Thursday, August 27, 2015

Indoor Plants: Black Thumb Gardening

I've mentioned before my new obsession is plants. Well, it turns out passion does not translate into ability because I've killed a lot of plants in this endeavor. So many plants. In such cruel ways: lack of attention, too much attention,  cats eating them, or freezing them over night in my car.

I recently skyped with my mom, plant lady extraordinaire, for some advice. Along with useful tips she warned me "you're going to kill a lot of plants along the way while you learn"  which made me feel a little better about the brutality I've shown the plant kingdom.

When I first posted about my plant love, Alyssa suggested I do a post about plants. I was super flattered she thought I knew enough to merit a whole blog post when in real life I had plants dropping dead all around me, but having been newly imbued with confidence from my mother, I figured what the hell. Here we go!

So if you're a black thumb gardener you should start off with the two plants varieties I've tortured for years and they have lived to tell the tale. The winners of my biotic "Hunger Games?" Air plants and Mother-In-Law's tongue (It's growing back! It's growing BACK!)

So Airplants:

They come in crazy different sizes, shapes and colors but pretty much all require the same conditions. Indirect light and occasional soaks in water. The hipster at the Portland terrarium store suggested a 5 minute daily soak, with one overnight soak every other week (or as needed if they are looking wrinkled because wrinkled = dehydrated.) And then the hipster at the Denver store suggested just one 30-60 minute soak per week.  I've compromised on two half-hour soaks per week, and making sure to shake out the excess water to prevent rot.

(PS Can you see the above pic from Instagram? It's not showing up for me but I wonder if it's just my computer being goofy?)

When I was living in Ohio, these plants really thrived in my bathroom. I had a north facing window with diffused glass which provided enough filtered light and humid atmosphere from the shower that they thrived by being run under the faucet once a day. My Colorado apartment has no window in the bathroom so they're kickin' it in my living room (North and Western light, not sitting in the window directly.)

Don't know where to find air plants near you? You can order them off Etsy. Don't worry, they'll be fine during shipping, unless you are shipping to freezing temperatures in which case you will have to pay extra for a heat pack.

Even less maintenance than the air plant is the aforementioned mother-in-law's tongue (also known as snake plant or Saint George's sword). These are my incredible survivors. You can abuse them all you like: put them in a dark room, forget to water them for a month,  leave them freezing overnight in a car (TWICE), and God bless them, they'll hold onto life. I usually water them once every other week or whenever they feel dry. Test dryness by sticking your finger in the soil about an inch. If it still feels moist, wait a few more days.

But seriously I think you could do just about anything to these guys and you'll be fine.

Apart from starting out with these two very forgiving plants, I have a few other simple tips I've learned from my mom and trial and error.

1. Don't go to Home Depot with the expectation of receiving help with indoor plants. With exception to my mom, who used to be a plant guru at her local Home Depot, the garden department associates nationwide are wholly unhelpful and the labeling is dismal. Everything says "House plant" with no further information. (I HOPE YOU'RE READING THIS, HOME DEPOT MANAGEMENT!) You can certainly buy there, but you will have to do your own research to discover what they actually are.

2. Don't fight your climate/light conditions.  I kept trying to buy tropical plants that need a lot of water. Surprisingly they died in my apartment located in the high desert.

3. If you have pets consult here first to ensure they aren't poisonous. Some cut Gladiolus for my kitchen table turned into an emergency trip to the vet for gastroenteritis. Sad times for Gremlin, the rugs he barfed on, and my wallet.

4. Start out slow. Don't bring home 10 different kinds at once; you'll be overwhelmed. Buy one or two, learn what they like, where they are happy in your home and then add on. I am guilty of overbuying. It always leads to dead plants.

5. If you put your plants in a glass terrarium for the love of god don't put them in direct sunlight, it will fry the leaves and you'll be so sad like my poor half-dead mallemonti clump (the one near the pterodactyl.)

Happy growing!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Very Bloggy Problem

If you've had a blog for any given amount of time, I'm sure you've found an email like this in your inbox more than once:

Subj: Great Blog!

Hi Blogger! I'm so-and-so from XYZ company! We do this. We'd love for you to write a post for us on some topic related to what we do. Don't forget to mention our name! Please do this out of the kindness of your heart by the end of this month.


When I first started receiving these emails I was excited! Flattered even. It meant people were finding me. One even said they'd link to my post on their Twitter account. (Will write for page views, I know, I'm so cheap.) So I did a few. And then.... nothing. No increase in traffic or readership, not even a measly $10 for my trouble. The one company never even linked to my post.

