Author Archives: TaMara

Bixby and Scout: Is It Possible? 18 Weeks Old

Bixby and his crew.  Scout is doing great. She’s outgrown the scale here at home, so I’m not sure  her weight this week – she was 42 lbs when the vet weighed her last week. She might almost be 50 lbs now. She got her first nail trim this week and did very well.

The ducks have had a couple of great days – it rained last night and they enjoyed wandering around playing in it – and this morning they got to dig around in a very muddy yard.  I am happy to see that all the areas above have grass popping up everywhere. I may need to reseed a couple of areas, but off to a good start.

Scout loves her time outside. Bixby will be in snoozing on the couch and she’s happy to be out in the yard, curled up with a stick and contemplating her place in the universe.  Or bothering the ducks.

Sometimes I can get them to sit still long enough to photograph together. But I can’t make them not blink at the same time. The vet and I had a discussion about Bixby’s red eye and it seems to be just allergies and irritation, not severe enough to warrant any additional intervention.


Multi-Pot Recipes: Beef and Barley Soup

Yummy photo by the great JeffreyW

I have used my Multi-Pot consistently for the last few weeks. I made two batches of soup, pulled pork, pasta sauce and two batches of rice. The first batch of rice I was all cocky and used the simple pressure cooker setting and my own time – because you know, I’m the Queen of Pressure Cooking – well, that didn’t turn out very well. I mean, it was great sticky rice, but I was going for light and fluffy. So the next batch I used the Rice Button! I mean, come on, a pot you can just push RICE and 10 minutes later have fluffy rice – why was I fighting it??

The buttons on this brand are easy and intuitive to use. It does help that I’m familiar with what times work well with my stove top cooker and there are good resources in the booklets that came with the machine to help pick timing.

My first batch of soup was to make Beef with Barley Soup:

I used this recipe (click here). I was excited to try out the browning feature and the pressure cooking setting.

I quickly and easily sauteed the onions and browned the beef with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Then added the remainder of the ingredients, sealed it shut and turned it to the Meat/Stew setting and set it for 30 minutes.

It took it 10 minutes to come to pressure – which didn’t surprise me because I filled it to the highest mark allowed.

The soup was delicious – I could easily leave it on warm, open the lid and let sit and fill the house with yummy soup smells as long as I desired.  It was good and tasty. And clean up was a breeze – just tossed the insert into the dishwasher.

The one part of this electric pressure cooker that has been a learning curve for me is the quick -release method. I am so used to taking the pot over to the sink and running cold water over the top. With this, they say to just turn the pressure valve to open. Which sounds easy-peasy.  EXCEPT it spews greasy, starchy steam all over my kitchen cabinets.

The solution is fairly simple – I grabbed an old kitchen towel and cover the valve with that as it releases. Takes a bit longer, but no mess and no risk of a scary steam burn.

So for this recipe, I’d give the Multi-Pot a solid A.

I know, I know I promised a puppy update…give me a few minutes. Until then…


Signs Of Spring

I’m happy to report that it looks like Spring is winding its way to us, despite a forecast for 2 to 6 inches of snow on Monday.

This Siberian Iris managed to survive the purge – I pulled out the overbearing flower bed by the front door and planted grass and added flower pots. This hardy guy defied the odds, popped up in the new grass and is here to stay.

My two Pussy Willows are doing great – I planted them at the beginning of fall and they are starting to bud. I have always loved them and they are huge bee magnets.

Tomorrow I’m going to continue cleaning out the front bed and trim up all the roses. I’m also thinking of bringing in a few forsythia branches to force. Meanwhile I’m planning out the rest of my spring clean-up and laying out the vegetable garden in my head.

There will be a puppy update later tonight…with bonus ducks. Until then…


Now That’s What I Call Slow-Cooking


Liz Climo is one of my favorite cartoonists. You can find more of her wonderful work here.  She gave me permission to use this – so go visit her site and oooo and aaaah at the cute and cleverness.

