Category Archives: TaMara

Bixby and Bailey: Love and Discipline

bixby-and-bailey-in-reposeInteresting times here. First of all, Bailey had her first nail trim today and was a trooper. She weighed in at 109 lbs, which means she has gained 17 lbs since she moved in. She’s still skin and bones, but I did have to move her collar out a notch recently. She’s taller and a bit broader. If she keeps this up, I think she might top out at 140 lbs and be an inch taller (though never bigger) than Bixby.

We’ve had an interesting few weeks here. It feels like we’ve had company since Thanksgiving and everyone has been dealing with the chaos well. But we’ve had a house guest since Christmas that has challenged the status quo a bit. Especially for Bailey.

Bad Horse is hanging out for a while and I’ve been letting him find his way with the animals. Zander of course has completely welcomed him. Emma sits on his lap while we watch movies. Jake, well, Jake is in it for the treats, but other than that, he’s generally not impressed with BH. Bixby has been a bit more reluctant, which has surprised me…more on that in a minute.

Bad Horse Bakes!

Bad Horse Bakes!

Bailey is smitten…and also miffed. She cannot understand why she’s still low puppy on the alpha scale when the new guy is here now. So she spends a great deal of time making doe eyes at him and then biting him and jumping on him. We’ve been working with her on it, but I have to be honest, because of her rough start in life, I haven’t been as firm with the discipline as I should be and she has started to take advantage.

So I began to implement time-outs. I put the crate away at Christmas – it takes up half a room and I was only using it when I went to work. With Bad Horse here, they are seldom alone for long periods, so we’ve been using two baby gates to contain her when we are both gone. So I needed to figure out a time-out strategy.

They take place in the laundry room with a baby gate across the door so she’s not totally closed off. She gets time-out when she refuses to stop her bad behaviors after one warning. It only took twice for her to understand what was going on and now her behavior has greatly improved. She just needed some firm boundaries and I should have jumped in sooner. But she’s such a sweet girl…the biting and jumping took me by surprise…BH has been very patient with her, too, so I think we are past the worst of it.

Bixby, Bixby, Bixby – he’s not happy with all the intrusions – first Bailey, now BH. We had an incident about a week ago where Bixby decided he did not like how things were going and jumped up on Bad Horse and then when that didn’t work, jumped on me and WOULD. NOT. BUDGE. It took both of us to get him back down. We decided that night to each sit with a dog on separate couches, to give them extra time. That helped and Bixby now seems more at ease with everything.

But he has decided he’s going to use his size lately – he moves the baby gate and walks through it (opens it like a door), he uses his full weight on walks to express his displeasure and is basically make it clear he’s done with all of this. He instigated a game of tug with BH (which made Bad Horse very happy) only to have Bailey try and horn in. Without missing a beat, tug towel still in his mouth, he took her down and made it clear she was not to interfere. She got the message and tug went on without incident.

None of this is aggressive – when you’re 160 lbs of muscle,  you just need to be firm to get your point across. And Bixby’s point is, “I’m done being neglected, pushed around and generally having my life disrupted”. He’s still a big love, just a big love with a bit of an attitude. Extra scritches and some alone time with me and his kitties have helped.

Never a dull moment here. I have Cranberry Bean Turkey Soup on the stove…a few more recipes I need to post soon, too.

I made my first Pad Thai!

I made my first Pad Thai!

Until then….


Life Goals



A little teary right now…

Bixby and Bailey Wish You A Very Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!

Peaceful moment for you:


photo credit: Sally Cooper Photography

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Dessert Tray, Pt 2

Here is part two of the dessert tray – these are all gluten-free sweets. Easy to make, never know they are anything different from the floured desserts. I’ll post a photo of the full dessert tray later.

Peanutbutter cookie 6

Picking up a friend from the airport tonight – lots of delays have made for a long day. I’ll be packing a few of these cookies and hot tea for the drive home.

First up, I made a batch of these. They are melt in your mouth and so chocolaty. I love the dark chocolate cocoa powder, makes them not-too sweet.


Full recipe is here.

Then I made a batch of these (pictured at top). So easy  – I made a double batch, hoping they last until Christmas Eve. Just in case, there will be the traditional Ice Cream Sundae Bar to back up all the cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 18)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

baking sheet

Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool ON the baking sheet.

I added chocolate chips to a few after I flattened them on the baking sheet. They were good, but it did make the cookie more fragile and they broke apart as I transferred them to the plate. So second batch got peanuts instead.

For Dessert Tray pt. 1, click here.


Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats, Something For Everyone

While I’m busy baking away today, here are some previous goodies from 2014:

Assorted Cookies1

Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls


I’m Dreaming Of A Flamingo Christmas


A friend gifts me with flamingo ornaments whenever she sees one she thinks I’ll like.

I think I’m going to have to get a bigger tree soon.


It is safely in my office away from Beast 1 and Beast 2. Though the cats have looked at it longingly.

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Dessert Tray, Pt 1

cranberry-upside-down-cakeWith the dinner menu being fairly simple, I’ve spent the week baking desserts. I started with Spritz Cookies. I used this recipe, and then I divided the dough in half. I added 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about a 1/4 cup extra flour (a little at a time until it was workable dough again) and 2 tsp of lemon zest. I dusted those with powder sugar when done. The other batch was just the yummy butter half of the dough.

Next up, this cake. I had leftover Cranberry-Apple Sauce from Thanksgivingwhich I froze with this recipe in mind. It made for a very tasty fruit bottom.  Here’s the original recipe:

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk


  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.


I’m not done yet. I’ll be baking more later this week, so stay tuned….


Bixby and Bailey: I Didn’t Do It

Bixby made it clear he did not do this. I told him I totally believed him (possibly because I found it where Bailey was parked).


First tree related casualty. Reindeer my Aunt Marcia made me (many, many) years ago. Survived five Great Danes, one greyhound,  eight cats, numerous toddlers, and many moves. Bailey, Dane of Destruction. This is the least of her crimes these past few months. #loveheranyway