Monday, May 31, 2010

Blogging `bout The Bachelorette

I love summer tv. A new installement of the Bachelor franchise of shows is one of the reasons. I have yet to be real excited about this season though. The other Bachelorettes seemed genuinely heart-broken after their seasons and eager for another chance at love. I have the feeling that Ali got exactly what she wanted out of her time with Jake...her own show.

Well, I think you get what you give and her bachelors all seem to be gunning for second place. Can you blame them? Three to six months of a fake engagement or your own show? Hmmm. Not that tough of a choice.

Tonight's episode featured front-runner for his own show, Frank. Frank lives with his folks, runs a retail store, probably A.E., and looks better with his glasses. Ali and Frank went from zero to ninety before the first commercial break. Ever heard of taking things slow? No time for that in make believe tv land.

Then there was confrontation between the weatherman, Jonathan, a.k.a. The Mouse and Craig, The Weasel. The mouse isn't just any mouse. He is a marginally-adorable mouse that has a cane and a hat and sometimes says clever things, sometimes. But, mostly he sounds scared to death of the Weasel.
The Weasel is evil. The kind of evil that he must practice at being that evil. Perhaps he stays awake at night planning how evil he can be or perhaps evil justs comes to him naturally.
The Weasel also looks a lot like Tori Spelling's husband, Dean. Who is also a weasel. Remember the whole cheated on his wife and two kids with Tori, while she was also married? I do, obviously. Not only do they look alike and share some weaselly tendencies, but they are also both from Canada. No disrespect to my Canadian friends. I'll say it before and I'll say it again, I've never met a Canadian I didn't like. I'm just pointing out their similar origins.

Ali dismissed her weasel after the mouse told her that he was "dangerous." But my question is,
"Who is more dangerous? The weasel that you can see coming, or the weasel that sneaks up on you?"

Apparently, Ali thought the weasel she could see coming, but I am sure their are more stealth-like weasels that will emerge as the summer weeks roll on.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

¡Ay Chihuahua! Making room for new family pet

As seen in the Home and Garden section of The Daily Sentinel, May29, 2010

I broke one of the cardinal rules of marriage. Don’t get a new pet while your spouse it out of town.
But this little Chihuahua-Mini Pincher literally walked right into my life.
I was at a friend’s house checking out the Taj Majal of playhouses they had just erected in their backyard, when in through the open gate walked this little doggie. She looked friendly, but nervous as most Chihuahuas do.
My friend didn’t want a thing to do with it because dogs give her the sneezes. So I scooped it up and did a quick casing of the neighborhood to see if I could find the owner.
When that effort became fruitless, I took it back to my house and called the number for animal services on its license.
The time it took to track down the owner was short, but it was enough time for the kids and I to already feel a little attached to it. Its big, helpless, dark eyes had me at “hello.”
Mini Me accompanied me on our trip back to the owner’s. Apparently, it hadn’t been on the lamb for long, the owner said it had just eaten dinner and must have squeezed through the fence. Then she told me that she was actually just caring for the dog for a friend until she could find it a good home. Then she said, “Do you want it?”
Mini Me and I chimed in unison, “Yes!”
No sooner did the reply come out of my mouth did I realize that Secret Agent Man wasn’t going to be too keen on this. But you know the old adage, “Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.”
The doggie’s caretaker told me that “Suzi” is already house-trained, spayed, and vaccinated. She also came with food, toys, a bed, a kennel, and clothes.
The kids and I kept the new addition to our family a secret from Secret Agent Man until he came home the next night.
When we picked him up the airport with Suzi in tow, the first thing he said was, “Whose dog is this?”
The kids intoned, “It’s ours!”
“No really,” he said, “who does it belong to?”
And so the love story began. We’ve had little Suzi for over two weeks now and she has adjusted well to Secret Agent Man, the kids, and our other dog. But she still needs to make nice with the Dyson. In time I’m sure they’ll get along too.

Tips from on how to acclimate your new pet to its new life and home
As soon as you get it home, return your pet to its daily feeding and exercise schedule. Place their bed and bowls in similar location to their former home, while they acclimate to their new space.
When introducing your pet to new humans, place the animal in a sit/stay position and ask the human allow your dog to sniff them prior to being petted. Ask them to avoid direct eye contact and speak in a positive, pleasant voice when addressing the dog. If possible, have them reward the animal with its favorite treat.
If your pet is having a problem barking/meowing excessively, confine your pet to a crate or room. The bedroom is usually best and will be most comforting to the animal.
Take a few days off work to pay extra attention to your pet. It will adjust more quickly and feel comfortable in its new home.
Allow your pet to exercise and eliminate before you leave home. Create a soothing atmosphere. Dim the lights, put on soft music and leave out your pet's favorite toy. Never make a big deal about going out.
Call an animal behavior specialist if your pet seems to be having a problem adjusting to their new home or engages in destructive behavior.

