Bruce’s Best Pet Products (corgi edition)

Bruce has been part of out family now for 6 years! I still remember picking him up as a 6 week old puppy down on the farm in Virginia where his breeder lived. He was small enough to fit in a messenger bag. Dave grew up with a little dog and I always wanted one so Dave got Bruce as my birthday surprise!  I feel that owning a puppy and going through all the steps to train it is great preparation for becoming parents.  You learn to work together with your partner, house training, crate training, how to deal with different pet personalities, differences in ‘parenting’ styles, how to take care of an animal, scheduling (feeding, walking, etc) and the versatility you need as a parent when issues arrive with your pet like illness, chewing, social issues, etc. You go through a lot of trial and error with training pets, much of what happens when you are parents. Over the last six years, we’ve discovered some awesome dog products that are pretty essential to keeping the house clean and blatantly obvious that we have a dog.

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  1. FURminator – far and away my top pet item! This brush is designed to comb both the over and under coat of a dog. It’s pricier than regular brushes but 100 times more effective! Corgis shed quite a bit, especially during seasonal changes like winter to summer, and the furminator has been invaluable in reducing the amount of hairs that get shed in the house. It’s easy to use and doesn’t hurt the pet or cut the hairs. The metal brush pulls the hairs from both coats. We furminate Bruce maybe once a month depending on the season but corgis have so much fur, I feel like he could be furminated everyday sometimes! These brushes are sold for dogs and cats and different brushes depending on the size of your pet.
  2. Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover Spray – when house training a pet you’ll have accidents. This spray is great for eliminating odors and stains from carpet. We’ve found it to be very effective and have never had any stains on our carpets. It’s easy to use as well. After an accident (urine), soak up with a paper towel as much as you can, spray the Nature’s Miracle into the carpet and let it absorb. The carpet should be wet. Let the spray sit and absorb for approximately 20 minutes the blot it with a paper towel. The carpet won’t be completely dry and you can just let it air dry (no need for fans, etc).
  3. Lint Rollers in bulk (Scotch-Brite) – Lint rollers are pretty essential if you have a dog or cat breed that sheds. In addition to furminating Bruce and general cleaning the house, these lint rollers are great for couches, clothes, cars, blankets, etc. We like this brand because it does a good job  picking up stray hairs, is sold in bulk packages and the sheets are easy to tear.
  4. Harness Leash – for years we had a retractable leash because it was easy to use, hold and what we were used to since Bruce has a lot of energy when we go on walks. Our friend in Salt Lake, also a corgi owner, who used to dog sit Bruce suggested we get a harness leash so he doesn’t pull as much. Our current leash obviously isn’t as long as a retractable leash but he doesn’t pull at all when we leave the house to go on a walk.
  5. Food storage container – dog food can be pretty stinky and we love this container that we have to store his food. It has a lid that locks so prevent spilling if it ever tips and looks nice. The one we have isn’t specifically made for dog food (it’s basically a trash can with a locking lid).

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7 ways to fight a cold: winter survival tips

We’ve lived in some cold places throughout our 10 years of marriage like DC, Utah and Scotland and this winter in LA should be pleasant! Even though it’s warmer it doesn’t prevent sickness and colds from spreading. Here are some of my favorite things in the winter to fight a cold (not sponsored, just some things I loved that have worked for me!)

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Vitamin C¬†– ¬†I like to use¬†Emergen-C drink mix that you mix into water to boost your immunity. It’s similar to drinking a¬†glass of orange juice but convenient if you don’t have juice on hand (we usually don’t because it’s a lot of sugar and the kids will drink it all, ha, ha). Vitamin C doesn’t¬†get rid of a cold but it can help¬†reduce the symptoms of the illness. I’d also add hand sanitizer. I always carry a travel size bottle – it wont¬†get rid of a cold but can help prevent catching a cold.

Vicks VapoRub – If I feel a sore throat, cold or congestion coming on, I’ll use Vick’s rub on my throat. It contains menthol and eucalyptus oil which help soothe a cough, congestion and also sore muscles.

Humidifier Рincreased humidity can help with a cough, cold, dry skin, etc. I like to use my humidifier at night next to my bed.

Water and hydration РI always carry my Hydro Flask with me and try to increase my water intake when a feel like I might be getting sick. Increased hydration helps with so many bodily functions!

Saline salt nose spray – If I’m congested I’ll use a non-habit forming generic nasal spray from any drugstore and find it helps a lot with dry nasal membranes.

Gargling with warm salt water РThis old wives tale actually has some truth, gargling with warm salt water helps flush out a virus and sooth a sore throat. The Mayo Clinic recommends 1/2 tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water.

Peppermint Oil¬†– I¬†get this from any drugstore and like this roller style because it’s already diluted oil (so ready to use). Peppermint oil is awesome for so many things including sore, aching muscles, clearing sinuses (by breathing, not applying in a nostril), headaches, cramps, stomach pain. I’ll usually roll on some peppermint oil before bed to relieve any sore muscles (from an impending sickness or exercise).

