Top Five Faves for your next Beach Trip

Hello everyone!

I know, I know – it's been a few hot minutes since Duke or I have posted anything. Forgive us, we have been on vacation. Then I had to come back to work, which was slightly painful – okay, a lot painful. The first day back to work after an amazing week off, is like ripping off  Band-Aid – painful, but you have to get it over quickly, or it will be even more excruciating.

Yes, I took a much needed and much deserved vacation, and it felt oh so good. I am already counting down the days until I go back next year. Only about 355 more to go. I think I can make it until then.

I went back to Topsail Island, North Carolina this year. I mean, you can't go wrong with its breathtaking views, delicious food and desserts, small town feel, and un-crowded beaches. Plus this year, we got to witness baby sea turtles going out to sea, so it was truly a great experience. One I can't wait to relive next year.

I felt like we had a lot more figured out this year when planning vacation.

We packed all the right gear, which helped the drive down and our time on the beach to be easy and relaxing.

So, I am going to share with you the Top Five Faves to bring on your next vacation:

 

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The Portable Beach Mat Chair: Easy to carry. Easy to store. Has a pouch to put your towel in it to keep it dry, as well as provide you with a comfortable beach headrest. Lays on the sand like a towel, and can be propped up or placed down based on preference. Can be bought on Amazon for $40.

 

 

 

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Large Utility Tote: Multiple side pockets to store water bottles, sun tan lotion, and water shoes in. Easy to clean material. Can be bought on Amazon, EBay, or through any 31 brand sellers you may know.

 

 

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Thermal Lunch Bag: Great to keep sandwiches and drinks cold on the car ride to and from the beach. Also  keeps frozen water bottles cold while at the beach. Can be bought on Amazon, EBay, or through any 31 brand sellers you may know.

 

 

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Avene SPF 50 Face Lotion: I was super excited to get this in my Summer Fab Fit Fun Box. Especially, since last year, my face and hairline were the first things to burn on my body. It is small and easy to carry and provides excellent protection without feeling oily on your skin. Can be worn every day under your makeup as a moisturizer too! Can be purchased on the Avene website for $30.

 

 

 

bkr BKR water Bottles: Makes hydrating cute and easy! All BKR water bottles are made from glass and come with a removable silicon cover. You will hydrate yourself in style at the beach. Small enough to make it easy to carry. And, because it is made of glass, it is healthier, reusable, and easy to clean. I got mine in my Summer Fab Fit Fun Box, but you can get them at mybkr.com.

 

Well that is all for now folks. Happy Vacationing!

July Fourth: Pee Indepantis Day

I went somewhere last night where no dog has ever went before.

Well, I may be exaggerating slightly -okay, I am exaggerating a lot. Plenty of dogs have been to this place willingly. Heck, some dogs even love this place. Me, not so much. This place is like my own personal Hell.

Throw a treat in there. Still not entering. Throw my toy in there. Still not going in. Not even a white paw will grace the floor of this place.

Trust me, I’ve been in this place before. I’ve been drug in against my will. What happens after being forced in this place, well I just can’t speak of that. It is horrible. No dog should ever have to experience that level of torture. Even thinking about my past experiences in there gives me night terrors. I haven’t been able to sleep fully since that horrid day.

So what happened last night that was horrible enough to make me enter Hell, you ask. The end of the world was happening – that’s what. Well, I actually heard my mom and dad say something about how it was Independence Day, and the world was celebrating the country’s freedom with what they call fireworks. But those sounds sure didn’t sound like freedom to me, and why would  you celebrate something by setting the sky on fire. I clearly remember reading something about that in the Bible, and trust me, it didn’t end well for some people.

To me, it sounded like there were bombs going off. The bright lights were piercing the blackened sky. It was like a war zone out there. I thought the government was coming after me for my recent transgressions – I had killed three more birds within two days. Anyway, let’s move on.

I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. Well, it could have been the fireworks flashing before my eyes, but that is besides the point. It was horrifying.

And worst yet, I was alone. Not completely alone, but alone in the bedroom. Mom was in the shower and dad was taking the trash out.

There was nowhere to hide. There was no one around to hold me, so I did the only thing I could think of to do in that moment…

I went into the bathroom!

Remember how I said earlier how not even a little white paw would grace that place. Well my whole body graced that place last night.

I ran through the cracked door and huddled on the black rug near the sink. I still tried to maintain a safe distance away from the bathtub and the shower.

My mom didn’t even know I entered the room. That is how stealthy I was about it. You know, just in case she got any awful ideas to force me in the shower for a bath. No thank you. Plus, I made sure to lay on the solid black rug, that way I would camouflage to it. I was like a chameleon.


