House Sitting in Andalusia

Anyone who has spoken with us knows that house sitting in Andalusia was the adventure we were most looking forward to. It was our immediate connection with Barcelona that really spurred this whole adventure. So, I was pretty sure that Andalusia would make us fall head over heels all over again. Not to spoil the upcoming posts, but I was totally right. Don’t be surprised if we are living in Andalusia once this crazy adventure is all over!

Freila, Andalusia, Spain - The Places We Live.jpg

Freila, Andalusia, Spain

This was our third trip to Spain after a life-changing 10 days in Barcelona and two quick shore excursions to Alicante and Valencia. This time around we were in a southern region of Spain called Andalusia. My bestie, Rick Steves, has said that the area is one of his favorite places in all of Europe. I would have to agree. With its hot weather, spellbinding flamenco music, and tradition of free tapas, what’s not to love?!

Andalusia Tapas - The Places We Live

The region of Andalusia is divided into eight provinces. Our tiny village of Freila was located in the Province of Granada. It is about an hour’s drive from the capital city, which is called (you guessed it!) Granada. In addition to the cultural pleasures of the region, it is also home to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the amazing ancient fortress-city known as the Alhambra.

Alhambra - The Places We Live
The Alhambra. We did not house sit here.

Freila is a hill village located in the northern part of the province. It is home to three restaurants/bars, a grocery store, and less than 1,500 residents. Like other villages in the area, many of the homes are built into the side of the mountain, and either have or simply are caves. There’s a reservoir nearby for keeping cool in the hot weather, and plenty of little hiking trails through the nearby arroyos.

Freila, Granada, Spain - The Places We Live
The village of Freila

House Sitting in Andalusia

Our home was located on the edge of the village, overlooking the reservoir and nearby mountain ranges. There were three living areas on the property: the main house, a downstairs apartment, and a livable cave. The house itself has three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, a large kitchen with dining nook, two living areas, a laundry room, and a multi-level terrace.

House Sitting in Spain, Freila - The Places We Live

While house sitting in Andalusia, we stayed in the downstairs apartment. We had our own terrace along with one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area. It was beautifully appointed and was incredibly quiet and peaceful. As it was below the main house and tucked into the hillside, it always stayed cool. We didn’t need to turn on the AC at all, and instead enjoyed a light breeze through the windows.

 

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Below us was another huge terrace, along with the traditional white cave house. The cave had a bedroom, living area, and a built-in bar. We didn’t spend much time in the cave, but I could definitely see the appeal with the fun architecture and cool temperatures.

White Cave House - The Places We Live

Our Family

Unlike most other house sits, we were actually living with our host and her nephew, along with her seven cats: Smarty, Charlie, Pepper, Benjamin, Bently, Raya, and Maximus. Our host is a retired English woman who moved to Spain over 10 years ago. Since then, she’s seen it all. She even blogs about her experience and provides helpful advice as an expat in rural Spain. We enjoyed spending each morning chatting with our host and her nephew over coffee before all heading our separate ways.

Smarty the Cat

The cats spent most of their days outside, but otherwise lived in the main house. Smarty was the queen of the house and also one of the main reasons for our visit. She is diabetic and needs twice daily injections at specific times. Since our host was commuting back and forth to Granada, we were there to help take care of Smarty and the others to free up her time.

House Sitting Medication - The Places We Live

All of the Cats

The remaining cats were all special in their own way, as cats generally are. They each had a personality that could put the whole village to shame. Charlie is a lovely Siamese cat who regularly reverts back to being feral. He is a bit scruffy and easily spooked, but enjoys the occasional pet, as long as it lasts no more than 13 seconds. I honestly didn’t see Pepper very often, and when I did, it was only long enough for her to leer at me. Benjamin acted much the same. Although, they did look alike, so I don’t actually know for sure if only one of them hated me or they both did. [Editor’s note: I got to pet Pepper, and she’s sweet :p]

House Sitting Benjamin and Charlie - The Places We Live

We arrived at the house while our host was out, so we sat on the terrace and got to know three of the more curious cats. To pass the time, we gave them each a name. The smallest of the bunch (Raya) was very pretty, sweet, but also a little saucy. We named her Sansa. Bentley, who we later found out was a proper little gentleman, was temporarily named Princess Fluff. He is adorably fluffy and could easily pass for a pretty little lady. Finally, there is Maximus, whom we had named Tank. We weren’t too far off. He is a big boy who loves pets, but also enjoys being in charge.

