Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Two Months of Maizie

So I've been a dog owner for two months today.

I know a lot of people were surprised I got a dog. I've always been a cat person (Bacon and Eggs are almost 10 years old!). I didn't grow up with dogs. But, for the past year, I have been thinking about getting one. And then, for about 2 months prior to getting Maizie, I was seriously thinking about getting one - desiring the companionship that all my dog owning friends kept talking about.

I fostered an awesome Austrailian cattle dog named Maggie at the end of April that I really liked, but she was 2 years old and had a past and I wasn't sufficiently versed in dog to be able to figure out how to correct some of her behaviors. Plus, she was 45 pounds of muscle that did not want to listen to me and my joints were wicked sore after just two days. She also tried to eat the cats. So, at the advice of my dog-training friend, Abby, I started looking for a smaller dog, and a younger one so it would grow up with cats and hopefully not try to eat them.

I didn't want a puppy. I had heard about how much work they were and I already knew there were going to be some sacrifices to be made in my schedule to accommodate a dog and I didn't think I could shift things around enough to get a puppy.

I ended up with a puppy.

A ~15 week old Yorkie and maybe Border Terrier mix puppy that I named Maizie. A friend shared a picture on Facebook from a local rescue group of her and I thought about it for two weeks and then emailed them. A week and half later, she was in my car, headed to my house.

Good night, puppies are a lot of work. I am now a pro at ducking june bugs at 2am as they dive-bomb me as I tell Maizie to "do your business". I can also duck them pretty well at 3am and 4am too, depending on the day and Maizie's bladder. And sidestep Texas cockroaches that skitter across the deck. And I tackled replacing the broken light fixture out back because the flashlight wasn't cutting it with giving me ample time to duck the bugs.

The Lord knew I needed a dog that was mellow and obedient. Maizie is just that. She has her quirks (apparently, my animals all need to be vocal…she doesn't bark (yay) but she does whine and whine-talk (don't ask me to make the sound, 'cause I probably would, but it would be kinda awkward)). She cracks me up with her clumsiness and cuteness. She's super friendly - loves dogs and people…and the cats (although they would prefer her not being in the house.) And I've gotten more exercise in the past two months than this entire year due to running around with her in the yard and taking her for walks.

So, yeah, I think this dog-owning thing is going to work out. It's been major adjustment for me (just ask my officemate who has put up with my dog drama very sweetly and helpfully, being a dog owner herself - thanks Jaime!), but it's getting easier. And I have amazing, generous friends to help watch her when I have to work long days or weird hours.

Instagram is very familiar with Maizie. And now, you will be as well.  Here's a summary of Two Months of Maizie. Don't pass out from the cuteness.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Little Love for the Breakfast Nook

I finally tackled three outstanding projects for the breakfast nook! It's been awhile since a project post but trust me, there are several coming…apparently I like to work on 20.27 different projects at once (yeah…).

1) The first is boring: I never sealed the white paint when I refinished the table. Many cups of coffee and meals later, the table was looking like it had hosted many cups of coffee and meals. Thus,  I repainted the top and added three coats of polyurethane to make it food proof. So far so good! I didn't take pictures. It's a white table. Use your imagination :).

2) Artwork! This was fun! I used a rubber leaf stamp I already had, watercolors I already had, and photo frames I already had. All I had to buy were hooks and a can of bronze metallic spray paint and Voila! Artwork for the breakfast nook!

After stamping and painting

After framing and hanging

3) Hanging terrariums! I bought the terrariums from CB2 and since Home Depot was no longer carrying miniature succulents, I used some Hobby Lobby coupons and bought the fakes ones. With some moss and rocks, you really can't tell they are fake unless you are really close or you poke the plants (and really, who's going to do that?).

Hanging terrariums!

This spot is so nice to sit in late in the afternoon with some sunlight filtering through the blinds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Annnnnd they're finally edible!

One of the most challenging things I have found about gluten free baking not using a mix, is getting the flour ratios right. I made a series of banana breads over the past month using different ratios and they were only edible by me (meaning, there's no way I would have someone else eat them because too much explanation on the texture would be necessary. Blah.)

Awhile back, my friend Lauren shared her Paleo Berry Muffin recipe with me (thanks Lauren!). While I do not eat a Paleo diet, my no-gluten, no-dairy, low sugar diet that works best for me happens to be very close to Paleo and I find myself using several Paleo-friendly recipes. I tweaked her recipe some to add some additional fiber and Omega-3 and used what I had on hand (agave instead of honey), but these can very easily be made Paleo (leave out the flaxseed and chia seeds - apparently these aren't approved Paleo based on what google revealed :) ).

And the best part is, I had all of this stuff in my pantry already (with the exception of the tapioca flour) so if you already eat a whole food diet and bake gluten free, I bet you will have most, if not all, of it as well. This is a great ratio of flours, the texture is spot on - but be warned, if your berries are extra juicy, the muffins may have some uber moist spots. I've heard the use of flaxseed can trap moisture so one tweak could be to leave that out.

These are amazingly tasty! I may have eaten 3 4 of them while typing this blog post. So good! I put a source list at the bottom in case you are new to gluten free baking and aren't sure where to get these things (most are available at your local grocery store now!).

Berry Muffins (Lauren's recipe with some Melissa tweaks)

Wet Ingredients

1/4c melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1/4c blue agave (I use the light gold color, but you can use whichever you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4c berries (I used some frozen ones I picked last month)

Dry ingredients

1 1/4c almond meal/almond
6 T tapioca flour
1/4c coconut flour
1 T ground flaxseed
1T chia seeds
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

Melt coconut oil in big measuring cup. Add agave, vanilla, and eggs. Mix

In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil/egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. If it's too dry (mine wasn't) you can add almond milk by the tablespoon until the mixture is moist.

Stir in your berries.

I used a mini muffin tin sprayed with coconut oil. I rolled ~1" balls and plopped then in the muffin spots.

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.


Source list (these are the places I know of, I am sure there are more)

I use Bob's Red Meal Almond Meal, Coconut Flour, and Tapioca flour. These can be bought at Walmart, HEB, or Kroger. Central Market and Whole Foods carry them too. I haven't done a price comparison. My blue agave is the organic Kroger brand. The ground flaxseed can be found at HEB, Kroger, and Whole Foods. The chia seeds I buy in bulk at Whole Foods (best deal). The spray coconut oil I've bought at HEB, Kroger, and Whole Foods (I use Spectrum brand). The coconut oil I have is from Whole Foods, EfaGold brand. I don't cook often with it so it's lasted me a long time. Walmart and Kroger carry a LouAna brand non- organic coconut oil - works just as good as the other, but just isn't as high quality - personally I think that's just fine for baking (I got the higher end stuff to take as a supplement).