Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Little Drummer Boy

While listening to the original recording of, "The Little Drummer Boy" I noticed only one instrument was used in the song. Do you know what it was? No, not a drum. It was a bell. A small bell like one that is used in a store to ask for assistance. Who knew?

Friday, December 23, 2011


Zoe was afraid of bridges. Cement bridges, wood bridges, sturdy or rickety, puppy would not cross a bridge. (Not certain how she felt about Jeff Bridges).

When we would approach a bridge on a walk, dog would put the brakes on and refuse to budge. She may have only weighed 35 pounds, but it was 35 pounds of pure muscle. Strong enough to pull children on a sled in the snow.

What to do? Where I lived there were bridges everywhere. Not walking on a bridge meant not walking very far and puppy could walk for three miles without tiring.

I brought up Zoe's fear to a dog trainer that worked with Leader Dogs. He told me Zoe had to cross the bridge. How is this possible if she put the brakes on whenever she was near a bridge? He told me I would have to carry the dog to the middle of the bridge and put her down. Puppy would have no choice but to walk to get off the bridge.

I tried the trainer's suggestion the next day. Zoe fought me every step I took as I carried her to the center of the bridge. As soon as her paws hit the wooden bridge, she pulled me and her leash to the other side. That was the last time she fought crossing a bridge. Dog had conquered her fear.

Now I have a new pup in my life and new fears to conquer.

Life is filled with scary things and it's how we deal with them that makes us stronger and helps us grow as individuals. We all have bridges to conquer. Thank you Zoe for teaching me this and so many other valuable lessons. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mock Apple Pie

This pie uses zucchini in place of apples and is courtesy of Nutmeg and cream of tartar were added to make it taste closer to the real thing. Large zucchini work better than smaller versions.

1 pie crust, unbaked
5 c. sliced zucchini, peeled and remove seeds
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. real lemon juice
3/4 c. water
cream of tartar to thicken slightly

1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
6 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
Bring to boil zucchini, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water; simmer until soft. Pour into an unbaked pie shell; pat crumb topping over mock apples and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zoe and Running

Running was a large part of Zoe's life. She would run outside after squirrels and rabbits. She would chase Harley's. If we went for a walk, she would run for the majority of it.

If dog could have, she would have run a marathon - and won.

Part of the reason she came into my life was because she was a runner. More than that, puppy was an escape artist. Aside from breaking out of cages, she could also bolt from a house like a streak of lightening. Bamm. Dog was out the door and down the street and out of sight. In an instant she would duck into someone's back yard to investigate new smells like a neighbor barbequing chicken.

Puppy made friends easily and could run circles around a greyhound. Once when she darted out the door, my entire family took off after her through the neighborhood. There was no catching her. She would only come back when she was good and ready. Or if you had ham. She did love ham.

Often on our walks people would ask if I was walking Zoe or if she was walking me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Rice Cake Photos

I found a series of photos I took when Zoe was ripping apart my decoration to get to the rice cake. Who could be angry with such a sweet dog?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rice Cake Treat

Rice cakes never moved to fast in my kitchen. I always had a package, usually the unsalted brown rice kind just in case I got a case of the, "I'm so hungry I could eat liver." Lucky for me that didn't happen often.

Since I had a couple packages of the styrofoam-like food and puppy was constantly hungry, I decided to give her rice cakes as a treat. It worked. She loved them. Zoe devoured the pressed grain substance in a minute, maybe less, licking her chops afterward. Hmmm. It was just pressed rice and she was happy. I found a healthy snack for the dog. After all, didn't some dog foods contain rice. I think so.

Puppy wouldn't get the rice cake every day - it was a special treat like ice cream, if I would have given her ice cream.

I made small craft consisting of an empty plastic ice cream cup covered in tissue paper with a stick and a tissue paper flower attached when I realized I didn't have any foam to keep the flower upright in the small container. What to do? Rice cakes! Rice cakes were akin to styrofoam in my mind. I broke a few pieces and shoved them into the ice cream container. Then I stuck the flower in the center and wrapped the bottom with tissue paper and secured the decoration with rafia, a tough fibrous substance. It was adorable. I made several of the flowers and put them downstairs for an event I was planning. The flowers sat on top of an 18 gallon plastic tub - safe and secure. I left Zoe to watch the house as I went to gather more items for the event from the store.

When I returned, about two hours later, there was light green tissue paper strewn about on the family room floor. Then I found the tissue paper flower and next to it the empty plastic ice cream cup. No rice cake in sight.

The little stinker had gone down the basement, chosen a flower and brought it back upstairs to devour its contents - the flavorful rice cake. The "styrofoam" in my project.

Zoe did this not once but several times. She would find the rice cake in the flower decoration no matter where I placed it. I can only think that she thought it was a food puzzle.

I purchased a plastic toy and inserted kibble inside that dog could knock about and it would release a treat the more it was bantered around. Who knew that my flower decoration was in a reality a food puzzle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Puppy and Car Rides

Puppy was not good when it came to riding in a car or any vehicle for that matter. When I brought her home initially, she tossed her cookies. It was less than 10 miles from my house.

Since I drove almost everywhere and dog wanted to be with me, I had some training to do. I started out small. First, I put Zoe in the car when I was scrapinged the frost off the windows. She would jump around the interior and kept a watchful eye over me at all times from her warm vantage point.

Once puppy mastered being in the vehicle, I took Zoe with me to get a newspaper - a short jaunt of half a mile to the store. It was dicey at first, but dog held onto her breakfast and we made it home.

After Zoe graduated the short trip, we ventured into a five mile ride to the park. Park was fun and a welcome reward for tossing about in the car. And she got to see Harleys - her favorite! Arf, arf, arf.

The five mile trip gradually turned into a half hour ride, then an hour's ride with a break mid-way.

Then it finally happened. Dog and I went on a six hour road trip. She would jump from the back seat into the front checking the scenery and changing the radio station. Back into the rear seat she would go for a nap. Up again when she hear a motorcycle. And so it continued.

Seat belts were useless for dog. I bought one once she was acclimated to riding in cars and she got her nail caught in the strap on I-75. Zoe screamed from the backseat as I drove 75 miles an hour. Nothing says, "pull over now and check on your dog," like an animal in pain. The seatbelt went back to the store and puppy became a happier passenger.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Zoe's Favorite Foods

Like any dog, Zoe had favorite foods. Foods that she would become the perfect dog just so she could eat. She would heel, sit, lay down, stay all for food. Not talking meat, although puppy did enjoy a good piece of chicken or hamburger. Puppy liked vegetables.

