Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day & Dog Play!

Labs like snow? Really? Nah.... :)

Murphy, our Chocolate Lab, had an absolute field day in the snow today. He honestly didn't want to come in. As for the other two dogs... well, let's just say that they had to be coaxed just to go outside for potty reasons. :) Yeah, they're pretty spoiled. Spoiled ROTTEN!

As you'll see by the "how much snow did we get ruler test", we only got a little under 5" (as of 4 p.m. EST) We're supposed to get a little bit more, but I'm not thinking so. Oh well. It'll be a frozen mess tomorrow through Monday. It's only supposed to be in the teens tomorrow! Yikes.

Due to the dogs being a little bored since they couldn't (or didn't want to) play outside, we played some games and did some obedience lessons/tricks. Our dogs love to please us. Truthfully! We did the tried and true "Leave It" test. You may remember I posted a couple of videos a couple weeks ago? If not, here they are again... 

 

  Murphy's Paw Trick
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.


Due to it being the perfect time to make hearty, hot Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, that's what I did. And, the dogs couldn't have been happier. As I was cutting the celery, carrots, and onions, Murphy & Harley were quite literally sitting next to me as if they were waiting for some food to fall. So, I decided that since they were being good about it and not outright begging for it, I'd let them work for it.

First things first, I don't feed my dogs table scraps. NOT GOOD FOR THEM! I was planning to use carrots as their "reward" as carrots are actually good for dogs and is an ingredient in most natural dog foods. OK, moving on...

So, this is how it goes... After ensuring that they knew I had a "reward" for them, I asked them to "SIT". Then, "DOWN". Then, the all important "STAY". My husband and I trained our dogs on verbal commands as well as hand signals.  We use both when doing these tricks/lessons. I then proceeded to place a piece of carrot in front of each one about 8-10" in front of their paws. Now, they can't eat it until I say "OK". They know this. Most of the time they look right up at me, waiting. I can actually have a conversation with my husband who's 5 feet away and the two will remain in the down/stay position and NOT pick up the treat (carrot) until they hear the magic word. This takes true patience on their part.

And, "OK!" As you'll see from the pictures above, our furry ones DID end up playing outside, and they LOVED it! The pics are in order, and you'll see I did this test twice - Once with small carrot bits, and the other with a whole carrot. I wanted to see if the size of the treat altered their will. It didn't. In order, you'll see the tests with the last picture being of two very happy, trained dogs.

I can't help but want to caption the picture of Murphy, our lab, looking at Harley as they waited:

What did the brown dog say to the fawn dog? "I'm a good boy. Yeah.... yeah... Now gimme the dang carrot already!"

I hope you enjoyed the pics and the dog training lesson! If you ever have any questions on anything related to their training, please don't hesitate to ask or leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do the "Truffle Shuffle!"

I came across a great article yesterday about the 'THEN & NOW' of celebrities and child stars from the 80's & 90's. One child star really caught my attention, as he was in my one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Wanna know? The one, the only....

"The Goonies"

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of 'The Goonies'? To me, it's the incredible, delightful, and tasteful...

"Truffle Shuffle!"


(I may or may not have watched this over, and over, and over again) LOL! ;)

Don't know about you, but I suddenly want to watch The Goonies again!

If you'd like to check out the article, click here.  And, because I thought the GIF in this article was absolutely hilarious, I had to use it...


Feel free to laugh out loud. It's good for the soul.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Got Insurance?

Well, I do. Hubs on the other hand, unfortunately does not. I knew I should have added him to my vision insurance when my employer had 'open enrollment' a few months ago. Damn. Now, we're at the mercy of eye doctors and price gouging.

I went to the eye doctor a few days ago to get a new prescription and pick out new glasses. I went with the understanding that I'd be buying my contacts online as I have found that they are MUCH cheaper than buying at your eye doctor or local retailer. Anywho... after reviewing my vision coverage allowances with the "Optical Specialist" (cool name, huh?) I had my total.

    * Comprehensive Eye Exam
    * Contact Lens Fitting
    * Glasses/Lenses w/ Scratch Resistant Coating (Designer, of course!)
    * Applicable Co-pays

= A grand total of $192. Not bad, right?

