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Fun Mini Holiday Gift Guide for your Pampered Furry Family Member!

Happy Holiday Season!  It is already that time of year!  Since our furry family members cannot be forgotten at the Holidays, below are some fun furry family member gift ideas that we love!

 

 

1. Filson Dog Leash – We got Victory this leash for Christmas, in the natural color, to match her fur, and we really like it!  We even had her initials engraved on the leash as well!

2. Orvis Tweed Dog Coat  – We got Victory this dog coat for Christmas and we really love the color and quality of this coat for cooler weather!  (This coat also comes in a hunter green color for male furry family members).

3. Harry Barker Dog Toys – We love the Harry Barker dog toys, especially the rope toys.  They are made of good quality materials and they last for a while.  Victory loves working her way through the rope toys!

4. Zuke’s Mini Naturals — These mini natural treats are fantastic!  Victory absolutely loves them!  And, the good news, is they are tiny and not too many calories per treat!

5. Dandy Design Personalized by Breed Dog Ornament — We love these ornaments.  They are great quality, handmade, and they come in all breed types (including different fur colors) and they come in a variety of scenes!  We have one for Victory and Biscuit for our Christmas tree!

6. Helen Levi Custom Dog Bowls – We got Victory a new water bowl in pink, with her name, for her birthday, and it works really well, while keeping her water cold!

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Monday!

Helping a Grieving Friend


 

Patrick O’Malley, a grief therapist, who lost his infant son, wrote a beautiful  Modern Love essay a few years ago.  Also, somewhat recently, he came out with the book Getting Grief Right about how each person’s grief experience is different — and everyone’s story is worth telling.  Below is his insightful advice…

What NOT to say

O’Malley points out that these sayings imply that there is timetable for grief:
“Time heals all wounds”
“You have to move on”
“Grief happens in stages”
“I hope you find closure”

These next phrases, he points out, are by-products of a culture that rewards positivity:
“He wouldn’t want you to be sad”
“It’s important to stay busy and productive”
“This will make you stronger”
“You have your whole life ahead of you”
“At least you’re young enough to have another child/remarry”

What to do and say

Here are some of O’Malley’s wonderful ideas of ways to help a grieving friend:
–Simply say, “I’m very sorry.”
–Bring a meal on the two-month anniversary of a death.
–Send an email to say you were thinking about the grieving person or the one they lost.
–When you are with the bereaved person, say the name of the one they lost.
–Do not assume there is a timeline to grief.  An email a year after a loss could be more meaningful than one a week later.
–Remember the bereaved on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or any day that you know has special meaning.
–Offer to visit, but always let the choice be that of the bereaved person.  Offer, “I completely understand if the timing is not good.”
–Be curious about the grieving person’s relationship to the one they lost.
–Bring up your own memories.
–Offer to listen to a grieving person’s story.  A bereaved person might be looking for a safe set of ears, a place for the story to land.
–Above all, make sure he/she knows that the one they lost has not been forgotten.

In the memoir Lament for a Son, a professor writes about the loss of his 25-year-old son, who died in a mountain climbing accident, which gave a true description of grief: “Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote.  The answer is, No.  The wound is no longer raw.  But it has not disappeared.  That is as it should be.  If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.  Grief is existential testimony to the world of the one loved.  That worth abides.  So I own my grief.  I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it…Every lament is a love song.”

Also, from Anne Lamott: “Death; wow.  So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die.  You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to.  We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times.  But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you.  All truth is a paradox.  Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you.  Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk.”

This video, Moving On, from Ainslie Henderson is so heartbreakingly beautiful and worth watching…

 

The Wisdom of Sundays

 

 

Have you heard about the new book, The Wisdom of Sundays, by Oprah, which shares excerpts and quotes from her Super Soul Sunday interviews over the years?  I received this book a few weeks ago, and it is really good.  Below I am sharing some of my favorite quotes from this book.

“We have this immense interior life inside of us.  We can call it the life of the soul.  Poets and mystics and people have been trying to figure out what two call this for a long time.  But there is an inner silence in it.  And there is an incredible mystery floating in it.  This is where the divine lives in us.”  — Sue Monk Kidd

“‘Am I living the life that I can admire?  Am I going to leave this earth a place where it’s a little more than just what it was?’  Those are my values.  And never giving up.  And finding a way through obstacles.  And finding grit and will.  Those are what I value.”  — Diana Nyad

“The best way to be in the present moment is to be aware that you’re not in the moment.  As soon as you’re aware that you’re not in the moment, you’re in the moment.”  — Deepak Chopra

