Saturday, March 23, 2013

Birthday Cake (For Doggies!!)







For as long as I can remember, I have been
celebrating my pets' birthdays. When I was younger, we made our pets birthday cakes made for humans, but now that I have my own dog babies, I wanted to make sure that they're eating cake that THEY like and that is safe and (semi) healthy for them to eat!
I read that dogs are actually not colorblind, and that they can see a specific spectrum of colors. The most vivid colors for them are blue and yellow. I wanted Toby to be able to really SEE his birthday cake, so I went with that color pallet.

Both of our doggies and our friend's king charles spaniel DEVOURED this cake. 

Dog tested, Mommy approved!






Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar of baby food (chicken or beef, make sure it doesn't contain onions or garlic!)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped bacon or bacon bits (We bought bacon bits, but Toby wouldn't touch them, so we used real bacon!)
  • 8 oz light or fat free cream cheese
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions:
  1. Stir flour and baking powder together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cream together the butter, oil, baby food and eggs.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet mix, and then stir in the bacon bits.
  4. Pour into a greased and floured 8" x 8" baking pan.
  5. If desired, sprinkle a light layer of bacon bits on top as a frosting substitute.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when lightly poked. Oven times may vary.
  7. Allow to cool for ten minutes before removing from pan.
  8. color cream cheese if desired, allow to cool completely, frost, and serve!




Friday, March 15, 2013

Planting Grass For Your Pets When You Live In An Apartment!



Having a big dog and a new puppy is certainly challenging when you're in an upstairs apartment. It's quite inconvenient to take them both downstairs at the same time, in fact, it's a total pain in the ass (...particularly in the middle of the night when you're in your underwear and it's balls cold outside...). 

We have a bell tied to a string on our front door that they ring when they need to do their business. Toby is great with the bell, but Eleanor hasn't taken to it yet. I'm pretty sure she knows that she should ring the bell, but she doesn't because she is so small that the constantly wet grass is really uncomfortable for her. She prefers our dry carpet to the cold, wet grass.

Although the grass in our complex can pose a challenge for us and our doggies, both of the dogs really enjoy being outside on the balcony. Toby is the surveyor that likes to stand outside and guard his castle as people and cars pass below. Eleanor is our little freckle-bellied sunbather. Luckily, we have a pretty large balcony. 

So instead of giving up and just accepting that Eleanor was never going to be house trained, I got a little creative.

I decided that we should install a dog door and I wanted to have grass on our balcony. The dog door was easy, but I had no idea how to plant grass on a balcony, let alone if it were possible. After doing some research, I came up with nothing. It seems like planting grass on a balcony is just not something people do.

It's a good thing I'm not "people."  

Here's how I made my upstairs apartment puppy-friendly and how you can do it, too!!




What you'll need:

  • a pet door made for a sliding glass door (About $120 at just about any hardware store. They're really easy to install and they even allow you to lock your door still!)
  • a bag of potting soil (Any kind will do. I got mine at Big Lots for $7.)
  • A flat plastic bin or a small plastic swimming pool (If it doesn't have wheels, you'll need to raise it with something that will allow it to drain-- bricks will work for this)
  • 1-4 pieces of sod (This depends on the size of your bin/pool. I only used one piece for this bin, but you may need up to four for a small swimming pool. You can buy sod for about $3 per flat at  Home Depot or just about any other store that sells plants.)
  • An old t-shirt or an old towel (enough to cover the bottom of your container)
  • A VERY SHARP razor blade
  • A Hammer and a couple nails (OPTIONAL, more on this later)
  • A puppy full of pee!


Instructions:

  1. Flip your plastic bin or pool upside down and use your razor blade to cut some drainage holes. You can use a hammer and a nail to begin the hole and then make it bigger with the blade, but I found it easier to just use the blade. Use the tip of the blade and twist it back and forth to create a hole in the plastic. You will make about 10-20 holes, each about 1 cm in diameter. Cut away any excess plastic from each hole and discard it. 




