Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spend less, or support local business?

I think it's clear to the what, five readers of my blog that I am more of a thrifty sort than a spender. But I am definitely willing to spend when it comes to the dog. Boy, if you want to save every penny, don't get a dog. Between vet visits, toys, and food, your wallet will be noticeably thinner. Especially if you are a total yuppie like me, and you want to feed your dog something better than Purina. (Kodi's food is endorsed by the dad on Eight is Enough! - actually, I think it's his company...) I'm not surprised by the costs, since we worked out the budget well in advance before getting the dog. But that doesn't mean I am not looking for a bargain where one can be had.

So, there are some great local stores in our city where you can buy whatever your dog's heart fancies. Some are tiny stores with fancy stuff, some are a little bigger with less fancy stuff, but in any event, many are local to the Lower Mainland. We have taken the dog to several dog stuff stores and she has always been spoiled by the staff at these stores. The cheap side of me objects to these stores, however, because the same stuff can be had for much, much less online.

For example, I wanted to buy this toy:

It is a tough rubber bone, into the ends of which treats can be inserted. In the pet store near our house, this item costs $15.99. I found it online for $6.69! How could I resist?? I bought a ton of toys for the dog (thanks to my mom for bringing them back from the US) and they were all substantially less expensive than any store here in Canada, even the online Canadian stores.

Here's another example:
This is a truly educational toy... heh. You stuff the bees into the hive and the dog works to get them out. At first, hubs couldn't understand why the dog would want to get it out but when he gave it to the dog, it was clear how much she really wanted to get the bees outta that hive. They squeak and are perfectly mouth-sized, you see. I saw this type of toy for $21.99 at a local store and I got it for $7.69 online.

I justified my large purchase by saying that the dog tears up her toys (or eventually she will, at least) so the cheaper, the better. But am I responsible for putting locally-owned businesses out of business? Worse... am I guilty of... not caring?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dog days of spring

Sometimes, I wish I had become a teacher so I could have spring breaks, winter breaks, and two months of summer. I doubt I could handle the rest of the job and let's not even mention being underappreciated ... but still... those holidays are tempting.

Today, since neither hubby nor I had to work, we decided to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and take the dog out for a day of fun. We went to Granville Island and had a lovely walk (and the dog didn't even yank on the leash... that much.) We stopped in at Woofles, the doggie bakery, which is tiny but filled with friendly folk. Kodi met several dogs and people. She met a labradoodle (I think) who wanted nothing to do with her nor the other playful dog we met. Of course, Kodi was a little over-hyper and overexcited so I can't really blame the labradoodle for not wanting to get involved in the jumping and pawing and barking. I hope the hyperactivity goes away with age. Then after more walking, we went to Three Dog Bakery. And then after that, we went to the pet supply store. I know - we are total yuppies. Actually, I didn't get Kodi nearly as many treats as I wanted to, because wow, doggie bakeries are expensive! I don't even buy myself cookies at a real bakery because of the price. Haha.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brekkie part 2 - homemade

One of my friends shared this recipe with me and we decided to try it out this weekend. It made for a lovely breakfast and wasn't difficult - plus it left the house smelling nice all day. I used to love the cinnamon knots at Bread Garden but wow are they ever high in fat (possibly because they were made of croissant dough.) This recipe isn't low fat but it's not completely unhealthy either - that is, unless you eat the entire thing at once. Don't do that.

I'm pretty sure this recipe can be found elsewhere online but I always like to read a little commentary with recipes.

Overnight Cinnamon Pull-aparts


20 frozen dinner rolls (we used 24 - why leave 4 in the bag!)
1 cup brown sugar (we cut this down to about 3/4 cup)
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding (we increased this to 1/2 cup or so.)
1/2 cup melted butter
pecans, walnuts, or raisins (we had none of these)


Place dinner rolls in a greased bundt pan. (We didn't have a bundt pan - so I used the bottom of our tagine. Thanks, Crate & Barrel!) (Also, we put half the rolls in first and some of the sugar and cinnamon, then put the rest of the rolls on.) Over top, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon, and add nuts or raisins. Pour the pudding and butter over top. Place a damp towel over the pan and leave the pan overnight. (I put it in the microwave. I'm not sure if that made a difference.) In the morning (get up half an hour early), the rolls should have risen nicely to the top of the bundt pan (or higher!). Take towel off and bake at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes. Turn over onto a plate and enjoy.

