Wishing you chills, thrills and lots of chocolate!


Dogs On Thursday: They Work Hard For the Money

Employed dogs behave much better than unemployed dogs. It's a well-known fact in the dog training world. Whether they're herding, guarding, hunting, carrying things, warming your lap or just running around making everyone happy, dogs need to work to have good self-esteem and to keep evil Mr. Boredom away. You know him, the guy that makes them bark like maniacs, use the bathroom all over the floor, and chew up your new shoes.

So of course, the dogs who live with the Criquette pack are kept very busy. They take Mr. C for long walks every morning, herd the cats, stay on the alert for squirrels, bunnies and any other furry creatures who dare to brave into their territory. They are ferocious guard dogs (and they mean business, too) yet are always happy to be outside chasing the little kids on the block and tolerating lots of hugs and kisses. And let's not forget the critical job of helping their mommy keep the floors clean.

Today, however, they were prepared to take on another job. You see, that yucky bug I caught over the weekend hit me again and I had to come home early yesterday afternoon. I made a cozy nest on the sofa, where I could recover with the help of knitting and TV -

Nurse Chloe and Nurse Abbie, keeping the bed warm for the patient

Dr. Criquette, making sure the knitting stays healthy

I had to stay home today, to0. My medical team is taking good care of me. Remember the party that I missed on Saturday? My friends were so sweet - they sent me a big container of some of the most fantastic soup and a big slab of gooey, chocolately brownies. Tragically, I've felt too sick to eat the brownies, and I gave them all to Mr. C, since he made a special trip to the store to get me 7-up and rainbow sherbert. But the soup has been wonderful. I'll be sure to get the recipe, but I'm pretty good at duplicating recipes from taste and sight, so here's my guess -

I think she started with a chicken broth base. There was shredded chicken, barley, lentils, white shoepeg corn, celery, fresh spinach, and little shreds of parmagiano cheese. She seasons her soups with some garlic and Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning (I know this because I'm her supplier). I had the last of it for lunch, and I'm already thinking I have to make some this weekend. For my friends out there who don't eat things with faces, this could be easily converted to a meatless soup by leaving out the chicken (and cheese) and using veggie broth instead. If I can talk my friend into sharing her recipe, I'll post it here.

As far as my chicken pot pie soup recipe,
Lynn wanted to know how long to boil the chicken tenders. Ummmmm... I'm not sure. I just boil them until I think they're done. I would say it was between 10 - 15 minutes. I'd take one out at 10 minutes (while the rest is still boiling), and cut it open. If it has any pink on the inside, throw it back in and cook it another 5 minutes or so. They get white and sort of curled when they're done. Be sure to pop on over to see Lynn and scroll down past the adorable pix of her Girly Girl to Monday's post and look at her dinner - Lynn if you lived closer, I'd be knocking on your door for leftovers (if you even had any!).

I've been up long enough, as my head is starting to ache again. I'm going to go crawl into my nest, which my nurses have kept nice and warm for me.


It's Pity Party Time!

I was feeling very sorry for myself all day. Instead of going to the most fabulous Halloween party ever, I knew I'd be sitting home all alone tonight. Without fail, I get some kind of bug every year about this time. I've been fighting off something all week, but when I woke up this morning, I knew it had caught up with me. It's one of those sneezy, headachy, ear-achy, fevery kind of things that make a person want to lay around and stare mindlessly at the tv.

Mr. C didn't want to go at first, but I insisted because the host is one of his best friends from high school and it's such a fun mix of people and the food is great and because I kind of want to be left alone to be ill in peace.

I knew I wanted to eat something comforting, like chicken soup or chicken pot pie. I didn't have enough broth for the soup and a pot pie would be ridiculously non-healthy, so I decided to combine the two. I pulled some chicken out of the freezer and rooted through the pantry and what I came up with was so quick and easy and so delicious, I had to share it with you.

Criquette's Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Soup

2 pounds (thawed) chicken tenders (you could substitute boneless chicken thighs, or strip the meat off a rotisserie chicken for an even faster meal)
2 cups water
32 oz low sodium chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz frozen peas and carrots
20 oz frozen roasted potatoes
1 TBLS poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder

Put the broth, water and chicken tenders into a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Continue to boil the tenders, until cooked through. Remove the tenders and let cool. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to the broth and bring back to a gentle boil. Dice the cooled tenders and return to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. I didn't measure, but this looks like it made enough to serve 8.

I didn't take pictures, but it looks as good as it tastes. I wouldn't hesitate to serve this to guests - I would add a green salad, biscuits or cornbread, and for dessert, pumpkin pie. If you try this, let me know how it turns out. Bon appetite!

