Back to Retrievers

Yesterday, I picked up a young golden retriever puppy from European show bloodlines.  Her name is Aspen.

aspen

She is a natural retriever. She will already put that toy in my hand!

aspen cocky fetch

Yes. I said I’d never own one of these. I said the same thing about German shepherds.

And cats.

And here we are.

 

 

 

Natural History

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How to Assemble Kuranda Dog Beds

We received a Kuranda bed for review. This post includes affiliate links. If you’ve ever visited an animal shelter, you’re no doubt familiar with Kuranda dog beds. These sturdy beds, with…



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DogTipper

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Writing for 2020

trout

You cast a line into a trout stream. The water runs black and then spumy white around the riffles and rocks. The bait disappears below the surface. You know nothing about the bait. The stream-bed gravel or the submerged limbs can more easily catch the bait than a fish’s lips can. And that is often what happens, but you keep casting and casting. Maybe the bait will pass in just such a way as to draw the fish in for a little taste. And then you’ll catch him.

So goes the theory anyway.

The truth about writing a blog is that is so much like fishing a black-water trout stream. My prose goes out into the ether, passing through the search engines and Facebook shares, and usually no one clicks. No one nabs my bait. But sometimes they do bite, and they keep coming in for more.

In 2012, this blog was its height of popularity.  I had not monetized it yet, and I had time, back in those days, to throw out more writing than I ever could now. I honestly don’t know how I did it.

But maybe I do. In 2012, I was more cocksure, and I was so woefully ignorant that I thought I could be brave and speculate about things I didn’t understand.

I was 29 that year. It is amazing how much you think you know when you’re not yet 30, when you’re still wet behind the ears but still know enough to be interesting.

And I suppose that is the dilemma I now face.  I have changed my mind. I have grown. I am less sure of myself, not because i am more ignorant but because I know my limitations.

Writing in a forum such as this for as long as I have means that I can see the transformation. I can see the young idiot whose only real skill was in playing around with prose. Now, I sometimes feel that this is my only skill, and knowing what damage a clever phrase or cultivated meme can produce means that I take it way more easy than I used to.

Since I have matured, the readership has dwindled a bit. I don’t throw out my speculations as much as I used to, and much of my invective is toned down.

In the end, I know that my true muse will always be nature, and the animals will be my truest characters. I know that whatever I will write must have those features looming in it somewhere.

My writing for 2020 will better than it was eight years ago. It might not get as many hits, but it will be more mature and more reasoned.

New adventures lie before me. I can feel their pull in this oddly instinctual way, but they are coming. New chapters in my life are about to be written. What’s past is prologue. The rest is still unwritten but coming into view. Through the haze of existence, I can see what lies ahead.

Maybe the reader will like it. Who knows?

But I cast my line into to the stream. Maybe I’ll get a nibble or two.

 

 

Natural History

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Why do coyote females have larger litters in heavily hunted areas?

coyote pupps.jpg

I have a lot of quibbles with Dan Flores’s book, Coyote America. Among them is a contention that coyotes howl because it allows them to “take a census.”  If no other coyotes howl back, the females wind up releasing more ova and having larger litters. This description, which Flores calls an “autogenic trait,” cannot be found anywhere in the coyote literature. His account is not described in the book, but it is mentioned in his interview with National Geographic and on The Joe Rogan Experience.

I have no idea where Flores got this idea, but it’s not really what happens. The literature on why coyotes have larger litters in areas where they have been heavily hunted says that the larger litter sizes are associated with better access to food resources. The best-known paper on this issue comes from Eric Gese, a researcher with the USDA, who studied coyote population dynamics in an area of Colorado.

Gese contends that what happens with coyotes in pressured areas is that the surviving females are healthier, simply because they have access to more food resources. This greater health causes them to release more ova during the estrus cycle, and this increase in ova results in greater litter sizes.

It is not because the coyotes are taking census and can somehow magically figure out that they should produce more young.  It is simply that the coyote females’ own bodies respond to greater food resources by becoming more fertile.

