Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Decor: From This to That

Yesterday, we were lucky enough to be on the house call section of the Apartment Therapy website showing how we live in a small space with our large dogs. This prompted me to look back at our old photos to see how much our place has changed. It has only been a few years since A and Ms. M moved in and the transformation of our place from a bachelor pad to a home has been quite dramatic. This beautiful green paisley couch that Ms. M is sitting on was originally one of my prized possessions.That couch had been with me everywhere: from my first college apartment to my first condo. From the looks of Ms. M, it was one of her prized possessions as well. When A and I first started dating, Ms. M and I would share the couch and watch TV. She actually moved in long before A did.
When A moved in, she already had a couch she had bought on Craigslist. We actually got rid of the TV and added the second white couch, another Craigslist find, to make it more of a social area. We quickly learned our bullies needed limits and they were restricted from the couches, which was made easier when we got a bunch of huge floor pillows so they knew where to lay:
We realized you don't need traditional dog beds for the dogs to be happy. Even our foster dog was quick to realize the best place to lay.And we picked up a bunch of sheepskin rugs from Ikea for the pooches to hang out on.
During my bachelor days, I would throw epic b-boy battles in my living room, but
that space has been taken up by flowers, sofas, a rug,
and several upholstered cube ottomans, which Mr. B could use to separate himself from Ms. M.
Despite all the empty space that I had in my living room back then, I would horde everything in my bedroom. It was cluttered with everything from workout equipment to a desk and bookshelf. I used to live in my bedroom, even though I had a second bedroom and an empty living room.
To make the bedroom a restful place, A moved everything that wasn't conducive to resting out of the bedroom. We replaced the carpeting with hardwood floors, painted the room pigeon gray and changed all the bedding to just black and white.
I used to have a completely empty deck that I would barely use. Now during the spring, summer and fall, we pretty much live on our patio. We use the patio to do work, cook, eat, watch movies and even to take a nap.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicagoing: Mercury Canine Cruise

One of our favorite things to do is to become "Tourists in our own City" and truly experience everything Chicago has to offer. With summer winding down, we've been working especially hard to do things outdoors; we were so excited when Pip decided to organize local-area dogs together for a ride on the Mercury Canine Cruise.
Downtown Chicago is filled with amazing architecture, that I often overlook when I'm just headed to Marshall Fields. This cruise lets you enjoy the city from another perspective with your dog in tow.We set off on a 90 minute tour on this boat packed full of people, their dogs, and a giant red water bowl:The boat travels down the Chicago River before entering Lake Michigan and passing Navy Pier. It was neat to see the Tall Ships lined up along the pier:
I liked seeing the buildings from a different perspective:
Though we'd been on the same cruise last year, it was still a little bit different; we heard some different stories from our guide.
Miss M treated the boat like a giant car, using the opportunity to stick her head out the "window" and watch the scenery passing by:
Apparently, she was also making these types of faces at passing boats:Because she kept checking to see whether I caught her:Meanwhile, Mr. B spent his ride as an 80-pound lap dog:And it was so fun to meet our blog friends in real life. Little Josie was one of the most well-behaved dogs we've ever met. She sat nicely the whole time, soaking in the Chicago River smells, but was smart enough to hide in the shade under her seat:It was also great to meet Neeko and his family. They were so prepared, anticipating everything they needed to keep their dogs comfortable on this exceptionally hot day. We'll have to get some pointers from them:
And while we had met Pip earlier this summer at the Red Door Walk, the pooches were so excited to be reunited.
Though it was hard for Miss M to keep her emotions in check near this George Clooney look alike.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pooches: City Dog, Country Pit Bull

We have always joked that Miss M. is the ultimate urban dog. While she was rescued from the "mean streets of Chicago", since she has joined us she has become the ultimate city diva. She loves the excitement and people in the city, but she really isn't a nature dog.
She considers herself too delicate to stay outside on the porch for too long. She will complain to go inside, and then stare at us from the confides of the air-conditioning:
And she makes sure to always put herself to bed early so she can get plenty of beauty rest:
This was all especially evident when we went camping. It was kind of like that episode of Sex in the City where Carrie Bradshaw tries to enjoy the great outdoors. From the moment we arrived, Miss M seemed miserable. She would snap and try to eat the flies and gnats. Then realizing she couldn't handle the "country", she retired into the tent.
She was quick to come back out when she realized we were eating food, but then she had a horrible run-in with the smores getting a marshmallow to the head, and her white fur was covered with dust:
Meanwhile, Mr. B was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he lived in a foster home on a lake, and he can't get enough of the outdoors. Even in the city he gravitates to piles of grass and while camping he was happily frolicking and rolling in leaves. He had a big smile the entire time:I wonder how much of a dog's hometown dictates whether they're truly city or country dogs?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pooches: Camping with the Pooches

