Tag Archives: Pets

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day!

22 Apr

Happy Earth Day!

I’m of the mindset that every day should be considered “Earth Day,” in that it’s important to be conscious of our impact on the planet all year long!  Much like the sentiments of many holidays  (the thoughts, feelings, and considerations that are brought to light) I feel would  ideally be best displayed every day, sometimes we lose focus and need the reminder of a “special day” to nudge us in the right direction!  In that case, I’m all for a holiday that brings our priorities back in line!


Today seemed like a really great day to get outside and enjoy the weather, the wildlife, and the sunshine.  I normally try to get outside for a walk or a jog down the street and back (2 miles, haha) every day, today it was way too toasty out to lug my camera with me.  So, for the sake of me returning alive, but also giving you a peek at some of the cool plants, animals, and scenery I get to appreciate every day, I decided to show you some pics from a few days ago when the weather was MUCH cooler!

I don’t like to be in too much of a hurry when I’m walking outside – there are too many interesting things going on that I’d probably miss out on if I rushed.  Long.  Straight. HILLY road!  When I do run, those hills get me every time!

The California Poppy is currently in full bloom!  Takes a lot for me not to pick a few for a vase on my way home….!

To date, this is my favorite horse in the world.  I have no idea what his name is, but we’ve developed a relationship that transcends the need for names.  It goes a little something like this: I bring him treats (carrots, apples, etc) and he runs to the fence, pretending he’s excited to see me.  See how that works?  I get the satisfaction of convincing myself we’re friends, and he gets a carrot.  Win-win, right?!


In reality, we get along because he’s exceedingly sarcastic and quick-witted.  We talk a lot.  He gets me!

This darling old man is Max.  Max has a lot of friends in the area (dog and otherwise) that he  visits regularly, stopping by to play or for a drink of water.  He wanders up to my garage occasionally and camps out for days at a time, or meets up with me while I’m on my way down the street.  Cutie pie!

This is Max’s friend, pretty adorable, right?!  They often travel together – bff?!  Look at those puppy dog eyes, major awww!

Chickens!  And a rooster.  Wild turkey and chicken are all over the place around here.  They cross the road, too, all the time, but I have yet to figure out why! =p

I had every intention of snapping photos of baby goats that appeared in a neighbor’s yard one day last week, but by the time I did manage to bring my camera with, they were gone!  I was under the impression they were permanent residents, but apparently that wasn’t the case.  Shoot!  I have to say, baby goats (kids!) are super duper cute, and these had collars on!  Another aww!


Worth protecting, right?!  I think so!  So, in keeping with the theme here, I’ve compiled a few ways for you to help the planet, and improve your own health at the same time!  Some of these ideas I’ve heard before, but I’ve tried to put my own twist on them where I see fit – often suggestions for helping the planet seem a little out there, and other times, require purchasing more or expensive resources or products to accomplish, which I sorta think often defeats the purpose!

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

1.  Reusable cold & hot cups for coffee & tea:

I know I said buying more products wasn’t going to help the planet, but if you’re going to be hitting up Starbucks every day for a coffee fix, or grabbing an ice tea in the afternoon and using their disposable cups, a reusable cup is the way to go.  A nice thermos is great for hot coffee and tea, very affordable and easy to find.  The problem used to be the elusive reusable cold travel cup, which used to be nearly impossible to find.  Now they’re everywhere!  Starbucks carries them at what I think is a bit high for my own price point, but I got one at Cost Plus for super cheap, and Walmart has them in practically every color imaginable!  Get one.  Bring it to the Bux on your next coffee run!

2.  Whip up your own natural, non-toxic cleaning products, or at least buy the friendly lines of products:

Ideally, you would use all-natural, non-toxic, kid and pet friendly cleaners for everything, all the time.  However, there is some grime, and some funk that just seems to be immune to baking soda and vinegar.  I get it.  Just try to use natural cleaners when you can – every little bit helps!  For most cleaning issues, I quickly Google it, and spend a few minutes looking through products I already have on-hand in my kitchen that will do the trick.  If you’re having a cleaning crisis, chances are good someone else has too, and you can probably find a green-cleaning tip about it online!  It’s true baking soda and vinegar won’t work for EVERYTHING, but they sure seem to work for 90% of messes!  If you MUST go the route of store-bought cleaning products (which I do, also – laundry detergent, and dish soap), try the lines that are known for being organic, naturally derived, not tested on animals, non-toxic, etc. such as Method (which is not ALL natural, but close), Simple Green, Green Works, etc.

3. Re-purpoes items you already have:

This is a whole lot like recycling.  In fact, it IS recycling!  It doesn’t work for everything (some things truly must be discarded…and by discarded, I mean put in the recycle bin and sent out to those who know what to do with it – ex: thousands of old phone books!) but try to the items you have no need for anymore as they are, and turn them in to items you need or want!  Old t-shirts are great for cutting down and sewing into a blanket or throw pillows, mason jars work great as glassware or vases for flowers if you aren’t much for jam making.  Instead of going out and buying new furniture, old furniture sometimes just needs a new finish or fresh coat of paint to become special and useful again.  Martha Stewart or DIY shows are often my go-tos for things like this!

