Jun 6, 2013

Breastfeeding boosts babies' brain growth!

This study is one of many! While there are situations that make it impossible to breast feed, if you are able to then you should. My daughter was born with a recessed chin and was physically unable to latch onto my breast, but I pumped diligently until my milk dried up around her 9th month and was able to still give her supplemental breast milk that was donated to me by a local breastfeeding support group until she was a year old.

Women's bodies are simply amazing and our innate ability to provide the best for our children should never be overlooked or pushed to the wayside without good cause.

MRI study: Breastfeeding boosts babies' brain growth

May 23, 2013

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

  • 1 Lb. Lasagna Noodles
  • 9 oz of Raw Spinach
  • 16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Egg (optional)
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Oregano
  • 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Jar Pasta Sauce of choice

Cook lasagna noodles according to directions on box minus 2-3 minutes boil time. You want them to be slightly firmer than al dente since you will be baking this once you roll them.

In a large bowl, add the ricotta, parmesan, 1 - 1 & 1/2 cups of the shredded mozzarella, salt, pepper, egg, oregano, and garlic and stir well.  Set to the side.

In a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, place about 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom and spread to evenly coat. 

Drain the lasagna noodles in a colander and run them through with some cool water to stop the cooking process along with making them easier to work with. 

Lay out a few lasagna noodles out on a cutting board and add about 2 tablespoons of the cheese filling and spread out along each noodle.  Then roll up and place seam side down in the dish.  The 1 lb. box of noodles usually comes with about 20 noodles, and I end up with just enough filling to fill 19 of them.

Once you have them all stacked up evenly in the dish, cover them with the rest of sauce and cover with foil.  Bake in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes.  After the 40 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of reserved shredded mozzarella cheese and pop back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to set for a couple of minutes and serve. I like to serve 2 rolls over a bed of raw spinach. :) 


May 9, 2013

Do you have an interest in health and wellness? How about exercise and nutrition? Or family and relationships?

If you answered yes to any or all of those questions than is the place for you!

MomStrong was founded by Anna Arsenault. Anna is a mother of four and a fitness and nutrition enthusiast who realized after having her children that finding the time or money to go to the gym and being able to produce quick and healthy meals for her family was challenging. 

She created as a place to post recipes, quick in home workouts, inspiration, and tips for getting your kids moving too! Her website includes nutrition and exercise guides (the newest addition being photos of exercises so you can make sure you're doing them correctly!).
Her hope is to be a resource and inspiration for women. She is building a support network for women dedicated to being the healthiest version of themselves. There is no judgement, only support. Anna is an inspiration to myself and countless others. Give her the chance to inspire you too!
You can follow MomStrong 
on Facebook, instagram, Twitter, Tumblr!

May 7, 2013

Parmesan Baked Tilapia

  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated/shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pat tilapia dry (if frozen, it should be thawed first) with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Lay on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 10-12 minutes. While fish is baking, mix butter with garlic, lemon zest and parmesan cheese.
Remove fish from oven and gently flip. Spread about 1/2 tablespoons of butter mixture on the fish, and heat the broiler in your oven. Set fish under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, or until cheese gets golden and bubbly.

Baked Avocado Salsa

1 ripe Avocado
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cups Chunky Salsa
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; set aside.
Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. 
Divide the salsa between the two avocado halves.  
Top with bread crumb mixture. 
Place on a small baking sheet. 
Bake for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. 
Fall in love!

May 4, 2013

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie Breakfast Bars


2 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup neutral oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two 4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat together the peanut butter, sugar, and oil with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then, whisk in the milk by hand – carefully, so you don’t splatter. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and fold to combine. Stir in chocolate and 1/2 cup nuts and pour the batter into the two prepared pans. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining pecans.

Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Using an offset spatula, loosen the bars from the pan and turn onto a rack to cool completely. When cool, cut each pan into 8 bars. If you want smaller servings, cut each bar in half. Store in the fridge.

Strawberry Freezer Granola Bars

Makes 20-24 bars

3/4 C peanut butter
1/3 C honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 large bananas, well mashed
1/3 C ground flax
3 C old fashioned rolled oats
3 C crispy/crunchy cereal
2-3 C fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 – 1 C chocolate chips

Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining it with plastic wrap or parchment or wax paper. Or prepare two muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, mashed bananas and ground flax seed.

Mix well and add the rolled oats and cereal and stir until incorporated.

Add the strawberries and chocolate chips and gently stir them in.

Press the mixture into the 9×13 pan or divide the mixture between the muffin cups and press down well.

Once the mixture is packed well, place them in the freezer and freeze completely, 4-6 hours or overnight.

Remove from the 9×13 pan and slice into bars. Individually wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer or simply remove from the muffin tin and place in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag to store in the freezer.

-Instead of peanut butter try your favorite other nut butter such as almond butter- for nut free try sunflower seed butter.
-To make these vegan, use your favorite other liquid sweetener such as maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, etc.
-I used a crispy brown rice cereal, but it does not stay crispy after the bars are frozen. If you want some change in texture I recommend choosing a very crunchy cereal, for example grape nuts would maintain their crunch even after the bars are frozen.

Frosty No-Bake Granola Bars

Makes 12

2 large overripe bananas
1 cup oats
1/2 cup crunchy cereal
2 tbsp pure maple syrup(or any other sweetener you use)
2 tbsp peanut butter or other nut or seed butter
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp dried cranberries or other fruit
2 – 4 tsp cocoa powder

Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl.

Add wet ingredients and cocoa powder and mix well.

Add all other ingredients, mix well then press into prepared muffin tin.

Freeze at least 60 minutes before serving. Mmmmm. Perfect for summertime!

May 3, 2013

Uses for FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth has more uses than most people are aware of, if they are aware of Diatomaceous Earth at all.

