Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quality Time With Julo

I'm taking a page out of Kelly's book blog. For her hundredth post, she came out from behind the camera/computer and told us all about her. I liked the idea, so I'll spend a post talking a bit about me. Hey! Where are you going? Come on, this will be fun!


Oh wait, I forgot I'm incredibly boring. Ummm....

Did you know I have a food blog? Well ok, it's called Hell on Needles because it was originally going to be a blog about my crafting (knitting and crocheting, mostly), with occasional posts about my adventures in the kitchen. And then I kind of had a lifestyle change. I brought home Theo, for one. As a puppy he demanded so much attention (ok, he still demands just as much attention, I've just learned to say no from time to time ;p), I never got very far in any of my projects. And then I started exercising and losing weight, and cooking and losing weight, and baking, and, well that didn't help the weight loss so much. I've lost 65 pounds since the start of the year from just boring old diet and exercise. And that's diet as in watching what I eat, not a fad diet. No, sir, those don't work for me. It was a lot of hard work, and it took a lot of time. All of my free time in fact. And as a result, I've become a bit food-obsessed. In a good way, I think! I started off a terrible cook, and now I think I've gotten pretty good! I eat all kinds of foods I never did before. And I only eat out once or twice a week, whereas before it was once or twice a day! I wanted a way to capture all the food I make because my memory is terrible and I fall into ruts quite easily. I try to post every week the food I've made (I spend pretty much all day Sunday cooking and baking food for the entire week. That's just what works for me. I've never minded leftovers.), and what I thought of each recipe. That way I can go back 6 months from now and dust off some of the older favorites. That kind of thing. Sometimes I even post my own recipes! It's rare, but I'm starting to break out of my mold and do it more and more. If you're interested, follow me!

I run. A lot. I used to do it 6 days a week, which was fine when I was only running 1-2 miles. But now I run 3.5-4 miles, and my legs just can't take that every day. So I've been cross training with some swimming and the elliptical machine. I used to hate running. I was that kid in high school who only ran the straight parts of the track during our once/year physical fitness test. I think my time was like 14:something minutes. 3 weeks ago I ran 5 miles in 40:44. To the people who say "I'm just not a runner", I say "That's a cop out!" If I can do it, so can everyone else, because I was the lamest of the lame less than a year ago. Also, I'm currently on the lookout for a good "skin-firming" lotion because my loose skin is grossing me out.

You know if there's a TMI in sight, I'm going for it, right?

I'm an engineer. This job, this industry, like so many things in my life, just kind of fell into my lap when I was at the right place at the right time. It's a bit of a struggle, but right now I'm just glad to have a job. I was un-laid off a few weeks ago, so I'll be employed for a little while longer yet. It will most likely be a temporary save, so I'm still looking for other opportunities. It's a terrible time to be looking for the type of job I'm looking for in my area. Voluntary unemployment is my ultimate dream, while involuntary unemployment is my greatest fear. That and spiders. I am constantly fighting the urge to bury my head in the sand and wait for it to all go away. Also, engineers are such a pain in the butt! A bunch of type-A socially inept good ol' boys. It can be very trying at times.

Like Kelly, I also enjoy wine. And even though I really don't know much about it, it's my drink of choice. When I drink it, I either say "Mmmm, this is delicious. I love wine! Winey, wine, wine!", or "Ew, this is undrinkable swill! Time to braise some potatoes!" I get totally overwhelmed by the options out there, and usually chicken out and just stick to the wines I know. But Husband and I have been trying to branch out and try something new now and then. My current go-to wine is the Root:1 Cabernet. It's less than $10 at Costco, and I think it's just fantastic wine for everyday. I should try more Chilean wines. Anyone have any suggestions for wines they like?

Also, good wine, good cheese, and fresh bread. 'Nuff said. This kind of happiness really can pull me out of any funk. Husband has used to before, very successfully.

I'm going to be an aunt any day now! My sister is ready to pop her little Bagel bun out of the oven hopefully in another week or two. She's my only sibling and this is her first child, so the whole family is extremely excited. She's having a boy, and we call him Bagel (it's a long story that would reveal all to clearly how insane we all are, so we just won't go there), though when he comes out I hear we'll be calling him Nate. Awww. I can't wait to spoil him rotten, and I'm already thinking about how many trips cross country (she lives on the East Coast) I'll be able to make without breaking the bank.

