Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving day.  May everyone find lots of things to be thankful for.

What are we thankful for, you ask?  Here's a top 5 list!

1.  My job, which I'm really enjoying (and which has kept me extremely busy lately).
2.  Noel's work, which he also enjoys.
3.  Our sweet little farmhouse.
4.  That we rescued little Samson and he's fitting in with the family just great.
5.  Our garden, which is still producing!
6.  My new toy!

As some of you may know, I tend to drive my cars for a while.  I've only owned 2 cars in my life, and both of them ended up with a LOT of miles on them.  The one I have now currently has over 262,000 miles on it.  That's quite a bit of road!

So last weekend, Noel and I went out to test drive a few vehicles, to see if I liked any of the new cars out on the market.  And well, we all know what happens when you "just go out to test drive a car"...

I'd like to introduce you to my new ride!



It's a 2012 Chevy Sonic!  How cute is this car!?  It looks tough in the front, right?  Like a little rally car!


But in the back it's just cuteness!! 


I've never owned a new car.  It's scary but exciting - I'm terrified I'll get a scratch on it, but I love to drive it.  it drives like a dream!  I'm so excited!

It's especially awesome since (as I mentioned) my job is keeping me very busy.  I was in Dallas 2 weeks ago, Harlingen last week, and will be going to Austin next week (for a training certification) and Dallas during the following 2 weeks.  Very busy times!  So it's fantastic to have a reliable, fun-to-drive little car for my trips.  Although I grimace when I look at the odometer.  But cars are meant to be driven, right? 

We're going to keep the little black car though - it's got so many miles on it, but still drives fine, so Noel said he could use it for local jobs to commute in.  It gets better gas mileage than his truck (but not as good as the ~40 mpg that the new car gets!). 

Other than that, things are very good.  Noel was in Corpus Christi for work for about a month, but he's back now.  We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner today and will be working on leftovers for a while!

Oh, and Loki decided this year that he LOVES turkey.  We gave him a little pinch and next thing we know, he's sniffing all over the kitchen for more.   Poe also tried a bite, but Samson just licked at a little piece.  We cleaned the kitchen up, and Loki was prowling around looking for more turkey.  This is particularly ironic since last Thanksgiving we tried giving them some turkey and they didn't want any!!

We had roasted turkey breast, dressing (with apple, onion, and cranberries), lots of gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, fried okra, and pumpkin pie.  Noel wanted blackberry cobbler too, but decided to hold off on making that til the pumpkin pie is all gone. 

It's strange having such a small Thanksgiving this year after the big event we had last year. 

Well, that's about it for us right now.  I need to go cut out a dress for our company holiday party next week!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Knitting Pictures!!

 I've been very busy crafting stuff lately, especially knitting.  After all, it's about to be that time of year.  Speaking of, it's supposed to get down to 36 tonight!!  I had to cover the garden plants in case it frosts.  Wow!  Of course, it'll probably be back up to 80 by Saturday, but for now I'll pretend to be curled up in front of a fireplace in a cabin in the snowy mountains of New Hampshire.

So...knitting.  Apparently something is in the water here in Texas, because I've been knitting for multiple expectant mothers and corresponding babies-yet-to-be-born. 

There have been baby bibs, baby bibs, and more baby bibs.....


The official Weirdest Shaped (And Biggest) Baby Blanket Of All Time:


With little pink flowers and a green vine!



So I didn't finish these socks very lately, but I had never worn them before a few days ago.  Honestly, I wasn't sure if I'd ever wear them because the colors seemed...a bit much.  But frankly, every time I looked down at my feet that day, I smiled. 

How could you not?  These socks are pure wooly sunshine!


Speaking of knitting, time to finish Bib #385.  Enjoy the cold weather!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween is one of my very favorite holidays, for several reasons. 

#1 - Costumes!!  I love making costumes and dressing up and being goofy.  I am going to post pictures of costumes that I made for this year (both for my nieces and myself).  It's fun to wear something totally random and pretend to be someone else.  My nieces this year were a princess and a mermaid.  And I was the flu.  Yes, there are pictures.

#2 - Scooby Doo cartoons on TV.  Yay!  Scooby Doo = proof that all evil in the world is just a bunch of bored robot-building guys in masks. 

#3 - Halloween is a great holiday for allowing us to poke fun at the things that scare us.  I think this is the real reason that Halloween is such a wonderful and useful holiday.  In folklore, Halloween traditionally is a time when the spirit world is closest to our own.  It's a time to remember fondly those who have gone before us.  And it's a good time to think about our own mortality - the talk of ghosts and scary things that go bump in the night is a way for us to cope with the parts of life that scare us most.  It helps us to not be so scared of the things we don't understand, when we can dress up as scary things and pretend that those things can be understood.  We've lost several people this year, and tonight is a wonderful time to remember them.

