it was an exact match, but I did the best I could with what was available and what I could find through a Google search.  So, perhaps my lack of appropriate seasonings affected the overall outcome, but I don’t think it did too much.  My syrup never really came together.  It separated and had to mixed every time I tried to use it.  That said, I used it three times before I decided it was a waste and threw it out.  Because the syrup wasn’t great, neither was the latte.  But that’s really all on the syrup.  The latte ratios were fine.

Needless to say, I will NOT be making this again.  Such a bummer!  I will have to continue my search for the perfect pumpkin spice syrup recipe.  I assume that by the time I find it, the world will have moved on to peppermint everything.  Oh well.

Blueberry Muffins

While oatmeal is a great low-cholesterol breakfast, I can only eat it so many morning before I get bored.  Enter blueberry muffins!  I love muffin of all kinds, and nothing beats fresh blueberry muffins out of the oven.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Flour
  • Blueberries
  • Milk
  • Lemon
  • Orange

Of course, there is more to the recipe, so check out the original here, or my pin on my Breakfast board.

blueberry muffins

Review

This recipe was a little bit of a disappointment.  I loved that the source gave me all sorts of nutritional information, but the end result was a little bit lacking.  By no means was this a bad recipe.  In fact, in a pinch, I’d make it again.  I guess I just know that low cholesterol doesn’t need to mean low taste, and this tasted like a low cholesterol recipe.  It just felt a little bit less in the taste department.  It might have been my own expectations, though.  Blueberry and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  So, when I saw this recipe called for citrus with the blueberry I was really expecting more of a punch.

I will probably look for a recipe that uses oatmeal in the muffin recipe in the future.  That way I can pack my cholesterol fighting ingredients into the recipe, but hopefully not sacrifice as much flavor.

Wooden Holiday Decorations

While I saw scoping out Pinterest for my next craft project, I came across several pins from the Etsy store Stick With Me Vinyls.  While looking at the products I was immediately struck with the idea that my mother-in-law would love something like this.  However, I prefer to make things on my own, so I immediately set out to determine a crafting process and see if I could recreate what I saw in the shop.

The products in the shop, first of all, are really well made.  I love the colors and the lettering.  But I could tell that the slick look came from vinyl, and that wasn’t an option for me.  I would need to figure out something different.  After consulting with my husband about the use of some power tools, I had a plan of attack.  If you want to try and recreate your own decorations, here is the process I followed.

Materials

  • 2x 4
  • Acrylic paints
  • Foam brushes
  • Black sharpies
  • Gloss spray sealant
  • Table saw
  • Hand router
  • Orbital Sander
  • Sandpaper

Wooden Decorations

Process

  1. Start by measuring and cutting your wooden blocks.  I used the table saw for this.  I did try a miter saw as well as a Japanese handsaw, but, in the end, the table saw was faster and more precise.  I cut:  two 7 inch block, two 6 inch block, two 5 inch blocks, and one 2.5 inch x 7 inch block.
  2. Sand all the edges of the blocks.  I used the orbital sander for this.  I liked the speed of the hand sander over regular sandpaper.  I didn’t go for a super smooth block since I still wanted a bit of a rustic look.  Mostly I knocked off the roughness as well as the printing on the wood.
  3. Lay out your blocks and decide on a color pattern.  When laying out the blocks, it should go 7-6-5-5-6-7 with the 2.5×7 either resting on top of the two 5 inch blocks or below the two 5 inch blocks.  I picked a rotating set of three colors, with the 2.5 inch block being a fourth color.  I have a listing of all the colors I used at the end of the post.
  4. Paint the blocks.  I painted all the “Give Thanks” blocks, let them dry, then flipped them and painted the “Jingle Bells” blocks.  Once those sides were done, I decided I wanted all the edges to be painted instead of raw as well.
  5. Letter your blocks.  I used black sharpie to make my letters.  I started with a paint pen, but it dried out, and all I had left was sharpie.  I am much better with a pen than a paintbrush, so I stuck with the sharpie.  If you’re better with paint, by all means, paint the letters on.  I just mimicked the letters I saw in the picture.
  6. Rout the edges of the blocks.  I did this because I liked he rounded look.  Also, 2×4 will have at least one edge that is rounded over, and I wanted all the sides to match.
  7. Sand just the corners of each letter-square using a scrap of sandpaper.  I did this mostly for aesthetics.
  8. Wipe down all of the blocks with a wet cloth and let dry.  You don’t want any dust on them when you seal them.
  9. Seal the blocks using a gloss sealant.  I liked the shiny look of the vinyl, so I tried to get a little bit of that using a gloss spray sealant.  I also purchased the weatherproof sealant so my mother-in-law could put the decorations outside if she wanted to.
  10. Once it is all dry, admire your handiwork and mail it off!

