Archive | October, 2012

Trick or Treat | Handmade Howl-o-ween

31 Oct

Kate and I have a great relationship. She’s the maker to my baker. We have a lot in common, but we balance each other out.
Perfect case in point Halloween…. I love Halloween, I love the decorations, the costumes, pumpkins, Halloween candy and most of all throwing a Halloween party.

Every year I come up with the idea for “our” costume, a couples costume usually that entails hours of crafting and several yards of felt. Kate humors me and every year slaves over “our” costume and in true Kate fashion it always comes out perfect. Again, Kate and I have a great relationship. She tolerates watching the “Goonies” with me on the eve of Halloween, she spends hours hand sewing costumes we’ll wear for one night, and she does it mainly because it makes me happy.

This year she crafted my idea for Stevie and Ollie’s costumes too.. taking Stevie’s crate rest into consideration we came up with this…



No Boston Terriers were harmed in this photo shoot.

Stevie the lion and Ollie the lion tamer wish you all a Happy and Safe Halloween from our vintage circus to yours have fun!

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Falling for Fall | Pumpkin Buttermilk Pancakes

30 Oct

Oh how we love this time of year when pumpkin makes an appearance in every corner of our lives from our oven to our pups’ dinner bowls. Pumpkin baked goods, pumpkin brewed craft beer, savory pumpkin dishes, pumpkin carving, roasted pumpkin seeds…and the list goes on…

We had some leftover buttermilk (from the best yellow cake recipe I’ve ever made….a future post, so stay tuned!) that screamed “Oh hi, PANCAKE opportunity!” to me as I headed into the refrigerator to get fixings for my weekend coffee.

So I made these amazing pancakes from Heather Cristo’s blog. Um, who can resist a recipe that has the word “best” in it? Clearly not me!

Verdict: They were really yummy! I’ve included some notes about the recipe, etc. below. 

Maker’s notes

Recipe | I added a 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice to the batter (because we had it on hand).  I was hesitant to add more because I didn’t it to overwhelm the yummy pumpkiny goodness. It added a subtle spice & depth of flavor. Add more if you want to really taste it. I love a salty pancake and don’t usually add much (if any) sugar to things that I’m going to drizzle with maple syrup. That said, these were a little too salty. If I made these again, I’d cut back on the salt (to 1/2 tsp) and add a tablespoon of sugar (raw, white, brown, light brown…whatever we happened to have in the pantry).

These would be really easy to make vegan by making your own “buttermilk” (using soy milk adding lemon juice or vinegar) and adding a butter substitute for the butter.

Cooking | I cooked all of them before we sat down to eat, keeping them warm on a low temp in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Leftovers | I wrapped up the leftover pancakes and tossed them in the refrigerator.  We heated a couple of them in the toaster (Jess’s brilliance!) the next day & had them with a cup of tea as we stayed safe inside while hurricane Sandy danced with the power lines outside our house.

If you have pups, here’s a great use for the leftover pumpkin! Mix a tablespoon of pumpkin in with their food. They’ll love it and it’s great for their digestive health — it magically helps with diarrhea or constipation. Just make sure it’s the same kind of pumpkin you’ll have leftover from this recipe — canned plain pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling kind with added sugar & spices).

Happy making! Happy Fall!

Pup Updates & the Kindness of Strangers | Giving Thanks

13 Oct

As I type this post, I realize that it’s too late for Canadian Thanksgiving & too early for American Thanksgiving. But just as I did growing up every night at supper & with every thank you note my mom made me write (yep, I still write them today), we try our best to express our gratitude each & every day for the things we feel oh-so-lucky to have in our lives.

A month ago, while I was in Portugal for work, Jess had to rush Stevie (our eldest Boston Terrier) to the emergency vet care because he was yelping, walking with a hunched back & shaking like a leaf. After a few trips to the vet, some tests and a whole bunch of worrying, he was diagnosed with a chronic degenerative condition called IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease, presenting in the vertebrae in his neck). The vet sent him home with medication (for pain & inflammation) and orders for mandatory 24-7 crate rest. Yes, that’s right, crate rest, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He has to be carried outside <–> inside & to <–> from his food bowls and he needs to spend all day every day for the next 2 months in his crate. Seriously? Seriously! It’s strange & a pain (we live on the 2nd floor and our front stairs are steep & it means we have to take both dogs out separately if one of us isn’t home). But IVDD isn’t to be messed with as it could result in paralysis and/or very expensive surgery. So we’ll all be making the best of it.

