Gardening – March 2018

We’ve lived in this house for a few years and have been working hard on different home projects. The lady that sold us the house was retired and made it her daily job to take care of the house. The house was immaculate when we moved in, but we are a young family and not a couple of retired ladies. Keeping the inside of this house clean is more than I can handle, much less the outside. Each spring, I try to work on the yard, but the Texas heat eventually wins and I’m stuck inside with heat exhaustion and migraines.

This year, I am determined to get more done!

I’m watching YouTube videos to get inspired and am relying on indoor and outdoor housework as my workout plan. For my first attempt, I worked on replanting some plants for my stepmom. The plants didn’t do well after replanting and my mom told me that one plant was being overwatered and another had too much sun. Doh!

We have a sickly rose bush in the yard, so I tried to trim it up so that the plant wouldn’t have to waste valuable nutrients on the dead parts.


There are only two trees in our backyard, but they drop a ton of leaves and giant acorns the size of tangerines. The acorn tree shed its leaves last fall, but the other tree didn’t drop its leaves until February. The poor things are confused by Texas weather. Is it going to be 20 degrees or 80 degrees today? Both, of course! There’s a garden area in the corner of the backyard that doesn’t get enough sunlight for most plants, so I’m turning that into a composting area, fueled primarily with leaves. I just have to get the leaves to that spot. So, I spent $50 on a Black and Decker leaf blower/vacuum/mulcher, but I won’t be using the blower much. I managed to put the tool together by myself! So proud! I used it and was surprised at how easy that was. I filled a bag up with mulched leaves, dumped them into the mulching area, and transplanted some lost worms from where the leaves used to be to the mulching area. Then, our lawn guy came and removed the leaves from one of our planters, along with the plants inside it, while blowing some leaves away from the composting area. I don’t think my husband communicated my gardening projects to the lawn guys. :/

The rest of my backyard is basically a wreck.  I need to work on the backyard and the shed to get it all organized and looking nice so that it will all be easier to maintain once the initial grunt work is complete.

Out front, we had a huge planter that fell apart when the plant roots busted through the bricks. So, we got rid of that last year and I replaced it with some flourishing indoor plants. It was cute until it froze and I didn’t protect the plants from the cold ūüė¶ This year, I’m trying to get some new plants going there, starting with lavender, Jasmine vines, and succulents. We’ll see how that goes.


I normally buy sickly succulents because I’m somewhat good at reviving them.¬† However, I wanted to just shove this plant into the ground, so I had to pay full price on this one – $5.¬† I liked that it was already growing so many new buds, though.¬† Hopefully, that means we will have adorable succulents filling up the planter this year!


I just love Asian Jasmine Vines!¬† It’s pretty and will grow without much effort anywhere.¬† It’s my favorite kind of ground cover for any area where I’m not going to walk.


I pulled off some of the lower buds of the succulent and just planted them into the soil.¬† I could’ve started them inside where I know they will grow roots quickly, but I wanted to see if the lazy way would work so that I would know for future reference.


I found where my husband keeps the hedge trimmer, so I trimmed the hedge at our neighborhood entrance. I wanted to do this in the winter, but didn’t. I figured that doing this at the beginning of spring would at least be better than waiting for summer. My husband always talks about needing to trim them, and I always tell him to do it during the winter when the plant isn’t growing as quickly. So, I compromised on my own advice and his procrastination and blammo! Ugly hedges! I think it’ll fill out nicely as spring continues and the trimmings should keep the weeds that grow under the hedge down to a minimum.


We also have some hedges and plants near the front door that need work.¬†¬†Now that I know how to use th hedge trimmer, I’m going to tackle the bushes out front. I love their shapes and colors and want them to be happy and healthy plants.


I trimmed the biggest flowering plant by our door in February and it has been growing like crazy. Seeing this plant in full bloom always makes me happy – one of the only things I like about the scorching heat in Texas!


There are also plants on the side of the house that I haven’t even thought about yet. I’m jealous of the vines that our neighbors have growing on that side of their house. Maybe they’ll let me use some to graft onto our house???


I am so thankful to the previous owner for her hard work on the beautiful plants around this house. I’m hoping to keep that tradition going.¬† To end this post, here’s a pic of Pad Kee lounging on one of my laptops while I work.



Random Saturdays – The Fish Tank

Ben has been planning out his saltwater fish tank for four years. ¬†When we started dating, he was looking over plans to build a fish tank stand. ¬†He built the stand, but it was about half an inch off, so he ended up having to buy one instead. ¬†For some reason, you can’t have a giant glass container of water sit on a crooked stand. ¬†Whatever! ¬†He shopped¬†online and at a local fish stores for supplies.¬† To save alot of money, he also made his own saltwater, which is actually more complicated than pouring a bit of salt into the tank and stirring. ¬†After all of that time, all of that effort, and all of that money, we finally have fish in the tank!

We have plants and snails in the refugium (where the water comes out of the tank to be cleaned out before recirculating back into the tank) and have snails in the tank itself.  We had a green hair algae problem, but our Mexican turbo snails have taken care of that.  We also have a black limpet snail.  He has cute lil antennae and a snout!  This little fella went halfway around the tank in just a few hours on his first night.  I have never heard of a snail going that quickly before.  I thought the turbo snail was fast, but this limpet dude took his snout and ran laps around the turbo snail.  There were some emerald crabs in there.  The smaller one, died. The bigger one ended up eating two of our fish and we think he killed the other crab.  We stuck him in the refugium and he ate all of the plants except the mangroves.  So, that jerk ended up going back to the store.

