Extras recipes

Easy Recipe for Breakfast Burritos

One of my favorite meals of the day is breakfast. Especially on the weekends, because it doesn’t have to be rushed. And since we have chickens, you can imagine we make a lot of meals with eggs. You tend to get creative if you have backyard birds. However, we don’t go overboard. So below you’ll find an easy recipe for breakfast burritos.

Further, I made them differently than I usually do. Rather than topping them off with salsa and cheese, I sautéed fresh veggies. And that made them taste amazing. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients for Easy Breakfast Burritos

sausage cooking in a copper pan
  • 6 La Tortilla Factory light flour tortillas
  • 8 eggs
  • ~ 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced and de-seeded
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup cherub tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ~ 3 tbsp butter
  • and 8 oz breakfast sausage

Instructions for Easy Breakfast Burritos

scrambled eggs cooking in a pan
  • First, melt 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan over medium heat, and add sausage; cooking over medium heat. And use the back of a spoon to break it into smaller pieces.
  • Then, when the meat is mostly brown and only a little pink remains, add another tbsp butter to a second frying pan on medium heat.
  • Next, add onion, bell pepper, and divided salt and pepper. Then lower temperature to medium-low or low, and cover with a lid.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl; add whipping cream and beat some more. Then beat in salt and pepper.
  • Next, remove cooked sausage from first frying pan, and place in a bowl; cover. Then add last tbsp of butter to that frying pan, and pour egg mixture into already heated frying pan. And scramble eggs on medium heat.
  • When eggs are almost cooked through, add the tomatoes to the sautéed vegetables. Then, once the eggs are done, combine vegetables and sausage with the eggs.
  • Finally, soften your tortillas, and then assemble your breakfast burritos. Mine looked more like tacos. But that’s because they were so full.
scrambled eggs, sautéed vegetables, and sausage cooking in a frying pan

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you made this recipe, tell me what you think. Do you make your own version of breakfast burritos? And if so, how do you cook them, or what toppings do you use?

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!


How to Tell if Your Cat is in Heat

Cats have their first reproductive, or heat cycle when they reach sexual maturity. And for some breeds that can be as early as 4 months old. While for others, that could be as late as 18 months. However the average age is typically ~ 6 months old. (Itty was 10 months old when she had her first heat.) And cats display some signs that they are in season, so you will notice them acting differently. Continue reading to find out how to tell if your cat is in heat and how you can help her.

9 month calendar on white background
Digital art, Courtesy Sarah Smith

Cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means they’ll have multiple heat cycles during breeding season. Thus, in the US, February through October is considered the perfect breeding season. Therefore, your cat will likely cycle every 14-21 days from February to October if they aren’t already spayed or pregnant.

But how long does a cycle last? Each heat cycle lasts several days. Also, if the queen, or intact female cat, is not mated during the heat cycle, then she’ll go out of heat. For example, when Itty had her first heat, it lasted about a week. Or so I thought, because 3 or 4 days later it returned with a vengeance.

Signs Your Cat is in Heat

  • She’s extremely vocal
colorful cat meowing on sofa in patio
Photo by Dids on

This is one of the signs many pet parents notice first. Whether it’s yowling, caterwauling, or meowing when there was barely a mew before, cats in heat make all kinds of new noises.

Take Itty, for example, who, 2 days before we realized she was in heat, started meowing at me in the middle of the night. Full on meowing, while most of the time she only has little mews, that don’t even qualify as meowing. I thought she wanted to play with me or needed something. Or just loved me. Then the other signs started showing up.

  • She’s more loving than the dog
woman cuddling her cat on the bed
Photo by Sam Lion on

The second clue your cat’s in heat is that she’s more loving than your dog, if you have one.

For instance, she lets you pet her, she rubs against you, and wants your attention and affection, whereas before maybe she was elusive. If your cat isn’t spayed, and she’s now extremely affectionate, it could just be she’s in heat.

  • Change in eating habits

She may eat less when she first starts her heat cycle than she was before. However she might return to her normal feeding schedule in time; that’s how it’s been for Itty.

  • A lot of floor action; ie, her tail and rear seem to always be up in the air. Plus, she rolls around on the floor more than she used to
an orange tabby cat rolling around in a cardboard box
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

Female cats in the first position, called lordosis, are signaling that they are ready to mate. And by rolling on the floor, she’s releasing her pheromones all over the place. She’s just hoping it will catch some cat’s fancy.

