Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fall? Well, not in VA!

Just because it's September, does NOT mean it's Fall!  Sheesh - the last couple of weeks have been hot, but the last few days, hot, hazy, humid and hellish!  UGH.  I cannot wait for fall.  I actually bought some fall/winter clothing yesterday, despite the fact I was out in 96 degree temps with a heat index of 106.  Hey, I lost a lot of weight from last fall to this spring, so I have to stock up on fall/winter clothing when I see what I like.  :-)

However - since it IS still summer here despite the calendar, I decided to try a new desert....yeah, well, I have fallen off my diet and have started eating naughty but I'm going to slow that down to a crawl and as soon as it starts cooling off, I'm going to start walking.  Anyway, meanwhile, I'm being bad. 

I love strawberries - and I really love them when they are with other food - so I thought, hey, I have some good cookies (yeah yeah, I know) and I have some cream cheese and I pulled everything out, washed the strawberries, cut the stems off and cut them up.

Then I put about 3 spoonfuls (you know, the teaspoon size you eat with) of cream cheese into a bowl, and about 1 spoon of yogurt in with it and whipped it together with the spoon.  (double this if you're making more than one serving)

Then I took these cookies
which I bought at Costco the other day (they of course come in a box with 4 packages in them), and put them in a baggie and gently crushed them
For one serving, I take about 2-3 cookies and crush them - this is just one cookie here.
You can use anything really - shortbread cookies, graham crackers, chocolate chip cookies, ginger snaps - anything YOU like.

I put some of the cookie on the bottom of the bowl, then add the strawberries, cream cheese mix, and more cookies on top.

OH. YES!  SO good.

When I made butter the first time and I separated some out when it first became whipped cream.  When I made this little concoction yesterday, I used it then and didn't think to take a photo - mostly because my mouth was watering after making this! I was ready to dig in and hadn't even considered pulling out the camera.  Ha!  Time to make more whipped cream and butter!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is SO good.  Strawberry shortcake re-imagined!  YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!  Even better with whipped cream on top.  So as long as there are some strawberries that still taste good in the stores, I may be making this.  It's mostly healthy, right????

Thursday, August 30, 2018


We went to the vet yesterday to have Gabbi's numbers checked - both blood and urine.  We got a catch first thing in the morning and the urine was a LOT more concentrated than it has been - it usually looks quite clear, but yesterday, it was actually dark yellow!  (this is a good thing)

Her urine checked out to be EXCELLENT!  SO happy!  She went from a protein in her urine being 2.1 to now, after a month of medication and a diet change from Sojo's raw freeze dried turkey, to a home made cooked diet, to now being .12 - that's a POINT one two.  That's SO good !!!

Her blood tests also came out very good.  I'm really happy.  Can you tell???

Evan went along with us for moral support and Gabbi did a lot better, though she was still nervous at the vet.  They both did okay in the car.  They were both tired after we got home.

Evan loves to have a pillow wherever he sleeps. 

Our weather sucks.  It's been really HOT and HUMID and though the sun is shining, we have a hard time breathing when it's 96 and a heat index of 105!  YUCK.  So tired of Virginia weather.  I can't wait till Fall, when I can spend some time outside.  I'm tired of being in the house, though I have tried to keep busy.

I've been knitting, and here is another hat.  I'm not a great knitter.  I don't know how to fix mistakes I make so when I find I've skipped a stitch, I can't fix it and I have to rip it totally out.

This hat I started and ripped out at least 6 or 7 times.  That's frustrating.  This yarn is fun looking, but not very soft.  Ya can't get lost in a snowstorm if you're wearing this hat though!!!!!!!  ha ha

I also made this new Mala necklace.  I really like this one and want to make another like it, but I have to find the colored wooden beads again, and I would assemble the necklace a bit differently.  However, I am pleased with this one.  Though the beads are wooden they are small and very light.

I have found that when I'm anxious (which has been a LOT lately), I use the mala necklace to focus and meditate with, and it helps a LOT.  Sometimes I only do the 108 beads once, sometimes it takes 2 or 3 times. 

