So: blue weekend

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tiny piece of inspiration

Hooray! The makeover of the formerly boring beige laundry room is pretty much complete—we finished the blue touchups on Sunday afternoon. I still need to get out white paint for the trim and the door, but the ultra blue (the paint color is called Azurean) makes me smile whenever I see it and it really brightens up a room that’s really not known much for fun.

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glass tile countertop works great with the wall color, just need to get that white counter trim done

We’re really pleased with how it turned out and I plan on getting the cabinets all organized during this long weekend. There’s a ton of space for the laundry stuff, some cleaning supplies that don’t need to go in the utility closet.

It may even be the home of Morty, the much neglected sewing machine (he really needs to come out and see some use in this last part of 2013). Morty would look pretty slick in this room because he’d stand out. Of course, the sewing basket and all of the fabrics I’ve been saving (truthfully old clothes I’m either going to repurpose or just practice with) should probably live here too.

While the color is certainly not a typical midcentury color (maybe too extreme—you think?), it makes me happy. So does the ironing board cabinet.

Do you have one of these babies in your house? This is the second house that we’ve had that has had such a built-in. In Toronto, we removed one to free up some needed space. Here, it’s perfectly fine where it is, although we don’t really use it. I just love the lattice screen at the bottom. The knob is not original and it’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s here. If I find something cool, I may replace it just for kicks. For now though, it’s fine.

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we kept the original ironing board cupboard and ironing board —a little visual interest for the room even though we don’t use it at all

The new ceiling light makes me happy too. The circles remind me a little of soap bubbles which is fun for a laundry room. The designers probably intended some grander purpose for it than lighting up the sorting and folding, pouring and spraying that will happen in here. Maybe a dining room or kitchen—or even a foyer (in Texas, it’s pronounced FOY-yer by the way, so I usually say entry, lest I be accused of putting on airs by Frenchifying the word).

It puts out a ton of light so it’s great for the laundry room. And for lighting up Guinness, who has recently rediscovered his love of the laundry room now that there are no paint cans, tools, and tarps in his way. It’s also a nice place to hide from the younger ones and their rambunctious romping and destroying of toys. Bruce calls George and Gidget the NGs (new Gs) and Guinness and Godiva the OGs (Old Gs).

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A bit of the fancy ceiling light…that we picked up at Costco Canada last summer

Speaking of the Gs, Gidget got a bright blue ear on Saturday afternoon as Bruce was painting behind the washer and dryer. That makes her even more official as a member of the 4G Network. Now, every one of those dogs has now gotten paint from this house on them. Guinness and Godiva have gotten orange and avocado green on them, George managed to paint himself with bits of gray while we worked on the office/tv room. And I always manage to get some in my hair too. Not sure what that says about me except that I’m klutzy.

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we painted the cabinets blue since leaving them white looked funny and made your eye just look at the wall of white

So that’s what we were up to last weekend. Bruce wants to put a shelf above the washer and dryer, but that’s a project for later once we see how we like the new set up.

We also took Gidget to our vet and found out that she’s not 11 months old. Dr. Hutson thinks Gidget’s probably 8 months old tops.

Now that explains a few things! Gidget decided last Monday that she might like the taste of the bay window sill and moved on to the surfboard coffee table. Luckily, Bruce is handy at fixing wood things, she didn’t hurt herself, and we have gone back to using the crate while we’re gone for during the workday. It’s just too long of a stretch for her to be left to her own devices—and the naughty 3Gs didn’t police her very well. Still, I know she looks forward to the Kong filled with peanut butter (I freeze it for less mess).

At the vet we decided to get her DNA tested like we did for Godiva (lab-bull terrier-chow-English setter) and George (lab-golden retriever-pomeranian-some other small dog). We’ve assumed Guinness is 100% lab but several people have remarked that he might have some Great Dane in him. Looks enough like a lab that we’re not bothering with DNA. I’ll let you know what we find out about Gidget. We should know in a couple of weeks. Any guesses? We think terrier of some sort for sure, but who knows?

