Make Your Own Recycled Self-Watering Gardening Pots

Laura asked how I made the self-watering pop bottle pots in this photo:

5/18/06 - Key lime (right) and tangerine (behind the key lime container on the left) seedlings in homemade self watering pots

The instructions can be found here: Topper’s Place – Pop Bottle Pots

It’s a quick project, and a great way to re-use all of those 2-liter diet soda bottles and milk cartons you might otherwise just toss out. I like to keep herbs in mine since stuff like basil and cilantro isn’t too happy about missing a watering and mornings can get a bit busy for me!

Tonight I’ll see if I can come up with a tutorial on how I make my origami seed starting pots that won’t confuse the heck out of everyone. I’d say that it’s around a medium difficulty level for someone who is familiar with the basic origami folds. They are a bit time consuming at 5-7 minutes apiece, even when you know what you are doing, but hey, might as well stay busy while watching re-runs of CSI, right? I made about 36 of these out of old newspapers earlier this summer to start up my fall pepper and eggplant seedlings.

5/12/06 - I figured out a way to make throwaway seedling starting pots sans stupid looking flaps with a square of paper cut from

Chocolate Protein Fudgsicles / Popsicles

Chocolate protein fudgsicle

One unhealthy food craving that I have not been able to quash completely has been my obsession with ice cream. I could give up all other desserts forever, but a life without frozen creamy goodness is not worth living.

I’ve tried a few different protein-based ice cream and popsicle recipes in the past, but it wasn’t until I started using Dymatize Elite whey that I succeeded in making a popsicle that wasn’t hard as a regular ice cube. So in addition to Dymatize whey’s superior mixing properties and taste with plain water, milk, and soy milk and the effectiveness of its integrated lactase enzyme formula for lactose-intolerant systems like mine, I can happily report that the stuff somehow retains a softer, fudgsicle-like consistency when frozen.

I made the following popsicle recipe this weekend and tested it on my picky husband. He loved them and said that he couldn’t tell they were mostly protein. No additional sweeteners were needed since the protein powder and pudding mix were already sweetened.

Score!

I get 8 rocket-shaped fudgesicles out of this recipe, and eat 2 of them as a snack with 1/2 oz. of nuts or by themselves if I just need a protein boost.

Dymatize Elite Protein Fudgsicles / Popsicles

INGREDIENTS:
– 1 box sugar-free instant Jello Pudding mix (French vanilla, chocolate, or butterscotch)
– 2 cups 8th Continent Light Soy Milk Original Flavor (This brand is ~ 50 cal/cup. Use of other brand or skim milk may change stats slightly.)
– 2 scoops Dymatize Elite protein powder (Gourmet vanilla, Rich chocolate, or Butter Cream Toffee)
– 4 T. baking cocoa powder (Optional if you are already using chocolate pudding mix AND chocolate protein powder, or if you want a non-chocolate pop)

DIRECTIONS:
Mix the ingredients together according to the instructions on the pudding mix box. Pour into popsicle forms, ice cube trays, paper or paper cups. Freeze for several hours until solid.

Makes 4 servings.

NUTRITION INFO:
Calories: 121
Carb: 11.3 g
Protein: 16 g
Fat:
2.1 g
Fiber: 1 g

TTBW P1 W3D1: A little change of schedule

After two weeks of experimentation with my original workout plan, I’m changing up my workout schedule this week so I can alternate home workout days with gym days. It was inconvenient to do half of my workout at home and half at the gym in the same morning. My gym doesn’t have any handy stability balls or a conveniently accessible unassisted chin-up station, so my TTBW sessions just work better at home, but I passionately HATE running outside in Florida heat, so I’d have to drive myself all the way to the gym just to knock out 20 minutes worth of intervals.

I bought Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon for my Nintendo DS last week, which should make the post-HIIT sessions on the recumbent bike fly by in no time at all. Rune Factory is a farming simulation/dungeon-crawling roleplaying game hybrid in which your character basically gardens, makes money, beats up monsters, makes friends with the townies nearby, fishes, crafts stuff (weapons, accessories, medications, etc.), upgrades his home and equipment, and cooks.

I will more or less be playing a miniature simulation of my real life while pedaling away, except for the bit about beating up monsters. (Don’t ask me why virtual life sims are so addictive to me. It’s probably a chick thing. Most chicks don’t know why guys can’t get enough of frenetic first person shooters either.)

