Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's New Wednesday

Our week has been fairly uneventful with the exception of a kennel full of doggie diarrhea, as discovered by Hank on Monday afternoon (lucky for me that he gets home first!!!) Brees is on the mend, but it meant that we had to skip puppy training last night and our only night our for dinner. That's ok though, because we're on a roll with our healthy eating for the week. Our goal is to stick to the meal plan and not drink any alcohol Monday-Friday. I've also got my work-outs on my calendar, and hoping that those reminders will get my butt to the gym at least 3 times this week. I'm going to drop a dress size if it kills me!

The real excitement in our lives right now is watching the entire season of Orange is the New Black. I mentioned it from my trip to Charlottesville, when my friend Allison turned me onto this new show. And we seriously can't get enough! I had already watched all episodes except for the finale, but have no problem watching them again. I notice new things each time, like the announcements that get played in the morning, and funny things that happen in the background. The show is a Netflix original, and they have really outdone themselves. Rumor has it that season 2 is in production, and it can't come soon enough.

So do yourself a favor and watch this show. If you don't have Netflix streaming, then pay the $8 for a month and watch this series. It's totally worth it!

As for the upcoming weekend, Hank is obsessing over our master bathroom remodel that we're hoping to start this weekend. It's likely going to be a 3 weekend-long project by the time we get all the components finished, but I'm really looking forward to adding some personality to what is probably the plainest room in our house. We finally came up with a general theme for our house- "Modern Coastal", and that is partly the inspiration for what will be the biggest change in the room- wood paneled walls! Stay tuned as I'm sure Hank will have more than a few posts about our first big reno project!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning

In our never ending effort to "get back on track", I went all out with a stellar (and slightly OCD) meal plan for the week. It's always helpful for me to visually write out the things we are going to eat so that I can formulate a plan for cooking/organizing/shopping for what we need. I much prefer to shop on Saturday or Sunday, and do as much food prep as I can on Sunday, so that putting together lunches and snacks isn't such a chore. If fruit and veggies are cut up, and things like hummus portioned out, then I can just grab and go without having to think too much about it.

This week I'm sharing my entire meal plan, mostly because I'm just so proud of how ridiculously organized I am this week (it doesn't happen often). Most of the the meals are things we eat on a regular basis, and I'm including links to the recipes in case you want to give them a try yourself. I aim for a daily intake of 1500 calories, and so I adjust portions (and often include an extra snack like a Clif bar) for Hank so that he gets more than that. Don't need anyone thinking I'm trying to starve my poor husband!

We spent about $120 at HEB and have more than enough for 3 meals and 2 snacks a day for pretty much every day this week. We will eat out one night, but plan to be home the rest of the time. I am by no means a nutrition expert, but I do my best to include whole foods and lots of fresh fruit/veggies into all of our meals. With the exception of a few things, hardly any of our food is "processed".

Feel free to use the plan for inspiration if you need it, and please feel free to share any tips/tricks for meal planning/prepping that helps get you through the week. I'm always looking for good ideas.

The Holland House: Weekly Mean Plan
You can use this link to request access to the doc if you would like to use it for yourself:

The Asian Burger Wraps that we had today are one of my favorites, as it's easy to double the recipe and freeze half to use at another time. They are also pretty easy to make, and taste really good with the dipping sauce..

The Holland House: Asian Black Bean Wraps

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dear Friday

Dear Friday,

I'm glad that you finally decided to show up. Not that it was a really hard week, and not that we have anything super exciting going on this weekend. It's just nice to know that I have 2 days of freedom before "the grind" starts all over again.

Please come again soon,


Tomorrow morning we are having a Gazelle (our running group) baby shower breakfast after our morning long run to celebrate a soon to be born little Gazelle in September. The rest of Saturday should be fairly relaxing, with a date night to finish it off. Hank said last night in regards to our Summer Bucket List "We either need to grow a pair, or revisit our list. All of the activities are outside, and it's too damn hot." I couldn't agree more. We've done nothing on it so far, and time is running out. Maybe we can check one thing off the list this weekend.

