Friday, December 31, 2010

Not a Shiny Happy

This post is not a shiny happy one... so, you've been warned.

Every year about this time, I write some saccharine poetic piece about my hopes for the future. But this year I just can't. There is no grassy knoll in my burnt forest. There is no imminent change. And no, I don't feel hopeful. And just the thought of the future seems insurmountable.

In trying to recap this crappy year...(Velvet said 2009 was Spectacular for its Suckitude. I think that sums up 2010 nicely!).. I thought I would do something a little more thoughtful. Alison started the Thirty Days of Truth project and I thought of joining in but in the end both of us decided it was just too negative. Then I found Reverb10, but it seemed to require more effort than this crapfest deserved. So here it is:

  • I still have no job and no prospects. I'm starting to question if I will ever make any real money ever again.
  • A 23 year friendship bit the dust because I got tired of doing all the rowing (Old Southern adage: If you want to know if a relationship is working, stop rowing the boat and see if it moves. It didn't; so I did.)
  • I had a spider bite that nearly killed me.
  • Mabel finally got a boyfriend - and he moved away. She still lingers when we pass his now empty house.
  • January brought floods and debris down from our burn area. And allergies to all dogs and this person.
  • I lost my cell phone on the way to the airport.
  • Owed money to the IRS for the first time in decades - all for robbing my OWN retirement account to keep a roof over my head!
  • My left elbow went numb in April. In June I developed excruciating pain in my right one. I spent most of the summer and fall in severe pain and too broke to go to the doctor after paying for my Blue Cross insurance every month. 
  • In July, I went in for a pain in a front tooth. Thousands of bucks, a root canal, a cap and 8 visits to dentists / endodontists and six months later, I'm going to lose said tooth... but only if I can come up with the money to have it pulled. Won't that make me look oh so cute in job interviews?
  • My desktop computer died.
But in all honesty, it wasn't all horrible: 
  • I have about the same amount of money in the bank this year as I did last. Guess I did something right. 
  • Excellent hikes after the storm was over.
  • New Years Day was one of the best days of the year. I went on an amazing hike with that friend of 23 years. It's how our friendship was on this day before all the strain that forced the break that I prefer to remember instead of all the nothing that came at the end. (I really don't think she even cares we're not friends anymore.)  
  • I got my cell phone back!
  • Saved all the files off the old desktop.
  • Bart joined our pack and the BFF comes to the creek!
  • More new friends at the creek: Ruby and Choloe the dobie. 
  • My sister came out for the first time in ages and we had a blast.
  • Road trip with the bestie, full of giggles. 
  • I sold more glass beads than ever before... still not enough to call it income, but progress!
So there it is. It feels like way more bad than good. And, in my own mind, I've already kicked 2010 to the curb days ago. Good riddance!

As for 2011, I stopped dreaming of any more than the basics: roof over my head, food in my pantry, gas in the car. Anything more feels ... frivolous! But my sincere hope that in 2011, we all get a hand (or a foot) up in the new year. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Disturbance in the Force

First the ducks fly:

(highlighted for your viewing pleasure:)

Then Mr. Crane gets all upset:

And WHAT do you think is creating such a ruckus???


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Favorite T-shirt

My favorite t-shirt was given to me by my sister. She bought it at the Westminster Dog Show. It features pink paw prints and reads:

When I look at a paw print, I see an upside down heart with four arms reaching out to love me. 

Every time I see Mabel's prints by the shore of our creek, I think of that. I hope when you see paw prints now, you will too!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inside Jokes?

My BFF and I make each other laugh a LOT. I swear she's my daily medicine (along with the creek).

I don't know if anyone will find this remotely amusing but us... but this is the highlight reel from our recent road trip:


I know this photo is awful on many levels, but, to me, it's also great on many levels. My girl never poses (unlike her predecessor - you would think Maggie May was a supermodel in another life!). Her motion and that of the wind in the grass and the flare caused by the sun lends much to this picture. It has not been retouched... only cropped. This was the first sunny day we had seen in over a week.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Savory Cookie Recipes

I don't know what came over my sweet tooth this year but as I was surveying my piles of cookbooks and cookie magazines, the only cookie that seemed appealing was not sweet but savory. As I was baking the last few days several friends on Facebook requested recipes and I thought I would post them here so I could find them again.

I got both of these from some Christmas magazines but since neither prints their tag line on the bottom of the page - and I'm notorious for tearing apart magazines - I cannot give credit where credit is due.

Rosemary Pecan Cheddar Cookies

These remind me of cheese balls I cooked once ages ago. They are just wonderful and I can't wait to make a big pot of chili to go with them! I would add a bit more the chili flakes for more warmth. I also want to try these with a smoked cheese blend!

16 oz sharp cheddar grated fine *
1 cup butter melted
1 cup pecans (Orig recipe calls for 3/4 but it didn't seem sufficient)
3 c. all purpose flour
2 t. fresh rosemary
1/2 t.  sea salt
1/4 t ground red pepper. **

  1. In mixing bowl, combine cheese, butter and pecans and combine well. 
  2. In small bowl, combine all other ingredients. Slowly add to the cheese mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours. 
  3. Preheat over to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment. [or Silpats]
  4. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place 3" apart on baking sheets. Spray a flat bottomed glass with Pam and dip into flour. Use the bottom of the glass to flatten the dough balls. ***
  5. Bake until browned 18 - 20 mins. 

