Solid Gold giveaway

Written by hootenannie on September 9th, 2015

This is the last week of Foxy’s trial run with Solid Gold food, and I’m happy to report that she’s continued to eat every single day. The past two days, she’s finished her bowl both in the morning and in the evening – and while she’s no Annie Parsons (breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, popcorn), she seems to be getting the nourishment she needs.

Her coat is extra soft, she’s been a little more playful, and when I come home from work, she’s back to greeting me at the door. I don’t know how much of this might be due to the food she’s eating, but I’m going to guess a good amount – because if you’re hungry, how happy can you be?

The folks at Solid Gold have generously offered up a prize for a giveaway, including:
· One 4 pound bag of food (winner’s choice)
· A t-shirt
· A bag of treats
· A tote bag
· Some coupons
· A few other goodies and surprises

I’m hosting the giveaway over on my Facebook page – to enter, just hop on over and upload a picture of your pet in the comments section of the post. In a few days, I’ll use Woobox to pick the winner at random. So easy!

A huge thanks to Solid Gold for including Foxy in their Free Spirit Challenge. We’ll be sticking with their food.


My top 5 favorite songs

Written by hootenannie on September 4th, 2015

Even if better songs are written in the future, I will always love these best.*

*Not a guarantee. Except for the first one, which will never, ever be unseated.

Lori McKenna, “The Luxury of Knowing”

Jonatha Brooke, “Because I Told You So”

Court Yard Hounds (w/ Jakob Dylan), “See You in the Spring”

Lee Ann Womack, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”

Gretchen Peters, “Circus Girl”


Runners up:

Gretchen Peters, “Five Minutes”

Patty Griffin, “Trapeze”

Sugarland, “Want To”


Just ignore some of the YouTube videos, mmmkay? Just listen to the songs.

Also, I recently updated my About Me page. It’s nothing you don’t already know. But there it is.

The baby squirrel, and all that followed

Written by hootenannie on September 1st, 2015

My sister Becca has this story. And I’ve asked her to tell it to me, like, three times because it’s so good. Now I want to share it with you.

Awhile back, Becca found a baby squirrel alone in her driveway. Here it was:


Her dogs were barking, and she knew she couldn’t leave it – so she did what any animal lover would do: she wrapped it in a towel, brought it inside, and put it in a puppy kennel.

She called Animal Control, but got a voicemail message. “If this is an emergency, call State Patrol,” it said. So she called State Patrol.

A gruff man answered: “State Patrol.”

“Um, is this where I should call if I found a baby squirrel?” Becca asked.


State Patrol was obviously no help, so she did an internet search and got the contact information for a wildlife sanctuary called Squirrel Creek. She got in touch with the nicest man, who told her to yeah, sure, bring the squirrel on down!

So she and her husband Mike drove down to Littleton after work, and pulled up at a huge lodge. They were confused because it looked like a business – a restaurant, even – but when they knocked on the door, a lone man answered. “Come on in!” he said.

They walked into a huge, empty banquet room, complete with a full bar and everything. “So, what is this place?” Mike asked.

“Oh, it’s a wildlife refuge. Also, a restaurant and a bar and a swing club and an events center.” With visions of swing dancing happening on the dance floor, Becca and Mike left the squirrel and headed home.

Becca posted an update on Facebook, telling her friends that the baby squirrel had been taken care of, and gave a shout-out to Squirrel Creek for being so great. They told all of their friends about this cool place down in Littleton – and maybe they should all go sometime?

Until one of their friends googled it. And they found this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 9.42.48 PM

They’d invited all of their friends to a 50,000 MEMBER SWINGERS CLUB. (Also a wildlife sanctuary. Of course.)

The List

Written by hootenannie on August 30th, 2015

My entire office takes the last two weeks of August off. It’s such a brilliant idea, because when everyone is out of the office, no one needs to catch up when we all return. Everything just… pauses… and then it starts again.

I knew that this break was coming, so I thought about what I might want to do – visit Seattle, or Nashville, or Denver, or even Hong Kong (dream big) – but in the end, I decided to stay right here in the old M-P-L-S.

It was such a good decision.

Don’t get me wrong – the last two weeks have been quiet as a mouse. Many boring tasks were attended to. I spent 90% of my time alone – by choice, because as an introvert, this was a DREAM COME TRUE.

