|July 31, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Pup culture, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
On a blue moon eve, we’re relishing life’s sweetness.
In the midst of rapid-fire, life-altering, all-good changes for Rusty & I, one thing remains a constant: change itself. Perhaps counterintuitively, that is what makes life oh-so-sweet.
Because only change is certain, mindfulness is essential.
Gazing at the moon, I know the now is everything. In the now, be present, be grateful, and let go. Let go of what’s past, what’s not yours to control. Don’t cling to what’s bound to change. Ultimately, mindfulness creates happiness in the face of chaos.
Last month I briefly tuned into
news chaos after a self-imposed grey-out.
I had enjoyed a creatively productive morning, solving problems in my head (writing ideas, organizational solutions, meal planning & laying out my week’s agenda). Then, seeking a break, I plugged in & immediately became less positively productive. I made the mistake of perusing media, which I’d intentionally avoided for the past week. Suddenly: prison-break killers loose in NY; another Bush political ad (the drumbeat begins); a raccoon apocalyptically rides an alligator (because Florida); shark attacks; escaped Georgian zoo animals; & a flooding-likely tropical storm in the Gulf. Now, I questioned: I care, BUT, do I need any of this noisy info? Simply, no.
In a blink, none of that din matters in my life. But this moment did:
Last week, a tall friend rescued a distressed hummingbird from my patio skylight. It was an exercise in gratitude. I was thankful for his help, as was, I believe, the hummingbird. Later in the day, my friend randomly & sincerely said, as though he was a boy describing magic, “I got to hold a hummingbird this morning.” I hadn’t even thought about it that way. What a gift to us all.
Shift gears to get to the sweet stuff, which sustains & surrounds us more than chaos.
It’s in the hummingbird’s beauty & flight to freedom. It’s in the rewardable moment when a jumping puppy fleetingly has four paws on the floor. And it’s in life’s happy accidents. (Accidents? I don’t believe in them. They are our teachers: serendipities the Universe wants us to see.)
Rusty & I had a sweet, serendipitous kitchen moment.
As I inhaled a garlic bagel smothered in cream cheese, topped with dill, capers & smoked salmon – I noticed Rusty’s stare. Say what you will, I was under poodle mind control. I covered some cantaloupe with smoked salmon (just a bit ‘cuz it’s salty, but safely cooked) and shared the bounty with my foodie fido. On a rushed morning, together, we created a blissful, in-the moment, savory summery-snack.
Rusty’s always been a canine cantaloupe connoisseur:
So, silently reflect on tonight’s moon.
There’s wisdom in that silence. A blue moon is about setting clear intentions. My suggestion: Take 10 minutes to aim for mindfulness. Marvel at the moon as you howl with Pup. Last full moon, Rusty & I tipped our heads back & let it rip. Soon, the neighborhood’s pooches joined our chorus. It was magical.
Intentions are powerful.
Set them thoughtfully, positively. Send them sweetly, heartfeltly. Choose an intention of daily mindfulness. With practice, your mindset will shift to one blessed with spontaneity, creativity, appreciation, self-knowledge & happiness. What a lovely, wondrous starting point in a blue moon – a savor-worthy summer event.
What are you waiting for? Get your howl on! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
- “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” ~Oscar Wilde
- “If you’re trying to find out what comes next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen.” ~Ann Patchett
- “When you wait, you get very clear on what you desire and how much you want it. And when you get clear on what you really want, you can manifest anything.” ~Lissa Rankin
- “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” ~Goi Nasu
- “Intentions are powerful. Set them thoughtfully, positively. Send them sweetly, heartfeltly.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “Because only change is certain, mindfulness is essential.” ~Ruth Hagen
- “There’s wisdom in the silence.” ~Ruth Hagen
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|January 20, 2015||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
So. Let’s take the pulse of your year thus far, shall we?
Resolutions not-so-much? Whining & we’re only weeks into 2015? Right, that’s because you ran that rat race straight into the resolution mousetrap. Have no fear, overwhelmed whiskered-one. There’s a way out – if you’re open to it.
I have a devilishly long 2015 to-do list.
Believe me, I’m the type of gal who would/should, to my mind, accomplish everything by 1/2. Notice I didn’t say “could”. ‘Cuz I can’t…. and neither can you.
Here’s what we can do: Rewrite the rules.
Yep, new rules for the new year. They’re not complicated, they’re cheap & they payoff in spades. Best part: Break ’em & shake ’em if ya wanna!
I’m not a dictator, not even a benevolent one.
I won’t write rules for you. But I will tell you what Rusty & I came up with so far. It’s an evolving list, as it should be. We all evolve (Darwin!): body, mind & soul. To quote Mary Matalin: “Inflexible minds are boring minds.” Boring is not on this list, so flexible we shall be!
Ruth & Rusty’s “Happy Now & Here” Rules:
- No resolutions – ever. See? Easy.
- Always do a twofer. Whenever you can, double up. Buy 2 tickets to a show instead of one. Match a friend to the entertainment & take them. Buy 2 bags of pet food. Donate one to a shelter or give it to a neighbor in need. Make 2 batches of yummies & give one away. (See below for a very shareable recipe!) Buy a sandwich @ the deli, & treat the person behind you to one, too. Bring your trashcan in, and heck, drag the neighbor’s in, too. Got it?
