Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mold Killing 101

I cleaned my windows last night. That wouldn't sound so ominous if it was August, but anyone who knows apartment life (or even some houses) knows that cleaning windows in December can only mean they were really, really nasty. And oh! they were! The condensation on my double-pane windows was several inches tall and had begun growing. Any water that had pooled in the windowsills was fuzzy. My wooden dowel window stoppers were disgusting. Seriously, I felt like one of those people on a reality TV show, "how gross is your house?!" The rational side of me was arguing, "yeah, but it's only a tiny bit of mold so pull on your big girl panties and deal with it." Armed with a quadrupled towel over my mouth and nose, latex gloves, and some 1/10 bleach/water, I got down to business. All of the windows got wiped with dry paper towels, then with bleach-water paper towels. The sills got wiped down the best I could do, and then I let bleach-water sit in the sills for a few minutes. The mold and mildew came right out, but I'm worried about it hiding in the places I can't see. Yuck!

If anyone has a good, cost-effective solution to stopping mold and mildew in double-pane apartment windows, I'm listening. We always run our fans when we take showers or use the laundry. I vent the stove if something is steaming excessively. Short of not breathing, I don't know what else to do to stop the black mold. Does rubbing alcohol work better than bleach? I've read that bleach is still the best mold/mildew killer... help!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day in December!

Happy Valentine's Day... two months early. The Man and I were shopping on Christmas Eve day when we realized that not only was all of the Christmas crap on sale, but that most of it had already been replaced by pink hearts and red candy molds. I sort of understand crafting stores getting in on the festivities early--crafters like to do things in advance--but even the Dollar Store was in transition. I have a hard enough time seeing Christmas crap in stores before Halloween, but now Valentine's Day is getting in on the advance action? Ugh. I vote that holiday decorations cannot be sold more than two weeks in advance, much like fireworks. There would be a season, a short window of opportunity, a legal date designation for Christmas songs on the radio, pink hearts in the windows, and the Easter bunny. The marketing of all that junk is getting ridiculous. How many months in advance do I really need to get a scary skeleton door hanging... June? March!?

Silly me, a shopping trip for Christmas decorations the day before Christmas and the stores are working on a different holiday already. Sheesh.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Migraine Hell

I had a whopper of a migraine yesterday, complete with puking and feeling like the end was near. Not to be overly dramatic, but I felt like shit. On the upside, it's the first migraine in over six weeks, so either I'm learning what the triggers are or I'm less stressed or something. Even the last one wasn't so bad. I've only had two or three really bad ones in the last year that included puking. Yesterday was awful.

I got up late yesterday since I felt crappy, almost noon. The Man and I were supposed to go to a wedding reception in Salem, but at 2pm on the way north I made him drop me at my parents' house. I could hardly sit up. He deposited me on the guest bed (thanks for not tossing that yet!) where I stayed until he returned two hours later, a couple pretty roses in tow (aww!). He drove us home just fast enough for me to toss my cookies in my own toilet. Ugh.

I slept about sixteen hours solid, including this morning. I called in sick, justifiably so I think. By noon I was feeling lots better. Since then, I've baked a loaf of bread, threw together a loaf of banana bread, cleaned a chicken for dinner tonight, and washed and folded three loads of laundry. The Man went to Albany where he picked up a new microwave using some of our wedding money. Our old one was very small and took three minutes to boil water. The new one is HUGE! and fast! and HUGE! And it's a Sharp Carousel, so I know I can rely on it for the next ten or fifteen years.

The one good thing about migraines is that once I feel better, I get so much done. The whole feeling great part doesn't exactly make up for the feeling like death part though, so I vote no more migraines. Less caffeine seems to be helping, and I think overdoing it Friday with the caffeine wasn't smart. Lesson learned (again, sigh).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Justification for our Small Wedding

I recently found this hilarious commentary from a priest about weddings. It summarizes all of the fears I had of outdoor weddings and our wedding in general. The Man and I made a huge point to not spend an extraordinary amount of money on our big day, plus we attended all but one of the church's pre-Cana events (we skipped out on the optional NFP class because, seriously, prayer is not an effective form of birth control). You can ask any of our family members about how much listening we do and how much communication we try to do, how extensive our engagement process was... I am not lying one bit when I say we work EVERY day on our marriage. Not just when we fight, not just when we think about it, but EVERY day. Of course we bicker and argue, but we try to learn why in each situation and learn from it. And I'm not just saying that to make us sound good: we really do. We know how hard it is to be married, to stay married, so we want to work at it.