She stopped the water and stepped out of the shower. She was on her way out of the door, when she saw something black out of the corner of her eye. At first, she thought it was either a black towel that fell or even the colony of bats that have been living up in the attic recently. But that is another story for another day.

When she looked over, and saw me laying on the bathroom floor, she just started laughing, which in my opinion, was kind of rude. I was only trembling in fear. I think she just thought it was funny that I was actually in the bathroom willingly – that had never happened, ever, and probably will never happen again. Well, unless they decide to celebrate freedom again next year – I sure hope not. Listen, I am not anti freedom. I love freedom. I am just anti celebrating freedom with bright bombs blowing up in the sky for apparently human entertainment. You humans are weird.

Eventually, she leaned down to hug me, kiss me, and comfort me. I finally felt safe.

We both walked back into the bedroom, and that is where I stayed the rest of the evening. Getting loved by my humans. Well, at least until they kicked me off of the bed to sleep.

The moral of this story: Bathrooms are terrifying, but when the world is coming to an end due to fireworks, sometimes the bathroom is your only place to hide.

The Adult Fruit Roll-Up

Facebook is great for advertising delicious looking sweets, that make you uncontent with life, until you go to Walmart and spend 20 plus dollars buying the ingredients and an hour preparing them, just to see if the taste is as good as the picture. 

Well Facebook has nailed me with this the last two weeks. First it was the Banana Bread Bottomed Cheesecake, and this week was an Angel Food, fruit and cream cheese roll up. Both were amazing, but I would have to say the Angel Food dessert stole the show. 

I decided it was appropriate to try for the Memorial Day holiday, only partially because of the patriotic color combination made with the blueberry and strawberry topping. I mostly decided to give it a go, because I know my dad is obsessed with blueberries and the rest of the family, well, we just like anything sweet. 

It was a true success! Well the taste of it anyway. The look, not-so-much. As you can see with the below expectation vs. reality picture I posted on Snapchat. 


Yea, it didn’t look as pretty as the Facebook picture, but I also don’t claim to be Betty Crocker. However, I knew it was a true success, when there was not even a crumb left in the pan, and Brandi kept sneaking bites from the rest of us. 

Anyway, I am here to share how to make this delicious dessert with all of you, since the Fourth of July is right around the corner. But honestly, don’t wait that long to try it out. Give it a trial run first, simply for your pleasure. 

The Adult Fruit Roll-Up 

Ingredients | •Box of Angel Food Cake Mix •8 oz cream cheese • 1.5 cups of heavy cream •1 teaspoon of vanilla extract •1.5 cups of strawberries •1.5 cups of blueberries •powdered sugar 

Preparation | •Prepare the Angel Food Cake Mix, following the directions on the box •Pour onto backing sheet on top of parchment/wax paper •Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes • Lay a clean dish towel flat on the counter and sprinkle powdered sugar on the towel, before placing the cake on top of the towel, and removing the wax paper from underneath •Roll the cake, along with the towel, up •Let cool at room temperature for two hours, or if you are too eager, place in freezer for a few minutes until the cake cools down •While that is cooling, prepare the cream cheese mix, by combining softened cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla, and 3/4 cups of powdered sugar together until smooth •Remove cake from freezer and spread half of the cream cheese mixture on top of it. Also add strawberries and blueberries as well •Roll the cake back up, this time without the towel • After it is rolled up, spread the rest of the cream cheese on top and the remainder of the fruit as well •Finally, eat up, and try to share! 

Trust me, this will not disappoint. It is amazing! Just might not look as pretty as anticipated. But it doesn’t need to look pretty to get in your belly. As you can see, I didn’t have any issue downing the first piece even before taking it to the picnic. 

To my Mom on Mother’s Day

I remember crawling into your bed at just five years old. The thunder was cracking, the lightning was flashing, and I was scared. But as soon as I crawled into your arms, and you held me tight, the fear suddenly diminished. I felt safe next to you. This was even before the tornado came.

About two years passed, and suddenly we found ourselves huddled in the corner of our basement, under covers, praying for our lives. But just like you had done two years ago, you held on to us kids so tight. You refused to let anything happen to us. You made us feel safe. And even though it was scary and traumatizing, we made it through that night. We lost every material thing, but in the big scheme of things, that didn’t matter much. We still had each other, and that is all we needed.

The years after the tornado were tough on me. I had nightmares after nightmares. But when I had one of those nightmares, and I woke up in a panic, I knew where I could find my comfort. I would slide out of my bed, tip-toe across the house, and crawl in your bed next to you. You always knew why I was there. You would tell me it was okay, and you would hold me in your arms. And for the rest of the night, I would feel safe.

