First ribbon

I took Poet the whippet to the puppy fun match in Austintown today. We won the hound group in his age division!

winner poet ii

winner poet

Natural History

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Cock of the Walk

cardinal audubon

Spring comes in softly at first. Then, it rushes in hard and warm, like water gushing from the faucet into a dirty sink.  The birds start their singing when it starts in softly. The cardinals are among the first to lift their voices high among the skeleton trees. The testosterone flows hot in their red-feathered forms, and they begin to set out their breeding territories for the year.

All winter, they have moseyed morosely with mixed flocks of hens and cocks. They have flitted at the feeders as comrades against the cold and the hunger, but now, the primal pursuits of carnality take over. And the cockbirds turn violent against those former friends, and by the time, the first warm days of April come slipping along, they have set up their fiefdoms. And all through the warm months, they will patrol their lands, ready to do battle against any interloper.

This year, a particular male cardinal, all resplendent red, chose a piece of territory near a fine home with nice English garden. It also had a well-built garage.  That garage possessed a large window and along the wall where the window was located was was well-manicured flower-bed.

The cardinal had done a good job driving out all the bachelors, poachers, and Lotharios from his land, but every time he inspected that part of the territory near the garage, the bright red form appeared in the window. And oh it would enrage the cock cardinal!

How dare that poaching lowlife appear on his land! How dare he!

And the cardinal would attack the red form in the window. He would think that his orange beak would lay a hard blow against his rival feathers, but each time he banged into the window.

And he would get angrier and angrier. He would spend hours fighting the phantom bird in the glass. He would sometimes tire and fly along the walk leading to the garage and mutter little cheeping sounds at its rival.

He was the cock of this walk. No one else will ever be!

The owners of the house would have thought this whole display rather charming. However, during all those hours of fighting his rival in the reflection, the male cardinal dropped copious white feces all along the walk.

The woman of the house hated cleaning up the bird poop and regularly let her husband know about her displeasure. She wanted something done and done soon.  A shotgun could solve all their problems.

But the man of the house was more circumspect. He liked living where cardinals could flit and sing all summer, and further, he was fully aware of a federal law protecting songbirds.

So he tried setting out scarecrows in the flowerbed and along the walk. And for a day, they kept the male cardinal from coming in to war and poop.

But those primal urges were that strong, and the male cardinal returned to give up a good fight.

He fed his mate and his growing chicks, but every day, he had to spend hours fighting his rival in the window. And the feces kept piling up.

One day, the man rose from the house. He cradled a 20-gauge rabbit gun in his right arm. He waited until the cardinal gave him a clean shot, and nothing was behind the bird. And then he raised his gun. And broke the federal law.

And the red bird fell hard and lifeless to the ground. The man picked up the cardinal and threw him in the trash.

No evidence of the crime was left. It was just over with a single shotgun blast. No one knew any the wiser.

Modern man likes to live near nature, but even in the most banal of conflicts, nature must yield to man’s desires.

No concession could be given to the cardinal. His chicks in the woodland starved. His mate found a new lover among the Lotharios, and the new mate was not as aggressive about pecking at his rival in the garage window.

And so the summer went on. The cardinals sang and caught grasshoppers and ate summer wheat and August corn.

And their lives went on in the wild, minus the cock of the walk that dared to fight his own reflection in the window.

 

Natural History

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GIVEAWAY: What do YOU carry when you walk your dog?

The favorite part of my day is dog walking time. Every morning and every evening, I head off on a dog walk, usually 30-45 minutes in length. When we’re on a day trip or overnight getaway with…



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DogTipper

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Review: New Swiffer Heavy Duty Pet Sweeper #SwifferLovesFur

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Swiffer at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine. Spring is coming. For all the joy of sunny days, blooming flowers, and happy…



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DogTipper

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Mashed Potatoes and Other Small Victories

Thank you Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes for sponsoring this post. Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes are real potatoes, real easy, delivering homemade taste on demand.

