Doggie Bucket List

I recently read a blog post by a kindred dog-loving spirit about the 50 things every dog should do. I loved reading about all the things his dog had done, so I thought it would be fun to share the items Sarge has checked off of his bucket list – and our plans to help him cross off a few more!

[Warning – this is a long post about my dog. If you aren’t a fan of cuteness and slobber, don’t read on.]

1. Flop down in front of a morning fire. Haven’t done this one, but we have all the necessary tools (i.e., a fireplace and a lazy dog).

2. Go for a swim in the sea. A pool? Yes. A lake? Yes. The sea? No…maybe someday.

3. Go mad in the snow. Does he ever! Sarge loves the snow and takes every opportunity to play in it.

Sarge’s favorite weather

4. Dig up a flower bed. Sarge has been caught “mud handed” doing this many, many times.

5. Do the “Beethoven” shake and soak everyone around you. Sarge is skilled at this. Luckily, he has short hair, or we would have it much, much worse.

6. Have your own spot on the sofa. Oh, please. Every spot on every sofa (and chair, and bed) in our house is “Sarge’s”.

7. Accompany your owner on a run / bike ride. Sarge joins Ryan on runs very often. Sometimes they even let me join.

8. Attend a family picnic. We do this every chance we get. The jury is out on whether he will be invited back to some places…

9. Help your owner bad a date. I’m pretty sure “bad a date” is a typo and supposed to be “bed a date”. In that case, Sarge hasn’t been given this opportunity, as both of his owners are taken, however, I’m pretty sure Sarge would be a major “block” of any sort of date bedding (see # 14).

10. Cheer up your owner when they are down. Sarge accomplished this the first day he joined our family and continues to do so anytime his services are needed. It is literally impossible to be sad around Sargie. I guarantee it.

Sarge’s happy face 🙂

11. Visit a different continent. This has not happened, it’s very doubtful it ever would. Sarge doesn’t travel well in the car and hasn’t been out of the great state of Ohio, so I don’t see a trip to another continent in his future. A dog can dream, though!

12. Roll around in a really stinky, muddy puddle. Check. Unfortunately.

13. Ruin a pair of slippers or shoes. I said it’s impossible to be sad around Sarge, but it is very possible to be mad around him, especially when you discover (yet another) pair of your favorite shoes chewed up. We’re still waiting on Sarge to grow out of this “phase”.

14. Sleep in your owner’s bed. Every night. Ryan and I have slept on the very edge of the bed many, many times, all in the name of making sure Sarge has enough room. We’re bad, I know…

15. Wake your owner with a big, wet, sloppy kiss. If a 100 lb. dog walking on you doesn’t wake you up first, the kisses will.

16. Chase a cat during a dream. We like to joke that he’s chasing squirrels, but I’m sure a cat has made its way into Sarge’s dreams a time or two.

17. Learn the word for “sit” in another language. Does sign language count? If so, done!

18. Join in on a football game in the park. American football or soccer? Either way – I’m sure this will happen. Until he pops the ball, which he’s done countless times.

19. Meet a famous dog.

20. Try your paws at dancing. Hard to believe, but Sarge does dance! He knows all the moves to the “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah” part of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It”. He has such a wiggly butt 🙂

21. Convince your owner you can howl English words.

22. Get filthy within 30 minutes of a bath. Grrrr. Yes.

23. Howl along with your favorite song. Sarge never howls when I sing to him. Surprisingly, he does smile and wag his tail…

24. Ride in an open top car. If the sunroof to Ryan’s car counts, check! As you can see below, the wind does hilarious things to Sarge’s lips.


25. Learn to skateboard. I don’t ever, ever foresee this happening.

26. Have a personalized Christmas stocking. Thanks to my mom!

27. Show the postman who’s boss. They had a stand-off last year. Since the postman asked me to come get the mail, I think Sarge won. 🙂

28. Be a ring bearer at a wedding. Anyone need a ring bearer?!

29. Try to follow a squirrel up a tree. Triple check x 1,000. And Sarge has never succeeded in catching one…that is, until this Thanksgiving, when he actually caught a squirrel. It was probably the greatest thing that ever happened to Sarge, and probably one of the most traumatic things that ever happened to me.

