Goofy Cat

This morning when I was making up my bed, Walter got on there before I got the Cat Blanket down. (The Cat Blanket is some sort of cross between an old flannel sheet and a duvet cover that I put over my quilt so that when animals inevitably sleep on my bed, my nice quilt is protected.) For some reason, Walter really likes getting under covers.

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It really is a cat under there.

See?

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He finally even poked his head out.

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I have the weirdest pets.

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Playtime!

Little Tom decided to come inside for a while last night, and he and Florence had a wonderful time playing:

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Please excuse the mess. This was just too cute not to document. Pictures really don’t do it justice, though. You just can’t capture the hilarity of Florence hopping about that way. I work with what I’ve got.

2013 Reno Project #1: Laundry Room

I don’t have any “before” pictures of the laundry room. It’s just too embarrassing. Let’s suffice it to say that it was dingy, dark, cramped, and generally unpleasant.

Here is the finished product!

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This is the new cabinet that we put over the washer and dryer. The solid wooden doors came from the old cabinets that used to hang from the ceiling between the kitchen and breakfast area. There were two other doors in that set of cabinets that we used on a freestanding cabinet we put in the kitchen. Reusing the old doors both saved money and helped improve continuity with the kitchen, which the laundry room opens off of. We also painted the cabinet the same color as the kitchen cabinets. The door in the middle uses a pane of glass that was in a cabinet of my great-grandfather’s. Throughout my childhood, this cabinet stood in the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen. My grandfather kept it stocked with “eater snacks,” or those packages of six peanut-butter-and-crackers, and he would urge me to have one with a glass-bottle Coke every time I came to visit. It makes me happy that we were able to preserve this piece of family history in our own house.

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This bell pull was made by my grandmother. She was a talented needleworker and quilter, and I am proud to be able to display her work here! Here is a closeup of the crewel embroidery:

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We replaced one long shelf with three shorter shelves, and placed colorful cloth baskets on them for storage. It looks much better than the previous storage area, and is more practical, too!

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We also added this place to hang brooms, mops, dust mops, etc.

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The strings make them easier to hang. Never underestimate the importance of a convenient place to keep your low-tech tools!

We wanted to bring some color into the room, but were concerned about how difficult it would be to do a good enough job on the walls with all of the appliances in the small room. Therefore, we just painted over the walls with a fresh coat of cream, and took this bright turquoise paint the the ceiling! This is a great way to brighten up a small room like this. It lights up the space without overwhelming it.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out! I suppose you can’t really see the true impact without the before picture, but just trust me on this one! I must say we were fortunate to be able to utilize my father’s carpentry skills on the cabinet. Nothing beats being able to do work for yourself – because of both cost and achievement!

Birds of a Feather

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Birds of a Feather

We have bird feeders hanging in a maple tree in our back yard, where we can watch the birds from the breakfast table or the back porch. We get all kinds of birds, and enjoy seeing them come and go. These net feeders and the thistle seed in them is designed to be particularly appealing to finches, and every morning they are covered with them.

Black-capped chickadees are one of the few other species of bird that can easily eat from this type of feeder. Though I had hoped to get a picture of lots of birds crowding the feeder, when I got close enough to take the picture (more evidence of my need for a fancier camera), the finches flew away. The chickadees are apparently much less shy, however, as they quickly came right back to their breakfast.

The chickadee’s small size and distinctive markings make them just as cute and interesting to look at as the finches. There are at least three in this picture; they are perched in the tree as well as on the feeder. There were even more outside of the shot.

Bovine Babies

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One of the best things about living in the county is having cows and cute little calves around all the time! Since we have youngish calves in the winter, they get extraordinarily fuzzy. It normally doesn’t get very cold here, so I can enjoy seeing their thick winter coats without any feelings of guilt.

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Because they have pretty regular exposure to humans, our cattle aren’t very skittish at all. The fact that these pictures were taken without the benefit of a zoom lens of any quality is evidence of this. I pretty much just had to stick the camera in the calves’ faces. The bad part of this is that they see absolutely no reason not to lean over the fence to take a nibble off of any plants within reach in the yard. It is a small price to pay for all of the amusement I get from them, though.

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Little Presents

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Little Presents

Last night when Walter (see “King of the Castle”) came in, I noticed this clod of dirt stuck between his toes. I was tired and went on to bed instead of struggling to clean the paw of an uncooperative twenty-pound cat.

This morning, I woke up to discover that Walter had removed it himself. For some reason, he felt the need to deposit it on my bathroom vanity.

Lovely.

A Day in Provence

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In Europe, lunch frequently means a simple meal of bread and cheese, especially when you are on the go or don’t have a lot of time for lunch. I recently decided to try this out again, spurred by the discovery of Laura Calder’s Miracle Boule – the closest thing you can get to European bread in North America.

I had honestly forgotten how much I really love bread. This recipe is really quite easy. You just have to have a Le Creuset (or equivalent) pot, and you have to remember that you have to mix it up well in advance of when you want to bake it. I typically mix it up the night before. Also be aware that this bread doesn’t really keep very well. In my house this isn’t a problem, because it is typically devoured within two days (or sometimes the same day I bake it). The Miracle Boule is delicious with just some butter on it, or with butter and jam for breakfast in the mornings. You can do anything with it – including playing French Vacation with this delightful mini-meal.

All you have to do is spread it with some dijon mustard, then some camembert cheese on top of that. It doesn’t get much better than this. The bite from the dijon gives a burst of flavor and leaves a wonderful tingle in your nose, and the soft, creamy camembert (brie’s more interesting cousin) is a longtime favorite of mine.

Though in Europe people typically get their bread from a bakery rather than baking it themselves, meaning that it is cold when they get around to eating it, today I put the mustard and cheese on while the bread was still warm, which made it a really delightful gooey treat. It was kind of a struggle to keep from eating the whole thing in one sitting! But alas, there has to be some bread for tomorrow!