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Monday, December 28, 2009

My Homemade Stockings

Well, I mentioned that I would post about the process of making our Christmas stockings, so here goes.  I have to extend my gratitude to LaureLaura for helping me with my first sewing project!  Needless to say, I'm quite proud of myself; I think they turned out great!


STEP ONE: FABRIC
Ahh, JoAnn Fabrics.  How cavernous and expansive you are.  Choosing a fabric I thought that I would like through the years turned out to be more difficult than I thought.  It also almost made me late for work!  I settled on a beautiful red brocade fabric that had green on the reverse--perfect for a stocking cuff.  I purchased enough for two normal stockings and a few smaller, pet stockings (which I'll make next year).  Here's the fabric:





STEP TWO: PATTERN, PINS, AND SCISSORS
After finding the perfect fabric, LaureLaura sent me a pattern, which I doubled, cut out, pinned to my fabric, and trimmed around.  I made sure that the pattern was aligned the correct way, and that I had two sides facing left, and two facing right, so they would fit together as a stocking.  I also cut out a five-inch strip to create the cuff.  After ironing everything and pinning the stocking sides together I was ready to sew.


STEP THREE: THE SEWING MACHINE
Eeek!!! So scary!  I had never used one before I made my stockings, so learning how to use it was quite scary (but straightforward once LaureLaura explained it all to me).  So, I learned how to thread the bobbin and the needle, adjust the little foot that keeps the fabric in place, and calibrate the pressure my foot put on the pedal (just like driving a car...).


After that, I took my pinned stockings and began to run them through the sewing machine.  It was quite exciting!  I messed up my first toe (it's a little pointy, and now the hub's stocking!), but everything was smooth sailing after that.  Here I am at work:


  


STEP FOUR: THE CUFFS
Now it was time for the tricky part: The cuff.  Laurelaura helped me iron and sew the five-inch pieces I cut out earlier into a tube.  We then pinned the cuffs onto the stockings, and I attached them by sewing into the inside of the stocking, moving in a circle as I pushed the whole thing through the sewing machine.  It was pretty difficult, but my stitch wavered in only a few places.


STEP FIVE: FINISHING
After the cuffs were attached, I ironed out the stockings...







...and the hubs trimmed the strings from the hem inside the stocking.





Voila!  New, handmade stockings for our first Christmas together!  Thanks, Laurelaura!




Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Enjoy your family, friends, the turkey, presents, and the winter wonderland outside. :)






Monday, December 21, 2009

Epic Fail Jack Frost!

I woke up this morning psyched about pilates (it was awesome, by the way).  As I was getting ready to go, I went through my usual rigmarole of checking the CS Monitor, NPR, and MPR websites.  I clicked on my MPR bookmark, looked at the headline, and wanted to cry.  This is what I read:


"All signs today point to a major winter storm tracking into Minnesota for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. If you are planning travel anywhere in the Upper Midwest by car of air later this week, be prepared for heavy snow and major winter storm conditions."
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/updraft/


/cry.  The hubs and I are desperately thinking up ways to circumvent this storm, which lies smack dab in the middle of our route to Lincoln, which we were planning to travel Christmas Eve.  Airfare is through the roof, rental cars would cost as much as a plane ticket, and there was a funny sentence in the report mentioning how it would be impossible to travel through "open areas" during the storm (Hello!? IOWA!?).


So, we're hoping that somehow Jack Frost calls off this storm and lets it sit over Texas and Oklahoma for the holidays (Merry Christmas, Texas shorebirds!).  But if he decides to go through with creating a wicked white Christmas, the hubs and I may be snowed in.  


Epic fail, Jack Frost!  

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vote for Luigi!!

As a thank you to my good friend who helped me make stockings last night (post and photos to come later today), I am linking a site to her cavachon Luigi's contest website.  He's competing for a catalog shot for the Limited, which is pretty sweet.  Currently, he's 175 out of over 3000 contestants, so he has a chance as long as you vote!


Vote him up! You can vote once per day.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Huh...

This is interesting.  Goldgar would be disappointed, but I think my St. Paul lawyer soon-to be-president friend (you know who you are!) has found his niche.


It looks like America's gone old school:
Big Whigs
The Modern Whig Party
MN Whig Party


I can't tell if it's legit middle-of-the-road stuff, or conservatism in disguise.  I like the MN chapter's views on gay marriage and gun control, but am wary of the lack of discussion of abortion rights (on the state level), have distaste for the immigration policies, and downright amused by their discussion of private jets (see the MN platform under "Energy").