  • Moving her hind end and treading her hind feet when her back is petted

At this stage of her heat cycle, she’s very receptive to being mated, and might try anything to achieve her ends.

calico cat treading her hind paws next to an Australian shepherd lying on the floor
  • Begging to go outside (if an indoor cat)
calico cat standing up looking out a window
She longs to go outside.

Or she’ll try to sneak out if you’re not careful. And you might even start seeing toms, or male cats, gathering around your home in search of your cat.

digital drawing of a black cat with labeled scent glands

Some queens will either urinate more often or spray urine on objects. Since cat urine contains both pheromones and hormones, this signals to other cats that they are in heat.

However this isn’t the only way that cats mark their territory; the other way is by scent rubbing against objects. (I’m thankful that Itty doesn’t spray.)

  • Another sign your cat is in heat is if she’s even more of a fastidious groomer than before
brown tabby cat grooming itself
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

If you notice your fur baby grooming her lady bits round the clock, chances are pretty high that she’s in heat.

  • And the last sign your cat is in heat, is that she flirts with your other pet(s)
calico cat on floor while Australian Shepherd licks her
This is an action shot, so unfortunately you don’t really get the effect. But I assure you, Itty started it.

Rather than just reserving all of her lovey dovey behavior for you, your cat may treat the dog or rabbit the same way; maybe even more so. You’ve caught them almost having inter-species relations! (Gasp!)

That’s what Itty does with Sophie, in spite of the dog’s protests.

What You can do for Your Cat

kids on a bed playing with white cat
Photo by cottonbro on

Even though they make a lot of noise and act like they’re suffering, the feline cycle is different to human women. Typically cats in heat don’t bleed; that’s because they reabsorb the uterine lining instead of bleeding it out. And experts believe cats in heat aren’t in pain when they make all their racket; it’s just their mating calls.

Although, what you can do is have a heating pad out for your cat, and see if she uses it. Itty didn’t use ours. But the trick that always seems to help her is when I play with her. And she’s good at trying to distract herself too.

Also, definitely keep your cat away from male cats if you don’t want her to get pregnant. And

  • try giving your fur baby some catnip
  • use Feliway or other cat pheromones throughout your home
  • and keep the litter box(es) clean

If your cat isn’t spayed and she hasn’t had her first heat cycle, talk to your vet about the best time to get her spayed. Some sites claim that veterinarians can still perform the surgery even while cats are in heat. However, just because they can do something doesn’t mean they will. For instance, we had to postpone Itty’s spay until mid-summer to see whether her heat cycle is waning. It should be a lot better than when it first started. But we’ll see.

Assuming you have a cat, did you get her spayed before she started her heat cycle? Or did you wait until she already started it? If you waited, did she have any or all of the signs I listed? Alternatively, did she exhibit extra ones? Your comments are appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And if you enjoyed it, please like, share, and don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Frittata Recipe for Father’s Day

Today is the day we honor fathers: the men in our lives who have loved us, given themselves, and shared their lives with us. So, in whatever way you honor those in your life, here’s a frittata recipe for Father’s Day.

broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a bowl

Since both utilize eggs, frittatas are similar to quiche. However frittatas are made without a crust. And they are Italian, whereas quiche is French.

Originally I got this recipe from Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook, publication 1993. But I changed a few things.

egg mixture with seasonings in a large orange bowl

Ingredients for Frittata for Father’s Day:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup each, sliced mushrooms and sliced bell pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 16 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese
egg mixture covering vegetables in square copper pan on stove

Instructions for Frittata:

  • First, in a 4.5 quart ovenproof pan, cook vegetables in butter over medium heat for ~ 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  • Next, in a medium to large bowl, beat the next 4 ingredients with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy; stir in cheese. Then pour over vegetables in the pan.
  • And bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until set.
  • Finally, serve immediately.
serving of frittata with vegetables on a white plate

Do you have any special plans for Father’s Day? Your comments are appreciated.

All animals Extras

Who Keeps the Pet in a Breakup

Let’s face it, we pet parents are attached to our pets. Maybe they remind us of little kids in some ways? They’re small, cute, and seem needy. And since nearly 70% of US families have at least one fur or feather baby, perhaps they agree with me. But if those adult, romantic relationships go south, then who keeps the pet in a breakup?

