September 29, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Carrot Cake Dog Muffins

Happy Tuesday and Happy "almost" October!  Did you all get to see the super moon and eclipse on Sunday?  I did and it was beautiful!

This week I'm reposting a recipe that I shared back in 2012.  At the time, I shared with you all that I was getting ready to adopt a from a rescue.  Here three and a half years later - so much has changed!  I ended up adopting not one, but two dachshunds (I love my twin terrors!) and my love for dogs has driven me to being one of the founders of a rescue.  Who'd have thunk?!

I still love this recipe and so do my dogs.  I hope all of your sweet furbabies do too!

Carrot Cake Dog Muffins

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2  cup grated chopped parsley
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup grated carrot

In a large bowl, mix your eggs, milk, oil and peanut butter.  Add the remaining ingredients slowly - leaving the carrot and parsley for last.

In a 350 degree oven, bake your muffins for 20-25 minutes (or 12-15 minutes for mini-muffins).  Once cooled, keep in an air tight container and freeze any portions you won't use in 5-7 days.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


September 23, 2015

Fall Fashion Essentials For the This Suburbanite

I'm seeing some ADORABLE fall fashions lately.  But let's get real.  I work in an environment where sneakers and jeans are standard issue (and trust me, I'm not complaining!) and my nights & weekends are spent chasing dogs, meeting potential fosters or adopters or doing something rescue related.

So, to say that I don't need to look gorgeous on a daily basis is an understatement...

But I do have a few fall must-haves!

I love Converse All-Stars and gray is a great neutral color that can carry you through the fall.

Flip-flops and sandals are being put away.  Which is sad...but take this opportunity to wear some socks with personality!  These "mr. and mrs. sausage" socks speak to me.  I wonder why!

Heading to a football game?  Prepping for trick-or-treating?  Maybe just a really boring meeting?  An infinity flask scarf might be just what you need.  Fill it with water...or wine. I won't tell!  I am seriously considering buying a bunch of these for my friends.  So many cute colors and patterns!

Little secret...I'm not a fan of jackets.  At all.  My family and close friends come close to going into shock on the rare instance I put one on.  But layering with sweaters, sweatshirts, etc is a must for me.  I like that this sweater is structured, but not *too* structured, is a good length to dress up or down and has a hood.  :-)

Cuddle time on the couch at the end of the day?!  Fall means new pj's, in my opinion!  I think these this Del Rossa paisley set is super cute. (But less "busy" patterns are available too!)

What are fall "musts" for you this year?


*Disclosure: I'm still an Amazon Affiliate.  If you *happen* to buy, you're kindly donating a few cents to helping me funnel money into my rescue, buy the caffeine needed to be up 24/7 or get closer to paying off my doggiemobile.

September 22, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Beer Bread

Happy Tuesday!  Fall starts this week.  How did that happen?!  Luckily, it's my favorite season (even if I would happily boycott all things pumpkin spice flavored...), full of apple picking, baking, crisp sunny days, leaf-peeping and other really fun stuff!

This week I'm sharing my beer bread.  While it tastes good on its own - I love to cut it into hunks and eat it with a little veggie or onion dip.  So good!

Beer Bread
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, at room temperature {the darker the beer, the better!}
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Brush the bottom and sides of your loaf pan with melted butter.  In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the beer all at once, mixing as little as possible; the batter should be lumpy. 

Pour the batter into a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan and brush with the melted butter. Bake in the oven at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an toothpick comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


September 19, 2015

Just STOP! A Photo Editing PSA...

I love Instagram filters and the auto "fixes" available on most smart phones.  I do.  Truly!  They have the ability to make your standard candid truly beautiful.  In the right hands, those filters or smart phone gadgets can crop, heighten the color, fix red eyes and a host of other really cool things!

Here's an image I found showing substantial, but natural looking changes to a selfie.  (image via)  For purposes of this post, I'm going to say it's an example of an "app success".

I know a number of amazing photographers who have Photoshop actions that fix minor blemishes, bring down the shine of their subject's perspiration, smooth the smallest of wrinkles and otherwise tweak pictures.  And I have no issue with that!  They key being that they are making small adjustments and have the sense to know what to adjust...or not.

Here, my dear friends is where I things start driving me up a wall...

