Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review and my resolutions for 2014

First off, I'm going to look back on 2013. It was a weird year; a lot of ups and downs. 

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
I visited Madison, WI for the first time to see my brother. Otherwise I had a pretty normal year. I did start trading plants and seeds too, and getting involved in the gardening communities on facebook, which is pretty cool. 

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I did, because it was probably to lose weight. I didn't gain any weight but I didn't lose any either. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin Jessica did, at the end of October. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

This year I have escaped without any deaths from close friends or relatives. One of my great uncles is not in good health though, and I don't know how much longer he'll be around. 

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the US this year. I don't have the time to go out of country right now. 

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

The feeling of inner strength and confidence. I really lost that part of the way through 2013 and once gone, it's hard to get it back. I'd also like to finish my time in academia forever this year. 

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?

Unfortunately I will probably always think about some difficult work conversations when I look back on this year. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My success at having a container garden and expanding my indoor garden to a ridiculous amount of plants! I started with just a few plants and it's gotten crazy! 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Communication failure at work, although that was at most only half my fault. I do tend to feel more to blame for things than is really the case. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I fell in the parking lot in February and busted my elbow. I did two months of physical therapy to try and correct that. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Every plant I bought has been a great purchase so far. I also bought some shop lights to set up a good indoor lighting area for my cacti and other high light plants. I didn't have too many big purchases this year, at least not that I remember. Did I get my PS3 this year or last year? If I got that this year then that was a good choice too. 
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?     

I really think that my boyfriend did the best this year. He worked very hard and overcame some stupid shit this year. 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I notice that last year I said the US Congress. My answer is the same this year too. 

14. Where did most of your money go?

Good old Hunziker Property Management for the rent. 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going home for Christmas. It was such a long year, and such difficulty in the last few months, that going home was a huge thing for me. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

I don't think there really is one. I don't usually have an anthem or anything like that. 

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Happier or sadder: A little happier, I think. 
Thinner or fatter: Exactly the same. 
Richer or poorer: Poorer, but not by much. I need to figure out that whole Roth IRA thing. 

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

I wish I had gotten out into nature more. Dan and I do a lot of hiking, but I wish I had gone more by myself too, especially since the summer was so mild. 

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Eating pizza. I am on a pizza moratorium to break this habit. 

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I went home for Christmas and spent it with my family. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

21. What was your favorite month of 2013?

Any month prior to August was pretty good. 

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Yes. Although Dan and I are keeping it casual, there are feelings involved. 

23. How many one-night stands?

None. Don't do those. 

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Intervention finished up this year, which was a bummer. Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures are still my guilty pleasures. I don't really have many TV programs that I follow. 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Nope. There are certainly some people I'm more aggravated by, but nothing that crosses into actual hatred. 

26. What was the best book you read?

Way back in January I read the very last Wheel of Time book. I also read all of HP Lovecraft this year. 

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Didn't have one. 

28. What did you want and get?

Plants! Many many plants. So many plants. 

29. What did you want and not get?

I did not move as far along in my degree program as I wanted or expected. 

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hellraiser! Okay, it's old but I watched it for the first time this year. I loooove Hellraiser. 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 26. I don't think I did anything super special. Dan took me out to dinner and we went hiking, and I opened my box of presents from my parents. 

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being done with school. I am so over school. I am ready to leave academia like whoa. I want to be done. 

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Same old, same old. Although I did start attempting to wear makeup regularly, and I have started hating pants and wearing more dresses off work. 

34. What kept you sane?

Dan, my kitties, and playing video games! Lots of Animal Crossing and Pokemon. 

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Well I didn't really pay too much attention to celebrities, but I've always been fond of Robert Downey Jr. 

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

The government shutdown really pissed me off, because it was so unnecessary and wasted everyone's time and prevented people from getting paid. 

37. Who did you miss?

My parents, my brother, and all of my extended family. Going home once or twice a year is hard on me. 

38. Who were the best new people you met?

Well I did get to know a few people a lot better, like Brandon, Leah, and Christine. 

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

That I need to not take the responsibility for everything in the world, and that I am not responsible for everything going right. 