- Take a vacation in your hometown. And talk to people. Learn their names. Take your dog; you’re guaranteed to see things through his nose/eyes you hadn’t noticed before. Convos are randomly uber-easy with Pup nearby, as you know. I find it fascinating how delightfully open folks are around animals. No Fido, & Fluffy just won’t play that? Be a solo tourist; ask people where they like to eat, drink, hike, or hang with art & books. Really listen to their tips and actually go do what they recommend. It’s the best. (Trust me, introverts. You can do it.)
- Purge with purpose. Right, I did it today. I filled & delivered 3 purpose-filled bags: donation, consignment & reuse. In the past, Rusty’s purged unused toys. He doesn’t miss them, but his pals love them. I wholeheartedly believe that less clutter in your space is less clutter in your mind & soul. Besides, Rusty just has too many toys. (Shhh….)
- Choose happiness. If you follow TSP, you know this choice is big. It changed my life. My first week of 2015 was a downer. But I brought it back to happy asap. How? I connect with friends & family I love, who truly love me back. I ask for help. I create beauty. I play with Rusty. (Get on the floor & play with your pet; it’s a whole other world down there!) I exercise, eat well, love with all my heart, sing, dance, bake, sip wine, hug, laugh, & smile with my eyes. I’m curious by nature. I consult Reiki masters, shamans, energy healers, Buddhists & yogis. I read everything. If it lights my soul up, sign me up. What lights your soul up?
Five easy things. Do them simply & sweetly, as often as you like.
Be kind to yourself & others in the process. Do not judge your progress or count how many you’ve done. Do not judge others by their response or count what you receive in return. Just be. Just do. Find yourself & your bliss in the being, doing, giving & receiving of each moment.
Speaking of giveable yummies, try this ridiculously easy recipe.
Each batch is an individual serving that’s frozen. When you’re ready, pop as many servings as you like into the oven and roast away! You can share it with your pets (no garlic or onions, please). Or deliver packaged portions to a friend who’s going through a tough time. Or invite a friend over for an impromptu home-cooked meal.
Ruth’s Rosemary-Mustard Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch sticks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch sticks
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
course sea salt & pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 1-quart resealable plastic freezer bags
In a large bowl, combine prepped veggies. Stir in 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 Tbs mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt & 1/4 tsp pepper. Separately, season the chicken with ground sea salt & pepper, to taste. Divide veggie mix and chicken among the 4 bags. Add 1/2 rosemary sprig to each bag & seal. Freeze, until ready to cook, for up to 3 months. Each bag is one serving. (This cooks best from frozen, so get your chill on!)
To cook: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty bag(s) into a baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes. Stir veggies & flip chicken. Roast 20-25 minutes more, occasionally stirring veggies, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the rosemary sprigs & plate up the goodness!
(Rusty chowed on bits of veg & chicken from this dish. If I were making him his own bag, however, I’d leave out the salt & pepper. I’d replace the 1/2 rosemary sprig with 1 Tbs chopped, fresh parsley, mixed into the veggies.)
~Lovingly lifted & tweaked from Real Simple~
Wait…. this just in: Rusty said, “That’s a twofer you can drool fer!” You were expecting Shakespeare? He’s a poodle, peeps. He’s a poodle.
Happy Now & Here! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2015 The Soulful Pet
|November 5, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Soul food, Uncategorized|
Where have we been?
Traveling; spiritual journeying (me – I don’t know about Rusty); spending time with family, friends & nature; and eating well. We’ve collected wonderful memories & stories along the way. Here’s a taste….
I hate airports & planes.
It’s not a fear of flying. It’s the impersonal, cattle-herding, soul-sucking nature of the airport that wears me out like the flu. Once boarded, I find myself praying not for the plane to remain intact for the duration, but for my seatmate to not be an escaped lunatic. Truly, being trapped with insanity or Chatty Kathy is my nightmare in the air. Folks ask me why I don’t take Rusty. I wonder why on Earth he’d enjoy it anymore than I do? I think he prefers to stay on terra firma, curled up in a biped’s bed. I get that.
I confess, I used my miles to fly first class on my last trip.
I’m a solo-flying newbie, so comfort eases my stress. A good friend urged me not to use my miles to fly domestically. She wants me to see the world; I want that, too. But a girl has got to get comfy flying alone first; the world will wait.
Fast forward to boarding.
I finished a text while praying to the plane gods that the seat next to me would stay empty. Suddenly, a cheery voice said, “Well, hello there!” I looked up and saw an open, genuine, happy soul smiling with his eyes. Immediately, I was relieved. This would be a terrific flight. We toasted, laughed & chatted the entire trip. We anti-smalltalked about life’s twists & turns, family, work, dreams, goals – it was effortless & meaningful. If I dozed off, he greeted my awakenings with, “So, d’ya have a good nap? Want anything?” I thanked the plane gods several times that flight. Lovely, lovely guy.
The return flight was completely different.
