Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meet Cyrene!

On Saturday this sweet little girl made her way from Central Illinois up to us on a transport.

For the uninitiated, a transport consists of people driving short legs of a longer journey with dogs that are being rescued.  Occasionally a large (huge, really) van will be used to move around 30 dogs all at once, in which case that vehicle usually does most of the journey on its own.  Transports routinely cover 300+ miles.  These dogs would be put to sleep if it were not for the generosity of these folks, and of course the fosters and rescues that take them in once they reach their destination.  Truly a group effort.

Cyrene was an owner surrender.  The state was requiring her owner to have her spayed and microchipped.  He didn't like the idea of that so she was abandoned at a vet's office and that was the end of that.  Luckily for Cyrene, she was saved by a rescue and of course one of the first things we did was have her spayed and microchipped!

Cyrene is an absolute sweetheart and Thomas and I have a hard time wrapping our heads around how someone could get rid of this little girl.  Her little nub of a tail wags faster than any dog I've seen.  She is so well behaved and the very definition of a velcro Aussie.  Cyrene knows her basic commands and aspires to be a lap dog.  But when she's not trying to get you to pet her, she wants to run around and play.

She pals around with Dash and is fine with the cats (phew!).  She's 4 years old and a petite girl at 35 pounds with a whole lot of love to give and life to live!  We're sure Cyrene will score a forever home in no time at all as soon as she's done healing from her spay.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brown Sugar Peaches

When my parents came to visit us last weekend they brought along a bunch of peaches and other produce from a farm stand off exit 39 of I-94 in Michigan.  Everything that they got from there was incredibly good.

We all ate at least one peach every day, but after a week we still had several left and they needed to be eaten before they went bad.  I decided to cook some peaches and put them over pound cake.

After tossing this idea around in my head for most I started to get everything ready.  As I was washing the peaches I wondered if I should look up a recipe but realized that since my plan involved butter, brown sugar and fruit it would be nearly impossible to go wrong, so I decided the wing it.  Here's what I did:

3-4 Tbs butter
3-4 Tbs brown sugar
4 peaches, sliced
2 generous slices of poundcake

Start off by washing and slicing the peaches.  If you cut all the way around what looks like the seam of the peach and back again then you can just twist the two halves apart.

Then remove the pit and slice each half into 4-6 pieces.

Put the butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium/low heat and began to melt it.  Then add the brown sugar.  Make sure you stir it around so it doesn't burn in the pan.  Once the sugar is fully dissolved add the peaches.  Stir them around to coat.  Allow the peaches to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring periodically and flipping the peaches over.

Then all you have to do is spoon your peaches and the sauce over some pound cake (or ice cream) and enjoy!  This made for a delicious Saturday morning breakfast.

If you're watching your waistline (or your bloodsugar) you could cut the amounts of butter and sugar in half and it would still turn out great; you would just have less of the sauce.

I like to pretend it was healthy because of the fruit, but deep down inside I know that cooking the peaches removes a lot of vitamins, not to mention that the butter and sugar sort of cancel out any remaining redeeming nutritional value from the peaches.  But it was really delicious; the hubs said it was like peach cobbler.  He mentioned that it could probably have used a little cinnamon or nutmeg, so I'll probably toss in a little next time, but overall this was definitely a win!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Caramel Frosted Cupcakes

Not a huge departure from what I've done in the past, but who doesn't like chocolate and caramel together?  Just before girl's night this month I realized that we hadn't properly celebrated our friend Jen's birthday.  I remembered from a previous party that Jen had mentioned the only thing that could make these cupcakes any better would be if they had caramel inside them.  Unfortunately I didn't have the time to experiment with this idea (although I'd like to in the future!); I decided the next best thing would be caramel buttercream frosting on the chocolate cupcakes.

