Tag Archives: Dogs

Accidental Adventure

(This post is also way behind schedule – We did this trip in January. I’ve been busy – don’t judge me).

Hubby and I bought a camper a few months ago and have already gotten some pretty good use out of it. Our maiden voyage was spent on the beach on a driftwood collection mission. The following weekend we were in the frozen tundra of North Texas, attempting to camp at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

This time our plan was to camp on McFadden Beach, near the Texas-Louisiana Border. However, when we arrived, there was hardly any beach to speak of. It seems that the beach had been eroded away, and the road that used to be there was broken up and scattered in the water. Whelp….instead of heading home, we thought ‘we are so close to Searim State Park, we might as well give it a shot.’

It was pouring but we knew that the rain was supposed to stop around 6 pm, so we didn’t want to go home defeated. I tried to make reservations by phone and online while Hubby drove through the rain on the way to the state park, but the phone recording said “go to our website to make a reseservation” and the website wouldn’t let me make a reservation for the day of. It would only let me put in the next day’s date. So we had to make the drive to the park and hope that they had a spot for us. Even if they didn’t, we have a state park pass so we get in for free. If they didn’t have any camping sites available, we would check out the park while we could and THEN drive home defeated. (We know when we’ve been beaten).

Luckily though, there were plenty of spots for us to pick from. We hooked the camper up in the rain, walked the dogs in the rain (yes, we had 2 dogs with us this whole time, too!) And then turned on the tv in the camper to wait out the rest of the storm.

When it stopped raining the sky turned a beautiful orange color from the low clouds, which changed to pink and then purple.

Orangy-Pink Sunset

campground sunset

Runaway2
Our adorable little camper – no, it’s not a pop-up. It really is that tiny

It was stunning. We took the dogs for a walk and as we were headed to the beach we heard the loudest clam of thunder we have ever experienced (it set off car alarms and I could feel the shock wave IN MY TEETH). After checking out the beach for a  little while, we went back to camp and cooked some dinner. We had to eat in the camper with the dogs because it was so cold and windy, but it wasn’t nearly as chaotic as I thought it would be, considering that one of the dogs that we had with us is an 80 pound 2 year-old yellow lab with almost zero table manners.

The next morning we got up to see the sunrise over the beach (this is a great spot because you get sunrise AND sunset pictures at the beach!) and it was spectacular. Low tide was at 5:30 am, so the tide was out and the water was like glass. Birds were everywhere on the beach, probing the wet sand for worms and crustaceans.

Searim Sunrise

We came back and ate breakfast, then took the dogs for a walk along a boardwalk that goes through a marsh, while we birded some more.

redheads-wmLuke, the yellow lab, tried to chase the American Coots as they crossed over the boardwalk from one area of the wetland to the other, but then he suddenly got the overwhelming urge to go swimming. (He is a water dog after all). So he stood on the boardwalk, staring at the water and then just jumped right in. Hubby had a hold of the leash so Luke couldn’t go swimming after the Coots, but the look on his face said it all. “I’m in deep trouble.” After jumping in, he instantly turned back around and tried to get back onto the boardwalk but couldn’t make the jump so he stood there in the water with his feet up on the boardwalk with the guiltiest look I’ve ever seen on his face. We pulled him out and I couldn’t control myself. I think I laughed for about 10 minutes solid. I couldn’t even get my camera up in time because I was laughing so hard all I could do was try to not pee myself. Of course after that, he smelled absolutely terrible. If you’ve never smelled mud from the bottom of a swamp or lake, you can count yourself one of the lucky ones. It’s horrific. And after that little stunt he pulled, we had to load up into the truck and head out so we were stuck with stinky swamp dog for hours!

