Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Since we have a new member in the family this year it was time for another photo holiday card.  I think we all know that these can be a little cheesy at times, so we decided to just go with it.  We got reindeer antlers for everyone in the family and I picked up some snowflake decorations at the dollar store for a more scenic backdrop.

Obviously, getting all three critters to cooperate for a picture would be hard enough, but while also wearing funny little hats was going to be quite the challenge.  We knew a timer wasn't going to cut it for this, so we asked our friend Blake to come over and help us.

I moved all of our bedroom furniture to one side to clear a space so we could have a blue background and then taped up the snowflakes.  First we put our antlers on since we knew that once the animals were wearing them we wouldn't have any free hands.  Then Dash got his since he usually forgets that he's wearing things like this after a few minutes.  Next was Lenny; although he's certainly not a fan of any outfit, overall he's pretty cooperative.  Waldo was last and the toughest, so we made sure everyone else was ready before he got dressed.  Then I found where Waldo was hiding, plopped him on the bed, put his antlers on and rushed into our room since we knew he wouldn't tolerate this cruelty for long.

Blake snapped away as we tried to keep all three animals in the frame and looking the right direction.  Luckily he was able to get some good shots before Waldo made his exit.

So without further ado, I present to you our holiday card picture for 2010:

And of course, a few of the pictures that didn't quite make the cut:

Earlier in the day we took Dash to the dog park and afterward when he was passed out on his bed I couldn't resist putting his antlers on him.

And a million thanks to Blake, we couldn't have done this without you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowy Play Date

Last Saturday our old foster Blitz (now Ronin) came over with his big brother Henry for a play date with Dash.  We were happy to hear that Ronin is settling into his new home.  He gets along well with Henry - they even lay together sometimes!  Aside from chewing a stair railing and the odd accident he's been pretty well behaved. 

We got about 4 inches of snow the night before which made the event all the more exciting for the pups.  Dash and Ronin got right to wrestling; it was like Ronin never left at all!

Once in a while they'd take a short break from chase and wrestling to just play in the snow.  Dash liked to lay on his belly and pull himself along the ground with his front legs while dragging his back legs behind him.

This is Henry, Ronin's big brother.  He wanted to get in on more of the chase and wrestling action but one of his knees is bothering him (he's already had surgery on it once), so he had to be kept on a leash most of the time so he wouldn't play too hard and hurt himself.


Ronin and Dash would sometimes have a little starting contest before leaping at each other.  A lot of the time they would be standing on either side of a tree so they couldn't see each other.

Every now and then Dash and Ronin would come play over near Henry, so he would try to jump in.

I just like this one because it looks like Dash is telling Henry a secret about Ronin.

The dogs also found a really big stick in the yard to play with, so that kept them occupied for a good long time!

At one point Henry got a hold of a big stick, too, but in true little brother form, Ronin came over and stole it

So Henry ended up chewing on a tiny stick, even though he was the biggest dog.

By the end of the afternoon all three of them were tuckered out and covered in snowballs!

We had so much fun seeing how Ronin has grown (he's taller than Dash now!) and letting the dogs have play around and get some energy out!  The first of many playdates!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Fall means pumpkins!  Well, and a bunch of other stuff.  But one of my favorite things about fall is baking pumpkin goodies.  I decided to make some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to add a little twang to the sweetness instead of the usual buttercream frosting.  They were oh so delightful, it was hard not to eat them all in one sitting!

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups canned or pureed pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or whatever proportional combo you like best of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and maybe some ginger)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the sugar, oil and apple sauce.  Add the pumpkin and vanilla and then beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix all of the dry ingredients in another bowl, then slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients.

Grease a mini muffin tin or use baking cups (I found some really cute ones at Michael's for about the same price as the plain white ones).  Fill about two thirds of the way.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and then flip the cupcakes out onto a cooling rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling make the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
5-6 cups powdered sugar (can add more for thicker frosting)
2 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, then gradually add the powdered sugar and finally the vanilla (and any food coloring you may want to use).

