Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now my outsides hurt as much as the insides

I had another adjustment yesterday, where they put in a square wire.  Anyone who has worn braces can tell you that this kind of change will make you look and feel like you went 10 rounds with Manny Pacquiao (I'm pretty sure I've used this metaphor once already, but it's just so fitting).  The square wire is used more for making adjustments to the roots of the teeth once they've been mostly straightened with the round wire.  It's about as thick as a paperclip, which makes it very conspicuous against the clear brackets.  My mouth hurts almost as much now as when I first got my braces in November 2011.

It only seems fitting, though, to make me hurt as much on the outside as I do on the inside.  Actually, I would much rather hurt on the outside -- I would take the exquisitely tender achiness of being newly braced, the immobilizing agony of herniated discs, and heck, the nausea-inducing, incapacitating dizziness of labyrinthitis, over the heartbreaking anguish of losing a pet.  In spite of everything, it was comforting to know that among my brother, mom, and I, we have almost 500 pictures and 3 videos of Cooper, and I was able to assemble a nice tribute to him in the form of a Shutterfly photo book.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My little buddy is gone

R.I.P. Cooper, 2003-2012
Last night, my Mom called to tell me that Cooper had died in her arms at about 7 PM.  He had been a healthy, if not rather overweight, miniature dachshund with big brown eyes and the softest, smoothest fur I've ever felt.  She said he had gotten sick after my brother's birthday party the previous evening, throwing up and peeing everywhere.  She stayed up with him all night and he seemed to be doing a little better in the morning, but that evening, he went to the Rainbow Bridge.  They're planning to have him cremated today or tomorrow, and it pains me that I will never get to see him again on this Earth, whole and intact.  The next time I go home, he will be nothing more than ashes in a box on the mantel: no dog will run to greet me when I walk through the door.

I will never again get to sit with Cooper outside in the morning; when I still lived at home, we would sit out on the back steps while I had my coffee and Cooper stood guard beside me.  I'll never get to touch his velvety ears or the soft patch of fur just before his nose, never get to look into those big brown eyes, never get to kiss him on his little blackberry nose.  I'll never get to hear him grumbling and ranting because he wasn't allowed outside while the lawn was being mowed (he sure loved to ride along on the riding mower, though!).  I'll never get to lint roll his fur off my shirt again.  Dachshunds are notoriously stubborn, but I taught him "sit" and "dance" and "go get it" and he wouldn't respond to the commands unless I gave them.  I was hoping that he would get to ramble around our new house and give his sniff of approval to everything; we don't close until next month.

I'm grateful that I was able to see him a little less than a month ago.  I visited my family around the end of May and when I left, I told Cooper, "Bye bye, puppy. Be good! I'll miss you."  That's the last memory I'll have of him.  Is it morbid to want to see his body at the vet?  To see him one last time in the flesh, even if it's cold and lifeless, before he is gone forever?  My Mom said he died with a smile on his face, a smile I've seen thousands of times but only remains in pictures.  All I have left are pictures, memories, and paw prints all over my heart.

I love you, little guy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Single-serving coffee cake

I like my sweets, but it's a rare day when my husband asks, "What's for dessert?".  So, I've had to resort to figuring out single-serving sweets.  A half batch of Tollhouse cookies is a good option, since the dough can be rolled into balls and frozen for consumption at a later date, but I want variety.  I found a website with some recipes for single-serving cakes and was intrigued. After making a couple of her recipes, I decided I would share with you my adaptation of her single-serving coffee cake.  It looks complicated, but isn't too time-consuming, and if you play your cards right, you'll only dirty up a custard cup, a shot glass, and two measuring spoons.  The flavor of this cake is not remarkable or award-winningly good, but it hits the spot when you're jonesing for a little bit of sweetness.  It's also nice for those days leading up to a grocery shopping trip, when you have no other food -- it's quick, easy, microwavable, and eggless.

Single-serving Coffee Cake
Serves 1, obviously


3 T flour
1 heaping T brown sugar
A scant 1/4 tsp baking powder
A tiny sprinkling of salt
1 1/2 T water
1-2 tsp oil or applesauce

2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered sugar
A few drops of water

1. In a Pyrex custard cup, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix well to combine.  Add water and oil and mix thoroughly.
2. In another small vessel (I used a shot glass), combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Scoop about half the batter out of the custard cup, sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the portion in the bowl, and drop the batter back into the bowl.  Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top.
3. Microwave the coffee cake for 45-60 seconds, or until set.  In the container used for the brown sugar, mix powdered sugar with just enough water to make a thin drizzle and pour over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farm Rich review and giveaway!


