All This Needs Is That Dial-Up Sound

Searching for what kind of foods to be eating and stumbled upon this…


Seriously? Angelfire still exists AND it’s home to the top search result? Obviously, I clicked through. I was not disappointed.

To see it in all its textured glory, click here.

God, I miss (low) quality site design.


Last Night

I’m on a plane. I don’t see it from my own perspective, rather as if a camera is panning down the rows of passengers. I hear Bob Saget doing a voice-over, “How I Met Your Mother”-style, complete with future Ted’s trademark forgetfulness (“And that guy is Chuck… wait, is his name Chuck? Maybe it’s Travis. It’s not important.”) Next thing I know, I’m seeing everything from my own eyes.

I must be in a window seat because I’m staring at the few bright stars against a blue-black sky. Raindrops pound the glass. We’re waiting to find out if the pilot wants to fly as scheduled or wait out the storm. We’re going to fly. Next thing I know, we’re in the air, pushed back into our seats as the plane lifts off and rain pounds the window at a different angle. We haven’t been in the air more than a minute when the backwards pressure lets up, then comes back, then lets up again. The plane is rocking forwards and backwards in mid-air, lurching forward before losing momentum to gravity. It starts to level off and I wonder if the pilot has changed his mind about flying. I wonder if we’re headed back to the airport. Suddenly, the engines go silent. The plane goes into a flat spin. Passengers around me start to scream as stars whiz past the windows. I close my eyes and begin to pray. My breath is steady, my heartbeat normal, and the screams around me fade as I focus on my prayers. Please let it be quick and painless. Please let it be quick and painless. God, stay with me. Please let death be quick and painless.

I wake up, my eyes still closed but my mind fully aware that I’m laying in bed. Rain pounds against my window.

The Movie You Should See This Weekend

Meet Sparky. He’s electric.

Got plans this weekend? Great. Make sure it includes time to see Frankenweenie, the new movie from Disney and Tim Burton. I saw an advance screening earlier this week and loved it. My friend and I laughed throughout and, I’ll admit, I shed a tear or two at an emotional scene.

You can read my review and watch a trailer here. Then go see it.

Besides being a good movie, it’s a gorgeous work of art. I didn’t get to include this in my review, but here’s what it took to make this stop-motion movie: 33 animators, 2 years, and over 200 puppets. Sparky’s character alone had 15 puppets which contained over 300 joints so they could make him move realistically. A “puppet hospital” with 150 artisans repaired puppets as they got beat up during filming. Filming, by the way, involves 24 frames per second of film and repositioning the puppets for every frame. On average, an animator can create a mere 5 seconds of film per week. Astounding.

Seriously, go see it. Sparky wants you to.

Southern Experimentation

The produce that ends up in my fridge is always a surprise.

I buy from Bountiful Baskets, a co-op that for around $15 gives you 15-25 pounds of produce a week. (I weighed it.) The produce comes from small farmers, whatever is in season and in abundant supply, and each basket is half veggies, half fruit. Baskets vary week to week, which forces me to experiment with food I probably wouldn’t pick up on my own.

My wonderful step-father has kindly answered many calls asking him to identify produce I’d never seen before. He doesn’t even make fun of me for it.

With my last basket, I got produce I recognized but had never cooked before. I’m referring to collard greens. Since the basket also included sweet potatoes and peaches, I decided to try my hand at a decidedly Southern meal: sauteed collard greens, roasted sweet potatoes, dirty rice, and peach cobbler.

Considering that the last time I had a Southern meal was at a fast-food place that served red beans and rice in disposable cups, my knowledge of the cuisine is a bit lacking. So I didn’t expect much. Happily, it worked out pretty well (mostly).

I started by boiling the collard greens. As they softened, I scooped them out with a slotted spoon, put them in a colander to drain, and saved the water for boiling the rice. I always want to use the leftover water in some other dish but rarely plan well enough to do so. Finally, it happened.

Look at all the nutritious goodness left behind!


On to the sweet potatoes. I used a tried-and-true recipe for roasted sweet potatoes. Simple and delicious.

Is it bad that I selected the oddly-shaped potatoes for our meal and saved the regularly-shaped ones to make sweet potato chews for the dog?

Once those were in the oven, I got started on the dirty rice. The rice went into the yellowed water leftover from boiling collard greens and was ready in no time. That’s when things got really messy. I found a recipe on my phone while I was out and about, and let’s just say my memory of what ingredients I had on hand did not match up to the reality of what was in my kitchen. Oops.

This is what I ended up with:

It tasted about as interesting as it looks. Not very.

It’s got tomatoes, salt, pepper, Krazy Salt, onion powder (how did I not have fresh onions?), soy crumbles, and jamaican jerk seasoning. At least it fit the name “dirty rice” even if it didn’t fit a recipe.