Since I’m heading back to work tomorrow morning, I thought I’d list all that’s been accomplished in the last 17 days:

  • Enrolled in my new 401K
  • Rolled over my old 401K
  • Found a new dentist, and had my old records sent over
  • Found a new vet for Foxy, and had her old records sent over
  • Vacuumed my car
  • Weeded every flower bed in my yard
  • Picked up all of the sticks in my yard
  • Visited the DMV for the third time
  • Touched up paint in the bathroom
  • Bought a desk off Craigslist
  • Bought a headboard for the guest bed off Craigslist
  • Bought bedding for the guest bed
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Organized the work bench in the basement
  • Visited the Minnehaha dog park seven times
  • Visited Wisconsin twice
  • Read two books (For the Love, The Invention of Wings)
  • Watched two movies (The Theory of Everything, Whiplash – and I sent Birdman back before finishing it)
  • Watched Good Morning America every day
  • Killed a mouse in the kitchen
  • Got an oil change
  • Got a massage
  • Brushed the dog (Foxy’s coat is VERY soft these days – I blame Solid Gold)
  • Got the dog enrolled in doggie daycare, just in case I ever decide to take her (the jury is still out)
  • Organized my closets
  • Made multiple CrockPot freezer meals to get ready for the fall
  • Arranged for gutters to be installed
  • Arranged for the way-high-up trees to be trimmed
  • Figured out my property boundaries without the help of a land surveyor (I shall keep my $900, thankyouverymuch)
  • Got YARD WASTE stickers for my bins
  • Installed new ink cartridges in my printer
  • Hosted Greta and Jeff for two nights
  • Hung pictures on the walls
  • Hung a door back on the hinges all by myself
  • Got a toilet brush and a paper towel holder and a kettle
  • Edited a piece I’ve written for a magazine
  • Hit 20K+ steps on my Fitbit a lot of days
  • Bought a ticket to Hong Kong after all

GRIN. I am smiling so huge. I’ve wanted to visit my dear friends in Hong Kong since I was in high school, and come February, I’ll finally get my chance!

I am so grateful for an uninterrupted window of time to take care of all of these little tasks that would have worn on me throughout the fall. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to work a little less ragged, slightly more together, and ready to take on a very busy season.

May you embrace your staycation with gusto.


The guest room is ready for you.

Things I love about Minneapolis so far

Written by hootenannie on August 28th, 2015

Wells Fargo Center
Is this a beautiful building or what? And it glows gold at night! I made up a story in my head that it was built in the 1920s, since it’s so art deco – but alas, it went up in 1988. No one can say that nothing good came out of the 80s (because me, this skyscraper, and Taylor Swift).



The Chain of Lakes
I know. The Chain of Lakes is SO OBVIOUS. But as someone who walks a lot (a lot a lot), I love having a variety of loops to choose from. The Lakes are especially nice because the walking paths and the biking paths are separate, so whenever Foxy sees a squirrel and does a sudden lunge and pulls my arm out of the socket, hey, no bike wreck. I most frequent Lake of the Isles, and during my first week in town, I saw Laura Dern sitting on a bench. She was beautiful and had very long legs.



106.1 FM
It’s literally called BOB FM. Country so old, their idea of “modern” is John Michael Montgomery and Terri Clark. I love it so much, and recently surprised myself by knowing all of the words to Collin Raye’s “Little Rock” (“I needed a new town for my new start, selling VCRs in Arkansas at a Walmart”). They play Blackhawk and Travis Tritt and Kathy Mattea and Hank Jr. Their special on-air guests include Jeff Foxworthy, who should have a new joke aimed at me: “If you listen to BOB FM…”



Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park
This dog park is humongous – trails and woods and a long stretch of beach where dogs can romp like wild mongrels (Denver friends, think of Cherry Creek State Park, except more trees and the Mighty Mississippi). Foxy turns into the best version of herself whenever she can run free, so this place has been especially good for her in the midst of her depression – and as a bonus, I get a little exercise, too.



Joyfully Becca
Becca and I were blog friends for a very long time, and became real life friends in 2013. She and her family live on and run a hobby farm a little south of the cities, and her posts are pure gold. Nothing flashy, nothing embellished or overly dramatic – just real life with a husband and two (almost three) kids, surrounded by chickens and barn cats and honeybees and a huge garden. I love the glimpses she gives into everyday life, and the way that she notices and celebrates the small things – because the small things are really the big things, right?

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.52.52 AM


Cheese curds
Because Jesus loves us.



