Thursday, January 24, 2013

DIY Tutorial: Crate-Tag

In an effort to de-clutter and organize myself in the resolutionary month of January, I attacked my craft cabinet over the weekend.  Wouldn't you know that a little doo-dad piece of wood that I bought all the way back in the summer was hiding in there?  I intentionally bought the little wood-slab dink thingamajigger back in August to make Harry a name tag for his crate.  Other projects took over and it was forgotten, so I immediately utilized my discovery for its intended purpose!

I gathered my materials for my project haphazardly.  You'll need that little wooden slab, which was in the basic wood crafts aisle of AC Moore for about 50 cents.  Also, some wood stain, a brush or sponge to apply said stain, paint to write your fur-friend's name, and if you want to attach your sign like I did you'll need a tiny drill bit to make holes in your sign.  The drill bit cost me about $5 at the local hardware store, but you might get it cheaper at Lowes or Home Depot.  Not pictured are a rag for wiping stain, a drill (duh), and a working surface (newspaper, cardboard, something to protect your surfaces). 
First, you'll need to drill little holes in the corner of your sign.  Attach the drill bit to your drill and line up the holes you want to drill evenly on both sides.  Be careful not to choose a spot too close to the edge that might snap your wood.  Drill and apply pressure until you go all the way through.

Place your wood (bahaha) on a protected working surface and paint wood stain on with a brush.  Follow your stain instructions, but for mine I let it sit for a few minutes. 

Use a rag to wipe the excess stain from the wood.  I've been using one of the boo's unmatched socks for my recent staining projects.  Make sure to dispose of your soiled rags appropriately...apparently stain soaked rags are extremely flammable. 

After the stain is dry, proceed to paint your fur-baby's name.  I used puffy paint.  In hindsight, I probably could have gotten a really nice rustic effect making Harry's sign authentic and shabby chic by using a brush and stencil.  But I have been extremely impatient as of late, and I didn't want to spend time cutting a stencil out with an exacto knife.  Sorry Harry.  You got puffy paint.

Once dry, secure the sign outside of the crate using twist ties or wire.  I used some leftover wire from making these bird nest necklaces for X-mas.  Following this step, convince your baby to crawl into the crate and pose for pictures.  Maybe do this by baiting with a tennis ball, promising loads of treats, and repetitively saying "dinner?". 

So far, the sign has resisted chewing, so I think Harry likes it.  What Harry doesn't like is spending more than 8 hours of sleep over night in his crate.  Notice on the right in the above picture?  That was once a Nylabone that Harry has chiseled into what I call his prison shank.  I speculate that one night he's going to stab one of the guards (aka me or the boo) with his nyla-shank and break out of his crate. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow in the Country

This past weekend Harry joined my family and I for a trip up to our family's wooded hideaway, Kimrie Pines.  Nestled in the country, two and a half hours up north, it was a decent road trip for Harry.  For two and a half hours I held him through his nausea, anxiety, sporadic farts, and loads of involuntary drooling.  Once we arrived, there was white stuff on the ground that Harry wasn't familiar with.  After some thoughtful sniffing and his fur-cousin showing him the ropes, Harry discovered that the white stuff is super fun.

After hours of playing in the snow with his fur-cousin Jager (a handsomely humongous German Shepherd), the two slowed down for some snow investigation.  Harry wasn't giving snow much thought besides running in it, but Jager the snow-pig liked to roll in it, eat it, and bury his face in it.  Not a big fan of getting entirely wet, Harry settled for tasting snow, and eventually showed off by catching snowballs in his mouth.

Harry learned about sledding from his human-cousin and about making snowmen from his human-Aunt.  He also had his first snow hike when he followed me off into the woods for a walk.  Not on our property, but on others nearby, hunting is legal.  There were several instances of the echo of a shotgun which put Harry's danger sensors on alert.  It was like watching Bambi's mom when they got too close to the "meadow".  Of course we were perfectly safe, but watching Harry's pointing instincts, holding one foot off the ground was entertaining.  Surprisingly, and to my delight, Harry stuck by me without his leash on.  Part of me was expecting him to run wild but he stayed close, inspected a few yards ahead of me, and then came back or waited for me to catch up. 