So from Noel, me, and the orange and black kitties living in our house, Happy Halloween! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My  mom came to visit last week!  She hadn't really ever spent any time in Texas (just passing through Amarillo once years ago), so there was a lot to experience.

We had a really nice time - we saw a LOT.  We went to the riverwalk in San Antonio, we drove through some beautiful farm country, and (needless to say) we went fabric shopping.

One really cool thing we saw was the Austin County Fair.  It was the first Texas fair either of us had ever been to.  They had livestock shows and auctions.  We were blown away by the auctioneers.  How can these guys possibly talk this fast?  (I remembered that my camera takes videos - yay!)


video

They also had a rodeo!  Mom really wanted to go, and I hadn't been before, so why not?  I have to say though, I was worried about the animals getting hurt, and kept my eyes closed during the portions when they roped calves and such.

The barrel racing was really impressive. 

video


My favorite part of it was definitely the bronco and bull riding.  These people are INSANE.


video



video

How can they even WALK after that?  That's....impressive.  And crazy. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yet Another Post About Food. Yes, Again.

On the first day of Autumn, we had our annual Autumn Feast.  The plan was to finish off the meal with a homemade apple cobbler, but in an almost superhuman display of self-restraint, we decided to hold off on the cobbler til another day, when we might be able to actually eat it without rupturing part of our digestive system or rendering ourselves unconscious for 3 or more days straight. 

So!  Yesterday, I made a cobber!  This is a variation of Rachel's super-easy cobbler recipe:

Ingredients
1 stick of butter
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 can of apple pie filling (or another fruit of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350.  While oven is heating, put the stick of butter in your dish and put in the oven to melt.  While that's melting, in a separate bowl mix flour, sugar, and milk.  Pour this evenly over top of the melted butter.  Then spread the can of apple pie filling on top of this mixture making sure the fruit is distributed all over the dish.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Eat until you pass out.

My Autumnal variations: 

I used half white sugar, half brown sugar (molasses makes it tasty!)
I added in a couple of dashes of cinnamon and vanilla extract into the batter as well, to make it more fall-tasting.

It was GOOD.


Now, the cobbler deliciousness was the second fantastic food we had eaten this past weekend.  On Friday, we went to our favorite local hang-out & restaurant, Othie's.  They were having live music and the crowd was hoppin'!


Othie's has excellent food.  But they've recently raised the bar - they bought a smoker!  Noel and I originally planned to get sandwiches, but when we walked in the door, we smelled heaven on a platter.  Oh yes, they wooed us in to having this:


The biggest platter of BBQ ribs I've ever seen in my life.  Now, for those of you NOT from Texas, you may be surprised to know that these are beef and not pork.  Noel and I both have an affinity for BBQ pork and consider it superior to beef BBQ in general.

However. 

These were, without any question, the best ribs of any kind either of us has EVER had.  No really.  They were beyond phenomenal.  I ate until I couldn't eat anymore.



Noel did too.

So!  If you ever get the chance, head to Othie's for their ribs.  We certainly will be there.  Oh yes.  YUM. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Puss In Boot!

So Samson is just fine - you'd never know he had surgery last week.  Except for the fact that he's got a shaved spot on his front leg, which makes him look like he's wearing an Ugg boot on his left foot.  See?


He looks like he belongs on the Swedish bikini team.

The other day, we saw a mouse in the cat's food!  Can you believe it?  We got a picture!


Ok, so it's the cats' stuffed mouse (from IKEA, of course).  For some reason over the past few weeks, they've been putting the mouse inside their food dish.  Does this make them feel more like little wild predators? 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Autumn!

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Friday was the first official day of fall, the autumnal equinox.  What does that mean?  From now on (until March of next year) the nights will get longer than the days. 

Personally, I am thrilled.  This is my favorite time of year.  It's hopefully going to get cooler here soon, and we're on the fast track to the holiday season.  And knitting season!

On Friday, we had our traditional Autumn Feast: seared pork chops with an onion balsamic sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, fried okra (from the garden), and homemade beer bread with honey butter.  Yum!  We were going to have apple cobbler too, but we were too full to actually eat anymore, so we didn't bother.  Maybe this week sometime.  :)

So now we're into serious holiday crafting time.  Better get to it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Catsectomy?

Little Samson had surgery today!  He's...not truly a little boy anymore, if you catch my drift.

He's doing just fine - he's feeling very energetic and running around like nothing happened.  He does look a little pitiful though, since they had to do some pre-surgery bloodwork and his little front leg is shaved. 



He looked so sleepy on the way home, and all he wanted to do was eat.  As soon as he had chowed down on his chicken & tuna though, he was ready for action. 

Welcome home, little guy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away!

