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Pet Ninja Baby Gate

Has anyone tried one of these soft gates from Pet Ninja with a dog? I have used hard plastic baby gates for years, and they work great for keeping my dogs confined to certain rooms, but I’ve never used one that looks this insubstantial. My dogs have never challenged the hard gates, but wondering if […] Dog Blog

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Heroic Pups Honored with Bronze Statue in Wisconsin Veterans Park

Volunteers Dan and Loretta Scheunemann perform landscaping work around a memorial dedicated to military dogs and their handlers at Highground Veterans Memorial Park outside of Neillsville. The memorial will be officially dedicated June 2

Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This upcoming Saturday, Mike Voorhees, an Army veteran, will give the invocation at the Highground Veterans Memorial for the unveiling of a new memorial to military dogs. Voorhees spent months in the jungles of Vietnam as an Army dog handler and when he returned home from war he became a chaplain.

“I have one distinction no other pastor can say. I can say Satan saved my life at least three times,” said Voorhees. Satan was a highly trained German Shepherd who worked as a scout dog in Vietnam for several years. Learn more about Satan and other Vietnam dogs who will be honored at the Wisconsin Veterans Park.

Halo Pets

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5 Ways To Make Your Week Simpler (and More Enjoyable)

5 Ways To Make Your Week Simpler (and More Enjoyable)

© The J.M. Smucker Company © 2018. DD IP Holder LLC (This post is in partnership with J.M. Smucker Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.)

I could start this post with a full paragraph full of “busy mom” clichés focused on how my house is a disaster and my kids are loud and messy and how by the time I’m done with my work day and taking care of them I can barely stand up, but I’ll just stop right there. I mean, many of you are parents and you live this (and even if you’re not, you’re probably no stranger to the turbulent, exhausting nature of day to day life as an adult). So, instead of going into detail on how things are nuts around here, I’ll just get right to the point: there are small, easy ways to make our chaotic weeks simpler and more enjoyable. This is something I’ve been working toward a lot this year. I used to get incredibly stressed on Sunday evenings, because I’d suddenly feel overwhelmed by the coming week and how much I knew I’d have on my plate. So I started doing a few tiny things differently – some on Sundays and some throughout the week – to ease my load. And you know what? As easy as they are, they’ve added up. Today I’m going to share what I’ve been doing.

1. Straighten up your space. I grew up in a very neat, clean, organized home, but my sister and I always joke that we just didn’t get that gene. I am a slob by nature. I have two children under four who enjoy ripping through the house and basically destroying everything in sight. My space is always messy. And I despise cleaning. But every Sunday, I declutter the big stuff and straighten up the best I can. If I have the time and energy, I’ll do a real clean too, but a decluttering can be enough. You don’t even have to do it all at once – you can break it up throughout the day. The rest of the week is busy and it will make the day to day cleaning much less daunting if you start the week with less clutter and mess.

2. Meal plan – loosely. Let me start out by saying that I am not a traditional meal planner. I’m not one of those organized people (though I have mad respect for those who are) with a calendar full of dinners for the week who grocery shops for all the right staples based on this, and then preps everything into neat containers on Sunday afternoons. My meal planning is much more, um, wild and free than this, but it works for me. What I do is go to the grocery store on the weekends and buy food that my family likes and is (hopefully) reasonably healthy, then together we come up with some dinners we’d like to make and eat throughout the week. We don’t set them to certain days or prep in advance (because who knows what we’re going to want on any specific day, man?), but in comparison to what we used to do – wait until 5 PM each night to figure out dinner then frantically run to the store or order carry-out – it makes the week feel much simpler and less stressful.

3.  Prepare coffee for the week in 3 simple steps with Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew. As you can probably tell by the photos throughout this post, this is my favorite “tip” for how to make your week simpler. My friends have a long standing joke about me and how I would live on coffee alone if I could, and honestly, it’s sort of true. I love my coffee with a passion, but the process of making a pot of it every morning and either stopping work and/or loading the kids into the car mid-afternoon to go to the coffee shop adds up to a lot of time and money that could be spent on other things. I’ve become smitten with cold brew over the last year, so when I heard Dunkin’ Donuts had come out with cold brew you could make and enjoy right at home, I headed straight to Walmart to grab a box! I was admittedly a little skeptical at first, because even though I know Dunkin’ Donuts makes some of the best coffee around, cold brew made at home with just water and a pitcher sounded too good to be true. But you guys – I was so wrong. It is so delicious. My husband, who is a cold brew connoisseur, agrees. It’s so rich, smooth, and flavorful; but best of all, with one box, you can make your coffee for an entire week in just three easy steps: drop, steep, and love. Now there is no early morning coffee making or mid-day coffee shop runs, because every Sunday I make myself some Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew and keep it in the fridge for the week (Cold Brew packets make two full pitchers!) And it’s easy to experience a new taste everyday if I want to change things up. Sometimes I drink it black with some ice, some days I add a squeeze or orange or a splash of milk, and sometimes when I want a treat I heat it up and top it with whip cream, sprinkles, and chocolate chips. It’s pretty awesome.

