Sunday, November 30, 2008

A little Christmas spirit...

I'm not the type of person who puts their Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, BUT...
We picked up some Christmas decor this afternoon, and I couldn't help myself! Check out the results...

I'm going to find some classy dried flowers in reds and silvers to replace the regular ones in my green vase on top of the fireplace to finish it off.

More decor and pictures to come! Now that we have our own home, I am very much getting into the holiday decorating! We also bought lights for outside the house weekend, and will put them up just as soon as it stops snowing for a few hours. EXCITING!

GREEN - Better taking care of ourselves AND our planet!

Travis and I wrapped up our weekend with an afternoon of comfort food cooking. We cooked two lasagnas and a Sheppard's pie to portion out and freeze. In the midst of all of this cooking, we realized what a massive pile of food scraps we had accumulated. It was then, on a whim, that we decided that we should start composting.

Keep in mind we know NOTHING about composting.

I ran to the den and excitedly googled "composting." After skimming a variety of websites, we created our own, very basic, compost receptacle. We used a rubbermaid container, and Trav drilled holes in if for aeration. We'll keep it in the basement this winter, and move it out to the back yard in the summertime. We used a base of leaves for moisture, and dumped in our scraps.

Obviously we need to continue the research, to make sure we're doing things correctly. But for now, we feel pretty darn good about ourselves! We are going to be partaking in all kinds of vegetable and flower gardening next year once we get our yards landscaped, and we're convinced we're going to create the BEST COMPOST EVER.

And of course, we're putting our household waste to good use, thus eliminating our disposable waste.If you are already well-versed in composting, please leave me some feedback and tips. I welcome any info I can get my hands on!

Here's a photo play-by-play of our compost creation:

For more info on composting click here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

There is a certain amount of irony that comes with my English family celebrating the American holiday of Thanksgiving. However, I think that the concept of Thanksgiving transcends nationalities and cultures. It's more than that. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives and all that we are blessed with. We don't open gifts on Thanksgiving, we don't dress up in costumes, we don't light candles or have cake. We simply give thanks.

And yes there's food, and yes there's football, and yes there's even shopping (for those brave enough!) but the bottom line is that it's a time for family, friends, and thanks. You can't limit that to a particular culture, race, religion, or nationality. So for these reasons and many others, I am looking forward to this Thanksgiving more than ever before. I have an amazing husband, family, and support system of friends. We are all healthy, employed, and happy. Travis and I are enjoying our first home, and our puppy.

I am so, so thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Send a little holiday cheer

As you are filling out your holiday cards and sending them this year, maybe take the time to fill out one extra and send it to this address:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

I received this via e-mail today (thanks, Stacy!) and wanted to pass it on. What an easy, cost-effective way to share the message of peace and goodwill this holiday season.

If any of you have or know of similar charitable opportunities this holiday, please comment to this post and let people know... (Kelsey?)

First Snow

The first real snow of winter.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Super Puppy!

Great news! We just got a call from the vet and found out that Bella's tests this morning were absolutely fine, and that she had just woken up from her spay surgery and is doing great. We get to pick up our healthy (albeit groggy and cranky!) puppy after 5:00pm. I’m so relieved! The doctor also gave us a training "plan" to help strengthen her bladder and eliminate the piddle problems. Perfect!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Poor Baby Bella

Our darling chocolate lab puppy Bella is going in for spay surgery on Thursday (tomorrow). In preparation for this, she had to go in to the vet to have some blood drawn for wellness testing earlier this week.

To our surprise, we got a phone-call yesterday evening from our vet to say that Bella's kidney blood-work was irregular, and that there could be something wrong with her kidneys! The vet wasn't too concerned, she said it could be as simple as her not getting enough water, but all the same I feel like a horrible puppy mom!

I've often wondered if Bella had some kind of bladder related problem, because she has been very difficult to potty train with lots of piddling problems. Now I'm wondering if it is something bigger.

