Thursday, March 29, 2012

My husband and I discovered a wonderful Jewish deli place not too far away from us. For the first time ever I had a potato pancake with sour cream and apple sauce on top, and lots of manu items that I can't quite pronounce or understand. I tried the corned beef with sauerkraut sandwiched between two pieces of Rye bread, and it was delicious! I've been trying to eat vegan food these days, but right now I am needing some food comfort to balance out the doggy stress... execuses, execuses, right?

As far as the battlefield on the doggy front, things are quickly falling back to normal, which is pretty amazing. There was a total of three "accidents" yesterday, and only one this morning, so the statistics is encouraging.  I decided that it's just too mean to keep Uggie (yeah a homeless dog named after the movie star, what about it?)  in the crate during the day, so I put him on the leash and leashed him with me around the house. As difficult as it may sound, it was actually pretty easy. I had him sitting by my feet while I worked on the computer, he didn't cry like mad this time. The only down side? He almost chewed through the leash and escaped!

Here's what I did to train him: we went to the backyard several times throughout the day for Uggie to go to bathroom, and I always praised him when he did good. When I was in the house, he was on the leash. There was a couple of times I had to go out of the house to run errands, so I crate him, but I putted him in the bedroom with Kelly and Alfie, so that he didn't feel like he was left out. I also left chew toys and a Kang toy stuffed with wet dog food inside the crate for him to play with, and for the most part, he was pretty content. In the afternoon I took each dog seperately for some serious long walks to burn off some energy and get fresh air, then I kept them in the living room til I was able to find time to feed them dinner. After dinner, bathroom break again, a little bit of belly rub for everybody, and it was night time. Uggie went back to the crate, Kelly and Alfie stayed inside the bedroom where Uggie's crate was, and I was free to do things that I needed to do.

This afternoon while I was clipping away plants in the backyard, Alfie and Uggie somehow found a vine from a fern plant, they each got hold of one end of the vine and started playing tug of war. I watched them in amazment for a long time, it was the funniest thing I've seen ever!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The absolute god awful truth...

is that I got ANOTHER dog.

So far I've been called "crazy" by every single person I've ever met, and the ones that didn't down right call me crazy probably did that behind my back anyway. My father, who upon hearing that I adopted Alfie, declared that he's coming to the States to kill me and my two dogs, and when he discovers that I have not only got two but three dogs, he would probably try to kill me twice and then throw my ashes into outer space, but that's totally ok. In fact, I've been so stressed out living with three dogs in my house while trying to maintain it as a livable enveronment,  I am wondering myself why I got the third dog in the first place. But, we can get to that later.

As of now, things are slowly improving, and let's hope that I won't jinx myself just by saying it. Saturday after working all day I picked the wild dog up from the shelter. He was freshly castrated, in fact he still is, and he is extremly dirty. The first night he peed all over my house, while Kelly and Alfie looked at me like I've lost my mind bringing in an absolutely homeless dog.

For the past several days, I've been trying to house train him, internet is a huge help when it comes to dog training tips. Some people suggested to leash the dog with the owner everywhere in the house for a few days to keep it on a close watch, others suggested a dog crate, I opted for the crate and have been keeping him in there for short intervals of time from 1-2 hours to 3 hours today, and over night as well. I always thought it's cruel to crate a dog, but I was desperate and I had other things to do as well besides the feeding, cleaning, and walking all three pets. Today he only peed once inside our bedroom while he was allowed to roam free, which is a HUGE improvement. All in all, I have to say, this little guy is pretty smart. His hair is way too long, they drape down for almost 6 inches, and both of his eyes are completely covered by hair. Given that he's about 2 years old, I'm guessing he's never been groomed his whole life. I tried to cut off a heavily matted area on his chest, but he thought I was trying to cut him so I gave up. He still smells pretty bad, I can't wait to get him groomed by a groomer when his stitches heal!

This is the only small serissa plant I have that's doing well right now. The rest of them aren't flowering, perhaps I watered them too much! It's mostly white with just a hint of pink!

Easter is around the corner, but I decorate my house with cement bunnies all year around.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I did a little bit of shopping for dogs and got Kelly a new bed. My favorite place to buy pet beds is in Ross. Sure it doesn't come with any fancy brand names and all that, but for $15 you get a super comfy bed, throw in another $6 for a plush soft baby blanket, and Kelly is in heaven.