*I only had 12 oz. of cheddar and grated 4 oz. of Trader Joe's Cottswald Cheddar with grilled onions into mine. I'm certain this was a tasty addition!

** Despite my Louisiana roots, I don't like food that is hot in flavor for no good reason. I don't keep red chilis on hand as a general rule however this summer I discovered ancho chilis from the Temecula Olive Oil company (no longer on their website but it may be seasonal). I bought them for their rich warm smell but found the heat too strong. For this recipe, I had just finished chopping my rosemary in my MezalunaJ.K. Adams HB-1010 Maple Herb Bowl with Mezzaluna Chopper chopper and decided to give it a try on the tiny ancho seeds... it worked like a dream! I chopped the hot spicy seeds into minuscule bits and it worked great. In the end, I thought they could be spicier so next batch, I'm going to up it by 1/8 t.

*** I couldn't be bothered to roll them my hand...I was in a hurry. I used my tiniest ice cream scoop and then flattened them with a fork.

Goat Cheese  Parmesan Wafers

These were the BFF's favorites. I couldn't get them to slice as thinly as the recipe suggested so mine were not that pretty.

8 oz. goat cheese
1 stick butter  softened
1 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. Parmesan grated
1/2 c. cornstarch
3 T. chopped thyme
1 T. chopped sage
1 t. sea salt
1 t. ground black pepper

  1. In a food processor, combine goat cheese and butter. Add Parmesan, mix. Add remaining ingredients. Divide dough into thirds. 
  2. Place each portion on parchment and roll into logs about 7" x 1.5". Freeze (Can be frozen for 6 weeks.... great for gifts!)
  3. Preheat oven 325. Line baking sheets w/ parchment or Silpats. Slice into 1/4" slices and place on paper.*
  4. Bake until edges are light golden brown ~ 12 mins. Store in airtight container for up to three days. 

*The frozen dough would NOT slice neatly. I ended up defrosting and hand pressing patties!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Won't I Do for My Dog?

The rain! The RAIN! The rain is a PAIN! We don't get rain like this. California has two kinds of rain. The "it POURS" variety makes the news. It's the kind that comes suddenly in voluminous amounts and proceeds to move mountains.

The other kind, I call "Pissy Rain." It's kind of like the heavens are spitting on you. When I moved here, it gave new meaning to the old saying "run between the rain drops" because I could! My Jeep's slowest wiper setting is 10 second intervals. I wish it were 30! Ten is way too fast! I drive around turning it on and off, on and off. One more thing to worry about in L.A. traffic!

But the rain we've had since last Thursday night is not common. It has been slow and steady. This kind of rain can also move mountains if you get enough of it... which we have. It reminds me of a rain back home in Louisiana save for the fact it has stayed so long.

And all this being shut in... drives active pups CRAZY! Mabel's shut in days started Wednesday morning when I took a whirlwind road trip with the BFF to see her (our) niece in Nevada. Our hiking buddy fed the girl and put her to bed and fed her breakfast as well. I was hoping to get home Thursday in time to walk her before our storms hit. We were an hour north of home when the rains started.

Steady rain and exhaustion from my trip kept us in on Friday. By Saturday, we were looking for the break that our storms always have to make a mad dash for the creek. Even if we end up getting soaked, it's always nice to start the hike with an illusion of being dry. But it was not to be.

Sunday, we were both nuts! I drove to our favorite breakfast haunt in the pouring rain. I took towels to dry off the picnic table and another to sit on. I also took Mabel's big fuzzy softie and placed it as close to the windows as I could. We were damp but so happy to be out!
Mabel at our favorite restaurant on a dry day. 

Mabel's favorite waitress, Miss Lori, had Christmas gifts for the girl and the eggs and pancakes lifted our spirits. Fortified with lots of hot coffee, I bundled up and headed for a wet hike. Even with multiple layers and an umbrella, I got soaked. 

Mabel is so funny hiking in the rain. She seems to relish it. Unlike being at home, where she looks up at me with her best "Do I HAVE to?" look when I tell her to go out and potty - at the creek, she never minds the rain. But once we are home, she waits patiently on the porch for a towel dry.

So every day since, rain or ... rain, I've grabbed her - and Bart - and taken them out for a very wet hike. And I don't mind a bit. Their smiles keep me warm. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I drove by that house again today, determined to take a picture of that shepherd in the rain. Our rain storms have been nonstop since Thursday night and he has been on my mind for days. I was pleased that he was not on the porch. As I looked around, I noticed a tarp covering what appeared to be an old dog he has some kind of shelter.

Even this makes me mad. The idiots that live near the creek have three unaltered males that are never allowed in the home and all they have for shelter is a camper shell - open on both ends! No bedding and just each other to keep warm. And our local officials think this is a fine shelter.