365 Pet Insurance polled over 1500 American pet parents in January 2022 to answer that question. They wanted to discover how we handle our pets in a breakup or divorce. However this isn’t a new issue.

For example, in 2013, a lower court judge agreed to a hearing regarding a miniature dachshund in the midst of a couple’s divorce. The reason for the hearing, the judge explained,

“Although Joey the miniature dachshund is not a human being and cannot be treated as such, he is decidedly more than a piece of property.”

The Detroit News

Evolution of the Family Pet

selective focus of an orange tabby cat
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on

Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep cats as pets, recognizing their abilities as mousers. But, in Europe, cats didn’t get popular with the wealthy until the 1700s. And then, by the 1800s, all of the social classes started adopting cats. Also, cats made the journey when the Americas were discovered. Although, they were only viewed as valuable assets to protect the food.

But by the mid-19th century, in the US, the ASPCA formed, followed by the first anti-cruelty laws. And cat stardom only continued with works by artists such as Louis Wain.

girl and puppy sitting on green grass surrounded with plants during daytime
Photo by Leah Kelley on

In 1897, the US Supreme Court ruled that citizen-owned dogs were personal property. Though at the time, people only kept dogs to make money. However that changed, because our society became more urbanized. So eventually dogs became man’s best friend.

And lastly, keeping backyard birds became a movement during both World Wars, when it was Americans’ patriotic duty to keep chickens. Unfortunately, after World War II, many backyard chicken farms dissolved. Since ~ 2000 going forward, backyard chicken keeping is regarded more as a hobby. Further, there are so many sites and blogs dedicated to chicken keeping, that you know the authors view their birds as pets.

Pets as Family

two people with rings on ring fingers and a dog paw on top of their hands
Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on

As our societies transformed, so too have our pets. Or rather how we view them. We no longer need them to work alongside us as our property, or even for us. Though that doesn’t mean your cats won’t bring you something they caught. Or that your chickens won’t lay eggs. However, it means that we keep our pets for the emotional bonds we share with them.

According to a study in 2015, 95% of those surveyed thought of their pets as family members. But, given the Pandemic, SIP and/or stay-at-home orders, inflation, food scarcity, and resultant uncertainties, the percentage could be even higher now. So it’s no wonder that when couples split up, their pets are often caught in the crossfire.

Some Results of the Survey

woman brushing her pet cat
Photo by cottonbro on

Among the respondents surveyed with 365 Pet Insurance, only 19% have won a pet custody battle, while 12% have lost custody of their pets. Of those who won, most were women. In addition, 55% of participants feel that pet custody should be treated similar to child custody arrangements between divorcing parents.

Regarding a hypothetical split-up, the majority of respondents indicated they would rather share custody of their pets. Also hypothetically, in the event of a split-up, the majority of participants would prefer losing everything, friends and material goods, compared to losing their pets.

Pet Custody

map of the US with 6 states colored in red
Digital art, courtesy of Sarah Smith

Currently there are six states that have laws on pet custody, whereas Rhode Island has pending legislation. Furthermore, both Texas and Alaska have made visitation schedules between previous spouses. Though the majority of states still regard pets as property.

And disgruntled, hurt, and angry former partners or spouses oftentimes take their frustration out on their pet by trying to take the pet away from the other pet parent. Therefore, that person is not only hurting their former partner, but they’re hurting their pet as well.

When determining pet custody or even “property”, depending on where you live, the courts rely upon sales or adoption records, AKC records, veterinary and vaccination records, and insurance.

  • Who purchased or adopted the pet?
  • Who registered the pet?
  • Whose name is on the vaccination and medical records?
  • Who micro-chipped the pet?
  • And who took out insurance on the pet?

Check this site out for more details on what courts will look at to establish pet custody. And for complete results of the survey, go here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have you ever had a custody battle over one of your pets? Your comments are appreciated. And if you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of my most favorite vegetables to eat and cook. They’re both healthy and delicious. And they can be cooked in a variety of ways. Although, often times, I can just eat a plain sweet potato, this recipe for mashed sweet potatoes is a family favorite.