Well, here is where NO INSURANCE starts to suck. Bigtime.

You see, hubs has really, really, really bad eyesight. For those who know prescription ratings, he's a -8. That's pretty bad. Without vision correction, he literally can't see how many fingers I'm holding up from say, 2-3 feet away. Yeah. That bad. So, with him not being to the eye doctor in atleast 7 years and my having just been, I figured it was time for him to go. Insurance or NO insurance. Oh goodness.... what we found out was a shocker to say the least.

He went to the eye doctor today. He went through his exams. Had his eyes dilated. Poor thing had to wear those god awful plastic visor thingys to protect his eyes from the light. Yes, I laughed. Alot. Sorry.

    * Comprehensive Eye Exam
    * Contact Lens Fitting

= $218 for JUST the exams.

And here's where it gets interesting: Because hubs has really, really, really bad vision he has to wear the High-Index lens that cost two arms, one leg, one buttcheek, 7 out of 10 toes, and atleast 3 fingers. Yeah. That much. For HI lenses with scratch resistent coating & UV protection..... wait for it... well over $300 FOR JUST THE COTTONPICKIN LENSES! No frames. That's extra. This is where I said, "You have GOT to be kidding, right?" Nope.

Again, because hubs vision is really, really, really bad he's automatically limited to certain frames that work with the HI lenses. He didn't have a problem finding a pair he liked and even I liked them, but they are $230 for petes sake! This was becoming ridiculous.

Ok, so the High Index lenses and frames TOGETHER will cost OVER $440 (they did honor a slight discount for the "package." Joy.

Let's do some math shall we?

Me:

    * $3.50 is deducted from 26 paychecks for vision coverage = $91 year
    * Adding this to what I paid for the exams, co-pays, and glasses = $309 total

Hubs:

    * Exams (same as mine) and frames/lenses = $663 total

Something about this just doesn't seem right. Should someone without insurance really have to pay over TWICE as much? Seriously? I think this is beyond ridiculous. Bear in mind, this doesn't even include the cost of his contacts which are over $200 by themselves! Overall his total eye care bill today will end up costing over $900.

Thinking of putting up a lemonade stand. In winter.

See if I'm still sane after signing the bill in a few days. I promise you I won't be.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Taco Soup For The Soul

What do you get when you add the following ingredients together?
"Taco Soup", that's what!

While lurking around the internet this past week for blog design tips, general know-how lessons about CSS & HTML codes, etc.... I stumbled upon not only a great blog with wonderful tips and scrapbooking papers, but delicious recipies as well! Blog design & a great meal = Double WIN!

I came across this recipe at Paige & Brooke's site, www.paigeandbrooke.blogspot.com and after seeing it in the pictures on her blog I wasted NO time running to Walmart to buy the ingredients. Call me crazy, but I know a "Feel Good" meal for the weekend when I see one! (I love you Wal-Mart - those that say otherwise are flat out lying to you!)

About 45 minutes later, and grocery bags in tow, I proceeded to unload all the goodies. I was actually quite surprised I didn't have all these ingredients already as these are items we try to always "stock". Oh well, who couldn't use another trip to Walmart? :) (Just be careful not to get snapped for 'The People of Walmart' site! If you haven't been there, hold your breath and click here. Your eyeballs may be screaming at you later on though! You have been dutifully warned.)

Ok, Ok... I'm getting off topic. Sorry. *hehe*

The Magic (EASY) Ingredients:
  • 2 lb Ground beef (chuck, round, etc)
  • 1 clove garlic, or more for preference
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16oz) can black beans
  • 1 (16oz) can kernel corn
  • 1 (16oz) can pinto beans
  • 1 (160z) can red kindney beans
  • 1 (16oz) Rotel, any variety
  • 2 (160z) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
  • 2-3 stalks green onions (my addition)
Here's what you do:
  1. Brown ground beef, drain
  2. Dump the ground beef into crock pot along with ALL the other ingredients (liquid from cans included)
  3. Cook for atleast 4 hours on HIGH. (or on LOW for longer, the longer the better)
  4. That's it.
  5. Really, that's it. Eat!
  6. Seriously, what are you waiting for... that's it! Eat already!
Top with sour cream and serve with Fritos Scoops, Tostitos, crackers, or just eat by itself. VERY easy & VERY good!