I also kept seeing a video on Facebook I think, or maybe it was Pinterest, about making butter from heavy cream and shaking it in a Mason jar.  I bought heavy cream and thought I'd give it a try - and it worked!  It took about 15 minutes of shaking the jar constantly to get whipped cream.  I thought I had put too much cream in the jar to keep going and since it was my first try, I wasn't sure, so I took some out and added sugar to use as whipped cream. 

I closed the jar back up and kept shaking and in about 5 more minutes, I noticed that there was a separation of a small ball of butter and some liquid!  I shook a bit more, and then thought I'd better stop.  I took a strainer and a bowl, and strained the liquid off, which is now buttermilk.  I need to learn to make buttermilk biscuits now!  I took the butter out and rinsed it like I saw on the video, put it in a glass bowl and covered with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I had some this morning on a roll, and it was very good.  It tasted fresh and light. I'm very pleased and I think I'll be making my own butter from now on!  Not sure I'll always make it in a Mason jar by shaking it, but I think I could use my Magic Bullet?
That's about it for now. I hope this finds you all doing well and hanging in there. 
Take care.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Life is Getting Me Down

I can't do this much longer. My stress level is SO high. If I don't die of a heart attack, I might die of a broken heart.

Evan, Papillon/butterfly of my heart, had bladder stones diagnosed and removed a few months ago. I spent hours/days/weeks on the computer trying to find a good recipe for him.  Finally decided to concoct my own and pray that it is good enough for both dogs to live on for whatever time they have left (Evan; 11 yrs old and Gabbi; 10 years old).

Two weeks ago, Gabbi gets diagnosed with kidney failure - no real signs except she had a urine test done and high protein levels were found back in May, then higher in July. 

I am very sad. I'm frustrated.  I'm stressed beyond belief.  I don't know what to do about any of it.  Kidney failure diets are different needs than bladder stone prevention.  Not totally different but somewhat.  I have no one to turn to for this.  I contacted a Veterinary Nutritionist when it was just Evan I was worried about. The phone call I got totally turned me off - it went something like this  after explaining the situation:
"Well, he will 100% get more bladder stones and there isn't anything you can do about it.  I'm busy this summer but I'll take you on as my final client for the summer, but you'll have to bear with me.  I'll be doing a lot of traveling with my family. Feed him rice and chicken for the next 3 months and meanwhile, I'll work on a diet for him.  Send me your info and his info and fill out the online application and I'll get back to you when I can."   Yeah, No, no thank you. 

I missed a family reunion - probably the last one that will ever happen, yesterday.  Because we didn't take the planned trip to Maine.  Because we were worried about Gabbi and the medicine she needs to take for the kidney failure.  By the way, she's doing FINE on the med and doesn't act like she's in kidney failure at all. She is hungry, ravenous in fact.  She's happy and energetic.  She drinks and pees and poops like she always has.  So what the hell?

Evan is sensitive and worried and stressed all the time.  He is just that way.

So of course, traveling isn't the best thing for either of them.  Gabbi hates traveling.  She likes to be in her bed, in the warm sun room.

I feel like an awful doggy-mommy for wanting to be in Maine, near family, seeing sunsets and sun rises and moon rises on the ocean.  Eating fresh American caught and processed seafood.  I want to live through the cold snowy winters, the beautiful but buggy summers.  I want to join in activities I see advertised on Facebook.  I want to do my crafts, be an artist, and join other artists in Maine for the things they do.  I want to live "The Way Life Should Be."  Well, that's what the sign says when you enter the state.  Some people think that's not a great slogan but I do.

We are still going to Maine - hopefully.  I refuse to count on anything anymore.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of me finding out my brother passed away. This is the brother that I was closest to, since the other brother basically acted my entire life wasn't even part of his.  I mean, yeah, there are 10 years between us, but really, the amount of time he ever paid attention to me or talked to me is pretty minimal considering I've been alive for 62 years.

I'm tired of being unhappy - who I am, where I am, who I'm with.  The disappointments in my life just keep adding up.

I know there are a LOT of people worse off than I am - hell, half of California has been burned down and hundreds of thousands of people in danger, have died, or lost everything they own, not to mention the wildlife and nature that has been destroyed.

