Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Full rack

I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do like to try new recipes. I’m constantly being bombarded by mouthwatering recipes, streaming over Facebook, or beckoning me from the pages of a magazine. And I succumb…

This invariably leads to me having to buy a new spice or condiment to make the new dish. If I were asked to name my greatest strength and my worst fault, I think the answers would be the same. I am organized. Not quite to the OCD level of organized, but maybe not so far off.

I like things to be arranged alphabetically whenever possible. And spices lend themselves to that very well. Except when you accumulate so many that they wind up all over the kitchen.

My very first spice rack was a gift from my dear Road Warrior, on our very first Christmas together, 40 years ago. It held 18 bottles of spice and it served me well for several years.

Old spice rack

Then I had a couple of racks that sat on the kitchen counter that held an additional 24 bottles. Plus there were two 2 tier lazy susans in the cupboard above the microwave that stored who knows how many more bottles. Each spice cabinet was alphabetically arranged, but I could never remember which cabinet was hiding the particular spice that I needed. And I always had to drag out the ladder to see what was lurking in the top cupboard.

I’ve been pondering on a better system for a couple of years. It seems like all the spice racks on the market assume that 12-18 spices is all you should ever need. (At present, I have a total of 63 bottles of different spices). I soon realized that I was going to have to be creative and come up with a design of my own. I scoured the internet for ideas, and took a bit here and a bit there and finally found all the pieces I needed to make my perfect spice system.

One thing I wanted to eliminate was the backup spice bottle. You know, you’ve got this spice rack with its own decorative bottles. So you’re getting low on cinnamon, you buy a jar and dump it in the decorative bottle, and you still have a quarter of a jar left in the ugly grocery store tin, so you put it in the cupboard till you need more. So you’ve now got duplicates on top of the 63 original spices.


So I found these wonderful 6 oz. bottles that will hold just the right amount. Actually, I first saw these bottles at Target. This is what they sell their own brand of spices in. After Googling awhile, I finally located them. They are called French Square Bottles.

4 bottles

The shelves are actually photo ledges. Google to the rescue again. And I used a clear glossy label and my own llama logo to create the name tags.
I actually have a little room for expansion, so for right now, there is just enough room to display photos of the real spices in my life….my pups…. Mayzie and Bayley.



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Well, after our peacock feeder tray was destroyed a couple of weeks ago, we have had two game cameras focused on the area to see if we could catch the culprit.

Torn feeder tray

You can read the original story here: https://tcllamas.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/will-the-guilty-party-please-come-forward/

We caught several visitors:

There was the scavenging squirrel

a pesky squirrel

The crafty crows

a crow

The dashing dogs

rampaging dogs

Farina the peacock

Farina the peacock

The wait staff (yours truly)

Yours truly

Finally the culprit…caught on film

The renegade raccoon.

climbling raccoon 1

It’s amazing how crafty and smart those critters are. He had unscrewed the nut and bolt holding the feeder to the hook and knocked it to the ground. Amazingly all the tiny parts were right there in a pile, so it was easy to reassemble.

the damage

More amazing still was that the next night, he figured out how to lift the feeder off the hook without taking it apart.

feeder unhooked

It’s scary when you are trying to match wits with the wildlife and you realize you are losing.

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Ever just have the TV on for background noise? Our TV is on anytime one of us is in the house, but we rarely actually sit down to watch anything. Such was the case last week when my attention was captured by a chef showing us how to make gazpacho. So what’s so exciting about that? Gazpacho is gazpacho. But there, my friend, you are wrong. This was Watermelon Gazpacho, and it was weird enough that I stopped what I was doing to watch him toss the garden into a blender.

I was in the market for a new and refreshing lunch recipe, as a good friend of mine was coming over to give me a hand with doggie hygiene…..dental hygiene…..for dogs……

My friend is a retired dental hygienist (for people) who has been scaling her own dogs’ teeth for years. She offered to drive an hour and a half out to the farm to clean my two dogs’ choppers. She does this without anesthesia. Mayzie, the bearded collie, behaved like an angel. But I didn’t expect anything less of her. She is a perfect lady. Bayley, the year and an half golden doodle, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. But with Bayley on her side, and me laying fully stretched out on top of her, we were able to keep her still enough to finish the job. Both dogs were over and done with in less than half an hour and it saved me at least $600 over having the vet do it.

Bayley and Mayzie

So the least I could do was to make lunch. I served the Watermelon Gazpacho and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches. And the soup was DELICIOUS!

I checked out a dozen or more recipes online and combined bits and pieces of several recipes to come up with my own signature dish. I’m going to show you how I made it. It’s super easy.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chunked
4 stalks of parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Extra basil leaves for garnish
3 cups of watermelon, cubed (I used a small, round, seedless melon)
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt and dash of pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

You can use a food processor, or a heavy duty blender. I used my Vitamix that we bought at a state fair back in the 80’s. It’s a work of art, don’t you think?


First, assemble all of your ingredients. Remember, there is no substitute for the freshest and ripest veggies and fruits.


Peel and seed the tomatoes. No cutting corners here. Peeling and seeding is not an option.



