Category Archives: Chris’s (snarky) comments

Wordless Wednesday

The Rottweiler started it, but I’m sure the Beagle helped finish it.  Nice job, guys.

Foster Fail: Mr. Bo Jangles/Cosmo Kramer

Most people would probably say that this was bound to happen.  We foster a lot of dogs.  We were bound to find one we just couldn’t give up.  However, I must say that I didn’t expect to get that feeling so fast.  Even with Henry, who we fostered-to-adopt- when Becca called after 2 weeks letting us know that there was another family that was interested in him- I hesitated.  Granted, he was still an 8-month old puppy peeing and pooping all over my house and was only starting to master basic commands but with the adorable 3 year old Henry J. Puppypants curled up next to me as  I write this I can’t begin to think about life without him.

One week ago we traded foster dogs.  After almost 2 months, I was starting to wonder if our home was the best place for Baba Ganoush.  He’s working on becoming more comfortable with people coming into his space and we just don’t have enough visitors to give him the exposure training he needs.  Days earlier we had learned that Mr. Bo Jangles, a 4 year old Rottweiler was in need of a new foster home.  We met Bo at a Secondhand Mutts fundraising event in November and Chris, Tracy and I instantly fell in love.  Bo’s mild temperament, gentle nature and soulful eyes could make any heart melt.  Frankly, after almost 3 months in the program, we couldn’t understand why he didn’t have a home.  Here he is at the Muttsquerade in October…

So, last  Wednesday, we brought him to our home.  He was the perfect guest.  No jumping, no accidents, no barking.  We were in doggie heaven. That’s when Chris started laying it on real thick about how he always wanted a big dog and how this dog could be HIS dog (though it was often unspoken, Chris now openly admits that Henry is really more often my dog than his).

On Thursday I worked from home and Bo was an angel, sleeping at my feet most of the day.  That was when I started considering keeping him as well.  How could it be that after only 18 hours, I was considering adopting one of our foster dogs?  I had made it through 13 other fosters without breaking!  Was I losing my touch?  Was this dog REALLY THAT AWESOME?!?!


By Friday we were talking about what we would rename him as Bo played at my office with Kayden, a coworker’s pitt mix.  We went through a few names.  First trying to stick with B-O names… Bowie, Bowser, Bosley…. but Chris and I couldn’t agree on any of them.  It wasn’t until we went back to a name that Chris has been claiming for “his dog” all along that we hit something we could agree upon… Cosmo Kramer.  Chris LOVES Seinfeld and can quote large portions of almost every episode.  For some reason, he has always wanted to name a dog Kramer.  And now he finally had the chance. By this time, I was convinced- we were adopting this dog.  I called Secondhand Mutts and told Becca that this was our dog.


So here we are, one week later, with a 70-pound Rottweiler to call our own.  We’ve come a long way… and so has Kramer.  When two Secondhand Mutts volunteers went to the Ashtabula APL to pick up 3 new dogs that were being admitted into the program, Kramer wasn’t on their list.  However, the volunteers were Rottie lovers and saw Kramer in a small yard where dogs are allowed to run around before they are put down. They just couldn’t leave him.  Can you image that?  Our sweet, mellow boy with eyes that could melt your heart was on the verge of being put to sleep!?

Obviously, we’ve still got a lot to learn about Kramer but I can honestly say that I don’t regret the decision to adopt him for one minute.  We’ll be taking a fostering break for a while as we get to know him better but based on his love of other dogs and easygoing temperament, we may be fostering again sooner than you think.  But MARK MY WORDS- we are not adopting any more dogs.  2 is the limit.  Kramer and Henry… that’s it… for as long as they want to call this place home.

You guys want some COOKIES?

Every time I mention cookies, Chris quotes this…


Yup,  that’s my random fact for this post… but back to the cookies.

I made cookies… and I only messed them up and had to start over ONCE (little victories, right?)!

The cookies were for the OBA December Holiday Party and Meet-up which took place yesterday.  I’ve been super excited about this event ever since Alicia announced it in October and it wasn’t until last week that I realized it conflicted with a Secondhand Mutts Board Meeting.  By that point, I had hyped myself up so much about making these cookies that I couldn’t turn back.  I coordinated with Alicia and Crystal so that, even in my absence, my cookies would get to the event and I would get the full slew of swapped cookies when Crystal and I meet up on Thursday at Amp 150 to knock it off my Scene list (more on that after it happens!).