I sat beside Mr. Gadget. Despite my polite efforts to catch his eye to @ least greet him, he plugged in & tuned out from the start. I’m not judging; who’s to say that he wasn’t using his own social/emotional crutches? Clearly, the rule was no talking. Faced with a bad movie, not being tired enough to sleep & cracking a new book open – I chose none. Instead, I opted to spend 6 hours on a plane with no tech, no books, no movies, no talking. A few naps. Lots of internal chatter about where my life is going, why some I loved have left it, if I can make a go of my dreams, & if others will hop on board with my visions. Daunting stuff, that. As I watched clouds, lightning & snow covered peaks go by, I finally heard my intuition speak. (That girl needs silence, no way around it.) She said, “Continue to find inner peace & happiness.” Sigh. So simple, yet it’s everything. This writer & awakening healer needs to listen in the silence. We all do.
Rusty & I celebrated our reunion with a kitchen concoction. It’s basic, ‘cuz after a trip I usually only have pantry basics. And, I’m usually too dog-tired to slog to the grocery store. So this happened:
Ruth & Rusty’s Simple Smoothie
Ingredients (use organic when you can)
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 cup non-fat milk
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla
Puree in a blender until smooth & serve asap. I drink mine from a glass. Rusty prefers his served on a saucer, topped with some oats & a dash of cinnamon. Really, he does. He refused it otherwise.
~Tweaked a tad from Martha Stewart~
Here’s the thing: finding inner peace & happiness is an inside job.
You can’t rely on someone or some place or some time to make you happy. Period. Look inward. Yes, it’s scary. Who cares? Just do it. Those negative thoughts & voices you hear in the silence? They’re not you. Not the real you. The real you is love & gratitude. So any voices who talk smack about you like you couldn’t imagine talking to a loved one…let them go. That’s your gremliny brain prattling on with hurtful nonsense. Notice those thoughts, and watch them pass by like the scenery from a plane’s window. Don’t push them away; that strengthens them. Notice & release. Come back to your grateful heart & breath. This takes daily practice because you’re retraining your brain that’s naturally hardwired for negativity. Think of it as working out your happiness muscle.
Ditch your expectations.
Expectations are created by perceptions. What? Yeah, they’re not real, either. Like the gremlins in your dome, what you think should happen isn’t necessarily best for you. (Gasp! Your ego could be wrong!) If you don’t attach to an outcome, you won’t be hurt if it doesn’t unfold. And, you’ll be able to see the fork in the road offering your better path. You’ll also see the wonders around you for not clinging to a mythical outcome. Clinging causes suffering. Self-imposed suffering stifles happiness. Back to my plane ride: While I thought I didn’t want a seatmate, in each case, the men who sat next to me gifted me. One with connection with another soul, one with connection with my own soul. Be present; be mindful; be happy.
Yep. Big, juicy, nasty shit-storms. Stay strong; weather the turbulence. Take shelter by leaning hard on people who truly love you. Let them help you because they want to help you. Asking for help is strong, not weak. Slog through the gooey, mucky mud puddles with your pals. You must go through it, and you can get through it. But you’re not alone in it. My mama’s fond of saying, “This too shall pass.” And, like a storm, it does. It does, friend. (Oopsie, sorry for the swear words, mum.)
So that’s what happens when I fly solo. Deep freakin’ thoughts – or welcome distractions from delightful peeps. Either way, I’m cool. But I am glad to be back on terra firma with my pal, Rusty.
Convince your mind to follow your heart, and enjoy the ride! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|June 8, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Pup culture, Recipes, Soul food, Videos|
Shhh…. Can you keep a secret?
My Rusty has a rep to uphold: that of a maniacal cat-chasing poodle. Unbeknownst to him, his favorite treats are – gasp! – cat treats. Shhh…. Please don’t tell him about my beastly betrayal. He’d never forgive me. Or I’d be eating cat food. Or both. Probably both.
Kitty treats are the perfect size for my little guy.
He loves Grizzly NuTreats for cats; Organix cat treats; and simple, small cubes of poached chicken breast – which, of course – are a canine & feline fave. While processed dog treats aren’t healthy for your cat, the reverse is fine. Just don’t go overboard. Look for a short ingredient list, preferably organic with few or no grains, sourced & made in USA. Healthiest of all, barring any allergies, is a single-ingredient, human-grade treat. Basically, you should be ok eating your pet’s treat. So go ahead & simmer some chicken. And save the broth. I hear it’s good for the soul!
Determined to satisfy Rusty’s taste buds & not leave our, well, my feline friends out, I baked a batch of cat-friendly goodness.
These beauties are uber-easy & hella-healthy. Yes, I taste-tested them. So did Elliott’s mom, who happens to be a nutritionist. In fact, it was her idea. She thought they looked yummy & was curious. How awesome is that? While we agree that tuna-flavored biscuits aren’t our thing, Rusty & Elliott couldn’t get enough of them!
Rusty’s Crazy-Tasty Tuna Treats
Ingredients (use organic wherever possible):
One 5-oz. can of tuna, no salt added & packed in water – drained
1 cup oat flour (Buy it prepared, or simply make your own by grinding old-fashioned oats in a food processor.)
1 large egg
1 Tbs olive oil
1 heaping Tbs fresh parsley (I used Italian, but Pup might like curly parsley’s milder flavor. For Kitty, use 1 Tbs dried catnip.)
Place rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for later.
In a food processor with the blade attachment, blend all ingredients until a smooth dough forms.
This adorable dough is easy to work with – not too sticky. Roll it into 1 1/4 ” balls. Arrange the balls on the lined baking sheet. Use a skewer to press an “x” into each ball.