Before we headed home we went to check out the McFadden National Wildlife Refuge, which is an adjoining property. Basically, since the 1980s when people learned that it’s a bad idea to drain wetlands and build on them, they turned this whole area of the Texas coast into a wildlife refuge because there’s not much you can do with the land. Good for the animals! We drove around in the refuge for a while and I attempted to get photos of Luke looking like the majestic water dog he’s SUPPOSED TO BE but instead his A.D.D. kicked in, he leaped into the water, and started chasing any duck he could see. Needless to say, this did not improve his…aroma.

Bird List for the Weekend:

Osprey, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, Snow Goose, Killdeer, Redheads, Lesser Scaups, Willets, Black-bellied Plovers (non-breeding plumage), Piping Plovers, Northern Shovelers, Belted Kingfishers, Purple Martins, Caspian Terns, and Hudsonian Godwit. So far for the year, we have IDed 56 species.

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Console Table DIY (sort of)

I know it’s been a long time since I wrote anything, but honestly, you aren’t missing out. Pretty much every weekend has consisted of either going to the lake or rainy indoor nothingness. However, over the summer (maybe last summer honestly, it was a long time ago) I collected a bunch of driftwood boards from Lake Livingston. They had been part of someone’s boat house or dock that had gotten destroyed, probably in Hurricane Ike in 2008, and they ended up on Pine Island. Well, these boards were WAY TOO GOOD to just let them rot so I gave them a new home in my garage, waiting for the perfect project to come along. I mean, think of all the energy that went into making these perfect boards? They were once a huge tree that had to be cut down, cut to size, honed, trucked around the country, trucked to a house, and then cut again and nailed into place. Only to be ripped apart in a hurricane.

This timber has a new life (Sorry for the out of focus Instagram photo)
This timber has a new life! (Sorry for the out of focus Instagram photo)

So Hubby graciously let me fill the boat with dirty, muddy wood and then it sat in the garage for a while. Until we got this guy.

IMG_0097

This is Luke. He is sweet but doesn’t really pay attention to where he is in relation to where other objects are. Especially when he’s ruff-housing with Hondo, our Red Heeler. So he runs into things. Eventually he ran into our cheap particle board, Walmart, build-it-yourself TV stand enough times that when we tried to move it to shampoo the carpets, it literally fell apart in my hands. Hubby said, “well, I guess we need to get a tv stand,” and I said, “well, I’ve actually been wanting to build one with that driftwood I collected oh so long ago.” I had ideas saved on Pinterest for months! And I finally was able to do it! So the first weekend that it wasn’t raining we stayed home and started building it.

DISCLAIMER: We are not builders. We had no idea what we were doing. This entire project was done by “winging it” and most of it was done by eye-balling it. Measuring would have been nice, except that since the boards aren’t perfectly straight, measuring on one side would have been different from the measurement on the other side.

So, the first thing we did was draw it out, and really all we did was draw something that a second grader would have been proud of. (Like I said, we eye-balled it).

So we put it together, working on it for about 4 weekends, but it took about 2 months to finish because we’ve either been traveling, working, or it’s been raining between.  The console table was complete, but we didn’t have enough driftwood for a shelf so we had to go back out and collect more wood. Once the weather and timing worked out to go back to the lake, we were able to finish the console table the next day.

We are REALLY happy with how it turned out. We are going to get another basket to put onto the shelf (it’s hard to see, but the DVD player is on the shelf too, so only one basket can fit) but otherwise it’s actually a completed project! Go us! All in all, with materials to finish the table (screws, brackets, castors, cedar boards for the backing, stain, and wood conditioner) and baskets (soon to be 5 baskets at $11 each at Walmart-I think these are the ones were bought) we only spent $120 total on this project.

Lesson: Even if you have no idea what you are doing, give it a shot. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try!

