Saturday, January 31, 2009

Eggs - Day One

I know, I know. Another fish tale. But, hey! I haven't had much else to write about!

Here is a better picture of the eggs on our scrubber. The scrubber is safe and sound in the breeder tank with the netting around to protect any hatched eggs.

At the very top of the picture is one snail that will remain safe for the moment! I don't want to upset the breeder tank to try to get at that one snail. Trust me, there are many more snails in there for smooshing!

One warning that we've read about separating the eggs from the parents is that this can cause the parents to start fighting, as if blaming each other for the loss of eggs. This will sometimes stop the pair from future breeding. I was kind of worried about that. Yes, I am over here worrying about the feelings of my fish!

However, I think we're lucky. The parents, since they can still see, smell and almost feel the eggs, are still united as a team in protecting their offspring. This picture you can see mom on the right watching her eggs while dad is off to the left shooing away the silver mollys who came to feast.

Hopefully, mom and dad will continue to watch over their brood, safely tucked away from them. Who knows? Maybe by day six or seven we'll see little tails sticking out of the eggs! That's the next step in their growing. Their tails stick out first! Here's hoping I can capture THAT with a camera!

Friday, January 30, 2009

We're Grandparents!

Don't get too excited! This is another fish story!

In case you're new here, we have a 65 gallon fish tank with community fish. (Don't get me started on THAT decision!) We have some live bearers, silver mollies and red wag platys, both of which we have successfully bred. The life span of the red wag platys has been short, but we do have at least 20 silver mollys from the original four that we started with.

To stop the population explosion, we also have some blue gouramis. They are wonderful for keeping the fry population in check! We have never been successful in getting them to lay eggs, let alone hatch any. That's ok, they are a lot of work to breed, and I'm allergic to that much work.

When we first set up the tank, we tried to get angel fish in the tank. We had a horrible time in the beginning trying to get them to live for any length of time. We had to go through about a dozen or so before we got the water just right and all that. Out of our original dozen or so, we only had one survive.

Our lone survivor has thrived! Her body alone is at least as big as the palm of my hand, with her fins making her larger than my hand. She's beautiful! But, I thought she must be lonely, being the only one of her kind.

A few months ago we were in the fish store and they had a total of four little bitty angels. We bought them all! Their bodies were about the size of a dime and they were so cute! You really can't sex angel fish at that age (or at least I can't!) so we had no idea what we had.

The four have grown and thrived and played well with all of the other fish in the tank.

A couple of weeks ago, Ron was upstairs on a conference call so I stayed downstairs to stay out of his way. I was in the living room when I noticed two of the angel fish sliding one at a time on their bellies up a large flat leafed plant. It was mesmerizing! It took me quite awhile to realize they were laying eggs! Woo hoo! We were lucky enough to get a breeding pair! At one time or another, Ron, Phil and I were at the tank marveling at this tiny yellowish marvels! The thoughts of all these baby angels were running through my head!

Unfortunately, morning brought the reality that someone in the tank had a smorgasbord of caviar the night before. There was not one little egg left.

So, there you go. It was beautiful to watch, but no success. We thought if they laid eggs once perhaps they would do it again.

Today was the day!

We have a scrubber in the tank. It's two pieces, one goes inside of the tank and it has a soft scrubbie that goes against the glass. It is held together by a magnet that has a soft felt piece that goes against the glass on the outside. It's a great tool to keep the glass inside of the tank clean. You just grab the piece outside and work it up and down the glass. The magnet keeps the inside piece up against the outside piece and voila! Algae gone on the inside of the tank! When not cleaning, we keep it on the side of the tank, and I run it around every couple of days to keep the glass clean.

Today I was at the tank, inspecting my fish and I started thinking about angel fish eggs. I looked all over the plant they used before as an egg depository but I saw nothing. I looked the rest of the tank over and there they were! On the scrubber!!! From what I understand this is not an optimal place for the angel fish to lay their eggs. They prefer a flat rock or a pipe that goes from the ground at an angle to the side of the fish tank. We don't have that, so I guess they are making due!

This first picture on the left is taken from the outside of the tank. You can see our water level is down about an inch (hey, it needs a good cleaning! What can I say?) and you can see the white scrubber against the glass on the left. If you look closely, or click on the picture, you see little yellow dots on top of the scrubber. Those are the eggs!!! And, that is the proud daddy fish standing guard over his offspring just to the right of the scrubber! I know, it's kind of hard to see but there are about 200-300 eggs on that little space!

