Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Of Lint and Linguine!

Ok, so this won't be terribly long because it's already kinda late. Several interesting things from the last few days though:

(1) Noel can make a MEAN chicken alfredo. From scratch. I had no idea he could make this stuff. I t was SOOOOOO good! Very impressive! If anyone wants the recipe, I can get it from him.

p.s. It's really healthy - 1/2 stick of butter per serving. And also heavy cream! And cheese!

(2) The lady at the local appliance store is probably too honest for her own good, but YAY for customer service!! See, as previously mentioned, our dryer had decided to crap out - it wasn't getting our clothes dry, but was heating up so much on the outside that it would almost burn you. We had cleaned the lint trap and the vent hose when we moved it, and so we knew that wasn't the problem. Maybe it was the thermostat, we had no idea.

So! We went to the local appliance store here in Sealy and looked at dryers. We were discussing the merits of lint traps in the door of the dryer or on the top of the unit, when the saleslady came up and asked us what was wrong with our dryer. When we explained, she suggested that we take the entire back of the dryer off and check for lint buildup, because sometimes lint can get into the rest of the dryer and essentially block up the motor, etc.

We explored the insides of the dryer, determined that wasn't the issue, but decided to clean out the entire venting system. Turns out that it wasn't our dryer or our vent hose that was clogged. The vent pipe going from where we hook up the dryer to outside the house was full of super-thick lint. No wonder the thing was so hot! We cleaned it out thoroughly, and the dryer works like a charm now! So the lady talked herself out of a sale, but I guarantee we'll go back to that store when we need any other type of appliance/mower/etc.

SO! Everyone please make sure you clean out your dryer vents thoroughly! We realized once we started cleaning it out, that we couldn't feel any air coming out of the outside vent. This is the sign of a problem! Be safe and prevent house fires!

(3) My job is awesome.

Ok, I'm going to go get some knitting done before going to bed!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So! Exciting times here.

The first week of my job was great! I'm excited to get back to work tomorrow. :)

The weather here has been beautiful, and Noel and I have been busy doing things around town and the house/farm. Including taking pictures of random stuff!

Here are some cool motorcycles with bright lights underneath them:

This is a piece of old farm equipment that has a tree growing through it:

Our landlord likes to collect and fix old vehicles. He has about 4 on the farm here, and he showed us a 1927 Ford truck that he started up with the hand crank. He then took us for rides in it!

This morning we went for a little picnic at the main park in downtown Sealy. The flowers are beautiful!

This gorgeous Victorian house across the street from the park is surrounded by azaleas in bloom:

How is the garden, you asked? It's growing like crazy!! And watching over the garden is our resident garden gnome, Gottfried:

He's going a great job! Just check out the corn and squash!

We watched the sunset (sunsets are gorgeous here):

And then I made a peach cobbler!

This is my sister's super-easy peach cobbler recipe:


1 stick of butter

1 cup of milk

1 cup of self-rising flour

1 cup of sugar

1 large can of sliced peaches (or 2 of the regular sized cans)

- Preheat oven to 350. While oven is preheating, put the stick of butter (cut into smaller pieces) into a casserole dish & place in oven.

- Mix milk, flour, and sugar together in a bowl.

- When butter is completely melted, pour flour mixture on top of butter (it will mix in with the butter - that's fine)

- Drain the liquid off of the peaches, and place them on top of the mixture in the casserole dish.

- Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Eat & enjoy!

This recipe is a small miracle to me, because the fruit bakes down while the cake part bakes up. So it ends up looking like a normal cobbler. Fancy! You can use any kind of fruit. If using fresh fruit, you may want to add some additional sugar to compensate for tartness.

Ok, so that's it for today. Hope everyone's doing well. I'd better get ready for work tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Garden Updates and Such!

Noel is still on his job, and it's going well. Mine is also going great! I'm really happy with this job so far - it's so nice to feel the potential in a new career!

We've also been finishing up with (hopefully) the last of the unpacking. One thing that I'm thrilled to say arrived safely through the move was a stained glass window my Uncle Earl made years ago. He was one of my very favorite uncles, and this window captures, to me, how he lived his life and the things he enjoyed. It reminds me of him a lot. Noel found the perfect spot for it, in the kitchen, so the sun shines through it every morning:

And it's so Texas-y! Love it.
Things here on the farm are going really well too! It's been gorgeous weather:

Thing In Sky!! (My friend Lisa tells me I need to self-publish a book of Things In Sky pictures - maybe should look into that, since I have about 9,352 of them.)

The garden has really been soaking up the weather too. Here's how the squash are coming along:

And the corn is already starting to look like corn! How exciting!!

(Note: these pictures were taken on Sunday - the corn is now over 4 inches tall!)
A closer view of the cows!

