Ski is right at home

Most of you know my dear cat Zak passed away in October. In late November or early December, I began perusing petfinder.com looking for a new cat. I wanted a black and white tuxedo cat, though he didn’t have to be a long haired cat like Zak. I looked at dozens of potential pets. Finally, I found one that sounded just right. He was about an hour away in a local humane shelter. On Christmas Eve, DH and Middle Daughter went to the shelter to pick up Ski.

The first few days Ski spent a lot of time watching from safe places.

Ski

Ski under the tree

But it wasn’t long before he was exploring…

My  new kitty, Ski.

…and relaxing…

My kitty Ski

Ski

For the first week, we kept Ski in the downstairs bedroom where I was recuperating in the recliner. We wanted him to feel safe and also wanted to keep him from the other cats until he had some time to adjust. The other cats would sit outside the bedroom door and watch him. He was always very interested in them and completely passive in his approach to them. He is such a well mannered kitty.

Of all the cats, it was Amy who showed the most interest in this new house mate. She is still not happy about the addition to the household.

Amy, watching Ski.

Zilli spent some time watching Ski, too. She now tolerates him.

Zilli

At the end of that week, we opened the bedroom door and let him come and go as he pleased. It didn’t take long for him to explore the rest of the house, including the upstairs. Anywhere in the twins’ room seems to be attractive to Ski.

Ski

Ski

Ski is one of those cats who becomes concerned when his food dish is empty. He waits patiently, but if anyone wanders by, he is eager to tell them about his predicament.

Where's my food?

He eats his food like no other cat I’ve ever seen. He takes one piece at a time out of the bowl, carries it away from the bowl, then drops it on the floor. Then he spends time batting it around like a soccer ball. Eventually, he will eat it. He goes through this same behavior every time he eats. I have a bowl for him in the craft room and we find bits of his cat food in our bedroom at the other end of the hall.

Another quirk…he is the only cat we’ve had who likes to sprawl out with his hind legs straight out behind him.

Ski

He also loves, loves, loves to have his belly rubbed.

He loves belly rubs.

Ski is very curious. He always wants to know what is going on.

Waiting for a treat

Is it spring yet?

His curiosity makes this toy irresistable. We put cat toys and a treat or several pieces of his cat food inside and he works at it until he has them all out.

Fun new toy.

He has an extreme interest in people food, though we never give it to our cats. Youngest Daughter turned her back for a few seconds and Ski was checking out the fridge. Hopefully, the first AND the last time he manages that. He also loves to check out the dishwasher if the door is down. We have to keep an eye on him while loading dirty dishes.

Oops...

He has made tentative friends with all the cats but Amy. She is not amused. Ski is eager to be friends and to play with her, but she will have none of it. If he approaches her, she still hisses at him. He is amazingly laid back. He doesn’t advance, but sits down or lies down and waits for Amy to chill a bit.

Vantage point

Ski is very friendly and sweet natured. I think he’s perfect and we all love him. Sometimes, for a split second, if I’m sleepy and he jumps up on my lap, or I catch him with the corner of my eye, I think he’s Zak. That makes me miss Zak a lot. But Ski is his own kitty, with his own unique personality. It’s a comfort to have another tuxedo cat in the house. I am glad he came to live with us.

Ski

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ february 16, 2015

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. DH gave me chocolate dipped strawberries and raspberries. Dipped the berries himself.

Chocolate covered strawberries and raspberries

Delicious

For supper he made Linguine with Shrimp and Asparagus. Delicious!

Linguine with Shrimp and Asparagus

We got a bit of snow. Just enough to make it pretty. I love the view from my craft room.

View from craft room

View from craft room

Here’s the menu for the week.

Monday
Heat Free Chili
Crackers / Peanut Butter
Toasted Homemade Bread

Tuesday
Smoked Pork Shank and Beans
Cornbread

Wednesday
Chicken Tortellini Soup

Thursday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Oven Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts
Steamed Baby Red Potatoes with Butter and Fresh Parsley

Friday
Carry Out

Saturday
Cheeseburgers
Homemade Buns
Oven Fried Potato Wedges
Steamed Broccoli

Sunday
Spaghetti
Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce
Garden Salad
Peas
Corn

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ february 9, 2015

I am coming through a period of not feeling well. I thank those who thought about me and those who asked how I was doing. I am slowly, slowly getting better. I’ll start posting again with the menu for the week. But a few pictures first.

