Archive for the ‘favorite things’ Category

While some of you, my friends, are participating in NaNoMo this month, I will be much too busy to join you.  Why is that?  Well, let me give you a hint:

5 bed, 3 bath, 4000sf

12 acres total, about 5 newly cleared

and when I’m all done moving into all that, you will be able to find me here, with a glass of wine:

We move in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I’ve got a lot to pack!

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Well, it took 3 days to eat all the first round of cinnamon rolls.  It was a lot of rolls to eat in such a short time period, but Dude and Bad Pants were up to the task.

This evening, I made our second batch, Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls.  They were…  acceptable.  A perfectly lovely, middle of the road, Pillsbury-out-of-a-can like cinnamon roll.  Nothing to write home about, but not bad either.  They were pretty darn sweet, used nearly a pound of brown sugar (and the recipe author claims she uses more than I did!  Way more!), and the frosting was thick.  I think, had I to do it again, one of the things I’d do is trade in the frosting for a glaze as the frosting itself really added to the sweetness of the rolls, making them a bit overpowering.

Rating: 3 Stars

After the first batch I made, these were pretty “meh” to me.  Still, all in all, they were a good, standard cinnamon roll.

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The most favorite cinnamon rolls in our household are from Cinnabon.  We love them with cream cheese icing.  So, to kick off the Bake-Off, I decided to start with a recipe that claims to be the gold standard, A Copy of a Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll.

However, after reading through the recipe, I discovered an important step left out.  At no time do they tell you when to add the milk-yeast mixture.  And they aren’t really clear as to how to make the filling mix.  Are you supposed to put the butter in the mix?  Or do you spread it on the dough?  And is it really necessary to preheat your oven almost 2 hours in advance?  As these issues are very important, I am posting the corrected recipe below, as I made them:

Copy Of A CINNABON Cinnamon Roll

You Will need to gather your ingredients first before starting this recipe. You must follow the recipe step by step in order to achieve the true cinnabon flavor.

2 1/2 TABLESPOONS OF FRESH GRATED CINNAMON (I used ground cinnamon)

Gather these ingredients and set them aside to start your dough recipe first.


Take your 1 cup of milk warmed to about 100 degrees and disolve the packet of yeast, mix well into the milk making sure there are no clumps in the bottom of the bowl or on the spoon.

In a large bowl mix together the flour,sugar,salt, butter and eggs. Mix well, add the milk-yeast combo.   Mix some more.  Knead the dough until well mixed and doesn’t stick to your hands. Knead this into a large ball, Using your hands lightly dusted with flour place into a bowl with a drop of oil in the bottom of the bowl and cover in a warm location to allow to double in size.

Once the dough has risen for about an hour you will remove it from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface to roll out. Take your rolling pin and roll the dough out in the shape of a rectangle. Let this rest for approx. 10 minutes.

While this is resting take the cinnamon that you have grated and combine in a bowl with the brown sugar and mix in well and set aside.  Once your dough has rested take the butter and spread it on the dough evenly, then slowly sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mix all over the surface. Next, roll the dough up and seal it with a little bit of water on a pastry brush to allow the seam to stick during the baking process.  Cut the roll into 1/2 inch sections and place on a baking sheet and allow to rise again until doubled again in size. About another 30 minutes should be enough time.

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400 DEGREES while waiting on this final rise.


Bake the rolls in a preheated oven until golden brown about 15 minutes, While rolls are baking, Beat together the cream cheese and butter with the confectioner sugar and vanilla and salt. You will want to spread the frosting on the cinnamon buns as soon as they have cooled but just for a few minutes as the best time to add the frosting is while they are still warm and will disolve the frosting allowing it to soak into the cinnamon bun.



If you’ve compared the recipes, you’ll see that I’ve changed up some of the wording so as to not give you a headache with the creator’s bad wordage.  Ugh!  Apparently, they didn’t pay attention in “How To Write A Recipe Class”.

So, I made them.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have started with these as Bad Pants said, “Damn, Babe!  You didn’t have to knock the Pillsbury Dough Boy out in the first round!”  I don’t know if it will be possible to top these.  However, I’m more than willing to give it a try!

But, in order to do that, folks, I need more recipes from YOU.  Send me your Aunt Betty’s famous cinnamon roll recipe!  Send me Grandma Ida’s fabulous recipe!  C’mon!  Even if it’s not YOUR recipe, send me your favorites!

(Picture of rolls to follow)

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When you have a yeasty, smelly dog with health issues, you go through a lot of dog shampoo.  When you have to have a medicated shampoo to control the yeast, you go through EXPENSIVE dog shampoo.  In the 3 years since Copper started having a yeast issue, I think we’ve tried nearly every product under the sun.  We’ve tried prescription shampoos that required us to bathe Copper daily, but never solved the problem.  We’ve tried OTC shampoos only available through your vet that required us to bathe him 2x a week and gave Copper relief, as long as you stayed on the bathing schedule.  We tried medicated shampoos from pet stores of varying costs and quality.  Some worked better than others, but I was usually unhappy for one reason or another.  We tried medicated shampoos from near and far!

