Saturday, February 8, 2014

Welcome home, Gracie!

Friends! J and I are happy to announce we have a new family member. Meet our sweet Gracie!

Many of you have seen this little bundle of cuteness in our posts on Facebook and Instagram over the last week. We were technically still going through a trial period with her, but we simply couldn't hold in how crazy we were about this little nugget. We knew within two minutes of meeting her (two seconds is probably more accurate) that she was our gal. Yesterday the trial period ended, and we made it officially official by signing her adoption papers. Welcome home, Gracie!

We found Gracie through BullsEye Dog Rescue, an incredible non-profit up here in the Seattle area. She is a year and a half old, she's petite, hilarious, enjoys her own private space from time to time, but is also turning out to be quite the snuggle bug. She happens to look an awful lot like Makai, something we weren't seeking out, but of course don't mind. She actually does several of the same quirky little things that he did, which has us convinced she must be his long lost baby sister from another mister (and mother).

Gracie spent the last year with an AMAZING foster mom, who raised her with other dogs, a handful of cats and the occasional small child. She selflessly devoted her time to teach Gracie how to be a polite and gentle little lady, gave her oodles of unconditional love while she waited to find her forever home, and then had the strength to let her go. J and I are in complete awe of this amazing, inspirational woman, and everyone else who opens their hearts and homes to foster animals in need. We are forever grateful to her and to the fine folks at BullsEye for all they do for these sweet creatures.

We'll have lots more updates about our Gracie Goo as she settles in. Until then, enjoy this backyard montage J put together for "Gracie Day" yesterday. It's set to the theme song from the show Perfect Strangers, which for whatever reason we sing all the time in this house. It's a perfect fit!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Monday, July 29, 2013

The King of Kong

When I picked up Makai's ashes after he passed away in May, they were in a tasteful, cherry wood box. I was glad they weren't in an urn. There's something about traditional urns that have always felt sad to me, a little old-fashioned and depressing-looking. As nice as the box was, though, there was something about it that still just didn't feel like our Shmoopie Pie.

I looked around for something else online that fit him and us better, but there wasn't anything out there that felt... right. I decided not to worry about it for a while, I'd find something eventually.

One day I was going through Makai's toys, trying to figure out which ones I wanted to keep, and which ones were still in good enough shape to donate. When I got to his very favorite toy, his giant weeble-wobble Kong, I said to J, “Man, I wish someone on Etsy could make us a ceramic version of this, it would make a cute little urn.” J said, “Oh that would be perfect! He loved that damn thing!”

I opened it up to take out the old treats that were still in it, and it dawned on me... I didn't need a ceramic version of this. I needed THIS.

It's the right size, and actually pretty cute with its beehive shape and years of Shmoops love.

So I gave it a good scrubbing, primed it, and spray painted it a glossy white.

Just like that, we have our own faux ceramic Kong urn that fits beautifully on our mantle and makes us smile. It's perfect.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goodnight, sweet sweet boy.

Oh friends. Our dear Shmoops, my sweet old boy, has left us. It's only been a few days, and while his decline was slow and we knew what was ultimately coming, I wasn't prepared.

The house feels so empty. I still find myself glancing to where his bed was, never realizing until now that for the last 14 years, I looked at him probably hundreds of times a day. Just little looks to see what he was doing, to oogle at his cuteness, to make funny faces at him. That's been the hardest part for me, that split-second glance, forgetting that's he's not there, and then remembering.

But with all the sadness J and I are feeling, there is tremendous happiness. We have such wonderful memories of our lives with him, and have such funny stories he's the star of. He had so much personality, and touched so many people's hearts, most of whom only ever knew him through this blog or my Facebook or Instagram posts. We've been looking through pictures the last few days and laughing more than crying, which feels right.

In the end, Degenerative Myelopothy robbed him of his ability to walk more than a few steps on his own without falling over. This cruel, unfair condition left him with a sharp mind but a body that would no longer listen. He was not in pain, but his unpredictable mobility confused him and shook his confidence, and that broke my heart. We made the incredibly difficult decision to end things while he was still in good spirits and still had some semblance of his dignity left.

We did what we could to make his last few days awesome. We took naps in the sunshine and up on the couch, we ate everything in sight (lots of french fries and pizza), and we had a big living room camp-out on an air mattress, all of us together in a big snuggly pile of blankets and pillows. It was the best.

