Archive for Around the House

The Animal Dance

Right now we are in the middle of a huge living room / dining room remodel project.  Our house is slightly askew with some of the living room and dining room furniture squished into our family room.  So we’re a little crowded, and some days claustrophobic.  We like doing the work ourselves (I’m a DIY-er at heart) so it’s taking awhile.  I’m ok with that.  I can put up with the disarray and the out of place-ness knowing that the end result will be amazing.  However, the animals in our house do not like their  routines and normal sleeping and lounging spots being disrupted.  They are all a little out of sorts.  

Let me introduce the cast of characters;

Tiger- The queen of the roost.  She is the oldest of all of the animals, turning 14 this month.  She has not been a happy camper with the living room disruption at all.  Her favorite window perch has been torn apart so she prefers to lay anywhere on the floors where she is in a “traffic” path.  You know where we have to step over her constantly.


Clyde – Our resident doggie.  He’s 11 years old this year, and is still wary of Tiger after all this time.  He has taken up sleeping in my office which is down the hallway from the remodeling noise and mess.  He likes to have his quiet space, and it is not in the family room right now. Poor guy.  He has been a trooper letting Lucy follow him everywhere too!

2015-04-17 13.49.04

Storm- He’s the teenager in the crowd.  He’s three and likes to be a pest to Tiger.  He tries to challenge her authority all of the time.  Wouldn’t you think he’d get tired of that?  He’s a great mouser cat though, and he’s even caught a few gophers in the back yard.  He earns his keep.


Photo by B.Juedes


Lucy- She is the baby in the crowd.  She’s just a year old, and is staying with us temporarily while her house gets fixed.  She’s been here for a few weeks, and is finally getting to know our routine, and learning how to live around the cats!  She loves to tease and chase Storm and vice versa. They are really funny together after dinner chasing each other around the back yard.


Photo by E.Bettencourt

Now here is where this cast of characters gets interesting, and sometimes annoying. I call this the dance.  The dance in this case is the morning and evening routine we go through when the animals are fed.  Here’s my take on it, and it somewhat reminds me of having a small working farm!  When I get up in the morning I head straight for the coffee pot, and get it started.  While I’m doing this Tiger is meowing at me to be fed and she does this incessantly.  Clyde is outside with Storm, and Lucy. Clyde loves to stand at the patio door and stare in at me while I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee.  I imagine he wants to say, “Hey remember me, you left me outside, with the cat!”  We call his glaring at us his Snoopy pose.  Lucy is so humorous, she is Clyde’s shadow right now.  She follows him everywhere.  She jumps at the patio door to get my attention.  I imagine she’s saying, “Look at me, look at me.”

Tiger gets fed inside, and I don’t let any of the other animals in while she’s eating.  Tiger gets her quiet time all to herself, her “alone” time.  Once I have my first cup of coffee in hand, and have had a few wake me up gulps I head out onto the patio to feed the rest of the cast of characters.

I have discovered through trial and error that it’s best to feed Lucy first, then Clyde, and last but not least Storm.  Storm is late for every meal.  I’m pretty sure he mooches from one of the neighbors, but I’m not sure which one.  I feed the animals in the morning around 7, and then again at 5pm.  The menagerie of course always has water available, although Tiger thinks she needs to drink out of the toilet.  Ugh!

Here’s what happens in the afternoon; I’ll be working in my office for a while and then stroll out to the kitchen around 3 or so.  Miss Tiger thinks it’s time for dinner already!  She is always pushing the dinnertime button and trying to get fed earlier than usual.  At this point I remind her that she is not the boss of me, and dinner is always at 5pm and not a minute sooner!  She is quite relentless though and meows at me every time I walk into the kitchen between 3 & 5.  

This group has had a tough time with their normal sleeping places disrupted.  But have no fear, the living room remodel will be coming to an end soon, and then some of these things will be getting back to normal.  I’m sure Clyde will be relieved, he’s had the toughest time of all.   Once the living room is back together it will be nice to have the pet patrol back to “normal”.  Everyone will have their favorite “spots” back where they like to slumber.  The slumbering spots are always in the path of the foot traffic through the house.  Does anyone else have this problem?

This post linked to the GRAND Social  and the #MidLifeLuv Linky Party.


Grocery List Curiosity

I had a curious thought this morning while putting together my list for my Sam’s Club shopping.  How do you write out your grocery list these days?  Personally I do not go to the store without a list.  I would forget too many things.  I try to keep my store visits to a weekly minimum, and don’t really like to spend any great amount of time browsing the food aisles.  You can read about my love (or not) of grocery shopping from my Sam’s Club Shopping story.

