Baby, It’s Cold INSIDE

The Gingerbread Diaries

Things have been a mite chilly at the Gingerbread Dollhouse lately, though it wasn’t exactly a huge problem until this weekend.

It started just before Thanksgiving when we noticed that the downstairs heater didn’t seem to be doing much. Turns out it wasn’t doing anything–no heat or even air of any kind. There was a slight cold snap, we tried to call someone to come out, but it was the holiday week and nothing happened. Things warmed up, and it was put on the back burner. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the lowest utility bills we’ve seen in ages.

Sure, there was that one morning I was working on a blog post before work and I kept making typos because my fingertips were numb, but it usually wasn’t that bad.

And then there was a pretty nasty set of temperatures predicted for the end of last week–lows in the 30s and highs in the 40s, freeze warning weather. And we were still sans a functioning furnace.

Todd finally found someone to come out and take a look and it turns out the inducer motor was completely rusted out. And, of course, it wasn’t a part they had in stock so it was doubtful they could get it in before the first of the week. Fortunately, there must have been one nearby because on Friday afternoon there was a tap at the door (sending Duncan into a frenzy) and a stranger telling me he’d fixed the furnace and we could turn it back on.

Let me just point out that people in Thomasville are awfully trusting. I’m not sure that any service person in Tallahassee would have left without me signing something and leaving the bill, much less without collecting payment. But no, I didn’t even get his name. They hadn’t even called Todd to say they’d be coming back out that day.

The point is moot, however, since the furnace isn’t exactly fixed. They may have replaced the rusted motor, but no amount of cajoling could elicit anything more than cold air from the vents Friday night.

Fortunately the upstairs furnace has kept working, so it was slightly warmer upstairs when we went to bed. Saturday morning there was a very noticeable 10 degree difference between upstairs and down, and Todd went out and picked up some space heaters to get us through the weekend. Those and warm socks and blankets made the weekend bearable.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to come back out today and troubleshoot the remaining issue. Chances are it’s something simple–we reset to breaker and did what we thought to do, but there could be a reset button hiding somewhere (like the issue with the water heater from way back)–and we’ll feel silly for not realizing it. As long as we get the heat back on before the next set of cold night. it’s okay with me.

Hope your weekend was warmer than mine!


Who Ya Gonna Call?

In The Doghouse

Oriental Trading for their fabulous costume options, that’s who! Thanks again for the O.G., OT, for hooking us up this Halloween.

The week has finally come when I can show you my favorite of the costumes we tried out this year: the Ghostbusters Dog Costume.


Isn’t he adorable?!


That inflatable proton pack might just be my favorite thing, ever.

Now, you could easily dress up in your own Ghostbusters jump suits to make a merry band of busters to match your pup, but you could also allow Spot to be the star and, instead, go as some familiar villains from the classic movie release:

Ghostbusters Closet Cosplay


Might I suggest Slimer and Stay Puft? You can go costume or you can opt for closet cosplay, you’re choice.

A few years back Todd and I dressed up as Dana (the red dress, possessed version), and Louis though, sadly, there’s no decent photo evidence of this (we were too busy hosting a pumpkin party to pose for pictures), and then there’s the whole slew of characters to choose from out of the newest iteration in the franchise.


Now, that proton pack that I love so very much does bring me to this week’s safety tip: be mindful of how the costume may impinge upon your dog’s leash or harness control. We prefer harnesses for crowd situations, and the proton pack is directly in the way. Costumes without back pieces are easy enough to place the harness over (as we did with Duncan’s Luau costume when we went to Boston’s Witches Night Out a few weeks ago), but if your pup is prone to pulling or could get overly excited while trick-or-treating, a Gentle Leader harness (which works a bit like a horse’s bridle, as I understand it) may be an option worth looking into.

Happy Howl-aween, folks. May your pups be cute and your treats be tasty!

The Reluctant Little Ewok

In The Doghouse

Thanks, as always, to Oriental Trading for partnering up with us for another Halloween series!

Some say there’s a definite generation gap between those who like the ewoks from Return of the Jedi and those who don’t. I am in the former category and adore the little fuzzy faces with their stiff-legged walk, their smooshed-in faces, and their happy little song and dance number. So of course I picked the Star Wars Ewok dog costume for Duncan. to try on!


Unfortunately, it was not his best look. I think this costume would look fabulous on fuller-faced, fuzzier-faced pups, but the long snout and small head of a Basset just doesn’t fill it out the way I would have liked.


And Darth Vader would have been much more appropriate for his terrorizing temperament, lately, anyway. Oh, well, can’t win ’em all!

This costume also gave us an excellent example of sizing mishaps–it’s designed in two pieces, with a body that goes on both front and back legs. Yeah, not on a long-bodied Basset Hound! But the head piece absolutely swam on him, even with the drawstring under the chin, so there you go. Still, it’s easier to take something in that’s too large, so buy for the largest measurement and take a few careful stitches where necessary (kind of like bridesmaid dress shopping). And if you do end up with something a little too snug, most of these costumes are fitted with Velcro closures along the chest and/or belly, so a strip of similarly-hued fabric with your own hook and loop tape on the ends will ensure the costume stays put without being seen.

