October 20, 2017

Friday things


We've had a pretty slow week this week. we've been slowly getting back on a normal schedule since Baz's passing. Yesterday we got a call that his ashes were ready and I will share a picture of them next week. I feel right now that it's private for us and we want the week and the time to continue to grieve. It's still really weird to think he is gone, but we are healing and getting each other through it slowly. I was talking to a neighbor on Wednesday and I had to pause a minute before telling her what happened to Baz. I am holding back crying and "pretending" to be strong, but I'm not strong and as soon as the door closed I let the tears flow. His loss has really knocked the stuffing out of us and taken a bit of our spirit away. I am not ashamed to cry when needed and neither is The Mr., or The Bean. We miss our dog and there's no shame in that.

On a more positive note, we went on a walk last Sunday to an area in Corvallis, Oregon, known as, Willamette Park and Natural Area. There is a space near the back of the park that has a paved walking path with disk golf and a small soccer field in the middle. The section of trail is a "leash-free zone" for dogs. PITA was able to run and be a dog while we ate lunch on a nearby bench facing the Willamette River. It was a nice moment to sit and relax. We happened to sit down just in time to see two bald eagles fly over the water looking for fish. We couldn't help but be a bit upset that we didn't find the place before Baz passed. He loved being off of his leash and free. After lunch the three of us walked along the path while PITA ran around us smelling, greeting other dogs and people, and leaving his mark everywhere. We all talked about positive topics and mentioned what a great time Baz would have with us. There were tears, but they were happy tears. It's definitely a place we will visit again in the future. It was a great start to the week, for sure. With that, here are the other things that made this week great.

1. This sign.

Judgement-free zones should exist anyway without a sign needing to be posted. This sign was on a local bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon. It's a shame that we live in a world where such judgement exist and people from all walks of life need sanctuary cities to feel safe. The talk of terrorist crossing the border and plotting to harm us is white noise. Especially, when we have a United States-born citizen taking aim at innocent people enjoying an evening out in Las Vegas. Instead of building walls to keep people out, we need to focus on our own failures as a country that has allowed someone like that to get a hold of weapons that can kill 58 of our U.S. citizens that did nothing to deserve their untimely deaths. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the definition of "terrorism."

2. This book.

At said bookstore, this book was found. Hear! Hear! I love how people are actually creating books of resistance and cooking together. This book above and also this one here, are fantastic! Cook to resist and feed yourself so you can be fueled to get involved!  "The Revolution Must Be Fed!"

3. This tip.

While we are busy here in our house trying desperately to become more waste-free I figured out how to cut toothpicks from everyday use. Instead of testing with a wooden pick whether that delicious yellow cake/bread is done in the middle, use a spaghetti stick. Works just as well as the wooden version for your teeth, but no waste. You can either break off the part you used and add the unused part back to the spaghetti jar, or throw the entire hard strand in the compost.

4. Fresh tuna.

Living near the Pacific Ocean does have its perks when it comes to fresh fish. 

5. Sunset drive.

On the topic of the Pacific Ocean, the sunsets here are the best. View from the Cascade Mountain Range near Hoodoo Ski Area.

Have a great weekend!

October 13, 2017

Friday things


The last two weeks has been a bit odd for us. We've been a house without Baz Swells and we miss him dearly. Last week I didn't post a "Friday things" because I was just too upset to even bring myself to think of anything good that week brought. I spent most of the time from October 1-October 8 just in disbelief and grieving so incredibly much for my sweet Baz. I sort of tortured myself and would wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, and go back through my pictures of Baz from the day he died- the moment before they injected him, after he was gone, and just cry so hard. I slept with his blanket, which is still hanging over the back of the headboard. I found a towel in the bottom of the dirty clothes basket the other day that smelled like him and I broke down again. It's painful. I was in denial for a few days that he was even gone. Sort of like a mental coping mechanism, I guess. I still miss him terribly. Literally terribly. My heart is in pain and I am waiting desperately for the veterinary office to contact me when his ashes are ready to be picked up. I want him back with us so that I can have some sort of closeness with him again. 16 years and nine months is almost two decades with your animal. Seems like he lived a long time, but to us, it just wasn't long enough.

We are getting a little better with accepting the fact that he is gone, but the pain still hangs around our house. We still break down when we all start talking about him and the things we know he would love. We will see, or feel, or smell signs of him still lingering around in some areas of the house. I found a spot near the washing machine where he had peed in the house without us knowing. If he was alive I would have taken that for granted and punished him, but now that he is gone, I didn't mind cleaning it up and I cried the whole time doing it. It's crazy how much we take little things for granted. It's just dog pee, right? Unfortunately, I won't ever clean up after him again and that's the pain that is lingering. He was a great dog, and I can't stress enough how wonderful he truly was. I promised I wouldn't make this "Friday things" about sad stuff, we really did have a good week, but if you get a moment, please read the blog post I made in honor of our lovely Baz Swells Happy here. It's my way of letting everyone know what kind of dog he was and how he impacted our lives for almost 17 years.

