Monthly Archives: February 2012

Attaboy, Duke

We’ve been fostering Duke for about a month now. We can’t believe it’s already been a month since we first brought him home from ACS and are so encouraged by how far he’s come since that day. Sometimes we feel like he’s a completely different animal now compared to the scared, nervous dog that Chip had to literally carry out of my car to get him come inside that first night. Now he’s so much more social, spends a lot of time playing with Wrigley and always greets us with a wagging tail like any other happy dog would.

I do have to admit that fostering Duke was a little overwhelming at first. The first couple of weeks were challenging as we tried showing him he could trust us, that we weren’t going to hurt him in any way, that we were here to help get him better and find him a home. It broke my heart to see him try to figure us out, how he would take an hour in the morning to leave the crate and walk across the hall and living room to go outside and how he would bolt if either of us came in the room unexpectedly. I couldn’t imagine what had happened to him in his past and would become so frustrated knowing that Duke isn’t the only dog this has happened to, that there are many other abused, scared pups out there (someday I hope to have my own dog sanctuary and help as many dogs as we can! :)). I was also concerned with Duke’s overall health the first half of February. Within his first week with us, he slipped and fell inside and hurt his leg and was limping around. He was on pain killers for a while and he seemed to have such a little appetite those days that even though he was already so skinny to start with, it seemed like he was losing another couple of pounds those first couple of weeks. I began to think that maybe Duke required more work and attention than either of us could give while also working full time and living our daily lives and that it would take a very long time for him to be “normal.” Fortunately things soon started to turn around.

After a couple of weeks with us, Duke was finally starting to show an appetite. He would eat most of the food we were giving him, but it wasn’t until we got some high calorie dog food for him from my parents that we started to see him finally fill out a bit. His hips are still thin, but his rib/stomach area is finally looking healthier. I know he’ll continue to put on weight as he cleans his big bowl of food every night of this higher calorie food. He even looks forward to his mealtime now and let’s me know when he’s hungry by walking to and from the office room until we serve his dog bowl outside the crate.

Nap time in the living room

He’s also finally less skittish in the house, no longer trying to dart in and out of the house as quickly and stealthily as he can. It’s so encouraging to see him ready at the doggie gate in the office every morning, wagging his tail and excited to go outside. He no longer treats the backdoor as some magic thresh hold he can’t cross but now comes in and out as easily as Wrigley does (although he does thankfully act a bit more calmly than Wrigley…). He even chooses to be with us in the living room now and is content to take a nap there or play with a toy around us, a huge difference compared to the first couple of weeks where he would only be with us in the living room when we made him.

One thing that I think has helped Duke come a long way is time with Wrigley. I’m actually shocked at how much Wrigley has done for Duke (for those of you who know Wrigley you know he’s a little on the crazy side!), but we’ve really seen Duke come out of his shell when he plays with Wrigley. Chip and I have a lot of fun watching these goofs wrestle and see how they try to pull each others ears. Feel free to click this link to see a funny video I took of them last weekend while watching them play from inside the house – Duke and Wrigley playing outside

Duke also recently discovered Wrigley’s toy bucket in the living room. Prior to this discovery, he would usually just chew on whatever toy Wrigley would walk away from, but this past weekend he finally saw where the toys are kept. He’s got a few favorites and will sit there quietly and chew on them. This is also teaching our spoiled little Wrigley how to share… Wrigley has some serious only child tendencies and will usually cry and bark while standing by Duke whenever he has one of his toys (since there isn’t an entire basket of other toys to play with… :)).

Duke with one of Wrigley's toys

Chip and I are so proud of Duke for coming so far and can’t stop talking about how different he is now. He’s starting to trust people more easily and learning to be part of a family. I’m hoping that his leg will be stronger within the next week so I can start walking him next weekend and hopefully help him become a good walking partner. He’s become so playful over the last couple of weeks and so much more accepting of affection. He’s showing some good guard dog behaviors, barking at the garbage man whenever he comes by and growling at sudden noises outside. Yes, he’s still needs a little more time and attention before he’s a fully rehabilitated dog, but we see a lot of potential in Duke and know that he will someday soon make a family very happy as their new dog :)

To end this post, I want to share a cute sign my cousin sent me this week. Being the dog lover I am this definitely made me a little teary eyed but also really spoke to my heart as we continue to love on Duke.

Save a dog, change his world

Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

If anyone is looking for a fairly simple homemade mac ‘n cheese recipe, I have the one for you! I have seen a few slightly complicated recipes that will get every dish dirty and somehow take a couple of hours to finish, so I’ve become a fan of this one that really only needs two stove top skillets and a baking dish and less than one hour from start to finish. This recipe is from Healthy Cooking magazine and I have to say it is pretty tasty (although I’m shocked that this recipe is from a “healthy” magazine!). We had some tonight to go with our pork chops and veggies and it was soo good!

