Sunday, July 27, 2014

Upping my Pet-Mom Status... full-on addict. In my computer room I just put up these dog-themed picture frames. Each one is the exact breed for both Amara and Peaches. Amara's frame is even being held crookedly by the shih-tzu! Perfect for her "angel-with-a-crooked-halo" personality. They are quite possibly counted among my favorite possessions. Proud Mama right here!

Because I'm a pawparazzi nut you get not one picture of
these picture frames, no. You get two.

They're themed!

I swear, my next post will be related to something in my life other than my pets. Even though, let's face it, they're a large portion of my life.

That single life, man, that single life.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dump Day

This is what a spoiled happy dog looks like.
Had someone told me years ago that my dogs would come to love car rides, I'd have laughed. Politely I'd tell them they were mistaken. And then I'd laugh some more.

Our dogs have never been car ride dogs. Peaches hyperventilated and paced the entire time. Amara would stand on her hind legs, watch out the window, and whine and bark at everything. Goodness forbid we had to park anywhere for a time. They'd mouth off at every passing person! (I swear, they're really quite cuddly and sweet. - Barking aside. -  In fact, they are curled up at my feet right now, the pictures of furry angels.)

To be fair, it was probably partially our fault. Car rides only came around during vet visits and groomer appointments. Secret: neither Amara nor Peaches liked the groomers or vets. (Uh, oh. That's  the recipe for disaster right there.)

And then came the invention of Doggie-and-Daddy Dump Day.

I have no idea how the tradition began. I try and try to remember, but nothing comes. It kind of snuck up on us one day, a whim of a thought that became a tradition. Every Sunday my father gathers all of the trash, "saddles up" the pooches, and brings them with him. They sit in the front seat. If they're really good and the right person is on duty, the transfer station workers give them treats. (Treats? No wonder Amara loves it so much! Food is her middle name.)

Talk about a personality change! Now the car is their best friend.

They are excited for whatever rides come their way. But they are especially eager every weekend for their special ride with dad. Come the weekend, in the wee hours of the breaking morning, Peaches and Amara line up at the top of the stairs. Peaches lays her head down on the top stair, pushing her tail up in the air, wagging it a mile a minute. Amara lays down with her paws hanging over the first step, wide-eyes transfixed on the door while she wiggles in place, trying to contain the "ants in her pants." Every time dad brings a new bag out to the truck, Peaches jumps up, prances, and dances around - crying in fear she'll be left behind.

When the door opens for the last moment and dad asks: "Ready to go to the dump?"

Both dogs perk up and dash down the stairs, out the door. I can practically hear them pant: "Dumpdumpdumpdump, let'sgolet'sgolet'sgo!"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Guest Post on Caramel and Salt

Hello Doodles! Today I'm guest posting over at Caramel and Salt, discussing my summer favorites, those summer items I just cannot live without.

Go spread the love love! <3

Check out my post here.
Check out her bloglovin' page here.
Check out her blog here.

Go, go, go, go!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Girls' Night on the Town

My version of a night on the town is probably not what most 20-somethings see as a rousing Saturday evening. (Then again, my exciting Sunday consisted of a 25 minute morning walk with my dog, writing blog posts, cleaning, and going on a second walk with both dogs. So, I'm on a roll.) I have no qualms in admitting that I am a "stick in the mud." I do not party. I have never been to a club. Sometimes my idea of a good time with a friend is sitting in silence, enjoying their company. Alcohol and I never intend on being close friends. (I prefer tea.) Being home by 11pm is my kind of night. I really, really like my pajamas after dark.

I do, however, like to dance. (Despite my lack of rhythm.) I never missed one dance in high school! Laughter is my absolute favorite activity. I love to have fun. Excitability is my middle name. For a good concert, a book release, a movie premiere, or a friendship/family gathering I will stay out until all hours of the morning. (Going to a Skillet concert when I was in high school remains one of my favorite memories.) Card and board games excite me, so long as someone is willing to patiently teach me to play. Good music always makes a party. I adore a good book club or movie night. Impromptu dinners, lunch dates, or other excursions bring a huge smile to my face. Travel is my absolute favorite; my heart falls in love with everywhere it goes. Cranking up the music and screaming out loud does the soul good. Let me grab my camera, go off with friends, and photograph the day away. Double-feature drive-ins may be late nights but they are the best nights. Beach days, lake parties, holiday gatherings - you name it, I love it.