Playing for hours in the snow didn't tire Harry out completely.  He still spent plenty of time afterwards playing hide and seek with his human cousin, pretending to be the evil frog guard of the frog princess castles (my niece's intense story lines), and getting on the nerves of Jager.  Our drive home was much calmer since Harry couldn't keep himself awake to get nauseous.  He did however, blast a toot every time my Dad hit the brakes or pulled a sharp turn probably out of anxiety.  This made for a chilly ride home as the windows rolled down every ten minutes to clear the air of Harry's rancid nerve farts.  Our visit tired Harry out for about a day and half, as he spent the majority of Sunday sleeping in his now flattened out destroyed bed and the couch.  Since there's been a forecast of snow later this week, we might be able to have a chance to play in the white stuff without the road trip of gas and drool!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Doggy-Deals:'s Pet Thursdays

Did you know that 81% of pet owners consider their fur-babies members of the family?  And 58% call themselves Mommy & Daddy?  And that 77% buy their fur-babies birthday gifts?  Well according to a Kelton research study posted in USA Today I am guilty on all accounts.  When my co-workers talk about their human babies getting sick, I relate by telling them about Harry's latest crazy colored poo.  Maybe I'm a whack-a-doo, but I see no harm in treating my Harry dog like a child.  I'm not pushing him around in a stroller like the lady down the block does with her pint size Shitzu, but I am being a good Mom. 

That said, I find it extremely hard to not buy every single thing that comes in my inbox on's "Pet Thursdays".  I guess it's because I'm just such a good Mom, heh.  Often times I use their advertisements as inspiration to make something similar for Harry, but there are some things that even I can't craft or come up with.  For example...
Yes, there is wine for dogs.  I've seen beer for dogs, and ice cream for dogs, but this is the first wine I've come across.  Direct from Yappy Hour Vineyards, (doesn't that make you giggle?) Char-dog-nay is an alcoholic free wine that you pour over your pooch's dry food for a fancy treat.  Other varieties include Grrrrr-lot, Pinot Tailio, and Bark-deaux.  The ingredients aren't real wine based - because as all dog owners should know grapes are fatal to pups.  Instead they're composed of chicken bouillon, garlic powder, and water.  I really just want a bottle of this to display in my wine rack and get laughs.  I'm already picturing my waitress-days' wine presentation to Harry over his bowl.
Every harness, leash, and leader I come across claims to be "pull-free".  I doubt such a miraculous tool really exists, but the Bungee Puppy Leash above claims to relieve you from dislocated shoulders by adding an elasticity between you and beast that still makes him feel tugged back while providing shock absorption for your non-elastic arms.  The leashes come in sizes small, medium, and large based on your dog's weight.  The heavier your dog, the more bungee strength necessary.  As an alternative to choke collars and those freedom leashes that let your dog zoom off with the click of a button, I think this might do the trick with Harry.  Alas, I bought that abdominal electric shocking tool when it came out, so perhaps I can be sold on any idea.
Extemely cute, but not terribly affordable, The Life of Ryley offers fashionable accessories for both humans and their dogs.  I'm a sucker for their cross stitch variety, but the Rugby Collar above on sale at for $26 hurts the wallet a little less than the original prices of $34 on their website.  Because I like to change Harry's collars out seasonally, I doubt I'll end up investing much into Ryley's wardrobe, but I'm loving the preppy style.  The above gives you a little bang for your buck considering it's enhanced with leather.  And now I kind of really want it...

Harry shredded one of our IKEA pillows a few weeks ago, spreading feathers and what I'm assuming he thought was magical joy all over our living room.  It was shocking considering how much Harry loves fluffy things.  His couch position usually is on top of two to three pillows, snuggled up into a comforter.  And when we travel, Harry is best in the car when laying on a pile of folded towels.  The above dog pillow retails to dog-lovers and dogs alike, and it actually matches our living room quite nicely.  The retailer, BumperPet, sells handmade accessories for fur and non-fur friends out of their online store, but is featured on on sale.  This pillow goes for $27, normally $32.  Not a crazy discount but it's something.  BumperPet also makes custom pillows by breed.  Sadly, Harry only fits into the "DOG" category since he's a muttly mutt.