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
One day I'm here, I'm on top of the world/And the next it's falling in on me/I can get back on, I can get back on-Far Cry, Rush

And on that note, let's talk about my resolution for 2014. It's to take care of myself. I have done such a crap job of taking care of myself, and put my own self care last for too long. So I'm taking care of me this year. I am eating healthy, being active, and putting aside the time and money to care for myself. I've started by chopping off 12 inches of hair and getting it styled today. This year is all about caring for me. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Almost Christmas!

It's almost Christmas! This semester is FINALLY over. It has been so long. Even just this past week has been long. I've been exhausted. I can't talk too much on here about school, but let's just say that I'm really glad this semester is done and that this time next year I'll be doing something else with my life. Graduate school can really grind a person down. But I'm on vacation for the next two weeks! So I'm going to visit my family and spend as much time as I can just relaxing.
Of course I can't make a post without plants! Look at this awesome present my best friends Mike and Tessa got me!
It's a teeny baby Mammillaria cactus and you can wear it as a necklace!!! How cute is that? I'll probably transplant him into a little tiny pot in the next month or two so he has space to get huge! What an awesome present!
So happy Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a fabulous holiday!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Late November Additions

Yep, I got more plants near the end of November. They're all indoors plants since Iowa is now covered in snow and really really cold! 
 Tillandsia ionantha. Sometimes my tillys live and sometimes they don't make it, so I decided to give this one a try. It's sitting next to my little Tillandsia xerographica. So far, so good!
 This is the Lifesaver plant. It's Heurnia zebrina, I think. It's related to stapeliads and makes a flower similar to them, but without the awful smell. It's called a lifesaver plant because the middle of the flower looks like a red Lifesaver candy. I'm looking forward to seeing this guy flower!
 It took me a while to figure this guy out, since he came with no label. I think it's a Haworthia truncata var. maughanii. I could be wrong still, but I'm pretty sure that's the correct ID.
And lastly I bought a Christmas cactus that is about to bloom! It's called "Caribbean dancer" variety. My current Christmas cactus hasn't set blooms this year, so I got this one so I could have a blooming one. It's really pretty and I'm looking forward to it being all pink and pretty!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks

  • I'm thankful for my family, first and foremost. I wouldn't be able to function without them. Knowing that nothing I do will disappoint my parents is so important to me. I need their love, their advice, and their support, even at 26. I'll probably always need them. I wish I was closer so I could see them more often, but I'm just thankful we have a good relationship. 
  • I'm thankful for my friends, especially Mike and Tessa. They are my best friends and I would consider them family. They invited me to dinner yesterday, which was huge for me because I would have been alone (and probably pretty sad) otherwise. I had a great time and felt so happy to be around people who care about me. I know they would always have my back and I've got theirs. 
  • My cats...I'm so glad I have my cats. Yeah, they're dumb, and they do things like pull their poop out of their litter and play with it, but they're always happy to see me. They argue over who gets to sit next to me on the couch and they both cuddle. Memo always "feeds" me every night with the toys he thinks are food, and Leo attempts to knead my arm every night. They are both really sweet and they both know when I'm upset. 
  • Plants. When I was younger I thought plant science was boring. I was kind of stupid back then. Now all I want to do is grow plants, raise plants, and sell plants. I hope I can make this dream a reality. Even if that doesn't happen, I love growing plants. It is very zen, very relaxing, and I love being able to be among growing things. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cat Appreciation Post

It's time for a cat appreciation post! One of my favorite internet cats, Colonel Meow, is sick right now, and that's just reminded me how blessed I am that my kitties are happy and healthy today. So here are some pictures of my fluffs!
 It's Leo! His full name is Leonardo da Vinci. He's a Maine Coon mix and is full of fluff. That's me holding him. He was not impressed with the Halloween tie.
 Memo and Leo were having a pre-wrestling discussion here. I believe the issue was who was going to get to sit on the catnip mat.
 Then they noticed that I was paying attention to them, so they looked at me and acted like nothing was going on. I caught Memo mid-wink, while Leo is giving me his wide-eyed kitten face.
Memo was much better about wearing the Halloween tie. He always shuts his eyes whenever I take a picture though! But he still looks pretty dapper. I'm just so happy that they are healthy. It makes me so happy to come home to them every day. They really do make my life better.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flowering Mugwort

My Mugwort is finally flowering! I guess it took some colder temperatures to get it to flower. Aren't they pretty? This variety of mugwort is called Oriental Limelight. The foliage is very pretty, and now I know the flowers are too. I grow this in a nice big pot because it can be invasive if you plant it in the ground. It's a nice foliage piece and it's nice to see it still doing well even as it's gotten colder.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More new plants!

