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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Life with Millie and Belle

So it has been since January that I have had my new puppy Millie.  I spoke about how she immediately changed my home life since her first time under my roof.  There have been many experiences with her since then so this installment of my blog is meant to catch you up with that and to enlighten some of you as to how you can best prepare and respond to all of them.

The first pic I saw of her on the FB post for
labs for sale.  She is an English Lab according to
the breeder. 

First day home
Wondering who I am
 Millie was born on November 23rd.  Today is just shy of March 23rd so I am looking at a was once a little puppy but is steadily growing and I see a new personality spring forth almost weekly.  To know her is to love her more and more as her owner and not a day goes by that I regret my decision to have added her to my life.  There are steps to bringing out her personality.  For instance she suddenly began bringing me her toys to toss and for her to fetch.  Is this just something dogs instinctively begin to do?  Then there is the flopping up on the sofa and getting close to me.  That is sure nice because, let's face it, dogs strike me as careful and calculating and this can be construed as being not too smart or depressed.  Well I did have my inklings, but Millie suddenly began showing me affection and sitting at my feet when I am at the sink doing dishes or reading a magazine. She craves my presence. Perhaps it has something to do with being at work all day.  I do make it my mission to get home fast at the end of the workday and I go right to Millie who is crated, and take her outside for a good run. Long walks are on their way as the weather improves here in the Midwest where I have been getting up sometimes three times a night in 0 degree weather to take her out for bathroom breaks. Maybe she sees the dedication with that?  While I hate having her left alone all day my attention is focused on her and now I am seeing all these new personality traits spilling out and I see a true bond developing. It is very satisfying and instills in me the joy I imagined before she came into my life.

This new experience has taught me one thing more than anything else...patience.  I am not a clean freak but certainly no one to let my house turn into a mud pit with dirty floors all the time. And my past pet ownership has never revealed me to live in a place that is not well kept, dusted, vacuumed and smells clean all the time because it is clean all the time. I have had to relinquish part of my diligence to maintain a perfectly clean home somewhat.  I am fortunate to own a sofa that is not new but is not  beat up furniture either. But it is suitable for pet ownership.  Millie being a yellow lab, I am beginning to see where I must vacuum or sticky roll the sofa quite often, lest I dress in my black pants and everyone who sees me knows...I own a dog!    Oh well...it is worth it. 

Its like early on I came home from work and found Millie had pooed in her crate and spread it all over everything..including the bedding ( a nice pillow that I had mistakenly failed to cover in a plastic zip cover), all of her toys that I had placed in there to stymie any boredom, and a large carrot that was in the crate for her to eat.  What a mess!  It was poopageddon in no uncertain terms!  Further, the crate was placed on an (inexpensive) oriental rug with no underlayment at all,...no drop cloth beneath it, and it seemed like the poop combined with the pee had spilled over the edge of the tray at the bottom of the crate and oozed out the bars of the crate onto the rug.  

So I put on the clothing equivalent of a hasmet suit (trust me the smell was as bad as the material I had to clean up) and picked her up. I took her straight to my kitchen which had been cleaned before, the sink free of any dishes, gave her a good bath  and dried her off as much as I could.  I put her in the bath alone to dry while I cleaned the cage.

I am so glad those trays at the bottom of the cage are slide out removable.  I soaked up what I could with a roll of paper towel, thew all of the paper into a double kitchen tall bag and I cleaned the tray further with some Lysol disinfectant wipes.  Then, knowing that they may irritate Millie due to their ingredients (pet owners must be aware that cleaning solvents and products can harm dogs/pets) I took the tray outside and poured boiled water over it, let it run down the length of the back and front of the tray and let it air dry.  I gave the bottom part of the cage the same treatment.

That is when the perfect rectangle was revealed on the rug beneath the crate. With a quick Internet check I learned that hot water and a tiny bit of dish soap concoction was a good way to clean up a mess like this. A clean rag and a bit of elbow grease and I fouind  it worked very well and the rug looked almost new when I was done.  

By now Millie was dry and everything was back to normal.  The entire exercise took the better part of an hour.  One minute away more and she would have rolled in all of that awful stinky mess.  A neatnik certainly may not be prepared for this event.  I was lucky to not have anything going on after work to keep me away longer.  It is said that dogs do not like to be in the place where they defecate and I believe it. Millie was none too comfortable and was definitely cowering in the corner of her cage when I found her.  The proof of her "accident" was everywhere. But it proved to me that I must be more diligent about getting her outside to do her thing before leaving for work and even today I cannot prepare her crate to be a soft comfy well decorated dog cave.  She is still young and if she has to pee she will.  She shreds those pee pads I used to lay around the house so there is no way to avoid that mess if I do not make sure she is empty when I leave for the day.