House Sitting Bentley, Raya, and Maximus - The Places We Live

Our Lives House Sitting in Andalusia

Again, this sit was a little different than most due to the hosts being on-site. But we were able to maintain our regular routines of work and adventure without any problems. We were up early each morning to feed the cats and administer Smarty’s medication. Then it was time for a little bit of chat time with our host over tea or coffee. From there, the afternoon was pretty much ours. I would water the plants and do one major chore each day, but otherwise spent most of my time either working, reading (Infinity Born by Douglas E. Richards), or meditating.

House Sitting in Spain - The Places We Live

In the evenings we ate out for dinner, rotating among the three restaurants in the village (when they were open, which wasn’t often). There was another evening shift of feeding and medicating the cats, but overall the evenings were incredibly peaceful and cool. It was my favorite time of the day. I often found myself just sitting on the terrace and watching the sunset. Again, don’t be surprised when I announce that we’re moving permanently.

Adventures Ahead

Get excited for nearly a month’s worth of Andalusia adventures coming up! The region is famous for their food, so we obviously ate everything we could get our hands on. We took our usual daily walks through the village, but also explored a little farther afoot. Our adventures while house sitting in Andalusia took us to neighboring villages as well as an unforgettable trip to Granada. We love Spain and I can’t wait to tell everyone why. Stay tuned!


 

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House Sitting on Lake Zurich, Switzerland

While house sitting on Lake Zurich, we had the pleasure of staying in a stunning, hill side home with two adorable dogs.

After an amazing house sit in Germany, it was time to move south to Switzerland. For our next European adventure, we spent a little over a week house sitting on Lake Zurich. We traveled 200 miles in a little less than four hours by bus to get from Karlsruhe to Zurich. Then another 20 minutes on a train (that cost about the same amount as our four hour bus ride!) to get to the lovely Swiss town of Männedorf.

Männedorf, Switerland - The Places We Live.jpg




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Männedorf, Switzerland

I’ve always boasted that my home town in Idaho is the most beautiful place on earth. Upon arrival in Switzerland, I was forced to rethink my stance on the subject. Switzerland is hands-down the most stunningly beautiful place I have ever been. It is a country packed with tall mountains, lush hills, and crystal clear lakes. The streets are clean, the food is delicious, and the people are model-level beautiful.

Switzerland - The Places We Live

Switzerland is located in central Europe and bordered by Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy. Because of this, the country actually has four national languages including German, Italian, French, and Romansh. While in Zurich, we mostly heard German, but even then there was a local dialect that is spoken among more than half of the population called Swiss German.

Mannedorf, Switzerland Sign - The Places We Live

Männedorf is the most adorable little village, nestled on the shores of Lake Zurich about 13 miles south of the city. Scientists suggest that the area has been populated since the stone age. However, the first official settlement was established in the 700s! Now, the small village of around 12,000 people is one of the many agglomerations of the grand city of Zurich.

Our Home

While house sitting on Lake Zurich, we had the pleasure of staying in a stunning hillside home. The main house (there was also an on-site office and a cottage apartment) had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, kitchen, large dining room, living room, gym, and an office. My favorite part of the home, however, was the deck and infinity pool overlooking Lake Zurich.

House Sitting on Lake Zurich - The Places We Live

Our hosts were a married couple, a doctor and a photographer, and both of their personalities came through in the house. It was beautifully decorated with an artist’s eye for colors and negative space. Much of the space was dedicated to physical and mental health, including a meditation room, sauna, and an organic vegetable garden.

Our Family

We had the privilege of meeting the hosts both before and after the sit. They were a remarkable couple that really inspired us to live healthier lives and use our strengths to do some good in the world. We were served a delicious local meal upon our arrival and shared some great conversation over drinks.

