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The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Police dogs–rural style

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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5 Ways To Make Your Week Simpler (and More Enjoyable)

5 Ways To Make Your Week Simpler (and More Enjoyable)

© The J.M. Smucker Company © 2018. DD IP Holder LLC (This post is in partnership with J.M. Smucker Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.)

I could start this post with a full paragraph full of “busy mom” clichés focused on how my house is a disaster and my kids are loud and messy and how by the time I’m done with my work day and taking care of them I can barely stand up, but I’ll just stop right there. I mean, many of you are parents and you live this (and even if you’re not, you’re probably no stranger to the turbulent, exhausting nature of day to day life as an adult). So, instead of going into detail on how things are nuts around here, I’ll just get right to the point: there are small, easy ways to make our chaotic weeks simpler and more enjoyable. This is something I’ve been working toward a lot this year. I used to get incredibly stressed on Sunday evenings, because I’d suddenly feel overwhelmed by the coming week and how much I knew I’d have on my plate. So I started doing a few tiny things differently – some on Sundays and some throughout the week – to ease my load. And you know what? As easy as they are, they’ve added up. Today I’m going to share what I’ve been doing.

1. Straighten up your space. I grew up in a very neat, clean, organized home, but my sister and I always joke that we just didn’t get that gene. I am a slob by nature. I have two children under four who enjoy ripping through the house and basically destroying everything in sight. My space is always messy. And I despise cleaning. But every Sunday, I declutter the big stuff and straighten up the best I can. If I have the time and energy, I’ll do a real clean too, but a decluttering can be enough. You don’t even have to do it all at once – you can break it up throughout the day. The rest of the week is busy and it will make the day to day cleaning much less daunting if you start the week with less clutter and mess.

2. Meal plan – loosely. Let me start out by saying that I am not a traditional meal planner. I’m not one of those organized people (though I have mad respect for those who are) with a calendar full of dinners for the week who grocery shops for all the right staples based on this, and then preps everything into neat containers on Sunday afternoons. My meal planning is much more, um, wild and free than this, but it works for me. What I do is go to the grocery store on the weekends and buy food that my family likes and is (hopefully) reasonably healthy, then together we come up with some dinners we’d like to make and eat throughout the week. We don’t set them to certain days or prep in advance (because who knows what we’re going to want on any specific day, man?), but in comparison to what we used to do – wait until 5 PM each night to figure out dinner then frantically run to the store or order carry-out – it makes the week feel much simpler and less stressful.

3.  Prepare coffee for the week in 3 simple steps with Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew. As you can probably tell by the photos throughout this post, this is my favorite “tip” for how to make your week simpler. My friends have a long standing joke about me and how I would live on coffee alone if I could, and honestly, it’s sort of true. I love my coffee with a passion, but the process of making a pot of it every morning and either stopping work and/or loading the kids into the car mid-afternoon to go to the coffee shop adds up to a lot of time and money that could be spent on other things. I’ve become smitten with cold brew over the last year, so when I heard Dunkin’ Donuts had come out with cold brew you could make and enjoy right at home, I headed straight to Walmart to grab a box! I was admittedly a little skeptical at first, because even though I know Dunkin’ Donuts makes some of the best coffee around, cold brew made at home with just water and a pitcher sounded too good to be true. But you guys – I was so wrong. It is so delicious. My husband, who is a cold brew connoisseur, agrees. It’s so rich, smooth, and flavorful; but best of all, with one box, you can make your coffee for an entire week in just three easy steps: drop, steep, and love. Now there is no early morning coffee making or mid-day coffee shop runs, because every Sunday I make myself some Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew and keep it in the fridge for the week (Cold Brew packets make two full pitchers!) And it’s easy to experience a new taste everyday if I want to change things up. Sometimes I drink it black with some ice, some days I add a squeeze or orange or a splash of milk, and sometimes when I want a treat I heat it up and top it with whip cream, sprinkles, and chocolate chips. It’s pretty awesome.

4. Skim your calendar/to do list on Sunday. I keep a to do list (for both my work and my personal life) on my computer that I update everyday. I also keep appointments, work meetings, etc. in my phone’s calendar. I really make an effort not to work during the weekend, and for the same reason, I don’t look at my list or calendar during most of the weekend. The problem with this is that on Monday morning, I was feeling overwhelmed and scatterbrained seeing all of the things I needed to accomplish in the coming week. Now, every Sunday night, I skim through both my to do list (and make any changes, if necessary) and my calendar for the week. That way I have a more organized train of thought regarding what’s coming up, yet I don’t have to be constantly checking in during the two days a week I try to focus on just my family. It’s a very small thing that genuinely makes my entire week feel smoother. (Side note: If you don’t keep a running to do list, start now!)

