Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Angels and Demons

It has occured to me more than once that I have a bipolar relationship with my pets/kids/Brats. When I talk about them it is either with eyes brimming with love and adoration or snapping with anger and frustration. Like all parents (I don't care if my "kids" have fur!), I have to love my angels, even when they're being demons...


Rion likes to lay on the back and sides of our sofas...and drool...DEMON! He's also my Big Barker...
Tiki, also known as the Tiki-Demon and/or Chupacabre (google it) has earned her nicknames. This cat is into everything...at all hours...
My very, very good friend Lil' Boss's dad had given me an article about gardening/goats/chickens from the paper. Wormie ate it. He also likes to wee on my floor when he's angry...
But look how cute my little Chupacabre is when she's sleeping!!! So soft and warm and fuzzy!
This is our other cat Wiggle. You'll probably never see her again. WE hardly see her. How can she be a bad cat when we never see her?
OMG! What a cute Worm! Schnitzel is the KING of looking cute to get out of trouble.
The absolutely Perfect,Precious, and Pretty Princess Pooh. Abbey has all kinds of faults, but Hubby and I are both pretty blind to them.
My little angel. Stinky is my bud. He's the only one of my dogs that acts like a dog and I love him so much for being true to himself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Things I Do For Those Dogs I Love...

If you have a pet, you probably know about the rash of pet food recalls over the past few years. All kinds of things have been discovered in pet food and a lot of pets have died. Every time a recall list has come out, I've held my breath until I verified our food wasn't on the list. We also check for expiration dates on our kibble because expired food is often not removed from store shelves and can kill your pet. We've also always paid attention to the nutritional information on the kibble bag. Dogs are omnivores, but they need a lot of protein. There should be at least one meat substance in the first five ingredients on the bag. We give each of the dogs multivitamins every day to help keep their fur glossy and Schnitzel and Abbey get Glucosamine every day as well (Dachshunds are very prone to back problems and Abbey's already had two knee surgeries at 5). We've felt pretty good about what we put into the Brats.

Imagine my horror then when a friend of mine sent me an article a few weeks ago about some of the stuff in most commercial dog foods. "Animal by product" for instance, can actually be euthanized cats and dogs!!! Cannibalism is not my idea of a proper diet! Haven't we learned anything from the outbreaks of Mad Cow disease??? You cannot feed an animal one of it's own and expect good things to happen.

This little bit of info was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Enough is enough. My cubie at work, Robbi, has been feeding her dogs a natural diet for at least a year now because of different medical conditions and dog food scares, so I went to her for some advice. The last two weeks, I've been cooking my own dog food! I know...maybe a little obsessive, but I think my Brats are worth it. So far, I've tried two different recipes. One consists of meat-loaf type muffins and the other was a seafood and veggie mixture. The dogs loved them both, but Hubby and I agreed that the mackeral mix stank to high heaven and think we'll try salmon next time. :-)

A little homemade dog food for you:
1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey, chicken, whatever)
4 stalks celery
4 carrots
1 apple, cored
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 bag frozen broccoli
2 eggs
1 c regular rolled oats
2 c cooked brown rice
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
I ran all the veggies through the food processor to help with digestion and then mixed everything together. I sectioned the mix into muffin tins and baked at 350 for 50 mins.
I had two different sizes of muffin tins, so we had Schnitzel sized muffins and big dog sized muffins. The recipe above made enough muffins for six days. The kids get a muffin each for breakfast and dinner with a half portion of their kibble. We're going to use up the rest of the kibble we currently have and then switch to Solid Gold's "Barking at the Moon" brand. This is the only dog food I can find in my local Petco that earned high marks on the websites I've looked at.

