Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pet Insurance - Some Guidance

I don't know how many of you have pet insurance, but it's worth looking into.  We did NOT have it for Barkley and his expenses in his last days grew into the thousands of dollars.  For Abby Lab, we have coverage up to $20,000 and it costs $45 a month.  That's less than the cost of a coffee on the drive to work each day.

Pets are our family and the majority of us treat them as such, checking food labels for healthy choices, finding just the right bed for tired joints and spoiling them with treats and toys.   Yet, according to the latest American Pet Products Association’s Pet Owners Survey, only 4% of dog owners and 1% of cat owners carry pet insurance policies.
Here are  these reasons why buying pet insurance is a smart move:

It allows you to pick your veterinarian. Unlike human health insurance policies that usually require you to use a specific health care provider, pet insurance policies allow you to pick the Vet you are happy with. You simply provide the veterinary bill to the insurance company for reimbursement of qualified expenses.

It does not discriminate against any breed or age of pet. While it is advisable to obtain pet insurance as soon as you adopt or purchase your pet to obtain lower premiums, you can also obtain coverage for your pet later, though for some companies there may be restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

Having pet insurance allows you to choose treatment options.  Not having strict financial restrictions allows you to select care for your ailing or injured pet based on the best medical options available.  Most pet insurance policies reimburse up to 80% of costs after deductibles.
It helps with budgeting costs.  Most providers offer plans where you can pay monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or yearly.  You decide what level of coverage you want and many programs offer discounts for additional pets in the household.

With Abby being a senior we looked at it as a good investment.

But which company to pick?  We went with the one recommended by the Lab Rescue folks that micro chipped her but since we've not had to use it yet except for her first teeth cleaning after we adopted her, I can't really review it.

But the folks at Reviews.com HAVE reviewed a number of pet insurance providers for coverages, restrictions, and customer service (after discussing with Vets and health care providers as to what is essential versus "nice to have") and have some information that's worth reading.  Just click on the link below.

 http://www.reviews.com/pet-insurance/

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

And the Nominations Are . . . .




Abby T. Lab here.  Mom and I had the honor of being nominated for the "One Lovely Blog Award" yesterday by


The award calls for me listing 7 things you may not know about me.


1. I am not a  purebred Lab but was a Lab "Mix" from a high kill shelter.  Although from a distance I look like I am up close you can see my fur is much longer and softer, my tail is bushier and my undercoat is a deep red.  Mom thinks I'm part flat coated Retriever.

2  I won't get on the bed unless Dad is away overnight, even if invited.  The couch and the futon, however,  are MINE!

3.  Vanilla yogurt in the evening is my favorite thing in the world.

4.  My trained hearing can detect the footstep of our mailman versus the UPS driver.  If it is the mailman, I'll whine to let Mom know he is there, for the UPS driver I will bark as if I'm going to tear him to shreds.

5.When the Chewy Box arrives in the mail, I will lay next to it until Mom opens it, even if that takes WEEKS and WEEKS (OK, a couple of hours).

6.  After Mom and Dad, my favoritist person in the whole world is my dog walker Jan.

7.  Don't tell anyone, but I like going to the groomer that doesn't put us in cages and lets us finish drying in a cozy back room on soft rugs.
Is my yogurt ready Mom?

Another requirement for the award is listing 15 new blogs to share the award with. Most blog awards list 5-10, and to be honest, I don't have time today for 15 and you likely don't time to READ 15.  As Lexi said - be a rebel but share the fun!

So here are ten blogs I enjoy that you may not have seen, all worthy of the One Lovely Blog Award. I you are nominated feel free to nominate others, or just enjoy some visits from new friends.  If you do decide to join, list your 7 facts, nominate some bloggers others may not know about, and share the rules and the fun.

Choppy is a far traveling rescue dog who with his lawyer mom, Dad, and feline sidekick provides lots of adventures and laughs. His regular "signs" are worth the visit aline.

Life at Golden Pines is a lovely country home full of fosters and hospice care senior dogs that otherwise would have no place to go. A home full of love is always good.

Oreo lives just north of us, and though we've not met, we feel like family after reading of his adventures and those of his friends that live in his lovely old neighborhood.

Astro is an adorable Pit Bull/Cattle Dog rescue who lives in a beautiful new home out in Washington with his kind and patient pawrents.  He'll steal both your seat cushions and your heart.

Ruby isn't jsut the driver of Blogville's famous Margarita truck, she is a delightfully joyous friend to many of us here and a regular part of Blogville's community.

Princess Leia is a beautiful little King Charles Spaniel who lives a life of joy and elegance in England. If you have attended any of the Blogville events you've likely met this gentle soul.