Sarge: The Hunter

30. Go to work with your owner. Sarge is certainly not welcome at my office, and since he hates fire truck sirens, I don’t see him going with Ryan. Oh, well.

31. Have your own social media page. Well, I had never thought of that… 🙂

32. Bound through a forest.

33. Have a personalized kennel. Who needs a kennel when you have a whole house?

34. Go on a boat and get your sea legs.

35. Play frisbee on the beach. Sarge loves the Bow Wow Beach in Stow!

36. Receive your own birthday card. Guilty.

37. Steal someone’s lunch when they’re not looking. Lunch, dinner, Thanksgiving turkey – Sarge doesn’t discriminate.

38. Watch an entire episode of ‘The Washing Machine’. Not sure what this is…but he does watch TV with us, so I’ll count it.

39. Eat doggy ice cream. His favorite is vanilla topped with pulled pork (thanks, Zack’s!)

40. Create a diversion and steal another dog’s dinner. My parents’ poor dog…

41. Rug a doggy marathon. There is no way I’d ever let Sarge run 26.2 miles, even if he could (which is laughable), but there is a mile-run for dogs every year as part of a fundraiser for Akron’s Children’s Hospital. 2013 is Sarge’s year, I can feel it!

42. Receive a doggy birthday cake. We’ve haven’t done this…yet…

43. Rip the stuffing out of a pillow or cushion. Sigh…yes.

44. Unwrap birthday presents. Sarge helped me unwrap Christmas presents last year!

45. Watch Lassie on TV. We’ll need to turn on some Nick at Night to catch that.

46. Be in a family portrait. Duh.

47. Have a stand-off with your own reflection. Not yet..

48. Have a favorite local pub. I wasn’t aware this was possible, but according to, there are almost 20 dog-friendly restaurants in the greater Cleveland / Akron / Canton area. We’ll have to check some out!

49. Star in a YouTube video.

50. Sleep in a boutique dog hotel. I’m excited to try this!

If I counted right, of the 50 bucket list items, Sarge has done 28! He’s off to a great start in his young life – can’t wait to see what else he checks off his list.

Book Exchange Party

Last weekend, I hosted a book exchange party. I got the idea a few months ago from Pinterest, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to do one. I have so many books, and while there are few I will never be able to part with, most I won’t pick up again. I figured other people were in the same position as I was, so I knew this would be a good idea for a party.

Here’s how it worked: each guest brought books that they could bear to part with. The option was theirs: bring one, two or 100 books. For each book brought, the person received an “exchange ticket”. They could then exchange the ticket for a book another guest brought, or put them into a raffle for a chance to win prizes.

In addition, I asked each guest to consider bringing an item to donate to the Haven of Rest,  an Akron-based rescue mission that helps the homeless in our communities. What a simple way to give back while enjoying each others’ company!

For all of the details of the party and all of the pictures, check our my Hostess With the Mostess page. Below are a few of my favorite pictures of the day.

Using a library card generator website, I made cards for each food and drink at the party. I thought it would be fun to base the refreshments on book titles. For example, “Grapes of Wrath Sangria”, “A Tale of Two Dips” and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Lager”. I then added a quote from each book on the card, as well as the author and real book title.

The colors of the party were navy blue, gold and black. I also used this bird stamp in several places. The bags above held french fries, or as their library card said “Lord of the Fries”. I made a yummy (and low-calorie!) bacon ranch dipping sauce.

I ordered these cakeballs from Cake Kisses in Cuyahoga Falls. Turns out, the owner is a fellow Heidelberg grad! They were so good, so unfortunately, there were no leftovers. The library card for these was “Cloudy With a Chance of Cakeballs”. Ha! I love that one.