Also, they have the best political mascot--the owl.  I'm not posting it here due to copyright laws, but you should totally check it out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Stubbornly Refuse to Get Behind in Blog Posts...

...so I'm posting, even if it's incredibly mundane.


I'm pulling a Benjamin Franklin, and listing everything I did today.


1. Got up.  This took a great effort.
2. Discovered it had snowed.  Contemplated going back to bed.
3. Drove to the gym.
4. Busted my ass in pilates (I didn't know my body could bend that way!)
5. Took a shower.
6. Ate a going-rotten salad, determined to stay primal today.  Also, I can't stand seeing the greens go to waste.
7. Ate a chocolate.  Technically, it's primal.
8. Wrapped presents.  And watched Bones.
9. Wrapped presents.  And watched 30 Rock.
10.  Contemplated starting some cookies, but realized that I didn't have any vanilla.  Crap!
11.  Tried to find the Olive Garden that's on the way to work.  Drove up and down Wayzata Blvd. doing so, then gave up and got on 394.
12.  Teached the kiddos.  Yes, I teached them.
13.  Went to TJ's to pick up aforementioned vanilla.
14.  Entered the apartment with glazed eyes and a growling stomach...Barked at the hubs...Microwaved leftovers, and regained sanity.
15.  Watched The Colbert Report.
16.  Sweet, sweet WOW.
17.  Blog post.


So, there's my incredibly mundane blog post for Monday.  Mission accomplished!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Foodie Friday: Crabbies

I just realized I didn't post Thursday, and that this is late.  Oops!


Here is a tried and true holiday appetizer recipe.  Despite the funny implications of their name, Crabbies are delicious with a capital D.  It makes 48 appetizers.


Crabbies
1 jar Old English cheese (found near the cheeses, but not usually in the cooler)
1 stick margarine or butter (mom uses marg, I tried butter; both work well)
1 small can crabmeat, drained
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 package English Muffins


1.  Melt cheese and margarine/butter in a saucepan on low heat, stirring occasionally.  Add crabmeat and garlic sauce once the cheese and butter are melted together.  Remove from heat.


2.  While the cheese and margarine are melting, cut each muffin in half and lay out nook-and-cranny side up on a cookie sheet.  Then, take your knife and score the muffins into quarters.  This makes separating the pieces easier after you freeze the Crabbies.


3.  Spread the cheese-crabmeat mixture onto the muffins.  Cover them with wax paper and freeze.  After they're frozen, separate the quarters and put them in a freezer bag for storage.


4.  To serve, brown the Crabbies under a broiler for around 5 minutes.  I typically use a toaster oven because it takes a lot less time to warm up than a standard oven.  And you might as well sit near the thing, because once you put the Crabbies out they go quickly.  Enjoy!


Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bummer...



While I love the snowstorm we're experiencing on the western shore right now, the blizzard has brought a bout of ill occurrences to the shorebird household.  


First of all, I, on a whim, started a free 7-day trial of WOW, which the hubs and I haven't played for almost a year.  I rolled a Blood Elf Warlock, and I have been trapped in the world (of warcraft) ever since.  I cannot find a way out, there is no portal to RL (real life), nor are there quests to "Do the Dishes" or "Make the Bed".  Why not just stop, you say?  Obviously, you haven't played this game!


Partly because I'm stuck in the world of warcraft, and partly because of the snowstorm, I haven't been to the gym since Sunday.  I can't bring myself to dig out my car just for some physical punishment.  I would do Jackie Warner, but our XBox is with a friend and we don't have a DVD player.  So, I'm feeling gross.  I fasted today until 2, and that made me feel a little better.  


Lastly, and the biggest reason today is such a bummer, is that we shorebirds did not get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This really bummed me out, and I haven't heard back from the hubs so I'm not sure his feelings toward it at this point (he's returning to the world of dungeons and dragons this evening, so who knows when I'll see him in RL again.  Yes, I know.  We're HUGE nerds.).  The reasons were that we don't have enough of "our" money right now for the down payment they want, and that we would be buying in a restricted market (read: homes are selling for below normal market prices.  Um....duh?!).  So, we'll be hanging out on the western shore for a while more, it seems.  The worst part of this is that our dog dreams are dashed for a bit (heehee...alliteration!), and the rescue groups are going to overloaded with Dairyland dogs, and we won't be able to lighten the load by adopting or fostering.  :(


The only good thing at the moment is a new position that opened up at an animal shelter that I am applying for.  It's as a humane educator and would fill up some time in the morning and early afternoon.  If I could get it, we could save both of my paychecks and get closer to the house (and the greyhound).  Wish me luck!