For Human Consumption:

Diatomaceous Earth has been reported to absorb methyl mercury, E. coli, endotoxins, viruses (including poliovirus), organophosphate pesticide residues, and drug residues. It is a natural organic colon cleanser and detoxifier. This cleansing and detoxification alone has a myriad of positive effects in the human body.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is 89% Silica.

The average human body holds approximately seven grams of silica, needing significantly more silica than even important minerals such as iron. Most people are, in fact, silica deficient. Among other things, enough silica in the body is vital enough for calcium absorbtion to allow calcium supplements to work. If Silica deficient, as is the case in the vast majority of us, calcium supplementation can even be a negative. Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is an excellent natural and organic source of silica.

Other Reported Health Benefits of Silica / Diatomaceous Earth Includes Lowering Blood Pressure, Lowering Cholesterol, Osteoperosis, Weight Loss, Cosmetics, Hair, Nails, Teeth & Gums, Energy, Bacteria, Mucus, Anti-Aging, Urinary Infections, Headache.

For Pets:

When lightly rubbed into their coats and dusted in your pet's area, Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is very effective against Lice, Mites, Fleas, and Ticks on dogs, cats, and birds. Just rub gently into the pet's coat. For an Ear Mites remedy for your pets, simply rub a pinch of DE onto the skin on both sides of the ear flaps daily for a month or so to kill existing and newly hatched mites.

DE is also an effective organic wormer and will kill any worms or parasites the pets may have. When using as a daily pet food supplement or as a safe wormer, mix Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth with pet food.

Following is Recommended Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth daily doses for Dogs and Cats
as an organic wormer - (complete worming can take up to a month to be safe).. Reported great results with sore and painful hips and joints, and even a fuller, healthier shiny coat as a reg. daily supplement.

Large Cats: 1 teaspoon Kittens :1/4 teaspoon Dogs 100 lbs + : 1-2 tablespoons
Dogs 50-100lbs: 1 tablespoon Dogs Under 50 lbs: 1 teaspoon Mini dogs: 1/2 teaspoon

As pets get older, they often get sore hips and stiff, painful joints.
Diatomaceous Earth in your pet's daily diet will reduce arthritic inflamation.

For your pet's living areas, apply to moist kennel and bedding areas to reduce odors, dry the area, and stop fleas and ticks from breeding. Cat Litter-Kitty Litter: Liberally add Diatomaceous Earth to litter box to effectively control dampness and odors.

For Pest Control:

The most commonly known use for DE is for pest control. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic garden pest control and household insect killer. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action, not chemical. It is safe for pets and people. The tiny diatoms scratch off the insect's waxy coating, and dehydrate it. DE kills spiders, roaches, silverfish, ants, fire ants, carpenter ants, bedbugs, lice, mites, earwigs, flies, fleas, box elder bugs, crabs(std), pubic and hair lice, scorpions, crickets and harmful insects. Diatomaceous Earth is used in the home, yard, animal housing, etc. Sprinkle a 2 inch wide border around the foundation of your house to stop insects from entering.

Diatomaceous Earth is safe to earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms, and is also safe to people, pets and livestock. DE organically kills garden insects on huge farm crops as well as in home gardens. Diatomaceous Earth kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Use Diatomaceous Earth inside your home, greenhouse or outdoors on fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and grass. Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth up to and including day of harvest.

For The Home:

Enjoy the many practical and money saving benefits of Diatomaceous Earth for every day household use!

Metal Cleaner: Make a paste with Diatomaceous Earth and water to make a metal polish. Diatomaceous Earth also makes a very inexpensive soft scrub for the shower, sink and faucets.

Face Mask and Cleanser: Mix Diatomaceous Earth and water together until you have made a paste. Apply to the face with circular scrubbing motion until face is fully covered. Leave on face for approx. 2 min. and then wash off with warm water. Your face will be fully exfoliated and toned for pennies!! Mix Diatomaceous Earth with your favorite cleanser and you will have cleaner, smoother skin.

Teeth Cleaner: Sprinkle a small amount on your favorite brand of toothpaste and brush as you normally would. You will notice that your teeth look and feel "Just went to the dentist" clean.

Garage/Driveway Oil Stains: To remove oil stains from garage floor or driveway: Make sure area is dry and completely cover the stain with diatomaceous earth. Let the powder soak up the oil for 24 hours. Remove the excess with a metal spatula or paint scraper and dispose.

Refrigerator/Freezer Odors: Diatomaceous Earth can be used in the same way as baking soda to banish odors. Leave an open box or jar of DE in the refrigerator and freezer. Replace with fresh DE every week or so.

Foot Odor: For fresh smelling footware, place some DE into the ends of two knee high nylon stockings and tie a knot the top. Place the stockings inside shoes or boots. Leave until used again.

Carpet Stains: To remove stains from carpets, cover the stain with DE and lightly work into the stain. Let set for at least 2 hours and vacuum up.

Garbage Can Odor: To deodorize a garbage can with DE, sprinkle a cup or so of diatomaceous earth in the bottom of the garbage can. Not only deodorizes, but will kill any bugs and larvae that are present.

So there you go friends! An all 'round amazing thing to have on hand for a multitude of things. :)

May 1, 2013

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Okay people. This is a game changer.

I can't remember the last time I made hard boiled eggs. Why don’t I make hard boiled eggs usually? Well, the thought of getting a big old pot of water boiling, and then timing the boiling, flame on, flame off, lid on , lid off…. Bleh.

Half the time I end up timing something wrong, and end up with over cooked, hard to peel eggs.

So when I kept seeing the idea on Pinterest, of hard boiling eggs in the oven, I HAD to give it a try.

Eggs go in the oven for 30 minutes, then in a bowl of ice water to cool. That’s IT! You wanna know the BEST part? The peel practically slides off in one piece.

Here is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 325. Some of the posts I found said between 325-350. My eggs turned out perfect at 325. If you know your oven runs cooler, try out a higher temp.