I wrapped water bottles in the same scrapbook paper that I used for table runners. Topped off with a sheer navy blue ribbon, these bottles are fancy-pants!

These are the tickets we used for the exchange. There are the birds again. I think this is my new favorite stamp!

The party was a huge success. Everyone went home with new books to read, without spending a dime, and I collected a big pile of items for the Haven of Rest. In addition, there were over 50 books left from the party – so I will be donating those to the Haven of Rest as well. The party was relaxed and fun – and several people suggested we do this again in a couple of months. I certainly hope we do that!

Playing Photographer

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

– Aaron Siskind

The thing I love about photographs is the forever-ness of them. Capturing the people, the places, the moments…and turning them into something tangible that can recall memories long forgotten. Over the years, I’ve had a few digital cameras: the point-and-shoot kind that work well for a while, but that wear out after about a year. So, this past fall, I decide to make the investment in a nice camera – one that better last me a lot longer than a year.

The more I have used my camera, the more I have fallen in love with pictures: taking them, editing them, just looking at them. So far my dog and my neighborhood have been the objects of my forays into photography, but I want to do more. I somehow managed to talk some of my family and friends into “hiring” me, so over the next few weeks I’ll have the opportunity to play a photographer and act like I know what I’m doing. And since I’m going to act like a professional with a real business, I came up with a name for it: Harbo Photography. Harbo is a combination of my maiden and married names – and I think it sounds cute. 🙂

I’m hoping the three sessions I have planned turn into four, then five, then ten…and from there, well, I guess I’ll have to see how this hobby pans out. If you want to follow me on this journey, check out my photography blog here. At the very least, you’ll get to check out pictures of my family and friends – who, by the way, are all ridiculously good-looking. How lucky am I to have such photogenic people in my life!

I’m filled with excitement about this. And even if it doesn’t turn into anything more than a hobby, at least I’ll always have the satisfaction in knowing that I tried. That and some amazing pictures of the people, the places and the moments I love most.

High Five Friday 11-16

What is “High Five Friday”? It’s a weekly posting I do to remind myself of all the good things that have happened to me during the week, no matter how small they are. Bad things happen in this world. That’s one thing we unfortunately cannot get away from. But these posts keep me focused on all I have to be thankful for in my life, instead of all the chaos and tragedy going on. Reminding myself of the joy and happiness in my life really does have a positive impact on my outlook on life. So I challenge you to try it. Take five minutes and write down five positive things that have happened to you this week. They don’t have to be huge, life-changing events; as you can see from my list below, nothing out of the ordinary really happened to me this week. But once I focus on that small, ordinary event, it becomes extraordinary. I know it’s cliché, but the power of positive thinking is truly amazing!

This week I found myself getting hurt from surprising sources. I caught myself dwelling on that today, so it’s the perfect time to do my “high five” for this week – and thankfully, I felt a little better after writing them down. I’ll be seeing plenty of friends and family this weekend, so I hope to be out of this “funk” very soon! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

1. I spent last weekend with my best, Lindsey. She has two sons: one who is five years old (and my godson!) and one who just turned four months old. I had a relaxing weekend, shopping with L, playing games with my godson and holding the little one. And I have an inch to eat more vegan food now (thanks, Tim and Lindsey! haha).

2. Veteran’s Day was this past Sunday, so to celebrate my favorite veteran, Ryan and I went out for dinner and drinks on Monday night. We also celebrated my five-year anniversary at work. I just love hanging out with that guy 🙂

2b. To celebrate my other favorite veteran, I had lunch with my dad yesterday!

3. I went out to dinner with three of my best friends from high school. We were there for almost 2.5 hours (and on a school night! We are rebels.). I had a blast, girls – and as always, let’s do it again soon!

4. I took a few steps towards one of my goals. They weren’t huge – and I might not succeed at them, but it’s something. I’m moving forward. And that makes me happy for the future.

