Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to Normal

I'm happy to announce that Cyrus is feeling much better and is pretty much back to his usual peppy, perky, puppy self.  (Try to say that three times as fast as you can.)  He was on lock-down for the weekend and that meant he couldn't climb, jump, or run.  So, we had a long weekend trying to keep him calm and still.  He couldn't understand why, oh why, he couldn't wrestle or why, oh why, he couldn't get on the furniture or why, oh why, he couldn't sleep in our bed.  I put a large pillow on the floor for him and he just gave me a dirty look when I tried to talk him into lying on it.  So, I used the pillow...on the floor, like a dog.  Hmmmmm...I'm not sure exactly when Cyrus turned the tables on us and took over the house.

Sir Cyrus cuddling with his beloved Liger...finally on the couch again! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Poor Pookie

Poor Cyrus has had a rough couple of days.  He started acting uncomfortable on Wednesday night and couldn't seem to sit without it hurting.  He had a restless night (which means I also had a restless night) and I took him in to see the vet yesterday morning.  It looks like he has a pulled or strained muscle in his back and it's making his hind quarters sore.  She gave him some anti-inflammatory/pain meds and he seems to be doing better.  He slept a lot yesterday and didn't seem so uncomfortable last night.  He was even able to sit without fidgeting like he did the day before.  This morning, he wagged his tail at me and has a bit of a spring back in his step.  He's still having some trouble managing the step to go outside and can't really lift his back legs.  (That's AWFUL to watch and I just carry him.)  We're still keeping a close eye on him to rule out any abdominal blockage, but it looks like it's a sore back.  Poor little guy.  He wants to jump up on the couch so badly and just has to settle with cuddling with me on the floor instead.  I can't wait until he's back to his old self again...jumping around and wiggling his little rear end and stubby tail.  I also can't wait to be able to sit on the furniture again.  This sitting on the floor stuff is starting to hurt MY back.

Life would be so much easier if he could just talk and tell us what's bothering him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I LOVE Jewelry!

I LOVE jewelry!  Silver.  Gold.  Gemstones.  Diamonds.  Bracelets.  Rings.  Necklaces.  Pretty much anything.  I'm not too picky.  I ordered myself a necklace that I had personalized.  I wanted something casual that I could wear every day.  It's so cute and I absolutely love it!  Happy Thursday to me!!

I ordered it online from AJ's Collection.  (http://www.ajscollection.com/)
Cute and adorable stuff!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Test Subject

I'm so glad that Cyrus is patient (sort of), laid-back (most of the time), and doesn't mind me constantly sticking a camera in his face.  I've been playing with the camera lately and trying to understand it more.  I'm trying to only use manual settings and I think I finally am beginning to understand aperture.  Hallelujah!  I've read books and articles and manuals and it just wouldn't click (pun intended).  It's FINALLY clicking now and so I've been doing a lot of practicing on Cyrus.  I'm glad he's always nearby and ready and willing to be my test subject.  Well...as long as he gets a treat at some point.  Soon, I'll be ready to move onto setting both shutter speed and aperture for fast-moving action shots.  Wish me luck.

low aperture = clear close-up of subject and blurred background

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Boys

Looking at the calendar, Keaton will be leaving us in a few more weeks to head back to college.  Sigh.  It's been nice having him home to chat with us, do things with us, and put away the dishes.  Not only will Matt and I miss seeing him everyday, but so will Cyrus.  He enjoys having an extra body on which he can scratch himself.  He's a goofy dog.  He starts with his face and then puts his whole body into rubbing against the length of your body.  Sometimes he uses the couch, but he definitely prefers rubbing along a person.  Especially if they're sleeping.  Sometimes he even falls asleep after his session of scratching.  Here's a picture of Cyrus with Keaton after a scratching session.  If I wasn't making noise in the kitchen, I think they may have both fallen asleep.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jell-o Shots & German

What do jell-o shots and German have in common?  Well...not only did I make jell-o shots with schnapps over the weekend, but I'm now teaching the dog German.  My guys think I'm goofy and maybe, possibly slightly crazy.  I don't care.  It's fun either way.