There is a bull. I named him Brad. Brad the Brangus.

And even the trees are barbed in Texas!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Work Work Work!

Hi everyone!

Today was the first day of my new job, and it was great! My boss and co-workers are extremely nice, the work environment is friendly and relaxed, and I have a tremendous amount of lattitude in the training programs I've been hired to create. I'm very excited about it! (The commute, on the other hand, is not so exciting).

Noel got a call during dinner that he's wanted on a job 3 hours from here, starting tomorrow morning. Surprise!! So we're trying to get him ready to go out the door. He would be on his way already, except his clothes aren't dry yet, and our dryer has decided to crap out. At least i have a clothesline out back, until we buy a replacement dryer.

We'll miss him here at Chez LotsaCats, but that's the nature of his work. He'll only be gone for the rest of the week, looks like.

And by the time he gets back, we may have a full garden! The little sproutlings are growing like crazy. CRAZY. I've been taking pictures every day of their progress, but won't be posting any tonight because it's too late already. But there will be pictures!

Ok, time to hit the hay here soon (after getting Noel on his way to this job!). Hope the clothes are dry!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Images From the Farm

Yesterday evening I went out for a walk at dusk and tried to get some pictures. (This was in place of unpacking, since I am so done with owning stuff. I never want to have to unpack again. Ever.)

First, a picture of the kitties, all curled up outside on the grass:

So cute. Now some of you may be asking about Poe and Loki - they're fine, lazy as ever. They're interested in the outdoor cats, but only to look at them through the window. They aren't threatened by them and don't hiss or anything. I'm not even sure they recognize that these little fuzzy things outside are cats in the first place.

So yesterday I went to check on the gardens, both flower and veggie, and I'm extremely pleased to report that thing are already coming up!!

Ok, so that's hard to see in the picture. Trust me, it's there.

I'll take updated pictures today, since things are even more up than this now. Yay!

Noel had already left for work, so I just milled around the farm taking pictures of things:

Sometimes dusky pictures don't turn out so well, but I liked these.

I thought up a little poem yesterday too:

This land is a deep breath
Inhale huge blue sky
Smiling sigh of freedom.

That sums it up pretty well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things Get Seedy

Hi! Things are going well here in Texas! We're getting unpacked, slowly but surely. The living room, kitchen & hallway were all looking good. Until I started working on the guest room/sewing room yesterday. Had to take out about a million boxes, just so I could find the floor in there. I'm now working on getting that room in order, and once it is, I'll take more pictures of the house, without boxes this time. Yay!

I've been busy feeding our outdoor kitties - they live under the house and take care of various rodentia that might be roaming the prairies around here. (I actually saw the mom herd a field mouse over so the kittens could kill it - serious Wild Kingdom over here, and I had to look away. She's just teaching them to survive, but I still don't want to see it.) Anyway, we do give them some food to help out, but not enough that they stop hunting. Well, that's the plan. I tend to spoil cats, in case you didn't notice. Ahem.

Anyway, they're skittish, but getting more used to us. I tried to get some pictures:

Here they are eating. Mom is the tortoise shell calico on the right (the dark-type calico with yellow & gray mixed into blackish fur). The babies are solid colors: black, yellow, and gray.

Wait, someone's missing. Oh, here he is:

Hee hee!! SOOOO cute. Kitten close-up!

I haven't named them yet. Aren't you proud? I'm trying really hard to keep some distance, in case something happens to them. They're wild, after all. But not having mice & snakes under the house is worth a little cat food every day. :)

We've been busy in other ways too, namely in planting stuff. We do live on a farm, after all!

So the other day I tilled up some ground in front of the porch for a flower garden. We'll see how it does. Nothing's come up yet, but it's early.

We also built some boxes for raised bed gardens in the backyard. We're going to have 2 4x4 square foot gardens. It's an interesting method that my sister told me about. This is my first try at it. Basically, instead of planting in rows you plant in squares. It's supposed to be a much more efficient use of space. We'll see! Anyway, we built the boxes and filled them with a combo of topsoil, peat moss, and compost. Then I marked them off in a 1 ft x 1 ft grid, then planted the seeds. (By the way, the Square Foot Gardening website is: www.squarefootgardening.org)

And by the way, yes, I do see the irony of living on a farm and yet having raised bed gardens instead of regular in-ground gardens. However, with the new job I start on Monday, I won't have as much time for weeding. The soil here is also very sandy. Major crops in this part of Texas? Hay, rice, and cotton. Not cucumbers. So. Raised beds it is.

Oh, I can hear you now! "But what are you planting, Kelli?"