I was not feeling too great; a stomach bug had me feeling low. I took a long winter nap, cuddling with Miss Mabel on our heated mattress pad in our heated and dry home and just felt so grateful and sad for all those pups that aren't so lucky.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Hate People

Err... maybe that title deserves a bit of clarification because, yes, I'm a loner. I don't like the company of many people. But that has more to do with my own perceived inadequacies. I guess what I mean to say is... I hate people who are mean to animals.

As I was driving to the creek this morning, pondering a blog post to be entitled "What Won't I Do for My Dog?" - I saw something that made me sad and then MAD!

It's been pouring rain for days and I drove past a house - one of our many "cabins" in this area that has the poured concrete four step front porch. And on that uncovered step was dog bedding, soaked to the core. And on that bed, also soaked to the core, was a German Shepherd, curled with his nose tucked under his hind leg so that at least one part of him was dry.

I drove past the house slowly... hoping to see a dog house, a lean-to, a canopy, something ANYTHING to keep him dry. But there was none.

I tried to rationalize that the dog was merely on a pee break and was waiting so patiently for his humans to let him in But when I drove back by an hour later, he was still there.

And so I hate people. I hate people who don't know enough about dogs to understand their pack mentality -That to shut them out from their people who they pack with is to cut them off emotionally. I hate people who view their dogs solely as an accessory. I hate people that don't understand their dogs need shelter just as much as they do. I hate his people.

It makes me want to open their gate and put him in my car and never look back. But that's not reasonable or practical. I can barely afford the dog I have... you know, the spoiled princess? The one who would never forgive me for bringing another into HER abode?

But I'm watching. I have to wonder how much good groups like the ASPCA can do... Our shelters are overcrowded and the dirty little secret of L.A. animal control is that they put thousands of dogs down every year because they can't place them. Is this dog better off because at least he is fed? It would kill me to know I made a phone call that ended in his death. 

I have no answers...just anger and sadness. 


Miss Mabel is pawing at my chair to remind me to please please wish her real life Uncle J in Baton Rouge a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Special Announcement - Beads of Courage on Sunday Morning

I putting this on both my blogs. Please set your VCRs / DVRs tomorrow to check out CBS News' Sunday Morning profile of Beads of Courage.

I know many of my readers were voting back in the summer to help Beads of Courage win a $25,000 grant from Pepsi (which they are putting to use by starting a new BoC program in Anaheim, CA. I will be helping with a workshop there in April!). I thought you might like to see what it's all about - you are sure to shed a tear.

And... if you are a glass bead head - you can see some glass beads being born!

Communicating with Dogs

Mabel's level of communication never ceases to amaze me. Maybe it's the fact that we are together nearly 24/7, but she gets me. And I get her. 

I've often impressed our hiking buddies with my ability to "read" Mabel's body language and know what she's after.  While I don't think I could put it into words, she has different postures for cat, rat, lizard, squirrel, ground squirrel, bird, deer and coyote. Possums and coons share a similar posture but are different from the rest. And there is an extra delightful body language for balls with tennis balls getting special recognition.  I once saw Mabel go into her tennis ball posture at a round pile of rocks. I thought this was exceptionally strange; how could a tennis ball be in a pile of rocks? I moved a few rocks and... tennis ball! 

While I am limited to reading body language, Miss Mabel "reads" my colorful and varied language! This dog is smart, I tell you. Scary smart!

After retrieving her from the middle of our street yesterday and having a meltdown, I jokingly informed her that there would be no creek for her. After all she put me through, she didn't deserve it. I also told her I would be taking Bart instead. 

I left her home alone for my trip to physical therapy and returned hours later, NOT smelling of the creek or Bart.  Not wanting to take any chances, Mabel decided to jump into the jeep and wait while I packed orders - for two hours!

I had to take Bart anyway as his people were really busy yesterday. I picked him up and explained all about how Mabel did not deserve a trip to the creek. Bart was not impressed; he has his own free range car issues. In all of the craziness of just getting there, I forgot to demand my "payment" for the trip. I have both dogs trained to give me "kisses for the creek."  

Shortly after we all arrived at the creek, Mabel stopped and held out her left hind paw. She had stepped on something sharp. I ran to her - it was a sticker and I removed it and seized my opportunity. 

Me: What? No kiss for that? I remove your owie and I don't get a kiss?

Mabel:  Eye roll.

Me: Come to think of it, I didn't get a kiss for the creek. You know, I think I deserve THREE kisses:  one for the creek, one for the owie and one for saving your dumb a$$ life from the middle of the road.

Mabel was just up the hill from me. She turned and licked the wind!

Me: NO!!! AIR KISSES DO NOT COUNT!! You have to make contact for them to count! 


Later, after Mabel had a swim in Dirty Creek, she came over for some lovin'. 

Me: Hey, where's my THREE kisses???? 

Mabel kissed me. 

Me: That's IT? I need TWO more. One for the owie and one for saving your dumb a$$.

Mabel kissed me a second time and started to walk away. 