The argument to crate or not to crate is up to the owner and temperament of the dog.  I joined a couple of FB groups to help me along in the dog ownership process.  Some people are against crate training or crating a dog even if the owner is not home most of the day.  I could not do that with my dog...she could become a chewer and destroy a lot of stuff or even ingest something along the way that will require surgery to remove.  I also have to protect the environment from Millie losing control of her bowels..something new puppies/dogs have very little control of as they train.  Also at night when I sleep, Millie is in her crate when others are screaming that I should let her be in my room and just take her out when she lets me know she needs something...like to go outside. Well I have found that keeping her in a crate with a cover over it has aided in keeping her at bay for that straight through till my morning. Her bladder will get stronger as she ages and  has pretty much done so up to now.  I think my method works best for me. You will get plenty of unsolicited advice too from other pet owners.  Listen and nod but in the end I learned you must conform to what works best for you and your family.  

Belle finds having her around a great challenge.  She is after all the lady of the house first since she came along a year ago May, I think it was, and Millie is sure making her presence known to her.  But two female animals in the house has gone pretty well. They are wrestling most of the time.  I do separate them so as they get alone time with me and to facilitate the bonding process.  However it is still a challenge as sometimes they wrestle non stop and I worry that Millie's teeth will be too sharp to keep this up with Belle without an injury.  Who knows how hard she is actually clamping down on Belle?  I watch them closely and do my best to intervene and protect both of them.  Belle seems to always be available for the play sessions and in the middle of the evening I separate them and Millie has me all to herself for a short walk or cuddling on the sofa.  Belle gets a breather too. It all seems to be working out nicely.

 Look at me! Another photo op
for me!

Can we watch something else she seems to be

Are you talking to me?!
So I purchase something new for Millie when I go out to the pet store or the thrift shop. They sell doggie clothes, collars, leashes and doggie supplies.  There is no shame in saving money by buying used items.  You will need several leashes and one plainly in sight in most rooms of the house just to be sure if you lose one you have an extra.  Forget buying a fancy doggie bowl until it is determined how big your dog will get. Millie has grown in leaps and bounds and grew right out of the cute decorative puppy bowl I first purchased...now Belle is eating out of it.  And collars?  Once time I ordered a cute strappy harness type collar and by the time I received it she only wore it for a week!  But good to have several difference harnesses too.  And also, know that it is not good for dogs to wear a plain collar when dog walking..because the dog will pull on it and practically strangle herself as she tries to pull ahead.  

Good idea to keep in good standing with the neighborhood as well. If your new pet needs to go, better be ready to clean it up.  I remember one time I did not have the poop bags yet and so I took my snow shovel down the road as I walked with Millie. Someone drove by and laughed..I could see that the image of me with this huge snow shovel over my one shoulder and Millie on a leash with the other may have indicated I was being responsible, but looked awfully funny to the rest of the world on that 10 degree F morning at 5 a.m.
Awesome paws!  And even bigger today!

Take your dog to work day with my son Alexander. Word
is everyone loved her!

I take lots of photos, all of them in my phone, and I post pretty regularly on my friends FB dog ownership pages.  I am learning allot through my own experiences and from the postings of others and I am always surprised to learn each day that I have done the right thing or prepare for what I do not yet know about dog ownership.  I have had pets before an a yellow lab back in 1994 and trained it to become the best pet my family has ever known. But times were different then. FB did not exist then to seek out advice.  Today you can actually buy gourmet dog biscuits, attire, and all the accessories a pet may want to have through pet supply stores and actual boutiques set up for pets.  There are pet spas and day camps and people treat their pets like their kids now more than ever.  There are a lot of people who advocate for pets in their effort to protect them from abuse.  Pets are considered one of the family and held in very high regard.  Costs to have them have increased exponentially.  Everyone is there to give you advice and has knowledge of full pedigree dogs and there are dogs that are more desirable to have than others. Temperment of certain dogs, safety with kids, and other pet related topics are reported each day in the news. 
Take me outside!

Pet ownership used to be just taking in a stray and feeding it and keeping it out in the barn or on a chain in the yard with a dog house. Now dogs are pampered beings, companions to many and to the retired who like to travel, Fido is right there with them. Well I will probably have to curb my travel but most hotels take in dogs knowing that they are constant traveling partners with their patrons. How nice! 

And another issue that has come to light is that many dogs are rescues from shelters.  People are more apt to frown upon getting a dog from a breeder as I did.  I tried to adopt a West Highland White Terrier like the one that now lives with my family and their black lab that have become so close they cannot be separated. But that was almost as tedious as adopting a child. After eight months of being vetted and waiting there were none.  After I paid fees I found that the rescues that they had did not get along with cats or children or other things.   And by the time I got done with the fees associated with a rescue I felt safer getting a dog with no history of violence or abuse.  I am an advocate for all dogs but getting my dog from a breeder just seemed like a better fit for me and in my defense...Millie is everything I wanted and have familiarity with and for her I think its the right fit too.