Now you have dinner plans all worked out for the weekend. Go ahead, scratch off the hoopla you had planned. You can thank me later! :) PLEASE, go on over to Paige & Brooke's site and thank them as well; I did after all find this glorious recipe from them! You'll more than likely find some great treats while you're there!

Happy eating!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Aweome Dogs

I am truly a very proud owner of 4 furry kids. 3 of them are making their "debut" tonight. I hope you enjoy these quick little videos that show just how awesome they are!

My Chocolate Lab, Murphy, has the patience of a monk. My husband and I have trained him to be patient with his treats and not devour them until we say the magic word, "OK". He's a little over 3 years old now and has been doing this since he was a puppy. We thought this was maybe just a docile lab thing, but the same "trick" is carried out by our Pit Bull, Harley, and our Pug, Tucker.

With a little time, commitment, and patience, ANY dog can be patient & obedient!

(Note: I tell my hubs "please don't" because he was attempting to moon the camera! lol) :)


Our three dogs, (from l to r) Murphy, Tucker, and Harley have all been trained to have patience and discipline when it comes to getting treats. It's our belief that you don't just give a treat to your dog for nothing. You make them do something for it. In this video you will all three dogs in a down position (Harley gets up and immediately goes back down) and then a treat is placed directly in front of them. They intently look up at whoever is asking for their attention. They are not supposed to touch the treat or paw at it. They wait until they hear the magic word, "OK". Obedient dogs are happy dogs!

(Once again, Note: I tell my hubs "not cool" because he was attempting to moon the camera! lol) :)


*These were both taken using the iPhone app, 'ivideocamera', thus the slight delay*

UPDATE: the ivideocamera app is ALOT better now than it was a year ago!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hubby "Marketing" for ImAprilE!

Hubs decided to do a little making fun of/marketing for me and my blog. So, I STOLE the video off his phone before he could delete it. This was way too funny to pass up putting on my blog.

My hubs is absolutely hilarious 99.9% of the time, as you will see in this video...

ENJOY! (I know I did!)


* Yes, once again, this video was taken using the iPhone app 'ivideocamera'! *

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why Does It Matter?

I can't help but wonder why certain things matter.

I see topics on news programs that, to me, don't seem very newsworthy. But this is nothing new. Unfortunately.

I find myself asking, "Who cares?"

    * A female celebrity has been recently photographed showing signs of cellulite. OK, who cares? Honestly, what woman doesn't have cellulite? When this particular celeb was slightly slimmer it was then that she was considered "too skinny." She was accused of being on drugs and/or having an eating disorder. Who holds the "whats perfect card?" No one. No one should look a certain way to fit what others think they should look like. No one. And we wonder why young girls beat themselves up trying to look like what society deems socially acceptable. It's not right and it needs to change.

    * A certain golfer seems to have alleged infidelity problems. This is a shame, but is it our problem? No. It's theirs. I think this is a matter for him and his wife to sort out. In private. Without scrutiny. Will that happen? N-O. Why? Well, too many people want the dirt. It's a shame. It's not MY news and I could care less.

    * I was perplexed to see an ex-reality star featured on the cover of a (what I thought used to be respectable) magazine, instead of the sideline feature, "We're Half Our Size." You take an inspiring story about everyday Johns and Janes and you sideline it to feature someone who is clearly already over-saturated? Why? Why does it matter that she recently underwent a recent makeover? Who cares? Really.

Why does any of this matter?

Why do other peoples problems matter?

Why does everything in the celebrity world seem to overshadow everything else? Furthermore, why are celebrities viewed as a separate species from the rest of us? They're not. They are just like us. Just like us.

Remember, as Ferras so aptly put it, "Hollywood is NOT America."


Scrutiny gets us nowhere.
Judgment only weakens us.

We are ALL different. We're supposed to be.
Be you. Lead. Don't follow. Start a trend.