Gidget’s gained a few pounds (yay!) and seems to be getting a little bit taller. She also was a wee bit sick and the vet found out she had giardia. Unfortunately, it’s contagious when you have a pack so It’s meant treating all the dogs this week. They haven’t minded much since we mix the medicine (it’s a powder that must taste delicious) with their favorite wet food. They’re going to be sad tomorrow when they take their final dose. They all line up and sit when they see us doling out the wet food and sprinkling the powder on. We have to hold each dog’s bowl to make sure each gets their own dose (it’s by weight). As you know, George would be glad to take everyone’s medicine.

I hope that you’re all doing great. Thank you for your kind words about my last post. We are all so glad that Gidget found her forever home.

PS: I’m sorry that I haven’t written much lately. Work’s been a little nutty. And having a puppy in the house again is keeping everyone on their toes. I’m hoping that things have settled down a bit now.

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So: foster fail

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Gidget: splendor in the grass

If you happened to read last Sunday’s post, you might remember that we have a house guest at the Mortroski Mid-century. Or rather, that we had a house guest. You see, Gidget found a great home. A home with other dogs to play with, soft couches to sleep on, yummy food, lots of toys, walks twice a day, and a nice lady named Tracy who visits while the people are at work and enjoys administering belly rubs, throwing the ball, and giving out treats.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we have a new 40 pound family member.  Stella, aka Gidget, is staying.

Yes, Fransi, Simone, and Joy, you called it days ago. No, it didn’t happen at the same time as the name change on Sunday evening. Actually, Bruce and I talked about it on Tuesday night, after dinner.

Why so soon? Because she was so damn easy and had fit in so well, so fast.

The prize you get for calling it are all the free Gidget kisses and tail wags you could want. You’ll just have to come to the Mortroski Mid-century for their administration. And you don’t have to hurry, because most likely she’ll be here for a good long while (touch wood). Remember she’s probably somewhere around one, give or take a few months.

So Gidget is a foster fail. Or really, Bruce and I are failures.

How did this happen?

We succumbed to a little street dog’s swift adaptation to life in a house. To playing joyfully with toys. To running laps with George and Godiva. To learning how to sit in less than 2 days. To crying when we left. To barking in happiness when we returned. To ears that detected Bruce’s truck as it was driving down the alley to our driveway. To knowing that the garage door going up meant another human was coming home. To barking at bicycles and baby carriages, but not other dogs. To “getting” how to walk on a leash just by following Guinness’ lead. To charming us out of bits of food. To charming George out of most of his food. To snuggles and kisses. To coffee table clearing tail wags. To razor-sharp puppy teeth. To sheer cuteness. To making herself right at home.

In short, we were soft touches, something that I know our friends and family are completely shocked about. It is completely our faults. We were weak. And Gidget knew it. So did the Gs.

When we made the leap from two dogs to three, I worried that we were upsetting the balance of our little pack. Guinness and Godiva were happy together, Mr. Laid Back with Ms. Sensitivity. But George’s goofiness and puppy-like playfulness gave Godiva a friend to romp with so that Guinness could have more naps.

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Making herself comfortable

This week, Gidget gave the Gs a purpose. Their mission: to turn a little street dog into a perfect member of the household so that they’d have another pack member. And they all gave it their all. From Guinness administering discipline to George showing her that sitting even when not asked usually ensures food when the humans are cooking. To Godiva reminding her that she is the alpha and must be shown respect. And all 3Gs played and played and played to wear the little street dog out so that she would be calm for walks and ready to turn in at bedtime.

Yes, we fully understand the folly of having four dogs. Four mouths to feed. Four times the vet bills. Four times the heartworm medication. Four City of Dallas licenses to buy each year. Four as many baths to give. Four leashes to hold. 16 feet to pedicure. More doo-doo to pick up. And lord knows how many toys that George, Gidget and Godiva will go through now.

