Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When the Chips are Down....

Photo courtesy of Betty Crocker website

OK, I never post about food, I'm sure of it. I love to eat, but for those that know me, you know I am a super picky eater who finds something she likes & eats it over & over & over again rather than risk trying something new that does not suit my taste. I'm completely BORING when it comes to food, unlike many of my foodie friends. I would likely die of starvation if I was in another country (other than Mexico) because I would be afraid to eat. BUT, in all my pickiness, I am a HUGE fan of bread. I don't think I have met a bread I did not like. Well, that's not entirely true -- I once tried Ezekiel bread & it was horrible! My granny used to think I'd make a good prisoner since I could EASILY survive on bread & water alone!!! Of course, bread is not the best thing for us.... as I age & weight tends to stick to my bones more easily, those "bad carbs" just are not my friend. *sigh* That being said, we have tried to cut back on our intake of the evil gluten we often hear about. Mike is now a believer that the stuff bloats you, makes you crave more of it & hence, you can pack on pounds with little effort -- I tried telling him for years that bread is worse than eating a piece of cheese, despite the fat content. We are trying to not eat gluten much, if at all anymore. We still get burgers & chili dogs on occasion, but NO bun. No more sandwiches unless they are wrapped in lettuce versus bread, etc.

In our quest for yummy things that are gluten-free, I was surprised at how much good stuff is out there, sans gluten. I am NOT a cook so I really am clueless about all this, but I stumbled upon gluten-free baked goods and pre-packaged cake & cookie mixes that also gluten-free. Could they be any good??? Low & behold, they can be! I purchased the Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix, gluten-free, of course. You just have to add butter, vanilla & an egg. The batter is rather dry & crumbly looking, but the cookies tasted pretty darn good once you get past the weird appearance of the raw dough -- we polished them off rather quickly. I'm impressed. Mike was impressed. Who knew? I bought the brownie mix, as well, but have not had time to bake that up just yet. Stay tuned!

It's difficult to find these Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes in your average grocery store. I found mine in Gelson's, but have also seen them at Howe's Market. I'm sure they are cheaper at Howe's. I paid $4.99 per box at Gelson's which is a bit steep, but in the end, the yummy cookies made it worthwhile!

Whole Foods has lots of gluten-free items & baked goods, as well. I sampled some chocolate cake, which was more like pie than cake....not sure what was in it, possibly apple sauce???...but it was good, as were their gluten-free peanut butter cookies.

So, if you are in the market to flatten your tummy a little, I suggest cutting down on your gluten intake.... and these gluten-free baked goods are much yummier than one might expect for when that pesky sweet tooth gets the best of you!

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Won't you come on down to my RESCUE?"

Okay...I might have stolen a line from an old Echo & the Bunnymen tune, but I felt it was applicable here. *wink*

These are my precious pups, captured on my new LUMIX digital camera (which is a fun little camera -- that hopefully I can learn how to use someday)....pure luck with this photo, I swear! Frankie & Mitzi-Mae were just in a "chillin" kind of mood this day. Chillin' is not something I often catch these 2 rascals doing. They are an endless supply of energy when together! They were alternating between playing ball in the yard & sunning themselves on the (covered) outdoor sofa. I was home sick with a bad cold -- went outside to soak up some sun myself as I sipped some hot green tea, hoping for relief.....and, thankfully, had the camera nearby so I could snap a few photos of my precious angels. This is just one of the many cute ones I scored last week. *sigh* They melt my heart!

Frankie will have been with us a full 3 years as of tomorrow. Happy anniversary my precious boy!!! He was by FAR the best dog we have ever adopted & to this day, I cannot get over how truly lucky we are that he found us. You can never be unhappy when you see Frankie's sweet face. He is lovable, smart beyond words, and just plain fun to be around. His intelligence never ceases to amaze me or Mike. I still can't believe that someone let this little guy get away....what fools you were, whoever you are! (refer to my post 12/22/08 to read more about Frankie "the precious").

Mitzi-Mae was just adopted in early October, for those that did not already know. She comes to us with a LOT of issues and we are working hard to make her see we are good people & that she can trust us to take very good care of her. My friend Erika says she wants to be reincarnated as our dog in her next life because she thinks we give our dogs such "royal treatment". Mitzi is extremely sweet & loving...and once she gets over her numerous insecurities, I think we have another smart hound on our hands. She was clearly mistreated by her original owners & spent nearly a full year in a rescue getting healthy before we took her home. At times, her care is challenging, but we are determined to convince her she's in a good, safe place now. She is quickly winning over our hearts. (for more on Mitzi-Mae, see the October '09 post "the right kind of ugly".)

Frankie & Mitzi play together endlessly and it's so stinkin' cute to watch. We love these little guys! To us, they are not just dogs, they are our family....and a darn cute little family we make! Someday, I will have to upload footage of them in action.

To all the other dog lovers in the world....please RESCUE whenever possible! There are SO many wonderful dogs out there that need homes. I have never "bought" a dog & I never will. I may love my designer handbags or shoes, but I have no tolerance for "designer dogs" and wish more people would rescue dogs from shelters or other organizations. My RESCUED dogs have all had immense intelligence & a ton of love to share, once they come to know and trust you. It's so incredibly rewarding. My only regret is my lack of winning Lottery numbers which would enable us to be able to stay home more & pal around with these 2 wonderful creatures, Frankie & Mitzi-Mae. We love them so much. They bring us great joy and I just wanted to share these recent photos with anyone that may be reading.....ENJOY!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Doggie Duds

Just a quick note here: If you have small dogs like I have, you know the need for cozy, cute dog sweaters as the Winter weather rolls on into town. These darn doggie duds can start at $15 for the tiniest item & go up from there -- it's crazy!