Dessert Night

We’ve moved around quite a bit (ok, 10 times in 10 years of marriage!) and we recently started a new tradition we do shortly after moving in; it’s a fun way to make instant friends: dessert night!

We usually invite 5-10 families/couples from church and sometimes it’s just people we’ve only seen at church and have never met or have briefly talked to. It’s a¬†great way to enjoy each other’s company, meet new people, and have delicious desserts. Ours are super casual on a Sunday night after dinner time. We usually make 4-5 desserts.

This last dessert night we hosted we made raspberry lemonade tarts, symphony brownies, lemon white chocolate chip cookies, and peach cobbler (with Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream).

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Chicken Fruit Orzo Salad: easy summer recipe

I could actually eat this salad all year around but it’s especially nice in the summer because it’s served cold. I love that it includes fresh fruit and also protein (chicken). It can be prepared before hand, made in large quantities and tastes great as leftovers. I¬†got this recipe from my mother in law and have made it a ton since we¬†got married 10 years ago.

Chicken Fruit Orzo Salad

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JAM TARTBOUTIQUE

How to update an older home on a small budget

Our first (town) home in Utah we bought  while it was being built so  we were able to pick the interior features Рfloors, carpet, colors, cabinets, counter tops, tile, etc. We loved that home, however we love to travel and see new places and wanted a home just a little bigger with a backyard for our kids and dog.

Our home here is Austin was built in the 90s and has a few updates like the floors, kitchen and master bathroom. Moving is fun but also usually more expensive than you anticipate. For example, the previous owners had cat door on the door between the¬†garage and the interior of the home, which isn’t a big deal for us but the inspection said it’s actually a fire hazard so one more thing to update! Here are a few things we’ve found to update an older home on a very small budget:

  • paint – a fresh coat of paint can¬†go a LONG way! We re-painted almost every room in the house and the garage (which was yellow and blue, looked like IKEA ha, ha). We used the Behr brand paint from Home Depot.
  • cabinet hardware – we added drawer pulls¬†from Amazon that weren’t too expensive (other¬†good options were from Home Depot and Anthropologie)
  • new window treatments – I love natural light so we just replaced the brown curtains with white ones (from Target)
  • update outlet and light switch plate covers¬†–¬†we like these white ones¬†from Amazon to replace the previous brown and/or metal ones

Updates we want to do in the future:

  • replace older light fixtures
  • new exterior doors
  • matching doorknobs – why did the previous owner have so many mismatching doorknobs?! We’ll never know ha, ha…
  • epoxy the¬†garage – we have this epoxy kit¬†from Amazon but have to finish clearing out the¬†garage before using it.

Other ideas for updating an older home:

  • new light fixtures
  • add a large mirror – the reflective light can often brighten a space or make it appear larger
  • update faucets
  • re-paint cabinets
  • replace floors or old carpet (I love wood, laminate and tile that looks like wood)
  • update counter tops (I love¬†granite and marble)

Our home has been a labor of love, but we appreciate it and the new city we live in!

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Protein bites: easy, healthy, high energy snack

After working out, I¬†get extremely hungry and this is my favorite protein-filled, quick snack that can be prepared beforehand. ¬†I like this recipe because it’s SO¬†simple, requires little prep time, no cooking time and you can add in sweets (like chocolate chips) or salty (almonds, nuts, etc). In addition to protein, it has¬†flaxseed¬†which has shown evidence of reducing heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Flaxseed also comes as ‘ground flaxseed‘ if you prefer it less seedy.¬†I usually double or triple the recipe because we¬†go through them so fast!

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FullSizeRender_5 Ingredients 

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Mix then chill

Roll and enjoy!

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How to remove dried paint from wood

We’ve been painting our entire new home here in Austin (pictures to come!) and one super useful tip I found is how to remove dried paint from wood. I’m not the cleanest painter and we have wood (laminate) floors in the whole house. After a¬†google and Pinterest search, here’s a successful and super easy method that’s worked for me:

Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or cloth with . Scrub.

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Ta-da!

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(I’ve only used this method on laminate wood, test first in an inconspicuous spot)

How to have a happy marriage 

Today, my husband and I ¬†celebrate TEN years of marriage! I can’t hardly believe it, time sure has flown. We’ve had so many adventures together – 10 moves, 7 foreign countries visited, 1 dog, 2 kids, and 15 ballparks visited!

While we’re far from perfect and life is all about progress and becoming, I wanted to share a few things we’ve learned on having a happy marriage.

-Be the first to apologize and forgive. Don’t hold¬†grudges or let¬†grudges fester against your spouse, nothing¬†good can come from it. Compromise.¬†

-Give 100%, not just 50% even though you’re a partnership.¬†

-Invest time in you as a couple – time with no distractions.

-Share the work load, work side by side and learn together.

-Find things you can do together Рhobbies, exercising, vacations. 

I am in no means perfect or even¬†good at most of these but I know our efforts to create and maintain a strong marriage will pay off! I’ve loved the last 10 years travelling with Dave and becoming parents together.

Any good marriage or relationship tips?

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*Fiesta Friday returns next week- we are finally closing on our home today!*