Ask Away...: October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

What Makes a Good Dog When Guests Are Over

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Let's talk about petiquette. That's right - pet etiquette.  Tis the season for guests and get togethers and the last thing you want to do is allow your dog to make your guest's stay miserable.   Nothing ruins my day more than a dog that knocks me over and spills my side dish when I arrive at a friend's house. 

So let's go over some of the polite ways your dog should act when guests are over.  If your dog struggles with any of these, you may want to try to work on them, whether it means a formal training class or just practicing with them on your own.

[Polite Upon Arrival]
When a guest enters your home, you want to give them some space to walk in, put their things down, and adjust to their surroundings.  Make sure your dog is properly restrained or controlled to prevent jumping on guests or even nipping. 

[Appropriate Sniffing]
It's totally okay to sniff guests if you're a dog but you don't want them stabbing people in the crotch just to get a sniff.  Make sure your dog knows commands that tell him or her to cease what they are doing and leave the guest alone.

[Leg Lifting]
It's always a good idea to let your dog out before and right after a guest arrives so that any territorial urges they get

It's never fun to eat with an audience especially if it's an audience that you're not used to so when the humans dine at the table, make sure the canines know not to jump up and put their paws on the table.

[Reward Good Behavior]
Anytime your pooch is good, make sure you reward that behavior.  Treats are a must.   My favorite, especially this time of year are Bil-Jac Dessert Jacs Caramel Apple. The dogs love them and I feel very festive giving them to my pups. Bil-Jac is a family run and family owned company so they understand how important it is to treat the dogs in your life. 

Psst - these make great stocking stuffers for Christmas too!

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

New Puppy? Tips To Solve Your Bedtime Dilemmas

Knowing where your new dog is going to sleep can be challenging. Getting this wrong can lead to problems straight away. Neither of you is going to be happy if you’re not getting enough sleep. And trust me, if puppy isn’t sleeping, then you won’t be either. The first few nights are bound to be hard. Your puppy is in a brand new place. He’s still getting used to the smells and sounds. He’s also probably used to sleeping with his litter, so finding himself alone at night is bound to come as a shock. There are a few steps you can take early on that will make sure the discomfort lasts for as little time as possible.


The same way you like to have a bedroom, your dog needs a given location to sleep. That’s not to say he needs a whole room to himself. He just needs a set place he knows as his own. Make sure that you are putting him to bed in that one place every night. That way, he’ll know it’s bed time as soon as he gets placed there. If you’re putting him in a different corner of the house every night, how can you expect him to settle? The noises from one corner may be completely different in another. Keeping the routine consistent will help you both settle down much faster.


Dog crates can be a fantastic way to put your puppy at ease overnight. They offer a particular, enclosed space where he can feel safe. When shopping around, you want to make sure that you get the right crate to suit you. It’s worth thinking ahead and getting a crate that will fit him once he’s grown too. Once he gets into the habit, he’ll come to know that crate as his bedroom. Pre Planning will save you from another expenditure further down the line. Crate training can benefit you both at other times too. It can help with toilet training and is an excellent way to control chewing later on! But where to start? A dog crates 101 will help you in deciding on the right crate for you.


If a crate doesn’t sound like the right fit for you, dog beds are a great alternative. They are less confined than crates, but still offer a safe place to return to each night. Your dog deserves a comfortable place to sleep as much as you do. Bear in mind that a puppy will chew everything, so you want to get a bed that is puppy proof for the time being. There are all sorts of beds available on the market. If you want to pamper your pooch, you could even buy one with a built-in heater.

Whichever method you choose, having a set bedtime routine will be a huge relief for you and your puppy. It will make those first few weeks much easier for both of you.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Let's Chat About Pet Insurance + A Giveaway

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As you know, Grace recently had some health issues and it cost me A LOT of money to get her taken care of.   But that's not the end of it.  Having 4 dogs does get pricey.  It's not just their supplies and general check ups, but more so the emergencies that happen when one of them gets sick, or needs a procedure done for an injury.  It's a paralyzing feeling when you feel that you may not have enough money to give your pet the care it needs and I don't wish that feeling on anyone. 

