6 Random Things…

Spring Colors 

I’m starting to break out the spring inspired nail polishes again. Shade of aqua,  like breezy days relaxing at the beach. When it’s not aqua it’s coral. Speaking of, who’s seen the beautiful colors of the new OPI Brazil collection? I just got my order and am so smitten with the colors and formula.

…and on the Spring theme…

 

Spring Cleaning

I cleaned my entire house this weekend. Top to bottom, front door to attic (just kidding, I don’t go in the attic. Spiders live up there). You get the point. I made a list for each room on Friday night, and plowed through it starting on Saturday and finished the biggest problem areas, like the kitchen, on Sunday. Not the most exciting way to sped a weekend, but it feels amazing to have a clean house. I also took care of a few random house chores, like installing a Carbon Monoxide detector, swapping out a few door bumpers, and replacing a toilet seat (never thought I’d actually have to know how to do that…joys of being a homeowner).

The challenge now is to keep the place looking great all the time instead of having to do this type of cleaning again anytime soon. I put together a schedule to quick hit every room in the house twice a month to keep on top of things. I think I could do a quick 15-20 minute cleanup each day in the scheduled room, and keep on top of things. Quick cleanup would be dust, vacuum, pick up lose items, counters/toilets, fix any small issues.

How do you guys tackle cleaning, do you keep any type of schedule/plan? Or do you do Super Cleaning weekends every few months?

 

The Schedule:

(1st/16th) Foyer/Entry

(2nd/17th) Den/Workout Area

(3rd/18th) Downstairs Bathroom

(4th/19th) Yard/Porch

(5th/20th) Garage

(6th/21st) Dining Room

(7th/22nd) Powder Room

(8th/23rd) Living Room

(9th/24th) Kitchen

(10th/25th) Office

(11th/26th) Spare Bedroom

(12th/27th) Spare Bathroom

(13th/28th) Laundry

(14th/29th) Master Bedroom

(15th/30th) Master Bathroom/Closet

 

Anxiety/Stress

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve experienced overwhelming anxiety, but much longer that I’ve been drowning in stress. Some days are worse than others, of course. I came across an article on Greatist.com this week and I really enjoyed it, 15 Ways to Beat Anxiety Now. If you deal with anxiety or high stress, you may enjoy this article as well.

 

Natural Beauty

In the past I’ve always been a fan of technologically advanced beauty, but more and more, I’ve transitioning to a more natural beauty regimen. I still use non-natural brands and products, but I strongly believe that when you know better you do better. So I’ve started to embrace brands like Shea Terra, and Stark Skincare.

 

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I’ve also started experimenting with making some at home beauty products. So far my favorite thing is washing my face with honey! Amazing results & easy to make, and customize, at home. I’ll probably do a separate post on this in the future.

 

Recent Reads

I finished the sometimes daughter by Sherri Wood Emmons last week. It’s the story of a girl born at Woodstock and her relationship with her mom and family as she grows into her teens. It’s a fairly simple story of watching a young girl grow up in the 60/70’s and experiencing her personal/family struggles. If you enjoy getting a glimpse into someone else’s family life (we’re all a little voyeuristic, right?), then you’ll probably like this.

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Puppy Love

I’ve been struggling a bit with my pup recently. He’s been having some mobility issues with his back leg. It always seems to be prompted by rough/wild playing, or a long day outdoors so I’m fairly certain it’s muscle strains. However, I think he is also developing some arthritis due to the extra weight he carries around. I’m having to adjust his food and add some supplements in hope of bringing him some natural relief without going to prescription pain killers. He’ll be seen by our vet in a few weeks for a checkup, fingers crossed, I’ve finally found the best nutrition plan for my little one. It’s so hard to see him struggle when I know he really wants to run through a dog park or splash at the dog beach. I hope we can get back to that soon.

If your pup has had similar issues, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Alright, I’m off to collapse onto the couch and relax after all that cleaning. I hope you all had a great weekend!

A Puppy Adventure

I decided to take the pup on a little adventure this morning. I was missing home (I’m born and raised in Orange County) and needed my beach fix as well, so it seemed like a good idea. So bright and not so early (I overslept) we packed up a few things and jumped in the car.

He was a little excited.

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He slept for most of the trip since it takes about 1.5 hours to get there, but his nose perked up as soon as we hit PCH. He must love that salt air as much as I do, he spent the entire drive along the beach with his head out the window.

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*sigh* I tried to stand here and enjoy the view for a few moments, but I was promptly dragged down the boardwalk toward the water.