My awesome friend Katie at Garden Hoard sent me a bunch of plants when I ordered some seeds! Here they are, I am very excited!

 First up is this cactus! It's a cutting from an older plant. I think it's an Opuntia but we're not sure. I like cacti a lot so I'm looking forward to this little guy getting bigger!
 This plant is not very common, but I love it already! It's called the Vicks Plant because it smells like Vicks VapoRub. They smell so good and you can make lots of cutting from them. They're a succulent and they are also soft and fuzzy, which is awesome.
This is a variegated Wandering Jew cutting. I really like how bright and purple the leaves get. Once this guy gets bigger he'll go in a hanging basket. 
Bonus picture! This one isn't from Katie, but from another friendly gardener I traded with. It's Kalanchoe 'Mother of Thousands' and those are some of the babies growing on the leaves. This is a neat plant from Madagascar!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Passiflora pruning?

So it's gotten quite cold here. Highs are going to be in the 30s this week. I'm not exactly thrilled. Earlier this week my heat broke sometime during the night. Thankfully the maintenance people were able to fix it right away, but that was not what I wanted to wake up to! I was completely paranoid about it getting too cold and killing some of my plants but they all made it just fine. I was probably worried for nothing.
I am a little confused about one thing, and that's what I'm supposed to do about my Passiflora caerulea. It's a hardy Passiflora so I've left it outside. It's dropped almost all of its leaves now. Do I prune it now? Or do I wait until the spring? I'm assuming I'm supposed to prune it back to the ground essentially, I'm just not sure when to do it. Any other gardeners know what I should do?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winter is coming...

Tonight is the end of Daylight Savings Time. In about an hour, I have to set my clocks back. While I like getting an extra hour, I really dislike how early it gets dark when Daylight Savings is over. The darkness makes me get tired so much more easily, and it stinks to go into work when it's dark and leave when it's dark. I need to set up my Ott Lite. It's good for using for crafts, but I mostly use it to combat seasonal affective disorder. It does help some, but winter can be kind of rough for me.
It's also rough because there's less gardening I can do. Gardening isn't just a hobby or a potential business for me. It's also very therapeutic. I have an anxiety disorder and gardening is one of the best treatments I have. So now in the winter, when I have less outdoor plants and less to do, it can be a bummer. I did sow my epiphyllum seeds yesterday, so hopefully those will grow successfully and they can be one of my winter projects. I also started a little bit of catnip for Leo. He loves the fresh leaves so much. I grow wheatgrass for Memo year-round, so it seemed unfair to not grow something for Leo (he doesn't like grass for some reason). I'm sure that I can find some other little projects to do during the winter. I just hope winter doesn't last until May this year!

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Frost

When I stepped outside this morning, I was greeted by frost on my car's windshield. I guess that technically the first frost has occurred. Supposedly we may get some snow tonight, although I really hope the weathermen are lying about that. Since it's the first frost, all of my sensitive plants have been moved inside for the winter. Luckily I still have some cold weather herbs going as well as my carrots. The sempervivum, jovibarba, and passiflora are all cold hardy, so they should be safe to stay outside. Apparently sempervivum actually like to have a cold weather period. If it snows too much I might need to cover them with tarp or towels, but otherwise they should be okay all winter. I certainly hope that's the case because I'll be very upset if any of my plants die!
Today I received some 'Curly' Epiphyllum seeds that I've got to start soon. Epiphyllum are very pretty cacti and I really hope they germinate and grow well. I have to get some pots and more soil first, but at least I'll have one project to put some energy into while it gets cold!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Plant box!