One of the greatest lessons in parenting I’ve learned over the last five years is that you need to celebrate the small victories, because very little goes as planned. Sometimes a small victory can mean simply getting the kids dressed and out the door in time for school, even if they’re wearing mismatched clothes and have knots in their hair. When my kids go right to sleep with limited fussing or fighting (key word being ‘limited’ rather than ‘no’) that’s a small victory. Sometimes a small victory can mean watching my kids stop in the middle of a major sibling fight and hug each other. Other times it just means getting to go to the bathroom by myself.

When it comes to small victories though, I don’t know if it applies anywhere in my life with little ones quite as much as it does to meals. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was absolutely certain she would only consume the uber health conscious foods I provided her, and that she would eat exactly what we were eating, just in smaller portions. (I was a phenomenal parent before I became one.) Well, that did not work out. Then I had a son who actually loved eating what we did, enjoyed trying new foods, and preferred fruits and vegetables to sweets. Unfortunately, that only lasted until about year two, and then he followed in his sister’s footsteps. Not only do my kids almost always want to eat different foods than we do, they also want to eat different foods than each other. So when we find a food that we all love, it kind of feels like a miracle.

There are only a few foods that every single person in our house loves to eat: black bean tacos, cheese pizza, smoothies, Thai food, apples, and mashed potatoes. For me, mashed potatoes is probably the winner of all of these, because it can be served along so many other dishes and therefore made multiple times per week. There is a slight problem with mashed potatoes though – they take a lot of time to make, and time isn’t something we have before weeknight dinners. This is why I was so stoked to discover Idahoan® Mashed Potatoes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Idahoan Mashed Potatoes are not just a small victory, they’re a huge one.

Idahoan Mashed Potatoes are made from 100% real Idaho® potatoes, so they have incredible taste and texture. They even earned the title of “America’s Favorite Mashed Potatoes,” which was well deserved if you ask me. But here’s the best part – they are ready in just minutes. I mean like prepared and on the table in less than ten minutes from start to finish. So whether I’m serving a perfectly prepped, elaborate meal (which let’s face it, maybe happens once every other month) or whipping up something simple in just a few minutes, it’s easy to make Idahoan Mashed Potatoes a part of it. Even when my kids complain about the rest of the meal, I know they’ll love and happily eat them. And obviously, my husband and I will too. (I like eating them alone for lunch or a snack too. Mashed potatoes forever!)

Having kids is admittedly much different than I envisioned before I became a parent. It’s awesome and wonderful in ways I could not possibly have imagined, and I am incredibly grateful for every single part of it. It’s also hard. Really hard. It’s exhausting and dirty and sometimes feels a little soul sucking if we’re being honest here. But that is part of what makes it great, because it allows us to so deeply appreciate those small victories. And whether it’s getting a toddler to take liquid medication without barfing, realizing your older child’s barely worn soccer shoes fit your younger kid, or discovering a food that everyone in the family loves that can also be be made quickly and easily, a small victory is reason to celebrate.

If you’re looking for a super convenient way to serve up a small victory in your house via the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever had, go grab yourself a bag of Idahoan Mashed Potatoes. We love the Buttery Golden Selects (so rich and tasty), but they’re also are available in Buttery Homestyle®, Butter and Herb, Bacon & Cheddar Chipotle, Roasted Garlic, and Four Cheese. Yum!

Have you had any small victories in your house lately?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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5 Benefits of Whitening Teeth with Charcoal

5 Benefits of Whitening Teeth with Charcoal

This post is sponsored by Crest. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

Over the final months of 2018, I talked quite a bit here about dental health. Health and wellness in general were sort of a theme for me last year, in my real life and here on the blog, and taking care of my teeth/gums/mouth were a part of that. After talking to my dentist and reading all sorts of studies, I learned just how much dental health is connected to the health of the rest of our bodies, which prompted me to take my teeth and mouth health very seriously.