But what cookies to make?  It was actually a really easy decision.  My mom isn’t much of a baker but she’s been going to a neighborhood cookie exchange for as long as I can remember.  I would just steal one of her recipes!  It was easy to pick because I’ve always had a clear favorite- chocolate mint cremes!  So, I copied the recipe at Thanksgiving and picked up the ingredients this past Saturday.  Here is where things start to go wrong…

Fail #1.  After going to 2 stores looking for them, I discovered that they don’t make pastel mint cream kisses anymore.  You see the beauty of these cookies is the red and green mint cream in the middle. What to do?  Well, I would not be deterred so, with the help of a nice man at Tapp’s Confectionary Supply, I formulated a plan.  I would put mint syrup in the actual cookies and buy colored chocolate creams.  Crisis averted and I went home to bake.

Fail #2.  I noticed early in the process that my dough wasn’t quite the consistency I expected and yet I kept moving forward.  As I was balling dough onto the cookie sheet to put in the oven, I called my mom because my doubled batch was not going to make nearly as many cookies as it should.  She was out but would be home in 10 minutes to go over the recipe with me.  In the meantime, I put the cookies in the oven.  When the timer went off 8 minutes later, I was greeted by a burnt pan full of melted cookie goo.  Obviously, something was very wrong.  My mom called back about 5 minutes later.  I told her about the mess I was dealing with.  “Okay, read me the recipe,” she says.  I start… “1/4 cup of flour.”  “ONE and a 1/4 cup of flour!!!” she replies.  Yup, that would do it.

So, I went out, picked up more dark chocolate and started again.  This time I was successful and got the wonderful amazing delicious cookies I had been hoping for.  So, here is the CORRECT recipe.  If you like chocolate and mint, I totally reccomend these cookies.  Despite my copious amount of issues, they are actually really easy to make (if you copy/follow the recipe correctly)!

Mint Chocolate Cremes (makes 2-3 dozen)

ONE and a 1/4 cup of flour
1/2 t Baking Soda
1 six oz. package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
2/3 c brown sugar
6 T butter
3 drops peppermint oil
1 egg
1 T water
1/2 lb. pastel chocolate creams (I used red and green but they can be found in many colors at any confectionery/cake supply store)

  • Stir together flour and baking soda- set aside.
  • Combine chocolate, brown sugar, butter and water in med. saucepan
  • Stir over low heat until chocolate melts
  • Stir in 3 drops peppermint oil to melted mixture
  • Pour into large mixing bowl and let stand for 10-15 minutes
  • Beat egg into chocolate mixture
  • Stir in flour mixtures
  • Cover & chill for 1-2 hours
  • Shape dough into 1 in. balls and place on cookies sheets
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes
  • Remove and immediately top with pastel chocolate creams (push into cookie to flatten out)
  • Return to oven for 2 minutes
  • Swirl chocolate cream with knife
  • Cool on rack
  • Enjoy!

Clerks

I asked Chris for the most famous lines from Clerks-  that trailer pretty much sums it up.  What does it have to do with this post?  Beyond the word “clerk,” nothing… but it seemed like a good idea to post some video since I don’t really have any pictures. :)

So, what is this post really about?  Chris, my happy little law student, got a job clerking at the county prosecutor’s office!  That’s right- Chris is working for the man… the law man.  I’m sure it will be just like Law and Order (or nothing like that at all).  **Cue Chris’s standard rant about how Law and Order gives people a skewed sense of the justice system and what to expect when they have to serve jury duty here.**

…anyway…

Starting on Monday,  Chris will spend 20 hours a week downtown at The Justice Center… which is about 20 hours more than the average person would want to be there but he’s pretty stoked and that’s all that matters!  Lucky for us,  his current employer has agreed to keep him on 20 hours a week through the end of the year.  At that point he’ll continue clerking 20 hours a week, go to school FULL TIME and we’ll be forced to learn the art of stretching a dollar.  (Jill-O, if you’re reading this— HELP!!!!)

I am over the moon about this opportunity and thrilled at the possibility of Chris finishing school a semester early but also scared about living on 1 1/2 incomes.  We live comfortably now but still have months where I look at our bank account and cringe.  I like being able to go on vacation and travel to see our friends and go to nice restaurants.  I realize this will just be for a while and there are people SO MUCH worse off than us but change is hard.  So, forgive me if I don’t finish the Scene challenge on time (sadly, that wasn’t going to happen anyway) or if  I use this blog for the occasional rant.  Who knows- maybe I’ll become a genius in extreme couponing or win the lottery?!  Stranger things have happened, right?

One thing’s for sure- I’ll still be here blogging away! :)

Guest Post: It’s all relative.

It really is all “relative,” because this post was written by my husband, Chris!   (He is considered a relative now, right???)  Lindsay Phillips commented on my Awkward and Awesome Thursday post 2 weeks ago asking if Chris would be writing a guest post during his Spring Break.  He has! Well, it is a little late but… ‘better late than never’ right???  I think so.  Enjoy!

