Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas At Our House 2014

We have had our tree and decorations up for a few weeks, but have been busy with some medical appointments, so I'm just now showing my photos.

I didn't purchase anything new this year, except ribbon.  I wasn't sure if I would do something similar to last year or switch it up, but my mom asked if I would keep the look we had last year, so I did.

Birds, nests, snowflakes and natural items were what I used.  This year I didn't use anything breakable.  That meant leaving off my favorite glass pine cone collection that I always use.  I have two six month old kittens that hadn't seen a Christmas tree before, so that is always an unknown as to what they will bother on the tree.  I had to get a new tree this year, so I actually did buy something new, just not ornaments.  The tree we had was one of the first pre-lit trees, so it was pretty old.  I had trouble getting the mid-section to light the last two years, so when I came across a slimmer tree at Lowe's I got it.  It fits our tree space better and even though it's a slim tree it's more A lined than slim trees have been in the past.  When I brought it home, I set it up without decorations for about three weeks to get the kitten used to it being in the living room.  They have actually been very good about leaving it alone so far.

For the topper this year, I secured a large jingle bell in the bow, so I could hear if "anyone" started messing with the tree.  Again, so far, so good.

The last few years I haven't needed holiday decor in all corners of my house.  This year and last, just the tree, mantel and a few places with some favorite things.

A wreath with just lights and pine cones, adding in the same ribbon as on the tree. A little owl decided to take up residence there too.

A couple of favorite reindeer cookie jars on our coffee bar hold sugar free brownies and cocoa mix, along with our favorite Christmas coffee mugs.  We have our keurig set up on the buffet in our kitchen all the time.

Thanks for stopping by for a holiday visit!


Linking up to Cozy Little House, Joyful Homemaking and Saving 4 Six, Thrifty Decor Chick,
 The Scoop

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Special Birthday

At the end of this week, we have a very important birthday in our house.
Rocky will be 17 years old (in people years) on Halloween.  That's a really
old guy in dogs years, but with the good thoughts I asked for in a previous post
he has made it to his birthday this year.

We had a little crisis in the summer and ended up at the vet's office.  I thought I
probably wouldn't be bringing him home.  The vet said she could take care of the problem, but it meant a surgery.  I asked if she would do this for her own dog considering his age and she said she would.  She told me she would be honest about when it would be time to not prolong a life with no quality.  I had never been to this vet before, but her office was very close and it was some what of an emergency.  I ended up liking her very much and felt she was one of the most caring I had come across in many years.

The procedure went very well and he healed with great results.  He was much better in general than he had been in a couple of years.  The pain medication the vet put him on ended up being great for the arthritis in his front legs.  When he went back for his four week check up, the vet said we could just keep him on the pain medication at a lower dose and that she had done that for another elderly dog recently.

We ended up finding a wonderful vet for all our animals during this health scare for Rocky and it certainly did give him a better quality of life for a while longer.
He is a happy guy, and back to his strong willed self.  He enjoys his meals, walks in the backyard and barking with the other dog.  He walks well on his own power with the assistance of his medication.

We celebrate his birthday on Halloween, since we found him in the fall.   Not knowing his actual age when we took him in, we have had to guess how old he was.  Since we have had him for 15 years, and I know he was certainly two years old or older, that is how we have arrived at this age of 17.  I think he is the oldest of all the dogs we have had over so many years.  We count our blessings for every day we still have Rocky and that he is still enjoying life.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sugar Free Oatmeal Cookies


1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Sugar Free Yellow Cake Mix)
1 stick butter melted
2 eggs
1 cup five minute oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (I used pecans)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter and pour in to a mixing bowl.
Add cake mix, oatmeal, and eggs.  Mix on low just until combined.
Stir in nuts and raisins.
Using an ice cream scoop, place scoops of cookie dough on to parchment lined backing sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Don't over bake.

These cookies will be soft and chewy.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk, coffee or tea.

Have a great week.

Linking to Tweak It Tues at Cozy Little House

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easiest and Best Pot Roast

I used to always have trouble making pot roast.  I could never figure out why mine wasn't tender.
I thought I was cooking it too long and it was coming out tough.  Turns out I wasn't cooking it LONG enough.   My favorite cut is a chuck roast.  I usually use a 2 and a half pound chuck roast.  For the two of us we get three meals.  The first day the roast with potatoes and carrots.  Second day we eat beef sandwiches on onion rolls with melted Swiss cheese and tomato.  The third day we make carne guisada with guacamole in soft flour tortillas.