Lady Shasta's companion and friend Shilo had to go to the Bridge not long ago but she and her Mom Kim continue to find the joy in everyday life and share it with others.

We didn't' think anyone could fill Easy's paws when he left this world but new addition Phenny has brought nothing but laughter and joy to us from their home in France.

Quilting, birds, dogs, and life, what's not to love!

BIG dog, not so big dog, Mom, Dad, five kids and the beautiful landscape of Australia. Adventure abounds.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Smiles










With that, we will say Happy Sunday!

The Johnson Family and Abby T. Lab

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday Eats - 1 Hour Bowl to Table Yeast Rolls

For my best friend (who makes the best bread on the planet) a 1-hour bowl to table yeast roll. You can make them together in a pan or put in a muffin tin for a slightly different shape (cooking time might be slightly less)

I'd be willing to bet you have most of the ingredients in your house already.
Note - I made an extra batch today for a friend that had a death in the family that I prepared a meal for, so there are additional photos and tips tonight.

Easy Buttery Yeast Rolls

1 cups water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast (this is slightly more than 1 packet)
3.5 to 4 cups all-purpose flour (a 1/4 cup extra if needed)
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

The rolls are for me, right mom?

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together warm water (NOT hot) and melted butter until combined.
Stir in the milk and honey.  Then microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds, or until the mixture is very warm to the touch (it should be 110°F).  Test it, whisk and re-heat in 15-second additional intervals if needed until the mixture is warm enough.
Pour the water mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer (I used my Cuisinart with the little plastic paddle attachment) then sprinkle the yeast on top, and give it a quick stir to combine.  Wait for five minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. Add in 3.5 cups of flour, and the salt.  Then using the dough-hook (or paddle) mix on medium-low speed or pulse on and off until combined. (note if the dough sticks to the side of the bowl, add in 1/4 cup flour at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and is only SLIGHTLY sticky to the touch).

You're looking for no more than 4 and 1/4 cups of flour total.

Form the dough into a ball with your hands and transfer it to a greased bowl.  If it is still slightly sticky, lightly dust a cutting board with flour and just knead it gently 4-5 times rather than work it extra with the bread hook. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 15 minutes in a warm room (if you have your a.c. running that will not work, put it in the oven with the light on or out on the sunporch as I did, these will NOT rise if your house is 75 degrees or less).

Gently punch the dough down and divide into 12-15 equal-sized pieces.(I used 12) Form each piece into a  rough ball and flatten slightly  (with clean, dry and floured hands) and place evenly in the prepared pan.  Cover the pan, and let rise for an additional 20 minutes (again, if the room is air conditioned, put the rolls in the oven with the light on to rise  - then preheat the oven after removing rolls).

Bake 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top and cooked through. Remove and brush with extra butter.  Serve warm with honey.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Funny

As a guitarist, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There was only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt bad and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man. And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep,

They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my guitar and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Apparently, I’m still lost…

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - When Dad is Away on a Trip

A not so wordless note: I posted this as a blogpaws blog hop but when I put up the linky code it made my last 3 posts totally disappear. Don't know if it's a code problem, I've had blog hops that when I posted the code it didn't allow comments. But I just wanted to let you know we think the Blogpaws blog hop is awesome -we just had technical issues.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Angel Barkley Memories - Road Trip!

Winter 2013. It was time for the weekly commute to work, a several hour drive in the usual heavy truck traffic. I left early, to get here before dark, but with what was left of an accident closing all but one lane, it took over four hours.

I'd driven this route for a couple years already while dating my now husband, no accidents and no tickets.  The secret is -

(1) drive a vehicle with an engine that sucks fuel like a CF700 turbofan  engine
(2) don't break any traffic laws
(3) or don't break them as bad as anyone driving around you.

#3 is easy.  Find the worst possible driver in the world (which is not hard to do on I-65) and when you spot him or her, stay back at their 8 or 4 o'clock position, whichever keeps them between the Highway Patrol on the median and you.

Or simply draft behind the trucks sharing the road responsibly until that smile and glazed look (brains!) in the eyes of the Dart Guy on the back of the truck creeps you out and you have to pass.
Barkley would always travel with me, with a harness that assured in a sudden stop he couldn't turn into one of the Wallenda's.  It did, however, allow him JUST enough room to sit with his rear end on the seat and his front paws on the floor. 

You think I'm kidding, that was how he sat at home when he wasn't napping.
When we finally got to the crash pad,  he would be all excited, RUNNING to the back door in the garage.  Then he realized, this was the small place, with no "Dad", with less toys per square foot, no squirrels to bark at and his pretty friend who took him to the dog park when I worked wouldn't be here until the morning.