PLEASE DO A TEST RUN with a couple eggs until you figure out the correct cooking temp for your oven.

Place eggs in a muffin tin to prevent them from rolling around.

Cook for 28-30 minutes.

After the 28-30 minutes, remove eggs from the oven and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. I left them in there for about 10 minutes.

That’s it! Perfect eggs every time.

(And did I mention they don't smell as bad while cooking? They don't!)

Apr 30, 2013

Adrenal Insufficiency Day

Adrenal insufficiency is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce adequate amounts of steroid hormones (chemicals produced by the body that regulate organ function).

If not treated, adrenal insufficiency may result in severe abdominal pains, vomiting, profound muscle weakness and fatigue, depression, extremely low blood pressure, weight loss, kidney failure, changes in mood and personality, and shock (adrenal crisis).

An adrenal crisis often occurs if the body is subjected to stress, such as an accident, injury, surgery, or severe infection; death may quickly follow.

Today is Adrenal Insufficiency Day....

Wear BLUE to show your support!

Apr 29, 2013

Beltane Blessings!

Bel-tane is named for the old Celtic god, Bel, bright, shining, and tan, fire. In honoring a god of light and fire, Celtic sacred tradition is akin to every other religion, East and West, which acknowledges a great being of Divine Fire and Light as the primary power of creation. The oldest Indo-European wisdom teachings of all, the Vedas, describe the Divine Fire, Agni, as the source of all life, which is expressed by the Sun, Surya. The spiritual path is frequently described as one that leads from the darkness of ignorance to illumination. And just as Eastern paths such as Buddhism teach meditations that will lead us to enlightenment, in the Western Esoteric Tradition we climb the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to reach the blissful level of consciousness known as Ain Soph Aur, or Limitless Light.

Beltane is also the great spring holiday of the Goddess. Halfway around the year from Samhain, when we honor out beloved dead, Beltane is the festival that celebrates all of the living world: plants, animals, and human beings. On both occasions, the veil between the worlds is said to be thin, and is no more unusual to see the fairies near Beltane, than it is to see the spirits of the dead at Samhain. Beltane is a time of Faerie Magic and the Queen of faeries is represented by the Queen of the May. Along with her consort, she rules over the festivities and serves as representative of the Goddess.

Beltane is the Holiday of fertility. For Pagans, one of the great gifts of the Goddess is the power of the earth to grow wonderful flowers and fruits and all the things we eat. We are thankful for the fertility of the earth, and our job is to keep the land and the soil healthy, to protect the animals and plants and trees so that fertility can continue. The earth is a living being, and all of her creatures are part of her body. Each has a place, a purpose, a special part in the great dance of life.

On Beltane, we also celebrate all the different kinds of human fertility and creativity. We give thanks for the power women and men have to make babies, to bring new people into the world. But people can create in other ways as well. When we paint pictures, make up songs, tell new stories, plant a garden, or cook a dinner, we take part in the fertility of the Goddess.

Beltane is also the time when we celebrate the joys of being alive. We give thanks for all the different kinds of pleasure our bodies give us, for without our bodies we couldn't see, hear, touch, taste, smell, run, dance, jump, sing, dance, or swim.

Pagans believe that, just as the different plants and animals each have a special purpose in the web of life, so do the different kinds of people. That's why we should never mock people because of how they look or what they can or cannot do. People who cannot walk or see or hear or who have some other difference, have been given a special challenge in this life by the Goddess. Many things may be harder for them, but other things may be easier. And the harder the challenges we face, the more we can grow in our inner power.

In ancient times Bel-fires were lit on hilltops to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world. Jumping over the fire could ensure safe delivery of a pregnant woman, spring spouses to young people, grant traveling a safe journey, ensure health, and bring about conception for a barren woman.

Beltane is a time of chaos, of the wild energy and passion found in the Greenwood. Be careful when you walk abroad on Beltane night - you never know what you're going to encounter.

Apr 27, 2013

Triple Berry Tofu Smoothie (Tofu 4 Kids)


2 cups berries (fresh or frozen - blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 banana
1 cup silken tofu
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy, soy, rice, almond)
1 cup ice


Blend ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.


(Sorry there's no picture. My shots came out fuzzy.)

Apr 26, 2013

Crate Training

Crate Training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a puppy.

The single most important aspect of puppy training is that you reward and praise your puppy each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more time you spend with your puppy, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.

The key to house training is to establish a routine that increases the chances that your puppy will eliminate in the right place in your presence, so that she can be praised and rewarded; and decreases the chances that your puppy will eliminate in the wrong place so that she will not develop bad habits.

It is important that you make provisions for your puppy when you are not home. Until your puppy is housetrained, she should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles anywhere and everywhere. Confine her to a small area such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room that has water/stain resistant floors. Confinement is NOT crate training.

What is Crate Training?

Crate training can be an efficient and effective way to house train a puppy. Puppies do not like to soil their "dens" if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your puppy to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate. However, there is still a far more important aspect of crate training. If your puppy does not eliminate while she is confined, then she will need to eliminate when she is released, i.e., she eliminates when you are present to reward and praise her.

Be sure to understand the difference between temporarily confining your puppy to a crate and long term confinement when you are not home. The major purpose of confinement when your are not home is to restrict mistakes to a small protected area. The purpose of crate training is quite the opposite.

Short term confinement to a crate is intended to inhibit your puppy from eliminating when confined, so that she will want to eliminate when released from confinement and taken to an appropriate area. Crate training also helps teach your puppy to have bladder and bowel control. Instead of going whenever she feels like it, she learns to hold it and go at convenient scheduled times.

Crate training should not be abused, otherwise the problem will get drastically worse. The crate is not intended as a place to lock up the puppy and forget her for extended periods of time. If your puppy soils her crate because you left her there too long, the house training process will be set back several weeks, if not months.

