Saturday, April 28, 2012

Six for Saturday

1. We got a little early for a Saturday today so we could have our first Skype session with Anna, whose birthday was today! It was good... except that I was up really, really late (more on that in a bit) so my brain was kind of oatmealy. It was good to see her smiling face - she looks very happy and healthy and says she's eating well and enjoying her time there. One of the little boys, Ethan, popped in for a visit while we chatted and said hi. :) She "showed" us her room, which is lovely, and we brought her cat, Ranger, in for a quick hello (wrapped in a towel to reduce the hair flying around, lol). We talked for an hour before we finally said our goodbyes, which were made much easier by the fact that she looked so happy (and that we'll get to see her again next Saturday!).

The next three go together in a weird sort of way...

2. We had drama rehearsal yesterday - I had two of them (I was worried about Maggie going to two rehearsals after having her acupuncture session, so I released her from the VBS drama, and she drove up with the rest of the kids for the spring musical rehearsal). VBS drama is finally getting off the ground - though I still get easily frustrated sometimes when we get "sidetracked" by "big ideas" (set design, advanced acting, etc), I can see it coming together, and that's exciting. We have a good group this year, and I'm enjoying it.

We also had our final dress rehearsal for the spring musical - Patch the Pirate's "The Lone Stranger" - in which I am only singing. This is a first for me, but I have to say, it was nice. I'm usually the one herding cats and tearing my hair out and wondering WHY I was doing this... it's a lot easier to just get up and sing. :)

We got out of drama early so when we got home Maggie and I decided to chill out on my bed and pop in a few movies we'd picked up at Redbox earlier - the Mighty Macs, which I've wanted to see ever since I saw the previews for it and realized that David Boreanaz of Bones was in it - and Captain America, which I've also been wanting to see after I realized I have a thing for superhero movies. :)

3. First, Mighty Macs - David Boreanaz was hugely underutilized in this movie, and that's probably my biggest issue with it. It's decently cut, gets around being sappy by not really exploring any issue deeper that "trust gets teams to the championship." That said, it's 100% family friendly and entertaining, and makes you want to root for the team. :)

4. Captain America - I have issues with this movie, most of which revolve around the ending (bad ending! :( Made me sad, and I can think of at least three other ways that you could have ended it which would have made me sad, but at least would have felt resolved).
But it was fun to see so many actors we recognized. :) Actually, we started joking that its main purpose was to introduce somebody we knew and loved every ten minutes, and it mostly worked out that way, lol. First it was Tommy Lee Jones, then Hugo Weaving, then Toby Jones, and meanwhile all the time we're saying "I know that guy!" whom we eventually realized was Stanley Tucci, and then - two minutes from the ending, when we were sure the parade had stopped, in steps Samuel Jackson.
It was a fun movie, bad ending or not.

5. Except that I stayed up so late watching movies - til after midnight - and then couldn't seem to settle down - and the electricity went off, turning my fan off as well - and it ended up being after 2 when I finally got to bed.

6. I woke up friend, and knowing I had to accomplish two chores: I had to clean the bathroom, which badly, badly needed it, and I needed to clean out my chicken's cage. There aren't really any shortcuts to cleaning chicken cages, sadly, but I thought I'd share with you the most magical way to get a tub really, really clean - like, so clean it looks newly installed: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (I used the bathroom scrubber types this time but I've used the regular and extra strength ones in the past and honestly, they all do pretty much as well). Wet, squeeze, wipe. You don't really even have to scrub. It's the first product I've ever seen that is actually underadvertised - in other words, it works better than they show on TV.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

If Only...

Me, texting BFF: I wish you were here. I miss you.

BFF: I miss you too :(

Me: If u wer here, id steal you and wed drive around to every makeup counter in town until we found the perfect shade of red lipstick. That would be our mission for the day

BFF: That would be fun!