I recently received a box of plants from a very kind member of All Things Plants in return for me paying the postage. I had asked for Mother of Thousands and received it and several extras just because!
 Here is Mother of Thousands. I have several small plants in this pot. 
This is the Mexican Hat variety of Mother of Thousands. They're little right now and so cute.  
 Callisia fragrans, also known as the Basket Plant. These guys make nice hanging baskets so they'll get moved to one eventually. 
 Golden Sedum, a succulent. 
 Baby Mexican Hat Mother of Thousands. They are so adorable!!!!
 Aloe juvenna babies. Also adorable. So many cute plants in this box!
I was so excited about this one in particular, and it was a total surprise. It's Jovibarba "Sundancer" variety. It's similar to sempervivum and is a hardy succulent, and it's gorgeous!!! I've wanted one as soon as I read about them for the first time. 
I love plant trading so much! Right now I don't have a lot to give, but there are many generous people willing to trade seeds and plants for the cost of postage or a SASE. Once I have plants to give, I'll be doing the same thing. The online gardening world is full of wonderful people who just want to spread the plants they love to whoever wants them. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some of my harvest

 This is my Thai basil harvest. I only had one plant make it to maturity from seed. I dried all of it and will use it in cooking. 
 The last of my catnip and some of my parsley hanging up to dry. The catnip is for my cats and my parents' cats. I'll be bringing some home to them for Christmas. Leo loves this stuff. 
This is my second carrot!! I was so excited to get another one. It is the bigger of the two so far. Hopefully I get more!

Monday, October 7, 2013

No pictures today

I'm way behind on uploading my garden pictures. Life has been really busy and I keep putting it off. I'll try to get some up soon, maybe tomorrow. This week is starting off busy. I have a two-day conference that I spent all day at today, and half the day tomorrow. It's a scientific conference on biorenewable chemicals. I had to give a short presentation and a poster today, which was the longest day. Tomorrow won't be so bad, and I'll be able to come home and take a little nap in the afternoon. It's just a very draining process to be on point and talking science for eleven hours today and six tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

And now for something completely different

This post is not about gardening so if that's what you care about, you might want to skip this one. I'm about to complain about work.
Okay, complaining about work. Actually, I want to complain about my stupid DNA and that it won't do what I want. I have three different cloning projects going on right now and all three of them are being stupid. I seriously wish I could beat this DNA into submission. It's pissing me off, and I'm on a deadline so it feels like wasting time, but I can't make bacteria grow any faster. It's very frustrating. At least I have one thing that's sort of working but it's not really a big thing, so I really need these cloning things to get their shit together and work properly. URGH. It's just so annoying and frustrating.
On a non-complaining side, I have done an awesome job at not overeating this week! It doesn't sound like much but it's a big deal to me, because I struggle with emotional overeating so much. I'm going to keep working hard at this and string a bunch of good days and weeks together now. I've lost 4 pounds, which isn't a lot but it's a good start and I feel good about it. I think the hardest thing now is not overeating at restaurants and things like that, because it's so tempting to! At least I know I can control my food intake, even when I'm stressed out and anxious.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Officially Autumn

Yesterday was the Fall Equinox, and it's starting to feel like autumn. It's still getting into the 70s during the day but it's dipping into the 40s at night. That fall smell is in the air too. I love the cooler weather and the leaves changing colors, and apple cider. The only thing I dislike about fall is the shorter daylight hours, and the end of my outdoor gardening. My tomatoes were essentially done, so I cut them down today. I grabbed the last of the tomatoes left on the vine and picked them. They should ripen off the vine. I had a really good harvest. Altogether, I probably had a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes, which is cool from three determinate tomato plants living on my patio, and my first time growing them from seed. I have 1/2 peck frozen so that I can eat them in soups all winter. I've used several for seed saving, both so I can plant them again next year and to use for seed swaps. Then there's still a few just hanging out in a bowl for salads and sandwiches. Overall I'd say the Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes were a great success!
This week I'll also be harvesting all of the catnip and drying it. I'll probably plant less next year because I have way too much! I'm definitely bringing some home over Christmas for my parents' cats. So the catnip was also successful.
I will also harvest my Thai basil this week as it's quite large and won't take the cooler temperatures soon. I'll finish off the sweet basil as well, although I'm trying to get it to hang on a little longer so I can save seed. One of them is starting to flower so hopefully I can get seeds. The worst case scenario is that I buy new seed, but I'd love to get some of my own.
The chives and parsley will manage on their own until the first frost, so they'll stay outside. I should get another harvest or two out of them. My conundrum now is what to do about my sempervivums and my passiflora for winter. Should I leave them outside to fend for their own in the snow? Should I bring them inside? I would overwinter them in a garage but mine doesn't have any light source so that wouldn't work. I'll probably prune the passiflora back hard and bring it in, and I'll try to keep the semps alive inside too. My caladium will be stored as bulbs over the winter, and the Persian shield is an annual, although I'll try to root some cuttings. So even though outdoor gardening will be done, I'll still have a lot to do inside!