This picture on the right was taken from above the tank looking down into it. You can again see the little yellow spots on the scrubber at the top of the picture.

It's really hard to take pictures of the fish in the fish tank! But, maybe you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

To say the least, we are thrilled! No, we're not looking at becoming angel fish breeders. But, a few new fish in the tank at no further cost to us would be wonderful! Plus, who doesn't love babies? Even if they are fish?

Also, at this time of the year with the cold and snow and gloom, it's good to have something like this to get excited about. Yes, I know, I need a life!

Ron read up on how to get the eggs to turn into fry, or baby fish. Of course, what is recommended is a lot of work. Remember, I'm allergic to that kind of hard work! They suggest first a 2-1/2 gallon tank for the eggs with it's own filtration system, then a 5 gallon tank, then a 10 gallon, and finally back to the original 65 gallon tank. Yeah, right. I don't think so.

But, Ron thought he wanted to try to get at least a few fish to hatch and not get eaten through the night. We're going to do our version of the hard work!

Ron took the inside part of the scrubber and placed it in a breeder tank. This is a little plastic tank that sits by hooks on the inside of the tank. The plastic keeps the other fish away from the eggs or fry, and we also have a netting around this in case any fry do develop and go like they are supposed to, out the hole in the bottom of the breeder tank to get to the plants and rocks below. Ron is going to try to keep them segregated in the main tank until they are big enough to make it on their own. We'll see.

Just so that everyone is up to date on everything going on in our fish tank, to round off our "children", we have our plecostomus, Fred. Fred is nice and big and healthy and at least 7" long. He's hard to measure (yes, we've had a ruler in front of the tank before trying!) so that is a guesstimate. I think I'm pretty close. And, our newest addition is snails. Ok, they were an accident.

When we bought the last batch of angel fish, I wanted to try live plants as well. Live plants help keep the water in balance. They are relatively cheep, so I picked out three plants and off we went. I asked the sales kid what I needed to know about live plants. Did they need washed? Were there any special instructions? The smart aleck said "yeah, just put them in your tank". Cool. I can do that.

What he didn't tell us that if you put live plants into your tank, chances are VERY good they are coming with either snails or snail eggs. You wanna talk about breeders? It is amazing how quickly the freakin' things reproduce!

And, yes, JoBeth, I have finally become a snail smoosher. You stick a finger in the tank, smoosh the snails in reach against the glass and the fish fight for the smooshed goods. It's pretty gross, but it has become the favorite food of the angel fish.

Between the three of us, we smoosh at least 30 snails a day. A day. Who'd have thought? Eww.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Party In The Making

Don't ask me why, but today I watched part of Ellen DeGeneres' talk show. In the life of the show, I've maybe seen two shows. For some reason, it was on the tv today. That was a great thing!

Today was Ellen's birthday. For her birthday, they had to play whatever game she wanted, and she chose blindfolded musical chairs.

Check out the woman in yellow named Karen. She so made this game! All I know after watching this is that for my next birthday, we're playing blindfolded musical chairs, and I want this woman at my party!

I know, the video is nine minutes, but hang in there. I was laughing so hard at this I wanted to pee my pants!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bad Hair Day

I had my hair cut a couple of weeks ago. I didn't go for a trim this time, I had a LOT taken off! Now it's just about shoulder length, but not by much. I'm very happy with it.

When I got it cut, the hair dresser dressed up my hair with a curling iron. Who doesn't love curls? I haven't used a curling iron since high school.

For my birthday, my sister Cathie sent me a curling iron and hot rollers. I have no idea really, how to work either instrument. I decided to start with the hot rollers. It took only one phone call to Cathie to ask what the extras with the rollers were for (one set of plastic clippies and one set of metal U's. I still have no idea what the metal U's are for.) and I was off.

I got the rollers heated up and installed in my hair. After a few minutes, the rollers came out, a few finger rubs through my hair and I LOVED it! It wasn't too curly, just nice body, and relatively easy. I emailed Cathie all excited and told her I looked so cute! Of course, she wanted pictures.

