Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Baby!!

Blogging Friends.... I have posted some {Hopefully!!} fun Christmas-themed Blog posts throughout this month. But I saved the best for the last. A meditation of Christ's Birth in poetry!! Love you later.

Written by Raelyn!!

An angel came to Mary;
Said you're having a baby!
And she was shocked by his news;
But God's found favor in you.
Joseph had lots of doubts;
Now their plans won't work out;
Then an angel came in his sleep;
This wonderful wife you should keep!
Soon they had to move away;
Since the couple couldn't stay;
They left their old town;
For Bethlehem renown.
Suddenly, a feeling;
Our Baby is coming;
But every room was full;
Except for this stable!
Some poor shepherds watched sheep nearby;
When an angel flew from the skies;
While scaring them badly;
He told of the Baby!
And a host came, announcing;
Glory to God, Newborn King!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gingerbread Men/Women Treats

Blogging Friends.... Well, now this just feels strange. I have yet to post the Halloween and Thanksgiving dog treat recipes that I baked for Rosey on Beautifully Unique.... And yet, here we are {Five days until Christmas!! Gasp!!} and I am posting the dog treat recipe that I'm planning on giving Rosey for Christmas?! Ugh. Love you later.

I own a dog treat cookbook which features four different Christmas-themed recipes. Cool, right? However. The recipe that I initially planned to bake, we lacked the ingredients for!! So.... I logged Online the other night and did a lengthy Google-search which lasted until about 11:30!! The winner? Gingerbread Dog Biscuits!! We have all the ingredients in our kitchen. Check!! I happen to be a sucker for gingerbread men this time of year. Check!! And perhaps the best reason of all? They taste like Christmas!! Why, yes. I did taste-test one!! To give credit to whom credit is due? I found this recipe on .

Rosey would rate this recipe four 'paws' way, way up!! {Yes, she got a pre-Christmas Day sample!!}

Gingerbread Dog Biscuits

3 cups whole wheat flour {I am a rebel.... So I used 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups white flour!! This way--in my experience--the dough is not crumbly!! But I did need to add a little more water off and on!!} 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water {She put this little much needed ingredient down below, so I neglected to even see it.... At first. So I am putting it up here!!}

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger and cinnamon. {I repeat.... I am a rebel!! So I just poured those ingredients into my bowl!! Who needs a sifter?!} Mix in the oil, molasses, and let rest for 15 minutes. {If memory serves me right--and it seldom ever does!!--I hip swayed to Elvis Presley's version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" as it played on our radio while waiting!! My body will most likely hate me tomorrow!!}

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick. {You know what? I do not care about measuring dough thickness!! I just roll it out and hope for the best!! Anyhoo....} Cut out the cookies with bone-shaped cookie cutters [I also used a dog house cookie cutter]. {Wait. What?! These are gingerbread dog cookies!! Oh for Heaven's sake!! I used my gingerbread man and woman cutter!!} Transfer to the prepared sheet. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. {Um.... I baked them for 25 minutes!! I made 15 gingerbread men and women treats!!

Did you know that I introduced my nearly three-year old niece, "Amethyst" to Bruce Springsteen's rockin' live performance of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"? {Which, by the way, occurred in 1975!! That was before I was ever even born!! Cool!!} She--who calls Bruce Springsteen "Buce"--will stop playing and dance to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" alongside me!! {Yes, as though nobody is watching!!} I love how Bruce Springsteen feels like a longtime family friend somehow--his singing, performances and music--expanding generations.... My parents.... Me.... "Amethyst".... And did you know that Bruce Springsteen makes an awesome dog treat baking partner? {Or more like a blessed distraction!!} Because after several failed vibes sent toward our local "Christmas" radio station to play Bruce Springsteen, they finally did!! Honestly? As I sang and danced around the house, I haven't a clue how much work I got done!! Aw, Bruce....      

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Beagle Ornament

Blogging Friends.... This post is "an oldie but a goodie", as that phrase goes, for I first "published" it in 2011!! Wow.... That was three years ago!! I have made changes to it, as per usual!! Love you later.