There is only one approved off leash dog beach in Orange County, in Huntington Beach. I prefer the vibe of HB so it works for both of us.

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The leash came off as his little paws hit the sand and he went RUNNING into the water…a true lab heart. Even when he looked exhausted he kept running back into the water.

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I always bring a few tennis balls with me, since it’s likely that other dogs will steal them. I don’t mind since my little one has a bad habit of leaving them anyway. We only lost one this time, but that’s because it actually sank! It must have had a hole, but it confused the crap out Bax when it disappeared.

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A rare moment when he actually brought the ball back to me, I swear I fetch more than he does.

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It was absolutely beautiful today. We arrived early enough to score a rare parking lot spot and enjoy some cloud cover.

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Not long before we left, the sun peaked out and it started to warm up a bit.

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I love the two pictures below. I have no idea what he was playing with, but he looks like he’s dancing along the beach.

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We stayed about an hour since he wear himself out nonstop. After a quick rinse with clean water and a towel dry at the car, he hops back in the car. Despite my attempt to clean him up, he (and my car) are a complete mess, but I don’t mind.

That’s PURE HAPPINESS! (for both of us)

 

 

 

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Homemade Frosty Dog Treats

A few weeks back I mentioned that I bought some plain Greek yogurt for dog treats and I received an overwhelming amount of email asking me how I was turning the yogurt into dog treats. So here ya go! This is basically my version of those fancy frozen dog treats that you can buy at the grocery store. My pup loves those, but they are expensive and cost about $5 for 4 frozen treats. This homemade version ensures that no additional sugar/additives in the treats, and makes about a dozen that you can keep in your freezer.

This recipe is also very versatile, and you can swap in different ingredients that you might have on hand. For example, pumpkin would be great option instead of the banana. My dog also loves broccoli, I might try that one day and see if he eats it.

 

Homemade Frosty Dog Treats

16oz Plain Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1 banana (or 1/2 cup pumpkin, etc)

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The steps are super simple. You’re just going to add everything to a bowl, and mash to combine. 

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Don’t worry about getting the mixture completely smooth. It’s perfectly fine to have some banana chunks in it.

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You will likely draw a small crowd at this point of fur children begging to lick the bowl. I cave every time and let him lick the bowl when I’m done, he loves it.

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To make the treats easy to serve, I use cupcake cups. These are the sturdy cups, not the liners. I bought two different sizes in the baking section at Joann’s for a couple of bucks. I use the bigger, standard cupcake size for my Lab, and the smaller size if I know the beagles will be stopping by. 

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Fill each cup about 1/2 way full, and then freeze several hours or overnight to set.

You don’t need cups, you can freeze these in the cupcake pan, but I find that the cupcake cups make it very easy to serve once frozen. If you’re concerned about  your dog eating the cup, then you can rip the cup open and just serve the treat. My dog will tear apart the cup, but he doesn’t eat it, so i just hand him the whole thing to snack on. 

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Easy, right? These are great cold snacks for your pup and particularly great during the summer when they need a little refreshment.

My Favorite Moment of the Week

Moment of the Week 2

Lately I’ve been doing a DVD workout series that takes about 30 minutes a few times a week. On Thursday, my pup decided that he was feeling left out. So in the middle of the ab work section, he decided to use me as a chair and proceeded to lick my entire face. Trying to push him away, in dog speak, meant it was play time. I ended up pausing the video and just playing with him for about 20 minutes. Laughing that hard works the abs anyway, right? [That was my favorite moment]. He was so happy to play that he grabbed my shoe, and ran around me in circles. Apparently his own toys just weren’t cutting it. The sweet moment took a bad turn when he then tried to kill the shoe.

 

In case your wondering…the shoe survived…

 

…as did the dog.

New Roommates

Guess who I have staying with me for the next week?

These two cuties! Yes, he does sit on his sister from time to time…she loves him anyway. Although I’m pretty sure her eyes are screaming ‘Help ME!’ in this picture.

Beagle Roommates

These are my parents pups and they’ll be staying with me while the parentals are off enjoying the paradise that is Maui. I’m jealous. So needless to say, I have my hands full with 3 dogs, work, and starting school. I wasn’t expecting to take a break from blogging over the past few days, but life (as it often does) just got in the way. In an effort to regain my sanity, I’ve taken Thursday/Friday off from work this week so I plan on catching up a bit over the next few days.

I owe quite a few people email responses as well as comment responses, I promise those will be coming over the next few days as well!

My Doggie Valentine

Since this little man is my beloved Valentine this year, I thought I’d share a little about how he came into my life.