So today Millie is so big she grew out of one of her pet collars before she wore it even a week!  She is going to have a big barrel neck, top over 65 lbs I am afraid..but that is what I bargained for so it okay with me.  I left her this morning and hated to go and have taken PTO time so that I could be with her for Fridays and have her three full days to aid in pet training.  That is the best I can do.  I think my love an personal attention is the path I optioned to take with her.  Be kind to her, never rub her nose in her waste to "teach her a lesson" like some people have resorted to...and feed her and give her enough water to be hydrated but not belly full.  This has worked for me so far.  And do not deviate from a sound meal plan with a good quality dog food. Changing up her dog food because of what is on sale week to week is not good for dogs and they will respond by a change in their BM and not always in a nice way.  I tend to stay with the same dry food which keeps her BM firm and easy to clean up in the yard and gosh forbid...in the house.  Animals like to be clean too. I wipe her paws with baby wipes when she comes in from a romp outside and soon I will begin brushing and vacuuming her.  Also, I have been advised that feeding her raw pumpkin from a can is good for her coat and nutritious as well so I have several cans of that on hand.  Dogs like bananas too, at least mine does so I give her one once a week or so.  Now, if I suddenly notice that any of these additional foods changes her BMs in any way I will discontinue. Everything is up for experiment.  And as I said before it's all a learning thing and it doesn't pay to be so staunch that what happens is you have a very bored dog that is starving for new  flavors and textures.  I do not see my Millie thriving if I do that.

I hope this installment with photos taught you some things.  I hope it helps you to think about getting a pet if you do not have one.  I am excited about this process and look forward to milder temps when I can take my dog for a full blown walk and actually congregate with other dogs.  My vet advises I wait until she has had her third set of shots which will be this week...i am a week or so late actually. Then she will be adequately protected from any health issues like eating something with bacteria in the grass or mud or catching something from other dogs.  Spring is in the air and with it comes my getting in better shape with my new companion which was part of the reason I took ownership of Millie.
So in love!
Well, I am going to sign off now. I may edit this post from time to time in case I discover a new thing I learned. But feel free to leave your comments and feedback if there's something you need to share about your new pet experience.  As part of my vintage home..a true home with a family in it...and my pets being part of my family..I am so happy to share my experience with Millie with all of you.



Monday, January 8, 2018

Welcome Millie, my new English Laborador

A recent conversation with my eldest attached (cohabitating) son revealed that even though I am in the prime of my "be a grandmother" years, I do not have that element of my life to look forward to...at least not in the near future.  I recently said to Mackenzie..hey, when do you think you might get married and have children? To which he replied, Mom, if you want something to bounce on your knee go buy a soccer ball..I just do not know.

Fast forward to today and after a couple of hint dropping sessions with him and the nice young lady he lives with and I am convinced that I will have to live my "grandmother years" through others' grandkids or buy myself a couple of goldfish.  Sure I have Belle, my cat that I love dearly and keeps me entertained but I guess I had hoped for something more permanent and real.  This world with all its issues is pretty daunting to most young people right now, let alone entering into a marriage contract that, these days, is more likely to fail than completing a triathelon.  There are issues and problems and evils in the world which give pause to many young couples about if and when they will bring a new life into it.

So, I can live with that..as long as I can exercise the option to add to my animal menagerie.  With my kitty Belle I have been so happy. She is a lovely animal, and lately we have been able to cuddle up in my cozy sleep place and she stays there most of the night. When I awake at 2 am I bring up Youtube kitty videos on my IPhone and we watch and enjoy together as Belle swats at the screen and purrs.  I get a good laugh out of it and it calms me in countless ways allowing me to sleep better when an hour later I finally am able to put the phone down.

But I had been registered with several pet rescue organizations thinking I would like to provide a home to an unwanted dog.  Age did not matter until I realized I was missing my Westie that is living with my ex and his dog that have become great buddies. I could not see myself tearing apart that union after I moved into my house and had what I thought would be the perfect place to reclaim my dog.  My family members objected because Kozmo and Dakotah (the black lab) are such good playmates now and separating them is not nor ever will be an option.

That's my Westie, Kozmo, and sidekick, Dakotah. Buddies forever.

After being diagnosed with Sarcoidosis (a pulmonary breathing illness) and a 4 day hospital stint my doctor told me that I had to work on a few things.  He advised that my BP was high and I needed to exercise.  I said I was going to get into Yoga but he advised that I needed to raise my heart rate..I needed to get moving. Sarcoidosis is treatable but not by, oddly enough, taking it easy.  I have a few pounds to lose and a heart to get healthy which should send Sarcoidosis into remission..but I had to start now and with vigor.

