Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shaping Succes

 I recently took a shaping class through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. The instructor was Sue Ailsby and it was excellent.  I've been familiar with clicker training for a while, but I wanted to fine tune my skills. I was kinda blown away by how much I learned. I had several "duh" moments and was honestly amazed at how much my dogs have learned in spite of me.

The two biggest things I came away with were that I really need to up my rate of reinforcement and break it down more. It became very obvious that I ask for too much, too quickly. I need to make sure my dog has more feedback and success.

Today I did a shaping session where I had Kenzi pick up socks and drop them in a crate. We've worked on the behaviors before - targeting, taking and bringing a variety of objects and recently standing with her head over a box (in preparation for this). But today I put it all together communicating with just the clicker.

There are some things I've noticed in this video that I need to improve on, but overall I'm really loving where this is going.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Freebie Friday!

 I've decided to do a "freebie Friday" pattern giveaway for the next several weeks. Each Friday I'll focus on a different set of patterns, you just need to leave a comment telling me which one of the featured patterns that you'd like to knit and how to contact you (email, Ravelry, Nimblestix) and one commenter will be selected to get a free copy of the pattern they choose!

This week - Dog themed patterns! Patterns are available through Knit Picks, Ravelry and Nimblestix

Woof! Socks

Woof! Hat

Puppy Paws Baby Blanket

Puppy Love Socks

Puppy Trails Tote

Woof 2.0 Hat

Monday, November 4, 2013

Homemade Yogurt!

I was recently inspired to try my hand at yogurt making. I've developed a taste for yummy, creamy whole milk greek yogurt. Yup, that's right whole milk - none of this fat free stuff for me. But the whole milk variety is hard to find around here and on the rare occasions that I do find it, the cost  it's $4-$5 a quart.

There are hundreds of websites that explain yogurt making, so I'll just give a brief overview of how I made my thick, creamy whole milk version.

My ingredients -

 1 qt whole milk
 2-3T whole milk greek yogurt

Utensils etc

- 4 qt pan
- quick read thermometer
- 6 cup covered casserole dish
- wire whisk
- insulated cooler
- 2, 2 qt mason jars with lids
- fine mesh colander

I heated the milk to 180* and held it there for about 12 min. When it got to 185*, I turned the burner off and covered the pan. I checked it every couple minute and when it fell to 180* I turned the burn back on low for 30-40 seconds.

After 12 or so min I took the pan off the stove, poured the milk into the casserole dish let the milk cool to 110 degrees.

While the milk was cooling, I assembled my incubation station - an insulated cooler and two, two qt jars filled with hot water.  My target temp for the hot water in the jars was 135* in order to heat the cooler enough to keep the incubating yogurt at the target temp of 110 *

After the milk had cooled to 110*, I used the wire whisk to mix the yogurt into it. I then covered it and put it in the cooler along with the jars of hot water.

After 4 hrs I quickly and carefully removed the jars of hot water, reheated them to about 135*, carefully put them back in the cooler and closed it back up

In 7 hrs I opened the cooler up and - voila! perfectly set yogurt!

One final step to get the super creamy yogurt greek style yogurt (If you like regular yogurt, just omit this) -

I carefully poured the congealed yogurt from the casserole dish into the colander. I had a super fine one that worked great for me, but you can also just line a regular colander with cheesecloth so your yogurt doesn't slide through the larger openings. I set the colander in pan and stuck it all in the fridge overnight. In the morning, much of the whey had drained off and I was left with about 2 cups of thick creamy goodness - yum!

The final cost was about 1/3 of the cost of commercial greek yogurt.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Woof! 2.0 Hat

Knit up a new version of my Woof! Hat last week. AND I wrote up the pattern! I revised the paw print chart, focused on color, and added an additional size to the Woof! 2.0 Pattern.  Child's one size (18") Adult Med (20") and Adult Lg (22")

I finished it this past Saturday and my sister took some pictures. I love the way this one turned out!