Multi-Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

I finally got my new pressure cooker/slow cooker. I was going to get the Instant Pot, but every time I went to order it, it was back ordered. Then I stumbled on the Multi-Pot and it had all the features I was looking for – stainless steel insert, steaming rack and stackable pot to cook two items at once. It also came with some fun accessories – silicone mitts, which I found invaluable, and utensils.

Operation is very intuitive, so I’ve barely opened the instruction manual, so that was a plus and it comes with a link to a website with hundreds of recipes. My thought going forward is that I will try out a recipe a week, rate it and offer my tweaks.

We’ll have to see if I’m able to maintain that…so far I’ve made beef and barley soup, rice, chicken tortilla soup and used the slow-cooker for pasta sauce which was waiting for us when we got back from the “Ice Castle” adventure up in the mountains last night. I’ll share a few of those photos later. Until then…


Been A Little Busy, But You Deserve Some Puppeh!

I have been swamped with work and now company! As you can see, Scout has found her new best friend. I love it because I have a picture of Bixby and Little D at about the same time, so you can see how both have grown.

Scout is 17 weeks now and I did manage to get photos last week – at 16 weeks – but didn’t get around to posting them. She is no longer cooperating with our milestone Scout and Bear posts.

In case you forgot – here is her first photo shoot. It took me a good 20 shots (thank you burst feature!) to get this one.

Most of them look like this:

I’ll try and get some with her and Bixby today, because that’s the only way to really see her size now. She can still walk under him, but barely. She had her final vet visit which means we can start walking out at  the ponds next week. We’ve been pretty confined until she was fully vaccinated. There’s been a big parvo outbreak in our county, so the vet wanted me to be extra cautious.

She has been the sweetest puppy and as much as I wanted Bixby to grow up and get big (face it, I’m a Great Dane person, so I want them full-sized, LOL), I’ve wanted her to to slow down a bit. I’m enjoying her snuggles and when she falls asleep on my shoulder. But there’s no stopping them…

Bixby is the BEST big brother, which is why she’s so easy, I’m sure. He sure holds my heart….


Sautéed Spinach with Bacon

I owe you guys not only a puppy update, but also a real recipe thread. We got hit by a cold snap this week and for whatever reason, it just zapped me of all my energy to do anything extra. I worried a lot about the ducks, since I had to keep them cooped while it was sub-twenties. And of course the dogs (along with me) had cabin fever. We did get a good walk in today. I still have to walk them separately, Scout is not ready for that just yet.

This next week promises to be much warmer. Good thing, because I am ready to start cleaning my bed and get ready for gardening.

I was sitting on the couch just now, with the dogs snuggled up, watching the sunset. I am still amazed at the beautiful view I have…thanks to some awesome tree trimmers. That helps tide me over until spring finally arrives.

Cute duck story – I have a box of corn flakes, mostly for them, and I toss a few out for treats. The other day I decided to have a bowl for lunch. When I sat down at the table, there were the ducks, sitting on the steps, looking in the window. I have no idea how they heard me…they were happily playing across the yard before that. Silly ducks.

Pictured above is my quick dinner of BBQ chicken, cast iron cornbread (I cheat and use Krusteaz after a friend recommended it) and spinach with bacon. I’m not big on cooked spinach, but a friend loves it and never had it with bacon, so I had to make it.

Spinach with Bacon

  • 4 strips of thick sliced bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 10 oz of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • water
  • salt, pepper and vinegar


Add bacon to cold skillet and cook on medium heat. Fry until bacon is crisp (your desired texture, I like it still a bit chewy). Add the spinach, toss with bacon grease, add about 1/4 cup of water to create steam and cover. Cook until spinach is slightly limp. Remove lid and toss with salt, pepper and dash of vinegar (I like malt vinegar, but balsamic, white or red wine vinegar works well, too).

Serve immediately.


Midnight Music: Crush, Yuna

Love her voice.

Midnight Music: Crush, Jennifer Paige

Was She Really That Small?

Scout now fills the dog bed. How did that happen? Here she is her first day:

OMG, was she really that small?