We’ve talked about and thought about all of those things. And we are fortunate that our budget allows us to bring her into our home permanently. Yes, I said budget because sometimes when people think about pets, they only think with their hearts. That may be the very thing that landed Gidget on the street—someone who loved the cute puppy with all of his or her heart, but couldn’t afford to feed her or take care of her properly (she was not spayed). If we could not afford to adopt her and care for her properly, we would still be fostering and hoping like crazy that she’d find a great home.

The rewards will be priceless. One more four-legged friend that will greet us with tail wags and sweet doggie kisses, not just on the most craptastic of days, but every day. One more four-legged friend who will hang out in the garden. One more four-legged friend to snuggle with on the couch. One more four-legged friend who will make us go for yet another walk on those days when the weather is rainy/cold/hot/buggy and we really don’t want to walk.

Still, our days of fostering are not over. Over brunch with some of the Duck Team 6 crew, as we celebrated our upgrade to 4G, we let them know we’d be available for emergency fostering. One Duck Team 6 member who found her said that after meeting us last Sunday and seeing how happy Gidget was with the Gs, she was wishing for a foster failure. Maybe we all need to wish a little harder for the things we want to happen.

For more information, to volunteer, to foster, or to donate to help get Dallas’ street dogs like Gidget off the street, visit Duck Team 6.

 

So: mostly photos

I’m on another business trip and I’m kind of wound up, although I really should be sleeping. Rather than toss and turn, I’m going to post a photos until I start to feel tired.

Gidget the foster pup has been making herself right at home. She’s got the 3Gs twisted around her paw, especially George who is going to lose his extra 10 pounds (he likes to eat the other Gs food when no one’s looking)  pretty quick. Gidget’s got him enrolled in puppy boot camp and giving him quite a work out with toys, wrestling, and lots of chasing around the house and yard. He’s quite smitten.

Gidget also shares George’s love of dirt and also thinks that the raised beds are great places to lie in. This weekend, the twine visual deterrents are going back in since I’m planting bok choi, carrots, radishes and other seeds. Hopefully it works as well on Gidget as it did on George in the spring.

Gidget likes the garden a little too much

Gidget likes the garden a little too much (notice how tall the okra has gotten—it’s a crazy plant)

The bush beans are sprouting, that is, unless Gidget and George have flattened them all while I’ve been gone:

bush bean seedling

bush bean seedling

The fall tomatoes are progressing nicely too:

fall indigo rose tomato plant is already growing tomatoes

fall indigo rose tomato plant is already growing tomatoes. Time to fertilize.

And then there are more gratuitous dog photos for your visual enjoyment

Guinness looking handsome

Guinness looking handsome (photo by Bruce)

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Godiva and Gidget napping (photo by Bruce)

Gidget looking cute

Gidget looking cute (photo by Bruce). Doesn’t she look like Petey, the dog in Our Gang/Little Rascals? Love her black and white face.

Say aw and I’ll say ‘night, y’all!

So: house guest

Meet Stella aka Gidget

Meet Stella aka Gidget

This weekend’s adventure wasn’t about building something. It wasn’t about going somewhere. It was about making a new friend and helping a little dog get a new lease on life.

Stella aka Gidget (she is small and very active so it seemed like a perfect name for her especially since Stella has only been her name since Monday and it didn’t seem to fit her spunky little self) was a street dog that was found by Dallas rescue group Duck Team 6. on Monday. She was in a rough neighborhood. She was hungry and hot (remember it’s over 100° F here at this time of year). She’s around a year old, but definitely has a lot of puppy left in her.

When we saw this  video about her, we knew we had to help. And that’s how we got to be her foster family. We’re going to be watching her and letting the Duck Team 6 folks know how she does with other dogs (great), what she knows how to do, how she does with kids, etc.

It’s been a crazy week for this little dog: several great temporary foster homes and lots of new dog friends, nice people from Duck Team 6 to help her, a great vet to spay her and check her out, and now three dogs to hang out with.

Rght now she’s asleep. Guinness, Godiva and George are all also asleep. George is snoring loudly. They are exhausted because it’s been so exciting around here. Lots of play time. Lots of chewing. Several visitors.

