inch by inch

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There is an old adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”, that most of you have heard a million times.  In other words, be generous to someone and the person will demand even more.

This maxim aptly applies when talking about dogs.  Ya’ give em’ an inch and before you know it they have taken over. Completely. Then demanding more.

Especially on the bed.  It starts off innocently enough, curled up on the bottom corner of the king-sized bed. Before you know it, it ends up with the canine fully stretched out on their back, paws in the air, laying diagonally across the mattress. Taking over the bed.  Right down to their head on the down pillows.DSC01135

As a puppy, Tiamo was not allowed on the bed.  Ever.  It was easy the first three to five months or so of her life.  The bed was too high for her to jump on, she was too little to reach the bed with her paws.  She had her own spot in the bedroom.  We had purchased a large dog pillow and placed it on the floor at the edge of the bed by my side.  That was Tiamo’s pillow, her bed.  With us, but not on us.  As she grew, as her muscles developed, she tried a few times to jump up on the bed.  Repeatedly.  But, Malcolm and I held firm.  Dogs were not allowed on the bed.  Even though she tried, Tiamo knew her place.  And, it wasn’t on the bed.  For two years Tiamo never put so much as a paw on the bed.  Until I caved.

It was one of those weeks when Malcolm was out-of-town visiting friends in Atlanta, I stayed home to hold down the fort.  Missing my honey, I was lonely and wanted comfort, even if it was canine comfort.  I called Tiamo up on the bed.  She wouldn’t budge off her pillow.  She knew better than to climb up on the bed and here I was encouraging her to misbehave. I tried again to get Tiamo to jump up and join me.  No luck. The good news was Tiamo was well-trained and wasn’t going to jump on the bed.  The bad news was, I was determined to have her up on the bed with me.  I literally picked her up and placed her on the bed.  Tiamo immediately jumped down, afraid she would be in trouble.  Again, I  picked her up and set her on the bed.  Again, she jumped off.  By the third attempt, Tiamo realized she was allowed on the bed.  She tucked herself into a small ball, curled up on the corner of the large bed and nervously fell asleep.  Sometime in the middle of the night, she crawled down off the bed onto her pillow.  She was uncomfortable on the bed.  I should have stopped there, but noooooo.

The next night was easier.  I picked up Tiamo and placed her on the bed where she lounged, spread eagle throughout the night, softly snoring by my side.  By the time Malcolm returned from his trip to Georgia, Tiamo was a fixture on the bed.  She had a special spot down on the corner keeping my feet warm.

Throughout the years, her small corner property increased in acreage.  Tiamo started to take up more and more territory on the bed. DSC01136 Her motto became “possession is nine-tenths ownership”.  Tiamo barely allowed us to sleep on her bed with a thin strip of mattress on the very edge of the bed.  Sometimes with blankets and covers, sometimes without.

I noticed dogs do the same thing with our hearts as they do the with bed.  We give them a little space, a tiny corner in bottom of our hearts and pretty soon they are on their backs, spread out all over our emotions.   With their paws extended over our souls, dogs will fill up every spare inch available, laying diagonally across our love, getting a belly rub in the meantime.  They will inch their way, paw by paw into ours hearts, hugging our spirit, licking through our defenses.  It doesn’t take much time.  In just seconds, they can have us willingly wrapped around each one of their paws.  In just minutes dogs can make our hearts sing and dance and smile, bringing contentment to our lives, compassion.  “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”.

Thank goodness!

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The black hole

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A sock goes missing.  Pens disappear.  Keys that were just in your hand are gone.  Eyeglasses lost.  The creamer that you placed on the kitchen counter after pouring yourself some coffee, vanished.  Your cell phone misplaced. The next scene shows you scratching your head as you wander around your house looking for the no-where-to-be-found items. Geez, you just had’em, where could they be?

You’re not senile, you’re not losing your mind, it’s not loss of memory, but damn, where could they be?

In my case, it was my cell phone.

At 6:30 a.m.

On a work day.

I checked my car, under the seats, between the console looking for my missing phone.  I re-checked my purse and all its pockets that has been my designated personal filing cabinet – no luck.  I’m not crazy, I just placed my whole connection to my life, my friends, my business associates on the table and now it’s  gone.  AWOL.  At first I was puzzled.  What did I do with my phone?  I just had it.

I retraced my steps, back tracked in my mind the rooms I had just been in.  I checked the coat I were wearing last, under pillows, behind cushions.  No where.  I patted down my back pants pockets, my front pockets, my chest pockets (phone shelf) and came up empty.  I grabbed my husband’s phone and dial my number only to hear nothing, not a peep.  I forgot that I had shut it off.  My photo album, my phone book, my email list – gone, gone, gone.  Now I was getting anxious.  Where was my phone?

The clock was ticking and I needed to be on my way to work.  I needed my phone.  I had a committee meeting and wanted to be a little early to work to set up the conference room.  I still had a little time but wanted to be on my way.   Amore was picking up on my anxious state, following me as I went from room to room hunting down my cell.  Dolce was nowhere to be found.

I have to admit, especially since I am talking a lost phone, I went from puzzled to anxious to frantic in about 60 seconds flat.  Maybe less.  The sounds from my heels tapping against the brick floor started clicking faster and faster in my desperation to locate my cell.  I was in frantic mode.  Amore was stirred up.  Dogs seem to pick up on their human folk’s emotional state and Amore had zeroed in on mine.  She started to run through the house barking her way from one end to the other.  Her barks were a beacon for Dolce, calling her in from the outside.  It’s standard procedure between the two of them, if one dog barks, the other will join in the chorus singing back-up.  The duet woke up Malcolm.  Crap!

“What the hell is going on?” a blurry eyed Malcolm growled.

“Can’t find my cell phone,” I tersely replied.  I was frustrated.

“And I need to get to work!”  I added.

“Try the pen.  Dolce has been frantically coming in and out of the pen for the last 15 minutes, making a racket with the dog door” he mumbled as he rolled back over in bed, pulling the covers up and over his head.

The only common wall between our dog pen and our house is in our master bath.  In our infinite wisdom, we placed the dog door in the bottom half of our linen closet in the bathroom.  It was brilliant move on our side.  The dog door is discrete, tucked inside the closet.  We can close it off any time, putting the lower shelves back in place and we can shut the door to either lock the dogs outside or in, depending on the situation.  It was also a stupid move on our side.  During the monsoon season of the summer months, Amore and Dolce track in mud and muck throughout the bathroom and into our master suite. During the winter months, they track in snow.  And, the worse of it, we hear the girls coming and going as the door flap swishes back and forth and back and forth.  Of course Malcolm heard the loud swish and swoosh as Dolce entered and left through the door as he laid in bed.

I trooped around the back to the dog pen, Amore and Dolce following close at my side.  Yep.  there lay my cell phone, under a dog-tagged bush.  Thankfully unharmed, unscathed.  Dolce was the culprit.  The phone perpetrator.  Our thief.   There was the beginnings of a hole being dug to the left of my phone.  Fresh dirt nosed into a small pile, letting me believe the evidence that Dolce was going to bury her prize, my phone.  That might have been a first, a dog buried cell phone. Her muzzle still had a sprinkle of dirt around the nose.

