Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Most Exciting Morning!

The weathermen have been telling us for a few days that it's going to get cold. This is very exciting to me - I've always loved cold weather for some reason. You know what I like even more than cold weather? Snow! So I woke up this morning and turned on the morning news. The weatherman was on there telling us all about how it was snowing in Denton. The radar only had green (rain) showing in our area, though. I got out of bed and came into the living room where my hubby was working. He works from home on Wednesdays. I started complaining about how it was snowing in Denton, and why can't is just snow here? Then I went to the back door and pulled the blinds back to let the dog out and said "It's snowing!!!" That's right, it's snowing in Texas, and here's the proof!

It's even sticking, but it's supposed to get into the 40s later today, so it won't last long. We'll enjoy it while we can, though!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Favorite Blog - Vote For Suzanne!

A while back my wonderful mother-in-law told me about this blog she thought I would like. She said "She's got goats and chickens. You'd like it." This blog quickly became my very favorite website. It is one of the first places I visit on the web in the morning. The blog I am referring to is Chickens in the Road. If you haven't seen it before, you should go check it out now! It is the blog of a romance author, Suzanne McMinn, who went from suburban life to farm life in rural West Virginia. I won't tell you too much, in case you want to visit her blog and read all about it yourself!

I have learned alot from Chickens in the Road, with my favorite things being about about canning and bread-baking, and other yumminess in the kitchen. I think my husband is glad I found the site, because there are so many new things I found there that I just had to try. Canning my own hot sauce, soups, chili, jams, apple butter, and so many other things makes for much tastier meals. After reading so much about homemade bread, I just had to try that too, and it's just so good that I can't imagine going back to store bought.

Suzanne's blog is not just about cooking, though. There are posts about crafts, gardening, the antics of her farm animals and just country life in general. There is also a forum, just in case you can't find anything left that you haven't read on her blog but you just can't bring yourself to leave yet. There are some wonderful people who participate in the forum, and there is even a community cookbook with recipes contributed by forum members. It is an active forum, and the people who participate are there because Suzanne's blog has meant something to them.

So now I will get to the point of this post. Suzanne is a finalist in the Sam-e "Good Mood Gig" Talent Search. She has already gone through one round, and for the final round she submitted a video about why she would be perfect for the job, along with some info you can read. If she wins, she gets to blog for Sam-e for 6 months. It is a paying gig, and it would mean a lot to her and her family. It would only take a few seconds for you to vote for Suzanne on the Sam-e website, and if you would like to help her out, please CLICK HERE! Voting ends on December 7th and you can vote once per day, so be sure to bookmark her page so you can go back and vote each day. Voting is only a small part of winning, there will be judges looking at the finalists' applications as well, but it doesn't hurt to get her as many votes as possible!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes, I Know it's Early

It's early, I know, but I just couldn't wait! Every year, around the time the calendar turns to November, I get antsy to decorate for Christmas. I have always loved Christmas, with all the shiny and sparkly decorations and the fun music. When I was growing up, we decorated the day after Thanksgiving, though I would have loved to bust out the Christmas stuff earlier than that. Once I got married, my husband and I figured we would step outside the box and decorate the weekend before Thanksgiving. We were living on the edge, I tell you! Well, we've been getting really unruly the last couple of years, because we've been decorating for Christmas even earlier than that! So here I am, eleven days before Thanksgiving, admiring our lovely Christmas tree, the North Pole Village and various other festive decorations, while listening to my favorite holiday tunes.

It started Friday afternoon. We always set the village up first, and I had the boxes out and ready to go by the time my husband got home from work. Zoey was watching me from her bed in the corner, wondering what I was up to.


I actually had some of my part of the village set up before he got home. Like I said before, I just couldn't wait! There is still a finishing touch (some nice fluffy snow) to be put on the village displays, and there are a few light bulbs to replace, but they are pretty much finished. The first picture is the North Pole Woods, and that is my husband's part of the village. The other pictures are what I am in charge of.