On Sunday we'll be heading down to San Marcos to spend some time with my sister and niece, and to help out with any last minute baby preparations. My sister is due to have my one and only nephew in less than two weeks, and I couldn't be more excited. I can't imagine loving another baby more than I do my precious niece, but the thought of another baby around just makes me all giddy. Can't wait to meet the little guy. I swear it feels like yesterday when Georgia was born, and now she's this amazing little 3.5 year old with all kinds of personality. Will be interesting to see what baby B grows into and what his personality is like.

Hope everyone has a fun and relaxing weekend!

The Holland House: Amy and Georgia
Holding my niece for the very first time. I think it's obvious how much I love her!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Weekend in Charlottesville

Sorry for the radio silence, but last week was a crazy work week, and then I abandoned kissed my husband and fur babies goodbye for a long girly weekend in Charlottesville to visit my friend Allison. She moved there last summer and I've been promising to visit ever since. She was kind enough to fly down for our wedding, and I wanted to get up there to visit before work gets too crazy again.

After an ungodly early flight (3am wake-up call, anyone?), I arrived in Richmond around noon on Friday, and rode the 1 hour (beautiful) drive back to Charlottesville with Allison. First impression- it's green, and oh-so humid. I thought Texas was bad, but it had nothing on the humidity of Virginia.

We went to her place to set down my stuff, check on her sweet pups (known as Six Cents- one named Penny and one named Nickel), and for me to take a super quick power nap.  Then it was time to hit up the University of Virginia grounds (not campus, as I quickly learned) and to see a little bit of Charlottesville. The campus buildings were designed by Thomas Jefferson, and built to resemble more of a village instead of an institution. Most of the buildings were completed in the early 1800s, and the school officially opened in March of 1825. It is a stunning campus, to say the least. I wish I had gotten better pictures, but I was too busy complaining about how much I was sweating, and was too lazy to pull out the phone.

The two pictures on the right are part of the Academical Village that flank the Rotunda (no picture- sorry) that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The picture on the left shows just some of the pretty landscaping that was seen throughout the grounds. Professors and senior year students live in the Lawn Pavilions and Rooms surrounding the Rotunda, and it is apparently an honor to be chosen to live there (even though the student rooms do not have AC or a bathroom). Many years ago, professors would live in the upstairs section, and teach on the first floor of their apartments. Students reside in the smaller rooms, with just a sink and a working fireplace. Katie Couric and Edgar Allan Poe are two of the famous former residents.

The Holland House: UVA Grounds

After a visit to the bookstore where I snagged a little UVA gear for Hank, we walked across the street to grab a cold beverage at Michael's Bistro and Tap House. Great selection of beer in an eclectic, cozy upstairs bar. At the suggestion of a Facebook friend we then headed next door to try a "Gus Burger" at White Spot. The Gus Burger (cheese burger with a fried egg on top) was #34 on the "50 Best Late Night College Eats" list. Considering we ate it at around 6:30, after only 2 beers, it still tasted amazing. And I don't even eat a lot of red meat. But sometimes you just can't beat a greasy spoon burger.

The Holland House: Beer and Burgers

We called it an early night, and headed home for some wine and the best Netflix series ever- Orange is the New Black. Allison got me sucked into 12 of the 13 episodes of this series, based on the autobiography of the same name. It streams on Netflix and while graphic at times, is an equally entertaining and disturbing look into the life of female prisoners. It's a must watch.

Saturday brought about a lazy morning, and then a drive to the Nelson County region to check out a few breweries. We stopped for lunch at Devil's Backbone where we had the most amazing pretzel and beer cheese, and then rode out an afternoon storm sipping on beer at Blue  Mountain Brewery where they had a fabulous view of the mountains.