Me: HEY! I think the kiss for saving your dumb a$$ ought to be REALLY big. Pay up Missy!

She gave me thorough face "cleaning!" 

You will never convince me that this girl doesn't understand what I say. But I swear, knowing how smart she is really ticks me off. The reason? If she understands, then all those times I give a command and she shoots me that sidelong go-to-hell look, she's CHOOSING not to obey! Brat! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Heart Beat So, It Scared Me to Death

Miss Mabel (aka Naughty Naughty Bad Dog) sent my heart a racing this morning!

I was on my way to the shop to pack some orders when I decided I needed some coffee. It was a rough morning. My arms are sore from physical therapy. My back was aching from my new sleep position (part of PT). My feet and knees were hurting; Basically, I was a mess. I rarely walk around without shoes- but for that fateful need for coffee.

It was a warm morning. I had opened the doors and widows to suck the cold air out of the house. Mabel walked to the security door as I was unloading the dishwasher. And then she was GONE!!!!!!

I could see the reflection of the OPEN security door in the glass paneled wood door! The adrenalin kicked in! I dropped the dishes in my hand and was out the door in less than a heartbeat. Panic set in as I heard a car race by. I raced to the street in my socks and freaked again when I still didn't see the girl. I realized cars from both directions had come to a halt near the corner and I seemed to float there where I found Mabel dumbstruck by all the cars (more likely, it was all my screaming that brought her to a standstill - and she lost track of the cat that I'm certain she was chasing!)

I grabbed her with both arms and had a breakdown in the middle of the street. I went into the "ugly cry." I got the girl into the house and sobbed some more. Miss Piss was quite jazzed from her adventure while I was freaked at all that could have happened. I finally realized that, thanks to the adrenaline aches were gone! They should bottle that stuff!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Her Happy Place -

I was going to make this a Wordless Wednesday post... but it's Tuesday! I stopped into Panera last night after a day of running from doc to doc with my arms and tooth and got snippy with those nice folks because "You ALWAYS have Black Bean Soup on Tuesday."

"But Ma'am, it's MONDAY."

How's YOUR week going???

Me? I wish I was here:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sunland Tujunga Locals - BEWARE

Local folks... just so you know where your money is going: The Christmas tree lot operating at the former K-Mart site is issuing  Home Depot receipts when a tree is purchased. The staff is wearing shirts that say Noble Mountain tree farm but the signage and SKU numbers are all Home Depot.

Please support local tree vendors that will keep the money in the community!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Jewelry for Mabel Lou

I guess it's no wonder I love / make beads and jewelry. I've always referred to my dogs' collars as jewelry. "Come put your jewelry on!"

It's astounding to me that both Millie and Maggie - my two girls who were in rescue for a long time - both could not stand for me to take their jewelry off for any reason. When I took them off to wash, Maggie would hang out under the clothesline keeping watch on her valuables. I think both girls associated that collar with "home."
Mabel Lou feels a bit naked without hers too. I've been on the hunt for a new collar for her for over a year. But when one of our trail buds commented on how ratty Mabel's collar looked and I found myself with a few bucks in my paypal account, I made a serious effort to find one online - having given up on finding the right shade of mauve in PetSmart.

I found one from dirtydawgz on Etsy. It was hard to choose. I sorta wanted one with flames but decided that was my passion, not Mabel Lou's! In the end, I got a pink collar covered with brown ribbon and girly flowers. Mabel Lou is modeling it in these pics. Below, she's showing off her early Christmas pressie - a new soft fluffy bed.

I know! I know! Yes, we already have NINE dog beds in this house of one dog but I'm planning to toss the old ratty one. You will note that Mabel Lou is stretched out from the new softy bed to the old softy bed!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Evidence of Aliens?

We discovered a strange round impression in the sand during our hike on Saturday.

Cyber Monday Deals

Hey a girl's gotta make a living so... I thought I would share my Cyber Monday Deals and specials here on the old bloggie:

Holly's Folly Glass Bead News

I have a couple of coupons and specials going on NOW through midnight PST Monday night.

Beads: Save 20% off my Artfire, Etsy or with the coupon code THANKFUL

This sale is on EVERYTHING in the shops including tools, jewelry and my latest favorite - a sparkling bronze made to order set!

Subscriber / Fan Page ONLY Specials

IF you are a Fan Page Member, use coupon code THANKFULFAN for an additional 10% (30% total!) savings.... valid only for FANS! Join my Facebook Fan Page
You must be a subscriber on a mailing list / fan page to get the discount. Mention this deal for your discount! If you are reading this online and are not a subscriber, no discount will apply!

****Free shipping on my rubber stamps!****

And I'm also having a special on my FoodSafe & Art Rubber Stamps:

FREE SHIPPING now through Midnight PST 11/29 on UNMOUNTED rubber orders of $5 or more AND on Wood mounted stamps orders of $20 or more.

All Food kits ship free this weekend! Valid only with credit card or RME payments

Thanks as always for l@@king!


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Story of Me by Mabel Lou

My Mom has written about how I was adopted before but we wanted to play along in Minna Krebs "Story of Me" post.

