Wednesday, September 17

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 16

Why do I own cats?

Seriously, can someone answer that.  Why do I have cats?  They are nothing but trouble.  There is a coupon code at the end of this post, just bear with me for a while.       

Nacho. Late last week I noticed Nacho's voice was a little scratchy. So I checked her over and didn't see anything in her throat, she didn't have any discharge from her nose, she wasn't sneezing or coughing, etc, etc.  So we thought she had just lost her voice (it's happened before).  Both cats had vet appointments on Monday, so I decided to wait and see what the vet said.

Monday came around and off to the vet. Toonces is a healthy 11.5 lb cat and Nacho is a healthy 8.5 lb cat, except for a large lump on her neck. Neither J or I had noticed it before. The vet wasn't sure what it was so she said my boss should look at it.

This scared the crap out of me because my boss is a veterinarian oncologist. Did this mean she thought Nacho had a tumor?  I stated to get a little scared.  I work in oncology, animal oncology, my head was just filled with what it could be. 

Not a happy Nacho

I packed Nacho up and off to the very school we went. And let me just take a second to let everyone know how amazing my boss is.  He is more then willing to drop everything and help and he is one of the most amazing oncologist I know.

So I asked my boss to take look at Nacho. He felt the lump and then I helped him take some aspirates.  It was immediately clear it wasn't a tumor and a quick look under the microscope confirmed that.  She had an abscess.  A huge disgusting abscess on her neck.  So my boss, again dropped everything that he was doing, and drained it for me, sent off a culture for analysis, and gave her antibiotics to kill any nasty little things that were in there.  

Nacho with her new bandage and still high on drugs!
My boss said it looked like a bite wound.  Her neck is very bruised and while the abscess was being flushed, the saline was coming out of multiple areas.  All point to a bite.  So the bruising and the pressure from the abscess were causing her scratchy voice.  So what we assumed happened (since both cats are inside cats and hate the outside), is while the cats were fighting (this is a daily occurrence in our house), Toonces bit Nacho on the neck and the bite got infected.  This is a huge warning to everyone.  Cat's mouths are full of nasty stuff, if you, or a pet, or anyone/thing gets bit by a cat, clean the wound immediately and possible seek medical help.  It may look like a small wound, but the little nasties in their mouths can cause infections.  I have always known this, but I had no idea Nacho had been bit until the large abscess showed up.      

So what was supposed to be a normal half hour vet visit turned into a day long adventure and some pretty pricey vet bills.  Not as pricey as what Yoda can rack up (thousands of dollars in surgery), but still a little pricey for me right now.  

You see at the beginning of the year I had to go to part time.  It's rough out there in research right now, there is very little funding and a lot of labs competing for it.  So I'm only working 20 hours a week in the lab.  Which is a double edged sword.  I love having more free time to work on making my beadwork more of a income source, but my much, much smaller paycheck is making sure I stretch every dollar.  So Nacho's almost $500 in vet bills is a pretty large blow.  And yes, I know, I work for the vet school, I shouldn't have to pay full price.  Well that's not how it works.  

Because the vet school is a state institute and I'm a state employee, there are no discounts given.  Students get a small discount, but employees have to pay full price.  It's a little annoying, but that's just how it is.  That is why the animals have a general vet that is not at the vet school.  It breaks my heart not to be able to bring my animals to the place I work, but I just can't afford it most times.

So to help alleviate a little of the stress that the vet bills are putting on me, I'm having a sale.  Use coupon code NACHO20 to get 20% off your entire order.  That's 20% off everything, including patterns.  I'll be running this sale for the rest of the month of September, so there is plenty of time to use it.  I want to thank everyone in advance who takes advantage of this sale, you have no idea how much it means to me right now.

And just because it's cute, this is where Yoda has been hiding.  I think Yoda's a little jealous that Nacho has been getting a lot of attention and that she has gotten to go on adventures and little Yoda has to stay home.  Spoiled little pup.  

Stop by the etsy store and use coupon code NACHO20 to get 20% off your entire order.                 