It's hard enough to get by with my own expenses so when I add up all 4 dogs I can still make it work but there's not really room for any errors or emergencies.  Things happen.  Dogs can chew things up that get stuck in them.  They can break bones or pull muscles.  Dogs can do many things.  That's why it's always smart for me be prepared.

So today, I'd like to introduce you to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance®.  They are the #1 customer-rated pet insurance and will pay up to 90% of qualifying vet bills.  One of the great benefits of pet insurance is that it helps you focus on giving your pet the care they need without you having to worry about the cost.  The last thing you want is to feel paralyzed because you can't afford to make ANY choice. 

There are many human health-care techniques becoming available for pets (like Grace's MRI) but these techniques are expensive. Oneo f the great things about pet insurance is that you can avoid unexpected vet bills all while keeping your own finances in order.  And while pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, if you sign them up early enough you can bea head of the game if a condition does develop.  That means if you have a puppy or a young dog, it's a good idea to sign up so that future illnesses and accidents are covered. 

Many years ago pet insurance wasn't even around and now that it is, it's important that we educate ourselves so we know how it works, what it covers, and when we might need it.  Only 1% of pet parents currently have health insurance on their pets but still, it's the fastest growing voluntary employee benefit.  

You can get a free quote from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance® here.  With every free quote, Healthy Paws contributes money to the medical care of homeless pets.  And there's even a Refer-A-Friend program where you can earn $35 for every friend that enrolls with Healthy Paws.  You can find more info in the FAQs here.

And one lucky winner today is going to get a light up leash from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Are You Sure You're Ready For The Responsibility Of A Dog?

So your kids have been pestering you to get a dog for the family. Even if you are slightly tempted, you need to work out if you are really ready to take on all the responsibility that comes with looking after a dog. Still not quite sure? No problem; here are the questions you need to ask yourself to figure it out.

Do You Have Space?

Your home might be big enough for you and all your family, but will you really be able to fit a dog into the mix? Your new dog will need a place where it can sleep. This only has to be a corner of a room, but there should be plenty of space for a dog’s bed or large cushion. You should also have enough floor space in your kitchen to put down food and water bowls. You should only consider getting a large dog, such as a Labrador or a Newfoundland if you have a very spacious home. If you live in a small house, it is best to stick to a small breed such as a Bichon Frise

Do You Have The Time?

You will also need to make sure that you have adequate time to spend with your dog. If you and your partner are out at work all day, then you may not have enough time. After all, the dog will be stuck at home all day and could suffer from detachment problems. You also need to make sure that you have enough time in your daily schedule to take your dog out for plenty of exercise. Ideally, you need to be taking them on two walks a day. This will keep them fit and healthy, but also ensures that they can do their business outside.

Are You Ready For Basic Training?

Once you get your dog, you should expect that it might have some behavioral problems. Especially if it is just a puppy. You will need to spend quite a bit of time and effort to try and iron out these issues. Firstly, you will have to housetrain your hound. You may also have to train them not to bark throughout the night. This is especially the case for dogs who will be sleeping downstairs away from you.

Can You Afford It?

Keeping a dog can be expensive. You will need to buy a lot of food and accessories. You may also have to buy medication, such as oral flea medication trifexis. Plus, don’t forget all the expensive vet bills that you may be faced with. If you are already financially struggling without a dog, you will find that things get even more difficult with one in your household.

Is Your Family Ready For The Dog?

Are you sure that all of your family members are ready for a new dog? Even though your kids have been going on about getting one, you may find that one child is actually scared of the new dog. So make sure that everyone is onboard with the decision. It is also a good idea to reinforce the fact that the kids will be expected to help out with looking after the new family pet!

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5 Things To Do for a Dog with a Tummy Bug

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Yes, that's right... your dog can actually catch a little tummy bug just like humans can.   While we can't catch things from them, they can catch things from us and from other dogs.  So tis the season for bugs. 