Me: No, strike that, id call you to meet me after work and wed pile into your car (cuz it has a sunroof) and wed drive to the ocean even if it IS 3 hours away and we'd walk in the sand barefoot with hoodies on (cuz its not THAT warm lol) and wed drive back really really really late at night giggling hysterically cuz wer so exhausted, and wed go to work the next day fried, but it would be so worth it

Me: Cuz wed remember it forever... :)

BFF: I so wanna do that now!!!
(Yes, I do text that way, even if I am an English major. :)).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Listing

I love words that have a double meaning... like "list." It can mean "the act of making or including something in a list" or (as a nautical term) it can mean to lean or tend towards. I'm doing both - everything in me is being drawn lately to spring things, and since the weather forecast reads cold and rainy all week, what better way to stay out of a funk than by making a list of all the things I'm listing towards? :)

  •  Spring planting - I have my little 4X4 raised bed tilled; now all it needs it a little fertilizer and some plants! And since the conventional wisdom from the Amish in this part of the woods says that planting after May 5th is safe, hopefully next weekend will be the big day! I'm looking forward to planting tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, squash, and spinach. (Can you grow chickpeas? I would love to grow chickpeas...)
  • Building a chicken coop - I brought the dog kennel-turned-chicken-run over with the help of my brother over the weekend, and my chickens got one glorious day of running around in their spacious new digs before the weather turned freezing and I had to bring them back inside. :( As soon as it gets warmer, I'm looking foward to getting their little coop build and attached to the run so that they can stay outside permanently! (cuz as much as I love them, chickens belong outside.)  
  • Cleaning out my closet - I was hoping to do that this week, but since it's turned cold again and I've already raided my closet twice for warm clothes that I'd shoved to the back, it seems like a wiser idea to just let it rest for now and wait for warm weather to return.  
  • New sheets! - and maybe new curtains... I found some curtains at JC Penneys this weekend that I loved. On the other hand, I'm also considering some blackout curtains, since I love to crawl into bed early, and in the summer months it's hard to fall asleep until it's dark out. But I also dearly love waking up to the morning sun, so it's kind of an impossible situation. :) Either way, new textiles are so called for - I need new non-polyester sheets, and a lightweight nonwoven blanket - I've been eyeing this one for months, but I can't bring myself to pay that much for it when I know I could probably make it myself for cheaper (but don't want to lol).  
  • Some upcycling/crafty projects - nothing in the works right now, but I'm dearly missing a creative outlet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Change Is Good

Okay, so I rarely feel this way. For instance, when Weight Watchers changed from their Points program to their PointsPlus program, I threw a hissy fit. I hate when people move away or when products I love get discontinued - or.even when they change the packaging, cuz it makes it that. much. harder. to find on the shelf! But... Blogger updated their blogging software/text editing program over the weekend, and though I went through an initial five minutes of anxiety and some moaning and groaning, I have to admit...

It's nice.

In fact, once I figured out how to change back to the old editor - because Blogger is cool like that, and leaves the old editor up so if you absolutely can't figure something out, you have a fallback - anyway, once I figured out how to change back to the old editor, I didn't.

This is pretty serious. Kudos, Blogger.

Anyway, I figured that new blogging software calls for a fresh look for my blog, so here it is! Do you like it? I see myself playing with different elements over the next couple of days (or even weeks) but for the most part I think this works better.

I'm not really looking forward to this week weather-wise. Rain. Rain. Rain. And if it's not raining, it's calling for partly sunny or partly cloudy conditions - what's the difference, anyway? I'm curious - with no warmth in sight til next weekend. *sigh* No fun! My poor chickens, who just got a brand new big chicken run, are gonna get cooped up inside - no pun intended - for awhile. Bleh.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Clean Freak

Here's something a little different than what I normally write about, but bear with me; I think some of you might like it (some of you, I'm sure, will be appalled lol).

Let me start out by saying that I don't have good skin. If I could change one thing about my body, it wouldn't be the extra weight or the shape of my body or whatever, it would be to have healthy skin - cuz while I know I could change the rest if I committed to it, I have no clue how to fix my skin most of the time.

I have dry skin. I know this now, and I wish I'd known it when I was a teenager desperate to fix my acned skin, and reading all the literature for acned teens about cleansing, removing the oil, etc. I know now that what my poor skin wanted most was probably a little moisture.

As a young adult, I've achieved slightly better skin with gentle cleansers and lots of moisturizer, but nobody in their right mind would call my skin healthy looking. I have redness, blotchiness, dark spots, little pimples, and, most recently, big hormonal cystic PAINFUL pimples that HURT and never quite healed before my cycle came around and they flared again. Not good.

About a month ago, I was rereading some old blog posts and stumbled across this post from one of my favorite blogs. I dismissed this post the first time because it sounded complicated ("...We tried the OCM, running back and forth between the computer and the sink, to make sure we were doing it just right...") and also because she was using it in conjunction with an Olay ProX, and I knew from some other bloggers that they were pricey, and I just wasn't interested in spending that much money.