Here's what Mom wrote about me in her post Love for Sale: $8. [Eight green papers???? OY!- M]

I got Mabel from the pound about 6 weeks after my Maggie died of cancer. I was grief stricken and Mabel was really confused. At four months old, she had been adopted out five times and returned pretty fast. But since Mags was only eight, I was hell-bent on getting a first. They wanted to be rid of her... she was "on sale" for $8.00! (including micro chip and hysterectomy!)

It was a rough start. She was so happy to be leaving "doggie jail," she burst out the doors and immediately started trying to read my face for recognition of one of the many cars. I wanted her to potty first. As soon as she realized which was my car, she whimpered and scratched and refused to walk one step further. O.K., so maybe she doesn't need to potty.

We got on the freeway and headed to my old neighborhood. I had an elderly friend there and had promised to do a little shopping for her. I got a whif of a very unpleasant odor... she had pooped IN THE CAR!!!

 My first day in my forever home

So, Mom and I didn't get off to a good start with me pooping in the car! I just wanted out of that doggie jail place.  People would adopt me and take me somewhere nice for a day or two - sometimes a week - and bring me back to the jail!

Mom admits she only wanted me because of my age - her other pups had crossed that rainbow bridge so young. I'm proud to say I am now my Mom's youngest AND oldest dog ever!!!!

But I wanted to share something that happened to me right after my Mom got me out of that place. Los Angeles makes you take adopted dogs to a vet within three days. Even though I had seen LOTS of vets in the last two months of being adopted and returned, we had to go again the day after Momma brought me home.

Momma lets me run errands with her all the time unless it's too hot and I'm sorta of amazed she let me in the car again after I used it for a bathroom the day before but we were running errands and I was happy to be out and about with my newest Mom.

And then all of a sudden we pulled into the doggie jail parking lot! My mom was returning me!!!! I cowered in the back of the jeep. I guess she really didn't forgive me for pooping in the car! But just as quickly, we were driving away... Momma said, "Oh drat, they're closed on Mondays!"

She looked back at me and was kinda shocked to see me curled up and all fearful. Momma called me to her in her softie sweet voice and I went to her.

She said to me, "Mabel Lou, what's wrong with you??? Did you think I was taking you back to jail?? I was just taking your papers back to them since we were in the neighborhood but we'll mail them. You won't have to see this place EVER again! I promise!!!"

And we drove away fast! Now, I can't tell you that my mom never regretted that decision. I was one destructive pup! She will tell you she hated me for the first year, disliked me for the second, decided I would do by year three and fell in love in year four! 

With all those indecisive emotions is it any wonder she needed a puppy???

She may not have loved me but I loved her from the start. She was smart enough to know a pup with that much energy needed LOTS of exercise and it wasn't long before she took me to my creek where I could run and roam. And she played with me lots - always throwing my tennis ball. It took me a while to convince her I should also sleep with her and cuddle with her on the sofa, but now she sees the wisdom of keeping me close to her. Momma would get so mad at me in those first years but all I had to do was give her "the look." Our arguments went like this:


 Translation: Yes, but I'm cute!

And just like that, it was over! We've been together for 8 1/2 years! And Mom has never taken me anywhere near that doggie jail!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cornbread Dressing

I thought I would share the family recipe for cornbread dressing. My mom's is one of the best. I say "one of" because I've amended and enhanced it over the years... Mom doesn't "do" herbs. But I adore this dish's a whole meal!

And like all good Southern recipes... no measurements! I like to work in stages.

Season a hen to taste and cook. Let cool. Cut all meat into bite size pieces. Share the skin and fatty bits with the pup. They aren't needed.

Make a large pan of cornbread. I prefer one without a lot of sugar. This  a savory dish. I season my cornbread with a little herbed garlic.  Bake til lightly browned. My favorite childhood breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas is always buttered cornbread. Now, I realize it was probably the only thing cooked in the house when I awoke hungry and my mother had all burners on the stove going!

Boil half a dozen eggs. Rinse in ice cold water and peel. Smash. I hate eggs... so I smash mine to smithereens but if you like them... bite size will do. Put them into a very large work bowl.

Dice several stalks of celery and a large onion fine. Blanch in some of the hen broth.

Dice green onions and set aside. Chop any herbs you favor. I favor rosemary, parsley and sage.

-------Put it all together------

Add the corn bread to the work bowl, along with the meat, green onions,  and herbs. Mix all well so the boiled eggs are throughout. Add the celery / onion / broth.

Add 1/2 a dozen raw eggs and beat well.

Add hen broth until the batter is cake consistency. It will be chunky because of the meat but it should be soupy. If you run out of broth, canned is fine.

Bake in the oven until it browns on top and all the excess moisture has cooked out.  Serve with cranberry relish.

-----Tips / Alterations -----

  • When I'm really busy,  I buy a cooked chicken at Costco or Sam's and use lots of chicken broth. 
  • To add another layer of flavor, bake a can of corn in with the cornbread - cutting back on other liquids.
  • Diced Ortega chilies are also a great addition. 
  • Add a little melted butter to the final batter for richer flavor and MORE calories!
  • You can mix up and freeze up to a month in advance! Make a batch at Thanksgiving and freeze half for Christmas.