Paynes on a roll

Click the pic to biggify the pithy captions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Picture Perfect: A master photographer's tips for displaying your captured memories

As seen in May 15th's edition of the Home & Garden section of The Daily Sentinel

Picture Perfect: A Master Photographer’s tips for displaying your captured memories

My walls are too bare. At least that’s what my older sister told me. The same sentiment was echoed by my feng shui practitioner, and then confirmed by my good friend and master photographer, (That is her job title. She has a masters in photography.) Kelli McCall.

Even after living in my current home for six years, it still pains me to put any nails, screws, or hooks in the walls. It feels like I am putting a hole in my very own soul. But when three ladies, whose opinion I value, all told me the same thing, if figured they had to be right.

So I asked Kelli to give me her advice on how to get my family pictures out of the drawer and on to the walls where they belong. She took me on a field trip to her mom’s house to show me some of the photographs that she has taken over the years for her mom and how they have displayed them in interesting ways.

Here is Kelli’s advice:

When choosing the perfect frame, keep in mind that the frame molding generally should not be wider than the main subject in the picture. For example, if the subject’s head is two inches wide the frame should be no wider than two inches. This will ensure that the portrait will be what you focus on and not the frame.

Wall Placement
The portraits on your wall should hang at standing eye level. This will allow people to enjoy them without straining to see them.

If displaying more than one picture, display an odd number of pictures to create an art piece. Then group them in ways that tell a story or share a similar theme, like senior pictures or baby’s first Easter. Don’t hang dad’s fishing pictures, next to grandma’s wedding photo.

Choosing Clothing
If a wall portrait is what you have in mind, first consider where you want hang it or display it in your home. Then choose your outfit for the photo shoot according to the color scheme of that space. Remember that the people are more important than the outfit, so dress in solid colors so the focus will go to the faces instead of clothing.

Walls aren’t the only place for photographs
Coffee tables and shelves are perfect display points for smaller photographs. Make your groupings interesting by adding other decorative items like, candles, plants, and figurines, still keeping in mind the rule of odd numbers.

Matting, the frame within a frame
Matting your photographs can do a lot to enhance the look of the picture. Choose a mat color from a color in the photograph that will compliment the picture.
When you want to fill a larger space, mat your print up a size. For instance, if you have a 5x7 photograph, choose an 8X10 mat and frame.

Let them know they are loved
Did you know that displaying pictures of your children increases their self esteem? A child who sees himself in a wall portrait will undoubtedly know how much they mean to you. The most precious and unique artwork you could ever find is a portrait of those you love. Capture those moments that will tug at your heart and display them as artwork. What better d├ęcor for your home than portraits that are personal and unique.

Armed with some great advice and inspiration, my walls will be less bare and have more flare. It may mean that I have a few more holes in my "soul,” but at least they will be nicely covered by pictures of my favorite people and memories.

To find out more about master photographer, Kelli McCall, and her services check out her website

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where did May 11th go?

It's not over yet, but it's nearly over.
I can't remember what I've done.
It started early, that much I remember.
I made two breakfasts. Pancakes for Secret Agent Man and the kids.
Eggs and bacon for me.
I've changed my status on Facebook a couple times.
Washed and coiffed my hair.
Couldn't decide what to wear because Spring is having an identity crisis.
Took Secret Agent Man to the airport. Where he goes? Nobody knows.
Had something with bacon in it for lunch, the new Taco Bell Tortada.
"That stuff is not food!" Can it, Jillian! I don't want to hear it.
I wore a hoodie.
If you left a black hoodie at my house. I have worn it to paint trim on my friend's house
and now I've worn it to tie-dye shirts with 5th graders.
I don't think you are going to want it back.
Things I am looking forward to for the rest of the day:
Pajamas and
American Idol.

Click here to read a blog post that actually took some thought and effort.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One table, One Family: Passionate about Family Dinners

Click here to read my latest column at
"...even on the occasional night when we have pizza delivered, I still lure my family from the four corners of the house to share a meal at the kitchen table."

Monday, May 3, 2010

To whom it may concern

I received a very nice e-mail the other day from a woman in Montrose. She wrote to compliment me on my column and to encourage me to continue on. I just had three years of e-mail mysteriously disappear from my inbox, so I didn't get a chance to write back and say "thank you." So, dear reader, lovely lady from Montrose, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I don't get a lot of feedback, so when it comes, it is greatly appreciated.


Your friendly neighborhood columnist