Saturday morning was when the fun really started. I get really excited, like freak-out excited, when it's time to set up the Christmas tree. I got up that morning and got dressed and wanted to put up the tree RIGHT THEN! My husband, on the other hand, had plans to have a cup of coffee and check his email and whatnot on the computer for a few minutes before we got started. What is WRONG with him? Finally we got on track and boxes of Christmas goodies started making their way into the house. I didn't take any pictures of the actual decorating because I was too excited about it, but here is our tree all finished. All that's missing is some festive packages!

Once the tree was done, I moved on to all the "sittin' out stuff". You know, the fun stuff that sits around and looks cute. Here are the denizens of the Christmas forest.

The kitchen tree - Because even though I can see the regular tree perfectly fine from the kitchen, I still like to have a tree in there.

Here's the fireplace, all decorated. The stockings hanging on the fireplace tools rack are for the dog and the bird. Santa even comes to fill them when they've been bad!

And here's the view looking into the living room. I couldn't get this picture to come out very well, but you get the idea. The tree is actually set up where the bird's cage usually sits. Every year, we rock his world and move him to a different part of the room. We like to think of it as Bob's fun adventure to visit the fishes.

And last but not least, the clothespin reindeer is ready to greet everyone who comes in the front door!

There are some other decorations that didn't make it into this post, but I figured if I tried to get everything on here, there would just be way too many pictures. I hope this got you into the holiday spirit!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Zoey's Sad Day

I'm pretty sure I have probably mentioned before that Zoey likes blankets. If I haven't, I'll tell you now. Zoey likes blankets. Actually, she is blanket obsessed. She has three of her very own blankets in her bed, and she tries to appropriate our blankets into her collection. Her blankets are in her bed over in the corner of the living room where she can surround herself in fluffy blankety goodness as she gazes out around her kingdom.

One day, when I went over to her bed to pet her and giver her a proper belly-rubbing, I noticed a stench. I meant to wash the blankets, but I got sidetracked and forgot about it. A few days later, my husband walked over to the fish tank and commented on the foul odor. He wasn't even leaned over near her bed - He could smell it standing up. You see, blankets aren't just for warmth and softness. They are also for licking. Perhaps she has saturated them in nutrients to sustain her until her next meal, or maybe that is just her way of loving them. Whatever the case, her breath is far from a pleasant fragrance, and she had spread the odor to her blankets through her licking. It was time to wash the blankets.

The next morning, I took the blankets and the cover for the bed and put them in the washer. The foam bed form was put away for the time being so she wouldn't try to lay in it and lick it and get it all stinky. It was a very sad day. Just look how sad she was without her blankets!

so sad

She waited and waited for her blankets to return. All day long she moped around, mourning the loss of her blankets. Hours went by as she suffered. A little while after my husband got home from work, I remembered that they were still in the dryer, so we turned it on to warm them up before we put her bed back together. She likes it when the blankets are warm.

First came the bed cover. The blankets stayed in the dryer fluffing so they would still be nice and warm when we put them in the bed. Little Zoey could hardly wait until hubby finished putting the cover on the bed to get in it!


Zoey was so glad to have her bed back - Now if she just had some blankets!

Here come the blankets!



Aah... the world is right again... A nice soft bed with warm blankets fresh from the dryer!


Here was the really fun part. Zoey got herself all buried in her warm blankets to take a nap. A little while later, I was working in the kitchen and my husband was sitting in the living room. He suddenly said "What's wrong with Zoey???" She had stuck her head out of her blankets and she was panting. She never pants, because she's just to prissy to do anything that would bring on panting. I went over there and stuck my hand in the blankets and it was HOT in there! She just didn't want to get out of the warm blankets! I pulled her out and made her stay out until things cooled off a bit. She fought me on that, but I put my foot down. I think in the future we'll let the blankets cool down a little before we put them back in the bed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Boy, when that guy said they would be sending a construction crew to fix the main phone line, he wasn't kidding! I was sitting on the couch when I heard "beep beep beep". I thought "Is that on TV or is there a big truck backing up outside?" Here is what I saw out the back window.