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Christmas cactus has come out of dormancy!

I'm very excited because over the past couple of weeks I noticed new leaves growing on my Christmas cactus! It's been quite a while since I've seen new growth on it. Now if only I could get it to flower someday...that's very complicated so I don't know if it will happen.

Isn't it cute? I'm so happy to see that it's still content and growing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Free plants are the best plants

Yesterday I was doing work as usual, and took some DNA downstairs to our sequencing facility to drop it off. While I was there, they had some amaryllis seedlings available for free! So I took one, of course. It's a little baby but I'm looking forward to it growing. Amaryllis usually flower during the winter so it will be a very nice bloom to look at while it's cold and dreary out. I have no idea what color the bloom will be so it will be an excellent surprise too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I can't stop buying plants!

Everytime I get another plant I tell myself that I have enough, but I always get more. Luckily I have plenty of room still and could get another grow light if I wanted, so I'm safe for now. I just like getting interesting plants and trying to grow a bunch of them. I want to eventually start a business so the more experience I have with a variety of plants, the better. 
 I got this adorable little guy at the Des Moines Farmer's Market for one dollar! It's a Mimosa pudica, also called the Sensitive Plant. When you touch the leaves they curl up as a defense mechanism. It can eventually get pretty big so I might have a mimosa tree some day!
 This is a Cylindropuntia imbricata. It's a funky looking cactus that I just got. I hope it will flower next year because the flowers are supposed to be pretty.
 This is an Adenia glauca. It's kind of similar to Adenium obesum, which are the seedlings in the background of the photo. It has the big caudex at the bottom that stores. water.
 Here's a brand new Adenia glauca leaf! The top snapped off this plant when it was shipped to me, but it's already growing from the top again.
 Another new cactus-this one is a Mammillaria sempervivi. It has small spines but they hurt! I accidentally poked myself when I was transplanting it. The fuzz on top is pretty cool too.
 This is my first Agave. It's an Agave victoriae reginae, named after Queen Victoria. These only flower every 20-30 years so if I can keep it alive for that long I will be rewarded with some nice flowers!
Finally I got a Haworthia truncata! I've wanted one of these for months, since the first time I saw a picture of one. They are so weird looking so I immediately was hooked. I got it at Arid Lands Nursery which sells a lot of interesting cacti and succulents. I'll probably get more plants from them because they ship incredibly fast and their prices are really good, and there's lots of plants available there that I haven't found anywhere else.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Planning for winter

It's so hot right now that it's hard to contemplate winter coming, but technically there's less than two months before the first frost. So I have to start thinking about what to save over the winter and how to do it. My chives are hardy and will regrow next year, so they can stay outside all winter. The parsley might come back next year too, so I might just cut it back and see what happens. Some of my plants will come inside for the wintertime-my sempervivums and my passiflora vine. I might also bring the mugwort inside, although it's supposed to be hardy as well so I might just cut it back and let it sit outside.
My Persian Shield and coleus are technically annuals, so I am planning on taking cuttings and keeping them over the winter in water, then they can be rooted again for next spring. I've never done this before so I will have to take a bunch in case a lot of them die.
Everything else will be done and die for the winter. I'm already saving tomato seeds for next spring, and I have catnip and chamomile seeds left. I'll have to buy basil seeds, more carrot seeds, and some strawberry seeds. I'll probably buy starts of lavender and sage next year too. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Harvest Time!

A lot of my garden is coming ready for harvest now, so this weekend I'm going to spend a lot of time doing garden stuff. Earlier this week I got my first chive harvest and froze them so they'll keep well. I have so much catnip it's ridiculous. I will probably have to cut more of it and dry it this weekend. I also keep getting tomatoes in. I want to cut another up just to collect seed, and I also need to figure out the best way to freeze some of them for later use in soups and stews. I don't have enough to make marinara sauce but I have too many to eat by myself. It's also time for more basil. I will definitely harvest all of my Dark Opal basil and turn it into pesto this weekend. I might also collect all of the sweet basil and do the same thing. Basil is really easy to make with a food processor and it also freezes well. I might also aggressively cut back my peppermint and dry more of it. It's going to get hot again next week so I want to get my first big harvest done before the heat damages anything.
The good news in terms of the heat is that I'm going to set my Madagascar Palm outside, which it should like a lot. Hopefully it will get some good growth in for the rest of the summer before I have to overwinter it inside.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Busy weekend: Des Moines Farmer's Market and Iowa State Fair

