Thursday, January 30, 2014

DIY Tutorial: T-Shirt Rope Toy

In my recent quest to reorganize everything surrounding me, I've purged a decent amount of clothes.  Finally, I let go of my pre-2007 sorority t-shirts and race tees from 2009.  But then a Pinterest tutorial of making a basket entirely of T-shirts caught my eye and I held onto all the T-shirts I was about to trash...and I made this:

It also doubles as a hat in a very Erykah Badu fashion.  Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for Harry, I didn't need all of the T-shirts I thought I would for said tribal water carrying basket.  And as I was braiding together t-shirt strips I thought that it might make a cheap (aka free) and functional toy for Harry to play with.  And so, the tutorial for making a rope toy out of old t-shirts was born. 

1 T-shirt, but for a multi-colored toy you'll need as many t-shirts as you want colors
Rubber bands (maximum 7)

To start, use sharp scissors to cut your t-shirt into 2 inch wide strips.  For one rope toy you'll need nine strips.  You might be left with a T-Shirt loop depending on where you cut your strips.  If so, turn that loop into one long strip.

Take three strips and secure them together.  Either knot them (but not too tightly-you'll untie it later) or rubber band them together.  

Then, begin braiding one of three braids.  Braid until you can't braid any longer and secure the end with knot or rubber band.  Repeat these steps with the remaining six strips, creating three braids in total.  This project is "no-sew" but I did use the thread holder on my sewing machine to hold down my T-shirts so I could braid them.

When you've finished creating your braids secure all three together with a rubber band.  Then create one thick braid comprised of three individual braids.

Once you reach the end, grasp the end and tie a knot.  Make sure it's extra tight because this is sure to be the area your pooch will gnaw on.  Repeat this step on the top end that was rubber banded together.

Trim any extra long pieces hanging out of your end knots and present to your pet.  Then prepare to receive kisses and love for being super thoughtful and crafty!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Harry Hors D'oeuvres: Resolution Cookies

It's the most wonderful time of the year when everyone lists their goals for the new year!  For many people, getting healthy and working out are top priorities.  Sometimes the preface for this lifestyle change is a juice cleanse.  Since a full cleanse was not something my body (mainly my mind) could handle I have been having a juice a day for about six months now.  Juicing every day leaves you with a ton of juice pulp.  I feel very guilty disposing of it, so I've researched all the different ways I could use it from carrot cakes, muffins, mixing it into pasta sauces, and even composting.  That left me with a massive amount of baked goods that were too tempting and led me to turning them into healthy treats for Harry!

To make these super healthy treats all you need is juice pulp and a food dehydrator.  I use a produce bag inside the bin of my juicer to collect pulp and keep it in the refrigerator until it's time to make treats.  Any juice pulp can be used to make treats so long as it's not on the doggy do not eat list (no grapes).  The first round I made was carrots, apples, and celery.

Here's my mega bag of pulp saved after just 5 days of juicing.  You can imagine how much I end up with - such a waste!

Pulp is pretty moist (sorry, I'll try to never use that word again).  You really don't need any binding ingredient to hold these together through the dehydration process.  This is what makes utilizing your juice pulp fabulous for allergy prone dogs.  Harry's cousin Jager was allergic to wheat and eggs, but these treats were safe.  

Get your hands dirty by grabbing a palm full of pulp and shape them into bite size balls.  I made mine slightly smaller than a golf ball.  Layer them on the trays of your food dehydrator, and if need be, press them down or re-shape into smaller balls.

You may end up with chunks of apple or some veggie/fruit flesh that didn't get completely devoured by your juicer blade.  These will dry up just fine.  When you're through with the pulp, turn the dehydrator on medium and leave it for about 8 hours, or until significantly dried out.  The more moisture there is, the less time these will keep.

After they've dried out, pry them out of your dehydrator and bag them up for your pooch.  As they're super nutritious, it's hard to feel guilty treating your pet.  Beta-Carotene in carrots can boost your pet's immunity as well as provide anti-oxidant and eye health benefits -- plus they taste sweet!

Harry has yet to try a "Resolution Cookie" as he's still in allergy testing mode, but his cousins sure enjoy them!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Losing a pet is a heartfelt loss.  When you're a caretaker, pets are your babies.  Harry is my son (also my snugglebug, angel-baby, and wild man) and a part of our family both immediate and extended.  I can't imagine how I would react losing him and I prefer not to think about it.  But when a family dog passes away it's something you do think about.  Earlier this week, Harry's fur-cousin Jager went to dog heaven after giving us 10 years of love.  

It was a sudden loss, as Jager was older but not visibly unhealthy.  Because it was so sudden I know that my family is still processing it, and I hope my little post moves them towards remembrance and acceptance.  Jager was adopted as a baby, only 7 weeks old when he became a part of my sister's family.  He was one of the first puppies Harry's Daddy had extended contact with, as I would use our time together as an excuse to visit my sister and play with the puppy.  He had super sharp teeth, was playful, nippy, and for the only time in his life, very small.

