Dec 8, 2017

Christmas Crafts

I so wanted to get back into crafting Christmas decorations and other projects this year, but I fear I've left it too late. I'm hoping to get some finished this weekend and I'll post about them if I do get them done, but until then I'll leave you with some of my favourites from past years.

Nov 27, 2017

Homemade Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dog Cookies

I started my Christmas baking this past weekend, and had some very interested onlookers sniffing around the kitchen while I was working. Unfortunately I was making sugar cookies with royal icing, so no samples for you, puppers.

But while the icing was setting I decided to try my hand at some dog cookies. Our oldest dog, Chloe, is notoriously picky - I always feel bad that she doesn't get as many treats as our younger dog, Sasha, who's like a garbage disposal. Her favourite words are "Clean up!"

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

I kept these cookies as simple as possible - you never know what Chloe's going to turn her nose up at on any given day. The recipe is just pumpkin, peanut butter, eggs, and flour - but you could add just about anything else you like, as long as it's safe for your dog.


For cookies:
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2-3 cups of flour
beef broth

For icing:
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs honey
water as needed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and eggs. Add the flour a bit at a time, mixing until you have a dough that can be handled without being sticky. My batch needed about 2 1/2 cups, but it can vary depending on the flour used or the size of the eggs.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll your dough out to the desired thickness. Chloe is also picky about the size of the treat offered - it truly is like living with Goldilocks - so I made these ones about 1/4" thick. Cut your cookies in any shape you'd like. I used a cookie cutter shaped like a dog bone - here is a cute option that comes in multiple sizes. Right before I put them in the oven, I brushed the top of each cookie with beef broth.

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

Place your cookies on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. I left mine in the oven for the maximum time to get a crunchier cookie.

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

Let them cool before icing.

To make the icing, mix together the cornstarch and honey. It will seem like it's too dry, but keep stirring! If you add water too soon, the cornstarch will absorb it and you will be left with cement. Once the cornstarch and honey are combined (it will have a peanut butter-like consistency) you can add a few drops of water if you want it thinner.

Put your icing mixture into a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off if you're cheap thrifty like me), and pipe your favourite designs onto the cookies. I went with a basic diagonal squiggle. Refrigerate the cookies to harden the icing faster.

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

I knew Sasha would like them, but Chloe was the true test. She was a little hesitant at first when the honey smell hit her nose, but she gave it a try and ate the whole thing. I think we have a winner!

Chloe mastiff rottweiler
Sasha rottweiler

A few cookies in a clear treat bag with fancy ribbon to close the top would make a terrific Christmas gift for the four-legged friends and family in your life. I know that's what I'll be doing.

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

Homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog cookies

Nov 15, 2017

Gimme Shelter - Another Weekend Project!

One of my least favourite things about the winter months is coming outside to an icy/snow-covered vehicle in the morning. We don't have a garage yet - someday! someday! - so instead we put up a quonset style shelter. We did have a shelter during our first two winters here, but a fierce windstorm last year tore the cover to shreds and just left the frame.

Vehicle shelter

The first step this year was to remove the old frame. Once it was unbolted from the concrete, Tom strapped it to the lawn tractor and backed up into the driveway. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Imagine seeing a shelter frame going past the the window.

Vehicle shelter

But it worked like a charm. He then lifted the front to guide it and had me "drive" the shelter to the back of the property. You can't make this stuff up.

The previous shelter had been screwed directly into the concrete pad, but it was really hard work. This time, Tom laid down a framework of 2x4s first. He attached the wood to the concrete pad using the Ramset air tool, then the shelter frame was screwed into the wood.

Vehicle shelter ramset
Vehicle shelter

The shelter framework is made up of u-shaped powder-coated steel tubes that form the walls and roof, and 3 horizontal steel tubes that connect the curved uprights together.

Vehicle shelter

Once the frame was connected and screwed down to the 2x4 base, the end flaps were installed. Tom did this by himself and it involved a bit of back and forth - raising up one side, then the other, then back to the first, etc. - until the fabric was up over the frame. The flap has a strap that runs through a pocket from one side to the other and is tightened down to the frame with ratchets at each end.

Vehicle shelter

With the ends in place, he had me come out to help with the main cover because it's huge. I'm sure you could do it by yourself, but it would take a great deal of time, having to pull up a section, then tie it in place so you could move to another section without the first one falling back down. No one needs that kind of frustration if they can avoid it.

There are lengths of steel tubing that slide into pockets at the bottom (side) edge of the cover. These are attached to the framework once it's in place, to hold the cover down tight to the frame.

Vehicle shelter

Tom threw lengths of rope over the framework and tied one end of each to the pipes on the cover so that we could pull the cover up and over.

Vehicle shelter

Except the pipes kept sliding out of the pockets when you pulled on an end. The solution? He zip-tied each pipe to the one beside it so that it had nowhere to go.

Vehicle shelter

We worked our way back and forth, pulling the cover up and over a bit at a time. I would hold one or more ropes in place while he pulled on the others. Once it's over the top and gravity isn't working against you, it's easy to pull it all the way down into place and remove the ropes and zip ties.
Vehicle shelter
Vehicle shelter

The  horizontal pipes in the pockets are attached to the framework with connectors that clamp on at each intersection of pipe. Tom then went around and tightened down all of the screws on the frame.

Vehicle shelter
Vehicle shelter

The cover still has to be connected to the front and back of the shelter. We pulled the fabric tight over the end flaps and ratcheted it down in the same way as the flaps.

Vehicle shelter

The final step is feeding a pipe through a pocket on the flap at the front. The pipe keeps even tension on the flap when you're rolling it up and down.

Vehicle shelter

And here's my baby all tucked away cozy for the night. I love not having to clean my car off in the morning after a snowfall - because you know I'm always running late and don't have time for that.

Vehicle shelter


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