What’s In a Charlie?

When my fiancé and I adopted Charlie, the humane society had guessed that he was a German Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog mix. 

 Here’s a flashback to the day we brought him home! 
This Shepherd/Cattle dog combo seemed likely enough- he had shepherd coloring and was about the size of a cattle dog. As time went on, we wondered if he might also have a little corgi in him, what with his foxy face, fluffy neck, and very fluffy haunches. We both also just really like corgis, so we knew that might be just wishful thinking on our parts. 

At some point, I recalled reading about a company that would analyze your dog’s DNA and tell you what breed (or combination of breeds) they were. I finally got around to googling it at the beginning of February. 

I found out that the company, Mars Veterinary, offers a product called Wisdom Panel that can test canine DNA and match it to a database of over 200 different breeds. 

It’s a bit pricey, but my fiancé and I decided to get it as a sort of Valentine’s Day gift for each other. I ordered it through Amazon and the kit arrived in about 3 days!

The directions were easy to follow: take the two sealed swabs provided and get a sample from the inside of your dog’s cheek. You do have to make sure they have not eaten in the past two hours to avoid food contamination. Charlie was less than thrilled about that part. 

Charlie didn’t exactly mind having the actual samples taken, but my fiancé did have to give him lots of pets to keep him still so I could make sure the get a good swab. 

Then I put the swabs back in the box, stuck a pre printed shipping label on it, activated the kit online, and mailed it off. 
Waiting was the hardest part. I had read that it would take between 2 and 3 weeks after the lab received the sample to process the results. 

To my pleasant surprise, I got an email saying Charlie’s results were ready one week after they were received at the lab. 

Say what?? Obviously we weren’t surprised by the German Shepherd or Australian Cattle dog, but Doberman? Sheltie? Lab?

After thinking about it, though, I realized Charlie has the brown on black “eyebrows” most Dobermans have. 

Shelties are pretty fluffy and also on the petite side, which could be where he gets the extra floof and his smaller and slimmer size than most of the other breeds in his ancestry. 

But I’m still not sure about the lab…Charlie does not like swimming at all, and I’ve seen cats learn to fetch better than he does. 

The exact breakdown of Charlie’s breeding, in case you are interested, is:

*37.5% Australian Cattle Dog

* 12.5% German Shepherd

*12.5% Shetland Sheepdog

*12.5% Labrador Retriever 

*12.5% Doberman Pinscher 

*12.5% Mixed breed- this means that some of Charlie’s ancestry was mixed beyond the 3 generations back the test looks at. The full report does show what groups (i.e., herding, sporting, terrier, etc) the DNA is most similar to. In Charlie’s case, it was the working class breeds. 

Overall, I was really thrilled with the test. It was fun to find out what kind of mutt he is and try to find some characteristics of those breeds in his looks or temperament. 

At the end of the day, though, Charlie could be any combination of breeds and he would still be 100% spoiled and 100% loved. 


Winter is for hibernating

Okay, maybe not literally. But there is something about the reduced daylight hours, the cold, and the wind that make me wish I could curl up under my down comforter and never leave. 

I’ve been trying to fight it, though. We had something of a blizzard last week and I took advantage of the snow days and did some major organizing. Our closets are a work of art now, I swear. And I am slightly ahead in my never ending war with the laundry. 

When we weren’t snowed in, Charlie and I ran some errands I had been putting off for ages-Christmas returns, donation drop offs, picking up a passport application, that kind of stuff.

I had completely forgotten how many different pieces of paper you need to get a passport! My last passport was issued when I was 13, so I have to completely reapply and do everything in person. Somehow it evaded my notice that, in addition to proof of identity (driver’s license), I also needed proof of citizenship in the form of a certified copy of my birth certificate. Plus my old passport and a photo copy of my license and $160 bucks and a really terrible passport photo. Well, I assume the really terrible part is optional but I’ve yet to see a good passport photo. 

And at the end of this collection process, I ran out of time to submit it all at the post office. Now I have to wait and do it next week! Oh well. As long as it doesn’t take 6 months to process I should be good! 


It’s obviously been a hot minute since I’ve written anything. Or a couple of minutes. Whatever. 

There’s no big reason, good or bad. I just haven’t felt much like writing lately. October is always a busy time in the school year and I also have had several fun things going on so I just haven’t gotten around to blogging. I’ll be honest, I thought about formally quitting blogging. Or maybe I mean informally. I hadn’t planned to write some long, drawn out explanation about it or anything. I just haven’t put a ton of time or effort in to it lately. Not that I ever put a ton of time in, really, but I did used to write more than once every other month. 

