Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Trees

There was a bit of a discussion about what kind of tree to get this year. Last year's tree was nice and pretty when we bought it, but seemed to dry out too fast in our desert-like apartment. Every time I looked in the direction of the tree some needles would fall off of it. The cats were walking around with piles of needles on their backs from too many trips to the Christmas-Tree-Tea Oasis. By Christmas Eve we were looking at a stick with some ornaments on it.

I tried to do some research on what kind of conifer would do best in conditions similar to that of the Sahara with gray skies. I was also going for a specific shape. I really wanted a vintage style shrubby, scrubby, pear shaped tree. I found two helpful articles about what species are traditionally used for christmas trees: one on and another on wikipedia.

Abies fraseri seems to be the most popular. I also considered Pinus sylvestris.

Other species include:
Abies balsamea
Abies concolor
Pinus strobus
Picea glauca
Picea pungens
Juniperus virginiana
and trees of the Pseudotsuga genus.

After much consideration, I decided on a specimen of the name Ebai searseventia (common name: 1970's Sears tree from Ebay). I love it! It will not dry out or drop needles, and if I'm going to go fake I want it to look really fake and kitschy. So I got what I wanted. At first Steve was really reluctant. He said that my tree looked like a broomstick with pipe cleaners. But after we put all of the decorations and lights on, it all turned out okay. Plus, it cost less than a nice, real tree purchased in Chicago would. Also I'm not sure how GREEN the act of using a real tree is... I guess if you recycle it, it's okay... but it seems like a big waste of energy. I wonder if there are fake trees made out of sustainable materials. Anyhow, I feel good about reusing this tree that someone purchased a long time ago.

Monkey & Elvis seem to approve, though they aren't getting their annual dose of tree-tea.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mysterious Drunk Texting

My mom likes to keep in touch with me via text messaging . It's a nice way for us to send little notes to each other whenever. For instance she will send me an "xoxo" every so often. Then other times, like New Years Eve, I will get the random "funky co medina".

Last night I was having some drinks with some friends and it was pretty late... about 11pm our time, which is midnight in Michigan, and my mom is not one who likes to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, especially on a work night. So I was surprised to receive an unsolicited text from her and this is how our conversation went:

Mom: ha ha ha ho ho ho!

Sarah: Lol r u drunk? (in fact *I* was the drunk one)

M: Are you? YOU'RE up late

S: No U are up late! And yes we're having drinks.

M: We were sleeping. the santa suit is cute. i'll look for it on your blog later. (now i'm really confused. i have no clue what "santa suit" she's referring to.)

S: what santa cute? (at this point i'm slurring my txt mssgs...)

A couple of minutes later I receive this picture text from an unknown number (see below). Turns out this was from my uncle's girlfriend and when my mom received it, half asleep, she thought it was Monkey dressed in a santa suit.

I mean, I can see how she could mistake this cat for Monkey... I guess... but if I ever tried to put any kind of suit on Monkey, I think would have to suffer the wrath of her claws. And boy do they hurt. Just ask Elvis.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sesame Street

As a youngster in the early 80's I was a big fan of Sesame Street (and I will admit that I watched it pretty much the entire decade because my sister was born in '87 and it was always on tv.) My family has several favorite cartoons that we STILL talk about. So I was happy to see that my friend Sally sent me a Sesame Street clip on youtube yesterday. I don't remember this one but it's very sweet, and I guess it reminded her of me - the greenhouse girl :)

Now here are some of my ALL TIME FAVES!!!! enjoy!

Plants Need Water, Man

Loaf of Bread

Ladybug's Picnic

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 pinball machine

Ten Turtles

No Cookies in the Library

I will admit, sometimes we DO have cookies in the library but we do not share them with patrons :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monkey Update

Many of you are aware of what's been going on with Monkey lately. She has been having a upset stomach and has started licking off all of her fur on the back end. From the front she appears to be normal, but on the other side, it looks like she is not wearing pants. She used to have the softest, fluffiest butt in all the land, with these cute little brown speckles on her hips.... so sad to see her in this state.

We have seen the vet several times for this in the past 6 months. A couple of months ago when we went in for a visit, Steve had left the house before Monkey and I, and had accidentally taken the car key with him! And there was no way to get it back. So Monkey and I had to walk 2 miles to the vet's office. It was a lovely September day so the weather was not a problem - I was wondering how I was going to carry the hard, sturdy cat carrier all the way there.

At that point I was wishing I had one of these cat strollers. Even though I know it sounds CRAZY-cat-lady-like.... I still kind of want one.

Instead I had to put the carrier into one of those huge blue Ikea bags and try to peel part of it down so Monkey could see what was going on. I thought, "Oh well maybe this method of transportation will be easier on Monkey because she won't get motion sickness like she does in the car!" Boy was I wrong. She vomited twice and pooped once inside her cage before we made it there. I think it was just all the bouncing around from me walking... she probably felt like she was riding a camel! Maybe if i had the stroller it would be a smoother ride.