A few weeks ago, we had a light dusting of snow. Just a spritz. Nothing like the eastern seaboard is seeing. I’m fine with that. For us, at least. My heart goes out to the areas like Boston who have seen so, so much snow this winter. Stay safe out there!

But this is winter in my backyard.

Just a spritz of snow.

This is a more usual scene from the backyard. Gray and brown. No snow. I opened the window and took this one of the days when the weather was nice.

Winter garden

When I opened the window, I could hear Pa out in the backyard playing with the twins in the tiny little woods behind our house. Snow White and Rose Red think the woods is huge and a great adventure. They love to head out with Pa to explore the paths. He gives them trimmers and they cut their way through the overgrown areas. Too much fun!

A little climbing is a part of adventuring, too.

two little birdies

Rose Red stopped long enough to trim up a walking stick for herself.

making a walking stick

We’ve had the grands a couple of times over the past few weeks. They always lift my spirits. They are happy to come into my room where I spend my time in the recliner, trying to keep my leg up as it recovers. They chat away about everything that comes to mind, read books with me, work a puzzle or draw pictures, bounce on the bed, and generally bounce off the walls. All fun! There are quiet moments, too.

I asked Snow White if she she would like to read the new books I got for her. She said, “Maybe I’ll just read one chapter now and then I’ll read another chapter tomorrow.” After the first chapter she said, “I guess I will read one more chapter now.” Then, “I guess I will read the whole book.” Snow White loves to read. She is seven and can read just about anything an average adult can read. Tell her a big word one time and the next time she reads it, she remembers how to pronounce it. The problem is finding books on her level that are age appropriate. Her Daddy was the same way. A week before his fifth birthday, I found him on the couch reading the newspaper. I had to tell him there were things in there he shouldn’t be reading! But we are a book loving family, so it wasn’t a stretch of any kind to acquire more books! Snow White has her Pa’s wonderful retentive memory. She can read something once, or watch a video, and days later she can repeat it word for word. So funny to watch such a tiny little girl talking about a particular animal or the solar system with such an authoritative amount of information to pass on.

I'll just read one chapter...I'll just read one more chapter...I think I'll read the whole book...

We celebrated our youngest daughter’s seventeenth birthday last week. I can’t believe it has been that long since she was born. I remember we spent part of the day on our twentieth wedding anniversary getting a sonagram to confirm pregnancy. Surprise! She has brought a lot of fun and laughter to our family. The house will seem too empty when she goes to college in a year or so, after 35 years of having kids on hand. My last baby is grown. Time flies! Savor the moments!

Happy Birthday to my baby.

Here’s the menu for the week. A little shuffling usually takes place, depending how I am feeling and how busy DH is. But the plan is as follows.

Monday
Thankfully, DH is happy to step up to the plate (ha!) and make supper when I am not up to it. He did a delicous job of making this meal.
Pan Seared Tilapia
Seared Mashed Potato Patties
Steamed Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday
We have the chicken in the fridge, ready to use, so this one will be easy.
Chicken Tortillini Soup

Wednesday
DH is home this day and will take care of putting the meat in the crock pot and soaking the beans the night before.
Smoked Pork Shank with
White Beans
Cornbread
Apple Crisp

Thursday
Ham Sandwiches on
Homemade Buns
Celery and Carrot Sticks
Fruit Salad

Friday
Spaghetti
Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce
Garlic Bread
Green Salad

Saturday
Haven’t decided what we are doing for Valentine’s Day. Maybe shrimp? And something wonderfully chocolate…

Sunday
Maple Dijon Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots – I use maple bacon instead of prosciutto.

