Monday, August 31, 2015

Kitchen Photos.

Time for the kitchen, which is almost finished. I've got to clean a couple more cupboards, but as they're not currently in use, I'm focusing on more urgent matters. 

Here's the realtor photo of the kitchen on the listing. 

Not much has changed at this point. Obviously I've added my stuff, as the seller has removed his. 

I am rather proud of my beautifully organized cupboards. The one in the middle, above the stove, had no shelves at all (a common issue in this house) so I used shelf extenders purchased at Walmart. They're very effective!

Now, everyone has their own particular way of arranging a kitchen. Mine is done by zones, with everything I need for a specific activity in that zone. In the photo above you can see all my condiments and spices in the shelf to the left of the stove. That shelf also holds my spreads and items that I would use in the griller, the toaster, or the blender.

The shelves on the right have been rearranged since I took this photo and now hold all my baking goodies for easy access and use. Not that I'm currently using them, as the oven still needs my attention. I have a griller, a crockpot, and a microwave. Oven is much lower on the priority list. Like oh-my-gosh-it's-Thanksgiving-what-about-the-oven? lower. 

The kettle and coffee makers are all on the other side with mugs and ingredients at hand in the shelves immediately above and to the right.

My delight, though, is the window. When the curtains are open I get a view out over the back garden, not particularly exciting, but a nice enough view nonetheless. When the curtains are closed, well, I get roosters parading! Love it! A gift from a lovely neighbor. 

You may have noticed I also have a rooster clock and a rooster on my utensil holder. No, I don't collect roosters or chickens or any other fowl. It just worked out that way. No, I don't want a bunch of cute poultry items. Thanks for thinking of me. Put it back, walk away.... You're so sweet!

I collect winning lottery tickets. You're welcome to send me any of those you happen to find!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Novel Idea... and a very British result!

When I was younger, I used to dream about being able to afford a washing machine. My first was an old twin-tub and I loved it! Then a dryer and a dishwasher made my wishlist.

Now I have all three, and am somewhat amused at my changed mindset. After a mammoth couple weeks working my way through a bevy of boxes, I found my washing machine! Yay! I got stuck into some much needed washing.

And look at my novel idea:

Not so novel, really, but what a pleasure to have all my washing out on the line again! It smells so heavenly, although I forgot how stiff and scratchy line drying can make your clothes. I'll be creating a fabric softener soon.

Less than a minute after snapping the photo, this happened!

And for those of you smart alecs who noticed the sky in the first photo - bite me! It was my first line load in years, I was going to enjoy it, weather or no.

I wryly mentioned this to The Bratness and she responded, "Yup, happens in the UK all the time. Hang out your washing and it starts to rain." So it's a British thing then? The Brits can keep it! I like my lovely hot weather and washing smelling like sunshine and happy.

We desperately need the rain, so I wasn't particularly distressed. In fact, I sat on my front porch and enjoyed it! It's a free rinse for the washing, anyway. Rain water, good, right?

Look at all this water pouring off the roof!

Another honey do for Himself. He shall have to add rain barrels at some point.

When I was a kid, we used to call this BBC weather (bed, book and chocolates!) but it hasn't lasted long enough for me to even consider getting out a book. The rain only appears to come down for about 20 minutes, long enough to cool everything down, and then it's sunshine and sweat all over again. So I did what any sane woman would do.

I got me some cuddles!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dining and Officette Done!

If it's okay to have a kitchenette, I'm claiming an officette. So there!

Lots of cleaning, unpacking, and arranging later, and I have the public living areas completed. The layout of the public areas are not pleasing, this will definitely be on the bucket list for when Himself gets back. It's like a large square with one wall dividing it two thirds along the length halfway down the width. 

Urk! Let me draw you a picture instead.

Ok, it might be a rectangle, but this should give you sort of an idea. The front door enters into the lounge, which is separated from the kitchen by this floating wall. There is one single window in the lounge. The dining room has French doors and the kitchen has a tiny window. The door in the kitchen leads to the garage. The room is incredibly dark because of the dearth of windows and that wall blocking the light from the east side of the house. 

Also, the area from the front door to the French doors is a long stretch of practically unusable real estate. I forgot to draw it in, but on the left opposite the floating wall is the passage to the bedrooms. Behind the front door is the fireplace. It's all rather an odd decorating conundrum. 

Bucket list is to remove that floating wall and make it all open plan, allowing the light free reign in the room. We have been advised that wall is a load bearing wall, but investigations in the attic suggest otherwise. Something to deal with down the road, however, the amendments to the bathroom will take top priority. 

Here's the view from the front door. Note the looooong space! The passageway is just between the lamp and cupboard you can see on the right. Sorry, not a brilliant pic with that light streaming through, the phone sure doesn't like light!