I thought of joining a gym..but who was going to insure that I actually go?  How many times have you bought membership in a gym and just not gone?  I have done it twice and it doesn't feel good to fail.  But with no one prodding me to go, not even a less than perfect physical exam result...what could I do to make certain I would be more active? I gave this a lot of thought and the answer was already there right in front of me. I should consider getting a dog, not for just a pet but for a walking and activity companion.

A dog makes you get up and take it for a walk.  They force you to be active and there is no way I can say NO to an animal relying on me to make certain that they get fresh air and be taken out on a leash for a brisk walk when I may feel like just sitting.  This was it...I need to get a dog and for more reasons than the ones I originally had pondered.  I would look in a shelter and find one, somewhere. I thought of saving a dog from a shelter.

Looking for a shelter dog is not as easy as it seems. I had criteria about size, temperament and breed. But after seven months there are such rare occasions that the dog I would want to have are available. Sure there are lots of Pit Bull breeds that need homes but I would rather not entertain that venue..I want a dog that is kid friendly and I have knowledge of their medical issues and all the rest.  So after losing the last available Westie that was available through a pet rescue I opened my mind up to a private rehoming through an ad on Craigslist.

Destiny was an 11 1/2 year old Westie whose family was moving to place where dogs were not allowed.  The owner had offered all of her playthings, leftover food, collar, leash and all of that for a rehoming fee of $100.  My kids, well, they were all up in arms when I mentioned that this is the dog I may be adopting.  Mom, they said, you know this is an old dog...she may have all kinds of issues, expensive medical problems...what are you thinking?!  Now, I know they are well intentioned, but so am I.  I wanted to see this little girl in my house and hopefully, even an old dog would acclimate to my home with no problems.

My eldest said don't do it Mom. I will help you find a dog that you can afford that you can love and it will be a puppy that you will train and will know your house from its earliest age.  That is the way to do this.

Two weeks later I had found a woman on FB who had a litter of English Laboradors to adopt.  There was one female yellow Lab and long story short...I now have her.  She was born on November 23rd and I have her today, January 8th.

I decided to name her Millie..short for Millicent.  She looks like a Millie.  And she is beautiful!
A pudgy little puppy  7 weeks

Getting settled  on my comfy  couch
Taking a much needed snooze after the long trip to my home
Get a look at these large paws

Now that's love! And I love that puppy breath! 
Millie has big paws and is really a stocky short little thing.  I was going to buy her a small cage to get her though the next few weeks but she has already outgrown that.  She has a large stocky neck and big paws.  I can tell she is warming up to me.  Her first night at my house in her cage was a trial for her but only for a short time.  I put her in the cage with a nice soft pillow and a pee pad just in case..and a few toys.  In  the night when I awoke at 3 am I took her out and she peed. I could see she already voided #2 on the pad, cleaned that up and then spent a little time holding her and putting some love on her and then gingerly laid her back in her big cage on her big pillow.  That puppy breath will make up for having to get up in the night every time.  This baby already has my heart in a big big way.

So the next few weeks and months I will be potty training her (dead of winter so quite a challenge).  Add that to the fact that I work out of the house M - F 9 hours a day...and you've got the biggest and maybe toughest job.  But I could not see myself ruling out this plan to bring Millie into my life just because of a few minor inconveniences.  I know I will live the best life filled with love and satisfaction of making this dog my sidekick and walker.  This is going to be a big dog though and I will be doing a lot more than just walking.  The maintenance involved would keep me active.  The companionship outside the house would be good for my total well being.  With Millie in my home just this one overnight I am so excited about all the good having her around will do for me.

Pets are a big responsibility but they do make a house a home.  Filling up your place with non living things that you love to have around is one thing.  However, having a living breathing living thing around that relies on you is quite another. It is the most unselfish thing a person can do to be in the position to provide another with a happy safe atmosphere and the love and companionship that all living things crave.  And people need to get over the changes they will need to make in their homes if they really want any kind of pet.  I have, for instance, a dark brown couch, and I know this dog will shed because I had a yellow lab before. I will have to not be so uptight about accidents and hair balls and getting up in the middle of the night for a few months to get the PT done.  I will have to overlook the half eaten dog food bowls and watch closely so that Millie doesn't run off.  I will have to escape proof my back yard by plugging up any gaps in the fencing and make sure it is tall enough to impede her jumping over it because dogs will do that.  I have a mole problem and I will have to be diligent about Millie not making a meal out of all of them as she grazes out there when summer comes.  There will be dirty dog paws and run in's with skunks probably...oh well.  I accept it all.  It all comes with the territory and you cannot have a dog without some or all of these things being brought into the picture.  These are the things that will make your house a home.

