Getting Back To The Basics

A place to show the changes in our yard, our garden, our home, and our life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

We didn't really get a vacation in the 2012 year. Normally we sneak down to Manzanita, OR at least once - sometimes twice - a year for a few days. It happened to work out that I had a chunk of days off in a row so we opted to do something a bit different. Instead of doing the traditional family Christmas dinners we headed down to Manzanita for some rest and relaxation. We will be meeting up with the family units for dinner and gift exchanges in the coming weeks.

It was nice. It was fairly rainy which was expected but the pups got out twice a day to romp in the sand and water and then warmed up by the fireplace while Rob and I relaxed, napped, etc. 

One of the awesome things we love about Manzanita is how dog friendly it is. It is a very sleepy little town so it isn't a place you go to party hardy - and that's perfect for us. Violet is dog reactive, so allowing her to romp around safely on the beach can sometimes be tricky. Off season, week days, and off-peak hours are what allow us to go out safely and have a great time. 

We have a 15' lead for Violet if there are dogs playing in the background. If there weren't any dogs nearby we would take off the lead and let her run her little heart out. Since the beach is so flat and wide we can see dogs coming from a safe distance. I always keep treats on me and it's a great place to practice attention, recalls, and emergency recalls. 

The motel we stay on is right on the water so it's pretty easy for us to peak out heads out and figure out if the coast is clear - if there are too many dogs out we just hunker back down and wait for a safer time to venture out.

Monday was our only day without constant rain. Gave some pretty pictures! But since it was nice out everyone else came out with their dogs so Sadie and I did a solo photo shoot.

Coincidentally, a friend of mine named Jana came down to Manzanita for the Christmas holiday too! She brought her Giant Schnauzer, Gus, and her two adorable Boston Terriers, Eddie and Kaia. Gus is a huge goober of a teenage boy. He has no idea how big he is and just wants to play. He's adorable.

The motel we stay in is pictured in the upper left corner. So close to the beach and Manzanita's main drag! So many cutesy little mom n pop shops. No big box stores here!

After playing outside in the sand and water, curling up against the fireplace is heaven. The girls utilized this fireplace often. Our future house will have a cozy fireplace.

Christmas evening we had pie with Janna - and we got to snuggle with her crazy puppies. This one is Kaia. She has one blue eye and is deaf. She responds to hand signals. Super smart, super cute.

Eddie. He is seriously cute. Completely ball crazy. He had us cracking up with his antics and tricks.

Gus thinks he's a lap dog. 

Wednesday, before checking out, we let the girls romp around one more time before packing up and heading home to Seattle. We got some seriously cute pics.

They love each other <3 div="div">

Jana gave the girls a santa squeak toy for Christmas. They decapitated him. Santa is dead. Sorry kids.

It was a great Christmas. We may do this again in future years. A new tradition has been born? Maybe.
A ton more pictures can be found here:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Land

We looked at more land today - lower price point than the first property we looked at (and blogged about here) so I was crossing my fingers it would appeal to us. It was nice, sloped but not too bad, 1.5 acres nicely squared so fencing it wouldn't be weird or difficult. But it was off a busy road so there was a bit of road noise and it was giving off a weird chemical smell. The real draw back for this property though was the particular path we'd need to take to get from there to work every day.

Pretty scenery - but not the property for us.

In the end after weighing pros and cons we opted to pass on it. I hope to do some homework on two properties we have at the top of the short list to figure some things out. No rush though. Still not planning on purchasing anything till next spring at the earliest.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving - a day set aside to give thanks for the good things in our lives. We have friends, we have family, we both have jobs, we have a roof over our heads, and warm food in our bellies. And of course we have the girls. It's been a while since we've had a photo dump of them on this blog so without further ado.... crazy puppy time.

Sadie gets some air going after her ball. Mad skills.

Violet loves to get in on the action. She doesn't care about the ball so much. She cares about running with Sadie. That's the game for her.

So happy 

Love this picture. So full of joy.

And lastly, a little video. We got the girls a plastic egg toy and Sadie thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Violet was too busy eating grass like a little moo cow to be bothered playing with it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

House Plans

We are currently talking with a design/build company located in Seattle to talk numbers and figure out if our desire to build is feasible for us. Our budget isn't the largest out there but they are willing to work with us to see if this is in the cards for us.

One option is to find some floor plans I like and just have them modify them to suit our land and build codes - that would save money on the design and put that money back into the build part. And that works perfectly for us because I think I know what I like and want.

The tweaks for us would involve:
  • No sun deck or covered porch
  • The upstairs would be a simple open loft. No bedrooms or bathroom. It would be a bonus space which is exactly what we need.
So keeping in mind the above changes, here are some photos of a house built with this floor plan as shown on Linwood Home's website.

Front of house - entry way

Back of house - we would not have the basement space as shown here.

Living room space - open floor concept. The 2nd floor would be an open loft bonus space.