And the sulk began.

No one can sulk like a lab.
At least he didn't have to go on call at midnight like some people.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Eats - Best Creamed Corn

Whether you are grilling out, having some leftovers or just doing an assorted veggie plate and are looking for a "starch" other than mashed potatoes, this is a great recipe. Creamed Corn. If you have had "canned" cream corn and didn't like it, trust me, you will like this, completely different taste, very rich and creamy with a nice bit of sweetness and spice.

I use Schwans frozen corn - it's really good quality and super sweet, a perfect balance for this recipe that has some spice to it. But obviously, if it's peak corn season, use fresh, just lower your cook time a minute.

3 cups frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (if all you have is salted butter reduce to 1/4 tsp).
1/8 to 1/4  tsp. cayenne pepper (1/4 makes it fairly spicy)
2 pinches nutmeg

Topping - a handful of crumbled buttered cornbread and chives (optional)

Oh look, crumbs on the floor - let's call HooverDog!
I'll get right on that Mom!

Cube the cream cheese and butter and melt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the milk and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth.  Reduce heat to medim and add the sugar, spices, and corn.

Stir constantly until corn is heated (about 5 minutes and it should NOT come to a full boil - if it does remove from heat and lower temp before finishing)

Top with a handful of cornbread crumbs and onion.  (I crumble and mix the cornbread with a little melted butter and pop it under the broiler for a half a minute._

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Secret Life of Dog Mom's - A Scooter Store Story

Abby Lab here telling a little "tail" about my Mom.

Mom's parents were both in law enforcement (her Mom was the Deputy Sheriff) and after being a professional pilot for both civilian folks and the government for a while, Mom entered that field when she finished her PEE-H-Dee. She said she's never done anything super exciting like on TV, said she's get sent home if she dressed like some of the female agents on the telly, and the biggest danger she usually faces is the candy machine in the lunchroom. However, she is trained in the use of a firearm in case she doesn't have an electron microscope to lob at someone's head. When she was new at it, she said she'd could likely hit a target IF attacked by a finback whale. But with practice at the local conservation club and the Law Enforcement Officer range, she got better.

She's mentioned doing her proficiency shooting, when the mail came that day.  Boy did her mood change. You see, Mom got an AARP card in the mail,  with another envelope from the Scooter Store (with FREE mobility assessment).  Mom said "they think I need a scooter!  I'm only 58! Her parents belonged to AARP and Mom said they were a fine organization but that was for OLD people.

I didn't want to be the one to remind her - but although people thinks she looks much younger, and she continued hiking, biking, and rappelling into her 50's, the theme for her high school prom was "FIRE". Just saying.
Mom did use a scooter once, in 2012 when she tore her minscus busting a move walking Barkley fighting ninjas, after the endoscopic surgery to clear out what couldn't be fixed.


Dad. who was her boyfriend at the time, went with her and at the Walmart - she got her first try with a motorized cart. Speed wise it was a fair it less than the INDY 500 and more than a snail on demoral. But Mom was not only able to do a cookie in the chicken aisle, she found that the displays in electronic made for great S patterns at top speed. She also discovered that big guys in Harley Davidson jackets with carts containing 200 bags of Tater Tots can move surprisingly fast when faced with a flaming redhead converging at top scooter speed.
She said that dealing with the crutches and the scooter was the hardest part. She  tried holding them up, but that made it hard to work the controls. She put one one out front. Jousting - Walmart Style. (if you can knock a Billy Bass out of someone's cart with it, it's bonus points). She finally gave in and let Dad carry them while she tried to burn rubber doing .02 mph watching out carefully for the Manager.

She admires anyone that can deal with using one of those on a regular basis and was so happy to give it up, working hard to get through the physical therapy.

So she was NONE too happy about the scooter advertisement and off she went that day to the range.
It was late winter, the snow had melted off but boy , Mom said it was COLD.
First, a test shot from 50 feet.  I would make a comment about blind squirrels and acorns but I do want to get a treat tonight.

Then. . 
Then there's that membership card.
That's my Mom - putting the "O" in mobility.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Happy News for Mom - A Thankful Thursday Post

Hi - It's Abby T. Lab here with an announcement.  Mom would write this but right now her head is too big to get through the door.  Bar Har Har.

Mom just got an email that her latest book, Christian Fiction "Small Town Roads" was awarded FIVE Stars by Readers Favorite Reviews and is entered in their yearly literary award contest for 2017.  (The Book of Barkley Won Silver for Non Fiction two years ago).

She couldn't be happier as everyone said "don't write Christian Fiction, people want books like 50 Sheds of Gray (seriously, who is interested in sheds?)


or vampires and spaceships!"


