Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cannon Ball! - Barkley Memories.

I found these shot of Barkley, while sorting out some computer files.  This was a  little creek that was unusually full due to heavy rains,  and he just dove in with the leash attached (it was the kind that plays out to about 8 feet) to play fetch with some sticks floating downstream.
 Got it!
I found a bigger one!
Here's sticky sticky!

Wordless Wednesday - My Best Friend's Alarm Clock


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Fashionable Lab

Look at my hat!  My daily noon dog walker Jan and I found it while Mom was teleworking the other day. Jan used to be a Postal Carrier.  She missed being outdoors and walking, so after retirement she walks dogs and she's the BEST dog walker ever.  When Mom and Dad work, she walks me at least once a day, and twice if they are running late.  I just love Jan.

When we got back Mom took a picture.   I wore it all over the neighborhood and people came over and patted me and told me how cute I was.
I think it was a little kids hat as it just fits my head and has a strap that's Velcro so it isn't too tight.

I think I look quite  fashionable. -
Abby Lab

Monday, September 28, 2015

Barkley Memories - DUDE!!!

An old picture of Barkley at my best friends house,  It's sort of a "hippie haven" for rescued cats (I think she has 7 now, in and outside on the sprawling farm type property where the cats were dumped over various winters). There's usually bread baking, herbs trying for tinctures and the smell of incense in the air, a very soothing retreat for both man and beast. However, Goldie, a decided indoor cat who sleeps on the top of the cat hostel, was less than amused with Barkley barking at the chipmunks outside.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Make Up Your Own Wacky Holiday!

Were they snatched by a sock eating plant?

Were they "beamed up"

Is there a WOOL-verine  in the basement laundry room that's eating them?

What's happening to all of Dad's socks?

We started out with a LOT. When Mom and Dad were newlyweds and she asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said "lots of socks".  So she got him lots of socks.  Apparently, she mis-heard him.  It just SOUNDED like "socks".

So we had a LOT of pairs of socks in all different colors and styles when they were first married.

Mom gets them paired up after ALL the laundry is done, usually when Dad gets back from a long trip overseas on business and any strays are discarded, and there is order in the universe.
Then, a week later, after Mom's got the socks folded up so they look like Tribbles -  there's socks without a mate again!
Where DO they go?

Mom thought maybe I'd run off with them, but I was innocent.  I just like my stuffies.

So in memory of all the AWOL socks, we're naming today's Wacky Holiday . .

 Ranger the scottiepup invited all to a bloghop so click on Ranger's link and have your own fun.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Eats - Cinnamon Rolls

It's a weekend morning, the phone rings, friends driving through the area to their home are going to stop by for coffee and a a visit.

They will be here in a little more than an hour.  What to serve them?

Meals Ready to Eat with Mountain Dew?

A Slim fast and a a Slim Jim?

A bowl of "leafs and twigs" high fiber cereal?

Solar-powered dog declines comment.


How about Cinnamon Rolls!

What, you say?  You can't make Cinnamon rolls in less than an hour without thawed bread dough or the Popping Fresh Guy?  I don't have time?! I don't have yeast?!


Try this, they bake up soft and pillowy and sweet without the yeast and can be in the oven in fifteen to twenty minutes. No, they won't replace your favorite yeasty, "take hours to have ready" recipe.  But for a quick treat for company or the little ones, they will be popular and they're much tastier and MUCH cheaper than those store bought or canned ones.

Makes 5 or 6 big rolls
Generously grease a 10 x 10 casserole, 11 x 17 pan or a couple cake or pie tins (my 8 x 8  was too small to get a nice round roll) 

Mix filling; (OK, I just eyeballed the filling, but these measurements should be close)

3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons Penzy's vanilla sugar (or sub regular sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla)
2 Tablespoons Melted butter
2 and 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cardamon (or Nutmeg)

In a separate cup melt 3 tablespoons of butter for brushing the dough before rolling, and during baking.

Dough

1 and 1/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus and additional 1/3 cup for working  and prepping the dough (I recommend White Lilly or other soft flour to get the most rise)
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt

Icing:
2 tbsp cream cheese softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk with just enough milk to make an icing, until smooth

Preheat oven to 425 F.


(1)  Mix milk and lemon juice in cereal bowl, set aside.

(2)  Mix  sugar/spice filling in small bowl.

(3)  Mix  remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl and add milk mixture.  Stir until the dough is a shaggy looking ball (about 20 seconds).  Remove to a board floured with the extra 1/3 cup flour. Have additional flour handy, if needed, to add as you work it to keep it from sticking to the board and your hands (this is initially a sticky dough). Knead until the dough is starting to smooth, about a minute, (do not overwork). Dust a little bit more flour on the board underneath the dough and pat out dough with floured hands to a 8 x 12 inch rectangle.