Watch out, Kraft, there's a new chef in town

I may be a first generation American, but a serving of mac ‘n cheese can really hit the spot. It sends me back to my childhood summer days where we would have a box of macaroni and cheese for lunch :)

For those that are interested, here’s the recipe! Just remember, moderation is key…


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) fat-free sour cream
  • 8 oz. reduced-fat process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 8 oz. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • Minced chives, optional


  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  2. Reduce heat; stir in the sour cream, process cheese, Parmesan, mustard and pepper until smooth.
  3. Drain macaroni; stir in cheddar cheese. Transfer to a 13-in x 9-in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add cream sauce and mix well. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with chives if desired.

Curtain Call

I am a pretty big fan of curtains. Chip… not so much. It took a bit of convincing to get him to agree to some olive green curtains in our bedroom, so I knew it would take some work to have him agree to some red curtains in our living room. Luckily, this was an easier task than the other curtains were! Here’s a little bit of background to how we got to our living room curtains… to start with, neither one of us are fond of the miniblinds our home came with, so we’re hoping to get them all replaced throughout the house some day. They’re fairly flimsy and the ones in the front living room were really taking a beating from our sheriff Wrigley. One of his favorite spots in the house is on the couch while looking out the front living room window like this:

Sheriff Wrigley on duty

Wrigley takes his sheriff duties very seriously growling or barking at any movement he sees. Heaven forbid a squirrel or the mailman cross our lawn without his permission! The biggest perpetrators were the stray cats of the neighborhood. Nothing gets him riled up as much as a cat strolling across our front lawn and basking in the sun. In these instances, Wrigley will lose all composure and lunge forward onto the window and in the process has torn up our miniblinds leaving us with this:

Blinds post-Wrigley

This picture really doesn’t capture just how terrible our blinds looked. We hated how the bottom quarter of our front windows looked so… not classy. Really, it was slightly embarrassing whenever we had people over. We really wanted to do something about this sooner rather than later, but knew that updating all of our window fixtures will take some time to save up for. So in the meantime, I came up with a solution. Take these destroyed blinds down and put curtains up (genius, right??). So with this decision made, we went to Lowe’s and bought some curtains after spending an hour at Hobby Lobby last Saturday for my Pinterest project. It wasn’t until this weekend that we actually had time to put them up, but it was definitely worth the wait!

Farewell, old blinds

First up was getting the flimsy blinds out of here! We were probably more excited about this part of the project than we should have been, but we were so ready to see these things go. It was really easy to take these down, so now we just need to practice self-control on not taking the rest of the miniblinds down throughout the house until we can save up for new window treatments.

With these blinds down, it was now time to put up the base layer of sheer curtains. We wanted to have this sheer layer so we could still have sunlight come into the house during the day without having our little house on full display to the outside world. Now I would like to use this time to brag about what an awesome job Chip did on getting these curtains up. This was the smoothest project we’ve done in our home so far; we didn’t have to re-drill any holes and got this done much more quickly than I had anticipated, which is saying a lot since I tend to have some crazy, unrealistic expectations about projects. :)

Getting started on the curtains

With the sheer layer up, it was time to hang up the rods for the accent red curtains. We chose this color since our throw pillows in this room have red accents and we thought it would be a great way to add color and warmth to the rest of the room. Here’s what part of the living room looks like now with the completed curtains! (I couldn’t get a full shot of the room…) We’re so happy with how this turned out and love how it has really given the finishing touch to this room. One room down, several more to go :)

Hooray for curtains!

First Pinterest project complete!

Over the past couple of months, I have become slightly addicted to the website Pinterest. It’s to the point where my day doesn’t feel complete until I’ve spent at least 10 minutes quickly perusing the new pins and pictures. When I first started using Pinterest, I quickly started a craft/DIY board, but didn’t really know which project to start with. So one evening, I showed Chip the different projects I was interested in, knowing he would encourage me and hold me accountable to trying some of these out. It was no surprise to me when my take initiative, problem solver husband immediately said “let’s go to Lowe’s after church on Sunday and buy this stuff.” That was the kick in the butt I needed to pick a project! So with that, I decided to start with this jewelry organizer I had found on the website:

Pinterest inspiration

Now up until this project, I had my jewelry spread out over two different jewelry boxes and one earring rack on our bedroom dresser. It’s slightly ridiculous these three different items were holding my jewelry considering I don’t even have that much jewelry to start with. This also meant that our dresser was a little cluttered with these three items, something that I’m sure irked Chip more than he let on :) It also meant that if I wanted to wear something different from my everyday jewelry, I would have to go through these different boxes to find something in particular. I know that doesn’t sound like it would take a lot of effort and I may seem slightly dramatic over this work, but since my jewelry is the last part of my getting ready routine, I would usually forgo looking for a certain pair of earrings or necklace and just wear my everyday jewelry so I would have time to eat breakfast or make sure all of my stuff was packed up for work.