Then there were the times that I was sick. I am sure I would have recovered the same in my own bed, in my own room, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to be with you. You would make me hot tea, Vicks me up, tuck me under your covers, and there we would lay, watching Lifetime movies, until we both fell asleep. I was in your arms. I felt safe and the sickness suddenly disappeared.

There were also the heartbreaks. I know you remember each one vividly. They broke your heart almost as much as they broke mine. And I didn’t even need to ask you – you already knew. You told me to come over to  your room, and there I would stay, crying with you, talking to you, watching Lifetime movies with you, until we finally both fell asleep. I was in your arms. I felt safe, and the heartbreak suddenly started to disappear.

But it wasn’t just the scary, sick, or sad times that I would spend with you. There were nights, that I just wanted to be with my mom, the woman who raised me, loved me, and inspired me. So I would come over to your room, we would lay in the bed, eating popcorn and drinking Pepsi, watching Lifetime movies, until we would fall asleep. I was in your arms. I felt safe, and I felt unconditionally loved.

You have always been there to hold me when I needed you most. You first held me in your arms 25 years ago, as I took my first breath. In that moment, there was so much love, so much joy, and so much safety. I knew from that first minute on, that you would always be there to hold me, and you have never let me down.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom – I love you.

 

To my Master’s Graduate 

You graduate tonight.

Oh, what an accomplishment that is.

You spent four years going for  your Bachelors in Education. You studied hard, stressed a lot, but succeeded of course. You tried finding joy in teaching. You tried finding happiness in that career for about a year, but you were unsatisfied. You knew you were made for greater things. Everyone around you knew you were made for greater things. God knew you were made for greater things.

After some thinking and a lot of praying, you decided to head back to school for yet another two years. You wanted your Masters in School Counseling. You wanted to help people.

God clearly showed you your path, and you took it, without hesitation.

I am so proud of you. Not only that, I look up to you. I may be a minute older, but you are so  much wiser. Not only that, you are beautiful from the inside out, which is something I always knew. Anyone who knew you or even just met you, could see that beauty shining through.

That beautiful soul is one reason you were made to help people. You listen to people, without judgment. You care about people, even when they try to make it impossible. You love all people, even if they aren’t like you.

Thinking about watching you walk across that stage tonight to get your second diploma, brings tears to my eyes. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of recognition. I couldn’t be more proud of my twin sister, my best friend, my soul mate. I love you more than I can even describe.

And it is just the beginning for you, because I know you are destined for great things. More importantly, God made you destined for great things.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

You have such a bright future, my beautiful sister. God gave you that hope, so that one day, you could give hope to others.

So as you walk across that stage tonight, hold your head high and smile the biggest smile you have ever smiled, because you have accomplished something great. When you hear all that applause, know that you deserve it. Everyone sitting around you tonight watching, can see that beauty shining so bright, just like the ones who love you the most have always seen.

Congratulations twin sister – I love you so much!

The Slobbery War of 2017

I’ve went to war the past couple of days. I’ve strapped on my uniform of thick black and white fur, my boots of white hair, and my weapons of razor sharp teeth and a bark that can deafen the enemy from two miles away. No, my bark is not worse than my bite – they are in fact equal, so I would not cross me. I’ve went to war to protect my rights of walking and I’ve went to war to defend my mother’s honor and to ensure her safety. I know, I am so heroic, but you can save the applause till the end of my ‘tail.’

The war was bad. The war was ugly. The war was slobbery and even bloody. I am drained physically, mentally, and emotionally, but that is nothing that a piece of cheese, a gulp of water, and a nice back rub won’t fix. I went to war because I had to.

Who was this war against, you ask. Well this war was against the pets that live on  Devan Avenue – The stray cats that sneak in to other peoples’ yards, without them knowing, and the dogs that run wild, never being tied back with a leash or blocked in with a fence. This is one war that your kids will read about in History class, about a decade from now, and they will learn that I was truly heroic.

So, let’s take it back to two days ago, when this war began. Marlee and me were taking our nightly walk – same route, same scenery. I had always noticed this stray cat. It was always crouched down, eyeing us up in the wrong way. It had a smell of garbage, a glare of hostility, and a tail of terror. This cat’s tail looked as if it had been struck by lightening. Maybe it was that way because this cat had been to war before. I figured that had to be it, and that this feline should not be and could not be trusted.

I had let the cat do its thing for about two weeks, but this day, I had had enough. He was not going to look at me or my mom in anger any longer. This world needed less hatred, and I was going to do anything I needed to, to make this world a safer and more loving place. I know what you’re thinking – that is honorable.