Is it weird that when typing up my steam of consciousness I went with "comes out" instead of "born"?

It's my dream to live in the Pacific Northwest. I dream of the lush greenery of Oregon and the homey feel I get when I read blogs from people who live there. It's my kinda place. I loved Seattle the last few times I briefly visited, which is saying something because I usually hate big cities. They're ugly and dirty. Seattle is gorgeous. But I must admit sometimes I'm afraid of how I would do there. I live in the most temperate climate in the US, and I still run my space heater at work (what? They over-AC!). Though I think as long as we could afford to heat/cool our house and proper outerwear, we would be fine. Unfortunately, both Husband and I seem to be far too chicken to make the leap.

We remodeled our kitchen last year. It was the second most stressful thing I've ever done, I think. It wasn't a good experience. We haven't been in a rush to hire anyone to work on the house since.



Though I do like the way it turned out. Much more me. I wanted a darker, earthier green on the walls, but Husband was afraid of it "darkening the room". *Snort* I wish I knew how to do more myself, but I am decidedly not handy.

I love Family Guy. Sure, the new episodes are a bit preachy, but who watches that show for the plot? I have been known to laugh so hard I cried while recalling a particular quote from that show. We all need a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously sometimes.

When my mom, my sister and I get together, sometimes hysterical laughter over something completely inane ensues. Usually there's crying and wheezing involved. Sometimes both. We're a crazy family, but we have fun. Sometimes I think it could make a good book, but then I remember I can't write, or even remember most things. Ah well.

Wow, are you still reading this? You didn't fall asleep? Most people agree that I'm a terribly boring person. A homebody with no real hobbies. It often makes for forced small talk and awkward conversation (thus further encouraging my homebody status). I don't really care if other people think I'm boring, since I don't think that. I like my life. I enjoy the things I do. I'm simple. Nothing wrong with that. So thanks for reading. I hope I didn't bore you too much, and now you know more about the woman behind the blog.

And because I can't just let it go without mentioning the little goober, I'll also mention that it looks like Theo will be dressing up as a disgruntled Petco customer for Halloween. I went there last weekend (that would be two whole weeks before Halloween) looking for a Halloween costume for Theo. And you know what? They were out! Sold out. The chick at the register was completely rude, and acted like I was daft for even asking if they would be getting more in stock. I didn't realize it was something I needed to get a mad rush on. So Theo will just be Theo, unless I can find something at Target this weekend (assuming I have time to get to Target, which I don't have high hopes for). Neither Husband nor Theo were particularly broken up about this fact. Also, my mom will be glad I'm not practicing animal cruelty.

And we still have firm poops on the booty front.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not The Pink Stuff!

The only liquid "medication" I've given to Theo before last week was children's benedryl. Since it's made for kids, they added enough sugar to it to make it perfectly palatable for Theo's consumption. In other words, I could get him to drink it right out of the little cup. Pepto bismol? Not so. I've never taken the pink stuff myself, but apparently it tastes nasty enough that even Theo won't go near it. Poor guy. As part of his tummy upset regimen we were instructed to give him a few tablespoons of pepto bismol every day. I only lasted two. I think the picture to the left clearly spells out why.

First off, the only liquid medication syringe at my disposal only holds about 1/16 of a teaspoon at a time. Which means to give him 2 tablespoons in one sitting, took about 30 million little syringe shots. Needless to say, Theo and I both tired of it very quickly. I have since purchased a much much bigger syringe. Also, Theo kept trying to spit it out (see picture), which not only led to doggy spittle all over my hands (see picture), but also to a very pink dog (see picture). Not to mention a pink me. You can't see it in this picture because I look nice and covered with that paper towel, but my entire arm (my favorite sweater!) is covered in pink doggy spittle. Ew.

So it begs the question, did it work? Why, yes! It did! This was the same disastrous evening where Theo decided to upchuck his new "easy on his stomach" food (the I/D). Perhaps because his stomach was already upset. I think it was in protest to the slop. After the upchucking, Theo was mopey and obviously not feeling that great. I eventually wrestled enough of the pink stuff in him, and 5 minutes later he was back to his normal self: wanting to play fetch and eat. After the second day he obviously didn't even need it, so I figured I wouldn't even bother putting us both through the stress.