But when the cystic zits set in several months ago, I was at my wit's end. My old skincare routine wasn't doing a thing (plus I was developing dry itchy patches which were driving me nuts), and - a little more desperate than usual - I figured I could give anything a try. It couldn't get much worse, lol!

So I went back and did my research.

Now, some disclaimers: I am not "crunchy", all-natural, or back to nature AT ALL. I'm not afraid of chemicals, I buy reusable cups whether they have BPA in them or not, and I only use natural products when they work as well or better than the synthetic ones. Not saying I'm right, just that this is the way I work.

I'm also not claiming that this is the end-all, magical solution for all skin. I'm more putting this out there as something that helped (not completely fixed) my own skin, and you might find it interesting, too.

I've been using the Oil Cleansing Method for about a month now, and I'm pleased enough that I won't be buying any more skincare products (except maybe some Burt's Bees Acne treatment or some lavender essential oil... and, to be honest, that ProX or a cheaper version is looking pretty interesting, now, too!). Dewy, vibrant, completely zit-free skin? No, not yet. Clearer skin? Definitely. Happier skin? Yup. Do I have hope that someday I'll get the kinks worked out and this will lead to less issues? Oh, yes! :)

So, here's what the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) is, as I understand it:

The premise: Your skin naturally produces and needs oil. Stripping away this oil removes dead skin and impurities, but also strips away the oil that your skin needs to be healthy. It also stimulated your skin to produce even more oil, leading to oil overload. Vicious cycle. Bad.

The solution: Since "like dissolves like" (did you know this? I didn't) what we should actually be doing is dissolving the oil on our faces with... drumroll please... oil.

This runs so contrary to what the skincare industry preaches, I'm gonna pause for a moment and let you contemplate.

Okay, enough. Back to the post.

I would dismiss this out of hand as a delusional crunchy fantasy, except that so many people who were at first incredulous or disbelieving had great success with it. Plus, you know, we've already established that my face couldn't actually get much worse.

I started out here, at the seemingly "official" oil cleansing method website. I immediately understood why it seemed so confusing, but I dutifully mixed up my own batch of 10% castor oil/90% EVOO and tried it exactly the way it describes.

And it WORKED. The next day I had a few tiny pimples, but the cystic zits had already started to heal up and disappeared within a few days. More redness than usual, which I know now was due to too much steaming/drying, but once I got the hang of it that disappeared too.

After a few days, I got more confident and googled around to see if I could get any more "tips." I found Crunchy Betty's post on the subject and liked it, and I also found this website. Both gave contradictory advice (one says not to rub after steaming, the other says to rub the oil away, etc) and this was actually more helpful to me, because it gave me "permission" to deviate away from the "rules" and see what worked for my own skin. More on that in a bit.

First, something that surprisingly many people seem to be concerned about: cost! I didn't even consider this, actually, when I began - I've always felt that skincare products are expensive, and we always have olive oil around the house. However, when I decided that I wanted to continue doing this long-term (and also when I wanted to switch oils - again, more on this in a bit), I decided to do the research.

Organic extra-virgin olive oil can be had for $8.99/16 oz. Almond oil (what I'm using now) can be had for $5.61/8 oz. Organic avocado oil (what I'd like to try) can be had for $7.50/16 oz. I'm guesstimating I use about 2 TSP each time I wash my face, maybe a little less, and there are roughly 47 TSP in 8 oz, so even using the most expensive oil (almond) I figure it costs me about 23 cents to wash my face. When I consider that I used to use not one but 3 products every day, each costing over $5 (each bottle lasted about 1.5-2 months), I'm still coming out on top by at least a few cents.

Of course, when I consider that none of those 3 products were actually working, the value seems to go up considerably. :)

After using a 90/10 mix of olive/castor oils for most of the month, I couldn't take the chemically smell and rough feel of the castor oil any more and decided to try 100% almond oil, as I've read such great things about it - it can help eliminate dark undereye circles, make your lashes grow thicker, and, of course, do great things for your skin! Luckily my sister had some on hand so she let me borrow it. I'm much more pleased with this oil than with the castor/olive oil. I'd still like to try avocado oil, sometime - when I do, I'll be sure to update you!

Okay, so after a lot of experimentation, here's what I do:

I don't wash my face in the morning. I never have, except for a small two week period when I was trying a new product and they "strongly recommended" washing in the morning and evening. During those two weeks, my skin looked chapped. My skin just doesn't need that much cleansing, which works out great for me, because many people using the OCM recommend only cleansing at night and only rinsing your skin (using only water) in the morning.

