Pumpkin Dog Biscuits Recipe

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits Recipe

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits Recipe

T

hese are a super healthy and tasty treat for my dogs.  Really easy to make too.  I like to double the recipe and then share with our other doggie pals.  I’m not sure about their shelf life as my dogs love these and they are gone rather quickly.  😊🐶

  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin 
  • 1/4 cup of softened coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 egg

 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.
  • Mix the pumpkin, softened coconut oil, and water together in a large bowl.
  • Then mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Mix until combined and then add in the egg.
  • Slowly add in water, as much as required to make dough.  Use more or less depending on consistency of dough.
  • Continue to mix until combine and it forms a dough that you can roll out. 
  • Roll dough mixture out on a floured surface to ~1/4 inch thick.
  • Using a cookie cutter, cut out treats. (I use both a big size and a little size as I have both a big dog and a little dog).
  • Place cut out dough treats on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes (depending on size) or until dough has hardened.
  • Remove tray and let cool.  Store in air tight container.  If biscuits are a bit soft, store in freezer.  If they are really hard, then they are okay on the shelf.

 

I hope your dog enjoys these!  I’d love to know how they went over.  Send me a note, leave me a comment.

 

Christina xo

 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

Roger Caras
2020 Fashion Accessory of the Year

2020 Fashion Accessory of the Year

2020 Fashion Accessory of the Year

D

ifferent colours, different fabrics, different fit.  I do like to coordinate with what I’m wearing but more importantly I want to wear a clean mask.  That’s why I have one for each day.

 

The Necessity of Masks

Masks have become increasingly mandatory everywhere.  To find out the specific regulations where you are, be sure to check with your local public health authority.  In general however, I think we can go by these simple guidelines:

  • wear a mask when you are in public and in contact with others,
  • wear a mask when you are in shared indoor spaces and with people who are not in your social bubble.

 

Masks Around the World

Other parts of the world adopted this mask wearing practice before us as they have experienced previous pandemics. Just think of SARS or MERS in China, Hong Kong,Taiwan or Saudi Arabia.  In some of these countries, even after the pandemic passed, people continued to wear masks.

Their tendency is to be more utilitarian with masks unlike here in North America where masks soon became a form of self-expression through the use of different colours or patterns in the material used to make masks.  Many commercial enterprises also got on the bandwagon by designing masks with logos or slogans imprinted.

 

The Making of Masks

Check out this story at Refinery29 that talks about how the fashion industry has met this new trend.

The making of masks has become something of a cottage industry. Just check out Etsy and Instagram and you will find plenty.  Should you want to make your own, instruction and patterns are readily available.

 

Material, Design and Fit of Masks

Masks should ideally be made with three layers:  two layers of a tightly woven fabric (cotton or linen are ideal) and then one layer that is a filter.  The design of it should snuggly fit over the nose, mouth and chin and be easy to breath in.  Ties and loops around the ears hold the mask in place on the head.

 

Keeping Your Mask Clean

Your mask should be cleaned or replaced daily and immediately, if it is damp or soiled.  To wash your mask,  you can put it in the wash machine in hot water or you can wash by hand using soap and hot water, then allow it to dry thoroughly.  If you have a disposable mask, make sure that you dispose of it properly (in a closed trash receptacle and cut the ties to prevent hazards to wildlife that may get into trash) and wash your hands after handling it.

 

Preventing Problems with Facial Skin

The importance of wearing a clean mask is not limited to minimizing virus transmission but also to prevent dirt and oils of previous wear from coming in contact with your facial skin again.  Also, consider not wearing makeup underneath to prevent skin breakouts.  I use a good moisturizer and instead of wearing lipstick or lip gloss, I simply use a lip liner rubbed gently into my lips.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, to prevent skin problems:

  • clean and moisturize skin before and after wearing your mask,
  • protect lips by applying a lip conditioner,
  • avoid wearing make up,
  • avoid trying new products or skin care routines now as wearing a mask can make your skin more sensitive,
  • monitor and possibly minimize the use of retinoids and salicylic acid as these products can cause skin irritation,
  • make sure your mask fits well,
  • give your face a break every four hours by removing your mask for 15 minutes.  Avoid touching your face when you remove the mask and wash your hands before and after you handle the mask.

We are in a very serious time of this pandemic. This virus is everywhere.   However, I think it is important to not stigmatize people who are not wearing a mask as perhaps they have a valid reason that is related to a condition or disability they may have that either makes wearing the mask difficult or makes breathing especially difficult. 

I encourage you to be vigilant, right now.  Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.  Do your part to keep yourself and others safe.  😷🙏

I love to hear from you. Send me a note, leave me a comment.

Christina xo

 

“Wearing a mask is better than wearing a ventilator.”

Unknown
My Ossobuco with Creamy Polenta

My Ossobuco with Creamy Polenta

My Ossobuco with Creamy Polenta

love comfort food.  There is something about a hearty slow-cooked meal that just soothes me right to my soul.  Hearty does not necessarily have to be unhealthy so I’ve adapted these recipes to suit my preferences.  Both of these recipes are super easy and especially good on a busy day.  Simply prepare the ossobuco and let your slow cooker do the work through the day, then cook the polenta  just before you are ready to eat.

