January 26, 2009

Take Me Home Country Roads

Looks like I'm headed back to the mountains for a short while. I leave tomorrow for the Blacksburg/Pilot/Hillsville area to hang out with with family and do some work. Unfortunately I have to leave the boys, two-legged and four-legged, in the city. I will be staying with family, but I do hope to at least be able to stop by and say hello to the shanty. I am missing it so!

Last night Joe's cousin Levi came over and we had a super fun (albeit messy) hummus making party. We made use of our pressure cooker to cook up a bunch of garbanzo beans. First we made falafel and ate it rolled up in wraps with Joe's new favorite flat bread recipe. The rest of the beans we turned into hummus, split it into three batches, and seasoned each differently. Levi was our designated seasoning artist, and he did a wonderful job. Hummus is so expensive to buy, and so easy to make. Who knew?

This photo (L to R: Amanda, Joe, cousin Jesse and cousin Jake) was taken at a dinner at Joe's aunt's house a couple of weeks ago.

January 22, 2009

The Dog Days of Winter

Well, I was lied to about the snow. Shoulda known. But, we did get a new president, which happens even more rarely than snow, and is quite exciting. And I'm getting my teeth cleaned today. What more could you want! :)

In an effort to find meaningful ways to use all of my new-found spare time, I have been doing some volunteering at a nearby humane society. I had to go 30 minutes away to the town of Portsmouth because the local humane societies required such a long and involved list of requirements to volunteer that I would be back in the mountains before I was half done with all the trainings, orientations, etc. The Portsmouth Humane Society is pretty desperate for help and basically said "Sign this waiver form and here's a leash!"

Yes, working at a humane society is dangerous for me. I do want to take them all home, well, ideally anyway. Even I don't want to have 100+ dogs! My main task has been dog walking. The dogs are so happy to get out of their little kennels in a room swamped with pent up dog frustration. The really sad part is having to coax them back into the kennels after their walk is over. They pull me on the way out, I pull them on the way back in. :( This is also my first real experience with pit bulls. I'd say about half of the dogs in the shelter are pit bulls, and most of the ones I end up walking are. They have all been very sweet dogs. I was really taken with one yesterday that looked exactly like the dog from Little Rascals, and had a really cool tempermant to boot.

To further add to the dog fun, I spent part of last week assisting in pet sitting for Joe's uncle. He has a boston terrier, Lucky, that I hadn't previously been too fond of due to his uncalled for aggression to Wilson whenever they happened to meet. However, over the course of the days I was watching Lucky, and much to Wilson's initial chagrin, I took them all (Joe's cousin's boston terrier puppy, Tico, as well) on quite a few walks, during which time they managed to sort out whatever differences they have. Calling them friends is probably a stretch, but Wilson and Lucky are now settling for just giving each other the cold shoulder without any words having to be exchanged. I think it was a good experience for all involved. :)

January 19, 2009

Snow at the beach??

They are indeed predicting 1-3 inches of snow at the beach. I'm holding my breath!! I would be so excited to see some snow. Thinking cold, wet thoughts....

Last night Joe and I went out to dinner, a rare occurence for us. It wasn't a very good night to be vegetarian dinner-goers in Va Beach, however. The first restaurant we went to because we had heard good reviews, and they promote themselves as an "organic, eco-friendly..." restaurant. Sounded promising, except that they only had ONE vegetarian option, and that was a high priced pasta dish. I'm not usually won over by pasta dishes. I like to feel like I'm getting something I couldn't easily make at home, and I like to feel like I have options. So, we went on to restaurant plan B, a mediterranean place. They were out of the only vegetarian thing they had on their menu, but we were tired of skipping around, so we made a delicious dinner out of appetizers and salads. :)

After our dinner, we came out to find out car locked into the parking lot. The large sign said "24 Hour", the small sign said "This lot will be locked at 6 p.m." We didn't read the fine print. After circling around like caged animals a couple of times, we resorted to driving out via some wide sidewalks. I guess this is why we don't go out very often. :)

January 15, 2009

Colds and cold

It is cold here in Va Beach! It feels like home. :) Joe and I both have been fighting a cold (sickness that is, not the weather) this week. Joe got it worse than I did, but he's been enjoying the downtime and the excuse to lay around watching movies and taking naps. That's about all the excitement going on around here. Here's a cute Wilson picture though. :)

Wilson is not allowed to hang around the dinner table and stare at us while we eat (aka begging), and we usually send him in to the next room if he forgets that rule. Lisa has a lace curtain over the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, and Wilson apparently reasoned that if MOST of his body was on the living room side of the curtain, he was legal.

