Friday, May 27, 2016


It's that time of year, when the weather warms up and little man needs a clipping. Cairn terriers have a double coat and should be hand-stripped. However, we started opting for a clip when we left Ollie's birthplace of England for the return home to Texas in June 2013. After spending his first two years in a moderate climate, I'm sure he wondered if we were moving into a danged furnace.

Now it's our annual May ritual, the great clipping of the typical shaggy Cairn coat. As always seems to be the case, the groomer heard SCALP instead of clip and so it will take a while for Ollie to resemble anything other than a shorn sheep or naked mole rat. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think he looks a bit sad that he lost his coarse coat. Or maybe like a doggy WTF, I didn't sign up for this bare look.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Over the Rainbow in Surrey

Yesterday afternoon it clouded up, not an unusual occurrence here in England where the weather is quite fickle and changeable. You just can't trust it. I seldom leave home without carrying a small umbrella in my purse or wearing a lightweight rain jacket. After the rain arrived, our resident garden snails were busy sliming their way across the back patio.

Then an hour or so later as we crept closer to sundown (which is getting close to 9:00 pm on clear days at this time of year), the 9th grader shouted down to me from her bedroom upstairs that there was a really vivid rainbow with a faint second one visible, too. I took the second pic a bit later as the sky shifted to a pink and and purple hue.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Zucchini Dusted with Thumb Skin

We've been committed to eating healthier these days, so I had purchased a couple new kitchen implements to help with that. In order to slice zucchini uniformly thin, I've been using our new mandolin. I took a chunk out of my thumb the first time I used it, but other than that minor mishap it has been a wonder. This makes the prep for baked zucchini parmesan chips so much easier.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring Break in Holland

Because we have quite a bit of travel on the calendar for summer, we decided to take it easy over spring break. The 9th grader and I took my mother to Holland for a long weekend. Our host was a Texas friend I've known since fourth grade that went Dutch over 20 years ago and never looked back. 

Since my mother had never visited Holland, we started off with a lovely walking tour of the Amsterdam city centre. The canals were as picturesque as I remembered. 

We passed by the Anne Frank house. It gets me every time, that punch in the gut of all that was endured and sacrificed during World War II.

The adjacent church, Westerkerk, is mentioned by Anne in her diary. She listens to its bells and longs for an end to the war. Last time we were here, I missed this lovely little commemorative statue of Anne.

Our walking tour ended and then we hopped on the boat for a tour of the canals. As always, our Tours By Locals guide was excellent. We've used them in several European cities and have never been disappointed. 

Back at my friend's darling farmhouse near Bergambacht, we took a very picturesque stroll with her dogs. Gumbeaux, the dachshund, was mostly a gentleman on this visit. What's a little humping on the arm of your new friend, right? He's quite the handy fella to have around when you drop a bit of food on the floor. Texas, the St. Bernard PUPPY, was a hoot. She was at that stage where's she was all big and clumsy and awkward. A little slobbery and very enthusiastic about her toys. 

The next day, we all loaded up into the van and hit the road north to the coast in search of fields of flowers. It was a bit early in the season for tulips, but the hyacinths were really putting on a show. And how convenient that we ran across some fields with a windmill nearby. My daughter did her signature tourist move, the jump.

We ended up at a lovely restaurant in a cute little town along the North Sea. The decor was unique. Here are the daughter and my friend's son touching the butt of the ceramic statue on our table. Cautionary statuary if you make a habit of gobbling up the bread and cheese?

No visit to the beach would be complete without a cartwheel. 

Then on the way back to the van, the teen just had to duck into a local shop for some frites. This is my favourite pic from the trip. It was taken by chance before the smiley pic as a gull just happened to fly above her head as if it was considering a swoop down to snag a fry, but reconsidered at the last minute.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Trail of Snails

When we got some much needed rain earlier in the week, the procession of snails across the back patio was quite entertaining. Lots of different sizes and shell colours to see. 