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

You'll end up with a lot of frosting, so unless you like gobs of frosting on your cupcakes, I recommend halving the recipe (I ended up with a bunch leftover; not that having some extra frosting in the house is a terrible thing!).  This frosting is fairly soft, but if you want to firm it up a bit just add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.  The frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated.

Inspiration for cupcake recipe found here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blitzed Out

I guess first of all, it turns out Blitz isn't a Leonberger mix.  A guy from the Leonberger rescue came out to meet him and said that he's not a Leo at all.  So we're going to go with Shepherd mix.  I still think he's got some Giant Breed dog in him, though.  So my new best guess is that he's a Shepherd and Newfoundland mix.  I finally got a chance to weigh him and at about 6 months old he weighs 60 pounds, but is definitely still underweight by 5-10 pounds.  Really, it doesn't matter what breed Blitz is or isn't.  What we do know is that he's going to be a very large, very awesome dog.

The weekend before Halloween we had a party where we invited friends to come over and carve pumpkins.  We always carve pumpkins in our screen room, which is essentially in the backyard, so of course we let the dogs run around and play while we played, too.  I knew our friends Meaghan and Eric would love Blitz because they love big dogs and his personality was right up their alley.  While we were carving pumpkins Thomas and I could both see how taken Meaghan and Eric were with Blitz. 

Later that week I talked to Meaghan about perhaps babysitting Blitz for us in the near future, that is, if he wasn't adopted the following Saturday.  She said she'd talk to Eric about it, but to definitely, definitely, text her after the adoption show to let her know if Blitz got adopted.

Saturday morning rolls around and as I'm driving Blitz to the adoption show Eric calls me.  Here's how it went down:

Eric: Hey, where's that adoption show you guys are at today?
Me: It at such and such roads in such a city.
Eric: Cool.  We'll be there in a few minutes.

And so just a few minutes after Blitz and I arrived, so did Meaghan and Eric.  They immediately filled out the paperwork; they said they just couldn't let anyone else adopt him.  So that was that and I sent Blitz home with them.

Blitz is now named Ronin and is getting along quite well with his doggy brother, Henry.  I'm so excited that Meaghan and Eric adopted Blitz.  They are really amazing dog parents; few people would go to the lengths that they do for their pups.  And on top of that this also means we'll get to see Blitz grow up and Dash will get to have play dates with him.

Here are two pictures of Ronin from his first weekend in his forever home

Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stove Top Pumpkin Seeds

Last weekend we had several friends over for a Pumpkin Carving Party.  So with at least 15 large pumpkins being carved, you can imagine we had a lot of seeds!  Luckily our friend Mary prefers sorting out the seeds from the guts to the actual carving so we ended up with a large bowl full of seeds.

I mean really large.  Here's the bowl with a can of pop for size reference.  It was over 5 pounds of pumpkin seeds!

With so many seeds to toast the idea of laying them all out on a cookie sheet to bake them seemed arduous.  So while I decided what to do I soaked the seeds in heavily salted water for a day in the fridge and then drained them and popped them back in the fridge for most of another day.

Instead of baking them I used a large pan on the stove.  I used just a tiny bit of olive oil, just enough for a super thin layer to coat the pan, maybe 1 tablespoon.  I put it over medium heat and once the oil was hot tossed in enough seeds to cover the bottom of the pan.

Every few minutes stir around the seeds to make sure they're getting cooked on both sides.  Cook for a total 8-12 minutes, depending on how much moisture your seeds retained.  Once cooked dump the seeds onto a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil and salt to taste.

They turned out really good; I don't normally like pumpkin seeds much but these were delicious and made the whole house smell nicely of pumpkin seeds.

Obviously we weren't going to eat 5 pounds of pumpkin seeds on our own, so I put them in cute bags to give our to our friends.