FullSizeRenderWe keep a running list of groceries we need on the fridge. I have these write-on small white board labels that stick to the fridge, and use a dry erase marker.  They have been very handy.  No papers flying all over the front of the fridge.  When I’m ready to do my shopping I transfer that list to my phone.  If you live in my house, when we are out of something please write it on the fridge list, so it’s not forgotten.

My go-to app for my grocery list is Evernote.  Once I have transferred my list into Evernote I can easily share it with my favorite Travel Man if he happens to be home.  When he’s home Travel Man does like to go shopping with me, especially if the list is rather long.  He’s the complete opposite of myself.  He likes to browse the aisles, and read the labels, and look for new products.  I like to stick to the list, and get in and out of the store.

It’s been a long, long time since I went to do my grocery shopping with a paper list. I would rather use my phone, and not have to fiddle with an extra piece of paper.  I used to have a really elaborate list for my Sam’s Club shopping.  It was an excel spreadsheet with all of the groceries categorized and took up almost an entire sheet of paper.  If I try to use that paper now the grocery shopping task seems completely overwhelming.  Thank goodness for my smart phone and Evernote.

So here’s my curiosity – How do you grocery shop these days?  Do you take a list or just run out to the store with no list at all?  Do you write your list on paper or is there no paper involved? Are you a daily, weekly, or monthly shopper?

I’d love to hear about your shopping habits.

This post shared at the #MidLifeLuv Linky Party.

#MidLifeLuv Linky

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Sam’s Club Shopping Joy

blue-shopping-cart-background_f1XDvO5uThis past week I tried an experiment.  I had been wanting to try using Sam’s Club’s online ordering system which they now call Easy Reorder, for a while. (It used to be called Click ‘n Pull)  My grocery shopping efforts, somewhat like my menu efforts, lately have been a little wacky to say the least.  So I decided it was high time I shake things up and try something new.  I have done a lot of ordering on so I’m well aware of the beauty of just having things arrive at my door.

This is how I went about my experiment.  I set a dollar amount that I wanted to spend for my first online experience.  Oh and by the way this order was to be picked up in the store, and not shipped to my house.  I put together a list of my “pantry essentials” that needed replenishing, and then went online to put my order together.  Now what happens the first time you click on the “order” button  is you have access to your past purchases in the store which creates a “grocery list” for you.  This is how I approached my online shopping for this session.  I could delete or add any other items I wanted for this order, and remember I’m working to stay within my dollar amount ($200). Once I completed my order I was then able to schedule a pickup time that was convenient for me  at  my favorite Sam’s Club.

Once my completed order was submitted I received an email with a confirmation of the items in my order.  After this I was able to  just go on about my day and wait for the email or text message confirming my order was ready to be picked up.  Once I  arrived at Sam’s Club to pick up the order, I went to the customer service desk to let them know I was there to pay for the order and pick it up.  After the order was paid for, I waited for just a minute or two and then out came the carts with a cheerful employee with all of my groceries. Boom!  Now off to the car to load up and head for home.

I set my stopwatch when I walked in the store to pick up my order, and start to finish it took me 20 minutes to get in and out of the store.  I was totally impressed with the time factor here.  Normally with the size shopping I was doing I would normally be in the store for over an hour.  Only because I am walking the aisles, browsing, and maybe stopping for some lunch.  After my online experience I am presently in shopping land heaven.  I like the price breaks we get at the big box store, but lately I have dreaded doing this task by myself.

I am pleased to report that this experiment was a complete and huge  success for me.  I will do the online shopping again with no hesitation.  My order was complete, correct, and the gentleman who brought my carts out , there were two, helped me take them to the car and loaded the groceries for me.

Boom!  I’m loving this service and it saved me so much time that I can spend doing other things I love to do.  Writing crazy stories, swimming, and hosting a camp grandma or two.

Have any of you ever tried this service?  Let me know is you liked it or not.  I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start.

This post has been shared at the #MidLifeLuv linky party.midlife-luv-linky

Barefoot is Best

Blog post_1127The heart and soul of summertime can definitely be defined by what kind of shoes you are wearing.  Here in Southern California we are blessed with many days of sunshine and warm weather.  I find myself sporting sandals and flip-flops for more months out of the year than all of the rest of you do in other parts of the country.

I am admittedly a barefoot person.  If I find myself at home, and I have nowhere to be in the near future I Am Barefoot!  It is the best way to be in my personal opinion.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do wear shoes when I leave the house.  Normally sandals or flip-flops in the summertime, and shoes that cover my toesies in the winter months.  Oh, and also I rarely wear socks.  This is a budget saver for me.  You know it must be cold outside if I have actually put some socks on.  In California world this would be when the temps are below 60 degrees.  That’s our version of “freezing”.