So, in my bias opinion, I think I'm freaking fabulous. You know, in a special, slightly reserved, lightly introverted way.

This past Saturday I invited myself out. (Not so reserved of me.)

Normally I am not so bold or forward. I suggest going out or I wait to be invited, but rarely do I say "by the way, if you go, I go." Fourth of July weekend was an exception. You see, I have this very dear friend, Laura. (Or, as my brain occasionally translates it to: Mushroom, Lizzy-loo, or Liz-bug.) We have been friends for over a decade. One 4-H art camp we discovered that it really does take three girls to wash a paintbrush. After that we were instant friends. Letters were exchanged. Play-dates arranged. Giggle-filled birthday parties attended. And then, poof! We lost touch. Looking back, I don't even remember how the time slipped away. Months flew by. Years passed. And then the universe, in all of its miracles and wonders, introduced us again through a mutual friend. Since then we've been practically inseparable.

See! Two pieces of a quirky puzzle.

High school graduations, college attendance, worldly travels later, and here we still are. It isn't that our relationship is perfect or anything. We've gone long periods of time without contact, like those months when both of us were buried in school. Sometimes our only interactions were texts, letters, or ten minute Skype chats. Yet, as small as those gestures may seem, they often meant the most, much more than any lavish girls night out. I kid that she cannot get rid of me. I'm that cat that just keeps coming back. (In that respect, she is mine! We just keep comin' 'round and 'round.)

In life you are blessed if you find one really true, life-long friend with whom you can be yourself. I'd like to believe I've found a few. One of them, I think, is in my Lizzy-loo. She is my writing buddy, my photography partner-in-crime, the Mushroom to my Rinna, my kindred vintage-soul girl, pixie twin, the reason for my chai latte addiction, and mutual appreciator of "the little things." 

Look at these two lovely old souls.
We are always in sync, but it surprises us every time regardless!
My dress faded from white (top) to blue (bottom) and I wore a dark blue sweater over it.
Laura had a blue dress and a white sweater to go over hers.
We were matching in reverse!

Saturday Laura was heading to music night at a local cafe, Elements. I, being the bold I-have-known-you-for-over-half-my-life friend, said: "I'm coming!"  (I'm not the only one to be so bold! Lizbug lives 10 minutes from me. She drops in without texts, just to say hi or drop something off. We've earned this right. ;) ) Being the sweet, awesome friend she is, she agreed. Date Night with Netflix became Girls' Night Out.

Elements is this little hipster, hole-in-the-wall cafe we stumbled across after seeing a play last year. I adore it. It is just the place I'd love to own someday. (Sans bar.) A small, nerdy-themed cafe with a lightly-loved used book store inside it. Selling local coffees, sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. (Here my imagination is going wild, although elements does sell some locally made goods, such as bagels, cookies, scones, and seasonal soups.) Featuring local authors, artists and musicians. (Seriously, I've got this all figured out - right down to the potato doughnuts I'd sell.) Walk in and you're home.

Elements takes its name seriously. References to the periodic table are
everywhere. It's my nerdy guilty pleasure!

(Old camera photo from 2013, hence the blur.)
Someone's got to say it: the theme is strong with this one.
Nerd jokes, nerd jokes!

We lucked out with two bands, Starlight Cicada and Bedfellows, and a small crowd. Thanks to our first named storm of the year (yo, Arthur!) it was a cold, rainy fourth of July. All of the fireworks were cancelled and postponed until Saturday, giving everyone other plans. It worked out in our favor. Gorgeous Saturday night + town fireworks = no overcrowding at the cafe and plenty of parking.

