Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mr. Monk's: Ten Things You Likely Forgot to Clean

I can't breathe the dust in your house!
If you're familiar with Mr. Monk, you know he's an OCD detective that is obsessed with cleaning and he's the biggest
germophobe ever! :)  In honor of Mr. Monk, we're republishing an article from the Huffington Post that's right up his alley, to help you clean things you may have forgotten!
01/18/2016 02:31 pm ET
We feel accomplished when we've successfully changed our sheets, vacuumed the living room and wiped down the bathroom mirror. And we should. Keeping our home clean is no small feat.
But while cleaning the big stuff is important, germs often hide in the little things we forget to disinfect. Scroll through the tips below to see what you should be adding to your list next time you spend an afternoon sanitizing your home sweet home.

1. Shelves 

It's easy to dismiss shelves as a dust-free zone, especially if you don't interact with them much. But cubbies are often full of dust mites lurking on the surface and around the shelves' contents. To keep them clean, wipe down the surface with a damp rag and make sure to dust the objects you have sitting on top. 
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

2. Your coffee maker

Your favorite small appliance is a hotbed of bacteria and mold. To give it a thorough clean, you'll need more than just hot water. Aside from washing the pot, you'll also need to properly clean the nooks and crannies on the inside that you don't see. Use this guide to get the job done so you can drink fresh, clean coffee. 
Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images

3. Picture frames

Whether they're hanging or standing, picture frames are sneaky dust collectors. Every 1-2 weeks, use a feather duster to clear excess dirt from the surfaces. Be especially careful with gilded or textured frames. Using anything other than a gentle duster might damage the delicate finish. Metal frames, on the other hand, can be wiped down with harsher soaps.

4. Your shower curtain liner

While you can't completely prevent mold from building up on your shower curtain, there are a few things you can do to keep the liner as clean as possible. For starters, it's a good idea to spritz the bottom of the curtain with bathtub cleaner after you shower to prevent bacteria from festering.

5. The ceiling fan

Nobody wants dirt flying around the room every time the ceiling fan is switched on, so it's essential you clean it regularly. Luckily, dusting the blades is easier than you think. Learn how to get the job done with a pillowcase or a dryer sheet and never dread this chore again.
PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura via Getty Images

6. Your TV remote

Like your cell phone, germs on your TV remote sneakily pile up. The next time you sit down to watch a show, use a disinfecting cloth to wipe down the outer surface. Then, dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and clean in between the buttons.

7. The space between appliances

Hard-to-reach places like the space between your fridge and countertops are easy to forget when you're on a cleaning spree. Check the cracks in your kitchen every other week to prevent grimy build up. 
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

8. Your mattress

Most of us remember to wash our sheets regularly, but rarely do we give any thought to the state of our mattresses. To rid the fabric of any dust mites and prevent sagging, flip your mattress every six months. Before turning it over, sprinkle a mixture of baking soda and essential oils to get rid of odor. Let the mixture soak in for a few minute and vacuum the surface to pick up residue afterwards.

9. Light switches

Although tiny, light switches can harbor big-time germs. To properly disinfect them, spray a cloth with household cleaner and wipe down the surface. Use a Q-tip or cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to get the dirt hiding in the cracks. Repeat this five minute routine whenever you wipe down your countertops. 
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

10. Your toothbrush holder. 

We know to change our toothbrushes often, especially after we've been sick, but most of us neglect the very container that holds the bathroom staple. Your toothbrush holder is filled with germs, bacteria and even mold that can potentially infect your toothbrush when left unclean. Next time you clean your bathroom, empty the holder, fill it with very hot water, rinse and wipe down with a paper towel. Then, fill the container with mouthwash and let it sit for a few minutes. Finally, pour the liquid out and let it air dry.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund on Atlanta TV Cooking Segment

Crusoe, Sean and Christine on Atl & Co.
Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund, one of our favorite celebrities recently finished his book tour in
Atlanta and appeared on an Atlanta TV morning show cooking segment.
 Crusoe said "It was a cooking segment on Atl & Co with my amazing chef-of-a-new friend, Sean O’Keefe and host Christine. I was to be the “food critic” while Sean cooked me up something good. And boy did he do just that! He made me a sort of shepherd’s pie of sweet potatoes and lamb – meant for dogs
Crusoe posing with fans in Barnes and Noble
but just as tasty for humans. So Christine and I both put it to the taste-test (when she wasn’t busy taking selfies of us)."