However, the dogs love the cool floor now that they've graduated to being allowed in the public area. LOL.

That light fitting is gorgeous, with a series of vines holding the light sconces and a soft tulip underside draping down. Only the stupid tulip is made of iron and it connected with my head more times than I choose to count while I was sorting things out. I got so tired of cleaning blood out of my hairline, and my language was deteriorating at an alarming rate. My gran would have had me chewing soap for a week the last time I hit it! 


I'm not entirely sorted, there are no pictures "really" on the walls, I just stuck one up on a hook that was there to get it out of the way, and I've got more pictures stacked against the back wall behind the drapes. Also, although I love the naval hardware we bought, it's really in the way right now, and I can't work out the best place to put it. My friend had a brilliant idea about converting the ship's telegraph to a coffee table leaving only the binnacle in the corner, but that's another Himself project. 

The printer is on the right as it doesn't fit in the officette and I don't have an alternative spot yet. The table is pushed more to the right than it will be when we're entertaining, but I like me some space and it's very crowded if I have it out. 

There is a makeshift barrier keeping the dogs in the public area and leaving the cats in the private area until the two pairs make friends. Gemma has sneaked into the living room occasionally to be with me but runs any time the two dogs show any interest. Trix, the big scaredy cat, is just totally freaked out and won't come near them at all. I'm trying to get Gemma to settle with the dogs as she's the bravest, and then we'll work on Trix. I'm waiting for winter. When it's cold, everyone will want to be friends in front of the fire. 

The drapes came with the house and they're super heavy. The odd thing was that each window had its own set of drapes and none matched the others. I've removed the drapes in the living room and kitchen and it has made things lighter, but left these up as it's such a big expanse of window and the officette has me sitting with my back to it. I'm uneasy with that arrangement, so I have the drapes to close at night for some privacy. The neighbor's property is very close to the back side of the house and, although we can't actually see each other from the house, I don't feel comfortable. 

I set the two bar stools by the kitchen counter so folks can chat to me while I work in the kitchen. They sort of work well, only they're a little high for the floating shelf, or the floating shelf is a little low. To talk to me, friends actually have to bend down to see under the shelf. My friend advised it gave her a back ache!

The officette is opposite the end of this floating shelf set and is just my little computer desk tucked into the corner. Serendipitously, the desk matches the cupboards very well! I've organized my calendars on the wall for now, and the wires at the back are a rats' nest waiting for Himself to do some organizing. That being said, the entire set up might end up being moved, especially if we knock out the wall, so I'm not fussing it. It's functional and actually looks pretty good, in person. It's also convenient, so I'm quite enjoying it. 

Wow, this has turned into a long post, so I'll end here and show you the kitchen photos in my next post. 

Anyone have any suggestions on what to do with the long stretch of room from the front door to the dining room?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rounding out the Furmily

Himself and I have always agreed that we would have dogs once we had our forever home. We also agreed that the dogs would be rescues. Our first dog together, Jessie, was a rescue and she turned out to be a real sweetheart!

Jessie on bath day

She wasn't a large dog, just a nice, medium size mutt with a huge heart and loads of character. It broke my heart when we had to place her, but she has gone to an excellent home with a fantastic friend and is very happy.

Now that we're in our forever home, and because I'm here alone while Himself serves Uncle Sam abroad, we decided I would get a dog. Please notice the singular. 

Brand new in the house with no fence, I really didn't think I was ready for a dog, but I didn't feel secure (even with my new locks) and there was absolutely no reason why some random dude wouldn't drive up to the front door. In fact, I had a couple random folk turn up on my doorstep and it was rather disconcerting. However, I still wasn't actively searching for a dog. 

Then I stumbled upon a story of heartbreak. Look at this gorgeous lady who has suffered so much: 

She has no teeth, having been kept in a cage for so long that she tried to gnaw her way out. I emailed Himself that night to send him the link and told him I'd be contacting them in the morning. I did, went to meet her, and she's mine. 

When I went to the Animal Control to meet her, the wonderful lady in charge of adoptions, Sandra, offered me a walk-around to view the other animals. I was reluctant, because I knew I'd want to take all of them home with me, but I took the walk. And I saw this handsome young man:

He is SO not a pointer/lab mix. More like a pointer/shepherd/cattle dog/staffordshire bull terrier mix. And he is HUGE! He tips the scales at a modest 70lbs/32kg and can haul me around like flotsam. He is an enormous, goofy, wonderful dog. 

