Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The joys of being dog owners.

We love the puppies but we are definitely ready for them to find homes. When they're out and running around it's like having toddlers to chase after - everything ends up in their mouths and with pee on it!

Good thing they're cute.. <click the play button in the bottom left to play video>

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grace Snoring ...

You can hear RJ and Ryan's Super Mario Brother's game in the background (we kick it old-school style). 

In the next video, Grace performs her tricks! She already knew how to sit (kind of) and RJ taught her how to lie down. The only problem is most of the time she jumps the gun and goes ahead and lays down anytime we say sit. 

Harvey debuts his trick too - he can sit about half the time. Often times he just gets confused. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet Grace!

On Tuesday morning I got an email from one of my friends from work (also named Rachel) about an abandoned dog family. Her parents own rental properties and her father found this mother and her two 4-week old puppies in one of their units. Apparently the tenant had left them there! And apparently they were on their own for awhile.. this poor mother is extremely malnourished. After I read their story and saw this picture she attached in the email (and showed RJ), 10 minutes later we were arranging a time to pick them up later that evening. 

Look at the poor thing, can you blame me?

So that evening we went to Rachel's to meet the family and take them home with us to be our new foster children. As soon as we met the dog we could tell what a sweetheart she was. She was wagging her tail and very happy to meet us. The whole way home she sat with me in the front seat and didn't make a peep. Now it's Thursday and I have still never heard her bark!

We decided on the name Grace because she was so sweet and forgiving to humans even though clearly she had been mistreated. Plus, it was by the grace of God that Rachel's father found them before they starved to death. 

She is very intelligent and very house trained! We thought she may have some accidents getting used to new food and a new routine... none yet. She can sit too and we're working on "stay". 

The puppies are still very little (only 4-weeks old!) and are still nursing which is so cute. We keep them upstairs in the spare room and Grace goes up to check on them every half an hour or so. They sleep together in the spare room at night.

Harvey likes having a new friend but we're making sure to give him extra attention so he doesn't get jealous. He's very curious about the puppies and likes to sniff them. Grace is ok with him sniffing them and us playing with them but she definitely stays close and supervises.

We tried not to keep the family apart from the other pets until they got checked out by our vet. Both of them were so curious about each other though.  RJ took the family to our vet yesterday to get them checked out. Of course we've got to get Grace fattened up but other than giving her some vitamins and antibiotics they all checked out ok! The puppies will be nursing for another week or so and then we have to transition them into watered down dry food. In about 4 weeks the puppies will be ready to go to  new homes. We already have a lot of people interested in adopting one! We will most likely be keeping Grace around, as long as she continues to get along well with Harvey and the cats.

Both Harvey and Grace are mild-mannered, calm dogs and Harvey appreciates that Grace isn't too hyper. She loves to lay around next to us, just like Harvey does.

She still loves people. RJ had his band-mates over to practice last night and she loved the extra attention from the guys.

I think RJ is her favorite. She is really curious about the cats and just wants to smell them.

We are definitely excited to have a "real dog" in addition to our cat-dog. Grace is the type of dog you can take on hikes and jogs (eventually..) and Harvey is still my favorite lap dog.

Welcome to the family, Grace!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Making of a Pantry

When we first came to look at our house, the first thing we noticed was the entry way. The side door opened up into a walkway/storage area right off the kitchen. The perfect place for a pantry! We put a plastic shelf there knowing that someday we RJ would put in some shelves.

He wanted to tackle the project a few times, but his old drill just wasn't cutting it.

For his birthday, his parents got him the perfect gift - a new, improved, better drill! He put in the shelves literally days later.

Believe it or not, the after picture is post-organization! It still looks a little disheveled.. oh well.

I know it's nothing fancy and it's very utilitarian, but we love it. It provides so much more space and just feels more homey.

I know we're renters and all (and loving it!), but I guess we can't help our tendency to want to fix it up while we live here.

I love my handy husband!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It's October already which means something important happened a few days ago..

