The Deal with Doo

Dog Doo that is… do you ever get used to picking it up?  In my opinion, no.  I’ve owed dogs for a long time and still find myself gagging and grimacing every time I have to pick it up.

scoop poop

But, I’ve got a little something up my sleeve to help me with it.  (And, I don’t just mean asking my hubby to do it, although he will.)  I carry a handy-dandy Easy Scoop a Poop!  It’s small enough to fit in my pocket or attach to a leash and carries the bags inside.  Most importantly when I have to use it it keeps my hand “safe” from feeling the warmth and texture of the deposit I’m picking up.  Before buying this contraption I would gag and retch and sometimes the smell alone still gets to me but this makes it so much easier.

Why am I going on about picking up poop?  Because that’s what responsible dog owners do!

It’s a health hazard to leave a pile behind not only for other dogs but for people too.  Just think of all the bacteria in there.  And, if your dog were to… gulp… ingest it he could get sick.  Or if you were to get it on your shoe you’re going to track all of that home with you and you or someone in your family could get sick.  Yuck!

So in honor of Earth Day tomorrow (April 22nd) I’m sending out this message:  Please clean up after your dog, not only will your neighbors thank you but so will Mother Earth, she doesn’t want her green spaces polluted.

Wordless Wednesday: Cookie Edition II

Remember last week’s photo of Boomer and Dottie with their I love Boulder cookies from Farfel’s Farm?  Well here are the other two that I picked up for them, spring like flowers in blue and pink (which unfortunately didn’t show up very well in the picture and Dottie ate it before I could get another shot).

Boomer and Dottie

What’s Going On?

The blog has been a little quiet here recently.  Sorry for that.  But, I thought I’d share a little bit about what’s been going on.

Boomer is going in this morning to have his blood drawn to see how his liver values are coming along.  Fingers and paws crossed that we’re out of the woods and don’t need medication anymore!

Dottie is just plugging right along with her occasional strange eye movements and arthritis.  We’ve noticed that if she is too active during the day she limps a lot at night.  So I’m thinking it might be time to change up her glucosamine dose and also look the amount of fish oil she’s getting.

I recently changed their food from iVet to Fromm Family Foods and am noticing some really great improvements.  For one thing their fur looks really good and is starting to be a bit softer.  And, we’ve finally got their weights under control.  (At one point Dottie needed to lose and Boomer needed to gain.)

The hubby is busy with tax season but only for another day!  Finally, some down time together and a chance to explore Longmont and the surrounding area.  Adventures await!

And, I’m just doing my thing working at Zoom Room Longmont and trying my hardest to get healthier (more to come on that later).

Boomer and Dottie

So while I’ve been somewhat quiet, what have you been up to?

Our Version of Voodoo Vegetables

One of my favorite food trucks back in Wichita is the Flying Stove and on more than one occasion the hubby and I went in search of it.  I’ve even written a few posts about it, you can check them out here and here.

voodoo vegetablesSo craving a little something from home that we both really like my hubby decided he was going to try to make one of our favorite dishes, the voodoo vegetables.  The title doesn’t even begin to explain the yumminess that is this salad.  You start by roasting red potatoes and a red pepper in the oven.  Later you add some green beans that have been tossed in blackening spice.

voodoo vegetablesWhile everything is roasting away you can clean your spring greens, chop your peperoncini, make your simple yet tasty vinaigrette and warm your lemon in a pan or throw it on the grill.

voodoo vegetablesOnce everything is roasted and chopped up you can start to assemble your salad.  Start by tossing the greens and some chopped dill in the vinaigrette, top this with your roasted veggies, sprinkle with crumbled feta and cashews then squeeze your lemon over the entire thing.

voodoo vegetablesHonestly, I think the hubby has this one down!  And, I’m glad because I’ve missed this dish.  There are several things I should mention though, you will use a lot of bowls and make a large mess.  And, this recipe is time-consuming but having said that, it’s worth it!

voodoo vegetablesOur Version of Voodoo Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 3 red potatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. blackening spice
  • 1/8 cup peperoncini, rough chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. stone ground mustard
  • 3 good handfuls of spring greens
  • 1/2 small lemon
  • 3 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cashews, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Place the red pepper on a piece of foil with the edges turned up.
  3. Cut the potatoes into smaller pieces, toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan.
  4. Put the pepper and the potatoes in the oven and roast for roughly 25 minutes.
  5. Toss green beans in olive oil and blackening spice, add to the oven with the potatoes and pepper.  Continue roasting for an additional 25 minutes.
  6. Wrap the red pepper in the foil when it comes out of the oven, after a few minutes pull off the skin, seed and dice into small pieces.
  7. In a bowl combine olive oil, vinegar and mustard, mix together forming a vinaigrette.
  8. Place lemon in a nonstick skillet and cook until the flesh is slightly browned (you could place over a grill to heat also)
  9. Add greens and dill to a bowl and pour vinaigrette over the top, toss together making sure everything is well coated.
  10. Add the roasted vegetables, peperoncini, cashews and feta to the bowl.
  11. Squeeze the roasted lemon over the top.
  12. Serve either warm, at room temp or cold.