BOOK TOUR!  - Crusoe's book is so good. We bought it and loved every page of it. So, it's no surprise to hear that wherever he went the book stores sold out of it. That's what happened at the Barnes and Noble in Atlanta, too.

Pizza at Max's Coal Pizza place
After the TV Appearance and the book signing, Crusoe said "We had dinner at Max’s Coal Over Pizza, and let me tell you, just the smell had me licking my chops like a hungry lion. And of course, I had to come dressed in my appropriate southern gentleman suit."

A GREAT book!

Friday, January 29, 2016


I recently enjoyed a great graphic novel about the Flash. If you haven't watched the TV show on the CW
Network, you should. He's a superhero who can run at super-speed. I'll spare the origin, etc. but he's a great character.
   Recently our friends Stacey and Nathan surprised me with the trade paperback called "The Flash: Volume 5: History Lesson" that compiles the Flash monthly comic book issues #26-29 and FLASH ANNUAL #2,
   As someone on Amazon put it: Three of the issues in this paperback are a great mix of noir detective and paranormal as a ghost from the diamond mining 1800s returns, crosses paths with a modern day serial killer. 
 Flash gets help from a ghostly superhero named Deadman in this three part story.  I think it's one of the BEST Flash storylines I've ever read, likely because it involves the paranormal! :
Also in the book- 2 standalone stories including the first meeting of The Flash and Green Lantern!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A New and "super" Painting!

Our friend Lynn surprised us with an original painting called "Peace Through Strength" of a man who strongly resembles Superman (since I, Rob, am a big Superman fan and one of my nicknames at work is "Clark" - as in Kent, Superman's alter ego). 
   The painting is beautiful and we had it framed! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Fun Lunch: Beef Stew on a Frigid Day

Our good friend Hil who lives in Washington, DC with his fun dogs Amy and Bamba had us over for a fun
lunch on MLK day. Hil made his famous homemade beef stew and we enjoyed a nice visit. The warm beef stew took the chill off (it was 24F outside with a wind chill in the single numbers during the day).
  The conversations were warm, too - Hill shared with us about his time in the Navy as a Chaplain and how he took several trips across the Pacific to Japan and Iwo Jima a while back (Hil is 89). Iwo Jima has been renamed Iwo To, btw. I (Rob) know this
Amy stretching out

Bamba Seeking attention

Setting up for the picture
because I cover tropical cyclones in the NW Pacific. Anyway it was interesting to hear about Hil's experience on the ships. Of course, it was nothing like today and nothing like a cruise ship- no TV, amenities, pools, etc. Bare bones. Entertainment was working and reading books. So, it makes sense after he did that so many times that Hil isn't particularly interested in taking a cruise. :)
   We took some pictures of the "kids" and a nice pic of Hil with them. It was a fun day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wow! Amazing Movie (on DVD): "Self / Less"

Absolutely a MUST-SEE
Recently we rented a movie called "Self/Less" starring Ryan Reynolds (he's hot!). We had never heard
of it (since we don't go to the theater), and it was AMAZING. We didn't know what to expect, and it was gripping and interesting. Ryan Reynolds really gave an amazing performance and this TRULY is one of the BEST movies we've seen in the last year!
MOVIE SUMMARY:   An extremely wealthy man, dying from cancer, undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body's origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.
Self/less Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley Sci-Fi Thriller HD

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Tribute to a Friend

I (Rob) just learned that my friend Nick died yesterday in a car crash.  Nick was a Weather Channel Radio broadcaster
(where I knew him from) and was a young guy, just 39 years old. He was a great meteorologist who had a lot of passion and loved his family and his home state of Nebraska. He touched the lives of so many who were fortunate to know him from the Weather Channel. Nick was a great guy, always good to work with and always had a smile. .
  As a tribute to him, here's what he posted on Thanksgiving, 2015: 
Nick Wiltgen   November 26, 2015 ·Very thankful for the support of family and friends this year... and thankful for a sound mind and good physical health, and all the natural and man-made beauty I get to experience on a daily basis... Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
 Here's a story he co-wrote about the big east coast blizzard on Jan., 24, 2016: 