The batteries in my camera were dead, so Ron offered to take a picture with his phone. From his phone, he does some voodoo where he plugs his phone into his computer and he can then put the image on my desk top. He told me where the picture was and I went to grab it to put it in the email to Cathie. Here is what he sent:

Yeah, good thing Ron's cute, I can't be mad at him. And, for the record, I came out looking a LITTLE better than this!

Monday, January 19, 2009

That Was Helpful

With me being home so much lately, I have been trying to cook dinner most nights.

Since I have very few recipes in my repertoire, I have been asking for help and ideas on how not to cook the same five meals every week.

In comes my sister, Cathie! She gave me a magazine subscription to Taste of Home magazine. While the magazine is great, even better than the magazine is their website. Once you sign up for their website, not only can you search all their recipes, but you can put the ones you like in a recipe box so you can go back to them at any time.

Another great feature is their grocery list option. I pick a couple of new recipes a week, put them on my grocery list, then print out the list. The list has everything needed for the recipes I've chosen. The list is then divided into sections of the grocery store! So, spices will all be together, meats together, produce together, etc. It's awesome! Then I take the list to my cupboards and cross out what I already have. I have spent many an hours on this website!

Today I was planning my menus for the week and decided I wanted to make scallops with alfredo sauce. I've tried a few jar alfredo sauces and I've not been overly excited about any of them. I wanted a home made alfredo sauce. It couldn't be that hard.

So, I went to my new favorite website, and in the search window typed in "alfredo sauce". In return, nine pages came up that all had some kind of alfredo sauce in it.

One of the things I like about this website is that the recipes all seemed easy, and the ones I've tried to do I did with no problem. That said, I randomly chose six recipes from the first three or four pages to see if I could get a good recipe for alfredo sauce. Yeah, each and every one of them said under ingredients, "one 17 ounce jar of alfredo sauce".


I could have done that without searching the doggone website! Luckily, a little more digging and I found an actual recipe to create the sauce from scratch.

So, scallops alfredo is scheduled for Wednesday night.

Tomorrow, I am making what I make best for dinner: reservations at Applebee's!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Day After

The best part of the day after my birthday?

Breakfast was left over pizza! Lunch was leftover cake and ice cream!

Oh, yeah. That's why I love birthdays!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It Came In With A Bang

Yes, today is my birthday.

Out of 365 days in a year, I think your birthday is the best day of the year. After all, many people celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, 4th of July, Arbor Day, etc., but your birthday is all for you. People who know you and love you should tell you on this day that they are happy you were born. People, it's all about the phone calls, the cards, the emails. Yes, I live for my birthday. I am awake at midnight to usher in my birthday and I stay awake until midnight to say good bye to my birthday for another year.

This year was a pretty good birthday for me. It actually started on January 15th, at 11:55 pm. Let's go back to that time last night:

My sister Cathie lives in California. For as many years as I can remember, Cathie calls me at midnight to start the birthday celebration with me! Last night, she called me at about 11:55 pm my time.

Cathie was sitting outside with her dog, talking on the phone with me. Suddenly, even here in Ohio, I hear the loud, long screech of tires followed by a large BANG. Anyone who has been anywhere near an automobile accident knows that sound.

Since it was dark, Cathie couldn't see what happened, so she grabbed her flashlight and was going to check on the driver. It ended up that an SUV laid down some series skid marks on the road, crossed the road, flew over the ditch and wrapped around a tree. Cathie was on the scene with a couple of other neighbors within a minute of the accident. The fire and rescue squad was right behind them, and they were there trying to cut the driver out of her SUV. At last update, the driver was conscious and answering questions, but was not getting out of the vehicle without a lot of help from firefighters.

So, that's how my birthday started with a bang!

I had a good family day. I spoke to, heard from, or saw all of my siblings! That is always a darn good day! I heard Cathie and Jim sing happy birthday, just like Grandma used to do it, accent and all! I don't care how many times you hear those imitations, it always gets me right here. Yeah, that was a good thing!

Michael came over with cake and ice cream and joined in on the pizza party with me, Ron and Phil. (Did you read the last post that it's freaking -13 degrees here? There was NO way I was leaving this house to go out in the cold!) It was a great pizza party, and Michael even provided the cake! We added candles, and I had them blown out before the fire department had to be called!

There was even a surprise video chat with my niece JoBeth and her husband and two little boys. Like I said, a darn good day!