A tummy issue can show up in several different ways like throwing up, having the runs, getting constipated, losing an appetite, or just being tired and lethargic.   So if your pooch is acting out of the ordinary here are 5 things to do for an upset tummy.

{1} Call the Vet
Before you try to treat ANYTHING on your own you should always call your vet.  Sometimes you can relay the symptoms over the phone and they can give you advice without having to bring your dog into the office.  So make sure that you always talk to a vet first.

{2} Pumpkin
Especially when your dog has loose stools OR doesn't have any stools at all, pumpkin can help A LOT.  It does the same for humans. I love Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up from Chewy. Pumpkin naturally supports digestion.  It can help you become more regular meaning more loose if your bound up and more solid if you're too loosened up.  Pumpkin Patch Up! comes in single-serve pouches and can be fed in conjuction with a complete meal.  It contains soluble and insoluble fivers and it's pureed so it's easy to mix into your dog or cat's regular food.  It's also BPA and gluten-free. 

{3} Bland Diet
If your vet lets you know that your dog just has a tummy bug, her or she may advise you to feed a bland diet to your dog which will help bind them up if they are getting the runs.  Chicken and rice or beef and rice is what I make for my dogs when they aren't feeling well.

{4} Water
Even if your pooch doesn't feel like eating a lot of their food, make sure they drink so they don't become dehydrated.  Especially if they have the runs, they can easily lose too much water. 

{5} Rest
Don't scold your dog for having an accident when he or she is sick.  They don't know any better and unlike us, they can't reason and rationalize what's going on so if they don't feel well, they are likely scared and confused.  Simply clean up the mess and give them some cuddles.  Let them rest in a comfortable area of their choosing and keep a close eye in case they get sick again.

What do you do for your pooch when they have a sick tummy?

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cooking Tips That The Pros Rarely Share

We could all do with a few industry secrets in all walks of life. Whether they are fashion tips from stylists or hacks on helping the kids sleep better from parenting experts. Professional advice can go a very long way indeed! Especially when it comes to anything in the kitchen. After all, we aren’t all born natural cooks. It is one skill that takes a lot of time and effort to perfect. So there is no wonder that so many of us wish we knew all the secrets that professional chefs know. Are you up for improving your cooking and baking? Well, here are some hints and tips that the pros rarely share.

Get Good With Mise En Place

All home chefs need to know the French cooking technique of mise en place. Sounds fancy, right? Well, it may do, but it couldn’t be any further from fancy! The phrase simply translates as ‘everything in place’. Simply put, it means you need to get all your ingredients out and in place before you start using them. So prepare all your ingredients and place them on your worktop within easy reach. Peel and chop onion and garlic before you start heating the oil. And get all your cake tins greased before you even start mixing your cake ingredients. This makes cooking and baking very easy. Everything will be conveniently close, and you won’t have to run around looking for any ingredient once you have started!

Add Sugar To Tomatoes

Cooking with a tin of chopped or plum tomatoes? Then you should always add a pinch of sugar. Don’t overdo it, though; you don’t want your tomatoes to taste too sweet. Just a small amount can take away the acidic taste that normally comes when using tinned tomatoes. You can also add it to vinegar-based sauces for the same effect. Not too sure how much to use? Just treat it like salt and think of it as seasoning.

Be Sure To Season

One of the big things that separates professional chefs from home cooks is seasoning. Even though lots of recipes call for seasoning, very few people still use salt and pepper properly when they are cooking at home. You shouldn’t just keep your salt and pepper on the dining room table for people to add as they eat. The seasoning needs to be added early on in the cooking process. You should also continue to add it throughout cooking if you feel the recipe needs more. This can really boost the flavor of all your dishes! However, you may want to cut back on the salt if you have small children as too much can be dangerous for them.

Sharpen Your Knives

Firstly, you need to use professional knives. They will be a lot more effective and give a cleaner cut than cheap knives. But once you have your professional knives, you need to take good care of them. And that means getting them regularly sharpened. To do this, you can either buy a knife sharpener that you can use yourself. Alternatively, you could take your set of knives to a professional knife sharpener.