Signing off, and signing into WOW....  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Come On, Wisconsin!

During my routine morning website perusal, I read a disturbing blog post by the coordinator of Minnesota Greyhound Rescue that neither Wisconsin's Division of Gaming nor Dairyland Greyhound Park will be helping the dogs find new homes.  They are essentially washing their hands of the dogs they have bred, raced, and exploited for years, which is reprehensible.  

Hundreds of dogs are affected by the closing of the track, and greyhound rescue groups from around the country are committing themselves to insuring the dogs have a place to go after December 31st, even though it is not their responsibility to do so, and it will require an enormous effort.  At least some people have the dogs' interest at heart.  The entire situation gives more fuel to the greyhound advocate's fire: The way the park and kennel owners plan to abandon their wards after the track closes is indicative of their general regard for the dogs in their care.  All the more reason for this cruel industry to be shut down. 

The Greyhound Alliance is the place to go for more information regarding these dogs, and possibly volunteer and make a donation that will help make sure the dogs are safe and secure come New Year's Day.   

Monday, December 7, 2009

Teriyaki Wings for Game Day

Since I didn't get to post a recipe last Friday, I thought I'd share a wing recipe I made yesterday for the Vikings game (too bad they lost!  Maybe these are unlucky wings??).  They were quite yummy and easy to make once you cut up the wing parts.  The recipe is from Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes, which is a bargain bookstore crockpot cookbook.


Game Day Teriyaki Wings
3 pounds of chicken wings
1/2 an onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
1/4 cup cooking Sherry 
2 teaspoons dried ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees on the broil setting.
2. Cut the chicken wings at the first joint to separate the parts.  This is easier said than done, and the longest part of the process for me (besides the cooking, of course).  
3. Place the wing parts in a broiler pan (not a cookie sheet, like I did....Thank god my husband was home to turn off the smoke alarm!). Broil 20 minutes; 10 minutes per side.
4. While the wings are cooking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl to create the teriyaki sauce.  Smell the yummy goodness.
5. When the wings are done, place them in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over them, making sure to reach every visible wing.
6. Put on the lid and set the dial to low (5-7 hours) or high (2-3 hours).  Turn the wings half-way through to make sure all of them are coated with the teriyaki sauce. 
7. Serve the wings out of your crockpot when they're done!


These got rave reviews last night at the game, although the audience wasn't particularly hard to please. :)  At least something was a winner last night!   

Friday, December 4, 2009

Foodie Friday: Food (and Links!) for Thought

For my last post regarding Puppy Mill Action Week, I'd like to provide links to additional information on mills, online pledges you can sign to show your support, and various other puppy mill related things.  


Thanks for reading about this cruel industry.  Remember that next year we have the power to change the lives of thousands of dogs in this state by urging our representatives to vote for H.F. 253 and S.F. 7.  


Here are the links:


1. Animal Folks MN is the headquarters for MN puppy mill legislation.  Lots of good stuff here.
2. Information to the puppy mill legislation opposition to  can be found at Animal Folks's website.
3. The Humane Society of the United States has a national campaign focused on ending puppy mills all over the country. 
4. Animal Folks MN has a petition you can sign and send electronically to your representatives.
5.  HSUS also has a pledge you can sign to stop the cruelty of puppy mills.
6.  Animal Folks MN also has a large video library of puppy mill investigations, dog auctions, and other undercover work.  A video is worth a thousand words. 


I'd like to leave with a video from the HSUS:




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Puppy Mill Action Week: Advice for Future Dog Owners

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to explaining what puppy mills are and the current laws in Minnesota regarding puppy mills and large commercial breeders.  Today, I'd like to provide some alternatives to buying the "puppy in the window" to ensure that the pet you welcome into your home does not come from a puppy mill and the money you paid for your new fur baby is not supporting animal abuse and cruelty.  


First, let me give you some reasons not to buy your next pet from a pet store, a newspaper ad, the internet, or the parking lot of your grocery store.  Some reputable breeders have legitimate newspaper ads and websites, and I'll discuss how to separate the wheat from the tares in a bit; right now, I want to show how choosing such avenues for pet ownership can have disastrous, if not fatal, effects.