Some of my friends lost their friends this last week.  Not older people - I'm talking women in their 50's. That's NOT old.

Another friend said goodbye to her horse in the last 2 days, and another said goodbye to her horse a couple of months ago.

My horse - the 28 year old one - is hanging onto life and should have been dead years ago from the horrible heart murmur she has. 

I feel like I'm just waiting for my animals to get sick and I'll have to make a decision about putting them down.  It's awful.  If Gabbi gets sick, I'm NOT prolonging her life.  Right now, she's good and I'm glad she is.

Evan may get bladder stones again but I don't want to have to put him through surgery - but there is no other choice if it happens.

If I keep feeding them the diet they are on, they may be missing important ingredients to keep them healthy and alive.  But I refuse to give them the prescription diet crap food.

I keep trying.  I just really want to stop and not worry anymore and be somewhere I love being and be near family and relax.  It's SO hard.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Update on Evan, More Life Stuff

I realized I haven't given an update on Evan in quite awhile.  Not that anyone is asking but it's good for me to keep track here.

He had his surgery for the bladder stones.  It was very stressful for all of us.  I hated putting him through it, I hated he had to be under anesthesia, and I hated that he was going to be hurting for awhile.

Poor little guy came through the surgery okay, but he was not a happy camper by any means.  He had staples - which irritated the heck out of him and he ended up having a bad reaction to.  The staples came out in a week, and I kept a close eye on everything.  He even started to urinate in the house which is totally NOT like him.  He's a very good boy. 

I started researching and driving myself nuts with trying to find a food for him that was safe.  The vet, of course, put him on prescription food, Royal Canin SO - and though we tried it, Evan wasn't doing well on it. He started getting very lethargic, he was constipated and straining to go potty.  After several days, he started vomiting and being even more lethargic.  Husband did some research, and he and I both found very negative remarks about the food.  Of course, people do complain a lot and there are always more negative reviews online than there are positive.  The proof was in front of our eyes though - this was NOT a good solution to the problem.  It wasn't a good food for Evan. 

A friend recommended a food that is a freeze dried food, has to be purchased online and sent to me, then has to be kept in the freezer and fridge.  The meals are supposed to be fed with raw beef, but that wasn't going to work for Evan, so I had to cook chicken thighs.  It was work but not bad.  However, I did MORE research, and after struggling to find enough valid information - not just people's opinions - I found lists for the Oxalate levels in foods.  Of course, even those are varied - even ones from prominent schools like Harvard! 

I could NOT find a specific diet.  I even called a Veterinary Nutritionist - and believe me, they are NOT easy to find!  She was busy, said she wouldn't really have time for me over the summer, and to just feed him chicken and rice.  She also said there's a 100% chance of the stones reoccurring,  and that this issue would shorten his life span.  He's 11 this fall, and that he'd probably get them back in 3 years or less, and of course, by then, he'll be older and probably wouldn't survive the surgery again.  Seriously!  This is what she said to me on the phone, without reviewing his records, without examining him, and was speaking to me on a cell phone while she was driving.  Her lack of caring and the words she spoke, made me decide right then and there that I am on my own in this quest to do right by my dog. 

I am a person that cares deeply, and that is not afraid to do the research or find people that can help me.  It's extremely frustrating to me to not get support when I need it, as I can have a real lack of self confidence about making major decisions.  When my veterinarian says that she only believes in the prescription food, and a veterinary nutritionist tells me there's no hope, and the internet cannot give me answers, I pretty much fell apart.................

Then I pulled myself together, and decided I wasn't going to give up.  That's my MO.

I gathered as much info as I could - to include those lists of foods that are low in Oxalates, and that are safe for dogs - because those are the 2 things I had to consider. 


I am NOT a veterinarian and I do NOT promote anyone else doing what I am doing for my dogs health!!!!!!!!!!!!  The following is just what I have come up with that I hope will help my dogs be healthier and for my Evan not to get any more bladder stones.  This has NOT been proven yet as it's only been a couple of months! 