Grief. It is an interesting concept. Complex, even. Depending on the individual walking that path, grief is as unique as a Zebra's stripe pattern. Or the human fingerprint. Or a Giraffe's markings. Or a snowflake. Some people are seemingly so very emotional that their loss and grief overcomes them. Which is absolutely okay. Others are seemingly mentally strong, with few tears streaming down their faces. Which is absolutely okay, as well. There's no right or wrong way to grieve. In my experience, once you think grief has passed, {No pun intended!!} every single thought/feeling/emotion resurfaces itself like some fish bobbing his head in water. Because once you consider grief "dealt with", and progress is made, your complicated thoughts/feelings/emotions take command. Then? It feels like zero progress was ever been made, and as though you have "relapsed". Yes, I know this experience far too well. I always think about and miss Shadow Sunshine, my Beautifully Unique "blond"-furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross at Christmastime. She was euthanized on June 15th, 2010. I have an entire decade's worth of Christmas memories spent with Shadow. Of filling her soft velvet-like red and white stocking. Of purchasing treats, plus dog toys. Of celebrating December 25th with my mutt. I recall as though it was yesterday mine and Shadow's final Christmas together. Shadow had been showing inevitable signs of aging. Deafness, stiff joints, senile behavior. I somehow knew deep, deep, deep down within my heart that this would be our last Christmas together. Was it Mama's Intuition? I do not know. I could just feel that December 25th, 2009 would be our last Christmas together. So I made it count. Every single second. And boy, did I create an amazing last Christmas memory!! For it is one that will remain within my psych forever. Forever. Shadow no longer played.... Thus spending money on tennis balls seemed irrelevant this year. Instead, I filled her Christmas stocking with treats, treats, treats and more treats. Nothing else. Because, although Shadow was never a "food-lovin'" girl like Rose, throughout her final years on Earth, she loved treats. If memory serves me--and it seldom ever does!!--I purchased pizza-flavored Canine Carry Outs, Snawsomes twists, and salmon Yummy Chummies. Nothing healthy, I'm afraid!! But to quote Tony Stark from Iron Man 3? "Screw it, it's Christmas!" Well!! It turned out that my Mama's Intuition was absolutely correct. Because less than six months later? Shadow died. And we would never enjoy another December 25th together again. Fast forward. During Christmas 2010, three months after adopting Rose--surprise, surprise!!--I was still struggling with grief. It came upon me suddenly, like some explosive ambush. See, 2010 was a Christmas of firsts. Cosmic firsts. In more ways than one!! 2010 was my first Christmas with Rose. And.... It was also my first December 25th sans Shadow. I bought Rose a matching soft velvet-like red and white Christmas stocking. I purchased her gifts. Yet somehow, the memory of Shadow's last Christmas on Earth seemingly haunted me that year. Like some ghost or demon. I just missed Shadow so much!! Complicated, twisted thoughts/feelings/emotions seared through me. It felt selfish and wrong to be experiencing such a palpable longing for Shadow.... When I have Rose!! But, nonetheless, there were tears, sorrow, and heartache. All expressed privately, as I am known for keeping thoughts/feelings/emotions from those who I'm in close proximity to. Which, I will admit, is a fault of mine. One Saturday, we drove downtown to do some Christmas shopping. And I was feeling really emotional. I wept in an antique shop while halfheartedly looking at merchandise. Yes, wept. And, although I tried to hold those tears within me, they flowed anyway like some mighty waterfall. For lunch, we ate fast-food at Jack-In-The-Box. I ordered my usual favorite. The Ultimate Cheeseburger. {Minus ketchup and mustard.} Which, they have since ruined--in my opinion--by adding spices. Yuck!! Why couldn't Jack-In-The-Box just leave well enough alone?! While awaiting our meal, my tears forced me toward their ladies room to compose myself. I then stared in their mirror and attempted bravery. I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I'll be okay, I chanted to myself, as though it were a mantra. Then later, we discovered this quaint little store. It was decorated for Christmas!! Everything looked so lovely!! On display, there was this small artificial tree. It looked so very festive!! Hanging on its branches were various glass dog breed ornaments. Naturally, I felt drawn to the Golden Retriever, which is "half" of Shadow. No, I coached myself, Move on. Time to move on.... Be in the "now". Walk away from that tree!! And walk away I did. Then suddenly, I felt God softly whisper something to my heart and soul. He said this. Go back. Go back. Look for the Beagle. So, I walked over to that artificial Christmas tree once more. And.... There it was!! A glass, glittery brown, black and white Beagle!! Oh, it was absolutely flawless!! And the ornament may as well have been custom-made!! Black on its back, a white chest, this adorable brown-colored furrowed forehead.... Just like Rose!! So, I purchased the ornament. Because how could I possibly resist?! Its tag read this. Beagle: Dogs selflessly give humans their unconditional love and loyalty. Beagles are one of the most popular scent hounds because of their energy, willingness to work and sweet dispositions. They make great family pets and truly enjoy their status as "man's best friend." Wow. Minus the "energy {and} willingness to work" part, that describes Rose spot-on!! Loyal. A sweet disposition. Loving. I will treasure forever that sparkly glass Beagle ornament!! Because one glance at it reminds me of so much. That first Christmas sans Shadow. My tearful mood swing-infused pity party. Healing. Not to mention. Everything that Rose blesses me with!! She is an incredible one-of-a-kind friend!! My four-legged "kindred spirit". Because, as a mutt, Rose was born different, like me. She's amiable, submissive, and easy to train. Rose is sneaky, strong-willed, plus sometimes naughty. And I love it all!! Rose truly is a Beautifully Unique creature!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flyin' My Christmas Freak Flag!!

Blogging Friends.... Fun games. I rather enjoy them!! Bridal shower games. Baby shower games. Ellen DeGeneres' talk show games. Especially when such games are Christmas-y!! Well, on her Blog today, Kelle Hampton partook in something festive and fun!! "The best of the best for December". So I thought I'd play along!! We were supposed to leave our answers in the comment box. However. I am a rebel!! Besides. My answers are far too long for a little comment box!! I also made several changes, as per usual!! Enjoy!! Love you later.
Favorite Christmas film. Prancer. I grew up with this film because its main character, Jessica, reminds everybody of little girl me!! And as soon as the Christmas season begins? I quote lines from Prancer in my crazy never-shuts-down head!!

Runners up. The Santa Clause trilogy. {With Tim Allen!! Love him!!} Miracle on 34th Street {Both the old and new versions!!} It's a Wonderful Life. The Nativity Story. .... There are so many good holiday films out there!!

