Pupsicles for Kira

It’s a hot summer; a very hot summer for the northeast. Everyday is in the high 80’s to 90’s with humility, weather we don’t normally see until the end of August if at all.

In-spite of the heat, Kira loves being outside even if that means she’s panting and over heated when I finally call her in.

So how to keep Kira cool?

I’ve been pursuing pintrest and found an easy solution: pup-sciles .


You can buy puppy ice-cream and pup-sciles these days in high end stores. Although I did see one even at Walmart the other day. But they can get expensive. Why not make something cheaper at home?


Besides, I already make our own popsicles and fudgesicles at home during the summer. For more on this see:

So for pup-sicles, I started with little plastic used lemon ice cups that can be used once or twice then thrown away. Kira loves to chew through anything, especially if it’s had food in it, so I didn’t want to use my tupperware.


Then I took a batch of frozen bananas, about 5 or six, and defrosted them in a bowl.

Hint: If you have bananas that are getting brown throw them in the freezer, they are great for smoothies and to replace eggs in baked goods.


When bananas get really ripe, frozen, then defrosted you can cut open one side of the banana and then use the peel to slide the banana goo into a bowl. I know it sounds gross but that is pure natural sugary goodness.


Then I spooned in about 1 Cup of natural peanut butter. I’ve learned to use low or no sugar natural peanut butter because Kira will get hyper off of the sugary stuff, and it’s healthier for us too.


Next I scooped out about 1 Cup of coconut oil. With how dry and hot this summer has been Kira’s coat is getting dry and she’s scratching herself often. Coconut oil is great stuff for lots of reasons but for dogs the oil helps to keep their skin moist and hair shiny.

A little vanilla extract and cinnamon and I blend it all together until smooth like peanut butter or cookie dough.

Then I spooned these evenly into the rinsed out and clean lemon ice containers. It gave me about 6 of these cups 3/4 full.


So now we have a healthy dog treat that will keep Kira cool and help heal her dry itchy skin that she actually LOVES to eat!


For those who like easier to read instructions here you go:


1 C natural or low sugar peanut butter

1 C coconut oil

1 bunch 5-6 large banana either over ripe or frozen and defrosted

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

6 cup size containers (or more depending on serving size you want to give)




Mix all ingredients on high with a blender or electric mixer until smooth

spoon out mixture evenly among the containers

place filled containers into one larger tupperware bin or tray

move tray to freezer for at least 2 hours or until ready to give to your puppy!




This is also a great mixture to use to fill Kongs or other treat dog toys.

Even better fill those toys with this mixture then stick them in the freezer. When it’s a hot day or you will be gone for most of the day take it out of the freezer and your dog will be happy for quite awhile.




4th of July weekend

So what did we do for the 4th?

Well after more than a week with Luke’s parents we were ready for a weekend in. (More on that week to come soon.) We spent most of the weekend working on the house, working on some of those projects that take only a few hours but are hard to fit in. We also got some quiet time to just regroup together, and on our own.



On the 4th we celebrated with burgers, local hard cider, and dessert. For the 4th this year I decided to make a new cookie (always looking for excuses to experiment). After research online I decided to make lemon thyme shortbread cookies (recipe to come). To make them festive I used a star cookie cutter.


To complete our dessert I made a berry salad adding fresh mint from our garden, then made some whipped cream with a little vanilla and agave. It was a refreshing and light festive dessert. Maybe a new tradition? For more on this see:



After dessert we drove over to Loon Lake to enjoy the fireworks, we got a perfect spot, closest I’ve ever been to a fireworks show.


Hope you had fun celebrating with friends and family for the holiday weekend.

Curb Appeal 2016

Now that we are official in summer all of our trees are providing full shade and some of our flowers are blooming. We are excited that this year we have had the opportunity to watch the rhodi we bought last year bloom.



What is even more exciting though is to see the tall Rhodi’s next to it blooming as well. These plants were sickly and dying in front of the house. Unsure if they would survive, we put in them in the burn pile, only to see one bloom! So instead of burning, we transplanted them along the roadside of our property. So it is exiting to see they are becoming healthy again.


We are still waiting on the astiblie’s to bloom, the hostas to sprout their purple bells, and the peonies to bud as well. On the other hand the bleeding hearts have been amazingly beautiful this spring.