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

ham, bean, cheese soup

The menu said “Fridge Food,” which usually means “open the fridge and see what you can find.” But the weather is cold and I wanted something nourishing and warm. After perusing the fridge, I decided to use the food I found to make soup. That was ham and leftover deer sausage. I had chicken stock, celery and carrots on hand, too, so it was easy to put something together. I’m putting the recipe down as I made it so I’ll be able to make it again.

Ham, beans, deer sausage, cheesy soup.

Here’s how it panned out…

Ham and Bean and Cheese Soup

  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 4 c. chicken stock (homemade is way superior to store bought)
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 c. deer sausage (or other spicy sausage), diced
  • 1 T. dry onion
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. crushed dry basil
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-oz cans white beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Cook the celery and carrots in the microwave or in a little water on the stovetop until tender. No need to drain the water.

Pour the chicken stock into a large soup pot. Add the celery/carrot and the diced meats.

Add the spices and the beans. Stir and let it simmer while white sauce is prepared.

In a separate pot, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the milk and whisk until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.

Turn the heat off from under the soup pot. Add the cheese sauce and stir well. Add the parsley and stir. Enjoy!

Like many soups, exact measurements aren’t necessary. If you love carrots, add more. If you don’t like celery, leave it out. If you want to cook a diced onion with the veggies, do that instead of using dry onion. Or use diced green onions.

Diced cooked potatoes would be a good substitute for the beans.

If you’re not comfortable making a cheese sauce, use a jar of cheese spread or cheese dip, if you’re good with that.

I had deer sausage so used that with the ham. You could use just ham or you could use all sausage. Kielbasa would work fine.

What’s in your fridge?

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ january 12, 2015

Winter. I am tired of it. I am looking forward to late February when the crocus will pop up in the backyard. Spring, please come soon!

Update on our new kitty, Ski. He is doing great! Such a sweet and friendly cat. He is very laid back and would love to play with the other cats in the house, but they are not interested. When he comes face to face with one of them, he sits down and looks at them. Doesn’t hiss, doesn’t puff up…just interested.

He’s chill.

Ski

My kitty Ski

I have been practicing the art of soldering this past week, using my collection of Christmas cards for the pictures. About 35 years ago (yikes!), I worked for a hearing aid company in the repair department. One of the things I did was solder circuit boards. I loved it then, and am enjoying relearning how to do it now.

Learning to solder

I’ve been sick and still feeling tired. Not much energy to do a lot. Hopefully, I will feel better by Wednesday when the menu will need some attention. I love to cook, but haven’t felt like doing it for a while. Some spring weather would help…I’m just sayin’.

Monday
Carry-out

Tuesday
Fridge Food

Wednesday
Skillet Cube Steak
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Garden Salad

Thursday
Crock Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
Garlic Bread
Garden Salad

Friday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Crash Hot Potatoes
Asparagus

Saturday
Cheeseburgers on Homemade Buns
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Sunday
Baked Ziti
Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli
Toasted Cheese Bread

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday. Is there anything interesting on your menu this week?

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ snow tree

Yes, Christmas is past, but I made a promise to myself to blog about all our trees, so I’m still plugging away. I hope you don’t mind!

The Snow Tree can be found in the dining room. For years we decorated it with shredded plastic “snow,” but I can’t justify that. We try to avoid one-use plastic. So, so bad for our environment. We’ve even gone to paper punch and coffee cups for the Open House rather than use plastic and Styrofoam. In 2012, I looked for a viable alternative to the plastic snow and decided on cotton. My sister Genny and I covered the entire seven foot tree with bits of cotton on each and every branch. To put the tree in storage, the ornaments come off, the tree is covered with a large bag, and taken, still assembled, to the attic. The cotton has stayed on quite well.