And no, in case you’re wondering if today’s the day we’re upgrading the network to 4G, she’s not staying. She’s already got several people who want to give her a great home. She’s just here to hang out and learn the finer points of living in a house with other dogs from the Gs. And we’re going to be available to help more Duck Team dogs when they need us.

It was hot when the Gs first met Gidget in our back yard so we pulled out the pool:

Gidget likes water

Gidget likes water

She learned quickly that the sofa was a nice place to sleep:

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Hanging out with Guinness

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The floor is pretty good too, especially when you’re chewing

She likes people too and follows us around tail a-wagging. That is when she’s not snuggling.

She's a good snuggler

She’s a good snuggler

She’s getting along great with all of the Gs. Gidget really loves toys and likes to play as much as George does:

She's very playful

She’s very playful, but George outweighs her so he won this game of tug

Gidget is a smart girl. She’s already learned how to sit, thanks to treats and George showing her the way. I’m hoping that we can work on “paw” and “down” this week. She’s pretty good on the leash—we all went for one of our usual long weekend walks this morning and although she was very tired when we were done, she kept up just fine.

The girls are getting along

The girls are getting along great

This afternoon Tracy (the G’s pet sitter) came by with her husband Larry for a visit. In the photo above, George, Godiva and Gidget are watching them leave. Gidget really enjoys looking out the front window (all the dogs do) and so far has barked at people and bicycles. I’m thinking Guinness has informed her that they only bark at other dogs and people who are walking up the sidewalk that they don’t know because by this afternoon, she no longer barked at joggers or bicycles.

Gidget enjoys looking at the world passing by

Gidget enjoys looking out the window

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Guinness explaining the finer points of barking

Just like every dog that we’ve met, she’s starting to train us too:

Gidget learned that rolling over means belly rubs

Gidget learned that rolling over means belly rubs

so tired

so tired

napping with Guinness

napping with Guinness

I think I can safely say that Gidget’s having a nice visit. She’s a great dog and if you’re interested in adopting her, definitely contact the Duck Team 6 folks. She’d be a great addition to any home.

PS: Don’t worry, we did a home project at the Mortroski Midcentury this weekend. We started painting the laundry room. I’ll post photos when it’s all done.

Sow: basil bouquets

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More basil bouquets: this time with a cute sticker and a handwritten note

Today I continued spreading a little garden joy: I brought a couple more unexpected basil bouquets to work.

If you have extra basil, I recommend it highly. First, most people like surprises of free stuff.  Second, you get to talk about your garden and maybe you’ll inspire someone to try growing something—or trade tips and hints. Third, basil grows back if you give it a good trim. I swear the stuff I cut down on Sunday is already growing back despite the crazy heat that we have this time of year.

Plus, we still have tons of basil which is absolutely fine with me.  I still plan to make some pesto and dehydrate even more.

Fransi over at Three Hundred Sixty-Five and I did a little brainstorming the other day and we’re both convinced that herb bouquets would make terrific little gifts when someone invites you over for dinner. If you invite me over for dinner, this time of year your bouquet would be made of rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, oregano, and chives. I killed my lavender some how, but it would have looked pretty in the bouquet.

I’d probably tie it up with garden twine then wrap the whole thing in brown paper so I could write something on the outside and close it with a Mortroski Midcentury sticker. And they’d change with the seasons of course. Fall would bring cilantro and dill. And I now realize that I could use some Italian parsley. That would look pretty in a herb bouquet.

Imagine receiving an Italian herb bouquet: Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, basil. It would smell amazing. And you could chop it all up and make some sauce. Don’t worry, I’d bring some wine too. Or maybe dessert. Or some fancy chocolate. Or some okra (it seems to be very well received down here).

From a practicality standpoint, these bouquets could be great for people with small households or single people. A little of this, a little of that and you’d have a lovely centerpiece that you could use in your recipes all week. Maybe you could even pick and choose what you’d like. I could see the yuppie-hippie grocery store making them, although they’d be exquisitely lovely, but tiny and $20 a pop. Wouldn’t surprise me at all when small packets of even non-organic fresh herbs are $2.50 each.