The main problem with buying a puppy the various ways listed above is that you don't know what you're getting into, and you cannot trust the honesty of any of the selling parties involved.  Pet stores often tell consumers that their puppies are family raised by "prime breeders", have a clean bill of health, and their parents are AKC registered (which isn't saying much--the AKC turns a blind eye to puppy mills because the AKC makes money on every "purebred" dog registered, healthy or not).  Unfortunately, none of their claims are typically the case.  There is a pending case against Petland for selling unhealthy, dying puppies to uneducated consumers:

The money you spend on a puppy in the mall and other pet stores funds the cruel puppy mill practice.  Do not think that buying one of these puppies is "saving" it from a terrible life; the damage has already been done, and your purchase ensures that it will continue.


As for newspaper ads, the internet, and parking lot puppies, there are no guarantees that the puppies for sale are family-raised, healthy, and reared humanely, regardless of what the seller tries to tell you.  Remember, there are no laws requiring a standard of care for the animals, and many folks have no qualms lying about the origin of their product to turn a profit (There are consumer fraud laws, I guess...But what deal with unscrupulous people if you can avoid it?).  Many breeder websites show stock photography of happy, healthy puppies, which wins the consumer's trust that they are purchasing a healthy puppy.  Many times, it just isn't the case.


So, now that you're terrified of making a mistake when you pick out your pup, what can you do to avoid supporting puppy mills?


1.  Adopt!  There are zillions of dogs (and young puppies!) waiting for homes in shelters all over the country.  Most dogs and puppies in shelters go through a physical exam, spay/neuter, are microchipped, and vaccinated--all before you step in the door!  Considering all the work that goes into shelter dogs to "prepare" them for adoption and their affordable adoption donation, they are a much better deal than a dog that's yet to see a vet that costs $1000.


2.  Research reputable breeders.  As stated before, many reputable breeders use the newspaper and the internet to advertise their new litters.  There are many differences between a reputable "hobby" breeder and a puppy mill breeder.
a.  A reputable breeder will allow you to come to their home in person (don't rely on photos from a website!), will show you all the puppies and their mom (usually dad isn't on site), and describe how the puppies were raised.  A puppy mill breeder does not allow you to visit; many won't even let you hold puppies until after the sale is complete.  


b.  Reputable breeders have a love for the breed of dog they produce and are committed to breeding for temperament and soundness.  They make sure that the parents of each litter have temperaments suited for home life and are free of any hereditary disease that may manifest itself in the pups.  They will usually have certifications from vets that show a clean bill of hereditary health.  Puppy mill breeders, however, do not consider the temperament or soundness of their puppies.  Their goal is to make money, not create excellent examples of a particular breed.  They breed parents that have health and temperament issues together time and again; if the puppy sells, it's not their problem (but could cause heartbreak for unsuspecting owners down the road).


c.  Reputable breeders are committed to the health and longevity of the puppies they produce.  Often, if a puppy doesn't work out, a breeder will accept the dog back, rather than see it enter the shelter system.  Puppy mill breeders' concern for their puppies ends once your cash is in their hands.  


So, the way to avoid puppy mills is clear--the main thing is to not make an impulse buy and to DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Don't purchase a puppy sight unseen off the web or through a paper, and be sure to visit a breeder's home before you even consider buying a puppy from them.  Of course, you can avoid supporting puppy mills altogether if you adopt.  Here's a list of adoption agencies in the western shore area.  There are many, many more in the entire Twin Cities area.


Animal Humane Society
Pet Haven
Minnesota Wisconsin Collie Rescue
Underdog Rescue
MARS
Minnesota Greyhound Rescue




Tomorrow--Food for Thought.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Puppy Mill Action Week: Email Template

I thought I'd post a template of the letter I sent to my district representatives, just in case any of you are inclined to do the same.  Using the template is easy and fast; just be sure you adjust the references to the bill name and authors/co-authors accordingly!


Thanks for your support!




Dear:


As 2009 draws to a close and a new legislative session quickly approaches, I would like to call to your attention a bill, likenesses of which have already passed in 31 states (including our neighbor, Wisconsin, enacted yesterday), that affects many lives in the state of Minnesota: H.F. 253.  Unfortunately, this bill did not pass in the 2009 session, but I am certain your support will help make it a success—and a win for Minnesota’s pets—in 2010.


As you may already know, H.F. 253 is the “First Engrossment, Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill” written by Tom Tillberry and co-authored by your fellow district representative Frank Hornstein.  The bill calls for the regulation of puppy mills in the state Minnesota, requiring commercial breeders (breeders who own twenty or more intact animals with the intention of selling their puppies for profit) to be licensed with the state and subject to the Standards for Care of Dogs and Cats already enacted as well as new standards regarding socialization and identification of animals created specifically for the unique circumstances within a puppy mill.  Under the bill, the Board of Animal Health would act as the governing body, overseeing inspections of the mills and receiving funding through licensing and registration fees.


