Friday, December 15, 2017

Pampered Pooches

Ollie and Pepper were smelling decidedly doggy this week. To my bloodhound nose, it's eau de stale corn chips. So they made a trip to the local pet salon for a bath and some scissor work on their face fur to clean it up. I took them on the tandem leash and that was a freaking dog rodeo. But at least I entertained some folks who passed us on our way in and out with their antics. Best part - the holiday kerchiefs!

Patio Befores and Afters

It's not quite finished yet. The contractor will be returning next week to replace about eight of the slate tiles that cracked after installation before they were grouted and more secure. Plus the whole area needs a good scrub to get rid of the grout residue. And then everything gets sealed. But I'm already pleased with the results. As you can see below, it now has a much different feel even though we only changed up the hardscape and won't start on the landscaping until spring. 

Lizardville in the before pics above and below has been replaced with a fountain and some mulch for the time being. In the spring we'll finish updating this area with some non-fussy, low maintenance plants and a bit of river rock around the base of the fountain to add some visual interest.

The pic below is the old mismatched flagstone with the concrete slab they poured for an outdoor kitchen area they never built. This is the new location for our outdoor fireplace. 

About 18,000 gallons of water later and we've got a full pool once again. I followed the directions from the pool folks on chemicals and it has now turned a shade of green. I'm hoping the daily addition of muratic acid over the course of the next week will get it back to crystal clear. Otherwise I'll be ringing up the weekly pool service guys to help me maintain it. We're finally replacing the cheap and inefficient old sand filter with a new diatomaceous earth filtration system next week, so hopefully that helps keep the cement pond looking less like a home for alligators and nutria rats.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Moving Target

When the hooligans get wet in the rain or after the sprinkler system has run (or freak Texas snow like last Thursday), I put the dirt brown colored blanket on the bed and have them hop up there so I can get the blow dryer after them. But Pepper has this bad habit of thinking the blow dryer means it's time to attack big boy Ollie, which he doesn't appreciate. And so he growls, ducks and dodges to fend her off so they're dancing around the bed as a moving target while I wield the blow dryer in vain. The things a doggy mother does for her four-legged kids...


It's that time of year again, time for the teenager to find a dress for military ball in February. It's odd how that works, the whole school invited to dress up in floor length gowns to honor the school's corps of cadets. Students on one side of the ballroom and parents on the other, all seated at tables for dinner followed by a program afterwards. Then the parents bug out while the teens stay to enjoy the DJ. After all of that formal hoopla, the girls wear short party dresses to the junior-senior prom later in the spring. 

These two dresses made it on the short list when the junior went dress shopping with her best bud Saturday morning. Please note - the second dress would be in ice blue rather than the lilac you see in the pic. I'll let you know who the winner is in a couple months. Now she just has to wrangle a date for the event!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Oh the weather outside is frightful

The helpful lady at a local nursery ordered my nice big fountain in October that was set to be delivered this week...

but then rain arrived Tuesday, soaked us all day yesterday/today and then turned into THIS just now (Thur night).

Snow on December 7 in central Texas... well I'll be. As the saying goes, just wait a bit and the weather will change on you. The high Monday was around 80. Then wet and soggy weather the past two days that led to our current temp of 36 and snow sticking in the yard. Therefore, fountain delivery dude is supposed to get my fountain to the house tomorrow afternoon barring a blizzard. Or freak December tornado. Because nothing surprises me much anymore with the weather.

The teen was wishing for a snow day tomorrow. Poor baby, dreaming about postponing her Spanish oral exam.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Timing is Everything

As central Texans, we bitch and moan about the fact that we always seem to be in stage this or that of drought restrictions, because the aquifer is low and we have to watch our water consumption. Only running the sprinkler system on your assigned day. Risking a fine if you get caught washing your car.

