Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DIY Frosted Christmas Lanterns

'Tis the season for DIY holiday decor! I had a bit of a rough day a few days ago (can anyone relate?) so my sweet Mr. Handsome encouraged me to treat myself. I think he had a latte in mind, but I opted to head to the craft store to buy supplies to make DIY Christmas lanterns. The process was simple, but I am so pleased with the results that I just have to share the tutorial with you. 

I followed The Budget Decorator's DIY Mason Jar Holiday Luminaria tutorial, but I made several tweaks that made the process even simpler.

For jars, I used three leftover Ball canning jars (pint size, from Walmart) that only had 'Ball' written in small letters on the bottom back of the jar, rather than in large letters with measuring marks. I purchased the rest of the supplies at Hobby Lobby. These are the spray paints I used: 

frosted Christmas lanterns using spray paint

After placing a letter sticker on each jar, I did 3 coats of frosted glass spray paint, waiting 15 minutes between coats. (It is really important to follow the instructions on the spray paint can. If you hold it too close to the jars, the paint won't be smooth.) The following morning, I did 3 coats of clear sealer spray paint, also waiting 15 minutes between coats. 

I used the glitter shimmer spray paint on the rims. I opted to forgo the lids, but of course that's just personal preference. (I like the simple look without ribbon, but you can feel free to add ribbon.) If you do use the lids, I recommend purchasing tealights that have built-in timers, so you don't have to unscrew the lids to turn them on and off. The downside of tea lights with timers is that it can be difficult to find ones with a decent battery life. 

homemade mason jar Christmas lanterns

I opted for flameless LED tealights without timers. At the recommendation of one of my Facebook followers, I tied fishing line (which Mr. Handsome has plenty of) around the plastic "flame." I secured the other end under the rims as I screwed them on. To turn the lanterns on and off, I simply reach in and grab the fishing line to pull the tealights out. 

DIY mason jar lanterns

DIY mason jar lanterns for holidays

One more tip. Blasting the stickers with a hairdryer for 20-30 seconds before attempting to peel them off is a must. If you pull them off and still see black flecks on the jar, you probably didn't get both layers of the sticker. (That happened to one of my jars.) Simply blast it with a hairdryer for another 20-30 seconds, and gently use your fingernail to pick at the flecks. You should be able to pull off a full clear layer, and the black flecks should be gone.

If your stickers leave stickiness behind, allow the jars to set for a few days, and gently use a small amount of Goo Gone on a paper towel to wipe it away.

DIY homemade Christmas decorations

Feel free to choose another holiday word, such as Noel, Rejoice, Hope, Advent, Jolly, or Holly. If you're feeling really crafty (and have a lot of Mason jars lying around), try Merry Christmas or Visions of Sugar Plumbs...Okay, that might be a bit excessive.

If you make these lanterns and want to take a minute to email me your photos, I would love to see them!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Oven-Roasted Whole Chicken

Hope all my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'll post about our celebration soon, but in the meantime, I have a recipe to share. Do you recall my post from April 2016 requesting chicken recipes? I have enjoyed preparing the recipes you suggested, as well as experimenting with new ones. The one I'm about to share is one of my favorites, and Mr. Handsome loves it, too!

Oven-Roasted Whole Chicken

1 whole chicken (5 lbs)
1/4 cup salt (for brine)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion (cut into chunks)


Remove chicken from packaging, and discard giblets. Rinse chicken. Place chicken in a large pot (I use my slow cooker insert). Fill with warm water, and stir in 1/4 cup salt. Let chicken soak in brine for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the spice mixture, mixing together onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, black pepper, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.

After 15 minutes, remove chicken from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Use your hands to rub the spice mixture onto chicken (inside and outside). Stuff onion chunks into chicken cavity.

Place chicken in empty slow cooker insert (not the electric part). Cover with several layers of plastic wrap, a few directly around the chicken and a few over the top of the pot. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

Remove plastic wrap, and place chicken in an oven safe pot (I use a Dutch oven). Bake uncovered at 275F for 2-1/2 hours. Increase oven to 325F, and bake until internal temperature has reached 180F/82C (approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour). 