Pet Sitting on Lake Zurich - The Places We Live

Charlie was a doll who became instantly attached to Josh. I once tried to take him on a walk without Josh but Charlie just refused to go. He was loyal and loving. His favorite things were sleeping near the windows and following Josh. Charlie slept under Josh’s feet while he worked, next to him on the floor when we watched tv (specifically, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo), and even snuck upstairs to sleep on the floor near the bed. Those two were inseparable.

Dog Sitting on Lake Zurich - The Places We Live

If Charlie was “Josh’s dog” then Tiffy was definitely “my dog”. She was the cutest thing and would tip tap behind me everywhere I went. I’d like to think it is because she liked me as much a Charlie liked Josh, but I think it was more because she knew I was the one who served dinner. She enjoyed snoozing on her bed and treats. Tiffy didn’t beg for pets very often, but when she did, I loved the way she would squirm and wiggle to get every little bit of attention.

Our Lives

Like most of the places we visit, we made some adjustments to our usual schedules to better fit our new home. For this house sit, we added a lot more health-focused activities to our daily routine. We did meditation daily and found it to really improve our productivity and happiness. Josh used the gym regularly and I could often be found relaxing in the garden.

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Josh demonstrating his “pet sitting” skills

Although the weather was a bit off and on, we walked and explored each day. We loved the area and the kindness of the neighbors. Our favorite bakery was only a few blocks away and it didn’t take long for the cashiers to begin to recognize us. We toured just about all of the area and even made a couple of trips up to Zurich and south to the old town of Rappersville. There was so much to see and we made every effort to see it all. We didn’t, of course, but we still had an amazing time.




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House Sitting in Karlsruhe, Germany

After an amazing journey across the Atlantic Ocean, we arrived in Europe to begin the next leg of our world travels. We started it all off with a house sit in Karlsruhe, Germany. Truth be told, I’m not sure we would have ever gone to Karlsruhe if not for this sit, but I’m so glad we did. It was a city unlike any we’ve been to before, with natural beauty, a great art scene, delicious food, and the most down-to-earth people. We loved Karlsruhe and are already looking for an opportunity to go back.

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Karlsruhe, Germany

Karlsruhe is in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, located in the southwest corner of Germany. The city’s western border sits on the Rhine River, which separates Germany and France. As the city lies exactly on the 49th parallel (same as the border of Canada and USA), the climate is consistently a little bit chilly but can rarely be called hot or cold. However, it is said to be one of the sunniest cities in Germany.

Karlsruhe, Germany - The Places We Live.jpg

The Neighborhood

Our Karlsruhe home was located in the far northwest corner of the city, literally on the edge of town. However, everything we needed was within walking distance: grocery store, bakery, park, and several restaurants and pubs. Our hosts were gracious enough to let us use their bikes, which extended our range quite a bit, and there was a train station right nearby, so we had full access to the city anytime we wanted.

Bicycling in Karlsruhe - The Places We Live

Exploring the area was a challenge at first, in part because it seemed like no one wanted to talk to us.  We would smile and nod at each person we passed on the bikes or at the markets and received nothing in return, sometimes not even eye contact. A little digging around on the internet revealed this to be a quirk of the local culture. It turns out our attempts to be polite were viewed as attempts to start a conversation, hard to do when one party is riding past on a bicycle. Once we got the kinks ironed out, we found the local people to be incredibly welcoming, kind, and truly hilarious. Scattered among the homes were tiny pubs, each one only large enough to seat a dozen people. We popped into one on Easter simply out of boredom and ended up having an amazing day chatting with some locals. The quote of the day was “Do all Americans really smile this much?” On another occasion, I nearly plowed into a small child on my bike. I stopped just in time, but in a horribly embarrassing fashion. The parent didn’t start yelling at me or threaten me. Instead, he began laughing and offered a hand to help me back up and going. We found the people of Karlsruhe to be the true highlight of the trip with so much kindness and a penchant for fun and laughter.

Our Home

Our home in Karlsruhe ended up being quite a bit larger than we were originally expecting. It was a three-bedroom home with three partial bathrooms (two rooms with toilets and one room with a tub). There was a large kitchen and dining room combo along with two large living areas. The best part of the home, however was the beautiful outdoor area with the large back deck and garden that looked onto a pond. Neighboring properties in the area are on sale for around $650,000.