Bake for about 17 minutes, until the treats are dried on top & slightly browned. Cool completely before your pet (or you!) dig in. Store them in an airtight container in your frig for up to 7 days.
~ Gently tweaked from Joy The Baker~
I don’t put catnip in Rusty’s treats because, quite honestly, we haven’t had the ‘nip talk.
But you should have that chat with your cat. Sit Princess down & have a heart-to-heart. Let’s face it, if you don’t tell Kitty about catnip, who will?
Rusty & I agree on many things:
First, if you have oat flour left over, you should make the dog treats below, too. Second, we choose our baked goods by their aromas. Third, we won’t eat cat poop. Also, we love to laugh. Finally, we’re easily driven to distraction. So, even if you don’t make Alton’s stinky treats, watch his fun little vid ’til the very end ‘cuz…… SQUIRREL!! LOL & BOL ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|March 15, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
After a rare kumbaya mediation with my nearly-ex last week, I decided to keep the flow going.
I visited a local & heavenly spa for a much-needed (understatement!) massage with a very intuitively talented therapist, Laurie. (Before you dismiss me as decadent, know that I had a bday gift card from my hubs in hand. That’s part of our kumbaya how-we-do now.) Back to Laurie: Usually, when she greets me, she asks what spots need work. And usually, as with most of us, the tension that needs easing is in my neck & shoulders. Not this time.
I told her what was happening in my life. I told her that the horrors of it were throughout my body.
As an empath, negativity soaks into my body. I can’t prevent that, & I don’t know how to rid myself of it – yet. I’m learning. With tears in both of our eyes, I asked her to be my guide. She smiled warmly & wisely as she said, “I’d be honored.” Then, to lift both of our spirits & energies, she said, “Let’s just play & see what happens”. I was completely up for that.
Given the option of beginning face-down or face-up, I chose face-down.
I’m not sure why, or if I should even know why. But, I mention this because it was a decision that led to one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. As Laurie began, her pattern & energy were quite different than when she’d last seen me. I knew that she was working some magic. As my thoughts drifted from divorce to house repairs to health insurance & financial fears to reinvention & writing ideas, I consciously let them pass by. I followed my breath and Laurie’s touch. I focused on the music of the flowing stream & bird chirps just outside the window.
I wondered if I would cry as my tensions released. Thankfully, I just relaxed.
Yes, I know this is a first-world issue: Have you ever tried to deep-breathe face down with a snot-filled, runny nose? Forget cute. On second thought, I take back the “first-world” thing I just said. This massage was every bit a necessity & prescription for part of my soul’s recovery. If I told you that I popped a pill to get better, I wouldn’t dismiss its importance. Yet that Rx would be such an unnatural fix by comparison. This was a crucial spiritual remedy for me. One that I highly recommend for you, too.
Here’s where the magic (& weirdness) begins. If magic wasn’t weird, well then it wouldn’t be magic, would it?
Halfway through & completely relaxed, I turned face-up. The fleeting thoughts that have fed past panic attacks were long gone. Laurie had managed the impossible in that my mind & body felt lighter, less burdened. As my brain became blissfully quiet, something amazing happened: In my mind’s eye, with a flapping woosh!, I suddenly saw myself on the table with large, thick white-feathered wings spreading from my back. My wingspan filled the room, and a few feathers lazily floated to the floor in the flurry. At the same time, a life force filled my body. What on Earth was that?!
Still stunned & winged, my massage came to a too-soon end.
Laurie left the room, inviting me to take my time getting up. As I eventually arose, I didn’t have my usual case of fogged-up massage brain & my-body’s-a-noodle-now lack of strength. Instead, I was energized. My wings were somehow still with me but hidden from sight. Outside the room, Laurie greeted me with a glass of water. I thanked her sincerely. Then she floored me: she said, “I know you’ll be ok.” She felt the energy & life come back into my body soon after I turned face-up. I confessed that I wasn’t going to tell her for fear of sounding certifiably cra cra, but that that was THE moment I sprouted wings. We shared our amazement & hugged goodbye. I walked away with chills & goose bumps.
The day’s synchronicities didn’t stop there.
As is my custom, I meditated by the spa’s zen garden afterward. As I watched the koi fish lazily swim in their waterfall-fed pond, I wondered about those wings. Where had they come from & what did they mean? Strolling the meandering path around the pond, I suddenly realized that I was going to write a book about my new path! What?! This certainly wasn’t my plan; it was as if the thought had just been inserted into my psyche. I smiled as I remembered the many times my mom told me I should write a book about my experiences as a trainer. Each time, I told her I’m not inspired by that. The last thing I want to write about is how to get Fido to sit-stay or Trixie to pee in the box. So what was this new inspiration? How is it connected to wings?
I have a hard & fast rule.
I never leave the spa without visiting the amazing artisan bakery & gardens just across the street. That day, I craved their sticky buns. Step back, there was no stopping me. Jazzed about being next up in the always-long line to the counter, I completely forgot that they don’t accept debit cards. When the owner kindly asked what I wanted, I sheepishly confessed my lack of funds. He didn’t miss a beat. He said, “We take checks, cash & mailed checks. So what do ya want?” I heartily thanked him & drove away as my car rapidly infused with the smell of fresh-from-the-oven warm, gooey, cinnamony buns. Such a sweet, heavenly experience. The check was most assuredly in the mail!
So what was the wing thing? One of many signs that I’m finally being true to myself, perhaps?