Finally, it was time for the greens. I used a basic sauteed collard greens recipe and used a ton of minced garlic. Toss the greens, garlic, salt, and pepper into a wok, stir for a few minutes, and you’re set.

I love bright colors on a plate.

Here’s how the meal turned out.

Real food bloggers know about presentation, garnish, and lighting. I, on the other hand, am proud I put off eating it long enough to snap a photo.

Not a bad meal. The greens were good and garlicky (in my husband’s words, “who knew greens could be so good?”). The potatoes were so simply done that their natural flavor really shone through. And the rice… well, with a little tapatio sauce, it worked out.

Then I went to finish dessert.

I made a variant of this peach cobbler recipe. Boiling the peaches with some water and sugar really helped cook the peaches so they could spend less time in the oven. I left the skins on, which helped the sauce get a beautiful reddish hue.

Not going to lie, I burned my tongue licking the spoon. Worth it.

For the cobbler topping, I skipped the recipe’s crust and instead mixed 1 cup cooked quinoa with sugar and cinnamon to taste. It’s healthier, gluten-free, and adds protein to the meal. Quinoa is amazing.

The final product:

Fruit plus protein… must be healthy, right?

The crust-to-filling ratio is a little off, but it’s good nonetheless.

Overall, I’d say the experiment was a success. Anytime my husband finishes his plate in under 2 minutes, I did well.

Time for another slice of cobbler…

As Seen In

Other places where I’ve contributed or been quoted. Some appear under my maiden name Sonia Singh; more recent publications have my married name Sonia Charry.

Regular Contributor:

Big Dog Blog – All about life with big dogs. Based at my website, which specializes in cool stuff for big dogs.

DogChowFamilies – Partnership with Purina Dog Chow. Articles include Can Dogs Get The Blues?

Guest Author:

3 Steps To Win The War On Dog Hair – I’ve got years of experience with this, folks. How to reduce shedding from the inside out. AZCentral Neighborhoods; May 24, 2013.

Game Day Foods To Share With Your Dog – Super Bowl parties are about two things: the game and the food. Try these 5 game-day goodies you can share with your dog. AZCentral Neighborhoods; January 29, 2013.

Dog-Friendly Northern Arizona – Want to explore Arizona’s high country with your dog? Here are amazing places to visit that welcome dogs. Dog Wonderful; November 23, 2012.

Easy-to-Make Fall Treats For Your Dog – When cooking up a Thanksgiving feast, don’t forget your dog. Try these 3 dog-friendly versions of fall goodies. ILoveDogs; November 9, 2012.

Groupon Goes To The Dogs – Forget skydiving or dance lessons. The Arizona Humane Society has made it possible to adopt a homeless pet through the coupon site. Pet News And Views; October 11, 2012.

7 Tips For Better Pet Photos – Everybody’s had the experience of taking what should be the perfect pet photo but ends up with one fatal flaw… demon eyes, perhaps? 7 ways to get better shots of your pets. No Dog About It blog; September 4, 2012.

How To Make Sweet Potato Chews – Looking for a healthy alternative to store-bought dog treats? This simple recipe is a canine crowd-pleaser. Wayward Dogs blog; September 3, 2012.

5 Ways To Show Love To Your Vet Staff – If the staff at your pet’s veterinary hospital goes above and beyond, here are 5 ways to show them you appreciate it. Embrace Pet Insurance blog; August 26, 2012.

Our Dogs, Our Hearts: Sonia And Nala – There are dogs, and then there are “heart dogs.” Part of a series investigating what sets heart dogs apart from the rest of the pack. Jenna and Snickers; August 20, 2012.

5 Ways To Beat The Heat With Your Dog – How desert dwellers can survive the remaining weeks of the dog days of summer.; August 11, 2012.

How To Keep Dogs Safe From Summer Heat – How to recognize and prevent canine heat stroke, an illness that is often fatal and always preventable. VetLIVE; August 8, 2012.

How To Make Car Rides With Dogs A Breeze – Whether you’re going to the vet or on a family road trip, here are 4 ways to make it fun for you and your furry passengers. GoPetFriendly; July 17, 2012.

Fidose Funny Friday: Dog Spins Wheels – One of my most embarrassing moments with my dog. I assure you, this is exactly how it happened. Fidose of Reality; July 6, 2012.

8 Secrets To Eliminate Pulling On A Leash – Tired of your dog taking you for a walk? Here’s how I turned my pup from a wannabe-sled dog to a calm canine. PetsWeekly; June 2, 2012.

Caring For Your Senior Dog – Learn what makes a dog a senior and what adjustments to make to keep them healthy through their golden years. Grouchy Puppy; February 10, 2012.

Reversing Training Mishaps – Ever accidentally taught a kid a swear word? I did something sort of like that with my dog. My 2 big training mistakes and how I reversed them. Fang Shui Training; January 2, 2012.