I wasn’t in the mood to laugh about it.  I snatched up my phone, wiped off the remaining dirt and hi-tailed it to work.  Later, after my committee meeting, after I was home from work, after my sense of humor kicked back in, I could chuckled over Dolce and the black hole.  Later, Malcolm and I would have a hoot over what else might be buried in the dog pen, laughing about what else is missing.

But not now!

Now, when something is missing, the pen is the first place we look.

found!

found!

For more tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

buffy

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City of Paris Dry Goods Company's Christmas tree -  a Christmas tree so big, it reaches the top floor!

City of Paris Dry Goods Company’s Christmas tree – a Christmas tree so big, it reaches the top floor!

When I was little, every November, my mother would take us girls into the city to go shopping.  Christmas Shopping.  Major get out the card, shop til’ ya drop type of shopping.  In one day, in one fell swoop, get it all done kind of shopping.  We lived in a small farming community in California, so a trip to San Francisco meant a grand adventure for my sisters and I.  It meant having a fancy lunch and if we were lucky some See’s chocolate!  It meant a ride on the cable car and some taffy candy down at the wharf.  It meant seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and huge ships in the bay.  But a shopping trip in November meant going to the City of Paris Department Store and seeing their five-story tall Christmas tree, a true wonderland for my eyes.

I remember one year, all of us kids got new Christmas togs.  New, not a hand-me-down-four-times-doesn’t-quite-fit-it’s-too-short Christmas dress, but brand new.  New, not home-made or sewn, but tags still on new.  A Christmas dress from the City of Paris.  I still remember that dress.  It was blue with red xylophone bars across the front and down to the hem line, gold cording over the bars.  It was a Buffy dress.  TV’s Family Affair, Buffy Davis wore one just like it in the show.  Oh how I loved that show and how I loved that dress.  At the time, I was six and a half, pudgy with freckles across my nose, a scraggly pixie hair cut and missing two front teeth.  Not exactly the cutest kid in the class, but when I put on my Buffy dress, I magically transformed into a princess.  A Buffy princess.  I’ve always believed, at some point, young or old, every girl needs a Buffy dress.  Something that makes their inner self shine, something that lets them feel beautiful and special, inside and out.

The other day, while at out and about at one of my favorite little shops in Santa Fe, I found the perfect Holiday outfits for Dolce and Amore.  And, I couldn’t resist.  Had to have them.  Didn’t care that Malcolm might get just a tiny bit cranky over some frivolous doggy purchase. Come hell or high water, I was buying.  I had found the ideal Buffy attire for them.  Something to make them feel beautiful.  Special.  Like a Buffy dog princess.

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Dolce loved her Buffy collar so much she wouldn’t let me take it off her.  Amore carried hers through out the house (I think she liked the jingle jangle from the little bells).  And Malcolm, he grabbed the camera to take pictures of our beautiful princesses.  He thought the collars perfect canine attire for the holidays!

Here’s to the Buffy in all of us!

For delicious recipes and tails of the dogs, purchase If it falls on the floor, it’s mine! cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823

Rules

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Coffee on Sunday mornings are a ritual.  That and the Sunday paper. It’s our lazy day of sleeping in, catching up on a few household chores, in general, not doing much.  That being said, we do have a few rules we follow:  Starting with the first rule of the day:  first one up starts the coffee.  Rule two:  Same one up takes the dogs up the driveway to retrieve the 5 lbs. worth of circulars and ads called the Sunday paper.  Since I’m the one usually turning on the coffee and getting the paper, for the next hour or two, the rules are forgotten……

Until Malcolm stumbles out of bed.

Obeying the Malcolm rule of “coffee before talkie”, I mumble a low murmured “Morn’in” and retreat back to what I was doing.  His reply greeting is equally low in tone, undistinguishable and usually interrupted by Dolce and Amore wanting their morning love. Dolce wiggling in between his legs for a back scratch, Amore jumping up for a hug.  Once satisfied, Malc is allowed to grab a mug of coffee, settle down on the couch with the paper, sports section first, and start his day.

Malcolm calls this the organization rule. Leave him alone so he can get organized.

First the coffee – heavy cream, two heaping spoonfuls of dark brown sugar, a little cinnamon sprinkled on the top and nuked for 30 secs in the microwave.  Couch prep follows.  Pillows are arranged just so, the end table brought close enough for reach but far enough to avoid tail destruction of the coffee, and with an afghan thrown haphazardly over his lap, Malc is ready to scan the headlines above the fold.

Next up – the settling in rule. Let him get settled – then he’ll function.

Once Malcolm is settled, the dogs know they are allowed to snuggle with Malcolm.  First come, first served is the rule and it’s usually Amore.  She waits through all the preparation, through the pillow fluffing and the paper shuffling, through the blanket arrangement and table placement, waiting for her cue to join Malc on the couch.  She knows the rules, after the first sip of coffee she is cleared for lift off.  Amore springs up from her sitting position at the base of the couch, over Malcolm’s prone form, and lands between the back of the couch and Malcolm’s hip.  Twists, turns and paws poking his belly, Amore snuggles in, draped over Malc’s torso, head hanging by his side, eyes closed in bliss.  If Malcolm is lucky, Amore has waited long enough on the couch jump for him to set his mug down and out of the way on the end table, avoiding hot coffee being spilled down his front.  If he is luckier, Amore’s paws have landed on the couch cushion, missing his pride and joy, thus enabling Malcolm to walk and talk the rest of the day.  And if he is even luckier, Amore will stay put for another 50-60 minutes, allowing Malcolm to avoid all rules and commands issued by said wife.

Amore's snuggle-fest

Amore’s snuggle-fest

And now for the truth of all those other rules…..

With Amore’s 100 lb frame pinning Malcolm down, Malc is able to circumvent any and all requests.  “Honey, would you….?”,   “can’t, I have a dog on me!”,    “it’s your turn to….”   “can’t, I have a dog on me!”    “Malc – you need to…..”    “can’t, I have a dog on me!”

He thinks he is sooooo smart!  Well, I was the youngest of four, tricked and picked on by three older siblings and I learned by the best!  Listen up Malc – new rule – never try to out-trick a trickster.  By the third “can’t, I have a dog on me”, I just calmly walked over to the treat jar, being sure to rattle the ceramic lid a good bit.  The ears on both dogs perked up to full attention, their bodies tense and ready for action.  Dogs will do anything for a tasty tibbit.  A quick whistle had Amore and Dolce barreling through the living room, eager for their doggy treat.  Dolce arriving first.  Amore mere seconds later by default.

Another rule – never get between a dog and their treat.

Amore had to untangle herself from her snuggle-fest with Malcolm, front paws landing on his favored jewels, back legs gaining purchase on his belly, subsequently ripping the Op Ed section and his stomach to shreds before tipping over the end table.  It was the tip over that tossed the full of coffee mug off its perch, sprewing nuked hot coffee all over Malcolm, landing and breaking against the brick floor.  Personally, I never liked that mug anyway!

ARRRUUUGHHH!  Those that know Malcolm, know his language was a lot more colorful and descriptive.  That’ll teach him!

Last rule to remember – take note, the wife rules!

eureka!

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In my past life, I was a caterer, where I custom-catered small cocktail parties, fancy galas, annual dinners, intimate dinners for two and fundraising events for 750 attendees. Three file cabinets crammed with recipes and 237 cookbooks later, I closed my catering business, married the love of my life and moved to New Mexico. I swore I would never work nights, weekends or holidays again.