Christmas Open House

The shredded snow was beautiful piled on the branches. And it stayed on the tree very well, surprisingly. It did have to be removed and thrown away after Christmas and that made a mess in the dining room. Nothing the vacuum cleaner couldn’t handle, though.

snow and snow balls

The cotton looks pretty good, too. Not the same, but not all snowfalls are the same, either. And I feel better about the use of cotton over plastic.

snow tree

A smaller snow tree sits on top the dining room cupboard.

dining room cupboard

The dining room windowsills are deep. Seems the decorations for the windowsills change every year. Here are two of my favorites.

dining room windowsills

dining room window sill

This year, Youngest Daughter used a chalk marker to draw snowflakes on the dining room windows. Very pretty!

snowflakes

Click this link to see how we prepare the table for the display of the snow tree. Setting up the Snow Tree

setting it up

Our ceilings are twelve feet. Placing the tree on the table gives it a lot of height and takes up less room than a nine foot tree would take. Much smaller footprint.

"snow tree" in the dining room

This tree goes up quickly and comes down quickly. Always a plus. And a big attic doesn’t hurt when it comes to storage!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ january 5, 2015

Here’s to a new year. Have you made any resolutions? I haven’t given it much thought yet. December is always so busy here. And I am still recuperating from it! But this week will be quieter and I plan to make some time to think about what I want to concentrate on this year. Write some ideas down. Plan some steps.

Right now, it is enough to think about the week’s menu. I skipped it last week and, again, found skipping the menu planning to be a bad idea. Means there are too few groceries available. No meal ingredients to work with. No idea of what to make. Asking the family doesn’t help, either. All they can think of for dinner is “I don’t know…” So, it is imperative that I make a menu!

Monday
Fried Oysters
Garlic Toast
Corn

fresh gulf oysters...

Tuesday
Tacoritos
Spicy Tortilla Wedges

tacoritos

Wednesday
Hamburgers
Homemade Buns
Cole Slaw
Grapes

burger

Thursday
Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Buns
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Sushi

Sunday
Baked Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Green Salad

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

Christmas is coming down

The decorations are coming down. Older Son and his lovely wife came yesterday morning, stayed overnight, and all day today to help.

Thanksgiving Day

DH, Middle Daughter and Grand-Daughter also helped. I appreciate it so much! They cleared the addition, which is the downstairs bedroom, the addition hall, the laundry and the downstairs bath.

Undecorating

They finished the music room, the front hall (including the banister), and the library with the exception of putting away the tree. The ornaments are stored away, though. About 35 boxes put away all together.

front hall boxes

I printed out the storage box list and they used that to pack the decorations in the correct boxes. Once it is done on paper, I will update the computer file and we’ll be ready to decorate for next Christmas.

making a list and checking it twice

Before the Garden Tree came down, Ski had to check it out. He has been here for just over a week and has been leaving the bedroom to explore the rest of the downstairs. Feeling right at home.

Ski checks out the garden tree

I have been sick with a recurring problem and have spent most of the last week in the recliner. I still had fun with the grands. I printed a house pattern from my computer and the girls cut them out and made paper houses. They had so much fun!

Making paper houses

Making. Paper houses

Most years I am not eager to see the Christmas decorations come down, but this year is the exception. I will be glad when they are down and put away. We got a good start on it this weekend and I am grateful to my family for all the help!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ craft room tree

My favorite room in the house is my craft room. We did a total remodel of the room in 2008. Down to the studs and back up again. The room had been a second story porch at one time, then turned into an enclosed room. The room below, on the first floor, is our kitchen. We had used the upstairs room for an extra bedroom. After our sons had gone to college, I used one end as a craft and scrapbooking area and the other end was left as a bedroom for a sleeping space when kids came back home to visit. I decided to put some cabinets in for crafting and the project got bigger and bigger, until we were remodeling the entire thing, including new siding for the two-story addition. Made a world of difference and gave me my own wonderful space!

Renovation pictures, with explanations of what is being done, can be seen on my flickr site. To go there, click this link: Scrapbook Renovation

The Christmas tree in this room is a slender seven foot tree. It displays the ornaments I have received from the Christmas Notebook exchange.

Christmas Notebook Christmas tree

I have ornaments on this tree dating back to 2000.

exchange ornament

exchange ornament

exchange ornament

This mitten is one of my favorites.

exchange ornament

The ornament tree is also in the craft room.

