5 Things to Think About BEFORE Getting a Dog


Tyler and I adopted a PUPPY!  We had been talking about getting a dog for what felt like a century before we FINALLY decided we were ready.  Meet MURPHY!  He’s a Redbone Coonhound/Australian Shepherd mix from Hope Animal Rescues in Godfrey, Illinois.  He, along with his mother and litter mates, were rescued from a local animal control facility.  You’ll be seeing a lot of this little guy!

Our Murphy at 12 weeks old!

I’ve worked with animals all my life – dolphins, cats, penguins, wallabies, goats, sea lions… you name it – but I’ve never worked with dogs.  So, me being me, I did hours upon hours of hours of research on puppy care, training, breeders, shelters, and rescues.  I’ve compiled enough information to keep even the most curious people busy for a year or two.  Now that I have a few tricks up my sleeve, let me share with you some of the things we learned while looking for our furry friend!

Are you ready?

Before you even start looking for a dog, really take the time to figure out if you’re ready.  Granted, you can never be totally ready – getting a dog will change your life, in more ways than one- but you need to committed to your pet for as long as he lives.  That means every single day, even the chaotic, poop-everywhere kind of days.

What are you looking for in a dog

Are you looking for a couch-potato partner?  A jogging companion?  A hefty protector?  An agility master?  These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you find yourself a pup.  If you’re only interested in long naps interspersed with episodes of ‘Making a Murder’, a Border Collie is probably not for you.  Or if you’re hoping your Pomeranian will be the next disc dog champion, you’re probably going to be disappointed.  Do some research before committing to a particular breed.  You’ll want to make sure it’s not only a good match for you, but also for your dog.  Your non-shredded sofa will thank me later :-).

What are your plans?

You may come to find that adopting a dog is darn near impossible.  Some applications can be very extensive, requiring all kinds of information.  Is the dog going to be inside or outside?  Will it have free range of the house or be kept in a kennel?  What are your plans for potty training?  How will you approach obedience training?  All of these are very important questions.  Consider them carefully.  What I’ve found is the longer the application, the more reputable the breeder/shelter.  Make sure you have your own list of questions, too!

To puppy or not to puppy?

Most people are dead set on getting a puppy, but always keep an open mind.  I have a passion for training animals, so I really wanted to start with a puppy.  Eleni and I will be the first to tell you, though, having a puppy is A LOT OF WORK.  You’ll be cleaning up messes, avoiding sharp puppy teeth…you’ll be frustrated, tired, and on the brink of giving up.  You’ll look into those big puppy eyes and think, “How can something so small have such a large attitude??”  They’re cute for a reason!  But if you think you’re ready to raise a puppy, you won’t regret it!  If you aren’t so sure, consider adopting an older dog!  They might just come potty trained, house trained, MORE than ready to be loved, and desperately in need of a forever home!

Have you considered adopting?

While I have nothing against good, responsible breeders, Tyler and I chose to adopt from a rescue.  The number of dogs living in shelters is astounding.  The best part of adopting is that you get the chance to save two lives- the dog you adopt, and the one who gets to take his place.

I hope these tips have given you something to think about!  Now go out and find your pup!!



My big fat Greek reality. 

Many of you have heard of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the trailer for the second movie came out very recently. My (Greek) dad refuses to watch the first movie because he says it is a bunch of bull, but  my mom and I have both discussed that we could be millionaires if we knew a movie about Greek life could be so entertaining… because most of the movie’s content is for real.

If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it really quick. The movie is really well done. It has family drama, a love story, obstacles that the lovers have to overcome, and comedy along the way.This film sticks out to me though because of the Greekness. While you laugh at the situations, I live them.

Before we begin, here’s  a very brief history of my Greek heritage. My dad was born in Sparta, Greece (wait while someone screams, ‘THIS…IS…SPARTA!!’). He was moved to the United States with his parents when he was not even two years old. He learned English by watching Seasame Street as my grandparents ran their dry cleaning business. My maiden name is GORANITIS. Yes, I know it sounds like a disease, yes it’s hard to say and spell- welcome to my life. I am half Greek, have a name that oozes Greekness, and could’ve made so much money if my family made it into a movie first.

