Most Eggcellently Hard Boiled

So this summer I joined the electric pressure cooker craze. I promised my husband I would ditch my crock pot if I bought the pressure cooker. I did give up my extra large crock pot without looking back, but I did keep my smaller ones and so far I haven’t needed them. I’ve used the pressure cooker for all kinds of things and have been absolutely loving it! It still boggles my mind that a pot of beans that used to take hours in the crockpot can be done, (and very tender) in less than an hour. It almost feels like I’m cheating! As if I didn’t need one more reason to love this thing, I started hearing about people  steaming their eggs in them and getting perfect, easy to peel eggs every time. I had to give this one a go, and sure enough they were not only cooked perfectly, but the yolk was nice and creamy, and not at all dried out like sometimes happens when hard boiling them. With a quick rise under cold water, the egg shells slid off in large pieces like a dream. 

My pressure cooker is not the popular Instapot. Mine is the Power Cooker so the settings will be slightly different. Also, I don’t have a bottom steam rack. Mine sits toward the top and it fits 18 eggs perfectly. I was a little worried that the lid wouldn’t close or would smash the eggs, but it is a perfect fit. I found that 4 minutes cooks the eggs perfectly so I use the vegetable setting (of 3 minutes) and then add a minute on. It takes longer to build up pressure than it does steaming the eggs but it is SO worth it. What I always have to remember though, is that once the cycle is done the pressure cooker automatically switches to the hold/warm setting and will not begin to release pressure until you hit cancel. This means they continue cooking in there and may overcook if you forget about them. I have forgotten for a few minutes and not had any problems but I would hate to leave it on more than that. Now that I have discovered this I have been on a deviled eggs kick and I’m thinking egg salad sounds pretty good too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repurpose a Pickle Jar For Dog Treats

My family kind of has a thing for pickles so we go through tons of jars of them. The jars are all great sizes so I never want to throw them away when the pickles are gone. I have an extra large one in my laundry room holding all of the socks that are missing a mate, we have jars with coins or hardware in them and I have used others to store sauces or other food products. The only problem is I still have an abundant collection of empty pickle jars sitting on top of my refrigerator just waiting to be repurposed in a project. After a while I get sick of the clutter so I tell myself I need to decide to do something with them, or just break down and throw them away. Since I already took the time to wash the jars and peel the labels off, today I decided to decorate one and use it for a dog treat jar.

To decorate my jar, I first took one of the clean jars and sprayed the outside with a primer. (Some people paint the insides of jars for decorative projects so the outside keeps it’s shiny appearance, but since I am putting food in this jar, this has to be painted on the outside. Primers come in several different colors so I like to choose a color that will look good coming through the paint when the jar wears and scratches. I like the worn look so on some of the jars I intentionally sand and scratch them to bring out the primer color underneath. This effect especially looks good on mason jars that have raised print on them. Since we are using pickle jars today we won’t go into that.

I love the look of chalk paint so I have neutral colors of homemade chalk paint stored in containers just for projects like this. If you are interested in the chalk paint recipe, you can click here.  I paint on two thin coats, letting the first layer dry before painting the second layer. You can put on as many layers as you like. Just make sure the layers are thin and dry in between each coat.

Next I used Mod Podge to glue some fabric around the lid. The easiest way I found to do this was to paint the glue onto the top of the lid, then lay the lid directly onto the piece of fabric. Then I cut around it giving just enough room to fold into the inside of the jar. I painted the sides and just barely over the edges, folded the fabric over and then screwed the lid on while it dried with the fabric pressed up against it. I created the graphic with my Silhouette Cameo 3 and used a stick on vinyl but if you don’t have a cutting machine to create with you could decorate your jar with scrapbooking stickers for fun. When you are finished, be sure to use a clear coat finishing spray to seal your paint in and protect it. Those come in different sheens so if you like the chalky look you can choose a flat or eggshell sheen on it. If you like a glossier look there are semi-gloss and full gloss sheens as well.

If your dogs are anything like mine, they want to be anywhere you are. This certainly includes my craft room and when I spend a significant amount of time in there they just find a spot to nap. Because of this I have a big dog pillow bed on the floor and a bench seat so they can nap while I work on projects. Now I also have an adorable treat jar for them in my craft room as well so you could say they have officially moved in!

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Keeping Your Furbabies Summer-Safe

Hot dog! It’s summer time! Summer plans, bar-b-ques, good times and baseball are all in full swing, and for most of us, the regular routine activities of life must continue as well. Despite the heat, healthy living enthusiasts can be found walking, running and biking as faithfully committed as they do throughout the rest of the year, but with a little added precaution. Living in the Arizona desert, heat safety education is constantly being promoted to protect people from emergencies like heat stroke and dehydration. These situations can escalate very quickly and can become fatal to even the most fit and healthy. We understand the importance of water intake, and we pay attention to which hours of the day are safer for exercise, play and laborious physical activity. We even adhere to heat advisory warnings for temperatures that are considered unsafe without the proper precautions. But what is considered safe for our furbabies?

What do I need to know to protect my furbabies in the summer heat?