Going Green To Keep Dogs Safe And Healthy – When your dog licks food off the floor, he’s also licking up any chemicals you use to clean it. Here are 8 pet-safe alternatives to traditional chemical cleaners. Fidose Of Reality; November 21, 2011.

Top 5 Ways To Improve Life For Your Senior Dog – You can’t treat them the same way you treat a puppy. TheDogDaily; November 7, 2011.

Protecting Your Dog During The Dog Days Of Summer – How to keep your dog cool and safe as the mercury rises. FIDO Friendly Blog; August 11, 2011.

6 Large Dog Breed Myths – Busted! – Why many things you’ve heard about big dogs simply aren’t true. FIDO Friendly Blog; March 4, 2011.

Why Don’t More People Adopt Rescue Dogs? – Myths abound on why shelter pets are second-rate. Here’s the truth on why rescued dogs make first-class pets. Bella’s House And Pet Sitting; July 18, 2010.

Quoted In:

Real Women Share: Pregnant And Dreaming Of Motherhood –; May 24, 2013.

Going Green – Pet Age Magazine; April 17, 2013.

How To Write A Business Plan – Scott’s Marketplace; November 21, 2012.

The Things We Do For Love: “I Started A Business For My Big Dog” – Author Caroline Golon; September 6, 2012.

Summer Pet Safety – Author Selena Dehne, FabulousLiving; August 29, 2012.

Top 5 Ways To Improve Life For Your Senior Dog – Author Kim Boatman, TheDogDaily.

Fact Or Fiction? – Author Carol Bryant, FIDO Friendly Magazine; July 2011 issue.

Big Dogs And The People Who Love Them – Author Carol Bryant, FIDO Friendly Magazine; July 2011 issue.

Banana Worms

Potato mashers are perfect for making banana bread. Check out what happens –



It’s my favorite part of making banana bread by far. Even better than the eating part – I leave that to my fiance, who loves it. I use this banana bread recipe because it’s really quick and easy. It earns me big points, especially when I swap out a quarter cup of sugar for a quarter cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Alright, I might eat a piece or two if there’s chocolate in it.


Wrong Side Of The Fence

It had been a long time since I’d jumped a fence.

In high school, we got early release days once a month. My friends and I usually spent the afternoon walking the neighborhood, getting pizza from Nancy’s Pizza in a strip mall near our neighborhood.

We’d walk to a cul-de-sac with homes along the sides and a block wall at the end of it. On the other side of the wall was the back of the strip mall’s grocery store. While it was a place normally reserved for stock boys and delivery trucks, for us it was a shortcut to Nancy’s. Once we got past the fence, we had a short stroll to an opening between buildings and two doors over was a slice of pizza and a soda for just $2.10. Sometimes, the wall had an entrance through it, so we simply had to walk through it. Other times, it was a solid block wall we had to jump. I can’t remember how many times we were surprised by the change in the wall, and I could never figure out why it changed between pedestrian-friendly and solid block so often. Now, I suspect it may have had to do with unwanted teenagers in that cul-de-sac…

I don’t think I’ve hopped any fences since then. So yesterday was a bit of a pickle.

I came home from the office after my fiance, who had dutifully locked the back gate. That’s not normally a problem except this time, my gate key was inside the house – on my desk, right where I’d put it the night before after the neighbor who watched our dog Nala for a few days returned it to me. That would have been fine, except my fiance was asleep on the couch and not answering his phone, so him unlocking the gate wasn’t an option. My options: wait until he woke up, or jump the fence.

Jumping was not as easy as I’d remembered.

This time, instead of having friends willing to give me a boost, I was alone with a 6-foot block wall. Instead of wearing scrappy jeans and an oversized t-shirt, I was wearing one of my favorite dresses for work. And instead of an area devoid of an audience save for my friends, this time I was in plain sight of anyone in my complex returning home from work.


I remembered the step ladder I’d seen in our storage unit, so I used that in place of a boost. When I peaked over the wall, Nala gave me a look, her eyes bright with excitement and her head tilted in confusion. She ran to me then back to the gate with a look that plainly said, “Hey Mom, over here! Why are you up there? You should come in through the gate!”

Did I mention, the other side of the fence I had to climb is Nala’s preferred area for doing her business?

I managed to climb over without much incident and without an audience. I managed to maintain a sense of decency even in my dress. I got a few scrapes but didn’t hurt the knee that’s been bothering me and without landing in dog poop. All things considered, it went well.

Jumping fences used to be no big deal, but now it was a last resort that took strategizing to accomplish. I suddenly heard Danny Glover’s character from Die Hard in my head: “I’m too old for this shit!”

At least I didn’t land in dog shit.


Photo credit: philosophygeek

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