At night, before I go to bed, I clean my face one of two ways - I think of them as "have time" and "no time" methods lol.

If I have some time, I turn the water in my sink on hot and let it get good and steamy while I tie my hair back with a headband. This isn't necessary, as you can apply almond oil to the hair, as well, but I have really fine, somewhat greasy hair, and I'm not ready to go that far lol. Once the water is hot, I pour a little bit of oil into a squeeze bottle (much like an old diner-style ketchup bottle) and set it under the running water until the bottle is hot. I find that heating the oil really helps open my pores and lets the oil penetrate instead of just sitting on my face. I imagine you could also zap it in the microwave for a few seconds, but there seems to be some controversy about whether or not microwaving oil zaps the healing properties out of it (I would still try it, lol, except the microwave is downstairs and I'm lazy :)).

Once the bottle and the oil inside is really warm, I run my hands under the hot water for a few seconds to heat them up, dry them thoroughly, and spread oil across my face and down my jawline. I massage the oil into my skin, and I often reapply a bit more oil if my skin starts to look dry.

Once the oil is all applied and massaged in, I like to give it a bit of time to work. Ideally this is the time when I run a hot bath, grab a good book, and let the steam continue to work on my face while I unwind... but more often this is the time when I run downstairs to feed or water my chickens, lay out an outfit for the next day, tidy my room, etc. :)

When I'm ready to take the oil off my face, I run the water hot again, run a washcloth under until it's completely soaked, and wring it out quickly. I place the damp cloth on my face just until it cools slightly (less than 30 seconds), and wipe away the oil on my face once (others recommend repeating this steaming step several times, but that's just too drying for my skin). I do one last swipe to catch any areas that didn't get proper attention the first time - under my jaw, my nose, etc - and pat my skin dry.

That's it!

If I don't have much time, I repeat the above steps, but I leave the water running after I wring out my washcloth, and after I quickly massage the oil into my skin, I hang over the sink for a bit (not more than 30 seconds) and let the steam help the oil penetrate. Then I simply steam and wipe away just as I do when I have more time.

This is not the perfect skincare method (is there a perfect skincare method?). Or perhaps it is, and I just haven't figured some parts out, lol? Anyway... here are some things I'm still wondering:

What do you do in the middle of the day when your face needs a refresher and water alone won't cut it? What about when you're working out and sweaty, at the pool (and your face is reacting to the chlorine), applied sunscreen, etc? Do you bring a small thing of oil with you and just do a quickie version? Do you just wait until that evening (ick!)?  Can you exfoliate? (seems to be some controvery about this). What about travel? I'm going on a trip next month and I'm not really looking forward to packing a container of oil in my luggage - how do you transport it?

But I have to admit, these questions are less important to me than having happy skin the majority of the time. :)

I hope at least one of you is inspired to give it a shot, and if you do, I'd love to hear your feedback! Let me know what routine you settle on, what works/doesn't work for you, and how your skin likes it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Six "Quick Takes"

1. Have I mentioned how much I love I do. I got another request today for a book I'd listed - four down, six to go! And, again, I'm so amazed at how easy it is - you print the shipping label right from the website (you can prepay shipping on it, too, but I haven't tried it yet, just cuz my purse and I are always on opposite ends of the house... but I want to soon!). I totally don't mind paying the $2 it takes to mail out a book, knowing that I can cash the credits in later for books I'll want. It's like a book savings account. :)

2. Speaking of books... I found a book that I was really interested in, that looked great, that I finally gave up on because I could not get into it. It was James Daschner's The Maze Runner, and I picked it up a thousand times at BJ's, thought it sounded amazing, finally bought it, tried to read it... I just don't like it. And I feel bad for not liking it, because I'm admittedly not giving it much of a chance (I only made it about four chapters in). But it was so. boring. And it felt forced and uninspired - like it was trying to be the next A Clockwork Orange with its own edgy fancy vocab... but I never did like A Clockwork Orange, so that wasn't really a point in its favor. I feel bad, but I finally decided to list it up on PBS and get the credit. And James Daschner, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. Maybe this will be one of those migratory books which comes back in my life at a later date suddenly feeling relevant and exciting.

3. Last year my friend Tracey and I sent in a piece of clothing to Marisa over at New Dress A Day. For those of you who aren't aware of Marisa's project, she takes one piece of outrageously style-less clothing each day and transforms it into something amazing for less than $1 a day. Last year and this year the theme was "reader submissions," so my friend Tracey and I just had to get in on the act. You can see our submission here.