wooden final

My products

Give Thanks Colors:  Craftsmart-Orange Spice, Craftsmart-White, Craftsmart-Pure Pumpkin, FolkArt-Bark Brown

Jingle Bells Colors:  Craftsmart-White, Craftsmart-Holiday Red, Craftsmart-Lush Foliage, FolkArt-Metallic Gold

Side Color:  FolkArt-Coffee Latte

Think Spring Colors:  Craftsmart-Green, Craftsmart-Pink Chiffon, Craftsmart-Sage Green, Craftsmart-Robin’s Egg Blue

Summer Lovin’ Colors:  Craftsmart-Coral Reef, Craftsmart-Ocean Breeze, Craftsmart-Turquoise, Craftsmart-Robin’s Egg Blue

Side Color:  Craftsmart-Khaki

Sealant: Varathane Spar Urethane Outdoor Water Based Gloss (Crystal Clear)

Product Review: Caffeinator Stick

When I was in Indiana, I had the chance to attend a Posh Party-something I had never heard of before.  Perfectly Posh is a skin care product company with a lot of interesting products.  One of my favorite things about their products is that in the back of  the catalogue there is a list of all the ingredients in every product.  My skin has a small sensitivity to products with glycerin in them, so it was nice that I could look through the ingredients to see which products had low to no glycerin.

I picked up two products at the party, one of which was the Caffeinator Stick.  I was excited about this product because I seem to have permanent bags under my eyes.  As someone who rarely wears make-up, a little pick-me-up in stick form seemed like a product I could get behind.  I’ve spent the last month testing and documenting my experience with the product, and today I am ready to share the tests with you!

Test 1:  60 minutes

For my first test, I applied the stick first thing in the morning, then took pictures every five minutes for a full hour.  I was really excited about this test, so you’ll see that I haven’t even brushed my hair!  In my photo montage below, you can see the “before” picture both at the very start, and at the very end (next to the 60 minute picture).

Caffinator Stick One Hour

The “before” picture is a little lighter because of the lighting in my bathroom.  Sorry!  I didn’t edit the pictures (except to crop them), so the lighting is what it is.  Looking at the “before” next to the “60 min,” I think you can see that the circles are less pronounced.  They are still there, but they are not as deep, nor as baggy as they were before I applied the stick.

Test 2:  21 Days

For the second test, I was going to take a picture every week for one month of use.  Unfortunately, I only made it to Day 21 because on Day 24 I ended up in the hospital, and that meant no stick and no pictures.  That said, I think that three weeks gives us some material to work with.

21 days Caffinator Stick

Once again the pictures are a little bit off, color wise, but by the end of the month I needed more than the natural light in my bathroom since the days were getting shorter.  I think that, again, you can see that over time the bags are a little less pronounced and not as deep as they were before I started.  (And yes, I understand the angles are all different.  I was really mad at myself when I realized I had done that.)  You might notice that the overall puffiness of my eyes seems to diminish a bit.  That is not light or angle trick, it really did go down some.

Overall Review

So, what do I think of this product?  I like it.  You can’t tell from the pictures (I don’t think), but the skin under my eyes feels both more firm and more supple.  The bags under my eyes have reduced slightly in the month that I have been using the stick, and I think there is an “instant” boost on the day of use.  I know that other factors might be in effect here such as sleep patterns and diet, but I tried to be as consistent as possible with those during the testing.  (Who can control just how well they sleep at night, though?  If I could do that, I wouldn’t need a magic stick!)  One drawback is that the stick is a bit large diameter wise.  I wish it was a little smaller so I could get into the crease where the eye meets the nose a little better.  While I cannot comment on how long the stick lasts yet, I don’t feel like I am “running out” after just one month of use.  I expect another month or two out of the stick.  At just $12, I feel like that is a good return on investment.

Bottom line:  Would I suggest this product?  Yes.  Pick it up, and give it a try.  Even if it doesn’t turn out for you, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted money trying it.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I come from an Italian cooking heritage.  My family hand-makes ravioli at Christmas time on the order of 20+ dozen.  We make all our own sauces, and, when possible, our own pasta.  The tricks to a perfect meatball have been known to me since I was 10.  But I can’t say that my meatball recipe is exactly low-cholesterol.  So, off I went to find some substitutions and see if I could still make my Italian heritage proud.  You will need:

  • Lean ground turkey
  • Oatmeal
  • Egg or egg substitute
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Spaghetti sauce

The recipe I used can be found here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

spaghetti and meatballs

Review

I won’t pretend that using 99% lean turkey is a true substitute for the meatballs I am used to, but they actually turned out well.  The trick to making sure that you have a meatball that is still flavorful is to add spices to your mix.  I am a fan of liberal amounts of oregano, basil, black pepper, and even some minced garlic.  Adding the spices will punch up the flavor.  You won’t mistake it for a full fat meatball, but you won’t be wishing you had a full fat meatball either.