(4)  Brush dough with about a Tablespoon of the melted butter, setting the rest aside.

(5) Sprinkle sugar mixture over dough leaving a open area of about 1/3 inch around the edges.

(6)  Roll up from the narrow end and slice into 5 or 6 big pieces. These do not rise like yeast rolls, so make the slices thick.  Place in  the well buttered pan, cut side up, barely touching one another but not squished together. Bake at 425 for 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown, brushing with remaining melted butter about halfway through baking.

(7)  Remove and promptly remove rolls from pan onto a plate with a big spatula, spooning any caramelized topping from the bottom of the pan onto the rolls.

(8)  When cool enough to glaze, do so and serve promptly.
Oh  Abby, NOW, you're awake.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fractured Fryday Hairy Tales


We're Joining Sarge and Murphy and Stanley for some Fractured Fryday Hairy Tales to have some fun with creative writing. Today's theme?. . . . .

And That's Why My Toes Turned Purple - A Song

(Sing to tune of Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow)

Oh, the weather outside is crappy
 and Mom looks less than happy
As she looks to the cold to say
 Go Away, Go Away, Go Away 

 My walks they can't be stopping

 but the cold ground has me hopping
 much to poor Mom's dismay
 "Go away, Go away, Go away 

 When we finally get to home

 Mom vows to find help when I roam 
maybe something on E-Bay 
Go, Away, Go Away, Go Away 

 My paws are finally drying,

 to the cold we'll say our goodbying
my purple booties saved the day
Horray, Horray, Horray!
Thanks to our Blog Hop Hosts -

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Some Days Are Like That

There are just some days you need some comfort food to make it all better. For some it's "bath day" (Barkley was NEVER a fan) or for others it's a whole day of meetings which can sometimes be more tiring than being busy with having eight fires at once to put out.

So for tonight. . .

Easy Baked Mac and Cheese. I love the "just like Mom made" stuff with ham and onions and homemade roux, (and I have an incredibly good one if anyone wants it).. But some days you just need EASY. This one is. But is also delicious and unbelievably creamy. You can assemble it in 15 minutes, if you get out the ingredients ahead of time, while you get out of your work clothes and take the dog outside.

This recipe has been made for potlucks many times and the dish is quickly scrapped clean.
You start with some Cabot extra sharp cheddar (or Tillamock for those lucky folks that can find it out West) and (don't faint) a little bit of Velveeta to make it creamy and a can of Campbell's Cheese soup.

Toss in the rest (not pictured, some Penzey's Northwoods seasoning for the most subtle of bite).
Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a little more cheddar on top and bake a bit more.
It's the perfect plate of comfort food.
click on photos for the full effect
4 cups macaroni (dry) cooked
1/4 cup real butter, melt onto drained pasta

Stir in a generous 2 cups shredded good qualityCheddar (about 8 ounces)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
8 ounces processed cheese spread
(all at room temperature)

Stir until mostly melted

Add in 3 eggs whisked into 1 can evaporated milk, 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Northwoods seasoning (or seasoning salt of your choice) and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes covered with foil. Stir well and remove foil. Sprinkle on about 1/2 cup  cheddar cheese and bake another 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until cheese on top is melted and starting to brown on the edges of the pan.

If you wish to go crazy and add an extra five minutes to it, chopped bacon and/or jalapeno is awesome stirred into it before cooking, but it still shines, even plain.

Enjoy.
This is neither low fat or low sodium, and is  really is intended as a side dish for ham or pork or meatloaf.  But I have to say, I loaded up my plate and it was SO worth it.

Say CHEESE!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Chapter From The Book of Barkley

No Barkley - this is for the zombie apocalypse, NOT your breakfast.

CHAPTER 12 - PENNED UP

There are things that are as simple and perfect in their execution as they are in their planning.  Tasks that, in retrospect, you can hold up  for inspection as if they were a piece of blown glass, clear, perfect and pristine in form,  perfectly shaped, without flaw.

This dog pen was not one of them.

Barkley was long past having “accidents” in the house but for the occasional “I ate too fast. . . urp!” barfing.  But he was enough of a "what's this, let me chew on it and see!" when he wanted attention that I needed a place he could safely hang out, rather than run loose while I cleaned or rearranged furniture.

But I did not want him to run loose in the basement either as I had some household items stored there, that could be mistaken for a chew toy.  “Gee Mom, I know it looked like a lamp shade to you, but I swear, I saw one of these at the pet mart.”