Now I also have to admit that I am passing my love of bare-footedness onto my sweet granddaughter.  When she comes to stay with me during the week here at Camp Grandma and we venture outside to play and explore, and it’s  warm enough I always tell her, “Let’s take off your shoes.  Barefoot is the Best.”   This is the mantra I am passing along to Madison.  Hopefully these will be words she’ll remember me by.  It is so hilarious to watch her walking across the fire pit area of our back yard barefoot.  This area is a gravely substance, and her Pop-pop cannot believe how she just meanders across the little rocks  with no shoes on at all.

Much to my dismay I have tried on multiple occasions to garden barefoot with not a lot of success.  I always end up putting my sandals or flip-flops on out since this is out in the furthest part of our backyard.  I have to avoid the thorns, and a possible nails or even glass buried in the dirt.

So now tell me the truth are you a barefoot junkie?  Do you wear your flip-flops or sandals 24/7?  Or are your more traditional with your footwear?  You know, do you stick to the tennies, socks or some sort of close toed shoes?  Let me know what your favorites are. I’d love to find out how many of you aspire to my barefoot theory.

Our New and Improved Front Yard

Last spring we (or should I say I) finally put a design together to landscape our front yard. Travel Man and I decided it was time to take the plunge and get this project off of our list. We had gone back and forth for a few months determining and deciding if we should or could take on this project ourselves, or did we hire it out to a contractor.  In the end we opted for a contractor’s help, as Travel Man was on the road so much there was just no common sensical, logistical way that we could make this work.  Once the final landscaping got started it needed to get done.  Most importantly we needed to beat the Southern California summer heat putting in a new lawn.

You see our front yard landscaping has been a progressive household project. First we had our old trees taken out somewhere around 2005 or 2006.   They were way too close to the foundation of the house and had to go.

This is what the front of our house  looked like right before the trees were taken out.  And the after results are shown below that.

Front yard circa 2001 001

Next we had the entire yard graded and leveled. This was not a DIY project at all. This task was hired out. Big pieces of equipment and a contractor qualified to do the work were brought in.  The contractor who did the leveling and grading for us also installed our front patio and sidewalk in 2010. The patio and walkway are cement that was stained and carved to look more like flagstones.  We were very pleased with the results.


The next step in our progressive landscaping was to put in the cement curbing for the edge of the front yard and the planters around the front windows. This was a pretty wild process seeing the curbing come spitting of of this little machine.  Incredible.


Once the curbing was completed was when the vision started to come together for me. Seeing the curbing bordering the planters really started to help me get honed in on the design of the yard. My first thoughts were lots of trees and shrubs, flowers everywhere. This would be my mid-western side coming out, as I grew up in northern Illinois.  Looking back on the different designs (scratched on paper, and sometimes a paper napkin) it would have been way to much greenery to water for the Southern California landscaping. I had to keep reminding myself we live in the desert.

Here are a few renditions that I had put together on my iPad with an app called iScape. I took a few pictures of the front of our house with my iPad, and then used the app to place the plantings, grass, etc.  This gave me a very beginner-like view of what the yard would look like with grass and the greenery of the plants.

We decided that we would have some grass in front of the house, and I knew I wanted to plant roses in the planter in front of the house.  We had also tossed around the idea of doing some sort of xeriscape on what we call our “side yard”.  You know the portion of your front yard that is landscaped, looks pretty, but never really gets used for anything practical.  Well we have a pretty big piece of “side yard” in the front.  And I will tell you after  few road trips to Arizona the idea of xeriscape was growing on me.  It did taking some convincing by Travel Man for me to finally agree to the xeriscape and go with our final plan.

Now enter our contractor who will be handling the last leg of our front yard project. He is installing the sprinklers, laying the sod, planting all the plants, and laying the rock down for the xeriscape side of the yard. Our contractor, who we lovingly call “Bob the Builder”, and yes his first name is Bob, helped me to finalize my design plans.  In other words, the vision I had in my head could be made possible, and he could do this for us.


The sprinklers went in. The xeriscape required drip lines for all of the plants, so that was installed.  The plant delivery and placement in the yard was honestly the most exciting part of this entire project for me.  Next the plants went in the ground, and then the landscape fabric and rock was laid down.


During the final phase of our front yard project we had a week of extreme heat, so the sod installation was delayed for a week. Once the sod was down and the running of the sprinklers and drip lines was all dialed in our new and improved front yard was done!

Here’s the amazing before and after photos.  The before picture is from around 2005 or 2006 before Travel Man and I really started making a lot of major improvements around the house.  What a difference. I have to tell you we  are incredibly pleased with the results.

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We are both glad, and relieved that this project is complete.  Sometimes it seems like it takes forever to bring your vision to life.  The results of this project were well worth the wait. Travel Man was very excited to have all the new plants in the front yard to decorate for the holiday season this past Christmas. That’s a story for another day though.

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