The little Creekhiker and I are doing what we always do on Thanksgiving morn - hiking! This year, we have friends joining us for our Thanksgiving jaunt.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Defense of Bristol Palin

I hate politics... mostly for what it does to normally sane people. But I've been especially offended by all the comments and rants over Bristol Palin's continued good misfortunes on Dancing With The Stars.

I will openly admit, I'm more than a bit biased as I write this. NO, I'm not a Tea Partier and I'm not a left winger either. My bias comes from childhood - from being the only "normal" sized girl in a dance class. I was a little girl who could strike amazing lines (very important in dance), albeit, not skinny lines.

I loved being on the stage. I danced solos in front of large audiences. My dance career came to crashing halt when my mom took me out of the Dotsy Barron School of Dance after I refused to dance one more time for company in our living room. (My mother will tell you it was because I was left unattended when class was canceled but this is MY story.) It is one thing to be on a stage with bright lights in your face, completely unaware of the audience until all is said and done versus, being in your living room, very aware of the uncomfortable stares on the faces of your parents' friends!

I didn't dance again until I was in my last semester in college. Taking two projects classes that required about 60 hours a week, I found myself missing an elective to graduate. The only one that fit my crazy life was a Broadway style dance class - full of Dixie Darling's no less!  Talk about pressure - take a dance class with a dance squad! But I was busy with film projects and marketing projects and decided to view the class as a twice weekly steam release. I went; I danced; I left. It wasn't until one of the Darlings came up to me at the end of the semester and said, "Wow, you can really dance!" did I realize that I was again being judged for being a "normal" sized girl who dared to dance into a skinny girl's domain.

Just know... that's where my Bristol bias comes from. That and I love rooting for the underdog.

I should also disclose that I'm a somewhat long time fan of the show. I hate reality t.v. on many levels and in the beginning referred to DWTS as Dancing with the Vaguely Familiar. But for some reason, I got hooked on season four and never miss it now. I love the pro dancers so much - they are such talented people and having to put up with famous people is not easy. And having to put up with people who once were famous is even worse!

I expected little from Ms. Palin but when she hit her lines with such ease in show one... I thought she had a future. I felt it was confidence she lacked. I saw a normal girl in a skinny celebrity world and she won my heart.

Now, I admit, she has not progressed as fast as many others have. But Bristol has come so far. She still lacks confidence and acting ability. But she shows UP. She doesn't phone it in. She doesn't look into the camera and beg for votes. She doesn't appear to be a Diva. She's real. And I like REAL.

The girl has spunk. When she learned she got the job on DWTS, she put her baby in the truck and drove to L.A. from Alaska. I once considered driving my Jeep to Louisiana with a rottweiler and chickened - out.

And speaking of Bristol's son, Tripp: She has spoken of how hard it is to be working seven days a week and having to send him home to Alaska with relatives. As have the other parents on the show. Without fail, every season, the celebs who have kids always talk of the impact of the show on their families... except for one. Brandy.

And again, I'm biased here. I have friends who have worked with Brandy. D.I.V.A. Nothing I care to repeat here but I will share a story told to my by the former principal of Hollywood High. That school has so many celebrity alumni that come back and visit. Once Brandy had returned and came into the principal's office, which was covered with autographed photos from floor to ceiling. Brandy asked where her picture was. The principal pointed it out - up near the ceiling. Brandy asked why it wasn't at eye level where it could be seen. My friend told her, when you graduate from high school, I'll move it! (I think this says a lot about BOTH women!)

For all the outrage blasted over the "news" media this week, when I've met someone and hear them complain, I always ask, "Did you vote?" Surprisingly, the answer is NO! I can understand complaints about her dancing but the worst is the issues that Bristol has NO control over.
  • They show her mom on every episode - as they do every celebrity's  family. Just because viewers don't realize that's Kurt Warner's wife or Jennifer Grey's husband and they do recognize Sarah Palin doesn't mean the producer's are treating Bristol differently. When Momma grizzly didn't come, they showed Bristol's aunt. After every dance, the first audience shot is almost always someone connected to the celeb.
  • The Tea Party is stacking the vote - but if you listen to the producers of the show, Bristol and partner Mark Ballas only needed 1.5% more votes than Brandy to stay in the competition. I hardly call 1.5% a stacked vote.That's less than a margin of error in most elections!
  • The ABC website allows you to vote with multiple, unconfirmed email addresses - This may be true but again, the producers have publicly stated IP addresses are being checked...there's no way to fake that!
  • People are calling from multiple phone numbers - True... but it is allowed for an allotted number of votes. Back when Apolo Anton Ohno won and I had four phone lines for the house and the shop plus a cell phone, I would race around calling from all of them.
I just wish people would give her a break. Life is hard enough for Joe Schmo. I can't imagine how hard life would be as the unwed teen mom /daughter of Sarah Palin. Which brings up the one reason I'm thrilled Bristol has made it this far... MONEY! Base salary for the celebs starts around 125K with bonuses for each week they stay on ranging from 10K per week to 50K for the final show. The winner will make around 350K for the whole run with the two runners up making 50 - 100K less. How much life could 250K buy YOU??? I love that this girl can get an education or save for her young son's future or just stay home and be a mom if she chooses. I wish every single mother in this country were so lucky!