Anyway, we had some people over on Saturday for a triple "P" party:  pool, ping-pong, and pinball.  I made some jell-o shots and put them in hollowed-out fruit.  They were pretty darn yummy and oh so cute!
I made watermelon jell-o shots and poured them into lime halves and then cut them into wedges after the jell-o was set. 
I made some vodka sunrise jell-o shots (cherry & orange) and put them into oranges.
I saved all the pulp for future marinades and put the rinds in the garbage disposal to freshen it up.  Waste not, want not!

I had an idea yesterday to try for Cyrus's barking issues.  I've tried lots and lots and lots of various methods to get him to stop barking.  (I pretty much gave up after watching an episode of "The Dog Whisperer" and even renowned dog expert Cesar Milan gave up on some yippy dogs and said that terriers just bark.)  I draw the line at bark collars.  I just can't do anything that may harm a dog...especially my dog.  So, I thought that maybe Cyrus would obey better if I used German commands.  (He's a schnauzer, so maybe hundreds of years of ingrained German is buried somewhere deep inside him.)  So, I started trying to teach him last night.  So far, he's catching on.  I still have some German to learn for myself first so I can teach him...and then Matt and Keaton.  (I can already see them rolling their eyes.)  If I can't get Cyrus to stop barking, then I guess the words on my front door mat will be my excuse.
Platz! (Down!)
Fein gemacht!  (Good boy!)

Friday, August 17, 2012


Any of you who know my dog (or follow my blog) know that he's a big baby.  He's a prissy indoor dog who doesn't like to get his feet wet.  He's also not a fan of inclement weather...this includes days that are TOO sunny, TOO windy, and TOO humid.  (We live in west Michigan, so of course we have to deal with wind and lots of humidity from Lake Michigan.)  Anyway, yesterday morning, we had a little thunderstorm roll through.  Cyrus's usual storm behavior is to pant, dig, and shake uncontrollably.  I've tried petting him and soothing him.  I've tried taking him into the basement.  I've tried cuddling with him in bed.  I've tried putting him in the bathroom and turning on the fan to help drown out the thunder.  I've tried building a tent for him.  I've tried playing with him to get him to focus on something other than the storm.  I've tried having him listen to music.  I've tried offering him treats to make storms nothing to be afraid of...to try and make them something positive.  I've tried Benadryl (for the dog, not me).  I've tried Valium (again, for the dog and not me).  Nothing has worked...so far.  But, I may have solved our dilemma.  I bought him a Thundershirt and (knock on wood) so far it seems to help him alleviate some of his stress during storms.  If you don't know what a Thundershirt is, it's a cotton "shirt" with velcro straps that can be securely fastened around the dog.  It's basically a big, gentle constant hug.  It's kind of the same theory as swaddling a baby to soothe it.  We tried it (the Thundershirt, not swaddling a baby) for the first time a few weeks ago while camping.  It helped him a little.  He was still anxious, but not nearly as bad as he usually is.  Then, yesterday morning, I put his Thundershirt on him and secured it a little more snugly than I did previously and...VOILA...he was soooo much better.  He still tried to find a place to hide, but he didn't dig or pant.  He only shook a tiny bit.  I'm hoping that each time we use it, his anxiety will diminish until storms don't bother him at all.  Keaton's girlfriend calls it his autism vest.  Cyrus doesn't have autism...he has prissy dog syndrome.  But, since I'm sort of prissy myself, I'd expect nothing less from my dog.

Cyrus sporting his new Thundershirt. 
He still hid in my bathroom, but he left all my rugs intact!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Books!

I haven't been in a creative mood lately and haven't done any scrapbooking.  I could blame it on the heat wave.  I could blame it on the drought.  I could blame it on spending time in the pool.  In reality, I just haven't felt motivated.  I can't scrapbook if I don't feel motivated..and if the laundry isn't finished, the dishes aren't done, and the house isn't clean.  So, to try and get myself motivated to get working on Keaton's books, I made some spiffy labels for all the new books I've filled so far.  The plan is to confine a year of his life to three books.  Maybe four.  I'm really hoping it won't be five.  (These are 12x12 binders.  That's a lot of photos!)  I love my new books.  They're shiny and bright.  I have other colors ready and wating to be filled with memories of my baby.  I also have labels printed and ready to be put in the new books.  Now I just need to get busy filling them...   