4. Skim your calendar/to do list on Sunday. I keep a to do list (for both my work and my personal life) on my computer that I update everyday. I also keep appointments, work meetings, etc. in my phone’s calendar. I really make an effort not to work during the weekend, and for the same reason, I don’t look at my list or calendar during most of the weekend. The problem with this is that on Monday morning, I was feeling overwhelmed and scatterbrained seeing all of the things I needed to accomplish in the coming week. Now, every Sunday night, I skim through both my to do list (and make any changes, if necessary) and my calendar for the week. That way I have a more organized train of thought regarding what’s coming up, yet I don’t have to be constantly checking in during the two days a week I try to focus on just my family. It’s a very small thing that genuinely makes my entire week feel smoother. (Side note: If you don’t keep a running to do list, start now!)

5. Take a little me time. I know, I know, I’m always referencing self care and “a few minutes of me time,” but for real, take some down time for yourself on Sunday. It will make the entire rest of your week simpler and more enjoyable. If you have little kids, I know this can be challenging (trust me, I can’t even go to the bathroom without hearing “mommy where on you?” on repeat the entire time I’m in there). But even if it means just taking 20 minutes to sit alone and read or listen to music after they go to bed Sunday night, this small step can be incredibly powerful. We all need to recharge in order to be at our best.

And that, my friends, is how I make my weeks simpler and more enjoyable. If you have any tips I might have missed, I’d love to hear them. Also, have you tried Dunkin’ Donuts Cold Brew packets yet?


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Tom bird

tom bird

The early weeks of May begin the age of green pastels. The soft greenery of foliage pokes its way out of the gray smudge of the canopy, and the pastures are thickly verdant in the revived grass.

This age of green pastels is the harbinger to the age of photosynthesis, high summer, when the days steam long and hot and all living things in this temperate zone play out the business of growing, reproducing, and laying store for that long winter darkness that will return someday– but not soon.

This is the time of the cottontail doe kindling her kits in a bowl nest made from weaving the fur plucked from her belly with the furrows at the bases of the rising orchard grass. This is the time of the resplendent red cardinal cockbirds and their wild singing to ward off their rivals from the best nesting grounds. Testosterone rushes in them hard, as it does with all those of the avian kingdom, who are now at that season when procreation is the main consideration.

Just as the spring turns the “redbirds” into their state of lustful madness,  the wild turkeys turn their attention to these same carnal pursuits. Not pair-bonded in the way that most birds are, the big toms woo the hens with their gobbling and fanning and turning their light blue heads deep warrior red.  The spurs get thrown on occasion, especially for those foolish jakes who try to sneak a tryst with a hen in the undergrowth.

This time of green pastels is also a time when the shotguns go blasting.  Most other game beasts are left to alone in the spring time, but the wild turkey is one species where the hunt comes now. The camouflaged hunters, armed with their turkey calls and 12 and 20 gauges, braved the early spring snow squalls and bagged a few jakes and naive lustful toms.

But this big tom has survived the slinging of lead wads. Most of his rivals now reside in freezers or have already been fried as a fine repast.

The big bird has the hens mostly to himself, and when he hears the kelp-kelping of a hens on a distant ridge on a May morning, he lets loose a few loud gobbles.

“Come, my beauties! Behold me as your lover and protector!”

And the gormless hens kelp-kelp and wander in all directions, searching with their exquisite eyes for the big tom’s fanning form among the undergrowth.

The naive toms and young jakes will often go charging towards their calling, but the turkey hunter uses these exact same sounds to toll in the quarry.  The naive ones come in, and the shotguns have their number.

The big tom has seen his comrades dropped so many times that he hangs back and listens. He gobbles back every ten minutes or so. He walks in the opposite direction for about 20 yards then gobbles at the hens.

They kelp-kelp and meander around, but eventually, they line themselves on the right trail and wander over to meet the big tom. He fans for his girls, but none crouches before him for a bit of mating. They are just here to check the old boy out.

