Friday, December 31, 2010

Something new and exciting!

Well, new and exciting for me, anyways.

I've always love to cook and recently I've really begun to enjoy sharing, not just the food but the experience of making the food, with other people. Most recently, I made my first lemon meringue pie and posted pictures of every step along with the recipe on my Facebook page. I even included a super easy recipe for fondant to make cute decorations with! Sorry, only friends and family can see currently but if anyone asks I'll post a blog about it. All of the people I shared the pie with expressed their enjoyment of it (they -could- have been lying to me) and several stated that it was the first time they'd had a lemon meringue pie made with real lemons. This surprised me since it was actually VERY easy to make.

In this light, I've decided to make a small blog series on cooking. I'm going to do one or two meals a week (as my motivation drives me). I'll post step by step pictures along with recipes and I'll even include a recipe for a pet treat to go along with the meal. The twist is that I'm going to base each meal around one of my favorite Disney movies. I'll make the meal and as we sit down to enjoy it, we'll also watch the movie. Hopefully the great food distracts Mike from this torture.

Keep in mind that I am, by no means, a chef. Most of these recipes I'm going to make for the first time and there's going to be a lot of winging it. The whole project is just for fun.

Here are my meal ideas so far. All of them are tentative and might change. If anyone has any good ideas, please let me know!

Lady and the Tramp: (For us) Healthy spaghetti with 'surprise' meatballs
                                    (For the dogs)Lady's puppy pasta

The Lion King: (For us) Injera ((an Ethiopian flat bread))
                                        Boboti ((South African meatloaf))
                         (For the dogs) 'Zebra' mash

Sleeping Beauty: (For us) Petite 'dragon' legs with 'dragon's blood' sauce
                                            Veggies with a Sleepytime tea sauce
                             (For the dogs) Woodland creature cookies

Aristocats: (For us) Sushi
                   (For the pets) Special salmon treats

Cinderella: (For us) Happily Ever After cake
                    (For the dogs) Prince Charming cookies

Ratatouille: (For us) My mother-in-law's Ratatouille
                     (For the dogs) Ratatouille with a poodley twist

Have a happy New Year and I look forward to hearing what you all think!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The camera and I. Long lost friends?

I've never like having my picture taken. I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. So, you can imagine that it's a bit mind boggling to me that this past year I've actually PAID to have people follow me around with a camera. Not only that, but I've begun to enjoy the process, as well as the results.

It started a little over a year ago when I met Kimberly Gauthier. At the time she was an aspiring pet photographer who had photographed a few play sessions of the poodle meet up group I was a member of. I commissioned her to take some fun pictures of Caly with maybe a few of us thrown in. The session ended up leaning more toward a session for us with a few photos of Caly here and there. Looking back at the pictures, I can still see how uncomfortable I was in front of the camera. Except in the candid when Mike was spinning me around in circles on the tire swing. -_-

Photo credit: Kimberly Gauthier Photography

I had a bit of a break through last October on the cruise where Mike proposed. I realized that I was able to actually -smile- in photos without looking like a drooling idiot. It was all down hill from there.

Photo credit: Kimberly Gauthier Photography

This past June, Mike and and I got married. Our photographer was the AMAZING Chris Schmauch. I can not sing his praises enough. The photos he got for us were beyond what I could have hoped for and his work just keeps getting better! With these photos came the realization that even though I might not always be happy with the way I look, I can still see myself as beautiful. It helps to have that 'bridal glow'. I still regret that I had the lack of will power to get my body weight to what I wanted before the wedding but it's hard to be TOO upset when I look at the pictures of that special day. I still have the hope that a few years from now I'll be able to look back at them and say, "Can you -believe- how fat I was back then? I feel SO much better now." At least I can say I'm actually working on it (the soreness from my last trainer session is a testament to this).

Photo Credit: Chris Schmauch, Goodeye Photography + Design

A few months later we did another fun shoot with Kimberly just because. I have nothing but love for Kim. Over the past few months her work has evolved and grown in amazing ways. I'm proud to say I was one of the people that encouraged her from early on and I can't wait to see what she's doing a few years from now!

Photo credit: Kimberly Gauthier Photography

The final nail in the coffin came this past weekend when I again hired Kimberly to take do a Christmas card shoot for us. Oh, I could have sent regular Christmas cards with puppies or kittens with milk mustaches but no....I just HAD to have photo cards. It's in these photos that I believe I've finally been able to go from looking awkward and uncomfortable to letting my true happiness show. And, yes, I am truly happy. My life has become complete since I married Mike and I'm exactly where I want to be. I'm glad that I can finally show this in pictures.

Photo credit: Kimberly Gauthier Photography

Of course, the poodle will always be the photogenic one of the family.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving my blog and dogs in winter

I bugged Mike to make me a real blog for months. But I didn't just want a real blog, I wanted it to perfectly match the scheme of my website. He did it! ...and then it took me a few more months to actually get around to setting it up. But here it is and here I am.