Favorite Christmas song. Bruce Springsteen's rockin' live version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"!! Because.... Bruce!! Hello? Need I say more?! I do not think so!! For me, it just is not Christmas until I hear this song!! Because when Bruce Springsteen calls out "You guys know what time it is? What time, huh? What? What? Oh, Christmas time!" he not only catches my attention. He awakens my Christmas Spirit like nobody--and I mean nobody--can!! "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Why? Because we are Kindred Spirits, Rudolph and I. I was born different. My birth defects were craniosynostosis. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia. And Wolff-Parkinson White syndrome. Rudolph? He was born with a bright red nose!! I have been made fun of, called nasty names and--yes--left out of "reindeer games". As has he!! I am a misfit in this world. As is he!! Simply put? Rudolph and I "get" each other!! {I don't have a specific favorite version of that song.... Although I do love it whenever the radio plays Harry Connick Jr.'s!! Martina MacBride's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Because that song has been there for me on more than one occasion!! "Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys. I call it "Run, Run Reindeer", because I love renaming songs!! During Christmas 2005, I was afflicted with pneumonia. An illness which I would never wish upon anybody!! Whenever the radio played "Little Saint Nick", it made my entire Christmas!! I love it!! And to keep Christ in Christmas? "Hark! The Herald Angel Sing". Because of its timeless, beautiful doctrinally sound lyrics!! Oh, I could go on and on and on....

Favorite Christmas tradition. Well.... Now that I am an adult, many of my fondest Christmas traditions have sadly stopped. So I will be nostalgic!! One. We enjoyed annual cookie exchanges at my Aunt and Uncle's house. Yum!! I always sat at the table where my Grandmother's "old" friends--who are now mostly all gone--were. We ate cookies while I charmed them!! For some reason they loved little pain-in-the-ass me!! Two. My oldest brother played his acoustic guitar as we sang various Christmas songs at my grandparents' house every Christmas Eve!! I especially loved it when he played "We Three Kings"!! Because at the "O, star of wonder, star of bright, star of royal beauty bright" my oldest brother got silly and really strummed that guitar!! Ah, memories!! Every year, we drove to a tree farm with my Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Once there? My Dad chopped down our "perfect" tree as we all yelled "Timber!!" Later, my Grandparents handed out various Hallmark Christmas ornaments. We have collected so many over the years!!

Dear Blogging Friends.... You may play along too!! Your turn!! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Magic

Blogging Friends..... So I am planning on posting Christmas-themed posts twice a week this month. Well!! I guess when you possess a poor concept of time, are indecisive on what, exactly, to post, and watching your beautiful nieces three days a week? It does not happen!! Anyhoo. This was a Christmas-themed journal entry!! Some changes were made, as per usual!! Love you later.

Look for my Christmas-themed fictional story to be posted on Minuscule is good! { } today!! {Lord willing!!} 

Do not listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. This has always been a "law" in our house. Which was established by my Dad!! Because he is the "Christmas Police". Listening to our ever-growing collection of holiday C.D.s before Thanksgiving is simply "prohibited" around here. If Dad the "Christmas Police" {Yes, he has been called Mr. Grinch!! And, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, Dad the "Christmas Police" truly loves this time of year!! I'm just sayin'!!} ever finds out, then Dad the "Christmas Police" will "arrest" and throw us all in "prison"!! Just kidding!! However. Nobody follows that "law" in this house!! Not my Mom. Or Michael. Not my sister. Or me. We begin listening to Christmas music as early as November 1st!! Happily, thank-you very much!! Because while Dad the "Christmas Police" is away at work all day? That is when we push play on our pre-Thanksgiving holiday music!! Dad's gone!! Bring it!! He will never know!! This is a cosmic secret--because it's "illegal", remember?!--and we are hush-hush about our behind Dad the "Christmas Police's" back pre-Thanksgiving holiday music!! Comically so!! However, Dad the "Christmas Police" does always eventually find our cosmic secret out, as small piles of holiday C.D.'s lying around--I'm afraid--gives us away!! Whoops. Do we look like we care?! Dad the "Christmas Police" hasn't "arrested" us!! Not yet!! On November 10th, my Mom, Michael and I drove to the mall for some Christmas shopping. Target was also one of our stops!! It turned out to be a good day {For me!!} to score some Christmas presents!! Well. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.... Everywhere we go!! While Michael and I were walking the mall, we saw a bright flash of light from its lower floor level. Santa Claus' photographer was downstairs snapping pictures of children!! Yes, Santa Claus!! Before Thanksgiving!! Michael and I immediately weaved through throngs of shoppers to look down. We missed the children.... But.... Santa looked up and waved his white-gloved hand at us!! It. Was. Magical!! I do not know what occurred next. Suddenly, I was transformed into a little girl!! Santa Claus has an amazing way of doing that!! How....? I haven't a clue!! "Hi Santa!!" I shamelessly called out for all the world to hear. Michael was no worse than me. He, too, transformed into a little boy!! "Merry Christmas!!" Michael said. And then, to make this experience all the more magical? Santa let out a hearty, jolly "Ho, ho, ho!!" Wow.... This man was born to be Santa Claus!! Or perhaps....? He really is Santa!! It felt so very magical--as though I was in Miracle on 34th Street--and I'm Susan Walker!! Shortly thereafter? Michael and I stepped into Hallmark. Before I even purchased a Christmas present? I heard an all-too-familiar voice call out: "You guys know what time it is? What time, huh? What? What? Oh, Christmas time!" And I knew. It was Bruce Springsteen's rockin' version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"!! On the radio. Before Thanksgiving!! The moment I heard Bruce Springsteen's voice, he instantaneously called me into a Christmas spirit!! And I became very, very, very excited!! "It's Bruce!!" I called to Michael. In a tiny Hallmark store. Where the clerks know me by name. At the mall. Because during one fleeting second? I forgot that I was in public!! It is Bruce Springsteen's fault!! What? It is!! A woman purchasing something at Hallmark's checkout desk looked at me quizzically as if wondering, Who is Bruce? "Sorry," I sheepishly said, "Not really!!" I break for Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"!! So I stopped my potential Christmas shopping!! I danced as though nobody was watching. Because Bruce Springsteen has far better moves than I do!! Trust me on that one!! I lip synched the lyrics. And it was official. Christmas had arrived!! Because when Santa Claus and Clarence Clemons both "ho, ho, ho" me in one day? I fly my Christmas freak flag high!! And I fly it openly!! "Law"? What "law"?! Dad the "Christmas Police" cannot "arrest" and throw me into "jail" now!! Why? Because The Boss said so!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Toxic "People Food" For Dogs

