Tag Archives: dogs

What I’m Into: July 2015

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Travel 

We made a short trip to Wyoming at the beginning of July.

Products

Method Pink Grapefruit All Purpose Cleaner is marvelous for getting grease and gunk off my microwave, stove, and counters.

Harvey Prince Ageless Perfume smells like summer and grapefruit and is my new favorite scent. As I am writing this, I just realized I must be in some sort of grapefruit-scented phase… There are definitely worse phases, though!

Around the House

I was out of my usual powdered buttermilk when making waffles, so I turned to these buttermilk substitutes.

As a kid, I always made tartar sauce out of mayo, ketchup, and relish. This month, I decided to broaden my horizons and made “fancy” tartar sauce, using Ina Garten’s recipe. Brian and I both decided that it is worth keeping in on hand to garnish the various fish entrees we have once or twice a week.

This week, I learned that grease-cutting dish soap plus hot water can unclog a toilet that has a fat- or protein-based clog. I’m not sure that it would work on paper-based clogs.

Watching

On my DVR: Rizzoli & Isles, Stitchers, Girl Meets World, selections from a Harry Potter marathon, Descendants (haven’t watched that last one yet).

On Netflix: Trying Army Wives for the first time, re-enjoying NCIS Season 1.

Listening

Brian says I soundtrack my life and I tend to agree. Highlights from my current playlist of favorites are:
The Likes of Us, self-titled album
Tyrone Wells, Best Of Sampler (especially Sea Breeze!)
Dave Barnes, Hymns for Her

Favorite Reads from around the Web

According to the NYTimes quiz, I am a Thinking/Social introvert.

How many English words do you know? This quiz estimates my vocabulary to be around 29,400, which I think is a bit low.

Exercise

Our local dog park has become a favorite evening hangout spot for us. We first took Cola when she was a timid four-month-old and she hid under a picnic table most of the time. This summer she is a slightly bolder, fun-loving one-year-old who tries to befriend all the other dogs and convince them to run with her. Two of her favorite running buddies are a wiry Italian greyhound and a peppy terrier. The dog park has not only been good for Cola learning how to socialize with other dogs but also for interacting with humans.

In recent months, she has been scared of many strangers and some of our friends whether we meet them on walks or whether they come to our house.  Since the dog park is so very fun and distracting for her, she does not mind the people there and even seems to like our fellow regulars. Next, we will try to get her un-terrified of children! (She had a bad experience with a “scary” four-year-old boy.) Video of Cola playing at the park.

Dog Park Rules Dog Park

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Some affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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What I’m Into: April 2015

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Techie

The best tech tip I have learned in months: What to do when you accidentally close a tab.

I actually started playing Criminal Case before April, but have really gotten into it this month. It is mainly a hidden object game that is not so challenging that I get frustrated. Because the player is a police detective solving murders, I would not recommend it for children.

This month, I had fun using Hyperlapse to film and speed up some of the incredible storm clouds moving past us.

Travel

One Saturday, we traveled to visit my grandparents and to celebrate our family’s spring birthdays with all the family members who could come. After I assisted Grandma to the lunch table, I sat next to her and assumed that Brian would sit next to me. However, I was surprised and flattered when my aunt wheeled Grandpa in and asked where he wanted to sit, “Oh, I’ll just sit there next to Abby.” Of course I am not going to complain when my 93- and 98-year-old grandparents both want to sit with me!
 My birthday with my grandparents
Spring Birthday Collage 2015

Products

In April, I added the OPI Gel Color My Dogsled is a Hybrid to my collection. It’s a pretty aqua color that reminds me of summer and tropical water.
 OPI Axxium My Dogsled is a Hybrid | StairStories.com

For my birthday this month, Brian gave me this lovely double-infinity necklace and I love it!
 Double-Infinity Necklace |StairStories.com

Around the House

Cola is almost a year old and we started leash training her as soon as we brought her home last July. Despite all our training, she still strained at the end of the leash (or a much as we let her), pulling and jerking so hard that she causes her normal collar caused her to cough and gag. I decided she was old enough for a training collar and – for the sake of my shoulders and her neck – she needed one. The store we shop at for dog supplies did not have any training collars in her size but they did carry a Sporn Non-Pulling Mesh Harness. I was skeptical but desperate, so I bought it. Brian and I had mixed results when we took Cola on our evening walk. Cola was willing but excitedly wiggling when I put the harness on her, but it took some getting used to. There were several periods during the walk when she wriggled, flipped, and twisted trying to bite the leash or get out of the harness. Failing that, she flopped down on a cushy lawn in protest. When she was not fighting or protesting the harness, she walked sedately beside me and even voluntarily sat when I stopped at street corners. Brian and I were impressed with the improvement in her behavior. In the weeks since, she grew accustomed to the harness stopped struggling against it. She does sometimes pull toward something thrilling, like trees or other dogs, but it is much easier to walk her without her constant jerking on my shoulders and her neck.
 Cola's Sporn Stop-Pulling Mesh Harness | StairStories.com

