Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm killing my plants...send help...and water!

These are my beautiful plants.


I got them from my mom, Jon's mom, friends, stores, and so on.  I've multiplied them.


I've made them into the grown up plants they are today.

However, lately, I've been having some issues.


I'm multiplied them into so many plants that I'm having a hard time keeping up with them.


As a result, they're starting to die.


They're looking sad and thirsty.  And neglected.


They don't really deserve it, but I just can't keep up!



So please. Send help.


And water.


Lots of water.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't wake the beast

I've been playing with my camera settings.  The dogs make good subjects.
Hello Princess Cailey.

Whatcha doin'?

Why don't you jump into bed with us while daddy's sleeping?  It's so much comfier.

And what have we here?  Why hello drama queen.  Do you think this is dramatic enough to gain access to the bed?

You're getting closer.

There's my drama queen.  This looks just pathetic enough.

Ah! Heaven.  You love cuddling up in bed, don't ya Bubba?


Careful, muffins.  You don't want to wake the beast that will kick you out of bed.

The beast!  Sure, he looks all cute and innocent now.

Uh oh!  Now you did it.

See what you did?  Now you're banished back to the floor until the beast falls asleep again.

Monday, March 29, 2010

5 puppy training tips

One of my best friend just got her first puppy!  And there's nothing that I love more than giving puppy advice.  Or talking about puppies.  Or holding puppies.  Or smelling their delicious mocha smell.  Ok, I've obviously lost track of where I was going here.

Anyways, this isn't really a top 5 but I figure I'd throw 5 puppy tips out there to new puppy owners or just anyone who's interested.  Over the past 5 years I've read about 5 million books, articles, and posts about dog training and participated in many puppy and dog behavior classes.  This doesn't make me a professional or an expert, but I'd like to think I'm a pretty dang good dog trainer, especially when I pay attention to my own advice. So without further background chat from me,



5 puppy training tips that I've learned over the years:
1.  A mistake that your dog makes is always your fault and never your dog's fault.  Especially when it comes to potty training your puppy.  Dogs are not humans, they are not babies (I know - hard to tell that from my dogs, right?).  They don't go out of their way to make your life miserable.  They're dogs.  So when you don't notice that your puppy had to go and couldn't hold it anymore, it's not his fault.  It's yours.  When you leave something of interest on the floor and your puppy chews it up, that's your fault too.   But don't be too hard on yourself.  They're just puppies after all. 

2.  Exercise, exercise, exercise.  I can't stress this one enough.  A tired dog is a good dog.  The more energy they drain running, playing, walking is less energy left over for mischief.

3.  Consistency is key.   Pick a tactic, a command, a gesture, a rule and stick to it.  Dogs learn by your consistency.  So if you're telling your dog "no" when they jump on the couch and then cuddle them the next time they do it, how are they to guess what you want?  Heck, even I'd be confused.

4.  Have fun.  When training, you have to have fun.  If you're not enjoying it, it's work for both of you.  If you notice that you're getting frustrated, end the training session.  But try to end on a good note - like a command you know your puppy knows for sure.

5.  Don't praise any behavior that you don't want repeated.  This is a big one, but a tough one.  If your puppy bites the sleeve of your shirt and you find it SOOO adorable, just imagine your full grown dog chewing the sleeve of an expensive shirt your friend is wearing when they are over your house.  If that's not something you want to see repeated, ignore the bad behavior and redirect.  For chewing habits, firmly but calmly say "no" then grab a new toy and praise when she plays with it.  For jumping up, turn away and ignore your puppy then when he sits down, confused, turn your attention back to him and praise.  This goes for whining, barking, and being scared too.

So these work for puppies.  Tactics with older dogs will vary especially when trying to break an existing habit.  I'll have to post those another time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Travis the Diva

While I was making the Cream Cheese Brownies, the pups were sitting around, waiting for me to take a break and play with them.

Once I put the brownies in the oven, Travis brought me a toy to play with.

It's that little rope toy that he looks disinterested in.  It's a game we play.  He pretends not to want it until I pick it up.  Then he pounces.  Until this one moment when Cailey pounced faster.

I wasn't expecting this so I didn't change the setting on my camera.  Anyways, Cailey just stole Travis' toy.

Travis doesn't understand how or why this happened.

I don't know if you see it, but he's really upset.  And Travis is kind of a diva, so he does what he does best.  He takes the dramatic route.