What has possibly evolved in coyotes is that they have a tendency to become significantly more fertile when the females are at their most healthy. This is a great trait for a mesopredator to have.

After all, coyotes evolved in North America with dire wolves and a host of large cats breathing down their necks. Natural selection favored those that could reproduce quickly if populations were dropped dramatically.

But it’s not because of some “autogenic trait.” It is simply how coyote populations expand as mesopredators with increased or decreased access to prey.

So yeah, my take on Coyote America is that it is mostly a science fiction book. Not only does he mess up the exact genetic difference between a wolf and a coyote, which is not equivalent to the genetic difference between a human and an orangutan (as he claims),  he also messes up that coyotes really do hunt down and kill cats and eat them. They are not just killing a competitor. They are using cats as a food resource.

This was a book I was so looking forward to reading. It got good press, but the actual science in it was so lacking.

 

Natural History

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GIVEAWAY: Win GROOM Bathing Tablets + a GROOM Pet Shower Head!

This giveaway is sponsored by and fulfilled by GROOM Bathing Tablets. Winter weather is in full swing now–and we all know what that means: itchy skin and soggy paws. Just like our skin dries…



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DogTipper

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7 Ways to Help Victims of Australia’s Wildfires

10 Ways to Help Victims of Australia's Wildfires
Powerful, stunning illustration by Melina Illustrates.

Australia hold a special place in my heart. I have been incredibly fortunate to have traveled to 14 different countries over the years, and I can genuinely say each one has touched me on some level. But in 2010, after spending a few weeks in Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Cairns, and Palm Cove on a trip to Australia I took with the band for whom my husband works, I’d found my place. From snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef to riding high over the canopy of the rain forest to hanging out at a koala rescue sanctuary to visiting a tea tree oil plantation to chilling at one of the best music festivals I’ve ever attended, our visit to Australia was hands down the best trip of my life. Whenever someone asks where I’d choose to live if it could be anywhere in the world, Byron Bay is my immediate answer. I love Australia. So, so much.

But even if I’d never had the chance to step foot there, it would be impossible not to feel heartache for the victims of the devastating fires going on. I haven’t been able stop thinking about it (and there have been several episodes of me bursting into tears because I’ve felt so helpless). I know most of you can relate. I felt like it would be wrong to post anything else on here until I addressed what was happening and did some research on ways to help. Here are 7 ways I’ve found that we can all do something to make a difference.

1. The Australian Red Cross is accepting donations to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund has helped send volunteers and staff communities affected by the fires, and has also helped give support to displaced people, along with emergency grants to help people with immediate needs.

2. WIRES (New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), which is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting emergency donations to increase its capacity to help animals affected by the bushfires.

3. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is also accepting donations toward their relief efforts in New South Wales. When the bushfires clear, the WWF will work to restore homes and care for injured wildlife.

4. The Australian organization GIVIT matches donated goods with items that specifically requested by victims of the fires. Learn more and give right here.

5. Save the Children is accepting donations to build special spaces where kids affected by the bushfires can play and discuss their experiences in a supportive environment while their parents work on rebuilding and recovering from their losses.

6. NSW Rural Fire Service is accepting donations to emergency efforts and nonemergency community work.

7. The nonprofit Koalas in Care Inc. normally helps approximately 65 koalas every year, but is taking in many more koalas as a result of the bushfires. Donate here.

One final thing before I go… I don’t discuss politics much here, but guys, climate change is real. The end. The fires happening in Australia are just one of countless incredibly serious consequences of damage that humans have done. Please, for the future of our planet, vow in 2020 to make changes – whether big or small – in your daily life that keep the earth in mind. And most importantly, vote with the planet in mind. We’re talking about our home, which is in desperate need of repair before it’s too late.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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A Look Back At 2019 + Plans for 2020

