Iceland Bound (Give Me Your Tips!)

Visiting Iceland

We leave for Iceland in two weeks and I’m both excited and nervous. We haven’t traveled abroad without the kids, well, since before we had kids. And my husband is used to being away from them consistently for work, but I’ve never been away from them for more than three day/two night trips. (This will be a week.) I know it’s all going to be just fine, and I also realize this is a pretty privileged thing to be nervous about. I think more than anything, my anxiety stems from having to get everything prepared in advance for their schedules and hoping I don’t mess anything up. All that said, I have wanted to visit Iceland for many, many years, and it’s being made possible because the band my husband stage manages is playing a series of shows there, so more than anything, I am grateful.

There won’t be a lot of time to explore since this is a work trip for Robbie, but we will have some down time. The last day is our only full day to do what we want, and we have a really cool Golden Circle excursion in the works. We are also planning to hit up the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport before we head home. Other than that, we have no plans. So if you’ve been and have tips or recommendations, I would love to hear them! I know the basics (that everything is incredibly expensive, that we should buy any booze at the airport, that weather is unpredictable, etc.), but anything beyond that would be so appreciated. We’ll be staying in Reykjavik the entire time, but may be able to incorporate a few short day trips into the itinerary as long as Robbie is back by afternoon for work.

Oh, and we are going during the time of year when the Northern Lights are most visible, which is by far the thing about which I’m most excited. Robbie and I have been chasing them for many years and have never gotten a glimpse. Fingers crossed hard!

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{Giveaway} Jiminy’s Wholesome Dog Treats Made From Crickets!

This post includes affiliate links. I’m always looking for nutritious and tasty treats for Barli and Tiki–but, at the same time, I’d like to help minimize the impact that they, like…



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Win a Blue Zoca Premium Waterproof Blanket!

This giveaway is sponsored by and fulfilled by Blue Zoca. For the past several years, we have worried about pet stains on our bed…so much so that we’ve had to cover the bed with a…



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The 16 Best Items at Trader Joe’s (2020 Edition)

The Best Items At Trader's Joes, 2020 Edition

Every spring since 2017, I’ve shared my favorite items from Trader Joe’s with with you guys. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s my favorite grocery store for many reasons (healthier options, affordability, overall good vibe), but I mostly love all of the speciality items they offer under their own branding. After a big TJs shopping trip last week, it felt like a good time to share this year’s favorites. There are, of course, many core staples that have remained year after year, but I’ve also included some newer go-to’s. (And nope, this isn’t sponsored. I just love me some TJs.)

1. Toscano Black Pepper Cheese
Once again keeping this at #1 because it is, my all-time favorite TJs product. It was recommended to us several years ago by a Trader Joe’s employee while we were shopping, and it now a staple in our fridge. You have to try it. Trust me.

2. Green Goddess Dip
This is a new item to TJ’s and I pray to the universe every time I taste it that they never discontinue it. It’s a combo of avocado, sour cream, and garlic, and I eat it on everything from raw carrots to eggs to tacos.

3. Raw Almond Butter
Expensive but worth it. It’s by the best almond better I’d had aside from fresh ground (and even then the texture is no match).

4. Carrot Ginger Miso Salad Dressing 
Current favorite dressing. An explosion of flavors.

5. Handcrafted Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos
I mean, they’re taquitos. Need I say more?

6. Triple Ginger Snaps
By far the best ginger snaps I’ve ever tasted (other than my dad’s homemade variety). The fresh ginger, candied ginger, and ground ginger combine to create true ginger cookie heaven.

7. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
The best price I’ve found and we use it daily. No brainer.

8. Organic Broccoli Slaw 
I discovered this in 2018 and now I can’t live without it. It’s the perfect crunch to add to bowls and tacos, and also delicious steamed with pasta sauce.

9. Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
Best seasoning there ever was. I need not say more.

10. Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
This one holds a special place in my heart. The first time I had my now-husband over for dinner (13 years ago!), I made him yellow curry tofu with this sauce. His exact word in response was “smitten.” (I also drank way too much vodka that night and he ended up holding up my hair over the toilet, which was the first of many signs that this one was a keeper.)

11. Thai Vegetable Gyoza
Tibetan Momos are my absolute favorite food, but they’re impossible to find outside of Tibetan restaurants, and my one attempt at making them was disastrous to say the least. These are the closest I’ve found. I eat them with sriracha and soy sauce. So so so good.

12. Paneer Tikka Masala with Spinach Basmati Rice 
This genuinely tastes as good as the Paneer Masala at my favorite Indian restaurant. My only complaint is that for a dinner, the portion is quite small.

13.  These Peanuts Go On a Date Bars.
I’m not a big bar person, but the label intrigued me (great marketing work, TJs) and I loved they only have 4 ingredients. I’m glad I tried them, because now you can always find one in my purse. They’re the perfect sweet, nutty treat.

14. Soy Chorizo
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teen so I’ve never tried real chorizo, but this soy version was recommended to me and I can’t get enough. So yummy mixed in with eggs and in burrito bowls.

15. Steamed Lentils 
These make the perfect snack, are great on salads, and just make life easier. My kids are fans too. I top them with a little Bragg’s Amino Acids.

16. Speculoos Cookie Butter
You guys don’t need me to tell you about this one, right? I don’t buy it as much as I used to because the calorie count is not kind, but it’s one of my favorite treats.

Did I miss any of your favorites? If so, please let me know! I’m always stoked to try new TJ’s goodies.