We received his paw prints in the mail a few days back, and they were much needed. We are still waiting on his ashes and I hope that I will be a lot better once we get them. Slowly we've been seeing signs of him little-by-little and here-and-there. I sometimes catch myself talking to people about him in the present tense. I remind myself that he is gone and my heart breaks all over again. I miss him and I know he misses us, but even if this rainbow we saw isn't him, he would desperately want us to know he is okay and he loves us. But I believe it was him and his subtle way of saying, "I love you all and I will see you again." 

Dogs' lives are too short.
Their only fault, really.
-Agnes Sligh Turnbull

So... Not sure how to transition into a normal "Friday things" post, but I will try. Since I didn't post last Friday we've done a few things over the past two weeks. Here are the things that made (the last two weeks) great!

1. Birthday

The Bean celebrated his birthday on September 30 and he turned 14. His birthday was overshadowed by the loss of Baz Swells, but we tried to make it as happy as we could. I reminded everyone that Baz was always happy no matter what and he wouldn't want us to be gloomy on such a good day. So we all bucked up and made the most of it. I even took the time to make him his favorite flavor of cake, strawberry cream. It took my mind off of things for a bit and in all honesty, we were happy.

For the curious, we used candles from Big Dipper Wax Works and the cake and icing mix are from Wholesome Chow (below). I highly recommend both.

2. Hike

The last weekend that Baz was still with us we took a hike on Fitton Green. The hike was just a day hike, but we all, including Baz Swells, had a fun time. Baz always loved to be off of his lease and in the woods hiking with us. It bothers me so much that he was still willing to go go go, but his body gave out on him way too soon. This hike was a fun one and it is one that I am glad we got to share with him. He had a blast and it definitely goes down in our memory books for time spent with Baz before he passed. -My dad said it best shortly after we lost Baz, "They give so much and they take so much." Isn't that the truth.

3. Ducks

Our duckies, Rosey and Happy, are growing. We loved watching them change over the past few weeks. We are hoping they will be good egg layers and we can give duck eggs a go. 

They were such cute ducklings and we are missing the curious, little ducks we brought home in a box. Watching them grow into bigger ducks and learning about us and the yard has been a treat too.

4. Boxes

Always have to give props to Yogi Surprise. The box above is the Lifestyle box for September. Unfortunatly, the first Lifestyle box I received was missing the book and the yoga mat spray had leaked a bit all over everything in the box. I contacted Yogi Surprise right away and they sent another one out promptly. No questions asked. I can not stress enough how great this company is. I love all of the products in each box and with us now eating more USDA Organic items we get to learn about new companies with each box. We love it! 
The Jewelry box from September. I posted this one a few Friday's back, but I thought I would post again with the Lifestyle box to keep them together. You can check out the previous post on this Jewelry box here. I wasn't too crazy about the Rawkin Raw Macaroon, but The Bean loved it, so win win.

Plus, we have really been enjoying the essential oil incense from Auromere. They have really come in handy when dealing with our recent loss. 

The Lifestyle box for October came this past Wednesday and I love it! As always, right? Such a great box filled with some wonderful items that we are going to use for sure!

The Jewelry box for October is below and I am loving the bracelet! I actually have it on right now while I type this post out. 
Grab yourself a Yogi Surprise box here and get on the mailing list for November. 

5. Stowaway Cosmetics

I have been on a hunt to find some smaller, less harsh, easy to pack cosmetics and I think I found them. With our journey to being more minimal it seemed I have an overabundance of makeup that I just wasn't using. Eye makeup from five years ago, lipstick from longer than that, and eye liner is shades I would never wear. I figured it was high time for a change. I ended up bagging up almost all of my makeup that I wasn't going to use and sent it to my sister in Arkansas. I figure she could either get some use out of some of it, or let my niece play with it a bit. That was the closest I could get to recycling it and not throwing it straight in the bin. 

Stowaway is a great company, or at least I like them so far. Their cosmetics come in sizes that you will actually use up and their products are made without the use of dangerous chemicals, cruelty free, gluten free, and almost 100% vegan. The best part of the company is, for every three products you use up you request of prepaid shipping label and send the empties back to be recycled. In return, Stowaway gives you $5 back for future purchases. I will update once I've used mine pictured above for awhile. If you're looking for a change in pace with your makeup routine, give them a try.