But I decided I don’t want to throw in the towel just yet. I love reading blogs and I do enjoy having my own, even if it’s far more laid back and infrequent than most. 

So here I am! Back just in time for the most wonderful time of the year!

Some quick and mostly irrelevant updates:

If you’ve ever read my about page, you know that I have dyed my hair some shade of red for ages. As in 10 years.  Not quite a year ago, though, I decided to go darker…and not at all red. It was fun for a few months but I missed red way, way, WAY too much. So the ginger of Ginger in a Snap is back!

My Before Snapchat  

Some self indulgent after shots

I absolutely love how it turned out! Even though I’ve done my color at home since I was 13, I decided to suck it up and get some professional help (my hair had to be bleached to get rid of the dark color and I was not about to try diying my own bleach job) and I am so glad I did! My colorist/stylist/magician actually blended three different shades of red through my hair and I love how it seems much more natural and multi dimensional than what I got from an at home color. 

It’s been a month since it was dyed, and the color has faded a little from those first day photos (as red always tends to) but not very much! I’ll be due for a root touch up soon and I am definitely planning to keep this color!

We celebrated Charlie’s second birthday at the beginning of October. He got a peanut butter banana dog cake with peanut butter frosting. He continues to be extremely sweet, extremely wonderful, and extremely spoiled (of course).

He was an elephant for Halloween. It was adorable. 

No, he’s not trying to escape in that picture. And he’s not miserable. Not at all!

Charlie is a pretty good jumper, which we discovered after he decided the best was to get on the couch was to jump over the back side of it. I’ve had him practice a few makeshift agility jumps and he seems to really enjoy it. I’d love to actually set up a little course for him and see how he does! Maybe I can even find an agility class nearby. 

I’m going to end things here for now. I could add several more things to my “what I did while I wasn’t blogging” essay, but I won’t. I’ve got to save some stuff for later! 

Hope to see (write to?) you soon!

Things I was terribly confused about as a child

I get confused about a lot of things. These days, they tend to be things like how construction loans work, whether traditional or Roth IRAs are better, and if I remembered to turn off my curling iron. This level of confusion is nothing new. I’d say I’ve been in a perpetually confused state since I was a kid. When I was younger, though, my misunderstandings where much more comical. Take, for instance, these examples.

1) How lotteries worked

My grandfather bought lottery tickets quite often, frequently using my birthday as his numbers. He always told me that if he won he would buy me the horse I had wanted practically since birth. Apparently the concept of some sponsor just giving away millions of dollars was too much for my young brain to comprehend, because I was convinced that “the lottery” meant winning a horse. I was under the impression that some lottery man, as I referred to him, would call you if you won and then you would go to some massive farm with every kind of horse imaginable and just pick whichever one you wanted. Imagine my disappointment when I leaned that all you won was a ton of cash.

Luckily, when I was seven I got my horse Apache and was lucky enough to live the dream of many horse crazy little girls.   
2) Cavities

Now, this one is not entirely my fault. I don’t know if this is something all pediatric dentists use to try and explain the importance of good dental hygiene to young kids, but my dentist would always tell me she was looking for “cavity bugs” hiding in my teeth. From this, I got the idea that there were actually little bugs that would get in your mouth and eat your teeth. I guess it was effective, because I was always super good about brushing my teeth. Unfortunately, my dental woes are still many for reasons beyond my control, but that’s another story.

3) Yule Logs

Back before I got my horse when I was seven years old, I would wish on every star, eyelash, birthday candle, and 11:11 for a horse of my own. Once I figured out that the “lottery man” was never going to call and offer me a horse, my efforts to aquire a horse by other means doubled. I would try ANYTHING. 

The year I was five, Christmas rolled around and I was sure that I would at long last be getting a horse of my own. Why, you may ask? Because my aunt had told the about the magic of the Yule Log. Now, to be fair, I don’t actually remember what she told me about Yule Logs. Just, I assume, that they are some kind of special log you burn around Christmas. I took this to mean that any log that happened to be in the fireplace was a Yule Log and that you could make Christmas wishes on them that were sure to come true. So I plopped my little self down in front of the fire that Christmas Eve and whispered to the Yule Log my ultimate Christmas wish. I politely requested a purple horse that could fly, possessed human like intelligence, and would respond only to me. I had high standards, okay?? 