I had an extremely busy weekend! I went to hang out with my friends Mike and Tessa. We spent some time hanging out with other friends, but we also went to the Des Moines Farmer's Market and the Iowa State Fair.
It was my first time at the farmer's market. It's huge! The Des Moines Farmer's Market takes up several blocks of downtown Des Moines and is on every Saturday. There are lots of vendors there that sell produce, plants, cooked food, jewelry, clothes, etc. Pretty much anything you can think of is sold there. Some of the vendors are also certified organic if that's your thing. I had a great time. I ate breakfast at the Indian Delights stand, where I got samosas that were homemade. I bought a ridiculous amount of kale, fresh blueberries, some heirloom tomatoes, two pairs of earrings, a necklace, and a Mimosa plant. It was a great first time there and I'd love to go back.
I'd been to the Iowa State Fair once before, so we skipped the animals and all of the stuff in the buildings this time. We met up with Mike's daughter while we were there, so instead we went to the midway and went on a couple of rides. We went on the giant ferris wheel and the bumper boats. It was a lot of fun; I giggled like an idiot on the bumper boats. I hadn't been on any amusement park rides in ages so that was cool. We all split a red velvet funnel cake which was delicious and Mike tried the bacon wrapped corn dog. It was the first weekend of the fair so it was extremely busy, but it was still fun.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Taking Control of my Health

So, in case anyone who reads this doesn't know, I'm overweight. In fact, according to the BMI scale, I'm obese. I need to lose weight. I gained it it all in college-first the usual freshman 15 because woo dorm food and now my mum isn't here to tell me to eat my vegetables, and then as a way to self-medicate my then-undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder. When I left Washington DC, I was over 200 pounds. I went down to about 180 when I lived at home, and now I'm 230 pounds. Way too much. My ideal weight is somewhere between 140 and 160.
I've been halfheartedly trying to lose weight for a while. I'll do okay for a few days and then go back to eating shit. I have a gym membership but don't go much because I feel so tired after work. I order out for food way too much because I'm stressed after work. All of this is complicated and wrapped up in my anxiety disorder, because I have a pattern of eating to avoid feeling the anxiety. I'm at the point now where I haven't gained weight in about a year, but I also haven't lost any.
Today my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetic cervical reticulopathy (nerve pain in the back due to diabetes) and liver damage of some kind (I don't have the full story yet but I suspect it's NASH). She's already an insulin dependent diabetic. Her weight and poor eating habits have finally caught up to her.
I can't keep waiting and half-assing my weight loss attempts. If I do that I'll end up like her. I've been lucky so far-the only consequence of my weight has been one high triglyceride measurement. But I'm not getting any younger and the consequences could be right around the corner.
I guess I'm writing this because I need to tell someone that I have got to do it right this time. Weight loss will be complex for me because I have to continue to treat my anxiety disorder along with changing my diet. But it must happen. I cannot wait around anymore.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Newest Plants

Holub Greenhouse in Ames had a 50% plant sale so of course, I stopped by after popping into lab to pull some plates from the incubator. I was interested in some cacti and succulents since I set up a second lighting system. Pictures will be forthcoming but I thought I'd talk about what I got first.
The first thing I picked up is a Madagascar Palm. They're not really palms, they're succulents. They're very spiny and can eventually get quite large. Mine is a baby, barely a foot tall, so it has lots of room for growth. I posted a photo of a big one in my Belle Isle conservatory posts so you can see what an adult looks like. I'm excited for this one because it's such a neat plant!
I also got a cactus, my first dangerously spiny one. The rainbow cactus and the old man cactus that I have aren't that poky. This one was labeled as a Thelocactus. I don't know which species it is but I'll figure it out eventually. I didn't even notice when I picked it out, but it has a flower bud on it! So hopefully that will bloom soon. That will be really cool as I've never had a cactus bloom.
The last one I picked up is another succulent, Blue Chalk Sticks. It's a Senecio species, but I forget which one. It's a fairly popular succulent so I'm glad I found one. I still have to put it in a bigger pot but it looks very cool.
The next thing I need to do for my plants is getting another fluorescent shop light, which would bring my total to three. The third one will hopefully be for slightly taller plants so that I have space for the plants to grow that need to stay under lights all the time. Then I'll have a lot of room for plants that need permanent space under lights like the cacti and space for seed starting, as well as room for perpetual indoor vegetable production. That's the plan with my lettuce as it's probably going to get very warm again before summer is over. So the lettuce stays inside.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Weather Ups and Downs