FYI, I'm posting all these awesome pet products because I like them, not because I'm getting paid to...although that would be a SWEET bonus.  If you know anybody who wants to give me money for blogging about their dog products, send me a line.  In the meantime, Harry and I will lust after the aforementioned.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bad Dog

The routine goes like this: boo and I are woken up by Harry around 6am (usually boo awakes because I sleep like a rock) and Harry is taken out for a potty break, then given freedom to roam.  Harry usually chews a bone and settles into the couch for another snooze.  Around 7am or so, Harry goes for a walk or a run with his Mom, gets lots of treats and then settles back into the couch for a snooze.  At 8:30, Harry is coaxed to his crate with toys and treats and he takes yet another snooze. 

Around lunchtime boo or I will go home and pay Harry a visit, give him a pee break, feed him lunch, and take him for a walk.  It's at this time that we've started to attempt the trust game with Harry.  He'll be in the crate half the day and the second half he can roam free.  We make sure we hide most valuable items just in case.

Harry proved he's not 100% trustworthy last night when I came home to his bed ripped to shreds all over the first floor.  He proudly trotted over the stuffing and shredded fabric as if they were surprise gifts to me.
When I didn't joyfully greet Harry or say much he started to get concerned.  "What?  Can't you appreciate my art?" he said with his eyes.  Then I saw that he had nibbled on a corner of the carpet as well.  "Harry," I said seriously, "you are a BAD dog".  He had ripped off the bottom lining of his bed and the inside stuffing that made it a cushion and spread the contents everywhere.  "Look Mom; look the bed still works, it's still a bed!" Harry pleaded as he crawled into his flattened donut.  But it was too late.  I had already decided he needed to be shamed.
After a tortuous and crazy lady lecture from me about how disappointed I was that Harry disobeyed my trust (yes, this really happened...I know he listens) Harry cowered into his deflated bed.  I changed into running clothes and started dinner, giving Harry ample time for a nice sulk.
Hopefully Harry has learned his lesson.  Before you pass judgement, his punishment was over when he let out a big disturbing fart after our run while sitting quietly waiting for me to take his leash off.  I'm a sucker for potty humor, and we spent the rest of the night posing like couch potatoes, watching Breaking Bad.

It just goes to show, Harry is still not an adult.  Although coming home to a big mess takes my breath away (not Top Gun style) it's really fun to look back at the pictures of it and laugh.  Bonus points for an "I'm sorry" toot afterwards.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DIY Tutorial: Easy Treat Platter

Even though I am a pinterest fiend, I had yet to attempt the creation of a cake platter, serving tray, or in this case "treat platter" that floods pin boards.  This project was beyond easy.  After a pit stop at Jinxed in The Piazza at Schmidt's on food truck night, I picked up this sweet plate for only $2.  Jinxed is a flea market condensed into a small store, that's open every day.  It's tricky to navigate, but when you've got a craving to ravage through old stuff, Jinxed is your fix.  I had no idea what I was going to do with my new plate treasure, but I liked that it was my favorite color (green) and had a bunch of Philadelphia landmarks on it. 

Then, on a whim while picking up a last minute X-mas gift at Ikea I picked up this candlestick holder shown bottom right.  What's the purpose of candlestick holders if you're not using them in arts and crafts?  Does anybody honestly set out long stem candles in fancy candlesticks at dinner?  Obviously I don't, so I used my two assets to make one fancy platter.  
For this project, I used my two purchases described above and leftover caulk from my backsplash project last summer.  Since the caulk was good for adhering to ceramic, I thought it would work nicely on my plate.  However, you could probably substitute any strong adhesive for your platter. 

Carefully trace the top of your candlestick holder with your adhesive.  Be generous, but not overly so, as it will squeeze out the sides once it's stuck onto the plate.

Flip your plate upside down and find its center.  Then adhere the candlestick holder to the plate and press.  Wipe any excess adhesive with your fingers or a cloth.
After 24 hours of drying time, your platter is complete! 

Harry was very patient with me in taking pictures of his savory delicious wonderful treats on the platter while he sat in the background.  But he couldn't contain himself for long...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Day at the Dog Park: Schuylkill Banks

Schuylkill Banks dog park was the very first park we took Harry to - you may remember him being run over by bassett hound mix, Dudley.  Though it was the most convenient of dog parks in Philadelphia as far as distance goes, we'd often end up having to bathe Harry afterwards and soak his harness overnight to get rid of the caked on dirt and dust that accumulated during his romps.  Then suddenly, the dog park disappeared and a new one popped up in what seemed like a month later! 
There's Mom & Dad!

