Thursday, July 31, 2014

Terrific Thursday

Down at the lake.

One of my biggest regrets this summer is that I did not bring the "fancy cam" to New York with me, so I am stuck with my subpar cell phone for photograph snapping, which often turns out grainy shots -- See the above.  Sigh.  Bad choice.  The good news is that it is time for me to get a new phone, so hopefully picture quality will improve soon.  With said phone, I plan to open both Instagram and Twitter accounts, so I am really quite excited.  Things are going to get much better around here...!  Milton, get ready to pose.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whimsical Wednesday

Today is a very special day for Jeff and me.  It is our wedding anniversary -- three years to be exact.

This is one of my favorite photos of the two of us, circa New York City, 2008.

Since Jeff and I are apart this year, we will not be dining at a swanky restaurant or picnicking in the park, but that is just fine with me.  I view this day just as any other because I get to make memories all the time with Jeff, whether we are doing something out of the ordinary, like cruising through the streets of Thailand in a tuk-tuk:

Vroom, vroom!

or sharing in something a little more tame, like washing Milt:

Dirty fur baby

As for a celebration, I was quite pleased to receive a card in the mail:

Dollar Store gem!

I also received these:


Funny story on the flowers -- Last night I was on our Amazon account adding back-to-school items to our wish list, and when I clicked on recent orders, I saw an order for a dozen roses, destined for me, at a cost of $34.99.  I could even view the gift card too, so I was fully aware of what was coming my way!

My reaction -- cancel -- I need to cancel this order!  To me, who has been surrounded by natural growing flowers all summer, peonies, hydrangeas, sweet peas, tiger lilies, etc., this purchase seemed a bit frivolous.  Yes, frivolous. Unfortunately, I was unable to cancel the order, despite some good effort, even after I called Jeff and demanded that he try too.  I was also worried that he ordered the gift solely due to my good-natured ribbing that he had better mark the day in some special way, but he said that he had planned the order for quite some time now.

Jeff's reasoning on the flowers is that we are still too fresh in this relationship to stop giving romantic gifts so early on in our marriage.  My opinion is that our money flows  from the same bank account, so any type of purchase is not quite a present anymore.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and I am certain that Jeff would much rather have a cheapskate than a spendthrift for a wife.  The flowers look good in our kitchen, and I truly am a lucky lady to have both my Jeff and our Milton!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tremendous Tuesday -- NYC Trip!

Whenever I ponder taking a vacation, the first thought that comes to my mind is this guy with the big black nose that is quite often wet:

Momma's darling

It is awfully hard for me to part with this fellow even for a couple of nights, hence why he is up here in New York with me rather than down in Texas with Jeff.  I suppose you could say that Jeff is the stronger one emotionally, well probably physically too, in our relationship.  Part we did, however, as Mom and I took off for a weekend trip to "the city," New York City that is, while Milt Dog stayed home with Miss Ashley.  Of course, Milt could have gone to a boarding facility, but I really prefer for him to run around in a daycare setting with friends rather than be cooped up in a kennel all day, so I called in a favor on one of my best friends -- Come watch my boy -- and she accepted!  After a tearful goodbye, Mom and I jumped in my luxury Corolla for the 4.5 hour drive to New York City to stay in Queens with another one of my very best friends, Danielle and her brand new fiance, Miguel.

Arriving in NYC!

After touring Danielle's massive apartment in Kew Gardens (My previous studio in Manhattan was not quite as spacious.), we went out to dinner at none other than Uno Pizzeria, a Chicago pizza chain!  When Mom was given the option of three restaurants: authentic Cuban cuisine, real Japanese fusion, or a pizza chain, there was no hope of us eating at a genuine NYC eatery, but, oh well, my first experience with deep dish pizza was quite tasty, and I do plan to replicate it again in... Chicago!

The happy foursome!

After dinner, Danielle and Miguel treated all of us to some tantalizing desserts from Martha's Country Bakery.  The delicacies -- cakes, cookies, pies, brownies -- spanned an entire wall, and with three locations in New York, you should certainly drop by next time you are there.

This served as both my dessert and breakfast, which is quite a rarity for me.  I am always a good eater.

Kissing our pillows at 12:30A.M. made for a very late start the next morning, but it was quite nice waking up in a friend's apartment and leisurely getting ready for the big day in front of us.  Danielle and Miguel graciously drove us into Manhattan and dropped us off at Central Park West in the 70s -- A+ service!  Our first stop was Belvedere Castle, which I had never even heard of before, until my buddy Derek suggested we visit, and I am glad that we did, for it is quite beautiful.

