Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Re-sizing an Image in Picasa


I'm not really into having a bunch of programs on my computer that I rarely use. So last time I reformatted my computer I left a few programs off my installation list. One of them was a photo editing program that hogged too much RAM. I didn't really miss it until I tried to resize a photo (so that it would be small enough to view on the web). I knew how to do it with full-fledged image editing software, but now all I have is Google's Picasa. So, I wanted to make due, rather than install another program. There are 2 ways to make due. If you just want to re-size it to send an email, follow the instructions below. If you want to re-size the photo or a bunch of photos to save and for uploading to the web later, follow the second set of instructions.


How to Re-size an Image/Photo in Picasa, Option 1:

The easiest way to do this is to select the photo you want to re-size and then select the "email" button on the bottom menu. When you do this, Picasa will automatically re-size the photo for the web. (If you want to tinker with those default settings, you just go to the "Tools" --> "Options" --> click the "Email" tab and adjust the pixels.) You will be prompted to pick an email account with which to email. Your Google account will obviously be one of the choices. The other choice will be something like Outlook or Thunderbird if you have an email client on your computer. Select the email account and send your email. The photo will already be attached and re-sized.

Option 2:

If you don't want to email a photo, but want it re-sized and saved in different location, select the photo(s) you wish to re-size. If selecting multiple photos, hold down the "control" button on your keyboard as you make your selections with your mouse. Once you have selected your photos, click on the "Export" button at the bottom of the window. From here you will be prompted to save the files in a folder of your choosing, as well as the size at which you would like them saved. (The default setting is 480 pixels which is fine for web viewing, but you can change it if you like.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Free Stuffed Dachshund Sewing Pattern and Instructions

Oh, isn't he cute? I'm not a pro at sewing or anything...though this may make me look like I'm a better sewer than I am.

My six year old said he wanted a stuffed dachshund. On a whim, I figured I'd look to see if there were any dachshund stuffed animal patterns around. What do you know? There is! Here's the link to the website (by a very talented doll maker). It's also got great instructions. It was my first time doing a legitimate stuffed animal. I didn't want to buy faux fur, so I used corduroy with a thick wale for the body and crushed velvet for the nose. It only took me probably 4-5 hours to make. I didn't time it, that's just a guess; I had it done in about three days.


And this ended up being one of my son's Christmas gifts. He named him Buster.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Daughter's Trigger Thumb Surgery


For insurance reasons, we decided to go ahead and get my daughter's trigger thumb surgery done before the end of the year. We scheduled her surgery for Dec 23 at the Denver Children's Hospital. Yes, makes me sound like an uncaring parent to subject my child to a surgery that would require both her hands in casts two days before Christmas... but that's just how it all worked out.

Surgery check in time was at 8 am. Since we live far enough away from Denver, we booked a hotel so we could attempt to get a good night's rest the day before. I don't like to hold too much back from my children when they are directly involved. So I tried to prepare her for what was coming. My daughter knew that she was having surgery the next day. I told her they would put a funny mask on her face that would make her tired and fall asleep and when she woke up, her thumbs would be fixed. She knew that she would have casts on them too. I didn't want to leave any surprises. So, naturally, the night be before the surgery she had a hard time getting to sleep. But we survived it.

Due to fasting constraints, morning meant no food or drink for the little gal. Off to the hospital. Everything went smoothly, from check in to discharge. My little one exhibited no tantrums (yippee!), though she was a bit nervous. I'd like to think that this was because we had tried to prepare her. But, I never know if my attempts to help actually help. The actual surgery was very fast, maybe 30-40 minutes. But there was some recovery time afterward, which, for my daughter, only took about an hour and a half. We were out of the hospital by 1:30 PM. All the nurses and doctors were very nice and helpful, to whom we are grateful.

Even though the casts are quite pretty, my daughter wanted them off before we even left the hospital. But after a bit of explaining about how her thumbs needed to heal for 2-3 weeks, and then she would get them off, and she was okay with that.

Since then, my daughter has enjoyed the extra attention she gets from me, because I have to help her go to the bathroom, eat, and get dressed, among other things. She also really likes how I let her use a straw at meal time so she can at least drink on her own. Many of her Christmas presents she can not properly play with, so they'll get new life when our sweetie gets her casts off.

The chances of trigger thumb recurring while our daughter is a child are slim, the doctor said, but when she becomes an adult, she'll want to be careful about overusing her thumbs... for example: texting and video gaming. All the more reason to limit that sort of activity since I don't think it's all that enriching anyway!

To read the initial post about this, click here.
To read about cast removal, click here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Diaper Rash, the Yeasty Kind

Okay, icky topic, but certainly one that anyone with children will deal with sooner or later. It's not uncommon for babies and toddlers to develop a yeast infection diaper rash during or after undergoing antibiotic treatment... and sometimes it's just the result of a diaper rash that doesn't receive proper treatment. It looks red and has little bumps. It's wise to take the child to the doctor to be sure it isn't anything else if you aren't sure.

Normally, our pediatricians have prescribed Nystatin ointment for my baby's tush. It works great and the rash clears up usually within a few days. But, now that my tube of Nystatin is lost, and my twin babies both developed yeast diaper rashes, I was really hating the idea of taking them to the doctor just so I could get some more Nystatin. So, I figured I'd find out if there was anything available over-the-counter. There is!