Can you believe it actually rained this weekend!?!?  SO EXCITING!!  Except it didn't actually rain at our house.  No, it managed to deluge the area just a few exits down the interstate.  Oh, and on the OTHER side of our little neck of the woods, but not actually on our house. 

Sigh.

We keep hoping!  Someone out there know any rain dances?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Idyllic Images of Farm Life (minus cow poo smell)


So today I thought I'd post some pictures of life on the farm.  Just because.  Shannon, don't tell Chris.  :)

The kitties that live outside on the porch are growing like weeds!  They love to nap inside this cauldron that we planted with some elephant ears.  I guess it's cool inside it?  Anyway, you can barely see, but the gray cat is hiding there behind the plants. 


We also figure that this is exactly what Samson is going to look like when he gets a little older.  It may not take much longer though - he's already up to 6 pounds!  He's a beast.

So the 2nd garden of the season is planted and ready to grow! 


We have corn, squash, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas (they're just coming up).  I had difficulty last time with the tomatoes - we got here so late in the spring that I just planted the seeds straight into the ground, instead of growing them into seedlings first.  Well, this time we planned ahead, so I managed to start all of these plants by seed.  We have 12 tomato plants!  Too bad I don't eat tomatoes.  But Noel does.  And my coworkers have already asked for some too.  :)






Here's a view from the front porch.


And then sometimes, the cows decide to pay us a close-up visit.  This is why we have to keep the gates closed all the time.  The grass is greener on the other side, perhaps?


So that's life on the farm for this weekend.  If only you had smell-o-vision, you could get the full Smell of Nature effect.  Aren't you disappointed?  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Forget!

To start off, thanks to everyone on the condolences about my sweet Grandmother. Secondly, we aren't at risk by the wildfires right now, so that's good.

Also, can I just say that you know it's been HOT when you go outside and say "Oh, it's so nice and cool out today! I'm going to take a walk while it's so balmy!" And it's 90 outside. Really. We were excited that it was only a 2 digit temperature today. Craziness.

Two weeks ago, Noel and I took a mini-vacation to San Antonio. Neither of us had ever been before, but we will definitely go back. It's fab!

The view from our hotel was gorgeous:



San Antonio is known for its riverwalk, a pedestrian area surrounding a river that runs right through town. It has restaurants, shops, and hotels all the way down it, and it's just fantastic!







There are bridges across the river, and each are different. Some are quite old too:





San Antonio has interesting sculptures too - this is a really big piece that stands out against the sky nicely:



And...what's this? I forget.....just kidding. It's the Alamo!





And who's this? Why, it's an official Texan! (Holding her new temporary Texas driver's license!) And shooting a finger gun! Because it's the Alamo!



The Alamo was quite interesting. We had heard from several people that it was anticlimatic - it's much smaller than expected, and it's in the middle of a built-up touristy part of town. However, it had a lot of history plaques, a lot of description of life at the time and the battles that took place building up to the battle at the Alamo, and a nice museum.



It was especially interesting since Noel grew up in the town where David Crockett was born, and we then visited where ol' Davy died. We took the opportunity to buy some souvenirs there as well, particularly the ones with David Crockett's most famous quote on it. When he was running for re-election in Tennessee, he said that if they didn't vote him back into office:



"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas."


Indeed.



We also went to the Texas Rangers museum (not the baseball team, the soldiers). Not pictured, Chuck Norris. It had a whole section that was built like an old west town, which was fun.






Note: That horse? Was actually a real horse that was one of the ranger's favorite horses, and was stuffed after he (the horse) died. I have no response to that...

In another part of the museum, they had a variety of Texicana. Here's Noel under an impressive ceiling full of deer horns:





In case you're creating your Christmas wish list, here's a little item you may want to consider - a chair made of horns:







Looks comfy!




The museum even had its own cowboy!






One of the cool things about San Antonio is the Tower of the Americas, an observation tower with a restaurant at the top:



We went to dinner there one night (yes I'm afraid of heights but other than the GLASS ELEVATOR, it wasn't scary), and got to see some spectacular views:



The restaurant itself was really swanky and super nice. The food was phenomenal. YUM!



On our last day there, we went to lunch at a place called Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian style steakhouse that is a carnivore's dream. Skewers of different types of meat cooking over an open flame:



How does the meat get from the skewer to your plate? Waiters bring the skewers around to you and you choose if you want some or not, and they carve it off the skewer! The food was DELICIOUS!! And the waiters are wearing little gaucho pants tucked into their boots! Hee hee.



We essentially walked and ate, then sat down and ate, then sat in the pool and later ate. And then ate some more. Did I mention that we ate everything we could get our hands on? San Antonio is fantastic - we loved it there. And we will be going back!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sad News

Today's post is a sad one. On Friday, my dear Grandmother passed away. She was one of the most special people I have ever known. She was kind and loving, and very supportive of me throughout the changes in my life.

