Thursday, December 27, 2007

Keepin the clouds away

So Spike is much better today, and PooWatch 2007 is finally over. For those of you who have dogs, you will understand. For those who don't, just pretend you didn't read that.

He's got to eat special canned food, something called Intestinal HE (good thing dogs can't read!), in 1/4c increments. He needs to be walked a couple times a day, and has to have lots of water, plus take an antibiotic twice a day.

Today he's back to his usual whiny self so I am happy. Tonight we're dropping him off at Aunt Susie's (thanks Aunt Susie!) so we can leave early tomorrow for a weekend in San Diego with TJ's family.

And the Intestinal HE is a big hit, with both dogs. I need to stand guard over Spike while he's eating it because Peanut keeps eyeing it longingly. I let Peanut lick the spoon I was using to get the food out of the can today so maybe that made it worse.

In an hour or so we'll take Peanut to Dog Camp. I hate having to do it the night before because it makes the house seem so empty. But our flight is *really* early tomorrow and Dog Camp doesn't open till 9 or so.

And here's a plug for our vet (Dr. Miller at Redwood Animal Hospital in Redmond). Seriously, if you're looking for a great vet on the Eastside, these folks are the best. They're not cheap, but they are thorough and caring. Not only did Dr. Miller spend a ton of time examining Spike, he also spent a while talking to me about what might be wrong and explaining the diagnostic options. A few hours later he called and gave me a detailed report on Spike's tests. And this morning, since he was out of the office, another one of the vets called to find out how Spike was doing. That's pretty awesome.

So hopefully Spikeman will be ok this weekend - I'm glad he'll be at Aunt Susie's because I think he'll get better observation there than the kennel. He sends out a big beagle howl (AROOOOOO) to all of you who asked about him or sent your good wishes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I would give everything

I'm sitting here kind of unsettled because I had to leave Spike at the vet's office today for additional testing.

A few days ago, we were on our usual morning outing to Marymoor and Spike was rummaging around in the bushes. He decided to hop the fence and take off, so TJ had to wander through the trees looking for him. After about 10 min, he came back to TJ.

Later that day, he didn't start whining for his food that afternoon. But he ate. Since my parents were here and they were getting lots of extra treats we thought it wasn't a big deal. But then the next day he sort of kept to himself, stayed on the couch and slept most of the day, away from where the rest of us were. He also refused to eat in the evening, which for our always-hungry beagle is *very* unusual.

Yesterday, he didn't eat all day though we were happy to see him drinking water and accepting treats and some lunchmeat. (Apparently even sick dogs like meat!) But he was still kind of lethargic and stayed mostly on the couch or in his box.

So this morning I got him an appointment at the vet. We had a different doctor today, a nice guy, who did a thorough exam of Spike, much to Spike's displeasure. He said Spike's got some inflammation in his digestive system and said we could be conservative and just keep an eye on him, or run a blood test and some XRays to see if there's something going on in there.

And just to digress for a minute - I think it's interesting that for animal health care, the cost is always part of the discussion, right up front. The vet mentioned a couple of times how expensive the Xrays and blood tests were, and gave me an estimate and had me sign it. You never hear people doctors saying "let's just wait and see how it goes, you might not want to spend the money on these tests" or even giving you any indication of the cost.

It bothers me a little that cost comes into the treatment decision for animals. Especially given that animals can't actually *tell* you how they're feeling so it seems especially prudent to use whatever diagnostics are available to find out what the problem is.

I know there are a lot of people who wouldn't easily be able to afford the $500 I will spend today on Spike's care. But it seems to me that maybe folks who don't have the means should think twice about having a pet. Or look into purchasing pet insurance for such things. I just don't think it's reasonable to delay treatment or put a pet more at risk because you don't have the cash to pay for it.

And I guess that means I am one of those bleeding heart, animal rights people. Our guys are full members of our family, and that means I'd eat a lot of ramen noodles in order to make sure we can get them the care they need. I would never give up a pet because I didn't have time for him anymore, or choose a place to live that doesn't allow pets, or whatever other inane reasons people come up with for abdicating responsibility.