Mostly the cruciferous kind, you know, broccoli, cauliflower and her all time fav, cabbage. Zoe would follow me anywhere for a cabbage leaf. While we might not notice it, cabbage, and their cousins, has a slightly sweet taste. They also kept dog very regular and my house fragrant.

The up side was Zoe had the heart and lungs of a four year old pup a couple months before she passed away. Her legs gave out and her heart soon developed a murmur. But she will always be my little cabbage.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little Dogs

Little dogs were an issue for puppy. In some respects she deferred to a little dog like my sister's dachshund, Gretchen.

Gretchen was the queen in Zoe's eyes. Gretchen took the lead in hunting, food, affection from humans - she was the alpha. The little dachshund even taught my dog to bark. Thanks, Gretchen.

Then there were the little dachshunds and rat terrier that lived behind my dog. These animals were stupid in puppy's eyes. Zoe was the alpha.

The little dogs would run outside in the winter and bark. Bark at everything. Zoe would ask to go out and she would saunter over to the fence and arf a few times as if to say, "Shush your pie hole, there's nothing out here." The little dogs would stand off and continue to bark and then beg to go inside.

Then it began to snow. I must preface this in saying the backyard of the little dogs was dramatically cut in half by the presence of an in-ground pool. The owners placed a hard top pool cover in the winter months that supposedly held the weight of people and dogs without having to secure the cover. Zoe didn't believe this.

After a snow storm that dropped 8-12 inches of the white stuff, the little dogs decided to leave their house and bark. They would stand in the middle of the pool cover on top a foot of snow. Heavy, wet snow. Puppy saw it as her duty to tell the little dogs they were in danger. Out she went through the compact snow to the edge of the yard. "Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf," which translated into, "Hey you stupid little dogs, get off the pool cover. Stupid dogs, get off the pool cover." Then, Zoe would turn tail and come back in the warm house.

Her job was complete. She warned the little dogs, but would they listen? No.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lick Guitar Strings

You read the title correctly. When I would play the guitar, Zoe would come up to me and lick the guitar strings. That's all fine and good for acoustic, it just made me nervous when I played the electric.

Puppy must have wanted to taste the skin that sheds when you go up and down the fret board.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Smoke Alarm

I always wondered if Zoe was trained as a service dog. She helped me in so many ways.

One thing puppy did in particular was notify me whenever something was burning or boiling on the stove. I had a tendency to start cooking and then start another project that took me away from the kitchen. You know the old adage, "A watched pot never boils." I knew that was true and I could count on a well done meal every time.

If I wasn't watching the food, dog was. She kept an eagle eye on anything that came into the kitchen. The magic white box with cold food was something she was keenly interested in and the stove and microwave came in a close second and third.

If I wanted Zoe to come into the house, I didn't have to whistle, I just had to set the microwave to beep. A long beep would get her running towards me no matter what puppy was doing outside and that included chasing squirrel.

Many was the time dog came up to me and pestered me until I left the computer and followed her into the kitchen. Once there, I would find my pasta boiling or cookies baked to a golden brown.

When I forgot how in tune Zoe was with food preparation I would learn another of her skills - smoke alarm. There were occasions when I would ignore puppy's insistent nudges and continue with my work. That's when the smoke detector would kick in and begin blaring. When dog heard the familiar blast of noise she would run t the smoke detector and sit in front of it - staring at it. She would not budge until I came and removed it from the wall and opened the windows and doors.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Because puppy was a stray there were things about her that you don't find with most dogs. One of her fears was brooms.

I began sweeping the floor one day and dog ran and hid in the other room. I said, "Zoe, it's just a broom. Come her girl." Ears went back and she came toward me. I had to convince her that this thing with multiple whiskers on a stick was not some evil incarnate. After I cajoled her into the kitchen, she stood at a distance watching, ready to make her escape into the living room.

Then it happened. I began sweeping bits of kibble into a pile. Ooohhh, Zoe loved kibble. Zoe loved food of any kind. Puppy took a few cautious steps toward the dirt in the middle of the floor. Then in a fit a daring she nosed herself into the pile and ate some dry dog food. Dog was hooked.

Zoe stepped into the sweepings spreading them away from the broom. She feared the broom no longer. She had conquered broom.

Puppy Painting

Helping me paint was a favorite pastime for puppy. Whenever I would paint a room or paint a picture, she was there waiting to add her ideas.

Sometimes she would lean against a freshly done wall ever so slightly with her tail or shoulder. The wall would look great and dog would have unusual white markings on her body. Or green markings or whatever color paint I was using for that project.

While painting a picture for my family room, Zoe decided to walk across the white clouds with her little rabbit feet. As if on tippy-toes she sauntered carefree over the clouds I had painted and gave me a kiss on my chin.

I know that dogs licking your chin means they are hungry, but looking back on the painting and what she did seems like puppy was giving me a kiss while she was in heaven.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wine Cellar

During the dog days of summer, Zoe would dig. I have been given lots of advice as to why she dug in the dirt outside.

One reason was that puppy was hot and wanted to cool off. That would be reasonable if I had the door closed. The door was open for her to wander in as she pleased.

Another explanation was dog was bored. Far from it. I played with her and took her for walks. I even created little games for her and provided a food puzzle. This is a plastic toy that holds food and deposits nibbles when the toy is rotated and batted around.

My theory was Zoe was building a wine cellar. The hole was behind an arborvitae. Each time I filled the hole, puppy redug the trench. Higher and higher the level of soil rose until the evergreen was raised about 4 inches above all its surroundings. She placed the cellar close to the house and behind the bush.

Perhaps Zoe was really a master gardener.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Speaking Her Mind

Vocalization was never a problem for puppy. Even though she was part Basenji and quiet most of the time, she would have moments that seemed like she was talking. Not barking Christmas songs, more like making conversation.

Dog would come up to me while I was reading a newspaper and bump the back of the paper. The two pages spread from one hand to my other hand covering my face. Zoe would bump the paper with her nose as if to say, "pay attention to me." Then she would look out the window and turn back towards me. Puppy would then begin her banter, "mh, ugh, mugh, mugh, ugh, ugh, UUUGHH." No reaction from me meant the vocalization would continue. "UUUGHHmh, ugh, mugh, mugh, ugh, ugh, UUUGHHHHH!"

