It’s Nanowrimo Time!

Hello, all.

It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been… procrastinating.

I’m working on that. I’m trying to learn to not procrastinate on everything. I’m hoping to get back into writing this month, even if it isn’t on this blog (hopefully it will be, but we’ll see how it goes).

The first thing I’m doing towards this goal is starting Nanowrimo! Yes, I’m rather late this year, but I want to see how far I can get by the end of the month. There’s an interesting widget on the Nano website, and I’m hoping I can add it to this blog so you can see how I’m doing.

Here goes nothing!

Edit: Looks like the widget has updated itself for 2014! In 2013, I wrote 48,072 words, which is just a little short of where I wanted to be. Let’s hope this year I make it to 50,000!

Recent Jobs

Greetings!

As you know, I quit my job at the store back in October to move in with my boyfriend. I’ve done a few jobs since then, mostly seasonal or temp work (okay, ALL seasonal and temp work…). So, here they are!

I went to a craft fair back in November, but I didn’t sell as many crafts as I had hoped to. Since what I made was all Christmas-themed, I’ll wait until later in the year to put what I have left up on Etsy.

In January, I started working in a local greenhouse. It only lasted until June, but it was so cool! I liked how I could see and follow the entire process from dirt to seed to seedling to plant to sale, all in a few short months, and all in huge quantities. I had never realized how much work went into growing plants for sale, and now I understand why prices tend to be so high. The consumer is paying for everything that happens in the greenhouse, from filling pots with dirt to watering and fertilizing the adult plants, shipping, displaying, and of course, the extra that the store wants on top of all that. A packet of seeds for $1 may give you twenty plants, but each plant will sell for five or ten dollars because of the energy that went into growing it and keeping it alive.

From about April to June, I also babysat for about an hour most days of the week. Kindergartners can’t be left alone for long, especially when they are extremely active.

For two weeks in June, I temped at a local T-shirt factory. I helped rip tags off of thousands of shirts, only to screen print new tags on, and then head to a different building to attach paper tags to the sleeves. That was actually rather fun, and I probably would have kept the job longer, but Ian’s job opportunity was too good to pass up, so I ended up telling them I wouldn’t be able to work past the original two-week contract.

And, as of July, I will be changing the links I put on my blog. Rather that just having normal Amazon links, I’ll be adding links via Amazon Associates. Basically, this means if you click the links and then purchase something from Amazon, I get a few pennies in my bank account. As far as I am aware, you don’t pay any extra, but you’d be helping pay my student loans, along with seeing some pretty neat products. Maybe I shouldn’t be so open about it, but you’re here to read, not buy, and honestly? I think you should know about it! Maybe you’ll do the same on your blog! And everyone wins!

Also, beginning after we are finally settled into our new home, I am going to start crafting again. I will also post what I craft on Etsy, and use up some of those crafting supplies I’ve purchased! That was why I bought them, after all.

I would also be interested in other money-making ideas. What do you do to make money? What’s something you’ve heard about, but haven’t yet tried?

Hello July!

Hello blog! Hello July! I’ve had a busy few months, so I suppose I should fill you in on life and what’s happened and why I’m back at my parent’s house (for only a short time, honest!).

March

We went to a Sigur Ros concert! It was loud and awesome, and even though there were chairs, we stood for the entire time.

April

We went to a Muse concert! It was EPIC! I also earned a Purple belt in karate, and purchased a Butterfly Koi! I was not aware that this type of fish will eventually be three feet long, so it looks like I’ll need to get a pond sometime soon…

May

I added the Koi to the big tank after a few weeks in a Home Depot bucket (I didn’t know if she had some sort of Walmart disease). She hopped out of the tank, but Ian found her in time and put her back in the water. I eventually had to get a tank divider, because Sharkbait kept trying to mate with her! He can be a rude fish sometimes.

June

I found duckweed in a local pond and added it to the fish and frog tanks! Hopefully it will out-compete the algae that is messing up my lovely tanks. I also removed the tank divider, and the fish behaved! And then, I got surprise tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert! While there, I saw a Stevie Nicks cosplayer walking around, and she looked almost exactly like Stevie in a top hat! The photo below is part of the Rumours album, and I’ve added the link to the story the photo came from.

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Aquaponics update: I purchased a small pump and two shallow bins, and also cut some pieces of pvc pipe to begin the set-up. Other events have prevented my continued preparations, however. See July.

July

The brook up the street from us flooded, and our cars ended up under about a foot and a half of water. Ironically, we were planning to move to Maine at the end of the month for Ian’s new job, but now we have to wait for it to stop raining so we can go back and pack. My poor car will probably survive, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’m hanging out at my parent’s house, and Ian is up in Maine because his new job has already started! Sadly, we can’t get into the house we want to rent until the end of the month, but due to weather and lack of transportation, it seems that won’t really be a problem, since I haven’t packed yet anyways.