Now. I know I'm not a big blogger. I'm not even a medium blogger. I'm microscopic in blogland.  But that doesn't mean my time isn't valuable and I should work for nothing.

That's why being small is a good thing: I write what I want, when I want to because I enjoy it. I'm not beholden to someone else for content or timelines.  I'm not gonna whore out my little space on the internet just to receive vague compliments from the cheesy SEO directors. Come at me with something real.  Give me a reason, however small, to want to write for you. Then maybe we'll talk.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cheap Diabetes Supplies: Sources and Tips and Some Feelings for Good Measure.

I know. I just said I was in a blog slog, and yet here I am publishing twice in one day. I can't help it. I read this article about the cost of diabetes medication and it struck a nerve. I live day in, day out with someone who struggles with costs for medication and therefore struggles to keep himself healthy. It is both a shame and sham this country allows the exploitation of the chronically ill for profit.  Sorry are my political leanings showing? I swear this isn't going to turn into a political tirade. Back on task.

This information doesn't pertain to most of my readers, but the article coupled with a big increase in traffic to one of my old posts on diabetes really lit a fire under my fingers to complete this draft post. Hopefully this can be helpful to someone out there searching for help managing their diabetes and all the costs associated with it.


Thankfully, moving out to Colorado has been a godsend in terms of awesome information for Diabetes. I could kiss the Physician's Assistant at Chris' endocrine office in Denver for being more helpful than anyone has collectively been in the past. Let me share what she's shared with us:

1. Cheap test strips can be ordered of Amazon. Often works out to be cheaper than with health insurance covered items. They work with the TrueTrack meter available for $16.99 at Walgreens or also off of Amazon for a comparable amount. The cheapest I've found these is $0.18/strip which makes me feel like...

...but with test strips.

2.  Over the counter insulin is available at Wal-Mart. Definitely talk to the pharmacist and your doctor about it's uptake rate before you go injecting. It's a little slower than most prescribed short acting but not so slow its considered long acting. It's come in handy a few times when prescriptions ran out over the weekend or when we were out of town.

3. Request samples at your doctors office. Your endocrinologist has oodles of them. If you're having trouble affording your meds, tell them. They want to help and will likely give you samples. And I'm not talking tiny little brownie-bite-at-the-grocery-store samples. I mean boxes of prefilled syringes to get you through a month or two. They can also help with needles, syringes and lancets.

3. A lot of pharmacies will price match other pharmacies. I know Target in particular offers this option. Example: Wal-Mart has the lowest price on levothyroxine but the nearest store is over 10 miles away. Target is within 2 miles. Save yourself some driving and some money, and request price matching.

Tips 4 & 5 were not provided by the PA. This is something that has been learned through trial and error. You may not experience the same reactions as others.

4. Caffeine may be giving you high blood sugar. Imagine this scenario every morning: Chris drinks coffee with stevia. Hour later he feels like crap and his blood sugar is up in the 300's. I say that doesn't make sense, you just had coffee and sugar substitute. He says arrrgh arrrgh arghhh takes more insulin and is cranky. Repeat for months. Turns out caffeine was the culprit.  Switch to decaf or half caff blend to see if it alleviates blood sugar spikes.

5. Chia seeds may help keep your blood sugar stable. Only very preliminary research has been done to  prove their benefits in managing blood sugar but they have been pretty effective for Chris and other diabetics. Chia seeds can be expensive depending on where you shop. I get them at Sam's Club for $5.00/pound. Shop around and don't be discouraged if the first place you find them is something outrageous like $7 for 8 ounces (I'm looking at you Trader Joe's). They can of course, be ordered offline if need be.

6. ADDENDUM Apple Cider Vinegar can also help with blood sugar control. The vinegar temporarily blocks the absorption starches, so a portion of the carbohydrates you eat never make it to your bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar lower. I have seen this recommended on various websites and noticed lately people are emphasizing that you need to have ACV with "the mother" in it for maximum results. However they have yet to explain why or linke to any scientific study to support this claim! Regular ACV without the mother has the same effect and costs less.

I think it goes without saying but just in case someone is worried let me write a disclaimer. This is not a sponsored post there are no affiliate links. Neither TrueTrack, Wal-Mart, Wal-greens, Amazon or Big Chia have given me a cent to write this. Also, I am NOT a medical professional. PLEASE consult with your doctor before you make changes to your diabetes regimen.