Your puppy should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Except at night, give your puppy an opportunity to relieve herself every hour or so. Never give your puppy free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty.

Mistakes and Accidents During Training

If you ever find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your puppy. All this means is that you have given her unsupervised access to your house too soon. Until she can be trusted, don't give her unsupervised free run of your house. If mistakes and accidents occur, it is best to go back to the crate training. You need to more accurately predict when puppy needs to eliminate and she needs more time to develop bladder and bowel control.

Apr 21, 2013

Zucchini Pizzas!

This one is great for low carb diets and very kid-friendly! Not to mention SIMPLE and good for you! (Depending on how much cheese you use, anyway.)


-3 Large Zucchini
-Cheese of Choice or non-dairy substitute
-Pizza Sauce or Marinara
-Garlic Powder
-Parmesan Cheese or Nutritional Yeast (or both!)
-Any Extra Toppings of Your Choice.


-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

-Cut the zucchini into thin slices. (I can get about 4 slices per Zucchini)

-Lay the slices on a non-stick baking sheet or tin foil with olive oil coating.

-Top each zucchini thin with pizza sauce.

-Sprinkle some garlic powder and parmesan (or nutritional yeast or both) on each zucchini slice.

-Top with your choice of toppings.

-Cover your toppings with cheese on each individual "pizza". Keep in mind that a bit of cheese will melt off of the sides.

Bake in the oven for approximately 23-25 minutes.


Apr 19, 2013

Celery "Subs"

Let me start off by saying that I completely stole this idea from one of my best friends whose son LOVES celery. It was my hope that this little snack would introduce my toddler, to and help her like, celery (as I am not myself a fan).

Celery "Subs"

Cut up Organic Celery into about 2-3 inch pieces
Top with Peanut Butter, Marshmallows & Raisins

Voila! It's that simple!

Unfortunately, all my daughter ended up doing was picking off the raisins and marshmallows to eat with her fingers and licking some of the peanut butter off of the celery. She took probably one decent bite of plain celery, chewed a couple of times, then spit it out onto the table. Oh well... better luck next time!

Miniature Schnauzer

Mark LOVES Miniature Schnauzers. He loves them like I love Poodles. Ever since I have known him he has wanted to own a Miniature Schnauzer. Part of why he loves the breed so much is because he grew up with one. Animals that we grow up with often imprint themselves into our psyche!

Miniature Schnauzers are coined as being "Smart & Sassy"!

The Miniature Schnauzer is a small breed with a big personality and is ideally suited to the role of family pet. Like all terrier-like dogs, they are sturdy, game little fellows, with great determination and a huge sense of loyalty to their family. They are also a friendly, loving dogs who craves human attention and wants to be a part of the family’s activities. They are extremely handsome dogs; their characteristic bushy beard, moustache and eyebrows convey an air of age and wisdom which isn’t too far-fetched a notion, as the Miniature Schnauzer is a very intelligent dog!

The Schnauzer originated in Germany (just like Poodles!) where it has been known as far back as the 15th century. For centuries, these dogs were kept as herders, guardians, ratters and simply as companions, and eventually developed into three distinct sizes: Giant, Standard and Miniature. The Miniature Schnauzer is the youngest breed of the three, being developed during the late 19th century. In its earliest stages, several small breeds were employed in crosses to bring down the size of the well-established Standard Schnauzer, with the goal of creating a miniature version. Schnauzers were crossed to other breeds, such as the Affenpinscher, Poodle (Yay!) and Miniature Pinscher, resulting eventually in the dog we know and love today as the Miniature Schnauzer.

Some breeds have an air of intelligence – or look intelligent – but the Miniature Schnauzer doesn’t just look intelligent; he is intelligent! Owners will recognise the breed’s qualities of being incredibly alert, lively and mischievous. Miniature Schnauzers thrive on attention and are quick to learn vocal and hand commands. They fit in well with family routines and habits, enjoying being part of the family pack. However, they are equally happy to be a one-person dog and are ideal for all ages, including active people or those of retirement age. They also make excellent guard dogs as they are quick to bark at strangers – or intruders – but do not become aggressive. Again, this makes them ideal as family pets. Like all dogs they need to be socialised with children and other pets from an early age, but they are quick to learn, accepting commands readily. Miniature Schnauzers do very well in obedience and ringcraft.

These dogs are very energetic and can sometimes become bored if not given the attention they crave. Regular exercise and a proper diet are essential to keep your Miniature Schnauzer from becoming bored and possibly destructive. The breed is very adaptable and will be happy in most home environments, including apartments, but regular exercise is essential – they don’t like being cooped up for long periods. Good long walks – or runs – and plenty of games keep the Miniature Schnauzer engaged and fit, which is what they enjoy. And their energetic natures are good for their owners getting exercise, too!

Miniature Schnauzers are very robust, active and sturdy dogs with very few health problems. Miniature Schnauzers remain healthy and active all of their lives, although naturally they begin to slow down a bit as they reach old age. As to longevity, they can live for up to 15 years and are one of the longer-lived dog breeds, which again makes them ideal as family pets.

5 Miniature Schnauzer facts:

The Schnauzer is the only breed known to take its name from one of its kind to win a prize at a show. This was at the International Show in Hanover, Germany in 1879. The winner of the wirehaired Pinscher class was a dog called ‘Schnauzer’, a name that translates literally as ‘small beard’ (which the breed has) and thus the present-day name for the breed came into being.

Miniature Schnauzers have a long lifespan, living for up to 15 years of age, although there have been accounts of some dogs living to the age of 17!

The Miniature Schnauzer has a wiry coat and thus does not moult, which is a plus point if you are houseproud! This also makes the breed ideal for anyone with allergies. All-over grooming with a brush and comb is required at least twice a week. Hand stripping is required for show dogs but clipping is straightforward and easy for a smart family pet, although the body colour does pale as the dog ages. It is necessary for your dog to be properly clipped by an experienced dog groomer every 8 to 12 weeks to keep his coat manageable.