Blogging Friends.... Dear sweet Blogging Friends.... So I've been "missing in action" for, like, nearly one month, haven't I? Sorry about that!! Here is my very valid, completely honest explanation--er, excuse--as to why I have not posted on Beautifully Unique in so long!! Ready....? I have seemingly had a ton of deep, profound, soul searching issues weighing in my crazy never-shuts-down head this month. Three, actually!! {More shall be revealed!! Eventually!!} And, well, writing/journaling--not Blogging--has apparently taken first priority lately!! Whew!! My lame, completely honest explanation--er--excuse is over!! But take heart!! All of my sporadic Blogging is about to change shortly!! Why? Because the Christmas season is now fully upon us!! {Time to officially wave my Holiday Freak Flag proudly!!} And if I don't write Christmas-themed Blog posts twice a week in December, then my elf name is not Spunky Twinkletoes!! Love you later.

Taken from PetSmart Charities® and an old HealthyPets e-mail!! I combined the two!! My apologies if I repeated any facts!!

Keep "People Food" Off Your Pet's Holiday Menu

Keep your pet safe and healthy this holiday season by saying "no" to the following holiday foods:

Holiday table scraps. Pets love rich scraps such as drippings, gravy and poultry skin; however, they can cause pets to suffer from severe indigestion, diarrhea and even pancreatitis, which is not only terribly painful, but can be fatal. Never offer fatty foods to your pets and advise guests not to feed them either. Confession. Rose does receive a little bit of plump white boneless turkey meat {Because Life is short and it's Thanksgiving, after all!!} but I make certain that she does not eat too much!! Keep items such as mashed potatoes and gravy away from the ends of the table and counter tops so "counter surfing" pets can't reach them. Also, secure trash and keep it out of reach, such as under the sink.

Chocolate is very dangerous to pets. It contains high levels theobromine, which can over-stimulate the heart and is a diuretic. After their pet has eaten a large quantity of
chocolate, many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected. However, the signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours. Symptoms include staggering, labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, fever, heart rate increase, arrhythmia, seizures, coma, death.
Just a few ounces of chocolate can be fatal for a small dog. Keep all types of chocolate out of reach of dogs and cats, especially baker's chocolate, which is seven times more toxic than milk chocolate. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected if "he" eats a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell. Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

Poultry bones can splinter and form sharp points, and can get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract causing dangerous perforations. They might also become lodged in the throat, gums or the roof of the mouth. Pets can't resist a juicy bone, so make sure they can't steal one! Also, remove skewers and string from the turkey, as well as that delicious roasting bag that a pet would love to devour. Your pet could end up having surgery to remove such items from his digestive tract. I empty our tall kitchen garbage immediately as soon as my Mom finishes pulling the turkey meat off its bones!!

Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in gum, mints, candy, baked goods. Even 1/8 teaspoon can cause dangerously low blood sugar in dogs and ½ teaspoon can cause liver damage.

Uncooked yeast dough raises major health issues. Hard to believe there's a downside to homemade bread, but uncooked yeast dough can cause abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, disorientation and depression in pets. The product of rising dough is alcohol, which can be poisonous.

Alcohol and pets do not mix. Place alcoholic drinks safely out of reach, and patrol the party to be sure your guests do the same. Alcohol poisoning is serious and can be fatal. Never give alcohol to a pet.

No coffee please! That means anything with coffee in it, from gourmet, chocolate-covered espresso beans to your morning latte. Caffeine creates symptoms in pets such as restlessness, tremors and seizures depending on the amount that is ingested.

Macadamia nuts cause severe reactions, including muscular weakness, disorientation, depression, tremors and abdominal pain in dogs. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated. Symptoms can last from one to three days. Their high phosphorus content is said to possibly lead to bladder stones.

No grapes or raisins! Dogs have suffered poisoning after consuming between 9 ounces and 2 pounds of grapes or raisins. As few as a handful of raisins or grapes can make a dog ill. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, severe gastrointestinal upset to kidney failure.