I've listed the Woof 2.0 Pattern for sale on both Ravelry and on Nimblestix  :)

Friday, October 4, 2013


I'm visiting family in Maryland this week. Kenzi came along and is doing fabulous. New place, new people, new smells and she's taking it all in stride.

We visited to Annapolis

Found a nearly 400 year old cannon

 Took a break on the steps of the state capital

 Went hiking at Sesquehanna state park

And we did a few non dog activities like the national zoo 

Monday, September 23, 2013


It's nearly midnight. I should be heading to bed. Or finishing up homework that is due tomorrow.

But instead I'll try to put into words what I felt tonight watching my dogs run in the pasture (after the sheep where in the barn of course ;) )

Pure joy.

They ran, they rolled, they tore through the weeds. They came galloping to me with ridiculously happy looks on their faces when I called. They chased each other, then just ran around being dogs. They were so. darn. HAPPY.

 And so was I.

All the stress of working on a final just melted away. Life was just good.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Face of Friday

Trying to go for the whole drop ear look. Or something like that

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Face of Friday

Happy Friday everyone!

Got a caption for today's picture? Please leave it in the comments - I'd love read it!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Musings

 It is quite cool here today - only in the low 60s! Kinda Brrr for August.

Makes me get a little excited about fall and the chance to wear sweaters again. I love sweaters....

AND my Central Park Hoodie is coming along nicely

I seemed the shoulders yesterday and started in on the hood. Hoping to have it done within a couple weeks.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE working with the Toconao yarn? Super soft, squishy and the colors are great. I have had to alternate skeins because the shades have varied from skein to skein, but that comes with the territory when working with Araucania yarns.

I'll write up my cable mods when I have the hoodie finished

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Face of Friday

Pretty sure that Kipp is the world's most expressive dog. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching his facial expressions. You can pretty much "read" his mind by watching his face.

So I'm trying to capture those many expressions and then post them here weekly for your enjoyment

Today's face-

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Musings

Current projects -

Still working on the Central Park Hoodie. Loving this project. I have both front sections and the back completed. Currently have the first sleeve on the needles. And no, I'm not THAT skinny. Blocking will add a few inches to the width!

I'd probably be just about done with the CPH. But I had a bad case of startitis. I've been kicking around the yarn for a couple years now (a discontinued yarn from Hobby Lobby called Mosaic)  and really wanted a blanket out of it. I'd started once, but I was knitting it and it quickly got pretty heavy on the circular needle. So I decided to crochet a blanket instead. It's super basic, since that is the extent of my crochet skills, but  I'm happy with it so far. Just not quite sure what possessed me to start it last week during the hottest week on the year...

Kipp is getting better! He just favors his leg slightly part of the time. He is super bored and brought me a frisbee today. Oops. Forgot to put that away after playing with Kenz yesterday... I did some trick training with him. He was ridiculously happy to be doing something and to be getting bits of grilled hot dog for a reward.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Many Faces of Bored

 Kipp is bored. Really bored. He sprained a ligament in his front leg last week and has been pretty much restricted to crate rest and leash walks for 5 days now. Good news - it's getting better! Bad news - it's going to be at least another week of restricted activity...

I took the camera out today to capture some of his facial expressions.

Can't we do SOMETHING?

Seriously, put that camera down and let's DO something


Pretty Please?

See, they're playing over there! Can't I join in?

Umm, I said, PLAY, not pet. Sigh.

Life's tough when you're a bored Border Collie.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Crate Training for Kids

Kenzi Loves kids. She REALLY loves them. Put her in a yard of running, screaming kids and she is in heaven.

The nieces and nephews games for a cookout over the weekend. They all clamored to go in the kennel with Kenzi. SO I let them.

They loved it, Kenzi loved it. It kept the kiddos busy for 15 min. Which is pretty darn good for 2-5 year olds. I pretty sure we will be repeating this :D

Please note the absence of Kipp. Kipp doesn't do the kid thing. He'll play with them, but other than that? He ignores them. They are crazy, random and sporadic. Kipp likes order and consistency.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Summer is here!! Anyone south of Michigan would laugh when I talk about it being so.very. hot when it is only in the low 80s. But it's hot for us! The dogs are not used to it, I'm not used to it. I'd actually be perfectly happy if it never got above 80 all summer. But I digress...