Our camping trip earlier this week required a little more preparation, because of the pooches. Here are some of the things we brought that made the trip a little more enjoyable for the pooches:
This tent was very easy to set up, though it required two people. It was pretty roomy with enough room to hold another person or two more pooches.
The vestibule came in handy because the pooches had a place to hang out in the evening or at night
that was similar to their crates and it provided shade during the day.
Pet Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent:
Since DEET is toxic to dogs, we chose to use a DEET-Free insect repellent that was safe for animals.
Picnic blankets and mats:
We brought mats that we use on the porch, so the pooches had places to lay by the campsite that they were used to.
Bowls and collapsable bowls:
Though we used their bowls, we also brought the collapsable bowl which takes up a lot less space when traveling.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Travel: Camping in Lake Geneva in 10 Pictures

Earlier this week we packed up the car to go camping up in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The last time we went car camping was when we drove to Kalamazoo, Michigan to adopt Mr. B. Even though we haven't used the tent in a few years it was still relatively easy to set up and had ample room for all four of us. Here is a nice snapshot of the tent Mr. B took with his camera.
The tent has this nice extension that allows us to store gear outside the tent, but covered from the elements.
The pooches chose to use it as shelter from the sun and a place to hang out while A and I sat by the fire at night. It was nice because the pooches could come and go as they pleased.
Since we were in the woods, the extension also gave the pooches shelter from the mosquitos. A great shot of the woods that surrounded us from Mr. B's camera.
There was plenty of room in the tent for all four of us. We probably could have fit two more dogs or another person.
We think this brought Mr. B flashbacks about his first 24 hours with us.
Ms. M felt right at home in the tent, especially since her bed was all set up for her.
Except at one point she kept looking out longing and whining. We thought she really had to go potty,
but it looked like all she wanted to do was eat the tall vegetation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Schwang Manor: Our Outdoor Movie Theater

This entire summer, Mr. B just couldn't get enough of sitting out on the deck. Even when we would pack everything up and come inside, Mr. B would remain outside and it was a struggle to get him back in. Since the end of summer is nearing, and I'm remembering how miserable we were with this weather, we decided to follow Mr B's lead.
Besides sleeping, one of the only things we really needed to do inside was watch movies. We actually don't own a physical TV, but instead attach a projector to our computer to play TV and movies on the wall. The pooches are actually fascinated by the giant pictures:
Dropping by Ikea we were able to set up an outdoor movie theater. We picked up an extra-long curtain rod and a pair of thicker white curtains. The curtain rod balances on the planks of our deck ceiling.
We had to clip the curtains together to create a larger sheet--we might sew it later--and leaned the gate at the bottom to keep it from blowing in the wind.
Then we just attached the computer to the projector and put it on the back of the couch.It's nice to be able to spend so much time outside while we actually have nice weather.
We have been taking advantage of Netflix's Watch Instantly Feature, and here are some we really loved:
1) Timer: It takes place in a current time; however, science has developed a biotechnological implant to count down to the moment when you'll meet your soulmate. It questions ideas of destiny vs. choice in a romantic comedy (not sci-fi) way.
2) Zombieland: I was so surprised because I didn't think I'd like this one at all. A combination of humor and horror in an updated take on Night of the Living Dead. This movie was especially horrifying because instead of just ambling along the zombies actually sprint. Plus, there's a great cameo by Bill Murray.
3) Party Down: This hilarious series originally aired on Starz network and follows a group of wannabee actors working in catering until they get their big break. It took about 2-3 episodes to really get into it, but it turned out to be hilarious and addictive. There are 2 seasons; Jane Lynch stars in the first season. We were so disappointed the show has since been canceled.
So now that we have a great outdoor setup, we're looking for more rental recommendations. What have you seen lately that's good?
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