I'd say a backhoe qualified the group that was out working in the alley as a construction crew! There were 5 trucks and a bunch of workers out there. They got their work done, so we are crossing our fingers that we're permanently fixed up now. That is, unless the neighbor decides to build another new fence.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Call Before You Dig!

I am so glad to be back after my brief hiatus from the internet! It was a very sad evening on Sunday when the internet stopped working. We were merrily trying to surf the web when suddenly we lost our connection. We thought maybe our router was acting up, so we went to check it out. This was when we discovered that the DSL light on the modem was red instead of green. Red is bad, so I was going to call the phone company and see what was up, but there was no dial tone. If you aren't familiar with DSL, it comes through the phone line, so when the phone goes out, you lose the internet too. We were trying to figure out what could have gone wrong when we realized that the neighbor across the alley was out building a new fence. Uh oh...

It's a nice fence, don't you think?


I think it's a nice looking fence, and they worked hard on it. I have no ill will against our fence-building neighbor. I know this was an accident. They just wanted to have a nice fence around their back yard! However, I think they might not have noticed this.



Hubby called the phone company about getting it fixed, and they said "We can probably have it fixed by Thursday." WHAT??? But I must have my internet!!! This was upsetting, but what could we do? I wasn't even too upset about the phone being out, it was the internet I was really going to miss.

The first day without internet was really tough. I had important web surfing things to do! I had big plans! But if I wanted to use the computer, I had to settle for some fun solitaire or free cell. By the end of the day, I had accepted the reality of having to resort to standard Windows games for computer entertainment. Tuesday wasn't so bad, because I had students that kept me busy, and Wednesday I worked on some stuff around the house that needed to be done. I filled in my free time those days with LOTS of solitaire and free cell.

Today was very exciting, because it was the day we were supposed to get the internet back. I had some students this morning, so that filled up some time, but I spent the rest of my time watching out for the phone company to arrive. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when they finally showed up.

Once the repair man was done working, he came and told me the scoop. Apparently, our fence building neighbors had not just cut our phone line. They cut a main line underground that provides multiple houses with phone service. We are not the only customers here that haven't had phone service the last few days. The repair man actually had to run temporary lines between the box in the picture above and another box at the end of the alley to get us up and running. They are very dainty looking wires, and they don't look all that sturdy. He said they are going to have to send out a construction crew to replace the main line that got broken.

Here are the dainty little orange wires that are providing us with phone and internet right now. The repair guy said he hopes the construction guys get out soon to fix the main line because he'd hate for the temporary ones to get messed up and have us lose our service again. I hope so too.


I'll feel better when the main line has been fixed, but for now I'm thankful that we've got service again!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Husband Says I Have A Problem...

And I think he might be right.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Bunny Buddies

I grew up in a neighborhood full of squirrels. They were kind of cute, but they were also a nuisance. Fortunately, we now live in a neighborhood where there aren't many squirrels. Every so often, we will see a squirrel and one of us will say "Oh look, there's the neighborhood squirrel!" Sometimes it will be weeks between squirrel sightings. What we do have here is bunnies - Cute little cottontail bunnies. It was the weirdest thing to me the first time I spotted a bunny hopping around outside. A wild bunny was something I had never seen before. To this day, the bunnies outside are kind of a novelty to me, and I love to watch them.


We have a pair of bunnies that likes to hang out in our back yard. They're usually out there for a good part of the day, eating weeds and hopping around. We call one of them "Bunny" and the other one we call "Skittish Bunny". We can get pretty close to Bunny before he hops away, but Skittish Bunny darts away at the first sign of movement. This is Skittish Bunny. He's a little skinnier than Bunny.