RJ turned 28!

We had a great time celebrating at the annual Stith Family Clam-Bake at Reed and Laura's. It's always a great event and I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of the clam preperation! Next year...

I was really excited to give RJ my gift.. so much so that I gave it to him to open the day it arrived, about 6 days before his birthday. It was a Jensen Record Player and Bob Dylan's Greatest hits album. We set it up on our mantle and over the last few days have loved listening to our record.

It worked out perfectly on Saturday (his birthday) because he got some great records as gifts and was also able to pick out some records from his parents' collection. Some of the records actually belonged to his Uncle Mike so that was extra special.

Other things that have been going on (according to the pictures above)...

*Now that I'm down to one job (yes!), I've had more time to cook which has been really nice. I actually really enjoy cooking, but only when I don't feel rushed and can take my time. I've been making weekly batches of croutons, usually on Sundays. My favorite kind so far has been the pumpernickel rye swirl.

*We went to a little local art and music festival around the corner last weekend. It was really neat to be able to walk over and enjoy the vendors and musicians. It was great to see our neighborhood so busy and bustling.

*Our peppers and herbs have been growing like crazy! It's been nice to cook with. The peppers are so spicy though.

*I got to visit an alpaca farm! Mary's friends from her bible study were nice enough to let us visit their farm and meet some of the alpacas.

*Lots of walks. Harvey's surgeon suggested short walks to keep his legs exercised and stretched out. He loves walking around the neighborhood. Over the weekend we took him on a great hiking trail. We ended up carrying him a lot since it was a longer walk. He loved it.

Here's to a great October!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Georgia/Hilton Head Vacation

The last week of August we had the great blessing of visiting some family in Georgia and then joining more family inj Hilton Head. It was a great time to get away for awhile as I had been working a lot during July and August. I have transitioned into just the one job and it is fantastic! I spent most of August training my replacements at my former job while also working more hours for my RISE job. I am so happy to focus on just one program now!

Back to the trip...

We started the week in the Atlanta area, visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Conveniently, Aunt Sheri was visiting at that time too. It also fell on Grandma's birthday, so we got to celebrate that as well.

We also were able to spend some time visiting with Uncle David, Aunt Beth and my cousins Caroline, Julia and Ellen. Pictured below is their dachshund, Max, and one of their cute kitties. Another highlight of the few days we spent in Georgia was hanging out with my cousins Hayley and Hayden and Aunt Lanette. It really made me miss living closer to everyone, like we did during our college days.

After spending a few days in Georgia, we met Reed, Laura, Chelsey and Trevor (RJ's fam) in Hilton Head for the rest of the week. It rained for a few days, but there was still good time to sit by the pool, read, go out to eat, golf and of course, have margaritas. One of the days we went kayaking which was great! We loved it. We also got to take a sunset boat cruise one of the nights which was great. We had the best view of the blue moon and also did some dolphin spotting!

The timing was perfect because we got home on Sunday night and then had Monday off of work for labor day. It's always good to have an extra day to unpack, do laundry and get ready for the work week.

Harvey came with us on the trip and we was great in the car. As long as he's in his bed, he's pretty much happy wherever, even in the car (especially if his bed is sitting on my lap!).

We are so thankful for this trip, we loved getting to see everyone and hang out together.

Big thanks to Reed and Laura for inviting us to Hilton Head again - it's always wonderful! 

It's starting to feel a lot more like fall lately. This trip was the perfect way to end the summer!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lake house & Chicago Trip

It has been awhile since I updated! We are actually in Hilton Head right now with RJ's family, so I have some time to get caught up. A few weekends ago, Trevor's family was nice enough to host our group for a day at their Lake House. 

It was such a great day. It was supposed to rain but it held out long enough for us to go out on the boat. We got to see Chels, Micki and Trevor wake board which was really cool (like snow-boarding on the water). That is Zion on the right below, Micki and Daniel's adorable son. 