Have you ever been totally overwhelmed, so much that you barely have time to eat?  If you answered "yes", you need to check out the Farm Rich line of products.  With everything from meatballs to Philly cheese steaks, they have plenty of quick and tasty items to fit into a hectic life.

Farm Rich is a Buffalo, New York-based company that offers a bevy of easy-to-prepare snack foods, including:
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Marinara Stuffed Mozzarella Sticks
  • Mozzarella Bites
  • Mini Stuffed Pizza Slices
  • Mini Philly Cheese Steaks
  • Stuffed Pretzel Bites
  • Mini Quesadillas
  • Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers
  • Stuffed JalapeƱo Peppers
  • Meatballs (Turkey, Original and Italian Style)
  • Mushrooms
  • French Toast Sticks

Everything from Farm Rich is made with ingredients like 100% real mozzarella cheese and high-quality meats, and contain no high fructose corn syrup, fillers, artificial flavors, or other questionable components.  Not only are they quick and easy, they're pretty darned good!


I was sent a couple of coupons to try out some Farm Rich products.  The stores around here tend not to have the greatest selection, so my husband and I ended up making two stops.  First, we went to Target and picked up a bag of the Original Meatballs.  Second, we went to the local grocery store and got the Mini Pizza Slices.  The grocery store here is really picky about what coupons they will accept: on my first trip through the check lane, the cashier told me they wouldn't accept the free product coupon unless I bought an additional $10 worth of merchandise!  After explaining to the lady at the customer service desk that I was getting the products so I could write a blog review, she let me get the bag of pizza slices.

We made the pizza slices first, since we were hungry and the meatballs took a lot longer to cook.  The slices are a pretty decent size -- not so small that you have to eat the whole bag to be satisfied, but not so big that you recoil at the thought of what they're doing to your waistline.  These baked up pretty quickly, in about 12 minutes.  According to the Farm Rich press kit, their dough-based products are baked, not fried.  A four-piece serving of these pizza slices has 250 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, and 470mg sodium.  They are a little sparse on the pepperoni, but still a very good snack, especially when served with a side of marinara.  I'd say these are perfect for when you're craving pizza, but want a considerably lighter alternative.  They cook fast in the microwave, too, if you're really in a hurry (they'll be floppy and extraordinarily hot, but still very tasty).

Next on the menu was the meatballs.  The package directions say they take 35-40 minutes to bake in the oven, so they're not really a quick option (though microwaving them takes about a minute).  I cooked them according to the directions, but they ended up being dried out and hard -- not sure what happened.  Since they were dessicated, I made a sauce out of leftover grape jelly and BBQ sauce (something my Dad always makes for the Lil Smokies on New Year's Eve) and they were ok.  The next day, I made a few in the microwave and they were a lot better -- one of the few times something tasted better microwaved than baked!  The flavor of these meatballs is outstanding for something prepackaged.  For a 6 meatball serving, you'll take in 240 calories, 20g fat, 8g saturated fat, and 400mg sodium.

Pizza slices ready to go in the oven
Tasty meatballs!

Overall, I was delighted with my first Farm Rich experience, and my husband enjoyed having snacks that we don't typically buy.  I wish our grocery store carried a wider variety of Farm Rich products (see what your stores carry), but I liked what I was able to find.  In fact, I liked them so much, I want to offer two of my lovely readers (and people who just stop by to enter contests) each a coupon for a free Farm Rich product.


Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest ends Friday, June 29th.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Coffee mug swap!

Last month, I decided to participate in the Coffee Mug Swap hosted on a blog that has since been renamed he, me & them.  I got paired up with the lovely Kayla from Close Encounters, a fellow dachshund-lover and all-around fun artistic gal.  I sent her this "Stubborn Dachshund Tricks" mug, which I thought was so cute I got one for my mom too.

Kayla sent me a mug with this design on it:

I'd take a picture of the actual mug, but my camera has decided to misbehave.  Needless to say, this mug is pretty awesome (and true, because I do spend a majority of my time being fantastic).  Thanks, Kayla!!

I would probably consider doing something like this again, but coffee mugs are pretty expensive.  However, it's a REALLY good way to get you to read someone's blog -- how else would you find out what the perfect mug would be?