Ok, rant over, back to Spikeman. So of course, I chose the option to do the tests, and he's at the vet now, getting poked, prodded and Xrayed. (And getting his nails clipped while they're at it, because what's another $20 at this point?) Poor little guy. He already hates the vet and today isn't going to make that any better. The other interesting thing is that he only weighs 23.3 pounds, which is the least he's ever weighed. Too bad the rest of us don't have that problem.

I hope we figure out what's going on. As far as I know he didn't eat anything unusual, though he did get a lot of treats this week. But who knows what he got himself into on his little adventure on Sunday. Anyway, think happy thoughts for our little Spikeman!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Next year I could be just as good

Merry Christmas everyone!!

It's very quiet here - my parents left this morning (screamin deal on airfare on Southwest), and TJ is at the grocery store. Spike is not feeling well, so he's sleeping by himself on the living room couch and Peanut is as usual, holding down the rug in the upstairs living room.

I'm listening to a Christmas CD sent to us by a friend, and in the background the dishwasher is doing its thing with the first full load of Christmas Eve dinner dishes.

I'm actually really happy with how our dinner turned out last night - it was very simple - we grilled the Omaha steaks my parents bought us, and had them with mushrooms sauteed in butter and red wine. We had a simple salad (thank you Trader Joe's!) and I made some rosemary roasted potatoes. It was super-easy and really satisfying. Oh and we opened three bottles of wine: a Red Truck wine we've been meaning to drink for a while (thanks Doug!) and two bottles of Peller Estates dessert wine, a Cabernet Franc icewine and an oak-aged white ice wine. YUM.

We used our nice china for the second time (thank you Grandma Creath), so piles of dishes are waiting for me on the kitchen counter, but I thought I'd enlist TJ's help in tackling those once the first round of pots and glasses is put away.

I think the gift exchange went well - people seemed happy with their gifts. I got a ton of really nice semi-precious and glass beads from my mom so I can't wait to get back to my craft table and make some new stuff for the shop.

TJ said he liked the wool overcoat I bought him. More so, because now he doesn't have to actually shop for one. :) He'll probably only wear it a few times, but it should last him a long time. And yay for me for guessing the right size on the first try! He plans to wear it when we go to Canlis for New Year's Eve.

The whole family seemed entertained by The Dangerous Book for Boys, which I also bought for TJ. It's got all these things boys "should" know, like the rules of rugby, important battles, and 5 important knots. It was written by a Brit (though this is the American edition) and is quite funny. TJ pointed out there was only a page and a half on Girls, but 5 pages on how to build a go-cart. Awesome!

But the most technologically advanced gift went to my mom. We got her a lifetime subscription to LibraryThing, so she can catalog all the books she reads. She seemed pretty excited about it.

My Christmas gift to myself is an upgrade to Mac OS X Leopard. It's installing right now. I can't wait to put in some quality time learning how to use it, finally. Woo hoo!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A girl's best friend

We need a new car. And by need, I mean, I'd like a new car that I can use to chauffeur the puppies to their daily dog park trip. Right now, if I take Peanut, I've got to fold the backseat down in the Audi, and now there are dirty dog footprints on the back of the seat, the top of the seat, and on the plastic parts in the hatchback. There are also dog nose prints on the window.

Not exactly elegant for a luxury car. Also, Peanut can't sit or stand up in it comfortably, and squeezing both him and Spike in there is a little tight.

My fabulous, economical-minded (read: thrifty, doesn't like to spend money on what he thinks is unnecessary) husband has written his point of view here. However, this same husband also doesn't believe in buying used cars as daily transportation so we will get something new and shiny.

We are following his process for buying a car: research online to get a long list of vehicles that will work, go see them in person and narrow it down to a short list, and then test drive the short list before making a decision. Very methodical. Which I guess is good because the car I wanted the most going into The Process was the Saturn Vue which we eliminated as soon as we saw it. It doesn't have nearly enough room for The Peanut.