Along the way, my self doubt kept cropping up because I don't know how to keep my dogs alive with a home made diet.  All the info I could find was contradictory as far as making home made diets.  I decided I needed to have the meat cooked.  The vegetables have to be well cooked as well, and of course, there is fact that over cooked foods lose some of their nutritional value.  However, the veggies need to be boiled well, to get them soft, and to lower any oxalates in them.  The meat needs to be well cooked and boiled because the juices are used to help keep the meat moist, and I save some of it because I use it to help promote my dogs to drink more water, by putting about a TBLS in their bowls, then adding about a half cup or 3/4 cup of water. They drink this every afternoon and love it.  They hardly ever touch their water bowl because there is so much moisture in their food and then in their afternoon chicken water treat, that they don't need to drink water from the bowl.  They urinate quite often during the day as well. 

The meals consist of meat, being either chicken thighs boiled in water, or ground turkey cooked in water; white rice; veggies consisting of peas, cauliflower, broccoli, or green and yellow zucchini squash; yogurt and pure pureed pumpkin.  I will not give measurements because I don't want to be responsible for anyone else using the recipe. 

I spend a good few hours cooking up all the food, then refrigerate it all so that it can cool.  The next day, I then spend several more hours mixing the food into individual baggies, and freezing them.  For an example, it takes 7 cups of veggies - after they are cooked - to make 14 meals - 2 dogs x 2 meals a day.  That is ONE week's worth of food.  It takes me about an hour to do one week of meals.  I usually end up either forgetting to cook rice, or don't make enough veggies to start with so I end up having to make more and then cooling them in the freezer to get them cooled off enough to be safe to package them.  Today, I spent almost 4 hour just putting meals together.  It's a LOT of work.  However, I do it because I love my dogs and it's the only answer for me at this point. 

I also have several supplements that I add.  I add Taurine - because I learned through research that home made diets do not have enough Taurine in them, and a lack of this can cause heart disease.  Luckily, it's easily purchased on Amazon.  I also add Calcium Citrate - there is mixed knowledge about whether this is good for dogs with Calcium Oxalate stones but I read several different places that it helps bind the calcium and then it washes it out of the body.  I'm hoping this is correct.
I also add a Vitamin B supplement.  You might ask, why don't I just add a full vitamin supplement - which would be a lot easier?  Well, I'll tell you, because there are vitamins that are not good for calcium oxalate prone dogs.  I'm hoping that my dogs are getting everything they need with the variety of veggies, meat, rice, pumpkin and yogurt. 
They also get a probiotic, and I switch off a fish oil tablet and flax seed oil.  Not sure I'll keep up the fish oil tablet - which can NOT be sardine based - because, for some reason, everything I've read says NO sardines.  Not quite sure why.  The one I'm using is anchovy based, though a salmon based would be better.  I did read, however, that flax seed oil is even better and safer, so I think I'm going to just go with the flax seed oil from here on out.

The frustrating part of all this is that it's a LOT of cooking to make a week of food.  7 cups of veggies - 2 different veggies in 2 different pots.  A cup of rice per week.  Meat, I use about 8 chicken thighs, or 4 thighs and a lb of ground turkey.  Yogurt - for a week is about a large container and pumpkin - I go through about 2.5 cans for a week of food.  It adds up - money and time, energy, and pots, pans, and cleaning up.  There is NO way I can prepare food like this for them while we are in the van.  I can prep the food, and we have to mix it every day, twice a day.  The freezer in the van would hold maybe a week of food in baggies, and I could take a week with us fresh.  After that, I'm going to have to make enough to last at least a few days, then cook more.  It's okay. I'm willing to do that for my dogs, AND be able to travel. 

As for traveling, well, that's a whole other story for another time.  I know I'm sporatic about writing here, and I know I don't have many followers, but that's okay.  It's more like this is my journal than anything else.  I like reading other people's blogs.  There aren't any photos in this one but there will be in the future.  I'll keep writing about this subject because it's a huge change in our lives now.  I just keep hoping that I'm doing right by my dogs.  They seem healthy.  They are happy and satisified.  Their coats are nice and soft.  Evan's skin used to be dry and flaky, and it is not anymore.  They have good energy, though both are more or less lapdogs anyway and lazy like me.  They are pooping and peeing well, and they both go to the doctor later this week for blood and urine checkups.  Little Miss Gabbi had some high protein counts in her urine last time, so they are going to recheck that as well, but I suspect it was from them eating a raw (freeze dried) diet before all this started (Sojo's). 

