March 6, 2012

 Posted by
Mar 102012
 

Back in August, we took Sasha to the vet and to see an orthopedic surgeon because this was going on.  At that time, X-Rays were taken of her paw and wrist but nothing above that.  The X-Rays didn’t show any signs of fractures or anything else.  She got a couple of medications and within 24 hours, she was back to her spunky old self.  It was a relive and her condition remain a mystery.

For months she was normal and we continued with our normal routine or playing in the yard with sticks and frisbees.  We continue going for walks at our parks, which she absolutely loves.  We had been planning on going to the beach and camping with the whole gang, because we don’t have dog sitters and it would be so costly to leave them in a kennel.  Earlier this year, we noticed she was limping again.  At times, she would be really spunky and run in our yard, but then something would hurt and she’d squeal. This happened a couple of times before we decided to limit her activity in hopes her”injury” would heal.  After about a month of her leg not getting any better, we decided to take her to see our vet, Dr. N., again.  She showed very brief sings of pain and where exactly the pain was, was undetermined.   With these results, our vets asked us to allow for normal activity to aggravate the injury and find it, in order to correct it.  As much as I didn’t want her to hurt more, we allowed her to do what she wanted in the yard, but only took her for short walks around the neighborhood.  After two weeks, her “injury” worse.  We scheduled another appointment with our vet and Dr. Clary, our orthopedic surgeon, was going to re-check her.

Through out this time, my heart’s been heavy.  I feared the worst and though I love all my dogs, Sasha and I have a special bond and I love her to death.  I did grow up with dogs, but they were always outside and they were not “my” dogs, they were mainly my brother’s.  Sasha was my first dog.  Out of a litter of seven pups, we had chosen her sister, but after seeing how spunky Sasha was, we switched our decision.  From the day we chose her, we visited her every day until we could take her home with us, and that was probably about a month.  So every day, we would leave work and go to see her, and this was no different during the weekend.  Our first priority was to go visit Sasha and spend a good couple of hours with her.

Her appointment was scheduled for Tuesday March 6th and we were to drop her off as early as possible.   Around noon,  I received a call from Dr. N.  It was the worst news I could possibly hear.  All I recall Dr. N. saying is, “its not good news”,  and “Sasha has Osteosarcoma on her right leg’s humerus.”  I could not bare to continue listening, so I handed the phone to Carlos.  My heart sank, I couldn’t breath, and all I could think of was how Sasha is supposed to live forever, and wondering why this was happening to her, its not fair.  This day so quickly became one of the saddest days of my life.

I know it is not fair, but I always thought (expected really), that Sasha would live to be at least 15 years old.  I thought we might loose Argus first.  I know its not right to think this way and I do love all of our dogs very much, but Sasha is my baby.  She was the first puppy Carlos and I got and I recall those times as if they were yesterday.  Her and I have a special bond.

After the devastating phone call, Carlos and I sat together for a while, just thinking about Sasha and how much we love her.  Carlos kept saying he was sorry, because she is my girl.  Then Carlos started telling me with our vet said were our options.  And he right away started reading all he could up until we could go pick her up…

New floor

 Posted by
Mar 092012
 

Well, some time has passed since Carlos installed the laminate flooring in the living room/dining room/kitchen.  Let me back up a bit to tell you about our floor purchase:

We initially wanted wood floors.  The whole rest of the house has hardwood flooring, and we love it.  They are beautiful and easy to take care of.  We considered bamboo, (for its durability, environmentally friendly, and its beauty) but it cost more than we were ready to spend. We also like, and considered, cork flooring, (it’s environmentally friendly; it’s antimicrobial, water resistant and fire retardant; it’s though, soft and warm; it’s acoustic insulator; looks great, easy to install and its affordable) but with five large dogs cork was not the way to go for us.  I was disappointed about having to walk away from cork, but Carlos and I try hard to be logical with our purchase decisions.

So after doing some research on-line, we decided to start considering laminate flooring.  Laminate flooring’s thickness can vary between 3 mm and 12 mm.  Lumber Liquidators carries 12mm laminate flooring which we did not find at Lowe’s or The Home Depot.  The thicker options are not necessarily higher quality, but that usually ends up being the case.  When laminate flooring is installed, a moisture barrier should be put down over the original flooring first to prevent damage to the underside of new laminate.  After that, a sound insulating layer should be put down.  Thicker options of laminate flooring usually come with the moisture barrier and sound insulating material pre-attached, so it makes installing a snap.  The total cost of tools for installing the laminate flooring was about $15 (we already had a hammer).  We actually could have installed the floor without buying any new tools at all, but since it was our first time putting laminate down, we decided to get the block and spacers.