Little did I know how that would change the minute I gave my husband a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy for his 50th birthday.  Named Tiamo, the newest member of our family had us wrapped around every one of her paws. Every day was an adventure for Tiamo: there were cookbooks to chew, magazines to rip up and wooden spoons to carry from room to room. Friends would fight over who held Tiamo’s leash on walks. Neighborhood kids would randomly drop by to pet her. She was the darling of the community and our hearts.

Tiamo knew not to beg for table scraps, but she was quick to lick up any tasty tidbit that fell to the floor.  We learned Tiamo had a keen ability to counter-surf, quickly and quietly. Cartons of cream would go missing, only to be found empty in another room. Cookies cooling on racks would be one fewer of a dozen. Licked-clean butter plates would be discovered under couch pillows.  Anyone who has ever owned a dog has had a similar experience: turning your back for just a few minutes while cooking, resulting in missing ingredients and a look from your pooch that says, “Who, me?”

My love of cooking for family, friends, and my enjoyment of Tiamo’s humorous antics while sniffing for a fallen crumb has produced a cookbook designed to bring compliments to the chef and smiles from the cook, along with a tasty morsel for your dog.

Yes, cooking and dogs do go together – they are both joyous! And a stray dog hair is a reminder of their unconditional love.

A cookbook recommended by three 100-pound lap dogs, sampled by a wonderful husband and fed to some great neighbors and friends!

Every kitchen needs a dog! A dog quick to lick up the drops and drips that occur in the kitchen. A dog that looks at you with beseeching eyes for a nibble of cheese or a sliver of meat. A dog that awaits with hope and longing, a scrap of food will land on the floor. We all know better than to feed our crafty canines “human food”, but we still do!

Here’s a cookbook that will charm you with adorable pictures of puppies and dogs as they try to beguile their owner into giving them a taste of what’s to come. Recipes that have been served to former Vice-Presidents, pro athletes, family members and best friends – all savory, all tasty! These recipes were created for taste, ease, and an opportunity for the chef to showcase their talent in the kitchen. Recipes guaranteed to receive compliments – the cook will need to make enough for seconds!

Go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615869823 to order your book!

COVER-final-coloredition

it’s here! (almost)

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if it falls on the floor, it's mine!

COMING SOON! 

missing mom

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June is one of those transition months for the dogs.  The days are longer, hotter, and walks for the dogs are delayed to the evening hours, when it starts to cool down.  More often than not, Dolce and Amore are left at home, not wanting to leave them in the car during the hot hours of the day as Malcolm runs into town for errands.  Malcolm and I are busier.  Between work, travel, meetings, weddings, graduations and Saturday night dinners – it seems we’re gone more than we’re home.  The girls feel the effect of our busy schedule.  Flanked among boredom, and long hot days, they alternate between being sluggish during the hottest part of the day to being antsy when the tedious hours of lonesomeness labors on.  Their daily schedule has shifted to accommodate June’s higher temperatures and our demanding agendas.

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Amore laying her head on my lap after I was gone for 2 days

We can easily spend forty or so minutes calming them down as we enter the house after being away.  Both Dolce and Amore get clingy, wanting us right by them, touching us with their paws, nose nudging our hands and elbows.  They just want our touch.  A hand resting on them.  A constant scratch under the chin.  Fingers endlessly rubbing their fur-lined ears.

The usual scenario is a furry body on each side of me, so close a sheet of paper couldn’t slide between us, my arms around each one.  If I so much as move a finger away or twitch an eyelid, they’ll nudge me with their powerful paws as a reminder to pay more attention to them.  Their hind ends burrowing in even deeper into the corner pocket between the couch and my hip, their bodies leaning into me, I have 100 lbs. of deadweight dog resting against me on each side.  They each have their spot – Dolce on my left, tucked in close under my arm and shoulder, Amore on my right, plastered to my side, head resting against me.  I’m somewhere in the middle breathing in dog hair and fending off paws and noses.

Tomorrow I leave for a conference and will be gone for a week, leaving Malcolm home tending to the girls.  I can only imagine my homecoming.

 

fetch and catch!

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Our dogs do not fetch the newspaper.  They do not deliver your fuzzy slippers, nor do they catch the ball.  Throw a soft rubber ball for them to run after to retrieve and you’ll get a look that says, “you want me to do what?”  Under their dog breath I hear a mumbled doggy version of:  “Pendejo, you threw it, you go get it!” Toss a stick up ahead as you’re walking,  it will go completely ignored.  Fling a frisbee and it will become part of the landscape.  Labs, Retrievers, Setters, they all love the game of fetch and catch.  Tirelessly.  Endlessly.  Dolce and Amore – NOT!  Not even close!

What they will run after is another pooch pursuing the thrown object.  Throw some balls and immediately the other visiting mutts sprint over to play. Throw a stick, and Amore and Dolce will run after the dog running after the stick. The game is in following the other canines, not racing after the ball.  We’ll take the girls to our dog park, lob some tennis balls their way and they’ll sit at our feet watching us, their heads cocked at an angle, inquiring with a puzzled look, “wha’cha doing?”   As soon as another dog moseys’ over for some fun, the girls perk up, ready to chase the some tail.  Much more fun than chasing a ball!

They will however chase after food.  Chuck an apple twenty yards and Dolce is on it.  Pitch some broccoli out in the field and it’s a race to grab it first.  Drop a bread crumb and it doesn’t even hit the floor, gone and gobbled before you can bend down to pick it up.  The one and only ball they will fetch and catch is a meatball!  Lob, toss, fling, throw or drop a tasty, rolled meatball and it’s caught mid-air in one gulp, down the hatch and in the gullet.  Eyes alert and on the “ball”, they are ready for the next toss.  Ready to catch it!  Ready to race after it!  Ready to eat it!  Any kind of meatball, any kind of meat.  It’s the only fetch and  catch they’ll play!

Swedish Meatballs

Be careful not to drop any on the floor!

  • 1 lb. finely ground beef
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced onions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Mix together the above ingredients.  Gently roll into small 1″ to 1 1/2″  balls.  Brown in hot oil.  Add about 1/4 cup hot water.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve hot with slightly thickened pan gravy.

pool paw play

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It’s Memorial Weekend! The kickoff to summer!

Picnics and BBQ‘s, flip-flops and short shorts, watermelon and lemonade.  One of the best parts of Memorial weekend is our local community pool opens for the summer.  8:00 a.m. on Saturday the race is on to be the first in the pool.  Moms have a free babysitter for youngsters over 12 and an energy burner for those under.  It’s the summer hangout for teenagers and an outdoor tanning booth for the housewives of Santa Fe.  Tri-athletes in training, adult swimmers exercising.  You see everything – from bare bottom babies splashing around in the kiddies pool to the pursuit of the perfect cannon ball tidal wave.  Sunburned cheeks to darkly tanned leather skin.  Old men in speedos, old ladies in bikinis.

Malcolm and I swim laps in the evenings when the kids have been called home for dinner.  75 feet of clear blue water, heated to just above chilly. It’s the perfect time to unwind from work and cool down from a hot day.  Most of the water brats have left, their forgotten pool toys and towels littered around the chairs and loungers to be found the next day.  Those remaining are the serious swimmers, jumping in the pool for laps, leaving in their wet suits, a towel wrap over their neck.