I use half-n-half instead of milk, which makes it creamier. Also, you don’t have to be limited to serve mashed sweet potatoes just during the holiday season. You can serve it year round.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:

pot of cubed sweet potatoes
  • 3.5 -4 lbs of peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
  • 4 – 5 TBSP brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP salted butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c half-n-half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Instructions:

pot of boiling cubed sweet potatoes
  • First, put the potatoes in a pot of salted water; and bring to a boil.
  • Next, boil the cut up potatoes till tender, ~ 20 minutes. Then drain in a colander.
  • Put the drained potatoes in a medium-large or large mixing bowl. And add the sugar, butter, salt and pepper, and cinnamon to bowl; then using a hand mixer, beat in cream a little add a time, for desired consistency.
  • Finally, serve with lamb, turkey, roasted chicken, or glazed ham.
lamb chop with sauce, spinach, and mashed sweet potatoes on a white plate

As you can see, this is a very basic recipe. But you could make your own unique changes, and serve any time you want to. How do you cook sweet potatoes? Do you mash them, bake them, or make them into French fries? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Hens Protecting Your Backyard Birds raising happy, healthy chickens Roosters

How to Clip a Chicken’s Wings

Recently I wrote a post about certain breeds of chickens that could fly. And in it I mentioned three ways to prevent your birds from taking flight. Today we’re going to look more closely at wing clipping. Because, if you’ve never done it, it can seem daunting. Also, I’ll explain how to clip a chicken’s wings. However, first, let’s find out whether or not you should clip their wings.

Reasons to Clip a Chicken’s Wings

If you have pasture raised chickens, then you probably don’t have them penned in an enclosure all day. Which means you likely have fence line separating your property from your neighbor’s. And if you have one of those flighty breeds, they possibly frequent your neighbor’s yard. Therefore, the main reason to clip your birds’ wings is to keep them in their yard and on your property. And the other reasons to clip your chickens wings include:

mixed flock of chicks around raised garden bed with coop in the distance
This was our first raised garden bed, before we built the 4 1/2 foot fence dividing the yard. The chickens easily destroyed the garden, even with the chicken wire.
  • To restrict your chickens from destroying your garden, if you have one
  • In addition, to keep them from getting mauled by a predator
  • And lastly, to prevent them from getting run over by any vehicles, if you happen to live close to any roads

On the other hand, if you keep your birds in the run, then you don’t need to worry about clipping any wings. But just having a fence won’t deter a determined bird. Because, as I mentioned in my last article, some breeds can fly over 10 feet!

Pros and Cons to Clipping a Chicken’s Wings

person holding out freshly clipped wing feathers of a Black Ameraucana hen
We had to clip this hen’s wings after administering first aid; she flew into a neighbor’s yard, and my husband rescued her from being nipped by their dogs. Thankfully they weren’t big dogs, or the damage would’ve been worse.

A couple of the advantages of wing clipping are that

  • It’s safe and painless if done correctly.

Compare it to a dog getting its claws trimmed; but NOT to declawing a cat. Or it can even be compared to a human getting a haircut.

  • In addition, your chickens will re-learn behavior.

If you’re new to this, you might be scratching your head, saying, What? But it’s true, chickens can be motivated and taught certain behaviors. I’ve witnessed it in my own birds. With each bird that needs and gets its wings clipped, they no longer need to be re-clipped, because they’ve learned not to cross those forbidden boundaries.

  • And wing clipping is temporary, since chickens molt.

Thus, new feathers come in.

The disadvantages to clipping chickens’ wings include

  • If done improperly, it can cause bleeding
  • Also, if birds are in open pastures, roaming at will, then wing clipping limits their ability to get away from predators
  • And finally, some people think it makes the birds look less attractive

When to Clip and When NOT to Clip

Believe it or not, there are actually better times and situations in which to clip your chickens’ wings, if that’s something you’re considering.

mixed flock of mostly black juvenile chicks
  • First off, don’t clip any chickens’ wings unless they have their adult feathers.

Chicks go through several molts before they’re finally considered adults themselves. And if you clip their wings while they’re juvenile, you’ll just have to do it again. And again. Also, when feathers are growing, there will be blood in the shafts.

Growing feathers are dark or black, while fully formed ones appear clear or white.

you can clip as soon as the birds have all their adult feathers and it becomes necessary. (Emphasis mine)

Therefore, if your birds aren’t showing signs that they’re flying over any fences, then there’s no need to do any wing clipping.

  • And lastly, I already pointed out that birds in open pastures, roaming at will, would be hindered if their wings were clipped.

The BEST time to clip your chickens’ wings is when you have adult backyard birds that are repeatedly being a nuisance, getting into the neighbor’s yard, your garden, a busy road, or trying to get mauled by some animal. And most, if not all, sites recommend you first catching your birds. Forget that. Who wants to chase around a bunch of chickens all day?