I never knew what the UUUGGGH was but Zoe was adamant about stating her point of view. Usually I let the dog outside or played with her or took her for a walk when this conversation ensued. It seemed to satisfy her need for constant activity. And she got to chase squirrel.

Zoe also made a variety of noises to express happiness, anger, hunger, boredom, love or like, disappointment and excitement. All manner of squeaks, yodels, barks, yipes and burrrs to express herself and tell you what she thought.

And I have nothing else to add for the moment. I am done or in Zoe speak - Hrrrumf, sigh.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dancing and Marching

I've discussed things Zoe loved. There were few things she wasn't so crazy about other than squirrels and cats.

One of those was marching. Any kind of marching. Marching in place, a marching band, not even sure she liked the month of March. Anytime someone lifted a knee and set it down more than twice, puppy would come running. Barking up a storm, she demanded you stop this foolishness instantly. Dog saw no reason to raise your knee multiple times in a row. Perhaps she had an orthopedic background.

A close second to marching was dancing. If marching brought about mad barks then dancing was a hundred times worse. You would think someone was being attacked the way she reacted. Zoe would place herself between you and whatever was causing this strange movement and begin jumping, placing her front paws on your pelvis in one sweeping motion to knock you to the ground and end this commotion. Boom! Take that was her response. Boom! Puppy would strike again this time running at a furious pace. She didn't aim to hurt you, just stop the dancing. No dancing with the stars for that dog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Each night, before I went to bed, I would let puppy out to do her job. Aside from relieving herself, she also patrolled the perimeter for anything out of the ordinary. Literally, dog would walk the length and breadth of the yard checking for vermin and any unwanted creatures.

One night she began barking and running diagonally across the yard. From corner to corner Zoe raced, "arf, arf, arf, arf, arf." Suddenly the barking stopped and she began walking toward the house. Mid-step puppy began vocalizing again, "arf, arf, arf, arf, arf," running full speed like a greyhound across the other diagonal. Then she would stop again.

"Zoe!" I called out. "Zoe, get in here". I whistled for the dog and she ran towards me then stopped and started running crisscross again. This prompted me to go outside to bring puppy in, by the collar if necessary. "Come on girl, let's go, come along," I said firmly. It was then I looked up into the night sky and saw the white search lights darting to and fro and realized Zoe was chasing the lights.

Guess she liked chasing lightening bugs and moon beams, too.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Another one of the words puppy knew was, "Police."

Before I explain how I found out her reaction to the word, I should tell you how Zoe rode in my car. She didn't just sit in the back seat or hang her head out an open window, dog had to have her body halfway in the front seat as I drove. It was almost as if she was navigating where we were going. I drove an older car, a Dodge shadow, and the space between the driver's seat and the door was ample. At least ample enough for a 35 pound Basenji to wedge her body as close to me as possible.

Puppy had enough room to place her head down on the arm rest if needed. And this is where I found out another word in her vocabulary.

Driving down the road with Zoe navigating, I spied a cop car. Nervous about having a dog riding shotgun by my shoulder I said, "Police!" Boom! In an instant puppy's body sank to the arm rest and her body was below window level - out of sight, yet close at hand. The patrol car rolled by us. "Ok, all clear," I said. As quickly as she dove down, she sprung up just as fast, ready to tell me where to drive.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Puppy had quite a large vocabulary. Though she she could only speak in barks and yodels, dog knew the meaning of several words. Words like motorcycle, police, harley, cat and squirrel.

There were times she mixed the words up based on the beginning or end sound. Take for example school and squirrel, both start with a "ske" sound. Zoe didn't care what the ending was, all she needed to hear was the first sound and she would react. School sounded a lot like squirrel to her and squirrels needed to be dealt with in a serious manner. All forms of barking ensued with the mention of the word school.

Then there was Earl.

Earl was a family member that died and after his funeral my family got together to reminisce about him. We would say his name and recount past times. All the while, puppy would bark at us.

One conversation began about how, "Earl use to love telling children about his experiences on his job," to which Zoe reacted passionately. The more we talked about Earl the more adamantly she would vocalize her opinion. And it was a strong opinion. I turned to my sister and said, "I didn't know Zoe had even met Earl."

That's when my nephew piped up that it wasn't Earl she was reacting to but another word she was familiar with - Squirrel. Seems that the ending to squirrel is earl. SKEwaEARL. In puppy's world this made perfect sense.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Running Water

Zoe preferred drinking running water. Stagnant water in a bowl didn't interest her much. Given a choice puppy would drink from the bath faucet or a gurgling creek. She was a camel without a hump. A lick or two from her bowl was all she needed to survive.

When she went to my parents house, Zoe would drink a large bowl of water. So great was dog's water consumption that my Mom wold quiz me as to the last time I filled Zoe's water bowl. "I fill her bowl daily and wash it every other day," was my response. Mom couldn't believe me. See saw a dog so thirsty that the water bowl was constantly empty. What was the difference between the water in my town and my parents? Both houses got their water from the City of Detroit water system out of Lake Huron - or so I thought.

I found out that the town I lived in relied on a water tower for its water when Detroit's supply lines pressure was reduced. Low water pressure meant I was drinking from a community well.

Somehow Zoe could tell the difference in water. Maybe it had an iron taste or less chlorine. There were times she flat out refused to drink the water, while I did.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Watch" Dog

Ever have someone watch you constantly. Each move you make tracked even when you think they are sleeping. That was Zoe.

You would swear she was asleep and suddenly her eyes would open every few minutes as if verifying where I was and what I was doing. Watching over every movement. Go to the bathroom, she waited outside. Walk into another room, puppy was right behind me. Go to the mailbox and she was by the door. If I talked to the postal worker too long she began to bark. I was her food source and dog knew a good thing when she saw it. Puppy wasn't going to let me stray too far from her side.

If I would go down the basement I knew I could only stay there long enough to start a load of laundry before I would hear her nails clicking down the steps to find me. Once down the basement, dog would patrol for varmints and insects keeping the area clean. When I was ready to go back upstairs, puppy would lead the way racing up the stairs to the top. It became a game for us to see who could reach the landing first.

