July 05, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #78

Happy Transformation Tuesday! Today's post is going to be a little different; a reader named Kristi sent me this transformation and while it's a long read (what isn't on my blog?!), I'd really like to share it because it's such a heart-warming story. So, this is kind of going to read like a guest post with lots of photos. I was going to try to edit it down in order to do my usual Transformation Tuesday post, but I gave up because the story just isn't the same without the details! So I hope you enjoy this transformation as much as I did :)
 



This is kind of a double transformation! I moved to Philadelphia in the fall of 2018 with no family nearby. I had always been a cat lover but hadn't lived with a pet since I moved out of my parents' house for college. I really wanted a companion but I wasn't planning to stay in Philly for more than a couple years and didn't think adopting would be a smart choice. So in the spring of 2019, I began fostering cats through a local rescue (phillypaws.org). I fostered a few cats: 

Corrine - fat and feisty, loved to bite ankles




Alice the Truck Stop Waitress - the sweetest cat ever with very misleading RBF ("resting bitch face")




Draco - loved to sleep on my stomach at night, could jump from the floor to the top of the fridge




Guy - poor kitty had serious separation anxiety and was returned to me after being adopted once because he would cry all day while the owner was gone. He was adopted again by someone with another cat and is much happier with a companion. He would ride around the house on my shoulders and I wanted to adopt him so badly!




And, finally, Wacko! (Please excuse my laundry)



I picked up Wacko in May of 2020. He had just been returned to the shelter because he was peeing outside the litter box and because his medical complications were more extensive than the family could deal with. He had a cone because he had been fixed a few weeks prior but got a small infection in the incision.

His biggest complication was in his back legs. He had pretty severe arthritis that had led to the legs deteriorating. He was pretty skinny overall, but his back legs had almost no muscle mass. I gave him oral medicine for his infection and weekly gave him pain shots in his back legs. We also did some physical therapy exercises together to strengthen his legs which included lots of standing and jumping for treats.

After several weeks, we went to the vet and they said he was doing very well and just keep up the playing! He loves to run and jump and play now--almost too much to keep up with! His legs are almost completely normal but he has some quirks.

He had to learn how to jump with his front legs when his back legs were weak and he still uses them to jump then pull himself up into objects. He also lacks the typical cat ability to always land on his feet. He's very adventurous, so he often falls. And when he wants to scratch his ear, he doesn't know how to make his foot move to scratch. He will just stick his leg straight out, put his ear to it, and move his head up and down. He's very adventurous despite his limitations and really lives up to his name.



In the fall of 2020 I got engaged! My fiancé and I made plans to move in together and that life-change, along with the pandemic and a job offer, meant I was staying in Philly for a little while longer. I decided I was interested in adopting Wacko--how could I give him to someone else after what we'd been through?!

The complicating factor was that my fiancé had a dog. Leila is a pitbull and lab mix and is the sweetest dog ever! But she had no good experiences with cats and had been aggressive with other dogs in the past when she felt her food was threatened.



I told the shelter I was interested in adopting but asked if they could give me time to see if it was possible for Leila and Wacko to live together. We tried a couple initial meetings, through a closed door and then a baby gate. The meetings did not go very well. Leila was super excited and very alert to the small creature on the other side. Wacko was scared and not afraid to fight.

I agonized over what the right decision was for a couple weeks. I really didn't want to put either of them in a position where they weren't able to live their best life. Finally, I decided to make the leap and adopt--but I was still really unsure how it would turn out.

We moved in at the beginning of December 2020 but, due to some pandemic complications, Wacko had to stay with my former housemates until almost the end of the month. When we finally moved him in, Wacko got his own room.

We started slowly introducing them again. We started with the door closed. My fiancé and I would play with each of them and feed them on either side of the door so they got used to each other's presence. Then we used a baby gate and opened the door just a crack and slowly wider and wider over several days. Leila would still get really excited and sometimes frustrated that she was being held back.

Wacko eventually got more and more curious and would stick his arm through the holes to play and swat at her. Eventually we would let Wacko roam for a few minutes while Leila was sitting on the couch with us. That way she was in a relaxed position but we could easily hold her back if she wanted to lunge.

At some point we got stuck for a while with no progress. Life got busy and we slacked off on their training. Eventually, my fiancé said "we may have to accept that this isn't going to work, we should consider whether it's better for Wacko to go to another family." That hurt to hear, but he was right. Wacko was spending too much time closed off in one room for such an active, energetic kitty.

That reality check woke me up and I doubled down on the training, determined not to have to return him.