Mushroom toxicity does occur in dogs and it can be fatal if certain species of mushrooms are eaten. Amanita phalloides is the most commonly reported severely toxic species of mushroom in the U.S. but other Amanita species are toxic. Symptoms include abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting diarrhea, convulsions, coma, death.

Baby foods can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs. Can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts. I have baked Rose twain different dog treat recipes which call for baby food. {One of which I have yet to post on Beautifully Unique.} I always pre-read the baby food's ingredients before mixing it into Rose's treat batter!! So far so good!!

Bones from fish can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system. The same goes for chicken, as well!!

Cat food is generally too high in protein and fats.

Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis.

Milk & dairy food: Some adult dogs do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. Rose has zero issues with dairy products!! Are you kidding me?! Rose love, love, loves cheese!! This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.

Raw Eggs contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.

Raw Fish can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly. I read this in one of my dog books. Raw, or undercooked salmon, steelhead and trout from the Northwest carries flukes that can cause Salmon Poisoning. "It is not the fish itself that causes canine salmon poisoning but the presence of a bacteria--Neorickettsia helminthoeca--that lives in one of the salmon's internal parasites. This parasite, a fluke, travels throughout the fish's circulatory system, invading its muscles as well. When a dog eats uncooked fish, he ingests these flukes--and the pathogenic bacteria they contain. The flukes pass through the dog's intestinal tract, but the lethal bacteria remains behind, causing disease and often death." Eating small amounts of raw or undercooked salmon, steelhead and trout can kill your dog. Symptoms are slight fever, followed by a loss of appetite. Then higher fever, often reaching dangerous levels. Above 107 is considered a lethal temperature for canines. Even if they survive the 107 degree fever, worst, oft deadly symptoms include this. Severe diarrhea and dehydration. Few dogs survive untreated.

Keep contact information for your veterinarian and the nearest emergency veterinary clinic readily available.

Call or visit the veterinarian immediately at the first signs of injury or illness. You can use a pet first-aid kit to treat minor injuries, so be sure you have one on hand.

So, dear Blogging Friends. Please keep this information in mind if you're like me and own a "food-lovin'" dog as you celebrate the Christmas season!! Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanza. Or Solstice. Or New Years....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Avri Roel Downey

Blogging Friends.... I am in the process of working on a Blog post {And I really need to "publish" the Halloween dog cookie recipe that I baked for Rose!!} but I awoke this morning to exciting news!! Robert Downey Jr. and his wife welcomed their beautiful baby girl into the world yesterday!! Congrats, congrats, congrats!! I cannot wait to "meet" her!! Love you later.

Check out my Thanksgiving-themed November fictional children's book on Minuscule is good! !! And leave comments!! Molly, I know you already did!! Thank-you!! I live for comments!!

It's just the uncertainty of how nowadays you have all these things where you think you have much more of an understanding of what you're going to get. And then this little soul lets herself be known to you, and it's just like: You don't know anything. It's great! --Robert Downey Jr.

An official announcement on Robert Downey Jr.'s Facebook page!! Written by the proud Daddy himself, of course!!

After 9 months of intensive development, Team Downey is pleased to announce our 2014 fall/winter project.

Principal photography commenced 11-14 and will continue until she says, "Dad! You are embarrassing me...I'm 30, this has gotta stop."

Yep...Avri Roel Downey joined the party @ 3:22 a.m. on November 4th...she's 7lbs even, spans 20 inches, and is accompanied by a variety of Susan's traits that have seemingly overwritten my "junk DNA."

I'll post pics here + there when I'm not too busy staring...

"Junk DNA"?! Ah, come on, Robert Downey Jr.!! Avri could be just like you and {I promise!!} she will still grow up to be a wonderful person!! Just. Like. You....

Monday, October 20, 2014


Blogging Friends.... Behold!! A story about Rose!! For the first time in.... Well.... Forever.... Love you later.