It's OK.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Our Christmas Vacation

For those who know me, you may know that 2009 has been a trying year for my husband and I. It has also been a very good year for us. How can it be both you ask? Well for starters, I am the eternal optimist that sees the good in everything.

Due to my husbands abrupt departure from his last employer who shall remain nameless, it taught him that he really wouldn't have enjoyed nameless career very much. Dear nameless employer who changed our world, "Thank you." Truly. This was the good. The bad was that 7 months later and the "job market" was still closed. There has been NO market. Nothing. But... this is OK. Alot can be said about 2009, mainly that our sanity has stayed in-tact and we've realized so many things that we may not have before. For example, my husband is about to embark on a new career as an EMT in January. Well, he starts classes anyway. I am VERY exciting for him. And us. He's also VERY excited.

In late September I planned for my "Christmas Vacation." My company gives employees 5 days off in a row for Christmas (Christmas Eve through the following Monday) and the following Friday for New Years Day. So, if you take off the Tues-Thurs in-between you have.... 11 WHOLE DAYS OFF! So this is what I planned. Figured I needed it. Figured my hubs needed me. Figured I just needed a break.

I hadn't planned on what came Friday, December 11th. My employer asked me to put together a last-minute lunch meeting/get together. (I'm the event planner) I had no idea what was on the agenda. Boy was everyone surprised. THIS was huge. To me anyway. My employer had surprised us all with pretty sizable bonuses. Sizable indeed. I started immediately thinking of how Chevy Chase's character must have felt in 'Christmas Vacation'!

As I said before, 2009 had been a trying year. Trying mainly meaning the frustrating levels of uncertainty, but also that hubs and I weren't able to do some of the things we wanted to do, buy the items we wanted, go where we wanted to go, etc. Now trust me, I know these are minor things in the grand scheme of life. We managed to stay afloat and pay our bills. We managed to keep our home and cars. We managed to stay fed and clothed. So many people couldn't and didn't. I won't say that we were lucky, more so simply fortunate. We did and tried our best during the rough and tough times. When this surprise bonus came my way all I could think about was having a little fun with it. Can you blame me? I thought at first about taking a vacation, but that would be a quick fix with no lasting effects. I wanted to be able to say "Sure, honey let's buy that" or "What the hell" and when the cashier asked "Cash, check, or charge?" I really wanted to be able to say, "Cash, please." This is how we spent our Christmas Vacation...



Hubs and I saw Avatar in IMAX 3D - TWICE (First time in Raleigh, the second time in Augusta, GA)  Stunning, brilliant, and ingenious. Over $80 worth of awesomeness!

We traveled to Augusta, GA to visit my husbands' family. His mother is Korean and made us a traditional Korean dinner for Christmas evening. It was absolutely awesome, and hubs couldn't have been happier. (see separate post here) Hubs was also able to spend some quality time with his brother, who happened to bring his attention to a game that has given him more progressive and extensive ADD. Not even kidding.

Became addicted to photo editing!
More photo editing!
Hubs bonding w/Harley

So much fun!
Hubs & his brother
Christmas Dinner - Korean Style!

After coming home from Georgia, we discovered we had NO heat. Crap. Not what we wanted to come home to. The temperature outside was in the low thirties. It was 64 inside, and dropping fast. After a panicked phone call someone came out that night (Monday). Joy! Not so fast... It ended up being something that couldn't be fixed until the next day, at the absolute earliest. Shit. I got a call on Tuesday saying that the part necessary had to be overnighted and wouldn't be able to be installed until Wednesday. Shit again. I had bought space heaters on Monday night and boy am I glad I did. They were a godsend. Those 3 days and 2 nights were not very fun. At all. Well, the cuddling was fun. ♥ Thank goodness for the fireplace!




You know how it's been said, "You never buy a woman an appliance for Christmas." Well, I bought one for myself dammit and I love it! I've been wanting a Oreck for a LONG time now mainly due to how lightweight they are given their power. (I had reconstructive wrist surgery a few years back and heavy vacuums are a bitch to handle) Wouldn't you know that the local Oreck store was running a holiday special?! Yay! My cleaning life had instantaneously become simpler. Thank you Mr. Oreck! I carried the 8 pounder proudly to the car with a HUGE smile on my face.