4. My chicken hates me. The new one, Adonis? HATES me. With a passion. She's bonded well with Isiri and Unami, who cuddle her under their wing and share their food and show all signs of being a happy chicken family, but while Unami and Isiri come to me happily and cluck about my feet and seem to enjoy being held and cuddled, Adonis still hates me. I'm contemplating how mean it would be to hand-raise another Golden Comet, wait for it to reach maturity, and then rehome Adonis to a place where there were other chickens, but no humans who wish to be friends. I don't know if I just got her when she was too old (although she's not that much older than the others when I got them) or if it has to do with the breed (Golden Comets are apparently known for being friendly and personable), but I'm not so thrilled with my newcomer.

Just on a lark, in case you're curious, this is what my chickens look like now, sans the mature comb:

So cute!

5. I just got Tony Bennet's Duets album on a lark. It's amazing. The first track is with the Dixie Chicks, and it's amazing. I played it about four times in a row yesterday while driving home from work, and each time the volume got a little louder and the windows got rolled a little lower. It's an amazing compilation. I just found out there's a second album, and you can guess what I'll be hunting down over the weekend.

6. We're practically done with school for the semester - the twins have really powered through this year and been extremely dilligent, and homeschooling being what it is, they just got through a lot more material faster than a classroom would. While I feel irrationally guilty for letting them out this early (even though they're not really out all the way - they'll both be working math till late May, early June), I suppose it's for the best as they'll both be starting college in the fall, doing their last two years of high school as dual-enrollment students. Allen especially wants to knock out at least his Freshman year, and Liz has found a 2 year massage therapy degree she's excited about pursuing, and I'm thrilled. :)
One thing I did insist on for the summer, however, is that they both start a blog to keep their writing skills intact. Allen already has his launched, settling on The Hobby Master as his name (he already has one post up and several more in rough drafts). Liz is still trying to decide on a name. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Keeping On Keeping On...

I got my first paperbackswap book yesterday! Well of Lost Plots,the third book in the "Thursday Next" series and sequel to Lost In A Good Book which I greatly enjoyed a couple of months ago. I still haven't read the first book in the series - it's on hold for eons at PBS - and the fifth book isn't available at all except as audiobook, but I did snag a copy of the sixth book and got the notification today that it's on its way to me! Looks like I'll have to use Amazon to fill in the holes in my collection.
I also got notifications that everyone I mailed my books to last week marked them "received" - which means I have more credits just waiting for when my room gets put back together! :)
Which isn't gonna be any time soon, even though - drumroll, please! - I finally got everything that's going downstairs, downstairs, with the help of Allen. The only furniture in my room is all smushed to the center of the room so I can work on the trim and molding: my bed is in the middle, with a desk at one end and an entertainment center on the other, with a nightstand next to it. You'd think with so much less in it, my room would feel bigger, but instead it feels much smaller.
I'm trying to think of this as an opportunity to pare down, sort out, organize, etc... but I miss my books. :(
One of my chickies died this week! :( Looks like she died in her sleep so I am glad - I hate having to make decisions about sick animals. I have learned my lesson about raising poultry in pairs, so we went up to the farmer's market to get another one. All they had were New Hampshire Reds, and little ones to boot, so now I have two fluffy, fully feathered, red hens, and one scrawny fluffy yellow/brown chicklet.
And it HATES me. The hens wait nicely to be picked up (cuz they know they're going outside/inside) and let me handle them without any squawking, and the little one runs from me in mortal terror squawking like the devil's after him. I'm sure once she gets used to me it will be different, but... I miss Lystra. :(
I'm loving the warm weather that's come to stay for at least the rest of the week! Abby and I enjoyed getting out on the playground today with her cousin Lilly and her Grandma and enjoying some sun! I'm ready to pack away the cold weather clothes and bring on the permanent good weather!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Easter was a kicked-back affair at our house this year... after spending a busy week getting Anna ready to go to Uganda for 10 weeks, she was finally ready to fly out last night. The van only has 7 seats, so I said my goodbyes at the house last night, then the family loaded into the van to take her to the airport (a 2+ hour drive). A minute later I heard a commotion, and went outside to investigate. Turns out the van started smoking as they tried to drive off, so they had to come back, unpile, and take Maggie's car, which only has six seats, so Allen volunteered to stay home so Maggie could go.