Anyway, this funny article really hammers the idea home. Don't invest more in your wedding than you do in your marriage!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Catholics and Protestants Don't Get Along

(Read the full article here. It's a short story, so go ahead and read it!)

I recently read this article describing the fundamental differences in Catholic and Protestant perspectives. It was especially interesting for me to read since I've held both perspectives at different points in my life.

Growing up, I held fast to the Protestant notion that I didn't need anyone to show me God. I didn't need a priest or minister, a church or even a gathering of people: as an individual, I had a direct link to God. I could read the Bible all by myself and glean wisdom from the Word whenever I wanted. If I did go to church, it wasn't for community or to participate in the liturgy, it was solely for my own good. I was an island.

Having "crossed the Tiber," I see things from the Catholic perspective. I go to Mass for the community, to participate in something infinitely larger than myself, to hear the Gospel (the same Gospel preached around the world on that day!), to see Christ, to be Catholic. So much of what we do each Sunday at Mass involves the senses: incense, bread and wine, kneeling and standing, bells, holy water, and praying aloud in unison. We experience God through what we know.

It's such an odd place to be now, going from roots where everything I touch is worldly, a simple inanimate object created by human hands for human use, to this changed version of me seeing God in my fellow man, realizing that all I have is a gift from God. Realizing that my rosary is not just a string of beads but a tool to help me grow closer to God... it was a huge step. Perhaps it was my own "Great Awakening" as I learned and grew from a Protestant into a Catholic.

The article was one of the most enlightening articles I've read about the Protestant/Catholic divide. As the author finishes his article, I agree with the need for more discussion and unity. Perhaps once we learn to recognize the differences in how we think, we'll be able to come together on the things we know to be true.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Christmas has come and gone, and I am thrilled! No more rushing around spending money, no more wrapping and ribboning, no more baking with oil/butter/eggs as the main ingredient. It's not that I don't like the season of giving/receiving gifts or delicious food--I really like all of those things! Having attended different celebrations this year, I am a little overwhelmed. Did everyone like the gift I gave them? Did all of the food I made turn out okay? Did my wrapping jobs look neat? I'm simply thankful that it's over this year. I'm not knocking the holidays or trying to ruin for anyone else, nor am I being selfish: I'm turkey-ed out.

On a side note, I heard from more than one person this holiday that they were so impressed we hand-wrote and sent our wedding gift thank-yous within two weeks of our wedding. It made our hard work so much more worth it! Of course we would have done them on any time schedule, but Mom and Dad drilled it into me to get them out promptly. We did. It feels great to hear people--especially family--tell us that it still means something.

I'm also glad that I can now move on from the annual bickering about which holiday salutation is more politically correct. I say "Merry Christmas." I say "Happy Holidays." I say whatever comes first, so don't be offended. As a Christian, why on earth would I put up a fuss about "Happy Holidays"? It's not like someone is saying they hate me or wish a plague on my family... the whole bickering thing really needs to stop. I'm glad I have eleven months before I have to deal with it again.

Mom gave us our big gift of the holiday season: a bread machine. We will have fresh bread in approximately an hour, and the apartment smells delicious. Oh, and we gave each other a bunch of dollar bin art projects: too much fun! I'm a happy kid.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snippets from Last Night

*Note: Please take the three following snippets of last night with a light heart. I was not offended or bothered by any of the following moments. They were funny to me. :)

~*~*~*~*~*~

The Man and I were driving to the grocery store right after I got off work when this happened:
The Man: I have a question.
Me: Okay...
The Man: Why are most goats named Betty?
Me: What?
The Man: All the goats I know are named Betty.
Me: What goats?!

