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Of Grandmas and Poodles

In just a few short weeks, my grandmother will be turning 88!!!

Now, let me fill you in on birthdays and my grandmother. She is notoriously unhelpful when it comes to celebrating/recognizing/planning them. Year after year, our birthday conversations go something like this:

Me: What do you want for your birthday present?
Grandma: Nothing. I don’t want you to buy me a thing.

Me: What kind of cake do you want?
Grandma: I don’t want a cake. I’m on a diet.

Me: Where do you want to go out to eat for your birthday?

Grandma: No where. Let it be just another day.

There is, of course, a lot more back and forth that I am failing to include, but you get the gist.

Now, before you say that not everyone wants to celebrate their birthday, and she is obviously one of those people (she’s not, trust me), I will let you in on a little secret. . . The couple of times that I’ve done exactly as she asked (no special present, no cake, and no special meal), she was madder with me than a wet hen. And they get really mad. I was on her out list, basically. Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson. 

So, this year – just to change it up a little – I’m not asking any of the above questions. At all. Instead, I came up with the perfect way to recognize her birthday. But to explain it a little better, I’m going to illustrate another conversation that we routinely have (Not anymore, though).

Grandma: I don’t guess I’ll ever get to see where my little brother is buried.

Me or Sometimes My Mother: Why not?

Grandma: No one will take me.

Guilt trip, much? 

So, this week, we gave her an early birthday present, and it was exactly what she wanted. Not my usual fare of a pretty new blouse or purse, but something I think she enjoyed even more because it was completely unexpected.

A trip all the way to Louisiana to visit Great Uncle Bobby’s grave. . .

Uncle Bobby Grave

And an overnight stay in nearby New Orleans. 

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Little Alfred (who isn’t so little anymore – 57 lbs at his last weigh-in) got to tag along with us. Luckily, we stayed at the Downtown LaQuinta Inn and they were very dog friendly. I mean, very dog friendly. I counted at least three other four-legged guests just on our trips out to potty. Btw, this is not a sponsored post. . . . I (and Alfred, of course) was just very impressed with the welcome we received and they deserve a shout out. 

Alfred felt like he’d landed in a plush doggy heaven. From his walks in nearby Lafayette Square (yep, named after that Lafayette – America’s favorite fighting Frenchman. . . . two points if you know what current hit musical that line is from!!) to lounging in the bed and catching some Zzzz’s with Grandma (he slept with her all night, kid you not) and then waiting on the valet (seriously, there was practically no free parking in downtown NOLA and every single hotel I looked at had valet service), Alfie really enjoyed his trip.Alfred NOLA  Of course, after riding in the car most of the morning, he and Grandma were ready for a nap. So, we left them to it and set off to do a little exploring. And ghost hunting.

New Orleans

If you’ve never gone on a ghost/history tour, what are you waiting for?!? Do it! I love a good tour because they’re a great way to learn a bit of interesting, sometimes obscure history about a city that you might not otherwise hear. Ever heard of the Axeman of New Orleans? I sure hadn’t. On a side note, I kind of wish it had stayed that way – yikes! But I digress. The tour we took was entertaining as all get out! Horror stories. Ghost stories. Stories about celebrities. History. Architecture. And a rainy afternoon spent meandering through a beautiful city. What could be better? 

But enough about that! After the ghost/history tour we stopped off for a to-go order of beignets from Café du Monde, which we promptly took back to the hotel just in time for Grandma and Alfred to wake up from their afternoon naps.  And Grandma fell in love (no pictures of that moment because, well, my hands were covered in powdered sugar), so much so, that she wouldn’t leave New Orleans without another helping of those sugary, fried treats. 

The next morning, we went for a little ride on one of the many streetcars down Canal Street and all the way to City Park before packing up and heading home. 

 

So, the big question. . . Did my grandmother enjoy her early birthday present? You bet! She loved it! In fact, she loved it so much that she has told everyone from the receptionist at her retina specialist (macular degeneration, you know), the nurse, the actual doctor, other patients, and every one she could all about it. 

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Shocking.

So, last week, my favorite travel companion (she just loves it when I call her that!) – aka my mom – and I left Alabama bright and early (well, not so bright, but very, very early – it was 5:30 in the morning, after all) bound for Tennessee. 

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A little side trip through Mississippi and then Memphis, TN to pick up the newest member of our farm poodle gang (meet Alfie, here), and then it was on to Nashville for something that I couldn’t wait to experience. Even 11 hours of driving couldn’t take away the excitement!

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Was it the Ryman Auditorium? Maybe Bluebird Cafe? Or Music Row? Nope, it was a hockey game.

That’s right. I’m letting you in on a secret that is so unbelievable and just plain weird that you may not even believe me. I am an Alabama girl who would rather watch hockey than football. Any day of the week. Shocking, right? 

I mean, there are certainly no frozen over ponds in south Alabama (well, except the Icepocalypse that time) and ice rinks are very few and far between. And I can’t skate to save my life anyways, but it doesn’t matter. I love hockey. 

By the way, according to this video, I may not be from the South . . . .