One day, my neighbor asked me to watch their townhouse while they went away for the weekend- water the flowers and pick up their mail. Since I lived next door this was an easy task. The first day went by without a hitch. The second day I noticed something through the window on my kitchen table as I was watering the neighbor's plants in their backyard. It was Zoe. She was standing on the table straining to get a better look at what I was doing.

"Get down!" I yelled. "Get down now!" Did she? No. Dog was bound and determined to see what I was doing. If I left the yard it was her job to stay vigilant and alert people as to my plight. I ran back to the house, through the patio door and into the kitchen. She jumped off the table, onto a bench and ran over to me tail wagging and waiting for a treat. "You are a naughty girl, naughty", I said. "Five minutes" to which puppy replied by bringing me a ball. She did not feel she did anything wrong and would not go under the table. Why should she when she just came from on top of the same table.

Zoe was the queen of all she surveyed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zoe's Nicknames

What possesses us to create new forms of endearment for our pets? I had so many cutesie names for Zoe that it's a wonder she ever came when I called her. And yet, she knew all the names and responded accordingly.

Because she had the tiniest white feet I called her, "little rabbit feet." And she would proudly place one paw over the other like a lady crossing her legs.

The shepherd part of her breeding meant she had a thick under coat and more fur by her tail which led to , "fuzzy butt."

Then there were puppy's large bat-like ears. She was akin to a chihuahua on steriods which garnered the name, "Pookala." No rhyme or reason to how that name stuck.

My sister christened her , "Zoester the toaster," for her skills at popping up to catch a ball from a sitting position.

The all-time classic name was "Mrs. Houdini ," for my dog's ability to free herself from any situation from cages to blankets tossed over her head in record time. I miss you pookie.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Judging Contractors

Most people believe they are an excellent judge of character. They know when someone is lying to them and when the truth is spouted. Truth is most people are wrong. Those that want to deceive are very good at hiding information and twisting words.

I was one of those people that thought I could pick an honest contractor. Loaded with information and testimonials I would choose someone to repair items in my home. What I should have done was listen to my dog.

Zoe instinctively knew who to trust. When she wouldn't pay attention to a man I was interviewing to install a garage door and who claimed to love dogs - they all claim to love dogs - I should have gone with my gut and not hired him. But, hire him I did and he did a rotten job. So poor of an installation I called the door manufacturer and found out he was not a registered dealer for their product. The manufacturer agreed to pay for a new garage door and its installation. Puppy loved the new crew and they did a phenomenal job with the door.

A fluke you say. Hardly. Zoe proved her prowess with gutter installer and roofer. Loved the roofer and ignored gutter guy. Never mind that gutter guy was tall and handsome and rode up on his Harley motorcycle. Zoe wouldn't play ball with this man. Can you guess the outcome? Gutter guy had to come back three times to fix his mistakes and roofer did the job right the first time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Puppy and Toothpaste

Vets tell pet owners that they should brush their dog or cat's teeth to maintain their health. Who amongst us does that everyday or even a couple times a week consistently? Not me.

I mean, I tried to brush the dog's teeth and it turned into a licking match with puppy licking all the chicken flavored paste off the rubber tine finger brush. I felt compelled to try again and again to no avail. Zoe would not stand for it.

So I succumbed and bought her petrified bones and pig ears that cleaned her incisors as she chewed. They worked pretty well until she coughed up a gob of white goo that was once a rawhide. Yuck.

One day, while brushing my pearly whites, puppy came up to me, staring at me with those big, brown eyes. Drool started coming down her tongue. She began to whimper. I decided to give her a smear of toothpaste, Colgate I think.

Dog was ecstatic. She begged for more. I gave her another taste and off she went as if she had brushed her teeth. Zoe continued that ritual until she passed away. Adored mint of any kind and wanted a taste each day so toothpaste with its salt and mint was a morning treat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alarm Clock

Zoe was never beaten or struck in any way. I would yell sometimes, but that was even rare. I treated her as I would a child. And what do children crave most from adults? Attention.

When Zoe misbehaved, as puppy's tend to do, I would give her, "time-out". "Time-out" consisted of placing the dog under the kitchen table and making her stay there for an allotted time.It began with five minutes. If the dog moved from the spot, I placed her under the table and told her, "Ten minutes" and so on. During "time-out" I would not look in her direction. This pained puppy more than you could imagine. She was a very social dog. Very social.

When visitors left my house she would run to the screen door. The door had a solid bottom panel and a removable screen/storm window on the upper half. Zoe would place her paws on the door and look out the screen, whining as people left the house. She believed everyone came to see her and no one should ever leave.

Puppy learned the concept of "time-out" quickly. When she was naughty I only had to say, "Five minutes" and point to the table and she would obey. One day, she took the concept of "time-out" to a new level.

Zoe liked to rise and shine early. Up with the sun and out with the birds was her mantra. That meant I did not get a chance to sleep in. How did she wake me? She would check to see if I was stirring in bed. And she knew the difference between sleeping and pretending to sleep. If I was drowsy in the morning she would walk to the footboard and bite my toes. WHOA! That's a wake up call. Nothing says, "get your butt out of bed now" like a dog biting your feet.

Her little tactic earned a "time-out". I was still sleepy so I told her, "Just five more minutes, Zoe, five minutes." She left in a huff and laid in the hallway. Five minutes passed and puppy returned. "Ten minutes, Zoe. Please, just ten minutes." Again she turned tail and laid down. This continued for 20 minutes until Zoe would have no more of my snooze button antics and barked at me and I got my lazy bones out of bed and let her outside for her morning ritual.

I wondered if she really was coming back every five minutes when I gave her the command. The next day, I tried the snooze alarm bit again this time checking the clock when she left the room and when she returned. Sure enough, she was spot on with the time.

I waited a week and did the snooze alarm command once again. Five minutes, ten, all the way to 20 minutes - each time Zoe got the command right. What a dog! Zoe, the wonder dog.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bite My Arm

My former job required long hours at a computer. Colleagues would complain of mouse arm - a condition we referred to when your elbow and hand began to stiffen and pain radiated from your hand to your shoulder because you held the computer mouse too tight. It happened to me a few times. A long, hot bath and aspirin would ease the pain and make you good as new again.