A Stunning Midcentury Boho Style Living Room Reveal

Happy New Year! It’s my first post of the DECADE. Weird. Honestly, I feel like I could ramble on for days about how much has happened in the past ten years, and even in the past year alone. I spent part of last week in Denver and got to ring in my birthday (January 1st) AND this new decade with the friends in my life who I consider family, and there was a lot of reflection happening. In the past decade, I said goodbye to three of my closest friends who were also family, my stepdad Tom, my grandmother ‘Maggo’ (Essley’s namesake), and my ‘first born,’ Bubby dog, and went through the scariest period of my life as my baby fought and survived the most dangerous form of childhood epilepsy. I also married the love of my life, closed Mountains of the Moon (my eco-friendly clothing label of 15 years) and fell into a new career that I love and that helps support my family in ways I never imagined, bought our first home, and created the two greatest achievements of my life, Essley and Emmett. I am a completely different person but also the same, if that makes sense. I also started Bubby and Bean in the last decade (in late 2010), and it has evolved in ways I could have never imagined. Thank you all so much for sharing this journey with me.

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, on January 1, 2019, I decided that I was going to be less hard on myself in general, and to learn to be content with my life and focus on gratitude rather than always trying to do MORE. We live in a culture where being busy and always having bigger goals is glamorized, and while I think evolving in positive ways is crucial, there is something to be said for just appreciating what you already have. In 2020, I plan to do more of this – both in my real life, and here on the blog and on my social media accounts. It’s very easy (especially for someone like me who tends to base my self worth on how much I achieve) to get caught up in the invisible ladder (to nowhere, let’s be honest) of the influencer world. I need more followers! I need more engagement! I need bigger partnerships! I need to get a book deal! I need prettier pictures! I need a nicer house in which to take the pictures! I need to do things to myself physically to look better for the pictures! No, no, and no. The truth is I’m happy where I am. I don’t need to get rich. I don’t need (or want) to be famous. My mediocre house on which we work very hard to improve for ourselves is plenty. My wrinkles and sagging skin and gray hairs are just freaking fine. I’m very content and grateful to get to do something I love that helps support my family. Yes, there are lots of exciting things I have to share with you guys in 2020. But I don’t need more more more. I’m good. I’m happy.

Anyway… Let’s get on to the point of this: my favorite posts of 2019. 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!

8 Ways Coloring Helps Melt Away The Winter Blues

In January, I got personal and talked about my struggle with seasonal depression, and how I use things like coloring (yes coloring!) to ease anxiety.

In February, I shared our family room redesign reveal (as seen in top post).

6 Benefits of Reading to Our Children

Also in February, I talked about 6 benefits of reading to children.

A Spring Home Decor Refresh : All Under $  25!

I shared items to help give your home a spring refresh for under $ 25.

Salsa Verde and Black Bean Quesadilla Wraps

This recipe for black bean and salsa verde quesadilla wraps from April was one of the most visited food posts of 2019.

Also in April, I paid at visit to the most incredible vintage film fashion exhibit at Chicago History Museum, which focused on “the original influencers.”

In honor of Earth Day, I shared 8 household/parenting hacks that also respect the earth.

9 Stylish Hats Perfect for Summer

As usual, I had summertime on the brain in May, so I put together this round up of fun summer hats.

In June, I shared 5 tips for keeping your house clean during summer break.

These organic pineapple orange vodka refreshers were my favorite beverage during the summer of 2019.

In July, I shared 7 tips for conquering summer laundry.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy As a Family

August rolled around and I talked about 10 ways we stay healthy as a family.

Plant-Based Lunch-Kabobs, 2 Ways

These two plant-based lunch kabob recipes I shared in September were pinned on Pinterest more than any other recipe.

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

In October, I shared some classic kids’ Halloween costume ideas (my fave!).

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I talked about how to help feed hungry kids through Friendsgiving celebrations and shared our pumpkin coffee cake recipe in November.

Also in November, I talked about ways to encourage kids to tell their own stories.

Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzers

These festive organic cranberry cucumber vodka spritzers were a hit around here this holiday season.

In December, I shared 10 tips for a successful holiday road trip with kids.