I’d gotten the water cleaned up from the flooding down here after the massive rains and a bigger, better sump pump put in. The front yard landscaping was also upgraded to help keep water away from the house. There should not be any further flooding issues and I was confident Barkley would be content down here for short periods of time. 

So I got some wood, some chicken wire, and some cement blocks, attempting to build a large "run" in the basement.  There he could run and play safely where it was dry and comfortable in temperature.

The chicken wire was being, shall we say, recalcitrant, and I wished I had some help. But I needed to get this done.  I had a work assignment that was going to take me out of town for several weeks, and I did not want the live-in dog sitter to worry about Barkley eating her stuff during the day. With my flight the next day, I was hoping I'd not have to ask for help.  As adults, sometimes it’s hard to ask for help that is easy to seek as a child.

In my childhood days, there was usually someone helping me in my youthful adventures; and it was in the form of a tall, lanky redhead, otherwise known as Big Bro.

He and I were not all that far apart in age.  The difference was enough that the divide that is adulthood came early, but not enough that we were anything but inseparable as children. For unlike many of my friends, who merely tolerated their siblings, we were the best of friends, coming into this home from a shadowed past, one that I do not remember myself, but from which our final displacement from this earth would ever truly dispossess us of.

Our adoptive parents were strict, and we knew that disobedience would merit punishment. Some forms of it, like a declaration of liberty, were worth it. Taking the TV apart when we were in grade school was almost worth it even though we found out that moms will freak out when their children play with large explosive tubes.  We won't mention switching the dual controls on Mom and Dad's electric blanket (“I'm hot! Dang it! I'm freezing! Why am I hot! Are you hot?”)

Our parents encouraged us to explore and think for ourselves, opening our minds up to everything they could. TV was a treat, not a babysitter. Books were plentiful, and the library was often a stop on a bicycle that had a basket that could carry ten books home. There were no expensive vacations and resorts. There were museums and historic buildings, old trains and mighty dams that spanned rivers full of steelhead trout, creatures always searching, even as they yearned to be home. So with that, we had our hand in many an exercise in the laws of physics versus childhood, such as:

(1)  The Mattel Thingmaker should have been named "stupid should burn" even as the stink bugs make great ammo.

(2) The child’s wood burning tool does not do a good tattoo on a doll's arm (we’d not as yet grasped Polymers, Thermosetting and Thermoplastic and their resultant melting points).

(3) Potato guns were designed for real potatoes; Mr. Potato Head is just going to lose his hat and Midge, brave redhead that she was, is going to lose a limb even with G.I. Joe's big bazooka scotch- taped to her side. And, finally

(4) The superman cape from Halloween does not enable one to fly.

But the limits we stretched were also physical, racing our bikes up and down the block, no helmets or knee pads, as fast as we could make those bikes go. We'd launch an assault up into the embankments of distant foothills, breathing harder and harder, gulping air in and pushing it back out, like some tiny steam engine, until there was no breath left, the last bit escaping the lungs as our hearts surged upward.  We went until we could not, salty liquid bursting out from pores and tear ducts, the sweat of freedom that finally stopped us at the summit as we captured up our breath again.  Then we'd ride our bikes down the hill again, shouting into the wind and never feeling tired.

Every place was our playground. We played spy and pirate, explorer and soldier; sometimes interchanging the roles as only children can. We were Roger Ramjet on the tail of N.A.S.T.Y. (National Association of Spies, Traitors and Yahoos). We were Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin; we were Lewis and Clark. We crossed undammed ponds, slippery rocks and slippery slopes, the creeks of the woods being our oceans to brave. We shot fake weapons in fake battles, helping our mortally wounded past enemy lines.  We would lift them up, scraped knees the only mark of our fallen, keeping them alive even as we knew they were already gone, remembering and forgetting there in that same instant that we could not save them.

There were nights under the stars in the backyard, looking for satellites tracking across the sky. There were lines of gossamer spider web cast from a cherry rod out into the lake, as we floated on inner tubes drifting into our teens.  On such days we discussed everything from history to funny cars, to how I hoped we'd never die old and unwanted in the nursing home where I volunteered after school. What could be worse than ending our days in a small room, surrendering to that tiled space, all of our wants and needs and even independence?  What could be more fearful than lying in bed alone as from the hallways came no visitors, but only a dulled, rattling saber of loneliness and distress. No, that would not be for us; rather we would go out in a quick burst of honor, the brief fatal blaze of a fine blade, setting us free from our pain and suffering.