3 books planned for each year x 18 years = 54 books
I may need a bigger scrapbook room...or a bigger house.

I have five years finished.  Mostly.  I just need to add some school papers to them and then I'll be done.
That will help us get rid of  five storage bins in the basement. 
But, don't tell Matt because he'll only want to move in another pinball machine!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Isn't Technology Great?

Yesterday, I was able to visit with my ten-year-old niece, face-to-face...even though she lives 250 miles away.  Yay for Skype!  She chatted with me, made faces at me, approved my hairstyle, and showed me her handstands.  She tried to show me how she takes her dog out to go potty, but (thankfully) the connection was lost.  All our visiting was done with me on my laptop and she on her iPod.  Isn't technology great?  I look forward to being able to "see" my family via Skype.  Especially my niece.  She's feisty.  She's sassy.  She's going to give my sister gray hair.  I think that's hilarious!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Odds 'n' Ends

I think I may have A.D.D.  Maybe even A.D.H.D.  I really can't sit still so I instead flit all over the house constantly puttering, straightening, and reorganizing.  Crooked picture...not in my house.  Junk drawer...not in my house.  Disorganized photos...definitely not in my house.  So far this morning, I've purchased a couple of things online, downloaded a book from the library, have done two loads of laundry, visited Pinterest, and have downloaded some photos from the camera.  One of the pictures on the camera is of a cheesecake I made over the weekend.  If you're dieting or are trying to live life on a low-fat diet (or are concerned about a heart attack looming in your future), then you probably won't want to make this.  Ever.  But, I believe that life is short and everything should be tried once...within moderation.  Except for skydiving. 

Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
(Recipe from my dad...who is a whiz in the kitchen!)

1 pkg. fudge brownie mix
3 pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat cream cheese because I just couldn't bring myself to use up my weekly (maybe even monthly?) fat allowance on regular cream cheese.)
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (Again, this recipe is not for the faint of heart.)
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 bag mini chocolate chips

Mix brownie mix according to directions on package and pour into a spring-form pan.  (My pan is 10" and must be a good size because nothing leaked out.)  Bake at 350 for about 35 min. or until set.  Allow to cool and beat together:  cream cheese, milk, eggs, and vanilla.  (I also added a little confectioners sugar because I thought it needed a little extra sweetness with three whole packages of cream cheese.  Plus, this recipe already shoots your diet to hell, so it won't hurt anything to add some extra sugar.  I probably added about a cup...maybe a little more.  I just stopped adding it when I tasted it and it was pretty yummy.)  Stir in chocolate chips and pour over cooled brownies.  Bake at 350 for another 50 min. and chill in fridge.  (I think if you eat this with a salad and bean sprouts, then you can enjoy a piece without too much guilt.  Maybe not, but you can always worry about it the next day.)

This picture of the cheesecake isn't as good as it tastes.  Notice one of the edges is missing.  I took the edge of the pan away while the cheesecake was still too warm.  Definitely don't be impatient like me.  Or, if you like to eat the edges of things that fall off when you take the pan away too early, then by all means...go ahead and indulge in your impatience.  We had some last night and this is what was left.  It's really rich and decadent, but gives The Cheesecake Factory a run for its money! 

I didn't have mini chocolate chips because I never buy them.  Seriously, why eat something so small when you can eat something bigger and better?  I just chopped them up in a blender and sprinkled them into the mixture.  Of course, because I'm always in such a hurry, I totally forgot to add them BEFORE I poured them into the mixture BEFORE they went onto the brownies.  I just added them to the mixture on top of the brownies, stirred them in, and life was good again.  I do tend to add stuff after I'm supposed to because I usually don't read the recipe all the way through because I'm in too much of a hurry to just start making the recipe.  And, before you wonder, yes...this method definitely backfires on me.  A LOT!  I think it has to do with my attention span.  I'm ready to move onto another project halfway through making the recipe.  One that usually involves me straightening or reorganizing something.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Last night was legendary...that is a night spent at the casino to see the band, Legendary Rockstars.  It was a fun night full of full of good music, Spandex (not us), funny dance moves (again, not us), and strawberry daiquiris.  After the band wrapped up, Matt and I made our donations to the slot machines and then picked up some donuts for breakfast.  Donuts after a night at the casino are legendary  Oh, and also my nap.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I was crafty today and made a couple of camera strap covers.  (I don't like anything that's plain.)  The first one I made is pretty pink.  The second one I made is orange and will be used at the K basketball games.  Matt already said he's not using the camera until the pink strap cover is replaced.  Good...no more pictures of pinball machines.