I believe that when you are on your correct life path, you see synchronicities. The stepping stones on your path are illuminated, and you walk your path with ease. There’s a flow to life – a knowing without trying. (Ever notice that walks with your dog or laptime with your cat go better when you’re more peaceful?) That week’s discoveries & kindness gems (delightful synchronicities) extended into this week, with generous gestures from beloved girlfriends. Tearfully grateful tangent here:
Girls, you know who you are. My goddess friend who cries when I cry & does my hair for free occasionally, asking for nothing more than a kiss on the cheek or puppy advice in return. My gorgeous, strong, wise, sista-from-anotha-motha personal trainer who just hugged & kissed me & sweetly gifted me her time so I can reach my 2014 goal of “being buff”. My inspirational GFFs who drag my ass up a mountain @ least monthly & just surprised me with a birthday brunch. The FB army of wise & supportive women who always know just what to say. My friend who sweetly cupped my face as she asked if I was ok on a day when she was recovering from surgery but I was the one who could barely stand – & then invited me in for a huge cup of tea served with laughs & wisdom. My east coast girls, who define BFF, picking up where we leave off, no matter how long it’s been. (One’s a first-time author – congrats, girl! And, hell, one just drunk messaged me as I was writing this & dared me to fit that into this post. Did it, GF!) And my human soulmate muse, my mom. She was so thrilled to hear about the book-to-be that I lost count of the I-told-you-so’s!
My wings? They symbolize my new-found strength, independence, creativity & ability to do-for-me.
They represent freedom; they can take me anywhere to do anything. All the kindness from friends, family, mentors, acquaintances & animals are the wind beneath my wings, helping me find my way. (Corny? Yeah, I thought so as soon as I wrote it. But it’s true!) So call me Dorothy. Rusty’s my Toto. Now where are those adorable ruby slippers?
Whew! You know, it took a little hutzpa to tell that story. I’m happy to trust you with my truth.
In honor of flapping my way to a buffer, healthier me, I created a green drink. It’s also a sincere thank you for reading this tale. If you’ve had winged synchronistic moments -or- you’ve got a green drink recipe of your own -or- you’d like to share stories of great friends (human & animal) in your life, please chat away in the comments. Cheers to being true-to-you & a healthy, happy 2014, friends! xo ~Ruth & Rusty~
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/4 ripe avocado
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach
3 basil leaves
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground flax seeds
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup almond milk, equal parts sweetened & unsweetened
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink immediately. (To share with pup, simply make the drink without the avocado. It will be thinner, but just as yummy. Or, treat pup with the non-avo ingredients as you make your green drink.) Cheers!
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|February 9, 2014||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Worthy reads|
Sigh. My cholesterol’s high.
Not disastrously so, but it surprised my doctor & I @ my last wellness checkup. How could that be? My doc gave me homework, “Check your family history, and change your diet.” While my diet’s not off-the-hook horrible, I can certainly make changes. I won’t be guzzling 6-packs of highly caloric Ensure anymore, as I did a few months ago to survive my 2-week complete appetite loss that followed the news that my husband’s divorcing me. And I won’t be stress eating the quickest sugar-laden, simple carb within reach, as I did once my appetite returned. I will reduce saturated fats & increase fiber. Upon recheck, my cholesterol’s down but still a tad high. Good news! I’m on the right track, but, as it turns out, I have work to do on two fronts: self-care via diet & battling genetics.
I just finished reading “Am I Being Kind?” by Michael Chase.
It’s a lovely book; you should read it. I intend to revisit it @ least twice a year. Each read will impact me differently as I journey through my life’s recent & rapid changes. In the book, Michael recommends asking yourself as you go about your day if you’re being kind to yourself, others & the Earth. Being kind to yourself is a must, if you wish to give kindness to others. In short, wellness matters; it’s self-kindness. So now when I eat, I ask myself, “Am I being kind to my body if I eat this?”
I also recently read Lissa Rankin’s book, “Mind Over Medicine“.
My take-away (one of many) from her science-based, must re-read gem is that our minds contribute to good health or a lack of wellness. Our beliefs are powerful enough to create & compound illness. So, for example, if I walk around thinking that I’m bound to have high cholesterol because it runs in my family, then I’m more likely to have it. If, however, I genuinely believe (& I do) that I can affect my health in a positive way by reducing stress & improving my diet, then that’s quite possibly my future reality. Since my numbers & my family’s history both surprised me, I’ve got a real shot @ positively thinking my way to wellness.
I plan to thrive, not merely survive.
I choose a life of happiness & kindness shared with friends, family, pets & clients. I would give nothing less to Rusty. Now, I promise me that I’ll give nothing less to me. Wellness is now a priority. Having said that, I delight in good food & wine. Baking feeds my soul; I believe in real butter, cream & dark chocolate. What’s a high-LDL gal to do? Moderation, variety & creativity, of course!
Pears? Not so much.
Yes, they’re in season. Yes, they’re adorable. So much so, they’ve inspired countless artists’ still lifes. I want to take them home & fill a bowl with them – or bake with them – or drink them. I cherish a nice pear cosmo. And, a chocolate-pear scone would be divine but not kind to me now. But to eat a plain pear is dicey. While Rusty loves them, I detest their fuzzy grittiness. It’s a texture thing. My challenge: make fiber-rich, fat-free pears visually and tastefully appealing to me. How? You’ll see….