Miniature Schnauzers are very unfussy eaters and thrive on a good, standard dog food diet. They are equally happy with proprietory dog food as they are with natural foods such as meat and fish, and enjoy gnawing on a bone. However, rich and fatty foods should be avoided as some dogs can occasionally suffer from pancreatic problems as a result of over-feeding such foods.

Weight Weight range:
14-18lbs for dogs
11-15 lbs for bitches

Crispy Tofu Dippers (Tofu 4 Kids)

This is the 1st installment of an ongoing project to find fun tofu recipes that children will eat without a fuss! Finding kid-friendly tofu recipes is not an easy task. Most kids, especially young toddlers, tend to be texture eaters and the texture of tofu is not usually very appealing to them.

Why should you and your child(ren) eat tofu?

The health benefits of tofu are numerous. Consuming tofu regularly helps lower cholesterol and even lowers the risk of cancer. Since soybean is cheap and abundant, but rich in protein, the popularly known benefit of tofu is that of being the “poor man’s protein.”

Tofu as Vegan Substitute for Meat -

There is a common misconception that vegetarians do not get as much protein as meat lovers do. Although vegetables are mainly composed of carbohydrates, some vegetables, in fact, have all of the essential amino acids that your body requires.

The only difference between tofu and meat protein is that you have to eat more tofu to meet the recommended dietary protein levels. Studies show that regularly eating the right amount of tofu provides an equivalent amount of energy, protein, total fat, carbohydrates, alcohol and fiber.

Other Health Benefits of Tofu -

Isoflavones are compounds found in soy products, and they are known to exert direct and indirect antioxidant effects. Isoflavones also directly scavenge free radicals.

And now for a recipe!

Crispy Tofu Dippers


14oz block Organic Non-GMO Extra Firm Tofu
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/4 cup Cornmeal
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil


-After you have drained and pressed the tofu, cut into bite-size pieces.
-Mix together cornmeal, parmesan, and cornstarch.
-Whisk it up a bit and then place your tofu pieces in the mixture. Coat well.
-Heat a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
-Once your pieces are coated, pop them in the hot pan.
-Cook on all sides until brown and crispy.
-Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Apr 18, 2013

Backyard Breeders vs. Responsible Hobby Breeders

The Backyard Breeder -

1. Is motivated to breed because it is "fun", "good for kids", "to make money," or "wants to get their 'investment' back from the dog they bought." Doesn't screen buyers and seldom refuses to sell, even if buyer is unsuitable.

2. Breeds family pet or breeding stock to any convenient dog of same breed just to have purebred pups "with papers." Has no concern for, or knowledge of: genetics, bloodlines, animal husbandry, or breed improvement.

3. Has little or no knowledge of breed health issues. Though pet may be well loved, it wasn't tested or checked for heritable problems prior to breeding.

4. Offers no health guarantees beyond proof of shots, if that. Unqualified and/or unwilling to give help if problems develop.

5. Seller has little knowledge of breed history or AKC "Standard." May claim that this doesn't matter for "just pets".

6. Pups raised in makeshift accommodations, indicating lack of long-term investment in breeding.

7. Even when selling "just pets", may display AKC "papers" or "championship pedigree" as proof of quality. Yet seller doesn't increase their own knowledge through participation in national or local breed clubs. Doesn't show their breeding stock in shows to "prove" quality, often feeling that dog shows are too expensive or that judges don't know anything. Has no knowledge of ancestors listed on the pedigree, much less their ownership, health status or whereabouts.

8. May be unwilling to show buyer entire litter or to introduce dam and/or sire of litter. Can't or won't compare/critique pups or pups' ancestors.

9. Prices puppies at low end of local range, since most want to move pups quickly at 8 weeks or often younger.

10. No concern for the future of individual pups or breed as a whole. Doesn't employ AKC's limited registration option nor ask for spay/neuter contract to guard against breeding of substandard pets. If you can't keep the pup, s/he tells you to take it to dog pound or sell it.

The Responsible Hobby Breeder -

1. Is dedicated to producing quality dogs as a serious avocation. Has so much invested in dogs that s/he struggles to break even, rarely making a "profit." Will sell pups only to approved buyers.

2. Can explain how and why the breeding was planned, with emphasis on specific qualities through linebreeding or outcrossing.

3. Has breeding stock x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia and tests for other genetic faults. Can produce certification to prove claims.

4. Lifetime commitment to replace a dog with genetic faults or to help owner deal with problem.

5. Loves the breed and can talk at length about the breed's history, background, uses, and ideal type.

6. Has a serious investment in dog equipment such as puppy pens, crates and grooming tables and knows how to use it.

7. Belongs to and is actively involved with local or national dog clubs which indicates a love for the sport and welfare of dogs as a whole. Exhibits his/her own dogs at dog shows on a regular basis as an objective test of how their stock measures up to The Standard. Can identify ownership and whereabouts of all dogs listed on pedigrees.

8. Shows litter and other family members in a sanitary environment.

9. Prices will be at medium to high end of local range, not cut-rate. Price won't reflect all that is invested in pups.

10. After purchase, will help with grooming or training problems. Will take back pup you can't keep rather than see it disposed of inappropriately. Sells companion quality only with spay/neuter agreement or limited AKC registration.

Apr 16, 2013

New Puppy!

That's right! He's finally here! After months of planning and weeks of waiting for him to be born and then waiting for him to be ready to come home... our new Standard Poodle Puppy is home and acclimating to his new pack.

Let me introduce our little hairy bundle of love...


Apr 10, 2013

Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 package trimmed Brussels sprouts
salt and ground black pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste


Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers, and cook garlic, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Stir in onion and cook until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Add Brussels sprouts to the skillet and cook without stirring until the undersides of the sprouts turn golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir to turn sprouts over, and cook other sides until golden brown, another 5 to 7 minutes.

