Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Caged-In Kitchen" and Home Cooked Pet Food Update


Ever since I started the pets on a home cooked diet, my gosh the cats are driving me batty. They jump on the counters, try to open cupboards, knock down dishes, knock down food and even rummage through the garbage. I even found Oscar up on the hood of the oven while the oven was on. That was the last straw.

I tried EVERY suggestion given to me and ones I found online about trying to keep cats off counters. None of them worked. It's almost as though the cats tried even harder to trick me. I felt like a prison warden at one point, keeping guard so I could catch them in the act.

Who needs that stress? I put my foot down! I caged in the kitchen! "Caged-In Kitchen"- How often do you see THAT on a real estate listing??? :)

The tiny little kitchen in our rental has two doorways and one open area over the breakfast bar. I bought some very cheap 10x2 pine at the lumber yard and used leftover chicken wire to build the "cage". The entire project cost less than $30. This is the barricade over the breakfast bar. It just hangs off of hooks and I can remove it for suppertime.

These are the two "screen" doors. They fit perfectly and hang very well if I do say so myself! I did this yesterday, it took me about 7 hours but now I can sleep better knowing that my kitchen won't be destroyed when I wake up in the morning. If this were my home, I would have painted the doors and made them a little fancier I think. But this is a perfect temporary solution.

Home Cooked Pet Food Update

I started the three dogs and three cats on home cooked food in August. Through trial and error I believe I can finally say I've got it right. :)

The dogs now get only slow cooked pork and a mix of carrots and beans. Charlie and Jack were having bouts of vomiting now and then and I read a tip online that it could be due to the starch in the diet, i.e. the rice. Ever since I cut the rice out, no more vomiting, go figure.

Tip: If you want to feed your pets a home cooked diet, TALK TO YOUR BUTCHER!!! We go through about 100 pounds of meat each month. I talked to the butcher at our local grocery store and she gave me an AMAZING price on top sirloin pork - hardly any fat on it. I just call her a few days before I need my order, she preps it and I pick it up. Easy peasy and very economical!!

Marlene was losing a lot of hair. I thought she was shedding, because she normally does this time of year, but it lasted a long time, so I added some coconut oil to her food and her coat is back to normal.

The cats only eat pork with some taurine supplement and a multi-vitamin Kelp powder (the dogs get the Kelp too). Dana and Leo the cats are doing so well on the new food - no issues at all. Oscar can't eat the pork, we found out he was allergic to it, so he eats chicken breast. He still has some issues but we have really cut down his allergy meds. We found out that he is allergic to many things during the last few months: pork, eggs, coconut oil, rice...the list goes on.

Overall it was a bit of a learning curve to figure out portions, allergens and supplements. But all of the pets are doing so well on the home cooked food, I'm so pleased!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday Food Fun and a Bang! For The Scribble Picnic!

Hello my friends!! :)

I hope you all had a very nice Christmas! We did. It was very quiet and cozy with lots of food! And there was a Christmas miracle...NO weekenders! NO loud snowmobiles! Feels like a dream... ;)

I can't wait to catch up on your blogs my friends...see how your holidays are going!! :) This is my paper maché snow couple. Notice the hats? It was like looking into a mirror lol! ;) These were fun to make! A very frugal and creative craft.

Last Friday was the Winter Solstice. I made a Tomato Soup Au Gratin with my yearly Yule Log Cake. Though this year, I kept it very simple - no meringue mushrooms or big decorations on the cake! Delicious!

To symbolize the return of the Sun on the Solstice, I made a bowl of pomanders. These are fun and easy to make and they smell AMAZING. Though at one point I had to wrap some Scotch tape around my index finger...those cloves are sharp!

Christmas Eve was appetizer night!! :) I took this panorama photo to show you how I set up our eating area...what we call the "Breakfast Bar". We don't have a dining room, I use that for my office, but this is a good set up for us. We watched Merry Christmas Mr. Bean while we feasted!

On the menu was some nice Italian sweet wine, Nivole. It's a little sparkling and EASY to drink! I made Goat Cheese Popovers - a first for me and they tasted great! Reminded me slightly of Yorkshire Pudding. I had some dips made so I baked up some Pita Chips and Tortilla Chips as well.

