Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dog Frustrations

I really need to ask a dog trainer about this…I’m hoping to get them to peek at this post. My dog Lilly is 10 years old this September. We’ve had her since she was 4 months old. I did put her into doggy obedience training when she was 6 months old and she really took to it well… we worked so well together that our teacher suggested that I put Lilly into agility classes. Lilly is a very smart dog and learns quickly. However, I had other things to deal with…like my daughter and life! One thing that we never really solved with Lilly’s obedience training was her pulling on a leash and her leash aggression. She was fine in the classroom with the other dogs, but outside of class she is a terror. I’ve read on numerous dog training websites that Lilly displays this behavior because she wants to be the alpha and is trying to dominate me. However, I don’t believe it. From the behaviors I am seeing in Lilly I truly believe that she is SCARED when she is on a leash. One sure fire way to get Lilly to poop is to put her on a leash! Now to admit my fault in this… Lilly is not exposed to other dogs…at all. She gets to bark at them through the fence, but that’s it. I don’t walk Lilly because she pulls like crazy on the leash…hurting me and herself. Things I’ve noticed… Lilly is scared of other dogs…especially of dogs larger than herself. With dogs smaller than herself she is okay, but she mostly ignores them. Lilly is scared of the leash…I’m sure the pain she feels from choking herself and that head halter forcing her mouth closed don’t help. Lilly is scared of car rides…she mostly goes to the v.e.t. and the groomer when she rides in the car…so she hates them all. Of course it totally doesn’t help that when we took Lilly for a walk the other day she was “attacked” by our neighbor’s dog who was off leash. (the neighbor’s dog just wanted to play with Lilly…but she doesn’t understand this.) I really think that we are most likely just doomed to dealing with this by avoidance for the rest of Lilly’s life. I mean we could spend the money on a dog trainer and get her over it for a while, but we don’t really have the time to continually keep up with whatever the trainer offers us. After writing this I did a bit of googling and did look at some Cesar's stuff... but it is so hard to read through other problems when they don't really apply to you. And there are so many differing opinions on how to train your dog. Like I mentioned above, most think pulling is a dominance problem and I don't agree. Cesar seems to think it would all work out if I did a better job of showing Lilly who the alpha is. (dominance again?) But I know she knows I'm the boss. I also know that it is very hard for me to not be nervous when we walk because I know that she'll freak out if we see hear or smell another animal. oye

Monday, April 23, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!

From about mid-March through mid May my life seems to get just crazy busy.  There are a lot of things I just have to let slide in order to get it all done.  This last week was one of the most crazy.

First I have to say that ORIGINALLY things were NOT planned to go like this.  We had planned to have Darly's birthday party ON HER BIRTHDAY last Sunday.  But due to most of the girls she invited having to attend another event we rescheduled for the 22nd.  Then I found out that the person who had scheduled the intruding event on my baby's birthday almost rescheduled her event for the 22nd because of weather...but luckily she remembered my email about Darly's birthday party and decided to just keep her original date.  WHEW as I wasn't prepared to reschedule Darly's party for the original day at the last minute.

Currently I'm in charge of costumes for Darly's play  Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr and we've been trying very hard to get the kids costumes picked out.  Trying to do this with their very busy rehearsal schedule has been tricky, but we were finally ready to do our Costume Parade (an event for the director to see the costumes and make any changes).  That day was Saturday (yup the day before Darly's party!)

I first learned that there was NO WAY that I was going to be able to fit all of the costumes in my car.  So I asked one of the other moms to bring some in her car...whew!  This made my life much easier.  Another thing I did was to bring my folding wagon.  Rolling the costumes in was so much easier as I could carry a lot more at a time and less stress on my back.

Except for some stress with getting the room set up... we had 30 minutes to get all the costumes into the room and then set up...things went very well.  The director LOVED the costumes (even though some of the boys forgot to bring the suits they promised me they would bring in.  "Oh I have my own suit Miss Renee...I can bring it tomorrow."  no show... "I forgot")  Grrr  But we made it!  I sent bins of accessories home with the mom who had brought some of our costumes to the parade and then I LEFT the rest of the costumes in my car...they're still in there!

I had a party to get ready for and no place to put all those costumes.  We took hubby's car to Church yesterday because there wasn't room for the 3 of us in my car that is loaded with costumes.

Hubby's Sunday School class ran long (as usual!) so we had to run out of there and get home for last minute prep before the party started at 1pm.  We wolfed down our lunch and set the table.

here's the rundown on the party copied from Facebook...
First clean the house you've been neglecting due to your busy life. ;o)

then come up with a menu:
Breakfast foods:
Mini scones, Mini muffins, and English muffins. add in Fruit & Yogurt
Lunch Foods:
Mini quiche, Chicken Salad Finger sandwiches & Cheese Pinwheels  add in Tuna salad & GF crackers
Mini Cheese cakes, Shortbread cookies, and Mini Lemon Cakes
and lots and lots of different tea flavors!