House Sitting Karlsruhe Patio - The Places We Live

We slept in the master bedroom on the main floor. The whole house was very comfortable and functional, but had some fun and interesting quirks. For one thing, all of the light switches were pull-strings. It was very curious at first, but we eventually found it to pretty common place throughout Europe. Another was the mysterious yellow wedge in the bathroom. Next to each of the bathroom sinks was a small football shaped block attached to the wall. We had no idea what it was at first, wondering if maybe it was some sort of strange wall art. Eventually, my complaints about the lack of soap in the bathrooms tipped me off to the realization that the “art” was actually bar soap. Once I figured it out, I really liked the idea of having soap that wasn’t constantly sticking into the counter.

German Sink - The Places We Live

Our Family

Due to the timing of our arrival, we were unable to meet our hosts at the beginning of our sit in Karlsruhe. Instead we met their father, who put our German language skills to shame with his beautiful English and even better Spanish. We were lucky enough to meet the whole family for a dinner party upon their return. Some of their friends showed up as well and we talked and laughed well into the wee hours of the night. We left feeling delightfully full, and our faces hurt from all of the smiling and laughter.

Our fur-babies for the house sit in Karlsruhe were two independent cats named Ruhchen and Suri. They didn’t speak English and even if they did, I am sure they would have ignored us. But we enjoyed their company and they seemed to tolerate us well enough. We even got a number of “presents” in the mornings, so we must have done something right. Haha!

Cat House Sitting in Karlsruhe - The Places We Live

Ruhchen seemed constantly disappointed in us. We apparently didn’t open the door the right way, sit on the couch in the right formation, or walk down the stairs in the correct cadence. He tried each day to train us, but seemed constantly befuddled by our lack of understanding. When he wasn’t judging us, he was either playing in the tall grass, snoozing on the couch, or eating.

Cat House Sitting in Karlsruhe - The Places We Live

Suri, on the other hand, was very easy going. If I didn’t open the door the way she liked, she walked the extra couple of feet to let herself in through the cat door. She enjoyed regular tickles, sleeping in the top bunk of the kids’ bunk beds, and napping at Josh’s feet while he worked… I think she just really enjoyed napping.

Our Lives

Life house sitting in Karlsruhe was pretty great. Ruhchen and Suri were easy going and the house was very little trouble. This left us with plenty of time to really see the area. The weather was all over the place with several chilly and rainy days, but also several warm and sunny days. We took advantage of each, using the sunny days to ride our bikes and the rainy to try new foods. Karlsruhe had so much to offer and left us wishing we had more time to see it all. It was a great way to start off our European adventure, and we can’t wait to get back and see more of Germany.


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House Sitting in Austin, Texas

After 780 miles (1255 km) of driving from our house sit in New Mexico, we arrived at our next job house sitting in Austin, Texas. This was one we were particularly excited about. Not only had we been wanting to visit Austin for quite some time, but we hit it off with our hosts right away during our initial Skype interview. It came as a bit of a bummer when we didn’t get the job initially, which happens from time to time when you aren’t the first applicant. However, we got a second chance when the other sitter had to cancel. We were so excited we immediately adjusted our plans to fit Austin back in the schedule. It was definitely the right decision.

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Austin, Texas

Texas is the second largest state (behind Alaska) and second most populous state (behind California). It is considered a Southern state and is bordered by New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. Texas’s history is slightly different than many of the other American states as it was held by Spain, France, Mexico, and was an independent republic all before joining the Union. My opinion (based simply on observation) was that Texans are very proud of this history and feel almost more connected to their state than the country as a whole. It reminded me a little bit of the Sicilian saying, “We are Sicilians first and Italians second.”

Austin, Texas, USA. The Places We Live. Map of the USA with Austin highlighted.

We were house sitting in Austin, the state capital of Texas. Although it is only the fourth most populous city in Texas, it is the 11th most populous in the country. Austin is home to a diverse culture of artists, high-tech workers, and students. It even ranks in the top three cities with the greatest population of people identifying as LGBTQ+. Although the adopted motto of “Keep Austin Weird” may not fit with much of the political and religious beliefs held by many Texans, it makes for the perfect place to visit for old-millennials like us. Just check out this Perfect Weekend in Austin post and you’ll understand.

