Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dog Appreciation: Meet Lucy

If you didn't know already, I love dogs. My family has a dog. At college, you can't have dogs. So you can see my problem - I miss my pup when I'm away. So, this post not only to introduce you to the best dog on the planet, but also for me to look back on when I'm feeling lonely and dog-less. 

When I was born, we already had a dog. Her name was Blue, and she was an English Setter. I don't remember her much, because she died when I was in kindergarten. Our cat, Minnie, survived for a while after that, but eventually she also passed, and we became a pet-less family. My brother and sister and I continuously begged my dad to get a new dog, but for some reason he wouldn't budge. That is, until July 6, 2009.

In the spring of 2009, we began looking for puppies for sale. We had toyed with the idea of getting a Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever, but they weren't too easy to come by. So instead, we began searching for Golden Retriever pups. And lo and behold, WE FOUND A LITTER. And in early July, we welcomed home our beautiful puppy, Lucy.

Lucy's first day home.

At about 6 weeks old, she was so small she could fit under our living room arm chair. She didn't know how to walk up or down stairs, and she hated walking on a leash. We had to carry her for the first week or two.  

I remember on the evening we brought her home, we took her out front to play. When my dad came home from work, the first thing she did when she saw him was prance straight towards him, whining and crying. She was happy to see him - this man she'd never seen before in her entire life. It was the sweetest thing. He spoils her rotten now. 

Lucy being the most adorable and photogenic pup around. (Age unknown...because I don't remember)


Lucy is now 6 years old, going to be 7 in May. She's a 60 pound dog, which was a little bigger than we expected, as she was the runt of the litter. More of her for us to love, I guess! She has dark golden fur - that is, it's more reddish-golden than yellow-golden. It's also incredibly soft - she has never had coarse fur. Her eyes are golden amber, and she's rather big-boned and clunky (not out of shape or overweight, just not the fastest or most coordinated dog). Again, not what we expected from our little runt. But we love her just the same.

Lucy loves bird-hunting with my dad, watching for squirrels out of our picture window, swimming in the lake, going for walks, getting treats, and snuggling in bed (and in bed I really mean in bed. She sleeps in my parents' bed. Princess.) Storms and loud noises don't seem to phase her at all. Except for the vacuum cleaner. She hates the vacuum cleaner. Her favorite human foods are peanut butter and popcorn, but she'll pretty much eat just about anything that falls on the floor. Except for lettuce and eggs. 

As far as her character goes, she's lovable and thinks everyone in the world is there for her benefit. She loves meeting new people - heck, she even loves seeing people she knows. Every time we leave the house for a few hours and then come home, she's there to greet us. And by "she's there to greet us" I mean she's there to come crying to us with someone's shoe in her mouth. Lucy also snores when she sleeps, and she burps after every meal. She's also very stubborn, and she gets suspicious of us every time she hears our suitcases rolling out to the car. She doesn't like to be left behind, and she loves car rides. STORYTIME. My brother and I were packing up to leave for a week-long stay at our cabin with some other relatives, and Lucy was wandering inside and out, following us with a worried look on her face. The next time I went out to the car to pack something away, I found her curled up on the passenger seat, staring at me with those puppy dog eyes. Pathetic. But so, so hard to leave. 

You thought I was joking. I was not. She climbed up there herself. She didn't want to be left behind, poor thing.

Lucy is the best dog any human could ever have. I know every dog owner says that their dog is the best, but it's true. I love Lucy. There's something so special about the bond that is created between a dog and their family or owner. It's so comforting to know that there will always be someone (I use that term loosely) who will listen to you and LITERALLY love you no matter what. It's also so fun to see your dog develop their own personality, their own likes and dislikes. Lucy is the sweetest, funniest, most lovable pup, and I love her to pieces.

Nap time as a puppy.
Still napping in the same chair, 6 years later. Only she doesn't fit on the footstool anymore.

"Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger A. Caras

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Molasses Cookies

Since I'm home again for "Spring" Break (in February - really?) I couldn't help but whip out the mixer and bake some goodies. Molasses cookies have always been one of my favorites, so I decided to make a batch. Okay, okay, I made a double batch. So, if you're desperate for some delicious Molasses cookies, keep reading...

You'll need:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Separate bowl of sugar

Preheat your oven to 350° fahrenheit. Cream the shortening and sugar, and then add the molasses. Mix together thoroughly before adding the egg. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then slowly add to the wet mixture.

Once your dough is ready, roll it into balls and then roll the balls in your separate bowl of sugar.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes (the cookies will look half-baked - that's perfect!)

Remove, cool, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Single on Valentine's Day?

Today is February 13th, which, of course, means tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Some people love this particular holiday, and some people, to be frank, despise it. After being single for 19 years straight, you'd think I might have some hostile feelings towards February 14th, but I don't. I LOVE Valentine's Day. I love decorating, I love baking, I love buying cheap candy the day after...But for all of you singletons out there who are dreading this day of looooooove, here are some suggestions on how to spend your Valentine's Day.

1) Palentine's Day
According to Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation (played by the magnificent Amy Poehler), February 13th is "Galentine's Day," a day set aside for the gal-pals in your life so you can spend Valentine's Day with your significant other. For those of us who are lacking said significant other, however, I propose Valentine's Day be dubbed "Palentine's Day." If you and your single friends have nothing better to do on Valentine's Day, why not invite them over for a Palentine's Day Party? This is the perfect opportunity to bake some goodies, do some mid-winter "spring cleaning," and get together with your friends.

2) Treat Yo Self
I promise there will be no more Parks and Recreation references after this. How about showing yourself some love this Valentine's Day? Go out and TREAT YO SELF: buy those shoes you've been eyeing up, grab yourself a luxurious box of chocolate, or personalize your handbag by studding it with crystals...basically, embrace your inner Donna and Tom and TREAT YO SELF.

3) Spa Day
If you're not willing to break the bank on a luxury item for yourself, a spa day is always a good idea. Take a long bath, give yourself a mani-pedi, and fill your Valentine's Day with relaxation and peace of mind.

4) Bake 
If you're an avid baker and lover of sweets like me, Valentine's Day is the perfect day to satisfy your sweet tooth! Here are some delicious Valentine's Day recipes to try:

5) Netflix and Chill (and Pizza)
If you're single, you don't have to worry about compromising. You don't have to dress up and go out. You. Can. Stay. In. Spend your Valentine's Day watching your favorite shows and movies on Netflix, and order an extra large pizza. That's right. You get that whole pizza, all to yourself... 

6) Candle Light Dinner for One
While it sounds pretty depressing to have a candle light dinner for just yourself, it actually has lots of pros. Again, you don't have to dress up and get all fancy, and you don't have to compromise on what to eat or where to go for dinner. Instead, you can wear your favorite sweatpants and make yourself your favorite meal and light your favorite candle and basically surround yourself with all your favorites. 

7) Love Isn't Just for Couples!
Just because you're single on Valentine's Day, you don't have to settle for a love-less day. As this list has pointed out, Valentine's Day can be all about YOU - what's wrong with loving yourself? And if you find this just a little too lonely, show some love to your family: your mother, father, sister, and/or brother. Give 'em a call, send them some flowers, or plan a family gathering to celebrate the Day of Love.