He's not exactly country-fried, so the idea of my dear husband seeing a goat--let alone being on a first-name basis with one--scared me. By the way, that's the entire conversation. There was never some sort of resolution where he explained to me how he knows Betty1 or Betty2. There was never a follow-up question. The whole thing fizzled into me being completely stupefied by the idea of goats named Betty.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Later, we were laying on the couch talking about whether I suffer from PMS or if it's him that suffers when I am 'suffering' too. I was curled up in my fleece blankey with my head on his lap. He looked down at me and giggled, "You look like a bug in it's cocoon right before it hatches." (An improvement on him telling me I look like a sea monster, I think not.) I laughed at him and opened my mouth with, "Yeah? Well what am I going to turn into?" He didn't even miss a beat. "A bitch!" referring to my PMS-y-ness. Yeah. Next time stick to sea monster, bucko.

~*~*~*~*~*~

We reached a new low last night in the kitchen. The Man begged me to buy him cookie dough at the store so he could eat it raw with his friend when they get together to play video games. Cookie dough is expensive, so I told him it'd be cheaper to make it at home. As much as I love Toll House cookie dough, homemade stuff is always better. We pulled out the stand mixer and whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch. We made cookie dough for the sole intent of not baking it. I wasted baking soda, a leavening ingredient, on the dough. Not that baking soda is expensive, but I have to wonder if it really made a difference in raw dough. Oh, and yes, we did put both eggs in. We are eating raw dough with raw eggs. And neither of us are sick.

Yeah, I made cookie dough for the purpose of not baking it, but to give to other people to eat raw. That's a whole new hilarious low in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Determined to be Itch-Free

Having been off the Prednisone for just over a week, I've noticed I'm starting to itch again. We discontinued the use of Snuggle fabric softener and switched to Bounce dryer sheets that have no scent. We alternate loads with dryer sheets and dryer balls (the sheets keep static away as the dryer balls are pretty much completely useless for static). Apparently I wasn't allergic to the Snuggle bear, which I didn't think was the problem in the first place since I've used Snuggle my entire life.

What's next? Soaps. I'm almost out of body wash and face wash, so I'm going to the store tonight to get a few products rated much safer on the Cosmetic Database (formerly Skin Deep). I don't use fingernail polish, one of the most toxic substances used, so at least I know it's not that. Check! My deodorant, foot scrub, clay mask, and make-up are all well-rated products that shouldn't be reacting to my skin (partly because I use them so rarely (except deodorant, that's almost every day)). Bioré Pore Strips are also fine to use, so yay for those. I'm pretty sure it's not a food allergy. I rarely use lotion, don't use perfume, only wear cotton, wash myself and my clothes regularly (but not too much), and can't think of anything I've done that would be new to cause an allergy.

I did learn that Chap Stick is one of the worse lip balms on the market. Even the plain normal kind isn't very safe. So sad! I'll be switching to Aquaphor as soon as I can find it in the pocket-size tubes ('cuz really, Jaggy doesn't carry a purse: it's pockets or bust). Aquaphor, by the way, is incredibly safe--recommended for babies--and is just about the only thing I can use on my hands for dry, cracked skin. It works miracles. If only I actually used it more than once a month, then maybe I wouldn't have dry hands.

So I'm starting over. New shampoo, new body wash, new face wash, new everything. We'll see how it all goes...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bubble Lights

The Man informed me that his family doesn't have many holiday traditions, but he just doesn't feel like it's Christmas until the tree has bubble lights. The Man's Mom gifted us a string of bubble lights for our first Christmas (thank you again!), and I took a few moments last weekend to get them on the tree. I knew of this type of light but never really saw them until I met The Man. Our tree looks fantastic now, and I know we're both more into the holiday.

I set a slow exposure for this picture, probably five seconds. The bubbles sort of flow together in the light, but I assure you, they bubble away. Our little fake tree doesn't look so bad in this picture either. We lucked out and picked one that sort of looks real. No watering, no dropped needles, no allergies! Did I mention how much I love having a fake tree?

Oh, and the bubble lights. Love those too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ready for the Holidays

We had a busy weekend here at Chez Jaggy. I took last Friday off from work so that we could get even more accomplished. We finished our Christmas shopping on Friday morning before heading up to Salem to meet The Man's Mom. I transferred off my parents' cell phone plan onto a plan with The Man and his mom, plus I picked out a new phone. Not sure if I like the Motorola Karma yet, but it's been interesting to learn the quirks. The alarm feature doesn't work very well, but the sound quality for calls and music is very good. I have more to learn. We helped The Man's Mom (TMM?) decorate their house for Christmas and pick out a tree on a nearby tree lot. She made us a delicious stir-fry for dinner. We got home late that evening.