We all spent time together every day, getting just a little more exposure each time. I would sit in a doorway with each of them loose on either side of me and give them treats and love. We slowly taught Leila not to get fixated on him and to come to us for pets and cuddles instead. Eventually we were able to let them roam free with supervision. Then one day we went for a quick run to the store and left them alone together. I was so nervous for that 20 minutes but they were perfect angels! 

Mid-training, some of their first treats together without a barrier:



Leila and Wacko are now best friends! They've (mostly) learned each other's boundaries. Leila gets extra protective and grumpy at night so we don't leave them alone together after dark. And Leila is still possessive about food so we have to keep a watchful eye if we eat dinner on the couch.

But she's not too protective about her own food--Wacko loves to sneak bites of her kibble. Sometimes she'll shoo him away but most of the time she doesn't care. We moved to a new house a month ago and had some regression for a couple days as they adjusted to the new space, but now they're even closer than they were before. They nap together all day on the bed across from my now-husband's office. (We got married in April!)


Wacko is a bit of a bully sometimes but Leila just turns her head or nudges him away. He tries to get her to chase him by sprinting up to her, rubbing on her, then sprinting away.

My heart is so happy every time I see them lying next to each other or being really sweet to each other. There were several times I thought it may not work out but I'm so glad it did! This transformation is one of the things I'm most proud of in my life right now.

- Kristi




Kristi, I absolutely LOVE this story! Jerry and I nearly died laughing when I read that Wacko doesn't know how to scratch his ears with his hind legs, so he rubs his head against his foot. That's so sad and cute at the same time! I am so happy that you were a foster mom to cats who needed you and that Wacko has found so much happiness in his new home. You guys are such great and patient pet-parents! Thank you for taking such good care of him <3  -Katie

July 04, 2022

On This Day (July 4)

I'm going to take a break from writing today so I can enjoy the nice day, but I thought it would be fun to post photos from July 4th in the previous years! I looked up "July 4" in my photos, and here are the ones I found. I'll include the year in the captions.

This was 2005 at my cousin's house for a barbecue


Super short hair and close to my highest weight (my little cousin had on a wig!)




My dad and Noah were super close when Noah was little. My dad always said Noah was his best friend.




Jump to 2012 (no idea why I didn't have pics from July 4, 2006-2011.




2014 in our neighbor's pool






2014 at our house--we had a bonfire and a few people over






2016--wearing red, white, and blue for a run as part of my then-annual Summer Running Checklist


2016 in my bedroom. Joey was clearly asking for treats.


This was 2016. I came across this crop circle when looking for a running route--it was on Google Maps. I thought it was so funny that it was just randomly there! 



2017 up north at Jeanie and Shawn's place


Family photo up north. Fun fact: I had to photoshop Shawn into the picture because he was sleeping when we took it! (He's in the back on the far left; my photoshopping skills aren't great, but it was the best I could do at the time!


2018; again, I was showing my red, white, and blue for my Summer Running Checklist.


Eli's farmer's tan in 2019


Red, white, and blue for my run again. This was 2019.


And the most boring photo for last... in 2021 I apparently spent the day turning a flat sheet into a fitted sheet. (I still use it and love it, though!)


I hope everyone had a nice Fourth! xo

July 03, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Bell peppers are one of my very favorite vegetables. It's interesting, because I never liked them until I was pregnant with Eli in 2005--and then I just couldn't get enough of them! It's funny how pregnancy can do that to a woman.

This recipe had me at "roasted red pepper". I printed it out after finding it, but it had a LOT of ingredients and when trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, I tend to skip over recipes with tons of ingredients. However, I happened to have all of the ingredients for this one day, so I was excited to make it.

I got this recipe from Oh My Veggies (I'll link to it again at the end of the post). I have to point out something I just now realized--the printable recipe is not quite the same as the one on the recipe page. So, I'm writing this based on the printable one.

Like I said, there are a lot of ingredients: bell peppers, olive oil, dried oregano, dried thyme, pasta, plant-based milk, tamari, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, cumin, nutritional yeast, cashews, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and green peas.

Not pictured is the tamari, but I didn't forget to use it ;)

I could have gone and bought red bell peppers to use instead of the yellow and orange, but I wanted to use those before they went bad. On the recipe site, it says not to substitute a different color of bell pepper; on the printable recipe, that note is not included. Otherwise, you know I like to review recipes when I make them exactly as-written.

I also didn't realize that I didn't have to chop up the bell peppers. The recipe site shows them in large slices (maybe quarters) but the printable recipe says "chopped".  So that's what I did. (I just wish I'd known so I didn't spend so much time chopping.) 

First, you chop up the peppers and put them in a baking dish with olive oil, oregano, and thyme; then roast until soft.