“All you have to do is breathe mindfully and recognize the feeling.  You recognize the situation and help yourself not be overwhelmed by the negative feeling like fear and anxiety.”  — Thich Nhat Hanh

“You will forgive because you love yourself so much that you don’t want to keep hurting yourself for whatever happened.  Whatever happened is done and cannot be changed.  And we have to accept that and keep going with our life.”  — Don Miguel Ruiz

“In the depth of loss, I found out who I really was.  I began to trust who I was.  I began to find a genuine me that could withstand anything.  And if we fight those times and fight the bud opening, we live half a life.  But when we open into our brokenness. that’s when we blossom.”  — Elizabeth Lesser

“Sometimes when we wake up to spirituality, and you’ve seen it everywhere, the you-know-what hits the fan.  And everything falls apart.  Those are the moments when we get to work. These are not the moments when we drink.  Those are not the moments when we go back to the addiction.  Those are the moments that we get to work.  Because those moments are showing up to help you show up.  Pay attention to the assignments that are coming to you, and show up for them!  Everything comes up so it can be healed.”  — Gabrielle Bernstein

“Acceptance.  Accept the fact of the hour.  The fact of the mile.  The fact of the summer.  The facts of my life.  And over and over again, I found that if I could do that, everything else sort of gave way.  And it led me into the next step, the next thing that was going to reveal itself.  And I think that is such a powerful and important thing.”  — Cheryl Strayed

“Begin to notice what you have in your life that you are grateful for and what you look at life through the lens of gratitude, you don’t see as many obstacles and hindrances.  You see potential, you see possibilities.  Then you become an open vehicle for more inspiration, more wisdom, more guidance, coming from the spiritual part of your being.”  — Michael Bernard Beckwith

“Many of us think that in order to find our passion, we have to look outside of ourselves.  But I’ve learned that the secret, ironically, to finding your passion is to start by bringing passion to everything you do.  And I do mean everything.  So no matter what ask is in front of you, bring as much enthusiasm and energy to it as you possibly can.”  — Marie Forleo

“Everybody has a calling.  Your real job in life is to figure out why you are here and get about the business of doing it.”  — Oprah

“The soul is your mother ship.  So when you’re sailing in the same direction that it wants to go, your life fills with meaning and purpose.  And when you sail in another direction, it empties of meaning and purpose.”  — Gary Zukav

“The will is so undefinable and can push you so far beyond.  I’ve has sports scientists, the best of them, write me and say, ‘I’m sorry to tell you, this is humanity impossible.’  And I write back to them, ‘You have no idea then.  You’re just doing your little studies on what the heart can do, and what the lungs can do.  I’m talking to you about what the spirit can do, and that’s not measurable.’  The spirit is larger than the body.  Find a way.”  — Diana Nyad

“I believe we all have unlimited possibilities to become pretty much anything we want because I believe you’re not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it.”  — Jack Canfield

“We are busier than any other generation we have seen in the last three to four hundred years.  We are so busy.  And we think because we’re busy, we’re effective.  But I want you to challenge your schedule for a minute and ask yourself, are you really being effective, or is your life cluttered with all kinds of stuff that demands you, and drains you, and taxes you, and stops you from being are you substituting busyness and all the chaos that goes along with busyness for being effective?”  — Bishop T.D. Jakes

“Intelligence counts for only 25 percent of our job success; 75 percent of our successes in life — and not just about jobs but within the working world — 75 percent of what causes our kids to be successful, causes us to be successful, is not about our intelligence and technical skills.  It’s how we process the world.  It’s our optimism.  Like the belief that our behavior really matters.”  — Shawn Achor

“When I was a kid, my father used to say to me all the time, ‘The only limit to your success is your own imagination.’  And I took that as not just being financial success or work success.  I took that as being every kind of success — love and family and emotional and everything.  The only limit to your success is your own imagination.  Whatever your can imagine is possible.”  — Shondra Rhimes

“Nobody but nobody makes it out here alone.  What really matters now is love.  I mean, that condition in the human spirit that is so profound it allows us to rise.  Strength, love, courage, love, kindness, love, that is really what matters.  There has always been evil and there will always be evil.  But there has always been good, and there is good now.”  — Dr. Maya Angelou

“The secret to long marriage is she was the right person.  And we decided fairly early in our life to give each other plenty of space.  Rosalynn has her own ideas, her own ambitions, her own goals in life, which, in some ways, are different from mine.  I let her do her thing.  She lets me do my thing.  And we try to resolve our inevitable and fairly frequent differences before we go to bed at night.”  — President Jimmy Carter