5. Ryan not only approved the Advent calendar I put together, he ENTHUSIASTICALLY approved it! I was a little worried, since the list I put together involved going to the ballet and several shopping trips. But he didn’t disappoint! And, let’s be honest: even if he hated every single item on that list, he would still do it. It amazes me what that man will do to make me happy, and for that, I consider myself very lucky. But I am glad he’s excited about it; forcing holiday cheer into his heart would have really put a damper on all my being holly and jolly.

Our Advent Calendar 2012

One of my cherished childhood holiday memories is the Advent calendar my parents would get for my sister and me every year. It was nothing fancy: just thick cardstock with a beautiful Christmas-themed picture that we would display in the kitchen. Every day, Kendall and I would enthusiastically wait until after dinner when we could open the day’s “window” on the Advent calendar. Looking back, I think it’s kind of funny how much excitement surrounded those Advent calendars. But my parents made the season so special for us, and that was one of the ways they did it.

Last year, I was a bit of a Scrooge when it came to the holidays. We don’t need to get into why (*cough* my job *cough*), but I have made the decision that NOTHING will come between me and my favorite holiday this year. Over the weekend, I created a list of 25 holiday activities for Ryan and me to do together, either alone or with friends and family.

As everyone these days knows, adding a daily activity to already full schedules is not exactly easy. On top of that, the Bowers house doesn’t exactly have a schedule one would typically call “normal”. Ryan works 24-hour shifts, so several days a week we don’t get to even see each other, let alone have the time to fit in a Christmas-y activity together. Plus, a work obligation will put me in Florida the first week of December, and we’ll be spending the three nights leading up to Christmas away from home (visiting Ryan’s family in Lima, Ohio!). All of this made putting together an Advent calendar difficult, but as the ancient proverb says “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. With proper planning and accepting the fact that several things will have to be done away from each other, over the phone or just by one of us, I believe we’ll be able to complete all 25 activities. And if not…oh, well. Just being with the ones you love is what makes the holidays magical.

I’ve listed the activities on our Advent calendar below, in the order that we’ll be doing them. I’ll be working on the actual calendar this week or next, so I’ll post that when it’s done (assuming it turns out well!) . I hope you enjoy – and that you share any Advent activities your family loves!

Dec. 1 – Give yourself a fun holiday manicure and pedicure (Whitney only).

Dec. 2 – Go to see “The Nutcracker” ballet at the Akron Civic Theatre

Dec. 3 – Design and order Christmas cards

Dec. 4 – Pick out Christmas PJs for each other (this will be done on our own – so it will be a surprise!)

Dec. 5 – Send a Christmas card to a solider over-seas (more information if you’re interested)

Dec. 6 – Pick out an ornament that describes our life right now

Dec. 7 – Make latte’s and watch a “Friends” Christmas episode

Dec. 8 – Shop for and wrap presents for giving tree child(ren)

Dec. 9 – Christmas Q&A on the drive to and from Cincinnati (This should be a lot of fun – if you want to see our questions, here they are: Ryan and Whitney 2012 Christmas Q&A)

Dec. 10 – Take pictures of decorations around Akron (Whitney only – to share with Ryan when he gets home tomorrow)

Dec. 11 – Drive around West Akron to look at the Christmas lights (and bring Sarge, of course)

Dec. 12 – Address and mail Christmas cards

Dec. 13 – Meet friends in Fairlawn / downtown Akron for a “Christmas Beer” happy hour

Dec. 14 – Invite the neighbors over for hot chocolate, egg nog and cookies

Dec. 15 – Take a family picture in front of the Christmas tree

Dec. 16 – Bake cookies together. Enjoy a couple with milk (but make sure to leave some for Santa!)

Dec. 17 – Cuddle up for a holiday movie night – each gets to pick their favorite holiday movie. Make a snowman pizza for dinner

Dec. 18 – Ice skate at Lock 3 in downtown Akron

Dec. 19 – Take donations (clothes, food, etc.) to Haven of Rest

Dec. 20 – Go shopping for presents for the pets. Afterward, relax at Starbucks while enjoying Salted Caramel hot chocolates (our favorite!)

