What Up? My world lately…


You’ve probably thought that I’ve turned this into a Dog-Mom Blog.

But really, there has been very much going on this summer!  Work has been busier than ever. When I get home, workout and cook dinner, there’s not much left of me wanting to get online. This little blog suffers.

But when I’m not doing that, I’ve been doing lots of fun stuff!

Here’s just a tidbit.

More painting!

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And now… wine-making!

I never, ever thought I’d be one to make my own wine. Back when I taught at in-home wine tastings, there was always a guest who would say, “My {insert relative here} makes wine!”

And just thought of it exhausted me. I don’t have that kind of patience. I’d rather just drink the stuff than put in such a huge amount of time, money and effort on something that may not even turn out. Yes, I’m a turn-key kind of girl. The house Rob and I chose to move into together had no renovations required.

But that is not the case with my friend Sally. She’s always been interested in home improvements. And her latest hobby is wine-making. After hanging out with her and her husband one night, they invited us to make wine at their place and let us know when their next fermenter would be available. They had all of the equipment. The only things we would need were:

  1. a wine kit
  2. about 30 wine bottles
  3. purified water


Here is what we chose for our first kit, based on the recommendations at Midwest Supply:



Sally and Ryan made it sooooo incredibly easy for us. The package instructions all sounded like jibberish to me. They had everything set up and ready to go for us, sanitizer and all. Then they led us every step of the way.

It was so much easier than I thought; but I know that I never could have done it without their help. Plus, we didn’t have to buy any equipment.

But that’s just the thing. We liked it so much – depending on how this batch turns out – we might end up becoming kit wine-makers ourselves. After the initial investment in the equipment, the result comes out to just a few dollars per bottle of wine.

We also had the opportunity to help them bottle a batch of Cab-Shiraz (I believe) using a Portuguese Floor Corker:

Portuguese Floor Corker

And after we left, they let us know when things started a bubblin’ or… I guess fermenting is the technical term:


They invited us back this past weekend for Step #2, which involved moving the wine from a primary fermenter into a carboy. But wait, there’s more! Because the primary fermenters were now available, they invited us to make another batch with them!

We chose this one on this go-round because of the online reviews:

Wine Expert Vintners Reserve Shiraz

There are a few other steps involved, but Sally and Ryan have graciously offered to take care of those for us because they take little time. See? No wonder it feels so easy {and fun!} to us.  They sure do spoil us. Thanks, Sally and Ryan!

We get to bottle both batches of wine at the end of August. Then, the waiting begins. This can be six months to one year until they will become drinkable! {See, I knew that would be the hardest part.}

Our friend Jeff makes incredible wine. For our wedding, he and his wife Penny gave us a case of twelve different bottles of his wine. It was one of the best gifts we received. When I used to think about home-made wine, I thought “nothing-special”; but that all changed the first time we tried Jeff’s wine! That guy can’t make a bad bottle. {Or at least he doesn’t share those!} That, combined with the fact that Sally and Ryan were going to help us, made me a lot less reluctant to give it a try.

Have you made your own wine before?

What were your thoughts? Results?

Any tips for us newbies?





Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

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Yes, these two are my babies. {Pronounced Bay-Bayz!} I’d do just about anything for them. They bring so much joy and laughter to our lives. I think they would say the same about their monthly BarkBox.

This month, because it’s July in Minnesota, we opened the BarkBox out on the deck.


The contents are circus themed!


But there is something that already jumped out of this box…


This is the Bearded Lady


Ever since we adopted Shamrock, Sophie hasn’t really played with toys much. I firmly believe that is because Shamrock is now her toy! Berfore that she had always played with toys on her own because she and Benny were never playmates.  :-( However, Sophie and Sham play All. The. Time. It’s wonderful. But that means Sham is the one that usually plays with the toys now.

However, out of the blue, the day after we got the BarkBox, Sophie grabbed Bearded Lady and started shaking her up! She used to like to find the squeaker in toys, but this toy is a little different. It’s not one you squeeze, but shake to make more of a giggle sound. It was confusing her, but she had no problem pawing at it and throwing it around!

Then, of course, there are the treats, the most beloved part of the BarkBox.

Now, I need to pick up some baby carrots to try out the Veggot.

Think your pup would love a BarkBox? Sign up via Sophie & Sham’s link and BOTH you and they will get a free month added to your plan!

Happy Saturday!


Sophie Stitches!


Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

Poor little Jean.

When she went in to the vet for her Comprehensive Exam and yearly dental cleaning, I asked that they take a look at the wart on her back and consider removing it.

Sophie is a Shih Poo (Shih Tzu – Poodle mix). Shih Tzus are known to get little bumps/warts/imperfections on their bodies as they age. Well, Sophie is 10 years old now and has a handful of them.

