Friday, February 24, 2012

Poor Puppy Syndrome

The "Poor Puppy" photo
Our dog is spoiled. That we freely admit. We suffer from Poor Puppy Syndrome. It comes from taking in a rescue dog. It's that picture in her Homeward Bound file that first did it. Found tied to a trailer hitch in Bakersfield, abrasions on her muzzle, kennel cough, pregnant with nine pups and still under the age of one year. Who could resist? Those eyes! Those slightly pigeon-toed feet?

I should be a better dog owner; I was such a great nanny, and you would think the skills would transfer better. My sister used to say I have a secret power over children. My secret? I knew I was not being paid to be their buddy, and they knew I really cared. I would rather them be annoyed with me for expecting a lot from them, than them being annoying all day to everyone else. I would rather them be mad at me for a bit than mad at the world the whole day. I would rather them not like me for a time, than them be an unlikeable kid. I believe that any child can be lovable, and not be a child that only a mother could love. And it worked. We had great times and great days and lots of fun. I dearly loved them and they loved me. I was the Kid Whisperer.

I'm not the Dog Whisperer. I should be more consistent. I should put my foot down more. I should draw the line in the sand and expect more from her. But that photo comes to mind and I melt. We should take her to obedience school, but who has the money? Who has the time? Actually, the money we have invested in "magic training collars" could probably have been better spent in some obedience classes.

Yesterday I was feeling bad about not taking the Molls on a nice long walk. It was a beautiful warm spring day. So I got dressed for walking and then got the walking contraptions out. Putting her in the Gentle Leader is like getting an excited horse into a bridle. She knows it means a walk, but she doesn't want to sit still to get the thing attached right. We have learned that it isn't enough, she then needs to be harnessed into her sort of half nylon/half "they don't call them choke collars anymore but you know what I'm talking about" combo collar. OK, all set, here we go!

Go! Stop! Go! Stop and sniff, stop and sniff. Go! Stop! Go! Sniff! I think you get the idea of who walks whom around these parts? She is in control and I am the embarrassed dog mom who needs a nanny to bring out the best in her canine charge. We have the problem dog. We are the ones doing 180s to avoid the other dog walkers. We have our neighbors described like this: the house with the black dog Molly hates - the house with the beagle Molly hates - the house with the cats Molly wants to eat. What happened to The Look that could get a kid to behave in a pottery store or a hushed museum? The Look that could stop a tantrum mid-blood curdling scream?

Cue up the tiny little violin music

In Romanian, Molly sounds like the word for soft, but it appears it is I that has gone soft. You can't blame me though. Just look at those eyes! If it wasn't for the rope AND the trailer hitch, I would be so much stronger. And really, Bakersfield? Poor Puppy!

Molly's theme song - The Streets of Bakersfield

With her collection of destroyed toys

We thought using weights in a pack would improve her behavior, it just made for a heavier stubborn dog.

Knocking over the balloon toss game at the park - who owns this brat, anyway?

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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Battle of the Fashion Blogs

 Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen is a fun and inspiring blog I recently discovered. It has upbeat posts full of lovely ladies and gentlemen who have embraced their later years with pizazz. All these ladies appear to wake up with a determination to face the day dressed for success and style.

I remember distinctly my moment in life when I said to myself, Jessica you really need to start dressing better. I had lived in Broderick for 4 years with the barefoot tube top crowd. That look was easy to avoid. We lived in Davis for 10 years surrounded by the funky college and Co-op tie-dyed look, which was just not me either. But while up in the Sierra mountains for 2 years, surrounded by the ski bum and hiking crowd, my style really went South Lake Tahoe. The three style questions I asked up there were:

1. Is it warm?
2. Is it warm?
3. Is it warm?

Then we moved down to Sacramento into an upscale gated enclave with million dollar homes. I'm sure as we pulled onto the street with our U-Haul and the canoe strapped to the top of my beat up Subaru, our new neighbors cringed and thought There goes the neighborhood.