Season with salt, black pepper, and lemon juice.

Shrimp Scampi


1 pound large (16-20 count) shrimp, shelled and de-veined*
3-4 garlic cloves, slivered, or 1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice

*Whether you prepare the shrimp shell on or off is really up to you. Cooking the shrimp with the shells still on will impart more flavor, but they are much messier to eat. Shelling the shrimp before cooking them will make the shrimp a lot easier to eat and you can save the shells for shellfish stock if you want.


1. Heat a sauté pan on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, foams up and subsides, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for a minute, or until you see the edges of some of the garlic just beginning to brown.

2. As soon as the garlic begins to brown, add the shrimp to the pan. Then add the white wine and stir to combine and coat the shrimp with the butter, oil, and wine. Spread the shrimp out in an even layer in the pan. Increase the heat to the highest setting and let the wine boil vigorously for 2-3 minutes.

3. Turn the shrimp over, or toss them so the cooked sides are mostly facing up, and boil the wine for another minute. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and black pepper.

Serve alone, with crusty bread, over pasta, or over rice (for gluten-free version).

Serves 4.

Apr 9, 2013

Spinach and Tofu Soup

Easy, fast, and amazingly flavorful. Use the crinkly-leaved Savoy spinach for this recipe. It stands up better than the smooth-leaved baby types.

8 oz fresh Savoy spinach
1/2 block firm tofu
2 T. vegetable oil
1t. salt
2 1/2 c. water
2 T. soy sauce (add more if desired)
1 t. toasted sesame oil

To prepare:
Wash spinach well to get rid of any grit or sand, then remove the stems and ribs from the leaves. Spin or shake off excess water and dry well. Chop the leaves roughly but fairly small.

Cut tofu into small pieces and set aside.

In a wok or saucepan, heat the oil. Add the spinach and stir fry it until soft, then add salt and water or stock. Bring liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down and add tofu and soy sauce.

Cook for just another two to five minutes. Remove from heat, add the sesame oil, season with more salt and some pepper if desired, and serve hot.

I added sesame seeds for fun and next time I will cut the salt by half. We're not really salt people. :)

Sautéed Tofu and Spinach

This recipe is SUPER EASY and delicious!! I am usually not a big fan of tofu, but I am trying to incorporate more if it into our diet.

Minutes to Prepare: 5
Minutes to Cook: 10
Number of Servings: 4


1 T. olive oil
Extra firm tofu, one 1 lb. block
Spinach, about 1 pound
Garlic, 3 cloves
Tamari soy sauce, reduced sodium, 3 tbls.
Sesame Seeds (optional)


Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large pan over mediium heat.
Cube a block of extra firm tofu and add to hot oil.
As the tofu heats, wash and destem the spinach, and tear up the larger pieces, then add it to the tofu.
Chop 3 cloves of garlic and add.
Lower heat and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted.
Drizzle with the soy sauce and serve.
Combine Sesame Seeds (optional)

Apr 3, 2013

Neufchatel & Cream Cheese - What's the diff?

They're always right next to each other at the store, in nearly identical packaging: cream cheese and Neufchâtel. I've always gotten cream cheese, more out of habit than anything else. But the other day I realized that I don't really know what Neufchâtel is.

I found, at the origin of this comparative study, what original Neufchâtel actually is: a French cheese dating back to the 6th century, named after a town of the same name, in Normandy. Some argue that Neufchâtel is the oldest known cheese in France, and its make process remains quite similar to the original methods of production.

Cheese lore tells of a cheesemaker who, in an effort to replicate the cheese in America, ended up with a result more similar to cream cheese than to Neufchâtel. While the French version uses only milk, the American one uses milk and cream. It is this American incarnation that I've always wondered about at the store, in that 8-ounce, rectangular block, and it indeed tastes much more like cream cheese than the French cheese that inspired its creation. Another point to note: Neufchâtel in France is made with raw milk, while Neufchâtel in America gets pasteurized.

On paper, the main distinction between the two cheeses is their fat content: While cream cheese by law must contain at least 33% milk fat and not more than 55% moisture, American Neufchâtel weighs in with about 23% milk fat and slightly higher moisture content.*

Flavor-wise, Neufchâtel isn't too different from cream cheese. Both are dense, milky, slightly tangy, and spreadable. We all know the flavor of cream cheese quite well; Neufchâtel is just ever-so-slightly less rich tasting.

Mystery solved.

* Source: The New Food Lover's Companion.

Apr 2, 2013

Warm Weather & Food Choices

Now that the weather is starting to warm up I've been thinking about recipes for lighter foods. Lighter food help our bodies deal with hot weather. Coping with summer's heat should include eating lighter foods that provide energy and nutrition! Popular food choices during summer months include fruits, vegetables, sandwiches and salads.

At one time, it was said that warm foods stick to your ribs. Warm foods (such as soup) actually help us generate the extra heat we need to keep us warmer in the winter. But in the summer, we want to eat lighter foods. We still need calories, but we don't need the additional warmth that can come with the calories of heavier foods.

Fruits and vegetables are popular summer food choices made easier because grocery stores and farmers markets (ours opens on April 13th) carry a wide selection. In addition, many fruit and vegetable selections look like they'll have a bit of a cooling effect on the body.

Produce also is less expensive and more eye-appealing in the summer.

In addition to helping with hydration during hot weather (fruits and vegetables are high in fluid), produce is easier to digest and is not going to weigh us down. For most of us, summer is a high-energy time, and our activity levels increase during the summer.

Advice for eating light and providing nutrition for the body is to "stick to the basics." Important foods to eat include:

· Grains and cereals. These foods supply important carbohydrates, or basic energy. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain foods every day.

· Fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruits, rather than fruit juice, for most of your choices. Eat more dark green and orange vegetables, as well as beans and peas throughout the week.

· Protein foods, such as fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Protein is especially important for growing children. It also helps keep skin healthy.

In warm weather, it is also important to drink eight to 10 cups of liquid per day; caffeine-free drinks are best because caffeine has a slight dehydrating effect.

The food and physical activity choices you make every day affect your health, how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future. Choose lighter foods for energy and nutrition during the hot weather!

Weight Loss Goals

I've decided that with the beginning of April there will also be a new beginning for some serious health changes for me. Being Vegetarian and Belly Dancing twice a week just is not enough to get me to my overall health and weight loss goals. I have decided to lose 40 pounds by September 1st.

I have always been "big boned". In fact, I cannot remember a time when my weight was below 200 lbs. At my height (5'8") and with my bone structure I was happy and very comfortable at 220 lbs. Unfortunately, it's been awhile since I have seen that number on the scale as well.

When I was pregnant with Tallulah I actually lost weight instead of gaining weight for the better part of my pregnancy. After her birth I weighed less than when I initially got pregnant. Over the past two years my weight has fluctuated, albeit not by much.

With the big 3 - 0 looming in the horizon and the prospect of having another baby in the future it is time to get my butt in gear! I have enlisted some help (my cousin Anna @ - She's fabulous!) and put support people in place (family & friends) to help keep me motivated and on target. This goal is attainable!

Some of the biggest changes to my current lifestyle will be cutting out sweet teas and sodas, having a more defined exercise routine, and paying more attention to what I eat/counting calories. (Vegetarian isn't synonymous with "healthy".) I will officially start this lifestyle change when I get home from vacation. Wish me luck!

Mar 26, 2013

It's Raining Salads!

I have never been much of a salad eater. For one thing, about half of the ingredients that go into typical salads are items that I simply do not like. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers.... to name a few. I have always been picky because I am a texture eater.

When trying to eat healthier and exclude meats, salads are probably one of the first meal ideas that comes to most people's mind. Here are a couple of salads that even a picky eater like me can really get behind!

Asian Inspired Salad

This salad is super easy and tastes great! Just toss your greens of choice with carrot slices, mandarin oranges, almond slivers, rice noodles and sesame sticks! Serve with Balsamic or Ginger dressing. You can add red onions and other veggies as you see fit.

Taco Salad

This salad is a house favorite. It's hearty and there's no dressing required! I use mixed spring greens as my salad base and add shredded carrots, black beans, salsa, shredded cheese (Mexican blend), slices of avocado and a dollop of sour cream. I usually add grape tomatoes to Mark's serving and sometimes onions.

Homemade Water Color Paints

These are SUPER-easy to make. These homemade watercolor paints cost me next to nothing, and they turned out so much better than I imagined they would!

You’re going to love how simple this recipe is. You probably already have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.

What you’ll need:

4 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp corn starch
Food coloring
container to keep your paints in – I used a vintage mini muffin tin.

 What you’ll do:

Mix your baking soda and vinegar together and wait for the fizzing to stop. It’s handy if you mix in a container that has a spout (I used a measuring cup).

Add your corn syrup and corn starch, and mix well until the corn starch has dissolved.

Pour into your container.

Now, get out your colors and have some fun! Stir food coloring into paint mix for about a minute to make sure the color is mixed in well.

If you’re using liquid colours, you may have to add about 6 drops to get the intense colour that you ‘re looking for. I added a pinch of extra corn starch to compensate for the extra liquid.

You have to let your paints “set up” and dry which could take up to 2 days.

Once they’re hard, simply grab a paint brush and some water and get painting!! I couldn’t wait to try mine, and I was really impressed when I did. The paints glide on smoothly, the colours look super. Honestly, they are nicer than any of the kiddy watercolor paints I’ve used before. They’re a little chalky when they dry, but not nearly as chalky as the dollar store paints.

I also think the muffin tin will be much better than those shallow trays that kids’ paint usually comes in. With the shallow trays, the colors get muddy quickly when the little ones drag their brushes all over the tray, sloshing water around and mixing the colors together. I’m hoping our colors stay a little “cleaner".

Another Perk - Homemade watercolor paints don’t stain!

Have fun!

Mar 25, 2013

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour *
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth. Stir in dry milk, sea salt, and dried parsley (if using, optional). Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface (can use the brown rice flour) and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ – depending on your dog’s chew preferences, – and use biscuit or other shape cutter to punch shapes, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go. Place shapes on cookie sheet, no greasing or paper necessary. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on rack before feeding to dog.

*Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch and promotes better dog digestion. Many dogs have touchy stomachs or allergies, and do not, like many people I know, tolerate wheat.

Makes up to 75 small (1″) biscuits or 50 medium biscuits

Mar 17, 2013

Family Walks

With the impending addition to our family in the form of a puppy who will need daily walks for his health and happiness, we decided to establish a family walk routine. This routine, which we began today, consists of 2 thirty minute to hour long walks. One walk will be in the morning before Mark heads to work and the other will be in the evening before we do our nighttime routine.

Typically it is unusual for Tallulah and I to even see Mark in the mornings. We tend to start our day as he is heading out door. This does mean having an earlier start to our day, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

And what are those benefits?

~ Quality and uninterrupted time as a family: Being outdoors and breathing fresh air promotes a sense of calmness that can lead to bonding time and better conversations.

~ Health benefits: A brisk 30 min exercise is a great way to include cardiovascular exercise and cut calories out in your daily routine.

~ Leading by example: We´re setting a great example for Tallulah by modeling good healthy exercise habits that can reap future benefits in her attitude towards exercise.

~ Both Tallulah and our future puppy will get to work off their excess energy! (This is more a benefit for me then them. Haha.)

Do you have a daily family-time routine? How has it benefited the health of your family?

