Category Archives: Household

Healthy Dog Treats

If you’re a dog owner and lover as we are, I know you’ve seen news reports such as these reporting on sickly and dying dogs from tainted dog treats. Mostly placing blame with Chinese manufacturers and imports of poorly made dog foods. And sure we can all sign petitions and shake our fists, but you can also take responsiblity for yourself and your pet.

With two working bird dogs in our family, we’ve not only invested our love and adoration for them, but have given uncountable hours to their training and development of their hunting skills. This makes it very easy and almost second nature to pay attention to anything that goes in our dogs mouths—as you would a child. So I’m not blind to the fact that many own dogs just to own dogs, nor am I blind to the fact that with our nation’s obesity ratings and health issues—if a person can’t even feed themselves nutritiously and responsibly, how can the give more care to an animal than themselves. So yes, we may be a small group but I refuse to turn the other cheek to how simple and much cheaper it is to forgo the pre-made junk treats in stores and think outside the box.

Regardless, dogs love food. Real food. Every dog I’ve owned has grown up eating natural wonderful dog treats. And no, not expensive fancy gourmet whatevers, but plain, healthy and all natural fruit and vegetables. I wonder if all the back years of vets trying to train owners not to feed dogs table scraps and “people food” has counter acted some people’s ability to think about what food is healthy.

Ideal fruit and vegetable treats we regularly feed our dogs:
• apple bits
• cored apple with peanut butter inside
• watermelon
• canteloupe
• carrot sticks (excellent for dental hygiene and cleaning plaque—much cheaper than dental bones)
• bananas (great hot weather nutrients if at the park or training in heat—just like for people after 5Ks and road races)
•cucumber slices

These are as simple and healthy as it gets and dogs love them for the same reasons we do—they are restorative and refreshing. And you know what’s going in their bodies. Here’s a great article that details some more fruit and vegetable ideas along with cautions to one’s you should not feed your pets.

If you like to take a more hands on approach and bake dog treats, I highly recommend  this awesome book of Country Wisdom and Know How.

It details wonderful, healthy, homemade dog treats you can bake at home with the simplest of ingredients. Another favorite it includes is a top 10 list of herbs that are safe and helpful to common digestive and breath issues with dogs.


Kitchen Cabinet Conclusion

I’m in love with my kitchen for the first time since we’ve lived in this house! I mean, I knew this couldn’t backfire or present any possibility of me not liking the outcome, but the level of happiness at the outcome is way more than I anticipated.

Even on a rainy, gloomy day, our kitchen is bright! And I love even more that the wood grain of our oak cabinets still shows through the paint. If you’re a close picture examiner, you will see some missing hardware. I flip flopped our order and ordered too many pulls and not enough knobs. So the remaining knobs we need should be in next Tuesday. You’ll also see my motivational projected outcome pic hanging on the fridge—looks pretty dang good!

All in all this was an awesome do-it-yourself renovation that I would highly recommend if you’re even halfway thinking of it. Total cost ran us around $300 (including all hardware, a new palm sander, and $50 paint).

Allow yourself time and space. And the biggest factor of your time, is how much space you have to lay everything out for priming and painting and drying and recoating. Without the space to keep working, you’re stuck waiting. We set up several 6′ long tables in our garage.

And when it comes to paint, it’s never too expensive. Splurge on your paint and you’ll save yourself tons of headaches as it just settles so beautifully. We used Benjamin Moore Advance and our color was from the Off White Collection named Dove Wing. The Advance line is technically a water base which helps with drying time and clean up compared to the typical cabinetry oil base paints. However it’s all fancy and engineered to self level and dry beautifully and cure hard. It ran us around $50/gallon and it was worth every penny. And after painting two coats on every cabinet surface we covered, we still only used half a gallon. Talk about lovely coverage.

Oh and we also salvaged our hinges instead of spending money to replace them. We simply scrubbed them clean with a hard brush and bleach and used Rustoleum Metallic Spray Paint in oil rubbed bronze color to coordinate with our oil rubbed bronze hardware. They turned out great and only cost us $6 in spray paint.

For a step by step guide of how we tackled our cabinets, I defer you to one of my favorite do-it-yourself blogs/family, Young House Love. Their recent step-by-step kitchen cabinet blog was basically what I followed to a T. So if my humble do-it-yourself projects are able to add any more credibility to everything they complete, then I hope it helps.

Stay tuned for true final pics soon. Our hardwood floors came early (Happy Valentines to me!) and started installing yesterday.

New Kitchen Cabinets

Since my husband is off on Mondays (I know, so annoying) he luckily is a super hard worker and got started early picking up last minute supplies and helping clear space for us to strip and repaint our kitchen cabinets beginning tonight!

Our entire garage had become one big camoflauge mess since Thanksgiving. So we speed cleaned it, grilled a mess of Carolina Treet barbeque chicken to make dinners easier throughout the week, properly cleaned decoys and put away all our hunting gear until next year—except those quick grab items you may need for other seasons. This allowed us to make  room for our work tables to go up in the garage so that we have painting surfaces ready and then we began emptying cabinets. The latter of which continues tonight with emptying the remainder of cabinets and removing all the doors, drawer fronts, and hinges. We are not painting the inside of our cabinets opting to leave the existing natural wood. Therefore, the actual cabinet boxes are staying on the walls—big relief right off the rip.