What projects have you completed that you were proud of, even though you didn’t know how it was going to turn out while you were doing it? What about completed projects that you aren’t so proud of? 😉

The Dream House Part 1

I have been getting some pretty bad “city claustrophobia” lately, so I figured the best way to treat it is to write down my list of must-haves for my dream house. This will be Part 1 – Still working in Houston. I have a lot of different style dream houses, depending on where I’m living. In the southeast Texas region, a farm house. In the Hill Country, a native rock house. In the desert, adobe. And then of course there is always the true “dream Beach House or Lake House”. But that’s a completely different story…

At the moment since I still need a job the idea is to have a dream house and a job at the same time (I know, boring, but it needs to be realistic, right?). This means I’m not dreaming of this house being on an island or out in the middle of the desert. The city still has to be within an hour’s drive.

Land:

First of all, land is a priority. I’m not talking 200 acres, but AT LEAST 2 acres. Preferably 5-10 but I’m keeping the price range in mind. I want to be able to raise chickens and have a huge vegetable garden, and a large enough yard that the dogs can still run and play but be separated from said chickens and garden. And of course, there will be a pony.

And his name will be Lil' Sebastain
And his name will be Lil’ Sebastain

Access:

There cannot be a through-way in front of my house. Going past my house will not be a shortcut to get ANYWHERE. I do not want to have my dream house turn into the house in Up, where the city builds around me and I’m too stubborn to sell or move, so it’s just me surrounded by high rises and shopping centers.

In combination of land and access, I don’t want to house to even be visible from the road, for two reasons: security (If the bad guys can’t see a house, they won’t know that there’s one to break into, right?) and if you can’t see the house from the road, you can’t very well see the road from the house then, can you?

Storage:

I don’t care about attic space (we hardly use our attic anyway), but there will be a barn. A big barn. That way we can have all the storage we need for animal feed (dogs and chickens eat a lot), gardening supplies and tools (big gardens require bigger tools), the boat (keeping that, of course!), and a work/hobby shop. I want enough space to store my 90% completed projects and supplies to start other projects whenever I get around to it, without all that stuff being “in the way”.

Hobby Shop/Barn
Hobby Shop/Barn

Finally, The Farm House:

Farm House
Farm House

Huge porches: We do a lot of cook outs with friends and family, so we need a lot of space to entertain, but only outside. Screw indoor dining. That’s what the recliner is for.

Single story: I’m not cleaning stairs. I’m not walking up and down stairs. I’m not tumbling down stairs in the middle of the night to let the dog out to pee. Not. Happening. (The photo above is a single story-the windows above “open” to the attic.)

Smaller than we have now: We have a 2,200 square foot house right now, and use about 50-60% of the space. And that’s when we have someone spending the night in the guest room. Areas like formal dining AND a breakfast area? Not necessary.

The current setup.
The current setup. Basically, we only use the left and central portions of the house.

Interior Details: I want an actual pantry, instead of a big cabinet like we have now. It’s deep and dark, so you can’t really see what you have. The top and bottom shelves only have things in the front portion because if I utilized the whole shelf I would never see that stuff again. There could be a toddler back there and I wouldn’t be able to see it.

An actual laundry room. We have a laundry “closet”. It’s got those terrible folding doors to close the washer and dryer off from the rest of the room, but our washer and dryer are actually too big for the area, so the doors don’t close correctly. We actually had to take them off and re-hang them differently when we moved in so we could close the doors at all. And they are only held closed by magnets we had to glue onto the tops of the doors. (I know, champagne problem – Oh No! My washer and dryer are TOO BIG to fit in the designated area! It’s still annoying and my next house won’t have that problem.

Mud/Laundry Room
Mud/Laundry Room

A mud room. Somewhere we can drop our stuff when we get home from work and not clutter up the rest of the house. Somewhere I can make the dogs wait to be toweled off, before they run through the house spraying mud and dirt on every surface. And somewhere that has a half-bath so that you don’t have to go traipsing through the entire house to go to the restroom while you are in the middle of doing yard work, but you stepped on a doggy land mine, so now you somehow have to manage to take off your shoes before you pee yourself….you see? This is an easily avoidable problem. The laundry room can even BE the mud room. I’m not picky!

