Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Happy Really Looks Like

For today's Dogs on Thursday, I wanted to share some of my very own "life's little joys" with you.... updated pics of 2 of my beloved foster babies!

Dustee (aww... wasn't that a cute group photo?) has become quite the little adventurer, hiking around on the rocks in Maine and enjoying the ocean. I just adore this handsome little man...

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If you've ever wondered what happy truly looks like, just look at this big smile. This little guy had such a rough start in life and it still amazes me how full of love and life he is!

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I also heard from Cotton's (aww, another cute group photo) - formerly known as Bella - family. Looks like she's become a little outdoors-women/hiker herself.

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I'm so honored to have been a small part of these happy furbabies lives. It truly makes my day when I hear from their families and get to see new pictures! Its not easy, but if you can do it, think about fostering...... your heart may ache when they go off to their forever homes (or you may fail... once... or maybe twice, like we did), but the rewards are endless.... and priceless.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pay It Forward... again!

I said I wasn't going to... too busy with 101 other things... but I have given in.....

Grace has started another round of Pay It Forward. I signed up under Chan last year and had a lot of fun with it. This year, I'm signing up under Michelle.

Pay It Forward is based on the movie with Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey. It was a book first, written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. With all of the things happening these days, random acts of kindness are a good thing.

What is the PIF exchange all about?? The knitty gritty is… I’ll send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange! I don’t know what that gift will be yet ... and you may not until 2009… but you will receive it within 365 days, that’s a promise! It may be knit, it may be beaded, it may be ... well, I'm not 100% sure just yet, but it will be handmade and just for you!

The only thing you have to do in return is then ‘pay it forward’ by promising to do the same on your own blog.

So... do I have 3 people who want to play and receive a handmade item from me?

REVIEW: Gorgeous Knitted Afghans

Gorgeous Knitted Afghans: 33 Designs for Creative Knitters
by Fatema, Khadija and Hajera Habibur-Rahman
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Lark Books (September 2, 2008)

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What, another afghan book with more Grandma-looking throws, you say? No! This is a great new, vibrant collection of afghans that mix influences from Eastern art with classical and contemporary Western styles.

The authors, 3 sisters who were brought up in a home decorated with exquisite Islamic art, handmade Persian & Turkish rugs and Indian embroidered pillows, come from a family rich in heritage. These designing sisters have more than a decade's experience amongst them and cleverly draw on their rich Middle Eastern craft heritage for their inspiration. You'll be saying "oohh" and "aahh" as you can't wait to get your needles clicking and expand your own skill and creativity with their distinctive designs.

Amongst the 33 patterns in Gorgeous Knitted Afghans, you'll find everything, from classy to trendy; from country home to city loft; from summer throws to warm winter wraps; from gifts for baby to wedding heirloom lace with pearls. You'll also find a little bit of everything skill wise... lace, bobbles, color work, mitered diamonds, cables, knitting with beads, slip stitches and more!

Some of my personal favorites inclued Fiesta, a diagonal-rib afghan that will remind you of a South American bazaar; Cashmere Earthtones, made of squares with a diagonal cable pattern; Stormy Weather, a great cabled afghan to wrap yourself in on the couch during a New England winter; Days Gone By Garden, a collection of spring colored flowers embroidered on basket weave squares; Sporting Plaid, which looks just like a classic plaid stadium blanket; and Mother's Moment, designed by the authors' mother using bramble stitch to knit blocks that are later put together with a cable border.

Each project features great color photos, easy to follow directions and clear charts. The patterns are all rated according to skill level, with yarn requirements written by weight and yardage, but also informing you of the exact yarn used to complete the project shown (making for easy yarn substituting!). With 15 pages of basic knitting instructions included, this is truly a beginning level friendly book, after all... there are no armholes or sizes to fuss with! Seasoned knitters need not worry though - there's plenty of experienced level patterns for you!

Gorgeous Knitted Afghans is not your run of the mill, same 'ole, same 'ole afghan book. If you're looking for granny squares or boring, you won't find it in here. If you're looking for something new and different, but not too trendy, you will find it here.... and the book comes out next week, just in time for your fall and holiday knitting!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Attention all dog owners & lovers

PLEASE... take a few minutes to read The Chai Story and make sure that no other dog suffers the same fate from this ill constructed ball!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Goodbye Mugs


It has been a difficult day in the furbaby world... please hop on over and send Chan, The Knight and Sissy good vibes, as they lost their beloved prince Mugsy late last night. Although I never had the chance to scratch those sweet ears, I feel like Mugs has certainly become an extended part of our family.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

REVIEW: Cool Crocheted Hats

Cool Crocheted Hats: 40 Contemporary Designs
by Linda Kopp
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Lark Books (September 2, 2008)

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I wish I was a happy hooker crocheted! This books is jam packed with 40 designs - some very practical, some a little on the wild side, but all wonderful.