Then scour the internet to find recipes for all this stuff!

Then go shopping and hope you can buy some of this stuff already made!

Then start making the stuff you couldn't find (why doesn't my store carry the mini muffins this week?!?!)  Freeze the stuff you can freeze.

Day before, thaw all that stuff you froze!

Morning of... pull out everything you need and go to Church.

When you return start cleaning like a mad person (how did this place get so dirty?)

Heat the foods that need it.  Get the water hot.

Party starts... start serving the food.  Oops!  forgot the English one seemed to mind.  Too lazy to make the sandwiches so just put out the salad & crackers...that went over very well.  (we added Tuna salad too)

and I think they got full when I served the lemon cake, only one slice was half taken (they took half and left the rest).

No one went home hungry...possibly for a long while. ;o)

Try to talk birthday girl into cleaning up all the mess.

long for a nap!

We had one party guest who is gluten free (GF) and another guest who is a vegetarian (she eats fish though), so I chatted with the GF mom and she offered to send over some yogurt, I bought some fruit.  I made the quiche with a potato crust and the cheese cake had no crust at all.  So GF guest had plenty to eat.  Then for our veggie guest all the food was meat free except for the salads and she could have the tuna salad.
Everyone enjoyed the food...  I put out two plates of muffins & scones, one was emptied the other came back pretty full...I think the girls just took from the first plate.  All the fruit was gobbled up.  Yogurt was half gone.  Quiche was gobbled up, one guest asked for another (which I had in the kitchen).  Both salads were gobbled and I had to refill the Ritz crackers for the girls.  (they may have been eating them w/o salad too)  The cheese pinwheels were not gobbled down.  Even though Darly tried to talk her friends into them, they didn't seem too interested...that's okay!  more for me! :D
Cheese cake & cookies were a hit, but the lemon cake, not so much...I think that perhaps they were full by the time it came out.  and it wasn't as pretty.  Oh well there's dessert for the week!  In fact I should put it in the freezer for Wednesday.
I made a "Devonshire cream" recipe of cream cheese, sugar & whipped cream that was a huge hit.  One guest was eating it with a spoon (but she was the GF girl, so she really had nothing but fruit to put it on).  I figure I might get asked for that recipe.

Now that the party is over, I need to get those costumes out of my car and reorganized.  Then I can return the costumes we aren't using to the costume closet.  and get ready for Darly's confirmation retreat this weekend.  :p

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Only 5 days???

The following article was on Yahoo Finance recently and I just had to comment about it.  LOL!  Firstly you should see some of the comments that others wrote.  Most saying they could do way better than just 5 meals for that amount of money…and I have to agree.  Luckily my family as picky as they are won’t eat most of the high priced items that are on the shopping list.  So, here goes, me slaughtering their list.  Bwahaha!

Make 5 Dinner Recipes from One Bag of Groceries

By Farnoosh Torabi, Yahoo! Finance | Financially Fit – Wed, Apr 11, 2012 11:58 PM EDT
Think you can make five whole meals from just one, $50 bag of groceries?
I recently accepted Eating Well's "5 Dinners, 1 Bag" challenge. Their test kitchen team provided me with a grocery list and I hit the local D'Agostino's supermarket in New York to collect my ingredients, which included:
one bunch each of asparagus, chives, scallions and cilantro
one lemon
8 ounces snap peas
1 pound of sea scallops
1 pound of lean ground beef
12 ounces of pork chops or tenderloin
1 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 16-oz package whole-wheat spaghetti
1 14-oz box instant or quick-cooking brown rice
1 15-oz can kidney beans
1 16-oz box of whole wheat spaghetti (oops!  They listed this twice.  They only used one box.)
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach
1 8-oz block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 4-oz block fontina cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 lb ball whole-wheat pizza dough or 1 ready-made pizza crust
After ringing up my items, I quickly headed over to meet Jessie Price of Eating Well to see how to put my ingredients to work. Jessie gave me the following five easy and delicious recipes, one for every day of the work week. What do you think? My favorite is from Wednesday!

(Note: We assumed we'd have some basic ingredients already at home like cooking oil, spices like curry, salt and pepper, garlic, onions, sugar, vinegar, butter, and milk.)

Monday: Spring Pizza

Eating Well likes to advocate Meatless Mondays, so Jessie and I started by cooking up a Spring Pizza, using our minced garlic, cooking oil, about half of our fresh chives, as well as one cup of shredded fontina cheese to top the dough. Asparagus was the star vegetable. We arranged the spears in a circular fashion, just like the sun's rays over the dough. If asparagus isn't your favorite, you can simply sub in another seasonal veggie to top your pie.