Share your pet pics, your thoughts, tell me all about how you finally gave in to add a fur baby to your home.  I want to know everything.  We can learn from one another about the best tips for PT, care and maintenance of your pet and tips on making it all work.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hell's Bells, I have a new kitty named Belle

I adopted a new kitty about four months ago.  Belle came to me from an man that works for my son.  Belle was just so tiny and i had to wonder if she was really old enough to be separated from her mom. But she seemed to do well with me and as each day passed she became familiar with her new name. She resembles a Siamese but she is definitely a mix and it really did  not matter to me.  Today she is continuing to grow and is the charmer I thought she would be.

First things first...she had a case of fleas which took me over three months to eradicate.  Thing about getting a kitten from a private home means there will be fleas.  And since fleas have many stages I had to fight the grown fleas, the baby fleas and fight the eggs that I could not see.  I googled the topic until I became the master of fighting fleas. And then after all that information was learned,  I had to google getting fleas out of my house, carpet, furniture,...anywhere I thought they may exist and let me tell you...fleas can infest in many different places in the house..not just your pet.

Here are some photos of Belle when I first got her.

Belle was not the original name I had in mind for her but when I saw her it just stuck.  She was very tiny and had a tiny voice and very sharp claws.  I love the way kittens pop up out of nowhere with their tiny heads.  My son even had second thoughts about being the go-between for me to get this kitten as he fell for her too. Those bright blue eyes and little pink nose immediately drew us both in.  And she adapted to my house with little effort.  I provided her with all the play toys I could. She took to scratching my sofa but I taped up the corners with shipping tape and she stopped. That was okay because then the other problem popped up...the fleas!

 Kitty liked to sit on the sofa near my shoulder right away and watch TV with me.  I look at Belle today and cannot believe how small she was.  And she was much fluffier than she is now.  Everybody in the neighborhood saw me outside and wanted to touch her and hold her and I let them but did warn that I had begun the assault on the fleas and they all had good advice for me which seems to have worked.

Belle is really photogenic.  I think the photos I shared on social media actually inspired a few people to go get a cat out of a shelter. My friend Joan adopted an older cat and named it Fritz.  I was glad to have played some part in that since I connected one of my FB friends with her who takes in cats for re-homing. 

I bought a bunch of cute collars for belle and there is a bell on all of them so that I know where she is.  When i come home at night she is waiting on the arm of the sofa right by the front door and i bend down and we meet nose to nose. Its a silly ritual but it tells me that my kitty misses me as I miss her.

We licked the fleas. But know this..it was not easy.  I first bathed her in Dawn Dish soap and she hated it..claws out full throttle scratch match.  No matter how gentle I was she was not having it. But i was always glad when i got done.  And trust me I was not ready for the red water that came out of the baths..you see the "poop" left by the fleas is actually blood and so when belle was wet she ran red colored water and it was all over her coat.  And it was also scary watching all the fleas run to her head, down her face and to her nose.  I had to be so careful not to get water in her nose and ears as she fought the good fight.  And those stubborn fleas did not just fall off, i had to rub them off and keep doing it. A bath every few days for weeks!  Followed by a flea treatment and in between visits to the vets to get her shots and they administered a flea treatment as well.  There were the shots, the liquid drops and a pill that was supposed to kill off any fleas for the next 30 days..i did each of these exercises for a month for three months.  Then i had to be sure there were no fleas in my house. I left out trays of water with a candle burning in the middle to attract the fleas and did so for two months.  I spent so much time worrying about fleas that I barely got to enjoy holding and cuddling my kitty for fear of becoming flea infested myself.  Some households, I learned, get flea bites all over their bodies and I didn't want to be one of those casualties.  Also some people become allergic to cats due to the fleas themselves or the medicine they are giving their cat to fight them. I feared for a while that this cat ownership thing would not work out and it dogged me night and day...until that one day about four months later when i was able to pick up my cat, stroke her fur and look for fleas and not find even one.  That flea collar and monthly flea treatments seems to be holding now. Good thing. I can even let Belle come into my room now where as before I had shut the doors to every room in the house to keep any flea infestation out.  Now being able to relax a little more I am thoroughly enjoying my kitty.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Summer Days and all that Work...

OMG!  So I had said I would be back with a new entry soon after my last one and I got sidetracked...big time obviously.  I cannot believe how busy I have been since moving into my place in November.  Christmas came and went, spring arrived and now we are getting into fall weather here in the great state of Michigan.  So let's just get on with what has been happening since then, shall we?

I had dreams for the porch of my house since I first saw it in August of 2016.  I envisioned a nice garden, colorful furniture and a porch swing with nice plump cushions and under the window flower boxes filled to the max with blue lobelia, potato plants, ivy and of course pink, red and white impatiens bursting forth.  And I thought of an indoor/outdoor rug on the floor of the porch, something floral and loud to show from the street.  The grass looked a little bit neglected, thinning and brown. I wondered if I would have to replace the grass with sod or tear up everything and re-seed.


It is now September and I have enjoyed a lovely summer in my house with the exterior spruced up to exactly where I wanted it to be. With time it will get better but I had all of my list fulfilled and the place having the cute curb appeal I had dreamed of.