I have several recipes for Ossobuco that I do but I like the flavour of the added orange for this one.  I also like to do a risotto instead of polenta so keep that in mind, too.  For these recipes, I was inspired by Lidia Bastianich‘s Ossobuco and Ina Garten‘s Creamy Polenta.

 

OSSOBUCO 

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

1 lemon

1 orange

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of chopped sweet onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 cup of diced carrot

1 cup of diced celery

Salt and pepper 

2 whole beef or veal shanks, bone with marrow.  Secured with twine around whole piece.

Flour for dredging shanks (I use Gluten Free)

1 cup of white wine

1 1/2 cups of crushed/pureed canned tomato

2 cups of chicken stock 

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Zest of 1 lemon

 

  1. Take the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and place them into a bit of cheesecloth and then secure with twine.  This is your “Bouquet Garni”.
  2. Take the orange and with a vegetable peeler, remove the zest (the orange part without white) in strips.  Squeeze the juice and set it aside.
  3. Take the beef or veal shanks pat them dry with paper towel, then season them with salt and pepper and dredge them in flour.  Shake off any excess.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil then brown the shanks (approx. 3 mins. per side).  Remove them and then set aside.
  5. Using the same pot, add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.  Season with some salt to get moisture out from the vegetables.  Cook until onion is translucent and vegetables have softened (7-8 minutes).  Add your canned tomatoes and mix well.
  6. Place your shanks in the slow cooker pot.  Add your vegetable mixture, white wine, orange juice and chicken stock. Also, add in your bouquet garni.
  7. Cook in slow cooker, 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.  

For the Gremolata:  combine parsley with lemon zest in a small mixing bowl.  If you like garlic, you can also add minced garlic to this mixture.

 

POLENTA

2 cups chicken stock

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese, maybe a little extra for sprinkling on top at serving

 

  1. Place the chicken stock in a large sauce pan.  Add the garlic and bring the stock to boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to a soft boil then slowly whisk in the polenta (do this slowly to avoid lumps).
  3. Switch to a wooden spoon and keep stirring and then add in salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until it thickens.  Ensure that as you are stirring you are scraping the bottom and sides.
  4. Remove from heat then stir in milk and butter.  Then add in the Asiago cheese, saving a bit for serving.

 

After your polenta is cooked simply plate one shank with a bit of sauce.  Sprinkle with Gremolata.  Scoop polenta on the side, sprinkled with a bit of cheese.

 

Bon appetito!!

 

Christina xo

 

“Instead of going out to dinner, buy good food.                          Cooking at home shows such affection. In a bad economy, it’s more important to make yourself feel good.

Ina Garten
What Is Sexy?

What Is Sexy?

What Is Sexy?

Western Sexy

W

hat is sexy?

By definition Merriam-Webster says:

  1. Sexually suggestive or stimulating:  EROTIC
  2. Generally attractive or interesting:  APPEALING

I think for me it is something in between EROTIC and APPEALING.  It has a lot to do with feeling confident and feeling beautiful.  All of it comes from what is inside of you.

This is not about vanity or conceit.  It is simply stepping into your power; owning who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going.

In this middle of life time, we’ve grown into the faces and bodies that we now own.  We’ve earned each and every wrinkle, age spot, scar or stretch mark.  We’ve earned each and every pound gained and shed.  Some of those have come through incredible joy but many have come by heartbreak or loss.

Our faces and bodies may not be as supple and limber as they once were but there is still incredible beauty, strength and vitality there.  We do our best to take care and nurture ourselves by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and maintaining our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.  Most of the time, anyway.

There is something to be said about the people around you making you feel good about yourself.  Each one of us is responsible for their own esteem but having people around you who do not honour or respect you, elevate you and even challenge you be your best self does erode your confidence and self-esteem.

Make sure you choose to be with those friends and family who elevate you, and most especially if you have a partner that person should support how you feel about yourself.

An article in Huffington Post listed 7 things that make a woman sexy and I have to agree, they are a good start.

1. Confidence – The appearance of being confident by walking with your head held high, being able to make and maintain eye contact and a great smile.

2.  Ambition – Having goals and going after what you want.

3.  Passion – For your work, for people or any interests or goals that you have.  Having the desire to pursue all these things.

4.  Kindness – What could be more sexy than kindness?!!

5.  Honesty – This is getting into the more substantive qualities that make us gravitate towards certain people and avoid others.

6.  Class – This is not represented by the name of your handbag or the car that you drive, rather is the dignity and respect that you show towards everyone and everything.  Perhaps, we can say the integrity with which you lead your life.

7.  Intelligence – I think we’ve all been attracted to someone based on appearance but I think you need to be able to have a conversation or discussion that is engaging, informative and maybe even challenging.