2. Cover the bottom of your container with the old t-shirt or towel. This will allow excess water to drain  without allowing any of your soil to drain out with it.


3. Fill your container with soil, about 3 inches deep, completely covering your t-shirt or towel.


4. Thoroughly soak the soil with water.


5. Measure the container and cut the sod to fit the container. Carefully lay the sod on top of the soil and  press it down firmly.


6. Generously water the sod and allow it to soak in for about ten minutes before you let your doggies enjoy it.

7. Install the pet door according to the manufacturers instructions.






(To maintain your grass patch, water it every night to ensure that it gets rinsed of urine. (Urine will kill the grass and you'll have to start all over! Also, watering at night ensures that the grass will receive the water before the sun can evaporate it all out!) Trim it with scissors, as needed. You can also sprinkle it with used coffee grounds for added moisture and nutrients.)


UPDATE 7/5/13:
I should note that this method is a SHORT TERM potty training technique. It is great for teaching puppies how to use a dog door and how to use grass to do their business! We used our grass for about three months, and we had to replace it once every two weeks (which cost us under $10 a month). Eventually, we didn't need it anymore and we tossed it completely. If you plan on keeping your grass long-term, you'll need to be sure to keep up with watering, or the grass will die. It may also begin to smell, particularly in the heat of summer. Hope this helps!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meet the Newest Addition to Our Little Family! Eleanor the Basset Hound!!





I grew up with basset hounds and dachshunds. In fact, my dad still has a dachshund to this day, and my mom had our childhood family basset, Daisy for years until she passed away a year ago. 

(I guess my parents have a soft spot for short-legged, long-bodied dogs. Actually, it was really a shock to them when I got my pit bull, Toby. Prior to Toby, both of my parents were among the millions of people that believe that pit bulls are dangerous dogs. Toby totally changed that for them!)



I've always known I'd get my own basset someday. I've actually been warming Boyfriend up to the idea for over a year now (He's really more of a King Charles Spaniel kind of guy!), and throughout that year, I've been looking into basset puppies for sale in our area. Most of them were too expensive, and I'm not too keen on the idea of getting puppies from breeders. I believe in rescuing, but I knew I'd never find a basset at a shelter. Also, we were living in a house with roommates and five other dogs, so getting a puppy was sort of out of the question.

About a week before Boyfriend and I were set to move into our own apartment, I found the ad I was looking for on craigslist. Baby bassets, $350, ready immediately. Up until then, the cheapest basset puppies I had found were $700. I talked to boyfriend, and we decided to make the puppy my early birthday present.

The people we got her from had a lot of dogs, and clearly just had an accidental litter, meaning they weren't breeders, and I could feel more like I had rescued her! We talked them down to $250, they agreed without question, and we took home our brand new, 7 week old baby Eleanor on February 22nd.

It may have seemed insane to get a new puppy the day before we moved into a new apartment, but it has worked out wonderfully. Our 4 year old pit bull took to her immediately. In fact, she all but cured him of his separation anxiety. He stopped screaming and destroying things when we left, and instead began sleeping and playing with his new little sister. I also feel like moving into a new place with both dogs eliminated the possibility of either dog becoming territorial. This was new territory, common ground, they could establish a territory together.

And they have!!

She's a handful and a half, but we're so happy to have her, we're in love already, and I'm so excited to begin sharing weekly updates with the blogosphere!

Introducing Eleanor Lillian Murphey!






Ellie is teething, so I tied a knot in a sock, soaked it in water, and froze it. She LOVES it.




I was unpacking the apartment and Ellie was very upset and wanted attention. Inspired by Jill's work at Pretty Paisley Productions, I created a makeshift wrap and carried her around while I worked. 






After two weeks, Ellie was finally big enough to venture outside. We blocked off the open bars of our balcony and she sunned herself for hours. She now does this daily. (If you're a basset person, please note the classic basset back foot!)




