Monthly Archives: November 2007

Zoom… Zoom….

That is the sound of my life racing by me on the road.  I am so absolutely busy I can barely see which way is up.

Before updating you… I just want to take a moment to comment on my step-father’s comment.  Hey… Im a woman… I read the manual.  And it clearly stated that I could substitute breadmachine yeast for active yeast.  It lied!

So what are we doing?  I am sure I have mentioned this before but Eduardo’s ex and his children have gotten immigration visas and are moving to the area.   They are arriving December 6th.  In the last week or so, we have been investigating apartments and finally found a private apartment that would take them.  Apartment buildings were out because they had all kinds of rules about minimum earnings (what earnings??? she just arrived!) or maximum people and the price of a two bedroom was simply out of reach for her.  The apartment is small but newly renovated so it looks nice.   We wish it was closer but our county is simply too expensive so she is in the next county about 30 minutes away.

Once we found the apartment,  we started scrounging Craigslist for free stuff.  Craigslist is cut-throat and extremely stressful.  If you don’t a) answer the email within 10 minutes or b) drop everything to arrive within 30 you have no hope of getting said item.  The people just give it to the first person that arrives and often tells multiple people to come and get it.  From Craigslist, we have found a recliner, toaster oven, blender, entertainment center/desk, 13" TV with built-in DVD player, rug, nice TV tables and dining room table with chairs.  We also pulled 2 kitchen chairs and a kids craft table out of our local garbage. We have donated our bed (we got a new queen and this is a double), linens for said bed, pot holders, chicken rotissierre, our old dishes, our old cutlery, our old vacuum cleaner, an air mattress, 2 teddy bears, some big floor pillows, 3 bed pillows, curtains and some face cloths.  For their welcoming presents we purchased a kitchen starter set, some clothes and I made a quilt for each of the children.  We also need to get them a shower rod, shower curtain and curtain rods.  I will also be buying them some starter groceries so they have some food in the house and she doesn’t have to worry about food as soon as she arrives. My mom also made them little dolls which they will be getting when they arrive.  I realize that they are missing a lot of stuff but hopefully this will get them started.

We have also run into some frustrations along the way.  The kids are obviously not covered under any medical insurance.  She arrives the day AFTER the clinics for free school medical exams for uninsured children end for the semester.  If we want to put Piero in school, we have to pay close to 100$ for this exam.  ARGH!!!  The good news is that they live within walking distance of his school.

If dealing with all of this wasn’t enough,  our dryer dropped dead.  I sure hope it is the dryer and not the electrical socket.  Friends lent us a pick-up truck to allow us to move stuff to the apartment.  The double bed doesn’t quite fit into the Patriot.  Before we start moving stuff into Kelly’s apartment, we have to pick up the dryer that we bought off Craigslist….. somehow shoehorn that into our apartment with all the stuff for Kelly in it and THEN start moving Kelly’s stuff out.  I am tired just thinking about this.

Then we have to squeeze in installing some lights in our apartment.  Eduardo’s company was giving away stock that they don’t use so we have three new lights for the house.  One for the hallway, one for the laundry room and another for the kitchen.  We also have to wait for the bed delivery and do groceries.  On Sunday,  I am having a little lunch for a couple of friends to celebrate my birthday.  That sounded like a good idea at the time but now I sound TOO BUSY!!!

I have also started a second job.  Both of us are looking for second jobs but so far only I have found one.  I will be working at a fabric store Monday, Thursday and Friday nights and all day Sunday.  We need the money to help offset the mounting bills.  Hopefully, within 6 months we will have a couple of bills paid off and the financial pressure will be off of us.   Of course,  it will  help that the double whammy of trying to deal with the kids’ move AND Christmas all in the same month will be over.

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Bread Machine update

I am happy to report that the bread machine is working perfectly.  I was simply using the wrong type of yeast for the regular cycles.

Thanksgiving

I had 5 days off for Thanksgiving and Eduardo had 4.  I didn’t think 5 days could have gone by so quickly.  I spent the first day running errands and going to my volunteer work.  I then spent a couple of hours with Eduardo trying to sort out why he doesn’t have a functioning prescription… AGAIN!!!  Now the guy at this company was laughing at us when we explained that we had spent several hundred dollars already in an effort to get him new glasses because we couldn’t get a total return on our lenses.  Now, he is telling us that we can’t return ANYTHING.  What happened to the whole… That won’t happen here??!!?!!  We have spent another 350$ and received absolutely nothing but 2 sets of glasses and lenses.  We even told the company NOT to go ahead with the sports glasses until we make sure that we have the right prescription… and what do they do?  They also make the prescription lenses for the sports glasses.  ARGH!!!  This is an entire nightmare.  We are now trying to find an optometrist who speaks Spanish at our own expense so we can get the right prescription and then put that prescription in the glasses.  So Wedensday was a total write-off by the end of the evening because we were so frustrated.  Wednesday night,  I ripped of the majority of the bad caulking in the tub and re-caulked it.  This was extremely difficult because the caulking had turned hard as a rock and wouldn’t peel off.
 
