Best Advice of the Week: Gunky Soap Cup Begone!

September 18, 2010

If you use liquid clothes soap in your washing machine, you may be like me … totally disgusted by how gunky the lid/measuring cup gets by the time that bottle of soap is used up.

But this week I read a solution to keep that little cup clean that is easy and it works!

When the cup begins to get gunky, the next time you are doing a load of warm water laundry, just toss the cup in with the load. Of course, you do need to remember to remove it before you put the load in the dryer.

I immediately began using this hint when I read it, and it works great!

A diet for dogs that works!

August 27, 2010

Our beloved Akela died almost three years ago.  If you’d like to know a little more about her “talents” and maybe just a few tiny flaws, here is a post I did then.

And, if you happen to have a dog that needs to lose weight, you might want to try the diet I told about in that post:

About 6 years ago, the Vet told us that Akela Jane needed to lose a little weight (actually about 10 lbs.).  (It runs in the family!)  So, a friend told me the trick of replacing a cup of a dog’s dry dog food with canned green beans, to cut down on their calories.  We did it and it worked!  The Vet was amazed.  And, after she had lost the weight we continued to replace a half cup of her food with beans, because she liked them so much.  She thought they were a treat!  Go figure.

If you try this diet for your dog, I hope it works as well for you as it did for us.

By the way, if you happen to have recently lost a pet and are grieving for them, take heart.  We loved and adored Akela like no other pet we had ever had.  But there does come a time, as it is now for us, when the pain of loss fades and you are just left with wonderful memories.

You Buy A House. Neighbors Are Free!

December 18, 2007


For almost twenty years, we lived in a farmhouse where our nearest neighbors were a long way away.  Hubby’s brother and sister-in-law lived down the road with a field between us, so we could see each other’s houses, and they were great neighbors, but you definitely couldn’t talk to each other without a phone call or a drive down the road.

And then four years ago, we moved here, to a house in a neighborhood, with, frankly, some concern about having close neighbors, after our years of “wide open spaces.”  But, we have come to feel like we have won some sort of “neighbor lottery.”  We could not have picked nicer neighbors — even if it WERE possible to “pick” your neighbors. 

All of our neighbors are great, but what inspired me to write this is the house next door, and the terrific couple who live there.

The family who lived there when we moved in transferred out of town with his job soon thereafter and the house sat empty for a year and a half.  During that time, I prayed and prayed about that house and who would buy it.  It hadn’t been taken care of, so didn’t “show” very well.  The longer it was on the market, the more I worried about who could possibly see it’s potential, looking past it’s slightly bedraggled yard and not so sparkly clean interior.

Finally, it was bought — and by a wonderful couple — Belinda and Mike — who truly DID see its potential, and set about making it a beautiful home that anyone would be proud of — through lots of long hours and hard work.  And, that isn’t the only way they perked up our neighborhood. 

Mike has a sailboat with a beautiful sail in all the colors of the rainbow.  It is so peaceful to watch him gliding across the lake.  And, they both were so kind to our dog, Akela.  If they were out in their yard, and Akela was out in our yard, one of them would come over and throw the disk for her (her FAVORITE thing in all the world to do!) 

Mike would be mowing, and Akela would take the disk and lay at the very edge of our yard and just watch him.  A not-to-subtle hint.  And, at some point, he would stop and come over and throw for her for a while, and then give her a tummy rub, and then go back to mowing.  The last time I saw him give her a tummy rub was just a week before she died (by that time she was no longer able to chase the disk).  They were both wonderful “friends” to her. 

Belinda and I have slowly gotten to know each other, and what a treat she is!  She is always interesting to talk to — and always interested in what is going on with us.  We happened to see each other at the hair salon we both go to, right after Akela died, and had a little impromptu, tearful “remembering Akela” moment right there in the waiting room. 

Last Sunday afternoon I was baking — a very messy proposition.  I had made chili for lunch and Hubby had eaten some earlier, but I had waited for a “break in the action” before I took time to eat.  So, I had cleared off a spot on the island just large enough for my bowl of chili and glass of milk and was sitting there eating a late lunch, among the clutter of baking, in my flour-dusted old clothes, and Hubby walked in the garage door, calling, “Sandra Ann!!”  Just the way he said it (and, by the way, this is a whole post of its own, but my name is NOT Sandra Ann), I knew before I turned around, that someone was there!  Rats. Messy kitchen.  Messy me. 

Let me disgress for a moment.  We exchange some little edible treat with Mike and Belinda next door and with Jack and Sandy across the street each Christmas.  On Friday night, Jack had come to the door with a Kringle from Wisconsin, which is their delicious gift every year.  It’s a wonderful circle of pastry with a variety of fillings — this year, ours was apple.  Anyway, once he did that, I knew I’d better get our gifts for both of those couples done too.  So, their gifts were some of the baking I had done that afternoon.

As soon as I turned around and saw a smiling Belinda standing at the door with a bag in her hand, I guessed that Jack had inspired her to “get cracking” too and she was here to deliver a Christmas goodie.  Not just ANY Christmas goodie either.  It was a loaf of freshly baked homemade bread, a jar of homemade jelly, and a tin of wonderful hint-of-lemon flavored frosted sugar cookies.    All wrapped very artistically in white butcher paper, done up with dark brown silk ribbon, with red berries.  If I didn’t know already that Belinda had an artistic “bent,” I would have known by how artistic not only the gifts were, but the wrappings. 