4.  Plant your own garden:

I said it!  Cultivate that green thumb of yours, and work to plant a lot of your own vegetables and even fruits.  It takes some work to set up the beds, and maybe a little more work if need to construct raised beds due to the lack of topsoil, but it’s worth it when those tomato plants of yours just won’t quit!  It’s often much more cost effective to grow your own produce (ahem, have you seen the prices of product at the store or Farmer’s Market?!), not to mention you know exactly where your food came from and that it’s not smothered with gross pesticides!  Lots of inspiration onmy sister site, SayitwithSprouts.com if you need it!  If a whole garden seems like too much, or you have space restrictions (umm, that was me, in a tiny apartment!) consider growing a little window herb garden!  Pick up a few seed packets and plant them up in your re-purposed mason jars (yes, tip 3 in action!  Just be careful not to over-water!).  Great for cooking, and cleans your indoor air a bit!  My favorites are Basil, oregano, and mint!  Bonus points if you compost your fruit and veggie matter!

5.  Have a plan of attack when running errands:

Now, it’s one thing to live in a small town where you are able to walk or bike anywhere you need to go (hello, Davis!  I miss you!) – it makes running errands super efficient and planet-friendly, but most of the time, that just isn’t possible.  Everything seems to be so far away nowadays, and it’s just not realistic to think you won’t be taking your car out on a day of errand-running.  The key here is to be as efficient as possible with your car usage.  Plan ahead so you know where you’re headed, and travel the most efficient route so you don’t end up back-tracking, or getting half way home only to remember you forgot the dog at the groomer.  Wastes a lot of gas, as well as your precious time!  Oh, and while I’m on the subject, reusable grocery bags, FTW!

There you have it!  There are many MANY more ways you can help the planet and reduce your impact on a daily basis, these were just a few to get you started!


How do you like to celebrate Earth Day?  What are your favorite every day tips for being greener & more eco-friendly??  I’d love to know!


10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From my Cat

16 Jan

Cats are crazy little anomalies that we hate to love, but love nonetheless.  Look into those big, round, unflinching, always-watching eyes of theirs and I’ll bet you’ll find a hint of pity along with that dash of indifference and hearty helping of mystery.  We know nothing about them.  But they know things.  Things about us.  Things about us and life that we may never fully understand.  They’ve got it figured out better than any of us, so it’s no wonder that if we pay attention,  they can teach us a lot about life.  Next time they’re strung out on catnip, or curled up cozy on your lap, stop and think about how they’ve managed to get everything they could possibly ever want in life…something most of us are still trying to figure out!

Here are a few observations I’ve made watching my fuzzy little bundle of  big, blue-eyed joy, Bailey (above), for the last 6 years! =)

   10 Life lesson I’ve learned from my cat

1.  Always make sure you enter the room first.

There’s something to be said for making a grand entrance.  You see someone  walking at a normal pace.  You are probably walking at a normal pace.  But heck if you’re going to let anyone get through that door first, so just before they enter, make sure you speed up, and not only get through first, but also cut them off in the process.  Bonus points if you trip them.  WIN.

2.  Location, location, location.  

What used to be someone else’s favorite chair/blanket/box/suitcase/pair of pants/laundry basket/clean clothing is now covered in fur.  And your furry body.  As far as ownership rules are concerned, it’s yours now.  Done and done.

3.  The squeaky mouse gets the cheese.

Say you need or want something you can’t just take.  This doesn’t happen often if you’re playing your cards right, but say you need the door opened so you can leave.  You don’t have opposable thumbs, not your fault.  One strategy would be crying at the door, but the smarter approach might be to tear up the carpet instead.  You’ll for sure get thrown out of the room.  SUCCESS!

4.  Keep your eye on the prize.

Friendly engagements and social interactions are completely unnecessary unless you want something from someone.  Namely food.  Or attention.  Or free room & board for the remainder of your furry life? – Nah.

5.  Sometimes rest is exhausting.

Even the feline-requisite 13-16 hours of sleep a day is often not enough.  Napping is tiring, after all.  Dial it back a little there, fella, you’ve had a hard day.

6.  Always have a plan B.

If you are upset and physical aggression (plan A) just doesn’t seem to be cutting it, passive aggressive actions to property (plan B) should convey your message much more accurately.  Why simply claw someone’s arm to death when you can claw their favorite chair and leave a message that will never heal instead?

7.  Make them work for it (AKA Play hard to get)

You’re really not playing here, because you could care less if someone even exists unless you want food, but the key here is to make them think you’re doing them a favor by letting them scratch your ears.  In other words, make  them work to give you what you want.  They owe you, big time.  Now you can really stick it to them by puking all over the clean floor.