Makes: 5 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2
Okay, you aren’t going to get my family to eat an asparagus pizza!!!  And why bother with asparagus averaging at $3.50 a pound???  Who knows how much that cheese she asked for is???  Instead I would buy a jar of regular pizza sauce for about a buck nineteen, pack of pepperoni (that Darly will eat the rest of for her CYT dinners) and some mozzarella cheese.  Usually when we make this, I serve it with a salad and the pizza will last us two nights!  So while I don’t have numbers, I’m sure it’s less than $2 each.  

Tuesday: Curry Scallops with Cilantro Rice

Our next recipe stemmed from what the magazine likes to call "Sustainable Seafood Tuesday." For this, we took our scallops and coated them with curry from our spice rack, and sauteed them in a pan. We then added the scallops to three cups of cooked brown rice. We added cilantro, scallions, lemon juice and salt for added flavoring.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Cost per serving: under $4.50
Scallops??? What are they smoking?  The substitute for this meal was shrimp…also a NO GO here.  How about a chicken breast or 2?  Season and broil it, serve with the rice and some veggies (note for their $4.50 there were no veggies!)  I can do less than $4.50 and have veggies. Oh and this will last us two nights, because I’ve cut up the chicken and added it to the rice.  :P

Wednesday: Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati has a unique spin on chili, where locals like to serve it over spaghetti. Typically it's made with just meat, but you can also add beans for fiber. This recipe uses ground beef, onion, spices from home, a can of tomatoes, a can of beef broth, kidney beans, and some of your leftover cilantro from Tuesday's curry dish. Cook your entire one-pound box of pasta, and reserve half of the cooked noodles for tomorrow night's meal.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 20 minutes
Cost per serving: under $3
Okay, now we’re talking a recipe that will get eaten here.  However, I bought a bulk pack of ground beef and froze it into 1lb ziptop baggies.  Add in seasonings from my pantry (we mix our own chili & taco seasonings here) tomato sauce & beans.  No added carbs as it isn’t needed and the pot will last two nights and 1 lunch.

Thursday: Stir Fry
For Thursday, we prepared a pork and snap pea stir-fry, which we also served over our leftover Pasta. For this, mix up a simple sauce of soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and rice vinegar. Then sautee your snap peas, adding pork, garlic, and your sauce mixture. Serve over your pasta.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2
This is another “doable” recipe but let’s switch out those tough snap peas for just regular peas and serve it over rice.  Again we’re looking at a meal that will last two nights.

Friday: Rice, Spinach and Cheddar Pie
For the last day of the work week, this recipe proved to be cinch, especially with leftover rice from earlier in the week. Sautee some onions along with the thawed, rinsed spinach. In a bowl add your leftover rice, seasonings and crumbled cheddar cheese. Then transfer it all to a baking dish, pour an egg mixture over it and bake.
Makes: 6 servings
Active time: 15 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2

Ummm no!  There isn’t anyway I can salvage this recipe for my family.  However, using the other “4” nights I’ve made 8 nights of food and I did it for less than $50!  Yeah, I know I didn’t show you my actual numbers to prove that it is less than $50.  Mostly because I bought my meats in bulk and froze them in amounts we need.  I bought my rice & pasta in bulk too.  My veggies are bought in large frozen bags as well…except for salad.  I splurge on salad as it isn’t that much.

I feel the best way to save money on food is to plan out your menu.  Each week I take a count of what we already have and come up with as many meals as I can from it.  Then I look at my store’s sale flyer and see where the good deals are.  I write out a list (cuz if I didn’t I would come home with a bunch of stuff that makes nothing!) and I put my list in order of how my store is laid out.  When shopping I only allow myself 5 items that aren’t on my list…I usually don’t use all 5.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Onions & Chives

I've got onions & chives growing in the garden.  The onions are supposed to be ready when the tops die off and turn it seems that takes about two years.  :p 

Last night Darly wanted us to have "stir fried" chicken with rice for dinner.  While the technique for this is stir fry, the seasonings are NOT...but she eats it as if it is Chinese food so I'm not going to quibble.  But I decided that I would make some fried rice for myself (hubby & Darly won't eat it) but I needed green onions.

I don't know if you're supposed to do this, or if I might have harmed the onion...but I went to the garden with kitchen sheers and chopped off the green top of one onion (not all of it, just the amount I needed).  While I was there I grabbed a few chive tops as well. 

The chives didn't smell as "oniony" in fact they smelled a bit I just chopped them up for drying and we'll see how that goes.

The onion tops smelled right so I chopped them up and tossed them into my fried rice.  Alas they didn't really have the amount of flavor that I'm used to, but there was some flavor there and my fried rice tasted great.

Now to see how the onion fairs with 3 fewer leaves.  There are still a lot of leaves on the onion, so I'm sure it will be fact, perhaps it's good for the onion?  I don't know.