Comments: The tagine wasn't the best bakeware to use, and next time I might make a smaller version in a loaf pan instead. I suppose I could also buy a bundt pan. I would also be careful to make sure each roll was covered in the topping mixture because some of the rolls on the outside got a little brown. That could also be due to the tagine being used! In any event,
I have to say that this breakfast was fantastic and low fuss. Can't ask for more than that on a weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Crash Test Dumbass

Ever seen "Crash Test Mommy" before? It's on the Slice channel. Here's the show in a few words: burnt out, busy mommy hands over household to judgmental spouse/relative who thinks s/he can run said household far better. Burnt out mommy goes to spa for weekend. Usually, Judgey fails miserably and learns to appreciate mommy much more.

I'm currently watching an episode where the mom has two kids plus takes care of four more in a home-based daycare. Dad works at an auto body shop and thinks that his wife needs to be more organized, so that she can have dinner ready for him at 5:30. He said that his mom would always have dinner ready by that time, and would make lunches for him and would keep the house sparkling - so what was wrong with his wife?

It always strikes me as odd that folks like this still exist. First of all, comparing your wife to your mom is never a good idea. It only makes your wife feel bad and brings up Oedipal issues. Second, telling her to get organized in order to make YOU dinner is rude. This is not a woman whose sole job is (underpaid, underappreciated) homemaker. She runs a daycare! Third, it's never a good idea to be judgmental about the way your wife cleans if you do nothing to help.

[Ok: he didn't give the kids the right breakfast, and skipped storytime altogether. He then said "I am not convinced that my wife's job is stressful." He's keeping the house clean by shuffling the kids outdoors or upstairs. Hmm - how about, oh, I don't know, taking care of them! Ridiculous!]

When did this couple's relationship get to the point where he belittled everything she did, AND SHE TOLERATED IT! I am so offended on her behalf. His kid asked to play with him, but he said no, I have to clean. I dunno. This is just uncool. We are not in some sort of Beaver Cleaver era where the mom wears an apron on top of her pleated knee-length dress. This is the year 2008, let's have a little respect for each other.

End rant!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I love breakfast. I rarely eat breakfast, but when I do, it's enjoyable. Seems like no one really eats breakfast on a regular basis. I think my problem is that I get up too late. But since I hate mornings, that bad habit is unlikely to change.

But when I do eat breakfast, here are my favourite foods:

1. Chinese "bao"s. My favourite is "gai may bao" - mm... buttery goodness. I also like "boh loh cha siu bao", but I don't like "boh loh bao". I am a fan of Pine House for "baos" - but there aren't really any that are convenient on my way to work. Hubs isn't that fond of Chinese baos, having grown up with them. My least favourite bao is this ham and green onion roll. I ate one once as a kid and felt nauseated for a full day - now even the smell of them makes me gag a little.

2. Eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), bacon, hashbrowns, and toast. This is either known as camping breakfast, in which the caloric content is very high (which happens when you fry your hashbrowns and eggs in bacon fat) or Golden Coin breakfast, in which the caloric content is ... very high. Needless to say this is not a weekly breakfast.

3. Chocolate croissant. The best were the ones I used to eat at Bread Garden, but now that Bread Garden sucks, I have switched over to Starbucks. (I like Blenz coffees - but a) inconvenient locations and b) crappy pastries.) Calories? High. Deliciousness? HIGH.

4. Cereal. NOT. I cannot stand cereal. When I find a cereal I like, I eat about two bowls before I realize that once again, I cannot stand cereal. Maybe I eat it too slow - I hate how it gets soggy near the end. I know someone who puts water in his cereal instead of milk. Blearrgh.

5. Dim sum. I didn't much like dim sum as a kid, but as an adult, it's made its way back into my life quite easily. On occasion, hubby and I have gone for dim sum and spent only about $8. My favourite dim sum item is "loh bak goh". My least favourite is chicken feet which the hubs insists on eating.

These days at work, if I have time, I make myself a latte or tea misto in the morning. I nurse it until lunchtime (go go Starbucks thermal cup.) Pretty sad breakfast.... maybe one day I'll get organized enough to pack myself something in the morning.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Why being smart is an advantage

At the outset of this post I would like to say that we have termed Saturdays "Honk Saturdays" because of the horrible drivers in our city. Today, someone ran a stop sign and nearly killed us! She didn't even slow down - hubs had to swerve dangerously out of the way and we were fortunate to avoid the accident. It would have been a bad accident as she only stopped inches from our car and didn't bother swerving at all... just drove straight at us. I saw two things: my life before my eyes (actually, I saw my doggie's life) and the scratches already on her front bumper. Obviously a terrible driver. Some choice words were exchanged (our words - she was too busy trying to avoid our gaze.) To the driver of the electric blue Toyota Camry - LEARN TO DRIVE. (No, it wasn't Jr.) (Haha!)

Ok! Onto today's post.

If you asked me whether I would rather be rich and stupid, or poor and intelligent, I would pick poor and intelligent every time. Of course, someone always has to say that if you were intelligent, you wouldn't be poor. But let's not argue over that sort of thing right now. Intelligence is worth a lot. So is kindness and patience and compassion, but we aren't discussing those qualities at the moment. I promise - I am not a complete jerk.