Ruth’s Spicy Chunky Pear Sauce
8-10 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears have softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash with a potato masher. (If you want a smoother sauce, wait for it to cool. Then use an immersion or upright blender or a food processor.)
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in glass containers (healthier than plastic) in the frig for up to a week. To keep it longer, freeze or can it. Pear-fection!
~Tweaked from Two Peas & Their Pod~
Rusty LOVES the pear sauce as much as I do.
I picked the currants out of his portion. (No grapes, raisins or currants for dogs. The spices in the sauce are dog-friendly.) If you have pears but aren’t feeling saucy, just share them with your dog as is. (Don’t let Pup have the core or the seeds. Give one cube a day, as a little fiber for Fido goes a long way.) Or, pop them in the oven as I did to make Rusty’s Roasted Pears: Preheat oven to 375°. Peel & cube pears to desired treat size. Put pear chunks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until pear pieces feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Roasting makes them sweeter (not gritty) for you & Pup!
Moderation, variety & creativity are truly the spices of life & wellness.
My pear sauce is undoubtedly heavenly on fiber-rich oatmeal. It’s amazing on fat-free & yummy Cardamom-Pistachio Biscotti. But this girl knows a good thing when she tastes it: spicy pear sauce, warmed & spooned over coffee ice cream makes me do a happy dance! Listen, wellness isn’t about deprivation, ‘cuz YOLO. It’s about respecting and nurturing your body & soul. Pear-fection, indeed!
How do you strike a balance between health & happiness?
Please share your stories & recipes. We’re drooling with anticipation! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2014 The Soulful Pet
|December 13, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
Cue music: “These are a few of my favorite things”….??
Well, sort of. If I catch a whiff of patchouli from a lovely earth-muffiny gal while browsing my local health food store or farmers’ market, I like it. I just wouldn’t wear it. After 20 plus years of working with pets, I’ve learned to go scent-free. Perfume can irritate, scare and even agitate animals. I do love earthy (not floral), realistic scents, though. I adore Thymes’ Frasier Fir candles. They smell uncannily like an evergreen tree, which is lovely year round. If I’m not working with animals, I’ll wear Aveda’s Stress-fix. It’s a calming, soothing blend of lavender & sage – and it works! I certainly can’t get mad @ a non-regifted, artisanal fruitcake. (They DO exist.) Heads up, fruitcake haters: the best uniquely similar, yet way yummier treat I’ve ever had was the house-made Panforte di Mendocino @ Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, CA. (Follow the link to order it online.) So there you have it. Now you really know a few of my favorite things. I feel like Oprah!
Cranberries. We love ’em, right?
How about pecans, oranges & currants? (NOT raisins – icky to me & toxic to pets.) All ok? No rum-soaked, candied green things here – what are those, anyway? Assuming you’re on board, Rusty & I are going with the cranberry theme. His fave treats are Honest Kitchen’s Smooches. They simply contain barley flour, chicken, molasses, water, eggs, coconut oil, cranberries & Parmesan cheese. (Remember: If you are giving your pet processed treats, look for ones made in the USA with the shortest ingredient list. Organic is better, if you can find it. Homemade, of course, is always best.) I like HK’s Smooches because they are only 2.3 calories each. Plus, their larger size and rough texture help clean my little guy’s teeth. Rusty has another cranberry product on deck to taste test: Cranimals Gold. It’s a supplement that contains only cranberries & seaweed. It’s packed with antioxidants & omega 3. I’ll put it in non-fat, plain organic Greek yogurt as a healthy treat for him. Yum!
Prepare for tasty goodness, friends.
I discovered a cranberry quick bread to die for. It’s a seriously simple, one-bowl recipe. The most muss & fuss you’ll do is cutting 1 1/2 cups of cranberries in half. Patience, grasshopper. It’s worth it. Or – delegate to someone who’s not dangerous with a knife. Pop the batter in your oven, & your whole house will smell like the holidays. That’s way better than patchouli, peeps.
Ruth’s Not-a-fruitcake Quick Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed OJ (I prefer satsumas, but naval oranges are fine. Not store bought OJ, please!)
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen, sliced in half
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, toasted & cooled slightly
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.
Place flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt & baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk well. Add OJ, melted butter, egg & vanilla. Stir until just combined. Fold in cranberries, currants & nuts until evenly distributed. Don’t over stir.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners & smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, in about 65 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely — if you can wait that long!
~Adapted from Chow.com~
I hope we helped you finish your holiday shopping & baking!
BTW: The quick bread makes a great gift, as does my cranberry granola. Now, please sit back & let the ugly truth fly: How do YOU really feel about fruitcake and/or patchouli? Do you have favorite holiday treats (for pets or peeps) that you buy or make? How about a fave scent? Please share links & recipes! Funnier yet, we’d love to hear about the tastes & scents you hope Santa forgets this year!
Happy holidays, y’all! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|September 28, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Soul food, Training/Behavior|
It was a peaceful day at our house.
I was writing, and Rusty was sleeping in his cup bed on the ottoman-with-a-view by the window. Rusty stirred, got up to turn around in his bed, and screamed in pain. The sound went through me like a knife. Pet-parents, you know what I mean: I swear I felt his gut-wrenching cry in my soul.