Flock of Broads
This group-blog is authored by five of my former co-workers, four of whom still live in the Twin Cities. They write on a fantastic variety of topics, from food to parenthood to culture to dogs to fashion and – an old favorite on this here weblog – feeeeeelings. They are amazing and girl-crush-worthy. I really like them, each one.



My house
Foxy and I have been settling in, getting used to the sounds and the quirks and the details, and my conclusion is I can’t believe I get to live here. I am learning a new routine and new walking paths, and letting it sink in that I have an entire closet JUST FOR PANTS. It’s a sweet life in this new home.

Painted in Waterlogue

The right decision

Written by hootenannie on August 26th, 2015



I’m almost two months into my time in Minneapolis, and a thought keeps surfacing: did I make the right decision?

Because I didn’t just move here – I moved here. I quit my job and took another one. I sold my house and bought another one. I drove everything I own across the country, moved it into a storage unit then out of a storage unit, and have spent all of August arranging it in my new abode – all of which makes me never, ever want to move again. I’ve started the long and sometimes exhausting process of making new friends. I spent thousands of dollars to make this change.

What if I shouldn’t have?

Well, I did. And because I did, it was the right decision – because now it’s my path and my story and good things are going to come out of it (along with hard things – but that’s anywhere, isn’t it?). No matter how I want to revise the past in my mind, the truth is that despite all of the goodness Colorado offered me – and there was a lot – I was restless in Denver. I felt that my season there had run its course, and that a move might fix everything that I felt was wrong with my life.


I’m sure you saw this coming: Now that I’m in a new city, new house, new job, and with new people, I’m still me. I’m still the cantankerous, overly particular, often dissatisfied curmudgeon that I’ve always been. This move did not fix me.

But that doesn’t mean that it was a mistake.

If you’re in a similar place today, second- and third-guessing a certain decision you’ve made, take it from me: you are not powerful enough to sink your life. No decision you make has the power to sink your story. Except maybe getting addicted to heroin.

In the end, if everything turns to rubbish, we can change it. No decision is ever so final that we can’t undo it (said the girl who just moved her entire life across the country, signed away some percentage of a million dollars on a house, got a Minnesota drivers license and license plates, and bought a damn $250 DEHUMIDIFIER for her basement to keep her house from mildewing).

It’s the right decision because it’s what we’ve chosen. Steady on – you’re in the middle of living a really good story.


[Awkward photo pose. Foxy is clearly thrilled.]


P.S. – Lest you get the idea that I hate my life right now, WORRY YE NOT. I’ll soon tell you about all of the things I am loving about Minneapolis. I’ve been here almost eight weeks, so I’m basically an expert. In the meantime, a girl has to have her feelings – so thank you for indulging me. Snuggle snuggle.


I was recently contacted by someone who has a loved one who has experienced addiction to heroin, and challenged that my choice of words was inappropriate. I trust that most of you know that I meant it as hyperbole, as my only experience with heroin is Jack Bauer using in season 2 of “24” for the good of national security– but after having heard this person’s point of view, I want to amend my statement: “You are not powerful enough to sink your life. No decision you make has the power to sink your story. Period.” And I mean it – no person and no situation is too far gone for grace to hit like a tidal wave.

If you or someone you know struggles or has a history with drug addiction, please hear me: I ruthlessly root for those who are up against the most difficult of odds. I apologize for my insensitivity.

Matters of the Fox

Written by hootenannie on August 17th, 2015

If you know me even a little bit, you know that Foxy is my favorite thing in this whole world. For as much as a dog can fill the role, she’s the love of my life.

So it breaks my heart to know that she is sad.

This transition has been rough on my pup. We were separated for a month before she made the cross-country move, and then we stayed at a friend’s house for a week before moving into our new house. Since I had been working from home in Colorado (thus around all day long), she’s having a tough time adjusting to me being gone at an office during work hours. For the first few days, she would be anxiously excited when I would get home – now, she won’t even come downstairs when I open the door.

She is mad at me.


When we moved into the house two weeks ago, she went on a hunger strike; she didn’t eat a thing for over four days. Her food just sat there in the dish. I tried to tempt her by sprinkling it with cheddar cheese or chicken grease, but it made no difference. Eventually she cracked (of course she did), but this dog is sensitive, and she’s never had an issue proving her point – especially when it comes to eating.