Anywho, I just thought I'd throw a little more wood on the flames for all those that think I've lost my mind. You might just be right! But I'm somewhat happy here in Crazytown. They're talking about making me mayor. :-D

The Dogs I Love

Saturday was a very busy day for the Butler Brats.
We started out with a very good and thorough brushing. When one is going to undertake dog grooming in our house, you have to equip yourself properly. You need the shedding brush, the slicker brush, the stripper comb and the knot comb. You also need a leash, a LOT of patience and one of these...
Very important dog grooming tool
The two big dogs in particular have under coats that insulate them from the cold during the winter. In the spring, the under coat starts coming out in little tufts of white fluff. In the interest of preventing allergy attacks and killing our vacuum cleaner with overuse, we usually try to brush the fluff out rather than just let it fall out on it's own. There was a LOT of fluff!
What you can't tell from the picture is that the ball o'fluff is at least six inches tall as well as 18 inches long. I think the dogs actually lost weight we got so much hair off of them.
To reward the Brats for letting us brush them, we set up their kiddie pool in the back yard so they could enjoy a good romp. Abbey and Rion LOVE water. Abbey is 100% water dog and taught Rion how to swim and water romp when he was a puppy. I almost wish we had a real pool so they could swim regularly, but then we would probably never get them out of the pool...
Dachshunds are notorious for hating water. On rainy days, Schnitzel is a lot more likely to go to the bathroom on our patio than to venture into the rain. He's the same way about dew in the morning. But, I think the big dogs are trying to teach him that swimming is actually fun. At any rate, he voluntairly went in the pool with only a little nudging from us.
video

When we set up the kiddie pool in the backyard, the big dogs go NUTS. They jump in the water and splash and then chase each other around the yard (freshly mowed) and then through the flowerbeds (new topsoil just put down). Needless to say, the water turned brown and so did the dogs. It was definitely bath time!
I just thought this was a funny photo. Worm looks so funny just hanging there. :-)
Our dogs may love water, but they do NOT like baths. They think it's pure torture and it would've been cruel to take a picture of their misery (that and my hands were wet). After much stuggling, Hubby and I managed to get all the Brats squeaky clean, dried, brushed again and looking ready for Sunday school.
What to do with these clean dogs? Let's go a'calling! Our friends Nikki and Phil recently adopted a Rat Terrier puppy named Koda, so we took the herd over to their house to meet a new friend. Rion wanted so badly to play with him, but didn't seem to know what to do with the little guy (he's like 5 lbs). Abbey laid on the ground and let him crawl on her. Worm sat in my lap and moaned all night. It must be a Dachshund thing. Nikki and Phil's other dog, Katie, is a terrier/dachsy mix and she wanted nothing to do with all that socializing either. Guess they're above that. :-)
Abbey ice diving in the water bucket. I swear this dog snorkels. She'll dive for anything she thinks is edible. Rion used to be the only boy of all the "kids" in our group. Now there's competition...Katie was much happier sitting on Daddy's lap, "Thank you very much"Pretending we don't exist...She just lets everyone walk all over her!Super cute tiny puppy!!
Wow! What a busy day! All the fun from yesterday has apparently taken it's toll on the Brats. They've been completely lazy all day today, hardly lifting their heads from the couch at all...We should do this more often!!

I leave you with a funny video of the Tiki-demon birdwatching. The water-sucking pond mentioned in a previous post is right outside our kitchen window, and there was a Mourning Dove hanging out this morning. Tiki wanted very badly to eat it. She seems to think that if she talks sweetly enough, they'll just fly into her mouth. ;-)
video

Friday, March 20, 2009

An Evening with Billy Joel and Elton John

Hubby is a huge fan of Billy Joel. He played the piano for years as a child and is from Allentown, Pa - a town that Billy Joel wrote a song about. My very, very good friend Kris is a big fan of Elton John. So, Hubby, Kris, her husband James and I went to see them last night. :-) The guys are getting up there and can't really hit all their high notes anymore, but it was still a fantastic show. Lots of singing along and screaming. :-)
Kris and James
Don't ask ;-)

video
The boys playing together
video
Billy Joel singing "Allentown"

Thanks for a great night!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Salad!!

