Friday, July 30, 2010

We are family!

We are family... get up everybody and sing...

As you know, we have been celebrating this summer. Lots of celebrating for growing families! Here are some shots of our families celebrating in style. We are family!!

The above shots were taken at Nate and Courtney's wedding in late June.What a good lookin' family!

Here are the Fab 5 at Andrea and Greg's wedding. Youngest to oldest. Still looking radiant and beautiful. What a blessing?!

Love the craziness in this picture. I love each one of their faces and position. Believe it or not, they're looking at pictures from Nate and Courtney's wedding.

Nana with her grandbabies, although the boys aren't really babies anymore.

All of these moments were captured at Andrea and Greg's July wedding. I had to post one of me and my love.

Each set of the Brown's missing 1/4 of the siblings.... Dave and Nick.

The last set of pictures are from Dustin and Kristen's wedding reception in June. They had a destination wedding in Florida and we came to help celebrate at their reception.

J and I have had a wonderful summer celebrating with our families. We are so excited to welcome these new members to the family and continue to be apart of their ever-changing lives. Now we're looking forward to several more family and friend weddings this fall (3 in 4 weekends in October) and at least 2 next year!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dog'gone Yummy Treats

If you are not a dog-lover, dog-owner, etc, feel free to ignore this post. I'm going to be sharing with you a few of my favorite treats to make my pups. 

I've been making two different biscuits and one chew treat for the past couple of months. Because of these homemade, nutritious treats, we have all but eliminated any other treat they get. We have organic chicken treats they get at the vet and once a day and other rawhides for emergencies, but otherwise they get these. They love them all. and have a lot of great ideas if you're looking for other, great, nutritious treat ideas for your best friend.

I'm going to start with the family favorite, Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats. Here we go.


You'll need: 
  • 1 egg (or 2 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce, which is what I use)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Combine eggs/applesauce, honey, mashed bananas and peanut butter in mixing bowl. Slowly add in whole wheat flour and wheat germ. Stir mixture. It will get thick and hard to stir. I use additional applesauce or water to soften it up a bit. You can use whatever you prefer.

At this point you can roll out the dough (to about 1/4" thick) and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, or you can roll a teaspoon amount of dough into a ball and place on the sheet. You choice. I normally just roll them as it is faster and the pups don't care if they are in shapes or not.

 Before baking, lightly brush egg whites over the top of the biscuits to eliminate cracking.

Finally, bake biscuits in preheated oven until dried and golden brown, which is usually about 30 minutes, but depends on size.  

Feel free to double or triple the recipe. Your pups will love you for them!

The other treat I typically make are Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Treats

Here's What You Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs (or 4 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff (NOTE: When you use the applesauce in place of the egg, it typically is the perfect amount of workable stiffness). Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until hard, which runs about 40 minutes.
The last recipe is for Sweet Potato Chews. The boys scarf these down, as in they didn't last overnight in my house. Next time I'll double or triple the batch as it only says to slice up one sweet potato in the recipe. 

All you need is one sweet potato, cleaned and sliced lengthwise (see step #3).

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut off one side of the sweet potato lengthwise, as close to the edge as possible. Cutting the side of the potato first allows you to then turn the potato onto this flat surface that you have just created. Having a stable area to rest the potato will make it easier to cut the potato into slices. Don't discard that first piece, it comes out just as yummy as the rest!
  4. Cut the rest of the potato into 1/3" slices, no smaller than 1/4".
  5. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 3 hours, turning half way through.
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack.
To store, keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can freeze them for up to 4 months. This is a great treat to make ahead and save for a rainy day!

I never thought I liked to bake, but since I've become vegan and become more conscious about what I'm putting into my dogs, I've realized that I love it. I am slowly turning into my mother! Please share any great recipes with me!

Happy Baking.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vegan Zucchini Nut Muffins

One of my favorite memories growing up was baking (and then enjoying) zucchini walnut muffins with my Grandma Betty. I've been searching for the recipe for years and I recently stumbled across "the" recipe. I was able to make it vegan by substituting unsweetened applesauce for the eggs. It was absolutely delicious. You need to try these. Maybe you can remember a sweet childhood memory as you enjoy one.