People who own pets know that dogs have a wide range of emotions. I don't know about other dogs, but Kelly definitely loves it when I break my bank on her. When I put new clothes on her, something in her stride transforms and she instantly looks confident and happy. Somehow she knows that the new bed is better than the old one, so without me showing her, she jumps into the new bed on her own.  I really haven't bought much for her for a while other than food and treats lately. Come to think of it, I should go back to giving her some "fashion" treats once in a while...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sushi for dinner last night. I love small sushi restaurants that serve very fresh fish without a lot of fancy Americanized sushi rolls:)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Golden Celebration...

And George Burns...

There are roses, and then, there are roses!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The forecast said that it would rain throughout the weekend, my husband had the great idea that we should make a fire in our fireplace under rainy weather.  It wasn't so simple to make a fire. We didn't know how to use our fireplace, and wasn't sure if it was safe to use it. A few days ago we had a chimney sweeper coming in to clean and inspect it.  After we got the ok from the chimney guy, we bought some real firewood and made a fire today. It made quite some strong crackling noise and heated up our living room nicely. I'd never really made fire in my own house before, so this was again one of those "firsts" that made me incredibly happy!
Love this image!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Secret Garden - Phase one

Well, as you can see, nothing much to show here. This is just a thin strip of land on the side of our house, enclosed by two wooden gates.  The previous owners simply used it to store junk and keep their dogs out of sight when they had guests over. As you can see, it's still a place where used water hose and ladders are stored. Last year when tragedy struck and Bobby died, we buried him under the large lemon tree instead of sending him to a pet cemetery so he could stay close by me, since then I've been wanting to make this place prettier as a nice resting place for my little dog. 

I'm also really taken with the idea of a secret garden, and in many senses, this little space can be sort of a secret garden, considering that it is very well concealed by two inconspicuous wooden gates. If you didn't know the house well, you'd never know that it's there.   I know that there's not much land, but I think back on my apartment living days and I used to think it would be so nice to have just a small balcony to store plants. So now that I live in a somewhat land constricted house, any space is good space.

So why is this called phase one? Because as bare and ugly as this space seems like right now, I've so far planted an apple tree, a plum tree, a small lime tree, and a purple wreath, which is a climbing plant that produces bountiful little purple flowers all summer long. I can use three words to describe these plants at the moment, they are thin, bare, and leggy.  Hopefully this year they will develop some strong roots and grow well.

So far my plan consist of adding one or two climbing roses, a cement garden bench, and maybe a small bird bath ... we'll see!

During last Christmas my mother-in-law got me a fantastic gift, a full set of bonsai tools! I've since been playing with them here and there. I bought this dwarf pomegranate tree last year hoping that I could use it in one of my fairy gardens, but it never happened. My local nursery sold quite a nice selection of inexpensive but nice bonsai pots, the other day I picked one out and planted the tree in the bonsai pot. I didn't have the right kind of bonsai soil of course, so fingers crossed that my regular potting soil would work. My first impression was that the pot was a bit too big for the tree, second impression? Something is wrong with the shape of the tree but I don't know how to fix it. So far I am just going to let it grow and be happy with the fact that it's a healthy tree! Maybe one of these days I will attend a bonsai class and let the instructor figure out what can be changed!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our living room is a difficult room to set up the furniture for because of its size and the fact that I had to fit my nearly 8ft piano.  Our neighbor came up with the idea of setting the French settee sideways, it was a moment where we smacked our forehead and wondered why we never thought of that idea before.
So, I think I like it so far. And people are actually sitting in those chairs now instead of being scared away by them!

Prunus Glandulosa 'Rosea Plena'
Also called 'flowering almond'

I'm waiting to prune it after the flowers finish blooming and then transfer it to a prettier pot!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some materials sitting in a large wood box waiting to be used.

I decided today that this would be my last fairy garden for a while, meanwhile I am on the hunt for pretty miniature trees and miniature garden materials. 

This particular tree I used is just a Azalea tree. The flowers have a wonderful pink hue, I'm really hooked! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

While in the car, Fie Fie likes to get in on all the actions. Happy Sunday:)

Whenever we take Alfie to the dog park, we get a lot of people asking where I got my dog, well, This little guy looks just like Alfie, anyone interested in rescuing him out of the shelter?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Green tea flavored waffles + bicycle riding lesson + lots of gardening = a perfect day!
My husband bought a new watering hose for me today after my old one broke a couple of days ago.  He fixed it up for me so I can go back to watering my fairy gardens... you know the saying that it's the small stuff that makes you happy? Well, it's the small stuff that makes you happy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The fairy garden master in our house, Fie Fie, has put together a fairy garden tutorial for our readers... not that anyone asked us how to make fairy gardens, but it's so fun we just can't help it! And also because, you know, we just don't have enough fairy garden posts on the blog yet!