Our Home

While house sitting in Austin, we lived in the neighboring suburb of Round Rock. Our house was a two-story, single family home at the edge of a park. It had three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, two living areas, and an office. Similar homes in the neighborhood are selling for around $250,000. The home was very modern, with nearly all of the gadgets being either automatic or controlled by the family Alexa. We particularly enjoyed the master suite and master bath. I loved the adjustable bed and hands-free lighting.

House Sitting in Austin Texas - The Places We Live

The neighborhood was nice and quiet, with several parks and walking paths just out the front door. A few blocks away, we had our choice of grocery stores and some restaurants. Our favorite was the Salt Lick, a Texas BBQ house that is popular in the area. We waited nearly an hour for a seat, but were rewarded with delicious pulled pork (a faux pas, apparently; we should’ve got the brisket), mac n’ cheese, and baked beans.

Our Family

Our hosts are a young couple from the area who run an amazing, free internet marketing project. We were lucky enough to get to spend an evening with them before they left for their holiday in Taiwan, and had a blast getting to know them and compare notes on our career paths. They are the parents of three well-loved dachshunds: Lucy, Maggie, and Marcy.

Austin House Sitting Pets Lucy and Maggie

I have to start with Lucy because she is the princess of the house. She is a beauty queen who loves lap sitting and sleeping with her tongue out. In the very important sleeping arrangement scheme, she took the head of the bed. I often awoke to her tangled in my hair or sleeping on Josh’s neck.

Austin Texas House Sitting Pet, Maggie

Maggie tries very hard to be the alpha dog. She has all the confidence and ambition necessary, but lacks the social awareness. Maggie enjoys two things: sleeping under blankets, and being alone while she sleeps under her blankets. I enjoyed Maggie very much, but I got the feeling my love was one sided and that she was only letting me pet her out of politeness. Maggie had a special bedtime ritual, getting tucked in under a blanket on her dog bed. By morning, she was under our blankets and snuggled along my back.

Austin House Sitting Pet, Marcy

I don’t play favorites, but if I did, Marcy would win for our house sitting in Austin. She enjoys cuddles and playing with toys. Although Lucy was always the first to jump on my lap when I sat on the couch, Marcy was shortly behind and made sure to get the prime real estate. Marcy was my little spoon at night. She cuddled under the blankets at my stomach with her head under my chin. My bed feels cold without her now.

Our Work and Personal Development

We’re pretty settled in our routines now and have been able to maintain them well as we move from house to house. While house sitting in Austin, Josh worked on the final round of editing for his book and I worked on my various marketing campaigns. The one new work-related change was that I became a VIPKID Teacher. I now teach English to Chinese students for a few hours each week. It has been a lot of fun and is bringing in some steady money.

VIPKID

It was an oddly perfect stay for cooking. I don’t know what the difference was, but for our entire stay in Austin, every meal we cooked was perfection. We challenged this theory by trying out some new dishes, including an involved cupcake recipe, but still ended up with great meals. I’m not complaining. Everything was just weirdly good.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes - The Places We Live

Our Lives House Sitting in Austin

We took a couple of trips into Austin proper. Josh’s favorite part was the food. This included our crazy delicious banana, honey, and bacon doughnut at Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts, and the street tacos we tried in the SoCo district (South Congress). I enjoyed all of Austin’s street murals and quirky shops. It reminded me a lot of Portland, Oregon, but warmer and cleaner. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend nearly enough time in town to get a good feel for everything Austin has to offer, especially the music scene the city is known for. Guess we’ll just have to go back, dang it!

Keep Austin Weird - The Places We Live

All in all, we had a fantastic time house sitting in Austin. This is hands down one of the best sits we’ve ever done. The house itself was comfortable, the dogs absolutely lovable, and we made some great new friends in the process. Though we’d never really considered living in Texas before, Austin is now in the running for becoming our permanent home. One way or another, we’ll definitely be spending more time in Austin in the future.