As I worked down in my basement, getting the ramparts of Barkley's confinement put into place, I dreaded having to leave him with someone else to care for him here, for the better part of a month, on a job assignment far away. I realized how much he'd grown; almost adult sized, but for a thin shadow that is the form of his recent youth.

Big Bro and I weren't much different, growing up tall and lean, and oh, too quickly. There was the discovery of cars, of the opposite sex, of the wonderful merits of coffee, mornings sitting with brew too hot to drink or even to hold in our hand, claiming that implicit, infinite quality of heat impervious even to its own dissipation, as were we, there on the edge of adulthood.

Then, before you know it, he was gone, off to the Navy, to the adventures we both yearned to experience. I never wanted to be the one left behind, but I was. As he drove away in the blue panel van, in which echoed the sound of so much laughter as we learned to drive, learned our limits, and the speed at which one could lose everything, the tears came as only undammed water can flow.

Now so many years later, our lives curved back into themselves, caught up in the obligations and outcomes that adulthood brings and, whether consciously or not, in the words and affairs of the world that are as undeniable as they are inescapable. The antics of children had seemed so small in the light of my life now, but in looking at the growing form of this dog, I realize they are not.  For in those memories, of discovery, of risk, of devotion, we set a fixed distance between the boundaries of the outside world and ourselves. We hold ourselves, if only for this moment, separate from time.

Barkley picked up my hammer in his mouth and started running around the basement with it, pleased with his new toy, even as he struggled to hold its weight.  I thought of the past, of bikes and trails and the sound that a piping hot stink bug makes when you hit your target right between the shoulder blades.

I am going to miss Barkley very much when I'm gone, but tonight, I think I'll call Big Bro. He and I have not talked much lately, with careers that fill our time. But I will call him tonight.  Across a thousand miles, I will not ask for his help, only his prayers, as I set out on a solitary journey that's getting harder and harder to make, now that I have a little four-legged one waiting for me.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Black and White Sunday - Signs

This is a blog hop. Thanks to our Sunday hosts Nola and Sugar!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cloudy with a Chance of Spiders

It's a cold,rainy afternoon by the time I got off work, Abby Lab hiding in the closet while the little line of thunderstorms passed.   Time to get a few chores done around the house after getting more crash pad stuff unpacked. Abby will want some walking but after that some clean up as with both of us being gone much of the summer that chowed  in the cobwebs and dust bisons in some areas of the house.

But there were more pressing things  than dusting and vacuuming that came to mind. Saturday night.  As we were quietly sipping some 16 year old Glenlivit and watching Dr. Who, the smell of skunk become suddenly obvious. Abby was barking like mad but I knew better than to let her out. The smell was from the front of the house, under the porch.  Looks like Mr. Skunk has found a nice place to hang his hat.

We're not the only one having these issues with critters taking up residence around our home and yard. Our friends at

write all about it.

Now there are ways to deal with critters that take up residence under the porch, including. but not limited to, the Redneck Critter Round Up Package.
But a skunk, being as user friendly as a grenade, needs a little more stealthy plan. The east end of the basement lays against the back of the porch. so today, a a really loud radio will play there to convince Mr. Skunk he out to sleep elsewhere during the day. Let's see if I can find a station with Polka Music or Justin Beiber.

Til then, It's going to take time to get the smell out of the walk-out basement.  Time for some cross ventilation
 
But in getting the fan, I found that the skunk was the least of my worries.   There was a large assortment of spiders that took advantage of the absence of traffic while both of us were away and set up shop, in the shop.

I don't like to harm the  household ones that eat insects, carefully moving the Daddy Long Legs and such out of the house back into the garden.  But the large nasty ones that like the shop, one of which is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, as well as the risk of Brown Recluses, calls for different tactics. 
I think I'm ready - -

A Pilots Guide to Spider Alert
1. Sanitize flight suit and personal possessions - Check
2. Intelligence - Not much if I'm chasing large spiders with herbal hippie oil
(a). Threats - There's mud, there's nails, there's cobwebs all over the place.
3. SAR procedures - Swatter 11 is ready!
4. Interphone and Radio discipline - No live twitter of jumping spiders
5. Threat Calls - Break Left!  Bogie 1 o'clock! Just seems to be hanging there!
6. Wounded crewmember procedures - Bactine!  Check!
7. Low-level emergencies -  Holy (*#@ one just ran out from under the TR6
8. Battle damage reporting and procedures -  Maybe the broom and the ladder wasn't the best idea
9. Use of lights - The Roar of the Pelican may be small but it doesn't have a 250 knot speed restriction
10. Emergency load jettison procedures - Frankly if one of those wolf spiders jumps on me, there will be a load jettisoned and not in a good way.
11. Bailout procedures  -RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!
12. Crash landing/ditching procedures and egress - Everyone to the beer cooler!
13. Ground evacuation  -  see above
14. Use of equipment: parachutes, LPU’s, survival vests, body armor - I have rum,  matches and a large roll of paper towels
15. Altered/non-standard procedures: Slowdown, Random approaches, Escape -

Hi!! Want to come over and join us for dinner? There's Brisket. 
No, no special reason.  Oh, and bring a flame thrower".