“If you’re going to love somebody, you have to learn to be patient with their strengths and with their weaknesses.  Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best.”  — Pastor Wintley Phipps

“Whatever you do in life . . . remember . . . think higher, and feel deeper.  Life is not a fist.  Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it in friendship.  Ultimately, the answers are so simple.  Not simplistic, but so simple.”  — Elie Wiesel

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  I cannot believe how quickly the time is flying by that it is already time for Halloween!  Victory was a fifties girl last year; a lioness two years ago; a butterfly three years ago; a ladybug for her first Halloween, four years ago; and, this year, she is Wonder Woman, shown below!  You can see over the past four years how much Victory has changed!  Victory will help us hand out candy tonight in her costume, along with her pumpkin masterpieces carved by Doug, also shown below.  Doug spent a few hours carefully and diligently working on his Halloween friendly ghost-themed pumpkin!  Additionally, here are links to pumpkins carved by Doug last yeartwo years agothree years agofour years ago; and five years ago — mostly all dog-themed pumpkins!

We hope that you all have a wonderful Halloween!

 

 

 

Around Here: October

Happy October!  October is one of our favorite months of the year, and we cannot believe it is almost coming to an end!  This month literally flew by.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in October!

-still working on finishing final edits, which are very tedious, and continuing to work on the next steps concerning my long-term photography project.

-Doug and I celebrated 9 years of marriage!

-to celebrate our anniversary, we took a trip, with Victory, to the Shenandoah Valley!  We had a wonderful time together!

-we celebrated Victory’s sixth birthday, commemorating her four years with us since her adoption from the Michigan Sheltie Rescue!  We had a gold, white/ivory, with a splash of champagne themed birthday this year!

-we are excited to celebrate Halloween next week!  Doug has his plan for carving our annual pumpkin; and Victory, shown below, is going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween this year — we truly believe she is our wonder girl!

-started back at yoga class this month, which has been great!

-enjoying date nights together!  Doug and I are aiming to try at least one new restaurant a month to expand our horizons!  This month we tried Sweet Nolas in Winchester, Virginia.

-enjoying time together outside.  We have been taking more walks outside during the evenings, when it is cooler, and Victory still loves the walks while she rides in her Hound About!

-continuing to work on getting fine art prints made, framed, and hung in our home, an ongoing endeavor!

-began the second season of Fortitude, a good series.

-finished reading Cultivate by Lara Casey.

-listening to a myriad of podcasts, especially, at the gym and on walks!

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!

 

 

Victory: A Birthday Celebration — 6 years!

On October 12 it marked four years since we adopted our dear little Victory!  We decided to make October 12 Victory’s birthday — the day we went to Michigan and adopted our sweet fur girl.

We recently celebrated Victory’s birthday marking her four years with us since her adoption!  This year, for Victory’s birthday, we did a gold, white/ivory, with a splash of champagne in honor of Victory’s beautiful fur coat!  (As shown below, last year, we did a light pink and gold themed birthday; two years ago we did a pink themed birthday and three years ago, we did rainbow themed birthday for Victory!)  We purchased some fun gold and white/ivory themed decorations, balloons, confetti, party hat, and new ivory sweater for Victory in honor of her birthday!  Victory also enjoyed prime rib and smoked turkey in lieu of birthday cake, which she gobbled down in no time flat!  Victory looked absolutely adorable on her birthday, as always, shown below!  (She is always so cooperative with my ideas, and Doug blew up every single balloon and helped to keep Victory’s attention during the photos!)  She had a fun birthday and she enjoyed being over fed along with a trip to the Eastern Shore for crabs!  We are the lucky ones to share our lives with this wonderful, loyal, and loving being.

For Victory’s birthday, we gave her a new: ivory sweater; a custom, handmade ceramic dog water bowl; an Orvis embroidered name blanket; a Jax and Bones rope toy; and a Ware of the Dog toy!  Victory also received, for her birthday, a water rover and a gift card from her Grandma and Grandpa Carver!  We all had a great day together!

(All birthday decorations are via Oh Happy Day and Sweet Lulu.)

 

 

 

 

 


 

A look back at Victory’s birthday time over the years…

 

 

If you are considering getting a dog, I hope that you consider adopting a rescue dog.  There are so many dogs in need of a good, loving home.  As shown below, Victory, a rescue, has changed so much physically and emotionally over the years since we adopted her, pictured on the left (image from Victory’s foster mom via the Michigan Sheltie Rescue).  You really can save a dog’s life, while simultaneously enriching your own life/lives.

 

Loving: Fall 2017

Happy fall!  We are happy to be in the season of fall, a season of harvest!  Below are the items I am loving, so far, this fall!