Here is a list of things seen in the movie, and I will give you the scoop on whether they are fluff , or if it applies to my Greek life

  1. Greeks live in Chicago: TRUE. My dad’s family moved to Chicago when he was in high school, and there is definitely a Greek community there. They even have Greek fast food places!  My grandparents live on a street with other Greeks- they stick together.
  2. Greeks always own their own business: TRUE. While this may not be the case for ALL Greeks, it seems to be a trend for those who immigrated here with their families. Notice that in the movie, Voula’s family owns a dry cleaning service- so did my grandparents until they retired. And Voula’s family also owned a travel agency- the only travel agent I know is Greek… not sure why this is a thing.
  3. The kids have to go to Greek school: TRUE. I WAS THAT KID. For about 2 years, my dad would drive us to Greek school every Tuesday night at the Greek Orthodox church. While I did learn a few things, class was mostly the Greek school teacher trying to discipline the troublesome kid, who happened to be the priest’s son…
  4. Greek women are always  cooking: TRUE. This one is 100% true for all of the full Greek yiayias (Greek for ‘grandmas’) out there. Every time I visit my yiayia, she has a massive Greek meal ready to go. Every. Time.
  5. Greeks’ homes are modeled after the Parthenon: FALSE. While there are many Greek statues/flags/pottery inside Greek houses, I have never seen any gaudy Greek things outside of the house. Of course this is just with MY family…
  6. Greeks use Windex to fix everything: FALSE. I feel like this staple in the movie had to do with 2 things. First of all, Windex probably gave them a lot of money to make this movie. However, I have noticed my dad goes through.. let’s call them “phases” where he is obsessed with something and tries to convince everyone else that this is the ONLY  way to go. I think this concept was grasped through the Windex.
  7. Greeks will tell you “Give me a word, ANY word, and I will give you the Greek root”: TRUE. My dad is 100% guilty of this one. Especially when we were in Greek school, EVERYTHING came from a Greek word. The funny thing is, most words DO have a Greek root so…
  8. There is a scary old lady in black that hates people from Turkey: KINDA TRUE. There is always a grandma dressed in all black (a sign of mourning a lost spouse, but they wear black the rest of their life), who does not understand ONE word in English. She probably hates people from Turkey, but can’t tell you because again, no English.
  9. Most Greeks are named Nick: TRUE. I have an Uncle Nick. I have a cousin Nicki… everyone is Nick.
  10. Greeks cover their living room furniture in plastic: TRUE. You may not believe me on this one, but I’m not joking. The main living area in my grandparents house has 2 couches and 2 chairs- all covered in plastic. It’s not as uncomfortable as you would expect.
  11. Greeks have over 20 cousins: FALSE. I have 4 first cousins, so this one doesn’t match with my family. However I think most of the time this one is true for Greek families.
  12. Greeks only want their kids to marry other Greeks: TRUE. You remember the part in the movie where Gus is upset that Toula is going to marry a “xeno”? Xeno is Greek for ‘foreigner’. I know what you’re thinking- wait, he’s from Greece and is in America, so he would be the foreigner, right? Not to them! My grandparents called my mom a “xeni”, feminine version of ‘xeno’ for YEARS after my parents got married. This one is so real that it hurts.
  13. Greeks say weird things like “Nobody talk to me about nothing no more!”: TRUE. There are a few things that get mixed up in translation and leave Greeks putting a bunch of negatives together in a sentence. Also, I didn’t know it was weird to say “close the light” until my husband looked at me like I was crazy one day when I said it. In translation, it’s “close the light”, not “turn off the light”, so my dad learned it that way and it rubbed off on my mom. I am hoping I will rub off on Ryan so I don’t seem as crazy when I say it.
  14. A Greek orthodox baptism has a kiddie pool for adults: FALSE. The church scene is pretty legit, from the priest to the ornate walls… however there is no kiddie pool. Adult baptisms have a large gold basin looking thing. And no, getting baptized in the Greek church does NOT make you Greek.
  15. Greek grandpas came to this country with only $8 in their pocket: TRUE. I get the same story from my grandpa every time I see him. But it’s kind of cool how this one is true.. he literally came to this country with his wife and 1 year old (my dad), had almost no money to his name, and started a new life in a new place. How many of us would have the guts to do that today?
  16. Greeks spit on you for good luck: TRUE. This is also a true thing. Although, we usually don’t really spit, we just go through the motions of it. No one wants to hock a loogie onto a bride.
  17. Greeks yell OPA when they dance: TRUE. We yell ‘OPA’ a lot, even when we are not dancing!
  18. Greeks accept their foreigner in laws and buy their kids a house for their wedding: I WISH.
So there you go! That is a list of the things that stand out to me during the movie. However there are a few more things that I feel need to be further explained in order to appreciate the movie:
  • That instrument playing throughout the whole movie is called a bouzouki. It’s like a Greek banjo.
  • The “moussaka” (pronounced MOO SAH KAH, emphasis on the KAH) that a young Toula is eating is a Greek version of lasagna, with layers of eggplant instead of noodles- DELICIOUS.
  • When Athena says a priest is coming to ‘bless her house’- when Greeks move, they have the priest come sprinkle holy water in each room in order to ward off demons. I have seen this happen, it’s interesting.
  • Ian’s parents confuse Armenian with Greek.. I have heard people think the Kardashians are Greek… GREECE IS NOT ARMENIA.
  • We do eats lots of lamb and drink some ouzo.
  • Spanakopita is mentioned at the engagement party (where it is pronounced correctly- take note!), and it s a delicious spinach pie with spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo (pronounced FEE-LO). If you don’t like spinach, don’t worry- we have a ‘just cheese’ version called tiropita (pronounced TEE RO PEE TA)
In closing, being Greek has its perks. I feel a great connection to my Greek heritage and would never trade it. But as Gus so finely puts it at Toula’s wedding:
We all different, but in the end- we all fruit.
~Ἑλένη   (Eleni)