When we took him to the vet Friday morning, about a dozen staff members packed into the room to say tearful goodbyes. It felt good to know how much they loved him; that I wasn't imagining how special he was. His favorite gal, Nicole, heard he was coming in that morning and bought him a box of Krispy Kremes. Glazed ones, creme-filled, raspberry filled, CHOCOLATE! All of us laughed and cried as he happily devoured the entire box, surrounded by love and compassion and his harem of ladies. It was such a kind and thoughtful gesture that changed the mood from gloom to celebration. I'm so incredibly thankful to her for that. When he left us he was happy and relaxed, which is all we wanted.

A big thank you to the staff at Elliott Bay Animal Hospital, you all made him love going to the vet more than anywhere else, and for a dog who had to go to the vet fairly often, you made my life easier. To the doctors who treated his bevy of health problems over the years, thank you thank you, but especially to Dr. Crow, who was so invested in Makai's health and happiness, and went above and beyond when treating him, right up until the end.

Thank you friends, for letting me share his adventures with you here the last few years. I'm certain this won't be the last post about our boy Makai, there are plenty of lost pictures and stories to share.

And finally, thank you, my Shmoopy Doo, for everything. No more itchies. I love you. High five.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part dog...

...part cartoon baby brontosaurus.

Just saying.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Have you heard of BarkBox? It's similar to BirchBox, which you ladies may be familiar with, but it's for dogs! It's a subscription-based service, and every month they mail you a box of goodies for your dog so you can try samples of different products (when you sign up you can tell them Small, Medium or Large so they know to send appropriately sized treats and toys).

A few weeks ago there was a Groupon deal for a three-month BarkBox subscription for $35, and I thought it would be fun to get it for Makai. Our first BarkBox arrived today!

Let's take a look at all the goodies inside!

Wait, what the hell is this?

You put an empty plastic bottle in it?


Okay I get it. It's a toy that crinkles when you play with it. Sadly, I don't think Mr. Shmoops will care very much about the Crinket. If it doesn't taste like a snack, he's already over it before you show it to him. Luckily, I know of another dog who will love something like this that I'll be happy to give it to.

Okay, so that was a bust, but look what's next...

Sweet potato treats! Makai's favorite snack. We've never gotten this kind, but they look good. They are freeze dried and have just one ingredient: organic sweet potatoes. Perfect!

What's next? Oooooh! Mystery meat pretzel!

Next up, a little bath wipe sample. Makai's skin may be too sensitive for these, but we'll try it on one of his feet to see if he can tolerate them.

Fun little apple-flavored chewy snack!

I'm usually wary of these types of treats, they typically have a lot of weird chemicals and ingredients you can't pronounce, but this looks legit!

Some little organic chicken treats...

A 10% coupon for

And a little card explaining everything that's inside the box. Pretty cool!

Someone approves! Here he is gnawing on that pretzel treat. He kept his eyes closed the whole time. Like when I eat ice cream. Must have been really good.

So far so good, BarkBox!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beauty Is Embarassing

A few years back I did a short post about some paintings I came across by an artist named Wayne White. I completely fell in love with his work as soon as I saw it. His pieces were different and fresh and FUNNY, which, come to find out, is a rare quality in art.

Color me surprised when I visited KickStarter a couple of months ago to check out what new projects were being funded, and saw there was a documentary made about Mr. White called Beauty Is Embarrassing. And it looked GOOD. I immediately contributed to their project to show my support, and crossed my fingers the film would make it's way to Seattle...

Last weekend, it did! It premiered in NY, LA, and Seattle, and we were there opening night.

IT'S. JUST. FANTASTIC. If you are a creative person, if you love art, or if you just enjoy a good story, search out this film and support it. Not only is it delightfully entertaining (as any movie should be), but Mr. White's point of view as an artist is crazy refreshing. He is one of those rare individuals who can admit that he wants approval and recognition for his work, but he's not obnoxious about it; he's human. It's a strange trait that you don't see too often and I wish more artists would just own it. His desire to be successful doesn't overshadow his talent, though. It's clear this is not a man looking for a gimmick, he's just doing what he enjoys and hopes people actually like it. And lucky for him, they do.

Check out the trailer below, and support this little doc if it comes your way. To quote Mr. White, "It's so beautiful it hurts my feelings."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Seriously, where have you been the last year? This is ridiculous.

I know, I know. I've been boring. I promise I've been working hard elsewhere, though. Dearest readers, I've been working on shipping a video game. Not by myself, mind you, with about 300 other cohorts, and for the last five-ish years we've been working on a huge, beautiful, amazing title called Guild Wars 2.

About a year ago, right about when this blog got suspiciously more quiet, I took over as the User Interface Lead on the project, which meant a lot of responsibility and keeping my head down until we shipped - which we finally did a couple of weeks ago. Everyone worked their faces off right up to the end, and I'm terribly pleased with what we were able accomplish together. To top it off, it's being received very well, which doesn't feel terrible at all! I have the BEST crew on the planet, I really could not be more proud.