Starlight Cicada playing at Elements

The musicians shared the stage, switching up sets. (Both were great!) It was a nice way to switch up the tempo and atmosphere. Starlight Cicada was really sweet and the Bedfellows had a great sense of humor. The crowd was warm and receptive. We all had a lot of fun soaking in the bands' love of music, passion, and good energy.

While they played, so did we. Cribbage, that is! It was my first ever introduction to the game (say what?) as even though my parents are huge fans, I grew up with Trouble and Crazy Eights. (My card game knowledge is really lacking, although I love playing them. If you know any fun card games, leave heir names in the comments!)

Laura is a great, super patient teacher. Which is perfect for me, because sometimes I'm slow in the up-take (contrary to what my current GPA would allude to). The small crowd made it easy to hear each other over the music, so we laughed and talked the whole time. (We both had this wonderful idea of getting much-needed writing done but that didn't happen. Uhm...whoopsies. We're such chatty girls when we haven't seen each other!)

This pretty sweet hand let me keep up with my whiz of a cribbage teacher.
It ended up being a closer game than imagined! She beat me by a few points
but I managed to hold my own. Now I'm addicted. Hopefully we'll
have a rematch soon!

I also admired Element's decoupaged counter tops. I mean, look at it! It has so much character!

I want my coffee table to look like this!
Two things I love: almond milk, blueberry cappuccino and decoupaged counters.

 Of course, while we played and listened to the local tunes, we drank. (As if I have the internal strength to resist cafe drinks.) My drink of choice? Blueberry cappuccino and a chai. (Life lessons learned: two cups of caffeine at night will keep you up until 2am. But it was soooo tasty. No regrets!)

Finding out what shape will be in my drink is one of the most exciting parts of
cafe drinking. Plus the atmosphere. Plus the company. Plus the sounds.
Plus the character. Plus scraping the scrumptious foam off the top. Mmm.  .

There are certain, simple pleasures in life. The smell of new bloom. Mason jars. Forest greenery after a rain. That old-book scent. A child's laugh. Walks along sandy shores. Live music. The company of good friends. And a warm mug. Take time this evening to enjoy in those simple pleasures.

Also, stop by Laura's blog, Le Bittersweet. Born with writing in her soul, she manipulates language in such a way that it moves the soul. I praise her writing not as a friend, but as a true literary lover and writer who is awe of her talent. Her photography is stunning (and light years beyond mine), so please, give her kudos for that. Additionally: she is sharing her faith from her heart and her life. Be kind. Be open minded. Spread the love, my Doodles.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

OOTD: Fluffy, Fuzzy Fireworks.

Hello, not-so-closet animal lover here.

If you follow me on facebook, twitter, or here then you know my love for my furbabies is no secret. I don’t even try to hide it. Not even close. Cute levels run high and I cannot contain myself. They tilt their head the right way and I’m awing. They whine just right and I’m running to find the nearest camera, praying they’ll do it again. 95% of my pictures are of them. I'm convinced their sleeping is the cutest thing on the planet. Oh, and those "please love me" eyes! They get me every time. Yes, yes - I'm one of those parents. Obsessive? Maybe. Addicted? Probably. Head-over-heels in love with my lovebugs? Most definitely.

Why should America's birthday be any different? ;)

So, between a cloudy, cold, rainy afternoon spent shopping, the most delicious mug of vanilla Chai ever (fair trade organic from Starbucks!), and watching Independence Day I found time to center my attention on my fuzzballs. Now, I don't just mean in bundles of cuddles. (Not that they'd have minded.) Goodness, I spoil them all the time like that. I mean in my attire. I kept a piece of them with me all day, even when we weren't home.


I have one pup-tastic 4th of July t-shirt.

I go weak in the knees for anything cute.

I am indeed the girl who has a graphic tee specifically for a holiday. (It's kind of a wonder I don't have a Christmas sweater. I want to change this!) How it came to be mine is quite simple. Dad picked up the shirt, held it out to me and announced: "Look, it's Peaches!" (He knows me so well.) Staring up at me from the navy blue background was an adorable likeness of a white fluffball, much like my beloved soul-buddy. There was no questioning. I was sold.