Now, I can’t express this next part enough. My parents did a really good job to never squash my imagination, so at this age I still whole heartedly believed in magic and Santa Claus and that Barney the dinosaur was my best friend. So I really and truly thought I was getting my purple horse (that I planned to name Wind Whistler, after my favorite My Little Pony) that Christmas. I was kind of crushed when, although I got lots of wonderful presents that day, none of them was a horse. In fact, I may still be a touch bitter about it.

4) Middle Names 

Around the time of the Yule Log debacle, I remember having a minor identity crisis. My kindergarten teacher was writing my name on a bunch papers, and I saw that she was writing three letters on all of them- M.E.R. My initials, of course, I just didn’t know it at the time. I figured out that the M and the R were my first and last name, but I couldn’t figure out what the E was. I asked my teacher, and she told me that was my middle name- Elizabeth. I was oddly baffled by this. I don’t know if I had just never realized I had a middle name or had known at one point but forgotten, but that night I made it a point to ask my mom about it. Unfortunately, I was a little jumbled up, so my question came out something like this: “Is Elizabeth really my name?” My mom, assuming I meant, “Is my middle name really Elizabeth?” told me yes. Which I then took to mean my name wasn’t really Megan but Elizabeth. Wanting to rectify the situation as soon as possible to avoid problems down the road, I spent all of recess the next day telling my friends that they would have to start calling my Elizabeth because that was my real name. Luckily, my best friend Sarah took matters into her own hands and called my house that night and asked my mom, who quickly set me straight that my real first name was, in fact, Megan. And all was well for the next 7 years until I decided I hated my name and needed to change it to something obnoxious and “unique.” Luckily I hear that wanting to change one’s name is considered developmentally normal and is fairly common amongst pre teens… 

5) Siblings

I was really sad that I was one of the only kids in kindergarten who was an only child. When a teacher asked me if I had any siblings, I decided to make myself fit in and say I had a sister named Kelsey. I talked about playing in the yard with Kelsey and exploring the woods with her. I told stories about my dad getting mad at her when she stole our neighbor’s Barbie doll. All of these stories were true. I just wasn’t describing my sister. I was telling stories about my family’s German Shepherd.

 Now, I wasn’t confused about whether a dog was the same thing as a sister. I was just tired of never having anything to contribute when my friends started telling stories about there siblings. My friends and teachers all believed me…until my teacher asked my mom how old Kelsey was one morning when she dropped me off at school. My mom as was like, “Uh, maybe three? I don’t really remember when we got her.” I can only imagine how confused both my teacher and my mom were. 
Me and my “sister” Kelsey  

 Peanut Butter Chocolate Ooey Gooey Cake

We don’t have cable at our apartment. In our small town we are limited with only a handful of options for cable and Internet, and none of them are what you would call cheap. My fiancé and I decided we would be better off getting an Internet only package and using Netflix as our primary source for TV and movies. 

It works pretty well. Tons of my favorite shows, including Frasier, NCIS, Archer, Gilmore Girls, and Love It or List It, are on Netflix, so I’m rarely at a loss for something to watch. 

In fact, the only two shows I really miss are The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead. Even that has a simple fix. I watch Big Bang online when I need some of Leonard and Sheldon’s antics. 

For The Walking Dead, my parents graciously invite us over for dinner on Sunday and we watch it together. Believe it or not, it’s one of my mom’s favorite shows. 

For this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, I decided we needed dessert. I haven’t baked in a long time and this ooey gooey peanut butter chocolate cake was just what I needed to get me back into the swing of things. 

You can see the full recipe here. It’s a super simple one and I already had most of the ingredients. A little powdered sugar and some chocolate chips from the store and I was all set! 

First, you get this rich chocolate layer. The recipe calls for crushed butterfingers in addition to the Reece’s cups, but I’m not a big fan so I left them out. 

Next comes the creamy peanut butter layer that I neglected to photograph. I confess, I was too busy licking the bowl! 

Bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Now melt some chocolate to top it off. 

Mmm, so good! A perfect compliment to zombies and general end of the world hysteria. 

Once again, I was too busy eating to snap a picture until it was almost all gone. 

I have a few more events coming up that I’ll be baking for, so stay tuned for more sweet things! 

Summer Wrap Up

I can’t believe summer is already over. It seems like just yesterday I was rejoicing at the prospect of weeks of vacation (And work. But whatever.) Now I’m trying to get ready for the first day of school on Tuesday! Agh! 

I’m really excited for the upcoming year though. The beginning of school is always stressful, (I say this like I have more than one year of teaching to compare to) what with students transferring to and from your school, working and reworking schedules, remembering how much I dislike IEP paperwork, organizing my room, and about a million more things. 