The dogs know when they see our swim bags and beach towels, they are staying put, guarding the fort back home, except for Dog day.  At the end of the summer and the chlorine has been diluted to a low enough level , its Paw Play at the Pool.  Dogs of all sizes, shapes and breeds converge at the pool for their own brand of fun.  And, it’s a wet time for all.  Excited dogs jumping in the deep end chasing tennis balls, even more incited dogs barking at waves of water splashing at their paws.  Once dry owners snapping pictures of their happy dogs. Total chaos.  Pure mayhem.  Wet dog everywhere. 

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HOMEMADE GEORGIA PEACH ICE CREAM

A perfect summer treat!

  • rock salt
  • ice (per manufacturer’s instructions)

Puree chopped peaches with the sugar and cream in the blender or food processor.

In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the peach mixture, sweetened condensed milk and Kahlua.  Pour in enough whole milk to fill the contain to the fill line.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze the ice cream.

“Yeah! babee!” Malcolm exclaims……. p.s.  Malcolm’s from Georgia!

the flirt

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Tiamo was a flirt – a big flirt!  She’d see a handsome male Berner and the Paris Hilton head-tilt and the come-hither look would appear.  Tail a-swishing, her prance became more pronounced and a certain gleam in eye would materialize each and every time a big studly cutie-paw-tootie was in the vicinity.

The first time I noticed her flirting she was around 9 months old.  I’d been walking Tiamo around the loop when another Berner owner drove by, stopping to talk shop as fellow BMD owners like to  do.  He had his boy with him and let him out of the car to introduce the two.  Shubert was a 4-year-old male rehab dog for the elderly, fit with a deep chest, massive paws and weighing a hefty 125 lbs., he was a poster child for Berner perfection.  Tiamo immediately took a shine to him, one look from Shubert and she fell in love.  She puffed out her chest, lifted up her tail and strutted over like a two-bit hooker on lower 4th Street showing off her wares.  Tiamo lay as close to Shubert as possible, rubbing shoulders, tail flicking, paws touching his, her head tilting.  As we wrapped up our conversation, Shubert loaded up into the car, ready to go –  Tiamo hopped in right behind him, scooting over to lean up against him.  She’d found herself a man and wasn’t going to let him go. It took me ten minutes to con/drag her out of the vehicle.

Never faithful for long, Tiamo moved on to greener pastures.  Her next love affair was with Gus, a Bernese from back east.  Gus was the kind of guy that tightened the kink in her tail.  One glance and Tiamo turned into a lit’le slut-puppy.  A cougar worth her salt, Tiamo liked her men young and Gus was younger by 10 months.  His swagger down pat, his moves slick as silk, Gus was a ladies man, a giglio, a smooth operator and had all the ladies panting.  Tiamo had met her match – she was one of many in a long line of lusting females. That dog was handsome plus!  Sparks ignited when the two were together, resulting in 8 puppies 60+ days later.  Yep, Gus fathered her beautiful children.  And, then left her.  A single mother, raising 8 kids alone, you would think Tiamo would learn her lesson.  Eleven months later, Tiamo was up to her old philandering ways…..

A couple of times a year, we bring the girls into the groomers’ for a wash, cut and curl.  We clip their bellies and their forearm feathers to keep the stickers and cockleburs to a minimum and it helps them stay cool in the hot summer months.  Tiamo, particularly, did not like the process, protesting immediately upon entering the door to the groomers’.  Her front paws put on the breaks, denying all forward movement into the establishment. She put her back paws in full reverse, madly scrambling to dodge her fate.  She ignored all commands to stop acting like a brat and to behave, seeking only escape.  She didn’t so much mind the bath as she did the clippers. She hated the clippers.  And she abhorred the colorful little bandana souvenir they tied around her neck at the end of the foray, trying to bite it off on the way home.  It got so bad, that we started bringing her in through the back door to minimize the damage to the store’s displays in the front – until the day she saw Owen.

Owen was a local male Berner, masculine and manly, he easily tipped the scales at 135 lbs.  That boy was one handsome dude and he ooooooozed sex.   Owen was already in the wash rack when I arrived with Tiamo at the back door, hoping upon hope she wouldn’t put up too much of a fuss as we entered.  One sniff and the game was up – Tiamo knew she had been duped into getting bathed and clipped.  A full-on Tiamo tantrum erupted.  She wasn’t going anywhere but back home.  Tiamo changed delaying tactics and dropped to the tiled floor, rolling over on her back, four paws in the air, she was dead weight, couldn’t be picked up, dragged, moved or maneuvered.    And then, out of the corner of her eye,  she saw Owen.  Her ears twitched, her eyes glowed with that familiar glint, drool droplets trickled from her lips, her tail curled into a constricted ringlet, it only took one sultry look for Tiamo to go ga-ga over him.  Miraculously, she spun upright, gave a little bitch shake, pulled her shoulders back, pushed her barreled chest out and pranced right up the ramp to her wash tub.  With a flick of her tail, Tiamo had a new man. Unapologetic, Tiamo gave me the signal to leave, she had this handled.   I quickly turned to leave.  Exiting out the door, I peeked back at the two love-birds.  Tiamo had jumped the tub’s railing and was skinny-dipping with Owen. I kept walking.

Thank gawd she’s been spayed.

Dog petting

mud

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Dog doors are a great invention and ours was one of the better remodel decisions Malcolm and I made…

When Tiamo was still a puppy, we added a large coyote-fenced enclosure that wrapped around the back of our New Mexican styled home.  Aesthetically pleasing for the neighborhood, it fit in with the landscape.  We carefully planned the gate placement, the amount of  shade provided by the Pinon trees growing around the perimeter and size of the pen around Tiamo’s needs.  The one thing we didn’t plan, was installing a dog door for entrance from the pen to the house.  Mistake number one – however a moot point since we only put Tiamo in the pen when we left for town and couldn’t bring her.  Tiamo’s new playground was over 1,800 square feet of soft sand and shade.  Made just for her – and she hated it!  She hated being left alone outside, barking excessively.  She hated being separated from us and most of all she hated knowing Thugs, our cat at the time, was indoors while she was suffering outdoors.  She dug deep holes under the gate and tunneled out to freedom, magically appearing at our back door to come inside.  She scratched, clawed and budged her way out through any opening she could find, bending the gate frame, ripping the wiring.   We added reinforcements, new gate latches, heavier gauged wire, and still Tiamo would find a way out.  One week after we christened our new dog pen addition, we abandoned it.  Tiamo happily trading the pen for all the comforts of pillows and couches found inside our home.

For two years Tiamo’s dog pen sat empty – until the puppies were born.  The pen was the perfect dog park for eight little pups to explore and discover their new life.  We would bring the kids out to the pen during the late hours of the afternoon, when the sun’s heat was less severe. Tiamo had finally accepted the pen, enjoying the fresh air as she tenderly watched over her rambunctious brood.  The little ones romped and tumbled for hours until we brought them back in to their make-shift pen set up in the garage.  Tired and exhausted, the puppies would settle into a fast sleep for the night. 