Rather, here’s the alternative: Before letting them out in the morning one day, have someone help you clip their wings, one bird at a time.

mixed flock of black chickens in yard divided by wooden and wire fence

Materials Needed to Clip a Chicken’s Wings

  • Partner to help you

Having someone assist you with clipping your birds’ wings will make the job easier and go faster.

  • Good pair of scissors

You need sharp scissors to cut through the shafts; alternatively, you also could use sharp wire cutters

  • And styptic powder or alum

In the event you cut too short, and a feather starts to bleed, dip the feather in some styptic powder or alum, until it’s coated.

Instructions for Clipping a Chicken’s Wings

  • Get your partner and supplies; and without letting any birds out, (if that’s possible) set-up shop for wing-clipping

Since we can stand up normal in our run without trouble, that’s where we usually take care of things, like wing clipping. However, your coop and run may be different. If it’s smaller, you’ll have to get creative.

person in pink shirt holding Black Ameraucana rooster with one wing outstretched
Tiny Nuts already had his wings clipped, as you can see by the straight edges.
  • One person needs to hold the bird firmly, making sure one chicken wing is held securely against the chicken, so there’s no flapping, while the other person will clip the free wing
  • Next, have the person with the scissors locate the primary feathers; are the shafts dark or clear? If they’re clear, then they’re safe to trim
  • With a steady hand, only trim back the 10 primary feathers about 50% of the way; (unless you know your bird is a flyer, start small)
Notice the primary feathers.

Now, it’s at this point that a lot of sites suggest you’d be finished, because supposedly having one clipped wing would unbalance a chicken. And I also tried that approach my first experience with wing clipping. However, all of my Ameraucana chickens can fly with this unbalanced design. Hence, we clipped more. And when that didn’t work, we clipped more, and jaggedly.

  • Thus, you can trim only one side, but if you have one of the flighty breeds, like me, you just might have to go back and trim more than just the primaries and make it look ugly; remember to check the shafts, and if they’re clear, you can trim them
digital art of a chicken's wing
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith

Again, most sites adamantly advise against trimming the secondary feathers. But obviously they’ve never had Ameraucanas; otherwise they’d never suggest such a thing. Though there are a couple of sites that are familiar with the more determined flyers. So, if you have birds like I do, and you want to protect them, then you need to clip more than the primaries. It’s that, or risk them getting into trouble.


Wing clipping, if done correctly, is a safe and painless way to prevent your chickens from flying from the safety of their enclosures. Whether a few chickens or the whole flock like to get out, clipping wings can offer some respite.

Clipping a chicken’s wings is only temporary, and many sites suggest repeating the procedure annually. However, I disagree. Just like waiting to see if wing clipping is even needed, wait and see if repeating the process is necessary.

Black Ameraucana hen in front of brick wall
We’ve only had to re-clip this hen’s wings one other time after her molt; she learned her lesson after that.

For example, I have only had to repeat the procedure on one hen after her molt. The whole idea for me is to re-teach my birds, because they are teachable, contrary to what anyone might think. When their wings are clipped, they’re grounded for that time frame. So when their molt is ended, and their wings are in and they’re free again, hopefully they’ve learned not to go where we don’t want them to go. And that’s just what I’ve personally discovered happens with my own birds.

What do you think about wing clipping chickens? Have you ever done it?

Thanks for reading this post. Your comments are appreciated. If you liked this, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Healthy Salad with Chicken Recipe

Here’s a healthy salad with chicken recipe to serve for lunch or dinner. Eating chicken has long been regarded as healthier than eating beef. And it contains no carbohydrates and lower saturated fat than red meat. Further, the vegetables give the salad the right amount of crunch.

Isn’t technology awesome? We have the Instant Pot and Air Fryer to whip up our favorite foods. And to make new ones. In addition, as the weather gets warmer, it’s nice to have cooking options that don’t involve standing over a hot stove. But if we want to eat healthy, while still using minimal electricity, we can make a salad, add some fresh vegetables, a protein, and sprinkle on a favorite dressing. Further, we can cook the protein in the Air Fryer to make things easier.

