At Home with John Newman

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Baxter Survived Dental Surgery

We have good, ... no, ... GREAT news to report today.  Baxter made it through dental surgery last Friday and is doing quite well.

Here he was in our familiar spot at Lynn Animal Hospital, waiting to be taken back last Friday.

And here he was when I picked him up around 4:00 PM on Friday.  Poor thing had just come from under anesthesia and he was not really aware of his surroundings at this time.

A little later that evening, perched on his favorite mountain of pillows.  He was starting to come around at this point.  His eyes were looking a little brighter.

He had a little bit of dinner, not very much.  I gave him a pain pill and he crawled under the covers and went straight to sleep.

The next morning, he was up and he wanted some breakfast, so I gave him a Blue Buffalo paté blend of chicken and vegetables.

He was a little groggy on Saturday from the pain medications, so he spent most of the day sleeping.

On Sunday we ran over to PetSmart and picked up this bag of soft treats.  These were a big hit with him.  They are to be refrigerated.  These will likely become his new treat.

Now a word about all of this.  I got my first dog when I was four years old.  A gift from my maternal grandfather.  Her name was Judy and she was a boxer.  We had Judy ten years.  Then came George the standard, smooth-haired dachshund.  Then Attila the cocker spaniel.  Then Fletcher the basset hound and Marcus the beagle.  And now, of course, Baxter.  Not one of these dogs before Baxter ever had problems with their teeth.  Their teeth became stained over the years, but never an extraction. And I paid very little to no attention to their teeth.  Baxter, of course, has been the exception.  I was constantly working on this teeth to try and keep them healthy.  We brushed.  We used gels.  We used wipes.  We even used those little plastic dental picks to clean between his teeth.  Nothing worked. After Dr. Carman got in to take a look he found that, not only were his teeth in bad shape, but there was an abscess in his nasal cavity which needed to be flushed and sewn up that was caused by at least one of his teeth at the top.  What I discovered from Dr. Carman is that dachshunds, and in particular the miniatures, are prone to teeth problems.  We do not know why.  That is just the way it is.

We are most grateful to Dr. Carman and the staff at Lynn Animal Hospital for their compassion and expertise and their ability to get Baxter back to good health.  Click here to visit their website if you are in the area and looking for a great veterinarian hospital for your pet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Desk Drawer Organization

The new year is upon us.  Now is the perfect time to get to work getting yourself organized and ready for a productive year.

I decided I would start off the year by organizing the drawer in the desk in my bedroom.  These little bamboo boxes seemed to be the perfect solution for this purpose.

These are from a line from Better Homes & Gardens.  They are very sturdy boxes.  There is a series of different sizes which can be interlocked, some sitting atop others.

The space in this drawer would not allow for stacking.  However, there was enough space for four of these boxes and enough space left over to store my laptop.  This drawer is actually a pull out keyboard holder.  But I do not use it as such.  My desktop computer is in another part of the house.  I use this desk with my laptop.

I chose the three inch by nine inch boxes.  These fit in the drawer perfectly.

There was one little problem.  The boxes did not stay in place inside the drawer.  Every time I would open or close the drawer, the boxes would move all over the place.  That would not do.  We essentially had the same problem as we had a few posts ago with the new flatware holders moving all about on the board.  In that instance we used little rubber bumpers on the bottoms of the ceramic holders and that solved the probably of them moving around.  But in this case, the little rubber bumpers would not work.  The bottom of each of these boxes is recessed to allow for clearance so they can slide back and forth if you are stacking.  Rubber bumpers would not protrude far enough from the recessed area to grab hold of the drawer bottom.  So we had to come up with another way to gain stability.

That is when we decided to use this gripping drawer liner from Contact brands.  This is their thickest cushioned grip Premium drawer liner.  It is generally used when a heavier application is needed, say for dishes, cookware or glass storage.  But I thought it perfect for this project.  This is a non-adhesive liner which can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap.

I measured the length of the drawer.  The width was fine.  This roll of liner went almost all the way to the back of the drawer, so I just cut it to fit the full length.

Here, our liner is in place and ready for the boxes to be added.

As you can see, they fit nicely in the drawer atop the liner.  And there is plenty of room for my laptop on the right-hand side.

One additional note - the cords you see in the box on the far left.  I'm sure you find yourself with a bevy of these cords, as I do.  These little velcro wraps are perfect for keeping them nice and neatly put away.  You can pick up the velcro wraps at Lowe's.

And finally, what every desk drawer needs - dental floss.  I simply cannot live without it.

I hope you find this helpful.  I picked up these boxes at Walmart for a very reasonable price.  Three dollars and change each.  Let's make 2017 the year we get everything organized.  Take this journey with me and let's see where we are at the end of the year.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

We Are Preparing for Baxter's Surgery Tomorrow

Baxter has dental surgery tomorrow.  We received the following notice in email from Lynn Animal Hospital yesterday.


Lynn Animal Hospital
Hi John,

Baxter has an upcoming appointment.

Please let us know if you can still make it by clicking below. Confirming your appointment helps us ensure this place in our schedule.

Please arrive at the earliest listed time below unless you were instructed otherwise by our staff.

Provider's Notes: Please drop off pet between 7:30AM-8AM. No food after 8PM the night before and no water after midnight the night before.

For: Baxter
On: Fri, January 13 at 7:45 AM

Of course I clicked on "Yes, I am still coming" and received further instructions on how to prepare him for the surgery.  I will drop him off in the morning at 7:45 as instructed.  Dr. Carman said they could call as early as 2:00 PM letting me know to come pick him up.  This poor baby has been through a lot in his nine short years.  First it was back surgery and now dental surgery.  It will be a weekend revolving around Baxter for sure.  Whatever he wants he will get, which will most likely be to be left alone.


