urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I went ahead and made some peanut butter balls. We didn't have nearly as much peanut butter left as I thought--looks like another thing to pick up later (along with coffee and birdseed)! But there was about 3/4 cup of mixed crunchy and smooth, which made four medium-sized balls. So that wasn't too bad. We also have the 96% peanut kind (cheap from Lidl, actually), so no watching out for hydrogenated vegetable oil. Not eating it myself if I can help it, not feeding it to the birds--and a lot of the commercial "suet" balls I've seen are made from it!

I just put the peanut butter in a bowl, added about a tablespoon of coconut oil for variety (not really necessary), then stirred in enough rolled oats and cornmeal to make it about the consistency of softish bread dough. I also threw in some more slightly crushed sunflower and pumpkin seeds, for variety. Then I rolled it into balls and coated them in some of the same mixture that went into them. It took maybe 5 minutes, including rummaging in the pantry trying to find stuff good for them to eat. (They're not getting my seriously overpriced quinoa, nope; I'm cheap enough not to cook nearly as much of it as I want for myself. :-| )

Now they're sitting in the fridge to harden up again enough to play MacGyver and figure out how to hang a couple of them up outside. :) There's a mesh orange bag lurking in there, so I won't have to rig something up out of garden twine after all.

After working with that dough, now I'm wanting to make some peanut butter oatmeal cookies once we have more peanut butter. *g*
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
After scraping the dregs out of a jar of (too strongly scented*) commercial hand cream, I finally got around to making some more this morning. I don't know why I keep putting it off, because it's actually easier and quicker to make than, say, mashed potatoes. Since I'd rather store it in glass, I ended up emptying and washing out a jar of homemade plum jam we weren't going to eat. :) (What with my diabetes, and Ingvar just rarely eating that kind of thing.)

Just having smeared on some of the residue out of the pan, I'm really, really glad I went ahead and did that!

The batch I put together was pretty simple:

50mL (or 1/4 c.) beeswax pellets
100mL (1/2 c.) virgin coconut oil
100mL (1/2 c.) mixed sunflower and olive oil
50mL (1/4 c.) water
About a tablespoon of glycerin (optional)
A couple of drops of vitamin E oil and 6 or 7 of lavender EO (also optional)

Just melt the wax and base oils in a double boiler--or in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time--and stir occasionally until it's all melted together. Add the water and glycerin, heat a few more minutes, then take it off the heat and add the vitamin E and/or essential oils. Mix with a whisk or hand mixer. I got impatient, waiting for it to emulsify and start setting up, so took the pan out into the cold on the patio. When it starts looking like runny mayonnaise, pour it into a jar and let it finish cooling and setting.

Maybe 10 minutes from start to finish, less if you use the microwave. The vitamin E and essential oils should keep it good without refrigeration, but if it starts looking or smelling funny, throw it away! (This has never happened with any I've made, but best to watch out.) The way I've been going through hand cream, it wouldn't stay around long enough to go funky even without the natural preservatives.

The glycerin in that does leave a little, erm, glycerin feel on the hands right after using it, but I figured the humectant is worth it. Especially with the cold snap and the radiators going pretty much all the time right now. The sunflower is a greasier-feeling oil on the skin, but that isn't really noticeable mixed with the other oils--and we had a litre bottle of it in the kitchen. :)

The light coconut/beeswax/light lavender scent is yummy but not really obtrusive. I thought of using rose attar and maybe a drop or two of sandalwood instead of the lavender this time, but couldn't find the rose bottle; the lavender worked really well, though. I really prefer the idea of using edible oils instead of petroleum, too. Besides petroleum's other problems, these oils should soak into the skin, instead of just sitting on top being greasy.

* But, since I've stopped using other scented body products, it all smells strong. Nivea doesn't have the lightest scent ever, either.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Some further evidence that this is, indeed, a viral problem I'm dealing with: my blood sugar has gone absolutely wild, without other factors changing remarkably. At this point, I think at least half the crappiness is down to hyperglycemia. I'm really not in good shape with that ATM, and suspect that I'd be feeling much better much more quickly (and hold up to the viral component better) if my blood sugar were back under some kind of control. It's had me scared, and even more worried about getting the house ready to move within a couple of months' time.

I've been stressing more about honestly not being able to get an appointment at the GP's (between medical PTSD and non-voice accessibility problems), which has probably not helped my health. (Especially since I'm suspecting I stressed my way into being vulnerable to icky viruses in the first place.) It's a very uncomfortable situation, which I haven't been able to see many ways out of. Being sick and drained of energy leaves me way less able to deal with just about everything else, in a "Help! I Seem to be Getting More Autistic!" kind of way. Stressing over it only makes things that much harder to deal with.

But, I am not feeling so trapped now, since I thought to look more into other options. Sitagliptin (Januvia), a DPP-4 inhibitor, is the only medication which has helped me so far, without any noticeable side effects. Apparently, it's down to poorly-understood insulin resistance subtypes whether a person will respond well to metformin or a DPP-4 inhibitor; a vanishingly small number of people are helped by both. At least, according to the doctor in the US who gave me the Januvia in the first place--and that makes sense.