Healthy Salad with Chicken Ingredients

green salad in an orange bowl with tongs
  • 16 oz chicken breasts
  • 11-14 oz of spring mix
  • 1 cucumber, washed and sliced
  • 4 oz of grape or medley tomatoes
  • 3 oz fresh broccoli florets, washed
  • Less fat dressing

Healthy Salad with Chicken Instructions

  • Cook the chicken till tender enough to shred; my go-to method is boiling on the stove.
  • Next, put the chicken and the remaining ingredients, excluding the dressing, in a bowl big enough to hold everything.
  • Then add a little bit of dressing, tossing to coat, so you don’t overwhelm the salad.
  • And serve immediately.

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this, please like, post a comment, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras personal

Best Vacation Ever

A few days ago we got home from vacation. About two weeks ago I mentioned that I wouldn’t post anything, because I would be gone. And it was amazing. By far the best vacation ever that we’ve had as a family.

So this post is going to be different than my regular ones, since I want to share with you the synopsis of our vacation. And also what I gleaned from the pet-cams, and what awaited us when we got home.

History of Vacations

gray and black dslr camera beside sun hat and sunglasses
Photo by Pixabay on

When I was growing up, vacations were spent visiting grandparents, because we lived in a different state. But, as we got older, vacations got more elaborate. Cancun, Florida, places like that. And as I started my own family, that was the norm with people we knew, especially in Dallas. However, vacations were originally developed for the wealthy, where they vacated their estates. Even though I grew up in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, we were by no means wealthy.

Now that I have my own family, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve gone on vacation, that didn’t involve visiting relatives. Or go the way we wished. Not to mention, for the past 7 years we’ve gained too many animals. So it’s extremely difficult for us to get away, and expect anyone to watch all of them.

If you get to go on vacation regularly with your family, you are extremely blessed. Although we hope to be able to continue this as well. As it is, we truly believe the Lord orchestrated it so we could go and be together. We are often so busy and in our own worlds. I think He just wanted us to get away from it all, without distractions, and be a family.

The Plan

After 6 or 7 attempts at locating flights to Florida, I gave up and decided we would just drive. Paul has wanted to go to the beach for several years. And I wanted to go on vacation before hurricane season, so it limited us. Therefore, I hired a travel agent to come up with the actual booking, because I’m too busy. However, first, I Googled the most beautiful beaches in the U.S.

Well, most of the most beautiful beaches happen to be in Florida. So I narrowed it down between Clearwater and Pensacola. Then I contacted our travel agent, and let her do her thing.

She sent me 3 proposals: 2 were for Pensacola, while the remaining one was for Clearwater. But the condo for Clearwater was bigger, had 3 bedrooms with 2 full bathrooms, and it cost less. So that’s the one I chose. It was about a day or two before we left when I realized we had to drive an extra 7-8 hours for that extra space. But, oh well. When we got there, I thought it was worth it.


In my last post I explained that our wonderful neighbors were helping us out with all of our pets. But I also purchased a couple of Wyze pet-cams to keep us informed of Itty and Sophie. Unfortunately I couldn’t get 2 panoramic ones; the pet store only had one. So instead I got a stationary one in addition to the panoramic one. Then we set up the pano pet-cam in the living room. While I wanted to place the stationary one in either Hannah’s or our bedroom, Paul ended up putting it outside on the front porch.

Now that we’re home I think I’ll try to find another panoramic one, or similar, and place it outside with the chickens. I definitely recommend, because I got to see both Sophie and Itty, and their shenanigans. And the picture was pretty clear, unless panning too quickly. But if we didn’t have the pet-cams, we would’ve most likely come home to Itty in organ failure or worse, as I’ll eventually explain.

Do pets know when we’re going out of town? I think so. When I got my suitcase out, Itty sat in between my bags and just looked at them, with this knowing look. The last time I went out of town, she wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t gone for long. I went to my mom’s with my youngest in February or March. But when I got back, she was stand-off-ish with me, until I got her fuzzball out and wooed her with promises of playtime.

On the other hand, Sophie didn’t act like she had a clue we were going anywhere at all until the night before we left. Then she was doing everything in her power to get our attention. And the next day she was still at it, trying to get us to play with her. She was like a child performing for her parents, or anyone who would watch. She certainly seemed anxious.