5 Netflix shows for every mood

5 Netflix Shows for Every Mood

Christmas is over (*whimpers*). It’s time to move into the most BORING months of the whole year. January, February, and March.  Except for Eleni’s and my birthday, these months really don’t have much going for them, IMO.  They’re the worst.  There are no days off work, more than likely it’s cold…. the days just draaaag.  I guess it makes Spring’s arrival just that much sweeter.  But for now, it’s time to settle into a Netflix lifestyle (unless you want to get a hobby – that’s fine, too, I guess).  As for the rest of you, my fellow binge-watchers, let’s go over a few of the must watch shows on Netflix right now.  (Caveat:  I’m not including any movies on this list because, let’s be honest, the selection sucks)  So, what are you in the mood for??


Something dark, mysterious, and downright creepy?

Netflix Original Series, Marvel's Jessica Jones

Marvel’s Jessica Jones:  This isn’t the Marvel you know.  A welcome break from your typical weeknight show, Jessica Jones is a noir-esque escape from reality that tells the story of a very… special private investigator.  It’ll leave you saying, “WHAT?!” more than a few times.  You’ll never want to stop watching – you’ll HAVE to know what happens.  Since this is a Netflix Original Series, they drop one season at a time.  Enjoy Season 1.  Then you can join me in not-so-patiently waiting for Season 2.

Binge-ability:  8/10

An unconventional fantasy world?

ABC, Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time:  You don’t have to be a Disney fanatic to love this one.  OUAT is more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  While at times a bit cheesy, this show will never bore you.  The story is always changing and you’re always getting introduced to new, yet familiar characters.  It’s interesting, it’s spontaneous, and it’s certainly different from your average show.  Even my husband likes it, and he’s not really one for Disney stuff.  Plus, there are 5 whole season to watch!  That should last you a while.

Binge-ability:  6/10


Maybe something light-hearted, witty, and easy to watch?


Parks and Recreation:  Eleni and I like to say we are the Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope of the chemical industry.  While it may be a spin-off of The Office, Parks and Rec is even more hilarious and impulsive.  You don’t know humor until you’ve met Ron Swanson and April Ludgate.  This show was my obsession in college.  It’s so quotable it’s ridiculous.  The series ended after Season 7.  You’ll kind of have to get through the first few episodes before it picks up, but you’ll be hooked in no time.

Binge-ability:  9/10


Need thought-provoking intensity with just enough plot?

FOX, House, M.D.

House, M.D.:  Now this is an old one, but worthy of your time.  The series ended on Season 8 in 2012, but if you haven’t watched it yet, give it a try!  Dr. House is so deeply twisted, you will never stop wondering if you love him or if you hate him.  His approach to diagnostic medicine is nothing short of unethical, but you know you’d die to be his patient (pun intended).  Every episode is a different story, with an interesting underlying plot.  You’ll find yourself sucked in by the compelling, and sometimes comical, stories of Dr. House’s patients.  Happy binging!

Binge-ability:  8/10


Want ridiculous with equal parts drama and comedy?

The CW, Jane the Virgin


Jane the Virgin:  Oh. My. Gosh.  This has become my new favorite show.  It’s about a young woman who gets (accidentally) artificially inseminated and becomes pregnant with a super rich, and super hot, hotel owner’s baby.  Obviously a self-proclaiming farce, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet you’ll be seriously sucked into the characters’ stories.  The never ending twists and turns are riveting, with just the right balance of comic relief.  You’ll find yourself adopting a telenovela mindset.  Let’s just say, you’ll NEVER STOP WATCHING.  I NEED MORE EPISODES.