Mar 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Waffle Sticks

Vegan Chocolate Chip Waffle Sticks


1 cup of unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup apple sauce
Vegan chocolate chips, or a chopped up chocolate bar

Do I need to write instructions on how to make waffles on a waffle maker? Didn't think so. Top with your favorite toppings. I like to use powdered sugar and syrup. ;) Enjoy your breakfast!

Mar 12, 2013

The Clichy Inn

As our wedding day gets nearer and nearer our excitement and anticipation only grows!

At first we were going to have our guests stay in a hotel while we stayed at the cottage at our wedding location, The 1812 Hitching Post. However, with the impending addition of our new family member (our puppy-to-be, Klaus) we needed to find a place that was pet-friendly. We also decided that it would be nicer if the entire wedding party stayed at the same location. A B&B was suggested by Wendy at the 1812 Hitching Post and what a fabulous idea that was!

Having such a small wedding has its perks! Intro The Clichy Inn.

Located in historic downtown Statesville, NC. The Clichy Inn is on the National Registry of Historic Homes. It also happens to be within walking distance of the Italian restaurant we made reservations at for our wedding dinner! (More on that later.)

"Originally built in 1917 for Charles H. Turner. Mr. Turner invented farm tractor implements under the name: Turner Machinery. After several different owners the home was restored in 2004 and opened in 2005. It has been the ideal accommodation for business travelers, snowbirds, romantic getaways and family reunions. The Clichy Inn is a wonderful place to unwind."

As a turn of fate, they have just enough room for our entire party! We reserved the entire place for a 15% discount! Woot!

For more information on the Clichy Inn check out their website at:

Mar 10, 2013

1812 Hitching Post

For our wedding location we chose the 1812 Hitching Post. One of the main factors in our choice was finding a location that was all-inclusive. The 1812 Hitching Post is just that! On our wedding day we pretty much just have to show up and say our vows. They coordinate everything! They provide the ceremony officiate, set up the location and decorate it with your wedding colors, they provide a photographer, DJ and even include the wedding cake! Because your wedding day should be as stress free as possible! They have packages for every budget and wedding size.

They are very proud of their reputation. As well they should be! They were recently chosen as one of the top 5% of wedding venues in the nation for the 2nd year in a row. They are listed on The Knot as one of the top 10 historic wedding venue locations in North Carolina. They care deeply about the success of your wedding experience and want to help you achieve your dream.

The 1812 Hitching Post with its 18-room main house and 26 private acres of grounds is the only authentic antebellum plantation in the foothills of North Carolina dedicated exclusively to weddings and receptions. For more information visit

Mar 9, 2013

Wedding Music

Since our wedding is going to be so small I was having a difficult time coming up with music choices since our selection was limited by the amount of time available to us at our wedding location. My processional was the simplest choice because I've known what I wanted to walk down the "isle" to since I was 16. Haha. As for the rest of the music choices, I tried to match both of our taste in music, stay relatively current, coincide with our personalities, and comply with the tone we wanted to set. Voila! (Actually, it was more like... Hmmm, hmph, huh... Oh! Heh.)

Here is our relatively finalized music choices.

Bride’s Processional (walk in) -
"Where You Are" by FFH

Recessional -
"Marry You," Bruno Mars

First dance (if any) -
"Overjoyed," Matchbox Twenty

Other requested music for reception -
"Ho Hey," The Lumineers
"Kiss Me," Ed Sheeran
"Bruises," Chairlift
"Dearest," The Black Keys
“Firework” - Katy Perry
"The Reason" - Hoobastank

And here is a link to the Youtube Playlist for your listening enjoyment. :)

Mar 5, 2013

This Lovely Hectic Life

Posts may slow down a little bit over the next couple of months. Life is hectic, but lovely and I wouldn't have it any other way!

It's already March and the weather continues to improve. This year marks a lot of new beginnings for me and my little family. For one thing, we've decided to add a new member to it. We will be welcoming home a male brown and white parti standard poodle puppy the Monday before my daughter's birthday.

You can see a video of the litter at one week old here:

Getting ready to have a puppy is very similar to getting ready for a new baby. You have to acquire all of the necessary supplies, "puppy proof" your home, discuss training methods with your partner to make sure everyone is on the same page, and set up a new routine that will work for everyone involved. If you don't take these preliminary steps then introducing a new animal to your home will be more work and stress than it should be for both the humans and canines involved.

April 20th marks my daughter's 2nd annual. :) It's almost surreal thinking about the fact that I will have a two year old in such a short amount of time, but there it is! She's growing up so fast and every day I can see the light inside of her shining ever more brightly. I have never loved anyone more or been more proud of anything in my life. Sometimes I just look at her in sheer awe. I cannot wait to see what this next year brings for her.

Not much more than a month later her father and I officially "tie the knot" in an intimate ceremony at The 1812 Hitching Post in Harmony, NC. Even though we are going on our 3rd year of being together, this wedding is coming up quickly. We only decided to get married officially right around Yule. 5 months is really not that long to plan everything out and get everything situated! Luckily our chosen event location offers packages so that I don't have to stress about EVERY detail. It may be small, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be my own version of perfect!

Here is their website if you would like more information on The 1812 Hitching Post:

Then, probably in the beginning or middle of June, we're off to Oregon for a couple of weeks to visit Mark's parents. I've never been to Oregon before so I am hoping to get in some amazing outdoor and Portland visiting time. :) I only hope Tallulah does well on our flights to and from.

On July 13th and 14th I will be premiering my business, Afet, in my first vending role at the Down East Bellydance and Drum Fest in New Bern, NC. How exciting!

That put us just over halfway through the year! The rest of the year should be a piece of cake after all of the excitement of the first half.

So there you go! When posts go a little slack in the next few months please don't hold it against me. It's just life being, well, life! On the plus side, having so much going on will certainly give me some interesting things to write about when things settle down. ;)