AKC National Championship to Air on ABC January 17th

The AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin® will air on its new network, ABC, as a three-hour special this Sunday January 17, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The show features thousands of dogs from around the country and the world competing for the coveted title of National Champion. Hosting the 20th Anniversary … Continue reading AKC National Championship to Air on ABC January 17th

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A Look Back at 2020 + Plans for 2021

How to Grow Organic Food Inside Your Home

Happy New Year! Even though we’re five days into January, today is a day of firsts. It’s the first day back at in-person school for my kids, who have been home e-learning (and then on winter break) for the past six weeks. It’s the first day I am back full time working here at Bubby and Bean after only working part time hours (and even taking several glorious days off) for the past almost two weeks. And it’s our first official blog post of 2021. 
For this annual recap post, I usually reflect on the past year not just in terms of Bubby and Bean content, but also some aspects of my personal life. Honestly, I don’t know what I can say about 2020 that hasn’t been said, but I’ll try.

It was the strangest year of my life, and likely most of your lives too. The hardest part of it for me was my stepmom passing away from cancer in July, and how difficult her final days were due to visitor restrictions because of Covid. The rest of it, while very challenging, was not what I consider to be a true struggle. My husband, who has worked in the live music industry his entire career, was furloughed in late March, which has obviously been quite challenging. Our trip to Iceland was canceled, as was our trip to Florida in July and the rest of our travel plans. My kids missed out on activities and school. And the year went out with a bang on Christmas, which was not only the first Christmas in my life I haven’t spent with my sister, but also the night my dad fell down his stairs and was to have emergency surgery on a broken femur. (He spent a week in the hospital and is now in a rehab facility.) 

There was a lot of good in 2020 too. For the first time in the almost 15 years my husband and I have been together, he was home most of the year. Over time, I got used to him being on tour with the band most of the time, but it was never easy. It has been the biggest silver lining to have him here for every holiday and birthday, and to get to spend true quality time with our kids for the first time in their lives. We also all learned how to be flexible humans who make the best out of every situation. We have all spent more time together than we will probably ever get to again. And while it hasn’t been without difficulty, I have been incredibly lucky to get more work campaigns than ever before, which has enabled me to support my family while my husband is out of work. I also usually stray from getting political here, but I was incredibly relieved with the election results. I learned so much in 2020 that I could probably devote and entire blog series to it, so I’ll stop now.  This was a year full of unfair, horrific loss to millions of people, but I also appreciate all of the positive things that came out of it. 
As far as plans for 2021, you already know that I don’t do resolutions. For me personally, the pressure of them isn’t healthy for my anxiety, nor is the disappointment when they don’t work out. I have lots of small, attainable goals, and if they work out, great. If they don’t, that’s cool too. I personally think that being present and being grateful are all you need. I don’t need to climb an invisible ladder to nowhere that’s based on more! more! more! (And honestly, I feel like always expecting to do more and do better and get bigger comes from a place of privilege, and privilege is something I want to be more aware of this year, both in myself and in others.) This year, I just want to go with the flow, and I think 2020 prepared me for that. I want to be ready for and open to whatever comes my way, and I want to do my best with it in a way that allows me to be content and not overwhelmed This applies to my personal life, and it applies to Bubby and Bean as well. I want to continue to create meaningful content, share my favorite products and services with you, and give glimpses into my life (we’re all friends here, after all). I want to try out new things in order to do that (I promise I’ll do more Instagram Reels, and maybe I’ll finally give TikTok a chance… or not), but not in a way that will sacrifice what is already working. I have little interest in gaining more followers, but I do want to continue to create meaningful engagement with all of you. And I want to continue to love what I do while also getting more comfortable with realizing when I have to turn things down because I’m overworked. I plan to give myself grace in 2021, and to continue to do what I can to help others as well. 
Okay, that’s enough of that! Let’s get on to the point of this annual post (and probably my favorite post each year): the highlights of 2020 here on the blog. You can click on any of the images or the links below them to see the posts in full. Thank you for taking this look back with me!

In January, I shared 6 easy ways to refresh school lunches in the New Year

In February, I shared an updated version on my favorite vegetarian tortellini soup recipe.

The Best Items At Trader's Joes, 2020 Edition

I shared my 16 favorites items from Trader Joe’s in March.

How To Easily Organize Your Pantry and Fridge

Quarantine meant lots of organizing in my kitchen, and in April I shared tips for organizing both your pantry and fridge

How to Be Eco-Friendly at Home

In honor of Earth Day, I shared 10 ways to be eco-conscious in your own home

Vegetarian Club Sandwiches

I shared my favorite veggie club sandwich recipe in May.

In June, I shared an important post in response to the BLM movement about listening, learning, and taking action

In July, I said goodbye to my stepmom.

