Thursday, October 31, 2013


I won't lie, Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday.  The best part about Halloween is dressing my animals up in funny costumes, and if I'm being honest, that happens regularly throughout the year.

Before Mike and I met, I used to spend Halloween putting up my Christmas tree.  Ever since moving in to his house, I try my hardest to at least wait until November when it is socially acceptable to start celebrating the holiday season, but it KILLS me having to wait so long.

Anyway, I'm very excited it's finally November.  All of the stores have their Thanksgiving and Christmas decor out, and I love it even though it reminds me at every turn that I am too poor and our house is too small to really decorate the way I want.  One day I will have a fireplace and a staircase and enough display space to go all out.

October was a good month.  We celebrated Mike's birthday, embarked on a huge renovation project, and welcomed a new family member into the house!

I'm looking forward to rounding the year out in the best way possible.  We've got a lot planned for the winter and I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Training a Yellow Lab

Training Boomer has been pretty easy so far.   He's usually pretty good about waiting until we let him out of the crate to go potty in the yard, but sometimes he just can't help himself.  I'll attribute this more to his tiny bladder and less to his blatant refusal to learn.  His only accidents so far were largely our fault.  Bella was potty trained within a few days of coming home with me, but she was much older so it was easier for her to hold it.

He's mastered sit, stay, and here, so Mike has started working with him on a few other things, because this is the perfect time to start.  Boomer is equal parts intelligence and adorableness, two great traits in a pup!

Teaching him sit and stay were fairly easy because Boomer (like most dogs) is food motivated and eager to please.  Mike worked with him for a little while each morning before feeding him to make sure his attention span was not shortened by his need to nap.

We gave him small treats and lots of affection whenever he did something right, and pretty soon he was sitting after one command.  He also sits and waits patiently for his food until we give him the "OK" command.  To make sure he knows we're in charge at feeding time, we pet him a lot, move the bowl around, and take the food away periodically, just to prevent him from developing any food aggression.

I'd give Boomer a solid B as far as obedience is concerned, if only because he gets bored very quickly and I still can't trust him to be in the house unsupervised.  He's steadily improving, though, and we sure do love him.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Third Annual Oktobertfest

Our third annual trip to Oktoberfest went swimmingly.  We met Joe and Renee in Helen on Friday around dinner time, and after a few beers at Konig Ludwig Bier Garten, we headed to the Hiedelberg to eat.  This place has the best Schnitzel and Spaetzel, but if you don't get there early you'll end up waiting for 2 hours to get a table.  We were already drained after a fairly short afternoon and went to bed at 9 PM.  Somehow we rallied the next morning for breakfast at 8 and also a day full of drinking.

On Saturday we ate breakfast at Hofer's Cafe - this is the BEST place for breakfast in Helen.  We walked in without having to wait, but by 9:00 the line was out the door.  There are only like 10 tables in the whole restaurant.  Be warned: they don't make substitutions or alterations to their dishes, so don't even ask.

After breakfast we wandered for a bit, picked up some fudge, had hot chocolate, and waited for the bier garten to open up for the day.  Mike wore his Bill Murray shirt and got lots of high fives.  At 11:30 we found a table in the sun and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon relaxing.  We had beer, pretzels with beer cheese, FUDGE, more beer cheese, and even made friends with a stray kitten.  We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant (out of theme, but delish), and then wandered over to Paul's on the River to sit outside and watch some football.

After dinner on Saturday, Renee and I were tired, so we went back to our hotel rooms while Mike and Joe hit the streets.  Mike came home fairly...happy, so I imagine they had a fine time without us.  Sunday morning we spent some time at an antique store where we made more kitty friends before heading home.  The drive home always seems so long.

Until next year, Helen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Long Weekend

So, we are back from Oktoberfest.  Boomer spent the weekend at Shonn and Gena's playing with their two Shih Tzus and two giant cats.  Just like me and Mike, he was plum tuckered out when we got home on Sunday afternoon.