So here are our criteria:
  • Big enough for The Peanut (you'd be surprised how many cars we've eliminated based on this!)
  • Tows at least 3000 pounds of motorcycle/trailer goodness
  • Gets decent gas mileage
  • Isn't butt-ugly (goodbye Ford Edge!)
  • 6 disc CD changer (that's mine)
  • No cheap cloth interior, and generally not cheapy looking inside (that's mine too)
We've got our short list now: Toyota Highlander, Toyota Rav4, Dodge Nitro. I think we're going to end up with the Rav4 - that's my prediction. It's the smallest of the three, and meets our needs. But we haven't driven any of them yet.

I hate car shopping - more precisely, I hate interacting with car salesmen. I realize they are doing their job, but it's really hard to be nice when I want to tell them to BACK OFF. Ick.

And of course the price negotiation part is sucky. We're in a good position since we don't *need* a car, so it's not like we're willing to pay whatever they ask, which should make the negotiations somewhat less unpleasant. So sometime in the next few weeks we should be able to get through the rest of The Process and buy a new car. Woo hoo!

Oh and Merry Christmas to everyone out there! TJ gave me my present early because I am short on patience. They are nice and shiny, like the ones in the picture:

These are my very first diamond stud earrings and they match my engagement ring perfectly. So I'd say that my fabulous husband has done well! I'm not sure my presents will be nearly as exciting to him, sadly. But we're opening the presents tonight since my parents are here and leaving tomorrow morning. So we shall see.

Hope Santa is good to everyone out there!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The clanging chimes of doom

Wow, so I thought the version of "Do They Know It's Christmastime" on the Barenaked Ladies' holiday album was a parody of the original because the lyrics mention in multiple verses how Africa is a horrible place to live. I thought it was making fun of the song and pointing out how people just trying to get through life probably don't give a rat's ass about whether it's Christmas or not, especially our horrible Western commercialized idea of what Christmas means.

But I think the lyrics are not a parody, and the original is actually just that stupid. Wow. I realize the song is over 20 years old, but seriously? That was the best they could come up with to get people to realize the plight of drought and starvation in Africa? Whoever wrote that song has "privileged white person" stamped all over him/her/it.

So that's my daily, not very holiday spirit-y, rant. I'll try to pick a more cheery topic next time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Think I'll buy me a football team

Long time no post, because I was running around like a crazed woman trying to finish custom jewelry orders for Christmas, and also get ready for the craft show I did at REI headquarters yesterday. Super-busy week!

We also got some sad news from TJ's family last week, so it didn't seem right to post a light-hearted post right at that time. Please send happy thoughts their way.

Anyway, back to less weighty topics. (Pretty much everything here is a less weighty topic, isn't it?) I got 5 of my 6 custom orders done last week, and have 3 currently on my plate, though one of those isn't for Christmas and I still need to order supplies for it.

On deck today is just 2 pairs of earrings. One is a custom order from a friend, as a Christmas present for someone else, and the other is from a woman at yesterday's craft show. The awesome part is that she already paid for them!

I made a pair of earrings and a matching bracelet on Thursday to beef up my inventory for the show and they are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, I was so rushed I didn't take a picture, so I'll just have to recreate them sometime from my imagination. They had bright orange carnelian, tiny brown freshwater pearls, and just some sparkly silver accents - very small and delicate.

The earrings got snapped up pretty early in the craft fair, and the lady who bought the bracelet also wanted the earrings, so I told her I'd make her another pair. Hope I remember what they looked like!

Anyway, the show was pretty good for me. I sold many of my magnets, though not the water molecule GeekMagnets. I was smart to bring BeagleMagnets and NatureMagnets, both of which were a big hit with the employees. It also helped that I offered them individually at $2 so I had a few people buy just one magnet. I also sold 2 bracelets and 2 or 3 pairs of earrings so it was a pretty successful day for me. A nice way to end the season. I'd do this one again if Wendi asks me (you have to be sponsored by an employee).

But in general, I'm down on craft shows. It's a lot of sitting around, hoping someone will buy stuff. There's always a ton of jewelry vendors. And it usually eats up a whole weekend day, not to mention all the prep time beforehand. So I might stick to the Internet and custom orders for friends. Or be more choosy about the shows I do participate in. This year, as a learning experience, I did anything that was less than $20 for the booth. Two shows were pretty good and two were *really* bad. You never can tell up front, but I did learn that I don't really like sitting around all day and it just imposes way too much deadline stress on me. So maybe one or two a year will be enough.