The Places We Live – New Mexico

The last leg of our American road trip (#VanLife Part 3) takes us through every southern state on our way to Florida. Our first stop was a house sit for a retired couple who live completely off-grid in the New Mexico high desert with their two dogs. We spent merely three weeks in this desert oasis, but somehow left with years worth of wisdom.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico is a southwestern US state bordering Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. The ancestral home of several Native American tribes, the first European settlers to the area were from Spain. These settlers named the land New Mexico over 200 years before the country of Mexico was named. In the early 1800s, New Mexico became a Mexican territory, but that was short lived. After the Mexican-American War in 1848, New Mexico joined the USA and was later named the 47th state. Now with a population of two million people, New Mexico boasts the highest percentage of Hispanic Americans in the United States and the second highest percentage of Native Americans.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA - The Places We Live. Map of USA with New York and Santa Fe highlighted

Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and has the distinction of being the oldest capital city in the country. It has a semi-arid climate, with cold, dry winters and hot summers. With the pueblo-style buildings and numerous art galleries and craft shops, Santa Fe is well known as a center for arts. It is even one of 34 cities around the world named a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Art!

Our Home

Our house sit was located in the high-mountain desert just south of Santa Fe. After driving 30 minutes of rough dirt road, we arrived at a beautiful home with a stunning vista view. It is a small home sitting on 60 acres of wild desert complete with cacti, jack rabbits, and coyotes. If that isn’t interesting enough, this house is completely self-sufficient. High efficiency windows capture and retain sunlight, keeping the house warm even during the freezing high desert winter (though there was also a wood stove for particularly cloudy days, which was quite nice). All electricity comes from a solar power installation,  and the water is all rain caught and filtered.

solar panel in desert

The home has one bedroom, one bath, full kitchen, large living room, office, and reading nook. The outside is spacious and complimented with comfortable outdoor seating. There are no TVs in the house, but the co-op internet is stable and was more than adequate for our work schedule. Our hosts have an eye for art and decorated their home and property with beautiful pieces by local artists. We felt like we were in a secluded art gallery made just for us.

rock bench overlooking desert valley

We took to the self-sufficient lifestyle pretty quickly, with only one major change to our daily habits: our water usage. We began showering less often, and the showers we did take were very short. We flushed only when necessary and washed our dishes in tubs. It took only a couple of days to get used to, but I enjoyed the experience and gained a greater understanding of the amount of water I use in a day… it’s a lot!

Our Family

Our hosts are a couple who have opted to forgo the hustle and bustle of the city for the tranquility of the country. They have owned the home for 10 years and still love it. We were house sitting in New Mexico for them while they traveled to Australia on holiday. We couldn’t wait to hear their stories and see their pictures.

Tess - New Mexico House Sitting - The Places We Live

Our pets for this sit included a small herd of barn cats and two dogs, Tess and Brady. Those dogs were big! I have to admit I was a little nervous about their size at first, but they turned out to be incredibly gentle and loving. They are both excellent guard dogs who enjoy sitting in the snow, chasing rabbits, and wrestling in the living room. I can definitely see why the owners chose to have these two dogs with them out here. They took very good care of us. I’m pretty sure they thought they were our babysitters instead of the other way around.

dog carrying a rope in desert

Our Lives

It was not particularly convenient to go to Santa Fe, as the driveway was extremely rough and bumpy. Thankfully, our hosts provided us with a rough-and-tumble Subaru so Darla didn’t have to take the brunt of it. Still, we chose to adventure to town only every few days. This wasn’t a problem, though, since we enjoyed the quiet and tranquility of the sit. We spent a lot of time working, reading, cooking, and taking long walks. The desert had plenty of new flora and fauna for us to explore and the dogs were fun to watch bounding fearlessly through the cactus bushes.

dog running on a desert path

The sit itself was much easier than I expected. When I first heard the house was off-grid, I had assumed we’d have to put in a little extra daily effort, but there really wasn’t much house work to be done at all. I fed and watered the cats each day, threw seeds out for the birds, and of course took care of the dogs. There were a couple of heavy snow days, but even that offered a great opportunity for some hot chocolate by the fire.

heavy snow in desert

Our Work

Josh finished the first round of editing on his novel while in Arizona. By our house sit in New Mexico, he was sitting on about 180,000 words (30,000 over the recommended upper limit for debut novels). Because of this, he started his second round of edits in New Mexico with a goal to cut at least 10% from each chapter. It was really interesting to watch his struggles and successes with this. I think it really changed the way he looked at his writing.