The first thing in making a fairy garden is to choose a container.  Here's where you can get a little creative and choose pots in any shapes and sizes. The material can be porcelain, terra cotta, cement, metal, or in this case, a wood box with pre-drilled holes!

The materials we need to make a simple fairy garden are fairies (of course), plants, potting soil, fertilizer, decorative rocks or gravel, a small garden shear, and gardening gloves.

Tips for selecting fairy garden plants:

When selecting plants for the fairy garden, we usually choose a varieties of miniature trees and flowers. It is very important to not mix plants that do well with shades with plants that do well under full sun. Read the labels carefully to select the right kind of plants for your fairy garden!

Bonsai nurseries are great places to find miniature trees. Small sized, slow growing perennial plants are also perfect candidates for the fairies!

Now first thing first, let's fill the container with potting soil almost to the top...

Remove the miniature tree from its plastic container. In this case, I am using a catline elm in my fairy garden. Loosen up the roots by making a few small cuts with a garden shear around the roots to stimulate new growth.

Select the most attractive angle for the tree to be placed in the fairy garden, then shape the tree by lightly pruning off small, out of place branches.

At the same time you can mix a little handful of fertilizer into the soil. I use Osmocote because it doesn't burn the plants, but organic fertilizer spikes are also a great way to go.

To make things simple, I am just covering the remaining part of the container with Isotoma, a prennial ground cover that also produce tiny star like flowers, and adding a couple of small accent perennials and a little metal fence to the back!

After all the plants are put in place, cover the remaining bare soil area with decorative stones. It's not only aesthetically pleasing to add small stones to the fairy garden, but it also prevents the soil from running up when you water the container. Don't worry about soil spilling over onto the plants or that you might miss a tiny small space somewhere around the back, once you water the fairy garden, things will even out and clear up a lot better:) When you are done watering the container, go ahead and get to the best part of making a fairy garden: adding fairies and miniature accessories to the fairy garden.

There you have it! Tah Dah!

Finally, give the fairy garden a good amount of water, place it in the appropriate spot where it will get enough sun light, and happy fairy gardening!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It seems that once I start gardening, I can't stop. I replanted my Alice in Wonderland fairy garden last night, replaced baby tears, filled the container all the way to the top with soil, and rearranged some plants.  I am getting dangerously close to fill up my whole backyard, but I'm still making plans to make more, among all the addictions in the world, I think this is one of the best.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Today is a good day for a bit of gardening, fairy gardening that is. Over the weekend I bought a small tree called Satsuki Azalea, the tag also calls it "Kazan." Occasionally I venture out to bonsai nurseries to find cheap young bonsai trees to put in my fairy garden. I really like how it turned out! If anyone ever wonder what the miniature grass looking plant is, it's called Irish Moss:)

The resin tree trunk was from a pet store under the aquarium section, it fits my fairies just fine!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

For Californians, summer is already here! It's 84˚ in OC today and I went for a bit of flea market shopping.  I got a basket handmade in Africa, fresh water pearl necklace, a 1970s printing of Little Women, and a polka dot summer dress! Maybe it's time for a picnic and a book in the park?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It seems that with all the dating and romance, once we are married, life just evolves around two things, figuring out what to eat everyday, and busy working so we can put food on the table.  I generally love cooking. Chopping up fresh ingredients, reading a new recipe accompanied by a glass of red wine is great, but cleaning up afterward is a entirely different story.  If I had to spend an hour grocery shopping, another hour and half to cook, 15 minutes to eat dinner, and another two hours scrubbing pans and polishing the stove, I might as well just spend the rest of night complaining to my husband about the hardship of being a wife.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that since I already stopped shopping for clothes indefinitely, if we ate a little less we could afford a cleaning lady, and that's just what we did. I had several people coming in to give an estimate, one of them didn't speak English, another one had her shirt wore inside out, and then the last one walked out after hearing just how little we are willing to pay.  Finally we found someone who is willing to put up with us, and after half a day of sweat breaking hard work my house is new again.

Two days after the cleaning lady left I was stilling discovering the spots that were transformed into a state of cleanliness that I could quickly getting used to, such as the inside of microwave oven and wall spot above the garbage can.  The wonderful feeling I felt was close to love, or even better. If I had to make a poor analysis of it, it would be like receiving a two hour massage and getting a bucket of cash at the same time. Apparently, among the many things that a girl needs, nothing compares to having someone that can take a load of real life off of my shoulders even just for a few hours.

Now that the stove is clean and the kitchen is rescued from a state of chaos, my home restaurant is open again. Tonight's dinner? Japanese hot pot!

Well, it certainly has been a while since I checked in here, but today feels like the right time to pick it up again!  Mostly I...