Cook On Induction Stoves

Induction stoves are contemporary hobs that cook a lot more efficiently compared to traditional types. Instead of using heat to cook food, induction stoves use an oscillating magnetic field. This makes them a lot safer to use, as the stove tops do not generate heat. And once the pan is taken away from the stove top, heat generation stops as there is no magnetic field. However, one thing to remember about induction cooking is that you need the right kinds of pans to use on the stove. Tips to buy Induction Cookware can be found on various websites online.

Tongs Are Your Best Friend

If you walk into a professional kitchen, you will notice one thing almost immediately. All the chefs will have a pair of tongs in their hand! And that is because they are one of the most useful tools that you can use in a kitchen. You can use them for everything including flipping meat and pulling pans out of the oven. You can even use them to stabilize ingredients that you are cooking to save your fingers!

Sear Meat First

Many chefs prepare to sear meat before they finish cooking it in the oven. You can do this with any kind of meat, whether chicken or a steak. There is one reason why it is important to always sear your meat first. It’s because it helps the meat stay a lot juicier! Meat tends to dry out in the oven. But if you quickly sear it in a frying pan first, you will be sealing in all the tasty juices!


Have you ever heard of a bain-marie before? If you are a keen cook, you should have! This is one of the most important cooking techniques to master in the kitchen. And even though it has a very fancy name, the technique couldn’t be easier! You just need to heat up ingredients in a glass bowl above a pan of boiling water. It is more commonly used for melting chocolate for baking. All of the steam from the hot water warms up the glass bowl and melts the chocolate. It is important to keep an eye on your bain-marie and always stir the chocolate. Otherwise, it could burn very easily!

Don’t Overcrowd Your Pans

No matter how you are cooking – frying, grilling, roasting – try not to put too much meat in your pan. It is much better to cook in small batches rather than trying to cram everything into the same pan. If you put too much in one pan, you will be encouraging steaming. This will eventually lower the overall temperature of your pan. And when this happens, you won’t get a nice caramelization on all the meat. As the caramelization is where all the flavor is, you need to try your hardest to keep as much as you can!

Keep Cuttings For Stock

When you are preparing your vegetables, you should keep all the cutting and peelings rather than throwing them away. Firstly, you may be able to use them in a stock. Homemade stocks taste ten-times better than shop-bought ones. I heartily recommend making your own! Simply chuck in as many veggie peelings into the stock pan for even more flavor. If you don’t know when the next time you will be making stock will be, you should still keep your peelings and cuttings. You can use them to make compost with. This is a great idea if you already grow your own fruit and vegetables. Simply collect all your organic food waste together and wait until it starts decomposing. You can then spread it on your garden patch to help fortify the soil with plenty of important nutrients!

Use Your Nose

Many people use their eyes when cooking, but few use their nose as well. However, this is crucial if you are ever going to get better at cooking. If something smells like it is cooked in the oven, you should get it out and check it. Even if the dish hasn’t had the allocated time suggested in the recipe. Your nose will rarely let you down!

Hopefully, all of these useful tips will help you improve your cooking. Once you have practiced with these tips and ideas, you may even get as good as all the professionals! So what are you waiting for? Time to get cooking!

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A Huge List of My Favorite Books

In case you haven't noticed lately, I'm a reading machine.  On any given week I come home from the library with a stack of books so high I have to hold it steady with my chin as I walk into the house.  So yes, I love reading and I read A LOT of books.  

If you're looking for some books to read or buy, look no further than my recommendations.  Some of these books are old, and some are new releases.

Room by Emma Donoghue
I love this book and I loved the movie but the book has so much more in it.  All too often we hear about people being abducted and released years later, often with a child of their own now.  This fiction novel follows Jack and his Ma as they escape from their captor and are reintroduced in the world. I love that it's told in Jack's 5 year old voice.  I thought it would make it difficult to read but it was just the opposite.

Little Children by Tom Perrotta
This book is amazing! I had seen the movie before but the book is so great because it is a very realistic story of suburbia and all the types of people you may find in your neighborhood including the bitchy mother from the playground, the sexy stay at home dad, the neighborhood sex offender, and the gung-ho wannabe hero. 