And what does hubs do on the 1st night we have the new Oreck?! He decides to make a mess. A HUGE mess. Being playful, he picks up a bag of shredded documents waiting to the thrown out UP the stairway causing a massive explosion of itsy bitsy pieces of paper EVERYWHERE! This is only a teeny smidgen of what it looked like. I was laughing so damn hard I didn't think of taking a picture. What does hubs say after we almost died from laughter? "Now you REALLY get to see how good that thing works!" HA! For the record, YES. The Oreck kicks ass.

Had to test it sometime, right?!

I decided after 3 years of not having any window treatments on our rear french door and kitchen window that it was time.  So, I made asked hubby do it.



The finished product on the french doors - Nice!

We somehow managed in our moments of "US, US, US" to still send out Christmas cards. Of us.  People do this, right?



I "de-Christmastized" the house post-Christmas. Being that this was ALL I had inside, it didn't take long. :)



I completely reorganized our closet. From top to bottom. The 2nd bar on the bottom is new, and man was it needed! I added a "shoe tree" that actually looks and works pretty darn awesome. (from Wal-Mart! $20) I added a couple of organizer bars for belts, sashes, etc. Exactly my idea of a good time. I'm not kidding. (this is what I live for) Yes, I'm O.C.D.

It better STAY this way!

I took the bras off the rack for tactful purposes, of course ;)


Right before Christmas we bought a new computer. Oh my, how we needed it. Hubs, while I love him immensely, he was ALWAYS on the computer, never allowing me to have any time for blogging, twittering, paying bills, etc. (notice the order?) So... I figured we needed to finish off the desk with its matching hutch (fortunately it was still available after 3 years). Our world is now balanced.



Hubs and I LOVE movies. Alot. We thought (OK, me) it was an ideal time to upgrade our movie watching experience to Blu-ray. Oh. My. My. All I have to say is, you know what I'm talking about if you have one! We were really missing out. I have amassed a little collection so far thanks to the AMAZING prices on Amazon.com! This is also where we bought the player itself; $45 cheaper than Wal-Mart believe it or not! Dear Blu Ray: I LOVE you.



I said "Yes, dear" when hubs wanted a new toy. It was great to be able to do that.


I managed to keep my ONE plant alive. A feat I find amazing, as I am NO green thumb. This plant was supposed to die in the Fall!


I also managed to stay updated on current pop culture. An area I find SO amusing. (barf)



Even after seeing another movie TWICE, and watching our new blu ray movies, we still yearned for MORE movies.



I used a drill. Yes, me. And I didn't even hurt myself. Not an east thing to do! (I'm a clutz) Finally, we have light in our pantry! (thanks to little 'ole me!)



We invested in our future by taking the prerequisite to the EMT class. An AED/CPR course through the American Red Cross. Now hubs can pound on me should I manage to choke on something! One of my worst fears. (the choking, not hubs pounding) EMT Hubs, here we come! Men in uniform. Need I say more?



We went to an awesome New Years Party, that so conveniently was just across the street! Drinking and driving is BAD you guys! VERY, VERY bad!





Not too sure what hubs is doing. But, I obviously find it funny.

Just being us. Silly!

Party drinks turn me into sweaty "Dancing Queen!"

Now it's time for all good things to come to an end. The vacation that is. The good things in life will NEVER end. Not as long as you are happy and have a little spirit in you. I have been very fortunate to have such an AMAZING husband in my life this past year and the past 15 for that matter!! (Yes, that's how long we've been together!) I love our life together wholeheartedly. I could live in a tepee and be happy, as long as I had him. Yes, "toys" are fun. But, they don't make you, as we were able to show all year-long. We have lived pretty humble lives this past year. These last two weeks have been freedom for us. Freedom to have fun. Freedom to be a little loose. Freedom to express some "zest" as I call it. I have had a great Christmas vacation with my husband. One that I will never soon forget. It was fun to relive it with all of you and I hope you enjoyed going through my vacation with me as much as I enjoyed telling it!

Best wishes in 2010! May the bad NEVER outweigh the GOOD!

~ April