Monday Musings: On decor, dog-shaming and old wives’ tales.

Good Monday to you.

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My family is refurbishing our beach house, albeit a bit late in the season. I don’t consider myself especially good at decorating — I don’t have the patience or vision to pick out knick-knacks and accessories, all those little items that make a room look finished. But I learned one important thing about myself: I’m much better at it when it’s someone else’s money. When I’m not grimacing at the $80 pillow or the $200 difference in a panel vs. sleigh bed, I can bring fabrics and colors and textures together like nobody’s business. My house though? Still an embarrassing “work in progress,” after five years.

I joined Instagram this week. As if I needed another social media site to monitor. I’m way over Facebook, am sporadic on Twitter but can Pinterest like a champ. Apparently Instagram is the wave of the future, though. All I know is that I have no idea what I’m doing. But, come. Be my friend. I can promise you way too many dog-shaming pictures of Ollie, like this one. Continue reading

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Culinary Cousins: Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti

Oliver and I recently lost a dear friend. And we expressed our condolences in the best way I know how — with baked goods.

Read all about it: Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti

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Monday Musings: On pets, peeves and Downton Abbey.

Some things on my mind this Monday:
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This week, I officially cut over to southandsundry.com, so be sure to update your bookmarks. If you want to receive my posts by email, just enter your email address in the field under “Email Subscription” (above on the right) and click “Follow.”

Speaking of blogs, the reader stats for this site tell me how all of you find me — what country you live in, what websites you come from, and even search terms you use to find me. This week, I got a good chuckle. One of you searched for “yellow fever vaccination if only stopping in dakar to refuel” and landed on my blog. Ha, I feel your pain. My advice: always get the vaccine! Better safe than very, very sorry.

For awhile now, I’ve felt that something’s off with Oliver. He’s seemed, only at times, uncomfortable and unnaturally sensitive about his back end. I’ll spare you the saga, but for nearly a year we’ve endured numerable vet visits, specialists (including a brush with a $1,000 colonoscopy), food trials and medicines and supplements of all sorts. I now give him more powder and crushed pills than food. Well, I exaggerate … but only a bit. Last weekend, I finally learned that his pelvis is out of alignment. He was likely born that way, but soon we’re off to the doggie chiropractor. Heck, I need one too.

Here’s Pet Peeve #87: Servers who clear plates before everyone at the table has finished eating. Is that rude, or am I old fashioned? (Or both?)

Did you watch the finale episode of “Downton Abbey” last night? (Shhh! I haven’t yet.) I’m proud that everyone’s gotten into the series, but I’m a little mad at all of you who just discovered it. Back when season 1 was airing, I could buy the DVDs for a steal at $19.99. Now that it’s a phenomenon, season 3 is $39.99. Curse you, economics!

Life with a scaredy cat. Um, dog.

I don’t know about all of you but it’s been storming here like crazy. Thunderstorms every day at 4:00 p.m.

Not that I’m complaining, because it must be keeping Charlotte out of The Great Drought of 2012 that’s gripping the rest of the country. And I do love a good thunderstorm. (When inside though, not running through it with sopping shoes and clinging, wet hair while lightning cracks above me and hail pounds the pavement. Hey, we’ve all been there at some point.)

It’s been raining cats and dogs, you could say, which brings me to Oliver.

Oh, Oliver, love of my life. (Sorry, Raleigh). He came to me at a time when I needed something and someone to take care of, and though he keeps me on my toes (and money flying out of my purse), he’s made life funnier, more joyful and so full. I love coming home to his wiggly, crazed-with-energy little body, and I love snuggling with him while watching TV or going to bed.

(As I type this he is fully laid out across my lap, holding one of my arms nearly immobile in a way that makes typing difficult and pushing the laptop away with his sprawled limbs. Apparently I am inconveniencing him.)

He can be sweet and loving, and he can be an emotionally unpredictable handful. Either way, he’s worth it.
Keep reading »

Living the high life.

My friend Melanie once told me that, being a Gemini, I can easily find myself bored. That I constantly need stimulation — people to see, places to go, projects to do. Now, I am a person who relishes laying around watching TV for 15 hours, but it’s true that I thrive with structure and purpose and fall into slovenly behavior when those are absent.

Well, it’s officially been 7 weeks since the layoff and I haven’t been bored once. I’ve actually been enjoying my mini-retirement, keeping a schedule and even tiring myself out with all that I need to accomplish. It makes me wonder how I survived when 40+ hours of my week were claimed elsewhere — did I sleep? Did I have a social life? Did I ever carry through on anything? And let’s not even think about the MBA I somehow completed.

The past few weeks have been incredibly full — I’ve had uproarious dinners/lunches/brunches out with friends, I’ve volunteered my time to good causes, I’ve stayed in touch with my b-school folks and prepared for graduation in a few weeks. Keep reading »

A year in the life.

I need to pause for a moment in the middle of the (incredibly slowly told) South Africa story to mark a grand occasion in my life. Today, Oliver is 1!

It has to be true that people who own dogs are happier and live longer. Since O joined my household in March I’ve received markedly less sleep, but I’ve also laughed, loved and even socialized more. It took me three years to meet any of my neighbors, but I know them all now only because of the little man. Dogs bring folks together. Kumbaya.
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I am chopped liver.

I totally get it. I have a cute dog. A really, really cute dog.

But ever since Oliver arrived about two weeks ago, I’m just the anonymous handler behind the phenom.

Let me set the scene for you. I have lived in my complex for more than two years, and I may have nodded once at my neighbors next door as we passed on our way in or out. We’re not a friendly, mingling kind of bunch. Actually, when I moved in, a neighbor across the way greeted me but told me not to “expect brownies or anything. We’re not that kind of neighborhood.” Well, okey dokey.

Now that I walk the world’s cutest dog, everyone comes out of the woodwork. Like we’re incapable of exchanging pleasantries unless there’s a canine attached to us by a string. Keep reading »

To all the dogs I’ve loved before.

I really do mean canines.

(Though there’s only been one, so far.)

Last week at lunch I was reminiscing with my dad about my first dog, a beagle named Missy who a) bit me on the foot, b) ate my dad’s last Snickers candy bar (he’s still not over it) and c) ran away, never to be seen again, as soon as we arrived at my grandparents’ farm. I don’t think any of us were too upset. Keep reading »