As each puppy left for their new life with their new caregivers, Malcolm and I came to the conclusion we needed to add a dog door to the pen for our remaining three; Tiamo, Amore and Dolce.  However, our careful planning of the pen placement several years past, failed to appoint a common wall for a dog door.  Mistake number two.  We concluded after a careful study of where to place the large rubber flap, to install the dog door in our bathroom’s linen closet.  I know, it sounds weird, but our thinking was (and still is) if there came a time when we needed to close off the dog door, we could re-install the linen shelves back in and the large, unsightly dog hole would  “disappear” behind bath towels and sheets.  Plus, we could close the closet door to keep the girls in or out depending on what we wanted.

Installation day was on a Friday, right around the first of July.   We wanted to have the door installed and finished before our Monsoon season started so the girls could come in out of the rain.  Training was easy.  A little nugget of ground hamburger was all it took to entice Tiamo through the opening, with Amore and Dolce  quickly following.  It wasn’t long before each dog was barreling through the flap looking for a meatball.    The girls immediately used the outdoors as they should, doing their duty discreetly outside.   No more getting up to let one of dogs out, no more waiting in the freezing cold as Dolce sniffed for the perfect spot, no more chasing after Amore as she sensed freedom.  Life was just made easier.

Five days later, the rains came. Blessed drops of liquid fell on our parched acreage.  Never lasting very long, the afternoon showers can alternate from a gentle pitter-patter to hard torments of destruction.  The dry land will soak up the moisture like a sponge, filling its cracks with water, letting the excess wash over into arroyos and gullies creating flash floods and hazards.  Not only do our summer storms bequeath us with fiery sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant colors, they also leave us with clay dirt that quickly becomes slick, clinging to our shoes, dragging your steps with the extra weight of the mud.  It was on a day such as this, that I came home from work to find mud, lots of mud, strewn from one end of the house to the other!  There were muddy paws prints in every room, every part of the house. On the sofa, on the bed, everywhere.  The girls came running to greet me, each with a wet, muddy underbelly, each filthy and dirty, mire and sledge oozing from their paws.  and each with a huge happy grin on their face.  The new dog door was a gateway to mud and muck.  Mistake number three!

Luckily, we have brick floors.  And, we have a house cleaner.

Dolce washed up after mud wrestling with Amore

Dolce washed up after mud wrestling with Amore

 

MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

an ooey-gooey delicious mess!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 6 oz Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan.  

To prepare the crust:  place Oreo cookies, nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed.  Add the melted butter and mix until just moistened.  Do not over process.  Press the cookie mixture over the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the mixture up the sides of the pan about 1 1/2 inches.  Cover and chill until filling is ready.

To prepare the filling:  add butter, chocolate, corn syrup in a medium sauce pan over low heat until melted together.  Let cool.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then the finely chopped Macadamia nuts.  Pour filling into the chilled crust and smooth the surface.  Bake for 30 minute or until just set but still soft in the center.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Serve a room temperature with homemade whipped cream.

 

cat fight

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This morning was a normal 5:00 a.m. wake-up.  Amore lumbered by at her usual time of 4:55 a.m. to press wet wake up doggy kisses on my cheek.  Not to be outdone, Dolce barreled in between Amore and the side of the bed to ensure her share of early morning love.  Like clock-work, the girls followed me through my morning ritual of getting ready for work, eagerly anticipating breakfast once I was finished.  About 10 minutes in, Gordita arrived from her night-time-hidey-hole to loudly scratch at the bottom of the bathroom door, determined to be let in to join the party.  The three quietly lazed about, each curled up in their own special spot on the floor, still waking up to their full potential for the day to come.  One by one, they took turns in giving me good morning hugs.  Amore likes to put her front paws on the counter next to me so she can rub her muzzle up against me, receiving a rub in return.  Gordita jumps from the rim of the tub to the sink counter and weaves her quiet way softly over hair brushes and toothpaste to leap onto my shoulder, liking to nuzzle my neck for a few minutes before I set her back down, and Dolce loves to push her way through from behind your legs to get her ears scratched.  About the time I’m ready for some hot coffee, Amore and Dolce have fully woken up and are ready for their own breakfast.

We all headed out to the kitchen, Dolce in the lead as Gordita sprinted between dog paws  and dog tails to reach a safe haven under the kitchen table, ready to watch the breakfast festivities.  I performed the routine procedure of  filling their dishes with their kibbles and bit of water before making the two sit.  Both Amore and Dolce have learned to sit quickly down on their honches, knowing I won’t place the feed bowl down until they have earned it.  Side by side, they immediately dove into their respective dog bowls, slurps and crunches and the rattle of the tin bowl,  the only noises heard.  Once I gave them their chow, I grabbed a flashlight and walked up the drive to retrieve the newspaper.  About the time I get back to the house, the girls are usually just finishing up.  Sometimes one will polish off their meal ahead of the other, sometimes they clean their bowls at the same time, but always, once finished, they wander over to where I’m sitting with the paper for a little love.  Until this morning…..

This morning the little bitches got into a cat fight!  For 4 1/2 years, Amore and Dolce have happily enjoyed their meals together, shoulder to shoulder.  They have their own dog bowls, nestled in a raised double-panned stand – Dolce’s on the right, Amore’s right next door on the left.  For over four years, they  have received the same portions, the same food, at the same time.  Dolce is always the first to sit.  Amore is always first to dig in.  And, this morning the two big babies started a fight over the last nibble!  It’s typical for Amore to finish her meal first and Dolce to lap up her’s in a close second.  Today, Amore unwisely decided to see what was left in Dolce’s bowl and gobbled up what was there before Dolce could.  War broke out in the middle of the kitchen with snarls, growls, raised paws and big fangs barred.  I’ve always been told to never get in the middle of a dog fight – with a long-handled broom, I swatted the behind of the closest dog to me, allowing a distracted mutt to cease-fire.

Talk about a little early morning excitement, their loud and contested dispute brought Malcolm running into the kitchen from a sound slumber to see me taking my last wallop with the broom and Amore slinking off to her corner to lick her pride.  Suffice to say, this evening their feed bowls were separated and the broom was kept handy.

Fat & Sassy French Toast

So good, you’ll fight over the last piece!

  • 8-10 slices day-old bread, crusts removed
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 3 cups of sliced fruit i.e., bananas, strawberries, raspberries
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Lay 4-5 slices of bread on bottom of pan, then top with cream cheese cubes and sliced fruit. Top with the rest of the bread slices and set aside.  Beat together eggs, milk and brown sugar and pour over bread.  Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Remove plastic wrap from pan and bake for 40 minutes or until top layer of bread of lightly golden brown.