He expanded into a huge German Shepherd, nicknamed Big Boy, with an unlikely fondness for stuffed animals.  Jager's gentle giant status was something that always made us all laugh as he'd lay his head on his "woobie", a leopard print stuffed animal shaped like a bone and fall asleep.  He had an entire toy bin of perfectly intact animals that he'd play with in rotation, always keeping woobie closeby.  Jager was also a big fan of water and the first family dog in a long time that actually wanted to go swimming (the rest my sisters and I would force into the pool with us).  As soon as the cover was off the pool (and sometimes when it wasn't) Jager would sit on the steps, splash water with his paw and try to bite it mid-air while yipping in delight.  Then with the command of "go swimming!" he'd plunge into the water do a lap towards the deep end, turn around, and return to the stairs for more splashing.

Jager was also the first family dog to endure dog allergies.  Not only was he a finicky eater (he required us to hold the bowl while he ate) he became allergic to wheat and eggs as well as pollen among other things.  Luckily he had a nurse mommy who tended to his every need and even gave him weekly shots to ban the allergy symptoms.  Yet another trait of Jager that made us all laugh---the intimidating German Shepherd with a fondness for stuffed toys who also eats duck for dinner.

Just like Harry, Jager joined a human family and a dog family.  When he first arrived he had an Uncle Chase - our family dog since I was in third grade - and during his tenure he had cousins Lucky, Karma, Boomer, Jack, Joey, and eventually Harry arrive.  Jager both played with and disciplined his fur cousins with some backyard romping and a few disgruntled growls when his cousins were out of line.  To Harry, Jager was both a grown up to look up to and a buddy to play with.  As Harry joined us for more and more family gatherings, he started to know Jager's name at home when we'd ask him if they played together.  With a cock of the head and a wag of the tail, we knew that Jager meant something special to Harry.

As a dog mommy, I know there are also personal moments that are unforgettable about your pet.  For me, it's when Harry consoles me when I'm sad or goes in for an extra hard nuzzle when we're snuggling on the couch.  It's also singing and talking gibberish and English all morning, afternoon, and night to someone who doesn't talk back.  So I can imagine having a quiet home is especially heart wrenching after a loss.  

The great thing about pets, and dogs especially, is that they love unconditionally, they don't judge, and they are always happy to see you whether you've been away for two minutes or two days.  They live their short lives to a fuller extent than humans, as if they know what their purpose is the second they arrive on Earth.  Which is why when they leave us, although it's sad and we miss them, we know that they ultimately lived a good life with the people they loved the most.  So although we're sad to say goodbye to Jager, we're happy that he led an awesome life and left it peacefully, surrounded by his devoted and caring family.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Look Back at 2013

The past year was full of fun, friends, laughter, and of course fur.  Blogging (and social media in general) is a great way to keep track of life and as I re-read the posts of 2013 I'm satisfied with both mine and Harry's "year in review".  

Also in 2013, I donated my hair...and then cried about it.
First off, we rang in the 2013 in style last year attending a friend's bow ties and glitter New Year's Eve party.  Harry got much better at running, and during a winter jog we were given some insight on his potential breed which ended up being pretty right on.  We experienced Harry's first full on snow-in and he took his first trip up north to my family's country bungalow.  Since Harry is still in his early years, we experienced some behavior problems resulting in some reupholstery projects and a new bed.  Harry celebrated his very first birthday with us, had a super fun birthday party with pup-cakes to boot.

Springtime led to Harry's first starring role in a puppy parade, his first Easter Egg Hunt, trips to the flea market, and one of our biggest projects this year - prepping our deck for gardening.  And as we found ourselves in summer Harry spent extra special time with his extended family of fur cousins.  Summertime was also the start of Harry's medical issues, starting with his paw and extending to an array of allergic reactions.  It was tough luck that we didn't have more outdoor adventures with Harry in the summer of 2013, but now that we've got a handle on treating his breakouts I think we will be better prepared for 2014.  

One of my favorite things to look back on are all the DIY projects I took on with Harry.  From items as simple as a crate tag to projects as huge as a furniture makeover (and another furniture makeover) we certainly tackled our fair share of work.  We made treat platters, three versions of dog beds, recycled t-shirts, baked cookies, picked the fruits of our labor, and commemorated holidays.  Un-documented projects included an insane amount of throw pillow covers (once I figured it out I couldn't stop...throw pillows for everyone!), a DIY juice cleans (horrible mistake), a home makeover with a few weekends full of painting, going cross stitch crazy, a bit of a failure involving a mirror and gold leaf, a painting or two, and a perfected limoncello recipe.  And no year would be complete without Harry's handmade Halloween costume.  

Although Harry couldn't make the trip with us (not enough dog money), his Daddy and I immersed ourselves in European culture for two weeks resulting in an engagement and a ton of personal memories.  We also explored the continental USofA venturing to both Boston and Chicago, two major cities I hadn't experienced as an adult.  I get a rush of excitement (and a tinge of nerves) planning our travel adventures for the following year...we've already got a trip to Napa Valley in the works!

All in all, 2013 was a slam dunk.  We lived and loved to the fullest, and as a result we got the most out of life.  Looking onward to 2014 we hope to do more of the same and as I did last year (and I achieved I must say) I plan on accomplishing the following in 2014:

-Figure out what exactly Harry is allergic to
-Furthering my sewing skills to a DIY Dog Coat (sooner rather than later)
-Same as above except with a skirt...for me of course
-Get organized - see all those projects up there?  They resulted in a ton of leftover craft scrap
-Try a completely new hobby (this is already in the works)
-Take a vacation that includes Harry

Thank you for following along in the blogosphere!  We're grateful to have such loving family and friends and even strangers who appreciate our day to day.  Here's to 2014!