So, today I'm heading back to work and Mike and Tommy are trying to wrap up the house renovations.  They've got to grout the tile, put insulation in the attic, and also do some electric work in the spare room.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some More About Boomer

This is likely far more than you'd ever care to know about our little pup, but I figured I'd document it anyway.  Boomer was born on August 21, 2013 in Lovettesville, VA on a beautiful little farm.  His mom is Lindelhall's Vino Noir, and his dad is Belquest Gentleman's Quarterly.  Boomer's official American Kennel Club name is "Taylor's Here Comes the Boomer."  We didn't have to give him a fancy name, but decided to keep the tradition going.

Many of Boomer's brothers, sisters, and cousins are used by Hero Dogs, an organization that provides service dogs to injured and disabled U.S. Armed Forces veterans.  Because of our affiliation with the military, this was a big factor in our decision when researching breeders, and we knew this meant Bart and Carol had a great reputation.

We made the drive to Northern Virginia when Boomer and his litter mates were only about 6 weeks old.  Mike wanted a yellow male and we knew there were two yellows available - both males.  The rest of the litter was black.  Of the two yellow males, Mike immediately fell in love with the lighter colored and larger pup.  After paying our deposit, we spent some time loving on the puppies before reluctantly heading home to patiently wait out the next two weeks until Boomer would be two-months-old and big enough to come home.
I had to work, so Mike drove up on October 16 to pick him up.  He drove home the next day, and those were the longest 10 hours of my life.  I made Mike text me pictures and videos throughout their trip, and anxiously sipped on a glass of wine for the last 20 minutes of their journey.  I saw his headlights pull into the driveway and galloped outside to scoop up the new baby.  It was love at first sloppy kiss.

Here's a little video of Boomer and Bella playing outside in the yard last weekend.  They've become the best of friends.  (Please excuse all the construction debris in the yard - it has since been taken to the dump) At 2:22 Boomer demonstrates his obedience skills and sits like a pro (but the music drowns out Mike's command).

Boomer and Bella from Anna on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Annual Trip to Oktoberfest

This weekend we're making our annual pilgrimage to Helen, GA for Mike's birthday celebration at Oktoberfest.  Read about our previous trips here and here.  I love Helen and am so ready for our first real outing this fall!

Tommy will still be at the house finishing up the renovations, and I feel terrible that we're leaving him high and dry, but this trip has been on the calendar since June!

Stay tuned for a re-cap next week.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Learning Fast

When Boomer first came home on Thursday, he immediately began exploring his new environment.  I'm sure everything seemed so strange and big to him.  He wouldn't go down the steps of our back patio without assistance, whined whenever left alone for more than 10 seconds, and wasn't quite sure what to make of the other animals.

We worked with him and helped build his confidence, and within a day or two he was charging down the steps like he'd been doing it all his life.  He's doing well with his collar and leash, has made several trips to PetSmart and Lowes, and he and Bella are playing with each other like long lost siblings.  The best part is, when it's bed time, he settles into his crate with out any resistance or crying.  We've also already got "sit" mastered, and he's learning to "stay."  One smart pup, that's for sure.

In the midst of all these renovations, our house and yard are veritable disaster zones, so once the updates are complete, his environment will change again.  There won't be construction equipment scattered all over the place, and we'll feel more comfortable leaving him unsupervised for longer periods of time because there won't be stray chunks of dry wall laying around for him to chew on.

Over the weekend I took 1246272 pictures of him.  Here are some of the best ones:


Monday, October 21, 2013

Bringing Home a Puppy

I don't think I need to explain my weak spot for animals.  My Instagram is saturated with pet pictures.  Given the resources, my dream would be to own a lot of land and open up a no-kill animal shelter, whiling away the hours making sure all the lost, dejected, and unwanted animals know what it is like to be loved.  Alas, that's not in the cards for me until I win the PowerBall.

Bella, Moose, and Buffalo were all rescues, and now we're once again expanding.  Last week, Mike traveled to northern Virginia to bring home an 8-week-old English Lab.  A purebred pup.  Not a rescue.  I'll always be an advocate for adopting from shelters, but this will be "Mike's dog," and I feel happy knowing we can offer this little boy a good home, something all animals deserve, not just rescues.