Also in July, I told you all about our amazing Gardyn system and how we are able to grow organic food in our own home, as can be seen in the top image of this post.  (P.S. If you want to purchase a Gardyn of your own, use this link and code BubbyAndBean for $ 100 off!)
Tofu Caprese Salad
I shared the most delicious tofu caprese salad recipe in August. 

6 Tips For Better Snacking

In September, I shared 6 tips for better snacking
Halloween Themed Mini Veggie Pizzas
These Halloween-themed mini veggies pizzas were a hit in October.
5 Tips for Disinfecting Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals
Gift Ideas For Encouraging Learning and Creativity: Kiwi Co

Gift ideas for encouraging learning and creativity was one of my favorite December posts.
Peppermint Bark Reindeer Chow
And finally, I shared this peppermint bark chow mix recipe that was a staple for us this holiday season.
If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of you so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog, and blogs in general – they’re no longer the queen of social media, but I still feel they’re the most important. If you still read, please comment below! I’m always grateful for the traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to have the opportunity to actually engage with you as well. I’d say happy 2020, but I don’t want to jinx it! Thank you for being here. 


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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GreaterGood.org & Halo Announce A New Dog Resource, FidoFoster.org

GreaterGood.org & Halo Announce A New Dog Resource, FidoFoster.org, & Launch the “Walk and Wag” Photo Contest with Celebrity Judge Olivia Munn to Salute Dog Heroes Halo Pet Food for a Year, 15,000 Halo Meals and $ 10,000 in Grants Courtesy of MyPetCandle to Donate to Animal Shelters, Training with Animal Planet’s Pet Expert Andrea Arden, Wag!

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How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks

Firework displays may be fun for human participants but the loud noises and flashing lights of holiday fireworks spell absolute terror for many dogs–so much so that many dogs go missing after…

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Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

This post is in partnership with InnovAsian, but all opinions are my own. 

I will just come right out and say that this is one of those semi-homemade recipes, because, well, that’s how I operate. But every time I post one of these recipes (or more accurately, hacks), I get an overwhelmingly positive response. We’re all busy, man. Most of us don’t have time or energy to create lavish meals from scratch every night. And that’s why I share these.

I also post almost exclusively vegetarian recipes on here, because, well, I’m a vegetarian and have been most of my life. But both of my kids and my husband enjoy eating meat, and if I can whip them up something they truly love that isn’t vegetarian for once, they’re stoked.

All of this is why I have been so into InnovAsian foods lately. My kids and my husband all love sweet and sour chicken, and tend to choose that when we order Chinese take out. So I decided I was going to surprise them and make it at home. Then, because I am realistic in terms of my kitchen accomplishments, I shifted gears and did a little research on frozen versions instead. My research led me to Walmart and the InnovAsian products in their frozen aisle. I’ll talk more about their awesomeness in a minute, but for now, here is my recipe/hack!

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 3-4

1 18 oz bag InnovAsian Sweet and Sour Chicken  

3 cups (1 bag) InnovAsian Sticky White Rice
3 cups broccoli, chopped
1 orange, wedged
Prepare InnovAsian Sweet and Sour Chicken according to package directions. I prefer the oven preparation, but the pan-fry method is faster and can be done in less than 10 minutes! While chicken is cooking, place the bag of sauce from the package in a bowl of warm water to thaw. Place self-venting bag of InnovAsian Sticky White Rice with proper side up in microwave and and heat on high for 5 minutes. Steam the broccoli florets for 3-5 minutes until tender (but not mushy). Chop scallions. When chicken is fully cooked, place in a bowl (or leave in pan if you pan fried), and stir in sauce with chicken (heat an additional 2 minutes if pan fried). Stir in broccoli. Plate rice, then pour sweet and sour chicken over it. Top with scallions and garnish with orange wedges.
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
Easy + Fast Sweet and Sour Chicken
And there you have it! A fancy sweet and sour chicken dinner in less than 15 minutes. My kids and husband rave about how delicious this is (okay, Emmett picks out the broccoli and scallions with all sorts of dramatic whines but I’ll take what I can get), and I love that it (and all InnovAsian meals!) are filled with protein at a great price. InnovAsian also makes a delicious Vegetable Fried Rice that I love to pair with pan fried tofu and hot sauce. They’re also great on their own without any of these little “upgrades.” Best of all, they save time, energy, and money, which these days all feel more precious than ever. 

Grab yourself some InnovAsian products from the freezer section the next time you’re at Walmart, or order online with Walmart pick up, and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you if you try this recipe hack as well. 

Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Thylacine was more a marsupial coyote than a marsupial wolf

One of the most common memes in our popular understanding of zoology is that the thylacine of Tasmania was the marsupial equivalent of the gray wolf.  This idea comes from a rather superficial understanding of its morphology, and lots of speculation about its behavior have stemmed from this popular understanding. One idea is that they were pack-hunters like wolves and dingoes, and they would have been murder on Tasmania’s sheep industry. Therefore, the final extinction of the thylacine was largely predicated upon a rational fear that the creatures would have been detrimental to sheep husbandry.

A lot of these speculations come from a belief that the thylacine was quite large. As I have discussed before on this space, larger carnivores are largely forced to hunt larger prey to survive. Otherwise, the larger size is of no benefit to the animal. Ecologists have found that the mass of 21 kg (about 46 pounds) is the size at which a carnivorous mammal can no longer subsist on smaller prey alone.

Thylacines were estimated to have weighed 29. 5 kg (about 65 pounds), which meant that their diet would have been larger prey. However, really big prey species are almost absent from Tasmania. The largest kangaroo in Tasmania is the Tasmanian Eastern gray kangaroo, which weighs is roughly the size of the smaller forms of white-tailed deer in the US.  Further, analysis of Thylacine skulls revealed that they could not withstand very much force. So the thylacine would not have been a very effective predator of prey the size of an Eastern gray kangroo, and it would have had a lot of trouble grappling with a fully grown sheep.

The fact that thylacines would have had problems killing large prey creates a contradiction in their supposed larger size.  If thylacines really did weigh 65 pounds on average, then they would be a major exception to the rule that larger predators must hunt larger prey to survive.

Well, a new analysis by researchers at Monash University has revealed that traditional estimates of thylacine size were greatly exaggerated.  Using complex morphometric analyses on various preserved specimens, the researchers revealed that the mean weight of a male thylacine was 19.7 kilograms (43 pounds). The mean weight of a female was 13. 7 kilograms (30 pounds).

These animals would have been roughly the same size of an Eastern coyote. Now, Eastern coyotes can live on large prey or small prey, and they can scavenge quite well. But they have skulls that can withstand blunt force from a sheep or a deer that a pack of them has run down. The Eastern coyote can live as a fox or a wolf, depending upon the conditions of the ecosystem in which it lives.

A thylacine would have been a smaller prey specialist, and because its weight did not exceed 21 kilograms, its subsistence on smaller prey did not violate the “costs of carnivory” rule.

Indeed, the only predatory mammal I can think of that does come close to violating this rule is the maned wolf, which sometimes weighs 22 or 23 kg. It lives almost entirely on small prey and fruit. This species has been persecuted for its attacks on livestock, but like the thylacine, it is not much of a threat to them.

Of course, there will be debate about this finding. Many historical accounts of thylacines suggest or imply or even outright claim that they were killing sheep and dogs left and right.

But the truth is that Europeans had their own concept of what a creature like this could do or was likely to do, and they merely transposed these ideas onto a creature that had the superficial appearance of a wolf or hyena.

We should by now stop trying to pigeonhole the thylacine into a marsupial wolf and should try to appreciate it for what it was.

Or might still be.*


*I don’t believe they still exist, but I certainly wish they did!





Natural History

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Thank You, Happy Holidays, and See You Next Year!

Happy Holidays from Bubby and Bean!

What a year. I mean, where do I even begin? I think I’ll just keep it short and sweet and say Happy Holidays, and thank you. Thank you for being here, engaging, and allowing me to share pieces of my life along with products and services I love. I know there has been a lot of sponsored content here and on Instagram over the past two months. Since mid October, I have been working 80 hour weeks. My husband has been out of work since the live music industry shut down in March, and I am grateful beyond words for the campaigns I have gotten and the ability to support our little family. I am also extremely burned out and exhausted, and looking forward to spending the next week and half with my husband and kids (who have been asking a lot why mommy has to work so much).
I’ll be back here after the New Year, and because I just don’t know how to completely turn off, I’m sure I’ll be popping in on Instagram
However you celebrate (or don’t celebrate!), I wish you the happiest of holidays and a New Year that is better than whatever this crap just was. Love and peace!

Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Should we dress up our pets for Halloween?

Should we dress up our pets for Halloween? Dressing up on Halloween can be great fun for children and adults alike, but what about our furry friends? Just like people, dogs and cats are individuals, and no two animals are the same. For some pets, getting dressed up and the attention their costume brings, is

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200+ Movie Dog Names and the Dogs Who Portrayed Them!

Are you a movie buff with a new barking buddy? Why not name the dog who has landed a starring role in your life after a dog seen on the silver screen? From classics to today’s Hollywood hits,…

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Pandemic Puppy Scam

Tips to avoid a scam: Never buy online. You want to see both the puppy and its parents up close and in person. Ask lots of questions of the breeder, and expect them to ask you questions, too. A reputable breeder will not have more than 2 – 3 breeds they deal with. They should … Continue reading Pandemic Puppy Scam

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