I also use only three ingredients making my roast.  A packet of dry onion soup, undiluted mushroom soup and cracked black pepper.  That's it, except for carrots and potatoes if you wish.  I always cook mine in the crockpot on high for six to seven hours.  It comes out fork tender with the most wonderful gravy from the two soups.  Depending on your roast and crockpot, check half way through the cooking for liquid content.  Add a little water if the gravy is cooking down too much.  If it does cook down too much, at the end just whisk in a little milk, water or beef broth to make your gravy. I also put my carrots in during the last two hours of cooking, so they are mushy.   Everyone that I've served this roast to loves it.  It is truly no fail!

You can, of course, add potatoes in with your roast and I did this time since new potatoes was what I had at home.  I put them in half way through the cooking time and they came out perfectly.  But my family usually prefers mashed potatoes.  I have a faster way of making those also.  I bake my potatoes in the microwave as you would for baked potatoes.  Once they cool, I scoop them out of the skins in to a sauce pan.  On medium to low heat add your milk, butter, salt and pepper.  I use my hand mixer right in the pan.  They come out fluffy and wonderful and I didn't have to spend time peeling potatoes.  Not a fan of peeling potatoes. 

Have a good end to your week and great weekend.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best Banana Walnut Muffins

This recipe is one I saw Nigella Lawson make several years ago.  I've tried many banana muffin and banana bread recipes and I love this one the most, hands down.  These muffins have a lighter texture than most that I've tried and every one I've served them to agrees.

Banana Walnut Muffins

2 T butter
1/4 cup honey (I used 1/8 cup sugar and 1/8 cup splenda since we eat very low sugar.)
1/2 t vanilla
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
health pinch of salt
big handful of walnut pieces
10 cup cake papers

Preheat over to 375

Melt butter and honey in a small sauce pan.  Add vanilla.

In a mixing bowl mash bananas, and stir in melted butter mixture.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.

Don't beat with a mixer.

Stir in walnut pieces or if preferred mini chocolate chips.  I believe Nigella used the chocolate chips.

Line a muffin pan with 10 cup cake papers.

Spoon 2/3 full into muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

This recipe will make 10 regular sized muffins.

Linking to Cozy Little House
Joyful Homemaking,  Saving 4 Six
Between Naps on the Porch

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Have a great week.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Give a Kitten a Home

The end of May I was walking on the side of my house and spied a little eye looking at me from behind an old air conditioner cover that was on the side of my neighbor's house.  I should have left well enough alone, but instead lifted the A/C cover to find four tiny kittens, not more than a week old.  They had their little eyes open, but were very shaky to stand.  Very tiny babies.

I took a large box from my garage, put in a towel and brought the box and babies to my front porch.
An hour after I relocated them, the neighbor mowed his tall grass and surely would have mowed right over the kittens.

I knew who the mother cat was.  A small feral orange cat I had been seeing for the past three weeks.
I could tell she was pregnant, but had tried resisting contact with her.  I finally ended up offering her some food (stupid me) because she just looked so emaciated and could hardly walk. 

I called several rescue groups in town and even though they weren't helpful, I thought if I could trap her with some food, that I could take her to a shelter before the kittens were born.  No such luck.  She was too smart to be trapped.   I was rather panicked at the thought of having to take care of the mother and four kittens.  The mother travels with a young male cat also, so that's six cats that need care, spaying/neutering, shots, etc. 

I called every single shelter in my large city, and all the surrounding areas.  Not one offered any solution.  The new philosophy seems to be: trap, spay/neuter, and get shots all at my own expense and then return them to where they were found to be fed for the rest of their lives (or mine), again at my own expense.  I had no less than nine rescue organizations tell me this. 

I have two elderly dogs with health problems and four rescued cats that I already support.  I have just enough room and funds to care for these.  I grew up with the idea that when you adopt pets, you give them the best care possible for the live time of the pet.   We have two "cat colonies" close in the neighborhood to us that feed large groups of cats, so there is an endless stream of feral cats in our area.  I have resisted for years even putting a water bowl out for these travelers.  But it goes against ever cell in my body to let these four kittens be mowed over by the neighbor.  I actually had one rescue woman tell me "then it just wouldn't be your problem".

The mother cat actually moved the kittens a little over a week after I put the box on the porch.  I knew where she had taken them and was still talking with the only two rescue people that would contact me.  Then two weeks after she moved them, she brought two kittens to my porch and left them.  Even though they were older, they were still too tiny to be on their own and had no protection from any dogs that might come by.  So again, stupid me, I let the two in and have had them since.