Now unfortunately, the picture I loved above didn’t have a tutorial or anything attached to it like most Pinterest pins do, so we had to figure this out a bit on our own (I’m so thankful Chip helped me with this!). With that, we spent a good hour at Hobby Lobby last Saturday and bought some burlap, a staple gun and different drawer handles and knobs (for anyone wanting to do a project like this, I recommend going to Hobby Lobby because they are always having sales – most of these items were 30-50% off). We then went to Lowe’s to get a piece of wood and some screws to help get all of these items on the board.

Wrigley likes Pinterest projects, too

So the first thing we did when we finally got home after our shopping trip was wrap the wood in burlap and staple it in place. I had originally thought we could use hot glue or fabric glue to get the burlap on, but turns out I was wrong which is why we went the staple gun route – good thing we bought as a “just in case” at Hobby Lobby! Once we got the burlap on I spent a bit of time trying to figure out where each handle and pull knob should go. At this point in the project, we realized that all of the screws for these pieces were longer than the thickness of the board, so we would have to figure out a different way to get these on. Chip volunteered to go to Lowe’s for some options and came back with some gorilla glue, which proved to get the job done perfectly.

Figuring out the layout for the board

Everything glued down

Once we let the pieces sit in the gorilla glue for a couple of hours (weighed them down with my old marketing textbooks to make sure they really stuck) it was time to figure out how to get this board up on our bedroom wall. We had bought some small hanging brackets at Lowe’s, but they were too small to go through the burlap and on to the wood on the back of the board. So instead, I cut some pieces of the leftover burlap and braided them into a handle and stapled in onto the back. Only think left to do was to hang it up in our room and put up my jewelry!

Finished jewelry board!

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud with how it turned out! I would still like to try to add some trim ribbon to it at the top, but haven’t found any yet that I really like so this will have to wait for now. I also love how practical this board is. Now I can easily see all of my jewelry while I get ready, instead of having to look through the three different places I had been storing everything. So now I have a pretty board with my jewelry and Chip has a more clutter-free dresser. And yes, I’m already picking out my next Pinterest project :)

Wall Art

Check it out… a non-dog related post! :) All joking aside, one thing I enjoy writing about almost as much as my dog posts is house projects. It’s probably the task-oriented side of my personality coming through!

I have to admit, it’s been a slower process than I had expected to finish setting up our house. I also now realize that I had very unrealistic expectations on what this process was going to be like. In my mind, it originally seemed very likely that we would have everything completed in our house by the end of summer, giving us a couple of months to get this done. That goal soon changed to “by Thanksgiving,” which has now changed to “eh, it will all be done some day!” We got most of our furniture set up pretty quickly when we moved in after our wedding, but I really think it takes having items up on the walls to make a room feel complete. So after slowly putting things up over the last nine-ish months, we got a little more serious the other weekend and put up a bunch of items.

While we were on our honeymoon, Chip and I bought several paintings from different street vendors. We didn’t realize that it would be such a project to get these canvases framed! (please click here for the story on our learning process) Anyway, we finally got these paintings framed at Hobby Lobby and were so excited to finally get these up on our walls.


The first one we put up was the painting we bought in Florence, Italy. We chose to put this one up in our front living room since the overall colors here are lighter, so we thought the wood frame would match the space well. We also had a very large wall free of any type of art or pictures so this larger painting seemed like a good way to utilize that wall.

Here’s what this side of the front living room looks like now:

One side of the living room

We already had one of our wedding canvases up on the other side of the room, but I felt that it looked empty on its own. So after a very long process of convincing Chip that sconces would look great on the wall, we finally put them up!

Wedding canvas and sconces

Next up was working on the office… we chose to put up one of our favorite paintings from our honeymoon up in here, which is an image of the canals of Venice. This really was one of our favorite cities from the cruise, so this painting means a lot to us. We also had some free hanging shelves/cubes from Target that we wanted to put up in here. I’m pretty sure Chip is someday going to ban be from buying more shelving from Target since the last couple of ones have been big pains to hang up correctly. But luckily he was very patient with me and got everything up perfectly :) We also had a couple of framed pictures of San Antonio we received from our friend Peter for our wedding that we wanted to have up in this room. Peter took these pictures himself and we love how they capture some of the city’s landmarks.


Diligently reading the hanging instructions

Office wall

There is also one other very special item hung up in our office. It’s a painting of Wrigley! One of our good friends, Christie, is an extremely talented artist and did this painting herself based off of one of our favorite pictures of Wrigley. She did an absolutely wonderful job and we wholeheartedly believe it captures his curious spirit perfectly.

