Sunday Selections Week 40

weewillem

I think for the foreseeable future, we will make the first Sunday of the month Garden Check In day. The Dianthus in our older planter pot from 2014 are flowering again.

About four weeks ago we did some new planting and two weeks ago I posted this update post.

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The flyscreen wrapped garden box is doing very well. We’ve had a praying mantis which has been hanging out on top of it.

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The sunflower seeds have turned into tiny plants.

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The Nasturtiums are having a wonderful time in their new home. The chooks quite often stand on the hardware wire but they do not eat the plants. In a couple of weeks I will feel secure enough to take this ex-kitty door off.

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As you can see, the jasmine has climbed high up the arch. It is smelling awesome!

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Next time I will show you the progress of some new plants we have purchased, including my first ever succulent – Portulaca. Here they are as I was buying them in the garden centre.

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And a close up of the Portulaca. There were 6 seedlings in here.

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The chooks have been getting plenty of free ranging time, and Kitty Supervisor is on the job. I’ve kept that pot on the table for a couple of weeks to make sure the sunflowers get a decent start without a chook eating them incident, but that meant the cats could not eat the cat grass. It was good for the cat grass because they had been chowing down on it, and it needed a break from kitty teeth! ;)

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Kitty Supervisor can watch them down here from a side window which is good, because they like to venture down here to some very old lawn clippings and leaves which were left here for a couple of years to turn into bug filled mulch – AKA happy meal time for chooks! There is a gate which shuts this area off if and when new clippings are left here – however that has not happened in some time, the bag catcher is broken.

Weekly Wrap Up –

Daylight Savings starts today here in Australia. Normally this is my favourite time of year because in previous years I have suffered from SAD – that is Seasonal Affective Disorder – however this past winter I did a lot better than usual. I’m crediting the evening candle show, an LED light changing shower head, and LED lights throughout the house for that improvement.

So today I am a little bit sad to be saying goodbye to 5-6 hours of candle time a day. I’ll still be burning candles of an evening and I think that is a long term change for the better for me, it will just be candles for a shorter amount of time each day, and more time outside in the evening for plant watering and chooky chores.

In scheduling news, I already have two posts scheduled for 2016. All my Wednesday posts are written for the rest of the year, and I am scheduled out to November for the other blog days. I like to write ahead, and sometimes posts come up that are time sensitive and the other not so time sensitive posts get pushed out further.

There Was An Incident –

Grumpy is extra grumpy this week. She did something to her eye – we are not sure what happened to start it off, but she was squinting a lot and somehow her bottom eyelid was turning in as a result. After making a vet appointment for Monday we were trying to get some photos to show the vet because we could fix the eyelid – turn it out the right way – and sometimes it would stay fixed for a decent length of time, so we could not guarantee it would happen when we were at the vets with Grumpy. Happy did a little photobomb.

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I did manage to get a decent in focus shot which showed the vet everything she needed to see, plus after I showed her the photo the eyelid started to turn in while we were there. That was the last time it turned in and I hope it never happens again!

Ever since Grumpy had that terrible Kidney Shutdown of 2014, she has not been a fan of vets at all. The only person that can hold her when we are there now is The Other Half, and he is the only person who can hold her when she needs to be medicated – which she has needed twice a day this past week for a tablet and ointment in her eye.

We went back to the vet on Friday for another eye dye and blacklight look. It seems like progress has been made, not just on the eye front but also a trip where the only thing that happens is dye in her eye might help her a lot with her vet fears.

We’ll keep up the ointment for another 7 days then take her back again next Friday. This time Happy will go along for a check up as well. I fully anticipate that once the vet finds her melty spot, she will lie down on the table, purr a lot, and ask for belly rubs. :)

The Martian –

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The Martian Official Website

We went to see The Martian this weekend. I’d started reading the book a few months ago. The book was something I knew The Other Half would deeply love, so I made him start reading it – and he finished it before I did! That is the fastest he has ever read a book in his lifetime.

I read the book again this week in preparation for seeing the movie and loved it just as much the second time. I was curious about a few things – would the movie begin with the same line as the book, which contains a pretty serious swear word? That would be fine in Australia but I really cannot see the US audience enjoying that. And how would they handle the night soil stuff?

The truth is, I suspect this might be the best space movie ever created, or at least a tie for first place with Apollo 13. Yes, there was some swearing. Yes, there was vacuum sealed poop. Yes, I did cringe at the whole poop thing being a germophobe, but I actually cringed more at Mark performing surgery on himself. There was nothing in the movie that I did not deeply enjoy. Matt Damon was brilliant as expected, so was everyone in it.