Does this little sweetheart look 10-years-old?!

Does this little sweetheart look 10-years-old?!

This is the only one I was looking to get removed and not for cosmetic reasons. It is in a place on her back that she can almost scratch – at least a bit. It seems like it is getting bigger, too. I attribute this to her and Sham‘s play sessions. It sometimes get scratched, bleeds and either Sham licks it (GROSS!) or the blood dries up. This is on the regular.

Getting her yearly dental cleaning, which they put her under to do, meant that I only had to pay a bit extra to extend the anesthesia for them to do the surgical procedure to remove the mass.

Now my only worry was that Sham would scratch at or lick the area upon returning home. A cone (or e-collar) was not really going to do anything to protect it; so I had to get Sophie a t-shirt to cover the stitches. It was really difficult to find one that wasn’t too tight and covered the area well enough. Here is what I found…


Oh, yes, this BFF of mine was rescued via Homeward Bound!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of the color pink. I’ve never been a very girly-girl in that sense, but I’ve never been a tom-boy either. But I’ve always said that if Sophie Jean were my human daughter, I just know that she would be the one wearing pink, frou-frou dresses and jelly shoes. :-) So this suits her well.

She seemed to like it just fine, albeit the heat this week. Though, she did lounge in the grass. This is one of my photos I forgot to share of our daylilies on my summer post!


The incision is healing nicely and Sophie gets the stitches out next week.

Happy Saturday!




The summer is flying by!

Here are some excerpts…


Loungin’ on the deck in the sun…


Beggin’ on the deck for some beef sticks…


Savoring Rainier Cherries…


Road Trip!

Fun Family Wedding…

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Polka, polka & more polka!

Arrival at the lake…


Where are the chippers?!

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A little imbibing…


Some swimming and bobber chasin’


After that trip to Wisconsin and Michigan, I’m still playing catch-up! Still hopin’ to have the energy to write more soon… But until then, I’ll soak up every minute of summer.


At the Lake…


Shamrock & Sophie Saturday

Wow, does time fly. I haven’t been able to keep up since we got back from visiting Rob’s parents in Michigan! While there, Rob brought back one of Benny’s favorite games – chase the bobber. Shamrock has grown to love it now that Benny has passed on…

NOTE: There is no hook on this line! We don’t want to put our little Bugaboo in danger! ;-)


Hopefully I can resume normal blogging next week. I have so much to share!

Happy Saturday!


The Cuddle Alarm


Sophie and/or Shamrock Saturday

I am not a morning person. I never have been and don’t expect I ever will be. When the alarm goes off, I’m a multiple snoozer. I need time to slowly wake up.

Somewhere along the way, Sophie has come to learn this, too.

Enter the Cuddle Alarm:


When Sophie hears the alarm, she gets up from wherever on the bed she was sleeping and comes up next to me, nestling herself either in the crook of my neck or armpit.


Then she demands belly rubs.


You don’t understand how blessed I am that this is the way I get to wake up in the morning!


We call it the Cuddle Alarm. You all should have one.

Happy Saturday!



Cure for the Summer Cold = Magic Pho + Hot Toddy?


I’ve got one of those summer colds.

It started out as a scratchy throat and over days progressed into stuffy head and then into full-fledged coughing fits from my lungs. Not pretty.

I’m such a baby when I get sick because I don’t very often.

Last night, I didn’t want to cook the San Marzano Pasta I had planned. I wanted some soup – some really good soup. And since I had no energy to make it myself, I tried to think who had the best broth-based soup. Then it hit me.

I picked up some Nha Sang Pho. {I may have ordered some momo, too.}

I swear it’s Magic Pho that they’ve got there. Those spices make my mouth sing. I was warm and content.

And just before bed, I googled an Easy Hot Toddy, hoping we’d have the ingredients. As luck would have it, we did.


Well, sort of. The whiskey I used was not your average whiskey. It was Rob’s Mac 12 Scotch.


There wasn’t much left, but I still got his permission. I mean, I’d want him to ask me first if he wanted to use a bottle of Opolo Zin to make a Sangria. { In which, the answer would be, “Hell, no!” But in what universe would Rob make his own Sangria, I don’t know.}

The Hot Toddy was the perfect night cap and a nice change from the endless cups of tea I’d been drinking the past few days.


And you know what? Today, I feel a bit better. Groggy, but the coughing fits are not to be had. There’s only a sniffle or two.

So could Magic Pho and a Hot Toddy be the cure for the common cold?


But I’m more inclined to believe that it’s been since Thursday and maybe this cold has just run its course. {Well, almost.}

In any case, I’m grateful to be {almost} healthy again.

What are your tricks for getting through a summer cold?