I don't think I'm very good at blogging.
Oh well. I'll just keep talking and maybe it'll get good enough that someone will listen.

Summer's over and winter is coming. They're predicting our first snow this Saturday. I'm so excited! I love snow and so does the poodle. She'll spend hours zooming around in it....losing her mittens and collecting snowballs in her leg fur. However, despite all the fun we have here I still can't forget the many dogs who spend every hour of every day out in the snow...alone and freezing. There are so many dogs who are left chained in backyards no matter what the weather conditions. Many lack food and water as well.

It's very popular nowadays to compare a dog with a wolf. I'm not an expert by any means but I simply can't follow those methods. The dogs we see nowadays are more human creations then they are wild creatures roaming the mountain valleys. Many of the more extreme animal rights groups out there want to release all pet animals into 'freedom'. Can you imagine a Labradoodle out in the woods? Rubbing it's huge mats off on rocks maybe? Apparently they have not read the news articles about the stray Shih Tzu who's hair got so out of control that it became a prison shell that did not allow the dog to eat or walk.

Even if I don't believe that there should be wild Chihuahua herds roaming the plains, I do believe that dogs are still pack animals. Even if we bred most of the 'wild' out of them, we DID encourage their dependence on us. That makes the existence of the dogs spending their entire lives chained even more depressing. This is even more astonishing now that we're in the era where dogs are less pets, and more family. Many clients at the vet where I work refer to themselves as their pet's 'parents' instead of their pet's owners. However, there are still a few that only bring their dogs in for once a year shave downs. The dogs arrive in horrible condition. One this year even had maggots. These dogs are 'outside' dogs. I'm not talking about animals that are farm dogs in charge of a herd of animals. Or even guard dogs on 24 hour duty. These are 'pets' that people 'love' and are left outside in a backyard to live a lonely life. All these dogs are aggressive, obese, and filthy.

So, when you're outside enjoying the winter sports this year, please take a few minutes to remember those we have made dependent on us who are outside...alone and lonely. Find a local organization focused on helping these creatures and see how you can help as well. Maybe gather some neighbors to make simple dog houses to give out. Even donating a bag of food helps!

Happy winter!!

Archive: August 20, 2010

It's been quite a busy couple of months! I am now Mrs. Jarrett and I couldn't be happier! I was only gone for a couple of weeks but the time off sent me back over a month at work! It's only now settling down but I'll be taking a bit more time off for personal reasons. Hopefully this doesn't conflict with too many people's schedules.
The Go Dog, Go! Festival this year was amazing! There were over twice the vendors and definitely a lot more people. The only sad part is that Caly did not place in the costume contest this year! The same Briard that beat us last year but us again this year. Oh well! It just gives me an excuse to come up with an even more awesome costume next year!
Hopefully some day soon we'll be updating my blog and moving it to an actual blog server to allow for publishing and comments. Keep stopping by!

Archive: June 4, 2010

The site is coming along great! I think we just need to get the guestbook up and running to get some testimonials on here and then it'll be just about finished!
I found out yesterday that the Kirkland Go Dog, Go! Festival is coming on July 24th this year from 10am-3pm. I mentioned it to my manager at VCA Bellevue and now we'll be having a table set up at the event! Our office manager and medical director will be managing it so please do stop by to get any questions answered and to pick up some reading material. Be sure to check out the webpage for all the awesome events that'll be happening. You'll even see a picture of Caly on it!
Caly and I will be there again this year. I've already got a costume picked out for her and hopefully I have time to pull it off after the wedding. Cross your fingers that this year we get first! Last year Caly's Hot Rod costume took second. Nikki and I put a lot of work into it and I was happy to place. We were the only people to actually dye our dog. This year I'll be anticipating the heat and won't dress the poor poodle all in black!

Archive: May 31, 2010

Getting this webpage up and running has been an interesting experience. I've been doing it all by myself (with a few tips from Mike) and so far things are coming along smoothly. I've never actually used a web publishing program before. All my past web pages have been dubiously slapped together messes of html that I found and copied from various sources on the web. They might have looked...alright... (not counting the fuzzy graphics and all black backgrounds) on the front, but behind the scenes they were a mess! This way is undoubtedly cleaner, easier, and I'm definitely happier with the end product.
It is now less than a month until Mike and I run off to get married and less then two weeks until my bachelorette party in Vegas. Therefore, I will not be grooming  on June 12th through the 14th or June 19th through July 7th. After July 7th I'll be back full time. In the meantime, my very good friend Shawn will be working part time to keep things running in my salon at VCA Bellevue.
Everything for the wedding is planned and I'm working hard not to stress out about the last minute details. The weather up here in Seattle remains very, very wet and gloomy. Hopefully things are a bit sunnier down in California and it'll be nice and warm the day of the wedding!

All images and content Copyright 2010 Amber Melena.