**If you wish to use your slow cooker insert, check to make sure it is oven safe, and follow any special instructions. Many slow cooker companies advise against placing the insert into a hot oven, but rather to put it in the oven before preheating. says the following: "All Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker removable crockery inserts (without lid) may be used safely in the microwave and the oven set up to 400°F. If you own another slow cooker brand, please refer to your owner’s manual for specific crockery cooking medium tolerances."

Oven-Roasted Whole Chicken

1 whole chicken (5 lbs)
1/4 cup salt (for brine)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion (cut into chunks)

Remove chicken from packaging, and discard giblets. Rinse chicken. Place chicken in a large pot (I use my slow cooker insert). Fill with warm water, and stir in 1/4 cup salt. Let chicken soak in brine for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the spice mixture, mixing together onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, black pepper, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.

After 15 minutes, remove chicken from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.

Use your hands to rub the spice mixture onto chicken (inside and outside). Stuff onion chunks into chicken cavity.

Place chicken in empty slow cooker insert (not the electric part). Cover with several layers of plastic wrap, a few directly around the chicken and a few over the top of the pot. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

Remove plastic wrap, and place chicken in an oven safe pot (I use a Dutch oven). Bake uncovered at 275F for 2-1/2 hours. Increase oven to 325F, and bake until internal temperature has reached 180F/82C (approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour). 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Mud Mask Giveaway

Happy Black Friday! As promised, I am giving away an item from my fall #FabFitFun box. It's the Whish Renewing Mud Mask, free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, and pthalates. Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my loyal readers, my loving and supportive husband, a beautiful sunny day, our freedom, and the many other blessings that God has given us. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Do you take part in Black Friday? When I was young, my mom always jump-started her Christmas shopping with an early morning trip to the mall the day after Thanksgiving. Sometimes, she stood out in the cold for hours, waiting in line for the stores to open. When my brother and I were older, we started going with her. Some years we had a plan, other years we just browsed the aisles to see what cheap goodies we could find.

Years later, when I started a relationship with Mr. Handsome, I discovered that his mother and sisters were dedicated Black Friday shoppers, and I began taking part in what has become a tradition. I can't say I enjoy venturing out into the dark and [usually very] cold at 4am, but it's definitely an adventure and a chance to make memories.

As you prepare for Black Friday, I have a few shopping tips to share. Feel free to add your own.

Black Friday Shopping Tips

1. Make a Game Plan
After the food coma has subsided and your Thanksgiving dinner guests have headed home, start looking through the store catalogs and planning your shopping excursion. Decide what stores you want to visit and in what order (based on what time they open and where they are located), and make a list of the items you are interested in. If you are hoping to pick up Christmas gifts, you'll want to make a list of all the people you need to buy for.

2. Beware of Electronics
When it comes to electronics, especially TVs, you'll want to remember the "buyer beware" mantra. Do the prices seem too good to be true? They might just be. Electronic stores are known for selling cheaper, lower quality brands and making you think you're getting something that's top of the line. They will also manufacture derivative models of more well-known brands. A derivative model is a stripped down, junkier version of a product that is usually only sold for a few days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Be sure to check model numbers, specs, and consumer reviews before buying an electronic item. If you look up a model number and don't find information online, there's a good chance it's a derivative model.

3. Bundle
When it comes to department/clothing stores, you'll often score additional savings if you combine coupons (found in catalogs or online) with store sales. Make sure to read the fine print, as some coupons are only valid on certain items.

4. Go With a Group
If you have a large list and are planning to hit up several stores, shopping with a few other people can be helpful. If you enter a store with a long checkout line, station someone in the line (perhaps someone who doesn't need anything from that particular store) while the rest of you shop.