One day, I arrived home from work with mouse arm and puppy greeted me at the door as normal. Dogs are great greeters, always happy to see you even if you just went to the mailbox and back to the house. The reaction was the same, "Your back, I'm so happy your back. I thought you'd never get here. What did you bring? Is it for me? I don't care, I'm just so thrilled you returned. Let's play ball." At least that's the thought process I imagine went through Zoe's mind when I crossed the threshold. She bounced around came up to my hand and licked it then dog bit me. My dog clamped down on my wrist hard. "Zoe!" I cried out. Maybe it was more like a shriek. Puppy licked my hand and wrist as if to say she was sorry then she bit me again. She didn't draw blood but left indentations of her teeth in my skin. I yelled at her. Zoe proceeded to lick my wrist.

It was then I noticed that I didn't have mouse arm any more. The pain left after she applied pressure to my arm.

I have heard that dogs can smell certain diseases and know when seizures will occur. I never had a dog perform acupressure before.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Soap and Puppy

Puppy loved soap. The first indication of her love for the stuff was when I brought her home and she licked my arms. Kind of unusual.

When people came to the house she would lick their hands and sometimes their knees if they wore shorts. Kind of unusual.

Men who worked on cars would get a thorough hand cleaning. She would lick their palm, flip their hand over to lick the other side and then flip the hand over again. Kind of unusual.

What I found different was when the dog came to visit me while I was taking a bath. She would drink my bath water. My soapy bath water. This encouraged me to finish my bath quickly since there's no quicker way for loose bowels than drinking warm, soapy water. It's an enema waiting to happen. Very unusual.

I think that's part of the reason she loved soap bubbles and demanded more and more of them - they were an, "air bubble bath".

Zoe also loved watching the "Lawrence Welk Show." The beginning of each show started with a bubble machine. Something about bubbles that she found fascinating. Yet, she hated champagne and getting a bath or her feet wet.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zoe and Children

Children played an important part in Zoe's life. She never minded walking amongst children, she just went about her business even when they played with her toys. Perhaps because Zoe didn't think she was a dog, she thought she was human.

Toddlers were the perfect ball partner for her. A child would toss the ball across a coffee table and Zoe would fetch and give the toy back placing perfectly in front of the youngster. Then puppy would place herself in front of the table ready to begin the process all over again.

What better way to obtain food than sitting under a child’s chair or licking the face of a baby in a stroller. Strained carrots and jam - YUM!

Boys that played street hockey between the ages of 6 and 11 were her favorite. If she escaped from the house I could find puppy playing by these kids. They used a tennis ball, skated fast and liked being active - all attributes the dog loved.

Soap bubbles were a delight for Zoe. When children would play with bubbles she would jump in the air trying to bite the bubbles as they floated upward. They higher the bubbles rose, the higher she jumped. When the bubbles ceased, puppy would bark demanding more. Children would laugh and make a continuous stream of bubbles to keep the dog happy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Liquor, Cigarettes and Squirrel

Puppy loved the smell of liquor and cigarette smoke. Come home from a bar and the dog would take one whiff and be in heaven. She would become the perfect pet and follow every command. I could only surmise that her former owner smoked and drank.

It became a long-standing joke in the family that the dog needed liquor and cigarettes in order to stand living with me. But who would provide the contraband? I don't smoke and rarely drink. Who would bring these to Zoe?


Zoe would chase a little black squirrel throughout the yard and never catch it. And Zoe was lightening fast. She could catch rabbits, voles and flys. A squirrel would be no match for the dog's speedy gait and powerful grip. Puppy must be choosing not to kill squirrel. Why?

The reason was clear - liquor and cigarettes. Squirrel was Zoe's source, her provider of nicotine and beer. This would account for the dog staring at the tree or telephone pole for hours waiting for squirrel. When squirrel failed to get the goods to the dog in a timely manner, Zoe would put the fear of God in squirrel, chasing her within inches of certain death. But puppy refrained from the final pounce. She needed squirrel and squirrel needed her. It was a mutually beneficial relationship.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Nothing says summertime like eating peach cobbler with ice cream. The warmth of the sweet, orange fruit and biscuit base mixed with the luscious creamy milk fat. Mmmmm. That's one mighty fine dessert.

You may recall I mentioned that my Dad told me that my dog would love what I love and my favorite dessert was no exception.

I had made two baking dishes filled with peach cobbler and brought them to my parents house along with the dog. Mom and I were going to a bridal shower and I envisioned Zoe keeping my Dad company while we were gone. I brought two desserts; one to share after the party and one for them to eat during the week.

After placing one glass dish on the table and another on the counter, Mom and I went to the party.

When we returned I noticed that one of the cobbler's was missing. I asked Dad if he enjoyed the dessert. He looked at me funny and said he never touched the cobbler. I said, "But, one of the Pyrex dishes is gone. What happened? Where did it go?" He replied that he only saw the cobbler on the counter and that I was mistaken and must have left the other dessert at home.

Much discussion ensued. The dog was in the family room napping during the series of questions ignoring all of us. That was pretty unusual for Zoe. She likes to be in the thick of things especially gatherings of any kind.

It came out that Dad left the house for a half hour to go to the hardware store leaving puppy to her own devices. Hmmm. The kitchen was open to a dog that loved to eat. An escape artist. We began to search the rooms for signs of peach cobbler starting with the dog's mouth and gums. Nothing. We looked under the table. Nothing. In another room. Nothing. Back to the kitchen and in a corner under chair and that's when we found the missing pyrex glass baking dish. Clean as a whistle, upright and intact.

Zoe must have climbed onto the table, knocked the dish off and eaten an entire peach cobbler. Dad swears he didn't do it. And puppy was mysteriously sleepy. All the sugar and carbs perhaps?

Here's her favorite recipe for Peach Cobbler:
Combine 1/3 cup sugar and tablespoon corn starch in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup water and 4 cups sliced, fresh peaches. Cook until thick and bubbly. Grease an 8"x8" square baking dish. In a separate bowl melt 3 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Add an egg and 3 tablespoons of milk to the butter. Mix 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the butter, egg and milk.

Place fruit mixture into the glass baking dish. Drop mounds of topping onto the fruit. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 6 (or one hungry Basenji)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I mentioned that to Zoe, ball was love. To that end she would play ball all day, devising new ways to work with the ball. We played "Monkey in the Middle" and puppy was the monkey and she adored the game. She would grow angry after awhile if no one dropped the ball and we always complied to keep her in the game.

I began using her ball to practice golf shots. I would hit the ball with the club and she would chase after the ball retrieving it and dropping it by the club, then sit on her haunches ready to spring into action again to get the ball. This would continue until I was tired. She never tired of ball.