Here’s my generalized breakdown of what I’ve tried on Copper:

Prescription shampoos- PITA to wash him daily.  Worked and worked well, if I kept up with it daily.  But the constant smell of wet dog permeated my house.  Also very expensive at nearly $30 per bottle.

OTC from the vet clinic shampoos- Worked great!  Only, it took half a bottle per bath, so it became cost prohibitive when the price was the same as the prescription shampoo.  And, well, Copper wasn’t too happy waiting in the tub for it to sit 15 minutes before rinsing.  I wasn’t too happy trying to convince my teenage puppy to sit in the tub that long either.

Medicated Shampoos from the Pet Store- They all worked to differing degrees.  It seemed like as soon as I found one that was tolerable and reasonably priced, it was no longer on the market the next time I went to get some.  Or, we used a ton of shampoo for my 40 lbs dog, meaning we’d only get 2 baths per bottle.  Some, such as the tar products, I didn’t like the smell of.   And some just didn’t seem to do much for him.  It was really a shoot in the dark.


I tried something new to me!

I bathed Copper in this Tropiclean Oatmeal and Tea Tree Shampoo.  It didn’t smell awful.  In fact, it was kind of nice.  Or as nice as my stuffed up nose could detect.  It lathered awesomely!  I mean, I was truly impressed!  Most medicated dog shampoos don’t lather worth beans, and as Copper tends to be pretty greasy at times with his yeast issue, that means we have to use even more product to get a lather.  Plus, with his thick Aussie hair, rinsing can be a real pain.

Well, guess what?  None of those things were a problem!  He lathered well, using a reasonable amount of product.  I let it sit for the requisite 5-10 minutes (probably closer to 10, as I was also bathing Bear simultaneously).  And best of all, it rinsed out easily!

I love that Tropiclean contains no harsh ingredients.  I could use this product on the cats if I needed to.  There aren’t any soaps in it and even the bottle is environmentally friendly by being made out of biodegradable corn products or from recycled plastics.

Since I also bathed Bear in this, I already know I’ll be getting more than 2 washes out of it.  And at $13 for a bottle, it looks like it will save me some money as well!  Now, I just hope that Tropiclean doesn’t discontinue this shampoo, leaving me on the hunt again for something new.  Best of all, I can find it locally AND I can order it online!  How great is that?

*Review completely unsolicited.  Tropiclean doesn’t know me, has never heard of me and I was not reimbursed for my review of this product in any way.

**This shampoo is marked to control itchy skin in dogs, NOT yeast.  I used this product to help treat yeast of my own volition, knowing that tea tree oil has anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.

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This afternoon, my study session with Dude was interrupted by a couple loud thumps on my front porch.  My house shook with the thumps.  When I went out to find out the cause, I found a small white box that the mailman apparently “dropped”.  (Cranky, maybe?)

Once inside, I opened the box (photo withheld to keep address private), and this is what I found:


Yummy Chummies for the dogs!

Books and keychains!

Did you get a close enough look at the cheese?  Well, look again:


Thank you, AKPonyGirl, this is one of the most touching gifts I’ve ever received.  We will think of you with every bite!

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The Varsity is an iconic fast food eatery in midtown Atlanta.  It has been featured on Food Network a few times and is most notorious for their sing-song greeting at the counter of “What’ll ya have?  What’ll ya have?”

The Varsity has been around since 1928, serving the students of Georgia Tech and the surrounding community.  The Varsity is also touted as the largest drive-in world wide.  You can learn more about the Varsity’s history here.

We decided to check out The Varsity after spending the day at the Georgia Aquarium.  After all, we were just a few blocks away.  Why not check out this world famous joint?

The food, mainly burgers and dogs, were surprisingly really good!  The fries were fresh potatoes, not something cut, dipped in sugar and frozen for months on end- like other fast food restaurants.  There was some debate between Bad Pants and I if they were as good or better than my memory of the fresh, Yukon Gold fries of In-N-Out in California.  Bad Pants has been to In-N-Out in the last couple months.  He says The Varsity’s fries, which come from your basic Russet Potato were better.

The car hops are known for dancing while singing the menu aloud to customers.  We, however, did not get that experience as we ate inside this time.  Perhaps next time and hopefully we’ll get video!

All told, The Varsity was an awesome experience.  We tried fries, onion rings (which BP says are the best he’s ever had), burgers and hot dogs.  The simple, All-American fare was most excellent.  We highly recommend it to anyone traveling to the Atlanta area.