The Holland House: Brewery Tours

We made it back home with just enough time to fix ourselves up for a birthday dinner out with some of Allison's friends. We met the group for dinner at a tapas restaurant called Bang!, and then drinks and dancing at a small club Escafé. Someone had the brilliant idea to order champagne (not me!), and I can never turn down a glass. But unfortunately it always results in a terrific headache the next day. You would think I would learn by now....

Thankfully Sunday was a rainy day, and neither of us had any problem lounging around watching more episodes of Orange is the New Black. We didn't actually get dressed and moving until about 4 in the afternoon when we headed to the historic downtown mall for a late lunch. The mall is a red brick path covered with old trees and lined with historic buildings that house shops and restaurants. There is also an amphitheater at the end of the street. It's beautiful! We ate at Citizen Burger Bar, and then walked the few shops that were still open, including the magnificent Cat House. This store was both hilarious and totally awesome- it had anything a cat lover could want (and so much more!) I bought a little book and a catnip toy for Bailey and Katie. Had to do my part to support a fun local business!

The Holland House: Historic Downtown Mall

Monday morning rolled around and it was time to head back to Richmond to catch my flight. It was such a fun weekend, and I was so impressed with what a cute town Charlottesville is. Definitely looking forward to visiting again. Thanks for the Virginia hospitality Allison!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Red White and Blue 1st Birthday Party (and cake!)

Our friend Becky recently threw the most amazing Red White and Blue themed birthday party for her son's first birthday. I was so impressed with the effort (and results) of this fabulous party. Not a detail was missed. From a streamer covered table to crafts and games in the backyard, and a burger themed food spread and fun on the inside, she had all bases covered.

I was also impressed that Becky had enough faith in me to make not one, but two cakes for the party. A "big kids" cake, and a smash cake for Kellan. I've only made cakes for family before, so the pressure was on to make something that would be presentable for the party.

I went with a classic white cake and buttercream, because you can never really go wrong with that combination. I made the cakes on Friday night and had just enough time to layer and crumb coat the smash cake. I've always had a problem with time management when it comes to baking, so the more I could get done on Friday, the better. I made sure that I was organized and had all my materials ready, along with drawings of how I wanted the cakes to look. I just didn't want anything to go wrong!

The Holland House: Smash Cake
Smash Cake

The Holland House: Red White and Blue Petal Cake
Petal Cake

The smash cake was a simple 6 inch round 3-layer cake, and I used colored buttercream for the stripes on top, and modeling chocolate for the stars and the number one. If I did it all over again, I would actually make it just a 2 layer cake. I think it ended up being too high and overwhelming for little Kellan to dig into it.

The larger 10 inch petal cake involved a pretty easy technique called the "petal technique". It might look hard, but it really only requires time and patience. It's just a matter of keeping straight lines, and wiping off the spatula after each and every dot/swipe. I used this tutorial to brush up on the technique before decorating on Saturday. I've tried this several times now, and each one has gotten easier and better. It's just a matter of practicing- but I think anyone can try this icing technique. I think it's just so pretty, and the possibilities are endless. I was really happy with the final results, and look forward to trying more things soon.

The Holland House: Red White and Blue Cakes

Our friend and photog extraordinaire Melanie Wright Photography was there to capture all the special moments, and I'm sure she got some great shots. Big thanks to her for sharing the first professional pictures of my cakes! She is soon to be my neighbor, and I'm hoping to employ her for some more pictures in the future. Next time you're on Facebook, head on over and "like" her professional page. Be sure to leave my name, too- I want to win the Christmas in July contest! (I have a brilliant idea involving a few animals and christmas lights for a possible family card.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Out & About: Epicerie Cafe & Grocery

Amy usually handles the restaurant reviews but she has tasked me with our most recent experience.  I believe this is her way of saying "you need to start pulling your blogger weight darling".  Point taken.

On Saturday night, Amy and I met some friends at Epicerie Cafe & Grocery for a relatively early dinner.  I had driven by the establishment a few times in the past.  It was an old hair salon, and for those that know me you know I had to research that tidbit since well you know, I am bald and all.  It is a converted home in the Rosedale neighborhood in Austin.  Amy and I had decided to add it to our "must try" list so the timing was perfect when our friends suggested dinner last Saturday.