Some dogs are motivated by food. Foxy is not. With the exception of rotisserie chicken skin and the occasional bite of cheese, she’s just not interested. Even if I give her a dog treat – supposedly a tasty little morsel of joy – I’ll usually find it later dropped in a corner. (As someone who wants all the food, all the time, I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.)

And when it comes to kibble, forget about it. I’ve tried a variety of well-known, grain free, highly recommended (and rather expensive) brands, and it’s always the same: Foxy Brains don’t care.

So when Solid Gold contacted me to see if Foxy would be interested in trying their products, I figured it was worth a try.

When I worked for LÄRABAR, it was always easy for me to evangelize the brand because of two things: the simplicity of the bars (2-9 ingredients, just fruits, nuts, and spices), and the taste (delicious). In a world of processed foods, it’s nice to find options made of recognizable ingredients that still taste good – and wouldn’t you know, for as much as one can find it in a kibble, that’s what I’ve found in Solid Gold.

From their website:
Our mission is to create the kind of nutrition that will change pets’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. That’s why, for over 40 years, we’ve scoured the earth looking for simple, natural ingredients that unleash the very best in your pet, which we call their “inner gold!” We are interested in much more than just a healthy, natural diet – we strive to provide a way of life that allows each pet to fulfill their destiny, while looking and feeling great! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your pet happy inside and out.

Happy inside and out – that’s all I want for my dog.

Foxy has been on Solid Gold’s Barking at the Moon formula for the past week – and the first time I scooped it into her dish, she walked over, sniffed it, and ate the entire bowl. I couldn’t believe it – this, from the dog that sees food as nothing but an expendable nuisance. In the days since, she has continued eating at least one meal a day – not up to the two meals that the vet recommends, but consistently more than she usually eats.

Barking at the Moon is grain free and gluten free, and made with beef, eggs, peas, carrots, pumpkin, apples, blueberries, cranberries, and other wholesome ingredients. And like all Solid Gold products, it’s made in the USA, with zero ingredients sourced from China.


I’m off work for the next two weeks, sticking around Minneapolis to work on some house projects and take care of all of those dumb life-change details like finding a dentist, filling out my 401K paperwork, and weeding my flowerbeds. Mostly, I just want to spend some time with my dog. Yesterday we went to the Minnehaha off-leash park, and Foxy ran along the Mississippi River and chased a German Shepherd named Molly in and out of the water. She ran like crazy and dug in the sand, and for an hour, I saw the happy dog I know and love resurface.

It’s too early to know if Solid Gold will make a major difference in her energy and mood – but right now, she’s eating. And that’s a great place to start. I’ll keep you posted.


Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, but I did receive a sample for my (and Foxy’s) review. I am not a scientist or a veterinarian. Opinions expressed here are my own.

The Fox Den

Written by hootenannie on August 11th, 2015

I’m a homeowner again – as in, fare thee well, all of my dollars.

But for a most worthy cause.


A few weeks ago, I traded the little sum I got from the sale of the Shotgun in Denver for a 1916 – farmhouse? Bungalow? Victorian? The official style is unclear, since different elements of the house favor different trends – but in any case I’m dubbing it the Fox Den, for obvious reasons.


I have tiny-bit-more-than doubled my square footage – which, coming from a 600 square foot Shotgun house, was not hard to do. Still though, just a 2 bed / 1 bath feels like so much space. I have an entire closet JUST FOR COATS – and it’s a good thing, because come Minnesota winter, you know I’m going to need them.


Here are a few things I’ve learned in this particular home-buying process:

  • Internet service providers are like political candidates – they’re all the worst, but they’re all we have to choose from.
  • Mowing a lawn is basically just like vacuuming, but burning more calories.
  • When house hunting, it’s best to buy the first and only house you look at*.

It’s true: I’m two for two. When I bought the Shotgun in Denver, it was because I wandered into an open house while on a walk (not house hunting at all), stood in the front doorway, thought “I like this – maybe I should buy it?” and then I did. I never looked at a single other abode.

This time around, my friend Gabe’s friend JMatt was selling his house without listing it through a realtor – and when I found out about it, I just so happened to be in Minneapolis wrapping up with Larabar. So I grabbed my friend Mark (who was in town from New York) and we went to take a look.

Mark asked all of the questions you’re supposed to ask when considering the largest purchase of your life (“When was the roof replaced?” “Why is there a cluster of wires coming up through the laundry shoot?” “Allow me to inspect the basement walls.”) – but I just walked around swooning.