I promise, unless some miracle happens, Bristol won't be the best dancer Monday night. But she will have the most heart.  Just like in previous seasons, the voters will decide the final winner. And just like my mother taught me about my duty to show up and vote in a real election, "If you don't vote, you give up your right to complain."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

I feel like my blog has gone to the dogs.  Yes, it's true my dog is a HUGE part of my life. We are together 24/7 most days. And there are often times it feels like she is the only good and true thing in my life.  It's only natural to write about is what I know.

But there are times, I just want to write about something else.  And I feel like I can't. Or I shouldn't.

It's all GABE's Fault - (mostly?)

Back in April, I participated in the Global Animal Blogging Event - GABE. Until then, I had been blogging along on what ever topic suited my fancy. I had some regular readers over the years but their comments had tapered off.. Suddenly after GABE, I had a whole bunch of new followers and folks leaving comments - which I loved. But the majority of them are dog bloggers...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Just a Comment Junkie

Yes, I will confess, I am a comment junkie. I love feedback. Which surprises me... ALOT!  I heard on the news the other day that the average human requires seven hours of human contact a day. I find this astounding! Seven whole HOURS!  I need like seven minutes and there are days when that's too much! I seriously think the only reason I tolerate my friends is that all of them have IQs in high 140s.

I am happiest when I'm working in the shop, prepping orders, listening to my ipod and talking to Mabel.  I can spend days / weeks on end like this with only an occasional customer to talk to and phone calls from my closest friends.

But let a blog go without a comment and I'm devastated.

Feeding the Beast
I'm torn over what I should do about it. Do I start yet another blog? I'm already overwhelmed with my bead blog (published M-Th), my duties overseeing the Fire Divas Blog and coming up with new ideas for it; I have a writing blog, where I store my favorite published pieces. I use that mostly for easy links when job-hunting.

I have two other blogs simply for SEO experimentation. I started them when i realized I was THISCLOSE to getting my first ever google paycheck.

While I'm never going to get rich off of this, every little bit helps! And I have still another bead blog I'm hoping to develop!

Needless to say, finding time to launch another blog to do what this one used to do feels pointless.

Do I keep plodding along here and risk "chasing away" the dog folks? Do I find a way to start another new venture?

No answers; just questions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Auntie Hero

Today, I was driving to the creek when the BFF phoned...she wouldn't be joining us. Even though I was almost there, I turned around and drove to her house. I honked and the boy dashed out, raced around to my side of the car so I could open the door and let him in. The BFF told me she knew we were coming because Bart got all excited before I ever honked. He knows the sound of the Jeep now!

I loved the excitement on his face. I love that I'm someone's hero.

I feel like Mabel Lou's hero too these days. I switched her to K-9 Liquid Health after some remarkable recommendations from friends. It's been a month and she stopped groaning getting out of the car. Of course, she started again when I bragged about that. But Mabel is a complainer! But she doesn't complain as much!
Another bonus is...well, I haven't seen her really let loose and run and romp and be her usual bossy self with other dogs at the creek since late last year. But I have seen that recently! Today, she and Bart and Chloe the doberman all had a great run. They chased each other; the girls ganged up on Bart and he ran faster; They all worked together to uproot a small bush which they tore apart and chased the sticks! It was fantastic to see!

Even though she was on the pills before - and STILL comes to the kitchen wondering where her treat is since I made the switch - I have noticed a great difference.

And in a shopping note... you know I love to save a buck. I can't recommend Amazon enough. I went to the Liquid Health website determined to find a store nearby so I wouldn't have to pay for shipping. I placed in a 30 mile search cause I drive a lot to pick up supplies for the shop. The closest store was here in my town... the locals call it "Pet B17ch" because the ladies who work there are never in a pleasant mood.

I checked the price's 36.95 for the same jug I pay 19.85 for on Amazon. And if you spend 25 or more - FREE shipping!  For $3 bucks more, I get twice as much! Whooo Hooo! Good stuff!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Picking Up Bart

Bart was ALWAYS so HAPPY to see me. He usually drags me to the car with his leash but I was a bit uncoordinated with my phone video camera.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Not All Fun & Games

I didn't mean to imply that my time spent "Bart-sitting" was all fun and games. Bart is a "roamer" and was allowed free reign in our southern mountains by his previous owner. And he still yearns to roam free - mostly to visit his girlfriend.

We've quickly figured out that all the neighborhood talk that landed Bart in doggie jail was We've found that "leash-walkers" (that is my favorite curse word for uptight dog owners) would yell at him and mistreat him. So would kids on bikes - he will go berserk at the sight of a parked bicycle!  But the laid back dog owners - the ones who don't pee their pants at the sight of an unleashed dog - often fell in love with him and would invite him to go on walks with them.

