Category Archives: Hound

The Follow-Up to 30

Last  year my hubby turned 30 and I celebrated big, throwing him a party and giving him 30 gifts. So as his 31st birthday has approached this year, I’ve struggled with how to follow up on all the hype of last year. Really, there’s no way, so I settled on a “normal” birthday of dinner out, cake, and a “normal” number of presents. I think my favorite present to him was the one Oliver gave him- a package of deli sliced chicken meat. They both LOVE it but I don’t buy it much because I prefer turkey. So Oliver bought him a package for them to share. Adorable.

2014-08-14 (11) michael's 31st birthday

2014-08-14 (32) michael's 31st birthday

Michael requested a lemon cake. Yuck. Delicious. A few years ago I was given the book The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn but haven’t gotten to use it as much as I want because Weight Watchers. So I turned to it to search for a good lemon cake recipe. If you don’t know about the Cake Mix Doctor, she doctors up box mixes to make even better cakes. I decided to use the recipe for her Lemon Lover’s Cake (Though, slightly altered because the grocery store was out of lemons. Of course.) (Also, this was definitely not my best decorating effort. It was SO. HOT. in the kitchen and the icing wasn’t cooperating and it just didn’t go well. Please excuse the decorating disaster this one time).

2014-08-14 (14) michael's 31st birthday

Lemon Lover’s Cake (from Anne Byrn’s The Cake Mix Doctor Returns, page 53)

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz, though, that doesn’t exist anymore, so….) plain yellow or vanilla cake mix (I used yellow but I think next time I would just use white. The yellow taste came through kind of strong)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) lemon instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (6 oz) lemon yogurt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and flour the pans (I used 9 inch squares, but the recipe calls for round).
  2. Mix all the ingredients together on low for 30 seconds, then 1 and a half minutes longer on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans.
  3. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. (I baked mine 22 minutes since they were square and they were almost overbaked)
  4. Let cool completely before icing.

In the book, Byrn includes a recipe for lemon cream cheese frosting, but I’ve never had much luck making my own frostings so I bought a can of cream cheese icing and a can of lemon, added a bit of lemon juice and mixed it all together in the mixer. It turned out great!

I think the 31st birthday went well!

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Oliver’s Adoption Day Party

This post is over a month late, but I still really wanted to write about it. On October 13th, we celebrated Oliver’s One Year Adoption Day. Can’t believe we’ve had our sweet boy for a year! I have no idea how we ever lived without him. Since we will never know his actual birthday, we also celebrate his “birthday” on this day too. We may have gone a bit overboard, but we had fun and he did too! He really could tell something was different and he was being loved on. He was very happy!

Our presents for him: elevated food and water bowls (before this his bowls had been on a cardboard box… so this was probably more for us than him!), a new tennis ball (he doesn’t really play fetch, but we keep buying him tennis balls anyway…), a new rope (ropes are his favorites and he tends to go through them quite quickly), a stuffed owl, and a card.


His special treats included cheese cut into bone shapes (he LOVES cheese) and Starbucks whipped cream (did you know you can ask them for a “puppy whip” when you go through the drive-thru?).


We sang “Happy Birthday” to him and his face just lit up!

IMG_3262 IMG_3261

We attempted to take a family picture… but this is the best we could do:


So we opted for individual pics

IMG_3241 IMG_3250 IMG_3304Happy Birthday, our sweet Oliver! Your mommy and daddy love you very much!

We are so grateful God led us to him (seriously, God’s hand was all over our adoption story) and look forward to our second year of fun adventures with our buddy!

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Dog Training “Game”

Our sweet Oliver has been in training “school” since February. Once a week for 7.5 months we have gone to Petsmart for his school. (In all that time we have only missed ONE night! We really make it a priority because he loves it so much and it’s his only time to socialize with other dogs. He gets soooo excited when we say “let’s go to school!” and he loves his teacher so, so much!)

He has learned many things, some of which are sit, down, on your bed, heel, bow, stay, wait, take, crawl… and many more. He was already very well-behaved when we adopted him (almost a year ago!), but now the three of us communicate better and we’re on the same page with what we need him to do. It’s making life easier. Especially learning to walk on the leash better. That was one thing that was a huge struggle… and now he’s great at it.

Last week he “graduated” from Intermediate class. We are so proud! He will stay in there for a few more weeks to get better socialized, and then we’ll move on to Advanced! I know we are all ready to learn some new things!


One thing we have had to do is PRACTICE. Lots of practice time. We try to do some every day. We were just going through everything by memory, but I found that we were just practicing the same things over and over, and not trying to learn the new things or any of the random “tricks” she throws into the class.  So I decided to make a “game” to help us better practice EVERYTHING.

All I needed were some buttons (I have lots leftover from my button crafts), and an empty medicine bottle.


On each button I wrote one of his commands.


Then I somewhat decorated the bottle and labeled it Oliver’s Button Game (So creative, I know).


Now when we practice we shake the bottle and he gets real excited about practicing, and then we pull buttons out and practice the commands that are written on them. I think it’s a lot of fun and it helps Oliver be more engaged.

What are some of your dog training tips?

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Grain-Free Journey

When we first adopted Oliver we notice he was struggling with itchiness. We just dismissed it as seasonal allergies and/or dry skin and gave him Benadryl every once in a while to help ease the itching some. But, we noticed it was getting worse. We were feeding him Pedigree, thinking that was a good food! Nope. It’s not.

Through doing some research and talking with friends, we learned that corn should NOT be the first ingredient in the food, and ideally shouldn’t be in the ingerdient list at all. Meat should be the first ingredient (and not meat by-product!).

ImageSo, we began our serach for better food and quickly discovered that food without corn cannot be found at Walmart or grocery stores. Around this time we had started training at Petsmart and went there (we LOVE Petsmart). With the help of our trainer and the other employees, we spent the next couple of months choosing and trying other foods with meat as the first ingredient, but they still contained rice and other grains. Our vet also told us to attempt to switch up the first four ingredients with each new food to better pinpoint the allergen.

ImageAs we tried these new foods, Oliver’s allergies just continued to worsen. We were giving him six Benadryl a day and he was still rubbing areas raw from itching so much. After many talks with our trainer, we decided to make the leap to go grain-free. Cost is a big issue for us, so she helped us pick out the cheapest grain-free food available at Petsmart- Authority Chicken and Potato. He has been on that food for over two months now and we have gone from six Benadryl a day to two a day, and sometimes even those aren’t needed.

When going grain-free you also have to change all your treats too! And bags of grain-free treats are not cheap! Here are some that Oliver has liked and have been somewhat affordable:

  • Zuke’s Jerky Naturals (there are several grain-free flavors)
  • My Little Wolf (these are the cheapest, but of course, seem to be the ones Oliver likes least)
  • Hill’s Ideal Balance Soft-Baked Naturals (these are Oliver’s favorites, especially the duck flavor)

I am planning to soon try making some homemade grain-free dog treats and will blog about those when I do. Grain-free can be good for all dogs even if they don’t have allergies! Just remember, make sure meat is the first ingredient on their food!

See Related Posts:

Dog Training

Adoption Day Party

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