I don't know what magical thing happened in the garden recently, but most of the Romaine went CRAZY last week. We had pulled off outer leaves a few times to make a couple small salads, but we were a little hesitant to take too much. When we went in the garden over this past weekend, we noticed at least 4 of the lettuce plants have actually formed their little heads! You don't want the lettuce to actually go to seed, so we figure we've only got a few weeks to eat it all. So, we harvested one up! And don't be too surprised if we offer you some at some point. ;-)
Look how pretty! And BIG!
Wash, wash, wash your lettuce gently in the sink...Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, eat with a radish, pink... (sorry)
Spin it, Hubby! Salad Spinners are a great way to de-stress.
We also had our first radish harvest...
Combine the romaine, the radish, some baby spinach from the garden and some store-bought matchstick carrots (I apparently suck at growing carrots - no luck so far), and I've had salad for lunch this week!
Ahh! The fruits (ok...veg!) of my labor!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Blogging Fool! Somebody Stop Me!

As some of you may remember, I don't like to be bored on the weekends. And rain is BORING! Last time a thundercloud rolled through these parts, I ended up making 7 quarts of homemade chicken stock. Well, it happened again. I woke up on Sunday morning to some seriously overcast skies. No gardening for me! What to do, what to do....

I could work on the blanket I've been crocheting for two years...naw, Tiki is laying on it...

I could watch TV...naw, there's nothing good on...

Maybe refinish the shelf I bought off the Swap Shop (NASA Ebay) for the guest room? Naw, don't want to spend the day in the garage...

Well, we're all out of sandwich bread, I'll make our every-two-week batch...

Hmmm...while I've got the mixer primed up, I could try my hand at French Bread (pics coming of this! SOOOOOO FUNNY!)...

You know, I bet my fellow CoFR Gophers (work-mates) would like some White Chocolate Bailey Bars for St Patty's Day...

Hubby just told me that the South is rubbing off on him and he likes pecan pie...what the heck! I'm already baking!...

You know...we need to eat tonight and I have some chicken in the fridge...I'll make Granny's FANTASTIC Chicken Spaghetti...

YEP! I spent almost 8 hours in the kitchen on Sunday. Have I completely lost my mind??? Maybe, but it certainly was a satisfying day. I made my first ever French Bread (two loaves)...
HAHAHAHA!!! Is that the funniest looking loaf of bread you've ever seen?? Instead of rising UP, it went OUT. Kinda reminds me of a cooked Pillsbury Dough Boy! :-D It tastes just like French Bread, but the consistency and shape reminds me a lot of the bread you make paninis with...which might be what we do with it. :-)

...I also made two loaves of the sandwich bread that we've gotten quite used to eating...

...I made my first ever pecan pie AND my first ever homemade pie dough (RIGHTEOUS pain in the hooey rolling out pie dough. Now I understand why everybody buys premade)...
Came out quite tasty though! Even the crust. :-)This pic was taken with my phone, so it's not the best quality. mmmmm...pie....
...and I made my Granny's Fantastic Chicken Spaghetti, recipe below...you're welcome!

My Granny has always been one of those instinctively good cooks. A pinch of this and a dab of that makes perfect sense to her and I don't think she's ever cooked anything in her life that didn't taste phenomenal. This recipe was given to my Granny by her good friend Sue Finley (and all good recipes are handed out...they very seldom come from books) and my Granny tweaked it to make it her own. When I was a kid begging her to teach me to cook, she always told me that a recipe is just a starting point. You have to make it your own. I am a 33 year old adult now who loves to cook, somewhat because in the back of my mind, I can hear my Granny singing church songs in the kitchen at the only house that was permenant in my life and thus "home" and it makes me feel close to her. I hope you make it and enjoy it. :-)

Marcella Bailey Moore's Chicken Spaghetti:

1 fryer (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1 small can Rotel tomatoes
1 clove minced garlic
3 small onions, minced
1/2 to 1 bunch celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 bay leaf (Hey Lil Boss! I used one of your Bay leaves! Thanks!)
10 oz pkg spaghetti noodles
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained (I have to leave this out cuz Hubby hates "fungus")
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb Velveeta, sliced

Stew fryer with just enough water to cover. Remove chicken from pot, saving broth. Remove meat from chicken, discarding skin, etc. Tear meat into bite size pieces. Simmer Rotel, garlic, vegetables and bay leaf for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Cook spaghetti in broth. Mix veggie mixture and cream of mushroom soup together, add mushrooms, Velveeta and spaghetti. Pour it all in a 13 x 9 inch casserole (or two 9 x 9s) and bake until it bubbles - about one hour. (Granddaughter cook likes to add about 10 dashes of Franks hot sauce and about 1 teaspoon of black pepper as well)

Shredding chicken is therapeutic. :-)
"Can we has some chicky please?"
Just wanted to show you that it's SUPPOSED to look revolting before you bake it!
Mmmm...chicken spaghetti and crazy, deformed French bread!
I made two 9x9s and froze one, put it in a food saver bag and stuck it in the freezer. Never hurts to have a casserole on deck in case you need it!