On an aside, we much prefer a quaint, neighborhood establishment over a chain any day.  We will go out of our way to avoid most chains, if not all chains.  Epicerie cafe & Grocery fit the bill for our quaint, local eatery.

The Holland House: Epicerie Austin

We arrived a bit early since we heard that it can get crowded and there is not a plethora of seating.  It also doubles as a grocery, more on that in a moment.  The design work was done by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture so I was anxious to see what they had done with the space.  The interior is very inviting and obviously my attention was immediately drawn to the floor.  They had refurbished the existing oak strip floors and stained them a cool, pastel gray color.  Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture of the floors.  Amy and I immediately fell in love with the copper pendant lights above the tables.

The Holland House: Copper Pendant Lampshades

 {Photo by Room Fu}

As I mentioned, Epicerie is also a grocery that features select fine foods, wines, beers and cheese. They had us at cheese!  We selected a bottle of Bourdeaux Blanc Jean Medeville to start. It is counter service so we proceeded to the counter to have them assist us with a cheese pairing.  With guidance, we selected two sheep cheeses from Spain as well as some blackberry jam and baguette.  Another aside, if you are looking for a great summer wine that is not too overwhelmingly fruity, I would suggest that bottle.

The Holland House: Epicerie Austin Menu

The New Orleans/French inspired menu features a variety of seasonal and farm to table options. For our entrees, I selected the shaved lamb sandwich while Amy selected the BLT and Tots.  Her sandwich featured house made, thick bacon served on top of fresh focaccia bread slathered with house made mayonnaise, and served with fresh tater tots.  My lamb was cooked to perfection and served on ciabatta bread topped with a cucumber yogurt sauce that I would drink all on its own.  I would have taken a picture but I would have had to put down the sandwich, so yeah it was good.  Everything tasted fresh and was well presented. 

Our friends ordered the Fried Oyster sandwich with bits of fried pork belly and jalapeño, and also the tri tip steak served with a side of the most amazing grilled okra.  While they keep slapping my hand away as I tried to steal their food we did not sample their dishes, I do know they must have enjoyed as much as we did as there was not a scrap of food left on their plates.  

No dinner with our friend Tony would ever be complete without a dessert of some kind.  We were all stuffed but he ordered a salted chocolate chip cookie.  Shockingly, there were mixed reviews at the table about the cookie simply because three of the four at the table prefer warm, soft cookies.  I was the oddball, go figure.  It was loaded with chocolate chips and was not very "cakey" like the others prefer. 

So if you are in the Rosedale 'hood or just looking for a new, local establishment to try, we would suggest you give this gem a try.  just don't tell too many people about it so we can still get a table. 

Cheers till next time!

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Cat From Hell

No, not my cat. Your cat! Do YOU have a cat better known for hissing, scratching, tearing up furniture and general "drive you crazy" type behaviors, than the cuddly, purring kind? If so, then you just might have a chance to meet the amazing Jackson Galaxy and his My Cat From Hell show. Seriously.

If you have not had a chance to watch this show on Animal Planet, check out the clip below featuring Ruby.

If you are in the Austin area, and any of the above behaviors describe your super special cat, then this casting call is for you. See details below about how to contact them, and keep me posted if you do!

Animal Planet's

"My Cat From Hell"

Now Casting

Austin Casting Call: My Cat From Hell

Is your cat's behavior driving you or others crazy? 

Are you at your wit's end? 

 JACKSON GALAXY, our expert cat behaviorist hasn't met a cat he couldn't help! From excessively growling, meowing, nipping, scratching, biting, ruining furniture, tearing the house upside down, escaping, etc., Jackson can help transform your cat back to the feline you love! 