You'll need:
3 cups of flour, sifted
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 cups of sugar
8 tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup of oil
2 cups of unpeeled, coarsely grated zucchini (I used one straight from my friend's garden)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of walnuts, chopped

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine sugar and applesauce in large bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Gradually add oil in slow, steady stream, beating constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add zucchini and vanilla and blend well. Stir in walnuts. Fold in dry ingredients just until batter is evenly moistened. Do not over-mix.

 Fill 20 paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350ºF, 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove muffins from pans to cool. Makes 20 muffins.

Let me tell you, they are amazing! Happy Baking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What can you do with a doily? -- DIY Idea

I'm always on the lookout for a fun, easy and quick crafting project that I can whip up. This way I can feed my addiction but still get my other life obligations done! I found the idea that I'm going to show you on Under the Sycamore. It's a great, practical idea that you can make for yourself or make for others.

I get the bags from Hobby Lobby for $2.00 when they are on sale, for $3.99 regular price. I just cut the initial out of card stock to use and I use a doily for the edging. The whole project probably costs $4-5/bag but once you have the supplies, it seems like you can make them for nothing. I find it's easier to do a printed font versus a script font, but you could do it either way. I just use standard fabric paint that you can get anywhere (even Wal-Mart) for like $1 a bottle.

 When I paint bags altogether, I paint the stencil on all of them for one side; then go back and paint the initial on all of them on that side.

 Wait about an hour, flip over and do the other side. But you could just do one side.

 Just make sure if you wash the bag to flip it inside out and wash on a lower setting like delicate. You can find the whole tutorial here.

Or, you could buy them straight from etsy here: OR here:[]=tags&includes[]=title

Make sure if you buy them from etsy that you convo the seller to get them all specific to your needs.

I love mine! I use it for library books, groceries, the farmer's market, selling books at Half Price Books, etc. The possibilities are endless. When I give these as gifts, I love to fill them with unique or themed items for the person.

Here's the 2.0 Model.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

5 Years Ago Today...

I can hardly believe its been 5 years ago today that my best friend asked me to share forever with him. What a treasured memory. My perfect Parisian proposal in the park.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Etsy Find -- Janet Hill Studio

I am a huge Etsy fan. I can find you anything you could ever need on Etsy and half the time I could make it for you cheaper. However, I sometimes find things that I must own. In my own indecisiveness I can wait too long and the item will have been snapped up by some other more decisive person.

Enter Exhibit A: 

A print of "A Sunday Picnic" by Janet Hill. I saw it on Design*Sponge back in April, hesitated about a day and it was sold out... sold out for months as I would find out. It just came back in stock and I snapped my own up as soon as Paypal could get it processed. So now it is mine, and I LOVE it. It looks beautiful and lovely in my kitchen. I smile every time I see it.

Not only do I love the painting, but it also represents my "dream party" that I am dying to host. Remember this? The have the same feel to me and I am still planning it in my head. Oh, I can't wait until I can actually carry it out. I just need the perfect occasion.

Feel free to buy your own Janet Hill Studio painting. You're gonna love it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another beautiful day in my corner of the world

Madison has been having our share of gorgeous weather the past few weeks -- and the temps have even dipped below the nineties.

I just wanted to share a beautiful sunset over of our little slice of heaven. These were captured in Verona, WI, past Jared's work campus. Oh, what a night!

The glorious sun rays were breathtaking in person, but I think the pictures capture a little of that essence.

I hope you've been getting out there and enjoying the wonder and splendor of the season... full of crickets, mosquitoes, fireflies and sunshine! Make the most of it this summer, don't let any moment pass you by!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

B's Owie and Other Animal News

I had planned to take a vacation day last week, instead I spent the day with B at the vet clinic. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but he needed me to be there and he needed to get all fixed up.

After 3 hours at the vet, a slight sedation, minor surgery and pain meds, we were free to go home. B had sliced off the bottom layers of his paw and he was struggling to get around. He had a horrible limp. When I first noticed it, I thought it was a joint injury (ankle, knee, hip) but once we got him to calm down we noticed that part of his pad was missing and another part was just hanging there.

He was still pretty out of it for the next day or so, but he's finally back to himself now...barking and fetching with the best of them.

The doctor put ointment, gauze and two types of wrapping over the wound. We bought a "paw-tector" to put on when he went outside which seemed to help give him the additional support he needed. After 3 days, he pulled the doctor's bandages off (which the doctor said would happen after 3-5 days) and started only wearing the paw-tector. Now he's back to basics and doing well. We have a follow-up appointment this week so hopefully the area will continue to heal.