If you want to try a new recipe this weekend check out my post on Organic Ranch Potatoes here. They are delicious! Plus, enjoy my new section at the top of the blog about USDA Organic options available. It will contain recipes that are geared around USDA Organic foods and at the bottom of the page it will show products that we recommend that are USDA Organic. I hope you take a moment and look it over.

-A quick thought: "The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that's all there is." -Mr. Carson  Downton Abbey: Episode #4.4" (2013)

Have a great weekend and happy Friday the thirteenth!

October 11, 2017

Organic Ranch Potatoes

We have slowly been making the shift in our house to more organic foods and trying desperately to cut our waste. We've been doing a good job with the waste this far, but getting away from non-organic food habits is a struggle still. It's a slow process, but we are making ourselves do it because it's the right thing for our health and wellness. I found a few USDA Organic sales this past week on canned tomatoes and racked up as much as I could. The thing is, it would have been better to grow all of the tomatoes and can them myself, but this was the first year we've tried our hand at growing Roma tomatoes in raised beds and we only had three plants. I am thinking next year one entire raised bed needs to be for growing Romas and I can learn more about how to can tomatoes over the next year. As for now, we had great luck with potatoes in our garden. We grew red potatoes and also gave a go at some Yukon golds. We have stored a lot of them already, but the growing process of potatoes goes clear into the cold season, which I love. I am hoping for a good crop of broccoli and lettuce varies we are growing right now, too. With all of the potatoes I have been coming up with great ideas on what to cook them with and how to cook them alone. One of the good ones I've come across is the ranch potatoes recipe below. The Mr. and The Bean love them and I hope it becomes a staple in your house too, like it has in ours.

Organic Ranch Potatoes

What you'll need:

Olive oil (Make sure it bares the USDA Organic label)
Dry Ranch Dip seasoning (2 packages) (We used Simply Organic's USDA Organic Ranch Dip Mix)
Organic Potatoes (about 10)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Wash and remove any blemishes from the potatoes. Take your time on this step to make sure there are no "bad" spots on your potatoes. After washing and prepping, slice into thin, even slices. I used red and Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe and they both baked up nicely. The thicker the slices the less chance of the thinner slices burning. 

Drizzle olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the slices on a baking sheet-slightly overlapping just a bit. 

In a separate bowl add a cup of olive oil and one package of the Ranch Dip mix and whisk. Pour over the top of half of the slices making sure to cover them completely. Repeat the same steps above with the second half of the potatoes. Shake on a handful of salt over the potatoes and a handful of pepper-or to taste. (if you are cutting back salt in your diet, skip this step)

Place baking sheet in the middle of the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

September 29, 2017

Friday things (Baz Swells Happy)


Usually my "Friday things" are about the good things throughout the past week and what great things made the week awesome. This week, however, isn't about that at all, or could it be?

I always try to lean toward the positive in life and look for things to help make bad situations easier to handle, but I am struggling today to put all of that into focus to where I can find a positive.

Yesterday we had a tough, hard, difficult-and all the words describing pained-decision. It was the hardest thing in the world to me, so far, and I say that without regret. Our beloved Baz Happy fell down the top section of our stairs yesterday morning and hit the landing area to the next set of stairs. He had slept upstairs with The Bean the night before. The kitten we adopted last December startled him at the top of the stairs, by batting his tail, he was wagging in excitement for the day. He turned suddenly from being startled and lost his footing on the top step. He didn't come rolling down the stairs, but rather fell sideways onto the first step and slid down the remaining five stairs. The first step he hit sideways on his bad hip and fractured his femur bone. We didn't know the extent of his injuries, but we were hoping for the best. Maybe a knee out of joint, or his hip bruised really bad, but nothing prepared us for what we were told.

I wasn't ready for the news we were given. I don't think any of us were, really. You go into the vet's office each time with an older dog hoping for the best, but always knowing that there could come a visit that isn't what you want to hear. Before we took him in, I put him outside in the yard to see if he could bare some pressure on the leg at all in hopes that it was just a bad sprain, or bruise that could be fixed in no time and we would be bringing him right back home that day. Baz did end up peeing and even took a small poo without baring pressure on the injured leg. I had high hopes that since he did those two things, that it would be a simple injury and I could nurse him back to health, like I have done many times before. I always took care of him and he knew it. I was his person, and he was my friend, but I couldn't fix this. I didn't even know how to try to fix it and I have gone two days now punishing myself for not being smart enough to fix him. I know it's not my fault, but part of my grieving has to be some self-blame before I can move on. When we took him into the veterinarian she looked him over and did remark about his age, 16 years and nine months, and told us that if it is broken, there is nothing we can do because surgery is not an option for him at this point. I braced myself still hoping for the best and when she came back with the x-ray it was much worse than we expected. Bone cancer. And it was aggressive. I had no idea. I went numb knowing that my sweet, loving, friend was not coming back home with us that day. The bone cancer had eaten up so much of his bad leg where the break happened and the bone was literally rotted away and cancer was destroying my pal.