 Please include your name, age, city, contact phone number and who you live with. Tell us about your cat and how it's affecting your life/relationship. Include your cat's name, age, breed, where you got the cat and tell us, in detail, about your cat's behavioral problems and why you (or your family) are at your wit's end. Include pictures of yourself, your family members and of your cat!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baby Talk

This post has been on my mind for awhile, but I haven't really had the time to sit down and work on it, while giving it the thought that it deserves. It's a sensitive subject, but hopefully writing this allows me to sift through some of the feelings I've been dealing with lately.

As everyone knows by now, Hank and I were recently married. And as the shortened saying usually goes.....first comes love, marriage, then baby carriage. It's like everyone expects that married couples automatically intend to have a baby, and the questions and pressure that come with it can often be exhausting (and frustrating, and irritating.)

Fact: I am 37 years of age. An age that is so lovingly stamped with the Advanced Maternal Age label when it comes to carrying babies. I realize that I am not getting any younger, and that with each passing month my eggs shrivel up and die. But I also know that I waited a long time (10 years to be exact) to find someone that I love enough to promise (really and truly) to spend the rest of my life with them. I would like to enjoy a little more time, just the two of us, before changing our lives completely.

Hank and I enjoy spending time together, and like any couple we have a list a mile long of things we want to do together. Traveling is at the top of that list, for sure. But we also enjoy our lazy Sunday mornings and the ability to pretty much do what we want, when we want. Our fur babies also keep us occupied and entertained, and that's enough for now.

Does that sound selfish? To some people it might. It feels a little bit selfish just writing it, but it's the honest truth. I realize how truly amazing and life changing having a child can be, but that doesn't make it the right choice for everyone.

Fact: Hank and I both love babies (and children) and the idea of having our own is certainly something that we talk about. I think we would both make terrific parents, and find a way to balance our relationship with the needs of another little human. Lucky for me my parents live right around the corner and are already terrific grandparents to my little niece Georgia. I'm sure they would be just as involved should we have a little one, allowing us some time together.

It seems like every other day I feel differently about the matter. Some days I will see a baby, or talk to my niece, or just feel the general pangs of "what if", and I think there is no doubt that we should give it a try. And then other days I think about my career path, or I read too much research about having children at my age, or see a child in a store with severe disabilities (true story) and think that there is too much risk in going down that road. It's scary any way that you look at it. (And don't even get me started on my sheer terror of actually being pregnant.)

But the bottom line is this- it's our choice. It's our choice to decide if, and when, and how. The assumptions and questions and pressure don't really make it any easier on me- like I should feel bad about myself if we end up choosing not to. In the end, it might not be our choice after all. Given my age and history with lupus, it might not be in the cards for us. But that is something we will have to deal with should we decide to go down that road. And I wish that society as a whole went a little easier on women when it comes to decisions like these. There's nothing wrong with people who decide to have a baby, and there should be nothing wrong with people who decide not to.

Surely I'm not the only woman who struggles with this topic. If you do, please, please feel free to share. I read so much about women being pregnant and thrilled and everything just seems so cheery and exciting. But there is another side to it, and I don't seem to find as many people willing to talk about it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lunch in a Box: Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

I've now made several variations of bean burgers as a meat free alternative for our weekly lunches. I think the Asian Black Bean Burgers are still my favorite, but these are a close second. They're cheap, easy to make, and can be made in bulk for freezing. I usually add a grain to the burgers, but was too lazy to make a batch of quinoa this go around. So I stuck with beans and pretty much items that were already in our pantry, minus some fresh cilantro and an onion.

While the carb count on these is a little higher than I would like, the fact that they are vegan and (non-certified gluten free) make up for it. I'm just been careful to make sure that my other foods for the day are lower carb and higher protein. Instead of using flour, I substituted oats that I blended in our Vitamix. I'm really trying to cut back on flour and found this was a great change. I say non-certified gluten free because I used the canister of Quaker Oats in our pantry that don't have the specific label on it. So if you have celiac disease, you will probably want to find a certified brand. But if you're looking to just reduce the amount of gluten that you eat, then these are perfect.