Here are some shots of B recovering with his paw-tector on.

In other animal news, my sister and nephew have recently adopted a new dog... Biscuit, a two-year old labradoodle!.

Meet Biscuit Orr...

I love him already. Welcome to the pack.

Also, while we're talking animals... has anyone put a turtle in a hamster ball to let him walk around? These people have... click here and here. J and I are looking for a hamster ball big enough to fit our Phil. He likes being out of the aquarium but he doesn't like being out with the dogs...what a conundrum!? Anyway, that is our latest project.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sewing 101 -- DIY Dog Bed

Since I've recently taught myself to sew on my new sewing machine, when we got new bedding for our bed I figured I could make a new cover for O's bed cheaper and more efficiently than I could buy one. So, I went to JoAnn Fabrics and bought 1 yard of black fleece, 1 yard of a coordinating B&W floral pattern cotton fabric and a 1/4 yard pink polka dot cotton fabric. I also bought some great buttons you'll see later. The total (with my coupons) was around $8. Not bad for a dog bed!

I measured out the fabrics based on the current bed and worked on piecing the pink pieces together. Then I sewed them to the fleece and finally to the floral cotton. I sewed on the buttons last.

I think he likes it. What do you think?

O loves "nesting" in his bed. He paws and stretches and wiggles and scratches until he gets comfortable, then he flops down and passes out. I think I passed the O test.

I had to use some glamorous buttons as the closure on the bed. It was easier than putting in a zipper and I thought they added a little pop of pizazz to the bed.

I love the way it turned out. Whenever O sleeps on it, I get so excited that I made it with love for him to enjoy. It also looks great with our new bedding, if I must say so myself!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Releases!

I've finished reading a few more books. I think I'm well on my way to reaching my goal of 52 books this year. The best thing about it is that I'm really reading at a leisurely pace and I'm only reading novels that truly appeal to me.

The Happiness Project 33
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 34
The Homemade Life 35
Columbine 36

I loved The Homemade Life. It is definitley one of my "Top 5" this year. Here's the review I posted on for it.

"Such a sweet foodie memoir. I LOVED reading this book. I felt like I was right across the kitchen table from Molly, perusing her recipes and hearing snippets of her life in relation to each one. I just loved this book and the warm, sweet, honey-scented feeling it left me with. Definitely recommended and would be a nice addition to one's bookshelf."

On yet another reading note, two books I've been looking forward to came out today (Fly Away Home and Sleepless) with another one coming out next Tuesday (Linger -- think Twilight with more wolves and no vamps). 

I'll have my reading cut out for me considering I'm already engrossed in another good read by a great author. 

 What are your favorite books? Any new recommendations? Send them my way!


Monday, July 12, 2010

An "Initial" Gift

My lovely mother-in-law has wanted some initial paintings for quite awhile. She kept mentioning that she thought it would be a neat thing to have displayed in the house. I thought it would be something that I could make her for a whole lot less than buying them elsewhere.

I considered buying picture frames and printing colors and letters for each person but I decided on just painting them straight onto canvases. That way I was able to control the exact color composition and size and shape of each letter. I designed it to be a 3 x 3 art piece/wall hanging display, but she couldn't pick only 9 (I made 12 total since our family is still forming). Each painting had an initial of someone in our family and the middle letter is the family initial. The three small letters on the bottom left canvas represent the three grand-dogs (O, B and P). 

She ended up finding another spot for the last (12th) canvas across the room. This one has D&G which are my in-laws initials. I thought they may want that to be the center canvas of the 3 x 3 but they preferred it here and I think it worked our perfectly.

Here's another close-up of the initial paintings.

I had to post one of my love hanging out in the newly renovated/redecorated room.

My MIL also wanted me to create a sign for a blank spot on the wall. Together we decided on Faith, Hope and Love. Since it came from Corinthians, I wrote the whole verse on the back border. It felt like a hidden secret to me, which I loved!

Here's another view before it made it to the wall.

I think she liked the end result and the room turned out beautifully! I love being able to create things for those I love. I think it is so much more personal and intimate than just always buying something off of a shelf so I try to make/create whenever I can. But I just love giving all kinds of gifts! I finished wrapping five gifts for August birthdays and anniversaries yesterday... 2 homemade and 3 store-bought. I love finding or making the perfect gift for someone and then taking the time to wrap it as beautifully as possible. Oh the simple joys!!