Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yard Crashers

Cameron & I definitely lack green thumbs, and our yard shows it.  This is what the yard looked like when we moved in:

A few bushes & azaleas in the front and nothing in the back. 

Our first spring in the house, we got the itch to do some yardwork.  Because that's what homeowners do, right?  We tore down the decrepit swing, and laid out some beds with brick edgers.  We planted a few plants and hoped for the best.

After we covered the deck, I started to spend more time in the backyard and yearned for a beautiful yard.  It's a lot to wish for given that we have 2 (now 3) rambunctious dogs and 3 water oaks - not a good combination!  This summer, I had had enough.  I called in the big guns - MOM.  My mother comes from a family of gardeners.  My grandmother, mom, & aunts know their stuff.  For years they have been trying to pass off cuttings of this, and bulbs of that to me.  I was just not interested - until now.   When my mom visited this summer, we talked a lot about where the sun hit in the yard and what plants would work where.  She advised me to hold off on planting bushes until it cooled off.  Last week, Cameron & I took a couple days off work, she came down from Memphis to help and we went to work.

Here are the befores on Thursday:

And here are the afters:

In the front, we dug up the 4 white azaleas to relocate them to the backyard.    We moved the pink azaleas to the end and added boxwoods & pansies on both sides.

On the side of the house, we have an orange tree that was massively overgrown.  I didn't take a before picture, but here's everything we cut off the tree...

and here's the finished result.

We went ahead and picked the oranges, even though some still have a ways to go before they are ripe.  We ended up with over 100 of them. 

And I saved the sweet little bird's nest we found.

As for the backyard -

We kept the same layout for the beds, but filled them in with more soil.  We added loropetalums and some azalea cuttings from my mom's yard in front of the camellia - one of the few survivors from my first attempt at landscaping.

We added several Indian hawthornes & golden euonymus in the sunny area.

Then more azaleas, a few sasanquas in a beautiful bright pink color, and several cleyeras on the shady side.

Around the deck, we planted gardenias & Japanese holly.

While I wish we had a lush, beautiful lawn - baby steps.  This spring we will address sod.  But for now, I'm thrilled with the improvement.  Now, if we can just keep everything alive...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lilly!

Last Thursday, we celebrated Lilly's 4th birthday.  Yep, we celebrated our dog's birthday.  That's completely normal, right?  We may not have 2-legged kids, but we definitely view our dogs as our children.

Her "Uncle Harry" came over for dinner, and I tried out a recipe for dog-friendly cupcakes that I found on Pinterest.  The dogs sure loved them, but they weren't exactly "people-friendly!"  They had oats, pumpkin, and applesauce in them with fat-free cream cheese for "frosting."  You can find the recipe here.

They humored us with the party hats, but I could tell Dean was not very excited.

 Harry brought Lilly a new toy, which he proceded to tease her with...

I think Lilly enjoyed her birthday ;)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I realized the other day that I never mentioned our new foster dog, Dean, on the blog.

I guess he's not really "new" anymore!  Dean came into our life at the end of August.  Some of you may remember we had a foster dog, Hank, this spring.  Dean came to us through the same organization, here.

What can I say?  We're sucker for German Shorthairs!  Dean was pulled from a shelter in Tennessee.  He was horribly emaciated.  He lived in another temporary foster home for a couple months until one of the group's coordinators contacted me about being a permanent foster for him.  How could I say no?  He was transported by multiple rescue volunteers to Evergreen, AL, where we picked him up at a truckstop.  He was still very skinny when we got him, but I have worked on putting some weight on him!  Since he was a stray, we don't know much about him.  He is about 5 years old and has a limp.  He is skittish if you make any sudden movements, and scared of the cat, but he has got to be the most affectionate dog I have ever met!!  If he could snuggle up with you all day long, he'd be the happiest dog in the world.

Quite frankly - I'm attached.  I tease Cameron that we may be "foster failures" with this guy, at which point he reminds me that our house is a bit of a zoo with 4 animals!  In fact I still haven't posted him on the group's website.  It's on my to-do list - promise.  Secretly, it's because I don't want to let him go.  But I agree, while we love him very much, I want to find him the perfect forever home.  So if anyone out there is looking for a sweet older guy to snuggle with, let me know!

***Updated 11/12 - If you are interested in adopted Dean, you can find out more information here.

Redfish on the Half Shell

Our nephew, William, loves his Uncle Cameron.  Apparently he talks about him a lot at home and "calls" him on his pretend phone almost daily.  So a couple weeks ago, Cameron decided to treat him to a special day, just the two of them.  They started out with lunch at Chickfila, then took the boat out for an afternoon of fishing.

They had an amazing time.  I think it is so special for Cameron to share these moments with our nephews.  Needless, to say the older two were very jealous and already planning when Uncle Cameron will take them fishing - without William!

Since Cameron brought home a good-sized redfish, we decided to have redfish on the half-shell for dinner.  We've done it before, but I actually remembered to take pictures this time.  Cameron filleted the fish, leaving the skin on.

Then he made a mixture of melted butter, lots of garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning, and some lemon juice.  Sorry, there are no measurements - he's just not that kind of cook.

Then, he put it straight on the grill...

And we ended up with this.  So good!

Tonight, we're having the whole family over for a fish fry to enjoy the rest of their catch that day.  Should be delicious!