I used this cupcake recipe and used the buttercream seen there as a base for the frosting

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

12 oz (approximately) of unwrapped caramel candies
1 tsp water
1 cup butter, room temperature 
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla. Blend the sugar in one cup at a time.  You may need to stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure it all gets thoroughly incorporated.  Microwave the caramel and water in a separate bowl until melted and smooth.  Allow it to cool just a little bit and then temper it by adding about 1/2 cup of the butter-sugar mixture until smooth.  Then incorporate the caramel into the rest of the butter and sugar mixture.  Beat in the milk and vanilla and continue mixing until well incorporated.  Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.

The frosting is really fantastic and goes perfectly with the chocolate cake.  The caramel flavor isn't overwhelmingly strong, but you'll definitely know it's there and once in a while you get a nice chewy little piece of caramel that didn't get fully mixed in.  Yum!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dash's First Road Trip

In order to go up to Canada with Thomas' mom and sister we had to drive their home in Metro-Detroit.  Rather conveniently, my parents only live about 45 minutes away from them, so they very graciously babysat all 3 of our furry children.  Lenny and Waldo have made the trip back to Michigan many times and love visiting Grandma, Grandpa and their dog Keira.  They're also both great at riding in the car.  Dash likes going for car rides around town, so we were optimistic and he would fare well on the 5-6 hour drive.

Once we got started Dash looked out the window for a while and eventually laid down.  He actually had the most legroom out of anyone in the car.  He got the entire trunk area to himself while the cats and luggage were in the backseat and I had my purse and snacks for us in the front while Thomas drove.  Every once in a while Dash would pop his head up over the seat as if to ask "are we there yet?" and when he realized the answer was no he would just slowly sink back down.

Dash with his ear flipped inside out

looking out a different window

Lenny and Waldo hanging out in their carrier
 (look really closely behind Lenny's right ear and you can see the top of Waldo's head)

Dash is usually well behaved for us and is pretty well trained, but he still has his naughty moments, so while we knew that he would be well cared for by my parents we were just a little worried that Dash might be a bit of a handful.

When we got back from Canada a week later I sat down at the kitchen table to have a snack and saw this:

Let's take a closer look at that lovely picture of Dash on the side of the fridge, shall we?

My parents' phone number was listed below!

My dad said they tried to get rid of him but no one would talk him even though he was free!  No worries, though, that's just my dad's sense of humor and the sign made me laugh.

While we were gone my parents came up with some pretty ingenious ways to keep all of the animals comfortable.

The cats (espeically Waldo) don't like it when Dash comes barging into their room.  To make sure that the cats would always have access to my bedroom but Dash wouldn't be able to bother them, my parents tied a wire from my doorknob to my brother's and then placed a large can in between the door and the doorframe.  This ensured that the door couldn't open wide enough for Dash to get through but that it wouldn't get closed by accident either.

Keira needs some alone time when all of our critters invade her home, so my parents put two kitchen chairs at the base of the steps to keep Dash from going upstairs.  Unfortunately this fix only worked for about 2-3 days before he figured out how to push the chairs out of the way, but by then Keira wasn't minding him as much so it worked out alright.

As it turns out Dash was well behaved in our absence and is welcome to come back and stay any time (hurray!).

 My parents with Dash and Keira

Friday, August 20, 2010

Have No Fear

I'm not sure if Dash is some kind of canine traitor or just a super dog, but he could not care less about the vacuum cleaner.  Ever since it was invented, the vacuum has been on the Canine's Most Wanted list; dogs worldwide hoping to eradicate these beasts. 

But Dash lets me vacuum around him and really only gets up if I nudge him with it.  He even came over to say hi to me while I was using one of the attachments.  Not that I'm complaining, I'm pretty stoked that of all things Dash isn't afraid of vacuums.

I almost feel like it should be some kind of feel good story to be applied to our own lives; extending an olive branch to our enemies, overcoming our fears or maybe just not judging a book by its cover.  But then Dash goes crazy barking at the Swiffer and I think maybe he isn't quite ready for a Lifetime Channel movie just yet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reunited and it Feels So Good

If you were to check the cd player in my car the last 2 years of high school, odds are pretty good you'd find Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Good Charlotte (before they sold out!) or Something Corporate.  This was the soundtrack to my life.  Music that feels like a punch to the stomach, but in a good way.