Every where I go, when I get complimented on how cute my shirt is, I cannot help but smile ear-to-ear. Happily I admit to them, "it reminds me of my dog." Occasionally it takes them by surprise that this 20-something is daring to wear a graphic tee because it reminds them of their pup. Other times, my favorite times, it makes them smile ear-to-ear as they tell me how much they love their own special pet. Arguably not the most fashionable attire, this comfortable tee brings me such joy. I wear it only once a year. Twice, occasionally. (The 4th of July and Memorial Day.) It is reserved only for special occasions. Very fitting for something that depicts a likeness of one of my most special friends. My pets are my special friends, my babies - literally my pride and joy. I completely understand how parents adore their real babies, just because of how much love bursts from my heart for my furbabies.

Sometimes I think: if I take this many pictures of my dogs, if I am this in love with them, I cannot begin to fathom how much more it'll be when I have children of my own some day.

(A side note on the sweater I'm wearing: this sweater has easily become my new favorite piece. I have owned it for years but rarely worn it. This year I have paired it with 5 different outfits so far. It has enhanced them all! Proof that a good piece, no matter how old, can always be in style when paired right!)
  • Shirt: Walmart (bought years ago during one of their post-holiday sales)
  • Shorts: Khols (bought five years ago during a sale - two pairs for the price of one! I just love the weathered look, it fits my inner-country soul)
  • Sweater: Khols (bought years ago, again, on sale.)
  • Sandals:  Vionic by Orthaheel, purchased at Lamey Wellehan earlier this year. (Side note: these shoes are normally a bit pricey, especially for my bargain shopping soul. However, I am flat footed and suffer a lot from back pain. So I have recently decided that quality is more important than bargain buys...however, this doesn't mean I cannot have both! These sandals were normally upwards of $100, depending on style. Lamey was having a sale when I bought them, though, which means I paid $60. I also recently discovered that Lamey Wellehan has an outlet store about an hour from my house - which  means even better discounts.)
  • Earrings: yard-sale find.
Up-close shots of my earrings and shoes.
When in Maine, wear lobsters!

Literally the most comfortable things I have ever, ever worn
on my feet. I don't now how I spent so many years
buying cheap shoes and suffering through them.

Lastly, because I mentioned my pups, here are some webcam photographs I took with them while watching Independence Day.  They - uh - didn't quite go as planned. Oh, the life of a Wackadoodle.

This wasn't quite the snuggle shot I intended.
The goofball first decided to contort her body and lay her head on my shoulder
for a few minutes. (It looks so uncomfortable, but she was so happy! Her
tail was going a mile-a-minute.)

... Then she dive-bombed my cheek with kisses.
I couldn't help myself but cuddle with her and (attempt to) get a
picture (er- more like a "lick-ture").

Peaches is so enthusiastic about life!

They see face. They can reach face. They must lick face.
You cannot tell they're sisters at all.

If I haven’t said it already: happy July, everyone!  (Also, did anyone else do a double take the first time they had to write 7.4.2014? Yikes! We're in the 7s already? The end of summer is approaching too quickly!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reading Rainbow has Gone Twice as High

A little over a week ago I made this post about Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter campaign. At the time Reading Rainbow had surpassed its initial $1 Million goal and was working towards a $5 Million stretch goal. A lot has happened since then!

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter campaign has set a new Kickstarter Record for Most Backers (they're over 100,000!). Seth MacFarlane matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1 Million for each dollar pledged over $4 Million. The top Kickstarter campaigns - such as the Veronica Mars team - stepped up to help (prizes, PR, and awesomeness like there). Tons of new prizes have been added.

It has been incredible to watch the dedication to this project.

Now, with only 6 hours to go Reading Rainbow has gone 'twice as high.' They have surpassed their $5 Million stretch goal! This $5M will enable Reading Rainbow to supply 7,500 classrooms for free and supply Mobile, Android, Consoles, and OTT Boxes. It is amazing. But it isn't over until it is over! For every $100,000 raised over  $5 Million, 500 more classrooms will be reached for free. This means that more students in more classrooms will have the opportunity to not only learn the rudiments of reading, but foster a love for it. When children - heck, even adults - love something, they do it and they love learning about it.

This Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Every Where campaign has been close to my heart. I am a self diagnosed read-a-holic. I'm addicted. And if there is a therapy for it, I don't want it. My addiction to love of reading has been a blessing. Growing up, my health has always been a struggle. There were days, weeks even, I could not get out of bed. I was in pain, exhausted, or both. I was trapped inside a prison that was my own body. My friendships drifted. It was frustrating, upsetting, depressing - insert whatever adjective or verb you want. Yet, I was positive.

Without reading, I don't think I would have been so positive or happy. Maybe that is an overstatement, because finding the joy in many areas of my life got me through, but the point is: reading was important. Reading is more than opening a book and sounding out words on the page.

My love of reading opened many doors for me. Because of my love of reading, I loved to learn. Learning was fun! (Even now, as I enter my senior year of college, I keep that same outlook towards learning. It has help me come so far.) My love of reading erupted a volcano of creativity within my soul. Books are gateways to any where, any place. You can be anyone. Do anything. Books are maps to infinity. My imagination soared with them and it has never come back down. I write, read, draw, day dream, paint, scrapbook, and craft - all with this creative spark books placed inside my soul. More over, I can invent and analyze with it. This creativity has allowed me to think outside of the box. I've discovered a lot of what is wrong with my health this way and it is going to help my future as a physician diagnosing patients.

So, when I would sit there in pain or lay in my bed, unable to move in exhaustion I had an escape. I could transcend this fleshly prison and travel anywhere. I devoured books 2 or 3 at a time, week after week. Some only took a few hours to read. Others, maybe a few days. I was hungry for them. Then I just started learning things. I researched about history and science, reading all about them and finding passions there. When I became tired of that, I would write for hours, draw, paint, scrapbook, craft, or day dream. I was never bored. Maybe I was trapped in a room or in my house, but I was going everywhere.

Just remembering it brings a huge smile to my face.

As a kid I watched Reading Rainbow. Between every episode I faithfully watched and every book my parents read to me before bed, a love of reading was bound to ignite. I cannot say that one was more important than another because in my mind they are inextricably linked; however, Reading Rainbow did show me how reading and learning went together, enhancing each other. All of the real-life segments, where LeVar traveled and visited places related to the books being read were an example of how reading ties in with our lives, the world, and our learning. It showed me how with reading I could go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone. For a kid, that's pretty powerful. Those are tools that can be used throughout life in every aspect.

This is why Reading Rainbow's return is so important. But, as Levar Burton would say, you don't have to take my word for it.

Here are some of my other amazing Blogger Friends who shared with me how much Reading Rainbow meant to them:

"I loved it!! (...) it was a staple in my life!" - Raewyn from Be a Warrior Queen.

 "I loved Reading Rainbow! (...) We used it at school sometimes, and I can still remember the song. I'm intending on going into publishing and programs like Reading Rainbow, Between the Lions, and my local library definitely helped with that." -  Julia from Pennies & Paper.

"I was able to play the old shows for my kids at my school and they loved it as much as I did as a kid.  My students enjoyed watching the old episodes of Reading Rainbow and Magic School Bus. 
" - Pam from Hodge Podge Moments and Moments to Teach.

"I watched Reading Rainbow as a kid all of the time and loved it. It's such a trip to watch it now with my kids, but they love it as well. It is a super important show and I would love to see this cause come to life! It's a great way to inspire kids to dive into a storybook and stay hooked." -Amby from Amby Felix.

Lastly, Astrid over at Astrid Stars has also written her own post about Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter - go check it out!

The deadline for the campaign is
Wed, July 2, 2014 3:00 PM.  In case you or someone you know still wants to help out...Helping out with the cause is easy: spread the word, share the Kickstarter, encourage others to donate, and, if you can, donate. The donation options run from $1-on up. Every small donation makes a difference, just as much as the large ones. However, the larger the donations you give, the cooler the gifts. (College student here, so I’m sticking to the $1-$10 donation options)