          Perspective is everything.  My friend J.B. posted a picture on Facebook the other day through the windshield of his F150.  He was plowing about 10 inches of snow in the parking lot of his family business. The caption read, “Ohio sucks!!”  This was approximately 5 hours after an 8.9 earthquake had rocked Japan, and only minutes before the resulting tsunami was about to hit the Hawaiian coast.  I sarcastically “commented” on J.B.’s picture, “not as much as Japan…”  The next time I looked at his caption, it was changed to, “Ohio Rocks!”  It’s all relative.

                I’ll throw you another fun little example from my past.  I couldn’t tell you that I was “bullied” in high school and keep a straight face (maybe middle school, but that could be its own post), but I definitely was not a linebacker who people refused to mess with either.  My freshman year of college, I remember weighing myself at the climbing gym: 148 lbs.  I spent a couple of years continuing to be “the skinny guy.”  There are certainly worse labels to have, but some time during my junior year of college, I got sick of being labeled by a (perceived?) deficiency.  I printed out an 8.5×11” sign that simply said, “GET OUT OF BED AND GO WORK OUT, YOU PUSSY!”  I hung it on the ceiling above my bed, so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up.  In retrospect, I was probably a bit hard on myself, but “please, if you feel like it, waking up early to go to the gym would really make you feel better about yourself” just isn’t quite motivating enough for someone who loves to sleep-in as much as I do.

                I worked out relentlessly and ate everything in my path for 2 straight years.  I remember mixing 36 oz protein shakes twice a day and piling multiple cans of tuna on top of freezer pizzas to make them more filling, and higher in protein.  I also remember spending 1.5-2 hours at the gym, then going to class, and then back to the gym for another half hour to make sure I’d actually gotten a good workout.  I couldn’t tell you exactly when it happened, but somewhere during those 2 years, I stopped being known as the skinny guy, and started being known as the guy who worked out all the time.  I remember laughing when someone referred to me as “a body builder,” but it’s all relative, remember?  Compared to 148 lbs. me, 187 lbs. me was quite a change.   (Sara has pictures from one of the first times we met if you demand proof.)

                Fast forward another 2 years.  Working full time takes its toll on one’s gym schedule, but I had managed to keep on most of my workout weight. I was at a motorcycle trackday (at a race track – I can explain that in another post if anyone cares) and attending a clinic on body positioning during lunch.  Now remember, I had spent the last 2-3 years with people telling me how big I was – so when the guy running the clinic said, “it’s good that we’ve got a couple of bigger guys, and a couple of smaller guys,” and pointed my direction when he referenced the smaller guys; I was kind of surprised.  It only took a couple of seconds to digest what he was saying, but I was probably 60 lbs. lighter than the “big guys.”  Once again, life is all relative.

                Most recently, I’ve been dealing with “the curve.”  For those who don’t know, law school is a “true curve,” which means that in a class of 50 people, there are maybe 10 A’s, 15 B’s, 15 C’s, 8 D’s, and 2 F’s.  It’s not an exactly science, and I have yet to encounter a professor who will fail someone unless they really deserved it, but the fact is you’re no longer competing to know as much of the material as  you can, you’re competing to know more than the rest of the people in your class.  This is most frustrating when the exam is easy.  The problem with an easy exam is that everyone does well.  Very well.  What that means is that you can get 2 questions wrong, and a couple of points off your essay, and suddenly you’ve got a B- despite the fact that you got 95% of the available points.  Relative isn’t always a good thing.

                Last example, I promise.  I went running outside on Monday.  The weather pretty much demanded it.  In the gym locker room, I asked one of my coworkers if he would be joining me outside. “No, I did a short run yesterday, and I really need to lift today.”  I was planning to do a 5K (3.1 miles).  My coworker’s “short” run had been over 7 miles.  Now the only reason I mention that is because it’s what got me thinking about this whole topic to begin with.  There’s not much else to do during a 25 minute run other than get overly philosophical – hopefully you haven’t spent THAT long reading this!  There are times to compete against the world, and times to compete against yourself.  Very few of us will ever be the best at anything, but all of us can get better at something.  It’s all relative.

Puppy Power

This photo was taken from a dog training site…

Chris: They taught the one on the right to fly.

Send a carp…

This is a conversation Chris and I had over IM this morning…

Sara: Coop-O’s birthday is coming up. I need to rememeber to send a carp.
Sara:  card.
Sara: Please help me remember.

Chris: A carp would be funnier…

Sara: LOL!

Chris:  Let’s work on both…

Sara: Haha! That’s going on the blog.

Maybe it’s just funny to me because he’s my husband…

“Who’s Dan?”

On my trip to Home Goods (the same one where I purchased the shoe organizer below), I got these Danskin hand weights…

Here is what Chris had to say when I bought them out to use for the first time last night…

Chris:  Who’s Dan? …and why is his skin green?