In early August we took a long weekend trip to Chicago to see Drew. It was an extra special trip because Dad & Mary and Lindsay & Corey came too. It was so good to get everyone together, it had definitely been too long.

Right before we left, Harvey started acting strange. He wouldn't go down stairs and had trouble walking. After a few days of getting continually worse, we took him to the vet. They said he should definitely not go to Chicago with us and may need emergency surgery. He had a herniated disk in his back and also had some calcium deposits that were causing paralysis of his back legs. 

They were kind enough to keep him over the weekend for us and took him to the animal hospital on Monday for the surgery. On Tuesday we drove back from Chicago and were able to visit him in the hospital. On Wednesday he was able to come home - that was a huge relief! He needed a lot of rest and help. For the first few days he wasn't able to stand on his own.  The surgery was a little over two weeks ago and he is doing great now.

He is able to walk and is getting back to his old self. We were able to take him with us on our trip to Georgia, which was great. While we're in Hilton Head he is staying at a Pet Hotel where we can visit him. We have a few more days here and then it's back to the real world next week. 

More soon!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Well it has been a busy last few weeks to say the least. I am preparing for our biggest KidzArt event of the summer, the week-long summer camp. Also, I've been averaging 28 hours per week for RISE - on top of my usual 30ish hours for KidzArt - I really don't know about this two job thing.. luckily it will be coming to an end soon (I am training my KA replacement in August).

The only good thing is that RJ has taken over the majority of the house-work. 

I can't complain at all because I truly enjoy both of my jobs. It just always seem like there aren't enough hours in the day.

I did take a break last weekend to go to the pool with Laura in Hudson, while RJ went to the Indian's Game with <Big> Reed, Chelsey and Trevor. They recently joined Lake Forest Country Club which is just beautiful. It's only about 2 minutes from their house, so it was just a matter of time before Reed convinced Laura to join :) They are going to be quite the golfers. I'm happy for them and needless to say, it works out pretty well for us as pool guests too!

The problem with having a home office...

I tried my hand at spicy thai peanut sauce a few weeks ago. We chopped up cucumber, carrot, peanuts and celery and tossed the peanut sauce with whole wheat soba noodles (Ohio City Pasta, of course! Thanks, Trevor). I wasn't sure if we would like it or not but it was actually pretty good!

On Tuesday's in July we take the RISE kids on education field trips, like I mentioned in my last post. On the 17th we went to Amish country (that trip I ended up in the Millersburg hospital until 6:30pm with a child who had an allergic reaction - yikes! We got to Amish country at 8:30am, so yes, that was a long day!)

This Tuesday we went to the zoo, the kids loved it! We've been having 120-130 come on the trips. It's a lot of planning, organizing and coordinating, which explains my elevated hours for July. I love going on the trips though.

Part of my job with RISE is continuing with the educational art programming at the shelters. After we went to the zoo, the next day I had the kids do a monkey project (and snack on animal crackers of course) and they were so darn cute. This was my sample:

 This is what happens when RJ does the grocery shopping. I know we usually eat pretty healthy, but last weekend we just had to make these.

What is the point of eating healthy if you can't splurge every once in awhile anyway?

Monday, July 16, 2012


We've been going for Bike Rides on the Towpath (a beautiful trail close to our house. You can jump on it through multiple parks and it goes all the way to Cleveland! We haven't gone that far..)

 Mary gave me a lemon tree that I love!

 We celebrated July 4th at Chelsey and Trevor's with cornhole, delicious food and family (Harvey included).

We beat the heat by buying a $30 plastic pool from Target. It's been so nice when we can find time to sit in there in the backyard! RJ worked hard blowing it up. I took a few turns too.

I've been helping coordinate our Project RISE summer field trips. The first one was at the Botanical Gardens/Natural History Museum in Cleveland.. saw some beautiful creatures!

On Friday we got to go to a really cool grand opening event for Olive My Heart, a really neat olive oil/balsamic vinegar shop in Hudson. Can you tell we enjoyed it by how many bottles we bought? Don't worry, only two are for us. The rest we're giving away as gifts.