Here's the review.
"Small Town Roads is a Christian literary fiction novel depicting the lives and reflections of small-town inhabitants. Evelyn, Harry, and Ruby have outlived their spouses and remain in the same homes and neighborhood. They have been friends for many decades. Rachel lost her brother to cancer, her mother to Alzheimer's and then her father passed away, leaving her the only surviving member of her family, outside of her elderly aunt, Ruby. Now, several years later, after Rachel has finished her schooling for her four-year degree in criminology, her aunt Ruby is also gone and has left her home to Rachel. Rachel moves into her aunt's home and takes a job in the local police department. Alone and a newcomer in the area, Rachel befriends her Aunt Ruby's old friends and neighbors, Evelyn and Harry. Taking care of her ill and dying family members had put Rachel's life on hold. With a home of her own, new job and new friends, can life get any better?

Small Town Roads by LB Johnson is an eloquent Christian novel portraying the introspection of a community. This literary work is a lovely depiction of the characters' thoughts and motivations, although there is no action and the story can seem to move slowly. The author has a wonderful grasp of the English language, and her words flow together smoothly, creating a beautifully formed sermon. Rachel's and Evelyn's reminiscences and musings about life and faith are almost poetic. Despite their ages and generations, each of the characters portrayed displays their personal and spiritual growth, providing a thought-provoking and insightful story. It was encouraging to see Rachel's faith progress and blossom. This is an inspirational novel that will please those who enjoy reading meaningful Christian-based, faith-inspired books. Five Stars."

We are joining Brian for the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop this week!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Independence Day

In a town in Indiana, a new bench at a war memorial popped up in the news this week.  The spelling was not intentional and will be fixed, but it did make me do a double take.

We love our Terrier Friends.

Because on the upcoming Independence Day like any day.
Patriots come in ALL sizes.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Pizza Bones

MMMM.  Friday is Pizza Bones night, and Mom got our local favorite from Chicago's Sarpino's that has the thick, chewy but soft inside, edge that makes "bones" that are not too thick and not too thin. Mom also likes that Sarpino's of La Grange gives extra free garnishes and your choice of free dipping sauce.
Yum!  Pizza Bones for Me!

Because the fresh pizza had ingredients not safe for doggies Mom reheated me up some pizza bones from last week that she froze and then thawed out so they'd be fresh.  The slices just had a light (requested) topping of sausage.  Yummers.

The new pizza has chopped fresh garlic, which is dangerous for dogs plus pineapple and olives. My Mom likes WEIRD pizza.  She also got creamy garlic dipping sauce - I'm keeping a close eye out for vampires. 
Dad won't mind the funky toppings.  His flight was two hours late so he won't have eaten for a long time when he rolls in here later tonight so I think he would eat the pizza if topped with styrofoam packing pellets and chopped shingles.

For tips on how to make perfect reheated pizza for dog or man, visit
Abby T. Lab

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue

One of the many shelters that The Book of Barkley has donated to several times is Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in the Atlanta area.

About them:
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to saving dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in north Georgia. They operate through a network of volunteers and foster homes in the metro Atlanta area. Their efforts are funded by tax-deductible contributions from compassionate people and organizations who care and want to help make a difference… one pet at a time. Their mission is two-fold:

 1) To educate the public on the plight of animals that have found themselves in high kill shelters throughout Georgia and on the responsibilities involved with pet ownership, such as spay/neuter and heartworm prevention.

2) To save as many animals as they can from high kill shelters and to see each animal through from the actual rescue to the loving foster home and ultimately to the “forever” home they were meant to have.

About AAUPR:
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, Inc

Legal Address:
PO Box 821, Alpharetta, GA 30009
Federal Tax ID: 27-1228232
Type of Organization: 501(c)(3) non-profit charity


Right now they've had a number of pregnant dogs come in that have had to give birth at the shelter, scary for both dog and all involved.  They are working around the clock to provide adequate medical care and nourishment for these new pups.   Having been part of their efforts through donations I can say they are the best people, hard working and kind, doing a lot when there is often just "not enoughs". Not enough money, not enough space, not enough hands to transport and foster.
So if you have any spare change you would like to donate to a good cause consider them.  Even a few dollars will help with medical care and food.  They also have an "Amazon wish list" button on their home page with supplies that are much needed to care for these animals.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cloudy and a chance of . . . tornados?

So much for the "no rain in the forecast" from this morning which meant instead of posting before work I was hand watering plants and new trees.

There was a tornado northwest of us but by the time it got down near Abbyville, it was just rain and a rumble of thunder or two.

Abby's all zoned out on the rug from the frankincense oil drops on her furs and I think I will call it a night.