5. Check Return Policies
On Cyber Monday, I'll often order a bunch of clothing items with plans to return the ones that don't work. (This tactic is especially easy if you can return online items to the store.) Last year, I ordered about eight pairs of jeans for Mr. Handsome, all at fabulous sale prices, and then returned the ones that didn't fit. Two years ago, I ordered several dresses and returned all but two. (If you're like Mr. Handsome and me, finding tasteful clothing that fits--especially jeans and dresses--is almost impossible, so we welcome online shopping.)

6. Exercise Caution
Over the years, I have made a few Black Friday clothing purchases that I later regretted. Let's be honest, trying on a bunch of clothes when you're tired, cold, and hungry isn't too appealing. Something that looks good at 5am might not have the same appeal when you're well rested. Just something to keep in mind while you shop, especially if it's an item you can't return.

7. Bring Snacks and Water
No explanation needed. A hungry shopper is a grumpy shopper.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Peacock Painting

It has been a while since I've shared one of Mr. Handsome's paintings. Earlier this year, I showed you the flamingo that he gave me for Valentine's Day, but I don't believe I have posted the peacock. He gained his inspiration from a picture of a peacock with its feathers spread out that I took as a child.

During a recent visit, my father-in-law saw the flamingo and peacock paintings and told us that those were his favorites of all Mr. Handsome's paintings. I was surprised, as I didn't peg him as a bird lover (I expected him to choose one of the ships or country scenes), but I'm thrilled to see him enjoying Mr. Handsome's art.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I shared the super moist chocolate cake recipe that I used to make my recent chocolate-covered strawberry cake. As promised, here are the recipes for the chocolate glaze and strawberry buttercream frosting, as well as instructions for assembling the cake. I am usually a fairly healthy eater, but I am in no way claiming that this is a healthy cake. Everyone needs a treat now and then!

Chocolate Glaze

1-1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons dark molasses

1. In a saucepan on low heat, melt chocolate chips (stirring constantly).
2. Add butter and molasses, and stir until smooth.
3. Remove from heat. Allow to cool 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent hardening.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

4 heaping cups frozen strawberries
3 sticks of butter (allow to soften at room temperature beforehand)
5 cups powdered sugar (also called confectioners' sugar/icing sugar), sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Blend frozen strawberries in a blender, and transfer to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
2. Remove saucepan from heat, and allow strawberry puree to cool completely.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy.
4. Beat 2 cups powdered sugar into butter until blended. Beat in strawberry puree, 2 Tablespoons at a time.
6. Beat in an additional 3 cups powdered sugar. Add vanilla, and beat on high until smooth.
7. Chill cake and frosting (not glaze) in fridge briefly before assembling cake.

Assembling the Cake...

Place 1st layer of cake on a plate/platter, crumb side up.
Cover with layer of strawberry frosting

2nd layer of cake (crumb side up)
2nd layer of strawberry frosting
3rd layer of cake (crumb side up)
3rd layer of strawberry frosting
4th layer of cake (crumb side up)
4th layer of frosting

After the 4th layer of cake has been added, feel free to do some piping on the edges to enhance the appearance of the cake. (I just cut a tiny piece off the corner of a small, Ziploc bag and filled it with strawberry frosting.)

Cover top of cake with chocolate glaze. I recommend moving very slowly with this step, using a spoon to gently drop glaze on top of the cake and let it run over the sides.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Movie Night Essentials

After a long week, what can be better than curling up on the couch with a good movie? In the Movie Night Checklist below, I list some of my favorite movies and movie night essentials. I would love to hear yours!

I have lots of favorite films and had a hard time deciding on just three. Facing the Giants is a flick that all ages can enjoy, but The Blind Side and The Lord of the Rings are not suitable for young children. I had never seen The Lord of the Rings until Mr. Handsome and I started working our way through the trilogy a few months ago, but they are some of Mr. Handsome's favorite movies, and I have really enjoyed them.

In today's society, finding wholesome movies is a challenge. If you're looking for family-friendly entertainment, check out, a video-streaming service that provides content your family can trust. Pure Flix features more than 6,000 movies, documentaries, and TV shows that promote family values. Visit for more information.