But sooner or later, they mate in the spring sun, and the hens will wandered to their nests in the undergrowth and tall grass. They will lay speckled eggs, which will hatch into speckled poults, which will carry the big tom’s genes into the next age of green pastels.

Someday, a skilled turkey hunter will work the old boy over with the hen calls in just the right way, and he will stand before the hunter’s shotgun blast. He will be taken to town and shown off to all the local guys, the ones who shoot jakes in the early days of the hunting season.

He will be a testament to the hunter’s skills, for real hunting is always an intellectual pursuit.  It is partly an understanding of biology and animal behavior, but it is also about the skillfulness at concealment and mimicry.

21 pounds of tom bird will be a trophy for the hunter, but they will also be the story of a bird who outwitted the guns for four good years and whose genes course through the ancestry of the young jakes gobbling and fanning in his absence.

A century ago, there were no wild turkeys in the Allegheny Plateau, but conservation organizations funded by hunters brought them back.

In the heat of July, the hens will move in trios and quartets into the tall summer grass of the pastures. They will be followed with great parades of poults, who will be charging and diving along at the rising swarms of grasshoppers and locusts. They will grow big an strong in the summer.

And someday, a few may become big old toms that will gobble on the high ridges, calling out to the hens to come and see them in their fine fanning.

And so the sun casts upon the land in the spring and summer, bringing forth the lustful pursuits among the greenery, even as mankind turns his back on the natural world more and more each year.

And fewer and fewer will feel sweet joy that one hears when a big tom gobbles in the early May rain that falls among the land dotted in green pastels.

Natural History

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Plush Paws Products has sponsored this post and the upcoming party, but all opinions are my own. Summer is synonymous with dog travel, whether that means swimming fun at the lake or beach, a dream…

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Climate Change and Your Cat – How Can You Help?

Climate Change and Your Cat

Photo credit: Lil BUB

On Earth Day 2018, Lil Bub thanked Halo “for exclusively using humanely sourced protein from free-range sustainable farms,” adding, “It’s good for our pets and great for our planet.” Halo was proud to read Lil Bub’s kind words. As a mission-driven brand, Halo works hard to do what’s best for pets, people, and the planet. We’re no stranger to accolades for that work. In 2016 our Spot’s Stew won in the Best Pet Products, Food category of the Natural Child World Eco Excellence Awards. We were also finalists in the supplements and treats categories!

The accolades aren’t why we do it though. As Dave Carter, our Director of Sourcing, says in a Facebook video, “Nature’s kind of messy. Nature creates things that…are unique and individual and the more we learn to work within that system, those animals are helping to restore the soil. They’re helping to build a grassland that captures carbon and makes for a healthy ecosystem.” He added, “We just think that when you go back to that natural, that OrigiNative™ source, you’re getting a whole protein that’s healthier for us and healthier for our companion animals.”

Carbon capture is important. Jerry Melillo is an ecologist and a member of NOAA’s Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. Jerry told Energy News Network, “It’s pretty clear that climate change is not going to stop and it will be accelerating if we don’t move to a reduced carbon economy,” Jerry told Midwest Energy News, when he spoke at last year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS).

We’ve seen some crazy weather over the past few years. As climate change continues, scientists say different types of extreme weather will become even more common. For example, some parts of the United States will see stronger and more frequent storms. Some areas will have more droughts and wildfires. Heat waves are also likely to become more common. How will all this crazy weather affect our beloved cats, and what can we do to help them – and ourselves?

Thankfully, Dr. Jason Nicholas, the Chief Medical Officer at Preventive Vet, took the time to talk with us about how these crazy weather patterns might affect our pets’ health. Dr. J, as he’s generally known, is passionate about pet health and helping pet parents better understand their furry friends.

We started by discussing the record-warm winter seasons that have been occurring, despite the late snowfalls that much of the United States has seen this spring. With warmer winters “the parasite seasons many people are used to or think exist are likely to change,” Dr. J explained. “So, ‘flea season’ is likely to start earlier and end later, and there may also be ‘unseasonal flares’ due to changing weather patterns. The same is likely for ‘tick season’ and even ‘intestinal worm season.’”

But seasons outside aren’t the only thing to think about, Dr. J said. Many of these parasites can thrive indoors and become hypobiotic — “sort of like a dormant/arrested stage.” As a result these parasites can be a problem for more of the year and make things worse.