And finally, I shared this Polar Express inspired holiday Chex Mix recipe.

If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of my followers so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog (and blogs in general!). Blogs are the mother ships of social media, and I hope they never get drowned out by the fast/quick/easy pace of Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. If you still read, please comment below. It’s wonderful to see traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to actually converse with you all as well! I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the goodness you deserve.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

This post is sponsored by General Mills, but all opinions are my own.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but when I think back to the holidays of my childhood, the memories that are most vivid are those involving family traditions. Those fun, festive activities we did together each holiday season felt so magical and full of light, and I knew from the moment my kids were born that I wanted to create memorable holiday traditions for them as well. Thanks to Chex™ cereal from Walmart I was able to do just that.

A couple of years ago, we started a holiday tradition where we make Chex™ Mix (if you’re a regular reader here then you’re likely well-aware of my affinity for Chex™ Mix) and watch a holiday movie together while we snack on it. This year, I decided we’d take our original Chex™ Mix recipe up a notch and create a sweet, very holiday-themed version inspired by our favorite winter drink (hot chocolate) and one of my favorite holiday movies, The Polar Express™. The kids and I had so much making this together, and the finished product is the perfect holiday movie snack; it’s like eating a mug of yummy hot chocolate with the most delicious crunch! It’s also a great snack to serve at holiday parties, or to pack up in cute cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon to give as holiday gifts.


The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

INGREDIENTS
4 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal
4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate nonpareils
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (optional)

Line 2 large rimmed baking pans with waxed paper. In large bowl, mix cereals. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa mix.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave semisweet chocolate chips uncovered on High 45 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour onto cereal in bowl; mix thoroughly to coat. Transfer mixture to 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; add powdered sugar mix to bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Spread in one of the pans to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, just until chips are starting to melt and can be stirred smooth. Stir in marshmallows; coat completely. Spread in remaining pan, spreading mini marshmallows into small clusters; let stand about 30 minutes or until coating is set.

In large serving bowl, mix cereal, marshmallow clusters, chocolate nonpareils, and crushed peppermint candy. Store at room temperature in covered container.

TIPS:

  • Chocolate nonpareils come in a small and larger size, and either will work in this recipe. (We used the small ones.)
  • If melted white vanilla baking chips are too hot, you may need to cool slightly before adding marshmallows to coat.

All of the delicious ingredients in this recipe combine perfectly to create what my daughter has declared to be “the yummiest holiday sweet treat snack ever,” but the key ingredients are the Rice Chex™ (or Corn Chex™, if you prefer to use that variety) and the Chocolate Chex™. Rice Chex™ has been one of my favorite cereals since I was a child, and we eat it for breakfast regularly around here. (My kids love the way it tastes. I love that it contains no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and is gluten free!) I only recently tried the Chocolate Chex™, but I was an instant fan. I love snacking on it as an after dinner treat, and it can be used for countless dessert recipes. (And like Corn and Rice Chex™, it’s free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, contains no high fructose corn syrups, and is also gluten free. Woot!)

As much as we all love eating The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex™ Mix, the best part is making it together as a family. We put on holiday music, and the four of work together to measure the ingredients, stir and mix and create, and arrange in hot chocolate mugs to eat while we watch The Polar Express™ in our pajamas. It doesn’t get much better.

Head to your local Walmart or click here and stock up on Chex™ cereals for all of your holiday snacking needs. Happy holiday snacking and tradition making, friends.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, THE POLAR EXPRESS © WBEI. A CHRISTMAS STORY © Turner Ent Co. ELF © New Line Prod. Inc.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Top Pet Names of 2019

It’s always fun to see the Top 10 lists that the end of the year inevitably brings–and no list is more fun than the top pet names. This year Healthy Paws Pet Insurance created a list of…



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DogTipper

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Top 6 Reasons to Walk Your Dog

Dog walking — twice a day in our house — is usually the highlight of my day. I love the peaceful time outside with our dogs and the exercise it provides me–and our dogs. Today we…



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DogTipper

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