After pitching a tent in a grove of Eucalyptus Trees along the Elkhorn Slough of the Pacific Coast Highway just outside of Moss Landing – there’s a video somewhere about it- , a song got caught in my head and like some things on our journey, I didn’t understand its significance at that moment.  
Invariably life is reduced down to one step, one song, one mile, one moment, and even just a snuggle, all of which inspire us.  To keep going.  
The more ironical thing is – I’m not sure if I ever heard this song before the slough so why did it resound relentlessly in my tent that night?   
Maybe the love of a child never needs a rationalization no matter the kind and that’s the message.

Does Anything Else Matter?


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How I Live My Best Life

As a new year approaches, and as we get ready to welcome a new baby any day, I’ve been thinking about the things that inspire me to live my best life. There was a time a few years ago when a series of devastating events happened in a short period, and I spent quite a while living in a cloud of sadness. I’m grateful for those times though, because they taught me to appreciate the greatness that was to follow. And as a result, the last few years have gotten better and better for me – not because I have everything I want, but because I’ve learned how to feel like what I have is enough, to embrace the details and moments of everyday life, and to look back on the experiences I’ve had with a newfound appreciation.

One of the greatest parts of my life has been the experience of traveling the world. Although things are admittedly different now that I have a small child, and I’m not able to just pick up and leave like in past years, I still try to fit travel in several times a year. And I continue to look back on some of my favorite travels to far away places (especially Australia, Costa Rica, France, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Belgium, and Mexico) and domestic locations (especially beautiful natural places like the national parks and cities like San Francisco and New York) on a regular basis and meditate on the incredible things that I learned along the way. I think about the beautiful places where I’ve spent time, the cultural awareness I’ve discovered as a result, and the incredible times I’ve had with people I’ve met. I still have a lot of places on my list (Iceland and Japan are at the top right now), but by focusing on trips I’ve already taken and how they’ve made my life richer, I feel constantly inspired to continue to live my life in a way that feels full.

In my everyday present life, I feel constantly inspired to live my best life as well. My daughter and husband bring so much joy to me every single day, and I don’t take for granted how wonderful that is. I also feel inspired by things like music, art, animals and nature, and the ability to run my own business. I work a lot, but it allows me to appreciate the time I take for myself. Sometimes I just take a few minutes each day to meditate and relax in the quiet. And I reserve weekends to explore, learn, love, and grow – not work. All of these things motivate me to live a happy, full life. Everyday, I try to keep a positive attitude and feel gratitude for what I already have, which I feel helps me to become my best possible self.

A couple of days ago, I took the coolest online quiz by Abbott called LIFE. TO THE FULLEST. It’s just a few quick questions about discovering the key to your best life. The first thing it asks is to chose the one thing that makes you feel most fulfilled. Although travel (one the options) is obviously huge for me and has been for my entire life, I ended up choosing family – because ultimately, that is what, at this time in my life, makes me feel the most complete. It goes on to ask other questions, like how to rate how fully you’re living, and to think of a person who you think lives fully and choose a reason why (I chose attitude; positive attitude is everything to me!). There are no right or wrong answers, and at the end, the responses are all combined together to become part of a global look at the nature of human fulfillment. It was really inspiring to just sit down and think for a couple of minutes about what is most important to me in my quest to live my best life.

10 Days in Arizona: Scottsdale, the Grand Canyon, + Beyond // Bubby and Bean

After I took the quiz, I read a little more about it and the mission behind it (Abbott’s LIFE. TO THE FULLEST. mission), which is finding out what living fully means to you. All over the world, people have their own unique ideas about how this looks and feels. But there’s one thing we all share – we each want to live the best life we can. So Abbott set out to find what living fully means to people around the globe. (How cool is that?) They also came up with something called #fullosophy, which they describe as your own unique way of living that gets you to your fullest – your joyfullest, your peacefullest, your hopefullest. (For me, as I mentioned above, these include travel, my family, music, art, animals and nature, running a business, and keeping a positive attitude.) Your #fullosophy is at the heart of who you really are, and it helps you become your best possible self. And although the journey to get to that place is different for each of us, it’s something we all have in common regardless of our beliefs or where we live or who we are. I love this idea so much.

I think that ultimately, my #fullosophy is to do my best to be a good person, to continue to experience the world through travel when I can and to take what I experience on these travels and apply it to my everyday life when I’m at home, to relish in the time I have with my family, and to appreciate the beauty of nature, the arts, and the everyday things that make life so beautiful. I believe that we don’t need a lot to be happy and fulfilled. We just need to make the commitment to ourselves to live our best lives. And that, for me, is the key.

How do you live your best life? What is the one thing that makes you feel most fulfilled? I’d love for you guys to take the quiz too and share your thoughts in the comments! And check out this goodness for even more inspiration.

Photos in this post are all from my travels to my favorite places over the past few years. 