Serve with additional warmed maple syrup if desired.

all in a dog’s day

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is it morning yet? jump on mom to wake her up, nope, she’s not up yet, go out to the pen to see if anything happened overnight ,jump on mom again to wake her up, yea! she’s crawling out of bed, time to eat breakfast, follow mom outside to retrieve the newspaper, time for an early morning nap, ok, mom’s left for work, let’s chew up the newspaper before Malcolm gets to read it, sigh, check to see if there is anything new in the dog bowl, rats! nothing! take another nap, roll over and stretch, emit a bad  dog fart, sigh, head bump Malcolm for a quick rub on the ears, take another nap, wake up barking at some noise, sigh, counter-surf for crumbs – sigh, let’s go bug Malcolm, bark some more at nothing, fanegale a treat out of Malcolm, check out the kitchen floor for a quick nibble – something new might have fallen from the counter, rats! nothing – sigh, tear through the house to the outdoor pen, something might be out there,  track dirt back in the house, beg for a doggie treat, sigh, bark some more to annoy Malcolm, plop down and sigh, when is mom coming home from work? sigh, fart, bark at a car driving by, do another drive-by in the kitchen – rats again! nada – go for a walk with Malcolm – yippee! – get home and take another nap, it’s dinner time, burp, fart, run through the house and slide on the rug – yippee! – mom is home – yippee! – let’s go give her a welcome attack, bark, bark, bark, bark, jump up on mom to give her a dog hug, beg for another dog snack cuz mom doesn’t know Malcolm already gave us one, take a nap, follow mom and Malcolm around the house from room to room, is it bedtime yet? put head back down, watch mom clean up in the kitchen, any crumbs? rats! nothing! now it’s time, jump on bed and curl up to mom, cuddle, roll over for a belly rub, cuddle, nudge amore over so dolce can get closer, get dog hair all over the down pillows, stretch, roll over for one last cuddle, ohhh siiiiggghh –

good night y’all!

Bobcat’s

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Traditionally, when family and friends visit, we treat our out-of-town guests to Bobcat Bite, an old trading post-turned-gun shop-turned-burger joint located halfway between us and Santa Fe.  A family owned business since 1953, Bobcat’s sits off of historic Route 66, so named for the wild bobcats that came down from the surrounding mountains and were fed meat craps and leftovers at the back door. Owned by Bonnie and John, Bobcat’s has only 5 small tables and a long counter for singles and one-sie’s, you pay with cash or check, are given a Tootsie roll pop for dessert, and those waiting for a table get restless if you linger too long.  The name at the top of the chalkboard gets the first available table.  Those names under them impatiently toe-tap, waiting to be moved up.

The menu has changed little, except perhaps they don’t serve homemade fruit pie anymore.  Burgers, steaks, pork chops.  Salad, garlic bread and country fries.  Cole slaw, potato salad and skillet baked beans.  A simple menu, but I can guaran-damn-tee you, it is and will be, the best burger you will ever have.  Bar none.  Ten ounces of ground daily choice sirloin and chuck, cooked to order on an old cast iron griddle, it’s a two-fisted burger, bookend by a specially baked sourdough bun and served with potato chips.  The first bite is a jaw-bender.  The last bite is an assembly of hamburger pieces, broken potato chips and green chili that fell out of the burger into the paper-lined burger basket.

I like the green chili cheese burger, rare-to-medium rare, onions, no chips.  Malcolm orders the green chili cheese, medium, onions, two tomato slices, lettuce, yes on the chips and the potato salad, but only if Bonnie made it.  Dolce and Amore enjoy the leftovers minus the onions and green chili.  We’ve learned to flip the burger as soon as it arrives so the juices gravitate into new territory, spreading the succulent flavors.

Best damn burger! Ever!

Best damn burger! Ever!

When it was just Tiamo, we would bring her with us, sitting outside at a small bistro-styled table on the portale.  Tiamo would lay under the table at our feet, occasionally handed scraps of hamburger when Malcolm wasn’t watching.  Tiamo learned at a young age, if we turned left at the blinking light, it was a Bobcat night, and a sure bet she would get a treat.  She would go from zero to wildly excited before we could even round the corner.  Should we turn to get on the freeway, Tiamo sulked in the back corner of the car all the way into town.  When Dolce and Amore came along, we would leave the three dogs in the car in the parking lot while we enjoyed our meal.  Every so often, we would hear loud barks from the girls, encouraging us to hurry it up.  They knew Bonnie had wrapped up our leftovers and there were meat scraps to be had.

Typically, repeat house guests will request a Bobcat burger upon their return to Santa Fe, telling us they’ve been craving Bobcat’s since they started planning their trip.   On occasion, they will demand to come back for a second round of burger before they leave town – sort of a  “one for the road” talisman.

Dolce and Amore certainly don’t mind, they get the leftovers.

RECIPE (strike that) RULES FOR A BOBCAT BITE BURGER

  • Drive fast, dangerously fast to Bobcat’s to arrive before the other patrons, believe you me, this is serious business
  • Run, don’t walk, to the chalkboard to write your name down before the out-of-town-never-been-to-Bobcat’s-before folks have a chance to get out of the car and figure out the system
  • While waiting for a table, stare through the windows, intimidating those slow pokes eating inside into speeding up their meal.  This isn’t Paris, they don’t get to dawdle over coffee
  • Once seated, read the menu quickly and know what you want – don’t dilly-daddle.  There are people waiting for your table – like us – plus, you don’t want to delay that first bite of your burger
  • Inquire who boiled the potatoes that morning (just kidding John)
  • Order and enjoy the best damn burger ever, ever, ever!  This is no ordinary burger – hold on to your socks, you’re in for a treat!
  • Ask for more napkins, you’re gonna need’em – now ask for another one
  • Discreetly undo the snap on your jeans, pulling your shirt out and over to cover the opening.  Okay, now you have more room to indulge in your burger – oh, yeah, and you can breathe
  • Eat, pay and grab your Tootsie pop as you exit, you can enjoy it in the car on the way home
  • Start planning your next visit to Bobcat’s
  • http://www.bobcatbite.com
Bonnie with one of the buddy gang

Bonnie with one of our repeat offenders

Sunday tradition

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Monday through Friday, I am the one to feed the girls their morning meal. Early.  5:00 a.m. early.  Our dogs are conditioned to enjoy their breakfast at the crack of dawn, when it’s still dark and cold out.  Once their bellies’ are full, they settle back down on their huge dog pillows for a little morning shut-eye as I sip my coffee and read the paper before I leave for work.

Come the weekend, my wonderful, sweet hubby gets up early to feed Amore and Dolce, allowing me to sleep a couple more hours before I start the day.  For some perverse reason, on the weekends, the girls start scrambling for their breakfast  around 4:00 a.m.  They’ll come around to the side of the bed, checking to see if one of us is up yet, being sure to whack their tail several times for good measure.  On a good day, they might wait until 4:30 a.m. before starting their wake-up antics.  If need be, Amore will jump up on the bed and sit on one of us in her attempt to get fed.  It’s about this time, I’m kicking Malc in the back, “it’s your turn to feed’em!” I mumble.

Blurry eyed, and three-quarters still asleep, he stumbles out to the dark kitchen, tripping over 200 excited pounds of two hungry dogs in their mad bid for their kibbles.  From the other room, I hear several choice words spewing loudly from his lips as his bare feet and legs are clawed by dog paws in their eagerness to be fed. I hear the clank and clatter from their metal dog bowls being pushed around the hard floor as they devour their food.  Then quiet. Blissful quiet.  Wonderful-fall-back-to-sleep quiet.  While the girls are still chowing down their food, Malc will crawl back into the still warm bed, staking out his territory on the mattress.  He has about 2 minutes to fluff his pillows and get comfortable before the girls search us out, climbing up on the bed to snuggle in for a few more hours.  A half hour later, Gordita joins the family snugglefest, stepping over fur and bodies to curl up on a down pillow.