Enjoy the recipe and send me any old family favorites you might have! TreehuggingDoglover@gmail.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

House Hunting and Other Pipe Dreams

For someone who has never lived outside of Southeast Houston in her ENTIRE life, I have lived a nomadic existence. As the child of a single mother, we moved whenever HUD told us to, or when a nice, cheap apartment came available. Before I left the nest, I'd lived in at least nine different apartments that I can remember. From 21 till I moved in with Hubby (at 27) , I had 8 apartments. Hubby and I bought our house four months after we moved in together, which has us in this house almost six years now. We chose a small house when we were looking - it has a GREAT layout and a very open feel. The idea was that this would be our "first" house and that we would work on it and learn from the experience and move on in about five years. Did I mention it'll be six years in May? :-) I just don't have the ability to lay down roots! Even though I literally have roots growing in the backyard, I have found myself seriously bitten by the new-house bug the last few weeks. My very, very good friend, Lil Boss, was talking a few weeks ago about moving and it got me in the mood to just, you know, LOOK. :-D I had done a little online shopping and found a builder in the area that I thought looked promising and managed to talk Kris (Lil Boss) into going with me to inspect model homes. Her mom Jan, known in our group as "The Cool Mom Who Goes on Girls' Nights With Us" came along as well. I think Kris and I both fell in love with different houses (and not the ones either of us went to see - HA). Now I just have to talk Hubby into moving and Kris into moving in down the road. Midnight Margaritas and general bedlam commencing shortly thereafter. :-D
Some pics of the inventory house I fell in love with (Meritage Homes - Fredericksburg {hysterically ironic that it's named Fredericksburg as Hubby and I have talked about moving to Fredericksburg, Texas}): Okay, seriously, how much punctuation can I fit into one sentence???
Dining Room
Kitchen View 1
Kitchen View 2
Living Room 1 (sorry so dark)
Living Room 2
Master Bath with his and hers walk-in closets, separate vanities and garden tub
Upstairs game room with wet bar - in mine and Hubby's house, this would be an in-home bar area. We'll have a party, you can come. ;-)
Game room view 2
Patio off the game room
Media Room off the game room (HEY! If you're dreaming, do it BIG!)
Side-mounted 3 car garage
The "Parking Lot" as I cannot stop calling it.

*sigh*

And...Kris's Dream Home...

Sorry for the two-post post, but Blogspot was not happy about the size of all the pics. ;-)
Kris's dream home is an actual model home. They have done some FANTASTIC things with the inside of this house!
Formal Living - love the wall treatment!
Study view 1
Study view 2
Click on the pic. I'm so sad this came out so dark. "The Cool Mom Who Goes on Girls' Nite With Us" liked the arrangement over the door, so we took a pic. Damn the lighting!
Formal dining (can't really see it in the pic, but there's a lovely built-in buffet behind the table)
Fantastic kitchen
The game room, upstairs...
How fantastically awesome is the Rubic's Cube table?!?!?!
Wet bar with wine chiller
Media Room 1
Love, love, LOVE the red velvet curtains in the media room - how authentic!
Very cool "Hang Ten" room
"Kim Possible" Room (Does that say "BEER"?????)
Cool bedspread and wall art with Egyptian hieroglyphs (SP??)
Continuing the Egyptian theme in the attached bath.
Really cool wall art - totally Design on a Dime!
The Piece de Resistance! The gorgeous wall treatment around the two story family room!
Great ideas for decorating!

I had a fantastic time checking out houses with Lil Boss and "The Cool Mom Who Goes on Girls' Nites With Us" - thanks you guys! Let's do it again sometime! I saw a few houses on Plantation/Coventry that are bound to be AWESOME in person!! ;-)