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Over the pedestrian bridge and through the woods we went to grandmother’s house. . .  oh, wait, wrong story. 

I will say that my poor, ever-suffering mother was a really good sport – she only asked if we were there yet like 30 times. And it only took us 15 minutes to walk from the car to the arena, with me saying every few minutes, “We’re almost there. Just a couple more minutes.” 

Which she should’ve learned by name is totally and completely not true.

Nashville Preds Pedestrian Bridge

By the way, I think I’ve converted her. My mother, who has never been interested in any type of sports in her life (other than the Iron Bowl, but even then, it’s only a nominal interest in the outcome) said, as we were leaving the arena, “I get why you like watching them hit that ball around.” 

Then, it was time to come back home to Sweet Home Alabama. . . . 

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DIY Grain Free Sweet Potato Carrot Dog Treats ~ 4 ingredients!

Poor farm poodle, Bryony. November was such a rough month for her.

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Let me set the stage for you. 

In November:

  1. I sold the the couch and the poodle perch (i.e. the chair that the poodles claimed as their own). 
  2. I ordered a new sectional, but it wasn’t delivered until over a month later. Which meant a month with only one chair to sit in for two people. And the dogs.
  3. Bryony developed a pretty nasty ear infection that wouldn’t clear up.
  4. Which led to three vet visits.
  5. She had a laser pointed at her ears. And they were drained with a needle. 
  6. She was diagnosed with severe food allergies. 
  7. Her food, treats, chewies, etc were taken away.
  8. And a special food (i.e. expensive) from the vet replaced all of that for a little while. 
  9. She hated the new temporary food. 
  10. And last but not least, I raided the toy basket and threw away all of their old, chewed up, no-longer squeaking toys. Believe me, they have plenty of new toys waiting under the Christmas tree. 

But things are starting to look up. Bryony likes the new permanent grain free food. She hasn’t had anymore ear problems. Plus, she’s starting to enjoy car rides again, instead of thinking each one is going to end in a visit to that most dreaded place: The Vet. 

The one difficult thing: She doesn’t like the treats. I’ve bought bag after bag of grain free treats, and none of them have piqued her interest so far. 

So, I decided to make my own. Good news, she loves them! In fact, she was sitting patiently waiting in the kitchen when I took the second batch out. 

Even Sophie got in on the patiently waiting action. 

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Even the weims like them. And they are, shockingly, not treat fans. In fact, they’ve been known to spit treats out. But not these.

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How to make them:
Mix together all of the ingredients.

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You may need more or less eggs depending on the dryness of your ingredients. My puree was left over from juicing carrots for a new soap (see here), and it was very dry. I used 4 eggs in all.

Roll or pat out the dough until it’s a 1/2 inch or less in thickness. This makes quite a lot of dough, so I patted mine flat in about four batches. 

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Cut into shapes and bake in a preheated oven for about 40 to 55 minutes. 

They’ll still be quite soft and chewy (so perfect for older dogs), but if you’d like them to be harder and more brittle, try leaving them in a little longer or even turning the oven off after they’re through baking and leaving them in overnight to dry. 

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Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

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This recipe makes about 30 candy cane shaped treats. 

Grain Free Sweet Potato Carrot Dog Treats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Sweet Potato, baked, peeled, and mashed
  • 1/4 cup carrot puree
  • 2 - 4 eggs*
  • *Please note the amount of eggs depends on how dry your other ingredients are (especially the carrot puree). Mine was quiet dry, so I used 4 eggs in all. Use only as many eggs as you need to bind your ingredients together and allow you to be able to roll or pat out the dough.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combing together the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Place a couple of pieces of parchment paper on a table or counter to keep the dough from making a mess. Roll or pat out the dough until it's about 1/2 inch or less in thickness.
  4. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for about 40 to 55 minutes.
  5. The treats will still be a little soft. If you'd like a harder treat, try baking it a little longer or even turning the oven off after baking and leaving the treats in overnight to dry out.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Visiting St. Nick.

It’s that time of year! To tell the jolly old St. Nick your Christmas wishlist. Something the two farm poodles are all about. 

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Or usually, that is. 

Sophie was more than ready to share her daydreams of treats, chewies, and squeaky toys with the jolly fellow, but Bryony was having nothing to do with it. 

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The friendly dog that runs up to complete strangers for a little petting, wanted to have nothing to do with the whole experience. My only guess is that Bryony’s most recent car rides have ended at the vet, and she was wondering if this one would, too. More about that another day. 

 

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What the girls have been doing.

It has rained almost every single day for days and days and days. At this point, I’ve honestly lost track.

Of course, rainy days can make almost anyone ready for a nap, but the girls, Bryony and Sophie, have taken that to new heights.

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 In between hurried trips outside to potty (Because seriously, what self-respecting diva-licious farm poodle wants their hair wet?), they’ve napped.

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 And snoozed.

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And dozed away the rainy days, probably dreaming of sunny summery weather. Whatever that is 😉

Considering we’re as waterlogged as you can get right now, they’re doing exactly what I feel like doing. 

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 Sophie: “Rain, rain go away!