5. Take a little me time. I know, I know, I’m always referencing self care and “a few minutes of me time,” but for real, take some down time for yourself on Sunday. It will make the entire rest of your week simpler and more enjoyable. If you have little kids, I know this can be challenging (trust me, I can’t even go to the bathroom without hearing “mommy where on you?” on repeat the entire time I’m in there). But even if it means just taking 20 minutes to sit alone and read or listen to music after they go to bed Sunday night, this small step can be incredibly powerful. We all need to recharge in order to be at our best.

And that, my friends, is how I make my weeks simpler and more enjoyable. If you have any tips I might have missed, I’d love to hear them. Also, have you tried Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew packets yet?


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Last Chance to Download Your Free Dog Cookbooks + Pet Calendar!

This week, we’re going to be retiring our free cookbooks and 2018 pet holiday calendar–so please be sure to fetch your copy now! You may have heard about the change in how websites can…

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Hoofbeats of the apocalypse

feral horse appalachian

Feral horses run in the wiry grass of Don Blankenship’s prairies. Once real mountains stood here, all crowned in ash and oak and hickory, but beneath them was a black rock. Over the centuries, men came and dug at the earth and sweated and died and then the bulldozers came and the mountains were gone. The state demanded that the coal operators do something to reclaim the land, so they planted some cheap grass and a couple of pine trees.  But the land was forever changed.

Over the years, the jobs all went away, and those who had a few pleasure horses took them to the new grasslands and set them free. Better to be “wild horses” on the range than dog food was the simple logic.

And the stallions round their mares in this new steppeland.  They nicker and fight the wars of that ancient Equus lambei, which a few romantics like to hope gives some sort of license to the native status of the modern horse on this continent.

At the same time, the state of West Virginia is trying its hand at restoring elk to these very same prairie lands. The elk were natives of the Eastern forests, and the ones being turned out onto these ranges are from Kentucky and Arizona. And those of Kentucky are still of the Rocky Mountain form of elk, not the long gone Eastern kind, which may now exist only in the muddled genetics of some New Zealand ranched herds.

The elk need the grass too, and worries are the horses will make the range too bare. And the elk will not make a comeback.

But the truth of the matter is neither species is native to land that never existed before. The glaciers never made it this far south, and the steepness of the terrain before the dozers came is testament to the antiquity of these mountains. They once stood like the Rockies or the Himalayas, but the millennia of erosion wore them down until the coal operators showed up to cut down their remnant. The glaciers never smoothed out the mountains, but human greed certainly did.

Meanwhile, Don Blankenship is back in politics. He is a former coal operator, a greedy, nasty one at that, the kind that was once excoriated in all those old union songs, but now as the mines employ fewer and fewer workers and UMWA is all broken and busted, he plays the working class victim.  All railroaded by “union bosses” and Obama, he didn’t do anything wrong, he tells the gullible.

He’s thrown his hat into the US Senate race. His ads call all his opponents liberals and abortion lovers. He plays up his conspiracy theory about Obama having it out for him. He feigns tears about Indiana bats that are being killed by windmills.

He says he’ll drain the swamp. Maybe, he will, but I have the idea that he might just fill it up with coal slurry. That’s what happened to poor Martin County, Kentucky.  Blankenship was CEO when his company’s slurry impoundment overflowed and filled up the Tug Fork River.

He sells the false hope that if you just get rid of a few more environmental and labor regulations, the coal industry will come roaring back.  He also says that if we just build Old Man Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, we won’t have any more problems with drugs. After all, the drug problem must surely come from brown foreigners, and not the pharmaceutical industry and those totally unscrupulous doctors who prescribed opioids for every little discomfort.

The politics he offers are the politics of the apocalypse. In land where no real hope can be found, a little false hope will do.

And the miners lose their jobs and their homes and their pleasure horses join the ranks of the feral bands.

The Bible talks about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but in West Virginia, the hoofbeats of that sound the impending doom have no riders at all.

They are the roving bands of the abandoned, left out to sort out a new existence on Don Blankeship’s prairies.

The snakeoil of politicians rings out on the airwaves, and every year, new horses get turned out, and the mares drop their feral foals.

The coal company’s rangeland gets denuded a little bit more, and the elk might not stand much of a chance.

In this apocalypse, death will come.  Sooner or later, the horses will starve on those pastures. A few good souls might get some of them adopted, but most will either starve or wind up shot.

Perhaps, this election will be the final burlesque of Blankenship, but he’s not the only coal country caudillo in West Virginia. The current governor is a more successful sort of politico of this stripe, and the legislature if full of people like him. The long suffering of the people will go on and on, and the horses will continue to be turned out into the wild,

Already, coal towns are advertising their “wild horses” as an attraction draw tourism. It’s a more benign falsehood than the one Blankenship is offering.

But it is not so benign for the horses or the coming elk. For them, the apocalypse is coming. They cannot know it, for if they did, they would run.

And their hoofbeats would ring out the warning of our impending doom.

Natural History

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Can You Break In to Take a Dog Out of a Hot Car?