She's getting more blood-work done tomorrow morning before her surgery. I am sure I am overreacting and worrying too much, but we love Bella and want her to be around for a long time to come.

Keep her in your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here's the big guy!

"Look how sweet I am! Please adopt me!"

Animal Rescue!

You just never know how your day is going to go...

I returned to the office this afternoon after a presentation, a meeting, and a lunch on-the-go around 11:30am. I had barely sat down when my boss and I noticed a dog outside on the sidewalk. The puppy didn't have an owner, or a leash, and was following the mailman around. Fearing the dog was going to run into the busy street, we ran downstairs (yes, literally ran, in my heels!) to try and rescue the dog. Armed with lunchmeat courtesy of our receptionist, we coaxed the dog safely across the road and into our building.

Then we had a dog on our hands.

The dog was a large muscular dog, and we couldn't figure out what breed. He had the build of a pit bull but was not mean in any way. The dog knew how to sit, lay down, shake, and stay, and was very friendly and affectionate. After eating the REST of our receptionist's lunch (a tortilla with cheese and meat - it's all we had!) and drinking some water, he laid down and just hung out with us. He was obviously still hungry, was a little on the skinny side, but was well groomed and taken care of.

I got ahold of Trav to notify him of the doggy "emergency" and he came over to meet the pup. We loaded him up into the car and drove to the Animal Shelter. He was a beautiful, well-mannered dog, and a large part of me wanted to adopt him ourselves. Travis reminded me that we've both said numerous times that we don't want a male dog (no humping, please!) and that we really shouldn't keep him. All the while, mind you, he was growing more and more fond of the big guy!

We got to the Animal Shelter nervously, because our receptionist thought that they would only hold him for ten days before euthanizing him. We were THRILLED to find out that if he isn't claimed in four days, he will undergo a behavior test, and as long as he passes (he was so sweet, I would be shocked if he didn't!) then he will go up for adoption and stay that way until he finds his forever home. The staff said it is VERY uncommon that they euthanize dogs. Which is good in many ways, but especially because if they HAD told us they would euthanize him soon, we would be a two dog family right now!

So... here's the deal. I'm making it my mission to find this young guy a home. Here's the 411. He's a mastiff / pitbull mix. He's a tan short haired dog with a white front, a male, who has not been neutered. The staff think he's about three years old. He is an absolute sweetheart. Can anyone give him a home? If you think you'd like to check him out, or know of someone who may be interested, let me know and I will put you in touch with the shelter directly.

I'll post his picture tonight... and potentially rant a little about the responsibility of pet ownership and the importance of spay/neuter surgery! STAY TUNED : ) I just love animals - and hope a home can be found for this guy, and for as many stray/abandoned animals as possible!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recent Crafty Things

I like to craft! I'm a little bit behind right now... with Christmas gifts, the wedding scrapbook, and the Bella scrapbook (yes, I'm obnoxious, I'm scrap-booking my dog!) but I figured I show you some recent items. Enjoy!

Baby shower card for Jenni Miller

Michigan State blanket for Travis

Thank You card for participation in the Making Strides walk

Invitation to the OFFICE Season Five premiere party

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Christmas Book

I'm a plan ahead type of person (did you know?!) and usually have a healthy start on Christmas shopping by this time of year. I'm a little behind schedule this year, and am trying to get on the ball! I've got a pretty good idea of what to get and where to find it for our friends and family, but I'm desperately SEARCHING for a particular something for the little ones in my life:

This book is by Dick Bruna, the author of the "Miffy" books. It was my favorite Christmas book as a child and I still have my copy. I'd LOVE to find two copies of this for gifts this Holiday. I think Miffy is an English thing for the most part, but I know that I've not only seen Muffy books here in the States, but I SWEAR I've seen "The Christmas Book" here before as well. Alas, I've checked B&N, Borders, and Amazon online to no avail. HELP! If anyone has seen, or knows where to find this book - please let me know!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I know you're out there!