The National Weather Forecast actually uses technology at the castle to chart the temperature and rainfall.

After we ambled throughout the park for about an hour, we decided that it was time that we kicked up our feet and let someone else do all the work.

We tend to like being carted around, like royalty.

Pedicab rides aren't particularly cheap; they typically charge $3/minute, and for a solid 30 minutes, they give you a bit of a break at $75.  Outrageous, I know, but it really is a very novel way to see the park and hear some history along the route.

The Plaza in the distance -- Jeff and I will be there for an upcoming wedding reception, and I am oh, so excited!

All that biking tends to make us hungry, so we walked to Ray's, a classic pizza joint, for a couple of giant slices of pizza!

Pizza tends to be the very best thing to eat in NYC!

Then it was time to let all of that cheesy goodness digest while watching none other than... Wicked!

Mom approaching the marquee

This musical was Mom's choice, and it was utterly fantastic!  The audience was packed (The show has a cult-like following.), and the dancing and singing was positively superb!  Tickets for this show are generally quite expensive because it has been so popular for its entire run, but I checked for partial view seats, which we bought once a long time ago for Mary Poppins, and we lucked out at about $90 per seat plus the Ticketmaster booking fee. The trick with partial view seating is to call the actual theater, in this case Gershwin, and ask one of the box office representatives for his or her opinion on the seats, and they will be quite honest with you about which seats are perfectly fine and which should be avoided at all costs.

After the show, we strolled through Times Square on our way to dinner, but I just had to stop by and look at Conde Nast, where I used to work, and daydream a bit.  I certainly love teaching, but being employed by a high-end magazine was a rather glamorous job, and I adored living in NYC so, so much.

Then we navigated through the sheer masses of tourists to reach Mom's favorite restaurant -- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. -- for dinner!  We met with Mom's nearest and dearest friend from high school, Maria, who still lives in Bergenfield, New Jersey, where they grew up together.  It was a pleasant reunion!

The sole reason why Mom loves this restaurant so much and always insists that we dine there is due to their fruit smoothie, 

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to Danielle and Miguel and began our drive to Lower Manhattan to visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.  I had never driven in New York City before, and it was quite the exciting experience for me, which really would not have been possible without the countless hours I have logged driving on Dallas five-lane highways.  If you asked me to do this in previous years, I would have been terrified, but I now have a new-found sense of confidence in my driving capability, and we arrived with no scratches, dents, or fist shaking mixed with profanity!  The only downfall was paying for a parking garage, a major racket - $11/half hour, $44/ three hours -- ahh, it hurt to fork over that money.    

The new building -- so tall I couldn't include it all in the photograph despite kneeling down to snap this shot.

Outdoor fountain with the names of the 3,000 victims etched around its edges

When I told a few people that we were going to this museum, some questioned why we made such a depressing choice, but this is such a touching, awe-inspiring site that really makes you value life and respect death while feeling gratitude for all of those who helped save others on that tragic day.

Original sign that was preserved

For this museum, we pre-ordered tickets (only a slight extra fee), so that we could reserve a visit time and avoid the lines.  It worked out very nicely.  If you ever go, plan to spend at least two hours viewing all of the exhibits; even then, we could have spent another whole hour taking it all in.  There is a wealth of information to read -- facts on the old building, information on the new building's construction, personal stories of both the deceased and survivors, background knowledge on the nefarious plot that brought about the day, etc.

A poignant quote

After the museum, we could have stayed for one more NYC lunch, most likely bagels or pizza, but with time ticking on our parking garage and storm clouds looming in the sky, we decided to hit the road early.  Overall, it was a jam-packed, fast paced weekend; to quote Mom, "We enjoyed it immensely."  I am already looking forward to returning in the fall!  Of course, there is no place like home, as Wicked reminded us, and it was wonderful to return to that big white rat -- Milton!  He greatly enjoyed Miss Ashley as a doggie sitter -- lots of playing -- although his one main complaint was that she insisted on bathing him (His smell was that offensive!) despite it not being on the list of instructions and me telling her not to bother; however, it was a kind gesture that, nevertheless, has already faded away...! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marvelous Monday!

Mom and I just returned from a wonderful weekend jaunt to New York City -- more to come on that later this week.  Although we love visiting the city, it is always nice to return home to the calmer pace of country life and this guy.