I guess I did have a red bell pepper! I don't remember what the deal was with this; I made it last week. But anyways...

When the peppers are roasting, you just cook pasta according to package directions; I used rotini.

Then you transfer the peppers to the blender and add the plant based milk, tamari, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, cumin, nutritional yeast, and cashews. Let it rip until it's a smooth sauce. I have to say, the sauce didn't look very appealing. It was fun trying out the new blender, though! It worked really well to make the sauce smooth, even though it was thick.


Then (yes, another step!) you heat a pot and cook the onions, garlic, and tomato paste. This seemed a little odd to me because of the texture being so thick, but I just kept a close eye on it, stirring to make sure it didn't burn.


Once the onion is soft, you add the pasta, sauce, and peas and stir it all together. 


It definitely did not LOOK appetizing, but I was excited to eat anyway because I was starving. Jerry and I each scooped some out into a bowl and took a bite.

We looked at each other. Then I said, "Well, what else is there that we can have for dinner?" Hahaha. We weren't fans of it at all. It had an odd undertone of flavor that I couldn't really pinpoint, but it just didn't taste very good.

There was a lot of sauce for the amount of pasta, which would be okay if the sauce was spectacular. You would think there would be tons of flavor considering all the ingredients, but it tasted kind of bland and like there was something just "not right" about it. (Maybe it'd be different if I'd actually used just red peppers.)

I asked the kids to taste it, too, and it's no surprise that they weren't into it either. So, unfortunately, this recipe was not a winner in my house. It's not something that I would be interested in trying again with some adjustments, either. I like the idea of it--it sounded delicious!--but it was disappointing. I always feel bad saying that I don't like something, but it's just how I felt about it. And food is all about personal preference anyway ;) 

This full recipe for this Roasted Red Pepper Pasta can be found at Oh My Veggies.

July 02, 2022

Roots


I'm going to keep this super short--Jerry and I are going on our first "date" in probably three years! We're just going to play Keno at our favorite dive bar--nothing fancy. But we're not fancy people, so that's what we enjoy ;) 

I've been on a roll lately working on stuff outside--it's so nice to get it done! Our deck is going to be the biggest outdoor project but I want to get it done this summer. It desperately needs to be power washed, stained, and sealed again. (Ideally, we would remove the deck and install a patio, but the thought of that is so overwhelming!)

Today, I replaced a couple of the pieces of deck railing, which should have been easy enough except that several screws were stripped or bent or buried in the wood too far to try and get them out. However, after lots of creativity and pretty much every tool I own, I was able to get them out and replaced. Then I searched row by row of screws on the deck to tighten any that have popped up a little over the years.

We used to have lattice covering the underside of our deck, but for some reason, we got rid of it years ago. I have no idea why we did that, because it looked better with the lattice. We'd like to put some more on before we stain the deck, so today I was pulling out some weeds from around the sides. I pulled at what I thought was just a baby tree (you know, the seedlings that have a few leaves?) and it ended up being attached to a HUGE root.


I was kind of excited, so I went and got Jerry (who was putting some stepping stones between the house and the garage) to show him. It was way too big to pull out by hand, so I pulled as far as I could and then I used a Sawzall to cut through the root. I found a few more like that so I crawled under the deck to cut them as far as I could.


I have no idea how far the roots go or what they are connected to, but it was fun to cut them. The dirt under the deck was so dry and hard that I could feel my knees just getting torn up. (I told you that I can't do anything without getting hurt in some way!) My knee *joints* were just fine--it was the skin that was killing me:


Needless to say, I was SO happy to take a shower after that. I actually turned on just the cold water, and it took my breath away because it was so cold--but it felt amazing. Now that I'm cleaned up, Jerry and I are going to head out and hopefully win a little money playing Keno :)

July 01, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Yay for Friday! It's been a heck of a week. My emotions have been all over the place, so I never know how I'm going to be feeling that day. Today has been a great day (so far)! When I painted our shutters a couple of days ago, I only had enough spray paint for the shutters in the front of the house. Jerry stopped and got some more on his way home from work today, so I got to work on the back of the house this morning.

The more time I spend out there, though, the more I see that needs to be done--staining the stoops and the back deck, new exterior doors, planting stuff to keep our new mulch from looking so bare, . It's overwhelming! But it will be kind of fun to get one project done at a time this summer and see how it looks come fall. The key is just staying on top of it ;)

As far as Friday Night Photos, I'll start out with a comparison of the shutters. They were a deep red color (at one point) but once I pulled them down, I realized just how much brighter they were than I thought. I remember painting them one time, but the color was very similar to the original.