So, if you saw a herb bouquet at a farmers’ market, would you pick one up?

 

Sow: distributing wealth

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Big bunch of fresh basil becomes a tiny jar of dried basil.

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But I still had more basil so I loaded it back up again.

The great basil dehydration experiment has been a great success. And very enlightening. Never again will I wonder why such a small bottle of a spice or herb costs so much. You saw how much basil I picked on Sunday. It had to be taken off the stems, washed, spun dry, then dehydrated for about 2.5 hours. Basically 1/2 of that became what’s in the tiny bottle in the photo above. That bottle isn’t full so I’m continuing to dehydrate to fill that bottle and hopefully at least one other the same size.

I also brought one of my work pals a huge bouquet of basil:

basil bouquet: like flowers but edible

basil bouquet: like fancy flowers but edible

It caused quite a stir—before I knew it, I was dispensing gardening advice since another coworker has been having bad luck with her basil. And by the end of the day, the bouquet recipient’s boss was looking for some basil too. Luckily I have plenty more where that came from so I can bring them each a bag (though not probably as bountiful as the basil bouquet) tomorrow.

The malabar spinach is also growing like crazy so I brought a bag (repurposed from the yuppie hippie grocery store) for another coworker who is working hard to eat right and exercise.  Picking the bagful didn’t really make much of a dent in the vines:

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big bag full of spinach

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Malabar spinach vines are surpassing the trellis

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Malabar spinach and the fall tomatoes

There’s lots happening in the garden so I also brought a small bag of okra to the basil bouquet recipient. She’s a fan of okra (I checked since it’s such a polarizing vegetable) and was thrilled to get some. I hope she made something delicious with it:

paper bag of okra with some red jalapeños thrown in for fun

paper bag of okra with some red jalapeños thrown in just for fun

I’m really loving the okra, but it will be at it’s end fairly soon. So this morning I planted the fall bush beans:

Fall bush beans got planted today

Fall bush beans: chopstick is for making a hole for the two beans that need to get planted in each hole.

I also saw a familiar friend. I haven’t named him yet because I wasn’t sure he’d stick around (or not end up in George’s mouth). Got any suggestions for a name?

My toad pal. He hangs out near one of the raised beds.

Look carefully for my toad pal. He hangs out near one of the raised beds.

And I’m continuing to hit the reset button: Bruce and I went to the gym again tonight for more cardio and abs/planks. Gotta say that I’m feeling it. Well, at least I know that my muscles are remembering what to do.

Have a great night!

So: hitting reset

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We’re more than 1/2 way through 2013. The urban farm is thriving. The Mortroski Midcentury’s many projects are decreasing. But I’m way behind in my fitness goals.

Rather than harp on about how long it’s been since I’ve hit the gym, suffice it to say that I went back tonight. Kind of like hitting reset on 2013. It was not my finest workout, nor was it my worst. And it was great to get back to it.

This week will be focused on cardio, specifically running. Today was run-walk night.

And yes, I had more energy afterwards. So I grabbed the dehydrator and started dehydrating basil!

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And I washed the whole pile of basil from yesterday. I’ll probably dehydrate more tomorrow and make pesto too. The basil crop is growing like crazy!

So: Canadian content

It’s weekend like these that I miss Toronto the most. Never mind the surface of the sun temperatures here in north Texas. It’s not just that. It’s another three day weekend in Canada, people!  I miss all of the long weekends. If nothing else, it gives everyone who works for a living a chance to have an extra day to take a deep breath and enjoy an additional day off. Shops are closed. Businesses are closed. Everyone has to do something else.