Then a few decided to take a break from the wet weather

while others just extended their trip up the side of the house and onto the french doors. I counted at least seven in the french door pic below. What about you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


After almost two weeks with only a few sprinkles that had me wondering if it was just some stray bird tinkle, we finally got some gentle rain today. And then it became a veritable snail convention on the back patio. I've seen them before, moreso at night. Oh sure, stepped on a few in the dark when I take Ollie out for his nightly potty breaks before I realised I need to watch where I'm going. By the time you hear that telltale crunch, the poor little thing has bitten the dust patio stone.

Here are some of my favourite pics taken with my handy dandy camera phone this afternoon. Most were on the ground, but I counted at least seven that had slimed their way onto the french doors/door frames found all across the first floor of the entire back of our house.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Here's Your Sign, UK version

If you're from the South, the southern states of the US, then you're probably familiar with this comedian. Bill Engvall is originally from the Lone Star State of Texas like me <insert piercing whistles, obnoxious yelling and maybe a hell, yeah! here>, so he leans towards some redneck humour. Folks in the south get it, whether you're raised in a double wide along a dirt road or in a McMansion on the golf course. It's our heritage.

I like Engvall because he focuses on the humour in everyday situations. A big part of his early monologues were spent telling anecdotes like you see in the clip below. Here's your sign... the you're an idiot sign for asking a question that makes no sense based upon the context of the conversation. 

I just discovered the UK version of this, an actual sign/warning tag on my hair straightener that immediately reminded me of Bill Engvall. The middle temp setting heats up to 315° F and the brush rotates. To keep the user from possibly getting singed fingers, it has a guard on the outside. So you'd think the following was completely unnecessary.

I'm still trying to figure out what might possess a person to think that attempting to use this hairstyling tool on your eyelashes is a good idea. That's the only explanation I can conjure up as to why you'd have the straightener anywhere near your eye. Or that it might actually work. Obviously the Brits have their own version of redneck southerners lurking amongst the population.

Hello, May!

After grousing about how the weather here in the UK was being particularly fickle, I'm having to eat my words this week. Just look at the extended forecast.

Highs in the mid 70s are expected this next weekend. It's practically a heatwave in May. The Brits will be out in full force, sporting shorts and tanks with lily white extremities, soaking up any bits of sun while enjoying the seasonal temps. The outside dining areas in restaurants and pubs will be filled to overflowing. The paths along the river will look like motorways at the peak of rush hour - bikes, dog walkers and strollers as far as the eye can see.

The lone tree in our smallish front yard finally decided to bloom. The tree itself isn't anything to talk about, but these pink blooms are absolutely lovely. I've got no clue what variety it is, but I'm really enjoying the show of colour.

This morning I enjoyed a lovely stroll over to the local grocery store to pick up the fixin's for some chicken noodle soup. It's a simple meal I know the teenager enjoys and I'll get some mileage out of it with leftovers. Add a cheese baton (that's UK speak for a short loaf of french-style bread with some cheese melted on the exterior) and it's a meal.

Ollie is sitting around, impatiently waiting for his ride to doggy daycare, no doubt wondering why I won't take him for a walk in all this fabulous sunshine. In anticipation of the warm temps, I purchased one of those elevated mesh beds that I've seen in the pics we receive in our weekly email from the doggy daycare. It's sprung like a trampoline, so it's more comfortable than the hard ground. Plus it's supposed to help keep them cool in warmer temps because it's raised. You'd think that wouldn't be a problem here in England, dogs getting overheated. But keep in mind that the majority of homes on this side of the pond don't have air conditioning. You open your windows and either hope for a stiff breeze or purchase some oscillating floor fans and hope you don't have to suffer through a prolonged heat wave. Just to make the folks back home jealous, I'd consider a UK heat wave to be temps over 80° F. What won't make you jealous - windows without screens to keep out the flying critters. 

This is what Ollie is supposed to do... lounge about in comfort.

But this is how it's playing out thus far. 

He has been on it a couple times... because we tossed a doggy treat up there and he hopped up to retrieve it. I'm convinced he'll use it as the temps climb a bit more. We'll see. Otherwise it will be donated to the doggy daycare so his other little doggy friends can enjoy it if it never catches on here at home.