Where was Husband during this whole debacle? Well since I'm in the photo (like the fun I had with pixelation?), I'll give you one guess. Yep. While I was juggling a stubborn bratty puppy, cleaning up dog vomit, and getting covered in pink goop, Husband was snapping pictures. I guess I should be thankful, otherwise we wouldn't have a remembrance of this extra fun event! *sigh*

On the food front, I convinced Husband to do a trial run with Deli Fresh. From what I've gathered, their slice and serve logs are basically whole ingredients that are gently cooked (as in, cooked enough that their not raw, but not so much that all the nutrients are killed. So like people food rather than kibble). It's sold in the refrigerated section of my local big-name pet store. Unfortunately, they don't carry it at the smaller specialty pet stores I prefer to frequent. Oh well. I'm really liking this stuff so far because it feels like I'm just feeding him regular pre-cooked food. You can even identify ingredients like brown rice and carrots, and it smells like chicken. And you can't beat the convenience! Also, I feel like I'm feeding him a more complete diet. It has all the vitamins and nutrients that he needs added to it in the correct balance to keep him healthy, which was something that always kept me a bit worried with the diet I was feeding him. At my local store it was $15 for an 8lb log, which should last about 8-10 days. So about $45/month. No bad at all! Considering how much time I'm saving by not having to constantly be cooking chicken and chopping fruits and vegetables and cooking rice, I'm thinking this might be a permanent thing.

Oh, and Theo's health issues? Ok, it's kind of a long story. Do you need a bathroom break? Maybe a glass of water? Better get it now. We won't be having an intermission. Also, the rest of this post is mainly going to talk about poop, so the faint hearted should just stop reading now. Seriously.

Ok, so about 2 months ago we noticed Theo's poops were consistently soft. Not runny, not like diarrhea. Just soft. All the time. It wasn't anything to cause alarm, but I started restricting his diet to clear it up. I started by taking him off the kibble. Maybe it was just a bad batch. Then I took him off dairy. Then I added pumpkin. Nothing changed. Next to go were the fruits and veggies, leaving just the bland chicken and rice. Nothing changed, leading me to think it wasn't an issue with his food. This was over the course of several weeks. Then I got a postcard in the mail telling me it was time for one of Theo's vaccination shots. I figured while I was at the vet, I would have them look him over to see if they could shed any light on the issue.

$200 later I was sent home with some anti-diarrhetic (flagyl, I believe it's called) pills for the soft poops, and some probiotics for his digestion. They also did a fecal analysis that came back negative. He was on the meds for a week, and they seemed to clear things right up. Almost immediately his poops were hard. I remember scooping up the first hard poop, shoving it in Husband's face and saying "It's FIRM!" It's amazing how caught up you get about poop when you're a dog owner. And it's rather embarrassing how much it comes up in conversation with other dog owners. Sorry neighbors, for constantly steering the direction of the conversation to poop! After the week on meds things went back to normal. I reintroduced Theo slowly to his more regular diet, and his poops stayed good. I should also mention that through this whole process his appetite and energy level never changed. Other than soft poops he never had any other visible symptoms.

Then a few weeks later Theo's doggy daycare called to tell me Theo was having major diarrhea. I told my boss "I gotta leave early. My kid is sick at daycare." Just for effect. It was fun. It was a Friday evening. Theo had diarrhea (and I wish there was a worse term for what kind of diarrhea he had because I feel like diarrhea just doesn't cut it here) until we took him to the vet that Monday morning. Probably about every 2-3 hours he had to go, and usually felt like he had to go every hour. That includes the middle of the night. Husband and I had to take turns taking him outside every couple of hours. 3 nights in a row was brutal. Yes, I know we're not ready for kids. I'm fine with getting up once. Twice was a bit torturous. By the third time I was fed up enough to wake up Husband and make him do it. Hehe.

As I said, it wasn't just diarrhea. It was soup. It came with a complement of squirty noises. Lots of doggy wipes were involved. Theo had the most adorable embarrassed-looking face every time he went. But other than that, no change in his demeanor. He would be playing fetch out in the backyard, same as always, and suddenly stop and run off for the occasional pit stop. It was rather hilarious, actually.