This is Bunny. Bunny is the fatter of the pair. Hopefully that doesn't mean we will have more baby bunnies in the yard soon.


Aren't they cute? Despite the gardening challenges (don't plant pansies and petunias!), we are fond of our little friends. They try really hard to help us keep the yard mowed (haha) and they're much cuter than squirrels!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Counting our Chickens

Hello there, little chicken! You're awfully cute! Would you like to come live at our house? Oh wait - you can't. Here in our city, they have a silly ordinance that prevents us from having chickens. They aren't banned completely, but chicken owners are required to keep them at least 150 feet from property lines. Since our property is not near 300 feet wide and long, we are without chickens. That's sad! Since we are without chickens, my husband's friend from work said I could use pictures of his chickens for my blog.


The person who owns these chickens said that this little brown one is his favorite. It follows him around the yard like a little pet whenever he goes out there. It is a bantam chicken, as are all of his chickens. Bantams are smaller than standard sized chickens. Their eggs are smaller as well, but they are just as tasty! We would like some little bantam chickens of our own, to cavort around the back yard and amuse us and give us tasty fresh eggs. I don't think that's too much to ask! It's not like we want to fill up the back yard - We just want a few little chickens.


And look at the little baby chickens! Aren't they cute? Mama chicken is like "What you lookin' at?" Of course, we wouldn't be having any baby chickens, because we just want hens. No roosters here, since they're so noisy and all. I don't think the neighbors would appreciate a new and unrequested early morning rooster alarm. I wouldn't appreciate that either. My husband asked his friend what he was going to do with the baby chickens and he said "Those are your chickens." But we aren't allowed to have them! No fair!

Some of the chickens have funny heads. They have these big puffs of feathers on the tops of their heads. I don't know what they're called, but I'd love for some of them to live in our back yard. Check them out, and check out the feathers on the feet of the white one here.


We've been wanting some chickens for a while now. We talk about it all the time. We have big dreams of building a chicken tractor and bringing in some fun little hens to live in it. We'd call them "The Girls". What? You don't know what a chicken tractor is? Well, I'll tell you! It's a movable chicken enclosure. You can put it in a different place in the yard every day if you want to. It has mesh sides and tops to keep the chickens inside, but the chickens are still able to enjoy the benefits of playing around in the yard. It also keeps the chickens safe from predators while they are frolicking around in the yard. Some chicken tractors even have the coop attached, so if the chickens get tired of the yard during the day, they can go inside and hang out. That is the kind of chicken tractor we would have if we could have chickens. With the coop attached. It would be the ultimate chicken mansion! Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to have chickens, so I have no chicken tractor to show you. However, I do have some more pictures of chickens for you to enjoy!


We were talking about the chickens one day last week and my husband decided to write a letter to the mayor and the city council and request a change to what we are now calling the "Chicken Ordinance". Really, the worst they could do is say no, so it's worth a try, right? So he sent the letter and we waited. Then he said "Hey, there's a city council meeting coming up!" There is a part at the beginning of each meeting where citizens can address the council about any issue they would like. If their issue is not on the agenda for the night, they can't actually discuss making changes, but they can set a date to discuss it in the future. So we decided to go to the meeting. My husband got all his notes together and we set out on our adventure. Here he is filling out the card before the meeting so they would know he wanted to address them.


After my husband said his piece and sat back down, the mayor said that they had gotten several emails about the chickens and that it seems to be a hot topic. He said he thinks it's something that needs to be looked at, and the council set a time to discuss it. After the meeting, one of the council members motioned to talk to my husband. He chatted about chickens for a few minutes and told my husband that he grew up on a farm. We are hoping that he will push a revision to the chicken ordinance. All in all, the vibe we got from the meeting was positive. We're crossing our fingers that we will soon have chickens of our own!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canning Adventures#2 - Sweet N Hot Corn Relish!