I wrote a piece about being #sociallybrave in an earlier blog post.  In it I wrote about feeling invalidated and choosing to play small.  At that time, I barely felt attractive let alone sexy.  Well, the Universe was going to have none of this so my world was shook.  

What shook out is a new me but really is the old me, only now older and perhaps, a little wiser.  I am slowly finding myself and feeling my confidence return.  Oh my goodness, I can now take photos and feel good about myself.  The smile is real and it is coming from my heart,  and I am not looking for a partner’s validation.

Dare I say, I may be getting my groove back.   

So, I invite you to find your sexy.  Don’t do it for anyone else but for yourself.  Don’t know where to start?  Start by looking in the mirror and really seeing yourself.  Look into your eyes and connect with that part inside of you that is your essence, the true you.  Bring that woman out and let her shine.  Do this every day and you’ll see, you are going to shine.

Think about it, what makes you feel sexy?

Send me a note, leave me a comment.

Christina xo

 

I think the quality of sexiness comes from within.                    It is something that is in you or it isn’t and it really doesn’t have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.

Sophia Loren
It Took a Pandemic To Make Us Slow Down

It Took a Pandemic To Make Us Slow Down

It Took a Pandemic To Make Us Slow Down

H
ere I am almost ten weeks into this new way of living.

Living socially-distant, isolated in our home, leaving only to get groceries and one urgent visit to the vet.  There has been no need to dress up, so comfortable, casual clothes are now the mandated fashion and referred to as #WFH (Work From Home) attire.  Makeup has been limited to my daily SPF, mascara and maybe a bit of gloss.

Admittedly, those trips out have been a fine reason to exercise my fashion cravings and so yes, I put on my button-up pants and applied my makeup.

Meals have been cooked at home and we have used up all foods purchased and the staples that I stock my pantry with.  My teenager has even expanded her cooking repertoire of fried eggs and Mac & Cheese, growing more confident with each successful meal.  Without outside help, we’ve shared household chores, inside and around the home.  We’ve completed many projects that have been on the never ending to-do list.

We’ve played games, we’ve watched countless movies and other TV, we’ve lounged outside reading, listening to music or just talking and we’ve gone for walks.  Social contact has been limited to phone calls, FaceTime or the newly-discovered, ZOOM.  Most recently, we’ve been able to have in person visits sitting the requisite 6 feet apart.

Overall, perhaps because I am an introvert by nature and being in this middle of life chapter, I have not minded this situation.  I have cherished the time spent with my daughter.  I have noticed a sense of peace and relaxation around us that is normally lacking as I am always rushing to complete tasks or get somewhere, not a minute to be wasted.  Jam-packed schedules made my days full and long so not having to rush anywhere has been incredibly peaceful and stress-free.

However, I have missed some things.  There have been instances where I have missed, even longed, for the companionship of certain loved ones.  I have missed dinners out and I have missed the freedom and convenience associated with being able to shop at leisure.

I read a great article in The Atlantic, “The Virus Is a Reminder of Something Lost Long Ago” by Alan Lightman.  He writes about how perhaps, we have been “living too fast”, where our values include “speed, efficiency, more money, hyper-connectivity, progress”.  Judging by my own lifestyle and those closest to me, I agree.  Smartphones are everywhere and are constantly in use; in restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, even in church people are rarely not checking their phones.  Schedules are full and the more we cram into a day, the better.

What has resulted is, a society of disinterested, unengaged, over-scheduled and stressed out people who are constantly seeking more.  That more is supposed to satisfy or fill some void that will ultimately make us more happy, content or satisfied.

Lightman writes about how times of adversity often lead to innovation.  Responding to a need, innovators will always find a way to do things better or to find solutions to resulting problems.  We have seen this as we have seen teaching and meetings go on-line, appointments with doctors on-line, groceries ordered on-line and then available for curbside pickup or delivery, and what about the international co-operative efforts of the scientific community to find a vaccine for this virus.

People are working from home so there has been an increased need for internet but there has been a resulting significant decrease in road traffic and travel has been sidelined so the positive environmental impacts have been an environmentalist’s dream.

What most resonated with me in this article is Lightman’s discussion of how this pandemic has allowed for “innovation in habits of mind”.  The meaning of this being that this time has made us slow down.  It has given us opportunity to spend time in personal reflection, to consider that maybe we have been going too fast and that our priorities were all wrong.  Maybe, having time to be quiet in stillness and in privacy, doing less and having less, will bring us to those elusive feelings of peace and joy?

I can’t say that I have this all figured out but I do recognize what makes me most happy.  I was already on the path to change but the pandemic has more clearly brought that to light.  The challenge will be how to take what we have learned about ourselves and how we can live in a way that is simpler.

Have you thought about that?  What has the pandemic show you?  How can you bring the good personal effects of this time into life post Covid-19?

Christina xo

“As you get older, the cliches of life ring true.
It’s the simple things that matter most: your family, the people you love, your health and sanity.”

Ronan Keating