We gave him points for trying.

January 11, 2009

A Touch of Cabin Fever

It's a gray day, threatening rain but not following through. This is actually perfect since Joe and I are both feeling a little bit under the weather. As nice as it has been to lay around and watch movies all day, I'm feeling a tad restless. This could turn out to be lucky for Wilson as it means I might take him for another walk. Good thing we also have a large pot of "accidental" black-eyed pea soup on hand. I was trying out our new pressure cooker yesterday. I put the amount of water they said, but I ended up with soup. Oh well, throw in a few veggie bouillion cubes and have at it. Joe really liked it, so I'm happy. I need to confer with my mother on the fine art of pressure cooking, especially beans.I'm excited to incorporate more beans into our diet. It was a staple of my family growing up, and I do miss them.

Maybe I'll rethink that walk with Wilson. We just heard what sounded like several gunshots very close. Seconds later Wilson and Foxy (who had been sleeping in the living room) came running into the room looking like kids during a thunderstorm. Hmmm...

January 08, 2009

Fresh from the oven..

..and dripping with butter! :)

January 05, 2009

Wilson's Own - the Secret Recipe

The weather in Va Beach lately has been following the pattern of a few days of spring and then a few days of winter with a rainstorm in between. We are enjoying one of the spring-like days now, although the heavy cloud cover fortells the rainstorm to come. Wilson and I have been taking advantage of the balmy temperatures to fit in multiple walks today. In fact, Wilson is trying to make the most of this day in general - 3 walks, 2 seizures, 1 visit from a canine friend and a bath, and it's only mid-afternoon! Poor little guy. You gotta take the bad with the good. :( We have found that one method of dealing with seizures is to "walk it off". He walks better with some motivation, so we've been making laps around the kitchen table. It seems to shorten his seizures remarkably. Now he's going to add a nice long nap to his daily repetoire.

Wilson has also (as a reward for taking a bath) enjoyed several of his homemade treats today. He really does love them! I haven't seen him get this excited over anything other than a hot dog. Although he could stand to make millions on the secret recipe, he has graciously consented to allow it to be published here for the enjoyment of dogs around the world (well, at least those lucky enough to have someone with thumbs around).

Wilson's Own Gourmet Dog Treats

Rice flour
Creamy peanut butter
1 Egg
Brewer's yeast (optional)

Grind the oatmeal in a food processor or blender into coarse crumbs. Mix with an approximately equal portion of rice flour (1 cup to 1 cup, for example). Spoon in a healthy serving of peanut butter and pour in a fair amount of molasses. Throw in an egg to help hold it all together. If you happen to have any brewer's yeast, throw some of that in there also. Dogs love it and it supposedly helps keep fleas away! Stir it all up. It will be stiff and clumpy, add water if you feel you need it, but just enough so it all sticks together. Grease a baking sheet. Spread the batter on the baking sheet, pressing it out by hand until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut it into squares of the desired size. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until kinda hard and crunchy but not burnt. Store in a sealed jar. They keep for a long time.

*Note - People will be tempted to eat them, and this is fine as they are homemade with all natural ingredients. Please remember to save some for your dog, though.

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

We managed to stay up to midnight last night. We didn't have TV to watch that silly ball dropping thing, but we did get to watch the cellphone switch over (it's very official, talks to satellites and such). Actually, staying up late wasn't that tough. We seem to be doing it a lot lately, but for good reason. We've been catching up with friends who are in town for short holiday visits and have been making the most of our available time.

As if to blow in the new year, the winds have been WHIPPING, and the temperature has dropped significantly. We had been enjoying balmy weather, but at least it is a sunny start to the new year.

Happy 2009 everyone!!!