Hey, Wrigley!

Another talented friend of ours also gave us a painting for our wedding, which is shown below on the left (our friends are so artistically gifted!). Lindsay, we can’t tell you how many compliments this gets hanging in our dining room! It honestly strikes up way more conversation than the painting on the right does, which is one that we had bought in Rome.

Dining room art

We still have two more paintings left that need to be put up, but we’re saving them for the guest room/entertainment room. We just need to work on furnishing that room first!

Inside every good dog…

Yes, another dog post… apologies to those who aren’t the biggest dog lovers, I really didn’t realize so much of this blog’s content would be centered on our four legged friends! :)

With that said, this post will be a short one. I recently saw this commercial on TV the other day and absolutely love it. It’s so simple and beautiful, showing all of those special dog moments we love in our pets. Whether it’s napping lazily on a couch or doggie bed, to trying to figure out how to play with a new toy, to being a service dog, I truly believe that all dogs can bring people joy. So sit back and enjoy this feel-good spot from Purina. The tagline really hits it all on the head: Inside every good dog is a great dog.

Come on, Duke!

“Come on, Duke!” is probably the phrase we’ve said most often over the past week and a half. As I explained in my last post, Duke is the first foster dog Chip, Wrigley and I have ever taken care of. In just this short amount of time since we brought him home from ACS, we’ve already seen progress. We’re excited to see how he will continue to bring his guard down and hopefully trust us more to become a more normal, balanced dog (trying to put everything I’ve learned from Cesar Millan’s books and show The Dog Whisperer to practice!). It hasn’t been that easy, though, and some days have definitely been harder than others and require lots of patience, but overall I know we’re doing a good thing and that we’re making an impact on his life. Having all three of us (Wrigley is definitely included in this effort!) take care of him has validated my desires to help dogs, especially the ones left in shelters. Hoping Duke is our first of many foster dogs! :)

Come inside, Duke!

When we first brought Duke home, he didn’t want to come inside the house, no matter how much we encouraged and cheered him on (come on, Duke!!) to be inside with us. He preferred being in the backyard and would treat the open back door as though it was some type of force field he couldn’t pass through. We let him take things at his pace, though, and didn’t make him come inside until the following night when a storm was set to come through town. Once he came inside and we closed the back door, he was immediately scared and looked around for a place to hide. It broke my heart to see him this anxious, but we were eventually able to get him over to the office room in the house where we have Wrigley’s crate. We got Duke in there with a blanket and towel for padding and it has now become one of his favorite spots in the house. He’s not curious yet like most dogs are and doesn’t have a desire at this time to explore his living space, so whenever he is inside he’s going to be in one of a few places: either the living room with us (and it will still take him a while to relax and lay down), the bathroom or the office. I’m glad he has at least developed a sense of security in these places and hope it will branch out to the rest of the home. He’s been resting a lot in the crate and getting lots of needed sleep. He’s becoming the king of naps! :)

Crazy storm!

We had a pretty bad storm here last Friday evening involving lots of rain and hail. It was crazy! We luckily had both dogs inside before the storm started, so they were safe and dry the whole time. Both were pretty anxious with all of the thunder and the hail hitting the house, so Duke was trying to follow Wrigley for doggy guidance… probably not the best example since Wrigley was running around inside the house life a fool. While Wrigley is used to sliding around the house on the wood floors, Duke still hasn’t gotten adjust to this and slipped and tweaked his back leg a bit. He was on medication for a couple of days and is limping on it less, so we’re hoping it was just a very mild sprain that’s now healing. He was a bit antisocial and lethargic while on this medication, but seems to be doing better now and back to moving around a little more quickly. We try to keep him calm and as not-anxious as possible when he’s inside, though, to help keep him from slipping too often since he still seems to be limping a bit from time to time.

We know that Duke is going to be a great dog for someone. He’s so gentle and sweet and really doesn’t ask for much at all from us (compared to Wrigley, who does anything for attention and belly rubs! He really has no shame…). Duke wags his tail now when he sees us and when we talk to him, a big improvement from the first couple of days when his tail was always tucked up between his legs. He’s also gotten more comfortable with us giving him affection and doesn’t flinch now when we pet his head or scratch his ears. He has a hearty appetite now and has been cleaning his bowl the past few evenings, which is good because this dog needs to put on a good 10-15 pounds! We’re also starting to see a more playful side to Duke. My parents sent him his first toy this past week – one of those rope toys that have floss fibers for their teeth. Duke didn’t really know what to do at first, but after some initial sniffing he started chewing on it! Yes, he only did this for a few seconds, but think he’ll soon figure out how to play with dog toys. I have faith  that the next round of posts will have pictures and stories of Duke being more social and relaxed :)

Wrigley and Duke resting inside