Admittedly, the holidays were a time of indulgence for me (as they are for many), and I let my healthy eating habits and fitness routine slide in a big way. But it is important to me to continue the healthy journey I was on last year throughout 2019, and I’m starting to get back on track. I just cut out sugar again a couple of weeks ago, and have slowly begun to amp up exercise again as well. And while I’m happy to say that I continued to make mouth health a priority even when I was neglecting the rest, I’ve been looking for even more ways to keep my teeth in the best shape possible, inside and out.

Enter charcoal. You’ve probably heard about activated charcoal for whitening teeth. It’s been pretty trendy recently, and as with anything that’s trendy, I definitely had my doubts. I had to try it though. And I was impressed by how well it worked, but turned off by the mess it left in my sink and in my mouth (and even under my nails). It was suggested that I try Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Charcoal toothpaste instead. I picked some up at Walmart, and you guys, it was a game changer. There was no mess, and I’ve been beyond pleased with the results. I’ll get into that more in a minute, but for now, I wanted to share some of the benefits to whitening your teeth with charcoal, from my own experience and from research I’ve done.

1. Charcoal can whiten surface stains without harsh chemicals.
If you’re looking to whiten your teeth in a more natural way, charcoal is a great alternative to chemical treatments.

2. Charcoal is an affordable way to whiten.
Getting your teeth whitened at your dentist’s office can be seriously pricey. Using a charcoal toothpaste like Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Charcoal instead is an affordable way to remove surface stains at home, resulting in whiter teeth that don’t cost a fortune.

3. Charcoal has natural antibacterial properties.
Charcoal can help remove bacteria from your teeth and mouth, resulting in a cleaner feeling and fresher breath. When combined with an invigorating mint flavor like in Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Charcoal toothpaste, my mouth feels the best it ever has.

4. Charcoal toothpaste works quickly.
It took me less than a week brushing with Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Charcoal toothpaste to notice a difference, which is much less time than most other whitening toothpastes I’ve tried.

5. Charcoal can benefit the body beyond the mouth.
Activated charcoal has benefits that go beyond just whitening teeth. It can even help with detoxing your digestive system by absorbing toxins. So cool, right?

All of this said, there are some disadvantages to brushing with pure activated charcoal, like the mess I mentioned earlier, and the fact that it can be too abrasive on enamel when used straight. That’s why I choose (and my dentist recommends using) a toothpaste that contains charcoal instead. I am loving my Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Charcoal so much, and can’t wait to continue to see results with time. Just like regular charcoal, it whitens surface stains, but it actual strengthens enamel rather than weakening it, which is a huge bonus. Brushing with it is fun too! The charcoal ingredient creates a sparkly grey striped toothpaste that creates a grey foam that lightens when combined. That means no mess! The minty flavor tastes great and leaves my mouth feeling ultra clean too. I’m smitten.

And while not a charcoal toothpaste, I also feel the need to mention another new toothpaste in Crest’s 3D White line that I have been loving: Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy with Coconut Oil. I use coconut oil throughout the day everyday, so I was really excited to try this. The vanilla mint flavor is everything, and it also does an incredible job removing surface stains to whiten teeth while strengthening enamel.

These babies are my newest secret weapons in my dental health journey! I highly recommend heading to your local Walmart and picking up one of each. Then let me know what you think.

Have any of you brushed your teeth with charcoal?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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8 Tips for Bringing Your Dog to a Pet Expo

Spring is just around the corner here, and we’ve been looking at pet expos and vendor fairs for booths for our PawZaar gift store. We’ve already signed up for POPCats Austin in May but…



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DogTipper

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Megalodon sharks died out a million years earlier than we thought and great whites may have been to blame

megalodon

I lived through that great Shark Week debacle in 2014, when the usually fairly reputable Discovery Channel showed this bizarre pseudo-documentary called Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. I believe I watched all of five minutes of this monstrosity, and I knew that the thesis posited in the film, that there really still are Megalodon sharks swimming the seas, would be taken as fact by a certain percentage of the credulous public.