I feel much, much better after eating my comfort soup. I had some pumpkin bread for dessert, washed down with jasmine green tea. I've slipped into my soft pj's and turned on my electric blankie. And now I'm going to take my little pity party to bed with the cats and dogs, where I'll snuggle in with some knitting and the TV remote. Hope you're all having a lovely evening, too.


Dogs On Thursday: An Uneventful Week (At Last)

We are happy to report that this past week has been uneventful and boring, with hardly anything worth blogging about, and lots of time to do it. And it's about time!

I had my last appointments of the day cancel twice this week, meaning I got home around 7pm, which is usually unheard of, twice this week. And while I was off being a little less busy at work, the critters of the Criquette household were catching up on their R&R:

Bitsy has decided on a career change. Instead of Resident Grump, she took a position as Home Security WatchCat. She had a good time growling and snarling at the moving leaves. She has been taking her shift every morning for the past couple of weeks, same time, same spot.

Criquette, on the other hand, has whiled away her week, basking in the golden autumn sunshine and savoring her victory after finally winning the turf battle against the evil foster kittens.

Abbie just continued with her usual daily routine - wake up, eat, walk, poop, lounge about and think of rabbits, nap on the porch, nap on the stairs, look out the window for rabbits, nap in the patch of sunshine, nap in her bed, wake up, eat, walk, poop, nap in the family room, nap in Chloe's bed, look out the window one last time for rabbits, beg for a bedtime snack, go to sleep.

"When will these dumb humans figure out that we canines hold the keys to true happiness?"

After getting home from the hospital, Chloe spent two days just catching up on her beauty sleep and enjoying being back at home. There's not much better than sleeping in your own bed.

She's feeling great and back to her usual routine. For details, please see Abbie's previous section.


An Unfortunate Series of Events, or I Need a Bushel of 4-Leaf Clovers Right About Now

I can't believe I've gone a whole month without blogging or visiting blogs. I've really missed everyone and I'm sorry for being such a bad blogger.

Does anyone else out there ever feel like their life is either too full or too empty but hardly ever in between? I know I do a lot of this to myself, by taking on yet another patient when my schedule is already completely full, or taking in fosters when no one else has room, or trying to keep up with maintaining my gardens when there's not even enough time to get basic house cleaning done, but without these things, I would have too much time on my hands. And then I would get bored, which leaves my brain wide open for anxious and depressing thoughts to sneak in and take over my life and then I don't want to do anything or go anywhere or talk to anyone I don't have to talk to and that's a recipe for crazy-making and I don't want to go there.

So I stay busy.
Since that last blog in September, so many things have happened. The good: As I reported in my previous blog, Kona and Scout/Cordi have found themselves wonderful homes. With the alien critters all gone, the resident critters have all settled back into their normal routines. I had started getting on top of the cleaning again and managed to get my fall decorating done. Last Sunday, a glorious autumn blue-sky day was spent in the garden, doing some planting and getting the beds ready for winter. I've started some knitting projects and finished some knitting projects. I've been consistently busy at work and most of my patients are doing well. Life was good.

And then, this week, my luck changed. I don't know why - broken mirror? No, but I did lose my purse mirror last week. Black cat? Just Kona, who went to his new home 3 weeks ago. Spilled salt? No, but I've been spilling other things all over the place - a full cup of coffee all over my receipts and expense reports, a bottle of 500 aspirins all over the kitchen floor while trying to medicate a splitting headache, and a big glass of sticky pomegranate juice all over the island on my rush out the door to work. Walk under a ladder? No, but does falling down the stairs in the parking lot at work 2 nights ago because the parking lot lights have not been working and it's totally dark and I have wrenched something in my shoulder and hip- does that count? All this in the past 5 days.

But those were really NBD's - no big deals (well, except my shoulder may be hurt more than I want to admit) - just a string of daily hassles that are annoying and stressful. But we had a bad scare early Monday morning. Chloe has had several bouts of stomach and bathroom problems on and off over the past 2 months. Our vet has given her some medicine, we've had her on a gentler diet and most days are fine. But on Monday, she had a really bad problem and lets just say it involved a lot of scary bodily fluids and a very dazed and sick puppy. Our vet got her in first thing that morning. She was diagnosed with HGE and had to be hospitalized. Fortunately, we caught it at the beginning of the cycle, got her to the vet specialty clinic (translation=really, really expensive vet services). She had to spend 2 1/2 days there, on an IV drip, and Mr. C brought her home Wednesday afternoon.
My poor, sweet girl lost a lot of weight and was acting like she had been punished and didn't know why. I just prayed that somehow she could understand, at some level, that she was being helped.