The salsa was so easy, I didn't wait long to try my next canning adventure. Here's the story with this one. When we went to my parents' house for my birthday, my aunt brought this really tasty corn relish, and we ate it with crackers, like dip. It was so good, I decided I needed to try to figure out how to make it. I found a recipe online, and with a few additions I think it turned out really good. It has frozen corn, apple cider vinegar, red and green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sugar, turmeric and mustard powder in it.

I didn't get many pictures of this one because I did most of it before my husband got home from work. Here it is in the pan:

corn relish 2

The lids and rings are hot and the water in the canning pot is ready to go!

corn relish 1

And here are the pretty jars all processed and cooling off. Really, aren't they pretty? I may be weird, but I think the food in jars is pretty. I should decorate with them!

corn relish 3

Monday, July 27, 2009


Look out, She's possessed and she's coming to get you!


Seriously, how could I not post this? My husband wanted to take a picture of her because she was panting. It was over 100 degrees outside and she had just come inside. Because she is such a delicate snowflake, she very rarely lowers herself to any activity that would result in her getting hot or any other sort of discomfort, so she seldom pants. Unfortunately, just as he snapped the picture, she closed her mouth, but her tongue was still sticking out. That plus the ultra neon green glowing eyes resulted in a picture too entertaining not to share!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canning Adventures #1 - Salsa!

This year, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted a pressure canner. Yes, I know I'm weird, but it sounded like a fun thing to have! I was very excited to get it, and I decided that salsa would be my first project. It's always important to have salsa on hand for a tasty snack, and home made salsa is MUCH more tasty than store bought.

I started by getting all my ingredients ready. I wasn't sure exactly how much stuff I would need, so I ended up with some extra to save for another cooking project.

hot sauce 1

Then I chopped it all up in the food processor. I know most people make salsas with big chunks of tomatoes and stuff. My family has always just thrown it all in the food processor and pretty much pureed it, so that's how I do it.

I actually made more than one batch and then put it all in a big pot together and brought it to a boil. I don't normally cook it, but the instructions for canning salsa said you need to bring it to a boil, so I did. I'm sure that has something to do with the cootie-killing process that makes it safe to eat, so I didn't question it. Here it is on the stove along with the canning pot full of heating water and the hot rings and lids for the jars.

hot sauce 4

Once I had the salsa boiling, I got my trusty tongs and got the rings and lids out of the water so I could start jarring it all up!

hot sauce 5

Then came the fun part! I grabbed my sterilized and heated jars and started filling them up. This handy funnel came in the canning tools kit my husband got me to go along with the giant pot. It has an extra wide opening so chunks can get through it.

hot sauce 6

The tool kit also came with this headspace measuring tool. Different kinds of foods require different amounts of space in the top of the jar to properly process. The cootie-killing process is quite mysterious.

hot sauce 7

Once I got the space right, the lids and bands went on. The jars were hot. After burning myself a couple of times, I finally figured out that a towel made it easier to hold the jar.

hot sauce 8

All that was left was to get them into the water and boil them! Another handy tool from the tool kit was the jar tongs. They are made so they grab onto the top of the jar so you can get them into and out of the boiling water easily.

hot sauce 9

After they boiled for 15 minutes, out they came! They were actually in there for way longer than 15 minutes. They were probably in there for about an hour and a half, but most of the time I was trying to get the water to boil. Processing time doesn't start until the water actually starts boiling, and it took forever! After waiting over an hour for it to boil, I decided to try my husband's suggestion and put the lid on the pan. It started boiling within a minute or two.

hot sauce 10

I got them all out and lined them up all pretty on a towel so we could look at them.

hot sauce 11

We were sitting on the couch a little while later when we heard the first "pop" of a lid sealing. Why is that exciting? We got really excited every time one of them would pop. It was very silly, but also very cool. Canning the salsa was really easy, and even more fun than I thought it would be. I love domesticated type projects, and this is something I can see myself doing alot of in the future. Be on the lookout for more canning adventures here soon!