And that’s the last few months! I’ll write up a few more posts for you soon, and post some pictures of my new fish. Stay tuned, and many apologies for my absence!

Tank Improvements and the Need for Names

Greetings everyone!

I’ve finally gotten around to fixing up the fish and frog tanks, so here’s how they look! I’ll start with Sharkbait, hanging out in his spacious 30-gallon tank:

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My dad and I altered a moving cart to put the stand on, mainly because I didn’t relish the idea of trying to lift 300 pounds or remove A LOT of water every time I wanted to move the tank. It doesn’t look too bad, I think, and isn’t really visible from the kitchen (The tank is in the plant room to keep the cats away from the oh-so-edible-and-interesting-and-OMG-IT’S-MOVING fish!).

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He’s getting used to his new tank, but I think he’s still confused about the cave I bought him. Silly fish. I still can’t believe he’s about four inches long!

Now for the frogs’ new home:

IMG_5775Don’t bother looking for them- this picture was taken right after I put them in the tank, so they are hiding behind the waterfall rock. I had to wait a few hours before they’d come back out.

IMG_5786This is the male. I’ve decided to name him Trevor, because even though he isn’t a toad, it was the best I could come up with when I got them, and it’s stuck. The other two remain nameless- any suggestions?

The female:

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IMG_5797She was more daring than the other two, and obligingly swam across the front of the tank so I could get some clear photos of her.

The juvenile frog (not sure the gender yet- still too young!) is to the rear of these pictures, while Trevor is hanging out in the front corner:

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IMG_5800If you look closely, you will see that the juvenile is gray, while the male is more of a brown-and-pink-with-spots color. You can’t tell here, but Trevor has two pimple-like white spots in each armpit, which he would use to grip the female while they attempt to make more babies. The female doesn’t have those white spots, but her tail is a tiny bit longer than his. Or, that’s how the all-knowing internet says you can tell the male and female African Dwarf Claw frogs apart.

The female must have felt that Trevor was monopolizing her baby too much though. Here’s a photo with Trevor on top, the female in the middle, and the juvenile on the bottom, smooshed into the front corner:

IMG_5803You can just barely see Trevor’s white spot.

Then, the juvenile decided he wanted to go back to hiding behind the waterfall, which disturbed the other two. Here’s the female floating above, with the juvenile to the rear (slightly out of focus), and Trevor in the corner:

IMG_5806They’re probably confused still, but I think they’ll enjoy the new tank set-up, and more especially, the clean water! Hopefully they’ll hang out in the center of the tank more, since I’d like to see them sometimes, and it’s hard to see them behind the waterfall. Also, I hope Trevor stays OUT of the waterfall rock this time. I think I managed to cover the intake holes with rocks, but if he vanishes, I’ll know where he is!

So, any name suggestions? I have a female frog without a name, so preferably a female name for her. For the juvenile, I think a gender-neutral name would be best, since I have no idea how long it will remain a baby. Hopefully I’ll be able to distinguish it from the others once it does grow up!

Happy New Year! Sort of.

Greetings!

One year ago today I began blogging. Impressively, one year later I have managed to continue blogging! I’ve even gained a handful of followers!

So, I just wanted to say, thanks for reading my blog. Hopefully the next year will bring more blogging awesomeness!

 

Some changes I have planned for the coming year:

– A new method of ‘grading’ which will make my reviews of books more fair. Why? Well, because I think my reviews of books are rather skewed in favor of books I like. Which makes sense for the most part, except for those instances where the book is perfect and if I had liked the story/subject/etc, it would have received a better review. Or those instances where I loved the idea of the story, but the execution wasn’t as epic as it could have been.

– Actually posting about dragons. I have a whole section for dragons up at the top of the blog, and multiple ideas for posts, but I haven’t gotten around to writing any of them yet.

-Reviewing more books. I read more books than I review. Once I have my new review guidelines written up, I will review more of the books I read, because I will feel less like I am choosing an arbitrary number and more like I am giving the books a number they actually deserve.

I think I will stop there. These are goals I know I can accomplish, and anything else I think up will be a fun surprise for everyone (including me).

 

Happy February everyone!

 

Suddenly, Frogs!

Greetings!

I now have frogs!