Most of the conversations we hear about pet safety in the heat have to do with concern for the pads of their feet burning on hot surfaces, or the dangers of leaving them in a hot car. While this is incredibly dangerous- especially here in the desert, many people are unaware of other heat dangers. There seems to be a misconception that our furbabies have a similar tolerance for heat as we do, but so many loving pet owners don’t realize the risk (and the misery) they are unintentionally putting their four legged companions through.

How does my dog regulate his body temperature?

Humans sweat to cool off and because of this, we are able to tolerate not only being in the heat, but we can also tolerate a fair amount of physical activity in the heat, as long as we stay hydrated. Dogs, however do not sweat. They pant in order to cool down by circulating air through their snout, but even among dogs, not all breeds are as effective at cooling down as others. Dogs with shorter snouts are unable to cool down as well as those with longer snouts. So while exercise and playtime is vitally important to the health of our dogs, it can be dangerous for them in warm weather, and even more risky if they are a breed with a shorter snout and are unable to cool down.

How can I keep physical activity safe for my dog in the heat?

You may be able to run your dog for miles in cool weather, and you yourself may be able to tolerate running in weather upwards of 100 degrees, but for dogs, temperatures as mild as 85 degrees can be a problem if they aren’t able to cool down, or if they don’t have access to a source of water to drink and get their bodies wet. Young puppies, older dogs and overweight dogs are considered at risk and need to be watched for signs of heat exhaustion. Humidity level is also a very important contributing factor so even if the outside temp is in the low 80s, a high humidity level can make the temperature feel like it’s in the upper 90s. In these situations it’s very important to pay attention to the behavior of your furbaby and err on the side of safety. When it’s hotter than 85 degrees, try to choose water activities to exercise your dog. If you still feel the need to walk them, don’t go very far so that you can return home quickly if they get too hot. Carry a spray bottle to help cool them (and yourself) down and always make sure your dog has water to drink even if you are just sitting in the heat.

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How does my cat regulate his body temperature?

While you don’t typically see anyone walking a cat, (I know there are always exceptions) it’s important to note that they can also be at risk if they are left in the heat and are unable to cool down. Just like dogs, cats don’t sweat either, but their cooling process is actually very similar to the process that sweating works to cool down humans. Cats cool down by licking their fur and the evaporation process of their wet coat cools them down. Cats don’t pant to cool down like dogs do, but a cat will pant if they are in heat distress. Unfortunately, once they reach this point they are already in danger and likely require immediate medical attention.

Summer is a great time for outdoor sports, fun and family time. There are lots of fun things to do to beat the heat and many people enjoy bringing their pets along to enjoy the fun. Just make sure that everyone in the family stays safe in the heat!

 

Hope

Hope is a poweful thing. It allows us to suffer long and endure when life gets tough. It gives us the strength to inch forward another day when circumstances don’t otherwise look good. Hope fuels our will to do what is necessary and what is right when our current situation doesn’t show any signs of improvement. We have an amazing tenacity for suffering as long as we have just a glimmer of hope and our pain has a purpose. Because of this, we have to be very careful with whom or what we put our hope in. If we put our hope in people, situations, dreams or even our own ability to accomplish things, we set ourselves up for heartache and disappointment because although we can work hard and do our best to make the right choices, we truly have no control over life circumstances, and though some of us may try, we certainly have no control over other people. When things don’t happen the way we had imagined, or when people don’t cooperate with the dream we had envisioned, this is when our heart becomes disillusioned and our hope faulters. Often times this becomes a root of depression which can lead to all kinds of other things including suicide, self-harm overeating and substance abuse because we are mourning a loss of control in our lives and these things put us back in the driver’s seat…so it seems. Until once again, we lose control and are given over to be controlled by our impulses and cravings.
If we put our hope in God, we can trust that He is not caught by surprise by anything we encounter. When we choose to put our lives completely in his hands, he promises to never leave us or forsake us. This does not mean we are guaranteed a smooth, flawless road, but it means we have the comfort and the direction of the only one who not only knows what lies ahead, but has our best interest in mind even though we can’t see the whole picture. God is very intetested in our goals and dreams, but in order for us to be successful, he is interested in making sure we have the chatacter, strength and integrity we will need when we finally reach that goal. This is why it’s so important not only to ask God for direction, but to actually ask him what it is that he has planned for us. It is so much easier to put our hope in God when we are following HIS plan for our lives and not trying to manipulate God into following ours. When God is truly in charge it takes the burden of responsibility off of us to fix what goes disastrously wrong. We can simply surrender it to God and ask him what the next step is in his plan. Often times we will have to step out into the unknown before we will know if we are even heading the right direction. It can feel terrifying and exhilarating all at once but the whole point is that God wants us to follow him, seek after him and hope in him for every step. It is our nature to want to know a secure plan up front, five moves ahead so we can feel secure and in control. God doesn’t work that way. If you read about how he led his people through the wilderness to get to the promised land he was teaching them to trust him, obey him and honor him. Your hope process can be as painful or as fulfilling as you choose for it to be. Lean in and put your hope in God. Make him your everything. Just try to remember that your goals are not a final destination. They are just tiny stops on a long journey so learn to enjoy the journey!

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” Hebrews 6:19

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