Here's to hoping I'm doing right by my pups. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Life, Happenings, Animals

We recently took a little trip in our RV.  We were gone for about a week.  While we were at one campground, one of my dogs got into something under the picnic table. I pulled him out from under it and thought, crap, I hope he doesn't get sick.
In the following days, he started not wanting to eat his food.  We thought maybe it was because he didn't like the small space of the van.  We encouraged him to eat, and he did, with no ill side effects, but he was definitely off, though he still went for walks and seemed ok for the most part.

We decided to depart on Sunday instead of Monday, as the weather was supposed to turn and get rainy, and we really didn't want to deal with it at the campground, or travel in it if we could help it.  We were done with being where we were, and the shakedown trip for our RV went really well. Ready to head home, we decided to take the Interstate, and drive the entire distance in one day. It ended being about 10 hours, which in reality, wasn't bad.  We've done longer.  Having a bathroom and kitchen with us, makes it even easier.  At lunch time, I went into the galley and made a sandwich for Hubs, and had some left over chicken from my dinner out the evening before.  Continued driving and made it home in one piece and in nice weather.

After arriving home, Evan started acting even more like he didn't feel well. There was vomiting and diarrhea.  I contacted a friend of mine who is a veterinarian and asked her advice.  She helped me think through things. I slept in the basement on a cot with both dogs on a bed beside me and whenever Evan had to go outside, I got up and walked 3 feet to the door to take him out. It wasn't a horrible night as he only really asked to go out once other than really early in the morning.

I thought we were on the home stretch with him feeling better, but since my vet friend hasn't ever really met Evan, and I trust her, I set up an appointment with her to meet him.  While she is almost 90 minutes away, up I 95 on the Interstate, which is a real trip just for an appointment, I'm willing to do it. I'm sort of done with the veterinarians in this area where we live and want to know I trust the person caring for my dogs.

During the visit, blood was drawn for a senior panel, and urine was obtained. He didn't have a lot of urine as he'd peed before we went in. However, with the little we got, some blood was present.  We were asked to spend at least an hour or 2 trying to get him to drink and urinate more for further testing.  We went to a favorite deli to get lunch, and I got some ice chips for Evan to eat, which he loved.  That helped hydrate him, since even when offered water, he didn't really want any.

We were able to get over 2 mls of urine and headed back to the vet clinic.  The vet then did an x-ray and sonogram, and on the x-ray, it showed what is suspected to be a bladder stone.  Not the news I expected to hear.

We headed home, with the news that next Wednesday, we have to head back up to the vet clinic, be there by 8 a.m., to drop my little boy off and leave him there.  This makes me very sad as I know how attached he is to me, and how he hates being separated.  He won't understand why he's there, in a cage, in a strange area.  His bladder will not be allowed to be empty, and he will have a sonogram and x-ray again, and if it is, indeed, determined to be a stone, he will have surgery.

I'm very afraid.  Last time I trusted a vet with my cat, where he had a procedure to flush his sinuses, he passed away under anesthesia.  I trust this vet to do the very best she can do, but it makes me very nervous that my boy may not make it through this.  This is more invasive than a dental cleaning, though they do both under general anesthesia.  They have to cut into the bladder, remove the stone and any small ones that may not be visible on the x-ray, and close him up. The clinic doesn't have a night nurse any longer, so we will bring him home as I don't want to leave him all night with no one watching him.  I will watch him closely and sleep with him and wake up any time he needs me.  We won't be able to pick him up till 7 p.m. which will get us home quite late, but I will do what I have to for my little guy.

This dog is my heart dog.  I got him shortly after my heart attack, did Therapy Dog work with him and everyone he meets, absolutely loves him.  He's a people lover for sure.  He really is a special dog, who totally understands me when I speak to him.  It's like he's a little human being in that furry coat.

Last night, he started with diarrhea again.  We are picking up some meds for him to start on to help with the diarrhea and also an antibiotic, which hopefully will help with his discomfort from the bladder stone.  Today, he is snoozing comfortably. I think yesterday exhausted us all.