Seriously!??!?!?

Mantle mayhem

NOTE:  I’m excited to have my husband, his attitude and his English degree contributing on this post. I hope it is something that will happen regularly.  His contributions will be in italics.  ENJOY!

The lower living room at our house has been titled ‘The Man Cave’ and is mostly Chris’s territory.  There are framed posters of Arnold, a projector for sports games and the like.  Here is what the room looked like before we moved in…

Yes, that is fencing and a lamp post in my house....

Work on this room has gone slowly.  We were excited to have the extra living space but  not in a hurry to make it the entertaining area that the upstairs living room is.  However, as projects got done around the house this room did get some attention.  Soon after we moved in, my parents passed down their sectional so we would have seating and about a year later we finally painted and took down the lamp post.  These were big improvements for a room dedicated to football, beer and the star of the Terminator movies.

However, there was one last thing I had been craving since our first Christmas.  As you may have noticed in the before picture, this room has a fireplace but no mantle.  That meant I had no where to hang my stocking.  How  was Santa going to know where my toothbrushes, hair clips and gum went without a place to hang my stocking?!?!  But life was busy and that first Christmas, 2 months into our life on Roedean Dr., we had other priorities.

Fastforward to December 2010 and my current Christmas list.  Originally I had told Chris I wanted an e-reader.  But when I realized how expensive the good color ones were, I decided that it might be smarter to wait and get an Ipad in 6 months or a year when the price goes down (hopefully).  So, I thought and I thought and I asked for a mantle.  Chris probably had it easier with the E-reader…

This was supposed to be a simple project, but got complicated by math, physics, and my inability to cut a straight line.

We started by looking at websites to find inspiration.  I like to keep things simple.  Lots of clean lines.  We found things we like but much of it wasn’t practical in the space as the white pillars along the brick wall (that i hate but am afraid to take out) complicate the situation.  We decided on a simple board top with a smaller box under it to support the weight of whatever we would later decide to put on the mantle.

Anchoring a load-bearing “base” board to the wall was simple enough once we realized that our chimney is basically indestructible, and that the masonry bit cut through the mortar much more easily. With that secured, I started holding up scrap plywood for Sara to “eyeball” the dimensions she wanted.  She settled on an 8″ deep mantle, with a decorative (and structural) box under it.  That was supposed to be a 4″ drop, and 5″ run to the wall.

Thank goodness one of us took Physics!

It was supposed to be; but Home Depot refused to make the “rip” cuts needed to created our 4″ and 5″ boards.  Words cannot express the confusion and irritation I felt as I stood in Home Depot thinking, “so you’re Home Depot; and you’re saying you don’t have a tool appropriate for this cut, but  you expect ME, Joe Homeowner, to have such a device?”   They were more than willing to show me their selection of table saws…

Suffice to say, we passed.  But we did pick up a mitre box and after some redesign, found wood that would not need the evil rip cuts.  $47 later, we were on our way home.

 

Happy Chris with his perfect piece of wood, pre-devastating rip cut news.

Recalculating after the devastating rip cut news...

Back home the frustration did not subside. The little mitre box was not big enough for our 7 1/2 inch mantle top and too wobbly to guarantee straight cuts on everything else.  Chris used all his ingenuity, patience and strength to overcome and soon we had a top board cut to perfection and an arrangements of clamps that would prevent further wobbling.

For those not aware, a mitre saw cuts exact angles.  Typically 90 and 45 degrees at least, and nicer models can be adjusted to anything in between.  Hand versions are tricky, because while the mitre box guides you in the proper direction, the blade (and your wrist) still want to flex, and obscure your angle.  1 degree off makes a big difference when you’re trying to match corners.  with a little practice, and a pair of 4″ C-clamps to hold the wood flat and level, I got results that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t embarrassing.   Wood-putty and some hand sanding should help too.

Are we done now?

Chris will not be outwitted by a mitre box!

Once the cuts were made, Chris checked his angles and put in L-brackets to hold the pieces together.  After a few pilot holes and some sanding, it was ready for paint.  We chose white because it matches the horrible columns I mentioned earlier.  2 coats did the job.

Paint me please!

Then it was ready to hang.  No major incidents there.  Chris’s pilot holes worked perfectly.  We didn’t fill in over the screws with wood putty or paint over them for now.  They aren’t obvious and we were about ready to be done. Here is the final product…

That was (kinda) easy!

If you don’t count the mitre box, this project cost us about $40 (we already had the paint).  Better mantle decor to come.  I want to find some pieces that are a little more classy but still stick to the “Man Cave” feel of the room.  I’m sure that will be another entry.  Let me know if you have suggestions!

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