But once we get going and get back into a routine, I know it’s going to be a great year. I have a new room to organize and decorate, which is really exciting. 

I’m also working with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders this year. I already know that I absolutley love 4th and 5th grade. 3rd will be new to me (3rd and 6th grades are the only ones I didn’t work with last year) but I am excited to learn more about this grade and meet all my kiddos. 

I don’t have any picture of my room yet because it’s still a work in progress, but I’ll post some when it’s finished! 

For now, I’ll share a few pictures from the last few days of summer break!

We built a fire pit in the yard. Well, I say we, but I mainly mean my fiancé with some help from one of his friends. But still. We’ve only had a chance to use it once, but I envision many chilly Fall Saturdays spent sitting around it, hot cider in hand. At the risk of being a walking cliche, I love fall. I can’t wait for October!

Lounging in the yard, Charlie’s favorite way to spend the day. 

Rainbow chip frosting was my all time favorite when I was a kid…and a teenager. When it was discontinued in favor of rainbow sprinkle (no, just no) I was so upset. Thankfully, Betty Crocker listened and brought it back. When I saw some on the grocery store shelf I may have grabbed the last two tubs on the shelf. Sweet, frosted goodness

We’ve had a lot of rain over the past few days. It was much needed, and there’s nothing like a good lazy, rainy day once in awhile. 

Now I’m watching Netflix with the fella and Charlie, looking forward to the curry I’m making for dinner, and making a running list of all the school stuff I still need to get from Walmart. Life is good :) 

Man eating spiders, river adventures, and a spoiled dog

You know, I’ve had several posts in a draft form for…ages. One is my attempt at humorous writing. It’s basically done, but I need pictures to go with it. Another is about dog safe people food (Charlie tested and approved). But honestly, I’ve been having way too much fun this month to get them finished. And there are those pesky three days of work every week- oh, the horror of being a teacher in the summer!

One major development is my new car. I love my Volvo, and so far it’s had no major issues that weren’t self inflicted (Me + Pole in parking lot + HID headlights = $$$) but it’s not exactly the most affordable car to maintain. So one Saturday my dad and I went browsing around town for a car in my price range. I really wanted a small SUV, but those are of course more expensive.

We just happened to stop by a dealership where my dad used to work. I test drove three cars (including a Lexus SUV which was divine but, like my Volvo, pricey to maintain), a GMC Terrain, and a Subaru Forester. In the end, my dad (Haggler Of the Year) managed to talk them down on the price of the Subaru to one that would be within my monthly budget if I financed it.

I was originally against financing a car, but after considering that it would help build my nonexistent credit score AND allow me to afford a much newer car with less than 50,000 miles I managed to talk myself in to it.

Here’s Sookie the Subaru! She gets pretty good gas milage and has plenty of cargo space.


Charlie loves “his spot” in the car. For around town trips I just keep this blanket in the back for him.


Anything a bit longer, though, and he likes to ride in ultimate comfort.


Plus, he loves having the big back window to look out. The back wiper is of particular fascination to him.

So that spur of the moment trip went pretty well. I definitely wasn’t planning to buy a car right then, but it just worked out! Speaking of spur of the moment shopping trips…

I also bought my wedding dress! Last Saturday my mom, aunt, and I decided to drop by a local bridal salon to browse after we saw that they allowed walk ins. The girl helping us was wonderful and helped me pick out some great dresses to try on. Amazingly, I fell in love with the very first one I tried. Don’t worry, I did try on about six others for reference. There were some that were definite nos, some that I liked, and a few that I loved, but I just kept coming back to the first dress. It had that WOW factor that none of the others had and I positive it was the one. I’m keeping it a secret for now, but I will say it’s the exact opposite of the kind of dress I thought wanted. I guess you never know until you try! I can’t wait until it comes in sometime in November.

My fiancé and I also went tubing with some friends this weekend. I’ve been canoeing several times before but never tubing. I have to say, it was way more relaxing than canoeing!


Can I just say that I live in the most beautiful place in the world? I love my mountains.


We also had a house guest this week. Everyone, meet Harold. Harold the Huntsman Spider.


He overstayed his welcome by being in our house for more than 2 seconds, was very fast, capable of jumping, and just needs to not be within 1,000 yards of my house. Huntsman spiders aren’t poisonous, but I totally didn’t care when he was scurrying freely near my feet.

Yes, I shrieked a little bit.

We did not invite him back.

On a quick, and much less terrifying (and way more adorable) note, check out Charlie’s new shirt. My dad is particularly fond of it.