Take a look at the ugly laminate flooring that we had hiding under our carpet.  You can actually see a little of the carpet that remains, peeking out of our pantry door.  Pulling the carpet up was a job in itself, but the worst part was pulling the laminate up and then the ten gazillion staples and nails that were all over the entire floor from the carpet install years ago.

Tommy and Shelby on ugly old floor

In this picture you can also see the wood paneling that was on the walls.

Tommy and Shelby on ugly old floor

And here is a shot of the space with the new floor and drywall.  We still hadn’t painted the walls yet, and there isn’t any trim around the French doors or where the walls meet the floors.   I’ll put photos of those finished projects soon.

Dining and living area with new laminate flooring

Argus on new laminate flooring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We love how the space looks now with the new laminate and the drywall in place of the wood paneling.  It’s so easy to care for, and with five dogs, let me tell you, ease of cleaning is a must!  Now we just need a couple of area rugs to separate the spaces and set off each room.

Has anyone else installed new flooring?  Share your deets = )

~ L.

Hey, check out this post over @younghouselove.  John and Sherry installed cork floors, but the process is similar, if not the same, as installing our laminate floor.

Secret trail

 Posted by
Mar 062012
 

Last Summer, Mom and dad took us to the park and we had to invite two of our favorite people.  We wanted to show auntie Danielle and uncle Greg, the Secret trail at Durant park.  Of course, in such a beautiful day, Sasha has to take a dip in the water

Secret trail

Can’t wait for more days like these!

An oldie

 Posted by
Mar 042012
 

For Christmas 2010, Carlos got me a video camera.  I wanted the Flip because I had read it was very easy to use, and that is what I wanted, something simple and easy to use.  After doing his due diligence, he found the Kodak zi8 was a much better choice.  I was thrilled to get my camera.  I’ve taken videos, but I have not edit them.  I had not posted any for this reason, but I thought, why wait?!  So I thought I’d share the first video I took with a my little camera = )

Love the furry kids = )  And the hubby for always getting me the best gifts within our budget = )~

XO,

~ L.

Mar 022012
 

About five years ago, my husband and I switched from traditional commercial laundry detergents.  We had heard about Charlie’s soap, a small local company making natural laundry detergent.  Back then, we could only buy it at a couple stores or online on their website.  Anyway, we made the switch and we loved it.  It saved us money because the amount needed for a full load is only 1 tablespoon, much less than the amount needed if we used say, Tide.  Also, there was no need to use dryer sheets, which in turn saved us more money, and saved us from the possible effects of the chemicals in the sheets.  With Charlie’s soap, clothes come out soft from the dryer and if I hung them to dry, they were still soft, unlike when I used ‘regular’ detergents.  It was a win, win.  Save money and be green = )

A good while after we started using Charlie’s soap, I read this post by Yellow Brick Home.  It got me thinking about homemade laundry detergent, but I didn’t make any right away.  I was happy using Charlie’s and it was convenient and cheaper than what we had been using.  After loosing my job back in April, I needed to find more ways to be frugal, so I decided it to give DIY suds a try.

I purchased large boxes of Borax and Washing soda on Amazon, and got the large boxes.  I also purchased the Fells-Naphtha, however, I over paid for it at Amazon.  You can find Fells-Naptha for $.99 at Walmart!

I got to work as soon as I had all of these ingredients.  Followed the directions (listed below) and Voilà!, I had home made laundry detergent.

The tools you will need for the process are a mixing bowl, cheese grater, measuring cup, spoon and a storage container.  First step is to un-wrap your Fells-Naptha bar, and using your cheese grater, shave the whole bar into your mixing bowl.  Next, add a cup of borax plus a cup of washing soda into the bowl, and mix all ingredients thoroughly until you achieve a powdery consistency.  Finally, empty your new homemade laundry detergent into your storage container.  One tablespoon is enough for a normal size load; for heavily soiled loads, use two tablespoons.  Now you are ready to do some laundry with your homemade detergent.

 

I’ve made several batches of home made laundry detergent now, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store bought again.

I hope some of you decide to give it a shot.  It’s worth it = )

 

~ L.

 

Mar 012012
 

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would share my English class essays.  If you recall, I shared a paragraph my teacher asked the class to write as the first assignment.   Our second assignment was to write an Exemplification essay.  Here is my final draft.  I got a 97% and again, I’m surprised by the grade I received but feel great about it = )  Best of all though, I didn’t need as much help from my personal editor (oh dear hubby o’Mine).  This means I’m getting better and more comfortable with writing = )  Let’s see how long it lasts, lol!