Yesterday, I made the dogs a no-sew pet bed! I just took a couple yards of fleece fabric, cut out two 5 foot circles, made 3" cuts all the way around, tied the ends and stuffed it. This picture was taken within one minute of me completing this project. (To learn how to make your own, check out Tips n Giggles!)



 My stats professor (The professor I T.A. for!) loves bassets and has had a few of his own. I arranged for Boyfriend to bring Ellie to class for a visit this week. It was so much fun!



This is how Toby and Ellie play. He's so gentle with her. He literally lays down and just lets her beat him up!





 The aftermath.






 Best friends!!





 Eleanor has a special bond with Boyfriend. (She actually prefers to lay on him over me! I'm so jealous!)




 Our sweet babies just hanging out!





I've been taking weekly measurements of Eleanor's Earspan.

Two weeks ago, I measured 12 inches from ear tip to ear tip...





...this week, her earspan measured in at 15 inches ear tip to ear tip!! She's growing so fast!



Hope you love her as much as we do!!






Thursday, March 7, 2013

"It's Okay" Thursday Blog Linkup!

Linking up with Brunch With Amber for "It's Okay" Thursday! Here goes...


It's Okay...

...that I'm taking the day off of school to eat chocolate, drink 
wine, and watch Gossip Girl with two dogs in my lap.



...that I don't have enough hours at work this week. I could use some time off.

...to restart the dryer when I'm too lazy to fold the laundry.

...that I'm not wearing pants right now.

...to wonder what Zooey Deschanel is doing right now.

...to hope that Zooey Deschanel is taking the day off to eat chocolate, drink wine, and watch Gossip Girl with two dogs in her lap, too.



...to be afraid of needles so violently that I peed myself in the dentist's chair.

...to want to throw my new puppy out the window sometimes for whining and biting and peeing all over the place.

...that I have 395,367,957,156 pairs of shoes, but I wear the same black boots every day.



...to want to paint my dog's toenails.

...to find "scaring grandma" videos hilarious.





Chocolate Fudge Frosting



I've made so many types of frostings that I generally don't even measure things out any more-- I just add stuff until it tastes good. But I've gotten so many compliments on my chocolate frosting that I decided to finally measure stuff out and put out a recipe for it.

Enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar (or more if you need to thicken it up)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about a half a bag)


Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl until they are completely melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whip butter using a hand mixer or a stand mixer and gradually add powdered sugar.
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Once chips have cooled until they are warm, but not room temperature, use a rubber spatula to slowly fold them into the butter/sugar mixture. Pipe onto cupcakes immediately or allow to chill if it's still a little melty.

Pinterest Inspired Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken




After seeing this recipe floating around Pinterest for a couple months, I finally decided to give it a try. I'm not too keen on frying chicken, mostly because it's super unhealthy and it's finicky (You have to have the oil at just the right temperature to allow the chicken to cook thoroughly without burning the outside!). But this recipe looked just too good to pass up. And it was.

It was so good that all I could hear next to me was Boyfriend saying "Mmm" over and over again. 

The original recipe called for nutmeg, of which I'm not a huge fan, so I opted to throw it out and replace it with more ginger. I believe I made the right choice. =]


Chicken:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into four pieces
  • salt and pepper


For Dredging:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper



For the Egg Wash:

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons water



Honey Garlic Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 -4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Canola Oil


Directions:


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic over medium heat the to soften, but do not allow it to brown.
  2. Add the honey, soy sauce and black pepper. Simmer together for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat set aside to cool.
  3. Make an egg wash by whisking together the 2 eggs and 4 tablespoon water; set aside.
  4. Whisk together the flour ginger, thyme, sage paprika and cayenne pepper; set aside.
  5. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the breast into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact. Allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes to allow for good adherence.
  6. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. 
  7. Cook breasts about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  8. Drain on a paper towel for a few minutes.
  9. Serve over rice and drizzle honey garlic sauce over the chicken.