At the end of the 2 months, Stevie will get re-evaluated & hopefully his neck will have healed enough that he can be more of his normal dog self — going for walks, snuggling with us on the couch at night, etc. Sadly he won’t ever be able to jump again or do some of his best tricks (like his “stick em’ up, bang bang, play dead” show stopper) & we’ll have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t jump on the couch or bed or on the dining room table filled with pies at our next family holiday (much to our utter amazement, we watched in disbelief as he boinged straight up off the floor & landed squarely on the dining room table at Jess’s parent’s house one Christmas). But we are so lucky that he’s still part of our little family and that the IVDD was caught very early.

We celebrated Stevie’s 5th birthday with pupcakes for all (remember this recipe?) and a small sigh of relief. Being in his crate certainly hasn’t changed his appetite…

As if the above wasn’t enough stress for two concerned pet parents, Ollie, our younger Boston Terrier (who’s always been a little “special”…SHHHH!) gave us a scare a little over a week ago. I got the call from the dog walker that I’d been fearing every time I saw her name appear on the screen of my phone (up until this call they were very benign check-in emails & texts…always a relief!). She’d lost Ollie during a hike in the Middlesex Fells.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Fells, it’s piece of conservation land (reservoirs, ponds, hiking trails, etc.) just North of Boston that’s over 2,500 acres large — taking up space in 5 towns. I knew when she called me at 11:30am that she’d already worriedly traced her steps several times (before she even told me so) before she called me. She reassured me that luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day and there were lots of people out & about in the Fells. He still had his harness & tags on and was trailing a 10 foot leash so surely he’d attach himself to another group of people & someone would call us in a couple of hours. She said she’d go back & look some more & her husband was leaving work early to continue the search.

I called Jess (who was also at work) & basically lost my sh*t on the street in front the office where I work, hiccuping details through tears. And then, we both went into crazy pants solution mode. Jess: texting/calling everyone she knew who might be able to help; me: posting a picture of Ollie with the few details I knew on Facebook. We both called nearby animal shelters, vets and pet hospitals, animal control agencies, local police, etc. It became a full-time job. (I’ll insert insane thanks here to both of our jobs/bosses. We are very very lucky.) Jess went to the Fells with a friend & her dog to continue the search. Work peeps & other friends joined, too. I stayed at work to wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog, make phone calls, wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog, make & print posters, wait-for-someone-to-call-me-oh-we’ve-found-your-dog. But in that time of panic & complete & total solution mode, something really amazing happened — social media, did what she’s so good at doing, she put our cause on blast. I had complete and total strangers messaging me on Facebook, asking me if they could spread the news on listservs, message boards, etc. We had new (like we’ve-only-hung-out-once) friends going to the ends of the earth to spread the news even further before taking off to help in the search. I had friends emailing me saying that THEIR friends were going to the Fells to search for Ollie. There were texts and phone call offers of help. Friends who don’t even have pets were buying treats & joining the search. People, some of our nearest and dearest friends included, quite literally dropped what they were doing and joined the “bring Ollie home” party. It was totally and utterly amazingly overwhelming.

Now…the happy ending. At 5:20 PM I packed a thick folder of flyers into my bag and left for home. Jess was on her way to meet me there & we were going to come up with a new plan/approach. Ollie is small (about 20 lbs) and mostly white and I was sick to my stomach thinking about the dark, the woods and…the coyotes. I got off the T at 6:00 PM and took out my phone to respond to (yes, even more) friends offering help. That was when I got the best text ever from Jess: “Ollie’s been found”. I practically skipped the whole way home. Our dog walker’s husband had found Ollie near one of the reservoirs and he was okay.

I anxiously waited for Jess to get home with Ollie. I gave him a hug (REUNION!) & then carried him straight to the tub. He was smelly & dirty and very scratched/scraped up from his unsupervised “adventures” but he was HOME! Look how tired he was…

People are still “checking in” to see how Ollie is doing. Thank you technology, friends (new & old!), co-workers, family & concerned strangers — our hearts are still exploding with relief and gratitude.

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