It's raining, the temperature is only in the 50s, and we're thrilled...except for the poor dog.  He doesn't like the rain.  He doesn't like to get his feet wet.  He probably doesn't like wearing a rain coat, but it's pretty darn cute on him!  The only thing cuter would be if he'd wear booties...or learned how to carry an umbrella.

And, yes, for those of you wondering...Cyrus does have a drawer full of clothes and costumes. 
In my defense, I don't have a baby to dress up anymore...and Matt won't let me get a monkey. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ice Cream

Summer is halfway over and I just realized that I haven't even visited our local ice cream parlor yet.  They were voted to have the best ice cream in southwest Michigan.  Getting some cotton candy confetti ice cream will be on my to-do list for the weekend.  It's pink.  It's pretty.  It's delicious!  In honor of ice cream, here's an oldie but goodie of Keaton enjoying a cone on the beach when he was five. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Still Been Hot!

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but ones full of some interesting stories.  Let's see...

It's been HOT.  I mean really, really hot.  Hot enough to make my mascara run.  Hot enough to not wear a bra...well, maybe not that hot, but definitely hot enough to not want to wear a bra.  When the pool water got up to 90 degrees...AGAIN...I had to add some cold water...AGAIN.  It just doesn't seem right to sweat while floating in the pool....AGAIN.  Matt's mom came for a visit to watch Matt's nephew's baseball team fight for the Little League State Championship.  They battled for five long, hot, grueling days, but lost in the end.  It was a good run.  Since they lost when I went to watch early in the tournament, I didn't want to jinx them any further and didn't go to any more games.  I did make them cookies, though...and then they lost.  Uh oh, I'm really hoping I didn't jinx them.  I'm a bit superstitious.

We (and I totally mean Matt) cleaned the front of the house with the power washer after we FINALLY got it back from the shop and its two-week repair.  We (and, again, I totally mean Matt) hung up the shutters in their new spiffy color...burgundy.  It's a nice change from the navy.  Well, it was really more like lighter navy since the sun definitely made them fade a bit in the last couple of years.  Now we need to do make some changes to the landscaping.  (And, again by we, I totally mean Matt needs to change some landscaping.  I don't like to get dirt under my nails.)

Goodbye blue.  Hello burgundy.
(Since we have a new paint color, this totally means some changes are needed for the outdoor decor, too. 
I just need someone to tell Matt because he thinks our old stuff is fine.)

We enjoyed a fun weekend with my sister and her family.  We met them over at Silver Lake and had a great time bouncing along with them on a dune buggy ride.  Then we headed over to the Little Sable Point Lighthouse and spent some time at and in Lake Michigan.  We took them to a rope and zip-line course and the kids had a blast climbing and zip-lining.  We hit Binder Park Zoo on their way home and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the monkeys.  They even followed me as I moved around to take pictures.  If I ever win a huge lottery (or find out I have really, really rich parents), I plan to buy an island (or two) and make animal sanctuaries.  Even though I love monkeys so much and would love to have one as a pet, I never will because I know they're wild animals and should not be pets.  I'll never be a crazy monkey lady that puts clothes on them.  That's what dogs are for.  So, I thought a monkey island would be a perfect solution for me.  I can see monkeys all day, every day...and since my neighbors are driving me crazy and I really want to move, it would be a perfect place to live!  The good news is that I'll have help with my island/s.  My niece said she'd work on both my monkey island and dog island.  My nephew said he would only work on the dog island because monkeys throw poop.  One of the priceless things with the kids was that they both simultaneously said they wanted chocolate fondue for dessert when I told them I had stuff to make ice cream sundaes or s'mores.  I think it's kind of become a tradition for me to make chocolate fondue when they come to visit.  The other priceless thing was my niece asking me to show her mom how to make my scrambled eggs.  I told her it was all in the special seasoning.  The best part was her reply:  "It's white cheddar popcorn seasoning.  But can you show my mom how to do it?   You make the best scrambled eggs in the whole world."  Yep, she definitely can come live on my monkey island with me!