Saturday was busy as well. I wrapped all of the presents and put them under our tree. I put the new bubble lights on our little Christmas tree, and those really made the tree fun and exciting. We cleaned a bit, and I threw in two loads of laundry. The afternoon found me painting and decorating a few more gifts. In the evening, we went grocery shopping before heading into Albany where we went to Grandma's. I made the three of us tacos for dinner. Grandma gave us her grocery list, and we did her shopping. We visited a while and ate some yummy homemade cinnamon bread (thanks, Grandma!). Another late night out.

Sunday arrived later than I anticipated, but sleeping in felt soooo good. We had leftover cinnamon bread for breakfast (in bed). We snuggled and watched Mythbusters for a while before finally getting motivated to do two more loads of laundry, clean the apartment, and work on the second-to-last crafty gift. I have one project left to do! ...and dinner to make, cards to get, and Mass this evening.

After all that, I still don't feel productive. Something must be wrong with me!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our First Christmas Tree

We put up a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day evening, a four-foot pre-lit fake tree. We thought about getting a real tree, but by the time we purchased lights, water, a tree stand, and the tree itself, there's no way we could have had a tree for the $25 we spent. The tree skirt and our stockings were made by my aunt, and most of the ornaments on our tree were from another aunt. Our tree has no particular theme, just ornaments and white lights. The one ornament shown here looks like a raindrop, a very sparkley, ribbon-covered drop. It's one of my favorite ornaments.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dancing Down the Aisles: an Argument for Reverence

I wouldn't usually comment on something that doesn't impact me, but after being asked at least two dozen times by various people if The Man and I would dance down the aisle at our wedding, I feel as though I have to comment. We may both be people who can dance, but we did not approve of the action during our wedding ceremony. I need to be clear: I'm not attacking the couple or suggesting that they are bad people. They made a decision to dance down the aisle at their wedding, and that's fine. My comments are directed toward weddings in general in light of the viral video and how often people have insisted it would be a good idea for us to do as well.

My first problem in commenting about my dissatisfaction with weddings being so joyous that there is dancing in the aisle is that I immediately look like the world's biggest party pooper. I haven't found a way to say, "I disagree with that" without also sounding as if I'm saying, "I disagree with that and think you should too."

One problem I found with the viral video is the size of the wedding party. Since when did getting married mean including every person you've ever known as a bridesmaid or groomsman? Are people afraid of offending someone by not including them in the wedding party that they ask everyone? It feels like it becomes a popularity contest, almost like someone saying, "look at how many friends I have!" Does the seventh bridesmaid really feel like a part of the action when her duties include paying for her dress, shoes, nails and hair, and maybe getting to spend a nanosecond with the bride? What exactly is the purpose of groomsman number eight, and what role does he fulfill on the wedding day? It's one thing if a couple comes from large families and wants to include siblings, but I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. Having the entire fraternity standing next to the groom is overkill and quite tacky to me.

I'll be the first to say that tradition for tradition's sake is a bad idea, but I'm still not sure wedding traditions should be upended by dancing in the aisles. Weddings can be personalized by location, colors, costumes, even size and words... is walking down the aisle too traditional or simple, too boring maybe? Is there an ecclesiastical reason for the slow wedding progression? Perhaps it gives the bride and groom a chance to reflect and grow one more moment as they move toward a life together.

Also, people don't seem to take weddings seriously anymore. I'm not talking about the life-long commitment or realizing the trials of marriage, but the wedding itself. Maybe people don't take saying the vows seriously. Maybe they aren't recognizing what a wedding is: the sacrament between a man and woman as they start their vocational calling together. Dancing down the aisle seems like a stunt wrought with self-gratification, a look-at-me overture that subtracts reverence and respect for the institution Christ Himself created. A wedding is a sacrament, not a production number with a song-and-dance routine. It's not a contest to see how big, how expensive, how cheap, how glamorous, how on-top-of-a-mountain-with-elephants-and-balloons a wedding can be. Even if a church doesn't recognize marriage as a true sacrament (most Protestants don't actually), they usually still recognize the sanctity of marriage.