Seeing that our family doesn't use a lot of onion (unless it is in powder form) I'm not all that concerned.  Although I should figure out how to make onion powder from this...probably need a dehydrator.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Horsey stuff

Darly & I have gone over to Miss S's place two more times since my last post.  Darly is having a wonderful time and falling in love.

I should tell you about our experience buying a helmet!  Since we couldn't find a free helmet (turns out they only give them away at certain times of the year) we went to a local horse supply place.  We asked for some help as they had a huge selection.  The lady who helped us also had her injured dog there.  The dog was very friendly and after a bit became more and more demanding of our one point he jumped up on me...I yelled at him because this wasn't the kind of jumping up on a person to just get at their face.  The lady was totally embarrassed by this and made sure to keep her dog away from us as much as she could while still trying to find a helmet to fit Darly's oval head...apparently helmets are made for round headed people.  So we ended up with a very expensive helmet...but it is worth it.

So back to the horses.  We actually went to the barn on Easter.  We didn't have any plans other than a big Easter dinner, so we spent it with the horses.  Darly had a great time and learned how to load the horse into the trailer.  Rosie is much better at this than Mark...who didn't put up as much of a fuss this time.  We figured that he was upset because Rosie didn't have to ride in the trailer last time.  Miss S wants Mark to be more independent though, so she had no sympathy for him.  Darly also tacked up and down Rosie this trip... hefting the saddle was hard work!
I learned that even if it is bring and sunny, keep a jacket in the car because it is colorado here. :p

Today the ground was too wet to ride the horses.  But Darly was still able to go and groom Rosie.  She also did some lead work with her and learned to make Rosie move where she wanted her to go more.  Darly braided Rosie's mane with a crown braid.  It was very pretty.  We think that Rosie appreciated her grooming session...kinda hard to tell with horses.

And before you ask there was no beefarino involved!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Horse riding

Yesterday while at Church the lady who offered to let Darly ride her horse asked if we could come by that day.  We were a bit surprised but since we didn't have anything else planned that couldn't be put off we said we would love to.  One small problem, we hadn't bothered to get Darly a riding helmet yet...oops!

So on our way home from Church we stopped by the hospital which has been reported to give out free riding helmets for a program they have to prevent brain injuries.  Well wouldn't you know it that the gal at the information desk didn't even know such a program existed at all and didn't even know who to contact for it at all.  Bummer!  She gave me a card of someone to call today though.  So I should probably do that here soon.

When we got to our friend's house Miss S went over some basic horse safety with me and Darly.  We knew quite a bit of it as we have been around horses before and Darly learned how to tack (get the saddle & stuff on) last summer at camp.  We learned that the horses at camp are what they call "dude ranch" horses...they've been trained to ignore pretty much anything that humans do.  Safer for camp, but not so good if you really want to be able to deal with horses.  Miss S's horses are NOT dude ranch horses and are very different.

Rosie is an older horse and is very used to humans and their antics.  She's very patient and knows how to be a very good girl.  She was very pleased to get out of the corral and go do something...especially after she learned that her rider was very light.

Mark is a 4 year old knuckle head horse that is still being trained.  For most of Darly's lesson Mark had to wait patiently as Miss S decided that she wanted to focus on getting Darly trained instead of working with Mark.  Mark was a bored little boy and kept getting into mischief.  He was trying to untie his lead rope and got it all tangled around his head.  He tried to undo the latches on the stable doors.  He fussed when Miss S put on his trailer boots (to protect his legs).  He REFUSED to get into the trailer...instead he ran around the yard quite a bit and got Miss S upset with him as he was messing up her drainage in the yard.  When he finally got up into the trailer I asked him if it was really so bad in there.  When we got to the arena Mark repeatedly tried chewing on the trailer and on my chair and also nibbled at the dirt.  Silly boy!

First off Miss S taught Darly how to lead the horse around.  Darly learned how to hold the lead so that she would be able to guide the horse and how not to hold the lead so the horse couldn't take off her hand.  Next she learned how to find her balance in the saddle, also called your seat.  She had Darly close her eyes and find her balance in different positions.  Darly and I found this lesson to be almost the most important thing ever.  (well at least this far!)  They never went over this at all at Girl Scout camp, but knowing your seat helps you to stay on the horse if say you drop the reins or need to jump something.

After that Darly learned basic riding stuff, forward, back turning etc.  Then they moved on to trotting the horse.

While we were at the arena several other people came with their horses.  One lady was watching Darly's lesson and commented about what a good seat she had.  I had to give Miss S the credit for that.  (Miss S's hubby told me that she has taught several other folks how to do that as well.)

We've been invited to come back out again this weekend too.  Darly can't wait...but we do need to get her a helmet.  I'm willing to go buy one if we need to as it is so worth it.