Mr. C's business partner is a veterinary pathologist. When he heard about Chloe's diagnosis, he was surprised that she survived. Apparently, this has a very high mortality rate. We caught it just in time.
She's feeling much better now and is gradually being weaned back onto her regular diet. Her potty is normal again, she's getting her energy back and has been trotting around the house, barking at squirrels and people passing by out front. The problem with this illness is that it could be caused by a variety of things in the environment or even stress, but not controllable things like food, so it's not something you can take measures to prevent. It may or may not happen again. All we can do is carry on as usual, with lots of prayers that it doesn't come back. And lots of prayers that this week of "Friday the 13ths every day" is over and our luck turns once more.


In Which Criquette Comes Out of Hiding, With an Update

I'm baaaa-aack - after my long, involuntary sabbatical from blogland. And what a month it's been! (What a week it's been, but I'll save that for another post.)

First off, I want to thank Nichole for the wonderful collar I won in one of her contests. When she said the collar was a "small", I thought of Scout, who is small. Apparently she needs "toy-size". But I will keep this for next spring's batch of foster puppies - surely we'll have one who fits into this luxurious collar!

Gives new meaning to the word "choker"

Last week, Scout (now re-named Cordelia, Cordi for short), was adopted by a very talented local dog trainer and her family. Cordi's new mom knows all about how to help tiny dogs whose tiny bladders can't "hold it" when they get overexcited, so wasn't concerned about Scout's little "problem". Cordi also has a new dad, a big human sister and brother, and 2 Boston terrier brothers who love having a baby sister! Since her mom's training studio is in their home, Cordi gets to meet all kinds of new dogs and their people, and goes on long walks along a beautiful walking trail every day. We're getting together soon - can't wait to see my little rat again!

One lucky dog

Kona also hit the adoption jackpot 3 weeks ago, after 3 long weekends of being down at the shelter with me, searching for the right match. He was adopted by a great family - the parents saw him on PetFinder and knew he was the kitty for them. They brought their 10-year old daughter in to meet him and it was a mutual love-fest! He also has 2 Shi-tzuh brothers, who happen to love cats as much as he loves dogs. Hooray! We got an update from them and apparently the dogs have decided that Kona is a rockstar (which he is) and they defer to his every whim. He's always in someone's lap, demanding pets and love. And so far, he's been well-behaved, except for one incident involving an unlucky houseplant (keep your fingers crossed). I still really miss him, but Criquette is back to being sweet again and even Bitsy has been in a good mood.

They grow up too fast!

I have managed to make time almost every night to do a little knitting in order to maintain some measure of sanity. Current projects include a scarf for my niece, who is away at a college in the Blue Ridge mountains and needs a soft, toasty alpaca scarf to keep her warm as she scurries across campus. I am also making myself a pretty scarf in autumn colors. There's a another chemo Hurricane Hat in the works. And I couldn't resist casting on for a couple of dishcloths to carry around with me. Finally, I have a pattern I am creating for a knitted pumpkin that is turning out great so far - can't wait to show it off, although by the time I finish, it will be an Easter pumpkin!

And of course, since this is my absolute favorite time of year, and the weather has been outstanding, I've been sneaking in gardening whenever possible. I have such a bumper crop of hydrangeas this year (off of only 5 medium-sized shrubs), that I had containers of drying hydrangeas covering every available surface in my kitchen and dining room. I have already given away 3 big bunches of dried hydrangeas as hostess and birthday gifts, and still have a ton left. I called a local florist and they are interested in buying the rest. It won't make me rich, but it should be enough to cover the cost of a few skeins of yarn, a couple of new knitting books and a few new Addi's!

This is only about half of what I've dried so far

I am also trying to come up with some durable and inexpensive garden markers for the plants that go dormant in the winter. I got my supplies today and if it works, will share my idea in a future post. I refuse to pay an exorbitant fee for cheap plastic or metal markers that don't make it through the winter.

Not that my life has been all fun and games and knitting, of course. I'm in my super-busy time at work, and should continue with my 50+ hours/week until the end of school. My practice now consists almost exclusively of kids and teens being treated for some type of anxiety or stress-related disorders and I turn away several each week. I could write a month's worth of blogs on why I think there are so very, very many kids who are so stressed-out that they need professional help. I love what I do, but I wouldn't be sorry if our society started changing in ways that made kids (and adults) have less pressure and fewer things to worry about and fear - in fact, if it put me out of business, I'd be the happiest person on the prairie.