See how GROSS? There were a lot of hives and spider egg sacks. I obviously cleaned off the house as well as the shutters.


I set up a little system in the yard: First, I washed the shutters and the house. Then I put a large piece of brown paper on the ground with a couple of bricks on it. There, I would lay the shutter across the bricks (to hold it off the ground) and I spray painted with black. I didn't paint the backsides, since they wouldn't be seen.

The dark burgundy color is from the backside of the shutters--I think that's the color the front was when we moved in. The bright color is from the front before painting. And then obviously, the black is the paint I'm using.



This is my "uniform"--I have a few pairs of clothes that are covered with paint, wood glue, and even blood, haha. I've cut myself while working in the garage more times than I can count.


I had no idea it would take so much spray paint! (And I hadn't even started the back of the house yet.)



The paint dried super quickly (within a couple of minutes) so it moved along really fast. As each shutter was done, I set it in the sun to dry. Then, I started hanging them back up. And I can't believe what a difference it made! Here is a comparison:



I absolutely love how they turned out. My next project (and this will be a fast/easy one) is to make an address plaque. I blurred out my address on the house, but it's to the right of the door and it's just black numbers--not at all nice looking! I was looking through some pictures yesterday to get an idea of what I want, and here are some that I like. Any preferences? I hadn't thought about doing it vertically, but I kind of like that idea.


The numbers that I have look very similar to the font of the ones in the top right of the photo, except they are black. I was trying to decide if I want to do a black plaque and spray paint the numbers white, or if I want to do a lighter-colored plaque with black numbers. Considering the house is brownish-tan, I feel like I should do the black background.

Anyway, enough of the house stuff! Here are some other random pictures from this week...

This morning was my FINAL final weigh in for the six-month DietBet. I can't even express how glad I am that it's over! Jerry and I both reached our goal weights (10% over a six-month period) and we'll find out in a couple of days how much money we won. Definitely not enough to make it worth the stress of the weigh-ins, though! ;)




If you are my age then you know that the best movies came out around the year 2000. Final Destination (and the sequels) remain favorites of mine. But this post explained my thoughts exactly! If you've seen that scene, then you totally understand.




I needed to make a pillowcase the other day and where there is string, there is Duck. He was driving me CRAZY. Each time I had to snip a piece of thread, I'd have to go throw it in the garbage so he wouldn't get ahold of it. It was killing him not to play with the thread, though. I didn't even get to finish my project; I might have to take this stuff out to the garage to work on things I want to sew.



This contraption is our new blender! Remember how I almost sliced my face off Final Destination-style  with the bullet blender? I researched blenders (by that I mean I read a billion reviews) and finally decided on this Ninja Foodi Power Blender System (Amazon affiliate link). 


It wasn't cheap (I paid $199, but it's $239 right now) but I wasn't ready to splurge for a Vitamix or Blendtec. HOWEVER, this is the coolest thing in my kitchen right now! It works as a food processor, a bullet blender, and even mixes bread and cookie dough. I was able to get rid of my food processor and our other two blenders (the bullet-style one and the regular one).

We've used it so far for slicing, shredding, protein shakes, cashew cream, and a couple of other things. It looks overwhelming, but there is a book that tells you exactly what pieces to use for whatever it is you're making. I never thought I'd be excited by a blender, but this one is awesome!

I found this little lady making a spot to lay eggs in my front yard. She was not happy with me for moving her. The eggs would definitely not be safe here, so I moved her across the street (which is clearly where she came from, considering the green stuff on her back). 



Yesterday, Eli asked if he could cook some ground turkey for taco meat, and I told him he could use my apron to keep grease off of his clothes. He looks good in the kitchen, doesn't he? ;)



And speaking of Eli, I was going through clothes yesterday to donate the ones that no longer fit. Since my kids do a half-ass job of that, I was asking him about things I wasn't sure of. This shirt was a size small, which I knew was going to be way too small for Eli--I told him to put it on and flex. Haha!



Another find while going through closets. I haven't worn this Camelback at least since marathon training! I felt through the pockets and found a few things--two packets of Gu, a tiny little jar of Aquaphor (for chafing), chapstick, and a tiny little number tag. I was confused about the tag, but I bet that it's for my bike lock! I'm terrible at remembering combinations and I haven't been able to use my bike lock in ages because I don't know the combination. Well, I'm guessing this is it!


And that's all I've got for this week! I spent the week working on projects that I've already posted pictures for: Noah's bedroom reveal and the landscaping prep. Hopefully by next week, I'll have an address plaque to hang on the house.

Have a great weekend! xo

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