HELLO, dear friend of mine!


WOW have I missed you.

Did you have an excellent holiday?

Did you eat lots of cookies?

Did you avoid the viral sickness that seems to be contaminating the corporeal cavities of everyone around us?


I did NOT manage to avoid that plague, so I was ill for half of my Michigan vacation.
Didn’t matter though, because you know I had plans to do NOTHING.


So, I bet you’re wondering what my BIG NEWS is.


No, I am not pregnant.




WE GOT A PUPPY!!!!!!!!!

Big, happy family.


I know what you’re thinking.

Brooke, I thought you were going to wait to get a dog? One of you literally asked me that on Facebook.

Yes, it’s true. Husband and I had decided that, if we weren’t pregnant by March, we would get a puppy.


Well, it’s January and we have a puppy.

Great Dane puppy.

We got a puppy!


But Brooke, you say, you said you wanted a SMALL dog.

Also true, and ten points to you for attentiveness.


Look how CUTE he is.

We got a puppy!


So how on earth did this happen?

Husband brought me to his parents’ house for Christmas and then sat me between a very persuasive Brother-In-Law and a real-life Great Dane puppy.


You see, Brother-In-Law One had his Great Dane puppy at the house on Christmas. His puppy’s name is Odin and Odin is ADORABLE.

Odin is a Harlequin, which means he looks like a mix between Dalmatian and dinosaur.


So there I was, holding that puppy’s paw on Christmas and listening to Brother-In-Law Two tell me about how many litters of puppies were available in the nearby area.

I didn’t stand a chance.


To make matters worse, I then went back to my parents’ house and told them about this “crazy idea” my Brother-In-Law(s) had about me getting a Great Dane puppy.

And you know what?

Instead of helping me defend myself against puppy susceptibility, everyone in my family barrel rolled over me, too, drowning me with sound reasoning for why I SHOULD get a puppy.

I am a sucker for sound reasoning.


You know what else my family was doing to me? They were doing that thing where they would come up with a problem just so they could give a solution to that problem.

Classic sales tactic.


Before I knew it, I was turning toward Husband with motherly fire in my eyes and telling him to GO FIND ME A PUPPY.

I practically shoved him out the door.


Now, here I sit, on my Alabama living room floor, typing to you while a little baby cow snores behind me on the futon.


Do you want to know what his name is?




Isn’t it PERFECT?

My mom came up with it. Of course.

That mother of mine is the coolest, funniest, wisest, most amazing person I know.


How perfect is it that our first dog ever, who will be a MASSIVE dinosaur Great Dane, who will spend his childhood on Fort Rucker, is named Rucker.

Such a badass name.

Good thing he’s a badass dog…





Well, maybe he will get more badass with time.

Because right now, well…

Rucker is…kind of a baby.


And by kind of a baby I mean HUGE WIMP.


If I so much as walk around the corner and/or out of sight, he whines.

If I take him places, he hides behind my legs.

If a pug – YES, a tiny, adorable PUG – so much as steps on him, he yelps like coyote.


Rucker is smaller than his brother, Odin. Yes, he is from the same litter as Dalmatian Dinosaur!

Rucker is smaller than a lot of his litter mates. He’s not the runt, but I do think he got pummeled a lot as a baby.

I also think he was born with a subdued temperament which is turning him into a huge mama’s boy.


But you know what?

I LOVE my little wimp.


Guess how long it took me to fall in love with him?

Exactly 2 seconds.

We went to the owner’s house, the owner brought him out, and I instantly snatched him up from the floor.

Two minutes later, the owner was gabbing on about dog things when I cut in and said, “Okay, we will take him.”

She laughed and continued gabbing so I waited patiently for 10 more seconds and said, “Seriously, is there something we have to sign?”

She laughed again and finally ushered Husband to the table to sign papers.


I just KNEW he was the one. He was a boy, so I could name him Rucker like I wanted to, and he has the coolest coloring ever. Also, he snuggled right into me when I picked him up. Win-win-win.

Baby Rucker


Husband and I spent the remainder of our Michigan Christmas vacation sharing custody of him.


Oh, you didn’t know?


Husband and I stay at our respective parents’ houses when we go home.



Everyone thinks it’s soooo weird that we do this.

We even did this before we left for Alabama for that two-month stretch.

I know it sounds so weird, but it’s actually ideal.

I like my parents’ house and he likes his. Neither of us want the other to force us to live at his/her parents’ house, so we split it down the middle.

It’s amazing! Highly recommend it.


So, besides ushering my canine outside every hour on the hour in the middle of the night, what else did I do on my Michigan Christmas vacation?

Well, a lot of things.


For starters, I gave my mom a color-able kitty puzzle.

She and I love puzzles and coloring things and kitties. Another win-win-win!

The best thing about this puzzle is that it sat on the dining room table the entire holiday season, so everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – that visited the house colored a piece of this puzzle.

I highly recommend doing this during your next holiday get-together! Everyone loves to color.


Here is the puzzle at the start…

Coloring puzzle!


Here’s a progress pic…

Coloring puzzle!


And here it is, nearly finished!

Coloring puzzle!


With so many hands on deck, there were a lot of complaints, arguments, and artistic insults.

I couldn’t have imagined a better Christmas.