16. Chemical environment -  Why does my shop smell like a Shamrock Shake now?

L.B.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Treat on the Block

I think I'll pass on your vegetarian baked beans on toast Mom.

Mom eats meat only a few meals a week.  She tried strict vegetation for a while, but  with low blood sugar, she didn't feel really good on a high carb diet and she can't eat soy so that limits her somewhat. So she balances small portions of locally raised meats and game with lots of fruits and veggies, raw almonds and smoothies and occasional oats and stone ground bread.  (OK, and she does have a couple of "cheat meals" on the weekend where sugar is our friend).

But with a sensitivity to grain, and being a canine, I need meat, not grain in my diet.  I've had really great luck with my Blue Buffalo Basic food, but when a friend of Mom offered to share another limited ingredient snackies, I was like "hey, sign me up!"

So Mom's friend gave her a the remains of a bag of what he feeds his healthy sixteen year old retriever.   Orejen Brome Lake Duck treats, which, like all their treats,  are all single ingredient, meat based freeze-dried nibbles made out of lamb, bison, beef,  boar and duck.
Wow - those were some tasty treats.  I actually woofed to get a second one as she was putting them in a zip-lock baggie and Mom says I hardly EVER bark.

So Mom got on the computer and ordered some from our friends at www.chewy.com (and the prices for the treats were lower than the pet store!)

She ordered another bag of the Brome Lake Duck ones, which are made by flash freezing, using no preservatives or cooking so I'm getting a raw, protein packed little nugget of tastiness.They don't outsource any of their food preparation, making everything there right in their own kitchens.
Treat - twelve o-clock, slow moving.
Traffic's in Sight! We have a lock on.
I'll just sit here and wait for the Chewy guy to show up with my own bag.
Abby Lab

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mom - Don't Forget to Unpack the Power Spork.


I know there are still a few boxes to unpack, but don't forget the pasta tools!

Abby Lab

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekend Outings


Abby the Lab here.  We had some hot days earlier in the month so Dad took Mom to a local village for her favorite ice cream at Tate's (it's a family owned ice cream parlor and shop that makes ALL their own ice cream and I can get my own in a perfect dog sized cup to eat on the bench outside of the store.)
It's easy to spot because of what Mom calls  "Clifford the Big Red Chair" out in front (unless it's windy when Clifford comes inside so he doesn't fly away and end up stuck in a tree.).
MMMM - candied pecan ice cream for Mom, Irish Mocha for Dad and Vanilla for me! Tate's Ice Cream is the best in Chicago!

Several of the restaurants in this little burb have outdoor seating and dogs are allowed at a few, so sometimes they let  me tag along.

Mom had one stop to make, a little restaurant that makes the BEST Argintine Empanadas.  It's called Empanadus and has a location in Riverside AND LaGrange in Chicagoland.  Empanadas are these wonderfully flaky pastries that look like little turnovers,  full of veggies and meats and various cheeses.  Mom said it's SO worth the drive there to get a box lunch or take home something for dinner. You can buy one or a hundred and get them fresh and hot or uncooked and frozen to do yourself at home.
Mom says they are absolutely addictive and there all kinds of flavors including six different veggie ones (like the corn with bechamel sauce and nutmeg or the Caprese with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and young basil)  or Mom's favorite with has ground beast, spanish and green onion, hard boiled eggs and spices.  Mom HATES hardboiled eggs so she wasn't too sure on that one but after her first bite one that Dad had, she went back in and bought a dozen, they are SO savory, she said.

They also have dessert ones such as nutella and banana, and apple and cinnamon and there are salads and soups and some wonderful non alcoholic drinks to have.  We weren't going to eat here though, just get some empanadas frozen to take home for dinner.

Mom didn't think they allowed dogs inside, so I'll just take a peek in while she goes in the door.

It's the world's biggest Empanada Stuffie!

Great Leaping Horny Toads Mom - it's Six Feet TALL!!
What do you mean I can't play with it? You're no fun Mom.
MMM - fresh from our oven. Mom was happy not to cook after all the packing and unpacking.
Almost had it.  Next time that giant stuffie is MINE.