I paired the black bean burger with a spinach salad and salsa for dressing, cottage cheese (to up my protein) and fresh watermelon that Hank picked from the Farmer's Market. Delish!

The Holland House: Chipotle Black Bean Burger

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers
(makes about 8 patties)

2 cans black beans (drained, rinsed and separated)
1/3 chopped bell pepper (I used red, but any color is fine)
1/3 red onion, large chopped
1-3 chipotle peppers (really depends on how much heat you want)
1 tsp chipotle pepper sauce from can (again- adjust to your preference)
juice of one lime

1/2 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 oat flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup loosely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400°

1- Mix one can of black beans, bell pepper, onion and chipotle peppers/sauce in a food processor until blended.

2- Put mixture into a large bowl, and add remaining can of beans and other ingredients. Stir well until blended.

3- Drop by heaping spoonful onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

4- Bake for 10 minutes on one side, flip, and then about 5 minutes on the other.

Note: instead of dirtying up a colander, I usually open the lid on a can of beans almost all the way, and then rinse and drain straight in the can. I'm either totally lazy, or brilliant. Regardless, I hate cleaning dishes.

Best estimate for nutritional information (per burger):

141 calories
2.8g fat
47.7mg sodium
23g carbs
8.7g fiber
2.1g sugar
9g protein

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July Sweets

In a fantasy world I would have a gigantic commercial kitchen with all necessary gadgets and ingredients, along with a person to help me clean everything, so that I could bake to my heart's content. A girl can dream, right? While the big dream might not be in the cards for me, the Texas Cottage Food Law does make it a small possibility to at least attempt to sell some of the things that I make without going to the expense of renting a commercial kitchen space.

I've always enjoyed baking in my spare time, and lots of practice and youtube videos have gotten me to a place where I don't mind making and sharing things. For instance- I've made cakes for my niece on two different occasions, decorated cookies for a baby shower, and made plenty of birthday cakes for family. For the first time ever, I even had a friend ask me to make a cake and a smash cake for her son's first birthday next week. While I have a long way to go in perfecting techniques, I feel like I can make great tasting (and often good looking) baked goods.

Lately I've started to do more research about how I can expand what I like to do into a more "professional" endeavor. I'll keep you posted as I navigate those steps, but in the meantime I'm going to keep practicing and improving. I did just that yesterday by making some 4th of July sugar cookies to take to a neighborhood BBQ. While everyone was impressed, I could only see every little imperfection in the cookies. The good news is that the cookie recipe itself is nearly perfected, and I usually prefer taste over pretty any time.

The Holland House: 4th of July cookies

The Holland House: 4th of July Cookies

Below are a few things that I have also made recently, including the most amazing S'mores Bites ever!

The Holland House: S'mores Bites
S'mores Bites with homemade marshmallow topping.

The Holland House: Pink Petal Cake
Classic white cake with limoncello curd filling, and pink "petal" frosting.

The Holland House: Rose Cake
Red Devil's Food cake with cream cheese icing in a rose pattern.

The Holland House: Baby Shower Treats
Onesie sugar cookies and coordinating petit fours.

Our Fur Baby- Brees

The Holland House: Our Fur Baby Brees

Everyone knows by now that we're animal crazy people. I've volunteered for 5 years at the animal shelter, and Hank and I have fostered several dogs and kittens together. We were perfectly happy with our 2 dog/2 cat situation, which made fostering really easy. We simply didn't have room (or hands) for a fifth permanent animal. And then Brees happened.

The foster plea email came to me on a Friday afternoon. Normally I can blow off all the sweet faces that I see on an hourly basis. But this little one stood out. She was a 6 week old shepherd mix puppy who had been picked up off the side of a really busy street, and was far too young to be spending time at the shelter. They wanted her out immediately. I forwarded the email to Hank, who replied with "Just go and get her." We were just two weeks out from our wedding, with a crazy busy schedule. I thought there was no way he would agree, but didn't hesitate at all and drove in Friday traffic to pick her up.