The dips from Halloween were such a hit that I decided to make them again! I made a Bacon Cheddar Dip and a Corn Salsa. At Halloween I made the salsa with Goat cheese, but omitted it this time and it was still just as good! Also on the menu were some really nice New Potatoes with Cheddar and Chives - from my own potato harvest! Yahoo! :) We opened one of the Camemberts too...a little runny and strong, but tasty! (See Rainy Day Cheese Making for more details).

I made a loaf of my No-Knead Bread and some cheesy crackers I found in a Martha Stewart Appetizer cookbook - they weren't very good so I won't share that recipe! I've been having bad luck with Martha's recipes in the last few years...I tend to stick with Williams Sonoma now.

Dessert was a plate of yummies! Candied Fruit Tarts, Rum Balls and Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies. :) I took a few hours each day from the 22nd through to the 24th to make all of these things so I wouldn't have all that pressure making everything all on one day. I'm going to do that from now on! We have SO MANY leftovers!!!

For stocking stuffers, I made some Homemade Maple Fudge and for the first time, some Torrone (nougat) for Alex. I followed a video recipe I found online. It turned out well, but it was a little too sticky and gooey. The recipe was very easy to follow, but the author didn't include any type of temperature ranges for cooking the candy during the process. If I can find that information, I'll make it again! We decided on no gifts this year so that we can continue to save money...but I had to make something for the stockings!

Alex made me a really nice card from pine needles!! :)

For Christmas, I made a Chinese Fondue, also called a Hot Pot or Fondue Chinoise. :) It's actually a nice easy meal to make and very healthy after a big night of appetizers! It's a broth based fondue that you can serve with anything really. I chose some chicken, broccoli and cauliflower. I made a few Sauces and some Rice Pilaf to go with it.

Dessert was English Trifle for two. Now to digest.... :)

The Boxing Day Scribble Picnic theme is Bang! Bugs is a highfalutin cowboy whose pistol packs quite a bang! :) 

I'll bring all of the leftover Christmas goodies to the picnic this week, we can watch "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" while we pig out!!! Hope you have an appetite!!! :) (If the video doesn't work, the link to watch it is HERE.)

No "bang" in this watercolour, just a silent night.

The holidays seem to rush up and I look forward to them so much, then bang! They are over. I feel like Santa a little bit today. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cozy-ing Up The Home For The Holidays

Hello my friends! :)

Hope you're having a holly jolly month so far. :) Every December 10th, Alex and I plan a tree-trimming day. We go out to harvest our Christmas tree, decorate the house and listen to Christmas tunes. This will be our 5th Christmas together! :) 

Another fun tradition is sweets and "sweetened" egg nog! Brandy and rum...not too much, but just enough to pack a little punch! :) Alex uses the cut off end of the tree trunks to make me little "Charlie Brown" Christmas trees. I kept the one from last year and glued a little snowman on it. I'm going to keep them from now on and decorate them, just the little tree branch has to be replaced each year. 

All of the stockings were hung over the fireplace, though two stockings were missing this Christmas season.

Last Christmas we had Pavlov and Stella with us!

Even though it was a LOT of work during those nine months we took care of them, we really miss them a lot! They were such good dogs. :) They are doing very well, safe and happy back with their owner in Morocco.

We had to wait a few hours to decorate the tree because it was still frozen stiff, so Alex and I prepared dinner. He set up the living room so we could have dinner by the fire. Do you buy wine in boxes? I used to think that only crappy wine came in a box, but there are some good ones out there! This is one of them, Cliff 79, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia.

How cozy and romantic!! Dinner by the fire!

After dinner we got the tree decorated. It smells so nice to have a real tree in the house!

I'm a lucky gal! I've met the nicest people through Blogger I have to say! Pam from Life Through My Eyes at the Whimsical Way sent me a gorgeous Christmas card that she painted.  Isn't that such a beautiful winter scene? Thank you Pam! :) xx

And Joyce from Octoberfarm SPOILED me this Christmas with a box of so many fun goodies, including these little recipe books of Maritime cooking! She knows Alex and I are planning our move to the Maritime provinces and she wanted me to have some great Atlantic recipes! Very thoughtful! Thank you Joyce! :) xx

On milder days, the husky girls always want to be outside, I can't blame them, it's so magical out there when the snow is falling! 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Homemade Dog Boots - The Frugal Way!