The weather has been a little crazy for the past week or so. It was really hot, up to the 90s with the heat index in the 100s for a while, then there was one night of insane thunderstorms. The sky was green and everything. Luckily nothing got damaged. Now it's almost chilly. It barely hit 70 today and I've been cuddled in blankets. It's funny because I'll be wishing for this weather in December but today it was almost too cold for a bit. I'm silly.
Anyway, not much is going on except that I have a major sinus headache because of this weather change. I can never get these headaches to go away so I almost never bother with drugs, they just don't seem to work much. I've had a few cups of tea but that's about all I can do. So I'm just taking it easy, playing Animal Crossing and relaxing on the couch. The kitties have been sleepy too so we've all been laying around not doing much. It's actually nice to have a really lazy day. I feel like I've been running around nonstop all week so being able to stop for a day and do nothing is actually really nice.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Belle Isle: Michigan Nature Zoo

The Michigan Nature Zoo is the new zoo on Belle Isle. There used to be a little zoo there when I was a kid, but it closed because the Detroit Zoo is not far away and much better equipped for exotic animals. The Belle Isle zoo reopened recently as the Michigan Nature Zoo, which focuses on native species. They're still putting in new exhibits and raising money, but it's a cute little place and it's free!
 When you first walk in, you're greeted by these giant rocks of salt. These were mined from underneath Detroit. There are huge salt mines under Detroit and Lake Huron.
 These are baby gar! Gar are related to pike and muskellunge. They can get pretty big. Google 'alligator gar' and you'll see some big ones. They're adorable when they're babies.
 These are perch. I used to fish for these when I was a kid and went fishing Up North with my dad.
 A black rat snake. He was moving around a lot which is why the picture is blurry. It was the only snake they currently have on exhibit. They aren't venomous but they can be kind of cranky.
 This is one of my favorites-it's a snapping turtle. They look so cool, like a little dinosaur. I would not want to get snapped by one though, they can break fingers with their bite force.
 One of the native Michigan turtles. I forget which one. He was chilling out near the glass.
 I like this picture because the turtle is actually coming out of the pond. Then the other one is sitting there waiting for him. I think the one in the pond is a painted turtle but I can't quite tell.
 These are the largest salamanders in Michigan. I had no idea these even existed in Michigan. I've never seen one in the wild before.
It's a mudpuppy! They're very similar to axolotls. Apparently you can catch them in rivers occasionally, but I've never caught one. I think they're kind of cute.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Belle Isle Conservatory, Detroit: Part 2

 I think this is some kind of lady slipper. It was very pretty close up.
This is the top of the main part of the building and the palms that grow all the way to ceiling. I was looking almost straight up when I took the picture. 
This is a Japanese Maple tree. I had only seen these as bonsai before and not full sized. 
This picture and the next several are all different kinds of orchids. There was a decent orchid collection here.
Except this, this is a spider lily. More orchids below. 
This is the outdoor water lily garden. There were some big carp and koi in the pond. 
This is a Madagascar palm! It looks really cool. I just found out I can get a baby version of this at my local nursery so I might have to pick one up!
The Old Man cactus. I have a much smaller one. I hope someday he gets that big. 
 This is some kind of palm or cycad. It was enormous. Again, I'm looking straight up.
More palms against the glass dome. 
 This is a spiral palm. I think they are really cool but I haven't been able to find one to buy.
 More palms. 
This is a purple clematis. It was outside near the water lily area. I like clematis but I don't have room for them. I need a yard. 
This is a little park area outside of the formal gardens. I just thought it looked pretty. It would be a nice place to spend a good afternoon. 
Shrimp Plant. I don't know anything about it but the flowers do look like shrimp.
String of buttons! It's a succulent. I want one of these too.