Opposition to this bill and its sister bill, S.F. 7, claim that state and federal laws already enacted are enough to monitor the treatment of animals in puppy mills.  While a good start, the current laws are not adequate.  The Standards for Care of Dogs and Cats mentioned above is not enforceable due to the lack of laws allowing state inspectors to survey and penalize puppy mills for violating its principles.  Worse, the order itself claims to only be “suggestions and recommendations,” not law.  The Standards for Care do not hold commercial breeders accountable for the treatment of animals under their care.  Animal cruelty laws apply only “after-the-fact”; that is, only after the abuse has occurred.  Abuse happens on such a large scale at puppy mills that prevention would be best way to combat animal cruelty—licensing and inspections would stop the cruelty before it has a chance to happen.


Some folks also believe that the Animal Welfare Act provides adequate protection to puppy mill animals, especially because it “requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public” through inspections by the USDA.  The sad truth is that puppies are increasingly being sold through newspapers, in parking lots, and most concerning, over the internet (a situation the legislators who wrote the bill in 1966 certainly could not have anticipated).  This creates a wide loophole for breeders to bypass the standards in the Animal Welfare Act, creating a large industry that, in Minnesota, is unregulated and accountable to no one.


As a resident of Minnesota, I am ashamed that my state, which values its connection to the environment and its history of animal husbandry and care for animals of all sorts, is a haven for such outrageous animal abuse.  Please consider the facts surrounding H.F. 253 and support the regulation of the cruel puppy mill industry 


Remember: We must advocate for the animals because they cannot advocate for themselves.      


Thank you for your consideration.


Sincerely,





Puppy Mill Action Week: Minnesota's Puppy Mill Laws (Or Lack Thereof)

Yesterday, I wrote about what puppy mills are, why they exist, and why they're a cruel business.  Today, I'd like to discuss the lack of puppy mill regulation in the good state of Minnesota, and what we as citizens can do to right the problem.  


Just yesterday, our neighbor, Wisconsin, passed into law the Wisconsin Commercial Dog Breeders Licensure Bill.  The legislation sets up humane standards of care for commercial breeders and them to be licensed with the Departments of Agriculture and Trade and Consumer Protection.  It also provides for routine inspections of breeders to insure that the standards are being met.  


Now, let's discuss what Minnesota has done to regulate puppy mills.  


License Required to Breed Commercially: No
Fees Required to Breed Commercially: No
Inspections for Commercial Breeders: No
Regulatory Agency for Commercial Breeders: No


Essentially, our beautiful, proudly progressive state, known for its animal husbandry and concern for the environment, is a haven for animal abusers.  We allow people to cage animals (the product from which we invite into our homes), hundreds at a time, in deplorable conditions with no veterinary care.  Often, dogs are left outside the majority of the year, well into the freezing winter months.  The cruel practice of large-scale, inhumane breeding is a scar on the landscape and the reputation of Minnesota.  If Wisconsin can pass laws to regulate this business, why can't we?


Let's take a look at what's been done to get puppy mill regulation passed in Minnesota.  Animal Folks Minnesota is an excellent resource for a more in-depth look at this issue, and are the front-runners in getting this legislation introduced to the state congressmen and women.  I am indebted to the site for much of the information in this post, and have provided links to Animal Folks MN accordingly. 


First of all, a clarification.  Minnesota does have laws that protect animals from cruelty and protect their general welfare.  These laws do not, however, give the state the power to regulate and license dog breeders in Minnesota.  This means that the state does not have the power to inspect facilities, set standards of care for the facilities, or impose penalties for violating standards of care.  The Kathy Bauck case is an example of how laborious the task is to convict a commercial breeder in this state .  Please read all the information provided by Animal Folks (click on Bauck's name above) to see how our current laws operate in the puppy mill setting.  


Short version: Bauck, who had almost 1000 dogs on her property, was fined and penalized for animal cruelty and practicing veterinary medicine without a license several times over the last twenty years.  This year, her operation was finally "shut down" (ie: ownership was signed over to her husband).  Her sentence for this animal cruelty (three counts of animal torture, one count of cruelty), you ask? $500 in total fines, 80 hours community service, and random inspections by the Minnesota Humane Society if she chooses to still work with animals after her fine is paid.  Outrageous.  By enacting laws to regulate the industry, we wouldn't have to put up with this nonsense; all the Baucks in the state wouldn't be able to stand up to the standards of care, and many, many animals would be spared the cruelty of the puppy mill life.  