By the time, I’m ready to rise, I have two dogs stretched out on each side of me and a cat up on my pillow loudly purring in my ear, a black cat tail draped across my face. I can’t move.  I look over at Malcolm and see a slight smile peaking through the covers.  “Psst! You awake?”, I persist in waking him.  One visible eye opens, we share a contented, loving look as we view our menagerie nestled on the bed.  Our family.  It brings a warm hug to our hearts.

Sunday morning is our special day of the week to laze around, read the paper, drink our coffee, share breakfast.  It’s turned into tradition, having our girls curled up around us as we read the comics, the OpEd page, the local news, sipping hot coffee, being careful not to spill any on the covers.  Breakfast turns into brunch, but who cares, it’s our lazy day to enjoy our family.

RASPBERRY PANCAKES

Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings, these cakes are light and fluffy – the secret is taking the time to beat the egg whites separately.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup non-fat milk (may use buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2 large egg whites (save extra egg yolk for your canine friends)
  • 3/4 cup sliced bananas
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (heated in microwave)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolk and zest.  Set aside.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks forms.  Stir milk mixture little by little into the flour mixture.  Carefully fold in egg whites and then add the sliced bananas.

Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large non-stick skillet or griddle and warm over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto hot griddle using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter, making a hotcake.  Repeat until griddle is full.  Cook until bottom is set and golden brown, about two minutes.  Flip and cook until firm, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside and cover to keep warm until you’ve cooked all the hotcakes.

Serve hotcakes topped with warm raspberry jam and vanilla yogurt and raspberries.

must love dog….. hair!

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When Malcolm and I married, we knew we wanted to move out of California, only we didn’t know exactly where.  My only condition: it had to be west of the Mississippi.  Malcolm’s only condition:  it had to have home-delivery for the New York Times.  The dart landed on Santa Fe, New Mexico, a southwest tourist mecca.  Tucked in tight against the Sangre de Cristos Mountain Range, Santa Fe is host to a wide range of culture, several museums, great restaurants, outdoor sports and lots of shopping opportunities from expensive art and indian jewelry to cheap T-shirts with silk screened scenes depicting the Southwest.  The lure of Santa Fe not only brings thousands of travelers and visitors annually, it also brings lots of family and friends, guests who arrive for mini get-away vacations.

And while we open the doors of our home, welcoming our friends, we always need to preface their visit with a few words of warning:  YOU MUST LOVE DOGS…… AND DOG HAIR!  Oh yeah, and a very fat cat named Gordita.

What we really mean is, you must love OUR dogs and not be allergic to cats.  House guests are not allowed to be upset if their kicked off shoes ends up outside in the dog pen, if they discover they are missing a sock days after they go home, or if there is black dog hair clinging to their pants leg and to their shirt and to their jacket and to everything else they own.  Throughout their stay, the odds are high they will pull a stray strand of dog hair from their wineglass, or see a puff of canine curls floating down and around.  Malcolm and I chuckle to ourselves when we catch sight of a guest discretely pulling out a hidden hair off their lips.  We advise our friends to shut their bedroom door tight at night or they could very well end up with one to three animals curled up next to them, sharing not only the soft mattress but more dog hair.  We regularly invest in lint rollers,  placed in every room for convenience.  Even I do a roller-run-through on my slacks every morning before leaving for work, checking for dog hair.

from dog - to couch - to the back of the shirt - dog hair!

from dog – to couch – to the back of the shirt – dog hair!

After several years, we have filtered our guest list down to three categories:  Those that LOVE our girls, keeping their bedroom door wide open, hoping for a midnight cuddle and don’t mind the stray dog hair; those that don’t mind our dogs, but are careful with their shoes and keep the lint roller in hand; and those that stay in a hotel.

Hair of the Dog
The old saying “hair of the dog that bit you” is a common theory for curing a hangover.  The Hair of the Dog cocktail is a great alternative that serves the same purpose: a little bit of alcohol, sour citrus and the hot digestive aid to calm the stomach.
Pour the Gin, lemon juice and Tabasco into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake generously.  Strain into a chilled glass.  Garnish with a colorful chili pepper.  Be sure to wash your hands well with soap (especially before touching your eyes) if you handle the chili pepper.
Yield: 1 Cocktail

Canine cuddles

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Nothing says “romance” better than a dozen long-stemmed red roses.  Nothing says “love” better than a sparkling diamond.  And nothing says “sex” better than chocolate!

Unless you are a dog!

canine cuddles

canine cuddles

Dolce has always been our little cuddle-bug, our little sweetheart, our little lover.  She’ll sidle up besides you, nudging your hand to get her ears idly scratched, she’ll sit next to me (or rather on me) in the passenger seat for some extra pets and pats.  She’ll roll over in front of you, stopping you in your tracks, for a belly rub, kicking her back feet in happiness that she got you to stop and rub her.

But her favorite is to cuddle on the couch….

She’ll stretch and slowly crawl up on the leather lounge, keeping to the south end of the couch, patiently waiting for you to get settled in and comfortable.  She’ll then snuggle up against your side, burrowing in, pushing aside pillows, newspapers and blankets to make way for her.   Little-by-little, between her wiggling and leaning, pushing and tugging, she’ll end up with her furry frame wedged between the back of the sofa cushions and your own stretched out body.  Less than five minutes later, she’ll be draped across your torso, her soft head tucked up under your chin.  Instinctively, your arms will reach around her, holding her to you  as you automatically start rubbing and massaging her shoulders.  In due course, her gentle brown eyes will lower in ecstasy, savoring the moment.

There are moments when Dolce will lift her big head and gaze at you, softly starring with pure love in her eyes.  Sometimes gentle, sometimes intense, always with loving sentiment shinning through.  She’ll tenderly drop her head back down to rest on your collar, nuzzling closer, so content.

Nothing says “I love you” from a dog better than a couch cuddle.

CHOCOLATE ADULTERESS

Nothing says ‘sex’ like a taste of chocolate!  Serve with a port or Cognac.

CAKE MIXTURE

  • 1 lb. sweet chocolate
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. flour

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.  Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat.  Meanwhile, place the un-cracked eggs in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.  Crack and combine the eggs and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high-speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or, until tripled in volume.  Sift the flour on top.  Fold into the eggs.  Stir 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate.  Carefully fold the chocolate into the remaining eggs until thoroughly combined.

Pour into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 2o minutes.  The cake will still be slightly soft int he middle.  cool completely in the pan.  Cover and refrigerate in the pan overnight.  May be frozen for up to two weeks.

RASPBERRY SAUCE

  • 8 oz. raspberries, fresh
  • Superfine sugar to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. Mexican vanilla
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish
  • Mint sprigs for garnish

Puree the raspberries and strain.  Add just enough sugar to sweeten.  Pour the cream and vanilla  in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until firm.  Invert the cake onto a serving platter.  Cut into wedges and place on a pool of raspberry sauce, garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

kitchen clatter

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ahhh, we didn't eat that much!

ahhh, we didn’t eat that much!