The Holland House: Brees on her way home
Leaving the shelter and heading home.
The plan was we'd foster her for three weeks until she was old enough for adoption, and then likely find her a home through our own social/friend network (not a chance I would give her away to a total stranger). But not even 24 hours later, we were already tinkering with the idea of calling her our own.

The Holland House: Puppy Butt
Playing in the yard her first day home.

We knew that our next dog (when were were down an animal or two) would be a dog that Hank could eventually run with, and given the size of her paws, there was no doubt that she would grow big enough to handle the exercise. So in our minds, we were able to justify that the timing of our plan was just happening a little sooner than we thought. And seriously, do you see that face?!

The other pets tolerated her puppiness, and when we officially made the decision to keep her, we knew we would need to come up with an official name. The shelter had named her Bonnie, but we had a good friend with the same name, and it just didn't seem to fit our little girl. Since we are both big football fans, and her black and tan coloring reminded us of the Saints, we decided that Brees was more fitting. She even has her own jersey that she will likely outgrow before football season even gets here.

The Holland House: Saints Jersey

In the almost 3 months that she's been with us now, we've certainly had our fair share of puppy shenanigans to deal with. Potty training was easy (crate training is a must!) but the biting/jumping/general naughty behavior keeps us on our toes on a daily basis. If the house is quiet, then you know that trouble is brewing.

The Holland House: Brees the Troublemaker
Marley is like "I had nothing to do with this!"

We made a first attempt at a Puppy Training class at Petsmart, but the instructor ended up in the hospital and missed two classes. So we'll be starting from scratch next Tuesday at her first Hearts and Paws puppy class. She's a smart girl, and already knows sit and down. But there is a whole lot left to learn! She'll also be spending one day a week in playcare at Mud Puppies. We're hoping that playing with dogs most of the day will make even the smallest dent in the amount of energy she has. Plus, the socialization will be great. She is super dog friendly so far, but Maddie and Marley can only take so much of her.

She's doing great on walks, eats like a champ, and loves playing with her toys (duck is her current favorite). But I think her most favorite thing is water! She refuses to go to the bathroom in the yard when the sprinklers are on, but pull out her kiddie pool and she dives in head first! She's a water dog for sure.

The Holland House: Brees in the Pool

The Holland House: Maddie and Brees
Brees and Maddie having a stare down over duck.

While she wasn't necessarily in our plans, we can't imagine our life without her. She's been so much fun to have, and we're looking forward to watching her grow up into a beautiful (big) girl. I know there are many arguments for getting a pet from a breeder vs from a shelter or rescue group, but I think Brees makes a great case for the quality of dog that can be rescued. We wouldn't have done it any other way.