* To see other yummy recipes, check out my Recipes page!

Cheese Making Class

Since I’m not working as many hours now I’ve been able to take advantage of some of the cool things my new town, Longmont, has to offer. And, cross another item or two off my bucket list.  One of the first places I had to visit upon moving here was a place called the Cheese Importers.  And, believe me it’s everything and more that you’d expect from a place with its name.  They have cheeses of every kind in addition to pastas, oils, vinegars, jams, jellies and other yummy delectables.  They also have a cafe that serves lunches and dinners and a pastry case with my favorite macaron ever, the chocolate raspberry.  But, I’m not writing a review of this place although I do recommend that if you happen to be in town you pay them a visit.  Instead I’m going to tell you about a fun experience I had there recently.

I was on Facebook one afternoon, imagine that, and I saw that they were hosting a cheese making class by a local woman, Kate, who has a farm in the area, Briar Gate Farm.  The class was going to cover soft cheeses and ricotta.  You know already if you’ve followed this blog for a while that I’ve already got a killer recipe for ricotta courtesy of Cory from Eat & Relish.  (Here’s a link to my post and then to hers.)  But, I’m always willing to learn a new technique or recipe so I called to sign myself up and got the last seat in the class!

So that next Saturday I grabbed a notebook and took off.  I was more than excited to learn something new and tasty!  Being the first one there, I’m almost always early to every place I go, I had a chance to talk with the instructor.  I told her that I’d made ricotta but the recipe I follow was so much different from hers and was curious to try hers.

cheese making classOnce everyone had arrived we started the class with a milk tasting.  Yep, just like tasting wine.  It was also a blind tasting and we were supposed to tell her out of the four she gave us which were farm-fresh cow’s milk and which were farm-fresh goat’s milk and which ones were store-bought.  The only problem is that I don’t drink milk, can’t stand the taste of it, so I didn’t really drink it.  I did more of a sniff and just let it touch my tongue a bit before washing it down with some water.  And, believe it or not I got a good majority of them right!

While we were tasting away Kate told us about how to source our milk, where to get the best products.  After all better ingredients make better products!  We also learned a bit about the various goats that produce milk.  This was where I learned a lot because I don’t normally use goat’s milk or eat goat’s milk cheeses.

I was pretty surprised then when I got to taste the chevre (a goat cheese) she made right there in the class rolled in dried herbs.  It was really good!  We also tried a version that was plain which I found a little too strong, it had a pungent earthy flavor that I didn’t care for.

chevre goat cheeseBut, then it was time for what I think was the star of the show, it was time for the ricotta!  And, you’d be surprised at how easy it came together.  She took a gallon of whole milk, slowly brought the temperature up to 195ºF before stirring in 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.  It was like magic, instantly the curds formed and she was able to gently scoop them into a cheesecloth lined strainer.  After it drained a minute she added 3 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of baking soda (apparently that keeps it fluffy) and then it was done.

ricotta cheeseShe let us try the fresh hot ricotta with some crackers and it was heavenly, I could have eaten it with a spoon!  And, then she added a bit of pesto to it and I really, really thought I was in heaven.  It was so good, I’m going to keep that pesto trick up my sleeve for when I want to impress someone!

We had samples of all the other cheeses to take with us and I thought I would be nice and share them with my hubby but the ricotta… I ate it all, there was nothing left to share!  Oops!

chevre goat cheeseBut, she did finish the class with chocolate, a chocolate truffle to be exact.  It was made with goat cheese and I thought tasted like a chocolate cheesecake.  Who knew you could combine goat cheese and chocolate?

goat cheese chocolate truffleOverall I had a good time and learned a bit about the chemistry behind cheese making and most importantly, for me anyway, how to source good milk.  I was pleased to learn that a second class was going to be taught about how to make mozzarella and burrata, two of my favorites and immediately signed up.  But, by the time the class rolled around I was unable to make it.  Maybe I’ll get to go to one of her other classes when they come around again.  I’d really like that.

So readers have you tried your hand at making cheese before?  Is it something you think you’d like to try if you haven’t?

What Do You Do When The One Thing You Are Most Passionate About Makes You Sick?

I’ve been trying for a while now to deal with a bad situation and figure out a way around it all but it’s just not happening.  So I’m going to share it with you blog readers and see what advice you have for me.  The blog universe is sure to have some wisdom right?  Boomer and Dottie hope so!