So if you have not read the book and you like science, space, Matt Damon, NASA and/or movies set in space, go and see the movie. If you like the movie, read the book. The movie runs for 2h20m, and it felt to me like it went for 30 minutes maximum. Sephyroth wrote about The Martian too. Beware though his post contains some spoilers if you have not seen it.

garden, Home, kitties, movies, Sunday Selections, weekly wrap up

Improbable Kitty

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Whenever I am working in the kitchen these days, I have a kitty supervisor. Happy the little kitty jumps up and sits on the bar stool on the opposite side of the kitchen counter. She closely watches what I am doing, in case I might be making her a snack. 99% of the time, I am *not* making her a snack!

In recent times, she has begun to display the most hilarious expression while sitting there. There is a combination of doubt and disbelief in her eyes.

It is almost as if she is mentally asking me..

What on earth do you think are you doing now?

I like to call this particular expression “Improbable Kitty”. As in, what you are doing presently is “unexpected and apparently inauthentic” plus, “not likely to be true or to happen”.

Alternatively, she is transmitting the thought – it is totally unbelievable to me that you are not making me a snack right now.

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So the other night I was making dinner while The Other Half sat on the barstool watching me. I had just placed my chicken into a bowl with lime and lemon juice, added some white wine, and went back to add in some more lime and lemon.

I looked up, and he had this bizarre expression on his face. It made me say “What? I’m just marinading my chicken?”…

and he replied.. “I’m Improbable Kitty”. And I lost it and laughed for many, many minutes..

You can tell from my reply, he got that improbable kitty impression 100% correct.

Happy has been such a wonderful addition to our household. She makes us laugh every single day.

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Happy doing Improbable Kitty while Grumpy lurks in the background

Improbable Kitty is not her only talent. At night, she impersonates a sandbag on the bed most effectively. This is slightly less funny to The Other Half, who gets woken up when he can’t turn over because there is a sandbag in his way.

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Buying Pet Food Online

Big Kitty

In early December 2013, we lost our oldest cat – Big Kitty. In mid-December 2013, we took our younger cat Grumpy in for her yearly vet visit and vaccinations. During the visit her ears were cleaned out, somewhat roughly both of us felt at the time. Unfortunately this rough treatment led to a punctured ear drum plus an ear infection. This led to antibiotics, and that led to complete kidney failure..

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Grumpy spent 7 nights at the vets on a drip. You can see via the above photo, she was not very happy about this.. Neither were we! We were both very upset and for a while there, it seemed like she might not make it home. The Other Half went in twice daily to feed her as she was quite difficult with the vet nurses. At some point she turned a corner, and got better.

When she arrived home, she spent over 2 months being syringe fed two to three times daily by The Other Half, and I can categorically state that without his nursing care Grumpy would not have survived.

He has a lot of scars for his efforts, as well, because Grumpy was not a big fan of being syringe fed. She did not seem to have any appetite or drive to eat by herself for a while. Eventually, she did get hungry again and was willing and able to eat on her own.

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We were told by the vets that she would need to be on a special diet and a kind of food called k/d Feline Renal Health by Hills Prescription Diet was recommended to us. That is a kind of food you can usually only source from vet clinics, and as a result it can be very pricey. We were paying over $90 for a bag of kibble.

Both of us were not happy with the vets we’d been going to after this experience – in fact we both felt that if the ear cleaning had been done more gently, none of this would have happened at all. I asked around to find out who was the best cat vet in our area, and that is who we see now.

We were already seeing a totally different vet for the chooks because I’d asked around to find out which was the best chook vet. It turns out the best cat vet works in the same practice, so we decided to buy the recommended cat food via that vet clinic and cut all ties with the previous vet. The new place stocked the kibble at a lower price of $72 per bag, so it was a win all round.

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That clinic closed earlier this year, merging with a new vet practice. At that time they switched to a new brand of vet only food. We got a sample and Grumpy did not like that food at all. She LOVES the k/d kibble.

So, we had two options – find another local vet which stocked the k/d kibble, or try to find a place we could buy it online. I did some googling and we found a place that looked promising, so when the time came, we crossed our fingers and placed an order. We ordered Thursday night, the order shipped on Friday, and Monday Morning the box arrived. Below you see Happy inspecting it.

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Shipping was free. The kibble was the cheapest price I have ever paid for it, coming in a huge $12 less per bag of kibble than what I had been paying. The website has a huge range of pet related items many of which are quite difficult to find in local pet stores.

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Plus, they sent us a lolly bag and a welcome voucher for $10 off our next order. The kitties approved the food immediately!

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We feed one tin of wet food a day shared between the two kitties, kibble is always available to them, and they have a water fountain. The vet said feeling k/d to the younger cat would be fine, and she likes it, so we’re sticking with that plan.