Here's what I found:
Look for antifungal creams with either Clotrimazole (1%) or Tolnaftate (1%) as the active ingredient. Lotrimin AF is the brand name product for Clotrimazole and it's about $8 a tube. I bought the store brand for $2.50. Tinactin is the brand name product for Tolnaftate. I already had this around the house, so I don't know the cost on it, but I assume it's comparable.

Reading up on Clotrimazole for Yeast:
http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/R/diaper_rash.html - Pretty good info on how the rash is caused and how to stop it.
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/11/T084500.asp - More info on the effectiveness of Clotrimazole.


Reading up on Tolnaftate for Yeast :
ibabydoc.com gives details on how a yeast diaper rash is caused and how to treat it. (Beware, you'll get pictures of yeast rashes here.)
Epinions Tinactin Review details using it for a yeast diaper rash.

Our experience:
Even though I already had Tinactin at home, I went to buy some Clotrimazole because from my Google reading, it seemed that it was the most recommended over-the-counter product for yeast diaper rashes. (If you are uncertain about trying this, call a doctor and get his/her advice... because I'm no doctor.) I used it on my babies. One, whose rash wasn't as bad, was better within one day of treatment. Child number two, whose rash was worse, cleared up in within three days of treatment. As long as there are babies in my home, I'm going to make sure I have this stuff on hand.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hundred Pushups Update


I would like to know if anyone has been able to do 100 pushups in 6 weeks starting at column 1. If you have no idea what I'm refering to, see hundredpushups.com.

I have been doing this hundred pushups program for over 13 weeks now (touted as a six week program), starting in column number two and then going down to number one. You can follow my tweets to see how I've managed (though for some reason pushups logger isn't tweeting my recent workouts!). I'm on week six. I finally passed column 1 of week six, but knew that if I tried for the hundred at that point, there was no way I could do it, so I just went on to column two of week six. I will keep doing this until the end of the year. If I want to quit at that point, I will because I think I've given it a fair shot.

Criticism aside, I have seen some definite improvement in my ability to do pushups. I can do 40 pushups now with little effort, where at the begining of the program I managed just over 10. By the end of the year though, I think I'll be ready for a change in my exercise routine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Paycheck Calculator

I'm a junkie for financial calculators. Here's my latest find:

This is a handy calculator from paycheck city can help you understand what your taxes will be and what you'll end up taking home in your paycheck. Such a calculator would be helpful in figuring out what your new raise or lack of raise (if you're like most of us) will mean in actual dollars. Just select the state, salary, number of federal allowances and a few other things, and you have the results. You can even add other deductions like health insurance premiums and retirement. I compared it our actual paychecks and it's quite accurate.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kettle Corn With Brown Sugar


It's not like there aren't already enough sweets this time of year, but I got the hankering to make some kettle corn. I'd never done it before and that made it even more appealing because I love trying something new. I wanted to make it with brown sugar to give it the taste of caramel popcorn with out the work of making popcorn balls. I first started with this recipe from allrecipes.com. The recipe calls for white sugar, but it says that you can use brown sugar instead. Not so, at least, not according to the same directions. In the recipe it says that you just heat the oil in a large pot and then put in the popcorn and sugar and shake it till while it pops. I tried this three times and each time brown sugar got to hot and burned... not to mention, the brown sugar somehow slowed the popping of the kernels as well so the popcorn was burnt. Okay, after three failed tries, I was bound and determined to make some kettle corn!

Here's a nice recipe I found for kettle corn made with brown sugar (it's complete with pictures and tips). You have to pop the popcorn first in a pot and in a separate saucepan, heat brown sugar, a bit of oil and water until it boils and then allow it to simmer. Next, pour the brown sugar mixture over the popped popcorn.

Brown Sugar Kettle Corn

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
oil

Brown Sugar sauce:
2 T oil
2 T water
2/3 cup brown sugar
salt to taste.

Directions: In a large pot, add oil to cover the bottom. Heat oil on med high heat. Drop one kernel in the pot and shake until it pops. Now add the rest of the popcorn and continue to shake on over heat until the popping slows to 3 seconds in between pops. Remove from heat and put in large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine oil, water, and brown sugar and bring to a boil on med high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Pour mixture over popcorn and stir to distribute evenly. Sprinkle popcorn with salt and stir. Enjoy. Makes about 6-8 cups of popcorn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quickie Advent Calendar

I was hoping to post this a lot earlier but, oops, it didn't happen. I found a simple idea for putting together an advent calendar at essortment.com. Really all you need is plastic wrap, kissess chocolates and some curling ribbon. Here's how mine turned out. (As you can see, I don't pretend to be any good at photography... or craftiness, for that matter.)

I made two calendars, as an experiment. One with little Christmas scriptures tied to each ribbon, and the other just with the chocolates.
As you can see, this makes a very loooonnnggg calendar. But my kids think it's lovely. Today we cut our first chocolate off!

Here's what I did for the top of the calendar.

Here's a closeup of the calendar with the scriptures. This takes a bit more time to make than the candy-only one.

And here's a closeup of the candy-only calendar.
It doesn't take long to make... maybe a half hour.

On thing though, the essortment directions say to use 3 feet of plastic wrap. I needed more like 4-5. So, best to cut too much than too little. I had my 6 year old boy help me curl the ribbons on the calendars. He enjoyed it.