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In 2005 I lost my my last dog to cancer. It broke my heart and took me almost 3 years to work up the courage to get another dog. I knew I couldn’t get a beagle again, it was just too hard for me, and I wanted a running partner so I set my heart on a Lab. For my birthday in 2008 I told my Mom that I was finally ready to get a dog again and that in lieu of presents, I was accepting donations to the ‘Puppy Fund’. I also told her that I was 100% certain I wanted a Chocolate Lab Puppy.

At the time I was living in an apartment that charged about $1000 pet deposit plus another $35 each month as pet rent so I needed a little upfront money. Since I wasn’t expecting to actually get the dog for another few months, I didn’t tell anyone else about wanting a dog.

Less than a week later I received an email from a good friend asking me to pass along some info about a dog that needed a home. He had sent it to me as an after thought, not knowing that I wanted a dog, just knowing that I loved pictures of cute puppies.

This little one needed a home.

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So a week after deciding that I wanted to get a chocolate lab puppy, one showed up in my email inbox. It’s funny how things work out. Another family was originally going to take him, but the father lost his job so they decided against getting a dog. The mommy dog had accidently stepped on the puppy’s leg and broke it which is why he was in a cast. Within about an hour, I had agreed to get the puppy.

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At the end of May 2008 I brought Baxter home. He was 3.09 lbs with dagger nails and teeth. His eyes were an amazing blue, he had no hair on his belly and didn’t yet know how to pant. I honestly don’t know how old he was. I was told 8 weeks, and he was the runt, but he seemed more like 4-6 weeks old.

I took him to the pet store on the first night and the only collar that would fit him was a tiny pink kitten collar.

Baxter

sssttttrrreeetttccchhh

he looks so innocent...then he got up and pee'd on the carpet

He kissed up to my parents that first weekend, falling asleep in their arms and fitting into the palm of my dads hands.

Sleeping in Grandma's Arms

Yes, I really am that cute!

“Oh yeah, I’ve got them wrapped around my little bitty paws!”

Grandpa and the Pup

In the coming weeks he perked up and developed his incredibly playful personality. Even now, almost 4 years later, he still things he’s 3 months old and 10 lbs.

Innocent lil puppy...or so he seems

I'm not getting into any trouble...yet ;)

I'm gonna get that camera...

My frog is almost bigger than me!

Yum Yum...frog legs

Couch Potato…

Lazy night watching TV

I may have annoyed him with the camera more than once…

Kisses Mom!!

I love the spotlight!

I wish he would have stayed this size, I believe he was about 15 lbs here…

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As he was getting bigger we made many trips to dog beach (it’s the thing I miss most about having moved inland)…

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Baxter at Dog Beach

Hitting the Waves at Dog Beach

…but he’ll live with dancing in the sprinklers until I can get him to the beach again.

He's in heaven when he finds sprinklers

He loves his walks, but I learned the hard way he wasn’t the greatest running partner. He likes to find big sticks and smack me in the back of the legs with them.

“Go FASTER Mom!” He’s such a drill sergeant.

Baxter and his walking stick

At the apartment, my couch was right next to my desk. He used to sit like this all the time.

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…and he’d sit like this if I wasn’t paying attention to him.

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It took till about 3 years old for him to calm down and turn into ‘America’s Favorite’ dog breed.

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Up until then, he often spent his time like this…

Is there any left?

He did all of that while I was taking a shower one day. He shredded mail, packages, trash, magazines, then found the empty food bag.

I cleaned up…he took a nap. He has such a tough life.

93/365: November 1, 2009

So that’s my little Valentine. In the past 3 1/2 years he’s gained about 90 lbs and while he’s calmed down, he still has the same playful personality he did at 3 lbs. He still thinks he can fit in my lap and that I should carry him down the stairs. Big baby.

In honor of Baxter, my puppy Valentine, I took the money I would normally spend on a Valentine gift and put together a doggie donation package for my local animal shelter. Animal shelters often need the basics to take care of the animals that come in on a daily basis. A lot of people will bring in food, treats, unused leashes/crates, cash donations. All of which are GREAT. However, I decided to fill a few other needs for them and put together a package of towels, rope toys, dish soap & laundry detergent. You can get a list of needed items directly from your local shelter.

Valentine Doggie Donation

It seems odd to include dish soap and detergent in a donation for animals, but we forget that the shelter often needs these things to keep food dishes and bedding clean. Hopefully it helps, ever if only a little bit, so that my local shelter can keep doing great things by taking care of these amazing animals.

 

Baxter and I hope everyone had a very Happy Valentine’s Day.

Much LOVE to you all!

