Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Good Girl

There are some people who think if you raw feed a dog, they'll want to start killing things "because they have tasted blood."  There are some people who believe if you feed a dog "human food" they will start stealing your food, raiding the garbage, etc.  All of that is crap.  Good behaviors and bad behaviors may be inherent to some dogs, but training is what makes for good behavior.  Bad behaviors that provide no reward, often disappear because there is no pay off.  It's the same with humans.  Basically, it's the theory of Operant Conditioning.

I own a dog that probably doesn't have three brain cells to rub together.  Maybe it's her simplicity that keeps her from some bad behaviors, but I suspect most of it is time, attention and training.  Here she is hanging out around three raw hamburgers ready to go on the grill.  They are the ones stuffed with cheese that we enjoyed this weekend.  She didn't even sniff them.  I walked away from the plate once and she followed me.
Here she is sitting next to an unwrapped s'more made with chocolate chip cookies.  She didn't even sniff it.  Teddy knows that our food is off limits to her.  In fact, any food that is on a plate, in a  bowl other than hers, on a counter or anywhere other than in her bowl is something she is not entitled to.  She is allowed to eat anything that drops on the floor -- unless we verbally forbid it before she gets it.  If we tell her "no," "stop," or "leave it," she lets it go.   We also let her lick the coffee table clean once we are done eating on it.  The dining room table or any raised surface is off limits.  These are things she just understands because we have never indulged her otherwise.  Dogs are good like that.  They learn what you let then learn.  Never give them a chance to learn something "bad" and keep them distracted so the act doesn't get their attention -- and it will be off the radar.
One thing she is always looking for, is love.  That's free, safe and never off limits!  The dog is certainly my guilty pleasure.  She takes up a lot of time and energy and she was an investment.  But this was one investment that was worth it.   She's a small money pit with a stomach, four legs a tail and a furry belly.  If we couldn't afford to own a dog, we wouldn't have one.  But since we can, we want to get our money's worth out of her and make her the best possible dog we can.   I do hope we get to have another nine years with her.  If we take good care of her now, it is my hope that her senior years won't be difficult.  However, we only have the time, energy and budget for one dog.  That's why we want to get the most out of the one we've got!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Investing in Sleep

TBG got me an air conditioner for the room I sleep in.  I've just not been able to sleep well and with no return vents upstairs, the Central AC is not cutting it.

Since the  coolest spot in our house is the basement, I slept there for two nights just to be sure that menopause and night sweats were not my problem.  Other than the air mattress being uncomfortable, the exercise proved that my body was not causing the temperature issues.

We had thought about putting in a separate "Split" unit upstairs -- which would be pricey.  It would involve the added expense of wiring and professional installation.  Instead, a unit like this was $147 because he gets them at a discount.  They normally sell for about $200.

Now I am off to get a good night's sleep.  Bon soir!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Keep it Going

 I picked 30 pears off our tree yesterday.  They aren't very big, but they came off easily when I twisted them.  They still need to ripen.  I suspect they will taste good.  Now I just have to give half of them away.  I plan to check the fruit every couple of days.  Our fruit is grown without pesticides with a natural source of soil acidity -- dog pee.  It's close to the back door so in the depths of winter, on a rainy day, or when she is in a hurry... that's where she stops to pee.  It works for me!
After I dealt with the fruit, I cut up the chicken.  At 99 cents per pound, it really is a good deal.  I can get two or three meals for the dog out of it and plenty of stuff for us.  I don't do a professional job but as long as I get the back and neck off, cut off any extra flaps and toss in the gizzard sack (which has the rest of the neck in it), I am in business.  I am thankful for my kitchen shears -- the work horse of my kitchen!
We grilled the quarters along with potatoes -- making extra up for TBG to have with hard boiled eggs for breakfast.  That salad I spent a long time chopping up was a nice side.  It was so nice to eat outside.

We had cheese ravioli for dinner tonight using sauce with chicken sausage from last week, chicken bits from this bird, mushrooms and more stock.  We have enough for us each to have for lunch tomorrow (plus salad).  The rest of the bird will go into chicken tacos (tomorrow), and something curry-based over jasmine rice on Wednesday.  That means I only have to come up with something for Thursday and we are done for the week!