What on Earth just happened?!
Rusty raced into my office, and, for the first time ever, hid out of reach in the corner under my desk. I followed him, only to find him shaking in pain. Had he been bitten by a bug? Had he tweaked a toe repositioning in his bed? Whatever it was, it was bad. I knew we’d be racing to the vet as soon as I could talk him into putting his pain aside long enough to put his faith in me.
Off to the vet we went.
Of course, it was off-hours for Rusty’s regular doctor. So I nervously drove to the 24-hour vet hospital. We parked. Rusty hopped out of the car and strutted into the place like nothing had ever happened. (Typical, right? Adrenaline’s an amazing pain mask.) He was hostile to the sweet nurse who took his temp, but he made up with her. No one took his response to the indignity his poodle butt had just endured personally. I sat on the floor with him as we waited for the vet. Would I like the vet? How sharp would her diagnostic skills be? Would her approach be invasive or compassionate? Aware that Rusty would absorb my feelings & thoughts, I hoped for the best & remembered to breathe.
When the vet entered the room, I knew we were in good hands.
As she sat on the floor with us, I was relieved to see a familiar face. I worked with her as a veterinary nurse decades ago, so I knew that Rusty would be helped by one of the best vets in the county. The course of action she recommended was pain medication & a wait-and-see approach. If he didn’t improve, she would explore a tentative diagnosis of masticatory myostitis. Fortunately, her initial assessment paid off. The acute pain of unknown cause was in his jaw. But Rusty rallied without further treatment, thanks to a savvy, discerning vet. Fingers & paws crossed, it won’t be back. Whew.
All better, right? Not quite.
Poodles are smart; that’s one of the many things I adore about Rusty. While he was healing, he learned to keep his mouth shut to minimize discomfort. So that meant no chewing, no fetch, no catch, no tug, no yawns, and no smiles. Long after he was pain-free, he was still play-free. Rusty lost his poodle mojo.
When I was a kid, I badly injured my foot in a bicycle accident.
I limped around for months. I learned to rely on my good leg, exclusively. One day, as I was walking down the hall, I lost my balance. Not thinking, I planted my injured foot on the floor to steady myself. Ouch?! That would surely hurt like hell……wait a minute. I was pain free. I had learned not to try for fear of pain. By sheer accident, I realized my mistake: learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is a powerful force.
Why try if I’m comfy right here? After all, last time I checked, trying hurt. Or trying was hard. Or trying led to mistakes others punished. Sound familiar? People and animals experience this. As a trainer, it’s my job to know when to coach a pet and guardian out of learned helplessness. Can they physically do it? If so, what’s holding them back? Often, it’s a “truth” that the owner has created for her & her pet. Really common “truths”: My dog doesn’t do stairs; I have to carry him. Or, my dog’s a picky eater; I have to hand feed him. Or, he doesn’t listen to me unless I have food in my hands. People believe these “truths” and act them out with their pets, day after day. Pets rise to our expectations. Expect less, they give less. Change your truth & expect more, and your pet will rise to the occasion. Bonus: this works with family members and coworkers, too!
Learned helplessness had a grip on Rusty.
I knew he didn’t hurt anymore, so it was time to push him. What to do? Hmmm….. got it! When we adopted him, he obsessed over bell balls to the exclusion of all other toys. We gradually took them away so he could discover the joy of exploring a full toy box. Time to rekindle the obsession: bring the bell ball back! Since Rusty LOVES new toys, I went on a shopping mission…..
I armed myself with an arsenal guaranteed to revive poodle mojo.
Bell balls; small, squishy Raspberry balls; crumbly, healthy treats; and a ridiculous pink flamingo decorated the house. (I don’t buy my rough & tumble poodle pink toys. My issue, not his; I know.) Rusty needed to chew & shake toys again. Pink aside, the flamingo was perfect: flat, soft, squeaky & flappy. I called Rusty, then shook the bell ball. He lit up like he’d found a long-lost friend! He grabbed the ball, carried it into his bed, & left it there. That was anti-climactic. But he had opened his mouth to carry the ball; I was on the right track. Later that day, I rang the ball again. This time, I give him the Raspberry ball. It’s smaller, grippable, squishy, and crazy bouncy. Rusty was in love! Soon he was fetching, catching & chewing – all with one toy. He completely ignored the heavier, larger bell ball. (Fine with me. That thing’s a Hartz product, made of toxic, reactive Chinese rubber.) The next day, I jingled the bell ball again. His eyes wide, I gave him the pink flamingo. Poodle heaven & mission accomplished: He shakes, chews & carries that thing with him everywhere! He hasn’t looked back. Woohoo!!
Thanks for reading about how we conquered pain, fear & learned helplessness. We hope it helps you & your pets!
Ready for the treats Rusty promised? In honor of our post praising the power of balls, I made some balls. The first recipe celebrates Rusty’s health:
Rusty’s Peanut Butter Granola Balls
1 cup uncooked organic rolled oats (not instant)
1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 Tbsp. flax seeds
1/8 cup grated coconut
2 1/2 Tbsp. grated carrots
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1 egg, slightly beaten
5/8 cup unsalted, unsweetened organic peanut butter, @ room temperature
3/8 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slightly grind the seeds together in a food processor or coffee grinder. Combine all the dry ingredients, including the grated carrots, in a medium bowl. Heat the coconut oil & the honey just until they’re liquid. Blend the peanut butter & the yogurt in the food processor. Add the egg, oil & honey. Process again.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry in the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls & place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the balls so they brown evenly, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Cool on a rack. Store them in an airtight container. If they’re not gobbled up asap, freeze ’em!