If you'd like to take a look at Bauck's veterinary practice, please watch the following video from CAPS's investigation (WARNING: The video is graphic. Don't watch it if you have a sensitive stomach.  I've pretty much desensitized myself to these types of videos while researching puppy mills, and this still made me sick).  Scroll to the 2 minute 50 second mark:







How can we put an end to this cruelty?  Let's look at the current legislation being considered by the state house of representatives and state senate: H.F. 253 (house), S.F. 7 (senate).  


The bills did not pass in legislative year 2009, but Animal Folks MN, other animal rights groups, and caring individuals are trying to make legislators aware of its importance and get it passed in 2010, the legislative year of which starts in February.


The legislation provides protection for animals in six areas, bringing the state up to par with the 31 other states that regulate puppy mills.  The areas are licensing, inspections, standards, enforcement, funding, and penalties.  


The laws would require breeders (excluding small and hobby breeders, usually the reputable ones) to be licensed with the state of Minnesota.  Right now, commercial breeders with more than three bitches (intact females) must be licensed with the USDA if they sell their puppies wholesale (ie: to pet stores or through a broker).  However, if a breeder sells puppies through the newspaper, the internet, or out of a car in a parking lot, that breeder is not required to be licensed with the USDA, through a loophole provided in the Animal Welfare Act.  


Once licensed, breeders would be subject to inspections by Minnesota regulators to ensure that a standard of care is met.  Right now, Minnesota has "best management standards for care of dogs and cats" through the Commissioner of Agriculture.  Although created with good intentions, these standards are useless unless they can be enforced, which at the moment is not possible due to lack of legislation.  Training inspectors (a Minnesota Board of Animal Health agent, local animal control, or peace officer) to regulate the standards of care will hold breeders accountable to the standards that are already suggested.  


Funding for the provisions in the bills will be collected from license and registration fees and given to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.  The bills also incorporate misdemeanor charges for specific violations of the standards provided by the bills.  


Because there is legislation already on the table for 2010, our job as citizens is easy: We need to call or email our district legislators, inform them of the issue and why it's important, and urge them to vote for the bills.  


If you're a western shorebird like me, there's good news!  One of our representatives, Frank Hornstein, is a co-author of the house bill.  Please email him and let him know that his support of the bill is appreciated.  Our other representative, Margaret Anderson Kelliher  and our state senator Scott Dibble, have not yet seen the light.  Please call or email them and let them know how they can help end animal cruelty in Minnesota.  If you're in another district, use this directory to find your representatives.


We have the power to turn Minnesota from a haven for animal abusers to a leader in animal welfare reform.  With a little knowledge and an email to our representatives, we could put an end to much of the animal cruelty in this state and better the lives of the thousands of dogs that rely on us to advocate for their care and safety.      

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Puppy Mill Action Week: What Is a Puppy Mill?


I'd like to spend the rest of the week addressing the cruelty of puppy mills and our state's efforts (or lack thereof) to put an end to or regulate the enormous puppy mill industry in Minnesota.  


Today, I'll focus on what a puppy mill is, why they exist, and the reasons why this industry is cruel.  Tomorrow I'll discuss Minnesota's puppy mill situation, laws that are on table, and what we as citizens can do to stop puppy mills.  Thursday will be dedicated to how to avoid buying a puppy mill puppy and the other options available to us as "pet consumers."  On Friday, I'll provide a list of links to organizations--both local and national--that are dedicated to stopping puppy mills.


A puppy mill is a large dog breeding operation whose sole concern is making money.  Animal Folks MN says it best: 


"Inhumane breeders view dogs and cats as ‘products’ to be mass produced for profit. Breeding is defined solely as a business. The more puppies and kittens produced, the greater the sales. Therefore, for these breeders, quantity of dogs and cats is the goal — not quality or health of each animal’s life."


Now, there are plenty of reputable breeders out there--breeders that have a love for their dogs and the standard to which they judge them.  Reputable breeders typically breed their dogs once or twice a year, and the puppies and mother are kept and raised in the breeders' homes and receive proper veterinary care.  

This is not the case at puppy mills.  Often, there are several hundred (and sometimes over one thousand) dogs on the premises, often representing several different breeds (see the list of breeds Minnesota puppy mill owner Kathy Bauck bred. Scroll down the page and click on "Breeds" in the list of contents).  The dogs are bred without regard to the dogs' health or potential hereditary illnesses (think hip dysplasia in labs and other large dogs, patellar luxation in small dogs), not to mention the breed standard.  The saddest cases at puppy mills are not the puppies that are sold through pet stores, newspapers, or online, but the breeding parents that are kept in wire-bottom cages their entire lives and are bred continuously throughout the year.  Take a look at the living conditions below.