With the of loud swoosh of the refrigerator door opening,  Amore and Dolce are immediately on the alert to kitchen activity.  The clink of condiment jars rattling against each other as the door swings open, informs them of a possible treat or nibble of something good.  The crinkling of plastic is blatant advertising of cheese or maybe carrots.  The un-snapping of a plastic lid translates to yogurt or sour cream.  From the living room, the girls can decipher if the clanking noise is Malcolm reaching in to grab his Ice Tea pitcher or if the crackling sound is some cheddar cheese being placed on the kitchen counter for slicing or grating.

They can verify the difference between the opening of the frig door and the freezer, between the lifting of the treat jar lid and the spare change cover, between the squeak of the cupboard and the drawer.  Their ears can define a broccoli chop vs. an onion cut, a carrot slice vs. celery stick.  The sound of the knife against the chopping block as it cuts through the veggie announces how quickly the girls will start sniffing around the kitchen.  They love broccoli and carrots, can’t have onions, and are so-so with celery.

Amore immediately runs in to investigate.   Nose to the floor, sniffing out the latest crumb, Amore is determined to gobble it up before Dolce has a chance to.  Dolce, on the other hand,  waits on the couch, head tilted, eyebrows cocked, her little mind working to interpret the sound coming from the kitchen.  Dolce is more discerning.  She wants to know the clatter is worth the effort of movement.  An apple wedge, a cheese cube or a carrot stick will haul her off the couch and into the kitchen in three seconds.  Or, if she hears Amore chomping, she can be there in two.  The jangle of the silverware drawer doesn’t even merit a head lift from her soft pillow.

I would have to say cheese is their absolute favorite.  Even Bleu Cheese.

MAC N’ CHEESE N’ CHEESE

  • 3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 12 bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh, coarse breadcrumbs (may use Ritz cracker crumbs as a substitute)
  • 1 cup finely grated Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 cup  Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 cups grated Fontina Cheese
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. coarse-grain mustard

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 13x9x2 inch casserole dish.  Cook macaroni pasta in boiling water per package directions, until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, rinse and drain again.

Cook chopped bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer bacon and 1/4 cup bacon drippings to large bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, and 1/4 cup parsley with bacon and toss until blended.

Add minced garlic and jalapeno to remaining pan drippings in skillet and saute over medium heat until fragrant.  Add flour and whisk 3 minutes.  Gradually add in whole milk, then add egg yolks, cayenne, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Cook until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.  Add 2 cups of the Fontina Cheese, Cheddar cheese, remaining Asiago cheese and stir until cheeses melt.  Remove from heat.  Mix in macaroni, coarse-grain mustard, remaining parsley and the last of the Fontina Cheese.  Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared dish.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over macaroni .  Bake just until topping is golden about 15-20 minutes.

(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake)

If a little is good, then, a lot is better.  Trust me.  Always add a little more butter and a lot more cheese!

Sibling Rivalry

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Siblings.  At 10 years old,  older and younger brothers and sisters are the bane of our existence.  The natural pecking order decrees, the older sibs pick on us and the younger ones, by nature of being the littlest, bug us.  By the time we’re 25, those same unbearable beasts are our best friends.  The years in between are layered with childish fights over who is Granny‘s favorite, who got the bigger slice of apple pie and cries of “am-so-am-not’s”!  Years that are peppered with spats over who received better grades, scored higher on a test and was most popular at school.  Throughout is the underlying rivalry of ‘besting them’, a thin whisper of competitiveness threaded between siblings to do just as well, if not better.  To out-score, out-smart and out-win the beast from our younger years.

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Sibling shoe spats

Though poles apart in personality, talent and smarts, Amore and Dolce do share one thing in common – sibling rivalry.  They know if they have been slighted, if one receives an extra indulgence over the other, when the other is benefiting from special attention, and whether or not they have been left behind from a trip in the car.  Their competitiveness kicks in as they jockey for position to sit next to me on the couch for their nighttime loving.  Dolce especially, as she backs into the pocket between the couch pillows and my side, scooting closer and closer against me as Amore attempts to come around by the back of the sofa to divide, separate and conquer.  Jealousy takes over if one of the girls is getting all the petting and belly rubs.  Nose nudging the elbow to disrupt the canine massage, they will manuever their furry head to steal some ear-scratching pleasure.

If one has a toy, the other one wants it.  Not to chew on, just to know that they can take it away.  Dibs on the pooch pillow is ignored, losing their favorite spot if they  leave their warm perch to go outside.  All of a sudden they are mathematicians, counting the exact number of treats, to the last kibble given and to whom, and know if an additional delicious nugget was dropped and caught by the other.  On leash, Amore takes the lead, her nose just inches past Dolce’s, but ahead none the least.  Going to the store, Dolce is riding shotgun no matter what, at no matter what cost.  Amore can out run, out race her sis.  Dolce out-smarts and out-wits her litter mate.  On occasion, we’ll hear a low growl, the start of a sibling squabble, resulting in a pout from Amore or a yelp from Dolce.  Just as quick, its forgotten, the toy ignored.

At four years old, Amore and Dolce are best buddies’, side by side.  They share their food but not their treats.  Amore pulls ahead on walks, Dolce grabs the front seat on trips.  Both can do the math.

tail thumping

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tail thumper

tail thumper

Thump. Thump. Thump-thump-thump. Thump-thump-thumpity-thump. Whack! Whack-whack! Whack! C.R.A.S.H.

Knowing the difference between a one thump tail thunk and a whackity-whack wallop can rescue dog owners from future calamity. Here are descriptive clues on what each thump and whack really mean….

The ol’ one thump is clearly an insult, the slightest lift of their head, barely acknowledging something might be happening, perhaps an arch of the brow or a twitch of the ear. The effort to investigate is not worth moving from their dog bed of lethargy. You’ve been ignored. This is good. You can return to your baking.

A two or three or four tail-thump is an improvement – they have expanded enough energy to give you several beats of interest before emitting a loooong drawn out sigh. One eye ajar, wavering between going back to snoring or exploring the new development, this tail-thumper is classified as a true put-a-pond sign of disgruntlement. Your dog really doesn’t want to get up to probe but they also don’t want to miss anything. You’re safe. You’ve got a 90% chance dog dreams are more important than rising to sniff out their curiosity. Keep doing what you were doing.

Now a thumpity-thump-thump-thump is heading into the danger zone. Tail speed is kicking up, creating 30 mph winds. Eyes alert, standing at attention, you’ve piqued their interest and you’ve got 100 pounds of torque just waiting for the secret, silent signal to move. Let the cookies burn in the oven. MOVE. You need to divert disaster before it attacks you. The odds have swiftly moved up to a solid 69% chance of rapid canine involvement (RCI). Pay attention. Do. Not. Turn. Your. Back. On. Tail.

The whackity-whack tail whack will put TSA on red alert. Whacks of this type will inevitably bring a loud, vociferous collision of canine tail and object. Beware. Tail-whacking at this velocity can literally cause annihilation of your home. This whack is a weapon of mass destruction. Decorative couch pillows have known to blow up, millions of little white chicken feathers spreading like wild-fire throughout the house. Coffee cups shattered in one swoop of a frantic tail whack. Papers, mail and file folders flown into the air, scattering like blind mice on the run. Do not call 911. You are on your own here. At this point, you’re totally screwed. If you have any cookies left that aren’t burnt, I’d start eating.

COOKIE CRUNCHIES

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg – well beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth. Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal, corn flakes, coconut and nuts. Mix until blended.

Roll into small balls and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.