And then I bought it.

I thought about looking at other houses in other neighborhoods, but… why? This house was everything I wanted: warm, welcoming, with enough space for guests to come and stay. A big yard for Foxy. A back deck and a front porch swing. A mile and a half from work. Why WOULDN’T I buy this house?

So now I’m settled in. I love it so much. It’s more than I knew to ask for or imagine, and falls into the “Generous Things I Do Not Deserve But Will Never Take For Granted” column (which is already overflowing, to be honest). I am grateful for my home, and want to fill it up with my people.

So please come and see me.

*I cannot be held liable for this backfiring in your face.

Thoughts on some country songs

Written by hootenannie on August 3rd, 2015

Hi! Long time no write-to. I know that you’ll understand when I say that life has been bonkers. Moving? While exciting and fun, it’s not for the faint of heart – and this move from Denver to Minneapolis has been the most complicated I’ve ever experienced. So many changes all at once. So many snafus and logistical curveballs. So many emotions (yes, including the crying kind). Thankfully, I am FINALLY in my new house, and dying of love about the whole thing. Expect a post soon with pictures – but until then, let’s talk about the thing that we all have in common.

Country music.

Country music is the most popular genre in America – and given that 95% of this site’s readership is from the US of A, I can only deduce that a large portion of you are down with the twang. It’s a good club to be a part of, and we’re all in this together. Here are some of my (very valuable) thoughts on the songs that bind us together.


I’ve said it before: I cannot get enough of her. Her voice is hickory and honey, straight as an arrow but jagged on the edges. It has been a long time since I’ve loved a gal straight out of the gate.

Listen and love:
Burning House
My Mistake
Heart Broke Heart


If I hear “Love You Like That” one more time, I will throw myself in that same Mississippi River. (After all, I’ve got easy access now.)


One would think that a song that starts out, “Hey girl – wassup?” would be an immediate no-go. But oh man. I am really loving “Break Up With Him.” It’s everything I wish a hunky bearded man would sing to me – you know, if I was actually already dating someone, and he happened to be a loser (don’t put it past me).


Back in June, Carin and I went to his show at Mile High in Denver. He opened the show with “Kick the Dust Up“– and given its total bro-status, I am almost ashamed at how much I love this song. I know every word. EVERY SINGLE WORD DO NOT CHALLENGE ME YOU WILL LOSE. I sing along full voice every time it comes on the radio – including the grunted “huh”s and “kick it”s.


I thought that the song of my summer would be “Somewhere In My Car” (again: I know every rapidly-sung word; I could win a karaoke contest with this one) – but then he had to throw out “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16.” This is in fact the song of my summer – but only because I WAS the prom queen.

(The only thing you get from being the prom queen is the ability 15 years later to say “I was the prom queen” – so one must take full advantage at every opportunity.)


Without a doubt, he is the best looking man to ever walk the face of this planet – despite his questionable taste in jeans. “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” were slam dunks – but “House Party”? I can’t. Something about the melody of the chorus is utterly grating. That doesn’t stop it from getting embedded in my brain, looping over and over and over until I, like the neighbors, want to call the cops.


Every morning when my alarm clock goes off at 5:58am, “Tonight Looks Good On You” is playing. In addition the anachronistic placement, I don’t like the song. Why, you ask? I just don’t like it. I need not say any more – it’s my own personal non-preference. This is my blog, so feelings = verdict.


Is Cam seriously the only girl I mentioned? I mean, I always adore Hillary from Lady A, and have found a guilty pleasure in Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.”

But… ladies? Where are you? WE NEED YOU SO BAD.

Because you’ve all seen this, right?

I’m missing Trisha, and Martina, and Patty Loveless, and most of all, the Dixie Chicks.

Ribbons and bows, X’s and O’s,


Written by hootenannie on July 22nd, 2015

A few weeks ago, I spent nearly a week with my nephews. Micah and Tyler are 11 and 10 now (someone hold me), and have an entire world of interests and passions and hobbies completely separate from what anyone is telling them to love.

One of the things they’re into is superheroes. And when I saw them, they told me that Batman has an enemy called Man-Bat, to which I said, “You are lying,” and left it at that.

But the other night, I thought, “What if they were telling the truth?” So I googled Man-Bat.

You guys, Man-Bat has a wife named FRANCINE LANGSTROM, and their two kids are Becky and Aaron.


Don’t doubt your nephews. They always know.