Monday, November 30, 2009


Before I get around to posting about Thanksgiving and our hike, let's continue with the theme of things Miikka has destroyed. He loves to chew, and boy, does he have some teeth on him!

He took the top off of his (supposedly indestructible) Kong. I have never seen a dog do this, although it has been heard of.

The right is the before picture, left is after Miikka has finished with it. We bought a new one, and he has already eaten all the extra strands off the end of the rope. Also supposed to be sturdy and hard to destroy. None of my other dog owning friends has ever seen a dog do this either.

These two bones do not belong together. The one of the right used to be of the same size as the one on the left. These are made of hard plastic, to be chewed on for ages. Miikka did this damage in about an hour. He ate it. (See top picture for a "before" of the bone.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cuteness for Thanksgiving

Miikka napping in the sun on our deck. He isn't this still very often. Usually, he is running around, trying to catch something or digging a hole to China or finding pine cones.

Miikka is a budding literary critic as well. Here, he displays his feelings for Michael Crichton.

He is not a fan.

He does stop moving enough to cuddle some times. Usually not until the program we are watching is almost over, however.

Here he is in one of his common activities. Poor Benjamin is stuck, squatting on the floor, since Miikka climbed onto his lap when he crouched down to say good morning (you can tell it is morning by Benjamin's untamed hair).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More leaves than you'd ever want

Here is the result of our two hours in the backyard on Sunday afternoon. All filled with leaves. There are similar piles in yards all over our hill. This is the 2nd large pile of bags we have put out so far this fall. We got most of the leaves this time, but there are still lots out there. At least we can see the lawn now...

Monday, November 23, 2009


Ack! Another week gone with only one post. Sigh. And another very busy weekend. But, here are a couple of pictures of our new bookshelves.

Here is Benjamin, assembling the first of two bookcases. They weren't that hard, really, and they are sturdy. Better than the flimsy ones we had all through graduate school. But we really need 4 or 5 more to have all our books out, and have room to grow.

It is so nice to have more of our books out of boxes again, for the first time in over two years. I have missed them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, Again?

Huh. Another weekend disappeared in a vortex of dog walking, housework and errands, and my to do list is still as long as my arm. This seems to be a new phenomenon, one that I want to relate to owning a house, except that apart from the dog, most of my weekend stuff lately hasn't really been house related. Well, all the raking was. And the bookshelves we put together this weekend (pictures later in the week, I promise). But the groceries, laundry and cleaning...we had to do those in an apartment. So, where is all my time going? I am not complaining - I would rather be busy than bored, and I like getting stuff done. I just don't know where it goes...

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only a week and a few days away. We are getting a turkey from our CSA. I will be baking a pie and making rolls, while Amber and Vincent and Vincent's mom will be bringing various side dishes. Yum. Just thinking about Thanksgiving is making me drool.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I spent 5 hours yesterday raking and grinding and bagging leaves. I only got the front cleaned up, and not all the way - there are still two piles left to go. 12 39 gallon trash bags. And the back is even bigger. Urgh.

But, in the evening, Benjamin and I went to hear a talk by Marion Nestle, a nutritionist and public health professor at NYU. I have read one of her books and read her blog - lots of common sense to be found. Last night she was discussing how the food companies market their food with so-called health claims and added vitamins. Ick! She had a picture of a box of Froot Loops with added marshmallows, that had some sort of "good for you" message on the box. Huh. I am now very grateful that my mother never really let me eat sugar cereals, except as a very occasional treat. I still eat too much candy, but at least I know what a decent breakfast looks like!

Tonight, Crystal, Emily, Mindy and I are going to see Charlaine Harris - the author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, the ones that have been adapted into the TV show True Blood. That should be fun and possibly exciting, especially if she talks about the next Sookie novel (not due until sometime next year).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pasta and beans

Or Pasta e fagioli, if you want to be Italian about it. Yum. One of my favorite meals, and Benjamin's too, ever since my dad first served it to him. We made it last night. This is an approximation of the amounts, since I am working from memory, but it is pretty flexible. If you want to make it vegetarian, simply eliminate the bacon and the sausage, and use vegetable broth. If you want to play with the vegetables in it, feel free. My dad makes it with fennel some times. There are lots of similar recipes out there, in cookbooks and on the internet, so find them, try them out, and combine what you like about them. That is basically what we did here. We usually have enough for two people for dinner, a lunch each the next day, and one dinner serving for the freezer. Make sure to make enough pasta!

  • 3-4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced or crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • basil - amount is up to you. I always think the more the merrier. Dried or fresh, also up to you. If using fresh, you should probably wait and add it closer to the end.
  • oregano - see note with basil
  • salt - 1/2 tablespoon or to taste (keep in mind that the beans do suck up some of the salt)
  • 16 oz. can of tomatoes (diced or stewed or whole, whatever is your preference. I use diced)
  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 can each of : pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans (or cannellini, or whatever floats your boat), drained and rinsed. Try to get beans without added sugar or flavors.
  • 1/2 kielbasa, sliced or diced
  • Spaghetti or other noodles of your choice.
1. Crisp the bacon in a large saucepan or soup pot. When it is brown, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. If there is a lot of grease in the pan, or if you want to be healthy, remove the grease. Otherwise, leave up to 1 tablespoon.