Favorite Reads from around the Web

Blog

I have not posted much this month because teaching has grown more hectic as the semester progressed. Since I started this teaching job three weeks after the semester began, I have been planning lessons as I go and feel as though I am still catching up. The end-of-semester scramble for me has included writing, teaching, and grading all the big writing projects, double-checking that competencies have been met, tallying lab hours, and writing tests. I enjoy the work and the students but, after working all day, I have not been motivated to blog much in the evenings. Honestly, my favorite part of having a hobby blog is that I can take time away when life gets crazy!Weekends when you're a teacher #morecoffee | StairStories.com

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Some affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Lows & Highs: The Cold, Hyper Puppy

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: Puppy Phase

It has gotten much colder here this week and Cola detests it. When we try to take her out, she hides in her kennel or by lying very still on the carpet and looking at us at us pleadingly. We tried keeping her inside more, but she needed more activity and invented games for herself like “Eat the Drywall” and “Chew through the Dryer Hose.” Sometimes it feels like she tears the house up faster than we can repair it! I keep telling Brian – and myself – that this is a phase and she will grow out of it. In the meantime, do you have suggestions for how to keep a pup from chewing on everything in sight?

Cold puppy trying to get warm

We have had to compensate with more people-puppy play time and more frequent brisk walks (making Brian say, “I knew I should’ve stretched [before walking with you and Cola]!”). We have also been making her go outside, even when she does not want to, so she can run around.

Walking the dog

High: Craft Day

A couple of friends came over and had a girls’ craft afternoon with me on Saturday, while Brian was out of town. The vague theme of the day was fabric paint and geometric designs. Veronica decorated a backpack and a pair of shoes, Lindsey painted a star on a sweater, and I decorated my new journal. As much as I enjoy and use technology for writing, I still will not let go of having a physical journal and pens for sketchnotes and journaling! Have you decorated anything lately?

In-process photos of our projects

How was your week?

 

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What I’m Into: October 2014

Techie

I finally got around to setting up custom typing shortcuts on my iPhone. They are marvelous for reducing the amount of typing I have to do!


DesignLoveFest has had some creatively artistic wallpapers lately that I’ve downloaded to use on my phone and computers.


I started a series this month, Abby’s Apps, about my favorite apps as part of 31 Days but did not post every day because things got hectic.
Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

Clothes

I made a purse! Okay, it is really more like I re-made a purse but I am very happy with the finished result. It originally weighed over two pounds – when it was completely empty! The new purse weighs a bit less than one pound. Now that is a healthy “diet.”

Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.comPurse Re-fashion | StairStories.com Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.com

I also made my costume for Halloween, which did not take any sewing, but involved lots of cutting and painting. We ordered Brian’s online because making it would have been outside the realm of my limited sewing skills. When it arrived, though, the costume fit uncomfortably and I spent an evening altering it anyway. Still, it was much easier than making the whole thing from scratch! If you are curious about our costumes, I will post photos on Twitter and Instagram tonight (Halloween night). We will be handing out popcorn at the college’s costume dance party and have refused to tell our students until then.

Food

We tried a frittata for the first time and it was a delicious way to use up some leftovers. with whole wheat spaghetti, ground turkey, baby ‘bella mushrooms, broccoli, and scallions.


Big batches of cinnamon syrup and gingerbread syrup always make coffee taste like fall to me!


I have been making apple chips for my snacks… and Cola’s. I read that dried apples make nice, healthy dog treats and store-bought treats concern me with what seems like a lack of quality control. Brian refuses to share my apple chip snacks because he thinks it is weird and gross that I make the same exact snack food for myself and our dog. What do you think?


Semi-homemade apple-cinnamon crescent rolls (of my own invented recipe) are a fast fall side dish or dessert.
Apple-Cinnamon Crescent Roll | StairStories.com

Watching

On TV: NCIS: LA has certainly had some fun twists this month! I will not give anything away but have enjoyed seeing more of Nell and Hetty’s character development. I am also enjoying Scorpion, about a team of almost antisocial geniuses who form a tight-knit group and end up working as government problem-solvers.