 Everything on the outside of the house looked clean. I loved the buttery light shade of yellow that was on the house. The bright white trim and the interesting lines of the house sold me when I first saw it. Now I could use these details to decide on what to do with the furniture and decide on colors.
This is what I had to start with.
The bright green of the grass needed a shot in the arm.  My son who is the family landscaping guru told me I could easily bring back the grass to a plush thick green. I began to fertilize and trim back some of the edging.  But let's face it...the focal point of the house needed color. My red patio chairs, a porch swing and some foliage in colorful reds would do the trick. And the window boxes I retrieved from my ex, in olive green, were the perfect accent to those boring windows.

So I mounted the window boxes using curlyq brackets and planned on filling them with flowers once Memorial day hit...it was still to early to plant. Anything I would bring to plant would be available in more volume at the stores once that date had come. The final result would be great but it took everything out of me to keep to the safe planting date.  At least there was a bit of color with the wreath I had mounted next to the door. 

Soon I was able to sit on my porch and observe the neighborhood activity, see and wave to my new neighbors and even enjoyed the beauty of a summer rain.

The indoor/outdoor rug seemed to pull it all together nicely!
I learned the secret to the abundant window boxes that I always see when I visit the western side of the state...they cram all the flowers in that the box can hold and water it every day. Also I move them around, trading them from side to side so none gets too hot in the sun and wrinkles.  Still its a big job to constantly be watering the flowers. Don't they look great though? 
Before the flowers were all planted I planned
I love the view from the walkway though..this was before I actually planted all the flowers. I mapped it out. The rocks were found along the side of the property so I gathered them and placed them. Next year I will enlarge the garden and give it more shape.  And I think I will rethink the corner where the columns are..i would like to have some blue morning glories growing up those columns.  There is a rosebush that I want to add, one that climbs to go up the right side of the porch on a sheet of lattice.  As long as the flowers are well fed I can see a beautiful summer ahead.

Below you can see a summer rain from my front porch.  It was really pouring this day so I got a shot from each side of the porch looking out onto the street. 

My neighbors told me that the last owners were going to make the driveway wider. Thank God they didn't.  I even question this one. But I guess everyone has a two car driveway.                                                                                
The grass was so green this day but needed the rain

See how nice the street looks from this vantage point? Everyone on the street have older homes that have been well maintained.  I was told that many years ago the street had to be raised and that explains why my basement window are covered and I have only one with a well for access.  It is a narrow street and so no one parks on the street at all.  You can see the ceiling of the porch is plain wood. I would like to make it beadboard and paint it with a high gloss blue like the sky or something like that. I will be replacing the porch light and my son said I should stain the wood like the color it is when it is wet to protect it from the sun and I will be doing that next year.   
Another view
On a sunny day. Loving it!

Had some neighborhood visitors. I had just gotten my kitty Belle.

So I had finally gotten settled with the outside and I had visitors come by.
The neighborhood kids saw me and could not resist stopping by.  This made me so happy.

I plan to add a wooden screen door to my rear entrance . I always loved that clacking noise that the door at grandma's used to make when I visited there as a very young child. I want to add a clothesline so that I can dry my clothes outside like my grandma did. I remember running through the sheets and towels as they swayed in the wind and smelled so good when we took them down off the line.  I remember pinching my fingers on the clips..not such a great memory but I would re-live it if I could.  So many things about this small cozy historic place remind me of simpler times. And one of those things that I love the most is the view from the front porch, reconnecting with the neighbors. I have waved so many times as I sit on my porch swing and take in all the neighborhood of my little piece of heaven. I have gone a little nuts and brought out a large container of lemonade just in case someone drops by.  I have asked for names and where people are coming from. I am getting smiles galore and feeling so at home here.I am so grateful.

I adopted a kitten and named it Belle.  We will talk about her in the upcoming installments.

We will talk about that in my next installment.  Thanks for stopping by!

With kind regards,


Moving In and Putting it All Together in Time for the Holidays

I do not suppose that anyone who reads these posts about moving into a new place can claim that when they have done it the process went smoothly and it only took a short time to be done and done.  My situation had its up and downs.  Let me tell you how moving into my first house went and maybe you can feel better about yours.

Assembling a long list of people to actually haul my belongings was not really difficult. I have been blessed with many who may not see me on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis but they are there for the important times and know that they can count on me as well.  So with two weekends booked in which to get out of my apartment and move my things to my new place I carefully strategized on which rooms of things would go first and which could be relegated to the last Sunday that I would be able to occupy the old place. 