The next day after the move I needed to go grocery shopping. I threw on the old Tahoe outfit: a shapeless shirt over some shapeless pants with a few stains, over some clunky shoes with good snow traction. (In Tahoe, shoe shopping meant you turned over the shoe first to see if it had tread and then and only then did you even look at the style of the shoe.) Good enough, all body parts were covered and it was only grocery shopping, right? Wrong. Not only did I feel like a blob, I saw a woman I went to school with, and she did not have tread on the bottom of her shoes. Never did I do such a fast 180 with a shopping cart. If you want to be guaranteed to run into an old friend, go to the store looking just awful. Lesson learned: time to dress it up a bit.

I doubt these women from Advanced Style ever have to do 180s in the store trying to avoid old friends. I bet they are just tickled to run into people they know. If she saw me in my Tahoe Blob gear, this first lady might have thrown her lovely blue cape over me.

She isn't using a cane, she is wearing the cane!

Yes, these classy women look like they have gobs of money. And they probably have housekeepers and can afford high dry cleaning bills. But just because a person is rich and lives in New York City doesn't guarantee they will have style. Case in point:

There's another website that looks at fashion, but it's more of a Don't look because there's a dead cat in the road and it's really bad and I told you not to look kind of site: People of Walmart. Advanced Style, please come to my local Walmart. Bring your ladies. At least bring their capes. We need a boat load of capes, because sometimes even a 180 is not enough.

Photos courtesy of Advanced Style, and infostarcelebrityblogspot.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Da Da Sisterhood

Clothes on the chopping block
Last June (!) we attended the 25th anniversary of our friends Dennis and Julie. I made a card that promised as a gift this family quilt. Eight months later, we are almost there.

I explained what kind of fabric was needed: cotton, denim and flannel. Julie thought a lot about it and was gathering some items together. These quilts take several pieces, way more than most people think. When we dropped by their garage sale in the fall, I tore a bunch of clothes off the racks and added them to the stack. They want to get a few more sentimental items from family members, but what we have here is enough to make a family quilt.

Julie and I are members of the Da Da Sisterhood. We are both struggling to learn Romanian while being left in the dust by our own family members. Dennis and their two boys are going gangbusters with our chosen 2nd language, and Ernst is doing quite well on his 3rd. Julie and I still get that deer in the headlights, glazed eye expression of complete and utter despair as we try to comprehend a conversation. These interactions are very one sided: the Romanian speaker talks, we say Da Da as we nod our heads in agreement. The person walks away and we wonder what we just said Da to. One thing I will agree to is getting this quilt done before June. I am determined to let my Da mean Da.

Clothes - deconstructed.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday on a juice fast

It's over. My two week Juice Fast Feast Fest is finished - quite successfully I might add. But note to self: Never plan a juice fast to coincide with a day where the entire nation is eating yummy food while I sip on green pond scum.

Why a fast? Because ever so slowly my body has been getting quite rebellious, and waking up is so hard to do. Sore back, stiff hands, must have a strong tea IV drip to get out of bed, puffy face that makes me look like I played defensive lineman the day before. And this is on healthy food! I'm dealing with some crazy food intolerances, and by George I'm going to get to the bottom of this.

My friend Jilcara was doing a juice feast so I decided I'd jump on the bandwagon. I did it right this time- I juiced almost all organic and I juiced fresh and often. Was I hungry? You bet I was, but only when I got my timing wrong and was not able to slug back the pond scum of the hour. Do I feel good? You bet I do. Don't know why or how this works, but I feel really good. Not just happy that the right trousers are fitting, but really happy to know I'm not destined to be down for the count with joint pain when I am still such a relatively young chick hen.

What did I juice? Anything that wasn't tied down: apples, carrots, celery, watermelon, beets and beet tops, kale, radishes, ginger, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, asparagus, green onions, romaine lettuce, grapefruit and lemons. Our produce bill was through the roof. It was insane the amount of veggies I was going through. All the juicing leftovers went into Crock Pot dog food for Molly or into the compost pile. Since Molly raids the compost pile no matter how deep we bury it, it basically all went into dog food. Our dog has really healthy bowels right now. Is it stupid to not eat all that fiber? Yes, and juicing is not a way to live. It's a drastic measure to bring about some pretty cool health results. For that I can justify a dog with lots of carrot fiber in her little bod.