After the show yesterday, Wendi and I went to Nordstrom Rack. I love the Rack, and Wendi is a marathon shopper like me. I can tell we're going to be good friends :) If only she didn't live so far away! I bought three black dresses. Really, they are all different!

Actually, I will probably return one of them today. I bought it to wear for our New Year's Eve dinner at Canlis, but it needed some slight alterations and my usual seamstress is out of town until then. I also didn't *love* it. I could wear it as-is, though it's a little big. So I'm going to see if there are other options for me today, at Macy's and the Factoria Nordstrom Rack. If I don't find something else, I'll wear the one I bought. It's black, and sparkly, and nice, but just not *the* dress.

Though currently I'm pretty unhappy with how clothes are fitting these days :( I need a good kick in the (extra large) pants to start eating right again. And make sure I'm getting my 10000 steps in each day (at the very least). Shopping with Wendi, who's a size 6 and several inches taller than me, underscored this fact. She's that person who can wear the cute little Audrey Hepburn straight-cut black dresses. I remember the (brief) time when most things I tried on would fit, and I'd just have to decide which ones I liked best. Instead of now, where if it fits at all, it automatically gets tossed in the "maybe" pile, just for that reason. Sad.

And quite honestly, what it comes down to is how bad I really want to lose weight because it ain't gonna come easy this time. I'm still kidding myself that walking more and just eating less crap is really going to effect a drastic change. But I'm also not mentally ready to make a wholesale change. I love going out to eat in Belltown at lunch. I'm still in a very anti-green-leafy-vegetable phase. I hate salad. But I'm not getting any younger. Yuck.

Grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And find me there

More GeekMagnets posted today. The new square ones, which are a little harder to do because they need to be very, very, neat under the clear acrylic square. But I love these guys, especially because they're biochemically geeky.

And I shouldn't have had that diet Coke with dinner. Now it's 11:30pm and I'm wide awake. You'd think I would learn. But today was especially stressful at work, and I got a haircut and had to ride the bus home at 7:30pm. None of which made me especially happy, really.

My haircut is fine. I love my salon, which is across the street from where I work and sufficiently hip for my taste. But I've gone to the same stylist twice now and haven't been thrilled with the results, so I think I'll switch next time.

Don't get me wrong, she does a fine job with the cutting, but when she blowdries it straight, it doesn't look much better than when I do it. It's got that fuzzy, dry look, which I hate. I think it's because she doesn't totally *get* the texture of my hair, which is kind of coarse and wavy and needs some extra round-brushing to lay perfectly flat. But I got it trimmed and didn't lose much length, so really, that's all I needed. A utilitarian haircut experience, rather than a "hey, don't you love my hair", basking-in-new-haircut-glory experience.

We watched Project Runway tonight. They're obviously keeping some of the annoying people around for television value. It was ok, nothing stunning. I've got to catch up on last week's episode, which I missed, probably because I was doing something crafty.

So the list of custom orders grows. I just got another one, so I've got 4 to finish relatively soon, given it's already Dec 5. Plus I have to really beef up my inventory for the REI headquarters company craft fair next Friday. Since I'm not sharing a table with anyone, I've got a whole 6 foot table I need to fill. I'm *really* hoping to have around 50 items to sell, but that's going to be a long shot. I currently only have about 30.

And work is kicking my butt so there's no sneaking out early to come home and make stuff. Wish me luck, peeps and don't feel bad if I don't call you or send you a Christmas card for a few weeks!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Be careful what you wish for

Wow, so I am totally thrilled! My new set of GeekMagnets sold this morning, to a customer in the UK. At least my little creations will get out and see places I'd like to visit! I've just finished packing them up to be mailed. My random guess at postage costs was a little less than the actual cost, so now I know better to increase it for next time. That's why these are an experiment, right?

Well, off to make more magnets! Each set takes a few days, by the time the glue dries on the different components and I can actually clean them up and photograph them. I'm honestly surprised at their popularity. Of course, *I* love them, but that doesn't mean other people will.