The first thing that really stood out to me about Cool Crocheted Hats was the beautiful photography. Every single pattern features amazing photos that truly show what the hat looks like on. Be honest - how many of us have knit or crocheted a hat before that was not shown on a model in the pattern photos... only to realize the real reason why the hat was photographed flat or on table? Probably because it looked much better on the table than on a real person's head! All of the backgrounds in the photographs are in stunning black and white, with the models plasted on top in vibrant color. A very unique way to truly show the finished objects . Kudos to photographer John Widman and art director Dana Irwin!

Cool Crocheted Hats starts with some crochet basics (tools, yarns, pattern components, gauge), as well as a small section on how to read a pattern (something I've heard some novice crocheters complain about in the past). Then, its on to the projects, where there truly is something for everyone's tastes ... beautiful, functional, stylish, classy, chic, funky, bold...

My personal favorites are the Simple Cloche, a simple, yet stylish hat worked in spiraling rounds; Open Diamond Shell, finally something stylish from that boucle yarn; Town & Country Felted Bucket, with different brooches added, this fun, felted hat has endless possibilities; and Groovin' Granny Square Cloche, yes, a hat from granny squares that looks amazing and is hip & stylish (side note to my hooking friends... yes, I would really love this hat for Christmas!).

Other noteables are the Jazz Beret, where french beret meets urban chic; Confetti Shell, which could easily transform in to a stunning headpiece for a simply chic bride; Hooded Cowl, a practical piece for those of us in cold winter climates; and Festive Ole Pillbox, a stunning showpiece of color with a zig zag brim. If you're truly a fan of the funky, you need to check out this book for the Mr. Wander's Top Hat alone!

As a queen of yarn substitution, I like how all of the patterns are written to include the type and weight of yarn needed, yet at the end of the pattern they also tell you the yarn used to create the project shown. Not only does this let you easily substitute a yarn, it lets you run out and buy exactly what they used if your heart so desires!

Cool Crocheted Hats also includes 11 pages of stitches and techniques in the back. If you crochet and you have hats on your gift giving list this holiday season, run ... don't walk ... to your nearest book retailer and grab your copy! There is something for everyone on your list and trust me, your recipients will not be disappointed (especially if one of them might be me...).

CONTEST! I am going to give away this copy of Cool Crochted Hats to one of you! To enter, simply leave a comment here telling me your favorite crocheted hat pattern (if your comment doesn't automatically link to your blog or email, please be sure to include a means of contact in case you win). Deadline to enter is Saturday, August 30 at midnight. Winner will be selected by random number generator. Thank you to Lark Books for providing the book for review and giveaway.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Rainy Dogs Today

I'm happy to say that yet another Doggy Thursday has creeped up on us... because, after all, that means we're only 1 day away from Friday! Since I'm still catching up on sleep, work and everything else busy knitting away on my Ravelympics project, you get another picture only post today...

These are the "hey Ma, look! no rain!!" pictures from yesterday morning...


Sophie [as always click linked names for more pics - she's showing her "rainy day lazy" side with her sister Lola in that one] on the prowl for critters...

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Teutul, so happy to have no rain, just had to zip while Zeus & Sophie waited their turns...

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As always, Lola was keeping a good eye on things...

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I think she was looking for Chucky... or maybe Woody. After all, they've been stealing the crab apples off the ground out back you know...

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Zeus (yeah, that's an old pic, but I love the fall leaves), my handsome guy looking cute as ever...

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And finally, this shot of Zeus & Sophie waiting for their turn to go out was just too cute not to post...

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Enjoy the rest of your day ... and remember, its almost TGIF!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Pictures

Please excuse the interruption in regular blogging as I scream about an ill written pattern and lack of response from the designer knit away on my Ravelympics project. I worked quite a few rows of mind numbing stockinette stitch on the body at Matt's racing on Sunday...

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... and quite a few more last night... and, you'll find me knitting away on it some more tonight at knitting guild...

I do have several reviews lined up, just need to get them written and posted, so please stay tuned! Next up are 2 great new books set to hit stores on Sept. 2nd - Cool Crocheted Hats and Gorgeous Knitted Afghans.

In the meantime, all you get is some happy pictures from the past couple weeks....

As previously mentioned, I was at Matt's racing on Sunday.... this is what it looks like when I'm not knitting in the pits...

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And in usual catching up fashion, some more happy pictures... from the Live/Collective Soul show a couple weeks ago... which was at that same hickville place up North where we had the sit-down-issues at the Boston show.

Collective Soul...

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Live...