Now for the hard part - breaking the fast right and documenting how I feel as I reintroduce real foods into my now cleaned out body. It will be wonderful to chew. I think first up is an apple pie with a big side of fries and some chips and guac with salsa...

Here were my squareduptweets from the two week fast:

During the meeting tonight, I think my stomach lining was digesting itself. Day one was a success - thirteen more to go of Juice Fest 2012.

Day 2 Juice Fest. Woke up. That was good. No back pain at all. That was great. Will consider becoming a zoo animal who lives on vegetation.

Day 3 of juicing. Feeling good and looking a bit fresher, I must say. Haven't hit the wall yet. Already living really close to the wall?

Was famished last night around 1am. Operating a Champion juicer at that time is not advised, so woke up starving. Otherwise great on Day 4.

Went to an after funeral family thing to see a friend in town. Food, food, everywhere food. Brought no juice but survived. Day 5 is history!

Day Six is breezing by. I discovered recipe juices-going for a specific taste. Tomato, peppers, cilantro, carrots, celery, hot pepper-Yummy!

A fridge full of washed veggies and fruit makes for heaven on Day Seven of my juice feast. Our produce bill is mega high, but feeling great.

Day 8 going great, drinking food, don't need plate.

Day Nine, feeling fine. No whine, no dine or the other wine. For chewing food, though, I do pine.

Clucking like a hen on Juicing Day Ten. When will I eat, when oh when? Five more days, can't wait 'til then.

Juice Feast is winding down, three more days to chug it down. Day Eleven's going well, can hardly wait to eat and tell.

Into Day Twelve I will not delve, ready to put this fast on the shelves, Oh, to make my juice - some elves?

From this juice fast I will soon wean, healthier and a bit more lean. All done with a good day 13, from a normal fridge I'll soon glean.

Day 14 is Super Bowl Sunday, just can't wait until Break the Fast Monday. It sure will be a fun day, and it's only in One Day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

UC Davis Dog Wash Fundraiser

Dog Wash by future UC Davis graduates  

Dog wash by a UC Davis graduate   

I wag for Aggies!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When Mac and Cheese goes vegan

This blog is often about our garden - but it isn't a garden blog.
This blog is often about our dog - but it isn't a dog blog.
This blog is often about my cooking adventures - but it definitely is not a cooking blog.

A good cooking blog post actually has an ingredient list, measurements, techniques, tips and directions. Good photos are key, as are witty comments. One that I check in on, because it too is featured on Sac Connect, is Pretty Yummy Foods. I don't know why I must read it, because there has not been one single recipe on it that we can eat, but I love the photography and style. It is what my blog wants to looks like when it grows up.

Today's post was Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash. OK, the last part works for us, and the Mac part is OK, but the cheese, butter and milk are from cows. All things bovine are history for us since my dearest had a heart attack on the heels of a stroke. I read the Mac and Cheese recipe and sighed, because our mac and cheese days are so over. Or are they? Dairy, Schmairy! I made mac and cheese tonight with no milk, no butter and no cheese.

The Cheesy Sauce!!

Want the recipe? So sorry, this is not a food blog. But after a quickie wedding of rice dream, veggie broth, cornstarch, Braggs, brewers yeast, some cashew vegan cheese from the farmer's market, mustard, two chopped Tofurky sausages and of course a bag of macaroni, we had ourselves a dish that was almost the right color to pass as mac and cheese. I'm not eating wheat right now so I couldn't even taste it, but the light orangy-yellow color was most exciting!

The Big E has given up so much food that he used to live on. All meat and poultry, all dairy, all eggs, and anything that had a mother. He is amazing and never cheats.  I know this because I have my spies. So it is wonderful to make him something that we just don't get anymore. I couldn't wait for him to come home. When he did, I practically met him at the door with a spoonful of this stuff. What was the verdict?

"That doesn't taste like Mac and Cheese at all......but it does taste like Beef Stroganoff!" So, just like I planned, Vegan Beef Stroganoff. I'll have the recipe up as soon as this becomes a food blog.

It looked way better before I added bread chunks.