If such an animal really does still live in the ocean, then small to medium-size craft could be endanger at all times, but of course, no real evidence of late surviving Megalodon has ever been produced.

Indeed, when this documentary came out, I was quite aware that some shark specialists were doubtful that these large sharks survived into the Pleistocene.

Well, we now have some really good evidence, based upon an extensive re-evaluation of the fossil record of Megalodon sharks, that the species went extinct about 3.51 million years ago. It was previously believed that the species went extinct 2.6 million years ago, and recently, a supernova was suggested as the likely culprit.

However, this new date means that the supernova probably did kill off lots of large marine mammal, but the Megalodon had already been gone for about a million years before the supernova hit.

This new study, published in PeerJ, contends that the species became extinct as the modern great white shark spread over the world from its ancestral home in the Pacific Ocean. Great whites became widespread in the world’s oceans around 4 million years ago, and their spread roughly coincides with the new extinction date for the Megalodon.

The authors contend that the juveniles of the Megalodon were unable to compete with the adult great whites, and because a species cannot exist very long if its young never survive, the great white might very well be the culprit behind the extinction of the Megalodon.

So no, Megalodon doesn’t live. Jaws took it out long ago.

Natural History

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Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Happy Friday friends! I feel like I’m cheating a little by sharing this, because the recipe is one I originally shared here last year. But we made these cookies again yesterday for an early Valentine’s Day treat, and since this upcoming week is V-Day week, I felt inspired to share again. I’ve actually tweaked a couple of things in the recipe since last year as well, so an update felt needed. I hope you love them as much as we do!

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

SunButter (or Peanut Butter) and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 cup SunButter (for allergy-free recipe!) or peanut butter
1-1/4 cups gluten-free or all-purpose or  flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter (softened)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
1/2 cup jelly, jam, or preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the SunButter or peanut butter, butter, and egg, then beat in the sugars and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat in the flour mixture on low until well mixed. Roll tablespoon size balls on dough and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, the slightly press each cookie into a round shape (we dip the bottom of a metal measuring cup in sugar and then press onto each cookie ball). Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately use the bottom of a wooden spoon handle to make heart shapes in the center of each cookie while still hot. Fill each indentation with jelly, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Note: If you have a dairy allergy, you can easily substitute butter for a butter alternative. And if you have an egg allergy, use an egg replacer mix or 1/2 a mashed banana in place of the egg.

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Happy Love Week! Enjoy!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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We have come to love each other

poet snuggle

I must admit that I never really new sighthounds other than retired racing greyhounds until these past few months.  I knew that Jenna had a special relationship with Zoom, her cream and white whippet, and when we moved in together, she had just brought in a brindle and white whippet puppet.

I figured that the puppy would wind up being her dog, and although I was quite aware that whippets were quite trainable dogs, I never really thought I’d become attached to one.

As Poet has matured, though, he and I have drawn closer to each other. It was he who made the first mood.  A few months ago, he just sort of declared in his subtle sighthound ways that he was my dog, end of discussion.

And I’ve accepted the arrangement. I have found him to be as biddable as any golden retriever, and I have trained him to sit, heel, lie down, stand, and speak. He fetches the ball like a demon, which is to be expected. His father is a Frisbee nut.

He likes to go with me everywhere, and because he’s smaller and innocuous, I generally don’t have a lot of trouble taking him places.  He is genteel and kind, but he is not demonstrative with strangers.

Through one family line I trace to the rugged counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the same counties that spawned the modern whippet as a rag racer. I suspect my Quaker ancestors in that part of the world may have had little greyhounds much like whippets, perhaps to fill the pot with rabbit stew on cold winter nights.

So we are now attached to each other. I have a nice little whippet with a show and coursing career ahead of him, and I now know the full appeal of this breed. Once they choose their person, you are it.  No one else really matters.

And that is strange and moving feeling, especially when you’re used to golden retrievers that are so socially open.

Poet is my little boy. My little whip. And I am his person.

 

 

Natural History

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