A big kitchen. The kitchen we have now is pretty great, but it’s still a little cramped when more than one person is in there at a time. And since everyone knows that the kitchen is a social place, it needs to have a lot of space. But at the same time, I don’t like the idea of an “open concept” kitchen-living room area. The kitchen can also be a noisy place, and have those two rooms separate really appeals to me.

Beautiful, huge kitchen with room to be social and cook at the same time.
Beautiful, huge kitchen with room to be social and cook at the same time.

While we’re at it, I love Plantation Shutters like in the photo above. We have them in our house now and I love them. They give the windows a classy look and they can stand up to anything. They are easy to clean. They can close for privacy, or they can actually reflect the light (if you have white ones) and brighten up the room when they are open. Perfect for any farm house. And sliding barn doors. I mean, what farm house wouldn’t look perfect with those? So these are details, but they are still things that I think are must-haves 🙂

The perfect barn door to close off the mud room, laundry room, pantry, etc.
The perfect barn door to close off the mud room, laundry room, pantry, etc.

Hard floors. Either wood, stone, or tile. Even stained concrete can look nice if it’s done right. But carpet + dogs is a disaster. And I’m not going through life without dogs. That’s just not an option.

As much as I would like to, I really don’t have the time to renovate a house to make it the way I want it. I would love to pull an Ashley at Domestic Imperfection and just make the house the way I want, but I just can’t do that AND have a job at the same time. And as we already discussed, Dream House #1 is the scenario in which I haven’t won the lottery yet.

These things shouldn’t be THAT hard to find, right? I mean, it’s not like it’s a long list. I should just show this post to our future Realtor and say, “find something to fit this description and I’ll buy it. Easy peasy.”

Home Improvements #3

Finishing the rock garden took a little while, but Hubby made it back to his uncles house to get another load of free rocks. While we were waiting for a reason to go there, I was slowly driven insane by the dogs’ persistant digging exactly where I didn’t want them to.

Bad Dogs
Apparently they were trying to dig UNDER the garage.

But evenutally, we got the rocks, and I was able to finish my project completely!Finished Product

We also had a super crazy wind storm here, which almost NEVER happens, and our two pine trees were looking a bit hazardous in the wind. I have ALWAYS hated these pine trees, so I was glad to have a reason to cut them down, other than, “they are useless, they put out no shade, they litter all over the yard, and they are taking up precious real estate in the backyard, that could be filled with beauty!” And we got a really good deal from the guy who trims our trees, so it was pretty perfect.

Here are a couple photos of what the yard looked like when we moved in:

The Pine trees are against the fence, and the shrubs were ugly and useless.

The Pine trees were against the fence, planted by squirrels and allowed to propogate for the last 20 years, and the shrubs were ugly and useless.

The yard was full of vegetation, but it was full of those ugly, builder shrubs that don’t bloom, and look sticky and sick their whole lives.

These vines were climbing everything, and were eventually going to kill our amazing oak tree!

These vines were climbing everything, and were eventually going to kill our amazing oak tree!

The vines climbing up the tree and garage are where the rock garden is now. Apparently a strangler vine was the only thing that would grow in this spot, which is why it is NOW a rock garden.

So now, after we took out the ugly shrubs and finally took down the pines!

A Blank Canvas

Now I have a blank canvas to plant my baby Loquot trees! I am waiting until it is offically spring, even though it’s 80 degrees today. I am sure if I put them in the ground we would get a freak snow storm. At the moment, this is all I can do until the days get longer. I only see daylight on the weekends at my house, so yard work is not always an option when I get home. But soon I will have my loquots planted, happy, and fruiting, and I will probably be giving away baby loquots for the rest of my life! So stay tuned! It might be sooner than you think!

Hondo laying on the rocks enjoying the sun, and watching for squirrels.
Hondo laying on the rocks enjoying the sun, and watching for squirrels.