Monday, September 15

Holiday in Mexico! Part #4

Okay, this is the fourth and final installment of our holiday in Mexico.  I know you're all pretty annoyed by it by this point and would like me to get back to beady goodness.  I promise this is the last one.  I wanted to get this one posted last week, but this last week and weekend have been a very busy, very stressful, very trying time.  I will have an update tomorrow about it (I hope).   But before I bring you down with that, let's get to the last part of our Mexico vacation.

Cancun was very nice, it was fantastic to be honest.  But, it had a very Miami feel to it.  It wasn't that much different then going to any other upscale ocean front city.  Don't get me wrong, we had a great time and we enjoyed ourselves a whole bunch, but we wanted to see more of Mexico then just the sea side resort town.

So we decided to take a tour of Chichen Itza and surrounding areas.  We considered renting a car and going by ourselves, but my Spanish is not good enough and neither one of us knew any of the rules of the road in Mexico, so we opted for a tour.

We took our tour through Cancun Passion.  The tour cost about $90 USD per person, so it wasn't cheep, but it included pick up/drop off at our hotel, a bus ride, lunch, guided tour of Chichen Itza, and a swim in a Cenote.  I know we could have gotten a cheaper one if we shopped around, but we decided to just go with the one the concierge suggested.  It was the easiest option.  If we do it again, we might shop around a little bit for the best deal, but maybe not.

We had a great time.  We did have to wake up early that morning, but that was the only morning we did.  A shuttle bus picked us up right at the front door and we were taken to the bus.  It was one of those big long distance buses.  The group was larger, but not over crowded and the tour guides were very funny.  

 We stopped at the cenote first.  The grounds were beautiful.  When we got there, there were only one or two other tour buses in the parking lot, so the cenote wasn't that crowded.  After a quick change, both me and J jumped in.  J opted for the high dive, I opted for the ladder.

The water was cold and refreshing.  It was an interesting experience.  The water is very clear and you can see all the little fishes that are in there, but you can't see the bottom.  There is no standing on the bottom.  This is a sink hole that is filled with water, there is no bottom.  Well there's a bottom, it's just a long way down.  For a few bucks you can rent a life jacket.  I recommend that unless you are a very strong swimmer.

After the cenote, we headed to lunch.  Lunch was a buffet lunch that was included in the price of the tour.  It was okay for a buffet.  They had entertainment, which was kinda cool.

The restaurant was very touristy.  They tried (very hard) to get you to buy photos with the performers.  They also had shops that sold locally made goods.  You don't have to buy anything, but they will try to get you to buy stuff.  The prices were reasonable, so we bought a few pieces of silver jewelry.  This is how these people make their living, so we wanted to support them at least a little bit.

After lunch we headed to Chichen Itza.  It was a very cool experience.  J and I both love archaeology related stuff, so we had a good time.  We lucked out and our tour guide was a PhD.  It was a great tour.  He explained all of the hieroglyphs and what all the buildings were for.

He was very knowledgeable and he didn't do any of the touristy things the other guides were doing.  I was very happy that we got more of an educational tour then the run of the mill tourist tour.

They split our group into two different groups, so the group sizes werent too large.  It was nice because people could ask questions and hear everything that was said.  I made sure to stand right next to Jaime's side (that was our guide), I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I'm a dork, I know.  

It was hot.  Very, very hot in the sun, but not unbearable.  I would recommend bringing an umbrella with because there isn't a lot of shade to stand under.  

The park is a nice size with a lot to look at.  We unfortunately didn't have a lot of time to look around, but what we saw was pretty great.

The downside is the sellers.  They allow sellers to sell stuff right in the park.  So they were trying to sell you things constantly.  We had a few people come up to us even while we were in a group trying to get us to buy something.  A simple "No, gracias" will do in telling them you're not interested.  Sometimes it won't.  But just keep walking and ignore them if they are not polite, that normally works.  You do have to be careful, a lot of items that are sold to tourists in Mexico are actually made in China.  So just remember that when buying goods.  I wasn't thrilled with the sellers being in the park, but there isn't anything you can do about it.