Frolicking about

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Super Sunday!

I know he's a dog, I get it, but on days like this:


I only wish he could join in on his cousins' fun!

My poor, poor fur baby

Usually, Milt can partake in some aspect of the adventure, but blow-up rafts and sharp claws just don't go well together.  I do love my boy but not enough to shell out the cash for a whole new set of rafts...!  Sorry, Milt Dog.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fun Friday!

Earlier this week, Jeff mentioned to me that he was going to one of our friends' houses this weekend for a little get-together.  He then followed up his statement with, "Weren't you on that email?"  Why no, I wasn't!  Since I have been gone for two months, I think people have begun to automatically count me out on things... No biggie.

To keep lines of communication open with Jeff, at least, I have been mailing him two cards per week to simply say, "I love you."  Thus far, I believe the count is thirteen cards (all SWAKd (Sealed With A Kiss) sent by me to Jeff and two, yup two, received in return.  In love, you tend to get what you give but not always.  It's not a big deal, really...

Thankfully, a girl can always count on her friends, and I got me some good ones!  The other morning when I checked the mail, there was a delightful package addressed to me neatly tucked away in our mailbox.  Of course, I thought the gift was from my dear Jeffery but no.  The girls in your life, in this case, Jenny and Tina, are the ones you can truly count on to be thoughtful.

The card asks: "Are you ever coming back?"

Lots of goodies for both the Milt and me -- I love the Texas tea towel and, of course, Texas-shaped ginger snaps!

Milt noticed the gifts, particularly the rawhide bone and balls.

He sat pretty to receive a gift.

Then I decided to relocate his gifts because there was too much heavy sniffing going on...!

I am not much for phone calls (I actually hate them.), so this is more of a public thank you to my fantastic friends, Jenny and Tina -- You girls are the absolute best!  I truly mean that -- thank you.

Despite my Jeff's lack of romantic gift giving, I am unabashed, especially because next week, on July 30th, we will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary, and I know that a spectacular surprise will certainly show up on my doorstep... hint, hint, nudge, nudge.  It won't be Jeff in person, but I would gladly accept a fragrant bouquet of flowers or just a card.  A simple card, maybe even from the Dollar Store, -- now wouldn't that be nice...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

All good things must come to an end.  I was sadly reminded of this when my Aunt Carol and Uncle Jimmy left yesterday after a four-day stay with us.  It is so so much fun to anticipate an upcoming event, and then when it comes and goes, it tends to be a bit of a letdown.  My mom's sister and her husband are two of the very best people whom I know, so it is always so wonderful to spend quality time with them.

The happy group

We did have a lovely visit with a family barbecue, trip to Lake Side Grill via boat, a walk about the local town of Skaneateles, and, of course, hot hours spent relaxing on the dock.  Aunt Carol even attempted to teach me how to crochet!  Time with family is precious and, in a sense, always fleeting, so it is best to take advantage of it whenever possibly.  This is another little lesson that Milton has truly emphasized for me.  That dog is a people lover, and he always has his priorities straight.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Whimsical Wednesday

Milt's a natural-born baker.  He just is.

Cooking cousins

Our goldendoodle's cousins both love and fear him.  You can never tell what it's going to be.  It did warm my heart though when I overheard little Abram say, "Milton would always protect me because I'm his cousin."  I don't know if everyone would agree that humans and dogs can have such tight relations, but I do know that I'm Milton's Momma, and I wouldn't describe myself as anything but!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tremendous Tuesday

Sometimes it is just too darn easy to get distracted.  During the school year, I am often reminded of that downfall of mine because I simply can't crank out work (lesson plans, paper grading, etc.), like I used to be able to when I was younger.  Perhaps my attention level began to wear thin during grad school, but when I set my mind to something, I always get it done albeit more slowly.

Case in point, the other evening the family all joined us for a barbecue, and characteristically, we ended the night with a pinata!  The favors included bouncy balls, and Milton was quite riveted (distracted, like his Momma) by each and every single bounce...

When you have a penchant for tennis balls, I suppose bouncy balls easily get looped into that category as well.  The world is full of wonders for our goldendoodle, Milt.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sensational Sunday

I obviously know that today is not Saturday, particularly because this post is entitled "Sensational Sunday," but on a side note from yesterday, Saturdays in our household are for... garage sales!

Milt and Mom all ready to go!

You see with garage saling, you have the ability to find some pretty fantastic items that you just might not be able to purchase anywhere else:

I know that Jeff is inwardly groaning as he looks at this pair!  