No offense, but the US of A could really take a lesson from their neighbors to the north and add a few more holidays to the calendar…

But perhaps I need a break a bit more than usual since it was a crazy travel work week, spent mostly in North Carolina. That’s why you heard not a peep from me since last week at this time. Lots going on during the day and then of course, time to make up the work that didn’t get done well into the night. Rest assured it was all work and not much play, although I did attend a minor league baseball game on Monday night with some of my colleagues and their families. Good fun and so nice to meet their spouses and kids, plus how could you not smile with a grasshopper as a mascot?

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The Greensboro Grasshopper

As for the rest of the week, I’m really lucky to that I have great clients and colleagues from the other agencies to spend time with. Despite that, I was really glad when Friday at 5:30 pm rolled around.

Which brings me to the Canadian August Civic Holiday. Bruce and I did our part to enjoy an abbreviated one: we bbq’d, we listened to plenty of Canadian musical content this weekend, and we built something that even though it’s a southern US house party/tailgate tradition that we could bring back to the Great White North with us.

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a cornhole set

Yesterday, we put together our cornhole set. Yes, it’s a bean bag toss game favored by beer-drinking tailgaters and Texas bbq attendees. It’s a great way to spend an evening. Don’t worry, like everything in the Mortroski Mid-century, it’s not enough without a special paint job. A professional art director (thanks, Ward!) created graphics that will be printed on vinyl and applied as soon as I get around to sanding it and painting it ultra shiny white. Ward created the awesome red door logo for the MMC and we just love it. I promise to post photos of our cornhole game escapades in action.

In the meantime, here’s how to learn the game before you come by with a 2-4 and challenge us to a game: http://www.americancornhole.org/cornhole-rules.shtml. Canadian friends: want one for your cottage? If you do, invite us up for a week (or maybe more) and we’d be happy to build one for you too! It really is a lot of fun and a great way to hang out for an evening.

Basil-zilla

Basil-zilla

If you need basil, you may also want to come by. I’ve already given away a bag of okra to the G’s best pal Tracy because without me here in Dallas, it didn’t get picked or eaten (NOTE: apparently even more got given away and the stuff just grows like a weed too. Sorry, Bruce, I was not calling you out for poor caretaking of the Urban Farm.)

Holy cow, everything hasn’t been killed by the surface of the sun temperatures is just growing out of control. The malabar spinach is growing everywhere and we have to keep our eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t try to choke out a fall tomato plant. Gorgeous and leafy and insane!

If you live in Dallas and want some basil or spinach, let me know—you can come by and pick some at the Mortroski Mid-century U-Pick Farm. That basil in the photo is destined for the dehydrator and the food processor. Thinking of an Italian herb blend for holiday gifts and some pesto as a surprise and delight for friends this week. There’s still tons more. Please, help us out.

It was a catch up weekend across the board. We tore the spring tomato plants out so that I could plant the fall green beans tomorrow at 7 am. They’ll be ready in September, but I’ll be covered with sweat even at 7 am. It’s just too hot to work the garden much later than that. This morning we were out in the garden at 10 am and it was really hot and I feel like I got an insta-tan.

Despite it being so hot, it’s actually the time to start planning for fall. We also did bits and pieces around the house that we haven’t been able to get done and got the garage back in order. We’re busy hitting that DIY to do list right and left.

green yard

green yard

And an important milestone: our front landscaping has now been in for a year. Everything has established quite well and because of the unseasonable rain, it’s all very green. Usually this time of year, everything would be much more golden—we are so pleased with how it’s going so far:

front yard

front yard: see what I mean?

It was a great weekend for the Gs. Thanks to our friends at Three Dog Bakery Texas, we finally have some toys that Godiva and George cannot destroy. Though the gator and clown fish in the photo with Godiva do not look very lively on their backs, let me assure you that they have no holes and no fluffs scattered throughout the Mortroski Mid-century:

graituitous Godiva photo

Godiva is exhausted from trying to destroy toys

Truly a record for the Gs. The gator has lasted three weeks with no wounds and the squeaker still working. A record!

Hoping you all are having a wonderful weekend and making the most of your summer. As for me, it’s back to the RUSH program on the Palladia channel. If you’re reading this from Canada, I’m more than a little jealous that you get tomorrow off.