A popular meme says “Here’s to all those people spending New Year’s Eve at home in their pajamas with their pets”. That would be us. And we’re happy about it.
This also leaves lots of time for introspection. Where will 2020 take me? The year of 2019 was one of great change. The most significant of which was that I retired from my job of 32+ years. That leaves me wide open with lots of options. Life has so much to offer, so many possibilities. I guess I won’t know until the door on 2020 closes.
I do know that the dogs are happy to have me at home. They still follow me from room to room most of the time. Even if it’s the bathroom, they seem to think that there is a secret exit or maybe that I will make a break for it out the window if they don’t stay close at all times. I haven’t done it yet but I imagine the dogs think that is because they always accompany me. I guess we’ll never know as I haven’t been to the bath by myself in about 35 years. But that’s ok, these faces bring me joy every day.
Every single day. I was smiling recently because Zekie figured out how to open two of our trash cans that have lids. This reminded me of my heart dog Duncan, and made me smile. Zekie also chewed something up recently and that reminded me of Duncan too. The dogs that are the most trouble, take the most work, these are the ones that I bond the deepest with. And so they bring me great joy. I plan to spend lots of time with my pups this year so it should be a joyful one.
I hope each of you has great joy in the coming year as well, as you find out where your journeys take you. Happy 2020! Make the most of the new decade and take advantage of each new opportunity.
Can you believe this photo was taken yesterday, December 26th? It was 66 degrees in northeastern Ohio, the day after Christmas.
So of course, we took this fine opportunity to go hiking with dogs. This most of the pack, sans Nikki. She is 12 and no longer up to going on walks. Zekie, Shelby, Cassius, and Baxter thought hiking was a grand idea.
Zekie, my reactive dog, even did very well. He was fine with the other people we encountered. We only met one other dog whose owners had him on the side of the trail. I told Zekie that he was being a good dog, and to keep going with the “on by” command. He looked at the other dog a few times but did not bark or react until the other dog, who appeared to also be reactive, barked. But after Zekie barked in response a couple times, he continued walking at my command. It was a proud moment for me!
We have two kitties. Morty (aka Mortimer, or Mortimer Kitten) is our little black and white cat. Orange Kitty (hey, it’s the only name that stuck) is our large orange tabby. Morty weighs 8 lbs. while Orange Kitty weighs about 20 lbs.
Mercifully, Orange Kitty is one of the mellowest cats I have ever met. He is a friendly, laid back guy. This is fortunate for Morty as Orange Kitty is nearly 3 times his size. Both kitties like to sleep together, especially during this colder weather. On the rare occasion when the kitties do have a dispute, our sheltie, Shelby, keeps things under control. She does not allow growling, hissing, or swatting to continue under her watch. Shelby will run to the kitties and stand in between them, like some kind of referee officiating at a WWF match.
This is how Orange Kitty spends most of his time. Not much bothers him. His only real interest is bugs. He loves to sit and watch them. He will even upon occasion gather the energy to pounce and swat at them.
He sees no need to get too worked up about these things though. If everybody took life as well as Big Orange Kitty, the world would be a more peaceful place.
One of the many benefits of being retired is that I have time to really prepare for and enjoy the holidays. Not since I was in college have I had the time to enjoy baking and decorating the way that I am this season. And for me, a large part of that means baking!
The Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies are a family favorite. I have never had them actually last until Christmas. And this year promises to be no exception. But I did buy enough ingredients that I will be able to bake a second batch in time for the actual holiday.
I came across a recipe for the Russian Tea Cakes when I was in late high school or maybe when I started college. These were a personal favorite of my mother’s and she always looked forward to me making them. I have also heard them called Snowballs. By either name, they are delicious.
I love these Coconut Cookies at any time of year. They have a nice melt in your mouth, caramel taste because they contain both white and brown sugar. They are not necessarily a holiday cookie but I was on a reminiscent binge as I was baking.
I did throw something new into the mix this year because I have been given Muddy Buddies as a gift and they are tasty. The recipe is not much of a secret as it is brought to us by the folks that make Chex cereal. Just check the box for the recipe. Does this mean that Muddy Buddies are a breakfast food? I vote yes!