Two weekends prior to Thanksgiving I summoned my son who has a huge trailer and a nice truck as well.   Since none of my best friends was able and had a Jeep she came to help as well.  I had boxes stored up for the previous six weeks, taped, labeled and ready to go.  And since my cousin who would be living practically around the block from me contacted me on the first Saturday of moving weekend offering her truck, trailer and husband, I was in good stead to get all the boxes out on that first day, and the bigger furniture out the Sunday of that weekend.  It was not easy work. 

I created large 8 1/2 by 11" signs to glue on each and every sealed box to identify its contents.  Breakables were carefully wrapped in bubble wrap I had been collecting at work from the orders I received and disbursed at work. So I had plenty of boxes and bubble wrap and signage. 

It is so funny how a stack of boxes in a small bedroom can look like so little, until one begins to peel away the boxes in the front and begins to see what all is hiding behind.  let's just say that on that first day my cousin and her husband could not believe how small of a dent was made in the stuff set to go that morning to the new place. We took one trip and when I returned to the apartment to do an eyeball audit of the place I began to get pretty discouraged.

Come Sunday, my son and my best friend were there bright and early.  Of course my son balked at all the stuff and tried to lecture me on the evils of accumulation.  Again I had to remind him that I had downsized all I could and gotten rid of  or donated and what remained was what I absolutely needed to keep. Kids are that way....always telling me I can't take it with me. And as much as I know they are right, there are times when what I should have gotten rid of I have instead kept because I love to have my memories surrounding me no matter where I go.  And I know that the transition into the new place would only be something comfortable for me if I had my treasures there to comfort and accompany me.  To be thrown into a new place with the things I wanted around would make this whole process a little more daunting.  To me..anyway!  It's not BS at all.  And if you have been reading my blog continuously you would know that I am a very sentimental person and I am moving very slowly toward being practical.  I am only half way through this life and if I want to keep my memories in physical form a little longer there isn't anyone who is going to make me do anything different. I would rather come to my decisions about downsizing myself and not be forced into it.

I collect dishes and so many of the boxes that were being relocated first were those. I think I must have at least 15 large boxes of china sets.  I am today, very afraid to look at those dishes, because even though I reminded people of what was in the boxes and pointed out their labeling, there are not too many people who have the patience to handle so many with kid gloves.  One day I will open up each box and unfortunately take stock of what I expect to be some damage to the items nearest the bottom of the boxes.  Oh well, I guess it is to be expected.

By the end of the first Sunday I had moved some of my things.  The following weekend was more fun than ever.

That Sunday my Son came out again and this time brought his father.  Two minutes before he drove up I fell down the stairs outside the apartment and sprained my ankle. I was rendered totally useless. As my ankle swelled  I felt more helpless. I was relegated to sitting and pointing out where everyone who came to help me move was to place box after box that blew past me. "This one goes upstairs, the bedroom on the right. This one to the bedroom on the left.  this one goes to the bathroom, this one goes in the cellar, this one goes in the kitchen. This one you can take home if you like because I don't need it..."  was my song all day Sunday. 

For the next Thanksgiving week, I hopped, crawled and used a walker to get around hoping my ankle would heal enough to get back to work on that next Monday. It was just a good thing that the first week I had brought in most of my living room furniture and my bedroom mattress, otherwise I would have been a wreck.  And before I had sprained my ankle I had at least some semblance of a nice living room and bedroom together and had access to everything I needed to prepare for a workday in the house for the holidays. I had already put up my Christmas Tree and moved a chair out of the way to make room for it.

I loved setting up my walls with the green framed botanical prints I had been saving for four years..yes, four years!  they are prints of birds done by an artist for the Audobon Society and I cannot recall the name but they are originals professionally set in frames by a merchant in Birmingham Michigan.  There are eight framed prints in all and I had to be creative in hanging them on the wall and I think I got it right.  You can see the colors on the wall and trim were all done in cream color, perfect for the backdrop. I did not have to burden myself with lifting a paintbrush..it was all done.
I love the color of this piece!
The sofa is a Craigslist find. How lucky I was to get this in my possession before I even looked at house listings. It cost me a mere pittance and was in immaculate condition.  No need to reupholster or anything. I even rebuffed the idea of painting the woodwork on it..it is beautiful just the way it was when I found it.  The ottoman was purchased from a woman changing from traditional furniture to modern and the table beside the sofa was purchased from a man who was selling out his deceased mother's estate.  I had the other things from years of finds at the thrift stores. You already know what a great bit of luck I have had finding the coolest decorative accessories. 
The walls are a perfect color.

Monday, November 28, 2016

In My New Home…Organized Chaos

I am in heaven!  I finally closed on my new home a couple weeks ago and am not in the throes of boxes and bags and a myriad of furniture and belongings.  My clothes are on a rack in the cellar…that is the ones that will fit.  The rest are on an extra bed in the second bedroom. Boxes of all shapes and sizes are all strewn around the cellar and also in the second bedroom.  And me…well, I sprained my ankle coming out of my old place on moving day so I have had my feet up, cold compresses numbing the pain, and unable to get around without either crawling on my hands and knees or using a walker. Yep, you guessed it..I am down with an injury and now must wait to get everything organized. 