Whether you are a Pure Flix subscriber or not, you can take advantage of their holiday movie promotion. Starting November 26th through Christmas Eve, Pure Flix will offer one free Christmas movie every Sunday. Click here to be redirected to the page where you can sign up with your name and email. 

**This is not a sponsored post. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our Last Day in the Rockies

I hope you all have enjoyed my posts about our trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I have photos from one last mountain hiketo share.

After spending the night at the Miette Hot Springs Resort, we rose early on Day 7 to hike the 5-mile (8-km) Sulphur Skyline Trail, which begins at the Miette Hot Springs parking lot. The first few minutes were easy, but then the climb began, and we quickly realized that this hike was not for the faint of heart.

The trip to the top, an elevation gain of 2,300 feet (700 meters), took about 2.5 hours. I'll admit we had to stop for quite a few water breaks. The last 30 minutes were the most difficult, as the trail became quite steep and rocky. It was a rough journey, but the 360-degree view from the top was beyond incredible.

We spent about 30 minutes up there, eating a snack and soaking in our last day in the mountains.

The top is a gravely plateau, and the view from each side is different.

The trails we hiked on our trip gave us a wonderful "survey" of the Canadian Rockies. We saw a little bit of everything! Jasper National Park and Banff National Park have their own unique views, so we were grateful to be able to tour both.

The Sulphur Skyline Trail was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

And just when we thought the excitement was over, we were treated to one last surprise when we finished the hike. As we rested at the picnic tables near the parking lot and campground, a herd of female bighorn sheep arrived.

There were several other people in the immediate area, but these sheep had no fear. We didn't stalk of feed them, but we enjoyed watching them graze. (All my photos were taken using the zoom on my camera. We did not approach any of the sheep.)

If you look closely in this picture, you'll notice that one of the sheep has her head down, as she has just head-butted another.

Sheep are attracted to salt, so when one discovered a car that was covered in road salt, the rest of the herd rushed over, and they all began licking the car. It was certainly a sight to see. 

Wondering why the sheep are so rough looking? It's because they were in the process of shedding their winter coats.

If you wish to look back at my previous posts, here are all the links.

Canadian Rockies Day 1
Canadian Rockies Day 2
Canadian Rockies Day 3
Canadian Rockies Day 4
      Lake Louise
      Moraine Lake 
Canadian Rockies Day 5
      Icefields Parkway Part 1
      Athabasca Glacier
Canadian Rockies Day 6
     Icefields Parkway Part 2

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cereal Anyone?

Have you ever walked down the cereal aisle and felt completely and utterly overwhelmed? There are dozens of options to choose from, and the last think you want to do is purchase an entire box and find out after the first bite that you don't like it.

This week, Kroger had their organic cereals on sale, so I decided to buy a few new ones. As expected, Mr. Handsome really enjoyed the cocoa bunnies.

I'm curious what your favorite cereal is? Mr. Handsome's is Cracklin' Oat Bran, but it's expensive, so we only have it on special occasions. I don't have a favorite, although I prefer cereals that are low in sugar. If you don't like cereal, how do you kick off your day?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Burglary and a Fiasco

I'm curious if any of you have security systems and what your experience has been with them. It used to be that only rich folks and those in unsafe areas had security systems, but with the advancement of technology, there are many affordable options on the market.

This week, we had a bit of a fiasco involving a security system. My brother-in-law recently bought a fixer-upper house, and he installed a security system.

While my brother-in-law was away on a camping trip, we received a call early in the morning from the security company, informing us that the alarm had gone off at the house. They sent police officers over and determined that someone had broken in, so they asked us to go over to the house to talk to the cops. We live a good bit away, but we loaded up in the car and drove over there.

The cops were very professional and kind, and they patiently waited at the house until we arrived, so we could look around and determine what had been taken. The TV was missing, as was my brother-in-law's computer. The officers had been in the area when they had received the call, so they had arrived at the front door quickly enough to see the burglar run out the back. Unfortunately, they weren't able to catch him.