Our ride back to the hotel was uneventful.  We slept for most of it (the ride is a few hours).  But they dropped us back off right in front of our hotel, so that was nice.  We made sure to tip the guides and the driver.  They did a pretty awesome job, so we wanted to make sure they knew we appreciated it.
So that was our holiday in Mexico.  It was fun and relaxing and amazing.  I'm so glad we had a chance to go and I really can't wait for us to go back.  We were both a little unsure about going to Cancun, but we loved it.  The hotel was great, the beach was great, the people were great.  I would recommend it to anyone.  The only problem we had was with our flight home (it was delayed 6 hours).

Now we can return to the normally schedule program.  No more posts about Mexico, just posts filled with beady goodness.  Thank you all for bearing with me.

Okay, one more picture.  Here's Yoda with her gift from Mexico.


Tuesday, September 9

Holiday In Mexico! Part #3

So I'm almost done posting about our holiday in Mexico.  This one will deal with food and the many restaurants that were offered at Live Aqua.

The food here was great, especially for an all inclusive.  There are eight restaurants that are included and one that you need to pay extra for.  We did not eat at Inlaa'kech because I do not like lobster and J doesn't eat red meat, so it would have been a waist of our time and money.  But I'm sure it is as good as the rest of the restaurants.  It costs an additional $780 pesos, which is $59 USD per person.

But let's get to the restaurants we did eat at.

Siete was the first place we tried.  It is a buffet, but also has an a la carte menu, which changes from night to night.  The first night we opted for the a la carte menu because it was Mexican night.  The food was great.  I had the Yucatan braised beef and J had the Red Snapper.  Both were very good.  

We also tried the Sushi Station on many occasions.  It was not the best sushi we've ever had, but it wasn't bad either.  It's not a sit down restaurant, but more of a grab and go place.  They make each roll to order and are happy to suggest rolls or even make something that's not on the list.  It was a nice snack most nights.  

The second day there we tried the Sea Corner.  This restaurant is on the beach and is only open for lunch.  It offers tacos, tostadas, etc.  They brought us out small bowls of seafood soup when we first arrived, it was a nice little starter.  Then we got the Yucatan ceviche, the octopus tostada, and the seafood tacos for our main meal.  We also had some great frozen peach mojitos.  All were great.  The octopus was perfectly prepared and not the least bit chewy.  Yum, yum.      

That night we stopped by Hidden Garden, which is the Asian inspired restaurant.  I had the calamari for an appetizer.  It was served on a bed of veggies and had a sweet teriyaki type sauce on it.  Again, it was prepared perfectly and not the least bit chewy.    

For my main meal I had the injected salmon, which was very good.  It was served with broth and veggies.  It came with a little pipette filled with juice that you injected into the salmon yourself.  I then finished this meal with dessert, which was also very good.  I also may or may not have consumed over a bottle of wine myself this night.  But I was on vacation so it's okay.    

MB was the fancy restaurant.  It is the only restaurant that has a dress code, but you don't need to make reservations, which is nice.  We went here twice because it was so good and each time we got a table right away.

Both times we went I got the habanero soup.  It might have been the best thing in the whole resort.  It was so delicious, I wanted to order multiple ones.  It was served in a parmesan encrusted bread bowl and had potato chip type slivers on top.  It was amazing.    

For appetizers, I got the beef tongue the first time we went and the duck the second time we went.  Both were prepared very well.  Both times we went to mb I got the deconstructed filet mignon.  It was so tender that I could cut it with a butter knife.  I will say that on our first visit, the food was a little bit better then the second visit.  The second visit seemed like it was a little sloppy and quickly put together, but it was still tasty.

Azur is a beach front restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner.  We tried both.  Though both meals were good, I would have to say that lunch was much better.  But I did get the octopus appatizer with dinner and it was amazing.

But lunch was much better, probably our second favorite meal at the resort.  At lunch, there is a small salad bar and chips, salsa, and guacamole are brought to your table.

I got the tuna tartar for an appetizer and J got the fish tacos.  This was an appetizer, a freaking appetizer.  It had a mix of seafood including lobster.  