So that's where we are. Still researching, still planning, nothing set in stone and no decisions made.  We will have a meeting with the design/build company now that I have sent her this floor plan and hear what she has to say and we'll find out if this is all a pipe dream or if it might be possible for us to do this.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Potential Land

So we've been on the hunt for a new house. A lot of people are asking why. Here are a few of the reasons:

  • Rates are low. Really low. Soon they will start going up - when exactly is unclear. Some say summer 2013, some say as late as 2016. It's a guessing game really, but right now they are low and won't stay that way forever.
  • Shootings. Our neighborhood has gone from being "okay" to being a bit on the sketchy side. Drive by shootings have gone up. I do not feel safe walking the dogs at night right now. Winter is upon us and I bought a treadmill to run the pups on so they can be safely exercised without dealing with sketchy characters that come out at night. Not digging it.
  • More land. Agility is becoming a more prominent aspect of Sadie's training and in order to move onward we need access to some equipment to practice with on our own time. Teeters, weaves, A-frames, tunnels - all these things take space. Space I do not have. We need more (level) land. 
So we are looking east. Sammamish/Issaquah preferably. The problem is we aren't finding the house/land combo I am looking for. My requirements:
  • Looking for an acre. Can be just shy of this - maybe even half an acre if the lay out is appropriate. But many lay outs are not appropriate. Many have the house square in the middle of the land which eats of the usability, hence an acre is what we are looking for. 
  • Must me level - or mostly level. I am not practicing agility in the rain on hills. Not happening.
  • I hate most of the houses that are on the market. Too big, not the right lay out, bla bla. Gotta be a house we love.
Yes I am being picky. 

So that brought me into looking at another option: building.

Today we looked at property up in Issaquah. This lot is up in the Trail Ridge area so it's got some elevation to it but nothing too bad. All paved roads, that sort of thing. It's two acres and it has been mostly cleared already. Not level but could be made level and usable.  It's rural but easily accessible to I-90 and close to Issaquah shopping. Now if only it can stay on the market till March 2013 - maybe it's meant to be?

A quick view of the land by video:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Agility Update

Sadie and I have been doing agility for nearly a year now (come October or November will make one year).  Sadie is having a lot of fun and really loves the sport. It's been a while since I have offered any real updates. Mostly because it's hard to photograph when you are running your dog and the videos aren't terribly exciting - mostly it's me making an ass out of myself as I screw up my footwork, body language, and verbal cues.

It's also been hard to do a lot of daily training with her. Summer is tough for me as I am still traveling to Issaquah 2X a day for work and I cannot bring Sadie to work her at lunch time. Plus I work at Bellevue College teaching that OB class which is a big time suck. Now that my schedule is a little more normal I am hoping to offer Sadie some more dedicated time.

A-frame, dog-walk, tunnels, jumps... Sadie is champ.

Overall we handle jumps well and she listens and observes directional cues very well.  We even tackled a serpentine pretty well even though it darn near made MY brain explode. The video below shows a pretty long explanation of serpentines and everything I was doing wrong. Fast forward to 4:35 to skip the boring stuff and see it all come together.

Teeter is a challenge because even though she does the actual teeter fine (no hesitation, hits her contact, and performs a 2 on 2 off *technically* correct) however we moved too quickly. My fault for not slowing down. She will stick her contact get her cookies and then releases herself before I say "okay". Under no circumstances should she ever break her contact until I tell her to. In a competition setting the pause before I say "okay" will be a nano second. However, we aren't competing and even if we were, she should stand in that spot until I say "okay" regardless of where we are. So. That is something we need to work on.

The downside of needing teeter work is we don't own a teeter, nor do we really have room to store and set one up. That really slows down the process since I can't work it at home.

Direction is something else I need to work on. I should be able to cue Sadie a direction like "Jump right"  which means turn right after clearing the jump, and "Left Tunnel" which means turn left then take the tunnel. This has been challenging.

And lastly, the weaves. The weaves are considered the most challenging to train and sadly I've left them for last. I am far behind my other classmates because I kept putting it off. I hope to have made good progress in the next couple of weeks.

Sadie looks .... cocky. Like, "Psh. I so got this." Well, I hope she's right. I'd like to see some kick ass weave action pretty soon.

Even Violet got in on the action :)

And thus concludes my agility ramble.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mini Dutch Babies - aka Mini German Pancakes

Another great pinterest find. The original recipe is found here and it is really easy and simple to use. I made some minor changes for our needs and it came out very well.

Dutch Babies are sometimes called German Pancakes or Dutch Puffs. They're heavy on the egg and light on the flour which I actually prefer for a variety of reasons. The original recipes call for sugar which this recipe lacks - another reason I like it.

Slowly adding the melted butter last so as to temper the eggs.

The original recipe calls for regular sized muffin tins. I used the jumbo muffin tins. The recipe fills 6 perfectly - it will fill nearly to the top x 6.

Once they come out of the oven they will be puffy and won't at all look like dutch babies - but they immediately start to cool and deflate.

The finished product - topped with peach preserves and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

  • 1 cup milk (we used almond milk. Turned out great!)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (we used almond extract. Way better than vanilla)
  • 1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients except the butter. Make sure there aren't any flour lumps. Slowly mix in the melted butter.
  3. Fill the muffin tins most of the way full.
  4. Bake time will depend on the muffin tin size. Jumbo's will need to bake 20-22 minutes. Regular sized muffin tins need about 15 minutes. They are done when golden brown and puffy on the top.
  5. Remove from oven to cool, about 5 minutes. Top with your favorite toppings. Syrup works great, too.