While the toy was all consuming in her world, I had other chores to do and Zoe would have none of that. She would follow me around with ball, placing it at my feet. One day, I learned the magic word for puppy - "Enough!" The mere mention of the word and the ball dropped from her mouth and onto the floor. She would then go onto her bed and lie down. All in one fell swoop.

I did not teach her the word. Her reaction was spontaneous and ingrained. Someone else had taught her the command and I just stumbled upon the key. It was the first of many commands that she knew before coming to live in my home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Puppy's Unusual Features

There were a couple of things that stood out about Zoe when I took her home from the Humane Society. Things I didn't know before I adopted her at seven to eight months old. The most obvious was that she was missing part of her tongue. The vet assured me it must have been an old injury. Seriously?! I thought I had a defective dog missing a chunk of her tongue on the right side. It didn't stop her from licking my hand or playing ball. If anything she was more outgoing and independent.

Speaking of playing ball, I had to teach her about toys. Whoever raised puppy did so without balls or squeaky toys or sticks. Zoe had no concept of play. I would toss her a ball and she would look at me like it was a cactus. "Ball - what's that?" was the look she gave me. I was beside myself. I called my Dad and asked him what to do. I never had a dog that didn't know how to play. My Dad said, "If you enjoy doing something, your dog will learn from you and take a cue from your actions and love it too." He was right. Each night I would work with her rolling the ball toward her and praising her when she paid attention to it. Soon she was catching the ball, doing flips in the air and bouncing the ball off her nose like a soccer player. Ball was love.

What I found so appealing about Zoe initially was that she didn't bark at me when I approached her pen at the Humane Society. All the other dogs joined in a barking match to see who would be the loudest of them all. Zoe refrained. She came up to the chain-link door and looked at me. Even when she was at home with me, she didn't bark. She made an unusual noise. Puppy yodeled. That was one of the clues that she was a Basenji.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Escape Artist

It was useless to cage the dog. I found that out early on in our relationship. I had borrowed a large cage from my sister until I could afford to buy one for Zoe. It was a wire cage with openings all around and it sat in the kitchen with a view of the backyard. Spacious by all standards.

I placed the dog in the cage and went to work. When I got home, she greeted me at the door. I went into the kitchen and checked the cage door - it was closed. I tried to open the cage door and it opened with some hesitation. It wasn't the easiest device to operate. I looked at the dog, She looked at me. I tried the cage door again and told myself I must have let the dog out before going to work and forgotten to put her in the cage.

The next day I repeated the process. I put Zoe in the cage and went to work. Again, she greeted me at the door, tail wagging when I came home. Now this time I was certain I put her in the cage. I rechecked the cage's door handle, still in the closed position. How did the dog get out of the cage? Did someone come into my house and let her out? Why would someone do this? Who would do this? There had to be another explanation.

There was. I put Zoe in her cage again then went into the living room. I called out to her, "Zoe, come here Zoe" as I watched the front of the cage from the other room. "Come here girl," I said. All 35 pounds of muscle squeezed together. I watched her head slide out between the cage's bars and the rest of her body followed. It was if I witnessed the great Houdini perform a magic act in my kitchen.

My jaw dropped as she ran over to me. There was no point in crating this dog. This dog was Mrs. Houdini.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rumble on the Highway

Harley Davidson Motorcycles. What's the most recognizable feature of these American made machines? The throaty roar of their engines rumbling so loud that the deaf can hear them. (sorry, hearing impaired) That same familiar sound was what my dog loved. Although, I didn't know her love for Harley’s until my nephew pointed it out to me.

We were driving to Indiana with Zoe riding shotgun. Zoe bounced into the back seat of the car each time she heard a motorcycle like a ping pong ball across the net. Legs jumping and nose to the back window, she would begin barking. "Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, " she called out to the riders, barking until they passed our vehicle. At times she would bark less at the choppers and more at others. I figured she became tired or bored with barking. She was a dog after all.

Rarely did Zoe know the meaning of the word, "tired." She was all about moving and being active.

It was then that my nephew mentioned that Zoe only reacted to Harleys. "A Kawasaki," he said, "only got three barks. A Honda didn't warrant even lifting her head to look. But a Harley Davidson was a long series of barks." That's how we knew she loved Harley’s above all else. She could even identify a parked Harley that was for sale at the side of the road.

So great was her love for this machine that near the end of a three mile walk she spotted a Harley turning a corner, yanked the leash from my hands and took off down the road after the rumble. Zoe bolted at full force -lightening speed compared to my run which looked like a walk next to her speedy legs. Lucky for me, a teenage male working on his car saw the chase and called out to my dog. Given her affection for men, she tuned her attention to the young fellow who promptly handed her back to me. Nothing like a Harley to get your heart started. After all the excitement, Zoe was ready to walk another three miles.

To satisfy her desire for motorcycles I took her to the local Harley Fest each year. She was in heaven. These were her people and she felt comfortable and content walking amongst the bikes and their riders. I was a fish out of water.

I even got her photo taken with Santa on an Indian motorcycle one year. Zoe sat in the sidecar happy as a lark and Santa had a quizzical look on his face. Anything to please the dog.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Puppy and Rain

Another unusual habit puppy had was staying out in the rain. She refused to come in during a storm when I first got her.

Zoe would lie beneath a bush or against the house as I tried to encourage her to come inside. "Come on puppy, come inside," I would say. The dog didn't move. I would stand in front of her waving my arms and motioning for her to go into the warm house. "Go on, go inside." The dog looked away. Did she not want to be warm? Did she prefer the cold, damp air? I certainly preferred being warm and dry.

This scene would go on for almost 30 minutes. It would involve me bribing the dog with food - which didn't faze her. I would cajole her - no response. Throw a ball or squeaky toy to her - she would roll her eyes. Finally, I ended up going outside with a leash and bringing her in that way.

I am certain my neighbors got a kick out of watching our antics in the rain. Maybe she was waiting for a squirrel to pass through and couldn't leave until it did. Maybe she loved falling asleep to the sound of rain on the ground. Maybe she was waiting for her former owner. I will never know.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spiders, Flys and June Bugs...oh my!