For the LOVE. OF. GOD, please don't edit the crap out of your picture and then lie about it.  If you aren't a professional photographer, chances are, I spotted your edit a mile away.  If I've seen you in person - a picture of you without freckles, wrinkles or laugh lines just is not going to fly. 

(image via)

Here is an example of a makeup app "fail".  See how she is buffed to the point of blurry, has an unnatural drop shadow and an almost plastic quality?

Another example (image via).  Just not natural...

I also beg that a little practicality be utilized before using one of those auto-makeup apps.  If a baby is in your picture.  STOP.  If a man is in your picture. STOP.  Sadly, I've seen pictures on one person's Facebook wall this week that featured both a very small child and a man with makeup on because common sense was not utilized before A. using the make-up app and B. posting the darn thing to Facebook.

I guess I want to say - you're pretty just the way you are.  Please stop editing yourself to the point of being unrecognizable or unbelievable.  Or I'm going to come take your phone and delete the damn photoediting apps.  Just sayin'...


September 17, 2015

The Long Goodbye...

If you have a friend or family member that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia - you're familiar with many doctors calling it "the long goodbye".  Today, on my grandmother's 93rd birthday; the first one we're celebrating without her, I can't help but reflect on that phrase.

The truth is - her decline was the longest and shortest years of our lives. They dragged out but were over in the blink of an eye, and the journey brought many of our family members closer together as we fought to get through it.

At her 90th birthday party!

We saw signs shortly before her 90th birthday.  But we threw her a HUGE party.  It was her one request...and how do you say "no" to that?!  She had an amazing time!

We now know that was her "line in the sand".  She staved off the disease by sheer will until that party.  Two weeks later, confusion had taken hold.  As with many people, as the disease progressed, she started seeing people, we got stories/memories never heard of before and started slowly transitioning her away from the freedoms (unlocked doors, ability to cook, etc) that she had before.  None of us wanted to; the progression of the disease became an undeniable truth. My mom and aunt held off putting her in a nursing home as long as they humanly could...but for their sanity and her safety, it just had to happen.

In the last year of her life, she became largely non-verbal, lost the ability to walk and swallow.  As much as we loved her, she was a shell of the woman that we knew.  Her essence; her vitality; her personality and sense of humor...all gone. I can tell you the exact date she last recognized me without being prompted.

At the end, we endured a long five days as her body finally gave in and shut down.  These days were punctuated by snow storms, tears, stories from my mom and her remaining siblings of their favorite memories and whispers of reassurance to her that it was OK to go.

So, on her birthday, I choose to shed a few tears - knowing she's somewhere feeling whole and healthy again; eating cake, drinking Kahlua, and laughing.  I look at the rings left to the women in our family and know she left a little piece of herself behind for us to cherish.

This.  This is how I choose to remember her.  With horrible polyester '70's shirts and an easy smile.


September 16, 2015

Fall Movie Challenge - Week Two

Along with 30+ other bloggers, I've just completed week two of the annual movie challenge. As much as the challenge is about the movies - as it should be - I have to say that I really enjoy getting to provide the rest of the group with feedback on my opinion of the movies and have a group discussion of a few of them.

I wish I could say that I made as much headway this week as I did in week one!

What IMDB says: When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

What I say: Confession...I am a total Marvel movie (and TV) geek.  Give me a marathon of Agents of SHIELD, The Avengers and movies that feed into it and I am a nerdtastically happy girl. I couldn't tell you how I didn't watch this movie sooner (I'm blaming the fact that I keep watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier instead). I really liked this movie (obviously), even if Tony Stark is the most arrogant character known to man.

What IMDB says: A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown.

What I say: A sweet movie and I would watch it again.  I was disappointed in the ending though... It just didn't deliver what I expected of Nicholas Sparks.  However - I didn't read the book, so I don't know if the movie deviated from the original story.

What IMDB says: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

What I say: I really like this movie!  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have such chemistry!  It was a believable approach to a character rediscovering themselves after a mental breakdown...and it's easy to root for two flawed (but loveable) characters to find joy.

What IMDB says: Sam Witwicky leaves the Autobots behind for a normal life. But when his mind is filled with cryptic symbols, the Decepticons target him and he is dragged back into the Transformers' war.

What I say:  It's an action packed movie, that's for sure. While nothing was wrong with it per se - Megan Fox kind of annoyed me.

You can see my full movie challenge list HERE and my recap of week one's movies HERE.


September 15, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Peanut Butter S'mores Dip

Happy Tuesday!  This weekend, our little band of misfits had an end of the summer firepit.  I knew I wanted to do something classically summery, but with a twist.

I had heard of s'mores dip before - but I'll be honest, I'm not so great at following directions.  So I perused a few recipes and then did what I wanted to do. Ha!  I have to say - it went over well with the group.  I'd show you an "after" picture to balance out the "before" pictures...but it's not pretty!

Peanut Butter S'mores Dip

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows
1 pat of butter

Pretzels and graham crackers for dipping

Butter a 9 inch pie plate.  If you used Hershey bars as your milk chocolate, break them into small pieces, then evenly distribute the semi sweet chocolate chips over them in the pie plate.  Drop small amounts of peanut butter across the chocolate mixture.  Top with a bag of mini marshmellows.

Bake on 350 for 10 minutes, then bring the oven up to a broil and toast the top.  Keep a keen eye on the marshmallows while broiling!  Burnt sugar does not smell too good.  :-)

Let set for about 5 minutes, then dig in!

What's cooking in your kitchen?


September 11, 2015

Hide and Seek

I love my dogs.  Two of them *ahem* Brady and Paisley *ahem* have a habit of wanting to make a 3 AM potty run.

Don't they look sweet and innocent?!

I always go out with my dogs.  Sure, I have a fenced in yard...but I've told you all about the herd "kill list" so far this season, right?!  And I'd prefer not to experience them getting sprayed by a skunk either. 

Paisley is good about her pattern.  Out-potty-in.  Brady on the other hand meanders a bit, and my yard is fairly dimly lit.  Usually at the five minute mark, I start loudly whispering his name to get his buttocks back over to me so we can go in.  Well...Tuesday night he didn't reappear.  So I whispered louder.  Then I started saying his name louder...and louder...and louder.  Until I was hollering at him with a few choice words mixed in.  But he didn't show back up.

So I ran in and got a flashlight.  Then I heard noise behind the fence and started to REALLY panic. Did he escape somehow?  Is there an animal trying to get into my yard?  After about 10 minutes of circling the yard without him reappearing I went out front just in case he did get out and was running in the street.  No dice.  So I headed out back again...and there he was.  He ran up to me proud as punch.  

I was so relieved that I started to cry.  Not my finest moment.

His snazzy new, GoDoggie glow in the dark collar arrives tomorrow. (*Disclosure, this is an Amazon Affiliate link and *if* you buy, I get a few cents towards the Xanax I'll need if he tries to escape again.)

Brady - 1       Mumma - 0
He wins for now...but I demand a re-match!


September 09, 2015

Jamberry Jams For Little Paws Dachshund Rescue

As many of you know - two important roles to me are as co-chair of Little Paws Dachshund Rescue and as an Independent Consultant for Jamberry.  Dachshunds have my heart and Jamberry keeps my nails pretty.  :-)

During the month of September, 10% of every purchase will be donated to LPDR.  Sure, I could have set this up as a true fundraiser and have Jamberry donate the 10%.  However, I'd much rather that the money come out of my pocket and be able to still have a PARTY!!  That means when you make a purchase, you get entered to be the mystery hostess!  The more people that make a purchase, the more the mystery hostess wins! (This party technically started on 9/1 and has to close on 9/28; a winner will be announced early the morning of 9/29!)

You all know that I wouldn't talk about, never mind sell, some I didn't believe in.  My raves about Jamberry are REAL.  Love, love, love them!  They hold up great, I can get a set on in about 15 minutes and if I get a call or the dogs need me during the application process - I can pause and use my hands will the utmost confidence.  No turning the dogs' fur pretty colors with nail polish!

Want more info on how Jamberry works?  Read my July post or email me! Want a FREE sample? Click HERE!

Jamberry's fall catalog just came out and there are some really pretty wraps you should see!


Know other people who love dogs and pretty hands (or feet!) too, share my post and Jamberry site with them!  The dachshunds are wagging in anticipation!


September 07, 2015

Fall Movie Challenge - Week One Recap

About a month ago, two of my favorite bloggers - Karen and Christina talked about an annual movie challenge that they take part in and I decided to give it a shot as well.

The fall movie challenge started on September 1st and I was convinced I'd watch three movies...if I was lucky!