8.  Only agree to learn something new as long as you can use it against someone later.

They love you already because you’re aloof and defiant, and do nothing you’re instructed to, it’s true.  You don’t give a rat’s bum if you please anyone but yourself and seem to only derive greater power from enraged, disappointed scolding, but given the chance to learn something new, take it.  Even if it means lowering yourself to the level of getting a treat for sitting up like a dog.  Once you’ve got that trick up your sleeve, you’re golden – use it to get whatever you want, whenever you want it.

9.  Say it with a single look.

You want to conserve as much energy as possible since you’ve only slept for about 13 hours on a given day, so you can’t be bothered to communicate with anyone in an extended fashion.  Opening your trap is so much work, and even if you did, a yawn would probably be the only thing to come out anyway.  Tell them you’re annoyed that you have to hear/see/smell/acknowledge them with a single look.  Make it a doozy.

10. And finally…The one you can’t have is obviously the best one.  

Sometimes you get the bird.  As soon as you do, you no longer want the bird.  Sometimes you just can’t get that d*mn bird.  That’s the bird you want the most.  You’ll sit for hours waiting for a glimpse of that bird.  That’s likely also the bird that would peck your eyes out, given the chance.  You’re probably  going to start writing an angsty, love-sick song about that bird right now.

Love from my cat! xoxo

…He’s gonna go take a nap now.

Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

14 Jan

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year.  So far in January:

San Francisco.

Roadtrip – Sacramento –> LA.   LA –> Sacramento.

Engagement photoshoot for my brother & his fiancee in Santa Monica, CA.

Began a fitness certification course (more on that later!)

Was reunited with the most awesome lab group of all time.

Back on board the half-marathon training plan + gym routine.

Jumped on the winter citrus train & made these cupcakes!

Lemon cupcakes, to be exact!  They come from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, a book that was gifted to me by a friend who truly understands just how much I love little cakes with pretty frosting ( a lot!).  The photos in this book are incredible – bright, vibrant, beautiful – everything I aspire to achieve when embarking on my own food photo endeavors.  Love you, Martha!

I’ll be the first to admit my cupcakes don’t look a thing like hers…mostly because she has awesome pro photographers – I mean, check out that photo!! – while I’m a photo rookie, but also because I topped mine with lemon pudding and lemon buttercream frosting rather than the lemon curd and meringue frosting in the recipe.

I know, I know.  Lemon meringue cupcakes without the meringue are like…..lemon cupcakes.  Mmhmm.  Profound!

I went for a more simple approach, but don’t hold that against these lemony little gems!  Lemons, limes, grapefruit & oranges are definitely in full-swing right now.  I love how bright and sunny these little cakes are, perfect for those of you who are talking about snow & freezing temps where you’re at!

PS: I feel for you, because even though it’s been uncharacteristically warm & sunny for January here in Nor Cal, I still find myself piling on the blankets, guzzling hot coffee, and dreaming of summer weather!

Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes (with Lemon pudding & Buttercream)

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes



* 3 Cups All-purpose flour
* 1 Tbsp Baking powder
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 1 Cup (2 Sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 Cups Sugar
* 4 Large eggs, room temperature
* Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (3 Tbsp)
* 2 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
* 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
* 1 Cup Buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used plain milk)


* 1 Small Box Lemon flavored Jell-o Pudding
* 2 Cups Cold milk

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

(I don’t have a set recipe for this, I adjust as I go – so here’s my best account of what I used!)
* 1 Stick Butter
* 3 Cups Confectioner’s sugar
* 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
* Dash of Salt
* 1-2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
* 1-2 Tbsp Milk

Topping: 1 Tbsp lemon zest + clear sugar sprinkles


For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate between each. Beat in zest and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk and lemon juice, beating until just combined after each addition.
Just about fill each lined cup with batter. Bake until slightly golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. I slightly overbaked mine (not on purpose!) So don’t do that.
As soon as possible, remove cupcakes from tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack completely before frosting.

Once cool, core the cupcakes and fill with pudding if you wish.  I simple piled it on top and piped on the frosting.  Top with fresh lemon zest & sparkly sugar sprinkles.

For the Pudding:

Follow the directions on the box, stir pudding mix into cold milk, continuing to stir for about 5 minutes until set up.

For the Frosting:

Beat room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar a few Tbsp at a time to allow everything to combine. Add the dash of salt and vanilla extract. Continue adding confectioner’s sugar, alternating with additions of the milk and lemon juice until frosting comes together. Add more milk if you like thinner frosting, and less if you like thicker frosting. Simple!

Currently reading: The February 2012 issue of InStyle Magazine

Currently listening to: The Pretty Reckless – “Just Tonight”  Obsessed!  Anyone else??

Currently snacking on: Hazelnuts!

Currently cuddling with:  This little guy!

Eventually: A sunny jog =)

Happy Saturday!