New find: WAL-MART
I must say, for a nationwide discount retailer, they have a pretty amazing pet department. Of course, they don't carry my dog's fancy kibble there, but when it comes to bedding, dining accessories, carriers, crates, doggie diapers (yes, we need those for our little Mitzi until she learns to hold it better), and doggie duds, Wal-Mart really cannot be beat!

I have purchased several of the cutest dog sweaters there in recent weeks for only $5 each. Yep, you heard me....just $5! We're talking nice quality sweaters on the cheap. The sizing may be erratic but if you know your dog, you can quickly look at one & figure out what will fit & what won't, despite the size information on the label not being terribly accurate. Frankie & Mitzi now have matching grey & black "skull & crossbones" turtlenecks. Frankie got a new red holiday sweater. Mitzi scored a pink & white polka dot with patent leather bow applique on the backside. I even picked a couple of larger sized sweaters up for Marla for her Lola dog. I hope they fit! Pictures of Frankie to follow once my precious little hound is ready to model for you. It's not quite cold enough yet. *wink* Mitzi was willing, doggie-diaper & all.....

And, one more thing I need to add.....I bought a dog "crate" that is soft & collapses, as needed, for easier storage. I viewed several of these on & they started at around $ Wal-Mart, I picked one up for under $17!! It's beige & black, so it should match my car, as well as the interior of my home, but they had other colors. It holds up to 50 pounds of dog, so that means I can fit both my babies inside. Not sure if I "needed" it, but I could not pass it up at that price!

Now, find your local Wal-Mart and pick up some cute clothes for YOUR beloved pets before it's too late!! Yes, they have some holiday duds for cats, too....but I suspect the felines don't like that sort of thing much.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 2, 2009


It really works! After just 3 weeks in "booty camp" with the amazingly fit Dianna Farr at the helm, I lost at least 6 pounds and 3.1% body fat. Wooo-hooo!! All that laziness and dining on really, really bad "fast food" during summer caused me to gain a few unwanted LBS. that I desperately needed to shed. My jeans were too tight & I was not comfortable with my body anymore. Sure, I was still "thin" by most people's definition of the word, but I was flabby & certainly more pudge-y that I preferred. I refused to buy bigger pants & sitting behind a desk all day with the fly part-way down was just no longer an option, while my mini-muffin top grew and my legs looks like stuffed sausages. (for real....I swear!)

SHUT UP SUE, yes, I hear you.....I full-well realize I don't have a lot to complain about. Most people would kill to weigh my WORST weight, but I prefer to not be there myself, that's all. It's tough for women to stay trim, particularly as we age (or as some of us have babies --not me, so don't anyone read into this!). I just don't wanna be uncomfy in my own skin anymore, literally. It was time to do something about it. I FINALLY signed up for Boot Camp in Burbank with one of my gym instructors, Dianna Farr.

Dianna is amazing...she has the perfect figure & an endless supply of energy. I swear, the woman never sleeps! She works, she trains, she takes fitness & martial arts classes herself, teaches fitness classes at the local gym, owns part of a Baskin Robbins franchise (of all things), and so much more. I have admired her for a long time & finally decided to take the plunge & enroll in her boot-camp classes, taught outdoors in Wildwoon Canyon (the hilly park near the Castaway). As much as I loathe working out, I loathe ill-fitting clothing more, so I had to do something. Boot Camp is the answer! I decided working out in these group settings OUTSIDE in the almost fresh LA air is just the ticket for me & my lazy behind!! No clock to watch, no stuffy/smelly/sweaty gym, no mirrors reflecting images back at me while I work it. Just the great outdoors, amazing views of the City of Burbank, and the occasional weather condition, be it wind or rain or extreme heat. I was terrified my first session -- I know how tough Dianna can be -- she keeps all her moves basic, but everything is done at high speed for maximum cardio benefit. The fat can't help but melt off of you!

That first session saw me running part way up & down the evil hill to the Castaway Restaurant REPEATEDLY....I seriously thought my lungs would explode....I even got nauseated towards the end & was actually looking forward to crunches just so I could lay down on my yoga mat in the grass!!! Dianna is great about watching over you, making sure you don't die out there. She wants you to work it, to push yourself, but be safe about it all.

The boot camp sessions are 3 weeks for $65 and you can go as often as you like for that fee. There are tons of girls of all ages, but I suspect I am one of the oldest. There is a family (mom, dad & tween), there are couples, and gals who have recently given birth....everyone is at a different level of fitness, but we all make the best of it & Dianna will keep at you to keep it movin'! I highly recommend it. Here is the link to her site:

*note: You can also find Dianna Farr on Facebook.*

If you refer a friend, you get $10 off, so that's also nice. Last weekend, Dianna added a trail run / hike on Saturday morning up in the canyon. For those that have never hiked Wildwood, it's a short set of trails, but you don't ease into them at's immediately straight up steep! We got to the top, took in the views & then it was time to jog down the entire trail & subsequent fire road. It was fun, I have to admit. I have hiked up there many times with my Mikey or my dogs or both, but never once did I jog any part of it. I am still a bit sore, more than 48 hours later, but it's all worth it now that my jeans fit again. Yay! I cannot recommend it enough. Check it out! I will be back up at Wildwood tonight to partake in yet another 'round of Booty Camp!

The best part: shopping for new work-out gear now that I am inspired, finally.

Happy Shopping!!