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Thursday, May 26, 2011

the "kids" and the new house

So everyone seems to be getting settled in the new living quarters.  Gracie, the certifiably crazy cat, was witnessed racing at top speeds throughout the house yesterday...I'd say she's getting comfortable.  This morning she was going from box top to box top - I guess checking to see if they were all still secured?  Or perhaps she was finally going to pitch in and help her parents unpack?

Gracie does have one huge issue with the new house - she hates the ceiling fan in our bedroom!  I mean, hunkers down and runs away every time she notices it.  It is kind of hideous.  First of all, it just doesn't really fit the room.  It hangs too low - needs to be a flush mount.  And the blades are these huge wood-looking carved leaves.  We've had ceiling fans above our beds in every place she has lived, but she has decided this one is out to get her!

Maggie and Ellie are in hog heaven having a yard...so are their parents!  :)  They love to go mill around and now that the grass is getting a little tall, they root around with their noses like their digging up truffles.  As mentioned previously, the rottweiler next door is a non-issue now.  They completely ignore him, which probably had more to do with his transformation than me being a new dog whisperer.

Gracie has always intimidated Maggie.  Go figure!  An 8 pound cat bossing around a 75 pound dog!  Of course, Gracie has always thought she was a big dog - I mean from the day she showed up at the ripe old age of 8 weeks.  All Gracie has to do is walk up and rub against Maggie and Maggie jumps up and heads for the hills. Gracie also enjoys lounging right smack in the center of the great big dog bed - and almost always Maggie's bed, not Ellie's.

This past weekend, we bought Maggie a new bed.  She sleeps on a double layer of beds because her old hips are getting bad and she seems to be a lot less stiff getting up in the morning with the extra cushioning throughout the night.  Tuesday night, I woke up on several occasions because Maggie was stirring, only to find that the reason she was stirring is because Gracie had walked up to her on the new bed.  Well of course Maggie vacates as quickly as possible.  This big, mean, ferocious 8 pound cat is touching her!  And Gracie promptly settles into the nice warm, cushy indention Maggie left.  We try to shoo her out each time and get Maggie back into her bed. We try to convince Gracie how ashamed she should feel, booting a geriatric dog out of her bed...   It's not working.  Gracie is the (naughty) queen of her jungle! 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An actual house

We're still not completely done, but we are mostly in the house.  It's a mess, but we're really enjoying the little things about being in a house again instead of an apartment. 

We love not having to "suit up" - both dogs and people - just so the dogs can go tinkle.  The rottweiler next door isn't an issue anymore.  If he gets hostile, I just tell him quietly "hey, enough" and he walks away. (Look at me - the new dog whisperer!)  Most of the time now, he never even comes over to the fence when my "kids" are out anymore. 

We love being able to grill, especially with it SO hot out. 

We love having a full size sink (the apartment had a doll house sink or something along that line). 

We love having an ice maker (see comment about how hot it is above). 

We love not having to lug all our groceries upstairs (10 bags on 2 arms so you don't have to make a second trip, don't ya know).

This is only the beginning of my list...  And the wheels are turning as I plot and scheme my fall garden!  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


We spent all last weekend moving from an apartment to a house.  We didn't even move any furniture except two twin beds and we spent 15+ hours on Saturday and another 8+ on Sunday!  We were limited to what will fit in the minivan.  Movers will move the big, heavy stuff...hopefully in the next couple of days.  How do we accumulate so much "life" stuff?  I know we got rid of loads and loads of stuff when we moved back to Texas last year...does it multiply in the back of the closets when we turn out the lights?!

Every time I see an old wagon from the pioneering days, I always think about our ancestors moving west.  Everything they ever wanted to see again had to fit in a wagon box that was approximately 10 feet by 3 1/2 feet!!  Not to mention they had to carry enough supplies to get them through the journey, let alone to set up "house" when they got there - bedding, weaponry, food, cooking utensils, medical supplies, clothing, tools and equipment, etc.  Can you imagine?  It makes me wonder about how crippled we are by all of our possessions, our stuff.  Talk about minimalism!  We are not remotely tough enough to survive like that anymore.

Is your family prepared?  Could you survive for even a few days if there was a natural or man-made disaster and there was no electricity or water or food on the grocery store shelves?  Could you feed your family?  Could you protect yourself?  Something to think about in these ever-crazy turbulent times we live in...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting ready to move

Nothing very "pioneering" to write about lately.  We did find a house to rent though!  So the darling doggies will have their own yard again!  I don't know who that's better for - them or me and my wonderful hubby!!  :)  This place has a huge yard and the owner told us to "garden away"!

My little tomato plant is hanging in there on the balcony.  But it only gets a few minutes of sun each day.  Once we get moved I can put it in a large patio container.  We grew all our tomatoes in patio containers in Colorado.  One year we even companion planted onions in the corners of the containers with the tomatoes!  I don't know if this tomato will be able to come on strong at this point, but I'll sure try.  I've still seen plenty of veggie plants at HEB and Lowes, so we may be able to get some limited veggies going.  And then we can start planning for a fall garden - gotta love living in growing zone 8!!!

Once we get settled in the house, we'd like to try our hand at canning again.  Even if we have to buy stuff at a farmer's market to put up.  And of course we'll be able to use our extra freezer again too and put up food that way.  One of the first things we'd like to try is pickled beets.

So hopefully, I'll have some gardening and canning tales to tell very soon.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Creating your own household products

We have been learning about using more natural products in our homes, including household cleaners.  It's just shocking, yet cool, how well you can clean with just vinegar, borax and baking soda!  We even make our own daily shower spray and we love it.

We did experience a recent failure however!  I read that you can use a mixture of 1 tablespoon of borax and 1 tablespoon of baking soda in place of dishwasher detergent.  Both have antibacterial properties and are very, very mildly abrasive (so as to clean food off dishes).   DON'T try this at home.  It did not work as promised and we had a coating on all our dishes.  Took several more runs through the dishwasher with regular dishwashing detergent to get the film off.

Well, you win some and your lose some.  :) 


We were pretty industrious yesterday.  Even though my darling hubby won't touch a cucumber or pickle (to eat), he was excited about helping me try a new recipe for spicy bread and butter pickles.  This version "cooks" in the refrigerator for 10 days.  I have to say, the cucumber slices just soaking in the marinade were pretty tasty.  Can't wait to see what they're like after 10 days!  We ended up with almost one full gallon.

And thankfully, we managed to track down half gallon jars at the Ace Hardware store in Cedar Park.  We called to see if they had any and they said yes - two cases.  We trooped out there and lo and behold, they had FIVE!  We bought them all.  They are the most excellent storage jars - especially now that we're back in the land of weevils.  Eeeeewwwwww!  And instead of trying to cram six pint jars of pickles into our already crowded frig, I was able to just use two half gallon jars.

On another note, the Cedar Park Ace Hardware store gave us EXCEPTIONAL customer service!  How sad that is such a rarity these days!

We also managed to make homemade cranberry sauce to go with our pork chops for dinner; roast portabello mushrooms for my lunches this week - portabello, roasted red pepper, goat cheese and basil wrap; rinse blueberries, raspberries and blackberries for this week's snacks; and make a homemade broccoli salad!  Whew!