The Holland House: Brees at 6 weeks
6 weeks

The Holland House: Brees at 8 weeks
8 weeks

The Holland House: Brees at 12 weeks
12 weeks

The Holland House: Brees at 14 weeks
14 weeks

Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Interview by Maddie

The purpose of Pet Week at The Holland House is to give readers an insight into each of our animal's personalities.  Sometimes the process works, sometimes it does not.  The latter is the case with Maddie, the fearless Peekapoo (go ahead and make your jokes now).  The interview started off smooth but in true Maddie fashion, she quickly turned the interview around revealing her dominant, take charge personality.
Me: So Maddie, can you describe for our audience how we met?
Maddie: I was the last of my brothers and sisters to find a home.  It was a good thing you showed up when you did because I was about to go all "raging Peekapoo" on the two Pomeranians I was stuck with in the crate.  I had slowly formulated my plan to exact revenge. In essence, you rescued the Pomeranians. Anyway, you picked me because I was so cute and lovable.
Me: And the only one left.
Maddie: You loved me.  How could you not?  I mean, seriously, look at my lovely locks and my underbite.  You know, I am supermodel like.
Me: Can you give...
Maddie: Do you remember the time I skinned the possum? Good thing Marley saved the babies because I was going to train them to be my personal servants.  I am a Warrior Princess, small in stature but mighty in spirit.  I am the ultimate girl dog for you dad, you can take me hunting then dress me up and make me look pretty.
Me: A) I do not hunt and B) I most definitely DO NOT dress you up.
Maddie: True but thankfully we have Amy who likes to go shopping with me.  She also makes sure I have my quarterly spa treatment.  Looking this good requires some work you know?
Maddie: Do you like cats better than me?
Me: No. 
Maddie: Am I not good enough for you? Am I too small? Does this harness make me look fat? Maybe I should go on a diet.
Me: What on earth are you talking about? Also, I am the one that is supposed to be asking the questions.
Maddie: You should stop talking. This article is about me.  The readers are yearning to learn more about me!  Pink is my favorite color which also happens to be my favorite musician. OMG!  I know how to push Marley's buttons but in the end, she is my bestie.  The verdict is still out on the other animals.  As long as they know I am the queen, life is good for them.  I am a lioness, hear me roar!
Maddie: Most importantly, I am a daddy's girl.  I am very protective of you and you need rescuing from time to time from all the other animals.  It is also important that I be at your side at all times.  You need me, you really, really need me. Is that a wrap?  I have a blueberry facial scrub scheduled at 5 today.  
Me: Um, sure.  Thanks for your time today.
Maddie: TTYL, Totes Def!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Our Animal Herd: Katie

The Holland House: Katie

Katie was an unplanned pet. Bailey and I were doing just fine on our own, until one fall day I came home to find this fluffy thing had made herself comfy on the back deck. Having no idea if she belonged to anyone, I put some food out for her. (sucker!) Of course she continued to come back- climbing up a tree to reach my balcony and settling in on one of the chairs. It took a few weeks for her to feel comfortable around me, but eventually she let me come outside and sit with her. I had determined that she was one of the many feral cats in the neighborhood, and that it wouldn't hurt to at least make sure she had food and water.

The Holland House: Katie in Chair

Fall turned to winter, and when it actually got cold enough I started to feel sorry for the cat. I had just been calling her "kitty cat", and somehow kitty turned to Katie, and that's when I knew I was toast. Katie got to come inside one particularly cold night, and that was pretty much the end of her life as a feral. Luckily Bailey has always been really mellow, and didn't seem to mind the intruder. They had a peaceful first meeting, and have been co-existing ever since.

The Holland House: Katie meets Bailey

Katie is your typical cat, with maybe a few funny quirks here and there. She was not the most affectionate cat at first, and was happier laying somewhere in my general vicinity. For awhile I would just let her in at night, and she would typically find her way to my feet and snuggle. During the day I would let her out to roam around. But I began to worry about traffic and wild animals, and thought it would be safer to have her indoors all the time. She made the transition just fine, and now doesn't even think twice about wanting to go out.

When I made the decision to move into Hank's house, I was a little worried about how she would do with dogs. While her confidence had grown tremendously, I didn't want two small dogs to bring that crashing down. Katie held her own though, and quickly found her own spots around the house for lounging.

The Holland House: Katie snuggles toy
The Holland House: Katie being ladylike

When not being lazy (and sitting in such ladylike positions), she likes to play her games on my iPad. Yes, I have cat games on my iPad- I am officially "that" kind of cat lady. Even if it's not one of her games, she swipes her paw against the screen and totally interrupts anything I might be doing on it. I draw the line at getting her own to play with.

The Holland House: Katie playing iPad

For as independent as she often is, I was really taken back when I brought home two foster kittens, Bernard and Bess. I honestly thought Bailey would be the one with the most motherly instincts, but I was wrong. Katie took the most interest in the kittens, especially little Bernard the orange tabby. She would let him crawl all over her and snuggle, and would often go into the office to check on them. It was such a cute thing to watch. And since then, she has grown even more comfortable in our home, joining us on the couch, or always being somewhere close by. For a cat who wasn't really "planned", I'm glad to have her as part of our herd.

The Holland House: Katie and Bernard

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