I came home and emailed Himself to let him know I was taking the red heeler and calling her Meisie, a Dutch word meaning "little girl" (pronounced may-see), and that I'd met another dog that would be perfect for him. He wrote back and told me to take both. I had had no intention of having two dogs, I really wanted Himself to choose his own mutt, but he wanted me to have two so that he felt safe with me being out here on the ranch on my own. To be honest, I thought this dog was fabulous, so it didn't take much persuasion. Sandra was delighted at the news! The dog's number at AnCon was 006 and I was hoping for a name based on the Bond character of 006 (Major Jack Giddings) but Himself got to choose the name of his furball, and decided to call the dog Jock. 

As mentioned, no fence, so I had to build a dog pen especially to hold them. The chicken pen here would hardly hold a chicken, so it wouldn't do, but I was time strapped, so I cheated and bought a ready made pen from Tractor Supply. My fabulous neighbor helped me truck it home and set it up, and I was ready for two new additions to the family.

I got the sunshade on sale for only $20 and the two dog houses at a bargain too. I had wanted to get two matching houses, but there weren't any in stock. One makes do.

The dogs hated it. Jock's a jumper, probably one of the reasons he couldn't be placed and he was on top of that dog house faster than you could shake a short tail, and figured out you could use that additional height to jump out of the pen. This led to some VERY fast rearrangement of the pen! Note how the house has been moved right back under the sunshade so that he bumped his head if he tried to jump. I also ended up moving the water bucket to the near left corner to stop him from jumping there. 

Both dogs barked and fussed so much that eventually I dug rope out of a box and used it to tether them to the trees in the front yard, one on each tree. The ropes were long enough to allow them access to the front yard, the front porch, and even into the garage. They were quite happy. While I'm home and can watch over them, they're on ropes. When I leave, I tried locking them in the pen, which they hated, so now I lock them in the garage. They're quite happy. Odd puppies! But as long as they're happy, all good. :)

Jock is as much of a goofball as I suspected he would be, Meisie is the sweetest, most loving little darling. I'm so thrilled with both of them! Actually, Meisie isn't on a rope any more. She actually snapped the rope in an effort to get to me when I walked down to the bottom of the drive without her, but didn't run off, just ran to me. I experimented to see how she would do and she never leaves my side unless I'm inside the house. The dogs can't come inside yet as it's the cats' "sanctuary" until I've introduced them. Jock, on the other hand, doesn't run away, just goes walkabout. He'll slant a glance at me over his shoulder as I call and then run faster to go explore. Brat! So he stays tied up until the fence is up. I've chased him once into the neighbor's property and I've no wish for either of us to get shot, so once is enough! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My First Cooked Dinner!

While I'm totally confused by folks who post a picture of their meal every day, unless they're a chef, or it's something freaking amazing (or freaking crazy!), I thought today was enough of an occasion for me to post a picture of MY dinner. 

My first cooked meal in this house!

I've been living on cereal, toast, and frozen fruit smoothies the past few weeks, and at one point reckoned that I desperately needed something green that wasn't cheese! But now the kitchen has been cleaned and sorted enough that I felt comfortable with cooking. 

Now, I remember The Bratness once, when she was little, looking at the plate of dinner I'd set before her. I'd worked with what I'd had in the cupboard (Mother Hubbard's cupboard was a little understocked at the time) and I'd made chicken, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower with a cheesy white sauce. After considering the plate, she looked up at me and asked "where's the color?"

I'm not sure she'd approve of this plate as it's mostly monochrome too (at least it's not all white, Bratness!) and dietitians would not approve as it doesn't have enough variety, but it's a home cooked meal in my new home! I made it special by setting a place mat and bringing out a bottle of wine, that will probably last me a week to ten days. If I could find my ice trays, I'd freeze it into little ice cubes, Martha Stewart style! But then I'd have to cook stuff that needs wine, and dunno if I'm gonna go there! LOL

Don't you love my corkscrew? It was part of my welcome package from my new neighbors!

Oh lord! I've just joined the ranks of folks who post pictures of their dinners! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Friday, August 14, 2015

No sliding chain lock on MY door! ... or... Episode 2: 'Wicked' Strikes Again! (For Star Wars fans.)

Do you have one of those sliding door chains on your door? 

Have you seen this?

Uh huh. Well, you're too smart to have a door with a handle! 

Um... yeah. 

Remember my Wicked Locksmith from yesterday? Well, Wicked is far too sneaky for any old burglar. He made the sliding door chain sooooo passé by introducing me to a whole new chicken. 

Behold! The door guard!

Ok, it's the box that the door guard came in, to be sure, but I liked the little door guard guy. And you get to see the box! If you were a cat, you'd appreciate that. You're not a cat. Yeah, yeah, okay! I'll try again.

Behold! The door guard!