I made a lot of headway in my social media campaigns for the online fiction writer’s community #WeWriteFiction and was able to catch up on some blog pieces (thank you for your patience). The seclusion also allowed for some great reading time. I finished Titus Fogg by Aaron Piper, a really enjoyable self-published book about a magic kid in the regular world. I also breezed through Stranded by Bracken MacLeod, a horror-scifi about an oil rigger stranded in the ice. 

House sitting in New Mexico was an excellent experience and challenge to our previous views of needfulness. We loved Tess and Brady, our home, the amazing scenery, and the quiet. It was a house sit we will never forget and likely one we will continue talking about for years to come. I love when these sits aren’t just in new places, but require new skills and experiences as well. Up next, check out our adventures in Santa Fe!


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New Mexico House Sitting - The Places We Live


 

Port Angeles – The Places We Live

Our house sitting adventures continue in Port Angeles, Washington! Nestled at the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, this area is full of diverse ecological landscapes. We’ll be spending a little less than a week here watching over a lovely home and three dogs on the outskirts of town. The Olympic Peninsula is also home to one of the largest temperate rain forests in the US, with an emphasis on rain. It’s going to be hard to see everything we want to with such little time, but we’re sure gonna try!

Port Angeles, Washington

The State of Washington is located in the northwest corner of the contiguous states and borders British Columbia (Canada), Idaho, Oregon, and the Pacific Ocean. Washington is a powerhouse in the tech and engineering world, hosting the Boeing assembly plant, Microsoft’s headquarters, and Amazon’s headquarters. This is largely due to the lower cost of living in the Seattle area versus San Francisco, where the median housing prices are almost double.

Port Angeles - The Places We Live.jpg

Port Angeles is located on the northwestern tip of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. Long a Native American homeland, the town now hosts a population of nearly 20,000 people with about 2% mix of native peoples. As the name suggests, Port Angeles is situated on the water, and neighbors the Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Even more, standing on the shore, one can look across the Strait to see Canada. The neighboring town of Forks, Washington was featured in the popular vampire series The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.





Our Home

We are house sitting for three dogs in a beautiful home just outside of town. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and is 2,700 square feet (250 m²) on 2.5 acres. There is a fully stocked kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, garage, and play area. The neighboring homes are ranging around $450k. Our home was very comfortable and well appointed, with lots of artwork created by the home owner, a professional artist.

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The nearest business is a family-owned bar. Of which, the owners and locals were quite the cast of characters, and we enjoyed hanging out and listening to their banter over a pint of local craft brew. A little farther afoot is downtown Port Angeles, hosting a small collection of shops, a harbor, and several parks. We walked around downtown a few times during our stay and sampled many of the local restaurants. Most noteworthy was La Belle Creperie, which served up some amazing sweet and savory crepes like the goat cheese, spinach, and raspberry one pictured above (which now lives very happily in my stomach).




Our Family

Our hosts are a family of four whom we met very briefly. Understandably, they were very excited to head out on their vacation to Disneyland. Therefore, we got quick rundown of the place and sent them on their way. They seemed like a wonderful family and based on the artwork throughout the house, we have to assume a very talented one as well.

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The pets for the week were three rescue dogs: (left to right) Snuggles, Lily, and Danny. Snuggles is a chihuahua mix breed and is the alpha in the house. He hated us for about the first three hours, then decided we might be one of the best friends he has ever had. Hence, Snuggles followed me everywhere and lived up to his name. Lily was a little bashful, but a bundle of love. She enjoyed licking our faces as often as humanly (dogly?) possible. In contrast, Danny was a bit of a loner, unless belly rubs were up for offer, or if Lily was available to play. They were all super cute, fun, and the perfect lap warmers during the cold evenings.