They had some fun cheese/fruit pairings with the different oils and vinegars. The food was delicious! 

On Saturday we celebrated Halley's birthday :

Trevor has RJ hooked on this "Oil of Oregano" stuff. It is pretty interesting.. it's a very strong tasting oil you take a drop a day of and it has some natural health benefits. We got some during our grocery trip.

This picture makes me smile.. so cute.

On Sunday we tried out a diner that was voted #1 breakfast in Akron.. according to RJ it lived up to it's title. I'm not a big breakfast-food person.. but I can tell you their Greek salad is pretty darn good!

Things have been busy lately trying to get things squared away with KidzArt. After August I will take on more hours with Project RISE and no longer be with KidzArt. I love the program but it's been 4 years and I'm ready for a change. I'm training the new people and transitioning out.. it will be a nice change for me!

In the mean time, I'm trying to balance all the hours I'm putting in for my new job. You read above that we're doing our summer field trips, which means during the month of July I'm gone all day on Tuesdays (and spend a good amount of time during the week coordinating!). Tomorrow we're going to Amish country and I have to leave by 6:40am to meet everyone on time.. yikes! I love it though. It will be a fun day with the kids.

More soon!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Father's Day

Last weekend we celebrated Father's Day which is a very special day. Both of us have been blessed with wonderful Fathers and Grandfathers who we love very much.

On Saturday Dad and I went to dinner and to see a local production of Hairspray at the Civic here in Akron. I was coordinating a work event and meeting some of the families we work with there, so he got to see me in action, work-wise.

On Sunday we went to RJ's parents' to celebrate with cornhole, sangria and family - some of my favorite things! Except for the corn hole, I need some practice in that department.

We had shish-kabobs (a lot of them were veggie only which was excellent!) which was the perfect meal. Chelsey made an awesome rice salad with mixed veggies and we brought a good salad too - see below! Halley brought the ingredients for ice cream sundaes which was a great idea.

Nothing better than a fresh veggie salad - our contribution to Sunday's Father's Day Festivities:

Monday was the SAYM golf outing which Dad was coordinating and RJ and his dad were playing in to raise money for the program. Thankfully it didn't rain like it did last year! I helped Mary set up some of the raffle prizes before having to leave to do my Monday evening art program.

We talked about nutrition and made prints with apples and carrots, so cute!

On Tuesday we felt a cyst on Craze's belly about the size of golfball, so it was pretty alarming! RJ took him to the vet and she removed it. They had to shave a good chunk of his belly fur and now he has some staples keeping the wound together.. poor kitty!

RJ had to leave yesterday for a few meetings and a conference in Indiana. Luckily it's a pretty quick drive and he will be back today. He didn't travel at all last week and so far doesn't have anything lined up for next week.

Happy Friday!

Monday, June 11, 2012


A few Saturday's ago RJ and I worked Trevor's Pasta Booth at a local Farmer's Market - it was great!

Usually Chelsey and Trevor both sell pasta on Saturday mornings, but Chels was hosting a baby shower that day so they needed someone to babysit the booth at one of the markets. RJ and I made a good team, I doled out the pasta and RJ impressed customers with his friendly nature and by doing math in his head.

Don't let the sun deceive you - it was so windy that day! We even saw a few other vendors' tents blow over.. crazy.

I've mentioned before we love sitting in our rocking chairs on the porch in the evenings. So do the animals:

Sometimes Harvey and Craze have to fight for lap space.

Last weekend G-mom and G-pop Breece came to Ohio for a days and it was great to see them, as always! Last Sunday was also our 6 year anniversary! We were able to have a nice lunch-date to celebrate before cleaning the house before "inspection" and going to dinner with the family. 

On Monday Gmom, Mary and I had a lovely ladie's lunch and Gmom and I saw the movie 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. It was really cute! 