Article from Atlanta Journal Constitution about the accident: 

Sad Update from the Atlanta Journal:
UPDATE | The Fulton County Medical Examiner ruled Wiltgen's death a suicide. Via the AJC:
Fulton Medical Examiner’s office investigators on Tuesday said the death had been ruled a suicide and Wiltgen died of head and brain trauma after the crash. 
If you know or suspect anyone who wants to commit suicide, PLEASE contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Educational Video (17 mins.) Sec. Clinton diff from Bernie Sanders (Rachel Maddow Interviews)

   Since the candidates on the republican side all want to take people back to the 1950s, build walls along our borders, invalidate marriages, abolish the IRS without knowing how to collect taxes, lift pollution controls, remove 14 million off of health care (with no plan), allow everyone to open-carry firearms into schools, churches, restaurants, and stores, "carpet bomb" the middle east into oblivion, hate everyone that's not a white Christian, give tax breaks to the wealthy and cut social programs like Medicare, etc.  ....the sane choice is from the democratic candidates. 
   So, for the educated readers, here's a 17 minute interview that explains the difference between the 2 leading democratic candidates: Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders.              
  Both are good candidates, but there are differences. We would support either of them, although I (Rob) think that she has much more experience with 1) Foreign relations (and our relations with other countries) and 2) How the White House works with Congress. I also prefer her stance on gun control and health care over Mr. Sanders. Of course, Mr. Sanders wants free college tuition- and that's why younger adults are supporting him, but he doesn't explain how he's going to pay for it. Rob

Clinton draws distinction from Sanders

Hillary Clinton, Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination, talks with Rachel Maddow about the recent U.S. confrontation with Iran, the disaster with the Flint, Michigan water supply, and the her approach to health care that distinguishes her from Bernie Sanders. Duration: 17:12


   Clinton said that Democrats face a choice. They can defend and bolster the Affordable Care Act, or they can try and replace it altogether with the kind of scheme that Sanders envisions. But the latter is highly unrealistic politically, Clinton noted. In the past, efforts to pass much milder reforms have repeatedly failed -- usually because the healthcare industry has so much lobbying power and/or because many Americans are instinctively skeptical of government.
    Another problem with the Sanders approach, Clinton explained, is that Obamacare remains politically vulnerable. The Republican Congress has already voted to repeal the law, Clinton noted. If a Republican wins the presidency, repeal could really happen. In such an environment, she said, Democrats should be shoring up the program -- and not undermining its political support by diverting energies elsewhere.
    Sanders responded by pointing to the real shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act -- the fact that 10 percent of the country remains uninsured and that even some people with coverage don’t have enough financial protection. And while he acknowledged the political difficulty of passing single-payer, he said that comprehensive campaign finance reform would reduce the power of special interests -- although ambitious campaign finance reform might be as difficult to pass as ambitious health care reform.
In the end, viewers got a pretty good sense of where the two candidates stand on health care -- and how they differ.
   Both are longtime and passionate advocates for universal coverage. Their dispute is how to get there.  Sanders wants to get there by replacing existing arrangements, including Obamacare, with a single-payer plan. Clinton would move incrementally, building on Obamacare rather than replacing it, because she believes anything more ambitious is bound to fail -- and might even backfire.
(I (Rob), tend to agree with Secretary Clinton. To destroy one and try and replace it with something more abitious would be dangerous, since most Republicans didn't even want AFA).

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A fun English Tea at Belmont Manor

Rob, Tom and Linda
On January 16, we enjoyed an English Tea at the historic Belmont Manor in Elkridge, Maryland with our friend Linda. It was like stepping back into the time of Downton Abbey.
     We enjoyed a traditional English afternoon tea in the stately Belmont Manor House, built in 1738! We were greeted by a butler, Henry, and the Duchess of Bedford, Anna, the originator of the afternoon tea. Costumed staff was available to answer questions.
  During the Belmont Manor Tea there were bottomless pots of Earl Grey tea, Cinnamon tea and Raspberry Tea. There were manor scones with clotted cream and jam, tea savories (petite sandwiches), and unique desserts, all made by the Elkridge Furnace Inn chefs.
Front door of the Belmont Manor
  New menus are served each month. After your dining experience, we enjoyed a self-guided tour of the Manor House. Since we've done paranormal investigations here, it was easy for us to give Linda a walk-through!
  For information:!teas/yoi76
a beautiful living room
Tom and Linda walking off tasty teas, sandwiches and treats
Inside one of the great rooms
   Linda, now retired, volunteers at the Strathmore in Bethesda, MD. (The soothing sounds of local musicians fill the room, as you enjoy Afternoon Tea in the cozy atmosphere of The Shapiro Music Room at Strathmore... Click on the link here to get information and tickets).
  It was a fun experience, and well-worth doing!