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Just for the record, no one asked anyone to sit down at Live/CS... and no one backed into our car either! Ahh... life is good with Live and Collective Soul!

Monday, August 18, 2008

For Nana

A white rose in memory of Nana, in honor of her birthday. I miss you every day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Dream Team...

... was made official today!


Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman will be teammates in 2009!

Now if only we can get Scott Wimmer on that team...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My, How Fast They Grow

I think the only thing that seems to grow faster than weeds and babies is dogs! So, on the agenda for today's Dogs on Thursday, I thought I'd share some "baby photos" of the kids with you!

Zeus [click linked names for more "grown up" pics], who will be turning 8 in March was just a 16 pound, 7 week old pup when we first brought him home. He grew fast... and he's always had a love for lounging outside, especially in the fall.

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6 year old "baby girl" Lola was about 4 months old when we adopted her from our local humane society. Zeus really needed something to entertain him as he continually wore his humans us a companion and she fit the bill perfectly. I can't even remember carrying her in my arms, but she's always been a bit of a trouble maker... notice her "I didn't do it" face next to the freshly dug hole in the yard!

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Teutul, who will be turning 5 in October, also arrived at about 4 months of age, first as a foster from TN... but it wasn't long before we realized that we failed at fostering we couldn't let the little PITA cutie leave our home... I can't believe he fit on this tiny little bed!


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If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that Sophie came to us last October at 10 months of age, first as a foster from MO ... and then we'd like to say that she decided to stay and by Christmas we had officially adopted her. She'll be celebrating birthday #2 with us in December. Her baby pictures are all courtesy of the wonderful Janet of Precious Pets Rescue!

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Enjoy the rest of your doggy day!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moosey Tuesday

In case you haven't already seen this via You Tube or your email...

I just had to post it because I think its one of the best homevideos captured in a long time! Enjoy the rest of your day.....

Monday, August 11, 2008

REVIEW: Rachael Ray Nutrish for Pets

Rachael Ray Nutrish for Pets
Where to Find:
Rachael Ray

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A few weeks ago we received a big box of the brand new dog food and treats, Rachael Ray Nutrish for Pets. I was very excited when I learned that Rachael (love her!) was launching a pet food line and even more excited to learn that it is charity driven! A portion of the proceeds from every bag sold will go to Rachael's Rescue and help pets in need.

As you might guess, this review box arrived to a very eager crowd just waiting to test it out. Here we have 2 of the infamous Lapdog Creations staffers, Lola and Teutul checking out the goods...


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The dog food comes in two varities, Beef & Brown Rice and Chicken & Veggies. While the quality is not as high as I would like to see (especially with Rachael's name on it), it is not awful either. For a supermarket store variety, this is probably one of the better ones available. Meat is the first ingredient in both varities, which is great to see, however both also contain corn and soy which are not so good. Corn meal is near the top of the ingredient list and corn is commonly associated to allergies in dogs, plus many dogs often have difficulty digesting it. Soybean meal is also near the top and is used as a grain filler (despite Rachael's website boasting "no fillers"), whereas higher quality foods do not use soy products. Animal fat is also near the top and throws up yet another red flag. When I looked this up on Dog Food Project, I found this disturbning statement: "Note that the animal source is not specified and is not required to originate from "slaughtered" animals. The rendered animals can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on." Doesn't sound very appetizing, does it?

However, as stated when compared to other supermarket dog foods, this is definitely an above average kibble. For those who don't read the ingredients or shop for a higher end kibble for their pets, this would certainly be a step up.

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Isaboo's Booscotti (Peanut Butter & Bacon flavors) and Isaboo's Grill Bites (Bacony Burger & Beefy Burger flavors) are both typical of many treats found in Petco and the like. They are not all natural or organic, as many of the new treats are these days, and do include ingredients such as corn, soy and high fructose corn syrup. Since they're only an occassional treat, I can live with giving my dogs some here and there. All 4 Lapdog testers have tried them and seemed to enjoy the taste. I would like to see the Booscotti come in a larger size though, as I was surprised at the small round shape given the name!

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I love Rachael and love what she is trying to do to raise awareness and funds for homeless pets, as well as to educate the public on the Pit Bull breed - love Isaboo! While I personally wish she made a higher quality food such as Chicken Soup for the Dog or Wellness, I understand the mass marketing ability of Nutrish for Pets. While it will not be the kibble of choice for myself and my dogs, it is not awful either.

The winner of the Lapdog Creations Pampered Paw Gift Basket from a previous review was drawn via random number generator... Congratulations Paula! Will you please email me your snail mail addy? For those of you who did not win, you can still order your special LC gift here. Enter coupon code LDCG073108 and not only will you get the basket for the special $22 price, but you will save an additional 5% discount as well!