I'm certain this won't be the last critter to come home with us, and there will still be plenty of animals that need rescuing when the times comes.  Until then, I'll make sure this puppy gets everything he needs.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our House: Vol XVIII

Saturday and Sunday Mike and I were both off work so we got to pitch in and help.  My mom and I painted the guest room walls and trim with primer and I also tackled the ceiling. Mike, Tommy, and Kam worked on the plumbing for the bathroom.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Mike and I had to work, so my mom and Tommy worked on painting the guest room, putting in the new flooring, and also finishing up the bathroom to get it ready for tile and fixtures.

We're also adding new floor in the little entry way, so Tommy had to put down some cement to make sure the transition was level.  It was too much for the kitties to resist.

Next we've got to do some finishing touches in the guest room (like the molding along the baseboards, installing the closet racks, and building the Pet Station).  Hopefully Tommy will be able to start on tiling the bathroom, but it's a long process because the mud bed has to dry first.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Our House: Vol XVII

The last time my cousins were in town, Mike and I got a new kitchen.  It's been about a year and a half since we made any major changes to our humble abode, but for the last 5 days my cousins Tommy and Kam have been hard at work helping us transform the house again.

This time, we're finally finishing our master bath which has been an empty room since August 2011 when we renovated the master bedroom.  We're also adding a closet to our guest room and creating a small entry hall to separate the guest room and the laundry room.

Mike and I got the project started by clearing out the bathroom and guest room, both of which had been used as temporary storage for the past 18 months.  We also ripped up the old carpet in the guest room and got it ready for new flooring.  My mom got into town last week and we immediately began shopping for bathroom tiles, laminate flooring, and other necessities.  When my cousins arrived the next day, the work began.

Here's the progress we've made so far:

These are the "Before" photos of the guest room and bathroom.  We are planning on turning the small water closet where the toilet is into a large tiled shower.  The toilet and sinks will be in the larger area.

The first project we completed was getting the new entry way and closet framed.  Before, the laundry room could only be accessed by going through the guest room, which is fine and dandy until you have guests over.  Now we have a small entry way which allows for a little more privacy, and with a new closet, we have more storage!  We are planning on creating a "Pet Station" in the space between the closet wall and the window, which will house the cats' litter box, food, and other animal supplies.

Next, Mike, Kam, and Tommy got to work ripping out the bathroom tiles and discovered some old water damage that had completely eaten through the floor.  It's a wonder nobody ever fell through - there was virtually nothing supporting it.  The mold and water damage extended out into the larger room, so all of the floor needed to be ripped up.  This was a bit of a set back and a LOT of work.

Stay tuned for more updates - yesterday and today was spent priming and painting the guest room, and soon they will begin installing the new laminate flooring.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


It's October already.  I know I say that pretty much every month, but time really does fly.  I suffered through this summer with a broken air conditioner in my car and we finally got it fixed a week or so ago.  Now that I've got cold air again, there hasn't been a day where the temps rose above 90 degrees - it's been perfect weather to ride around with the windows down.

Here's Moose's September recap:

1.  Mike smoked a fantastic pork loin and we shared his trade secrets.
2. Anna made a weird face.
3. Anna started eating "healthy" again for all of 30 seconds.

4. Anna took pictures of herself.
5.  She also DIY'd this wreathe using burlap ribbon and some fall accents from Hobby Lobby.
6. Anna and Mike went to Virginia on a top secret mission.

7. Anna interrupted Mike while he was smoking his pipe.
8. Anna read "Eat," a short story written by a friend.
9. She also started planning for her Christmas cards this year...because it's never too early.

1. Cups, resident cat at a local bra store.
2. Bella
3. Moose

4. Moose
5. Buffalo
6. Moose

7. Buffalo
8. Bloodhound puppies
9. Buffalo

Buffalo and I tied for Instagram coverage this month, due largely to cameos by Cups, Bella, and the Puppies.
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