It’s only been during the time that I’ve been with Ben that I’ve really learned anything about fish tanks. ¬†Until that, all of my knowledge came from biology classes about closed ecosystems and random nature shows that I watched. ¬†Temika and I had a betta fish named Busker, once, but he died when she forgot to clean the fishbowl. ¬†I’m learning more about fish now that we’re trying to figure out what kinds of fish to get when the tank is ready. ¬†The kids want “Nemo” and “Dory” fish. ¬†Minecraft really likes the dogface puffers, too. ¬†Ben is partial to the tangs. ¬†Apparently, you have to be careful about which tangs you put in the same tank, how much food you feed them, and how many rocks are in the tank. ¬†Tangs are racist and can become aggressive depending on the color of other tangs in the tank, how hungry they are, and how big or small they are. ¬†They made Disney movies about these killer racist fish! ¬†Who knew?!

As for the fish that I want in the tank, I will need to get another job to afford them. ¬†Everytime I see a fish that I like, it’s over $100. ¬†Ben will say, “Oh yeah, those are hard to find, ” or, “We’ll have to see if we can find one on sale sometime,” when I show him the fish I like. ¬†We currently have a banggai cardinal, cleaner wrasse, foxface rabbitfish, and a magnificent foxface. ¬†The rabbit fish wants to kill the magnificent foxface, so we’re trying to find a new home for the rabbitfish.

Elska is still scared of the fish tank. ¬†Pad Kee loves the fish tank, but doesn’t have a good ledge to watch them. ¬†So, he mostly just follows Ben around when he’s working on the tank and ignores it otherwise. ¬†I take care of the cats and Ben takes care of the fish. ¬†I really got the easier and cheaper job, thank goodness!

Random Saturdays – Kitten Worries

I have plenty of¬†Pinterest projects lined up to keep me out of trouble, but I decided to take in a near-death kitten instead. ¬†I just love stressing myself out over an animal I barely know and spending hundreds of dollars that I can’t really afford so that I can clean up animal messes and destruction. ¬†That’s not really how I see it, but that’s how I feel when I look at myself from the outside.

I’ve written on Facebook about how we found the perfect kitten on my in-laws’ farm. ¬†Some jerks dropped off this wonderful cat who is too gentle and loving to be a farm cat. ¬†Something happened to the cat the day before we got back to the farm – the ear was bloody and his tongue was poking out of his mouth, also bloody. ¬†I stressed all weekend about this poor kitten. ¬†We did our best to care for him and clean his wounds, but he needed a trip to the vet. ¬†The employees at the vet’s¬†were amazingly wonderful people who cared about little Pad Kee Meow. ¬†I kept asking for an outright prognosis on his condition. ¬†They would give me the diagnosis, but wouldn’t tell me the words I wanted to hear – “He should be just fine.” ¬†So, my worrying continued late into the night.

After two days of meds, food, water, and care, I took Pad Kee back to see the vet. ¬†The vet was amazed at the progress that Pad Kee had made and gave me a much better prognosis this time. ¬†The lovely vet tech cleaned out Pad Kee’s ear again and gave him a dewormer, something they were afraid to do initially since he was so dehydrated and malnourished. ¬†Lil Pad Kee continued to improve. ¬†He ate¬†dry food with his tiny kitten teeth and his healed mouth, which helped his rank breath improve. ¬†His ears still had some scabs, but looked more like he may have scratched a bit too vigorously at them rather than that he must have narrowly escaped some fierce creature that mauled his ear.

The little fighter was still sweet as can be. ¬†All he wanted was food and attention, preferably at the same time. ¬†Taking care of him was¬†alot of work, but it also made me think back to when I adopted Elska. ¬†She was a skinny little rat, with a sore on her ear and fleas. ¬†She was 99% scared and 1% loving. ¬†If you stuck your hand out, she would pet herself on it and purr like a motorcycle. ¬†Then, she would seemingly remember that she was nervous and jump away from your hand to run and hide under furniture. ¬†Anyone who has been around Elska knows that she’s still very nervous and scared, but she has improved a great deal. ¬†She’s an old lady cat now, as opposed to an old cat lady, which is what I am. ¬†She’s about 60% scared and 40% loving. ¬†She’s even started to be brave enough to go out into the backyard at night. ¬†Ben doesn’t think we should let Pad Kee into the backyard because he will gladly go home with anyone that walks by, unlike Elska, who runs back into the house if she hears anyone walk by on the sidewalk at the bottom of the hill that’s beside our brick neighborhood wall. (After I typed that, I moved my leg and she jumped into the air and off the couch where she was napping.)

So, I’m pretty confident that Pad Kee will make a full recovery and be a part of our family for years to come. ¬†I keep reminding myself to¬†take it one day at a time, just like a recovering addict or Valerie Bertinelli. ¬†On the plus side, I have learned quite a bit about¬†various cat breeds and feline herpes. ¬†I could definitely ace those two categories in a game of Jeopardy! ¬†I also got sick a week after we got Pad Kee, which forced me to take one day at a time because I had a hard time keeping track of day and night. ¬†Also, I wished that we hadn’t gone to streaming only because I would’ve liked to had the ability to watch some Jeopardy!