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
This was a really great novel with exciting twists.  As it unfolds, you almost feel as if you can figure everything out but then a kink is thrown in.  I love that there's a passionate love story twisted into the entire plot and the ending will leave you breathless!

Impossible Odds by Jessica Buchanan
An amazing story told by Jess herself, of the Seal Team Six rescue of Jess and her friend when they were kidnapped in Kenya and held for ransom. 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
This was a thriller of a novel about a couple whose baby gets abducted while they are at their neighobr's for dinner and drinks.  There's lots of relationship scandal in this and I seriously read the book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I love the twists and the suspense and how the author builds it up.   And I can totally see this happening in real life across this country. I LOVED this book!

If I am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus
Ugh this true story memoir is so relatable yet so heart wrenching.  It not only covers domestic violence and how hard it is to get away from it, especially when it's all you've known since childhood, but also covers the tragedy of loving someone who is a victim of it. I love love love this book and I wish I could hug the author. I wish every single person would read this book.

The Rising by Ryan D'Agostino
Okay, I remembered hearing before about Bill Petit and his family being tragically murdered in his own home but it's truly amazing to hear how the whole thing really played out and how amazing Bill is. Someone give this man a medal because despite the shitty things he's endured, he still does so much good in the world.  This is a great mix of a true crime story with a heroic tale of survival.

Shake the Devil Off by Ethan Brown
UGH, I can't get over this book.  I found myself googling the crime for weeks afterward and even watching some documentaries about it.  I really felt spiritually touched during part of it but then the other part I just felt sad.  It really shows you how the military, government, and surroundings of your world can contribute to things that eventually end in tragedy.  PLEASE READ THIS DAMN BOOK!

Baby Doll by Holly Overton
I loved this! It's a fictional story but nonetheless it's fabulous because it's something that does happen in real life.  The main character escapes a captor holding her hostage for many years.  She miraculously makes it home to her family but she has to try to adjust to the changes that have taken place and the events that have occured since she hsa been gone.

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown
Ugh this is a tragic but inspiring story about parenting and friendship and that twirls together with the possiblity of having to choose between the 2 when death is a possiblity.  Trust me, you will be reeling after this story and you will be so glad it's a work of fiction although I'm sure many things like this have happened.

Waiting to Be Heard by Amanda Knox
The story of Amanda Knox told by Amanda Knox. READ IT.   You will have so much respect for her when you're done.

Good As Gone by Amy Gentry
This book reminds me of the TV show Finding Carter.  A mother is reeling from the disappearance of her daughter many years ago and suddenly it appears she comes back.  But it's a struggle to find out if she really is who she says she is.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Just like the movie, this is an amazing science fiction story of an astronaut that gets tragically left behind on Mars and how he manages to create a source of food for himself and documents everything through a diary.  It's a great escape for a weekend afternoon!

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
This awesome book is about a girl that has survived a kidnapping and pretty much comes back as a kick ass vigilante but there are many suspicious events that occur.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Similar to Gone Girl and obviously by the same author, it's like a tale of a true crime years later when the surviving victim is left trying to figure out what really happened.  I loved this book and it's much much better than the movie!

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy Cherry
Such a passionate story about a bad boy and a regular girl, both having suffered terrible losses in their life and now finding them self widows.  It's dark, gritty, but has a twisted romantic element.  Such a great read with a glass of wine!

Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
This is a very light hearted read about girlfriends that keep secrets from each other and end up growing closer despite that.  It's nice to take a break from the heavy things I normally read so this was a nice, easy read.

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
I loved this memoir about an average girls family struggles growing up and how she somehow managed to survive a MAJOR hoarding situation in her own home.  I related to this a lot and I think most of you will too!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I'm sure you've heard all about this now because of the movie that's in theatres but trust me when I say to read the book first. It's a psychological thriller that really makes you think and enjoy the passion between some of the characters.

What books have YOU read lately that you would recommend? Or have you read any of these already and what did you think? I'm so curious to know!

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