So that was our positive security system experience. We hadn't quite understood why my brother-in-law had purchased it, especially since he doesn't have many valuables, but after that situation, we were glad.

The next day, however, we weren't so glad. At 5:00 in the morning, the same company called again and said that someone had "pressed the medical alert button." What is that supposed to mean? She asked if the homeowner had one of those buttons that the elderly and those with health problems wear around their necks in case of a fall or other medical situation. Seems to me like the security company should know the answer to that question...

We kindly informed her that my brother-in-law is young and in good health. Then they she told us that there is a similar button on the security system keypad that could trigger that alarm. At that point, we were sufficiently nervous. We explained that my brother-in-law was still out of town and that no one was supposed to be inside the house. 

To make a long story short, emergency personnel went over to the house to look for signs of robbery. They didn't go inside but said that everything looked fine from the outside, so they left. At that point, we were already wide awake, so we decided to drive over to double check that nothing had been stolen. 

It was still dark outside, and I was afraid that the burglar was perhaps hiding inside the house, so I kept watch in the yard while my brave, heroic husband entered the house and began checking every room (even the creepy, old basement) to make sure no one was inside and nothing was amiss.

Everything was fine and dandy, but that still doesn't explain how the medical alert button was pressed. We plan to suggest that my brother-in-law try a different security company.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Butternut Squash Couscous

Looking for a unique side dish for your Thanksgiving table? I'm going to share one of my favorites with you. Have you ever cooked with couscous? How about Israeli couscous? Like I said, it's unique, but I encourage you to give it a try. You won't regret it.

This recipe uses pearl couscous, also known as maftoul or Israeli couscous. I buy mine at Trader Joe's, but most grocery stores carry it.

Butternut Squash Couscous

8-ounce box Israeli/pearl couscous
Vegetable broth or chicken broth
4 cups butternut squash
1 large, yellow onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup raisins

Following the directions on the box, cook the couscous, but use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water.

Cut the squash and onion into bite-sized pieces. At this time of year, grocery stores often sell cubed butternut squash.

Toss squash and onion with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast (spread out on a cookie sheet or other baking pan) at 350F until tender (about 20-30 minutes).

Toss the raisins into the warm couscous, and add the roasted squash and onion. You can add additional seasoning to taste.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tragedy in Texas

America is reeling from yet another tragedy. On Sunday morning, in the deadliest mass shooting to ever take place in a U.S. house of worship, a gunman opened fire inside First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 are dead and more than 20 injured, which accounts for almost every single person who was inside the sanctuary.

As the gunman left the church, two brave citizens sprung into action. Stephen Willeford ran out of his house with his own gun and began to fire at the gunman, who escaped in an SUV. Johnnie Langendorff, another local hero, who was driving by as the scene was unfolding, went after the gunman in an 11-mile, high-speed chase. Eventually, the gunman lost control, and the police arrived to take over.

Although the gunman has died, he has left a trail of devastation in the town of Sutherland Springs, located 40 minutes outside San Antonio with a population of approximately 600. In a place where everybody knows everybody, the effects of this massacre have been unthinkable.

This morning, I was brought to tears when I came across a Washington Post article about the Holcombe family. Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who attend a different church in the area, lost nine family members in the shooting. I can't even begin to imagine the anguish they are feeling as they mourn the loss of nine children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As you keep the people of Sutherland Springs in your thoughts and prayers, remember the Holcombe family.

Even in the midst of his immense pain, Joe Holcombe shared a quote that really encouraged me, and I hope it does the same for you: "We are Christians. We have read the book. We know the ending, and it’s good."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Celebrating 2.5 Years

Mr. Handsome and I are celebrating an exciting milestone. Yesterday was the two-and-a-half-year anniversary of!

Although I have been blogging for more than eight years, sharing posts on Nashville Wife has been my favorite endeavor. I love communicating with all my faithful followers--who live across the globe--via comments and emails, and I want to give a big shout-out to all of you. Looking forward to another two-and-a-half years of blogging bliss!