Binge-ability:  10/10 (I watched the whole season in a shorter time frame than I’m willing to admit.)


Proceed to your nearest Netflix viewing station and get to watching!



Dear Santa: a puppy, please!

So you added a new furry member to the family this Christmas! Congratulations! Getting a puppy is super exciting! They are cute, cuddly and extremely entertaining. Three years ago I rescued my dog King around Christmas time. It was wonderful, but there are a few things I wish I would have known first.  He was somewhat of an ‘impulse buy’, and some things I was not ready for. It’s all fun and playtime at first; however, while they are just the *cutest little fur babies everrrr* (said in a baby talk voice)-they are a HUGE responsibly and there are steps to take early on to ensure an easier life for you and your new puppy. 

  1. Health. Make sure your puppy is up to date on their shots/heart worm/flea medications. An appointment with your local veterinarian is crucial when you first get your puppy so you can make sure they are in tip top shape. This is also a time to decide if they will be ‘fixed’.  Heads up- many puppies will have worms in their poop at some point. It’s disgusting. Don’t freak out, just go get the medication necessary. Here is a quick checklist of what to do.
  2. Training. Proper training FROM THE BEGINNING is the only way to get your puppy with you, and not against you. Puppy training schools are becoming more popular, or just a simple search on Google for puppy training tips can point you in the right direction.  Don’t be afraid to be the boss! Your puppy will test your limits, just like a toddler- be strong!
  3. Puppy pals. I personally think it’s a good idea to get your puppy interacting with other dogs/puppies early on. This way they won’t be as aggressive towards ‘dog strangers’ as they grow up. Dog parks are a fun (and sometimes free) way to let your puppy get some energy out while learning to be social, not scared.  This site can help you search for a park near you. 
  4. Exercise. This one can be fun. Puppies have A LOT of energy, and they will use it one way or another. If you’re smart, you will give them an energy outlet. This could be daily walks, jogs, toys to play with, a large yard to play fetch, or even the dog park. If you don’t give your puppy a way to use their energy, they will find it themselves. It could be chewing your shoes, digging the carpet, gnawing on your doors or walls…if you give them a healthy way to stay active, you both will be much happier. 
  5. Attention. Although I know puppies are not the same as babies, there are a few general concepts that apply to both. One of the big ones is attention. Puppies need A LOT of attention (as if potty training isn’t enough…) If you are going to have a super long day at work one day, try a puppy daycare! Or maybe you have a friend that can watch your fur baby while you are busy! If you neglect your puppy, not only will they get into trouble (making messes on your lovely carpet, chewing through those super expensive shoes you got for Christmas, the list goes on…), but they could actually go into a puppy depression. Keep them busy and you both will be happier. 
  6. Money. Pets cost money. If you consider this from the beginning, it won’t be as frustrating later on. Remember that it is probably more expensive when you first get your puppy though. At first, there is vet bills to get all the vaccines and medicines necessary, puppy training costs if you decide to go that route, buying a bed, toys, kennel, food, bowls, leash, soaps…it can add up fast! Think of it as a puppy-start-up cost. But remember to keep on top of year checkups and keep up for vaccines. This costs money, but it’s worth it to have a healthy growing puppy. 
  7. Lastly, the puppy stage. Having a puppy can be wonderfully challenging at times. It’s very easy to forget that they won’t be a puppy forever! My dog King is 3 years old, and he has only recently started to evolve into an adult dog. While it can be frustrating, they will grow older and learn how to behave. Again, kinda like kids! Only you don’t have to wait 25 years for a dog to become smart…. ☺️

Bringing a puppy into the family is such a fun stage. This is the puppy that will be with you for years: greeting you after work, cuddling with you after a long day, and put a smile on your face when it seems like the world is dark. Appreciate them for the innocent and loving creatures they are, and don’t eat the yellow snow! 

(If you have not gotten a dog yet, but are thinking about it, click here to compare different breeds, and find out what will work best for you!)


dog on carpet
He may not be a puppy anymore, but he is still adorable.

Last Minute DIY Christmas Gifts



For you late shoppers out there (including myself), step away from the gift cards.  You may be considering throwing in the towel for that last person on your list… Well fear not, homemade gifts aren’t just for elementary school anymore!  These DIY gifts are here to save you!  And I’m not taking macaroni necklaces.  These are some Christmas crafts that’ll leave the your family and friends saying “You made this?!”  I’ve listed these DIY gift ideas in order of difficulty based on how much time you have left.  We start TOMORROW.

December 17…

Check it these awesome coasters!  You could seriously give this gift to anyone.  The possibilities are endless.  These square coasters are especially good for Instagram photos!  So many options, so little time.

