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Archive for July, 2009

Baking in July?

Yes, that is what I did this weekend.  Usually you would expect it to be too hot to do any baking during the month of July, but this year has proved otherwise.  The weather this summer has been unusually below average in temperature and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change any time soon.  We have been saving money on our electricity bill this summer by not having to run the air conditioning very much.  I have also taken advantage of the cool weather by baking and cooking like crazy the past couple of weeks.  Over the July 4th holiday long weekend, I cooked 4 dinners with plenty of left overs so for the next few weeks dinner is as simple as picking out what to have and heating it up.

Muffin Top Pan

Muffin Top Pan

As part of my weight maintenance program I like to have healthy snacks with  me at work so I don’t indulge in something I shouldn’t.  For my birthday recently, I ask for and received some baking mixes and muffin top pans from Vitalicious (Thanks Colleen!).  I had also re-arranged some things in the kitchen cupboards and discovered some muffin mixes I had for a long time and never used.  Normally these mixes call for whole milk, oil and eggs.  By substituting skim milk, apple sauce for the oil, and Egg Beaters egg substitute for the eggs I cut out all of the added fat the instructions normally call for.  To add a bit of fiber to the mixes without adding a lot of calories I added oatmeal to one of the mixes and crushed Fiber One cereal (original flavor) to another.  This didn’t effect the consistency of the mix or baking time at all.

In addition to the muffin tops I also tried a new brand of fat free brownie mix called Krusteaz I found at Wegmans. Charlie prefers “real brownies” over the chocolate Vitalicious Muffin Tops, but I refuse to make a full-fat variety.  The Krusteaz brownies are a big hit.  These brownies came out very fudgy with a great consistency.  I tried the No Pudge Fat Free brownie mix previously.  While very tasty, they are so gooey that they are almost impossible to cut into squares.

Brownies and Muffin Tops

Brownies and Muffin Tops

Baking is usually thought of as a winter activity, but I enjoyed being able to do some in the middle of July!  Now I have a good stock of muffin tops and brownies to last for quite a few weeks.  That way if Summer does come back I won’t have to worry about heating up the house when we are trying to cool it down with the air conditioning.

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Nina’s Turn

Portrait of Nina

Hi everyone! Since this blog is supposed to be about “Dog Tales” I told Cindy that it was about time I added my 2 cents. Not all of you have met me so I thought I would start with some background about myself.

I joined Cindy and Charlie in the spring of 1998 as a young puppy so if you do the math you can tell that I am now a mature 11 year old girl. There were already 3 German Shepherd Dogs living with them when I joined the family. As you can see from this picture the shepherds kind of hung together and didn’t think much of me. That might have been because I was just a few months old at the time this picture was taken.

Greta, Steffi, Yenna and Nina (left to right)

Greta, Steffi, Yenna and Nina (left to right)

Greta and Steffi were senior citizens by then and weren’t much fun to play with although I always enjoyed just hanging out with Steffi. She and I were great friends. Yenna who was the youngest of the bunch at just a couple of years old at the time.  She and I used to have fun playing together, especially in the winter of 1999 when we had a really big blizzard. I love to play in the snow and still do! It’s fun to stick my head under the snow to search for rodents. I still do it today when there is snow on the ground! Yenna just thought I was crazy because the snow is so cold.

What's under the snow?

What's under the snow?

I had a few fun years with the shepherds, but I have been an only dog for almost 7 years now. Sometimes I miss my canine friends, but I sure do enjoy all the love and attention I get from Cindy and Charlie. According to them I am the best snuggling dog they have ever had and now that I am such a mature lady I am really a trouble free dog. Charlie and I have a special bond. He loves to play in the yard and I enjoy helping him.

Nina Helping Charlie in the Garden

Nina Helping Charlie in the Garden

He calls it gardening, I call it exploring. The other activity that Charlie and I enjoy doing together is playing fetch with the Frisbee. I have a great frisbee that is soft so it doesn’t hurt my teeth when I catch it. Charlie doesn’t let me play too much any more because he worries that I am getting too old and doesn’t want me to get hurt. Even at 11 I can still catch that Frisbee in mid-air as long as he makes a good throw.

Nina and Charlie Playing Frisbee

Nina and Charlie Playing Frisbee

It takes a lot of concentration, but most of the time I am successful.

Concentration is Key to Catching the Frisbee

Concentration is Key to Catching the Frisbee

I have a funny thing I do when I bring the frisbee back to Dad. After I catch it I like to put it on the ground and fold it in half. I hate to carry that thing while it’s flopping around in my face.

The Folded Frisbee Retrieve

The Folded Frisbee Retrieve

Recently I was helping Charlie with his gardening and Cindy came out when he was almost done and took some video of me. I was working hard at keeping Charlie safe from anything that might be in the yard (except Cindy of course). It is hard work, but someone has to do it. Check out the video of me below. You can also watch an extended version if you have a bit more time. It’s just a couple of minutes longer…you know how difficult it is to cut any time from footage of your favorite pet.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me. I enjoyed sharing my story with you and hope to be back soon.

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