I'm sure you're ready to shout at me, "Lighten up! It was their wedding, not yours." It frustrates me to no end, though, that people keep suggesting to us that we needed to do that at our wedding. Even if I didn't have an opinion when I first saw the video, I've had to form an opinion. I've had to reason why we wouldn't want to dance down the aisles. For us, it boiled down to reverence. We decided we didn't want a boisterous display and instead chose ceremony style that reflected our commitment to Christ and the Church. Many people later commented to both of us how beautiful our ceremony went, and several relayed how incredible our first dance was to watch.

There's nothing wrong with being joyous. There's nothing wrong with dancing. A problem forms when the need for self-gratification and attention overstep respect. The problem continues when a wedding is more about the show than the sacrament. I am not impressed by people dancing down aisles at a wedding, and to all those who have asked if we considered doing it at our wedding, I am incredibly thankful we didn't do so.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Breakfast Burritos: Disgusting!

We've tried a half-dozen ways to make them, but we still haven't found a recipe we like. Breakfast burritos are apparently outside the realm of "tasty" for us. Seeing and hearing how many of our friends love them, we figured we'd give them one more try. Catastrophic fail.

Either I'm missing the ingredients or the point entirely. We used our favorite flour tortillas, a mexican cheese blend, fresh eggs, some sausage, and hash browns that were not only fresh but well-seasoned. What else goes in breakfast burritos? Some people like black beans, and some people put in avocado. Neither of us eat those, so we left them out. Tomatoes, onions, and peppers are not high on our list either.

Maybe it's a texture thing. I love just about all breakfast food, but scrambled eggs rolled up in a tortilla make me gag. I tried to get a good crisp on the hash browns in order to add some texture, and while it helped, it really didn't work for me. We put in less cheese to make the whole thing less greasy and gooey. My sausage was about the only redeeming quality to the mess. Even with the textured hashbrowns, less cheese, and thoroughly cooked eggs, the burritos were a mushy, bland, disgusting meal. Honestly, it was one of the worst foods I've tried in a long time. I will also mention how many pans it took to make the hashbrowns, scramble the eggs, fry the sausage, and warm the tortillas... (you do the math). Ugh!

For the same amount of time and effort, I could have made pancakes and/or waffles, sausage, eggs, and hashbrowns, and my overall cost would have been less than or equal to the breakfast burritos. Plus I would have enjoyed the pancakes a lot more! I don't know what we're doing wrong with the burritos, but suffice it to say we won't be trying them again anytime soon. Yuck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Not-So-Big Christmas Extravaganza

We've been busy the last three days! Friday night included sidewalk skating as Corvallis was a frozen mess. We put on some slick-soled shoes and slid everywhere for the fun of it. We also played some games with friends, ate delicious tacos, and conversed until our eyelids grew heavy. It was a fun (cold!) night.

Saturday dawned too early for me as I made six dozen muffins for my family's Christmas gathering. Due to weather, we had to push back the festivities a couple hours, but the roads were fine by noon. I gave Dad a haircut before the party, and Mom let me lick the turkey wings clean (they're too much of a hassle to bother with most of the time). We arrived to Grandma's around 2pm followed by aunts and uncles and one solitary cousin of the near-dozen on that side. From then until 9pm, we ate, talked, rested, ate, rested, ate, talked, ate... so much good food! I had almost forgotten how yummy baked rice is, but Grandma totally saved the day for me. There was some drinking, some singing, some cell-phone-caroling. Mostly eating. Yum!

Sunday included a drive up to Clackamas for a friend's wedding (Congratulations Ian!). The Man and I used a BOGO coupon to stuff ourselves (again) at Sweet Tomatoes. We reconnected with friends at the wedding, did a bit of dancing, and we even had a few long hours in the car to resolve a several-day discussion we'd been having. We weren't disagreeing, just discussing. That's an important distinction to make. :)

I took today, Monday, off. I needed it. We slept until 10am. I made more muffins for the Christmas party at work tomorrow. We went to a couple appointments and meetings before deciding to take the evening off and relax. I miss relaxing.