Baxter 3 years old

Labor Day Weekend Kick Off

First off…THANK YOU to the hundreds of people that came over to my little blog and saw my PB Workbench Bar Knock Off. Welcome new readers, I hope you’ll stick around.  I love how interactive the blogging community is, so feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. If you have a blog, let us know, so we can check it out!

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Ah Saturdays…I love weekends! Especially this weekend, because it’s three days off of work, and my parents are bringing me their truck to hit up Lowe’s.

My tiny little car doesn’t do that store justice.

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Before they get to my house I took the little pup to the happiest place on earth.

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The Dog Park!! It’s his Disneyland.

I really love this Dog Park because it’s a very un-landscaped, natural environment. When I was living in Orange County the closest dog park only had wood chips, and others only had grass. This Dog Park has dirt, mud, grass, trees, water (in a bucket big enough to fit my dogs entire head, which makes him VERY happy).

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This morning he made plenty of new friends. In fact, a little pup named Roxy really, REALLY liked Baxter. He’s such a charmer. 

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Baxter hasn’t been to the dog park in a while since it’s been over 100 degrees everyday. He doesn’t understand the weather, so I think he was getting angry with me, but…

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He loves me again.

Guess who else loves me?

Mom and Me

Awww, isn’t that cute! I love my Mom. (I can’t find a picture of me, Mom, and Dad…so, sorry Dad. I’m sure he loves me too.)

 

They’ll be here soon, so I have to clean. I’m buying lots of goodies today for at least 5 very cool indoor & outdoor projects, so check back later.

There may also be an impromptu BBQ!

Whip Cream Cake & Puppy Playdate

Yesterday’s BBQ was a load of fun, and we had some really great food. (Don’t worry, the Whip Cream Cake is below!)

The morning was spent sleeping in and running a few errands. I picked up some new flowers from Trader Joes, potted not cut. While their cut flowers are beautiful, they only seem to last a few days which saddens me.

But these will stick around for a while.

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I also stopped at Cost Plus for some BBQ goodies and HomeGoods, well, just because they own a part of my soul. I stop there nearly every week, just to browse. I picked up a few Moroccan style candle stars which you’ll see when I debut the finished Master Bedroom. I also grabbed some sweet hot pink dish washing gloves. I hate doing dishes, so maybe the pretty gloves will make it a little more fun.

Water Stop™  All-Purpose Gloves - 2 Pair

Source: Casabella

A little later the family arrived for the BBQ. Since it was in the 90’s I had fabric fans set out for my guests.

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And some chips and salsa. Three cheers for Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Salsa, it’s seriously amazing!

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Drinks were made, with Lime vodka and the obligatory paper umbrella.

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Then we broke in the brand new grill with steaks and corn on the cob. It was all fabulous!

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But let’s face it, the highlight was dessert.

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Have you ever seen these chocolate wafers in the grocery store, and thought ‘what the hell do you do with those?’ Well you could check out the steps below..or just follow the recipe on the box…whatever floats your boat.

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Ingredients are simple: Cool Whip (Or any whip cream), Vanilla, Chocolate Wafers.

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Mix the Whip Cream and Vanilla until combined and smooth.

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Sandwich the wafers with small scoops of whip cream, stacking them on end. The recipe calls for a single log, but I find that the cake works better in two logs. It helps the rows stand up if you put the edges of the wafers in the whip cream of the other row, alternating the cookies.

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Mid Assembly, depending on how big you want the cake, you can stop at any time. Reserve the leftover cookies or another purpose.

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Full package cookies turned into a cake.

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Use the rest of the whip cream to ‘Frost’ the cake, be sure to cover all the cookies.

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You can decorate any way you want, but I like to grate any broken cookies over the top of the cake.

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Now, place in the refrigerator overnight. This is a key step because the moisture from the whip cream and will turn the cookies into cake. If you don’t leave it overnight, your cake may be a little undone, still good, just a little crunchy.

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The next key to this cake is to cut in on the bias. It will taste good any way you cut it, but it will hold up and look better if you cut at an angle.

If you happen to have any leftovers, store it in the fridge, covered. But I doubt there will be much left.

 

Since I don’t have any kids, this was our version of a ‘playdate’

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Baxter had a blast playing with his ‘Aunt’ Shelby and ‘Uncle’ Jake (they are my mom’s beagles)

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Shelby took very good care of her brother while they were relaxing. She likes to clean his ears for him.

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Which wore her out so she napped on my kitchen rug.

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But I think all involved had a really good time. (Jake is such a camera hog, poor Shelby could barely get her head in the shot.

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Addison