More on our travels in another post. I'm thinking of starting a new blog for our travels, but as usual, I'm having problems coming up with a good name for it. I'll work on that, and post about the travels.  This blog is really personal and mostly is just helpful to me to work through things and get them out of my head, and since I have few followers and that's not really my goal of this blog, I will keep this and my travels separate.

I hope all is well in your world.  Be well.  Take care.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Relationships & Looking Forward

My relationships with the people in my life are always feeling strained.  I have a difficult time dealing with others.  I am at a point where I wish I could go off by myself, and not have to deal with anyone unless it was my choice.  It's exhausting, and my drive to deal with others is shot to hell this week.

We have a trip planned in about 10 days, we'll be gone for about 10 days.  I'm looking forward to getting away, in one way, and in another, I'm not. I am looking forward to hopefully some warm, sunny weather.  We are headed to Georgia.  I don't know if it'll be nicer there than it's been here. It's a bit too far out to check weather for that week. 
Sunrise in Searsport, ME 2017
We have another trip planned for later in the summer.  That trip I'm a bit more excited about.  We will be going to Maine again.  There is a family reunion my cousin will be putting on.  Then we have about 3 weeks till Fiber College which is held in Searsport, Maine.  The campground is rustic, with simple amenities, but the stuff that will be going on is amazing. Fiber. Flute making. All taking place on the edge of the ocean.  FUN!  I'm signed up for 5 full days of immersion learning.  I just hope I can handle 5 days in a row.....

Moon rise in Searsport, ME 2017
To see these views again will be amazing. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring is Here!!!!!!!!!!!

Spring has arrived!  I live in Virginia - I guess you'd call it the Piedmont.  Not Northern VA. Not Southern. Not really central.......sort of east of the mountains and west of the ocean.  About 30 minutes west of Fredericksburg if you were really interested in figuring it out, which I'm sure you're not.

We've had about a half inch of snow fall all winter.  Spring arrives and HELLO snow!  It's absolutely beautiful.  Everyone around me is freaking out.  Husband worries, daughter worries (she has 2 small children, a dog, and husband is away on business).  People do stupid things here when it snows - like going out driving in it because they just can't stay home - and they are the idiots that have NO idea what they are doing in the WE stay home.  I'd love to go out and take photographs.
Speaking of photographs, I took my Nikon camera out to take some - and the battery was almost dead.  I also got a message that the card couldn't be used and may be corrupt.  I don't know if that's just because the battery was dead or if it's really an issue.  The battery is now charging and I will check when it's done. I haven't had my camera out in awhile.

Tony went for a recheck of his finger. It's been about 3 weeks now since he detached the ligament.  The PT put a new cast on it and he has to exercise the very top of his finger, wiggling the top knuckle.  4 weeks in the cast now, and then it gets removed.

Not bad compared to what it looked like 3 weeks ago!  Still swollen and he can't move it because we are trying to get that ligament to heal.

Speaking of Tony, I sneaked a couple of pictures of he and I in the car.  He almost never smiles..........he used to be a Drill Instructor in the Army.  I can't blame that - it's just his natural way.  He's always so serious. Doesn't know how to have much fun.
Of course, he didn't know I was taking the pics, so I guess that didn't help - but he still wouldn't have smiled.  In the first pic we were on our way to the barn because we got a call that Bridget's nose was snotty, and after we went to see it on Friday, we called the vet and they came out Saturday.  We didn't know why she had a snotty nose but I expected a tooth issue, and I was right.  The offending tooth had to be pulled and smelled awful!  She was a good girl.  It's a good thing she's a tough old broad! 

She feels MUCH better now.  Our checkbook, however, is hurting.  We have to pay out again tomorrow when the vet comes to do spring shots and Coggins testing.  Ouch.

I have been really bad today. I've sat at the computer almost the entire day.  I love days like today. I'm lazy, and I can hang out and do whatever I want instead of running around all the time just to "keep busy."  Tony doesn't really know what else to do with himself. 

The snow is still coming down.  Off to crochet. I'm making blankets for each of the grand kids and want to get them done by Easter!  

Take care.  Be well,  Love yourself.