At the rate we are going through these cookies, I anticipate baking some other kinds too. Maybe Aunt Clara’s Molasses Crinkles or Aunt Jane’s Candy Cane shaped cookies. When I was a kid we had two people who often gave us trays of assorted types of cookies as a Christmas gift. They were always much appreciated. Even then I knew what a special gift they were because of how much work it was to make this many kinds of cookies and because they were a labor of love. They are more than just cookies. To me, they represent thoughtfulness, caring, and wanting to share with those you care about.
That is why I am such a Christmas girl. Each year, I remember the traditions and kindnesses shared by so many people in my life. I want to relive them as well as share them others. Merry Christmas One and All!
I have a number of felt ornaments as well as the felt pin featured above. Some are holiday themed and others are of a more general nature. I plan to add other types of items as I spend more time working on the site.
There are also Dog Biscuits! This batch is Pumpkin and Ancient Grain with a whole wheat base. I will be adding other flavors soon.
This Etsy site has been on my list of things to do for a long time. Retirement was the impetus I needed to get things rolling. If you find the listing to be worthy, I would appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends. There are many small businesses out there so every share helps.
The pups did good work visiting at the nursing home last evening. Here Nikki holds court with her admirers. Really she just doesn’t like to be on the floor because she’s afraid she’ll get stepped on. She’s laying on my coat so she won’t scratch the table. If I put her between two people like this, they can both Pet her.
Cassius also did some fine work relaxing the residents, and himself. He gets the hang of it a little more with each visit. He goes up to some people on his own now without me leading him every step of the way. He certainly enjoys our visits. He can’t wait to get in the car.
Shelby is my old pro. I can give her voice commands and hands on where to go and who to visit. Here she is visiting with a new resident. She makes me proud.
Taking the dogs visiting was what I did on my birthday. It was a fine end to an enjoyable day.
I have heard it said that racing greyhounds can’t or don’t sit. They are even exempt from the sit during Therapy Dog testing. Our retired racers have always learned to sit, some better than others. So I have started working on teaching Cassius the sit command. I put him into the position and praise like crazy. We will have to wait and see if he catches on like the others have.
In my renewed effort to walk dogs regularly, we have been walking this week. I always take Zekie because he has so much to learn to be a “normal” dog. He is doing excellent on his sits, downs, and stays. It will soon be time to work on these commands with distractions at a distance. But when it’s just us, he does great.
See how well Zekie holds his sit-stay. I couldn’t keep Cassius in a sit, but he did do a stand-stay. I’ll take it for now. He at least stays still enough for a picture.
Cassius was confused as to why were not going inside though. He thought since there was a door, that we should enter and see what there was to see. Zeke kept his sit but seemed puzzled as to what Cassius was doing. So was I, Zekie, so was I.
All these shenanigans were apparently very exhausting. Of course Cassius is originally from a racetrack in Florida so the cold may have played a part in wearing him out too. Cassius came home and felt the need to take a nap. A tired dog is a good dog. Good boy, Cassius.
From time to time I like to make homemade pizzas. They are fun because you can make up your own concoctions with whatever you want. My pizza dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas. You can make both at the same time or save the dough in the refrigerator to make the second pizza on another night.
I just use the standard pizza dough recipe that came with my bread machine. If I’m going to be away, I will make the dough in the bread machine so it is ready when I get home. If I’m around the house anyway, I knead the dough by hand. You could also use pizza dough from the freezer section of your grocery store.
Above is my red pizza before it goes into the oven. This one has fresh mushrooms, black olives, and chicken sausage on half. The cheese is cheddar. I find that the cheese you use doesn’t really matter as long as you don’t mind a non-traditional pizza.
And here is the pizza after baking. My pan has holes to make the pizza crispier and make it cook more evenly. For the sauce I just used jarred spaghetti sauce of your choice. I often use Del Grosso Three Cheese.
This pizza is actually the favorite in our house. It is a white seafood pizza. The crust is brushed with olive oil, then topped with sea stix, shrimp, chopped marinated artichoke hearts, minced fresh garlic, and Old Bay Seasoning. The cheese on this one is a six cheese Italian Blend.
I bake the pizzas at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Let them cool a few minutes, then slice and serve!