History, in my own personal experience, can have a way of repeating itself. Like déjà vu all over again. Growing up, I owned this female cat with snow-white fur and an itty bitty "kiss" of black on her head. She was {According to my Mom} "the sweetest cat we've ever had". Just four years old, I was indecisive on what to name my new kitten. Eventually? I named her Sugar. Thank Heavens I did not choose "Whitey", because that was a close runners-up!! I recall Sugar as being loyal--like her half-brother Goldie--she never wandered away or left home. But then one July in 1991, we travelled to Bakersfield, California for a family reunion. Neighbors frequently looked in on Sugar and Goldie--both outdoor/indoor cats--as they gave them some attention while also inspecting their food/water situation. Sadly, we returned home from scorching hot Bakersfield temperatures to only one feline. Sugar was gone. Fast forward. In June of 1997, my Mom was "gifted" with a male cat from her brother and twain nieces. They had previously named this yellow-eyed, white, tan and black striped feline Yoda. Since giving pets to unsuspecting people is not recommended for valid reasons, he was unwanted by my Mom. So I took him!! Unlike Sugar, Yoda was prone to wander. He would frequently disappear on "adventures" but always return home. Always. But then one February day in 1999, Yoda never came home. Like Sugar all those years before, he was gone. History had just repeat itself. As a Lifelong lover of dogs, I then spent some time researching breeds {And their mixes, of course!! I love, love, love mutts!!} that follow their noses "to China" if allowed. Such as Border Collies. {As well as their mixes!!} And.... Beagles. {As well as their mixes!!} I then made a mental note to never--ever--adopt or rescue any mutt with a breed within her D.N.A. that wanders. This was a strict rule. Because my poor thoughts, feelings, emotions, and heart could not deal if history repeated itself again. Fast forward once more. On September 21st, 2010, I broke this rule when I saw Rose. A sign on her kennel read "Beagle X". And, although admittedly, I did have my initial reservations about adopting Rose because of her very apparent D.N.A., it was love at first.... Uh.... Bay!! Yes, she was excited, friendly, and belting out her "happy sound" from day one!! Then, suddenly? My heart melted, and every mental list or rule that I had previously made was virtually erased!! I could feel it. Rose was "the one"!! And I am so very thankful that she is!! One heart pounding, adrenaline-rushed, panic producing dash down the cul-de-sac after my escape artist Rose years ago in November was far more than I could handle!! If our backyard gate is wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. If our front door is wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. If our garage doors are wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. In other words? I leash Rose up!! One very busy Saturday--my oldest brother surprised us by stopping by with his little girls, "Amethyst" and Opal"!!--we had firewood delivered to our house. Although. The weather has been so very unseasonably warm with clear skies and sunshine around here, we have yet to burn any firewood!! As a matter of fact. I sit here at this very flat screened desktop computer wearing shorts!! Where is our "normal" brisk, rainy Autumn weather?! Weird. After my oldest brother left with "Amethyst" and "Opal", the dump truck dropped our firewood off!! I love watching him maneuver his vehicle!! I was a bit bummed that either "Amethyst", "Opal", or Rose distracted me from seeing how the dump truck works!! Oh well. I then emptied/refilled our dishwasher, ate lunch, wolfed down a homemade frozen s'mores cupcake, picked up kid toys, then stepped outside to help fill the wheelbarrow with firewood!! Whew!! Our gate was wide open, as we needed to haul that firewood around back from the driveway. Before stepping outside, I nervously asked my sister {Who stayed in her bedroom} "Can you just.... Make sure that Rose doesn't go outside? The gate's open. I'm gonna go help bring wood around." Our next door neighbor had graciously volunteered to help us. So this task moved along surprisingly quickly!! Despite my Dad getting called into work, and therefore losing twain strong arms!! I piled firewood into the wheelbarrow. As did my youngest brother, Michael. And our next door neighbor. He insisted on pushing the heavy wheelbarrow every single time!! I offered repeatedly. But he insisted!! At one point, I emptied my rubber Crocks {Definitely not good shoes for this job!!} of sawdust chippings. I sat on our wooden sun-stained yellow front porch bench to empty them. When--from the living room window--I could hear Rose desperately baying for me!! Oh, I who can resist?! I then allowed myself a short break, and stepped inside to stroke Rose's velvet-soft fur!! I spoke sweetly to her. I calmed down Rose's hyperactive energy. Then I stepped back outside and returned to work. Shortly thereafter, Michael surprised me with a bottle of water. Which was just what I needed!! And--cosmic oops--apparently Michael did not close our white magnetic bedroom door {Which leads to the backyard!!} very well. It happened so very fast. Seemingly one second. I turned around and saw her. Rose!! Loose, leash-less and unprotected!! Her tail was wagging as she felt so very happy to see me!! But what occurred after that? It was a complete blur. Did my heart momentarily stop? I do not know. Did I mentally panic? I do not know. Did I wonder "How on earth could she have escaped?" ? I do not know. However. I do know this much. I gasped. I said "Whoa!!" Strangely, I did not overreact. And then I gave Rose an unconventional command that I've made up. "Drop." I believe I coined it one day when Rose was hyperactive, and I needed to link her red leash in a timely fashion. I point downward. I firmly yet patiently command "drop". And she does just that. Rose drops down on her back, as though awaiting a belly rub. Which--for the most part--she is given!! Truth be told? Rose--who has never been very obedient--listens to this unconventional made-up command even better than the more traditional "sit", "come", or "stay"!! Go figure!! "Drop," I calmly commanded her on our driveway that Saturday afternoon. Which she immediately did!! I quickly grabbed a hold of Rose's red collar, pulled her up, and--while bending over--I walked my little girl back inside. Where she could be safe!! "You just wanted to see me," I recall sweetly telling her, "You just wanted to see Mama so bad!!" Back inside, I decided that I was finished hauling firewood. For I could not possibly go back outside!! I now felt as though I needed to stay in and protect my baby girl. The pile of firewood had nearly all been hauled around, anyway. I sat on my bedroom bed next to Rose, exhausted and physically achy from such a busy Saturday. Then I "went there", as I always do after the rare occasions when she escapes. I let my mind race toward the depressing scenario of if something bad were to suddenly occur. Rose gets killed by a car? Ingests something poisonous? Escapes from our home and disappears.... Forever? Then I always think this. I'm not ready to lose Rose!! Not now. Not this way!! I have far too many memories to make!! I have far too many Gotcha Days to celebrate!! I have far too many stories to write about her!! I have far too many pictures to take of her!! I have far too many Christmases to celebrate!! I have far too many dog biscuits to bake for her!! I have far too many hikes to take her on!! I have far too many Life adventures to share with her.... Then once my mind stopped spinning like the rotator blades of a helicopter that Saturday? I silently thanked God.... For such a thing as an unconventional made-up command like "drop".


Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Breakdown"

Blogging Friends.... Remember when I wrote that I had experienced a minor mood swing-infused pity party and I'll write about it later, because I'm still processing everything? Well. It is later!! And I am definitely finished processing complex thoughts/feelings/emotions now.... This is me being real. Love you later.

Look for my October fictional children's book on Minuscule is good! as it strangely has yet to have any comments or pageview counts!!

Gasoline. Exhaust. Oil. I grew up as a girl frequently inhaling all of these smells and then some because my Dad was an amateur mechanic. As odd as this may sound? Today, I love these "car smells"!! See. My Dad would purchase various rusty old cars. Pop open their hoods. Take tools to engines and such. And then he would fix these rusty old cars' mechanical issues!! I recall my Dad pulling out entire engines and setting them on our backyard patio. Then? He would put them back in completely repaired!! And I have some fond childhood memories of my Dad's cars!! Many, I'm afraid, I do not recall!! But there was a baby blue Ford pickup truck. If memory serves me? My Dad used to take me for drives in that old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck!! Just him and I!! There was a green Datsun 510 wagon with an orange door. If memory serves me? That Datsun 510 wagon broke down on my Mom in a Safeway parking lot once!! Whoops. Then, like an apologetic knight in shining armor, my Dad rescued us, alongside a tow truck driver!! He later repaired its issues at home!! My Dad was also a mechanic by necessity. See. Our family vehicle was an old yellow and white Chevrolet suburban. Talk about years of memories we have with that car!! Its breaks went out on our way home from a park. That was an incredibly terrifying experience!! Yikes!! Our nerves were the only things that became wrecked, as Mom somehow managed to safely park it a few short blocks from home and we all walked back!! No injuries or collisions!! Thanks be to God!! Speaking of injuries. I slammed my right hand thumb in this Chevy suburban's middle seat door. Ouch!! Because I'm insane or stupid or both, I yanked my thumb out of that door, which was not closed tight. Blood freely gushed through its nail. So I sucked on my thumb like a sleepy toddler!! Yum? I actually like the taste of my own blood!! I never fractured the thumb, though!! However. My thumb nail did turn various hues of blue, purple and yellow before about 1/3 of it fell off. Which greatly fascinated me, because I am an oddball!! I also fell out of this old Chevy suburban while on roller skates. Ouch!! See, its spare seat folded down which caused a smooth surface. As resulted, I hit the back of my freakishly hard skull and sustained a head injury, while blood freely gushed out!! Is that why I am so crazy?! This yellow and white Chevy suburban also broke down on our way to camping one August day. We slept in a hotel overnight so that my Dad could fix its mechanical issues. Yes, old cars are prone to breakdown. Even if they have a good mechanic who performs routine maintenance work on them, and an incredibly reliable engine underneath the hood. Breakdown happens. Metaphorically speaking? Throughout my journey with folliculitis decalvans, I am an old car. Can I be a baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck?! Wait. Then I am not a car after all.... But this old truck can carry around "loads" such as her nieces, "Amethyst" and "Opal"!! I'm alright with that!! So metaphorically speaking, I am an old truck!! I'm "rusty" in some areas--I do have occasionally visible bald spots--but "underneath the hood"? My "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--have been running strong!! For the most part. With seemingly a lot of routine maintenance work done--sorting through negative thoughts/feelings/emotions regarding having folliculitis decalvans--there were no "breakdowns"!! Not yet. But rusty old trucks are still prone to "breakdown". Right? And precisely one month ago yesterday, on September 12th, 2014? This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". Hello, minor mood swing-infused pity party!! On September 12th, 2014? I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist, Dr. E.   Which had been changed twice!! Ugh. For reasons beyond my comprehension? I was nervous during our appointment. Despite the fact that Dr. E. feels more like an amazing friend than a dermatologist!! Was it perhaps because I had been awake since 5AM? Yes, I felt tired. Yet, I had been running on adrenaline during this entire appointment!! Was it perhaps because I'd already felt uncharacteristically tearful for twain days? I do not know. But I was nervous. Dr. E. and I talked while I showed off Baldy's next door neighbor. I asked her some prepared questions about folliculitis decalvans, as I had Google-searched it. She answered them to the best of her knowledge, since there truly is very little information available on this rare disease. Dr. Erin examined my scalp, then administered several steroid injections. Which do not even hurt!! Because I possess a freakishly hard head.... Remember?! I expressed my thoughts/feelings/emotions about swallowing ineffective medication to Dr. E., as "Plan C" {Our third prescribed antibiotic that I cannot remember the name of!!} was obviously ineffective. "It wreaks havoc on my emotions," I told her, "To take something that's supposed to be working.... But still lose my hair." I drove this point home. Yes, I repeated myself, because I'm obsessive compulsive like that!! But ultimately? Dr. E. gave me several sample bottles of "Plan B", which, we had barely tried before quitting it's prescription for non-side effects reasons!! Well. Technically, since Plan B is a contraception, I should not call it that!! So how about this? It is "Experiment B"!! Dr. Erin also gave me several sample bottles of a topical steroid spray.... Because my form of folliculitis decalvans is now considered "severe". Wait. What?! This was not how I planned my appointment with Dr. E. would go!! Uh-uh. I was planning to let it go!! Is the song from "Frozen" in your heads yet?! Good!! I was planning to finally accept folliculitis decalvans' fate and lose my beautiful, straight, brunette hair. That's right. I was planning on saying goodbye to Dr. E. .... Forever. Yes, I was planning for this to be my last follow-up appointment with Dr. E.   