I am not, however, hungry.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Muffins Muffins Everywhere

It's going to be a crazy twenty-four hours for me between this evening and tomorrow. We're headed to our friends' apartment this evening for a couples game night and dinner. After I get home, it's on to a shower and a tiny bit of relaxing before getting up at the crack of dawn to make six dozen mini-muffins for my family Christmas gathering tomorrow. Lemon poppyseed and blueberry types, fresh from the oven at 8am. I'd strive for 7am, but let's be realistic. Sunday morning (or Saturday evening) Mass if we can make it, and then to Portland Sunday night if the weather doesn't keep us in. We have a wedding to go to that evening, and hopefully we'll make it home without trouble. We have stashed family along I-5 between Portland and Corvallis, so we're always less than ten minutes from a couch to crash on if the roads ice over. ;)

AND THEN! I am taking Monday off. Because, seriously, a weekend without rest is worthless. I will be back as soon as the hubbub has died down, so if it's a few days, don't worry. I'm makin' muffins!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Light'er Up

'Tis the season for Christmas lights. Every other house seems to be participating so far this year, every other house decked out in lights, blow-up figures, and icicles from every horizontal surface. I like a good lighting scene as much as the next person, but some people have taken holiday decorating a bit too far if you ask me.

I was driving home the other night when I spotted a Christmas lighting abomination: seven large blow-up figures, five or six wire-light-mechanical deer things, an entire tree smothered in net lights, rows of lights outlining each eve and window, and Santa in an blow-up airplane dive-bombing a nativity scene. Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but loud enough I say. I'm not trying to exert control or shame these people as much as offer a question: at what point can we make fun of people for their overzealous holiday displays? Seems to me the blow-up snowmen don't exactly invoke the Reason for the Season, let alone a hint of holiday cheer.

It's the yards lit up like daylight that bother me. It's the huge displays of consumerism and power-sucking gaudiness. It's trying to keep up with the Jones. Ugh.

What happened to made-in-the-woodshop oversized holiday cards displayed on the front lawn? What happened to creativity and unique ideas? Are we now so consumer-driven that we can't be original in how we say "Happy Holidays"? Sure, be the first to get the LED lights, save some energy, and try to look cool, but give it a year. One year. Next year everything will be LEDs. Brighter, louder, bigger, more obnoxious. Of course, some would argue "better" because they draw less energy, but after stringing forty sets together instead of the old three-or-less rule, I argue it won't make much difference energy-wise.

I miss lighting displays with personality. I miss the neat single row Dad set out every year. None of this bright-as-daylight crap or blow-up crap. It's all crap now. I'm not impressed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Prednisone Plus/Minus

I've made it through three days loaded on Prednisone. The itching arms and back have calmed down a lot, and my few little bump sores are almost cleared up. I've been using Eucerin to help keep the skin hydrated in this cold weather, and the lotion really seems to be helping the healing process. Though the itching may be gone, in these last three days I've learned two very important lessons:

1) Prednisone should come with a warning label. It tastes horrible. Not like, "oh, I'll sip some water, drop the pill on my tongue, close my mouth, swallow, and then be okay." More like, "water, tip head back, drop pill as far down throat as possible, swallow like mad, chug more water." If I'm really lucky I'll get to the second pill before I gag. One trick I've learned is apple juice. It has a sweetness that kills the bitter Prednisone flavor. Also, dusting of the pill dust before taking it helps. Speed is crucial, as is getting the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Lots of juice for the chaser and the aftertaste disappears. Ugh!

2) Prednisone causes mood swings. The pharmacist warned me, and one of my friends concurred. I didn't think it would happen, but holy cow I've been cranky the last few hours. It's not PMS or a bad day, just little tiny things that totally bothered me even though they shouldn't have. I was sitting there almost half-outside my own body looking in going, "lady, you're nuts!"

Or maybe that was The Man telling me I'm nuts... it happens. ;)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Another allergy? Say it isn't so!

I've been away from the computer all weekend, not because I was productive, but because I itched. Itched! I was moderately productive, though, so it wasn't a completely wasted weekend.