Oh, and seriously, I know that there are more than four of you that read this blog! You tell me all the time! Take a minute to add yourself as a follower by clicking on the link in the right hand corner of this page. You have to create a blogger account, which takes two seconds, and then you'll be allowed to make comments on my posts, which I would appreciate! : )

Thanks for reading!

Year-End Giving

The first snow is on the ground (at least here in Grand Rapids it is!), the nights are darker, and the temperatures are falling. Stores are decked out for the Holidays, and Star 105.7 has already switched to 24 hour Christmas music. Yes, the Holidays are well on their way!

Since children, we've been encouraged at this time of year to be thankful for our good health, family, friends, and lifestyles, and to think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

Now that we're adults, we can go one step further.

November and December bring year-end campaign letters in the mail. If you have donated to a charity in the past, you are bound to receive at least one letter, although those of you whom have never given may receive something as well.

I want to take a moment to encourage you to make a year end gift this year. I know that money is tight, and I know that we're all busy and stressed, but even a contribution of $25 is beneficial to many organizations, and well-deserved at this time of year.

Year-end giving allows us to touch the lives of others during the holiday season, and provides you with one final charitable write-off for your taxes before the calendar year closes.

And it's not just money. There are many organizations that will accept food, toys, clothing, educational supplies, and more. All of these contributions are tax deductible as well.

Please, make a charitable contribution this year. Your community is counting on you. I've listed below several fantastic non-profit organization, some of which I am affiliated with and some I am not. Click on a name to go to their website and find out about making a donation.

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities
Your year-end contribution helps sustain free literacy and arts programming for children, adults, and families, at the Cook Library Center and the Grandville Avenue Academy for the Arts located in the low-income, undeserved Grandville Avenue neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI.

Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots delivers, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.

American Cancer Society
Your gift is a big help in the battle against cancer—in your own community and across the country.

Susan K Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
Susan G. Komen for the Cure® strives to raise funds and educate people in the battle against breast cancer through global events and legislative actions each year.

Second Harvest Gleaners
The mission of Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank of West Michigan, Inc. is to feed the hungry in West Michigan sby soliciting marketable food and other grocery products from all sources available to us, and judiciously distributing those goods to the needy through nonprofit charities who distribute such goods to the needy at no charge.

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
Your contribution to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign provides funds for kids and families who could otherwise not afford to attend the Y in their community.

These are just a few of the many, many worthwhile non-profit organizations out there. Please feel free to comment on this post with non-profit names and websites if you have other support recommendations. If you have any questions about end of year giving, or need help finding an organization that best matches your giving priorities. Please let me know! : )

Happy Holiday Season, and Happy Giving!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New House. New Pistons. New President.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Housewarming party, and for those that sent gifts (totally unnecessary, thank you!) or well wishes (much appreciated!). Travis and I had a great time entertaining and showing you all around our new home. Special thanks to everyone who made food, ironed slipcovers (Alison!) and to my parents who spent 48 hours with us cleaning like crazy! It was a lot of hard work, but well worth the efforts. Now that it's over it's on to the holidays... which seem to be coming up very quickly don't they?!

I don't claim to be a huge sports fanatic, because I absolutely am not, but I DO enjoy me some Detroit Pistons. Therefore, I was just a little heartbroken when my TWO favorite Pistons were traded for A.I of all people. I realize that he's good, even amazing, but he's a SCRUB! Travis informs me that to be a true fan you have to support the team no matter what. Personally I'd like to boycott the Pistons, but I won't, which brings me to my next subject...

OBAMA. I realize that there are many of you that are not happy about him being our president. I realize that many of you voted for McCain for a variety of reasons. I even realize that many of you want to disengage from politics and claim that President-Elect Obama is "Not my President." However, just like I support the Pistons and their trade choices because I am a "true" Pistons fan, it is up to all of you to support Obama as our president, as "true" Americans.

This all coming from Joanne, the Brit... : )