IMG_5632They are dwarf claw frogs, somewhere around seven years old. And they were free! Before I get into pictures, here’s how I found out about them:

I was researching aquaponics last night when I came across a suggestion to find items on Freecycle which could be used in an aquaponics system. I’ve heard of the site before, but wasn’t really interested in looking at it – I figured I have enough stuff I don’t use, why get more? So, of course, “for research purposes,” I went to the site last night to check it out. One of the first links I noticed was someone giving away a 20 gallon fish tank! Flat out giving it away, no strings attached (that’s the point of the site, apparently). In the details about the tank, it said it came with live plants and two frogs. Me being me, I was sold (especially for free stuff), and went so far as to wake up my boyfriend to ask if he’d mind. Long story short: I got the fish tank! Oh, and you should check out Freecycle! You can give away stuff you have, rather than throwing it out, and you can get stuff you need from other people, which is pretty cool.

Notice the ad said 20 gallon tank? Well, it seemed a bit large once I got it home, so I took some measurements. 30 x 18.5 x 12? Sounds like a 30 gallon tank to me! And the best part is that the frogs would be fine in a ten gallon tank (they’re tiny!), so I can switch Sharkbait into the new one and the frogs into his, and then I’ll be one step closer to doing something neat with plants!

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After a bit of cleaning, of course. For now, I’ll just get some of the scum off the glass with a paper towel, add some more water, and put the frogs and that one plant back. The tank comes with a waterfall in the back corner, but I will probably clean it and rearrange later this week, so I don’t want to fill it all the way just yet.

IMG_5634Also a few rocks. Had to take those out to move it! What a heavy tank….

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The woman also gave me a moss thing. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to clean the water or something. It reminds me of Marimo balls, which are pretty neat- check them out! (A Google image search should give you more variety, but the ones in that Etsy shop are neat!)
IMG_5636The frogs are a bit scared, so the pictures are blurry. If my tank hadn’t been moved in seven years, I’d be scared too!

And yes, the tank is in the plant room, with a frustrated Peater locked out!

 

EDIT: Apparently, there are THREE frogs, not two. Somehow the third one managed to go unnoticed by their previous owner, and also survived the trip to my house! Either that, or frogs can replicate themselves overnight…

Aquaponic Gardening

It’s the end of January, it is snowing out, and I am considering turning Sharkbait’s tank into a veggie-growing tank of awesomeness. If I use the pump to move the water into a grow bed, I could use his waste to feed lots of plants, and then never need to worry about watering the plants or cleaning the fish tank ever again!

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[photo from Desert Homespun]

Let’s back up.

For Christmas, I got Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein from my boyfriend. Immediately after finishing the book, I asked him how he would feel about having a 100 gallon fish tank in the house. Why?

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This book is a guide to starting your own aquaponic garden. You get a huge tank or two, build some grow beds to hold the plants and the growing medium, add water and fish, wait for some bacteria to form, then add worms and plants to the grow beds and wait! As the pump in the tank moves the fish waste to the grow beds, the worms and bacteria will turn the waste into fertilizer for the plants, and then clean water goes back into the fish tank. The fish tanks stays healthy, because the water is always clean and well aerated, the plants stay healthy because they have plenty of water, nutrients, and air, the worms stay healthy because they are worms and like moist, waste-full places, and the bacteria are bacteria, meaning we have no clue whether they are happy or not, but they are doing their jobs.

aquaponics system

[photo taken from Maximum Survival]

The one thing that I thought was missing from the book was how to turn small tanks into aquaponic gardens. The book covers everything from using 55-gallon drums all the way up to a 300-gallon fish tank, complete with plant options, fish options, construction instructions, and troubleshooting for when things go wrong, but it only shows a single picture of a garden someone made from just a tiny fish tank. I know the point is to be able to grow food for your family, but if you are renting (as we are) or just want to start small to see how everything works, a 10-gallon tank would be perfect. And that just isn’t covered in this book. But it also wasn’t the focus of the book.

What I might try to do is convert Sharkbait’s tank into an aquaponic garden, then write a book about how I did so. Hopefully Sharkbait won’t mind too much, although it will mean moving his tank yet again. I don’t want Peater eating the plants before they’re ready to be harvested!

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[photo taken from Aquaponics Home Garden]

And since this is a post mostly focused on subject matter rather than the book itself, I will give it a rating of four-and-a-half stars and tell you to read it for yourself if the idea sounds interesting. The book has a lot of detail, and even more references for further reading. My copy now has sticky notes poking out from most pages, and I plan to read it again!

Oh, and if you have some time (about thirteen minutes should cover it), this video is where I first learned about aquaponics, and it is amazing! This guy has plants and fish all over his house, and he uses electronics to keep track of everything. If something goes wrong, the system contacts his phone, and he can then tell the system how to fix the problem, all without leaving work! The video is called Internet of food: Arduino-based, urban aquaponics in Oakland, and although it starts slow, it becomes more amazing the longer you watch it. Enjoy!