A video from the CAPS investigation of Minnesota Breeder Kathy Bauck:





Most would agree after watching the video that keeping social animals bred to be household pets in such terrible conditions is incredibly cruel to the animals. I think that it could also be considered consumer fraud, but more on that on Thursday.  

This is only a brief look at the cruelty of puppy mills. Please visit Animal Folks MN and the HSUS website for more in-depth information on the puppy mill situation in the U.S.  

Here is the video that's kicking off HSUS's Puppy Mill Action Week. It's an interview with a man named Timothy Bullion who used to work for a puppy mill in Virginia. He became disgusted with the conditions and treatment of the dogs he worked with and began his own undercover investigation, taking notes and photos of abuse.









Tomorrow, I'll discuss the puppy mill situation in Minnesota.


*Photo from animalfolksmn.org.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Back in the Saddle...

Wow.  What an abandonment of the primal diet this weekend was!  The most primal day I had was actually Thanksgiving, which I heralded in Wednesday night with a pizza and sweet treats from Domino's (yuck!).  Friday was going well until DQ, and Saturday and Sunday, well, let's just say it was a carb-fest.  Although delicious on the intake, all the binging made me feel yucky, so I fasted this morning and am gently submerging myself in the primal diet with a bowl of turkey soup (all real meat and veggies here, folks).  


I also skipped the gym much more than I had planned.  I did go for a walk around the best lake in the city with friends on Saturday, which was very nice.  Yoga totally kicked my butt yesterday morning as well.  Tonight, I'm looking forward to punishment from the bike and medicine balls as something more high-intensity.  

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Christmas for the Shorebirds :(

After fifteen minutes of moving boxes and looking forlornly into the storage unit, it has become apparent to me and my husband that we will not be decorating for Christmas this year.  Our wreath is on the bottom of a floor-to-ceiling (light) stack of boxes; I don't have a clue where the other trimmings are.  So, we're dependent on the few ornaments my mother sent from Mass and reindeer napkins that happened to be in the apartment already.  I'll probably go out and get some red candles for the holders on the table as well.  Our apartment will be the most sadly-decorated home on the shore, I'm afraid. :(


On another note, Thanksgiving was awesome, and I need to give a shout-out to our hosts who did a fantastic job feeding 20 people (up from 19!).  My husband and I have an entire salad and bowl of mashed potatoes left over that we'll be nursing for a few days...yum!  I got to talk greyhounds with a couple that was there, and that was awesome as well.  I can't wait to buy a home! :)


Happy Black Friday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Stuff yourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the like!  :)





This is shout-out to all who shared our massive turkey in Milan Thanksgiving 2004--40 pounds, baby!  It broke the grates in the oven and spilled its delicious juices all over the floor.  My roommate then carved it up and all the parts fit into about 4 aluminum roasting pans...the thing was enormous.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lucky Kitties

Don't you wish you could spend your days like this?




Slow, Gray Day on the Western Shore


Not a whole lot going on today on the western shore.  It's almost snowing (but not quite--sky's stuck in that dull gray color), it's quite chilly, and I didn't go to yoga.  I plan on spending the rest of the day drinking tea and writing, and I will also probably have to go to work at some point during the evening. 


Thought I'd share some sites that I visit on a frequent basis.  Most of them reveal my ridiculous obsession with animal rescue (ridiculous because I'm not yet even a volunteer and I cannot foster because I rent).


Animal Folks MN (Campaign to legislate against puppy mills in MN)
Grey2K USA (National organization to end greyhound racing across the country)
The MLS Online (MLS listings!)
Stop Puppy Mills Campaign (Humane Society of the United States website; watch a video of a rescue to see why puppy mills are so evil)
Minnesota Greyhound Rescue (Anti-racing greyhound rescue)
Click To Give (Click a button, donate a bowl of food to animal shelters!)


Happy perusing!



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Water's Out...

Well, the water's out...again.  This time without warning.  I feel that this warrants the creation of a list of reasons why my husband and I desperately want to buy a home:


1.  The water won't go out unexpectedly.  If it does, it's in your power to fix it asap.
2.  We can finally get a greyhound.
3.  We'll have a yard.
4.  Greyhound.
5.  We can finally bring our loveseat/piles of books/rest of our stuff out of storage.
6.  Greyhound!
7.  Free laundry!
8.  We'll have an office.
9.  We can have parties and we won't have to run down three flights of stairs to let people in.
10.  GREYHOUND!!!!