While the BFF doesn't like to let him do this, sometimes, he just takes off! And he comes home on his own. If the gate isn't open or if his mom is out looking for him, he has a secret hiding place in their front yard where he waits.

It's no surprise he would test me on this while his pawrents were away! He took off up the mountain several times.  Once he went down a dead end road. I gave chase, Mabel patiently waiting in the car. Bart ran faster. Knowing this was a losing race, I jumped into a wide stance, lowered my chest, smiled and raise my head and wagged MY tail.

"YOU CAN'T CATCH ME!" I yelled at Bart.

I was wrong. He could and he I ran in the front door of his house!

Other times, he got up the mountain so quickly, I had to chase him by car. Each time he had found a friendly fellow hiker / pup to take up with. Each time, he danced as my Jeep approached as if to say, "HI AUNTIE! What are you doing here?"  Each time, he gleefully jumped into the car and allowed me to drive him home.

But that would turn out to be a minor issue. I think any dog-sitter's greatest fear is having something bad happen to your charge. I once took care a  neighbor's fish - gold fish. We were good friends. The fish died. We weren't friends anymore. I think it scarred me!

Bart loves to jump out of car windows! But until one of my last days keeping him, he had always jumped out of PARKED cars! As we neared our parking spot at the creek one day, Bart was so excited, he leaped from the window. I was traveling pretty fast and in the midst of a U-turn to park and this flung his body at strange angle. I slammed on the breaks and screamed. I could see his eyes WIDE with fear and looking up at me as he slammed into the concrete! He landed on his forearms and chin.  I raced to him as he stood and started shaking it off. He moved his chin from side to side like I've seen boxers do after a hard punch. 

Sobbing, I got him into the car. I called the BFF in tears. And as we talked, it became clear that other than a skinned chin, Bart was fine and oh so anxious to hike!  Me? I still have nightmares!

And... I now roll the windows up before I get to the creek!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Loving That Barty Boy

I mentioned yesterday that I had Bart duties while the BFF was out of town on business.It was really fun getting to know him a bit away from his mom. 

The Nicknames 
I've heard it said that any dog worth their salt has a minimum of 14 names. The bestie and I have always called him "Barticus" because he hikes on ridges high above us and often way ahead.  But, I added a few more to Bart.

  • Mr. Bartlesby - for his regal and protective nature
  • Two dog - because I'm forever counting heads when hiking off leash. He always shows up 2nd. 
  • Pees Like a Girl - Rather obvious
Navigating Danger
Bart is not trusted in all areas of the creek because... he's been kinda slow to learn that those jumping choyas are his horrible nemesis. Since officially becoming part of the pack, the BFF has had to take him to the vet several times to have them removed! So, there are certain areas he remains on leash and certain trails we just don't take.

But the last Monday night we hiked, I spied Hank and Sue, our Rhodesian buddies on the levee. We all ran to meet and greet. But they were headed home and we were just arriving. We said our goodbyes and Mabel, Bart and I continued down the levee. About 2/3 to the end, a huge van pulls up and, judging by their dress, I felt they were gang members. More than 20 of them got out of the van and they had three big pit bulls.

I navigated the dogs back to the water. As they frolicked, I hung back to see what the gangsters were doing. They appeared to be congregating near the road. So I joined the pups at the shore, thinking all was well.  Suddenly, there was a snarling pit above my head on the levee. So much for the short hike I needed.

I went further downstream even though it was getting dark and coyotes were lighting up. I had hoped to find my pool man and his Aussie, 'tilla. But I ran into the young lady that hikes there with her lab. She had seen the gangsters and the pits and was debating what to do.

We decided there was no more time to go downstream to a friendly trail. It was too dark and the coyotes were loud and all around us. We climbed the rock face of the lower levee - only Mabel had trouble with that. Then we headed for cactus flats. I was so afraid I would end up with Bart at the vet. But I leashed him up and went slow. He listened to my every command and we made it out just fine.

FYI - the creek was abuzz the next night with various encounters with those pits and the gangsters! Scary!
Auntie, What's Wrong with Your HAIR?
I've written at length about my crazy-do-as-they-darn-well-please curls in my hair. One day, it was hot and my hair, which has a climate of its very own, was down...making my mood very bad. There are days, like today, where the wind is so cold, I will actually tie my hair under my chin and wear it like a scarf! But not when it's hot!

That day, as soon as the dogs paused to chase the ducks in Dirty Creek, I put my hair up in a bun. Knowing how well my hair will say in a given position, I determined I would have to tie it up three more times while hiking if I had nothing to hold it in place.  I looked around and found three slim, smooth twigs and placed them in my bun chopstick style and went on to enjoy and nice but warm hike.

Driving Bart home, he started rooting around in my hair! He gingerly pulled the twigs out of my hair and spat them out on the passenger seat! Apparently Bart doesn't like my choice of hair accessories!

I really loved 'Bart-sitting!' He was such a joy and it was great to bond with him. Today, they arrived at the creek first and he raced to my car to greet us. What a sweet boy he is!