Chopped Veggies

Sometimes I do not want to take the time to chop veggies for the weeks salads.  If I am working on a large project that I know will consume hours of my time, I will adjust kitchen time so that I can complete what I am working on.  Such was the case a couple weeks ago.  I found these containers of chopped veggies at a local grocer.  Take a look at what I did with them.

Finely chopped tomato, onion and green peppers in small containers.  Sheer perfection.  These were chopped finely, as I would in my own kitchen at Crest Avenue.  And the containers were small, which is another important issue for me.  I have a hard time consuming the large containers of chopped veggies before they begin to spoil.

I used this brightly colored melamine mixing bowl which I thought would be perfect for my plan for these veggies.

And that was to combine them all together.  Rather than leaving them in the containers from the store, I mixed them all together.

This way, I can add a nice helping of all three to my lunch salads.  This gives a nice boost to a garden salad.  For me all I really need is bibb lettuce, a small can of tuna or chicken, and few spoonfuls of this melange, and a good, high quality salad dressing.  I am currently using the Marie's Brand salad dressings, which are wonderful.

Into one of our new containers with the seafoam tinted lids.

And on with the lid.  Be sure that all of the veggies are inside the container.  Wipe around the outside of the container with a clean paper towel before placing the lid on top.

Into the refrigerator and ready to be added to a salad, ... or, ... even on a sandwich.  Lightly toast two slices of sour dough bread, add mayonnaise and dijon mustard to your liking, pile on some freshly sliced turkey from the deli and a spoonful or two of this delicious veggie mix.  Slice in half and enjoy.  You could even add a light smear of cranberry sauce on one or both slices of bread.  Make it your own.

If you are busy like me with projects or family or work and you find you are running out of time for kitchen duty, do not hesitate to go to market and find some items to make food preparation easy. These containers were $1.49 each.  A bargain to have the chopping already done for you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

An EZPass in Every Car

I finally did it.  I signed up for the EZPass toll booth transponder.  My daily commute to the office and errands on the weekend do not require me to pay tolls.  However, when I visit my family in Richmond, VA (Midlothian to be more specific), there are several tolls along that route.  It becomes a hassle to search for change, or in some cases, several dollars to pay tolls at each of the booths along the way.  But that is all a thing of the past now.

Since I live in Maryland, I signed up for a Maryland EZPass account.   But, as you can see from the map above, the transponder will work in several states and in areas in which I will be driving over the coming year.

When approaching the toll booths now, I simply look for the EZPass lane and keep going.  What a marvelous invention.

When you receive your envelope in the mail, it will contain one of these cellophane bags in which you will find your transponder.

And this is what it looks like.  Just remove it from the bag and read the enclosed instructions on how and where to install it in your car.  This is very important.

The instructions for installation are enclosed on this small, pamphlet sized sheet of paper.  You are mostly concerned with the placement of the transponder.  You want the toll booth to be certain to "see" it when you go through.  The transponder will be invalid if you mount it improperly.  You can move it from vehicle to vehicle.  You will just need to contact the agency in your state if you need additional fasteners for your other vehicles.

Here we are, ready to install the transponder on the windshield.  Simply peel off the backing from these two fasteners, arrange it in the right space and press and hold for two seconds.  That's it.

The instructions say at least three inches down from the frame of the car.  It was easy for me to find the right spot because of this sun reflecting material that is at the top of my windshield.

And two inches to the right of the rear-view mirror bracket.

And there you have it.  EZPass installed and ready for the next trip to Midlothian.  I don't know what took me so long to get one of these.  If you find yourself paying tolls, frequently or infrequently, get an EZPass,


Monday, January 9, 2017

Little Rubber Bumper Feet

We recently bought a new set of everyday flatware from Pier One Imports.  It was time to retire the set we had.  That set was taken to Goodwill.  It was perfectly fine.  We just wanted an upgrade.  I shopped online on their website and found the perfect set.  While shopping for the new flatware, I found a really cute flatware holder set.  I thought it would be perfect, and indeed, it is.  But with one little problem.  Read on.

I really liked this three cup set that came with a black, wooden tray.  Each of the three holders are glazed ceramic.  They look particularly sharp on top of the black wooden tray.  But the problem was that they moved around on the tray.  Although there are small, square indentations on the tray, they are larger then the bases of the holders.  So they move around.

I picked up this set of Bumpers from Lowe's.  These would traditionally be used on cabinet doors to muffle the sound when closing the doors,  But I thought they would work perfectly in this case too.

So, I removed the flatware and turned over the ceramic holders.  As you can see in this photo the holders are not glazed on the outer edges on the bottom.  You would think this would help keep them in place on the holder, but that was not the case.

There were several sizes and shapes of bumpers in the package.  After a little inspection, I decided to use the small gray ones.  These were the perfect size for the outer edges of the holders.

I simply peeled them off the backing and placed one in each corner of each of the three flatware holders.

Then, back onto the wooden tray and back in with the flatware.  Now we are able to remove flatware, use it, wash it, and place it back in each of the respective holders without the holders constantly needing to be rearranged.  A quick fix to what would have been an ongoing annoyance.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Poor Baxxie

We have distressing news this morning.  Poor little Baxter is going in for dental surgery on Friday, January 13.

Here he was waiting patiently to see Dr. Carman last Saturday.  When we got back to the examination room, Dr. Carman explained that dachshunds, and in particular the miniature versions, are prone to problems with the teeth.  He has already lost a couple teeth in the front at the bottom.  Now he will lose a few in the front on the top.  The rest of them look OK.  I will drop him off at 7:30 AM and will wait for their call to come pick him up, possibly as early as 2:00 PM.  I am not looking forward to this day.  All we can do is hope that everything goes OK.
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