My weeks is mostly about stretching meals, getting lunches made in advance, swimming with the dog, keeping up the house and yard (the house part suffers a bit in the summer) and trying to fit in time for friends at home and camp.  It can be a challenge to keep it going, but we are keeping up!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chop Chop!!!

I spend a lot of  time chopping.  Today, I had two fruit/veggie goals:

1.  Make enough salad to have for dinner
       a. A lot more for lunches
2.  Make veggie slop for pup

The two oblong containers will be for both TBG and myself to bring to work.  He gets the bigger portion.  Dressing is on the side:  Balsamic Vinaigrette with fresh basil from our garden, red onion, and feta cheese.  I squeezed half a fresh lemon on the fruit/veggie mix to help it stay fresh.  The mix is made up of watermelon, radish, cucumber, cabbage, kale, shredded carrot, celery, grapes, and red peppers.  The dressing is on the side so the salad won't get soggy.  If we don't finish the salad ourselves in a few days, it can be made into a fruit/veggie smoothie.  There was enough liquid and a spare quantity that wouldn't fit into the containers, so we've already had one smoothie.

TBG had odds and ends from it all.  We had a lot of cabbage to share and she got all of the watermelon rinds.  In addition, there were strawberry hulls and asparagus ends from this past week.  This made four large sauce jars of slop so she is well set for the next few weeks.  For those who worry about dogs eating "human" food, she did not get any grapes!

I can tell you that all the chopping for us, then more chopping and grinding for her, was a real hassle.  And it makes for quite a mess.  Doing it all today means I save time during the week.  I have enough extra pancakes from today's breakfast to be set for each morning this week.  Now I have salad for every lunch too.  I'll still have to make a sandwich or something to go with it each day, but whatever I mix up tomorrow morning will last for a few days or more.

We could save a lot of time by buying our lunches at work and feeding Teddy "pet food."  However, I think fresh food is healthier and it's also more economical.  It sure does take a lot of work. But then again, it delivers a lot of yum! 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Super Summer Day

We made cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner.  The meal started off with a large salad.  This is one of our favorite ways to finish a weekend day at home.

This morning I did the buffalo garden walk -- my buddy Jim has been a driving force behind it and it is the most successful event of it's kind.  Our city draws people from all over the world.  The website is here.

The day started with a brief heavy shower -- that happened when TBG was giving Teddy a quick morning walk before work.  They got drenched, but he also didn't have to water the garden.  The friend I went on the walk with is a photographer and she got awesome pictures of leaves and flowers with drops on them.  The tour is too big to do it all in one day so we just did a small portion.  I couldn't find sunscreen so it was fortunate that there was some cloud cover in the morning.

After about three hours, we went out for lunch -- picking a place a little out of the way so we could avoid any crowds.  There are tons of great places to eat in Buffalo, so there is never a need to eat at a chain.  We picked Fat Bob's BBQ.  I had a cornmeal encrusted fried catfish sandwich with hush puppies on the side.  I didn't eat the bun -- the fish was super crunchy and tasty without it and the hush puppies were so good I could have kept eating more all afternoon.   Good meals in this city can be found for a good price too -- $23 for the two of us.  It was my treat because her husband makes us ribs and they are our emergency dog sitters.

After lunch we toured a few more gardens and then called it quits.  I needed a nap after being up late at Jim's the night before.  I'm sure he is feeling the effects of being up late and having his garden on display all day -- not to mention the other responsibilities of being the garden big-wig in this city.  The nap was revitalizing and around 4PM, we headed to the river for a swim.

Living on a clean river is just so swell.  We had been in for about a half hour in one of our favorite and more secluded spots, when another couple showed up with a black lab mix.  He was not fond of swimming and they were trying to get him to do it.  As usual, he was inspired by Teddy and started to go in above his head and by the time we left, he was swimming.  We were in for almost an hour!

The dinner was a good way to refuel after all that swimming.  It's not that I'm ever in danger of starving -- not when I have fried catfish and hush puppies for lunch and cheese stuffed burgers for dinner.  Did I mention s'mores for dessert?  No, we don't suffer here in the summer at all!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being Responsible

I got responsible at lunch and walked down to the bank branch in our building and opened my free accounts.  As a bank employee, I get free checking and a free Money Market account as long as I direct deposit my at least part of my paycheck.