Sneaky little thing, isn't it? It's a solid steel bolt that is fitted into the floor behind the door and lurks quietly and unobtrusively. A teeny nudge with your foot sends the bolt hurtling out of its hole like Jeff out of the sewers in MIB2 and the door is effectively barred. 

Fancy color change so I can show off my photo editing skillz.
Or perhaps I'm trying to hide my pitiful door?
Coming through the door would then require you to actually break your way in, which could be construed as malicious intent

 allowing me to bust a cap in yo ass. This is Texas, after all!

Should the person on the other side actually be welcome to enter, a gentle step on the bolt slides it silently back into lurk mode, allowing your visitor ingress and you peace of mind. 

I LOVE this thing!

Addendum: while stepping on the bolt with bare feet to drop it is quite fine, activating it with naked toes is not recommended. Do NOT ask me how I found that out: I shall hiss at you!

Post Script: Wicked's real name is Justin Fuller of Alamo Safe and Lock, San Antonio. I got a couple of requests for his contact info yesterday. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Killer Locks and a Wicked Locksmith!

The first thing everyone tells you to do when you buy a house is get your locks rekeyed. Whole pages of "what to do when you buy a house" say how important this is. So, being a good little puppy, I duly found a locksmith to come out and check my locks on my little piece of heaven. That, in itself, was quite a feat as locksmiths weren't particularly keen to come out so far for a simple rekey.

Oh, how I wish simple was a word that I could use for this house!

Justin Fuller, of Fuller Alamo Safe and Lock in San Antonio (shameless plug for somebody that I think deserves it! and no, I get no commission for it), presented himself on the appointed day and inspected my locks and my overall "lock security". We agreed that my security was non-existent and a full replacement of all locks was in order. See these beautiful butterfly deadbolts, right next to glass window panes? All the movies where the character just knocks out the glass and unlocks the door hasn't clued the general public to the idea that these are not good to put on a door with glass panes? Wow!

Do you also notice that the hardware doesn't match in style or color? (Please ignore the condition of the doors, I've not yet had a chance to clean and paint them.) 

The hardware options were laid before me, style and color selections chosen and ordered, and a tentative date set depending on when the orders would be delivered from the manufacturer. 

When it arrived, Justin came out and set to work getting all the locks fitted. That poor man! It took him close to eleven hours to install three deadlocks, one handle and one door guard! He kept apologizing that it was taking so long, but it actually wasn't him. Every door had to be individually chiseled out and the locks reworked to make them fit. The house looked like a carpenter's shop with all the wood shavings scattered everywhere! But by the end of it, I had the most gorgeous set of deadbolts in the world - my killer locks! 

They have a keyhole on each side, so even if somebody breaks the glass, they still can't get into the house - unless I leave the key in the deadbolt, of course. That would be really stupid! Seeing as I have the attention span of a goldfish sometimes it could be something I'm stupid enough to do, so I've set up a system that prevents me from doing that. Nothing beats planning! :)

Now, on those two doors, I need to get matching handles and fit them myself. Correction: I need to get matching handles and add them to the honey-do for Himself to fit! But on the main door, if you scroll up, you'll see that the door lock and handle is all one piece. Removing said piece to fit the deadbolt would leave me with a large gaping hole and no way to open, close, or latch the door. 

Enter my wicked locksmith! Justin apologetically pulled out a brand new handle set that he'd gone to a hardware store to buy, making sure to match it to the deadbolt, and said that he'd bought it because he didn't know if I'd have one. Apologetically! The man is a freaking genius! Not only that, he bought wood putty and stain so that he could fill in any holes that were left and stain it to match the door frame. Now tell me I didn't get a wicked locksmith! The guy deserves the Oscar of Locksmithing!

Look at my gorgeous new front door! Note how well the handle matches the deadbolt. 

Almightily pleased, I can tell you! Not only that, but I've gone from about a dozen individual keys to one. Okay, not one, I did get more than one (seriously, I'm not that stupid!) but one key that rules them all is way simpler to control than multiple singles. 

Oh, and while I'm plugging Justin, allow me to add that he was the most polite, customer-service oriented person I've had the pleasure of dealing with since I arrived in this country. He did a great job and he even cleaned up after himself. Joking aside, he was amazing and I'm very grateful to him for such a terrific job. That night I slept soundly for the first time since I'd moved in. 

Now those of you with eidetic memories or just keen observation will have noted that I mentioned one extra item in my list of what Justin installed. Clever you! 

Have you ever heard of a door guard? No? Neither had I. And now I haz one and it is awesome! If you want to know what it is, check back tomorrow.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Meeeeeee!

One year today that I have been in this incredible country!

And I managed to match that with exactly one year, to the day, in Rio Verde. 

Friday August 1st we rented the apartment ...

And Friday July 31st the keys were returned. 

Party on!