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Having a browse around the website, they have the largest range of cat food that I have seen, ever. There are some cat foods there which our local supermarkets and pet stores stopped stocking – eg the Applaws range which our cats enjoyed – and they stock some foods which I had never heard of before. They stock some Fancy Feast flavours I have not seen in a while, too.

In case you were wondering, nobody paid me to write this post, nobody gave me anything for free.. I just felt this was a great experience and I wanted to share it with you. I know I have readers who have pets and who might find the My Pet Warehouse website useful.

With all that said, I would totally accept free samples of cat food if they were offered to me, but that is only because I don’t like paying for new cat foods and having them rejected with great prejudice by our kitties, who are the harshest critics of pet food. Understandable, seeing as they are the ones who have to eat it. :)

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Grumpy performing a pose we like to call monorail cat.

We don’t know how much time Grumpy will have with us. The vet says that her life expectancy may be reduced as a result of her kidney issues. Anything we can do to extend her time with us, we will do it, even if it means we have to budget a little more for cat food by cutting back in other areas. In the meantime, we deeply value the moments we get to spend with her.

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This pose I like to call morph ball with a half pike – great leg extension!

Grumpy is sleeping on Carters lap in that last shot, by the way. Carter is in the perfect position for winter, right in front of the gas heater. Plus, he does not move, unlike those humans!

kitties, looking back, moving forward

Kitty Kerfuffle

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If pressed to categorize the present goings on in Snoskredland over Christmas and New Years, one would have to thesaurus words for absolutely nothing. Categorically zilch.. Truly Nix..

The most exciting thing going on was a Kitty Kerfuffle involving this pillow pet that Sephyroth once sent me. They have been taking it in turns, and when one arrives to find the spot taken, a glare is given to the occupying kitty.

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About Snoskred, Home, kitties, yay

Some Things I Know For Sure

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Travelling across the interwebs, I sometimes stumble on a Thing that makes me want to rant. Today, I am feeling ranty about grocery shopping. I will like to share a few things I have learned in my 39 years here on this planet with you –

The Less Often You Go, The More You Save

Unless you are incredibly determined and motivated, most grocery shopping trips will result in one or more “impulse” purchases. You’ll see something you had no intention of buying on special and put it in the trolley. For me it is usually crumpets, Starburst Babies, potato chips and dips. So if you go once every fortnight instead of once a week, less impulse purchases will = more $$ saved..

Junk Mail Is Useful

Those catalogues most of us get every week from the supermarkets – you can sign up to receive those via your email now, or you can view them online. Why would you want to do that? Because you can suss out the specials before you even leave home. If something is on super special at one place and you need to restock it, you can find out via the catalogue, and go in there with a very strict list of things you need.

In Australia? Here are links to the email sign up pages for – WoolworthsAldiColes (view online only)IGA (view online only)

Saving Can Be An Effort

There have been fortnightly shopping trips where I have been to IGA, Aldi, Coles *and* Woolworths, all in one day. Why? Here’s a hint. Supermarkets make more money because in general, people only want to go to one place to shop. The big specials are designed to make you pick their store that week, because they think you’ll buy everything else there once you get in the door. They even have a term for these specials – a Loss Leader.

Don’t play by their rules – there is nothing saying you have to do all your shopping in one place. If you will save significant money purchasing items you regularly use across two or more stores, then do that. :) I’m lucky where I live because Coles, Woolworths and Aldi are right next to each other.

Buying Many Can Save You Headaches.

Buying several of an item you regularly purchase can be a great idea, especially if the item is on special. If you know you use certain tinned items or items with a long shelf life regularly, it makes sense to buy those things in bulk when they are on special. You will buy them eventually anyway, having them on hand means less trips to the supermarket.

Buying In Bulk Can Save You $$

This should be obvious. I think anyone who has ever done a price comparison of things is well aware of this fact. I will like to talk specifically about some ways we use this in our household. I bulk buy things that I know we will use eventually and store them well, so they will be there when we want to use them.

Chicken Roasters

We like a Lenards chicken mini roast once a week, but the nearest Lenards to us is a 100km round trip. So when we go, I will pre-order 8-12 chicken roasters and bring them home in insulated bags with ice packs. We have a Foodsaver, and they go into the deep freeze. They cook up beautifully even after being frozen *and* I usually get a discount for buying them in bulk.

Toilet Paper, Paper Towel, Tissues, Anti-Bac Wipes

These are things I use regularly. I’m going to continue to use them regularly. I will be spending money on these things no matter what, so it makes sense to buy them in bulk and save the $$. Plus, there is nothing worse than Running Out Of Toilet Roll As A Surprise To Yourself.