On Youtube: Consumer Reports channel, especially their “What to Get… & Forget” series. I also loved this sweet story that happens to be a scotch ad.


Friends

We held our Second Annual Classic Mystery Movie Night at Howe House this month. The Campus Christian Fellowship students come and bring friends for snacks and a movie that was probably made before I was born. The movie selection for the evening is never announced ahead of time because whoever is there at the beginning of the party gets to choose by consensus from the movies we provide. (This gets quite a few of them there “on time!”) This year, the three people who were at the previous Classic Mystery Movie Night wanted to watch Charade again and none of the others had seen it or had objections. Our CMMN may turn into an annual showing of Charade at this rate!
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Two of our college students decided to be baptized this month!
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We had twelve people eating pasta around our table for Sunday lunch last weekend but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a photo.


Around the House

Our adorable and [sometimes annoyingly] energetic pup is five months old now and has developed a bolder demeanor we are trying to train. We encourage chasing squirrels and rabbits out of the yard and discourage eating the tomatoes, tomato vines, and various other “people possessions.” We encourage making new friends and discourage jumping on people or furniture.
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Brian and I replaced the gutters along the front of our house so now there will not be a waterfall directly over the front door every time it rains. I really liked getting to climb up the ladder and use the drill to mount brackets while Brian handed me supplies. Even before our wedding, we agreed that I would get to do most ladder-climbing tasks because I enjoy it and Brian does not.

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What have you been into lately?


I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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InstaFriday: Lots & Lots of Bacon

I haven’t done InstaFriday in quite a while, but wanted to link up this week because Lows & Highs is on a hiatus for right now.
Our pepper mill broke all over Brian’s Saturday morning breakfast. We stared in surprise for a moment and then laughed and took a picture. Fortunately, he was able to brush the peppercorns off and still ate his food. He missed the peppercorn that landed in his juice glass, though!
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We went to a princess-themed birthday party for two young sisters, a five-year-old and a one-year-old. Thanks to Pinterest, I made a travel-sized drawing kit for the older sister. Thanks to Sara & Eli’s recommendation, we gave the younger sister a bubble bucket (not pictured).
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We had a brunch at church and I didn’t know what to take, so I half-jokingly suggested to Brian, “We could just take lots & lots of bacon.” He agreed as gleefully as a kid accepting birthday presents. I also took fruit salad.
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Cola is now four months old and finally old enough to go to the dog park! She often turns to the comfort of her pillow when she gets in trouble or when we are not available to constantly play with her. She has her own hashtag on Twitter and Instagram: #ColaPup.
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life rearranged

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What I’m Into (August 2014)

Friends

College students back on campus & coming to our house for Sunday lunches. We are all getting back into the swing of school and campus ministry.
2014-08 Sunday Lunch

Food

I used to disdain iced coffee unless it was really, really hot. This summer, though, I discovered Pioneer Woman’s cold-brewed concentrate that I mix with almond milk and one of my homemade coffee syrups. It tastes delicious and the college students who come to our house think so, too!

French Toast Roll-Ups with blueberries and cream cheese… Brian and I liked these so much we rated them “let’s have it again every month.”
 2014-08-19 21.34.36

My tomato cages toppled from the weight of the vines, but they kept growing. Now I have what I call a “tomato thicket.” Rabbits kept eating the unripe fruit but my puppy decided they’re fun to chase. Now we have tomatoes!
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Watching

On TV: Rizzoli & Isles and Girl Meets World.

On Netflix: Doctor Who season 7. I like Clara, “the impossible girl,” who gets scared and plunges in anyway. “We never just walk away.” In addition, I’m working my way back through Haven (currently on season 2) because I missed having a new season this summer.

Music

Colbie Caillat’s Gypsy Heart Side A, especially “Try.”
The Likes of Us (self-titled album) from Noisetrade has been a fun addition to my jazzy weekend breakfast playlist.

Technology

Since school started this month, I’ve been using Quizlet to make free electronic flashcards for the high school students I work with. As an a added bonus, they can use my flashcards (as well as any they create) online or on their smart phones.

Now that the entire school email system is run through Google, I have been using Google Drive for sharing documents with coworkers (I had never used it for document creation before this month.)

I upgraded to a iPhone 5s and a waterproof, drop-proof Otterbox Preserver case this week and I am enjoying both! FYI: The Preserver cases appear to still be on sale for 50% off on Amazon.