What else is new?

While my primary focus has been work as of late, I've found a great creative outlet through Instagram on my iPhone. It's the perfect busy person's hobby!

And in a fun, wacky turn of events, I was included in a new app called Instafocus. They chose 300 photographers from Instagram to feature in their photo gallery, and this little lady was one of them. Crazy! And super flattering.

If you're an Instagrammer, come find me @thesassypickle and say hello! Here's a few recent shots...

So, anything new planned for the blog?

So happy you asked! I want to try something new with this dusty little thing, something to keep me motivated to keep writing regularly, which I've fallen in love with in a big way and have missed very much this last year or so. I haven't given it much real thought other than these two things: I need to keep to a schedule, and I need to write about stuff I love.

Obviously, we ALL love the dog, so he'll still be the star. I'd also like to dedicate a day of the week to something entertainment related; maybe feature a new book I'm reading (I'm working hard on that New Year's resolution!), or a great film we've watched, or an awesome new game we've discovered. A day a week will probably also be saved for something design related or things just generally nice to look at. I do miss those Weekend Lovlies posts...  If I'm able to come up with more than that from time to time (like the occasional DIY project or anecdotal story), well I'll just consider it extra ketchup on the fry. So-to-speak.

Looking forward to things to come! Thanks for sticking around. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Homemade Ping Pong

J had just ONE birthday wish this year: to have a beer pong tournament and a BBQ with a few friends. Who am I do deny such a fun request??

We both always played beer pong on a real ping pong table with paddles (not the kind with the long skinny table where you throw the ball), so I investigated buying the real deal. I found a couple on sale, both around $130, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. The price wasn't the issue at all, it was more of what in the hell do you do with a ping pong table when you aren't using it? They are notoriously clunky to store, even when folded up they take up a huge footprint. They usually wind up getting tossed outside where they get rained on and warped and sun bleached and turn into a $40 trip to the dump. I don't know anyone who has purchased a ping pong table and not regretted it.

The Olympics made sure all the rentals were booked for the month, so, obviously, I had to get crafty.

I went to Home Depot and stood in the lumber isle for about 30 minutes, just thinking about how to approach it. I decided I would get a 4x8 sheet of... something.... have them cut it in half, hinge it back together, and plop it on top of a folding buffet table.

My main criteria was that I could carry it and load it into the car by myself, so I went with a sheet 1/4 inch Sandeply. Already sanded, light as a 15 pound feather and only $19? Done and done. I was really close to going with some peg board (Already painted white! Built in holes for spill drainage!), but I thought the holes might affect the ball bounce.

If I was going to go to the trouble of building a ping pong table out of wood, I had to paint it green, right? Of course. So I lined the sides with 3/4 inch painter's tape, and eyeballed a line of tape down the middle.

I picked Behr's Windy Pine as my Ping Pong green, and grabbed 2 sample tubs of it in a matte finish for about 3 bucks each.

I started out using a small fuzzy roller, which completely sucked. The coverage was terrible. I switched to this little foam roller I had hiding in the closest, and while it was shorter and took a little extra rolling, it worked like a dream!

I did two-ish coats. Just kept painting until most of the areas looked good and covered and I was out of paint.

I don't know why this process made the dog think he was in trouble, but it did. He hid under the kitchen table for most of it. It was sad/cute. Many treats were dolled out (I think that was his secret plan).

The wood did a great job taking the paint without a primer, and it dried in under an hour.

I used two small hinges and some 1/4 inch screws to connect the two wood halves back together again, and allow us to fold it in half for storage.

When I stood, back, I'm not gonna lie, I did a little dance. This shit looked good. It was around this time J let me know he figured out what I was up to. He had figured it out the night before when I told him I was at Home Depot. Damn!

We got to our friend's house for the BBQ and plopped the table top on the 3x6 buffet table I picked up. My 1/4 inch Sandeply that was oh so lightweight... was also much too lightweight to hold itself up on the corners. Gah! Our lovely hosts had a brilliant idea that involved tv trays and books. They totally saved the day.

It's not perfect, and the ball didn't bounce very high on my light and squishy wood, but we had a blast! Enough of a blast that I don't have any idea who won the tourney. :)

I'm not willing to give up on this homemade ping pong table. I love how flat it stores (it can slide under the bed!), and the underside being a buffet table is also useful. It was crazy easy to make, next year we'll definitely have to make a 2.0 version with heavier wood.