Peel and seed the cucumber. I like to use the long English cukes, because the seeds are really tiny. But particularly if you are using a regular cucumber, you need to remove the seeds. It’s easy. Just quarter the cucumber lengthwise, and cut the ridge off along with the seeds.


Chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

chopped ingredients


Throw the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley into the blender and blend until smooth.

in blender

Continue to blend and add the peaches.

Now toss in the watermelon. You have a choice here. Do you want it slightly chunky, or smooth? I wanted a little texture of the watermelon, so I only pulsed the machine a few times.

Then I stirred in the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper so as not to further mash the watermelon. Check it for seasoning according to your taste.

Place the soup in the fridge for at least 3 hours until it is chilled.

One of the recipes I found suggested sprinkling Feta cheese on top. Initially I was a little conflicted about the addition of the Feta, but I had some on hand, so I did a taste test with and without, and “with” won hands down. If fact, it totally “made” the soup.


So take my word for it and give it a try. Just be sure to crumble the cheese up really fine and just sprinkle on a light dusting.

This is a recipe that begs for summer fresh ingredients, so try it now and enjoy before the season ends.

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Depends on what you’re talking about. And what the heck is a doodle, anyway. A doodle is a mixed breed dog that is at least half poodle, usually mixed with a Labrador retriever, “Labradoodle” or a golden retriever, “Goldendoodle”. They are a very popular hybrid dog, because they are super cute, and have a marvelous personality. They are often said to be non-shedding and hypoallergenic. But don’t count on it. They are, after all, a mixed breed, and will exhibit characteristics of both parents. They may be more poodle-y or more retriever-y.

Our doodle, Bayley, is a Goldendoodle. She is a backcross (F1b), meaning that her mother was a goldendoodle that was bred back to a standard poodle, making Bayley essentially 75% poodle.

summer do

Christmas Bayley

Now Bayley doesn’t shed her fur, but she sheds everything else in nature. Depending on the season, she sheds mulch, catkins, grass clippings, leaves, dirt, and even snow. Her cottony soft fur acts like a magnet and attracts absolutely everything in the yard and woods to her. Then, as soon as she passes through the door, the magnetic polarity reverses, and she promptly sheds everything all over the house.

Something to consider if you are a neatnik and are looking for a no maintenance dog. But if you are looking for the most devoted, fun loving, affectionate, and adorable companion, then keep the broom handy, and go for it.

Mup Pup

Snow ball

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I took a jaunt around the farm yesterday morning with the pups. It was the first morning this spring that the temperature had been above freezing. It was beautiful, with just the earliest spring buds in evidence.

There are quite a few clumps of wild daffodils that pop up each year along the creek, vestiges of a long ago flood that left someone’s upstream garden bereft of flowers. This creek is named Gooney Run. The legend of the name comes from a time long ago when all of our section of Virginia was owned by Lord Fairfax, as a land grant from the king of England. This section of the Shenandoah Valley was his favored hunting grounds, and he had a lodge here. Supposedly, his beloved dog, Gooney, drowned in the creek and hence the creek was named in his memory.


One of our favorite spring arrivals are the Marsh Marigolds. They get thicker and thicker each year and are a yellow carpet along the creek. I keep forgetting the real name of the flower and have nicknamed them the Gold Marshmallows.


This forsythia is another victim of a flood. We originally planted it with 2 others about 15 years ago a quarter mile upstream from where it now sits. One year a big flood washed out about five feet of bank and took out the 3 forsythias. This one landed here and took root.


And finally, after a vigorous romp, a nice cool down in the pond. Our cherry trees are a couple weeks behind those of the renowned Washington, DC Tidal Basin, but, sure enough, they are just starting to bloom. Maybe spring will arrive after all.

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So, what is there to do when the snow is still on the ground, but the days are getting longer, and the seed catalogs are filling up your mail box? You’ve got spring fever, but it is too miserable to do any cleanup work outside.

So you resort to house cleaning. Birdhouse cleaning, that is.

We hung a bunch of birdhouses when we moved out here to the country about 15 years ago. Some we bought and some we made. My favorites are a pair of bluebird houses that Road Warrior and I made together for my birthday present several years ago. We hand cut roof shingles out of cedar shims and the houses were precious. Even the bluebirds loved them as is evidenced by the fact that they have nested in the boxes every year since we mounted them on our gate posts seven years ago.

But they were starting to take on that shabby chic look, and we started hearing the birds muttering cheep cheep cheep and we were afraid they were talking about us. The shingles were starting to curl and fall off so it was time for a home rehab.

We sequestered ourselves in the workroom for the weekend and completely renovated the houses. We even added a little curb appeal by including some architectural details to the design.

birdhouse after

birdhouse after

We were so pleased with the outcome of these little homes that we decided to restore all of our birdhouses. A couple looked like they had never been inhabited, but a few were filled with nesting materials that were consistent with mouse or chipmunk nests. But hey, they deserve a nice warm home, too. So we scoured, sanded, painted and decorated the rest of the houses over the next two weekends.



All the houses are now awaiting tenants

birdhouse collage 1

We’re starting to hear birdsong and we even saw a couple of bluebirds over the weekend. So hopefully they will stop by for an open house.

Cheep Rent

Cheep Rent

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Bayley's head

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Never were truer words spoken!

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