The cat was in someone’s yard – a yard that it did not belong to. So when my mom got distracted with a lady walking past her saying “hello,” I took the plunge. I went full force after the cat. The fangs were out, the slobber was flying, and the claws were raging. I got a few swats and maybe even a few nips in, but the cat was an equal competitor. He took his paw of knives, and drug it across my face. I was left with scratches, cuts, and blood. The cat was still alive, but trust me, this story would have ended differently, if my mom didn’t rip me away from the enemy.

You might think I lost that battle, but I can ensure you, that I didn’t . The next day, I walked right past that cat with my head held high in the air, and the cat, well he cowered down in fear and went the opposite direction. He would not bother me or my mom anymore, and he would think twice before judging others with his glare of hostility. I taught that cat a lesson. Yes, I got a few bumps and bruises out of it, but what true war hero doesn’t.

So that takes us to the next day, when two enemies of the canine variety attacked. Marlee and me were walking on the road, trying to avoid confrontation. I guess you could say, I was trying to wave the white flag of surrender. However, these dogs wouldn’t allow it.

Without being tied down or fenced in, and without being watched by the owner, the first dog ran on to the road at us. At first it started harmlessly sniffing me, but it soon turned to rage. It lunged at me with his teeth snarling. He swatted at me with his paw. I had no choice but to defend myself. We both ended up on our hind legs, in a fist fight. He pushed me over on to my back, but I jumped right back up. I would have gotten a flip in myself, if the owner of the other dog didn’t finally control his canine and drag him away from Marlee and me, apologizing to us in the process.

It wasn’t even five steps later, that another dog, a German Shepherd, came running at Marlee full force, with his fangs out and growling uncontrollably. Marlee was terrified. She thought she was about to be attacked. She stood completely still on the road, paralyzed by fear. She pulled me close and told me to sit down. I obeyed, but I knew if that dog came any closer to Marlee, that I would have to defend her. It was my job to keep her safe. All I could do in that moment was growl back and show the dog my teeth. I wanted him to know that I would do anything to protect myself and my mom.

Marlee started screaming. She yelled, “Please someone get this dog. It’s going to attack me!” The dog’s owner finally came out of the house and grabbed the dog, once again apologizing. However, it was too late. Marlee was not physically harmed, but she was scared, and that was not okay with me.

We walked back to the house, and she started crying. Not only was she shaken up because of what had almost happened, but she felt like everything that had happened the past two days were her fault.

I licked her face, to ensure her, it was not her. She was the best owner a dog could want.

We took away three lessons from these events. 1) Always make sure your dog is leashed, fenced in, or controlled. If they are not, they could run out and attack an innocent dog or human just trying to harmlessly take a walk. Leash laws in Pennsylvania are there for a reason. 2) If a dog runs out at you, try and stay calm. I know it is difficult, but it will help to calm the situation down. 3) We obviously need to find another walking route. It’s unfortunate, but has to be done. I don’t want myself or my mom getting hurt by another animal, and when I feel threatened and want to protect Marlee, I am too big and too strong for her to pull back easily.

So yea, it has been an eventful two days.

I went to war. I got bloody. I got hurt, but I also protected my mom. After all, that is my job, and I would go to war with any animal to ensure her safety.

Now, you may cue the applause.

 

 

He Didn’t Need His Eyes to Love Me. 

My owner could not see me, but he could feel me. 

He could feel me pull him forward when the pedestrian walk light turned on to cross the street. He could feel me pull him left, to head over to his favorite coffee shop for his morning bagel and latte. He could feel me pull him right, when it was time to go back home. 

I was my master’s eyes. He relied on me to keep him safe. To direct his way. To make sure he got from place to place on time and unharmed. It was a tough job, but I was glad to do it.

However, I wasn’t only there for guidance, I was there to comfort. I was there to show him love and dedication also. 

So once again I say : my owner could not see me, but he could feel me. 

He could feel my soft fur run under his palms and fingertips as he stroked me from the bed, as he prepared to end his day. He could feel my tender licks, as I kissed his cheek or hand to let him know I was around if he needed me. He could feel my wagging tail to ensure him that I was content being with him and happy to help him. 

After all, I wasn’t just there for guidance, although that was my main job. I was there to be his companion – to be his friend. I was there for him to rely on. I was there to show him love. 

To me, there was nothing different about my master. No, he could not see me with his eyes, but he could touch me with his hands. He could kiss me with his lips. He could sooth me with his voice. He could see me with his soul. He didn’t need his eyes to love me. 

I wasn’t just there to guide him. I was there to show him unconditional love, and in return, I got unconditional love back. 

Today is National Guide Dog Day. Isn’t it amazing that a canine is someone that can guide a blind person through every turn of their life. They are truly spectacular creatures. 

Happy National Guide Dog Day! Your jobs are tough, but you are appreciated and loved.