Which brings us to our Dog-a-ween tip of a week: If you’ll be taking your furry friend out after dark, especially if they’ll be wearing a dark costume, make sure you take steps to make them as visible as you would yourself. Reflective tape on the leash  and on the costume are both excellent ideas. You could also attach glow bracelets or necklaces in places the pooch won’t be tempted to chew them off.

Now, to match your dystopian space dog, there are plenty of costumes on the market for you and your entire family! The closet cosplay options are varied, too, but I’m rather fond of the forest looks of Han and Leia, like below.

Han & Leia


We have one more costume to go, and I definitely saved my favorite for last. Make sure you come back next Thursday to find out what it is!

Beach Basset, Beach Basset, Give Me Your Paw!

Just for Fun

Thank you, again, to Oriental Trading for teaming up with us for more Halloween fun!


After Todd’s Luau-themed birthday earlier this year, it’s no surprise that we outfitted Duncan with his own pup-sized Hawaiian shirt.


And a great thing about this doggie Luau Costume is that it could totally work for pup-wear year round, if you were so inclined.

Donning your own Hawaiian shirts is the easiest way to mach your four-legged friend on Halloween, but it’s not the only way to go. There’s the usual grass skirt and coconut bra ensemble, but mermaids are very big right now and it’s possible to find all sorts of clothing to channel your inner Ariel.

Beach Couple


And if you’ve ever felt a little iffy about all the candy being passed around on Halloween, these costumes are a great excuse to pass out floral leis instead!

Our tip of the week is a simple one, and also not just for Halloween: a tired dog is a good dog. Before heading out for Trick or Treating, take Fido on a walk or a romp in the park, or throw a ball around for a while. This gets the extra wiggles out and allows them to be a bit more calm when confronted by crowds. Of course, this can backfire–if you get them too worn out, they may not be able to make the whole circuit. If your dog isn’t exactly known for his stamina, consider decking out a wagon to cart him home in, just in case. (It’s also good far carrying his away-from-home gear).

Five More Minutes

Everyday Adventures

I just finished listening to My Mother Was Nuts, a memoir by actress and director Penny Marshall, read by the author.

(Yes, there are affiliate links in this post.)

At first, I wasn’t too sure about her reading her own work–because that’s what it sounded like, someone reading, not performing. But as the book went on, the occasional misplaced paused or lack of inflection stopped mattering, and the deadpan delivery of some of the lines increased the comedy tremendously.

She began and ended the book talking about her desire as a kid to have five more minutes of play time. And describes a lot of her life as ways to play a little bit more. But she wasn’t just about play and having fun, she learned from her brother that it was important to give back–through jobs or even just little ways to make people’s lives better, happier, even for a moment.

The stories about her dance-teacher mom’s relentless hunt for the next place to perform was toned down from mania by Marjorie’s belief that everyone should know how it feels to entertain. While she didn’t set out to be an entertainer herself, a series of opportunities and her brother’s Hollywood connections led to her most famous role as Laverne on Laverne and Shirley. She talks about her SNL memories, and the incredibly funny people she and her second husband, Rob Reiner, hung out with in California. About the joint birthday parties she and Carrie Fisher threw for decades, her travels with Art Garfunkel, and the movies she directed–some of them among my all-time favorites, like A League of Their Own.

I read celebrity biographies not because they are celebrities–I dislike the blind hero worship that celebrities inspire–but because these books show their humanity. Plus, I really like the behind the scenes details about the shows and movies I enjoy, it makes the experiences much more rich. After hearing how Lavern and Shirley got started and what episode she really found her comedic legs on (Angels of Mercy) I went and looked up some of those notable episodes (a lot are available on Hulu). I’m a product of the pop-up video generation, I like the inside scoop, and I prefer to hear it from the horse’s mouth, not some sensationalized tabloid version edited to be more salacious than it really was.

While I wasn’t as crazy about the stories of the various drugs they did during the 80s, I appreciated her frank description of her experiences. When she spoke about 9/11 and what it meant to her to be a New Yorker at that time, and how she went to every event, every opportunity, to show that the city was safe and that the terrorists weren’t going to stop them from living their lives, the choke in her voice wasn’t an act, it was touching. I choked up, and I’m a cynical bitch when it comes to things like that.

Not only did I enjoy this book, I put it up there with the Ellen Burstyn memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself, as a favorite biography and one I’d recommend unconditionally.

One last thing, the quote that stands out to me is one where she accepts an invitation to spend Christmas in Switzerland. She says,

I was amazed at what was possible when I said yes.

Many (many) years ago I made a rule for myself that I would not say no to any reasonable opportunities. It was a challenge to myself, to my habit of wanting to do something but talking myself out of it at the last minute because it was a new experience and I couldn’t predict the outcome. I was tired of sitting at home wondering what I was missing, knowing it was fear that was keeping me from experiencing life.

I didn’t make 100% fabulous choices, and some were downright dangerous but for some serious overtime put in by my guardian angel, but for the most part I’ve had good things come out of say yes, sure, why not?

This stood out to me, and made me love the book and her story even more, because I could definitely relate. Just like the element of each story in the movies she chose to direct or produce, it’s that common element of life that creates a bond, and make us feel invested and involved.

Penny Marshall had a major health hiccup in 2010 but was able to beat it. Here’s to her “five more minutes,” may they be long ones.