Today we finally got some nice rain after weeks of next to nothing... and of course it's the day of the ladies luncheon I'm hosting for the gals who live on our street. These ladies range in age from late 30s to mid 80s, with many of them on the upper end of that range. I was seriously concerned one of them would fall on my slick-as-glass front walk and break a hip. Thankfully, they all made it inside in one piece. We had lots of great food, good conversations and door prizes for the winners of the holiday trivia and guessing games I devised. They all oohed and aahed over their take-home gifts of Santa themed decorated cookies. Because seriously, they are like little works of art and ALMOST too pretty to eat. Almost.

With the rain, we got to see how the new slate covered patio would handle drainage. Thankfully, it's all greatly improved except this one patch where it puddled. And check out that new pool tile they installed - a big improvement over the kinda funky and permanently stained stuff we had removed.

Last but not least, I have to mention the most memorable part of the day. Down the road we'll look back with laughter and say remember the year Mimi (my mother) set the little stove on fire when she burned the butter and flames shot out of it about 45 min before the ladies luncheon was set to start? I'm still cleaning up that fire extinguisher mess and it's just not funny yet. As my man of the season Clark Griswold would say, "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?" Because my back, it is paining me from crouching on the floor working to clean that danged oven.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

You serious, Clark?

It's hard to believe my favorite Christmas movie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", hit theaters waaaaay back in 1989. I was still in college, just a youngster. No matter how many times I watch it, and that number must be nearing three digits these days, I still laugh like a loon at the squirrel scene and get tickled when Clark is putting up the gazillion lights on the house.

I annoy the family by quoting my favorite parts along with the characters. And so of course I had to order this t-shirt with all of the movie's famous quotes that I found on Etsy. 

Thanks, Griswolds, for keeping it real with the fun old fashioned family Christmases where the in-laws and outlaws get on your last nerve, but you still love 'em like crazy.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


We kicked off my most favorite month of the year with a trip to Waco for state cheer competition. The 11th grader was bummed her squad didn't bring home the gold, but they finished a respectable 5th place. Some of the talent was college level amazing.

I love the pic above, getting her hair teased by one of the coaches.

It wouldn't be Texas cheer unless the girls were wearing big ol' hair bows on top of their heads. Below you can see we went a bit overboard securing our spots to watch them perform both days.

While I was there, I finally made it to the Magnolia Farms Fixer Upper Silos to see the Gaines business venture. That woman has done wonders for subway tile and the modern farmhouse look.

Then we got to celebrate the 11th grader turning 17 with breakfast and a haircut. She looks so grown up these days. I'm gonna blink my eyes and she'll be headed off to college, leaving us empty nesters. Time can slow down now, thank you very much.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dog Days of November

I love these pics of my furry children, our Cairns Ollie and Pepper lounging on the master bed Friday morning in the sunlight streaming through the window. The rather dirty window because I won't arrange for them to be cleaned until the dusty patio remodel is finished. So yeah, a rather filtered light coming through the window that they still appreciated.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Patio Pour

On Friday, the contractor poured the concrete for our new and improved patio space between the main house and cabana. In the midst of this clean slate is the sad looking pool. It's getting new tile, so it will have to look pitiful for a bit longer until it can be acid washed and then get refilled. I'm looking forward to a fresh start with the chemicals.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Old Homeplace

Mimi (my mother) wanted to go back to the old stomping ground in Southeast Texas to visit a couple friends and put some flowers on granny's grave. So we made a flying trip over the weekend to do just that. 

A week after my husband and I married at age 25, we moved far away from that part of Texas and I haven't looked back since. I don't long for it. I don't get this sense of nostalgia or wish for the old days. I put it in my rearview mirror and moved on. 

Above is the place where Mimi grew up. Below that is a pic of the old tank farm. You didn't need to see the city limit sign back in the day because your nose told you when you hit it. The stink of sulfur is forever etched in my brain.