After all, it’s kid tested and 100% approved!

They can’t wait to go back!

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Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness we have arrived at our new home. Our beautiful Freya has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I will be back in a few days.

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As most of you know, the clock is winding down on our move.  And moving has got me thinking and realizing I’ll have to find a new place to get the occasional latte and will probably have to find a new coffee blend as I am not sure where I’ll be able to find my current fav locally at the new place, even though it’s just 30 miles away.

First, let me define what I consider good coffee for you according to me, OS.

Good Coffee- smooth, rich and medium bodied.  A truly good coffee comes from a bean you can eat whole that doesn’t taste bitter, burnt or green.  Should be pleasant tasting.

In order to have a good coffee, you have to know what you’re looking at and how to properly store it.  Good, fresh coffee should look oily.  I usually buy whole bean and grind my own.  Really, really fresh coffee you grind yourself will likely clump in your grinder as the oils will bind it together some.

See that beautiful oily sheen?  That's what you should look for in whole bean coffee.

See that beautiful oily sheen? That's what you should look for in whole bean coffee.

It’s not often you can find good, fresh coffee from the bulk dispensers at the grocery store.  For the most part, these are constantly exposed to light and air, which is detrimental to the oils of coffee, which is where most of the flavor resides.

So, the proper way to store coffee is in a dark or opaque container that has a good seal to it to keep air out and then in a dark, cool place such as a cupboard.  You don’t want to keep it in the fridge or freezer as these are damp places and the cold can cause those beautiful oils to congeal and alter the flavor.

Ok, now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about my favorite blends!  (All photos linked to each roaster’s website if possible)

Wicked Wolf

My favorite!  Smooth, rich, deep, yet medium bodied.  I discovered my love of this coffee in Alaska and mourned it’s loss when I moved to the Lower 48, until I discovered that Raven’s Brew had opened a roasting plant in Tumwater, WA just 5 short miles from where I was living!  It was heaven.  I was in love.  Then I fell in love and moved away.

Two years later I found my second favorite coffee:

Sisters Coffee Company

Now I prefer to drink Sisters Coffee Company’s Sisters Blend if I can’t get my Wicked Wolf.  Which, of course is often.  This coffee compares to Wicked Wolf, yet seems to be missing something.  Is it lacking that bit of home for me?

I currently pick up Sisters Blend at a local grocery store chain here in the Salem area.  However, I will not have access to this local chain soon.

In between Wicked Wolf and Sisters Blend I found a passable coffee I was satisfied with.  I even blogged about it here.  I drink this when I can’t get the Sisters Blend.  Well, whenever I get myself to my local Fred Meyers to purchase it.


I prefer the Columbian coffee myself, personally.  And this is what I’ll probably be drinking at first when I move as we will have a local Fred Meyers in the new town.  Newman’s Own Organics partnered with Green Mountain Roasters to bring this tasty little treat to us.  And Green Mountain Roasters has some acceptable coffees too!  However, the coffees you get in the bulk dispensers are not always that fresh, so I rarely buy any of the Green Mountain coffees.


Lastly, I drink Millstone when I’m too lazy to go get the good coffee or too tired to head to a different grocery store.  Columbian Supremo is what we usually get.  Honestly, it’s like feeding your pet Iams or some other decent but not wonderful brand of pet food when you’ve forgotten to stop at the specialty place to get the really great, really healthy stuff.  Millstone is ok in a pinch as a method of caffeine consumption, but it lacks when you’re looking for something wonderful to slowly sip and savor.

Now that you’ve had a crash course in my favorite coffees, what are yours?

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I’ve decided to start another series to be published at my whim.  I’m going to call it, “Spoil Your Pet”, in which I’ll review cool new toys, dishes, gadgets, etc to make life great for you and your pet.

Since it’s summer, water is of mega importance for your pet.  Here are some cool new items for your viewing pleasure:

water holeFirst up is the Water Hole.  This funny looking bowl keeps your pet from spilling water.  A nifty idea if you have a messy drinker and are tired of cleaning up slopped water.

Le Bistro

Next is your average Le Bistro waterer which allows a larger quantity of water to be available to your pet at all times.  It lessens the need to constantly fill and refill your pet’s water bowl.  Personally, I am not a fan of these.  Water can get stale and warm in them.  Who wants to drink stale, warm water?  And every book you read always says to provide clean, fresh water for your pets at all times, not stale, warm water.  However, I suppose it works if you’re in a hot clime and need to be away from your pet all day.  Better than a traditional bowl that won’t leave your pet enough water.