Buying Cat Related Bulk Items

Cat Food

I have seen no signs that my cats plan to stop eating anytime soon. :) They will always need food. If I buy it in bulk from our local pet store, this is good for two reasons – it supports a local business *and* it is cheaper than the supermarkets. We save over 20 cents per tin of food, which is $20 per 100 cans. Plus, we buy kitty litter and chicken food there in bulk.

Kitty Litter

I *hate* running out of kitty litter. With 2 indoor only cats we use plenty of kitty litter. Recently we have discovered a new brand at our local pet store called Trouble & Trix Lavender Litter. This stuff is amazing. The cats really like it, when they bury their doings or you scoop it instead of bad smells, a lovely lavender scent is released into the air, and the litter clumps, which means it lasts a lot longer with regular scooping and just the occasional top up. We’re down to changing it once a week at most, which saves us money. Plus, this!

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Meats In Bulk Can Be Good, Too

The Other Half is the cutter up and Foodsaver of meats – in particular chicken – in this house, however, having to do this job regularly leaves him irritated and annoyed. If we buy 5-6kg of chicken breasts in bulk, and I ask him to do the chicken cutting up job once in a blue moon instead of regularly, then we freeze the results, it could be 2-3 months before he has to do this job again.

He cuts breast chicken into steaks – for me to eat when he has a red meat steak – pieces – for our regular Honey and Mustard chicken tonight dish which we enjoy – slices – for chicken and bacon pasta or stir fries.

Next time I am hoping to up the amount of chicken to 8-10kg and then we might go 4-5 months without a chicken cut up session. I’ll let him play some music while he does it, which will make him less irritated and annoyed. Happy times for all!

Pantry Staples Are Important

Right now I have everything I need in this house to make 2 weeks of Pizza. If we leave out the bases -I get a killer woodfired herby pizza base from Aldi and normally I buy 4 at a time because they are vacuum sealed and keep for ages – I have everything we need to make 5-6 weeks of pizza. I’ve got everything I need to make at least 8 recipes we regularly eat right here at home.

Sometimes Fresh Is Best

Sometimes you want something fresh cooked special. For me that is usually crumbed chicken with potatoes. I don’t like to use frozen chicken for that recipe, though I certainly could. There is something about the entire process of making crumbed chicken from fresh ingredients which is comforting to me, probably because my Grandma and I used to make it together a lot.

Also, you have to use fresh meat in the slow cooker. Those recipes get made close to shopping day, for obvious reasons. Which leads us to..

Meal Planning Is Awesome.

Sitting down and coming up with a list of meals you would like to make for the next week or two weeks seems like a daunting concept, until you do it. And once you do it, you’ll likely want to keep doing it. But this does not mean you have to eat all your meals on a set day. It just means those meals which you need super fresh ingredients for are best planned for cooking right after shopping day.

Regular Set Meal Days

Some people like to regularly meal plan a roast on a Sunday, or Pizza on a Friday. We’re not quite that regimented around here but we usually do eat pizza and a roast sometime around the weekend.

Things You Wouldn’t Usually Buy

This week I bought a large bag of red capsicum (bell peppers to some of you :) ) – they were on special, they were *not* on the meal plan, and suddenly I had visions in my mind of a roasted red capsicum and potato soup. The other half looked at me weird, when I picked them up, and he said wow, that is a lot of red capsicum. I’m about to go roast it in my new roaster, with some potatoes, and then make it into a soup. I’ll share the recipe! ;)

What do you know for sure about grocery shopping?

Share it in the comments! :)

food, kitties, life lessons, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2014, shopping

The Kitties & Carter

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Happy, the little kitty has taken to sleeping on the “lap” of Carter just lately. For those of you new to the blog, Carter is our Costco skeleton friend. Want to know more about Carter? – Meet CarterCarter Gets DressedCarter Got Cold.

Happy truly is the most hilarious kitteh we have ever known. Plus she is amazingly sweet tempered, she has never once bitten or scratched us. She is the only cat I have known who allows us to scratch her belly and actually really enjoys a tummy rub, she turns to jelly.

She is not the brightest cat, if we were to put it into kitty terms, she is a few kibble short of a full bowl. She does not seem to have enormous faith in her own abilities either. It has taken her ages to learn to jump onto the kitchen counter.

Apparently, Carters lap is The Place To Be at the moment. Interestingly the kitties do not find him to be too bony to sit on. Carter moved chairs recently to a spiffy recliner, and his lap has become that place the kitties share regularly. Here is Grumpy hanging out with Carter.

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Carter, kitties, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2014