But I do not want to focus on this..I want to sing the praises of myself for choosing and buying the best house built for me.  My little place is perfect for the style I love which is traditional and somewhat shabby chic, and has a big kitchen for entertaining and a huge bathroom with a lot of character and room for improvement but good enough til I get settled.  With the November Thanksgiving came some days of real cold but other days of 60+ degree days with sunshine.  I feel snug as a bug in a rug!

Moving in was a challenge because I have a couple pieces of furniture that are heavy.  First of all the box spring to my queen size bed would not fit up the stairs. I had to throw it out and buy a metal frame to take the place of it.  Not so bad, but now my bed is lower to the ground. I intend to fix that with a topper that I hope will raise me up a couple of inches.

My cherry bedroom  dresser is so heavy and the stairs in this place, again very steep, and the treads are shallow.  A very large china cabinet that does not detach from the base is also a piece that was clumsy and difficult to move. By the end of the move the top had come detached from the base.  Oh well…one of the casualties of moving and I should have expected it. So what though…I have it in my kitchen where I wanted it and painted its final coat of white it is perfect right where I set it.

Christmas is coming and so my small tree went up and the colors of the furniture, walls and the tree trimmings fit with the vision I had in mind.  The color palette is soft and soothing. The atmosphere is “small parlor” style.  The architectural elements already in place in the room lend nicely to the vintage appearance with my furniture. 

Now it is time for me to get everything in order for the holidays and my first Christmas Open House. I am beyond excited!  You are invited to read my next installment that will show you all the decorations and the buffet I will be sharing with my guests.  See you soon!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Patience in the Pursuit of my Happy Place & Fall Decorating Ideas

So I am moving closer to the closing date of closing on my mortgage. Seems like the more excited we are about seeing our vision through the longer it takes to happen.  Maybe I need to learn a little bit about patience.  I know that I have not been in the cheeriest of moods as the cloud of "additional documentation needed" looms overhead.  But here I am in the last week of October and I can actually see tomorrow...and it looks like I can yell hooray shortly.

In the last month I have driven to the new place about four times.  It looks more raggedy as the days go by because it is not being lived in right now..(the owner moved in with her fiancĂ©, and the grass needs to be groomed.  But hey...some repainting was done on the trim and fence.  I am so grateful to call this place mine one day soon.  One of the things I look forward to is driving by just to drive in the driveway! 

When that happens I will have a paper trail of everything I had to do to make this purchase happen, and the experience to share with any future home buyers.  I could write a book by now.  The docs and records stack at least 9" high and fit nicely into a canvas shopping bag.  And I have saved the entire process in a file on a computer, copies of everything I submitted with dates and everything, duplicating my online mortgage lending file account that my lender maintains.  The knowledge I have now of this entire journey could be of use to someone else someday.

So moving on I just want to decorate my place for the upcoming holidays.  First, Thanksgiving.  I envision a bale of hay with some nice fat pumpkins on my porch. I see perhaps a cornucopia sitting atop one of bales..and perhaps a couple of planters of mums.  Or...better...here are a couple of pictures I found on the internet for beautiful outdoor decorations for Thanksgiving:

If you have bushel baskets left over from your cider mill visits they make great holiday
vessels for mums or gourds or pumpkins.  If you do not have any check out the
nearest thrift shop in the baskets aisle.

Those empty wire foliage containers that you get from all over the place
do have a special use for this time of year.  The floral can be purchased
at the dollar store but still have a million dollar impact.

Those galvanized containers are perfect for any time of year.  And finding a
few bare twigs and either some real autumn leaves or a package
of silk ones from the craft store makes a simple but lovely

If you have a porch with steps, what better way to spruce up each one
than with an array of pumpkins, mums and gourds? The colors
make it a spectacular fall show from mid October through to
Thanksgiving Day.

One of the things that anyone can do to decorate for the season whether you are an apartment dweller or have your own home is to decorate your door.  Nothing says welcome more than an attractive wreath or spray. I found these on the internet as well:

Each of these wreaths has its own personality.  I love how a couple of the wreaths have
incorporated pheasant feathers together with gourds.  Turkey feathers work
just as well if you cannot get your hands on pheasant feathers.
The colors in all of these wreaths sing out the season and yet are
tasteful...not gaudy or ostentatious.
My house is yellow so the colors I choose for my decorations will include that color in the scheme.  I have a lot of room to make a real statement.  A vine of fall leaves and twigs could make a great hanging trim for the front of the porch roofline and hanging on the two side pillars.  I could go nuts, actually.

Stand by.  I hope to share some of that kind of decorating as soon as I am moved in the place. I look so forward to showing all of you my new pride and joy.
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