Boomer and DottieIt all started a few months back, I was in an exam room with one of the veterinarians I work with.  We were doing an exam on a dog that was very, very excited to see us.  So we had some serious restraining to do!  Luckily we got everything sorted out and then just needed to go over the results with the owner.  While the vet was talking to the client I was standing there starting to feel a little weird.  I got really hot, then I started to feel dizzy and then I felt really nauseated.  Eventually I excused myself from the room, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Once out of the room I got some fresh air and started to feel better, but when I looked down at my arms I was covered in welts.  I realized I was having some sort of allergic reaction to the dog I had just handled.  I immediately told my boss and then went to wash my arms really well.  I also took some Benadryl to see if that would help.  After a while I still didn’t feel well and asked to go home.  Once there I took a shower and then passed out for about 3 hours.  When I woke up I still had some hives but was doing OK.

The next few days I took it easy with my animal handling, but unfortunately was bit by a cat I was restraining for a procedure.  And, even though I washed my hand really well it started to swell up and hurt.  I knew at this point something was wrong so I made an appointment with an allergy doctor.  What followed has been a nightmare.

First, I went in and had blood work done, a scratch test and breathing tests.  Second, I found out that I have asthma.  And third, I’m not only really allergic to weeds, grass, trees, dust mites, corn pollen (whatever that’s about) but also to cats and dogs.

allergyThe doctor gave me my options and told me I had some big decisions to make.  He said that to continue taking antihistamines would just mask the problems and one day I could get really sick.  He said the best option was allergy shots and I eventually agreed.  He said we could start by doing clusters which is grouping allergy shots all in one day a week, it’s risky but it would get my immune system jump started and I agreed.

The first few clusters were uneventful.  I took my iPod and iPad with me to keep myself entertained for the 4 to 5 hours I needed to be there.  They would check my vitals and inject higher doses every 30 minutes as long as I was doing well.

Well, the third cluster didn’t go so well.  My arms started to swell, my head started to itch and I was in pain so they stopped and sent me home with steroids, ice packs and strict instructions to rest and not come into contact with any triggers.

allergy shotsLuckily I got over that reaction and was able to go back the next week.  They gave me my first injection and I was fine so they proceeded with the next one.  After checking me over the second time they noticed that I was swelling up again so they said they would wait longer before moving on.  And, here’s where it all goes wrong.

I started to itch really bad, I felt like I had fleas or lice!  I went to the bathroom only to see that I had hives all over my neck, chest and back.  I was getting hives all over my scalp and then my lips started to swell up.  And, then I had a panic attack, a bad one.  Apparently panic attacks are a rare reaction but I certainly had one.  I very close to going into anaphylactic shock!

So the nurses came in held my arms down and jabbed me really hard in the leg with a dose of epinephrine.  It hurt so bad, I cursed like a sailor and had one of the nurses not grabbed my arm I would have clocked the nurse injecting me.  Unfortunately the drug surged through me and made my blood pressure spike and caused another panic attack.  At this point they decided to call my hubby and asked him to come to the clinic.

Over the course of several hours they checked my vitals, iced my arms and head, gave me steroids and antihistamines and tried to keep me calm.  I was able to go home later in the day but not before making another difficult decision I wasn’t ready for.

The doctor told me I had to stop doing the clusters because a reaction like this could happen again.  He said we could stop the injections all together which would put me right back to where I started, we could just do regular allergy injections but it would take longer to get my immune system going or we could dilute the serum we were using and come in once a week for shots.  I decided to go with the last option, because stopping wasn’t possible, I’d come to far.

allergy shotsSo you may be asking yourself why I’m making such a big deal about this.  Well, I lost my job at the clinic.  Actually it was a decision the owner and I decided together.  She was afraid that I was putting myself too much at risk and that she didn’t want to see anything happen to me while at work.  And, honestly I was afraid something would happen too.  So I’ve left the clinic.

I’ve got another job working at a dog training facility which is great but I can’t handle any of the dogs.  The one or two times I’ve come in contact with clients and their dogs I’ve ended up with hives.  Luckily my boss understands and can keep me busy doing other things, like writing blog posts, posting to Facebook and Instagram, doing inventory and talking to clients as they come in about what classes they need.

At home I’ve been very careful not to let Boomer and Dottie rub on me as much on days I’m getting injections, they are triggers after all.  And, I’ve only had a reaction to each of them a handful of times and it’s been very mild.  It’s still something to be concerned about though.  My hubby knows where the epi-pens are as well as a rescue inhaler!

But, do you see the problem?  There is a chance these injections won’t work.  And, if that happens what’s next?

I love dogs, I love working with them, I love having them as pets, they’re my furry children.  The idea of not being able to have a dog is enough to send me over the edge.  The thought of not volunteering to help the homeless ones makes me want to cry.  And, I’ve always wanted to foster someday, but it’s possible I won’t be able to.  My fingers are crossed that this works but in the mean time my heart is still broken, dogs are my life and I’m unable to be around them now.

What do you do when the one thing you are most passionate about makes you sick?