2. Saute the onions, garlic, and carrots until soft - 5-10 minutes on medium heat. Add the basil, oregano, and salt. Add canned tomatoes, broth and crisped bacon and cook for 5 minutes to combine flavors. Start water for the pasta.

3. Add the drained and rinsed beans. Simmer for a while to combine flavors and warm the beans.

4. Add kielbasa to the beans when you add the pasta to the water.

5. Serve the sauce over the pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Creamsicle says...

What are you doing at work? Why aren't you outside?
Because, my dear Creamy, I have to pay for your cat food and to support your nip habit.
Hmph. You humans sure have silly priorities. The sun is out, and the breeze is just right, and you sit, inside, not even napping, but working!
Well, sweet kitty mine, I promise to get outside as soon as I can.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let the composting begin!

Our new compost bin arrived yesterday, and we set it up while waiting for our soup to cook. Yay! We have been waiting years to have a full garden, and a full-sized compost bin. Now that we have a house, we can finally stop waiting and start - and the compost bin is the first step. The worm bin we have will continue to get some of the peelings, but it just can't handle all our organic waste. I plan to shred a whole bunch of leaves this weekend, and we will have plenty of food scraps - mostly vegetable and fruit peelings, and tea bags - to put in the bin. And I can put Kirby's cage waste in too - it is just like rabbit manure, which is a good source of nitrogen. Who knew!

Addendum to yesterday's Miikka post: not only does he destroy beds and toys, apparently he also eats couches. Last night we discovered that he has started chewing and eating the fabric skirt around the bottom of the couch. Oops. Thank goodness it has already received that cat claw treatment, or I would be upset.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Miikka, destroyer of beds and toys

Here is Miikka, in what was supposed to be his new bed. You will notice that it is upside down, and his head is sticking through the bottom. Now Miikka has no bed. His carrot and nylabone, and other various and sundry toys have also gone away. Miikka is not an "average chewer," as the strength rating on one of his toys put it. He is an aggressive chewer. Silly puppy...beds are for sleeping, not for eating!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What do you think?

I have been playing with the template a bit. What do you think of this style? I am not sure if I will keep it or go back to the old one. Leave me a comment.

Kirby says hello

I'm not chubby, I'm just fluffy, honest!

It has been quite a while since I posted any pictures of Kirby, so I thought it was about time to fix that. Since we moved into the house, he has a whole room to run around in at exercise time, with no wires to chew or other items to destroy. Well, that isn't entirely true - he does try to eat the wall from time to time. He can jump a good way up the wall and bounce off in another direction, and when he gets it into his head, he can scamper from corner to corner pretty darn fast.

He also likes his little munchie treats. Raisins are still his favorite, but he has branched out into dandelion drops and a fruit/nut/seed/bean mix. Do you see the way he is holding onto the dish with one paw and the treat with the other? It is pretty cute. When he takes a raisin out of my hand, he will often hold on to the finger with the paw not engaged in stuffing his face. I loved my hamsters when I was a kid, but as an adult, a chinchilla is far more interesting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What is that bright thing in the sky?

Say Hallelujah and pass the sunglasses! The Sun has come out to play! The rain stopped by the time I left work on Friday - after giving us 16.23 inches for the month of October (average is 3.81 inches) - and has stayed with us ever since. Not a drop of rain all weekend. Feels like a miracle, after the deluge.

Benjamin finishes up the fence.

We took advantage of the sun to get some chores done outside. The most pressing of these was installing a fence to keep Miikka in the yard. We have fence on two sides of the back yard, but the end of the garden is open to the neighbors' little woodland area. They are never out there - in fact, I have never seen them anywhere but in their cars as they pass - but that doesn't mean they want an unruly puppy barking, digging, and pooping back there. Eventually we will put up a real fence to match the other two sides, but Benjamin wants to do it himself, especially after seeing the price estimates from two legit fence companies. Since he doesn't have time to tools to do a real fence at the moment, we decided to put up a little chicken wire fence that won't block the view, but will keep Miikka in. Thank goodness he is short.

Miikka inspects Benjamin's work.

After a marathon trip to Home Depot, we got down to work, and in less than an hour, had a passable little fence. So far, Miikka has not shown any inclination to dig under or jump over the fence. And it was so nice to be able to work in the yard without having to keep an eye on him, or chase him back into our yard.

Miikka wants to know where all his acorns went...

That work mostly consisted of leaf work - raking and shredding. I have ordered a large compost bin for our garden, and plan to use shredded leaves to start it off. So, this weekend, I also purchased my first real power tool - a leaf blower/vacuum shredder. Those of you who know me, probably also know of my vehement dislike for noisy power tools. Heck, I hate them. Some of that is from past personal traumas (hedge-trimmers = my idea of a nightmare), and some of that is that I can't stand the pollution - noise and air. But, I needed a way to shred the leaves. So, a leaf vacuum it is. Since we don't have a power mower, and a reel mower just doesn't cut up leaves, I had to get something. This was a lot cheaper than a standing shredder, and since it has blades, instead of weed trimmer cord, it is able to chop up the extra tough oak leaves.

And I thought I wouldn't be raking leaves again, once we left New York.

The compost bin should arrive some time this week, but until then, there really isn't anywhere to put all those leaves, shredded or not, so I didn't do much with the blower this weekend. I did rake the leaves into piles, and it now looks like we have some hideous giant leaf gopher problem in the yard. Oh well, as long as it stays dry, I can always go out after work and start shredding, once the bin is here.