DIY Photo Coaster Tutorial


December 18…

Okay, so you might not have time to print pictures (photo labs are CRAZY busy this time of year).  Why not use something around the house for your DIY coasters?  Here’s a tutorial using six packs!  Even my husband was like “Okay, that’s kinda cool.”  (Which is pretty much a fanfare for him.)

DIY Beer Coaster Tutorial


December 19…

You still have more than a week!  You can do this!  How about something for your girlfriends?  You may even have these ingredients already at home!  Try this sugar scrub tutorial!

Vanilla Sugar Scrub Tutorial


December 20…

So you’re down to a week.  No pressure!  But maybe we should try something a little easier.  How about these festive dip mix ornaments?  Just mix up a bunch of those spices you never use and put it an an ornament.  Tie a bow on the top and viola!  Bad-ass gift ready for giving.

Dip Mix Ornaments
Dip Mix Ornaments Tutorial


December 21…

Not feeling the dip mixes?  How about hot cocoa mix ornaments?  Super easy, super cheap, and super festive.  You can’t lose with this one!

Hot Cocoa Mix Ornaments Tutorial


December 22…

Feeling crafy?  This next DIY is great because it is super personalize-able.  This is a great gift for anyone… boyfriends, parents, teachers, friends you don’t really know that well…  Try out these Sharpie Painted Mugs!

DIY Painted Mugs Tutorial


December 23rd…

At this point, you’re probably ready to just put something together and call it quits.  This next one is my favorite- Glitter ornaments.  You don’t even need a tutorial.  I made this one for Tyler the year he graduated college.  Now, don’t be fooled by the glitter ornament tutorials on Pinterest.  You DON’T need glue!  All you need is a glass ornament and very fine glitter.  The static charge in the ornament will make the glitter stick to the inside forever.  It doesn’t get easier than that!  You can do anything you want on the outside!  I painted Tyler’s college logo with acrylic paint and tied a bow on the top with a couple jingle bells.



Christmas Eve…

OK, it’s game time.  This is Christmas Eve.  We don’t get much closer to Christmas than this.  But I’m here for you.  Let’s throw something together; we don’t have much time.  1) Go to Target.  2) Get a red EOS lip balm.  3) Do this tutorial.   They even give you a print out.  EASY.  This gift is so clever, anyone could appreciate it.

DIY Rudolph Christmas Gift
Rudolph Christmas Gift Tutorial


And there you have it!  Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about late shopping.  There’s nothing like the camaraderie you feel in Target on Christmas Eve.  We’re all in this together, right?  Good luck!  Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!


What to expect when you’re NOT expecting: pregnancy paranoia. 

Better late than pregnant

I have been married for  four months, almost five. It has been a wonderful four months, with just me, my husband, and our fur baby King. Contrary to popular belief in our families, we want to wait a few years before we expand our family (speaking of strictly non-furry members…we definitely are getting another dog soon). Every time I feel sick, am a day off on my ‘time of month’, or start to feel slightly different than normal, I immediately think that my birth control has failed me, and I only have 9 months to complete everything I want to do before a tiny human consumes my life (which will be wonderful when it happens- just not anytime soon). Example- last week I stayed home from work one day because I felt sick, so I took a pregnancy test which only confirmed my pregnancy paranoia: there’s no bun in this oven. Being someone that decided to save sex for marriage, I am not used to the idea that I could be pregnant! Right after I got married, I asked my mom if married life consists of taking pregnancy tests every 2 weeks to make sure it’s alright to have some coffee in the morning and drinks after work. She looked at me like I was crazy, but how could I not feel this way? There’s no stork that delivers a tiny basket. Sex leads to babies if you don’t take the correct precautions- and sometimes even if you do!

Before picking my birth control (the NuvaRing, AKA my ‘ring of power’), I did a little bit of research. On almost every reviewing website, there were horror stories about the side effects or failures of women’s birth control. I realize it is not 100% effective, so in my usual cynical thought process- I assume I will be in the small percentage that ends up with a ‘surprise’. Of that small percentage that accidentally gets pregnant, I am sure that most of them would now say it was a blessing and would never change their family. Being on the side of the coin where birth control has been effective for me, I would very much like to keep it that way.

At this point, I am (obviously) still paranoid about pregnancy, but am hoping that this feeling fades. Although, I assume that as soon as the anxiety passes, I will start wanting children. That’s usually how life works. But until I am ready for that journey, I will continue to raise my fur baby King. I have the same feeling about King as Ronald Reagan had about his cats: “It’s like having children, but there is no tuition involved.”