 The newly re-habbed dog park is uber-chic with turf aka K9 Grass instead of dirt, meaning Harry doesn't have to be banned from the couch after a day of play.  A wall of concrete borders the turf where mommies and daddies can sit and watch their kids play.  Beware, because dogs with super jumping powers do and will jump up on the wall and get into the garden area behind.  Please accept my apologies if Harry was the said super powered dog.  

Getting to knowww you, getting to know all about you
Our particular visit occurred the day of the unveiling of the Schuykill Banks/University City bridge.  Crowds gathered to watch the Philadelphia Parks Commission open the bridge, beginning a 5k, and a festival.  The park housed a plethora of pups both big and small, quick and slow.  Harry got the park all riled up when he showed off his speed, unnerving parents and dogs alike.  We're still working on dog park manners, but how can you resist this handsome guy? 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who Am I?

Harry looked at me the other day and said "Mom, who am I?"  I said back "I don't know".  "I guess I have a lot to ponder" Harry digressed.  Being an adoptee must be hard, not knowing your parents and having zero family history.  And in Harry's case being separated from your brother and sister.  I actually can't talk about it out loud without getting verklempt.  But after bumping into a stranger while running with Harry I discovered a peek into Harry's true identity, the possibility of him being part of a Southern species not prevalent in the Northeast.

Harry is maxing out at around 40 pounds, but he's maintained his fuzzy beard and his chestnut brindle stripes.  He's too small to be a pit bull and he doesn't have the muzzle of a boxer, which are two breeds that are commonly brindle.  Our stranger enlightened us to a breed we've never heard of, the Plott Hound.

Per Wikipedia, Johannes Plott emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1750.  He brought a few wild boar hounds with him, now known as Plott Hounds.  They had been bred for generations for their stamina and gameness.  Johannes Plott and his family settled in the mountains of western North Carolina, which is where Harry was adopted from!

Harry shares some of the traits of the breed in personality: being fast, having endless endurance, and he does the same kind of "talking" that Plotts do.  However, he very much seeks the attention of every single thing around him, while Plotts generally ignore other dogs.  There also isn't any mention of Plott Hounds being snuggle monsters, but this might be a case of nurture over nature for Harry.

It was exciting to get a glimpse into a breed that Harry very much resembles.  As far as family history goes, maybe Harry doesn't know anything about where he came from or who his brothers and sisters are.  What he does know is that I'm his Mom and the boo is his Dad and life is much better compared to being an abandoned pup in a shelter.  With that I left Harry with the words of Zoolander's Hansel, "The results are in amigo...what's left to ponder?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Harry!

2012 was quite a year for me.  Harry joined my family, we climbed Machu Picchu, started a blog, and I finished my second marathon.  I've also learned a great deal about myself and what's important to me, and I hope to bring this knowledge into 2013.  Of course, 2013 will also be an opportunity to try lots of new things, of which I'm very excited to share.  New Year's Eve was spent at a small neighborhood get together with the theme of glitter and bow-ties.  Although we didn't bring Harry, he still dressed up in theme.
Since I wouldn't be able to kiss Harry at midnight, we practiced our best New Year's Eve kiss pre-party.  As we left I told Harry that I'd "see him next year".  He got very concerned and I had to explain to him that it was just a phrase and we'd actually see him in three hours. 
The best part of our NYE party was that our friends painted an entire wall with chalkboard paint and designated it to New Year's resolutions.  Although it ended up becoming vulgar and inappropriate thanks to alcohol, it was a great conversation starter.
I feel that resolutions are a peak into one's vulnerability.  Basically, you're announcing something that you can't do, or a goal you haven't yet achieved, or a weakness you see in yourself that you need to work on.  This is probably why everyone resolution-izes three beers deep.
This year I'm hoping to put more effort into my Etsy store, and possibly set myself up at a craft fair, arts festival, or neighborhood flea market with some of my "wares".  Actually this past week I've posted a few items for sale - check them out on the "Store" tab.  Of course I want to make sure I blog better too, on a consistent and regular basis. 

Unfortunately, Harry didn't make it to midnight but he woke up when we came home and in spirit of the holiday spent the night in our bed.  Harry's resolution is to get better at ball mouth coordination...we've gotten to about a 5 foot distance where he can catch in the air.  We're so excited to see what the new year will bring us!