On Tuesday Gmom and I went to the National First Ladies' Library in Canton. President McKinley and his wife Ida Saxton McKinley had a beautiful home in Canton we were able to tour through. We had a great docent and learned a lot!

The home was truly beautiful and unique. 

This weekend I had one goal in mind - work on the flower beds and plant some herbs! On Saturday we went to a local Greenhouse and picked up a bunch of herbs and some more air-plants for inside.

We I also really wanted to "transplant" (haha) some of the "tall orange flowers" (I think that's the Scientific name) in the front. See how there are a bunch of them on the left side of the house and none on the right side?

 It was bothering us me, so we decided to move some of them over to the other side. RJ dug out a nice little dirt bed to plant them in.

After we were done RJ said: "well you may need to wait a few days to take your after picture.."

I think we may have killed the plants we tried to move. Right now they're all droopy and sad in their new spot. Hopefully they will perk up!

We also needed to clear out the bed in the back where we wanted to plant the herbs. 

We got that bed nice and cleaned out and added some extra soil.  We're starting with 5 herbs and some spicy peppers. There is a lot more room so I'm going to do some research and see what else will grow well in that bed.

On Sunday I went to Toledo with a few of my local blogger friends to attend a blogger meet-up. It was great to meet some of the girls whose blogs I read! You may recognize Jessica, Lyndsey and Stacia from my pictures from the swap here.

The photographer, Kathy, did a great job - she's from Photography by K.

Happy Monday, here's to a great week!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Clothing Swap, etc.

Well after all of our hard work the 330-Swap & Shop was a big success last weekend! We had 4 rounds of about 20 people and were there from 8am – 6pm! Our first round started at noon and we had our vendors swap at 11am, so we were there as early as they would open the doors for us to set up and make sure we had everything ready to go. A Goodwill representative came at 6 to pick up the leftover clothes which was so helpful.

This is Jessica, Lyndsey and Jessie, the three girls I helped coordinate the event with. 

We had drinks, snacks, goodie bags and also an alterations specialist on site to take orders for adjustments on the swapped clothes. We also had girls selling jewelry, Vintage clothes and handmade soaps.

It was a great day and everyone seemed to enjoy it!

The swap was last Sunday and needless to say that weekend was pretty busy. This past long weekend was much needed and one of the best weekends we've had in awhile!

We went on a hike, many walks, a long bike-ride, breakfast dates and even went with Big Reed and Laura to our favorite Indian restaurant. They were so brave to try it with us!

Cooking for a group:

Last week, I hosted a meeting for a group I'm part of, OAFCS (Ohio Association of Family & Consumer Sciences) at our house. We usually meet at Panera but for this meeting I wanted to hold it at our house and I had the crazy idea that I wanted to make dinner for everyone. It wouldn't have been crazy except for the fact that RJ was out of town that day! So I was cleaning and preparing all by myself, which was actually a great learning experience. This may be obvious, but it's so true: do everything you can ahead of time! I made salad, whole wheat pasta with mixed sauteed veggies and toasted almonds, quinoa salad with mixed beans and veggies and fruit salad with whole wheat rolls. There were 6 of us all together, so I had a lot leftover! I figured better safe than sorry and I knew the leftovers wouldn't go to waste! (Now it's almost a week later, they didn't!)

It turned out great and those beautiful purple dahlias above were a gift from the group members. Many of the members are Family & Consumer Sciences teachers (they teach the home ec., child development, financial planning, lifeskills, etc. classes) and some of us are like myself, who have FCS degrees and use them in other ways. It's a great group of people!

Tonight I did an art project with the girls from South Akron Youth Mentorship, the group that my dad is very instrumental in coordinating and RJ volunteers with on Monday nights. We did a summer scratch-art project, they did a great job!

Tomorrow I am going into the RISE office. It is so nice to have RJ at home again! He only has two 5-day conference or tradeshows a year, and last week was one of them. This week he isn't traveling at all which is nice! He usually only has to go a night or two every other week, so we're not used to long trips! Thank goodness for cell phones.