From the Animal Legal Defense Fund: Only 12 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Vermont, Oregon and Tennessee — allow “good Samaritans” to break a car window to save an animal. Almost all of those states require “good Samaritans” to contact law enforcement before breaking into the car. In 14 […] Dog Blog

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RSVP for the #PlushPawsPremium Twitter Party!

Plush Paws Products has sponsored this post and the upcoming party, but all opinions are my own. Summer is synonymous with dog travel, whether that means swimming fun at the lake or beach, a dream…

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Just a Military Man and His Dog

A feel-good story from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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An Fun End of School Year Interview for Kids

An Fun End of School Year Interview for Kids

Some of you might remember at the beginning of this school year when I shared a fun “interview” I put together with questions for Essley, with intentions of asking her the same questions on the last day of school (which was last week). The post received a lot of traffic and was pinned quite a bit on Pinterest, so I decided to share the questions and answers here again. (And if you want to see the original post and her answers on the first day, you can do that right here.) Some of her responses were exactly the same, and others had changed. And once again, they were a combination of funny and endearing. It’s just amazing to me how much she’s grown since the beginning of the year. I can’t wait for all of our adventures together over summer break.

1. What is your name? Essley.
2. What grade are you in? Threes Preschool and next year I’m in Pre-K because I’m big.
3. How old are you? 4.
4. What is your favorite color? Pink.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Play with the building blocks and play with my friends.
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school? Ballet, Tap, soccer, gymnastics, theatre and all activities but not swimming lessons.
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dance teacher.
8. What is your favorite food? Pizza.
9. How old is your mommy? 30. 16.
10. What is her job? Working on blog posts.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Salad and beer. You like beer mommy.
12. How old is your daddy? 19.
13. What is his job? He’s a Stage Manager.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? Sandwiches. Sometimes he eats hotdogs.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Go to movies and IKEA and to daddy’s work.
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? Crispy. (His name is Emmett.)
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 2.
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Mac and cheese. He’s a little piggy.
19. What is your favorite toy My dolls and Owly. (Her favorite owl toy since she was a babe.)
20. Where do you live? By Chicago.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Playing with my mommy.
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The Children’s museum and California.
23. Who is your best friend? Mommy and Livie and Kinsley and Madison and Harper and Sophie and Peyton and all my friends.
24. What is your favorite animal? Zebras and tigers and dogs.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? To have tons of animals that I can take care of.

If any of you use these question to interview your preschoolers or grade schoolers, I’d love to hear some of their replies!


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Woman Adopts Her Childhood Best Friend

Nicole and Chloe

Nicole Renae is married with one child. She and her husband wanted to adopt a dog to make their family complete. Nicole had loved a dog named Chloe when she was a child, but the family had been forced by her father’s job to give Chloe up when she was still young. This time, Nicole was going to keep her adopted dog for good.

Halo loves helping shelter animals find their best chance at a forever home. Through #HaloFeedItForward, and our partnership with, for every purchase made we donate a bowl of dog food or cat food to shelters to help shelter pets have their best chance at finding forever best friends. For one senior dog, she managed to catch the eye of the woman who had been her best friend when they were merely a puppy and a child.

Nicole meant to adopt a puppy, but a Facebook post showing a senior dog who needed a home changed her plans. The dog was gray and looked like an older version of the Chloe she remembered. What sealed the deal? The dog’s name was already Chloe! Nicole told The Dodo, “I thought that was such a coincidence,” and she decided to adopt the dog and give her a forever home.

When the two met, the coincidences piled up. When Nicole was a child, her Chloe loved to run up to her and lick her face in greeting. The moment that Nicole met this Chloe was magical. “She just ran up to me and started licking my face,” she said. That wasn’t all. “As the day went on, all these characteristics just reminded me of my old dog,” Nicole added. Soon, “I just knew in my heart that it was her,” Nicole told reporters. Even though it seemed impossible, this dog she was adopting as an adult was the childhood dog she had been forced to say goodbye to all those years ago.

At first, Nicole’s family didn’t take her seriously. “My whole family thought I was nuts,” as Nicole bluntly put it. However, it was Nicole’s mom who came up with a way to prove that Chloe was in fact, the original Chloe. Nicole’s childhood dog had been microchipped and their old veterinarian still had the ID number. When Chloe’s microchip was scanned, the numbers were a match. It was the same microchip in the same dog.

“I literally felt like I’d won the lottery. It was just the best feeling,” Nicole said about learning that her adult adoption was actually her childhood dog.

After leaving Nicole’s family eight years ago, Chloe was quickly adopted by an older couple and lived a happy life with them until they passed away. Then she was adopted by another family, but that family had to make the same call as Nicole’s parents and surrender Chloe to a shelter. It turned out to be for the best – otherwise Chloe would never have found her way back to Nicole. “Chloe is happy,” said Nicole. “I think she knows now that she’ll be with me forever.” Now that’s a true best friendship to celebrate!

Halo Pets

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