I felt helpless and I still do even after the fact. When you lose a pet to something that you can't repair, or help, does the feeling ever really go away? I'm going to bet on the answer and say no. It won't ever leave me knowing that he died from something I couldn't fix. The broken femur was repairable, maybe even fixable in the long run, but the bone cancer couldn't be repaired. And it gutted me knowing this.

Baz never let on that he was in pain. He never showed signs of failure. Even with his old hip injury from a car hitting him 14 years ago, he never let on that he was dying on the inside from cancer. He had a heart murmur, and hip dysplasia, and we saw where he was slowing down, but never anything more than what we were told to expect with older dogs. I felt like I had failed him. He was there for me through a lot of things and I personally felt like I failed him. We knew the decision to put him to sleep was already decided for us before we even said "okay." The moment of doing it is something that I will never accept completely. I feel like I let him down. The image I had of him when this moment came, the moment he would leave us, wasn't anything like what happened. I imagined being at home with him, cuddled up, being there with him, while he made the decision to go on his terms. I had the image of that so embedded in my head that this moment didn't seem real. I couldn't believe that it was happening. But it did. And now he is gone. He left us the same way he came, unexpected, but so full of love. He had such dignity and love as he passed and he has torn my heart out in the process.

Each member of our family, all three of us, had a different relationship with Baz. I was here with him, day in and day out. I wiped his eyes out when they were matted or watered, I cleaned him up after he peed on himself, I gave him his baths, I massaged his hips and spine area, I rubbed shea butter on his rough paws when they needed it, I put sunblock on his ears so he wouldn't burn, I trimmed his fur when it was matted, I brushed his teeth, I cuddled with him when he was cold, I washed his Mickey Mouse blanket when it was soiled, I put his Razorback sweater on him when he was cold, and put on his rain coat when it was raining. And the best part of it all, he loved me for loving him.

We can't help but remember some of the fun, crazy, and amazing things Baz gave us. Him standing at Cape Kiwanda in the sand with his sweater on, showing us his big smile on his face that he always had just being with us on our many road trips, the move from Arkansas to Oregon, and the many other things, places, and adventures we went on with him in tow. He loved being with us. Road trips we've taken with him and how he would look at us with a look to just say, "thank you for bringing me." I won't be able to forget those times with him anytime soon and my grieving process will last a long time for him. As he aged, his hip began to bother him more and more, and before long he became a special needs dog. I was okay with it, as long as I could prolong his pain and life just a bit longer. And I did my best. I made him happy. A huge chunk of my time was for him. Now, I don't know how to change to the new normal. I hope eventually the ache in my heart and mind is less, but right now, it's almost as if there's that missing piece in my life that I can't find. His bed, dinner plate, sweater, Mickey Mouse blanket, rain coat, collar, bandanna, leash, dog house-with his name on it, all of his many dog tags we've made him, his folder with all of his medical records, and his pillow will sit on the dresser for now. I will put them away, or shift them to PITA before too long, but for right now, I like having them there to remind me that his presence is still here in some way.

It is only the day after, and as expected we are all grieving so much pain. It's incredible how much hurt we can actually handle in life. To you, the reader, this dog is just that, a dog. To us, he was a member of our family that's been with us for 15 years. He was there the day we brought The Bean home from the hospital. He was the first animal to see The Bean as a newborn. Those moments will live on in my memory forever. He was The Bean's buddy and watched him walk, talk, grow, and learn about life. Baz was there. He has always been there. He was more than "just a dog" to us. He was our pet, our companion, our loving Baz, and above all, he was our friend. He will be missed, wanted, needed, yearned for, and most of all loved forever by us and anyone else that had the pleasure and luck of meeting the infamous, free-spirited dog named, Baz Swells Happy.

When people who have never had a dog see dog owners mourn the loss of a pet, they probably think it is a bit of an overreaction. After all, it is “just a dog.” Fortunately, most are too polite to say this out loud. But those of us who have loved a dog know the truth: Your own pet is never "just a dog." -source

I'd love for you to see all of the great things we shared with Baz. There's a lot of posts on my blog about him and they are right here. If there is one thing you take away from this blog post it would be for me to tell the you, and the rest of the world, what a great, loving, wonderful, cool, loyal, perfect, friend of a dog he truly was. He was. He most certainly was.

We'll see you later, old buddy.
Thank you for loving us.
-Life at a "Swell's" pace-
Baz Swells Happy (November 12, 2000 - September 28, 2017)