Our Route

No trip to my in-laws would be complete without seeing animals.

person holding a blond baby goat
Baby goat.
person holding black and white baby goat
Another baby goat
mixed flock of chickens on grass
Chickens and banty roo

Since we were driving anyway, I thought it would be fun to make it a beach-hopping trip. So instead of ~ 2600 miles, it was 2800 miles. But the first day we drove to Paul’s mom’s ranch in East Texas. It’s only about 5 hours away from us. Paul and the girls have seen his parents more recently than I have. However I had my dad, his illness, and then death to deal with, hence it’s been at least 2 years since I saw my in-laws. So it was good to visit them in person again.

When I viewed the pet-cam that first day, I saw nothing of Itty. Therefore I surmised she was under my bed sleeping. But Sophie was resting by the front door, waiting for us to return.

The next day we left early for Pensacola: our first beach we would be stopping at. We arrived late in the day. But not too late that we couldn’t take a walk on the beach. It was beautiful. And the sand was soft, the water turquoise blue. Unfortunately where we wanted to eat was a pretty popular eatery. And we planned on leaving early again the next morning. So we grabbed Chick-fil-A after a 2 hour wait at said eatery before heading to our hotel.

It was a short drive to Destin from Pensacola, where we had breakfast. Since it was ~ 8am, we didn’t do any swimming. However we walked the beach, took pictures, and of course, had breakfast. But a lot of the restaurants weren’t open till around 11am or later. Therefore we ate at a Waffle House. Once we left Destin, we saw a neat little bakery. Although it had a pretty long line. Hannah indicated we made the right choice based on how we left the seafood restaurant the night before.

The Next Five Days

taupe leather sectional on tile floors
view from balcony of pool, deck, and beach with ocean
View from our balcony.
kitchen and appliances with lighting in background

We didn’t really stay in Clearwater; it was more like a suburb of Clearwater called Indian Rocks Beach. And the condo was everything it promised to be. The town seemed bigger than where we live and work, offering a lot more to do. And both IRB (Indian Rocks Beach) and Clearwater seemed bigger than OkC. But perhaps that’s because they’re both tourist magnets.

The first full day we were at IRB it was overcast, so we went to a grocery store to stock up. We planned on having one meal at the condo each day. But we ended up throwing food out when we left, because we don’t have much experience with vacations. There was a lot we left behind, like others before us. However the refrigerated, opened items we got rid of. And we took the alcohol home.

bird standing in water
2 people standing in front of cat mural on building
This was a veterinarian’s office in St. Petersburg.
pink mural of shark on building
Not sure what this building was, but the mural is cool.
gray dolphin jumping out of the ocean
The dolphins reminded me of Sophie with their eagerness to perform.
yellow walking sign with funny face on it
Cool sign.
statuary of a turtle on a boulder in a public garden
Botanical Gardens

We collected seashells, went on a dolphin cruise, ate delicious seafood, got sunburns, and visited the Clearwater botanical gardens. In addition we dressed like the locals, shopped, swam in the ocean, walked a lot, and some of us got tattoos.

dolphin mailbox
Fun mailboxes in Clearwater.
turtle mailbox on neatly manicured lawn
Turtle mailbox in Florida.
browned meat on white dish
Stuffed Flounder
fried food with dipping sauce
Fried gator. Yummy.
people holding ice cream cones
Ice cream cones on our last day.

We left on May 26th and drove 7 or 8 hours to Gulf Shores, the last beach we visited. It had rained that day, so the waves were pretty big, and the water was brown, reminding me of the Texas coastline. But we still took off our shoes and walked along the beach. And the air was also much cooler there than it was in Florida; it felt glorious after the humidity at IRB.

The Pet-cam

I didn’t get cameras for every area where we had animals; I wasn’t interested in spying on our neighbors and making sure they were doing everything we asked them to. Plus, I didn’t want the worry, because it would’ve stressed me out. Further, Meow Meow, Cake, and the majority of the chickens have been without us when we’ve gone away for the weekend. And they’re used to our neighbors looking after them for short periods of time.

Thus, the primary purpose of the pet-cams was to see how Sophie and Itty reacted to us being gone. Therefore, while we were gone, I faithfully checked the panoramic camera every day and evening to find out what Itty and Sophie were up to.

What the Camera Revealed

torn up items on tiled floor with litter box in distance
Australian Shepherd chewing on a green hoodie near front door
Sophie chewing on Paul’s hoodie.
Australian Shepherd nosing around kitty litter box while calico cat watches
Itty watches while Sophie eats some Scooby snacks.