She was a talented quilter, a square dancer, and an avid gardener. She used to email me pictures of the flowers out of her garden, which is just too cute - a woman of 92 emailing pictures. Very sweet. She had a fantastic sense of humor, and was always quick to laugh. She made delicious fudge, and sewed me my very own square dancing dress once. She and my Granddaddy would drive down every year from northern West Virginia to North Carolina to sit through an interminable dance recital just to watch me dance for a few minutes. Her house was always full of love.

I had taken some pictures of flowers in our yard last week to email to her, but didn't get the chance to send them to her in time. She donated her body for medical research, so there won't be a service. So instead, I thought I'd post the photos in her honor.






We love and miss you, Grandmother.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Sky Is Falling!!!

Know what this is?




Me either. But I looked it up on the internet, and apparently it's water that falls from the sky. It's called "Rain."


Yes friends, it FINALLY rained last night! We got a big storm! Noel and I sat on the porch and watched the storms.


The lightning was really impressive - it lit up the night like it was midday:




(That was taken at 9:45 pm).

Guess what doesn't photograph well with a regular camera?


Lightning bolts. It turned out weird, but I kinda like it. :)


We're so excited to have gotten some rain! The plants are just soaking it up - hopefully we'll have more coming in the near future!



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Space...the Final Frontier....

And here we go, as promised! Pictures from our trip to NASA!

Now, we weren't so sure about what we would find on the tour, because we went there the week that the shuttle landed for the last time. We weren't sure if there would be scads of space engineers weeping into their pocket protectors or what. Fortunately we saw no sad astronauts.

But there was plenty of other stuff to see! Including the astronaut training area. They have pods that look like portions of the space station that the astronauts practice maneuvering around:


I thought it was neat that each piece of equipment has the sponsoring countries' flags above the module's name. There are a lot of surprising countries participating in the space station - not only Russia, Germany, Italy, and France (which you'd expect) but also Brazil!

We saw landing modules and space suits:


And this creepy looking robot thing. Sorry - this was the clearest picture I could get of it. It's a huge gold spider that's used for doing work on the outside of the space station. The multitude of feet make it easy to maneuver. And also make it extremely creepy.




So one of the things I was most excited to see was this android. Boba Fett!




This last picture is just for you, Rachel. Heh heh heh.






You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life has been busy! So I've got lots and lots of pictures to upload. You've probably heard a lot about the drought here in Texas. It's really bad here - we've had about 17 days of 100+ degree days in a row (which even for here is hot!). We also haven't had rain in ages.

It's really sad to see fields of ruined corn.



Our garden's been doing well, although we've been watering it like we're trying to drown it. This picture was from about a month ago - we still have okra and bell peppers left, but everything else has died down already:



We got a LOT of squash and okra! And the nice thing is, it's about time to start a new garden for the fall! We have squash, sugar snap peas, and tomato seedlings that are about ready to plant. We'll probably put them in the garden box on Saturday. It's a good thing to be able to grow your own veggies, especially with the costs of food supposedly going up a lot in the near future!


Life on the farm is still really good. We do have our daily challenges though:




Noel had just finished washing his truck when one of the cows came by and left a present right behind the wheel. HA HA HA! Nice.

So last week, my job sent me to Nashville for work. We stayed at a hotel near the huge Opryland Hotel, and for dinner we went to one of the hotel's restaurants. The inside of this hotel is AMAZING. There's a little river with boat rides, a massive garden/conservatory inside the center of the hotel, and gorgeous water fountains:



They even have fountains that squirt water, with colored lights! It was just incredible.




Noel's son Logan came for a visit too. We did lots of fun stuff, like going to NASA (photos coming soon) and the zoo (photos in just a minute). There was also some MMA style wrestling on the floor.



I feared for the furniture.

Anyway, we went to the Houston Zoo, which is a really impressive, very large zoo in the middle of downtown. We saw the aviary enclosure with faux ruins:



(I want faux ruins in my house).

In other news, I learned my new superpower: I can talk to giraffes. There were several giraffes, and I talked to one of them - "Come over here, handsome! Let me get your picture!" Well, guess what? He came over! And licked my fingers! And Noel got to pet him!





Confession: This following picture is from the aquarium. They have a white tiger. For some reason. It's gorgeous!


We also got to see the tigers at the zoo. One of them was feeling a little warm, so he went for a swim!



In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion....




looks tired.

Speaking of kitties, check out this retrospective picture of Samson as a baby:




So sweet, so innocent.

And now, he's a much bigger boy! He and Loki sometimes try to kill each other, but then will settle in and take a nap together.





He looks so cute and precious. And then he looks like a turkey: