Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gilbert is Three

I don’t want to sound like a crazy dog lady, but I AM crazy about my dog.  Today, is Gilbert's third birthday.  He has come a long way from the 8lb puppy we brought home in the late summer of 2009.  For one, he's about 50 pounds heavier!  Though he does have some hyper border collie in him, he’s mellowed out and knows how to just chill out with us on the deck.  Aside from the usual in home puppy training he attended some training classes and knows quite a few tricks.  Doing them when a treat isn’t offered is a challenge though.  His favorite pastime is stick eating.  Or grass eating.  Or mulch eating.  And yes, he still enjoys poop eating.  He still loves his afternoon walks and will lay on the floor and cry if I don’t change into my tennis shoes fast enough.  On the same token, he’s content to just lay in the grass out in the afternoon sun or hang with Mike on the couch.

His behavior while we are gone has improved considerably in the last few months.  I think this is due in part to the Kong filled with peanut butter that we give him before we leave for the day!  He is however still a little unpredictable with strangers.  If he doesn’t know you chances are he will bark at you with the hair on the back of his neck standing up.  This attitude has gotten him ‘flagged’ at the vet and he has to get muzzled in the back for his exams/shots.  We are still unsure of how to deal with this.  If anyone has any strangers they can send our way who won’t mind having a dog bark at them we’d be happy to use them as training material!  Otherwise, he is very well behaved with the usual family and friends that visit and he gets along with everyone at doggie day camp.

Gone are the days of visiting the vet every two months for coughs, possible parvo virus, ingestion of things he shouldn't have eaten (like rat poison!), and ear infections.  Knock on wood; we haven't seen the vet since his yearly appointment in October!

For his third birthday we celebrated  by playing with his gift of a bubble machine.  Gilbert loves to chase and pop bubbles.  A little later he'll have some Frosty Paw ice cream.  He will also be bringing homemade dog biscuits to hand out to his friends at doggie day camp this week.  I know.  I won't bake for humans yet I will bake dog biscuits for my dog and his friends?  Maybe I am a crazy dog lady.

Here is a link to the recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits if you're interested.  It's really easy and probably a lot cheaper than buying treats. 

 Gilbert - 8 weeks

Gilbert - 3 years

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Recipe - Pineapple Pretzel Fruit Fluff

I received this recipe from my friend, Jenny, years ago.  When I first saw it on the table at her house I wasn’t too sure about it.  I’ve never been a fan of ‘fluffs’ and the combination of ingredients sounded odd.  But, she insisted I try it.  I’m so glad she did….or maybe I’m not!  It’s so good and so easy to make.  I’m not a baker and prefer the no bake style desserts.  The fewer the ingredients the better!  The ingredients in this recipe are those that you can keep on hand in the freezer or pantry so you always have them ready for a last minute dessert.  Because of this, Pineapple Pretzel Fruit Fluff has become my go to dish to pass at work functions.  It’s pretty much expected that I bring this!  If I don’t, I am not spoken to for weeks.  My coworkers have dubbed it ‘Pineapple Crack’ because it is so delicious and addicting.  I am always asked for the recipe and I now keep a copy of it on my work computer.  However, though it’s very easy to make, those that have tried to make it for potlucks never make it as good as mine.  Seriously, I’m not sure what they are doing wrong!  I don’t think I’m sabatoging the recipe I give them?  Serves them right for stealing MY awesome potluck dish!  If you’re looking to become the queen or king of your next potluck (or have always wanted to know what it feels like to be a crack dealer), try making this.

Pineapple Pretzel Fruit Fluff

Mix together:  1 cup crushed pretzels
                        ½ cup sugar
                        1 stick of butter – melted

Spread onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 400° for 7 minutes.  Cool and scrape out of pan.  Place into a Ziploc bag until ready to serve.

Note: To made clean-up removal of pretzel easier I line the pan with foil.  Bake for about 5 minutes as the foil makes it burn easily.

For the filling/base:

½ cup sugar
1 20oz can crushed pineapple - drained well
8oz cream cheese – room temperature
8oz Cool Whip

Whip together sugar and cream cheese.  Fold in Cool Whip and pineapple.  Chill until ready to serve.  Just before serving add broken up pretzel mixture and mix together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Favorite Things - Keds and Clarks Flip Flops

At the end of summer 2006 (yes, I remember the date. I'm weird with dates) I found a pair of Keds flip flops on clearance for $5. As it turns out, these were the most comfortable flip flops EVER. The sole was that of a tennis shoe, though not too bulky, and offered nice support. More support than most fashion flip flops, anyhow. They were perfect for just about any occasion. After discovering how comfortable this first pair was I went in search of another. And then another. Unfortunately, I was never able to find this shoe in the stores and ended up buying them (for way more than $5!) from semi obscure shoe websites. I would have done anything for these shoes! Unfortunately, my recent online quests have come up dry. I think Keds has stopped making this style. BOO! eBay had nothing in my size either. This left a large hole in my summer wardrobe. The last two pair I purchased were starting to show their age. With a weekend trip on the horizon with a lot of walking expected I was pretty sure these Keds wouldn't make it. So, off I went in the hopes of finding a new perfect flip flop. I ended up with the pair of Clarks (a brand I swore I would never buy, but their styles have improved considerably over the last year or two) pictured below. They were about $40 which is usually more than I would pay for flip flops, but they felt like they would be a winner from the start. I wore them around the house for a few days in preparation for the trip. As it turns out, THESE might be the most comfortable pair of flip flops I've ever owned! Now, I've only owned them for a few weeks so I can't comment on wear and tear but being that they are a well respected brand I would assume they will survive one summer and hopefully more. One feature I particularly like about the shoe is the velcro strap. Often, flip flops stretch out and no longer stay on your foot the way they were intended. I think this velcro will help as I can tighten it as needed. Another perk is that that footbed of the Clarks shoe is made of a waterproof material so I can water the plants outside and not worry about wrecking/dirtying the footbed. I could probably even hose them off if I needed to.  So, if you're in the market for a new pair of comfy flip flops, go out and get a pair of these (I got mine as DSW Shoes and have seen a similar style (no velcro) at Boston Store). I know I will be stocking up this season so I don't have to scour the internet for the next five years!

Keds Havana Thong
Available for a few years in various colors/patterns.
My shoe of the past.
Clarks Seymour Dive Flip Flop
Also available in black, white, and navy
My shoe of the present.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Girls Weekend Getaway - San Antonio, Texas

Memorial Day weekend I took an annual girls trip with my mom and sister.  This years destination of choice was San Antonio, Texas.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites Riverwalk.  It was the perfect place for us; two bedrooms with a total of three beds, a living area, balcony, and a small kitchenette area with a small refrigerator.  There was a free breakfast which included scrambled eggs, potatoes, the best bacon ever, pancakes, made to order eggs, yogurt, fruit and cereals.  Each evening there was a two hour manager’s reception with snacks and free wine, beer, sangria, margaritas, and rum punch.  These two perks made the reasonable hotel rate even more worth it!  It also saved us some cash on food and drinks.

San Antonio is known for it’s Riverwalk.  You can stroll along it for hours checking out various restaurants, bars, hotels and a few shops.  Or you can just have a seat and people watch!  We took a water taxi up the river to visit Pearl Brewery on Saturday, the day of the Farmer’s Market.  The taxi was a great way to see the Riverwalk from another perspective and allowed us to rest our feet.  I have to say, Milwaukee's Riverwalk doesn't even compare!  I was really impressed with the architecture and landscaping of San Antonio's Riverwalk.  The fact that there is no guard rail to protect walkers (drunk or not) makes it even more interesting

We also visited Sea World of San Antonio.  As a kid, I made a ‘bucket list’ as a school project.  On this list was a goal to visit all four Sea Worlds (I wonder how many middle schoolers wrote THAT one down?).  I have already been to the Orlando and Ohio locations and can now check off San Antonio as well.  Though the Texas park is smaller we still enjoyed our day there watching whales, dolphins, and sea lions perform.  We also lucked out because their new water park had just opened which I think kept the lines for the few roller coasters at a two minute wait!  I still love me a good roller coaster.

We took a double decker bus tour which hit various sites like the Alamo and HemisFair park, build to host the World's Fair in 1968. We also visited the Mexican Market where I enjoyed a gordita from a street vendor.  We did a lot of walking!  At the moment I am participating in a work walking challenge.  According to the pedometer I wore I logged 52,127 steps from Friday through Monday. 
All and all I enjoyed my time there and would definitely go back for another visit.  Except maybe I'd choose March or April when it’s not so hot yet.  There’s plenty more to do:  Zoo, Schlitterbahn waterpark, Six Flags, wineries and more.

I don't have any photos edited yet, but to prove that we were there here are my sister and mom in front of the Alamo.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Project MCP - May

I wasn’t too excited about this month’s Project MCP themes and I knew they would be more of a challenge for me than past months.  However, I really wanted to submit them because for each submission I was entered into a drawing to win a lens!  The first week’s theme was a total bust.  I didn’t submit anything for ‘Neighborhood’!  The following week we had to submit a photo showing sun flare.  I had a hard time trying to do this purposely.  I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t.  The third week the theme was ‘Friends’.  I could have easily gone the route of taking a picture of Gilbert and Mike but figured I shouldn’t since more than likely Gilbert would be my subject for the following week.  Instead, I chose a picture I happened to take of my niece and nephew.  The photo is definitely not award winning, but it’s cute.  And I’m happy that they both cooperated with me to take it.  During week four we had to take a picture showing motion blur.  I knew I could get this with Gilbert running around the yard.  However, I was on my own with no help (try juggling a ball, treats, AND the camera!).  I wasn’t particularly happy with the outcome but was rushed to submit something before my vacation.  Upon coming home from my vacation I decided to submit another photo for the motion blur theme; one I took at Sea World.  And low and behold, this one got featured on the Project MCP blog!  There was a fifth ‘bonus’ week this month and the assignment was to show the first shot (I took this to mean no test shots and no editing).  Again, I chose a photo from my trip to San Antonio.  Though I like the photo as is, I think a little editing helps make it better.  It turns out that I didn’t win the lens, but having a photo featured on the blog is pretty cool nonetheless!  I’m excited about June’s assignments; I already have some ideas and I think this month will be less hectic around the house, opening up more time for photography.

May Week 2:  Sun Flare
This didn't turn out as dark when I edited it but for some reason it is appearing darker on the internet.

May Week 3:  Nephew and Niece
I particularly like her missing tooth and the scar on his forehead from recent stitches.
May Week 4:  Motion Blur #1
Gilbert and his ball...that he only retrieves for treats.
May Week 4:  Motion Blur #2
Shamu at Sea World San Antonio

May Week 5:  One Click
Peaches at the Farmer's Market at Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas

The edited version of the above photo
Which one do you like better?

*Click on the photos if you'd like to see them larger*