For the first 5 days Sophie kept watch by the door. Most likely she was waiting for our return. She would lie down by the door most of the day. Although she started to drag clothes out of Hannah’s room by the second or third day, sprawling them throughout the house. And I only saw Itty one day initially; it was the second day of our trip on our way to Pensacola.

So, when I didn’t see any more of my cat, I got worried. The first day I marked it off as her sleeping; she couldn’t be bothered by us being gone. But then perhaps she got concerned when we weren’t back by the next day, so she wanted to check things out. However, since she again disappeared, I felt like something was amiss. Paul asked our neighbor to look for her; but our neighbor is in his 70s, and he didn’t look everywhere, just our bedroom. Itty also isn’t like Meow and Cake; she’s anti-social around people she doesn’t know. It takes her a long time to warm up to strangers.

By the 6th day it was clear that Sophie was bored; she started taking shoes from the shoe cubby Paul built and tearing them up. And at that point in time I still had not seen anything more of Itty. But I prayed everyday for her, because I was extremely concerned. I was worried Sophie might’ve hurt her; maybe the dynamics of their relationship had changed in some way since we were no longer there? Additionally, Sophie was bored, so I couldn’t really take anything for granted.

person in t-shirt holding calico cat up to a camera
Hannah’s friend brought Itty to the pet-cam so I could see she was ok.

Thankfully Hannah’s friend was back from her trip and was able to look for Itty. She and her boyfriend searched high and low and finally found her in Hannah’s room, under the bed. The door had been closed, which means Itty was without food, water, and a litter box for at least 3 days. If they hadn’t come to find her, Itty would not be around. So I’m very grateful she’s healthy and still alive.

What Awaited Us at Home

4 people smiling for picture on the beach
Our last beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama.

We got home between 8 and 9pm 10 days after we left home. And all we had been discussing was seeing our fur babies; how we would open the door, and betting who Sophie would run to first-that kind of debate. Plus, we didn’t even know how all the chickens were.

Well, Paul opened the door, and Sophie ran out. She was so excited, all over the place. I don’t think she really knew who to run to first in her excitement. But I went right in the house. I needed to find Itty; I missed her so much.

She was hiding under the covers of my bed, like I wouldn’t be able to find her. Thus, Sarah and I pulled her out of the covers. But we had to dodge the mess in my room. You see, the two-day drive back I started seeing less of Sophie and more of Itty. And what I saw of Sophie clued me into what she was feeling: extreme boredom. She actually did pretty well, all things considered. She’s bred for high energy. So while we’d been gone for 10 days, she behaved like a champ. However she could only take so much. Therefore, eventually she started acting out: eating the cat’s poop, tearing things up, etc. She’d gone native.

Hence, our bedroom was torn up, but not as bad as it could have been. Honestly I was not surprised. And of course Sophie didn’t get punished.

Taking Stock the Next Day

mixed flock of juvenile chickens and ducks
Our ducklings and Ameraucana chicks.

The next day we had to check out all the pets, especially the birds, because it was dark the night before. When we left we had fully feathered chicks, a couple of broody hens and their chicks, which weren’t fully feathered. So after looking in on them, it appears that one of the older chicks disappeared or got taken by something; and one of our neighbors said that 2 of the little chicks died. Since they don’t live over here and are unfamiliar with birds, they don’t know why. Nor can we say why. They were babies, so it could be any number of things. But I’m thankful the adults are still healthy and whole.

Itty looks like she lost weight, which is to be expected; she was locked up for 3 days. And now Sophie is holding us hostage. She’s not letting us out of her sight ever again. Plus, she’s extremely demanding of us. She brings us a toy and barks at us till we do what she wants. I think we’ve created a monster by being gone for so long.

In Conclusion

We had the best vacation ever. And we would like to make this an annual gig: going out of town. Though we don’t have to go all the way back to IRB, but maybe Pensacola. And definitely find a condo that’s pet-friendly. Get some sleepy meds for Sophie and Itty, so they don’t mind the drive. And not have chicks when we do this again. Of course we can’t help it if there are broody hens and their chicks. But we can plan around incubating.

Do you have any funny vacation stories? What do you do with your pets? My husband made the comment that most people board their pets, but we gave our dog the keys to the house complete with her own pets. I’m happy that Sophie and Itty had each other, and that Sophie didn’t hurt Itty. At least they had each other, feeble entertainment that it was. But if they didn’t have that, they probably would’ve felt even more alone. And other people might not have that with their pets.

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