Remember how I talked about all of the baking I would do while I was home?


Mission: accomplished.


First up: no-bakes.

No-bake cookies!


Do you want to know the secret to making the best no-bakes anyone’s ever had?


When you think you’ve measured out half a cup, glob on 1/4-cup more.

Then, plop a huge spoonful of peanut butter into the just-about-to-be-scooped-out no-bakes, and swipe your scooping spoon through that glob so each cookie has a visual swirl of peanut butter through it.

Every time a hungry face lays eyes on my no-bakes, that face lights up and comments about the peanut butter swirl.


Do it.


I also baked the amazing snack known as pizza bites.


Just look at these things.

Homemade pizza bites!


You want the recipe?

It’s so easy, I’ll give it to you right now.

Just remember the number 48.


You need 2 cans of pizza crust dough, one block of mozzarella cheese, 48 pepperoni pieces, EVOO, Italian seasoning, and parmesan. Pizza sauce for dipping, too.

Cut those two cans of dough into 48 squares, and do the same with the mozzarella block. Stack each dough square with one pepperoni and one mozz square, and line them up in a greased 9×13″ pan.

Then, mix 1/4 c. EVOO (or vegetable oil) with 1.5 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, brush that on top of the bites, and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese on top. We added some shredded, too, as you can see in the pic.

Bake this glorious concoction for 18-25 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

You’re welcome.


I’m not the only one who NAILED IT in the pizza department on Christmas.

My sister made one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever eaten.


Goat cheese, asparagus, and pesto pizza!


Her recipe makes TWO pizzas. She had 2 pre-baked pizza crusts, a jar of pesto, a log of goat cheese, a bunch of asparagus, and way too many Roma tomatoes.

Goat cheese, asparagus, and pesto pizza!


She spread half the jar of pesto on each pizza, sliced and layered the tomatoes, diced and sprinkled the asparagus, and dotted goat cheese on top. I think she baked it in an oven that was somewhere between 375-425 degrees until the pizza was golden.



Goat cheese, asparagus, and pesto pizza!


Look at all that melty goat cheese. MMMM!


Also on the baking menu: a million other treats at our female baking extravaganza!

Lots of females on my mother’s side of the family gathered at my aunt’s house to bake lots and lots of treats.



Female baking extravaganza!


We made…


Almond Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies…

Almond raspberry thumbprint cookies!


With almond sugar drizzle.

Almond raspberry thumbprint cookies!





Peppermint Bark…

Peppermint bark!


Chocolate Salted Caramel Fudge…

Chocolate salted caramel fudge!


Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Bars…

Carmel oatmeal bars!


And Chocolate Sugar Cookies!

Chocolate sugar cookies!


The Chocolate Sugar Cookies were my favorite.

Cookie swap!



In addition to gobbling these treats, I enjoyed lots of snuggles with Baby Rucker while in Michigan.

He’s a big snuggler.

Baby Rucker


And he’s still small, which means I’ve got to soak up all of his snuggles while I can still fit him in my arms.

Baby Rucker


Just look at that face.

Baby Rucker


So, how did the 15-hour car ride to Alabama go with a tiny puppy who isn’t potty trained yet?


I’ll show you.

Sleepy Puppy!



Sleepy Puppy!



Sleepy Puppy!










Husband and I started to wonder if he was okay.

Is he alive? – we asked ourselves this often.

I poked him a few times to make sure he was breathing.


We concluded: Baby Rucker must love car rides.


What luck, right?

We couldn’t have asked for a better transit.

Of course, he didn’t sleep when we got home, but I’d take an easy continental transit over less sleep any day.


Now that we’re in Alabama, Rucker and I hang out all day.

He stomps around and then passes out. Very cyclical.

Sleep Rucker...again.


He also follows me EVERYWHERE. I really don’t know how I can possibly combat this habit.

He needs to be socialized, so I drag him along the sidewalk take him for walks and ask everyone we pass to pet him and give him one of his treats.

Since I have no Alabama friends, exposing him to strangers is his only social option.


When we were in Michigan, I handed him off to everyone in attempt to socialize him as much as possible before we left.


Big Wheel held him, of course, because Big Wheel loves puppies.

Big Wheel and Rucker.

For the 10th time, people: Big Wheel is single and extremely good-looking and kind. Total relationship material. Snag him while he’s available!


I also placed Rucker in the arms of my endlessly patient mother who, ever since I can remember, has been sacrificing her own comfort for that of babies.

Mom cuddling Rucker.


I handed him to my nephew, who he took to immediately. That nugget is an animal whisperer. He’s also adorable.

Nugget and Rucker.


Lastly, I gave the puppy to my dad, just to teach Baby Rucker that life isn’t always comfortable.

Rucker and Grandpa.


Now that we’re home and there’s no one else to play with during the day, he gives me this look a lot.

Puppy side-eye is the best side-eye.


He also frequently does adorable things like this:



He also does things like chew on items he shouldn’t and pee on the floor.

Baby steps.

I document all of Rucker’s behaviors on Snapchat, so if you want to catch him at his most adorable/naughty moments, add me (perksofinterest).


Since Rucker is currently licking my laptop screen and stomping all over my arms, I must be going.


Stay tuned for more Alabama adventures!



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