Hello my friends! :)

I hope you're all doing well, keeping warm or cool depending on where you live! :)

Temperatures have reached the -20's C (-4 to -20F) here in the mountains some days. We have so much snow, I'm still loving it though! :) 

But it makes for painful "potty time" for the dogs. Their feet get really cold and there are times when they jump around and yelp when it gets too cold for them. So I always make sure I have some dog boots for them.

These are FUNCTIONAL...not fashionable lol...They usually only last a few winters, inevitably some get lost or I just sew the basics without worrying too much about appearance!

I start with dollar store polar fleece mittens. They are kids sizes.

Since I made some for Jack already, I only had to make a set for the huskies to share since they don't always need them. I used the largest mittens they had for kids, cut off the thumbs and sewed them up.

I used to buy the Muttluks dog boots for my pugs. Those are so expensive and honestly they didn't always stay on. My homemade dog boots cost less than $4 a set. 

These boots are primarily for Marlene (though Charlie can use them when she needs them), so I measured around her ankles to get the right size elastic. Then I sewed some velcro on each end, they will wrap around her leg to secure the boot. I made 6 of these. Back boots will have one strap, front boots will each have two. 

These are the back boots. I sewed the strap on just around the soft end of the velcro to attach to the top of the boot, so that the strap is loose and can pull tightly around the leg. Each boot also has a thinner piece of elastic sewn as a loop, this keeps the strap from pulling up and the boot from falling down. All dollar store supplies.

Front boot: One strap goes up around the ankle, and the other a little lower down. I put two straps on the front boots because they seem to get more action.

The key to placement of the straps is to make sure they are placed above the ankle bone and they are snug enough to stay in place, but not too tight to cut off circulation.  Most of this was done with my machine, but I had to do a little hand sewing (not a fan!). 

When I made Jack's boots last year, they were a little too short for him, didn't reach up to his ankle bones; so I had to sew some fabric to the top of the boot (the pale blue fabric was an old sweater) - that way the straps fit snugly above his ankle bones. If you don't get that strap in the right spot, the boots come off the minute they take a step.

This year,  I only had to replace the velcro on his boots. They've held up one big winter already, let's hope for a second!

Not a happy husky! Marlene is not a fan of the boots! But her feet get really cold, so she'll have to get used to them. I also made her a little vest out of an old pair of pj's I had - another frugal project. Re-use!!! :)

Charlie's coat is SO THICK in the winter, and her toes are very hairy, so she rarely needs extra help. But on those days when it's -40, we take the dogs out one at a time, and the girls can share the boots!

Jack is an old pro wearing his boots...he's giving Marlene some advice I think! :)

After about 20 minutes of encouragement, Marlene was finally walking around on her own! :) She pee'd but wouldn't poop until I took the boots off, lol...silly dog. She'll get used to them though! 

I have a little set up over the heater by the door to dry up the boots between trips outside. Works well!

Just a note: After reading a few initial comments, I wanted to say that with these dollar store mittens, made with polar fleece, the boots don't really need waterproofing. In really frigid weather, the dogs don't stay outside long enough to soak them through. They dry quickly because I hang them by the heater after each use. Though I have taken Charlie on hour-long walks with the boots on her and they never got soaked at all. I suppose if we were in the city with a lot of slush, that would be a different story!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Walk By The River

Hello my Friends :)

My world is so beautiful lately that I just wanted to share it with you! Yup, winter has arrived and here it will remain until mid-May. Even though it's really cold out, I'm drawn to the charm of Nature! Alex and I went for a walk along the cold river yesterday.

Weekdays in this village are pretty quiet and we love that. We made several stops along the river bank to just sit and listen to the flowing water.

I made little snowmen all along the way too, that was fun! :)

Darkness falls quickly this time of year, making winter nights a beautiful haze of blue and white.

Time to head back home through the covered bridge. (Sorry it's a little out of focus!)

A nice comforting meal of Crepes Suzette warmed us up on a cold wintry night! The weekenders are already in town on their snowmobiles, making quite the racket...time to hibernate for a few days!! :)