I really liked that this recipe made changes that fit into my new low-cholesterol lifestyle.  The lean turkey helps cut the fat out, while the oats are a great grain substitute for the bread crumbs I would normally use.  This recipe really made me feel like I could still enjoy my Italian heritage without having to sacrifice too much.

This recipe was a hit at my house, and, in fact, has been upgraded to part of my regular dinner rotation.  If I don’t know what to fill in for a specific night, this spaghetti and meatball dish is a simple go-to.  The meatballs don’t take long to make or cook, so as long as the meat is thawed, I can make this on a whim.  Consider punching up your spaghetti a little bit by adding some spinach to the sauce while you heat it up.  The spinach is also a great low-cholesterol food, and it adds flavor and substance to the meal.  Not only will I be making this again, I’m actually making it again tonight.

Snickerdoodles

I have a sweet tooth.  I love pretty much every dessert I’ve ever tried.  I know this about myself, and I also know that I shouldn’t eat every dessert I come in contact with, so I try really hard not to make or keep many desserts in the house.  But sometimes I just need a cookie.  So I found myself raiding my cabinets trying to figure out just what I could make without going to the store.  And that’s when it hit me:  snickerdoodles.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cream of tartar
  • Egg
  • Butter

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

snickerdoodles

Review

This dough did not come together like I anticipated.  It was very crumbly, and I expected something much softer and easier to roll into a ball.  It honestly felt like there was a liquid ingredient missing.  I scanned the pictures and comments looking for something I had left out, but didn’t see anyone else with this problem.  That isn’t to say I was unable to make cookies, just that it felt “off” during the cooking process.

As for the final product, the cookies were good but not great.  For me, personally, there was a little too much cream of tartar.  I would have cut that by as much as half.  I also just didn’t get the super soft cookie that I was hoping for.  I certainly ate the cookies, but I think that was more about me wanting cookies than really enjoying the cookies.  I honestly think I simply missed something because so many other people seem to have had great success with this recipe.  If you decide to check it out, let me know what your results are.  I am very interested in how these cookies turn out for other people.

Will I be making these again?  No.  They just weren’t my cup of tea, which is really a shame because I love snickerdoodles.  I guess I’m still on the hunt for a good recipe.

Hospital Help

As you might have noticed, there was no post on Monday.  Unfortunately, that was because I was in the hospital.  On Saturday night I suffered a pretty bad asthma attack that we couldn’t get under control in the ER (even after an hour long treatment of albuterol, which is a LOT of medication).  So, there was no choice-I was admitted.  Luckily, I was able to recover fairly quickly, and I was discharged late last night. But now that I’m home, I thought I would share a couple things that you can do to help out friends or family while they are in the hospital.

  • Lip Balm. I was on oxygen for the majority of my stay, and that will really dry everything out.  The inside of my nose, as you might imagine, is going to take a few days to recover, but I was surprised at how much being on oxygen also affected my lips.  My husband brought me some balm and I used over half a tube in the few days I was in there.  One of the things respiratory patients do is work on controlled breathing.  We do a lot of inhale through the nose and exhale through pursed lips for twice as long as the inhale.  Considering hospitals are kind of dry anyway, nothing provided that beautiful momentary relief like a tube of chapstick.
  • A Book or Two.  There’s not a lot to do in the hospital.  At some point you will be better enough to be bored, but not well enough to go home.  Sure there’s a TV in the room, but that will get old quickly.  You might have visitors, but those are also not filling your day.  What you need is a good book of some sort.  Now I’m not saying just a book to read.  Maybe you’re into crossword puzzles or Sudoku or word searches.  Those are books too.  You’re going to want something like that to help keep you occupied.  The time goes by very slowly otherwise.  Also, I would suggest having two books and that they are different kinds of books.  That way, if you get bored of one, you have something to switch to.
  • Toothbrush.  The hospital will provide you with a toothbrush if you don’t have yours.  It will be the most basic thing you have ever laid eyes on.  It sort of reminded me of a toy toothbrush that you might give a child.  I know that some people won’t care, but I really would have preferred my own toothbrush instead of the hospital issue one.  Same goes for toothpaste.  If you’re picky at all about it, ask someone to bring in yours.  It’s the little home touches that can really improve your experience.
  • Hairbrush.  Again, the hospital will provide you with a brush and comb, but they are not awesome.  The brush is one of those yellow handled things that has the super soft bristles.  I know you know exactly the brush I am talking about.  My hair would totally eat that and laugh.  The comb is just like the combs that would be offered on picture day.  I’ve never been someone that could use a comb, so I can’t really comment on how well that would work.  Once more, it’s just these little home comforts that can help make your experience a little more positive.
  • Cell Phone.  You may not get visitors often, but you can text people when you get bored!  For me, the only person that could visit was my husband.  All my friends and family were too far away for that to even be an option.  However, with my phone I was able to text my parents and brother to keep me sane and keep them in the loop.  It helped pass the time and made me feel a little less lonely.  Don’t forget your charger.  Ask a nurse where you can plug it in when you need to.
  • Underwear.  Wearing the same underwear for days on end can make you feel gross at a time when you already feel gross.  One of the nurses offered me hospital issue underwear, and I didn’t even ask to see it.  Have someone bring you an extra pair or two so you can feel clean.  Underwear is not something I would have thought about prior to this stay, but it really was an excellent comfort to have access to.