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Dog Food Storage: What You Need to Know

If you are purchasing large sacks of dog food, know how to safely store dog food — and where in your house to store the food to keep it fresh.

This post first appeared in DogTipper.com. Link to…



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Dog Park Time—Some Simple Dos and Don’ts

Today we have a guest post from Erin Edwards at Pet Treater about a topic that will soon be on everyone’s mind as the weather warms: a trip to the dog park! Every day for your fur baby is an…



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The Unbroken Brown Dog

paddy

Our lives are ultimately caught in a kaleidoscope, and as it twists, the shapes and colors that are facts and experience shift in and out of our view.  As the twisting goes, we soon see before ourselves a new image, a new reality, and perhaps a new ethos, a new understanding.  This process is known to all of us older than the age of 30, and it is such a profound part of living that if we were to live a few centuries, the same individual would be fundamentally a different person every couple of traditional lifetimes. We would be reborn many times without ever dying.

My worldview has changed greatly in recent years. The long screeds against show dogs have disappeared. They aren’t worth the time to write, and I honestly no longer agree with their theses.

And I have had to atone for my own myopia.  It is difficult. I find it almost impossible to read what I wrote even three years ago.  I am that much different from what I once was.

Back in 2015, I was on a tear about the German shepherd that won best of breed at what we call “the National Dog Show.” It is an event that is held in November, but it is televised after the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving.

The dog that won BOB was Kysarah’s Pot of Gold, better known as a Patrick or Paddy.  A German dog expert had declared his locomotion to be among the worst he’d ever seen, and the various blogs that were touting the “evils of dog shows” were quick to lambaste Paddy, his owners, and his breeder.

I left a stupid comment on Pedigree Dogs Exposed that it was shocking that they were turning the dogs plantigrade. You know, pretty much all the things you read on these sorts of blogs (including mine, if you dig a little bit).

German shepherds were never my thing. I generally left this breed alone on here. I was much more interested in the great crusade against brachycephaly, which (newsflash) has been lost and was lost long ago..

But I did get a hair stroppy about German shepherds and sloping backs and hock-walking back in the day.

It was good for my ego, good for my hits, and good for my pathetic little soul.

I didn’t know that Paddy was a beloved pet. He had been a junior handler’s dog, and his young handler had done well with him.

I didn’t know that Paddy had a wonderful life chasing the ball and leaping in the bogs of Eastern Massachusetts. I didn’t know how much he was loved. I didn’t know that he was a loyal and sweet and intelligent dog.

He was merely a victim of my horrid ideology.  I had no idea that the animal rights fanatics were sending death threats to the family, including his junior handler. I had no idea that my ideas could be feeding into something that toxic.

What’s more is that the twisting of the kaleidoscope aligned my vision a bit differently.. I had come to, through circumstance, to live with Paddy’s nephew.  I never considered Quest to be my dog, though I was on his papers.  Jenna could have her dream dog, and I would focus more on the golden retrievers.

But I came to see that Quest was truly special. He is smart and protective, but he is good with other dogs, even other males.  I cam to realize that he is a damned good dog, and I have since come to live with Dare and Miami, both of whom count Paddy as an uncle.

Have since come to count Paddy’s owner, Pamela Martin, as a good friend. She was very close to Anya, Quest’s breeder, and she mourned with us when found out that Anya had been killed in a truck accident.

And if that sorrow wasn’t bad enough, we received news that Paddy was euthanized on Sunday.

I never met Paddy, but I know his kin.  I know his people.

They jokingly called him the “Broken Brown Dog,” the leaping bog dolphin.

But he was always unbroken.

Though the haters were always going to hate, he was always going to be loved.

 

Natural History

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2020 Bark in the Park Major League Baseball Games

Spring is just around the corner, and that means that the boys of summer will soon be back on the playing field! Many major league baseball teams host special dog-themed games during the season, so…



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Cucumber Roll-Ups with Nori, Avocado, and Ginger

Cucumber Roll-Ups with Nori, Avocado, and Ginger

When I go out for sushi, I almost always order the same thing: an order of avocado rolls, an order of cucumber rolls, and miso soup. This is one of my absolute favorite meals, but because the kitchen and I aren’t friends unless a meal is both mess-free and easy, I rarely make it at home. (If you saw the way my rolls turned out, you’d run far away.) Thankfully there is a delicious, low carb (bonus!) snack version of these rolls that satisfies my cravings and is infinitely easier to prepare: these yummy cucumber roll-ups.

CUCUMBER AVOCADO SEAWEED ROLL-UPS
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
2 cucumbers
5-6 nori (seaweed) sheets
1 avocado
1 ginger
sesame or goddess dressing for dipping

Slice the ginger into thin, small pieces. Soak the slices in cold water for 10 minutes. Thinly slice the cucumbers using a mandolin or potato peeler, and use towels to remove any excess moisture. Using kitchen scissors, cut the nori into strips. Next, cut the avocado into small chunks. Remove the sliced ginger from the water and dry. Place pieces of ginger, seaweed, and avocado onto a slice of cucumber and roll up. Repeat for all cucumber slices. Serve with a side of your favorite dressing.

My kids love these too. Let me know what you think!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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11 Tips to Make Your Dog’s First Vacation a Success!

Warmer weather means more than just a change of seasons: it means vacation! While vacation season once dictated boarding your pet, today more and more travelers opt to include their dogs in their…



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