There you go.  Add "counterspace" to the list and it will be complete.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving: A Week-Long Labor of Love--for 19!

Given that Sylvan is open everyday this week except Thursday, this week doesn't really feel like a holiday week.  However, that doesn't mean that I'm not preparing (part) of a holiday feast.  The hubbie and I were graciously invited to a Thanksgiving feast at a local friend's home, and the guest list is up to nineteen!  The hosts could not of course create an entire feast for nineteen, so everyone is bringing a dish or two.  We're bringing a salad and mashed potatoes.  After doing some internet research, this is the shopping list I've come up with:


Winter Salad
Four heads of lettuce
Three green apples
Three red apples
One cup of toasted walnuts (eww!  But, I can pick them out!)
A block of sharp white cheddar cheese


Dressing: 7.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 18 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.


Mashed Potatoes
Eight POUNDS of yukon gold potatoes
Three cups of milk
Two sticks of butter


Yum!!  I tried to keep everything as primal as possible (sneaky little Grok!).  Potatoes aren't really on the list, but they're a better source of carbs than, say, white sandwich bread.  I'm going to leave the skins on (both for the nutrients and so I avoid carpal tunnel from peeling them all), and probably use whole milk and full fat butter.  


The salad is entirely primal, right down to the cheddar cheese, which is allowed.  As long as I avoid the rolls and limit my dessert consumption, Thursday should be a primal feast!   

Friday, November 20, 2009

Foodie Friday: Salad for Salad-Haters

I'm a salad hater.  I never ate salad until I went to college, and then (and now) only reluctantly.  I don't like most salad accoutrements--cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sesame seeds, cauliflower, onions, beets, etc. etc. etc.  However, I do realize that there is a lot of nutrition in dark, leafy greens and the things that go on salads, so I've tried to create one that is palatable to my salad-hating tastes.  This is what I've come up with.


Salad for Salad Haters


1. Leafy Greens--I use red leaf and romaine primarily, but have been known to use baby spinach as well.
2. Protein--I like to switch it up between grilled chicken, grilled steak, and hard boiled eggs.
3. Sweet Thing--Apples, pears, golden raisins, and craisins make good choices, and add crunch.
4. Dressing--I make my own dressing!  Equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, pepper, and garlic salt.  Shake well and you're done!


So, the salad for salad haters is incredibly basic and uninventive, but it suits my tastes and nutritional needs.  It's especially satisfying post-workout with lots of protein.  


Buon Appetito!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Medicine Balls: A Panegyric

Writing two gym-themed posts in a row isn't what I had planned, but I had such an excellent workout today, I needed to express my absolute (albeit exhausting) delight with the medicine ball.


Before getting to the medicine ball, I did a random hill workout on the bike, which was bearable only because of Van Morrison and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping.  All told, it wasn't too terribly bad, but 45 minutes was enough.  Then it was onto the most random part of the gym--the area where there's a mat, a wall of mirrors, and a myriad of random items--little free weights, Bosu balls, weight benches at 45 degree angles for ab workouts, and a rack of medicine balls.


Before I came to the gym, I looked up several workouts using medicine balls online.  Since I did a strenuous workout for my lower body with a personal trainer on Monday, I wanted to focus on abs and arms today.  Unfortunately, my memory didn't serve me too well (I'm going to print out the exercises and keep them in my bag for next time), and I only sort-of remembered a couple of exercises.  To start, I did two sets of standing oblique twists for one minute apiece, two sets of wood chops (I went from the ball over my head down to the outside of one ankle, then up again and down to the opposite ankle) for one minute apiece, and finally two sets of sitting in a sit-up position, back at a forty-five degree angle to the floor, passing the medicine ball straight-armed from one side to the other, one minute each set.  Then, I repeated all sets/exercises.  All of these exercises were with a 10 lb ball.


Next, I took the 4 lb ball and did some ab work on the angled ab work bench.  I held the ball up in front of me and aimed for several different areas on the ceiling, hitting different sets of abs or my obliques each time.  I did two sets of ten reps for each ceiling area. (I realize this part of the workout sounds bizarre; I made it up!).  By the end of these repetitions, I was totally beat and stretched out.


Right now, my shoulders are sore and my biceps ache, but I'm sure that it'll go away soon and I'll have stronger arms and core!


So, the next time you're in that random area of the gym (and every gym has one), try out some medicine ball exercises.  They're great for engaging multiple muscle groups and are downright exhausting.  I'm sure they won't disappoint!