This is Travis' dramatic exit.  He will lay down next to what he really wants, letting out an almost silent little whine to let you know he's really upset.

When you do nothing about it, he will lift his head up a bit to make sure that you are paying attention, then put it back down and let out a slightly louder whine.  Just to remind you how upset he really is.

When you still do nothing, he will just let our a very loud sigh.  Drama queen.

And what about Cailey in all this?  Cailey's just calmly chewing her prize.

Cream Cheese Brownies

This recipe is from a Betty Crocker cookbook that Jon's mom gave him when he moved out for the first time.  I'm not sure he's ever used it, but I live by it.  And this is my favorite recipe - Cream Cheese Brownies.


Funny story: when Jon's mom was pregnant with him she craved cream cheese brownies.  In fact, one night she made Jon's dad get up in the middle of the night and go out to get the ingredients to make cream cheese brownies.  When he came back, she was asleep.  I think it was meant to be - my love for these cream cheese brownies.  Like my love for the goon sitting next to me, eating Ramen Noodles.

Anyways, back to the cream cheese brownies.  Start by heating the oven to 350 degrees and greasing a 13 x 9 x 2 pan on the bottom and sides with some shortening.



I actually have no idea how big this pan is, but it looks just right.

Another fun fact - baking is the only time that I follow recipes.  I can't stick to any recipe when I cook, but something about baking scares me.

Here is what we'll need for the brownies:
1 cup butter or stick margarine (I use the 65% vegetable oil instead; you know, because THAT will save me from the high cholesterol that follows)
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
Cream Cheese Filling
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened (I actually usually just buy a 16-ounce contained of soft cream cheese or Neufchatel to trick my mind into thinking these really aren't that bad.  This time I'm using the full-fat cream cheese.  Cuz I'm daring this morning)
0.5 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg


Here we are.  And this is my butter and cream cheese sitting on a heating stove to make sure they're nice and soft.

I obviously shop at Stop & Shop.  Also, I buy store-brand items.  Because they're cheaper and I have a house that eats all my money.

And like I said, I'm daring today; hence - real butter.  I'm making these for 9 girls ready for a fun bachelorette night out.  As evident, I also left out the nuts in case someone drinks too much.  Nuts are really delicious going down, but kind of a pain when they come back up.  Now are you ready for the brownies or have you walked away, shaking your head in disgust?

Oh! And I use these.  Somehow I got these from my mom a really long time ago.  I love them - they are the ultimate mixing bowls - they let absolutely nothing stick to them.

So, with the oven preheating, start by melting the butter and chocolate in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.



Try not to pay any attention to the large amount of butter you're about to consume.  Just think of the chocolate.

The dark, delicious chocolate.  Once everything is totally melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Now make the Cream Cheese Filling by beating all the ingredients together until smooth.

I love when the cream cheese has a nice shape to it.  It's like building a sand castle.

And here is my favorite mixer that my mom gave us as an engagement gift.  I heart it.

Perfect.  Set aside.

Beat the chocolate mixture, sugar, vanilla and eggs in another large bowl with your electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.
 Look away from the big mound of sugar that you are about to consume.  
 Mmm I love the smell of vanilla extract.

Eggs- less exciting.


Okay, I know it doesn't look that great all dumped into a bowl like that, but trust me, it'll be delicious.

Mix it all together, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Then beat in flour and salt on low speed for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 1 minute.
 It should look nice and smooth.

This is where you could stir in some nuts, but we're going to skip right over that part.

Spread about 1/2 of the batter in the pan.
Then make cute little mounds of cream cheese filling on top.

Then spread them out to make a nice little layer of cheesy goodness.

Now drop the remaining batter in more cute little chocolate mounds randomly over the filling.

Wipe mouth to prevent the drool from going right into the brownies.  Then spread it out carefully to cover all the cream cheesiness.

Stick in the oven for 45-50 minutes.  You can check if it's ready by inserting a toothpick in the center and watching it come out clean.  If it's not clean, try to gain the strength to put the brownies back in the oven rather than eating the raw batter.

Also, try not to sit over the oven and watch the timer.  It doesn't make the brownies cook any faster.  Trust me.  I've tried.

I'd post the finished product, but I ran out of time and didn't get a chance to take the pictures before the girls dug in.

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