So: stay-cation day 10

Thanks to Cheryl Richardson for the image

This quote sums up Stay-cation 2013 quite nicely. I don’t think I’ve been this relaxed, rested and recharged since we went back to St. Lucia for our 10th anniversary.

Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of physical work this week. But as hard as I worked and as tired as I was, I didn’t feel as exhausted as I did on a typical Friday at 5:30. A good thing to identify and understand.

On Thursday I planted some arugula and mache seeds as a little patio planter experiment. Look how far they’ve come:

I’m impressed.

Gs are ready for us to go back to work:


Poor animals are exhausted. I’m sure it has nothing to do with two of their lab-ish pals coming to visit yesterday and staying overnight. And it had nothing to do with them following us around for 10 days solid.

We’ve gotten a lot done and gained momentum on a number of projects. The office alas is not done. We had a couple of issues that delayed completion but we figure we can get the rest done this week and have it all set up by Saturday.

The moral of this story, however, is that you don’t need to leave town or go anywhere to have a real vacation. Sometimes what you really need is to stay home and spend time together.


So: stay-cation day 7


Happy 4th of July! It’s America’s Birthday and the Gs started it out with a photo op. And a nice walk, although the normal Texas temperatures are creeping back up.

Poor Gs. They are so exhausted. It’s hard work having humans around 24-7. Guinness only likes it because walks are longer on week days. Godiva is enjoying more outside time — sleeping in the sun is one of her favorite things. And then there’s George.


July 4 is the reason we have George. The theory of the rescue group that saved him is fireworks or gunshots (yes, people shoot off guns on July 4 in Texas) caused him to get spooked and try to jump a chain link fence. He caught his leg on it and opened it knee to groin. And so he has been dubbed a fireworks dog.

He is passed out on the cold tile by our front door. George has had a big day of chasing Godiva around the yard, destroying stuffed toys (thanks Tracy!), following his humans around, and snuggling with Guinness. And me apparently, although I don’t recall this photo being taken:


The tv is on, we’re watching Independence Day celebrations from Philadelphia (good music), and none of us can hear fireworks, gunshots or other loud noises like several neighbors’ parties. Replacement windows are great for 1960s houses and not just for energy consumption!

The humans in the house had a good day of organization and getting stuff done. We decided that we’d do a major reorg of our kitchen during this break so we finally tackled it. Looks good and now that we have the cabinets in the dining room, we could put lots of stuff away in a better way.

While I tackled some financial organization, Bruce continued work on the office. We have wifi again (yay!) and the desk area is done:


Tomorrow we’ll be doing the full gray wall paint job in the office including texturing the walls where the wainscoting once was. Wish us luck!

So: stay-cation day 6

This may be one of our best vacations yet. Another beautiful and cool morning. Perfect for planting and mulching fall tomatoes/peppers. I got that all done before 10 am. Hard to believe that we need to think about fall now (see the end of this post for gratuitous garden photos).

It was a day of getting stuff done:
-bar fridge/cabinet final leveling and stocking
-adding another board to tv cabinet feature wall
-patio clean up
-garage clean up
-habitat restore to donate some stuff
-post office to mail three packages

Don’t worry: we took a break. We had a taste of Italy for lunch. Jimmy’s Food Store is an Italian market downtown and we picked up some sausage, pizza dough, and lunch — they have great sandwiches. It was a fun (and delicious) break.

It was a little hotter than yesterday so I’m glad we got the outdoor stuff done early.

But right when we were thinking that we were done for the day, around 4:30 we got a call from Lowes and found out a blind we ordered was in (early by 5 days) so we went to pick it up:




We got it installed in about 5 minutes, no joke. It’s already made a big difference–our neighbors’ annoying 24-7 security light has finally been blocked!

And so we called it a day. Big painting fun tomorrow!

Here’s a collection of photos from today (I am having posting issues since we don’t have wifi until the office is reassembled so unfortunately I couldn’t weave them throughout the post as I planned):










Until tomorrow!

So: stay-cation day 5

I’m tired. But instead of being mentally fatigued, my body is tired. And I love it.

We were up fairly early for day 5 of Stay-cation 2013 and we’re greeted with amazing weather. It was like cottage country weather at the end of a dock or Southern California beach before breakfast weather. But we needed to have a fairly fast dog walk since David the Electrician was coming by 8.

Actually 7:30. David’s a great electrician just somewhat unpredictable. So we enjoyed coffee and breakfast outside with the Gs. The Gs were outside all morning long:


As you can see, Guinness loves to be outside.

I love to be outside and used the time wisely. I picked the last of the lettuce, harvested today’s veggies, and prepared the urban farm for tomorrow’s fall tomato and pepper planting.




And Bruce found a new friend:


David installed pot lights over the new dining room cabinets, put in a plug in the no longer wet bar, fixed an outside plug, and fixed the attic light. He likes that he’s part of the process of altering the Mortroski Mid-century.

After he left, we headed over to North Haven Gardens to pick up tomatoes and peppers to plant tomorrow.

But the majority of the work today was in the office/tv room.





Godiva stays safely out of renovation’s way. Not Guinness:



Another great and super productive day was had by all. It’s going to be another in bed by 9:30 night. No one can say we’re not going to bed tired every night of this Stay-cation.

So: stay-cation day 4


Happy Canada Day, y’all! Bruce and I celebrated Canada’s birthday by continuing to make progress on our home projects.

This morning after another extra long dog walk in the much cooler weather, Godiva and I tackled the front yard weeding. They are all native, low water plants and until they spread out more, weeds will invade.