It's been frustrating when I try to do business because my employee number and SSN never gets recognized. I found out today it is because my profile was set up with the wrong SSN!  I don't believe that was a problem with my pay as I'd confirmed it with HR a number of times when I couldn't do phone transactions on my flexible spending card.  But now that I know it was wrong in one place, I'll be following up tomorrow.

I'm a techie but doing all of this stuff on-line for follow-up has been a pain.  We must change passwords every three months and this month, the process didn't work for me -- so I was unable to sign on to any of the systems that I needed to use.  That took a bit of time to get working.

Now I'm in the process of setting up direct deposits and transfers and they take a few days to set up.  There is a lot more security around electronic transfers these days and the downside is that it makes it very inconvenient when it comes time to move your  money around.  This is why I procrastinated in setting up the new accounts -- even though they are free.

I will get a free credit card if I want it but I don't know if I will go for it.  I also did not opt for automatic over-draft as I am using my accounts to save money -- not over spend it!  I get two free services as a perk so I opted for no ATM charges at other banks and to get my credit score on my account monthly.

The truth is, the accounts are a place for me to park money.  It's what I want to use for extra expenses -- home projects, emergencies, etc.  When I told the clerk who was initially setting it up how much I planned to transfer in her eyes kinda popped.  I had more than the minimum balance allowed for a no-fee savings, but I opted for checking to go with it because setting up electronic transfers to savings and Money Market accounts from other electronic accounts is generally not possible.

We don't have scads of cash, but we have built up an emergency fund.  We might have touched it once when I was out of work, but for the most part we haven't had to resort to using it.  That doesn't mean we don't want to have that safety net.  It's just nice that I can start putting money into it again which can be used for projects and other things most people take out a line of credit to pay for.

It's not easy to set up accounts and keep tabs on things. I think that is probably one small reason why so many folks get sucked into the world of debit cards and don't get around to saving or investing.  Lots of people are just too lazy to get it all done.  I can't say I blame them... but once it's done and you are having automatic deductions done from your paycheck, it becomes pretty effortless.

Even though I am hating the process now, I'll be over that in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Expensive Hobbies

Swimming is not a cheap sport.  I pay thirty bucks a month to belong to a fitness facility with a pool.  Now that it's nice, I have my membership on hold so it's just ten bucks per month.  They make you do that to keep your membership "active" and while I balk at paying for nothing, I'm swimming outside and if I dropped the membership and signed back up, I'd get hit with a new "membership" fee.

Swimming in the river and lakes are free and it's a lot more fun to be outside with the dog.  Wherever I swim, I do need a good quality suit.  That's especially true when swimming in a pool.  Cheap suits wear out too quickly.

My two sources for swimsuits are either on-line at Swim2000 or thrift stores.  Yes, you can by never or nearly worn suits second hand.  I like "Dolphin" brand and I consider it a good deal if I can get one for less than $25.  I did get a cheap lifeguard suit for $20 but it's a "value" suit.  Earlier this year, I found a Dolphin suit in my size and a style I favor for just $4.98.  Today, I found these suits for $6.98 each.  That's a few bucks more than what I'd like to pay, but then again, I had a four dollar coupon.  One is Land's End and the other is Speedo.  Speedo makes suits that are sold in Target, etc. and aren't as good as the stuff they sell for "real" swimmers.  I'm not sure where this one falls.  Lands End makes excellent quality suits so seven bucks is a great deal.

TBG is a cyclist and I don't want to go in to how pricey bike accessories are.  Because he is big, most retail stock won't fit him.  He doesn't have much choice but to buy on-line and he likes Long's Cycle.

I think one reason more American's aren't fit, is that it is something that really depends on having the money to buy equipment, join a facility or just be near the resources needed to exercise.  As the disparity in wealth gets worse and worse, I think we'll see a correlation in fitness levels too.  The best way I can think of to keep our activities affordable is to avoid shopping retail.  Don't discount thrift stores for bathing suits. I'm having good luck!