There are some nice folks who still live there, old classmates and their parents. And some great restaurants I enjoyed. It's flat and green and I do think it would be cool if we had pine trees and azaleas here in central Texas like they do where I grew up. But that's pretty much it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beauty & Brains

The 11th grader got inducted into the National Honor Society recently. Here she is with her Mimi, who attended the ceremony with me. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wreath Making Fools

Mother and I have been busy bees, cranking out four wreaths thus far and one more to go. There have been multiple trips to the craft stores because I can't ever seem to get the ratio of ribbon just right. Too much burlap, not enough deco mesh, etc. You know you're getting older when your shoulder and fingers are sore from crafting.

Here is the wreath we made for our front gate. I'm digging the square shape. The last one I'm planning to make this holiday season is a smaller square one in the same red, white and lime green color scheme for the front door.

This wreath was made for one of mother's oldest and dearest friends. She chose the colors of red, white and silver and we did the rest. All it lacks is the red and white glitter 3-D picks I bought to use as accents.

Last wreath we've completed is the small one we'll place on my granny's grave when we're back on our old stomping ground in a couple weekends to visit a couple of mother's old friends. The sparkly pink poinsettias were our inspiration, so I chose the burlap to try and tone it down a bit so it isn't too Vegas for the cemetery. 

A friend asked if wreath making would be my second career. I told her only if I could outsource the actual work to a third world country. I enjoy the beginning when we pick out the design and colors, and then the end when it's finished. All of the cutting and measuring and twisting in between is a pain in the patootie.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Travel Wall

It dawned on me today I had never posted a shot of the finished travel pics wall in the remodel. This is one of my favorite things in the house right now. The pics come from family travel on three different continents. It's a bit of a conversation piece... in case we ever get the patio area put back together and can actually start entertaining folks.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Falling back to shorter days

It's the beginning of November, which means two things. It's time to turn the clocks back an hour to end daylight savings time. And <insert high pitched squeal here> it's the wind up to Christmas decorating. 

We kicked off November with attending the husband's annual meetings and retreat. The weather was hot because Texas seems to have the global warming down pat. Seriously, temps in the 80s the first couple days of November? THIS is why I want us to buy a second home in the Smoky Mountains once we hit retirement age. Four seasons, fall foliage and cooler temps - what's not to love.

The retreat was nice, as always. My favorite part was a hike where we got to visit the site of what is believed to be an old Indian campground that is recently thought to predate the Native Americans by centuries. It was humid and misty, so I looked like a frizzy wet poodle by the end of the hike. Danged Texas weather.

Above is a little watering hole you'd undoubtedly miss if you didn't know it was there. Below is the Indian (and earlier) campsite - a good place to hunt arrowheads where many have already been found. Below that is a nice little lake we passed, one of several, on our hike.

Before we hit the road for company duties, I kicked off the week working on our front gate wreath. My mother lent a hand since it's a pretty big undertaking with all of the rolling and twisting of the deco mesh and wired ribbon. This year I'm loving the fun and whimsical lime green with the traditional red and white. It's taking shape and I think the finished product will look nice. I taught myself this wreath making method via a You Tube video. Mother's front door red winter cardinal burlap wreath was my guinea pig first attempt and she's pleased with it.

Finally, finally our replacement recliners for the family room  arrived on the boat from Norway and got hauled out to the house for delivery Tuesday. The old Archie Bunker cloth ones are gone, replaced by this lovely cream in the pic below. I'll be enjoying the last week of my blue, green and silver pumpkin decor before Santa Claus comes to town the following week  The husband doesn't know it yet, but he'll be spending a week from Saturday hauling boxes of Christmas decor from the workshop into the garage, my staging area for Holiday Decor Prep 2017.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ring around the feeding bowl

I bought Pepper one of those puzzle bowls to force her to slow down. She inhales her food as if she hasn't been fed in days. And then tries to take Ollie's food from him. Thankfully, this bright blue feeding bowl has solved those issues. Every time she eats, she goes round and round, trying to gobble up every last bite of dog food.

Rasslin' is still a favorite activity several times a day, especially since the backyard is a work zone and won't be dog friendly for another month. So they chase each other around the house and put on a canine WWE show for my entertainment. Here they are in one of the beds on either side of my desk chair this morning, being (relatively) good doggies with their morning playtime.