It wasn’t as bad as the last time, though I may have gotten some sun even with the 30 SPF sunscreen


The countertop guy came by to confirm Bruce’s measurements. We have a bit more work to do in the no-longer-wet bar, but it’s adding some supports.

David the electrician is coming tomorrow to add some pot lights, move a plug, fix the attic light, and fix an outdoor plug.

We will be painting since we gutted the office once more and did a bunch of pre-painting work. Sanding mostly. Some filling.


As you can see, the supervisor is asleep on the job.

We flew the Canadian flag in front of our house and didn’t get it stolen or get a nasty note so I feel pretty good about our little celebration.


Because we’re working on the office, we have no wifi and 4G isn’t so good in the house. It’s a lovely night but the mosquitos are coming out to play. Until tomorrow!

So: stay-cation day 3


This post is going to look like all we did is eat today on day three of Stay-cation 2013. Or make food.

It’s pretty much true.

Today’s weather was amazing: much cooler. The Gs got their super long spring Sunday walk today. It usually comes to a grinding halt by mid-June, much to Guinness’ disappointment. They are all still wiped out and after they ate dinner, they started snoring.

Not a bad day off: I got banana pancakes and a manicure/pedicure plus plenty of garden time and kitchen experimentation (and some boring household chores).

Bruce continued his work on the now no-longer-wet bar. He’s repairing the dry wall where we removed the bifold doors and it’s solitary work at this point. The countertop fabricator is coming tomorrow to ensure our measurements are ok.

Look what Bruce found as he was working today:


Looks like some previous owner thought painting over it would be a great idea verses doing the right thing and taking it down by steaming it off.

It’s under enough paint that it’s staying. There would be no way to take it out other than removing the drywall. And that’s not happening.

So I spent most of the time this afternoon with the vegetables.


First up were the Sweet 100s. They are all ripening so fast that they do not last very long. So I decided to roast the ones I picked yesterday to preserve them for a few days.


Olive oil, garlic, a bunch of tomatoes, salt and paper. Roast at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. That’s it. I’ll add some basil when we eat it later this week, either on pasta or with fish. And if Bruce likes the roasted tomatoes, maybe I’ll freeze some for later.


But there were more tomatoes (and basil) to pick today. We’re getting towards the end of the tomatoes’ life spans. The plants are getting straggly, dry, and ugly as they get zapped by the sun and by making tomatoes. Still, I’m pretty happy with the amount we’ve harvested. It’s a vast improvement over last spring.


With so many tomatoes happening plus plenty of okra, I decided to try another experiment for dinner. Diced onions, chunks of okra, and some of tonight’s tomato harvest turned into stewed okra and tomatoes. Not bad with grilled chicken. And not slimy at all.


Tomorrow I think I’ll make some pesto for later eating. It freezes well and makes for a yummy and quick weeknight dinner when we’re crunched for time.

The urban farm is looking pretty unattractive as we enter the hot months. I spent most of the time gathering stuff to feed the composter.

But this week, I’m also thinking about what I’m planting for fall because this week, it’s time to get the tomato and pepper transplants. Seems hard to believe!

So: stay-cation day 2


I finally roasted some of the Anaheim chilis and jalapeños last night.


If you haven’t roasted peppers, you should try it. Not only is it an easy way to cook them but after you throw them in a bowl and cover it with cling film/plastic wrap, they peel very easily.

Right now we’re eating them as a condiment (like on tonight’s burgers) but I’m thinking of puréeing the next batch and using the sauce for fish.

But I digress. Today’s stay-cation adventures included sleeping in a little (thanks, Bruce!), a visit from the plumber, and a trip to a lake.

Jim the plumber pulled out the rusted out bar sink and fixed the leaking backyard faucet. I missed seeing him since I was out running errands like getting Guinness’ phenoxybenzamine.

When I got home we left for our friends’ house at a local lake to have lunch. We were also supposed to swim and jet ski but we ended up sitting on their patio and talking all afternoon. It was a real treat since these friends are very busy and that much time together is very rare. And it was beautiful to relax next to a lake and watch the boats drive by.

Of course, there was also harvesting that needed to happen:


So: stay-cation day 1


We started our first day off with the Gs morning walk around the neighborhood followed by egg, tomato, cheese breakfast sandwiches. If you have any doubt that freshly picked tomatoes from your own garden are worth the effort, today’s breakfast would have swayed you. And it was so good, we’ll be enjoying a caprese salad tonight. (Yes, the big ones are huge as you can see from the whiffle ball in the photo.)

Next up was a visit to our lawyer. After the Planning for Your Pets class a few weeks ago where we learned about the importance of ensuring that, in the event of our deaths, provisions are made for our dogs at a class a few weeks ago, we called the dude who did our will to amend it. The laws are different everywhere but in Texas, if no one is named to take care of your dogs, they can go to the pound. Also pets are considered property, just like a toaster or car. Suffice it to say, learn how where you live thinks about your companion animals and plan for it while you’re still able to.

So, now that’s all organized. Just in case. Not a very cheerful way to start a holiday, but it’s done.

The plumber was supposed to come by and remove the wet bar sink and fix an outside tap, but he got delayed and will be here tomorrow. That’s why we did a pile of errands to get them out of the way.

Our other pal David the electrician is coming by this week to do a bunch of stuff.

I’m hoping for some sleeping in time because I’m still tired from my crazy work week, but maybe I’ll just do what I did last Friday and fall asleep at 8.