I never had to call an exterminator for my house when Zoe was near. She ate everything. All manner of bugs and insects - flying or crawling. In some cases, demanded that I retrieve the intruder and present it to her like a gift, or a treat. Many the time she sat on my bed, barking at the ceiling in the middle of the night. I awoke only to find a spider patiently making its way across the drywall like an upside down high-wire artist on a tightrope. Did she hear the spider? Not unless the spider was wearing tap shoes. Did she see the spider? Zoe slept in another room. My only conclusion was that she "sensed" the spider was there.

I could leave the screen door open and know that any fly that dared to enter my puppy's air space was not long for this world. The fly would buzz by me and the dog whizzed past, hot on its trail. A few leaps, a snap of the jaw and the sound of a tongue licking its chops and I knew that Zoe had a protein snack for the day.

The most unusual bug she desired was the June Bug. She would patrol the yard at night and come back with the creature in her mouth - sometimes in mid-chew, other times dropping it on the floor to devour it in front of me. I would hear the crunching sound and see the contentment on her face. This was a delicacy to her.

I must point out that I did not teach her about bugs or encourage her love of making them a snack. Zoe entered my life when she was seven or eight months old and had a previous owner. She was found as a stray and brought to the shelter. Because she was such a sweet dog, the workers fostered her to a family until she found a forever home - me. Puppy brought her refined tastes with her into my home.

My first insight to her discriminating palate was when I was removing a lilac bush. The roots were a mangled mess and as I dug, I found grubs in the soil. The dog would eat the immature Japanese Beetles off the shovel as I dug around the plant - fighting me for the grubs before I squished them with the shovel.

She must have been on her own for awhile and had to eat what she could to survive. I wonder if I could do the same if I was hungry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Giver

My beloved puppy of 17 years was taken from this earth last week. She led a long life. A good life and was treated with respect and love.

Zoe was a Basenji mix. That's 36 pounds of muscle combined with intelligence and charisma. She could charm the socks off of anyone. And she could ignore anyone.

I miss my little pookie bear so much. I expect to hear the tags on her collar jiggle as she walked down the hall. Or alert me to a potential squirrel onslaught with a series of barks. But the house is quiet. There are no little feet pattering across the kitchen floor. The birds and rabbits seem to be in mourning for the loss of their adversary and are convening in other yards for the moment. The world is still.

Zoe was such a unique canine. I feel the need to share her idiosyncrasies with the world. Partly to honor her memory and partly to console my grief.

For the next few weeks,this blog is dedicated to my warrior - Zoe, the wonder dog. The toaster. The champion ball catcher and giver. She gave me much love and taught me more than any book. I sometimes felt as if she was the owner and I was the pet.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good Deal on Bounty Paper Towels

Home Depot has single rolls of Bounty Basic paper towels reduced to 70 cents a roll. Use the $1 off 2 item coupon from the June P & G insert to get these rolls for 20 cents each. Yes, Home Depot takes coupons!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Allure Floor in Living Room

Busy again installing flooring. This time in the living room, I selected Allure Trafficmaster vinyl strip flooring. This is different from the previous vinyl flooring in that it's a floating floor. The strips adhere to each other and there's no need for a foam underlayment like Pergo requires. Again, I painted the sub-floor with an oil-based paint and filled gaps with wood filler. After all that, I patched any nail indents with a portland-based cement floor leveler. Looks good!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wood-like Vinyl Strip Flooring

Been busy installing a new floor. I ripped out the old carpet, pad, nails and tack strips, patched the plywood underlayment with wood filler, painted the plywood with oil-based KILZ, then leveled the floor with a portland cement-like product. (How's that for a run-on sentence). Next, I spread adhesive on the surface and began laying the 3"x36" strips of vinyl in a staggered fashion. Looks pretty darn realistic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alfred Sung Outdoor Furniture

This Alfred Sung chair was featured on the "Steven and Chris" show today. So cool I had to share.

Teaching Kids About Money

Kids have a tendency to believe adults have an infinite of money available to buy whatever they want. Need something? Put it on your debit or credit card. What's the problem? The problem is you have to pay for the items you purchase. There has to be cash to pay off the bills at the end of the month.

My brother has come up with what I think is a great way to teach children about budgeting money, allowances and shopping for sales at the same time. The boys have a set amount of money each week and a list of groceries to purchase. It's their job to scour the sale papers for the best deals on meat, cereal and other items on the list. The parents buy the family's food and essentials based on these recommendations. Whatever money remains goes to the boys as part of their allowance.

The more money the boys save the family, the more they have to buy toys, electronics or other expensive items. It's turned out to benefit the kids and the parents on many levels.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Veggie Deal

I went to Randazzo's Fresh Market this morning to get a dozen eggs for 78 cents. Next to the eggs were reduced fruits and vegetables. I got the green and yellow beans, a couple pears, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, various peppers and the eggs for $5.25.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jillian Necklace

This necklace was fashioned from copper wire that I stripped the insulation and bent each link. My favorite part of the piece is the clasp made from that same wire.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Low Income Tax Help

More and more individuals are finding themselves having to make do with less. I am no exception. Before making a purchase, they scrutinize whether or not they truly need an item. Not just luxury purchases like chocolate, but mainstays like rice, vegetables or toilet paper. Is the product a good value for their money? Do they already have a bag of rice at home or a few rolls of toilet paper?

These should not be decisions we should have to ponder, yet many are faced with these choices everyday. Some families have to endure more than just food selection. They must decide if they should purchase much needed medication or pay the water or electric bill. With rising gasoline costs, they must now choose fuel for their automobile or fuel for their stomachs. It's a catch 22.

When almost everything has increased there is still a value for those in need for filing income taxes - The Accounting Aid Society.

The Accounting Aid Society is a metro Detroit non-profit that assists low-income residents file federal and state income taxes for free. That's right, free. If you make over $25,000 you cannot qualify for this service performed by trained volunteers. Volunteers that bring their CPA expertise, finance and other background credentials together to help people get optimum refund at no cost.

The beneficiary's are usually living paycheck to paycheck. The refund they receive is mostly used to buy essentials like food, rent, or gasoline - not a high definition television or vacation in Aruba or iPhone. They need the refund to survive. These are proud people, working or retired just squeaking by in this economy.

Consider some of the stories of people I have helped as a volunteer. A young couple with two children, one of which is permanently disabled, facing foreclosure. The husband can only get part-time work and is desperate to find a job with benefits to help his family. The only clothing they get is free from the church. The wife developed cancer and needed surgery.

An older husband and wife came to my table and told me of how they were a single family household. When their son lost his job, he and his family moved back with the parents. Then, another child lost their job and moved back home with their spouse. The parents should be enjoying retirement. Instead, they help provide for two families. All the adults in the household work just to meet the mortgage payments and other bills.

Michigan's Governor Snyder touted about balancing the state's budget and cutting much needed funding to energize the economy and create jobs. What do people do until these jobs emerge? How do they survive?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who Owns Trader Joe's

I found an article yesterday on Yahoo's "Shine" page that had some interesting information on Trader Joe's grocery stores/food emporium's. Did you know that the same family in Germany that owns Aldi Markets also owns Trader Joe's. They have since 1979. The article mentioned what food were good deals at Trader Joe's. Turns out that only some of the pre-made, ready-to-eat foods, bulk items like rice and flaxseed, as well as certain meats were reasons to shop at this market. I know that some of the wine is reasonably priced. The article further said the produce, gourmet foods, sweets, cheeses and boxed items like Amy's are over-priced and can be purchased at other major grocery stores for much less.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One of My Favorite Necklaces

This multi-strand turquoise necklace is one of my go-to necklaces. When I don't know what will work well with an outfit, I wear this necklace. It adds vitality and warmth to black clothes, shine to beige ensembles and sparkle to vibrant colored threads. So versatile.

And I have my friend Stacy to thank for making this lovely creation. She made the piece a few years ago and it has become a wardrobe staple. It sits just below my collarbone and is the perfect length. Take a look at more of her work at her Etsy shop. (Love, love, love all her earrings.) Right now, she's having a sale - even better! Her jewelry would make a fabulous Valentine's Day gift.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Crocheted Child's Hat

When I am stuck in bed with a cold or the flu, I start a crochet project. This little hat took me seven days to complete. It should have taken a day, but being under the weather I did the ski hat in tiny bits and pieces. The front view of the hat shows a more true-to-life representation of the yarn colors.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don't Lie to Me - Be Honest

I have been under the weather lately fighting the same cold/flu that everyone seems to have. As a result, I have watched more television programs.

One of the recurring phrases I hear on talk shows, sitcoms or even the news is, "don't lie to me", or "be honest." At first I didn't pay much attention to these words then I realized that the hosts, characters or news people must encounter a lot of people that are dishonest and tell falsehoods. So much so that they feel by demanding someone, "be honest" that the person will actually tell the truth.

Now really. How naive' is that?

Or do television producers and politicians believe they have the power to make individuals give them factual information by just uttering these words.

Now, tell the truth.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Storage Deals at Home Depot

Home Depot has some great in-store deals on items from their storage department.

You can get a black, 4-shelf, steel storage unit for just $5.00! This was $24.97. Or how about a black plastic storage locker with red handles for $10.00. And this is my favorite - 20-gallon plastic storage totes for $3.00!!! The totes come in light blue, medium blue, tan or brown.

If organizing is in your future, now's the time to stock up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Site for Excess Fruit and Nuts

I was watching the RACHAEL RAY television show today and a guest spoke of a web site called, where people can locate extra fruit and nuts from their neighbors backyards.

On the surface it sounds as if people would be wandering onto someone's property, but I was intrigued and explored the web site. Homeowner's with excess fruit on their trees can list their property on the site and the type of fruit or nut available. Public areas including parks are also listed.

Now, the fruit may have been exposed to chemicals or something else - there could be reasons why the fruit is going to waste. But then again, it could be that the owner just doesn't have the time or ability to harvest the fruit.

I have personally seen people at the city offices picking wild grape leaves. I can only guess that they are using the leaves for a middle eastern dish.

So why I am telling you this information? Metro Detroit has a lot of fruit production and a lot of hungry people. Perhaps we could make this site available for others to access or create a site specific to the metro area. (Maybe I just volunteered for this activity)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

National Hot Tea Month

January is officially National Hot Tea Month. What better way to get rid of a cold or feel warm all over than cuddling up with a freshly brewed cup of tea. So boost your flavonoid intake and your immune system with your favorite - green or black.

I think I'll make some cranberry scones to go with my mint tea and double my vitamin C in the process. Or you could add lemon to the drink. Whatever you choose, there's a flavor available that's right for you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Financial Fast

Washington Post columnist, Michelle Singletary wrote an article on imposing a financial fast for a month on your money. She wrote the piece last year and it pertains to anyone trying to reign in their finances.

During the 30 days of the fast, only shop for essential items. Buy food you need to survive, hygiene products or work related necessities. That means wear a sweater you have rather than purchasing the latest trend to go with an outfit.

Singletary also recommends no window shopping or shopping on the internet. Don't even tempt yourself during this self-imposed frugality. Throw away the ads from the stores and don't open a magazine.

This will be tough for me. I like to browse through store aisles and flip the pages of magazines to get ideas. I am confident I can complete this task and be better with my money after the 30 days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow in Michigan

A friend in Massachusetts sent me a photo after their recent blizzard. And we're not talking a dessert found at Dairy Queen. The yardstick showed a measurement of 20 inches! That's just shy of 2 feet of the frozen stuff. Luckily, southeastern Michigan got by with 4-5 inches of snow. Thought you might like to see a photo of puppy romping in the yard after the snowfall. I think she smells a mouse beneath the snow's mantle.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Debt Free Blog

I recently discovered Gail Vaz-Oxlade's blog while watching CBC's "Steven and Chris" show. Gail has written several books on finances and living debt-free. She has her own show and has also written for several large newspapers including the Globe and Mail.

Many of her ideas on spending have really enlightened me - transforming how I spend my money including her theory of spending money on an expensive meal. Vaz-Oxlade pointed out that after you have dropped $200 on an extravagant dinner, you return home and literally "poop" out your money. You have fortified yourself with food, delicious food at that, but a wonderful soup and glass of wine for under $20 could have satisfied you and provided enjoyment as well. In the process, you would have saved well over a $100 dollars.

Today's article on her blog focused on want. Want is not just a desire of the young, but can occur at any age. Here's her article.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quaker Oats - 42 Ounces for 82 Cents

You read correctly - I got a large container of Quaker Oats last night for 87 cents at Target. The quick oats are reduced to $1.92. Use the $1 off coupon from the 1/2 smartsource insert to bring the cost down to 92 cents. Bring your own bag and get an additional 5 cents off the price to get the whole grain for 2 cents an ounce!