So, I am tempted to try berberine, which is also a DPP-4 inhibitor (along with some other actions). There has been some promising research, and it seems worth a try after I track down a suitable supplement.

With any luck, that will at least help me get into enough better shape that I am capable of dealing with the GP, without so many worries about getting steamrolled, dismissed, and possibly even sectioned because I am obviously not in good physical shape, I'm behaving more "weirdly", and my verbal communication skills (especially in realtime) have mostly gone down the drain.

This GP has already shown a pattern of dismissing what I have to say, and it's hard to vote with your feet under the NHS. Small consolation: he's never said one word about my BMI, nor said anything to indicate he assumes I'm a couch potato--and even commented that, as fit as I looked already, diet and exercise probably wouldn't cut it. Lack of blamy comments is refreshing, even if some of his other behavior isn't. This is also the guy who didn't want to hear about persistent serious GI effects and symptoms of B12/thiamine deficiency from the metformin.

It irks me to have to do endruns and pay for stuff in the hopes that it will work--especially when I can theoretically get free prescriptions under the NHS--but accessibility is accessibility. And this is not a situation where "I guess you'll just have to do it" (complete with angry/exasperated tone) is of any help whatsoever.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I got brave, and trimmed my own hair a little while ago. It's really been needing it, since it's gone from a #4 buzz cut to shoulder length without one. (The ends just don't seem to split, even when I was abusing my hair, so it was a lot less pressing than it could have been.)

I really don't like other people messing with my head--a combo of sensory issues, feeling uncomfortable with the usual salon chattiness expectation (especially without my mom there to take up the slack!), and a lot of crying-level bad haircuts. Since I was keeping it buzzed for several years, I don't know any good stylists locally, and one fairly close salon with good reviews is nigh-impossible to get to without a car. So I'd been avoiding going, and the ends were starting to look really straggly and uneven. I also have a history of trying to cut my own hair with pretty horrific results, starting from the age of three with my Daffy Duck scissors, trying to preempt my Nana cutting it! My technique really hasn't gotten much better as an adult, not knowing what the hell I'm doing, and my last lopsided attempt prompted another buzz cut. So I've also been pretty wary of the DIY approach.

But, after a raid on Google and YouTube for some ideas on how to do this reasonably, I decided to risk it, figuring that it couldn't turn out much worse than the usual salon trip or the current straggly woolybooger look. Just trying to even up the ends some--erring on the side of not taking enough off!--seemed like the best plan, and well within my competence level. ;) Adding a little in the way of layering didn't look like a bad plan, since my bushel of really fine hair is extremely good at weighting itself down, and the curls have been sort of intertwining so the bottom of my hair has mostly been moving in one big section lately! Not ideal.

Videos I found helpful, for the curious )

It's still wet, but the results don't seem bad at all. I went back and cleaned up the ends on sections I could tell didn't get trimmed properly while it was clipped up, and then after the post-cut wash got the few looser curls in the back which have been hanging a lot lower and making me not want to wear my hair down. It must not be weighting itself down as much, with the shrinkage factor; the longest pieces I took off were maybe 1.5"--most closer to 0.5"--and it's a good 3" shorter while still damp. It's back up just above my shoulders. The canopy doesn't seem to be wanting to flatten out as much from getting snagged on the hair underneath, either, as I was hoping.

The verdict, at this point? I'll do it again. :)
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I've got a new, hopefully easy project: a cooling vest for Max.

Mr. Trot N. Grin, in the park.

Bully breeds tend to overheat easily anyway, and so do older dogs. Max is an 11-year-old Staffie. With what passes for a heat wave lately, he has been getting hot more easily than he did last summer, even. I'm sure the mostly-black fur doesn't help. We've been carrying along sports bottles of water for him to drink and to douse him with, but he's still been dancing on the verge of serious overheating when we've taken him out. So, [personal profile] vatine thought of making a cooling vest for him.

Come to find out, there are a number commercially available. If you want to pay £40 or so. He's certainly worth it, but something made from an old towel ought to work just about as well.

I was looking for sewn dog vest ideas, and ran across something easy and very suitable indeed: cool coats for greyhounds, which should be easy to resize.

I had been considering using the purple towel Max uncharacteristically grabbed up and ripped last month--seemed appropriate!--but the color's too dark, as I'd been suspecting. Looking at our stock of towels, I think I'll adapt the general design to use a couple of terrycloth tea towels instead. We have some just about the right size to go over his back--and if I roll one end down and stitch it to shorten the back, it should work somewhat like the cooling snood from that link around his neck. I may put a pocket for a sopping sponge at the neck. Add a chest panel and a wide belly strap from another tea towel, and we're set--without very much sewing required. (Especially good, since I haven't quite gotten comfortable with the "new" sewing machine, so will be doing it by hand!) I'll try large buttons, and go for the velcro or snaps if that doesn't do the trick.

Things have been quieter today, BTW. :)

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