Anyhow, here’s our before picture joined by a projected finish picture. It doesn’t show our new hardware we ordered for the cabients, but there is a peep of our new hardwood floors at the bottom. So wish us luck and lots of marital patience! I’ll try to keep up with some pictures as we go but definitely looking forward to end result pics next week sometime.

Happy Home Anniversary

Cool river breezes
Favorite back porch
Band of lizards that summer lease said porch (and when they’re lucky I sing Karma Chameleon to them)
Green grass
Vegetable garden
Family nearby
Happy dogs (now)
Roses bushes
Blooming hydrangeas
Confederate jasmine
Coral Honeysuckle
Magnolia trees
Room to grow
Memories made
Memories to make
And 29 more years til she’s paid for of enjoying it all…

Happy one year anniversary home! And while it may only be the two of us and the dogs boys actually living here, thank you to everyone who’s helped make our house our home this past year. We can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Milkman Rings Again

Borrowing this from a feature on today’s written by Sarah Gilbert with my only side note of, “Coburg, please read!”

Most local grocery and convenience stores put the price of milk up on red-lettered signs and placards because it’s a must-shop-for item—it’s the gateway purchase, the one that gets us to the store in the first place.

Consumers often make a determination about where to shop based on the price-per-gallon, an indicator of the store’s other prices (or a warning that the rest of the prices are going to be outrageous to make up for it, such as at a convenience store). And once you’re in the door for milk, the stores hope, you’re locked in as a customer.

But these days, the old joke about going out for eggs and milk and coming home with $100 in groceries is more of a reality than most family budgets can bear. That’s just one reason the old-fashioned milkman is coming back—and maybe should be back in your life, too.

We know most of our readers weren’t grocery shopping back in the days when milk deliveries started to dwindle; by the 1970s, the career of “milkman” had became solely a euphemism for “illicit lover.” But in the past four or five years, the milkman has had a resurgence.

I’ve been on board—except for a few weeks when I forgot to submit my orders—since 2008, preferring to get my milk straight from a dairy. It’s part of the growing consumer desire to connect directly with the producers, buy local, and, in some cases, opt out of plastic (all the local dairies I use deliver in old-fashioned, reusable glass bottles).

About that plastic: Science journalist Susan Freinkel has been making the rounds this week with anecdotes and quotes from her new book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, a look at our use of the off-gases from energy production that is both historical and forward-looking.

In an interview that aired on “Marketplace,” Freinkel said, “We take natural substances created over millions of years, fashion them into products designed for a few minutes’ use, and then return them to the planet as litter that we’ve engineered to never go away,” going on to theorize, “Well I think one place we start is by recognizing, again, that these are valuable materials and really thinking hard about where it makes sense to use them. Disposable items—that’s a great invention, it’s brought modern convenience—but again, sometimes that convenience comes with a huge cost and I think we need to be asking ourselves when is that cost really worth it? When could we go back to using something that is more reusable?”

It’s not just that plastic will sit in landfills for tens of thousands of years, and it’s not just that plastic requires lots of energy to produce or that some excessive quantity of natural non-renewable materials goes into them. It’s also that the effects of some of the chemicals in plastics aren’t fully understood (and, as Freinkel says, the plastic industry is “quick to rebut any studies that come out suggesting a correlation between exposure to synthetic chemicals and possible health issues”).

Getting milk that’s fresh, straight from a dairy that you can go visit and learn its cows’ names and whose bottles you can return the next week for wasteless, non-toxic refill: Is this a service that should have been discarded along with poodle skirts?

More and more consumers, like me, are saying “No way!” In an article that ran in the Los Angeles Times last year, Santa Ana-based Rockview Farms said they had 4,800 homes on the dairy’s delivery route, and that many customers share drop-off points to meet delivery minimums.

Though it’s more expensive than convenience-store milk, direct-from-the-dairy customers rave about the taste (I can attest that the difference is enormous). And milkmen often make value-added deals with neighboring farms to deliver in-season produce, cheeses and yogurt, cutting out more middlemen and saving energy. An efficient urban delivery route isn’t much different than the one a big dairy would take to dozens of large and small grocery, convenience and drug stores, and customers get to stay home drinking farm-fresh smoothies instead of running out to the store wasting gas.

This is a trend that’s remarked on once a year or so and deserves to become a market force. In 2007, the New York Times pointed to milkmen in Milton, Mass.; North Aurora, Ill.; Middleton, Md. (South Mountain Creamery delivers to the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area and has a waiting list in the hundreds); and Barnstead, N.H. Here in Portland, Ore., two dairies will deliver to your door and several more deliver to cooperative drop-off points where customers leave last week’s bottles in crates on front porches, in garages, and at the back doors of coffee shops.