Next up we have the pump and filter style water dishes.  These plug in to the outlet and use a small aquarium style pump to circulate the water and usually contain a carbon based filter.  Consider it like a mini-aquarium for your pet!  These keep water fresh and oxegenated and much more palatable for your pet.  Plus, they filter out chlorine and other nasty things in your tap water.  Hey, if it’s good for us, isn’t it good for our pets too?  Of this style, I personally use this one:


I love that it holds a gallon of water.  I only need to fill the reservoir once, maybe twice a day with all my cats and dogs.  Plus, as cats tend to be on the dehydrated side, it’s a great way to get your finicky cat to drink water.  There are a few different brands and styles of waterers on the market like this.  Smaller, larger, more fountain like, etc.   However, since this plugs in to an outlet, it’s not an outdoor water dish at all.

Maybe a better idea for fresh water outside is this:


This little gem connects right to your outdoor spigot and allows your pet to have fresh water from the tap on demand.  It works like a water bottle for small pets, complete with the ball bearing in the bottom of the tube to keep the water in and not just constantly pouring out.

And for you hikers and people on the go, here’s an ingenious item:


No more need to carry water and bowl separately!  How great is that??

Well, thanks for checking out some water bowl ideas with me today.  Until next time, keep on loving your pets!

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For years I’ve had this pattern of liking something until it becomes the current “in” thing.  For instance, I loved Dodge Durangos when they first came out.  And then, circa 1999, they became all the rage in Olympia.  So, I became bored with their popularity.  Another was the color purple.  I had a lot of purple in my house.  Deep eggplant-y purple, amethyst, gray-ish shades of lavender.  And what do you know? Not but two seasons later purple was all over the catwalk and all through out the stores!  So I moved on.

This really has been how my life goes.  I’m never into the current fad.  My friends say they think of me as a trendsetter.  I’m usually into something before it becomes cool and quickly over it before it reaches it’s heyday.  Except this time, something weird happened.

I’ve avoided the Twilight Saga like the plague.  I just never felt the initial urge to pick them up and read them.  Probably because the hub-bub about them started soon after I saw the books in stores.  It started as a hushed whisper that has reached roaring epic proportions as you know.

First, Karen read Twilight and then held a giveaway on her blog for a copy of it.

Then, Kitty read it at Christmas when my mother-in-law, romance writer and vampire lore lover, sent the first two books to my daughter.  Within days, Kitty finished those and bought Eclipse, all before New Year’s.  Kitty loved the saga so much she wrote her own 34 chapter teen vampire love story that I assume follows somewhat of the same lines of Twilight with a big splash of the life she fantasizes about.  

Dawn, my best-est, closest friend of many, many years read it.  She started about the same time as Kitty.  She gushes about Twilight if I bring it up or if it somehow comes up in conversation.

And it’s been blogged about many times over.  Of all the reviews I’ve read about the Twilight Saga, the one that intrigued me the most and led to my breaking down and buying the books is Stephanie’s.  I’ve been lurking around her blogs since soon after she started writing her first one.  I find her talented and admirable as we share some similar tastes outside my life with kids, dogs and horses.  Stephanie refers to the books as not very well written.

So, I bought the books.  All in hard cover because I like my series’ to match in format.  And, for the last couple weeks I haven’t been able to decide if I’m excited or disgusted with myself for following a trend.

I started reading Twilight today.  I’m officially 2 chapters in.  I’ve figured out the draw of Twilight and I texted it to The Corporate Prince.  The conversation went like this:

Me: I’m annoyed at the simplistic writing style of Twilight, yet it flows so smoothly that its hard to put down.  Think of the smooth stylings of JK Rowling married to a simple, first person tween girl type romance and you have Stephanie Meyer.  That’s the draw.  It’s smooth and simple.

Him: Like a Sunset Delite (a tequila drink CP came up with last night- I’ll explain in a minute)

Me: Exactly!  Disturbing that you like it, but addictive by how nicely it goes down.  No wonder it’s following is almost cultish among teen girls and women!  I’ve identified the draw so I should be immune to it’s voodoo like charms.


Now to elaborate.

I blogged earlier today about a drink called Caribbean Sunset from the Patron website.  (Go here if you missed it).  We’ve been drinking them for a couple days.  Just a cocktail with dinner.  They go quite nicely with Mexican food.  

However, last night we were all out of orange juice.  It was rather disappointing.  I asked CP if he thought Sunny D would work.  We’d joked about the idea of mixing tequila or vodka with Sunny D before because we seem to always have it around for Kitty.  

Well we tried it last night.  And it goes down so smooth.  It’s rather addictive.  More, it’s disturbing that adults should like or use SunnyD in an adult beverage, right?  The Corporate Prince decided to call it a “Sunset Delite” after it’s ingredients.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Sunset Delite

1 shot of tequila

1/2 shot Triple Sec

6 oz SunnyD- the smooth variety

a splash of grenadine

Mix the tequila, triple sec and SunnyD together, pour over ice, add the grenadine on top, swirl and enjoy.

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