Please note the essay does not contain my teacher’s the revisions .

Messed Up Priorities

I did not grow up in a high income household, but my parents did their best to provide for my brother, my sister and me, with a modest home, and more than just our basic needs.  My brother and sister liked to wear name brand sneakers and clothes, and because I knew my parents struggled to afford just the family’s basic needs, I was happy with whatever my parents would get me.  I did not mind seeing my siblings with their new sneakers while I wore my worn out canvas sneakers.  Even though my parents managed to give their children good quality items and make sure there were plenty of pretty boxes under our Christmas tree, they unfortunately did not prepare for emergencies or their retirement.  Many people in the United States are struggling or will be struggling in the future because of overspending on things like smartphones and mp3 players, buying expensive vehicles, and purchasing homes they can barely afford.

People often say they are unable to meet their financial obligations, yet many of these same people manage to obtain a slew of unnecessary items.  People complain about the ever increasing price of groceries and gasoline, and not being able to make their rent or car payment, yet, these same people buy things such as mp3 players, smartphones with costly plans, and even manage buy a daily cup of coffee on the way to work.  While things like a smartphone and mp3 players are nice, they are not essential elements for most people’s lives.  The same goes for buying coffee every day at Starbucks or eating lunch out instead of packing your meal.  Yes, these items are convenient and make life easier, but such short sighted use of one’s hard earned money can have negative repercussions later in life.  I think it is time that we as a society make responsible personal finance a cultural norm.  Financial responsibility means knowing that just because you can buy something, does not mean that you should buy it.

Nowadays, many working families do not have money to save for emergencies or retirement, and one reason is because people overspend when buying or leasing a new car.  Cars are expensive, and for this reason, a lot of people chose to lease a vehicle instead of buy it.  While the payments for leases are lower, the total cost to the consumer is masked with up-front fees and excessive mileage fees.  People who lease cars are married to the vehicle whether they love it or hate it, unless they pay substantial termination penalties.  Often, individuals who opt to buy vehicles spend more than their finances comfortably allow.  One of the most common mistakes is people shop for their cars by monthly payment instead of considering the overall price.  It is important to consider the total cost of a new car when making a purchase and not just the monthly payment.  Shopping for cars by monthly payments can lead to higher interest rate and longer term loans which means a higher overall cost of the vehicle.  In order to be able to save as much money as possible, it is important to take a realistic account of one’s needs and desires.

Electronic gadgets, buying gourmet coffee every day, and purchasing expensive cars may be the culprit for many peoples’ financial woes, but these things certainly do not deserve all of the blame.  For example, a major cause of financial strife in the United States comes as a result of poorly prepared and inadequately educated home buyers.  Home ownership is not for everyone.  Buying a home may be the American dream, but it can quickly become a nightmare for people who do not buy responsibly.  People are taught to go to school, get a job and buy a house.  What people are not taught, however, is how to buy a house, or if it is even the right thing for them to do.  Making a mistake when purchasing a home can lead to financial ruin.  The typical American mentality that bigger is better extends to the homes they buy.  People often try to get as much house as they can, using little to no money of their own.  This means that their monthly mortgage payments will be high, and they will not be prepared when something goes wrong, and they need to shell out money for an unforeseen emergency.  Another common problem is when home buyers acquire an adjustable rate mortgage on their home.  When interest rates are low, an adjustable rate mortgage can be enticing, but if interest rates go up to high, finding enough money to make the mortgage payment can prove impossible for some homeowners.

I had a happy childhood with devoted parents who provided everything that I needed, and was happy receiving all that my parents provided; I would have preferred not to see them struggle to buy material items.  I would have rather preferred that they prepare for their future.  Don Robinson said, “One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish needs from greeds.”    Material items, like electronic gadgets, expensive cars, and fancy coffee offer short lived gratification at the cost of potentially not leaving enough money to cover obligations.  People’s needs should outweigh their wants.  If people continue to consume the way they currently do, and not save money for their future, I fear an extremely hard road ahead for many people.

 

As always, feel free to share your thoughts, but please be nice = )

XO,

~ L.

Flautas

 Posted by
Feb 192012
 

Is what we had for dinner on Friday.

Flautas, and a taco

It is my favorite Mexican dish!  I think it had been over a year since the last time I made this food for me and Carlos.  With a guest over, I wanted to make something really yummy.  I also made our traditional home made salsa with peppers my mom sends me from Tucson, AZ.  These peppers cannot be found in the US, so they are VERY special.