I get my milk from Lady Lane, where Garry Hansen proudly milks his Jersey cows and I can go online to look at glamour shots of “the ladies.” Nostalgia, nice story, new trend? I don’t care. It’s the best milk I’ve ever had, and I’m never tempted to pick up a bag of chips and a candy bar, too. Hansen’s milk may cost twice as much as the corner store’s, but I’m sure I save money in the end, and I never have to call my husband and say, “Don’t forget to pick up the milk!”

Church Pew

I have been wanting a church pew for our house, pretty much since the day we moved in. I’ve searched high and low. I’ve followed ebay, craigslists adds, signed up for emailed updates from where churches send their pews for other churches or individuals to purchase, you name it. One, not to talk down about a pew that’s served the Lord for a good many years, but a grand majority of those being offered, while a great blessing for a church in need, are not what a want in my house with mustard gold upholstered seats. I also don’t want to pay $700 for the elite antique. It’s not a bragging right, it’s a bench at the end of the day. And if I pay $700 for something, then I can’t seriously turn around and drop my bags on it when I walk in the door or kick my shoes off and hope they land near it, you get the idea. Bottom line, it has to provide function and be usable—not just look pretty. And then, there’s the whole tease of finally seeing one you like to find out it’s in Virginia or Florida. Completely un-shippable and my desire for this piece of furniture does not justify a multi-state road trip. I mean really…All these factors make this a very tough process.

So on the day week that I’m just tired, nothing will go right, lost my cell phone eighteen-hundred times, and everything is just on my nerves, I begrudgingly fight traffic and the recent road paving crew to run errands during lunch. And don’t you know it, when driving down Main Street, there’s my church pew outside the local antique store. I seriously hit the brakes and busted a u-turn on a street I’m pretty sure u-turns are not allowed. Threw her in park and ran inside to inquire about it. The pew had just arrived the night before and it was perfect. I borrowed their tape measure and ran into my first snag. Ideally, I need a 6-7 footer max. This puppy is 9. Oh how I pined. I asked the gentleman at the antique store to cross his fingers too until I could get back home and figure it out. Well, turns out, there’s still no way to make a 9 foot pew fit. In other rooms, sure. But where I want it to go, no.

Returning to the whole, nothing will go right, everything’s annoying pity party I only briefly exited, my husband comes home with a plan. Because he’s my engineer charming (that’s a prince charming that’s more than just good looking—he solves my building/creative problems too). He says we’ll go look at it but that he can’t see why we can’t just resize it. We return to the store last night (a whopping 45 minute round trip to town mind you) to sit on the pew parked outside the antique store, take measurements, and talk fasteners. Turns out, we’ve got ourselves our next project.

I called first thing this morning and bought her. She’s ours! Not that we can really begin our project until mid-May, but that’s ok with me!

Here are some rough shots taken quickly outside the antique store. We’ll post more during the resizing/renovation process along with the finished 7 foot pew down the road.

Garage No.8

We spent last Saturday helping my wonderful in-laws clean out their garage. This would be that big, scary, detached garage in the back yard that no one goes into and small children are scared of. And yet with six strong workers and I’d say only two hours later, 75% of the entire garage was emptied! We succesfully declared a National Kidney Foundation pick up pile, a serious dump pile, and the what-goes-back-in-the-garage-neatly pile. Surprisingly with very little trouble negotiating among the three.

Then the project took a steep turn as we discovered a good chunk of boxes stored in that garage belonged not to my sweet mother-in-law as the whole family had pinned, but to my husband. Who did step up to the plate and accept blame, but also was really overly excited about his hidden stash of baseball cards that seriously has me worried organized binders, trades, and new card purchases are in my near future! Not really.

And then combined with my never-ending desire to thrift and restore good things, we totally ended up taking home a full trailer of stuff. But good stuff. With good uses. If you read about my love for my birthday china cabinet, you can only imagine my excitement over a second one! An awesome find, my mother-in-law used to do a lot of ceramics and received this a while back to use for storing her ceramic materials and utensils. I’ve already cleaned her down, done some small repairs, and primed her for a new paint job. With a new front glass panel from the family hardware store, she will have a new home on our back porch (where we live until October-ish) to house outdoor entertaining items—just in time for good weather!

We also relieved the scary garage of some wonderful, old Mason, Bell, and Atlas jars. These were hand packed and trucked back from Oklahoma where my mother-in-law’s family is from and grew up as dairy farmers. And these jars were originals to my husband’s grandma and great-grandma from her canning days. What a wonderful find just in time for our garden! Now any worries about surplus veggies has been relieved knowing I have all these beautiful jars with which to store food rather than waste and even better—to re-gift these beautiful jars back to the family.

There were lots of other awesome finds, laughs, and sore muscles to go along with the day but after a delicious spaghetti dinner—ones less family member’s garage to clean! Our count is now at 8 including our own and the two attempts before the final third on my own parents—and no we’re not for hire.

Here is the completed china cabinet in  use. Technically it still needs a new glass panel up front, but for now it works just fine.