One project we are trying this summer is to transplant a wild hydrangea plant from the backyard to our front bed. It was hard work because the location is on a hill. Trying to dig up the plant with enough roots from that angle took some hard work from both of us. We dug a good sized trench in the front bed and transplanted about a quarter of the plant.


The first few days we were not sure how it would go but by this past weekend, it looked like most of the plants were recovering from the shock of the transplant. Now we just need to decided if it’s worth the effort to fill in more space along the wall.

Trust me they look a lot happier now; this was right after transplant

We also bought some hanging pots for the porch this year. Aldi’s had a deal on begonias for only 5-10 each bucket. Also I found a fuchsia plant in the discount section at the Walmart garden center for only 12! They add some wonderful color to the porch while we wait for everything else to bloom.


The garden is doing well, all plants have sprouted nicely minus the basil. But it can be finicky and take the longest to show growth.


Another curb appeal project we finally completed is a path from the house to the gravel car spot. Last year we dug up large pieces of slate, perfect for a path. But we discovered they are too fragile and uneven on their own. So we bought a rubber stopper and pea gravel. It took Luke only two hours to pour the gravel, stake the rubber stopper in place, and space out the slate pieces.



Since then it has worked out great and we are happy to not be trampling any grass.

Memorial Day Weekend


This past weekend allowed for a much needed break and time to catch up on work around the house.  On Saturday we went to Lowes and did (hopefully) the majority of our summer shopping. We bought all the plant food, fertilizer, bug repent, and grass seed we think we need. Also we bought supplies to finally create that path to the front door we started working on last year.  For more on this see


An update will come as some of these projects are completed.


On Sunday we drove up to Rochester for a special dinner. All the month of May the Rochester melting pot had a special for a gluten free four course meal. That meant they took all croutons off the salads, I had good gluten free bread with my cheese, meat that was not in a flour based marinade for the entree, and flourless brownies and angel food cake to go with our chocolate. It was a great date meal out, plus because we had gift cards, and a groupon so the dinner cost half of what it normally does!


On Monday we took the day slow and did some outdoor work. Then in the afternoon, to get out of the heat, we went to see the new x-men movie, which was of course good. For our memorial day dinner we did homemade cheese hamburgers with all the fixings and baked potato wedges. We already have enough mint from my plant that I was able to make mint lemonade to go with. Later for dessert I made my fresh berry salad with homemade whip cream, a light and healthier summer dessert. For more on this see:


Overall it was a great weekend, but as always we could have used a few more days. How about you?


Busy season

So as I have suggested after our trip to NYC life got very busy, but I did not take the time to really explain how or why. So here goes:

When we got back from Spring break the countdown before the end of the semester began. That means I was in major grading mode as drafts of  research papers were being turned in again and again.

Also, at the end of April Luke and I were guest speakers at church while our pastors were away. We did a Sunday explaining and introducing our role as the global outreach directors, what our church’s goals are for missions, and introducing missionaries our church would be supporting.

This was a large task and before this Sunday I had been in many emails back and forth with missionaries from around the world getting information from them about their ministry and if they will come back to the United States, scheduling their visits.

Starting this past week I also have begun leading a Wednesday night series of interfaith dialogue. We are looking at world religions, their beliefs, and coming to understanding about the differences. Again, this takes time to prepare.

As for school? This is my last week of teaching. As of this weekend I will be grading final tests and compiling final grades for submission. Last weekend and all this week I have been grading final research papers.

In the next few weeks, after reorganizing this semesters content I will be preparing for our end of the semester meeting with my colleges in early June.

We are heading into a busy summer season of family and missionary visits, and as usual the gardening and summer festivals. It is an exciting time of year even if it is a busy one.

Backlog: August Summer Road Trip: Dollywood

Yes we went to Dollywood. We decided it was the best amusement park for our vacation and right by the smokey mountains. We got up early and found parking easily.



We started the morning by walking to the back of the park where most of the more high intensity roller coasters were. Because its as still early there were very few people at the back of the park.We took on the wooden roller coaster  first. It went much faster then I think Luke and I had expected and was a great wake-up for us both. Luke, excited about the lack of lines jumped right into the next ride: a mine ride which I thought would be akin to Thundermountain at Disneyland, I was wrong


IMG_5419Once we got into the seats and I realize they were putting the bar over our heads I went “uh oh” It was intense and fast and because of my short torso my ears and head got a little banged up. After that I asked Luke to take things a little slower.