===============

Daily Activities: 15 minute Yourself Fitness Cardio warmup before AM workout, 15 minute walk during lunch, and 15 minute YF Yoga/Meditation Garden after work

Mon: TTBW A + Forza
Tue: HIIT Run + MISS Recumbent Bike
Wed: TTBW B + Forza
Thu: HIIT Run + MISS Elliptical
Fri: TTBW C + Forza
Sat: HIIT Run + MISS Recumbent Bike
Sun: Yoga X

(HIIT = High intensity interval training; MISS = Medium intensity steady-state)

===============
WORKOUT
===============
– TTBW A
– Forza DVD

===============
NUTRITION
===============
M1: 50 g oat cereal, 1/2 c. light soy milk, 1 slice cantaloupe, 8 grapes, 3 egg whites
M2: 1 c. light soy milk, 3/4 scoop protein powder, 1 T. cocoa powder, 1/2 oz. walnuts
M3: 3 oz. chicken breast in raspberry sauce, 1 c. mixed veggies, 1 nectarine
M4: 1 plum, 1 unsalted rice cake, 1 T. SF preserves, 1 T. ANPB
M5: 3 oz. Tunisian flank steak and egg whites, 3 c. spinach/lettuce salad, 2 T. light dressing, 1/2 oz. walnuts
M6: 1 chocolate butterscotch protein popsicle, 1 c. veggie stir fry

What Not To Sing

Note to karaoke self at 1 AM in the K bar: Do not ever attempt anything by Melissa Etheridge in a smoky bar. You don’t have a naturally scratchy voice, your high notes go to hell after 10 seconds of secondhand smoke, and there’s ALWAYS a bleached blond, chain-smoking white chick who will sing the SAME song better than you about 30 minutes after you offer up your own feeble attempt at “Am I The Only One?”.

Same with anything by Stevie Nicks.

And you should probably give up on the dream of White Zombie, Judas Priest, Fuel, and Linkin Park, too. You lack that angsty growl thing.

Sigh.

To everyone else: May anyone who dares to torture my ears again with the following songs develop selective laryngitis until they discover the joys of a more diverse set list.

– I Will Survive
– American Pie
– Let’s Get It On
– Redneck Woman
– Goodbye Earl
– Summer Nights
– Love Shack
– Friends In Low Places
– Anything by Kelly Clarkson

That is all.

How to fix an unresponsive Wacom Intuos 2 tablet

This is a quick tip for my fellow Wacom Intuos / Intuos 2 graphic tablet users out there. I recently discovered that my Intuos 2 6″x8″ USB tablet had simply stopped working for no apparent reason. I hadn’t installed any new drivers or major pieces of software, and I hadn’t moved the tablet to another USB port or computer. Last weekend the $300 peripheral worked like a charm. This week it seemed to draw power from the USB port just fine, but neither the stylus nor the cordless mouse actually moved the mouse pointer on my monitor anymore, and right and double-clicking the buttons also did nothing.

While a variety of things could go wrong with a Wacom tablet, including a power surge, loose cable, water damage, or a driver conflict, for the most part these things are pretty tough, so if your tablet starts showing the same symptoms as mine, try the recalibration steps below before you pull out your wallet to buy a new one or pay for a repair. What do you have to lose, right? If it doesn’t solve your problem, contact the Wacom tech support line. They were very helpful when I phoned them, and I didn’t have to wait to speak to a tech. When I called about my issue, I was told that Intuos and Intuos 2 tablets occasionally just lost their hardware calibration settings and needed to be recalibrated to factory specs.

Symptoms:
(For Intuos or Intuos 2 series tablets on a Windows XP system)
– Tablet LED light still lights up when tablet is plugged in, indicating that tablet is still receiving power
– Moving pen or mouse over tablet does not cause mouse pointer to move on monitor
– Updating Wacom tablet driver does not solve problem
– Tablet also does not work on other computer(s)
– Tablet may or may not work for a few seconds when Windows XP is booting up, but stops working when all drivers are loaded
– Buttons on mouse and pen do not work (right click and double click)
– Tablet has not been abused and computer configuration has not been changed in any significant way since the last successful use of the tablet

Solution: Recalibrate your tablet
1) Do not uninstall your Wacom tablet driver.

2) Plug your tablet into a USB port at the BACK of your computer if it is not already there. Front ports and USB hubs are sometimes underpowered.

3) Wait for Windows XP to detect your tablet as a Human Interface Device. A popup in the lower right corner of your screen will appear when your new HID is installed and ready for use.