Which may have been why I felt so freakin' nervous that day!! Hmmm.... I was even planning to voluntarily go hat shopping!! Yes, I was planning.... Perhaps I should have been more assertive with Dr. E., as I'm now beginning to feel like a human medical experiment. I mean, come on. This drug is proving itself ineffective? Alright. Try this one, instead. I even wrote a fictional children's book in August expressing how I was planning this appointment with Dr. Erin. Guess what? My character, Victorya, was not nervous. Quite the contrary!! Victorya was definitely assertive!! And she even donated her hair to Locks of Love!! Remember?! Writing this story was both emotionally difficult and therapeutic for me at once!! I even wrote Dr. E. a goodbye letter. Which I was never planning on giving her!! Doing so simply proved itself touching, emotional and therapeutic. As my nurse {Not Dr. E.'s usual "sidekick". I'm afraid I do not recall this nurse's name!!} looked through my thick medical file, and discussed "Experiment B"? I could sense that something was "mechanically" wrong "under the hood". And sure enough. This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". Enter my first--and most likely not the last!!--folliculitis decalvans-related minor mood swing-infused pity party!! I wept uncontrollably all day. Afternoon. Evening. And night. I could not even hold back my tears in a darkened, deserted movie theater while watching "Dolphin Tale 2"!! Which, I felt terrible about!! This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--was seemingly not showing any signs none whatsoever of starting its "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--again. As per usual? I did not expect this "breakdown". No, I never saw it coming. Because my "engine" had truly been running strong throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey {With humor, gratitude and perspective gained along the way!!} I have never even allowed myself to cry over having folliculitis decalvans or hair loss issues. However. I do invite negative thoughts/feelings/emotions in. Because they are perfectly "normal" and always fleeting. I have been putting on a continual "brave act". This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--was bound to "break down" at some point!! I then journeyed through a period of confusion. I was bombarded with queries. What on earth has God been teaching me all this time?! I thought.... That He had been teaching me lessons against vanity. I thought.... That He had been teaching me the truth in--to quote our dear, dear, dear friend and breast cancer survivor--"Hair is highly overrated". I thought.... That He had been finally teaching me a profound sense of gratitude for my twain Frankenstein-like surgically-created craniosynostosis scars. I thought.... that He had been teaching me self-acceptance. I thought.... That He had been teaching me how bald is beautiful and physical differences are indeed alright. I thought.... That He had been teaching me the strong, unmistakable, impossible-to-ignore message of letting go. What on earth has God been teaching me all this time?! Honestly? I did not have any answers during my "breakdown". Is God teaching me.... To trust His Plans--whether or not I lose my beautiful hair while swallowing "Experiment B"--throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey? Is God teaching me.... Gratitude for how Dr. E. has so very graciously leapt through hoops to help save my hair from the progression of folliculitis decalvans? I suppose I should have been thrilled, excited, relieved and jumping for joy after my appointment on September 12th. But I was not. Instead, I felt so very lost, like a hiker in unfamiliar woods sans her compass. Do I want to lose my beautiful hair and go bald? Of course not!! Who would?! But the difference in my thoughts/feelings/emotions now as opposed to one year ago? I am no longer Drama Queen desperate about embarrassing hair loss issues!! Because I don't give a damn!! But truth be told? I would never wish folliculitis decalvans on an enemy. Ever. Perhaps my plans did not unfold quite like I had imagined they would that September day. But God's did!! Because, perhaps this rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". But God? He is my "Mechanic", if you will, Who took His "tools" then fixed this "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--so that I can run strong once more!! Because, ever since I "broke down" last month? God has reminded me that we are all students during our Lifetimes. What on earth did I think....? That He was finished teaching me folliculitis decalvans-related lessons?! Quite the contrary!! Because aside from God teaching me lessons against vanity? Aside from Him whispering that hair is highly overrated? Aside from God instilling in me a profound sense of gratitude for my twain Frankenstein-like surgically-created craniosynostosis scars? {Because, after all. Without them, I would be dead!!} Aside from God gradually working in me self-acceptance issues? Aside from Him whispering that bald is beautiful? Aside from God broadening my perspective about visible physical differences being absolutely alright? Aside from God encouraging me to trust His Plans {Whether or not I lose my hair and go bald despite swallowing "Experiment B"} throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey? Aside from Him teaching me humble gratitude toward Dr. E. for so very graciously leaping through hoops to save my hair? Aside from God's strong, unmistakable, message of letting go? God is also teaching me.... That Hollywood actor Vin Diesel can turn me on with his boyish smile and charm alone--despite being bald-headed!!--so I do not even need to notice guys with long, flowing hair anymore!! God is also teaching me.... To never, ever, ever lose hope.... And that I must place it in Him, not medications or treatment. God is also teaching me.... That this folliculitis decalvans journey is an adventure.... Not a trial and tribulation. God continues to teach me.... So metaphorically speaking, I am an old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck. And now? Whenever I see my "rusty" areas--bald spots--in a mirror? I smile. Because they are reminders of all the ways that my "Mechanic"--God--is working on me. They are reminders of all the ways that He is growing, evolving, and maturing me!! But sometimes? Rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup trucks "break down".