On Thursday, we had Thanksgiving.  We had a tourtierre(meat pie), yams and apples in a brown sugar sauce and butternut squash.  We also went to the gym.  I don’t think we did much else besides that.
 
Friday, we got up at 4:30am in the morning.  I kid you not.  We got up to head to the opening hours of JC Penny and Macys.  I got in an out of Macy’s within 15 minutes because I got there when they opened.   It took me considerably longer at JCPenny’s.  The first time, I did pretty ok.  I was out of there in 30 minutes but I couldn’t find a couple of things.  So… we went back to JC Penny’s and stood in line for like 30 minutes to get the last items.  We ended up behind two women that had garbage bags full of stuff that they had bought.  ARGH!!!  We also headed to Sears to buy a booster seat for Kylie.  That took up two hours and by that time I was pooped (and so was he so we went home).  We tallied up the money we spend on the kids and have decided to buy bikes for them with the rest of the money in the budget.  Unfortunately,  Kmart was totally sold out of the bikes they had on sale despite making the trek to the 3 local Kmarts.  WAHHH!!!
 
Saturday, we spent the day looking for an apartment for Kelly.  We finally found a newly renovated basement apartment for a good deal that wasn’t a dark, dank hole.  We snapped it up.  The landlord actually offered us lunch while we were dealing with the deposit and everything.  We accepted and he provided us with a yummy Middle Eastern meal.  As a result, we blew most of the day on this task.
 
Sunday,  we did housework and starting chiseling the caulk off between the wall/tub and floor.  This was even harder than the tub.  We have one small wall done and another small wall partly done.   We hope to work on it little by little during the week so it will be done by/on next weekend.  Eduardo has headed off to the mall and I have been making banana bread(in the oven) and regular white bread(in the breadmaker).  I also put up some weatherstripping on the door sides.  This should help with the door banging when the windows/sliding door is open.  It might even prevent heat loss.  I think I need to do something for the space under the door but I am not sure what.  What can you do with a steel door and door frame?

Gift giving…

I am feeling decidedly Grinchy right now.  We have done some online ordering in order to find some nice gifts that we just don’t know how to find in this area.  So far we have apparently bought the wrong item and received multiple items in a banged-up state that we now get to give as gifts in their definitely no longer gift giving condition boxes.  We purchased an item based on the description not aware that the description and picture did not match the title.  This can be blamed on our ignorance of toys for children.  So what was supposed to be a ‘good deal’ turned out to be a little expensive once we received the item and realize we had apparently bought something different.  An email to the seller yielded absolutely no response.  Normally, I have absolutely no issues with stuff I buy from Amazon.  This time around, the box that arrived looked like it had been personally kicked from their warehouse to my house.  The shipping box was barely together and several gifts inside had damage to their boxes – including significant damage to one of the boxes but no actual damage to the toy.  I just received my step-father’s gifts in a padded envelope.  What kind of company ships an item in a clear plastic box in a padded envelope.  Of course the end of the box is squashed flat.  Its supposed to be shipped in another box.  Thankfully the gift isn’t actually damaged but the box is not exactly in gift giving condition at this point.  *sigh*

Whatever happened to customer service and common sense?

8 facts about…

I have been tagged
by Nadine to discuss 8 facts about myself.  I have to tag 8 other people to do. 
Like I even know 8 people in BlogLand that I could tag.  That is a whole
‘another story.
 
My 8 things that I
am going to talk about are the 8 cats that I have owned over my lifetime.  This
does not include cats that I ended up with because they were inherited but the 8
cats that personally picked out myself.  It is actually 9 but two never made it
past kittenhood and died within a few weeks of each
other.
 
1. Billie – This was
my first cat and I have to admit that I love her the most.  Only one other cat
has come close in my affection up to this point.   She was a beautiful Calico
with clear black and orange markings on a white coat.  She was at least 50%
white.  I had her for about 10 years before we needed to put her down for medical
reasons.  She was a faithful companion that totally trusted me in all things.  
She loved people food and you really couldn’t leave food unattended if you
wanted it to still be there when you got back.  Once,  she licked ice cream out
of my bowl while I was reading the paper.  I was distracted and she took
advantage of it.  She was a very laid-back cat.  While I had her, we had many animals move through our house: cats from room mates, dogs,  stray cats that we
gave a home to, companion cats.  It didn’t matter.  She never had a hiss for any
of them and calmly accepted any and all pets and also all the new places I moved
to.
 