So that Monday morning Husband took him back to the vet. You already mostly know how it turned out. Even though he told them Theo was on a chicken and rice diet, they insisted on pushing their swill on him. And the same exact meds as before. And another fecal test, which of course came back negative. The meds suppress his symptoms, but they made no effort to diagnose him. Why was he having the issue in the first place? I have to think it's related to the soft poops from the last few months. They apparently just shrugged it off and said he had probably "gotten into something". First off, he didn't. I watch that dog like a hawk. And second, what could he have possibly gotten into that would cause that level of diarrhea for 4 days?! Honestly, it never showed any signs of improving the entire weekend. When we took him to the vet, whatever was bothering his system was still bothering him.

The meds have suppressed the issue, so we're just going to wait and see. If it's something like an infection or some other issue that hasn't already cleared up on its own, it'll rear it's ugly head again. And when it does, we'll be ready. To take him to a new vet. Hooray!

In the meantime we're looking into pet insurance. Because really, I wasn't convinced, but I think in the long run it'll be worth it. Anyone have insurance with a company other than VPI? Just curious, since VPI seems to be what everyone has.

And that's the saga of Theo's poop troubles! My intestinally-challenged little troublemaker. Did you survive? Should I say diarrhea one more time just in case I didn't already offend you with the frequency of its use? Naw, I wouldn't do that. I'm classy like that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


If you read this blog, know Theo, or own a Corgi yourself, chances are you'll understand the gravity of the statement I am about to make. I found a food Theo won't eat.

OMG!!! No wai!

Way. There's kind of a long story there, and there's a ton of stuff I need to post about and haven't had time. Soon! But I couldn't wait to tell you that my dog - Yes, the one who will eat anything edible (including dried up crunchy worms, a delicacy!). The one who I have yet to find a food he won't eat, including all manner or grain, vegetable (even brussells sprouts!), and fruit. The one who prefers real food, but eats his kibble like a trooper and without complaint. The one who instinctively stays away from all things non-edible, like tree seeds, rocks, bark, and uncooked lentils that I've spilled all over the kitchen floor (because I'm me, and that is my life). Yes, that one. - He won't eat the Science Diet I/D dry food.

This is the stuff that you're supposed to give your dog when he has an upset tummy. This is the stuff that, while supposedly easy on their system, also has a first ingredient of corn. There's also soy. This is also the stuff my vet pressured my husband into buying after he told them we've been feeding Theo chicken and rice. A ten pound bag of it. A month's supply, supposedly. How is it that chicken meal and rice processed heavily (to the point where all the nutrients are cooked out of it) with corn, soy, and other fillers that are hard to digest are better for my dog's digestive system than fully cooked chicken breast and brown rice?

Aside: My old professor who I talk to on Facebook says that most vets don't take classes on canine nutrition in veterinary school. I told her that I had never taken a class on canine nutrition either. I do, however, possess enough common sense to work it out for myself. What can I conclude, except that my vet does not possess common sense?

In other news, I will now be finding a new vet.

Anyway, this 10lb bag of processed disgustingness? Money down the drain. Theo took one look at his food bowl last night and gave me a look that very clearly said "Seriously? This is my dinner? How am I supposed to eat this!?" He picked up a few bites, but they mostly ended up on the floor next to his food bowl. After a couple of attempts he just walked away. He walked away with all the food still in the bowl! And then he upchucked. Yeap. He had a look of pure misery on his face. From the upchucking or the ingestion of that swill, I don't know.

About an hour and 2TB of pepto bismol later (OMG, is that ever another story! And with pictures! Ooooh, I hope I have time to post about that this week!), Theo was back to his normal self. And he happily downed the chicken and rice we gave him. No issues. Seriously, he went from pathetically run down to normal Theo in less than 5 minutes. It was kind of amazing. We were ready to throw the I/D in the trash, but I had a thought this morning. What if his disdain for the kibble was due to the fact that he wasn't feeling well? Had we let our preconceived notions of the crap food lead us to conclude the upchucking was a result of the food rather than the other way around? So I gave him another bowl for breakfast. I got another one of those looks. But this time he powered through a few bites. And then he left his food bowl when Husband sat down to eat his breakfast. He left his food bowl with food still in it in the hopes of scrounging a morsel or two from the floor around Husband's feet. This is about as unlike Theo as you can get. It really is a testament to how nasty that stuff is. Eventually I mixed in some chicken and rice just to get him to finish eating.