At that point Dr. Miller decided to try a hypoallergenic diet for Monkey. She and Elvis decided they liked the Venison, and we renamed their food "bambi cereal" (dry) and "bambi souffle" (wet). It was expen$$ive but we would do almost anything for Monkey. She is our princess. We were very strict with her diet and she did not receive treats or table scraps for two months.

Recently we visited Dr. Miller again for an assessment because there wasn't much improvement in Monkey's condition. This time Monkey made it all the way to just outside the clinic where we were looking for a parking spot before her bowels let loose. Then she vomited. But they are SOO nice there they cleaned out our carrier, threw out our towel (yet another old towel lost to a vet visit... soon we will be out of them!) and put a disposal pet pad in there. The Dr checked again for fleas and for any other evidence of a skin condition. And she decided that a food allergy wasn't causing all of these symptoms. Which means we can go back to our lamb cereal by Solid Gold (much cheaper!) and Monkey can have treats!!! She was so happy to have treats when we got home.

Our next strategy is to do some blood work to see if there are any underlying problems (like diabetes, etc) and we should get those results back on Thursday. If that comes back fine, then Monkey probably has some irritated, inflamed bowels and that may be why she is licking the fur off of that area of her body. So we will try some steriods to get that under control. And hopefully that will take care of it! I hope so because this has been going on for about 9 months... poor Monkey. :(

By the way I highly recommend our veterinary clinic Uptown Animal Hospital!!! They are located in Andersonville. Their office is very clean and inviting. The staff is so friendly and I truly feel that they care about the furry members of our family. Dr. Miller is the best :) Plus she is an Albion alumn.

And I'm still looking for a way to take the cats out in some sort of stroller. I'm thinking a double decker cart would be ideal but I haven't found one that will fit the cat carriers. Any idears???

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Family

We spent this years Thanksgiving in Michigan at my mom's house. She likes to make this recipe for cranberry salad that my Granny (my dad's mom) always makes. You grind up cranberries, and few apples and oranges (one with the peel on) and then add a little sugar. Voila! However, there has been some controversy over how to process these ingredients. Granny always used a hand grinder and my mom prefers to use a Cuisinart. Granny says that the food processor chops everything too fine, and cuts open the seeds of the cranberries giving the salad a slightly bitter taste.

So we conducted an experiment! My mom found an old grinder in the basement and my sister and I made Granny's version while my mom made her version. We used exactly the same amounts of everything. It wasn't hard to tell which was which based on texture because the grinder version was much coarser. But we tried our hardest to do a blind taste test. The consensus seemed to be that the processor version WAS slightly more bitter but Mom said she still liked it the best anyway :)

I actually enjoyed using the hand grinder. It wasn't as laborious a chore as I had originally thought it would be.

I also made pumpkin pies from scratch. But I need to start foiling the edges of my crust so they don't get too brown. Lynn makes the best pie crust. She brought cranberry pie and apple pie. I need to get that recipe from her. I WILL make more pumpkin pies at christmas, even if it's just for Steve and I to enjoy. They really don't have much sugar in them. And I'm sure they are healthy for you. Especially since I don't use canned - no preservatives!! One little sugar pumpkin from Whole Foods was all it took. I think I may even skip the crust and just bake the filling in ramekins - lower carbs and less fat.

Steve and Lynn

On Friday we joined my dad and Cheryl at the UT Rockets game for some tailgating and cooking of wild animals. I ate something that was called "roadkill stew". It was sort of like chili with venison, moose, elk and the like. Very yummy. Also had my dad's famous duck wrapped in bacon. YUM! I'm not a huge football fan but there is something about sitting outside in the cold bleachers, snuggling under blankets, and drinking hot cocoa. Not to mention the marching bands! I LOVE marching bands!!!! And BGSU's band was fabulous.

Dad, me, Steve, & Cat at the football game

Afterward we used my sister's car (because we had taken the train to Michigan) to go visit my Granny and my Aunt Linette. My sister has a rickety old '97 Neon that I was afraid was just going to fall apart on the ride from the train station. You know that scene in Planes, Trains, & Automobiles when the car falls apart? This is what I'm imagining in my head. Lo and behold, the breaks were pretty much completely out at the time we decided to borrow the vehicle. So we were driving around 475 in Toledo with practically NO BREAKS. You push the pedal down and nothing happens.

Luckily my mom and Ed met us at Auntie's house and Ed knew exactly what was going on. So he drove the car back to my mom's for us and fixed it up the next day :) He's too nice. Hopefully the Neon won't just explode GTA style without warning, but I have my doubts.