2. Kyrin – Kyrin was
a long-haired tortoiseshell.  I probably had her for about 2 years before I gave
her away.  My first husband and I picked her out.  In reality, she was my
husband’s cat and we never really got along.   She would sit on the landing and
grab at my shoulder with her claws while I walked down the staircase.  She was
totally territorial and never let any cat join the household.  The only one she
liked was Billie who was already in the house.  When I moved to the US, I had
Billie, Kyrin, my parent’s old cat and a dog.  I really couldn’t move all of
them into a one bedroom apartment so I gave away the youngest that was the most
likely to get adopted.  She was adopted within a couple of
weeks.
 
3. Tessa –  Tessa
was so named because it meant ‘fourth child’ and she was the fourth pet in our
house.  She was another tortoiseshell with white feet and a white belly.  We
already had Billie, the dog and my parent’s cat.  Mostly we called her Psycho
Kitty.  We don’t really know what happened but she was absolutely terrified of
my second husband.   If he surprised her when she was out of hiding, she would
defecate on the spot and run off.  We even tried Prozac in an effort to get her
to a little more normal.  Unfortunately, it turned her into a mean cat so we
took her off of it.  We would have given her away but she was so psycho we
didn’t think she was adoptable.  She finally settled down when we got the
kittens.  She loved those kittens and was very maternal with them.  She started
to act normal which was a relief.  Unfortunately, one of the kittens was sick
with FIP and infected her.  I always felt bad that she died when she was so
young (about 2 years old).
 
4.  Lila and Tori. 
We got these kittens because we lost Billie and my parent’s cat at about the
same time.  This left us with just Psycho Kitty who wasn’t exactly
affectionate.  We bought them from two separate pet stores just a few days
apart.  Lila was a beautiful long haired black tabby kitten.  She was very sweet
and laid back.  She also had multiple claws and even two paws on a single
foot.   She was my baby and I adored her.  I think if she had of lived, she
might have even rivaled Billie in my affections.   She got sick very quickly and
eventually died when she was 12 weeks ago.  The vet couldn’t figure out what was
wrong with her even after doing an autopsy.  We were devastated.  Tori was a
white kitten with these weird grey tabby spots.  She was as opposite to Lila as
you could be.  She was wild and rambunctious and on the tear all the time.  We
called her Tori – short for tornado.  Shortly after Lila died,  she began to get
fat and chubby and quiet.  I started to get the feeling that something was
wrong.  We finally discovered that she had FIP and at 16 weeks old, she had to
put her down.  If the first death was devastating,  the second even more so.  I
had nightmares about everything for weeks afterwards.  It was so incredibly sad
to watch little tiny kittens die before they even had a chance to live.  I still
cry if I think about it too much.
 
5. Hope – We named
her Hope because we hoped that she would survive.  She came with her brother
Cody, 6 weeks after the kittens died.  She was pitch black.  She was a tiny
little kitten that never grew bigger than 8lbs.  She was smart and silly and
like cling wrap with me.  I couldn’t sit down for more than 2 seconds and she
would be on my lap.  When she was a kitten, she would snuggle up against my neck
while I was sleeping and chew on my hair.  How could you sleep with that noise
next to your ear it beyond me.  For a month or two, I had to sleep with my hair
wrapped in a towel.  You couldn’t kick the cats out of the bedroom because they
would just cry for hours until you gave in.  Although she quit chewing on my
hair while I slept, she never quit the practise while I was awake.  When I
picked her up or I was standing next to the rocker,  she would snuggle up against
my neck and start chewing on my hair.   It used to annoy me to no end but after
she died… I missed it all terribly.  Just as my husband’s mother was being
diagnosed with cancer, I was starting to suspect something was wrong with Hope. 
After many visits, the vet finally confirmed my suspicions.  She had leukemia. 
She died two days after my husband’s mother died of cancer.  While she was
sick,  we spoiled her rotten because we knew that we had a limited time with
her.  Her cancer was in temporary remission but she was not cured.  She could
eat anything she wanted or do anything she wanted.  She lasted about 4 months on
her chemo drugs.  I cried my heart out when I had to finally put her down.  She
was just a few weeks shy of her 3rd birthday. 
 