4) Open Start Menu > Control Panel > Wacom Tablet Properties

5) Click the “About” button at the bottom left of the Wacom Properties window.

6) Hold down CTRL key and click the “Diagnose” button at the bottom of the “About” window.

7) On the Diagnose screen, make sure your correct tablet model and size are selected in the dropdown list, then click the “Recalibrate” button at the bottom of the window.

8 ) Click the “Size” button, then close out of all of the Wacom windows.

9) If your tablet just needed to be reset to factory specifications, this should solve your problem. If your tablet still does not work even after a restart (mine didn’t even require that…It started to perform correctly as soon as I recalibrated), contact Wacom technical support for further assistance.

TTBW P1 W1D6 Daily Log

It turned out to be a late night out after all yesterday. Chris and I met up with friends downtown for dinner at Napasorn Thai restaurant and split quite a tasty feast of jasmine rice, Panang snapper, garlic pepper chicken and veggies, sate chicken skewers, and fish cakes.

So yes, that was my big cheat of the week. I decided that meal 6 wasn’t really called for after that. We left around 10 pm and headed over to a theater on the way home to catch the fabulous Stardust. If you are a fan of happily ever after fairy tales with some humor thrown in (think Princess Bride), you will love this movie. I really must dig out my copy of the original Neil Gaiman graphic novel from my comic book collection at my parents’ house this weekend and re-read it.

I got up too late this morning to get in my workout before I had to head out to my complimentary introductory session at the local Super Suppers meal assembly kitchen down the street, but I did get two spiffy entrees prepped and even did my weekly grocery run at Albertsons ($1.99 boneless/skinless chicken breast and super cheap seedless grapes this week!) on the way home.

Chris is doing his share of the wedding thank you cards, and I’m doing bulk food prep, freezer reorganization, laundry, and some small gardening tasks.

I’m going to give my lunch (a braided Italian meatball bread thingie with onions and green peppers from Super Suppers) time to digest, then do my postponed workout around 3 pm.

Meals are on target calorie-wise so far, and it’s finally my official “I can have processed stuff as long as I stay under 2000 calories” day.

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WORKOUT
=====================
– TTBW P1 C (30-40 min?)
– Swim (30 min)

Calories burned (Polar HRM): TBD

=====================
NUTRITION
=====================
M1: 80 g oat cereal, 1/2 c. light soy milk, 3 egg whites
M2: Banana berry protein smoothie
M3: Braided Italian meatball bread (1/2 portion)
M4: Chocolate butter toffee protein pudding with 1/2 c. strawberries and 1/2 oz. walnuts, 1/2 c. zucchini slices
M5: 4 oz. coconut chicken, 3 c. mixed salad, 2 T. light Asian sesame ginger dressing, 1 c. grapes
M6: 1 c. light soy milk, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 oz. walnuts, 1/2 c. zucchini slices

Stats (without M5): 1645 calories (41% carb/ 32% pro/ 28% fat ; 21 g fiber)

TTBW P1 W1D5 Daily Log

I slept in this morning and missed my planned workout, but the good news is that I am almost over my cold! I think two more days should do it. I sucked it up and did my planned 30 minutes of Kenpo X last night, though I wound up snacking on enough raisins and toasted walnuts to bump my calories up to 2000 for the day and cutting my deficit down to only 280 calories. I didn’t have anything processed or unhealthy, but I had a wee bit too much of the healthy stuff anyway. Call it rationalization if you like, but I think my immune system wanted the extra calories and nutrients.

😉

Oh well…Two 90% meals out of my four allotted ones so far this week. There will be another one tonight when I go to a local Thai restaurant for a friend’s surprise birthday party. I’m not sure how long we’ll be out tonight, but if we get back before 11 I am going to do my TTBW workout and half an hour of YF cardio before going to bed. The high intensity cardio session will have to wait until tomorrow morning, when I can sub it out for the YF I (might) do tonight. If we do wind up staying out late (for karaoke, hopefully), I’ll shift the workout in its entirety to tomorrow morning and do the planned Saturday workout (YF/Forza) on Sunday).

I’m just glad that I can breathe again.

Weight was more or less the same this morning at 141.8 lbs in spite of the nuts and raisins fest.

I did sneak in a 13 minute walk during lunch. I may try to do some bodyweight squats, lunges, and push-ups during my snack breaks, too. As Cassandra Forsythe said in her post yesterday, there is never a reason not to get a workout in, no matter where you are!