I'm really proud that I've made time to make a dent in my list!  Here's what I've watched during the first week:

What IMDB says: A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

What I say: I loved it!  A great family movie.  Ralph was easy to root for, but I found Vanellope a little annoying at first.

What IMDB says: Miracle tells the true story of Herb Brooks (Russell), the player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad.

What I say: While it was well acted, I'm not a fan of I don't think I'll watch it again. I did appreciate seeing a version of how events in the 1980 Olympics went down.

What IMDB says: A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.

What I say: I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did.  It came as a big (and very pleasant) surprise that I absolutely loved the point of shedding tears. The movie combines three important points (a complex love story, a failing body and a brilliant mind) very well.  I will be watching this one again!
smile emIt was easy to root for Ralph, but I found Vanellope a little annoying at first. Fun family movie!

What IMDB says: When the world's media descend on the remote Scottish island where a Hollywood actress is attempting to get married, a local girl is hired as a decoy bride to put the paparazzi off the scent.

What I say: I've been to Scotland before, but now I want to visit all the islands on the Hebrides! I knew David Tennant was in the film (Dr. Who's "The Doctor" #10) but it was a great surprise to realize that one of the other main characters was played by Kelly McDonald - the voice of Merida from Brave.  I really enjoyed this movie.  Cute; a bit predictable; but fun and really sweet.

What IMDB says: After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

What I say: I watched this movie and I'm conflicted about how I feel about it.  I liked that the movie was biographical and that the main character bucked societal norms as well as the expectations of his family. It was really well acted...and the music was great!  I love Pearl Jam.  However, the movie isn't "happy go lucky"; it's pretty depressing in a number of scenes.  

What IMDB says: In New York City, an estranged couple who witness a murder are relocated to small-town Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program.

What I say: There's not much to say about this one.  There were a few funny-ish one-liners...but I'm left wondering how two decent actors made such a horrible movie!

You can see my full movie challenge list HERE.


September 03, 2015

An Intro to "Adult Coloring"

I don't know about you, but I absolutely loved coloring as a child.  Some of my best memories are of coloring with cousins and my aunt, who I thought was just magical at making the pages she colored look pretty.

I admit, when I heard that coloring was the new thing for adults, I laughed.  But then, I sat, thought about how much I'm already into arts and crafts, and how much fun it used to be...and headed over to Amazon to start my search for the perfect coloring book.  Which then turned into a lengthy debate over the best coloring medium.  Do I go with crayons?  Colored pencils?  Markers?

I picked out two coloring books to start Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns and Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns (Volume 28).  They both had nice thick paper so nothing bled through from one page to the other.  If you have a heavy hand, I'd err on the side of caution and just put a regular piece of paper between the page you're coloring and the next page.

Picking what you're going to color with is where things get fun. My mom decide to delve into this new little hobby with me and went straight for the standard 64 count Crayola crayons.  That's a teacher for you, ha!  She quickly figured out that some of the designs are rather intricate and had to join me in my pursuit for the best coloring medium.  Ultimately, she went with the Prismacolor premium 72 color pencil set and I bought the Raffine 72 color pencil set, which are essentially the Japanese knock-offs.  I love them, and mom is thrilled with her colored pencils too.  By the way, I'm super jealous.  Her pencils hold up just a touch longer and are a little easier to blend colors.

My friends who are into card making, drawing or are otherwise truly artistically gifted swear that I should buy Copic markers and that they are the best. thing. ever.  But I about fell out of my seat when I saw the that's just not happening!

Think coloring would be fun but don't want to invest yet?  Coloring apps to the rescue!

There are a few good ones out there.  I'm partial to Colorfy.  If you're following me on Instagram, you've seen a bit of my artwork (and if you haven't - behold a few of my fabulous images above!). Colorfy has a handful of categories of pictures (flowers, animals, mandalas, etc) but the number of pictures in each level that are available to you increase based on how many of your completed pictures you share on social media.  I'm all for sharing, but I'm not sure you want to see some of these things!

If the ability to express yourself creatively doesn't convince you to buy a coloring book, there are health benefits to coloring too!  Coloring is a stress free (and stress relieving) activity, which allows your brain the rest it needs and over time, might even help train your amygdala to respond better to stress. Add in the prospect of a coloring night with your friends (I see a girl's night in coming!), and the fine motor skills that are used while coloring - which helps delay/prevent brain atrophy - and I think coloring is a no-lose prospect!


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