Now, I'm going to enjoy the last 42 minutes of my birthday, sitting here on my heating pad and just enjoying the quiet.

I couldn't have asked for a better day!

Happy Day To Me!

Today is my birthday!

And it's -13 degrees outside according to my MSN homepage.


Yes, that's a negative number.

It may be my birthday, but I think I'm staying home!

Call me!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Now That's Talent!

Ok, this might have been seen before, but I thought it was worth repeating! This is way too cool! Turn your speakers on and enjoy.

And, thanks to Ruth for sending this to me!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dumbed Down Day

Ever have one of those days where you are missing a few too many brain cells? That was my day on Saturday.

There was no extraordinary reason for the lack of brain cells; it just seemed like some of my important brain cells decided to take the day off. Lucky for me, it wasn't the cells that controlled breathing or my heart beating or anything like that.

Let's start with dinner. (Recipe to follow this blog.)

Phil had a hankering for something that our sister Barb used to make for him. I told him if he could find a recipe, or remember how it was made, I'd be glad to make it. He did a web search and did find the recipe on the Betty Crocker web site. Cool, I can follow directions.

Or, so I thought. For a simple recipe, I forgot to add two ingredients. I guess they weren't major ingredients (like the meat or the onions) but none the less, I forgot the salt and the cheese. The dinner was still ok as I remembered about the cheese with three minutes left to bake. Instead of being IN the pie, the cheese was ON the pie. As for the salt, well, the salt shaker on the table got a work out.

So, dinner wasn't catastrophic, but I know I could have done better. Where do you go from dinner? To do the dishes.

I rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher. There is one well on the inside of the door where you add the detergent. There is another well where you add the rinse stuff. I'm not sure exactly what it does but your dishes are supposed to be streak and spot free if you keep this stuff in the machine. Maybe once a month I have to fill this well with the rinse stuff and today was the day since the well was empty.

I opened the cabinet under the sink and I saw bottle of yellow liquid detergent and a bottle of orange stuff. Since I knew I didn't want the liquid detergent, I grabbed the orange stuff and started to fill up the well. It was too late when I realized that this stuff was way thicker than it should have been. Yeah, I really goofed up. This was orange liquid dish soap (bought because I didn't like the yellow stuff) and what I should have grabbed was the blue stuff. Yeah, now you tell me.

I did what I do best. I yelled for Ron. He and Phil came running and I told them my story. We couldn't clean out my error without taking the whole door apart, so Ron thought the best course of action was just to turn the machine on and let it run it's course to get the orange stuff out of there. I may end up running the dish washer a few times to make sure all of that extra soap is out of there, but at least the good news is that after one washing I don't have a floor full of soap bubbles.

See, nothing terrible, just a lot of dumb mistakes today. And, the best is here for last!

My sister Cathie lives in California and we've finally got into the 21st century and decided we wanted to try video conferencing. Hey, even my almost seven year old great-nephew can do it, so why can't I? Ron hooked me up with a camera and a microphone and Cathie and I decided that tonight was the night to see if this would really work.

At the appointed time, we met on MSN Messenger. A minute to install the camera into MSN and we were up and running. Well, video anyway. I had no sound. I futzed and futzed, trying to open every menu that I could, trying to find a button that said either "sound" or "volume". Nothing. Dammit, it can't be this hard! Finally, I again yelled for Ron. He gave it a cursory look to see if there was an easy "sound" button but alas there was none. He wanted to sit down and start searching to help me figure out what was wrong and it suddenly hit me! I had the sound shut off on my computer! DUH! The constant sound bothers me on the computer, so I turn the volume off. Yeah, that was my problem.

So, Cathie and I had a great face to face chat, the first time in over a year! I even marked this situation properly. Before the chat, I got out of my jammies, took a shower and got dressed in real clothes! My poor sister had to see me naked before (She helped me out for a week a few years ago when I had surgery. Poor girl had to help me in and out of the shower! I'm still sorry for that, Sissy!) and I didn't think she deserved to have to see me in jammies with my hair in a pony tail. Definitely the down side of the 21st century.

A few brain farts today, but no injuries. All in all, that makes it a damn good day.

Now, if anyone is interested, here is the recipe, in full, from the Betty Crocker web site. It really was pretty good and very easy.

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 9" glass pie plate with cooking spray.
2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.
3. In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate.
4. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.