I started itching on the back of my hands about ten days ago. Little tiny bumps appeared, bumps like tiny raised pimples with nothing in them. The itch progressed up my arms where I had maybe ten or fifteen tiny bumps total. I noticed about four days ago that my shoulders started itching, and then the sensation spread to my upper back and neck. Tiny, tiny bumps; lots and lots of itching. I did my best to not scratch, but by yesterday afternoon I was frustrated enough to go see a doctor.

At first, we thought the bumps looked like bites. We ruled out spiders since I had fifteen or so in random spots. We knew they weren't mosquito bites. I went on a bed bug hunt throughout the bedroom and apartment and turned up nothing, not a single carcass or blood stain, not a hint of them anywhere. We laid down two long tape strips near the bed to see if we could trap any bugs, bed bug or otherwise, and nothing stuck. I changed all of the sheets, washed the mattress protector in hot water to kill any dust mites, and pulled the bed away from the wall to check for any other insects. Nothing. (Yay!)

The doctor checked me for scabies, bed bugs, insect bites, every usual suspect that I'd already gone through, and we agreed the bumps didn't look like insect bites. He suspects they are part of an allergic reaction.

But here's the really weird part: knowing that I tend to have somewhat sensitive skin, I find a product that works and stick to it. I've always used ALL laundry detergent, the kind with no perfumes or dyes. I've always used Snuggle dryer sheets without a problem. I use Suave body wash, the pink "flavor." I don't wear perfume, and my deodorant is BAN solid, which is made for more sensitive skin. I rarely use hair conditioner, lotion (only Eucerin if so), or wear jewelry. I thought maybe a necklace was causing the itching, but I removed it immediately when the itching started as I know I'm sensitive to nickel. I'm not allergic to any food that I know of, and I haven't recently taken any medication I am allergic to. I'm at a complete loss as to what could be causing the itching. It's not exactly grass pollen season outside right now.

We bought some dye/scent-free dryer sheets this weekend in the hopes that I'm only allergic to Snuggle dryer sheets. The doctor gave me Prednisone to combat the itching, but after nine days I think I'll be back to square one. At least for now I'm not itching.

Any thoughts?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Heat Initiated

It was 62º in our apartment when I got up for work this morning. The outside temp was around 23º. To say that the apartment feels colder each day has been an understatement. Because we have such warm clothes and blankets, we've been able to make it to December without having to turn on the heat this year. We're incredibly thankful to be in such a position, no doubt, but this morning I gave in. I popped on the wall heaters, our only source of heat through the winter (and I hate them).

I've tried to go around the apartment and find heat leaks. One of the biggest drafts I've felt was from the vent over the stove. Cold air poured down the vent so hard that the little fan inside was spinning the wrong direction. I didn't know how to stop it or cover it, so I took the little vent cover wire basket thing and lined it with tinfoil (non-flammable, easy to remove). Hopefully that will keep some of the draft away. I also put draft blockers at the bottom of our exit doors. The windows are double-paned with mini blinds and two layers of curtains each. We try to use the oven to bake dinner most nights which doubles as a food cooker and apartment warmer. I'm not sure what else to do to draft-proof an apartment and heat it economically. Any suggestions from tried-and-true experience?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Life Sans Computer

Every night has been busy recently. We have had plans, cooked exciting meals, or watched movies at home together. The Man has another interview lined up, so we're hopeful he'll have a job soon (not telling where, ask him if you want to know). We've cleaned, decorated, baked, and read quite a bit lately. We're also enjoying all the board and card games people got us for our wedding (love Sequence!). That's about it for now... just enjoying life away from the computer.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Zeus Dammit

Have you ever heard someone that you know is not a Christian exclaim, "oh my God!"? I am not typically offended to hear the phrase, but I have always been taught to not take the Lord's name in vain. I wonder, how can someone who isn't Christian say such words? Do they say it without understanding what it means to Christians? Do they say it because they hear it spoken so often? Do they say it to be cruel?

I don't understand why non-Christians would invoke the name of a god in which they have no belief. I don't go around saying "Zeus dammit!" or "oh my Allah!" or "Thor darnit!"

Maybe I'll start...