We had our own sister-brother celebration by going out to
Teariffic for some beef fried rice (hold the onion) and chow mein (hold the egg), scouring first Wal-Mart then Target for a copy of Pirates of the Carribean 2 (Allen is working his way through them and our copy was too scratched to play), and, once we found it on sale at Target for $7 (score!), coming home to crash on my bed and watch it.

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not a fan, and promptly sneaked away to
blog, catch up on emails, and contemplate a peaceful, quiet house.

Right up until my family came home and the house instantly transformed back into loud again. :)

This last week was crazy but good. I got most of my stuff not only packed up but moved, due not only to my own lugging of bins down stairs, but some conniving bartering in which I let Allen use my DVD collection if he helped lug. :) I keep finding stuff... really, do I own this much stuff? I wouldn't have thought so... but eventually I assume I will get it all moved. Hopefully. I miss my books and can't wait til this whole process is done so I can have them back.

Speaking of books, I have discovered Dangerous! :) I definitely don't need any more books right now - where would I put them, lol? - and it started off as a way of getting rid of some books I had gotten but no longer wanted. I figured I could use the credits later when I had my room unpacked again.
Well, I'm impressed! So far I've shipped out four books, at $2 shipping a piece, and accumulated as many credits, plus 2 for listing six books when I joined. So far I've resisted spending these credits (worth one book per credit)... except... I ordered the third book in a series I'm reading. But just one book, I swear! :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Catching Up

I want to be better about blogging, I really do! :) Unfortunately my life is not very glamorous or even interesting at the moment... perhaps some random bits of info I can string into a post? :)

I am currently in the process of packing up my room to move it into storage so we can finish/repaint/sort of remodel the upstairs. This seemed extremely overwhelming - I'd think about it for awhile but usually I ended up lying on my bed, despondent and overwhelmed by the sheer massiveness of the task. Except this weekend I got a random burst of inspiration/motivation which led to me getting my shelving unit all packed up (which was the biggest challenge in my opinion). Now most of my room is packed, but it's sitting in boxes in the middle of my room, and once again I am paralyzed by the idea of getting all these boxes down two flights of stairs into the basement. Anyone wanna come help? :) Maybe next weekend...

Maggie and I took a friend and went to see Hunger Games on its opening weekend. I was unaware that it was going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread (and we ended up getting the very last three seats together in the theater - right up front, under the screen, where you have to sort of tilt your head back to see the whole picture). I was also unaware that there was going to be a tremendous uproar from the Christian community over whether or not anyone calling themselves a Christian should actually go see it. I'm probably gonna go a post on this topic on its own, but I just thought I would mention here in a nutshell that I'm smirking - a lot - at most of these reviews. People are so quick to judge what they apparently have not read (or even wikipedia'd) and would rather go straight to outrage about what they THINK a book is about rather than do the research. Of the whole first page of reviews I found on that google search, only one comes anywhere near close to doing any real literary examination (and I was an English major who LOVED doing literary criticism in college).

Just to make my "side" clear, I resisted the Hunger Games for a long time, more because they were popular than anything else, lol (I'm instantly wary of anything that sells well), and when I got multiple recommendations from people I trusted, I did my research and read them. The hype is deserved about the books. The movie, not so much (more from lack of artistic merit than content, though). I am a Christian, and I see the Hunger Games not only as valid reading for a Christian, but even as a redeeming and stimulating influence on the culture.

With that said...

My chickens are getting big. See?

They could, in fact, more legitimately be called "chickens" than "chickies". And the very legitimately belong OUTSIDE where they have room to run (and where they would undoubtedly stink less). I feel badly for keeping them cooped up, as they so obviously enjoy the room to run and the clover to eat, but it's COLD out, and they're just not feathered enough to weather the elements. :( I put them out for a few hours on Friday while I took Oliver to the vet, and it had begun raining when I got back. I raced to their pen and was met by three very damp, very unhappy chickens who uncomplainingly let me pick them up all at once and rush them inside. No running away or squawking, lol!

I did upgrade their digs a bit.

They were just too big for the round tub, so this will at least let them stretch their legs a bit until it warms up. Please, let it be soon!

A friend and I went to check out a just-opened salon nearby and I got an orange pedicure. Not an orangey pedicure, or a reddish-orange, but straight out makes-my-heart-happy orange. :) They did an amazing job - my feet are smooth and very, very happy - hopefully just in time for flip-flop season. :)