I was thrilled to find a Mr. and Mrs. Claus set that will look just darling on our kitchen table this December. As Macklemore says, "But it was $.99!"  Similarly, these were only $3.00.  Who could possibly resist that deal?!

However, the very best part of our little early morning trips is doughnuts from Cameron's!

Apple fritters are my favorite!

Each week I really do look forward to Saturday sales.  Time spent with Mom and Milt in the car is priceless, and the doughnuts, well, I just can't say enough about those tasty little suckers!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fantastic Friday!

Recently, we have had a spell of peculiar weather.  The morning will begin awfully cold -- high 50s/low 60s, progress to a funky early afternoon downpour, and then culminate in a hot, sunny late afternoon.  Go figure?With these chilly mornings, it can be a bit difficult to rise and shine out of bed.  Sometimes you just have to sleep in a bit and try to stay warm.  Luckily, I have a big fur baby to snuggle with in the absence of Jeff.

My dood

My goldendoodle does take up more than half the bed, but at least all of those flouncy curls serve a purpose other than being solely ornamental.  On that note, my Aunt Carol and Uncle Jimmy arrive tomorrow from Georgia for a long visit; therefore, some dood is getting a much needed bath today.  Over the past few weeks, I have fielded various complaints regarding Milton's fragrant aroma, which is not all sugar cookies and baby's breath.  With swimming in the lake twice daily and an occasional dip in the ornamental ponds, he has a certain stench that pervades him whenever he walks in the room.  This is one of those situations that if you fix it, it is just going to happen again, so I have been saving my energy for the monumental cleansing  -- tonight!  Milton also has mats galore, so a rigorous brushing is on the agenda as well.  I suppose I should be calling this post "Fun Friday" because it is going to be a barrel of fun...  Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thankful Thursday

This truly is a Thankful Thursday.  Having grown up on the lake, I always took an awful lot of things for granted: the ability to run down to the water's edge on a hot summer's day to take a refreshing dip; the ease of hopping into my kayak and paddling around to view the brightly changing leaves on the trees; or the opportunity to haul my laser out to attempt sailing yet again.  Now living in Dallas, to do things like this, I need to either ask a friend or pay to rent, unfortunately.

With only three weeks left up North, I am grabbing "lake life" happiness with both hands to sustain me for my upcoming stint in the city.  Dallas does certainly have its many, many perks as well, but it is a completely different type of citified enjoyment composed of frequently dining out, attending countless yoga classes, and taking in the latest festival, play, or movie that comes to town.  I suppose you can't always have the best of both worlds, but I do attempt to switch off between the two as much as possible.

On that note, here are some pictures of a recent sunset boat ride as I commemorate my time here:

Whoosh -- full-body wind!

Visiting Mom and me in the bow of the boat

Getting a little too brazen in the bow

Cruising back into home

Sunset swim to cap off the night

I am woefully nostalgic, so I tend to struggle with change.  When I left Jeff and Dallas for the summer, I was sad to go, and now I am equally sad to return.  As a kid, I always liked the idea of taking all of my favorite people, dropping them on a sunny island somewhere, and all of us living together in happy bliss there.  Now this childish muse seems rather silly, but geographical location can prove to be rather challenging in maintaining strong bonds with family and friends.  Nevertheless, as Jeff and I always say to one another, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder."  I think it certainly makes you appreciate more the special time that you do have when together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Whimsical Wednesday

Each and every time Milton kerplunks off the dock, wildly paddling after his tennis ball, my mom remarks, "Milton's a good jumper."  Well, it's the truth.  He is, mostly, but not every single time.  With Milton, similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the pitch needs to be just right in order for him to take the flying leap. If the thrown ball lands too close to the dock, too far from the dock, on the left side of the dock, etc., etc., etc. this dood ain't jumpin'.  Milton will groan and moan looking up at you with sorrowful eyes and aggravated butt wiggling wondering why you threw such a pitiful pitch quite similarly to a batter who refuses to swing at a wayward ball.  Impatiently pacing with an incredulous look, Milton will demand that you, yes you, the thrower, get in after that ball because after all, it was you who basically messed up.  I have one word for you -- spoiled.  Most dogs would be catapulting off the dock after each and every toss, no exception, tongues lolling out, wet fur flapping, but here is our goldendoodle standing on the sideline critiquing pitches. Oh boy.  He must get it from... me.