So you can imagine my delight when at the Jack's Mannequin concert in February their frontman announced that he and the guitarist would be reuniting with Something Corporate after a 5 year hiatus at Bamboozle, a festival in May.  And my delight was only furthered at the Bamboozle show when he announced a reunion tour that would come through town in August.  Excited does not even begin to describe it.

As it turns out Something Corporate came to Milwaukee and not Chicago, but a mere 90 minute drive wasn't going to stop me.  So after work on the day of the concert Thomas and I hopped in the car and we made our way to America's Dairyland.

There were no opening acts and we arrived at The Eagle's Club about 20 minutes before the show started.  The main floor was already completely packed and we found ourselves on the balcony.  I wasn't thrilled about this since most of the action is really down on the main level and being on the balcony makes me feel somewhat removed from the stage; more like a spectator than a participant.  But Thomas scored us a spot behind a VIP section full of people who sat through the entire show, so that was great because we had a clear view of the stage.  I still had fun jumping around and enjoying every second of the show, but pretty much everyone else on the balcony was just standing there with the exception of a handful of people.  At this point Thomas would like to interject that I was dancing and jumping even when most of the people on the main floor weren't, but I stand by my previous assertion that the people who watch concerts from the balcony are generally a bunch of lame-o's.

Anyway, the concert was still awesome.  Something Corporate put on just as amazing of a show as they did when I saw them in the early 2000's.  They opened with Straw Dog, which they didn't play at Bamboozle but I was really hoping to hear.  As You Sleep also made its concert debut.  SoCo even played a b side from their second full length album, North, called Watch the Sky, which is my new favorite song of the moment.  They played almost all of the tracks from Leaving Through the Window and probably about half of North.  All around just as fabulous of a time as I had been expecting and leaves me feeling energized.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Smiley's Moving On

When we went to Canada we had to find a new temporary foster home for Smiley.  I was a little worried that no one would want to take him and that he would have to spend that time at the kennel.  The thought broke my heart because he more than other dogs really needs to be in a comfortable home with people around (some dogs are more resilient than others in a kennel setting).  Luckily within hours of a request being sent out for a temporary foster home someone stepped up and practically begged to take Smiley.  Up until recently she had always had Boxers and was missing the love.  What a relief!

A day before we left for Canada I met up with Kathleen, Smiley's new foster mom, to hand him off.  She was so excited to meet him and immediately loved his smooshy little face.  I gave her the run down on his care and personality since she would only have him a short time before the next adoption show so that she could answer any questions from potential adopters.  And then off they went!

Before we got back I emailed Kathleen to see how Smiley was doing and she said she had renamed him Charlie and that he was such a lover.  He's fitting in really well into her home with her two dogs and other foster dog.  Since Dash kept trying to wrestle with Smiley, which Smiley often didn't appreciate, I told Kathleen that she didn't have to give Smiley back to us if she didn't want to.  Turns out she was about to ask me the same thing!  So Smiley is going to stay with her until he gets adopted and we'll take another foster that is hopefully a little more up to dealing with Dash.  We're really happy that Smiley is in a home where he fits in so well and is getting spoiled with so much attention and love until he finds a forever home to give him the same.

So let's celebrate by looking at some pictures of Smiley basking in the sun, shall we?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is my kitchen during the dogs' meal times.

That's Dash and Smiley making out licking the spoon I used to scoop the yogurt for them.

Lately I've been giving the dogs some plain yogurt with their food.  Aside from just being healthy, it helps to, let's say, settle tummies and firm things up a bit, especially during a food transition.  We also found out it works small miracles when it comes to those epic Boxer farts that Smiley was so generously dishing out!

As a side note, I apologize for the hiatus the last two weeks; the hubs and I were on vacation in Canada (more on that later), but you can expect lots of updates in the next week or two!