Now, this is what I love about Belinda.  She sat right down there on the other stool, in my messy kitchen, drank a soda, and chatted.  Because she is so comfortable to be around, whereever she is, it didn’t bother me at all that my kitchen and I were both a mess!  So, we had a great visit, and she left.  (Taking the blueberry buckle I had made for them with her.  Nice of her to pick up her own gift!)

Okay.  Here’s the reason I’m writing this post about Belinda and Mike today.  This afternoon I took a little nap (that’s one of the great “perks” of being retired).  When I got up, Hubby said that Belinda had stopped by to drop off another gift!  Another gift?!  And then he showed it to me.  It was a very special Christmas tree ornament.  It was a picture of Akela that they had taken.  It was cut in a circle and covered with a circle of beveled glass, with a hole in the top with a ribbon through it.  I was soooo touched.  I called Belinda to thank her, and she said, “We loved her too.” 

Not just neighbors but friends who have demonstrated their friendship through sharing our grief over the loss of our beloved pet.

We are very thankful for our wonderful neighbors.  They may have been “free” — but they are also “priceless!”

Akela Jane Will Be Missed

October 16, 2007


We had to have our wonderful  12 year old Australian Shepherd, Akela, (aka Akela Jane, Keeler, Killer) put to sleep last week.  I immediately sat down and wrote a gut-wrenching post for the next day that, let me just say, you should thank me for not posting because it would have torn your heart out! 

But, now that I’ve had time to get past the initial surge of grief, I believe I can write a tribute to her that will help you and me remember the reasons to have a pet, when you KNOW that you will have to say good-bye someday.

When we lived on the farm Akela was a “guard dog.”  She was NEVER aggressive with people, but she vigilently patroled our acreage and did her best to keep other animals off “her turf.”  She had a nasty fight with a big, mean looking ground hog once, and she won.  Probably, because she did that with all her heart, just like she did everything else.

When we moved “to town” four years ago, I had some concerns about how happy Akela would be when confined to just a small yard.  But, we got an invisible fence (I highly recommend them), so that she could be outside whenever she liked and, in most cases, as long as she liked, and we didn’t have to worry about her leaving the yard.  She would just lay out in the yard, looking out over the lake, watching the geese and ducks, and just generally watching the world go by.  What a life!  And, if neighbors were out doing something, like sitting on their decks with friends, Akela would go to the corner of our yard nearest the “action” and just watch them.  I have wondered if that sometimes made people a little uncomfortable, but no one ever acted like they even noticed.  But, apparently SHE found THEM verrrrry interesting.

For her exercise, we have always thrown “the disc.”  We bought the nylon cloth frisbees so that they wouldn’t hurt her mouth, and she LOVED LOVED LOVED to chase one.  She would jump high into the air, coming down with the disc in her mouth, and sometimes roll like a gymnast does — and I suppose for the same reason — it didn’t hurt as much when you hit the ground.  And then come running back to you, as fast as she could (and she WAS fast), for you to throw it again.  This would go on, until YOU got tired, because she NEVER did.  In fact, many times, when we would be sitting on the deck, she would go get the disc and bring it to one of us and lay it in our lap to throw for her.  And, if we laid it aside because we were doing something else, or carrying on a conversation, she would retrieve it from where you had laid it and lay it in our lap AGAIN, and if THAT didn’t work, she would get it AGAIN and lay it in SOMEONE ELSE’s lap.  She didn’t have any favorite “thrower” — anyone would do.  She loved it when our grandchildren would come because there were more “throwers.”

Our next door neighbor, Mike, was one of Akela’s favorite people, and here’s why.  Any time he was outside at the same time she was, she would take the disc and go over and lay as close to his yard as the electric fence would allow, and then lay there and watch his every move, until he would (and he ALWAYS did) take the time to stop whatever he was doing, and throw the disc for her, and then give her a tummy rub. 

Akela DID have a couple of habits that not everyone was thrilled with.  We were never able to break her of jumping up on people.  And, at the same time, licking them!   (Of course, this meant that most of the time, she went into her kennel when there were guests in the house.)

The first time Akela “met” Linda (who is a dog person without a dog, so Akela “adopted” her and her husband), Linda leaned over to “greet” her, and stood back up “slimed.”  She said, “How did I get wet?”  Akela was a fast and efficient “licker!”  And a friendship had instantly been formed that would last a lifetime. 

Linda was listed at the kennel as Akela’s “next of kin.”  Many times Linda and her wonderful hubby would take or pick up Akela at the kennel, or, if we were going to be gone for a long day, they would come over mid-afternoon to “potty” Akela and feed her, and, of course, throw the disc for her!  Linda has said that she has a dog — it just lives at a friend’s house!

About 6 years ago, the Vet told us that Akela Jane needed to lose a little weight.  (It runs in the family!)  So, a friend told me the trick of replacing a cup of a dog’s food with canned green beans, to cut down on their calories.  We did it and it worked!  The Vet was amazed.  And, after she had lost the weight, we continued to replace a half cup of her food with beans, because she liked them so much.  She thought they were a treat!  Go figure.

One more thing about Akela.  We could see she was starting to show her age about a year ago, when we were still working, and it made us begin to wonder how much longer she would last.  At that time, I said a prayer, asking God to let Akela at least last until after Hubby retired in December, because she was always such a stress reliever for him.  When he would walk in after a stressful day, you could just see his spirits buoyed when Akela lavished love and slobber and discs on him! 

God granted that wish.  Hubby retired in December, and we had her for 10 months of our retirement that we got to spend even more time with her.

Thank you God for Akela, and the wonderful love she gave us.