Wide view of Belmont Manor

How the manor looked in the past
View looking south from the Manor's front entrance

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In the news: How dogs get older: A fascinating and deeply touching photography project

Corbet — 2 years and 11 years

Everyone knows that we love dogs, and working in rescue as we do, we particularly love senior dogs. So, when Tom found this interesting photo feature, we had to share it with you.

How dogs get older: A fascinating and deeply touching photography project

 Amanda Jones has dedicated the past 20 years to an incredible photography project which aims to show just how fleeting the lives of our beloved pets are. We’ve all had that odd feeling that a lively puppy seems to turn into a fully-grown, wise old dog over night. Some of them barely change at all, others begin to show some signs of age. Dogs in particular age faster than us, of course, and perhaps that’s why the following photos are a bit sad as well as very sweet. But we can always take comfort in the knowledge that, however old they are, the joy we get from that bond with our best friend never diminishes.  (Buy Amanda's Book here:


Briscoe — 1 year and 10 years

Poppy — 1 year and 7 years

Fred — 2 years and 10 years

Cooper — 3 years and 10 years

Kayden and Brodie — 11 months and 5 years; 7 years and 12 years

Audrey — 3 years and 12 years

Rufus — 6 months and 13 years

Sydney and Savannah — 16 months and 5 months; 10 and 9 years

Maddy — 5 years and 10 years

Abigale — 5 months and 8 years

Lily — 8 months and 15 years

Maddie and Ellie — 7 and 6 years; 14 and 13 years

Friday, January 22, 2016

A funny, embarrassing moment with a friend

Making Jeff blush is so much fun!
On Saturday, Jan. 16, we were walking our dogs in the neighborhood when we stopped to chat with our
friend Jeff, who is a police officer. He and his wife are good friends of ours. I (Rob) love getting Jeff to turn red, and Jeff always seems to give me the opportunity, so I took it.
   I told him that he looked thinner in the face, and he said he's been trying to lose weight, but hasn't, so he said "it must be because I shaved this morning."  We told him that it looks like he lost a couple of pounds and he said "only when you shave all the hair off your body, like I had to for wrestling does it take 2 pounds off you."
   So, I told him we'd help. He said "You don't want to take me on for wrestling. You'll get hurt." That's when I corrected him - I said "We don't want to wrestle you, we just want to help with the prep!" 
   Bingo!  He turned red, we laughed and wished him a good day as we continued our walk. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Frustration with Cable Costs Not Explained

Fees increase and they don't tell you
   We recently received our Comcast cable bill and it was $7.00 higher than the previous month with NO EXPLANATION. 
    I compared the bills and found out the broadcast fee last month was $3.25 and the regional sports fee was $1 but the current bill has $5 and $3 respectively.
  The "sports fee" is for certain regional sport network subsidies - whatever the hell that is. We don't subscribe to sports channels, nor do we even watch sports on any channel.
  I had to do some on-line research to learn about the other fee. The Broadcast TV fee recovers a portion of the costs of retransmitting television broadcast signals. Isn't that what cable is? retransmitting broadcast signals?
    I messaged Comcast and they said  the government raised the taxes. Uh-huh.But cable fees went up, too.


    Taxes Surcharges and Fees     $8.45  (increased  41 cents)
 TV Franchise Fee and a P.E.G. (whatever this is) and MD State Sales Tax

Additional XFINITY Internet Services  Increased $1.00        Speed Increase Blast! Internet

MY BIGGEST ISSUE (Aside from the increased bill):   Why doesn't Comcast put that on the bill when it is issued? Customers really need to know why costs have suddenly increased. No one wants to subscribe to something where costs mysteriously increase. Please share this with billing managers. They really need to be responsible.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next