6.  Cody – we named
him this because even as a kitten he acted like a laid back cat and had
absolutely no ambition.  Cody means cushion.  Although he had no ambition Cody
was actually a very stressed out kitty and we had to treat him several times for
nerves.  He was Hope’s brother and was just as black as her.  He grew to almost
twice her size and was Daddy’s boy.  Cody and I actually never really got
along.  He would often claw me as I walked by and nothing I ever did stopped
him.  It really got the point that I didn’t like him that much because he was
extremely hard headed.  He was also a very dirty cat when it came to the litter
box.  One of the happier days in my life was when my ex-husband agreed to take
him.
 
7.  Timmie – I still
have Timmie.  She is about 8 years old right now.  We got her about 1 month
after we received Hope and Cody.  She was supposed to be my replacement for
Billie.  Unfortunately, we have not gelled in that manner.  I care about her but
I do not love her like I loved Billie and Hope.  She is another Calico but much
darker.  She has many more black and orange spots and less white.  Until we
finally selected her name, she was called Ugly I (Ugly II was her much uglier
calico sister).  She really is not an attractive Calico.  Even I will admit to
that.  Timmie is FAT!  probably obese for a cat.  Nothing I have done seems to
make a difference.  She is the only fat cat I have ever had so I think it is
simply her make-up and not because of how we feed our cats.  Timmie is a
chewer.  She loves plastic and paper bags and will chew anything!  She
absolutely loves to be brushed and no amount of brushing would be considered too
much.   She is turning into a pretty laid back little cat and every little
disturbs her except for Harmony. Her latest kick is to sleep in the cardboard
box that the bread maker came in.
 
8.  Harmony
– Eduardo and I called her Harmony because of the way she howled in the car when
we brought her home.  Actually, Eduardo usually calls her Monster.  She is a
dilute calico  with a few peach and soft gray spots but mostly white.  She is
just a little over 2 and a very tiny cat.  She is a lot like Hope in that
manner.   She gets into absolutely EVERYTHING.  You can not leave anything sitting
around without securing it.  Pens, pencils, erasures, pieces of paper, candy….
doesn’t matter.  She thinks its a toy for her own personal pleasure and makes
off with it.   She is a scaredy-cat and is scared of Eduardo (most of the
time).  All he has to do is say "Sssss" and she is gone.   I wish he would make
more effort with her but doesn’t seem to gel with her.  She is even scared of me
sometimes.  I think something happened to her when she was a kitten because she
was a terrified kitten when I first got her.  She is squirming her way into my
heart because of her funny little personality.  She is not an affectionate cat
but she does hang out near me especially when I am in the kitchen cooking.  She
usually sits right at my feet when I am in the kitchen.  She loves to play but
is really quite gentle.  If she started to attack your hand and you quit moving
it… she will immediately stop whatever she is doing.  She loves getting petted
but doesn’t understand Timmie’s love of the brush.   She also loves to attack
Timmie and generally annoy her.   She absolutely loves the balcony and will go
out with you whenever you go out to test the weather or what not.  This leads to
her getting locked out ALL the time.
 
And those are my 8
cats.

Breadmakers revisited

It must be something to do with the ingredients… like the yeast….

I never did get a plain white loaf of bread to work on the regular cycle.  I decided instead to take my bread machine yeast and try it on the super duper rapid cycle.  This was going to give me a loaf of bread in 1 hour and 20 minutes.  And it did! Twice!!!!  I got two very nice loaves of bread out of this cycle.  The booklet with the bread maker says that for the super duper rapid cycle you must use quick rising or bread machine yeast.   This is exactly what I bought for my bread machine.  Logical right?  The booklet also says that you can use active dry OR bread machine yeast for the normal cycles although they tested with the active dry yeast.  Obviously the bread maker works so maybe the problem is that you can’t use bread machine yeast for the normal cycle?

Are Breadmakers picky?

I have to admit that it has been years since I had a bread maker.  I received a used one from my ex-mother-in-law maybe 8 or 9 years ago.  We used it for several years until it died but never replaced it.  We loved it and it was easy to use.  The bread always turned out perfect.  I never had to worry about measuring the temperature of the water or ensuring that the yeast was room temperature.  I put in warm water measuring its warmth with my hand and put the ingredients in the pan in the order that the recipe indicated. 

Not so lucky last night.  The bread turned out great if you could ignore the fact that it didn’t rise quite as much as it should have.   It basically turned out like bread I would make.  It tasted great though.  I just have to get it to rise.  So… tonight I am heading to the store to buy myself a thermometer so I can accurately measure that water temperature.  That is the only thing that wasn’t according to the recipe.  The yeast was brand new and at room temperature.

We also received our cutlery.  The cutlery is quite nice and was a real bargain because it was open box.  Despite the fact that the description said no damage one of the forks had some long scratches the length of the entire fork.  But… for that price (~1/4 of the original)… I guess one damaged piece is a small price to pay.