IMG_5423We went on a slower “kiddie” ride indoors where you are a part of firefighter team chasing a blazing house fire(s). Afterwards we began to wander a little more and went on the log ride then got coffee at the grist mill and stood in line for the rapids ride.


IMG_5414The rapids ride line took forever compared to the ride itself and was the longest wait of the day. After the noon heat hit we started to look at the show list. We watched the birds of prey show for a few minutes, then watched an ensemble walk through medley’s which told the history of country music (most of which I did not recognize, fortunately Luke did). Afterward, we listened to the string band, play bluegrass hits, the highlight of which was actually the banjo player.


IMG_5429We got a baked good then headed to our last show of the day: the Kingdom Heirs Dolly’s own southern gospel quartet. Although this is not my favorite style of music it is a style I grew up around as my grandfather was in a quartet when he was younger . I thought it wise since we were there to take it all in. Most of the show we enjoyed, my husband appreciated hearing the true bass sing in a range he could as well.

IMG_5418After an afternoon of shows we got a snack and water and went on a train ride on the steam engine which around the park. On that ride we found out that the park used to be a silver dollar city before it became Dollywood and Luke informed me he had been to the silver dollar city in Branson when he was young.


At the end of a relaxing train ride we explored the carnival area where we rode the swings (one of my favorites) and refilled on water (it was a little warm and I was dehydrated). We then walked back towards the faster coaster area and I sat and continued to rehydrate as Luke took on some of the larger coasters including soaring Eagle, one of the newer rides of the park.


One unique thing about Dollywood is when your parks’ rep is a songwriter new rides in the park get their own theme song written by Dolly herself. I sat and enjoyed the theme song to several roller coasters Luke went on.

IMG_5439Last of all we together went on a coaster which traveled through “forest” to fight forest fires, ends in a fireworks factory which is set on fire, then takes you back through half the track backwards to the beginning.

It was a fun and relaxing day and a very different theme park then what Luke and I were used to but worth it.

The next day we left early, did a little shopping:  outlet cowboy boots and cast iron skillets at the lodge store then were were on the road again. This time our route took us through North Carolina, corner of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. We were safely home late that night ready to unpack for the coming week.

And that is finally our backlog catch up from the summer-thank you for your patience.

August backlog: Summer Vacation: The Great Smokey Mountains

Tuesday night we settled into our hotel right next to Dolly’s Dixie Stampede and try to adjust to the Vegas-like touristy area we found ourselves in. (I think I could have prepared Luke a little better for what this would be like).


We decided to start our adventure by exploring the Great Smokey Mountains. We drove through Gatlinburg and into the national park. As we got out of town and into the park the temperature dropped with the dense forest. We took a few minutes at the sugar land information center to orient ourselves with the park and get maps.


Then we took a windy road all the way across the park to the observation site. The road up was beautiful even though windy as we climbed in elevation and began to discover why it’s really called “The smokey mountains” covered in fog.


We got out of our cars in the very cold and foggy weather and climbed the path to the observation tower. From the observation tower we could see . . .nothing-some pine trees and fog. If it was a clear day then we would have seen into several states and most of the park.


No matter what it was worth it to be at the highest point of the park and say we had been “on the top of old smokey”. As we drove back down we stopped at several view points to take in the mountain sides and beautiful wild flowers.


We rerouted past the sugar land center and drove to Grotto falls. Again, a windy road uphill this time with limited and difficult parking. This hike was just as much if not more fun on the way as it was at the final destination. The hike took us through a dense old rhododendron forest and required working around several streams and rocks in the clay mud. The air was dense, musty and humid but cool. It was so densely green yet the ground was still sticky with mud.


When we got to the falls we could see several people swimming in the pool beneath it and others enjoying walking behind the falls into the cave enjoying the change to cool off. We dipped our feet in to clean off the mud the preceded back down the trail only to get covered in more mud.


After making our way down the windy path we decided to drive out to Cades Cove before sunset. Everything we read said to tour this part of the park at dawn or dusk when animals are most apt to be out. The drive to Cades Cove is long but again beautiful as you loop across and around waterfalls and rivers.


We reached the cove right around dusk and drove the loop slowly taking in the wildflowers, tall grass, and sunset over the hills. Codes cove is also well known for many old settlers buildings which can be toured everything from mills, to farms, to churches, and schools.


Many of these are right along the main road side and we could see from our car. We had hoped to see some elk, and if we were lucky a black bear but only encountered wild turkey, a coyote or two, and some deer.