And now I'm left with a dilemma. Do I chuck the bag of vet-prescribed disgustingness? Or do I continue to mix crap food with real food? That good ol' common sense I was talking about tells me I should just nix the crap food, but the goody two-shoes rule-follower in me says I should try and stick with what the vet says since Theo wasn't getting better on chicken and rice. *sigh* What to do?

More on Theo's tummy woes later. Nothing serious, so no cause for worries. Unless you're worried about me getting my uninterrupted 6-7 hours of sleep every night, in which case, be very worried.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Calendar Link Correction

I am S-M-R-T. I didn't realize there were two links to the Corgi Blogs Calendar. The one I linked in my last post was for the personalized calendar, should you want to change the size, background color, etc. of the calendar. The good ol' Kelly-made calendar is actually here, and for $5 less! But not to worry, the $5 going to Corgi Rescue still applies. Phew! The world makes sense again. I apologize if my link led anyone astray. Apparently I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached. Put the keys in the bowl!*

I think somewhere along the way I broke Theo. I've mentioned before that he's not really into playing with other dogs. At most usually he'll just bark at other dogs while they play. Husband took Theo to the dog park yesterday, and as usual, while he enjoyed himself immensely, he didn't exactly get tuckered out and wanted to play as soon as he got home. I guess I should count myself lucky that he didn't fall asleep this time. And how does Theo want to play? By jumping on my head and nibbling my ears, of course! Ya know, dog play! But he won't dog play with other dogs... Hmm... I'm just not sure how this happened. *sigh*

*10 points if you know that reference!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mr. January

It is unpardonable how much I've been neglecting poor Theo Theo's poor blog of late. I never even bothered to post that Kelly, our favorite Corgi-owned Corgi-merch extraordinaire at Corgi Butts ran a calendar contest for those of us crazies with Corgi blogs. And wouldn't you know it, Theo is Mr. January! Yay! The picture that was chosen (out of the 6 or so I submitted) was during a little photo op I had with him in Reno last Christmas (pictured right). That's right, one of the pictures I never bothered uploading, or even pulling off of my camera until recently. Whoops! It's almost next Christmas already! Heh. So I'll be uploading a bunch of new pictures of Theo hopefully sometime in the near future.

I almost didn't make it into the calendar at all, thanks to my procrastinating ways! Ok, well actually Husband was 100% hogging the laptop until very very recently, and then I was way busy with other things, etc. Kelly's last call post the other day was just the kick in the pants I needed to hunker down and find some pics! And thankfully she was very forgiving of my pacific timezone timing. Heh. A whopping $5 per calendar goes to Corgi Rescue, so get your 2010 Corgi Blogs Calendar here! Attention family, I'm buying you one already so don't even think about it unless you want two!. ;p

In other Theo news, Theo has been channeling my lazy bum-ness himself lately. He's really taken a liking to the dark hallway by the garage door. He usually takes a small after dinner nap there before our nightly walk. Some nights he's not so excited about the walk, and he gives me this look when I ask him if he's ready to go. I think he's saying "Go ahead and go on without me tonight, Mommy. *yawn*"

I had some minor concerns about his health over the last few months, so I took him to the vet a few weeks ago. Not to get TMI on you, but his poops haven't been too happy. No full on diarrhea, but just a bit soft, consistently, for too long of a period. I tried altering his diet in every way possible, eliminating ingredients one at a time, and nothing changed. So the vet put him on probiotics. You know, like Activia? I was skeptical, but they actually worked like a dream. One week with some good bacteria in his system seemed to do the trick. The other concern is a small growth on the side of his tummy. It's a hard lump that popped up recently. The vet just said to keep an eye on it and bring him back if it grows, but since he's only a year and a half old, he really doubted it was anything to cause concern. I don't like that my puppy already has lumps growing. I'll have to keep a close eye on him!

Other than that, Mr. January has been a dream!