It does take just a little bit of prompting, but Milt will eventually jump in there after that darn ball.  First and foremost in life, Milt's an athlete, and tennis ball is his sport.  He's just stuck with me this summer as an inadequate teammate, but to quote Nike, "Milt, just do it."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tremendous Tuesday

When Milton's tennis ball rolls under a dresser, which tends to happen quite frequently, he emits high-pitched whines and mournful yelps until someone, anyone comes to his rescue.  The loss of a tennis ball, a tragedy for Milt, is an utter and complete catastrophe that requires immediate attention as signaled by lots and lots of noise.  Conversely, Milt winds himself up like a fly stuck in a sticky web on our front porch, and we don't hear a single peep.

Momma's poor baby

When Jeff saw this photo, his very first question was, "Heidi, how long did Milton stay like that until you freed him?"  "Well, gee, Jeff, I don't know...  He never once asked for my help!"  Our goldendoodle has figured out the important things in life, and loss of a tennis ball is a far greater concern, worthy of a string of alarmed yelps, rather than tied-up paws turning blue from circulation, which you can just calmly wait out until someone takes notice.  I wish my own life concerns were as crystal-clear and clean-cut as all this.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marvelous Monday

One of my major bucket list items was happily fulfilled this past winter when my brother Dave took me up in his helicopter!  I had always wanted to fly in a copter, and when Dave just so happened to purchase one, it was simply serendipity!

Grinning away

Well, my bucket list item has been checked off, but I can still dream, and I have a little dream of getting Milt up in a chopper someday.  I thought this would be completely impossible because when I flew with Dave, he was very stern that I should not move a muscle lest I knock, bump, or basically destroy any important device necessary to keep us safe and sound up in the air.  Then at our Fourth of July party, I was speaking with Dave's buddy, Duane, and he told me that he's flown with his dog before, so now I'm thinking, Why not Milt too?

I suppose there is still hope for our goldendoodle to get a true bird's eye view from a whirligig someday too!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunny Sunday

Early to bed and late to rise.  Out of the three of us, Milton is always the very last one to be up and at 'em...!  As my mom tends to say, "But Milt doesn't do anything all day!  Why is he so tired?"  Well, Milt Dog does stuff, an awful lot of stuff, but who are we to determine whether it is productive or not?  Heck, half of what I do is probably working against productivity.  The caveat with our goldendoodle is that he tends to need four times the amount of sleep that we do in order to properly function -- lots and lots of little nappies.

Sleepy doodle dog

Well, I suppose it is better for me to be waking him up in the morning rather than the other way around.  Beauty sleep at its best.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fantastic Friday!

A little early morning peanut butter never hurt anyone, did it?

Getting a good grip

Licking out all the yumminess

Beginning to chew the plastic to reach the creamy bottom -- This is where the fun ends!

My husband, Jeff, thinks that Milton with a jar of Peter Pan is excellent product placement for their company, and they should be paying us to advertise.  My initial thought was that people would think, "Peter Pan, so gross that only dogs will eat it."  Conversely, Jeff's take is, "Peter Pan, so tasty even dogs like it!"  Well, when Peter Pan does eventually approach us about using Milton in world-wide commercials and print ads, maybe even somehow radio (woof!), we will go with the second thought -- Dogs, goldendoodles in particular, love them some Peter Pan!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Milton made the berry picking cut yesterday, and he was oh so giddy about it!  My sister and her boys did not join, which means Milton was in because the littlest boy does not quite see all of our goldendoodle's "charms," like sloppy kisses, protective barks, and clean-up licks.  I am confident that the Milt will win him over by summer's end -- He tends to have a downright happy effect on most people.

Like a duck

At the land, Milt had an absolute ball scampering down the trails, wading in the pond, scavenging in the underbrush, and he even barreled through the cornfield at one point -- a secret force rustling the ears as he scurried along!  Mom and I were hard at work gathering loads of berries while the Milt frolicked.  What do we do with our bounty?  Well, we make muffins, of course, but, more importantly, we bake PIE!


I decided yesterday that I am partial to blackberry picking rather than pecan gathering because once you pick the berries, you are done -- no shelling required!  Dump a cup of sugar on the little black beauties, roll out a crust, and you have a refreshing summer treat!  Baking a pecan pie, though, requires quite a few more ingredients, included the dreaded corn syrup, and a very steady hand to delicately float the pecans on top of the sickly sweet mixture.  Most importantly, though, both desserts make superb homegrown gifts!