And the jewelry custom orders keep coming in - yay! I've got 3 to work on now. Woot!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm sleeping my day away

As usual, my afternoon nap has made me completely not ready to go to bed early.

Shipwreck Beads was amazing. I can't even describe effectively how huge it is. It's like a whole Target store, but full of beads. Crazy. It's even marked as a tourist attraction on the freeway, and I understand why. Of course, I couldn't resist and spent way too much on more beads than I'll ever need, but I rationalized it by saying I'd probably only make the trip down there once a year at most. Here's a picture:

Wendi and I had a good time, and we went to dinner at a lovely sushi place in Bonney Lake, Sushi Town, which coincidentally is right next to a store called Smoke Town. I find that really funny. Then again, I'm a dork.

The drive home was not so much fun. The weird thing is that at Wendi's house, there was some rain, then as I drove north, more rain, and when I hit King County, a LOT of rain, then as I got close to Bellevue, freezing rain, snow flurries, and when I got to Redmond, actual snow on the ground. Crazy. I actually was more worried about the last mile home than the other 43 miles to get there. I ended up having to leave Otto at the bottom of our hill, because, as I expected, he was completely useless in the snow. This morning we retrieved him and put him back in the warm garage.

Today was a Productive Day, with a capital P. I finished the laundry, finished the second of my four Christmas custom jewelry orders, made another pair of earrings for my etsy shop, posted my new meterology GeekMagnets to my shop, went to the grocery store and made some yummy corn-potato chowder that I found on this blog. Like most soup recipes, it makes way more than you'd expect, so measure carefully if you decide to try it.

I took the day off from the morning walk due to the bad weather, but Allison and I will resume tomorrow at 7:15am. We've been doing great with it, and it's been awesome for the dogs. They seem to have more energy and Peanut especially seems in better shape than he was.

Well, time to get ready for tomorrow and try to get some sleep. Happy December everyone!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Here to stay is a new bird

Why is there snow on the ground?? I appreciate that it waited until December to snow here but seriously? I have things to do today, places to go. And you know that Otto hates snow. Just a refresher - Otto is my car, the Audi A3 that becomes useless in the snow due to its "performance" tires. Part of the appeal of living in Seattle is that it doesn't get too cold during the winter.

But just last weekend, TJ and I had to order multiple pairs of woolies from REI. Which, incidentally, are available for store pickup today. And now I digress to discuss how much I *LOVE* the store pickup option. I don't have to pay for shipping, and I just drive over to the local store and my package is waiting. Totally awesome.

And speaking of shipping, my beads showed up in the mail. I have a whole box of semi-precious beads that are just waiting to be made into something awesome. Citrine, garnet, aventurine, onyx, yum!

I finished the custom order for Trista and got it mailed to her. I also sold my very first set of GeekMagnets on etsy. Yay! This series was "Molecules and Cells". The person who bought them is planning to give them as a gift to a friend studying chemistry. Awesome! I will make more this weekend.

So, just a little recap on "the business". I have sold 13 things in my etsy shop so far, which is great. I've sold about the same number just to friends and family in that time as well, so I'm way ahead of my "1 sale per week through the end of the year" goal I set back in September!

Today, if the weather permits (melt, snow!!) I am driving down South to an unknown part of Washington called Bonney Lake to pick up my friend Wendi and we're going to what is apparently the biggest bead store in the WORLD, Shipwreck Beads. Someone recently called it the "Costco of Beads". Should be awesome, even just to see it. They're so huge they even have billboards on the freeway. I can't wait!

And speaking of my friend Wendi, I've only actually met her in person once! No, this isn't some weird Internet situation where I'm making friends with strangers. I actually work with Wendi at my (sort of new) job. She's my contact at one of our major clients, and we talk several times a week about her project, and then got to talking about other stuff, like her pet ducks and why guys don't usually include a salutation or any pleasantries in their email. So it should be fun to actually hang out with her.

Projects on deck for this weekend: custom necklace which is a Christmas present for a friend, custom order for necklace and bracelet for a little girl, re-do a bracelet I don't love into a necklace I like much better, and make some magnets! Sounds busy for 2 days, huh?

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