On our way to our African Safari at Binder Park Zoo.

We finally got a new TV for the living room.  The past couple of years of dealing with digital cable on our old analog TV and the frustration of having the sides of the picture cut off finally had us caving in and getting a flat screen LED TV.  It's so nice to see the entire picture on the screen...and especially nice to actually see the whole score of a game.  Over the past couple of years, we never saw the ball if it was outside of the middle of the picture and couldn't see the score of a game.  Plus, now moving the TV won't give Matt a hernia.  It's a bigger screen than the old TV, but it looks so much smaller in the entertainment center.  I tried to talk Matt into getting a new entertainment center so he could have a bigger TV, but my logic didn't work on him.  Darn.  Still, it's nice to watch the athletes compete in the Olympics and totally see what's happening...all in high def.  It's even nicer to see the whole court and all the players and not try to figure out where the ball or athlete will pop back into the picture again.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone get a TV out of the box, hooked up, and programmed faster than Keaton did.  Maybe he could get a job at Best Buy on the Geek Squad.

I spent last week enjoying the Olympics...when I wasn't sleeping or throwing up.  I found a tick on my leg after the zoo and didn't think anything of it...until the vomiting started and lasted all day long.  Fun.  Then came the fever and achy joints.  Joy.  I still didn't think anything about the tick I found until Matt mentioned it and I looked it up on the computer.  Huh.  It looks like I was bit by a tick.  Which is kind of funny because I don't do bugs or outdoorsy stuff where bugs can touch me.  Gross!  So, that was a fun few days.  But, like I said, I did watch much more of the Olympics than I've ever seen before in my life and had a mini vacation from cooking, cleaning, and laundry. 

We packed up the motor home and went camping at Fort Custer over the weekend.  Keaton and Cyrus went with us for a change of pace and it was nice to have the extra company.  We went to Matt's (and Keaton's) company picnic on Saturday and it was fabulous...as it usually is.  I enjoyed the plant tours and learned a little more about what they do and how they do it.  I also enjoyed my beloved cotton candy and we were thrilled to see they had a cupcake tent.  Seriously...a cupcake tent full of cute, delicious cupcakes.  It was awesome!  I enjoyed a vanilla bean cupcake with butter cream frosting, toasted coconut, and a drizzle of chocolate on top.  Yummy!  It was a great day...but very, very hot.  We rounded out the evening visiting with friends and enjoying some margarita jello shots.  Who knew they even made margarita jello?  Whoever did is amazing because they were delicious!  When we were at the campground, we enjoyed some biking and walks with Cy.  Keaton had an adventure on the bike trail that he wasn't expecting.  He was expecting a leisurely ride on the paved road around the campground and was surprised to find himself on the dirt bike trails with jumps.  He said he thinks he was parallel to the ground at one point in the ride and almost died three times.  He tends to exaggerate just a bit.

Keaton's idea of camping:  Being inside the motor home with central air while playing a video game on his laptop.

Cyrus's idea of camping:  Sitting on a chair because there's NO way he'll sit on the ground or in the dirt.

Our idea of camping:  Actually going outside to do something. 
We stopped for a picture along the Kalamazoo River while doing a little biking.  Most of it was on paved roads and a well-groomed trail because I'm a big baby. 

 So, it was a nice weekend with the boys.  A nice weekend made even nicer because:

1.  Keaton actually wanted to come camping with us and spend time with us!
2.  Keaton was able to help us unpack and put everything away!!
3.  A cold front moved through, dropping temps so we aren't melting anymore. I finally turned off the air after having it run nonstop for three weeks and opened the windows so we can now enjoy some fresh air in the house!