Dec. 21 – Annual “Love Actually” viewing (Whitney only – and any girlfriends who want to attend!)

Dec. 22 – Buy a new Christmas CD and listen to it on the drive to Lima

Dec. 23 – Make a batch of Cranberry Ginger Fizz cocktails and play board games or euchre

Dec. 24 – Open presents from each other in Christmas PJ’s (picked out by the other person on Dec. 4)

Dec. 25 – Sleep under the Christmas tree lights

High Five Friday 11-9

What is “High Five Friday”? It’s a weekly posting I do to remind myself of all the good things that have happened to me during the week, no matter how small they are. Bad things happen in this world. That’s one thing we unfortunately cannot get away from. But these posts keep me focused on all I have to be thankful for in my life, instead of all the chaos and tragedy going on. Reminding myself of the joy and happiness in my life really does have a positive impact on my outlook on life. So I challenge you to try it. Take five minutes and write down five positive things that have happened to you this week. They don’t have to be huge, life-changing events; as you can see from my list below, nothing out of the ordinary really happened to me this week. But once I focus on that small, ordinary event, it becomes extraordinary. I know it’s cliché, but the power of positive thinking is truly amazing!

WOW. Has it really been since October 5 that I’ve written a post on here?! Needless to say, the past month has FLOWN by! Instead of doing a “high five” of the week, I want to do a “high five” of the past month. So much has happened over the past few weeks!

1. I took a trip to NYC with two of my best friends: Katie and Deanna. I have to say: I have never had a more eventful trip to that city, and I’ve been there many times. Thanks for such a fun trip, girls! I will forever hold that close to my heart.

With our cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery
D – I will now always be able to tell people “My friend got hit by a car in NYC!”

2. Ryan and I went on a long weekend trip together, just the two of us. We hardly get to see each other these days, let alone spend quality time together, so I was really looking forward to this trip! We first went to Indianapolis, IN, where we stayed in a fancy downtown hotel (Thanks, Priceline Name-Your-Own-Price!) and went to the Cleveland Browns / Indianapolis Colts game. We tailgated and went to the game with two fellow-Heidelbergers and randomly ran into one of Ryan’s friends from his time at Ohio University. We couldn’t have asked for better weather; the day was perfect! From there, we drove down to Lexington, KY for a Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. Ryan was in heaven for that 🙂

Hanging out with friends before the Browns game. Downtown Indy rocks!
Pit stop from Indy to Lexington: in Cincinnati for some Sky Line Chili!

 3. My immediate family had another “Syrian Cooking Day”. We spent the day working hard to prepare our favorite dishes that our Syrian family has been preparing for years. But even though we spent close to seven hours on our feet in the kitchen, time flew by. We told stories from when Kendall and I were little (I swear, I will never live down that one Easter video), remembered our much-missed relatives and all the wonderful things they did and laughed about our follies in the kitchen (which were mostly mine). Best of all, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor for dinner (and the leftovers during the week). I really hope we keep this tradition alive!

 4. I got to spend an entire Sunday with my college roommate, Allie. A few days before, I asked her “Want to go to IKEA in Pittsburgh this Sunday?”. The enthusiasm in her “YES” response is one of the many, many reasons I love her. I got soooo much stuff we needed for the house (including a new down comforter for our bedroom, that Sarge is enjoying below) and got to spend eight hours with the girl I spent every night with for three years in college. Thanks, Al!

Sarge thinks everything we buy is for him. He’s sort of right…

5. My fifth high five of the month is my “catch-all” for all of the happy memories I made during the past few weeks: dinner with friends from Pennsylvania, Tosh.O marathons with Ryan, seeing some Heidelberg friends for Halloween, feeling overwhelming grateful for the love of our families’ friends (Peloses and Hudsons, I’m talking to you!)…and so many more people, places and events that have put a smile on my face over the past month. Love you all!