Christmas card ornaments

The ornaments are decoupaged, using pictures from Christmas cards.

decoupaged ornaments

decoupaged ornaments

To the right of the ornament tree is an old table that came from my parents’ home. The terrarium belonged to my mother. The painting was done by one of my mother’s cousins.

table in craft room

As you walk into the craft room from the upstairs hall, on the cabinet end to the right, hang vintage framed Santa and Mrs. Claus paper dolls that Older Son and his wife gave me a few years ago. I love these. So cute!

vintage Santa and Mrs. Santa paper dolls

Click this link for a free printable of the same paper dolls on Altered Artifacts. Santa and Mrs. Claus paper dolls

On the cabinet end to the left, as you enter the room, hangs a flower pounding that my friend Liz made for me. She pounded a fern leaf and decorated it as a Christmas tree. Beautiful! Learn more about flower pounding at this link: Hammered Leaf and Flower Prints

flower pounding

I don’t count this little tinsel tree as one of our decorated trees. It is usually on display in the craft room, though it has moved from place to place over the years. The Putz houses in the picture were made by my dear friend Marsha. We went to high school together, but didn’t get to know one another until we discovered we were attending the same college. Eventually became roommates and then life-long friends.

craft counter

On the counter you’ll find this vintage lighted, musical, Sears nativity. My sister Genny found it in a thrift shop. It is in pristine condition.

1970 Sears nativity

This picture was taken last year. And, no, my counters are not that clean most of the time!

after...much better

I’m sure you can see why this is my favorite room. I do crafting, scrapbooking and genealogy here. Also lots of blogging and other computer work. A fun place to spend my time and it has a wonderful view of our back yard.

snow's melting

I’ll be glad when that view includes daffodils and redbud trees blooming!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ the “glass” tree

My favorite tree in the house is the one we call the Glass Tree. It is a seven and a half foot tree, sitting on a two foot tall box. It is decorated with glass ornaments. Spun glass, blown glass, crystal, prisms, glass icicles, and glass bead chains from old chandeliers. Most of the ornaments are clear glass, but there are a few softly colored ornaments, as well, such as the pink flamingo, the green garden bench, and the pink flying pig.

Glass Christmas tree

I made a video of the tree a few months ago while the grands were enjoying it. It does it more justice than pictures do, but it is still much more beautiful in person. The video can be expanded to “full screen” for a closer look at the ornaments.

The topper is made of bows attached to skewers and stuck into the top of the tree. More of the same ribbon falls down the tree and is tucked into the branches here and there.

decorating the "glass tree"

the "glass" tree

This picture shows an ornament made of three Christmas trees. To the left is a vintage glass ornament of a bird. A friend brought that to me after she found it and a glass bird bath ornament in her mother-in-law’s garage sale items. Love both those ornaments! Thanks, Sherry! In the lower left corner of the picture, you can make out my lovely mermaid.

Glass Christmas tree

Three birds…

bird times three

My first glass ornament was a hand blown hummingbird from a vacation to Colorado in 1982. After I found that, I began seeing glass ornaments in other places we visited. The collection grew over time.

hummingbird

This rocking horse is one of my favorites. In the baby / childhood theme, I also have a pacifer, baby shoes, and a carriage.

decorating the "glass tree"

baby carriage

A dragon…

dragon

When pigs fly…

when pigs fly

A lovely lizard…

lizard

Noah’s Ark with a porpoise swimming by…

Noah's Ark

Candlestick and crystal…

decorating the "glass tree"

Joy…and more than 250 prisms decorate the tree.

Glass Christmas tree

A birdbath…

bird bath

Some of the ornaments have gold on them, and I do like those, but I prefer clear spun glass.

Christmas Open House

Reindeer are a recurring theme.

glass reindeer

And here’s one I found on Etsy. I thought it was hilarious! I don’t know if the Santa came with Dino or if someone glued him on some time in the past. He’s an exception to my “It has to be ALL glass” rule, but I love him! Youngest Daughter loves him, too, and has already claimed dibs on him.

found it on etsy.com

I wish you could see the tree in person. It is too pretty for pictures.

~~Rhonda