When it’s time to go home, here are a few more things that can be helpful.

  • Rubbing Alcohol/Acetate.  When you’re in the hospital, a lot of things get taped to you:  IVs, heart monitors, pulseoximeteres; and all of those things leave a sticky residue that is hard to remove.  Rubbing alcohol or acetate (nail polish remover) can help remove that sticky residue without rubbing your skin raw.  It will dry your skin out, though, so be sure to have some lotion to apply afterward.
  • Comfort Food  Have the person that is picking you up have dinner/lunch/a snack ready when you get home.  Hospital food isn’t terrible, but being able to have a slice of pizza when you get home is heavenly.  Make coming home as easy as possible.  While you’re well enough to be home, you’re probably not 100%, so these little things can help take the stress off your return.
  • A Well Stocked Night Stand.  The first night home will be a little interesting.  In the hospital, people are constantly waking you up to take vitals, give medications, and draw blood.  No one is going to be doing that when you get home, but you might still have night time needs.  Before you go to bed, make sure you have everything accessible and ready to go.  You don’t want to wake up in a panic because you need a medication, but don’t remember where you left it.  Make sure to have lots of water on hand.  Your nose/throat/mouth area will probably still be very dry, and you’ll want water.  I also made sure my night stand had my “rescue” remedies (a rescue inhaler and my nebulizer plus albuterol) in case I found myself in distress.  This way I was ready for any situation that might arise during the night, and didn’t have to make things more stressful because I didn’t have immediate access to what I needed.

Hopefully these are all tips that you will never have to use, but, let’s face it, you’re likely to know someone who ends up in the hospital for one reason or another.  These little things can really make being in the hospital, and returning from the hospital a lot easier to deal with.

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

Last week the husband noticed that our apples were going bad faster than we could eat them.  We didn’t want them to go to waste, so off to Pinterest to see what I could make with ingredients I already had on hand.  At first we were thinking apple cider, but we lacked the cheese cloth to do it properly.  Then I saw this crisp recipe and decided to give it a shot.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Apples
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Oats
  • Butter

You can check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

Apple Crisp

Review

This recipe smelled AMAZING as it cooked during the day.  My whole house smelled absolutely delicious.  When the husband came home, he commented on how good everything smelled.  As for the taste, well, it was just okay, but that was mostly my fault.  The recipe calls for something like 6 cups of sliced apples.  I didn’t have enough apples to make that much, so I just used all I had. The problem was, I didn’t scale the rest of the recipe accordingly.  Because of this, the whole thing turned out kind of dry.  But that’s on me.  I should have used less flour and oats.

Besides being dry, the flavor was actually pretty good.  I could tell that the sugar/cinnamon/apple combination was a good one.  Would I make this again?  Probably not.  I only made it because I needed to do something with the apples.  It made for a nice dessert that night, and the leftovers were decent the next morning as part of breakfast, but crisps, in general, are not one of my favorite desserts.  (I know-why did I make it then?)  However, if crisps were more my jam, this would be excellent to make when company comes over.  Not only will everyone comment on how great your house smells, it’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take much of your effort to complete.  Add some vanilla ice cream, and you’ve got a winner.

Pomegranate Salmon

One of the things I learned while researching low cholesterol diets and recipes was that fish was an excellent addition to your dinner.  I love fish, but haven’t made it often out here because there’s not a lot of decent options at the grocery store.  But, I decided that we should have fish at least once, preferably twice, a week, so off to the store I went.  I ended up buying frozen filets.  Not as good as fresh, but I’ll take what I can get.  For this recipe, you need:

  • Salmon
  • Pomegranate (either the fruit or juice)
  • Red pepper

You can check out the original recipe here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

Pomegranate Salmon

Review

I thought the recipe was a little basic.  There are no measurements, so I just guessed with what I was doing.  I also didn’t have access to fresh peppers, so I had to substitute red pepper flakes.  Even though I was without exact measurements, I thought the recipe turned out fine.  However, when I tried to repeat the recipe a week later, my results were not as good.  It was frustrating to have an enjoyable meal one night but not be able to replicate the results on a second night.  I am a fan of salmon, but I think I will try out some other salmon recipes before I come back to this one.