Climae change could also lead to more infectious disease and mosquito-borne parasites. Mosquitos can easily spread diseases to cats. “From a mosquito standpoint, changing weather patterns isn’t just likely to mean longer and more erratic mosquito seasons, but it’ll also mean that places that haven’t historically had problems with disease-spreading mosquito populations are more likely to start having them.”

“Don’t forget, cats can also become infected by heartworms. They’re not just a dog problem,” Dr. J added. “In fact, it can take far fewer heartworms to cause significant disease in cats than it takes in dogs, and there’s no safe and effective treatment for heartworms in cats.” Fortunately, there are safe and effective steps to prevent heartworm infections.

In fact, in 2017 Dr. J wrote a blog post about mosquitos, heartworm disease, and cats. In it he warned that a single mosquito carrying a single worm is all that it takes to give a cat heartworm disease. Obviously keeping your cat indoors helps minimize the risk, but mosquitos can still get inside. He encourages people to do all they can to minimize mosquitos around their home. He also strongly recommends talking with your local veterinarian about the best heartworm prevention option for your individual cat based on where you live and any other parasites from which your cat or other pets may need protection.

In fact, Dr. J says talking with your veterinarian is the “biggest step” any pet parent should take in the face of these changing weather and parasite patterns. He suggests you ask about “the safest, most effective, and most comprehensive parasite prevention and treatment plan for all of the pets in [your] home,” including indoor-only cats.

With an increased risk of severe or more frequent storms, pets and their pet parents also face more risks for floods, fires, or other natural disasters. As with many parts of being a good pet parent, being prepared ahead of time is key. If you need ideas, Halo had a blog post about 7 Ways to Protect Your Pets in an Emergency just a few months ago. Dr. J also provides advice on putting together an emergency kit. People can download Preventive Vet’s Emergency and Disaster Prep eBook for free to get more ideas.

In addition to these specific steps to help your pet, you can also think about doing more to slow climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced, some of the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided. Toward that end, scientists are studying a wide range of plans for countries and different sectors of industry to take.

People can also do a lot to deal with their own greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. Scientist Dr. Frank O’Sullivan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also spoke at the annual meeting of AAAS, “We don’t need one solution. We need a portfolio of solutions” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing Halo for your pets can be part of that portfolio of solutions.

One way that many people, including Sir Paul McCartney and Oprah, enjoy reducing their carbon footprint through Meatless Mondays. Although cats are obligate carnivores who cannot eat a vegan diet, wholesome vegan food prepared especially for dogs can allow dogs to safely join in a family-wide Meatless Monday with Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan™ Dog Food kibbles or cans!

In fact, Halo,, and are even working with select shelters to help reduce their carbon paw print through Meatless Mondays for the shelter dogs! They’re supplying both Halo Vegan and Halo Whole Meat food for the dogs in the care of Second Chance Animal Shelter in Massachusetts, Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Florida, and Dutchess County SPCA in New York. Since it’s not good for animals to have one day with a completely different diet, the dogs are achieving their Meatless Monday by having 1/7th of their food each day be Halo Garden of Vegan™ dog food.

All three shelters have reported that the process is simple and making the dogs very happy. Sheryl Blancato, executive director for Second Chance Animal Shelter said, “We are excited about being part of Meatless Monday and the Halo food donation has helped save the lives of many animals. Since foregoing meat even one day per week has an impact on the environment, imagine the difference with can make with all of the dogs at an animal shelter going meatless on Monday!”

Together we can make a difference for our planet so that cats and other animals can live their very best lives now and in the future. Halo is here to do our part to make that as easy as possible.

Halo Pets

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What Are They Feeding You?

No, this post isn’t about smelly cats. (For the Friends fans reading along.) As a new convert to homemade dog food, I was interested in this new venture by Petco. As part of their effort to continue to offer pet parents the very best in pet solutions, Petco has partnered with Los Alamitos, CA based […] Dog Blog

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6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

Thank you Cameron Hughes for sponsoring this post. Wine and dine your way into summer and raise a toast to everyone’s favorite season!

Like most parents of young children, there is little in life I love more than going out on a date for some quality alone time with my husband. Dates don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re pretty great. Last month Robbie and I had plans to go out for some drinks and food, and when discussing where to go, we realized that since having our daughter four and a half years ago, we had not had a single evening alone in our own house. Not one. We’d gone out to movies and for dinner and to see live music with friends, but we hadn’t enjoyed time at home as just the two of us in close to five years. I mean, I love my kids with all my heart, but that’s a little ridiculous, right? So we decided to try something different. We made a call and rearranged our date night out so that the kids would go to my mom’s for a few hours while we had a nice evening date in. And you guys, it was glorious.