 

 

1. Get To Work Book – I love this annual planner/work book.  I always like to keep a paper planner versus using an app, iPhone, etc.  I have this planner all ready to go for next year and I love the extra pages included as well for notes, big projects, etc.  So, if you prefer keeping a paper planner, I highly recommend The Get To Work Book, which offers much more space (pages) than a traditional planner and it is a perfect size!

2. Align Crop Pant, Lululemon  – I love these pants; and I live in them — they are the most comfortable pants I own!  I cannot say enough good things about these crop pants, which are wonderful for working out, yoga class, and for wearing around the house!  Also, there are some nice, new colors available this season as well!

3. Satya Jewelry – I somewhat recently discovered this line of jewelry.  The style is quite simple, elegant, and inspirational, while created with global consciousness.

4. Jeni’s Ice Cream — We first came across Jeni’s ice cream in Charleston when we were on vacation this summer.  This ice cream is delicious and we get it at our local Wegmans!  The Brown Butter Almond Brittle is one of my favorites.  And there is a new scoop shop in D.C., which is much closer to home!  (You can find a local grocer who sells Jeni’s ice cream here.)

5. Signature Candle, Magnolia — I love candles, and we generally have them lit around the house when we are home.  I especially love the Magnolia signature candle.  It smells really wonderful!

6. Mrs. Meyers Soap – My normal dish soap was out at the store, so I decided to try Mrs. Meyers lavender dish soap — it smells great and it is a keeper!

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Thursday!

#FindYourFido: Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

It is the #FindYourFido Adopt a Shelter Dog Month via the ASPCA!  Anyone who has been reading this blog, for any length of time, knows that dog rescue is near and dear to our hearts.  Victory is a rescue and Biscuit was a rescue.  So, when the ASPCA asked if we could share in this campaign, we were happy to participate and help spread the word about this important topic.

How can you get involved?  The public can get involved by visiting here and by using the hashtag, #FindYourFido, to promote shelter dogs, and searching for local adoptable dogs across the country.

Outlined below are two ways that you can get involved:

1. Post a Photo: You can post a photo of your pet looking adorable and share why dog adoption is important to you, along with this social media language like this: “Visit ASPCA.org/FindYourFido to join the adoption movement and help shelter dogs around the country!  #FindYourFido @ASPCA.”

 

 

2. Fido Cutout, “Virtual Foster”: Additionally, the ASPCA can also send you a cardboard cutout of Fido and you can be a “virtual foster” by posting photos of him (with or without your pet) on social media.  Below are a few samples of the cardboard cutout and here is some social media language you can use along with your image of the Fido “virtual foster:” “This is Fido, an ambassador for shelter dogs around the country.  Visit ASPCA.org/FindYourFido to find out how you can help! #FindYourFido @ASPCA.”

 

 

 

*All images (except for the image of Victory) contained in this blog post are courtesy of the ASPCA.

Photographs: Shenandoah Valley

This past weekend we took a long weekend trip to the Shenandoah Valley with our fur girl, Victory, to celebrate our anniversary along with Victory’s birthday!  Doug found a dog friendly pumpkin patch and animal farm, Hill High Farm, located in Virginia, for us to get this year’s pumpkins!  Doug is still figuring out what he is going to carve on our pumpkin for Halloween this year!  (Speaking of pumpkins, can you spot little Victory in the pumpkin below?)  We also went to Black Draft, a dog friendly distillery in West Virginia where we had a private tour and tasting!  We also took Victory to Zaxby’s in Winchester, Virginia, which she loved!  We all love Zaxby’s and we wish one was located closer to our home.  We first learned of Zaxby’s while we were in Charleston earlier this summer.  Victory got a Kiddie Finger meal, shown below.  (Of course, she just had some of the chicken, which she loved.)  We also spent some time in Old Town Winchester, which had some cute shops to pursue.  Through a friend’s recommendation, we found an excellent cajun, authentic New Orleans restaurant, Sweet Nola’s, where Victory got her own chicken and rice bowl on the house, which she actually ate at the restaurant, which is a first!  The food was delicious!  We enjoyed our time away together; and a few images from our trip are shown below.  We hope to return again!

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Years In

Nine years of marriage.  13 years together.  You are my favorite human being.  Life without you would be totally unfathomable.  You are the most supportive and patient person I have ever met.   I admire your character, steadfast patience, and your kindness that you show to everyone.  Most of all, you are my very best friend.  You are the greatest gift of my life, and each day spent with you is truly a gift.  I look forward to many, many more years together, knowing that we can get through anything together.  Happy anniversary, my love!