I still had hopes one of the rescue people would help, but that hasn't happened.  My brother visiting from Las Vegas made a large covered pen for them and that has helped make a place for them, so far. 

Recently, the mother cat and the other two kittens have been coming to be fed.  The neighbor puts food out for his two cats, that he doesn't take proper care of, so she goes between us and his house.   I don't need to trap the kittens, they will let me pick them up.  I just need to find someone to give them a home.  Really, I need someone to give the two I have inside homes also, but the two outside need help more right now.  Otherwise this neighbor will be a new cat colony, right next door to us.  The feral mother will get pregnant again as soon a she stops nursing these two kittens.  The two kitten I have are females and I'm pretty sure so are the two outside.  That will be three more breeding females, along with the young male she has in tow, plus the neighbor won't neuter his male cat.  I am facing having to find the money to get the two I have inside spayed and shots.  It's hard to do with Texas A/C bills right now.

If anyone in the Texas area can give one of these kittens a home, I would be so grateful.  It doesn't save the world, but it would save the one kitten that gets a home.   They sure didn't ask to be born and being the animal lover that I am, I think any animal deserves a home and to be loved.  I never really meant to do a post about this situation, but am out of options.  I see so many of the feral cats live  miserable lives in our extreme heat of the long summer season and on the winter days when we do get ice, sleet or heavy rains.  Our city claims to be a "no kill cat city" now.  When in reality, that is not what it is.  They just won't take the cats any more.  I even talked to animal control in our city and was told in reality, they just won't pick up cats and if they do, they sterilize them and put them back where they found them.  Then it's up to people like me to feed them or not.  I don't find that a humane solution.

Please, email me or leave a comment if you can give a kitten a home.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Asking for Prayers

I'd like to ask that any of you that may be out there reading send some prayers my way for my sweet dog Rocky.  He is the one laying in front of the fireplace in the photos.  He has had arthritis for a couple of years, but has some other issues now.  He sleeps almost all of the time, has a hard time walking not only from the arthritis, but everything is a great effort for him now.  He was a rescue I found on the street.  After seeing  him for three weeks, I finally got him to come to me for food.  He slept for two days straight and has lived in our home ever since.  That was in 2005.  We don't know how old he was when taken in, but the vet guessed about seven.  He has been a joy.  He is funny, smart and gets along well with our other dog and kitties.  All we can do now is make him comfortable.   I've had many dogs and kitties in my life and it never gets easier to see one age and eventually pass on.  I know all the animal lovers understand he is my baby.  There have been rough days and better ones recently.  Yesterday was pretty good.  Today, not so much. 

Thanks to any one reading.


Monday, January 6, 2014

My New BFF

I am a lover of using slow cookers.  Since I live in Texas, I will do anything to avoid turning on the oven in summer.  Summer for us is usually early May until much of Oct. 

I was lucky to win a great slow cooker from Pioneer Woman's blog.  I used it between one to three times a week for about six years.  After being a faithful friend, the heating element on one side started going out.  I ended up with whole chickens that weren't cooking on one side.  So, I had to say good bye to my friend.

Meet my new BFF.  The Ninja 3 in 1 cooker.

Besides being a great slow cooker, a feature I love about this one is that I can brown my meat right in the cooker using the Stove Top feature.  As someone that doesn't have a dishwasher, I am always looking for ways to cook using the least amount of pots and pans to clean afterwards.  My Ninja came with a decent cookbook and there are some recipes using the Stove Top setting and an Oven setting (different from the slow cooker setting).  I haven't tried those yet, but I know I will try some once it gets hot again here.

Clean up is a breeze with the great non-stick lining. 

What I did make on New Year's Day was a turkey breast.  I put a 6 pound  turkey breast (thawed) in on the slow cooker setting for about 5 and a half hours on high.   I used the juice of two oranges, a cup (or a little more) of water and a package of dry onion soup mixed together.  I put the used orange halves on the bottom, along with some chunks of fresh onion under the turkey and poured the liquid over the top with salt and pepper.  At the end of cooking time, I decided to brush the turkey breast with some melted butter and put the turkey in the oven on 375 for about 40 minutes to brown up, while a small pan of dressing was baking. 

This is what came out:

This beauty was so moist and tender and with browning a little afterwards in the oven, it was easily the best turkey we have ever eaten.  Such a simple way to make a lovely meal, with none of the basting and fussing that can go with baking a turkey.   This will be a go to holiday meal for us.

See you soon,


I'm linking up to Tweak It Tues at Cozy Little House
and Between Naps on the Porch