=====================
WORKOUT
=====================
– TTBW P1 C (If time permits)
– YF Cardio (30 min; if time permits)

Calories burned (Polar HRM): TBD

=====================
NUTRITION
=====================
M1: 40 g oatmeal, 40 g raisins, 2 oz chicken breast, 1/2 c. sauteed spinach
M2: 1 small banana, 1 small peach
M3: 4 oz. roasted chicken breast, 1 c. asparagus veggie mix, 1 medium peach
M4: 2 rice cakes, 1 T. ANPB
M5: 90% meal at Thai restaurant
M6: 1 c. light soy milk, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 oz. walnuts

Stats (without M5): 1229 calories (49% carb/ 23% pro/ 28% fat ; 20.8 g fiber)

TTBW P1 W1D4 Daily Log

Note: I’ll be splitting my daily workout plans, nutrition logs and notes off from more general article posts from this point forward. This should make it easier to participate in various blog carnivals without confusing new readers with my esoteric workout note abbreviations in my post titles. 😉


I got my gallon of water in yesterday and have gone down yet another pound in water weight, LOL. I’m at 141.6 this morning, down from a challenge starting weight of 145.4 this Monday. Unofficially, then, my goal for this four weeks is to get down to 138 territory.

I did get to the gym last night to finish off my remaining 30 minute exercise obligation with 15 minutes of intervals on the stationary bike, and 15 minutes of intervals on the treadmill. When I got home, I had my planned soy milk + protein powder + cocoa shake and 1/2 oz. of walnuts, and munched on the last of the homegrown longan fruits my parents gave me instead of DH’s processed snacks in the pantry (chips, cereal, granola bars, etc.)

I had a tough time falling asleep last night, probably because I was wired from my evening cardio session. I fired up Microsoft Money and looked at our budget for a bit (discovered an error in one of my scheduled bills and fixed it), then fretted for half an hour when I realized that my plants (including two fruit trees in pots) were probably dying from lack of water since this past Saturday DH had removed the soaker hoses on the timer we had set up to water the side yard. I’ll have to get up an extra 30 minutes earlier in order to water the plants myself until we figure out a better way to water the plants.

I managed to complete a 30 minute YF cardio workout, including the Physical Challenge assessment, but I did not get my swim in due to time and illness constraints. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hop into a cold pool while I am still sick with this cold. I will sub Kempo X or Powerstrike tonight to make up the exercise minutes since I will get home too late to use the community pool.

Last night’s food temptation at work was Chinese takeout from Citrus Garden. I took a look at what had been ordered, though, and nothing would work within my nutrition guidelines. The people in charge tend to go with the popular dishes like General Tso’s or Orange Chicken, sweet and sour pork, and other entrees that I know from my days working in my dad’s restaurant are deep-fried twice and then drowned in sauces made from a lot of real sugar and corn starch. I passed it all up with a small pang of regret and had my planned grilled fish tacos and salad dinner.

My cholesterol reading from my last blood donation was a high (for me) 201, and I am determined to bring that down to at least 170 by my next donation date in about six weeks. That means very limited amounts of trans and saturated fats and deep-fried foods, even in my cheat meals. I am apparently not one of those people who can eat like crap and not have it affect my physical test results, even though I may not notice any outward effects. Chris, however, can eat giant burritoes from Moe’s and entire bags of high-sodium tortilla chips smothered in cheese all day long and still test out with a cholesterol reading of 125.

Grrr….

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WORKOUT
=====================
– Yourself Fitness Physical Challenge/Cardio (30 min)
– Powerstrike or Kempo X (30 min)

Calories burned (Polar HRM): 238 for YF segment; remaining workout total TBD

=====================
NUTRITION
=====================
M1: 40 g oatmeal, 40 g raisins, 3 egg whites, 1/2 c. sauteed spinach
M2: Blueberry banana soy protein smoothie
M3: 4 oz. coconut chicken (from Quick Time Meals), 1 c. asparagus veggie mix, 3/4 c. cooked rice
M4: 1 pear, 3 oz. tilapia filet
M5: 1 corn tortillas, 4 oz. tilapia, 2 T. salsa, 1 c. asparagus veggie mix, 1 peach
M6: 1 c. light soy milk, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 oz. walnuts

Stats: 1625 calories (49% carb/ 35% pro/ 17% fat ; 27.1 g fiber)