Our Lives

This house sit was very quiet and peaceful. We got a lot of work done, including publishing Josh’s short story collection, Finding My Voice. We were both nearly in tears with the excitement of this accomplishment. Josh is now a “Published Author”! It is so exciting!!!

Further, our non-work time was spent cuddling with the dogs, going for walks, exploring Port Angeles, and the neighboring Olympic National Park. The area is absolutely beautiful! As long as getting wet from the rain isn’t a concern, the nature adventure options are endless. I can’t wait to explore more and see what life is like in this new place we live.


 


The Places We Live – Glendora, California

There are few places in the USA with worse traffic or better weather than southern California. We’re spending the next 14 days just outside of Los Angeles, in the beautiful city of Glendora. Visiting this area isn’t cheap. Thankfully, we have booked a house sit at my aunt and uncle’s house while they visit the East Coast. They have two big and lovable dogs, a stunning garden, and a magazine feature-worthy home. Time to add another home to the list of places we live in Glendora, California!


Glendora, California

Everywhere we go in the world, people know California. Not only is it the most populous State in the US, but they also have the largest sub-national economy in the world. It is home to more famous cities than I care to list, the largest tree on earth, the highest AND lowest points in the USA, and is both the Avocado and Raisin Capital of the World. Way to be, California!

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Glendora is located in Los Angeles County, about 23 miles (37 km) outside of downtown LA. Set in the foothills, there are lots of trails for hiking and other outdoor activities nearby. Glendora is connected to the Los Angeles metro through the Gold Line at APU/Citrus College. Far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the city proper, Glendora is a quiet community, perfect for retirees or those looking for a slower pace of life.

Our Home

Our Glendora home is a 2,000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house built in 1956. It has a large kitchen, living room, sitting room, and laundry room. My favorite part of the home is the green and well-kept backyard, complete with a heated pool. There are several different citrus trees and a small vegetable garden, so fresh produce is never far away. The location is also a plus, in a quiet neighborhood with home prices averaging around $900k.

Glendora Back Yard - The Places We Live

We were provided with a comfortable room, free use of the house, a car, tv and internet, and plenty of food. The perks of staying with family over strangers was not overlooked by us at all. We felt immediately at home and could have easily spent the rest of our lives here.

Our Family

This was a very special house sit as we got to spend some time with family that we haven’t seen in quite some time. Long-time Californians, my aunt is a retired nurse and my uncle is a retired radio personality and local celebrity. They are some of my favorite people to chat with as they have the best stories. Before they left, we spent hours just sitting at the table, talking about the books we were reading and weird medical stuff. It was a real treat. While they are away on a much deserved vacation, Josh and I will be watching their two dogs, JJ and Bella, along with their cat, Skinny Kitty.

House Sitting with Bella and JJ - The Places We Live

Both JJ and Bella have the run of the house with their big personalities and even bigger hearts. Bella is the younger and smaller of the two. She loves sitting in her dad’s chair, playing ball, and patrolling for squirrels outside. JJ is large and in charge. He enjoys swimming in the pool, belly rubs, and playtime on the couch. Skinny Kitty was a bit stand-offish, but we shared a few nice moments together. He enjoys food, naps, and being alone. We loved molding into the routines of these pets and immediately fell in love.

JJ in the Pool - The Places We Live

Our Life

So far, this has been a very productive sit. We have gotten a lot of work done, explored quite a bit (check out our Funky & Free Walking Tour | Los Angeles), and have set good routines. We wake up each morning and set to work, a mixture of writing and social media. Then it is time to play ball with the dogs. JJ has some trouble with his hips, so we play some games that don’t require much running, like hide and seek with the ball or fetch in the pool. After lunch, we enjoy a walk in the sunshine or an adventure around town. For dinner, we are still focusing on building our cooking skills and even tried making a new dish inspired by a restaurant we visited in LA (more on this coming up in the next post), Mac and Cheese Pie inspired by The Pie Hole.

We’ve had some great work time as well. Josh published a collection of horror stories that really challenged his writing style. More importantly, perhaps, he wrapped up the final draft of his newest publication, Finding My Voice, a flash fiction collection. He will be working with some of our friends for the cover art and chapter art. It has been a really fun project and we can’t wait to share it with you all!