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Recently my good friend, sous chef (she hates it when I call her that), and the princess of pastries –  Valerie – her dog Sydney went from seemingly happy, healthy, full of life and love to lethargic with loss of appetite. 
An ultrasound Tuesday revealed a 17 cm mass in her spleen with possible liver involvement.  Valerie had to make the heartwrenching decision most of us have had to make but in a fraction of a moment.  Once hemangiosarcoma is suspected, time is of the absolute essence.  
For Sydney, 13 years old though a spirited lass by all accounts, the clock was ticking.  Valerie opted to spare no effort to save her life.  
Her surgeon, Dr. Taylor, successfully performed the splenectomy and a liver lobectomy as well as removing an intestinal tumor that wasn’t evident through the ultrasound and I’m happy to report that Sydney has made it to Day 2 of postoperative care.  Though her status still guarded, hopefully Sydney can go home today and be with her mother.  
Three times I’ve gone through this personally with Malcolm, Murphy, and Hudson and I’ve been by the side of many friends with dogs with cancer.  That is one of my jobs. I awakened early this morning relieved by the promising news of Sydney’s condition but reminded of a poem by Robert Frost.
“Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.”
YBD’s Notes 1: I want to thank Valerie for her courage in not only fighting to save her girl’s life against all odds but for allowing me to share Sydney’s story.  She just isn’t able to speak about it yet but she knows I must.  
YBD’s Notes 2:  Nearby is a pic of Sydney with my Puppy Up neck gaiter I gave her to keep her warm.  Isn’t she a beaut?  
YBD’s Notes 3: Perhaps the main reason we got Sydney into the vet before her spleen ruptured is by noticing her distended belly which will be added to our list of early warning signs of cancer.  
YBD’s Notes 4: BTW Sydney is NOT a boy (inside joke).


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Win Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Pet Wash Shampoo + Conditioner (2 winners!)

Are you ready to make a clean start in the new year? Pro Pet Works offers natural solutions for pet families including the Oatmeal Pet Shampoo and Conditioner, recommended by veterinarians. Featuring…

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The Adventures of Chef Big Dog

Now that our Puppy Up events have winded down for the season, I’m up in CT helping out a friend with her food truck and it’s been quite an experience so far.
I’ve cooked for farmer’s markets, festivals, and for hundreds of families and friends I’ve stayed with throughout our journey but the food truck thing is a whole nother level. 
I’ll be sharing my culinary adventures, how and why YBD became CBD, and what’s next in 2016 at www.chefbigdog.com   


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Make Your Dog a Toy with this #BestFriends Video!

OK, the big day is here. Feeling bad because your dog doesn’t have a toy under the tree? Have no worries: Best Friends Animal Society has got you covered! Regardless of your DIY skills,…

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Peanut butter stew

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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This is a Clumber spaniel at the Monaco Dog Show earlier in the year.  Clumbers are, I believe, the heaviest of all the spaniels.

Not a breed we see often n the south of France although there is one who lives in Menton.

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Great article! It's somewhat funny to me becau…

Great article! It's somewhat funny to me because our pit got sprayed by a skunk, tore a nail, and broke out in hives all within a two-week span. I will be trying the benadryl for the hives. Have you ever run into severe dry skin issues with your pits? Ours scratches her face until she bleeds. She also gets something similar to diaper rash between her legs and belly during the winter/spring. And she just started licking her paws CONSTANTLY over the past year. I found an aloe spray for dogs that seems to keep the dry skin under control, but I have to apply multiple times a day, every day. It starts all over again if I miss a day.

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2016-1-ConservationDogs_ph1-WBThere is a detection-dog program called Conservation Canines (CK9), part of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, that is putting to a brand new use the amazing sense of smell that dogs possess.

These CK9 dogs are trained to help conservationists detect the presence of endangered animals by sniffing out their poop.

Unlike scent dogs trained to find drugs or explosives, the CK9 dogs’ talents are put to use for scientific studies around the world: sniffing out the scat of endangered species — among them black bear, grizzly bear, lynx, wolf, bobcat, coyote, and cougar.

DFF-logo-ProudSponsor175x166Genetic tests on the scat can identify individual animals – hormone-level testing shows if they’re stressed, pregnant – and toxicology tests reveal if they’re being poisoned. Experts have found that no other wildlife sampling method can acquire so much information so quickly, without disturbing the environment.

And best of all, the CK9 dogs are rescued from shelters, where the trainers seek out those animals which were considered unadoptable because they were super high energy with an obsession about playing with a ball – a single-minded drive which can also lead to destructive behavior if the energy is not put to use.

But when that energy is trained and harnessed to a task like this, the dogs are rock stars. Or poop stars. But in any case, it’s a win-win all around.

For the full story on this fascinating program benefiting shelter dogs in need of the right homes as well as species of animals in danger, Click here on “Conservation Dogs Sniff Out Endangered Species“.
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.

She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.


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