As you may have already read, Kodi came in first in her puppy kindergarten class today. We were of course thrilled. I made hubby take her through the testing because I was worried she wouldn't walk properly if I was with her. She didn't walk fantastically in any event, but then again none of the dogs really did. Perhaps they wondered why they were being walked on a leash in circles around the room. Her "leave it" trick was awesome and she was also great at sit/stay and down/stay. We are going to take her to basic obedience (in which she will hopefully learn to "heel" and do a down/stay for three minutes!) - but that will have to wait a couple of months until she's older. Right now we are just so happy that she learned some tricks and also learned to be a little more assertive and playful. I caught her biting some doggy ears today during playtime. Hmm.

Let me tell you about one of the dogs in the class. I will call him Nerdlet. His real name isn't that of course, but one never knows who is online. Nerdlet came to class with his mom and, um, older brother (maybe a 10 year old kid or so.) As background... on the first day, all of the dogs had the wrong collars - we all had to get training collars. Some of us also had the wrong leashes. Nerdlet had the wrong collar, the wrong leash, and also, he wore a raincoat. INDOORS. Nerdlet's mom tried to protect him from playing with the other dogs, as she was worried he would get hurt. (Nerdlet is the same age as our girl, but much larger.)

As the weeks went on, Nerdlet's mom finally bought him a better leash. On week 3, she still had the wrong collar, and her excuse was that the training centre didn't have the proper collar. The trainer pointed out that there are other stores that sell the right stuff. So finally on week 4, Nerdlet had abandoned the raincoat and was wearing the proper gear. But that sadly did not eliminate his... elimination problems. Nerdlet had developed the unfortunate habit of peeing and/or pooing (usually both) at every class. The first time, his mom had to pick up the poo and she kept complaining that it was gross. I suspect she is the sort who lets him poo everywhere and doesn't clean it up. Even on graduation day, Nerdlet had to pee. And not just a little bit - I am talking about a full pee. What did Nerdlet's mom do? She stood there of course! I would have grabbed my dog and taken him outside to pee. Instead she let him pee and then waited for the trainer to mop it up (you are supposed to mop it up yourself.)

Nerdlet was terrible at his tricks. His mom insisted that he does not know how to lay down without physically moving his feet forward. Alas he did not pass that section. Even when the trainer showed them ways to train him, the mom looked totally clueless. The trainer told his mom that Nerdlet was playing her - he totally knew WHAT to do, he just did not want to do it. Poor Nerdlet.

To top it off, during playtime, all he wanted to do was run up to people and grab/hump their legs. I was unimpressed. I can't stand that sort of thing.

I'm really glad to have my little doggie! She has been such a joy (and at times, such a terror.) When I have kids, I'll tell my kids that winning isn't everything, and that winners should be gracious. But for now, I'll tell my dog that she's allowed to gloat over the Nerdlets of the world. After all, she was the best-behaved and the best-qualified for the next level of classes. Of course she's smart - she has really smart parents. Heh.

Later I will post a picture of the dog with her prize!

Friday, March 07, 2008

4 months

Yesterday the dog turned 4 months old. She has been with us for a little under two months and I think she's made the adjustment very well, if I may say so myself. Some people talk about how much work puppies are, you know, the waking up multiple times in the night, etc. But we lucked out - she is a fast learner. Housetraining - well, she has had accidents, of course, but hardly any after the first week or two. She learned to paw at the door when she has to go out. From 9 weeks to 12 weeks or so, she needed to pee around 3am, then around 6am. But since that point she hasn't needed to do her 3am pee any more, and can last till 6:30am before she has to go out. Pretty awesome.

This week she began teething. She has lost several baby teeth, but we can't find any - either they are too small and got vacuumed up, or she swallowed them (more likely.) I've been giving her frozen treats to soothe her sore mouth - she is a big fan of frozen banana. She also gets a raw bone to chew on sometimes. One of her favourite chew treats is a bully stick. It's sort of disgusting if you know what a bully stick is, but she's a dog and probably couldn't care less what it's made from.

Tomorrow is puppy school graduation day. It's nice to see that she's so much less afraid of other dogs now and is willing to play. Too bad they are all still way bigger than her. The dog she is still a little scared of won't even be there tomorrow, so that is excellent news. One less dog to compete with!

We're thinking of taking a trip to Seattle sometime - I found some cheap dog-friendly hotels (which are hopefully tolerable and not filthy) and if the weather is nice, we can walk around downtown/Pike Place.. maybe visit University Village... I haven't been to Seattle in years.

I'm so glad I convinced the hubby to get a dog! She's way more fun than a kid. Heehee!