For your delight, here are some pictures of the guacamole and frying the flautas and tacos.

Avocado peel

 

Mashing the avocados

 

Frying the flautas

 

Flautas browning

 

Tacos dorados

 

Flautas and tacos, done!

Time to coat them with the guacamole, spread some lettuce (I used romaine), and  queso fresco!

Here they are, before being eaten!

Dishes of flautas and tacos

They were delicious!

As we say in Mexico, buen provecho!

Do you like Mexican food?  What is/are your favorite dishes?

V-day

 Posted by
Feb 142012
 
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..✫¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.✫
☻/ღ˚ •。* ♥♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ *˚ .ღ 。
/▌*˛˚ ░ ░ٌٌٌ♥HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY ˚ *
/ ˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ ˚ 。✰ •* ˚ ♥♥” ✰˚ ♥* ♥♥

 

 

Hope everyone had a great day and will be having a LOVELY evening!

 

XOXO!

~ Lili

Recaping last week

 Posted by
Feb 142012
 

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone’s week is going well.  Mine is definitely good but it will get busy.  We have a guest arriving on Thursday, but more on that later.

I’ve been meaning to upload a couple of posts, but it’s taking me longer to finish them up.  In the mean time, here is last week’s workout recap.

Monday 2/06:  RPM 45 min.

Tuesday 2/07:  Chest and Triceps:

Wide Pushups: 3 sets of 12

Front Delt Raise to A “T”: 7.5×10, 7.5×10, 7.5×10

Narrow Pushups: 3 sets of 12

Overhead Triceps Dumbbell Extensions (2 hands): 7.5×12, 10×12, 10×12

Triceps Push downs (with v/Bar): 60×12, 60×12, 60×12

Wednesday 2/08:  Leg weight training in the morning, then CXWORX and RPM 60 min in the evening.

Thursday 2/09: Back and Biceps:

Wide-grip Lat Pull-Down:  50x12x3

Alternating Dumbbell Curl: 10x12x3

Seated Cable Rows: 50x12x2

One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 20x12x3

One-Arm Dumbbell Curl: 7.5x12x3

Fixed Lat Pull-Down: 60x12x2

Standing Biceps Cable Curls: 20x12x2

By the end of the week, I was exhausted to say the least.

Carlos and I had a lazy weekend.  It was cold here in North Carolina, and though we did get a couple of things done, we mainly spent time inside.  I got to catch up on reading my magazines: 2 Better Homes and Gardens, 2 Oxygen, 1 Clean Eating, 1 On Fitness and 1 do it yourself.  We would have liked to walk our dogs, but since three of them are currently hurt, we have been taking it easy with them.  When we do take them out, it is only for short distances.  I feel guilty since our goal was to walk the dogs 3 – 4 times a week, but we need to let them heal.  Sasha, the matriarch of the pack, has a mysterious pain that has been plaguing her for over two months now.  We took her to the vet and had her X-Rayed, but the results were inconclusive.  I may take her back Tomorrow or Wednesday.  Tommy will need surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left rear leg.  He’s not supposed to run around and play like a little savage, but sometimes he bolts out the french doors and flies off our deck into the backyard.  That leads us to Argus.  The poor old guy is twelve years old and severely arthritic.  The vet said that his exercise should be limited to a 20 – 30 minute walk per day.  Argus is not your typical dog though.  Dr. N., our vet, as well as Dr. Clary, a veterinary orthopedic specialist, say they do not know how Argus is even walking at all.  Several of Argus’ vertebrae from his neck to midway down his back are fused.  The Drs. explained to us that many dogs who have just one or two fused are unable to move in any fashion that resembles normal canine locomotion.  They are baffled by Argus’ mobility.  We are happy about it.

How are you all doing with your goals/resolutions?  How was your week/weekend?  Read any magazines lately?

 

Feb 072012
 

Happy Tuesday!  I hope everyone’s week is going well.

I wanted to share something with y’all.

Some people collect pens, stuffed animals, nutcrackers or something else.   I admit.  I’m not a collector but rather I would call myself a hoarder…of bookmarks!!  Take a look.

A total of 387.  Three hundred and eighty seven.  Isn’t that crazy?!  I think so.  Once in a while I do ‘organize’ the bookmarks and delete a bunch of them, but as I’m sure you can imagine, I find more and more and more.

I’m planning on ‘re-organizing’ my favorites, yet again.  I think I will create folders and then sub-folders and will try not to keep as many.  Maybe cut them in half.  We’ll see.

How do you organize your favorites?  Do you have a tone like I do?!

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