Makes about 3 dozen. ~Adapted from The Bark~
With oats & peanut butter left, I made these uber-easy treats for my newly gluten-free hubby. Balls for both the guys in my life, I say. And pink flamingos all around! That really needs to be a girly drink, right?
No-bake Peanut Butter Balls
1 cup organic, rolled oats (uncooked)
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup unsalted, sugar free organic peanut butter, @ room temperature
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for an hour so the mixture is easier to work with. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, either in the frig or @ room temp. (I like my balls cold. Yum!)
Makes about 16. ~Adapted from So, How’s It Taste?~
Do you say “can’t” & “won’t” when you think about yourself or your pet? How about “never” or “always”?
Negatives & absolutes are rarely truths. They are often symptoms of learned helplessness. Challenge them: break out of that rut! Have you and/or your pet conquered ruts? How did you snap out of it? What got you going & lit you up? Do tell! xxoo ~Ruth & Rusty~
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|August 9, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Guest bloggers, Inspirational & motivational, Lifestyle, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food|
MJ is having a great summer with her 2-year-old American bulldog buddy, Ronin.
As much as she loves Ronin, it’s visiting pittie, Harley, who stole her heart. Of Harley, MJ says, “I haven’t felt love like that since Maggie was alive.” Sweet!
Mike hits Hawaii’s beaches regularly with Cooper. (Lucky boys!)
They make quite a team. Recently, Mike wrote about good times with Cooper, who regularly reminds him to let go of negatives and savor life’s gifts. That’s a precious lesson that we can all learn from our pets, our teachers.
“My saving grace, this loving, joyful creature. He dissolves any anguish, fear, self-doubt and reminds me that its time to swim, go to the park, create frozen yoghurt treats or play with 100 tennis balls or the best, ride with the top down, the ocean breeze flapping through jowls and floppy ears.”
Lovely. And since you can’t keep an artisan baker out of the kitchen, Mike got busy making Bouchon Dog Biscuits for his buddy, Cooper. (The recipe is from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon Bakery“, and the tasty treats are served @ the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.) Mike adapted the recipe as follows:
“Get the good bacon, chicken livers, cornmeal, flour – a pound of each – and chicken broth to wet. I added a large handful of (non-instant) oats. Saute & puree. Add cornmeal, chicken broth and flour into a workable dough. Roll out, use a doggie bone cookie cutter, and bake at 250 until hard. Mix egg white and 3 Tbl ketchup [for a] wash and brush on. Finish in a 200 [degree] oven for half hour. Done!”
Mike joked that these goodies go well “with afternoon tea or champagne”. I don’t doubt that @ all. I suspect Cooper’s humans sampled these right along with him. Since Rusty’s tummy doesn’t do pork, I’ll trust that the biscuits passed human & canine taste tests with flying colors. Bone appetit!
So how’s the summer going for you & your pets?
Please share in the comments….
There’s still plenty of summertime left for us all to live vicariously through your adventures – or – to give them a go ourselves!
©2013 The Soulful Pet
|July 2, 2013||Posted by Ruth under Lifestyle, LOLs & BOLs, Recipes, Seasonal, Soul food, Videos|
Arrrgh! We’re so over the stifling 100-degree days here!
So Rusty & I set out to chill out. We busted out the Popsicle molds & the Freezy Pup trays and got busy.
These tasty morsels are perfect for heat waves & the 4th:
Ruth’s Peep & Pup-sicles
1 cup frozen, quartered strawberries & 1 cup frozen blueberries (Lay fresh berries on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, and freeze for 1 hour. Easy!)
1/2 cup 100% real fruit juice, divided. (Strawberry/apple or blueberry blends are fine.)
1 1/2 cups coconut yogurt, divided – or – 1 1/2 cups frozen coconut yogurt if you prefer it sweeter. (Kids & hubbies will want sweeter; Pup shouldn’t have sweeter.)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract, divided
Set aside 1/2 cup of yogurt for later use. Blend the strawberries, 1/4 cup fruit juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tsp lemon juice & 1/2 tsp until smooth. Pour mixture into a large glass. Reuse the blender (no need to rinse it) using the remaining ingredients and the frozen blueberries. You’ll have about 2 1/2 cups of filling.
Layer the berry mixtures & reserved yogurt in ice cube trays, popsicle molds, or retro-style paper cups with sticks. Start with the strawberry mixture. Top with enough yogurt to create a 1″ layer, or so. Top with the blueberry mixture. Freeze for @ least 8 hours. Enjoy!
Note: For Rusty’s pup-sicles, I layered the yogurt on top of the blueberry mixture. There’s no wrong way to go. Have fun with it. Create your own concoctions, and let us know what you tried!
~Adapted from ThugKitchen~
Heat wave aside, Rusty’s been a little under the weather this past week.
A bit of a strained muscle, we think. No worries – we’re on top of it, and he’s comfy. He’s feeling well enough now to savor a stench in the yard. Those pup-sicles seemed to be just the medicine he needed!
©2013 The Soulful Pet