For my main meal I got the raw tuna sandwhich.  It was so amazing I don't have words for it.  Even the french fries were good.  J got the stuffed grouper, which he said was the best meal he had the whole time we were there.  

The last restaurant was Varenna, it was the Italian restaurant.  My phone decided to reset itself half way through our trip, so I lost all the photos from Varenna.  But we both had personal pizzas which were good.  They are a nice light lunch or dinner.  If you don't like cracker thin crust, then this place won't be for you.  We didn't try any of the pasta, so I can't comment on that.

There is also a little Cafe which you can get breakfast pastries, coffee, ice cream, sandwiches, etc, etc.  We would stop in and get some coffee, tea, and muffins when we were looking for a lighter breakfast.  They always had a great selection of desserts, which we're kicking ourselves for not trying.

Our last night at the resort we opted for room service.  We had already eaten a huge lunch at Azur, so we wanted simple and light.  We got the caprese salad, because yum, and we got the nachos.  The nachos were huge.  They were piled high with beans and meat and cheese.  Then they had guacamole, salsa, and cheese on the side.  They were good nachos, not the best I've had (the best is a place here in Madison), but they were good.  It was a nice last dinner, nothing fancy.  And how could we not order nachos while in Mexico.  

We finished dinner with dessert (which we did almost every time we ate).  J had a coffee cheese cake and I had the tequila chocolate cake.  The cake was so moist and amazing.  I'm very picky about cake and this passed my test.  I can't tell you what J's tasted like because I don't like coffee, but he said it was very good, so I'll take his word for it.  

  The food here went beyond are expectations.  We did run into a group of people that were complaining about the food, but they were complaining about everything, so I think they were just those type of people.  We never had a bad meal.  Some where better then others, but nothing was so bad we wouldn't eat it.

We also were not able to try everything.  We read a few reviews of the place that there is not enough selection of food, but we don't know what they were talking about.  We stayed 8 days and didn't eat the same thing twice (well I did once, but that's because it was so good the first time).  We could have easily stayed for 2-3 weeks before having to repeat a meal.  

We were very impressed with the fact that all of the restaurants had separate menus, including the desserts.  They could have easily had the same desserts or appetizers in multiple restaurants, but they didn't.  That was nice.

We were very impressed with the food, especially after talking to a few of our friends that have gone to all inclusive resorts before.  Most said the food was okay, but not anything special.  I would have to say that Live Aqua goes all out for food.  And remember everything we ate was included in our room price.  Was our room more expensive then a regular room, of course it was.  But we guessed on how much all the food and drinks we enjoyed would have cost us and it was much less then the price difference of the room.  We also made sure that we ate food that we normally wouldn't be able to enjoy.  There was no chicken caesar salad for us.

So that was a quick overview of the food.  We ate a lot more then what I posted pictures of because I figured you didn't want to see every meal we ate.  We also had numerous drinks (if you ever go, order the strawberry banana daiquiri and the Sexy Banana, both amazing) which I didn't mention.  But I think you got the idea about the food at Live Aqua.

Stay tuned for the next and last installment, which was our trip inland to Yucatan to see the ruins.  That should be up tomorrow.  Peace out.      

Friday, September 5

Friday Freebie

I've been so busy today I forgot to post today's blog post.

If anyone is around the Monona/Madison area on Sunday, stop by the farmers market and say hello.  I'll be manning my booth at Art at the Market in Monona.  I'll have plenty of things that are on sale to try to make room for some new pretties.

But let's get to that freebie. This week I have this designer pack for you.

This is such a neat freebie.  This pack contains two digital papers. 

Don't have My Memories software, don't worry about it.  You can use my promo code, STMMMS11215, to get $10 off the My Memories Software and then an additional $10 off any purchase in the store. That's a pretty cool deal. The My Memories folks have some really great scrapbooking things. And even if you don't scrapbook, the software and extras are really awesome. I don't scrapbook, but I love the software to make interesting blog post pictures. I even used it to make some labels for my homemade granola bars, so J wouldn't have to guess flavors anymore. Just use STMMMS11215 to get the discounts.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and stay creative. 
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