Okra (a dwarf variety, so hopefully they won't get so tall)
Corn (my first attempt at corn - this should be fun!)
Tomatoes (2 varieties - cherry ones and little yellow grape tomatoes)
Cucumbers (found the same type of seeds I used last year, so we'll see if they go insane like last year's did)
Squash (nothing better than battered & fried squash - yum!)
Bell Peppers (planted red ones, as well as a variety mix of white (!), purple (!), and dark brown (!) ones - why not?)

That's all in the garden for this spring. The great thing is, we can use this garden as an experiment. If something doesn't work, we can try again in the fall, when Texans have their 2nd gardens of the year (this never ceases to amaze me).

So! Very exciting. I love having a garden. There's something very meditative about it. It forces you to be patient - after all, there's no rushing a seed. It's so basic: a seed, soil, water, and sun. But yet it's a miracle. Each little seed, when it sprouts, is life, green and fresh, coming out of something cold and dormant. I find it absolutely amazing. Which is why I probably prefer to grow from seeds than planting seedlings someone else has grown.

This garden will also be even more meditative for me, since my job is in Houston - a high-rise building, right in downtown. High tech and loud, traffic and busyness. Then a drive from city to country, and I put on my gardening boots and get my watering can and go tend the veggies. (The watering hose won't reach far enough, and I'm ok with it). It's such a wonderfully charming, simple thing to do. But there's nothing more wonderful in summer than a fresh salad you pick off of your own land, wash it and eat it. I just love it.

Noel has already asked how long before we have cucumbers. :) I kinda thought after last summer he'd never want to see a cucumber again!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Greeeeen Acres Is The Place to Be!!

We have arrived!!! And Texas has welcomed us with open arms!

So now I guess I can show you our new house.

Now for an inside tour. First the living room:

It's a HUGE room. We have the living room in the front part, and our library/sitting area in the back part. In this picture (of the library part of the room), Noel is standing in front of my writing nook, a little area with my writing desk and a nice window view.

One of the many cool things about older homes (this one was built in 1915) are the built-ins. Here's a gorgeous cedar bench built by the owner's father years ago:

He also built this gorgeous cedar built-in, also in the living room. I love the colors of the wood (Note lounging lazy cat in foreground).

Our bedroom is lovely, with a built-in vanity in the corner. Love it!!

We have a bathroom, but I didn't take a picture of that. I also skipped the other bedroom, which is currently Box of Stuff Central. It will take a while to get through. :P

The hallway has a cool built-in too:

(Ok, seriously, I promise to take new pictures Post Boxalypse).

We have a laundry room (currently full of empty boxes):

And of course, no home is complete without its heart, the kitchen. The kitchen in this house is GORGEOUS.

And the kitchen has a built-in too! Love this!

Also, it sits on a 165-acre working farm! The landlords of the home still work the farm. How neat is that?

See? COWS!! (In the background, I didn't go through the Cow Patty Landmine field to get a closer pic). (Although I did actually shovel cow poo today, but that story's for another day.)

And because this is Texas, there are also cow skulls!! As decorations!!

Because nothing says "Welcome To Our Home!" like animal carcasses.

Here's the hay barn:

And the requisite red barn with watering trough (or as my cousin John said, a Redneck Swimming Pool):

Here's the view from the front of the house:

And from the side:

And to the back:

We've also even found a cool restaurant/bar place to go for dinner (our landlords recommended it). It's a fun place called Othie's. They have pool tables, air hockey, live music on weekends, and food. BIG food. (This is Texas, after all!) I ordered a country fried pork tenderoin, and this is what I got (beer glass included for scale):

Needless to say, we made 3 meals out of this. YUM.

So here we are, happily in Texas. Even the kitties seem to like it. OH! That reminds me! We have barn kitties too (well, technically they live under the house, but still). I'll get a picture of them as soon as I can. They're skittish, but SOOOO cute (a mama & 3 kittens!!).

Monday, March 7, 2011

On The Move!

We're on the way! Tonight we're in Meridian, Mississippi. Tomorrow we plan to arrive in Texas, if everything goes as we hope it will!

I saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile today. Exciting stuff!!

Wish us luck on the rest of trip!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes!

Guess what I've been doing?

Fun stuff.

You know what would be awesome? Having movers to pack up all this crap and drive it where we want it. It would keep me from (1) cutting my thumbs on the tape dispenser, and (2) having to drive the big humongous truck I've had to rent to get everything to Texas. I'm a bit nervous about driving the truck, but it'll be yet another big adventure, right? I'll take pictures.

Noel put the deposit on the house yesterday. We're both very excited about it - so excited that I don't actually want to say anything about it yet. I'd rather show you when I get there! I haven't seen it yet, but Noel described it and it sounds fantastic.

And I'll be getting to Texas in time to plant a garden for the early summer! Yay!