Same-day Instagram prints from Walgreens, especially when I procrastinated making them until the day before I needed them!
 2014-08-18 17.54.41

Random Fun

I like the graphic design of the @HomeGoods Stylescope quiz to “find your home design personality“. I’m supposedly “The Traveler” and liked the graphic so much, I made it my iOS wallpaper.


What were you into in August?


Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Lows & [Lots of] Highs

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

 

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One Low
Our sweet, adorable puppy killed a bird and then tried to eat it. Brian noticed and went out to dispose of the dead body, but Cola decided she wanted to chew on it and play “keep away from the human” instead. After a few minutes, I went out to help, which made us two disgusted people and one playful puppy. Eventually, she dropped her prize for a moment and I picked her up. That gave Brian an opening to make the bird disappear. Since then, Brian keeps promising Cola she will never be allowed to lick his face ever again.

 

Three Highs
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1. Brian and I put up new gutters on the back of our house.

 

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2. I made French Toast Roll-ups with blueberries and cream cheese. They were delicious and we want to have them again.

 

 

3. A barista was astonished to overhear me talking with a friend about making my own coffee syrups and asked for details, so I gave her my blog address. I have never directed a total stranger to this site before, but it was the easiest way to give her the information!


How has your week been?

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Lows & Highs: A Case of the Mondays

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: Monday morning was rough at Howe House. I went to take Cola out at six a.m. and let her walk out the door on her own sleepy legs instead of carrying her. I usually walk around the yard with her, so I reached back in to close the door behind us when I heard a yelp. Cola had darted back into the warm laundry room and the closing door bonked her on the side! Startled, but not hurt, she ran to one of the rugs and started to pee on it. I scooped her up and ran to the grass, where she finished her “business.”

Later that morning, Cola was outside while Brian did yard work. She was still running in the middle of the yard when he headed inside. I heard the door open and then yelping – lots of yelping – and Brian saying, “Oh no, oh no, OH NO!”

“What is it?” I called on my way from the living room.

“I think I broke her paw!”

Cola had apparently sprinted across the yard, hurdled onto the deck, and gotten caught in the door as he closed it. When I got to the deck, Brian stood aghast by the door and Cola hobbled on three legs in the grass beside the deck.

I tried to comfort Brian saying, “If her paw is really broken, it’ll be okay. It’s Monday.” (I meant that the veterinarian clinic would be open. He thought I meant that bad things happen on Mondays.)

I picked Cola up gently and took her inside, where she started walking on all four paws before curling up on my lap. I looked at my very concerned husband, “I think she’s fine. It probably scared her and hurt a lot at first, but I don’t think she’s broken.”

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A couple days later, Cola still runs and jumps but is a little more cautious of closing doors.

High: On Friday, we had a game night with college students and played games like 5 Second Rule, Wits & Wagers, and Golf-the-card-game!

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What are your lows and highs this week?

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Lows & Highs: Road Trip

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: About thirty minutes into our four-hour road trip, I broke the bow clean off my sunglasses and had to make do as best I could, alternating between squinting and holding up the broken shades for the rest of the drive.

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High #1: Brian and I took Cola on her first long road trip and she did wonderfully! We timed the road trip to start after an energetic play session with lots of running, and during her normal two-hour afternoon nap. Cola obligingly laid in her kennel and slept most of the way except when we stopped for walking breaks. By the time we arrived at my parents’ house, she was ecstatic to get out and meet her new friends, Shadow and Cobra!

High #2: We have had a terrific visit with my parents helping around the house, playing with Cola, playing games, and telling stories. Brian’s parents were also able to come and join us for dinner one night, so that made the visit even more special!

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What are your lows and highs this week?

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Lows & Highs: Cola Edition

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: From midnight to around 5:30 Sunday morning, Brian and I were frequently woken up by a yipping puppy who does not like being alone in a dark kennel. It did not make a very restful night!

High #1: I enjoyed hearing Brian preach at CrossPoint Great Bend on Sunday. Here are my sketchnotes from his sermon.

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High #2: We adopted a puppy from our local animal shelter!  She is a terrier mix that we named Cola because she is kind of cola-colored and has a sweet personality. So far the funniest thing she has done is being scared to step from one texture of floor to another. The fear had her trapped on our area rug, surrounded by a moat of wood-laminate flooring, for almost an hour. We were on the rug with her but she really wanted to explore the rest of the room.

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