Since then, we had another stay-at-home date, this time in the afternoon to celebrate the fact that warm weather had finally arrived to the Chicagoland area.  It was so nice to just relax (both outside and inside with the windows wide open!) and have a casual evening enjoying our favorite wine and snacks, toasting to the upcoming summer season.

A couple of weeks later I was out with some girlfriends and was telling them what a wonderful time we had, and several of them mentioned to me that they’d started doing more date nights in as well. We ended up sharing our tips and ideas for stay-at-home dates with one another, and there were so many great ideas that I thought I’d share some of them here with you too – specifically summertime-inspired casual date-in ideas, since summer is (woohoo!) right around the corner.

6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In
6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

1. Have a summer movie marathon. One of my friends has an actual movie screen set up in her backyard that her family uses to watch movies in the summer. (I am very jealous.) The first weekend it warmed up this year, she and her husband had a date night at home, snuggling on a blanket in the grass with popcorn and watching movies together. I thought this was a pretty fantastic idea, and although we don’t have a movie screen in our yard, we’ll be recreating it in our living room with our windows open and a marathon of our favorite summertime flicks.

2. Cook (and eat) a summer-inspired meal together. On our first at home date night, we made our favorite summertime pizza (pesto sauce, mozzarella, olives, and fresh tomato) together and enjoyed it together, slowly and blissfully uninterrupted! And it was so refreshing not to have to deal with reservations or noisy restaurants or overpriced bills. We just had a patio put in (you can see some sneak peeks in these photos; full reveal coming soon!), and I can’t wait use our grill and (hopefully!) have several summer date nights in cooking and eating dinner out there.

3. Enjoy a summer concert in the comfort of your own home. Because Robbie works in the music industry and works at well over a hundred concerts each year, when he’s off duty, he much prefers to watch them from home by live streaming. (As someone who has been to many hundreds of concerts and music festivals myself, it’s hard for me to admit this, but these days, so do I.) It might not feel quite the same as actually being at a live show, dancing on the grass under the stars, but I can confidently say that there is something pretty awesome about being able to stretch out on your sofa, cuddled up with your significant other, just the two of you. (And there are no lines for the bathroom!)

6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

4. Take a long romantic walk. I guess this isn’t technically something you do at home, but after our recent afternoon stay-at-home date, Robbie and I took an hour-long walk around our neighborhood as the sun was setting, and it was kind of magical. There isn’t much more romantic than a sunset, and it was perfect for having real conversation away without the temptation of screens, while enjoying all of the things that make spring and summer so wonderful.

5. Have a backyard picnic. We have picnics with the kids all the time, but it’s been years since we’ve had one by ourselves. One of my girlfriends and her partner recently did this and said it was on her favorite date nights ever. They threw a blanket down in their backyard and ate cheese and fresh bread and olives in their bare feet under the stars. I mean, how romantic is that? It’s definitely on my summer to do list.

6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In
6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

6. Open a bottle of your favorite summer wine and just relax. This one is my favorite, and it’s exactly what we did on our most recent stay-at-home date. Robbie and I are both constantly going (I’m sure most of you can relate), and even when he’s home and not on tour, we very rarely have even a few minutes of down time to spend together. When we were trying to decide what to do for our date, we both agreed that a couple of glasses of Cameron Hughes, some super easy summertime snacks, and some time to just hang out outside together sounded absolutely blissful. And it was! For us, there is nothing better than a casual, simple date. And we love Cameron Hughes Wine for the same reason – it’s all about what is in inside the bottle. There’s no fancy label, their website is simple and easy to navigate, and the wine is high quality and delicious but still affordable. And Cameron himself samples thousands of wine samples a year (they say “he tastes the bad stuff so you don’t have to” – love that) and only selects the best wine to bring to his customers. That’s my kind of wine company. And this is my kind of date. (Psst… Use code INEEDWINE18 for free shipping when you purchase 3 bottles of wine at Cameron Hughes!

6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In
6 Ideas For A Summer Date Night In

Have any of you done a date night in recently? If you have any other great ideas for summertime stay-at-home dates, I would love to hear about them. Happy almost summer, friends.

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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National Police Week

National Police Week is May 13th – 19th. Have you hugged a K-9 today? To all police officers, but especially the K-9 handlers: have a safe week! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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