I recently wrote a post requesting feedback, and I want you to know that I have read and taken to heart every single comment. 

For nostalgia, here is the very first picture I shared with you all. It was taken on the day of our Florida beach engagement.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Machine Falls and Civil War Trenches

One of the reasons I enjoy working from home is the flexibility that it provides. Two weeks ago, while a teacher friend of mine was on fall break, we spent a weekday morning hiking at Machine Falls, a trail southeast of Nashville.

The trail is in the middle of nowhere, and when we arrived at 8am, we were the only people there. (We were both glad that we hadn't gone alone.) The Machine Falls Loop is only 1.6 miles, although we ventured onto a few offshoot trails.

We came across a few smaller waterfalls before arriving at the main attraction. 

Machine Falls, the largest waterfall along the trail, is what everyone comes to see. When we arrived, we sat down to enjoy a snack while taking in the beauty of the falls.

On our way back to the parking lot, we came across an old foundation, probably from a cabin of some sort.

On the same day, we also stopped in Murfreesboro at the Stones River National Battlefield. Now a beautiful park, it was the location of the Battle of Stones River, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War.

With Major General William S. Rosecrans commanding the Union forces and General Braxton Bragg in charge of the Confederate forces, the battle began on New Year's Eve 1862 and lasted until January 2nd, 1863. Although just a three-day battle, there were more than 23,000 casualties.

Mr. Handsome and I had visited the battlefield once before, and my favorite part was walking through the trenches that were used by the soldiers. Although they are not nearly as deep as they were 150 years ago, they are still very visible.

These photos aren't great, but I'll share them anyways. In the first picture, I am standing in the trenches. The yellow lines in the second snapshot show where the trenches are.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Introducing Ralph

Many of you have asked if we have pets. At the rental house we lived in until a couple months ago, we had several neighborhood cats that would come to the backdoor and beg for food. Their cuteness pulled at my heartstrings, so I usually tossed them a few scraps of meat.

Around the time that we moved, we acquired an official pet. We weren't intending to add a creature to our family, but he was in need of a new home, so we took him in. I guess you can say we adopted him.

Before I show you a picture, let me give a short backstory. Four years ago, when Mr. Handsome and I were still dating, his youngest sister, Lena, received a pet for her 11th birthday. Thinking he was a she, Lena named the pet Catherine the Great because his tail looked like the onion domes on Russian buildings.

Lena was excited about Catherine the Great (Catie G. for short) for a little while, but then the novelty wore off, and the poor thing just sat there on a counter in the corner of my in-laws' kitchen, receiving very little attention. They tried to feed him, but he rarely ate anything. My mother-in-law claims that Lena had begged her for this pet, but Lena claims that she had wanted a furry pet.

One winter, Catie G. escaped from his cage and survived for two months in my in-laws' home before someone found him sunbathing on a windowsill and returned him to his habitat. A year later, a gal who works at a pet store looked closely at Catie G's feet and informed us that they had been chewed on, probably while he was loose. Yikes!

Well, Mr. Handsome, who always made a point of cleaning the cage whenever we visited, took pity on poor Catie G. While we were staying at my in-laws' house for a friend's wedding this summer, Mr. Handsome asked what I thought about taking Catie G. home with us. My husband has always had a thing for little creatures. (Someday, I'll have to tell you about the various "pets" he had as a child.)

My first thought was to say no, but when I thought about the sad life that poor Catie G. was currently living, I decided to approve the adoption. At the end of the weekend, we loaded the little thing and his cage into our car, alongside our luggage, and headed home.

Three months later, and Ralph the leopard gecko has found his way into our hearts. (We nixed his feminine name when we found out that he was a he.) It has taken him a while to settle in, but he is doing very well. He eats and drinks more in a week than he used to in an entire month. Here's that picture I promised. I think he's kind of cute, which is proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Do y'all have any pets?