Today I found the floating toys and took the dogs down to the river to play. They got to the edge of the river LONG before I did (well, it was probably only 45 seconds, but I'm sure it seemed like forever to them) and started impatiently barking at me to get down there and start throwing toys.

They both jumped right in after the toys I threw (today I had a Chuckit Zipflight and Dogsavers Retriever) Kenzi grabbed hers and jumped right back up the bank so I could throw it again. Kipp grabbed his and got stuck at the edge of the river. The bank had washed away quite a bit due to heavy spring rains and poor Kipp just couldn't quite make the leap at first. But he's not the type to give easily and was finally able to deposit the toy at my feet. It's so funny watching him because he not naturally a water dog. Where Kenzi is smooth, agile and fast in the water, Kipp is just competitive and determined. He is a dog on a mission and his tenacity more than makes up for his lack of natural skills.

Switching gears to the knitting front - this summer's project is the Central Park Hoodie (psst - the pattern is on sale right now at Interweave for $3.85!) The yarn I'm using in Aracaunia Toconao in pink multi color way. I modified the cables a bit to add some interest to the knitting and finished sweater. Loving the pattern and the way this sweater is turning out!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On being "Alpha"

There is a LOT said in the dog world about being "Alpha" with you dog. In other words, you're in charge and your dog knows that you're in charge. 

While I do agree that the person does need to take on the leadership position when bringing a dog into their home, the term "Alpha" bugs me just a bit. It conjures up images of a person that is out to prove to their dog that they're the one in charge. In reality, if you're to the point where you need to prove something, then you've already missed something.

A leader doesn't need to prove they are in charge, the just ARE. So instead of thinking about becoming Alpha to your dog, figure out how you can take charge of the situation. If your dog bolts out of the door, leash them and make them sit before opening the door. If they jump on you, put a drag line on and step on it so they can't (and reward them when they settle down after figuring out they can't jump anymore!)

Maybe I'm lucky, but I've never felt like I've had to prove anything to my dogs. I'm in charge and that is that. I control all the good stuff in life (like food, frisbees and sheep!) and show them how to earn access to said stuff. Jeepers, if that doesn't put me in a place of awe and respect, I highly doubt any physical posturing will. my dogs can be pushy at times but they're dogs and they're just trying things to see what works. If I don't let it work, they won't do it. 

As a dog owner, your goal should be to PLACE yourself in charge, not PROVE that you're in charge. 

And just a hint - proving that you're in charge often relies on physical corrections, while placing yourself in charge is a preemptive plan to set both of you up for success.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Honest Kitchen

 A few weeks ago I replied to a call out from The Honest Kitchen. They were looking for bloggers to review their foods.  They sent me samples of Thrive and Love for the dogs to test and me to review here.

Initial impressions - a quality food, with human grade ingredients. Something that is highly appealing when pet food recalls are prevalent. And NO ingredients from China.  Pretty impressive.

Thrive and Love are both foods geared towards active dogs (like Border Collies!) Love is grain free and Thrive is gluten free, though it does have quinoa. It's dehydrated and needs to rehydrated 1/1-1.5 with water before serving. The box recommends 5 minutes, but I let it sit for about 30.

I mixed it in with their regular Victor brand kibble. Fresh soup!!

The dogs enjoyed the food and ate with their usual gusto :-)

So, bottom line - seems like a great food with great human grade ingredients. Dogs enjoyed it (I won't tell you what they also enjoy :p). But can't quite recommend it based on just the samples we tried as I like to see how my dogs do after a few weeks/months on a food before recommending it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cooperative Press

 Guest blogging by Kipp -

 I'm a working sheep dog around the farm and I'm also a certified wilderness Search and Rescue dog.  I love my work!! But I'm always looking to expand my horizons and have gotten a few cameo roles as a model for my person!

 Here I am with the Puppy Trails Tote (my person designed the pattern)

And I'm also the face of Woolie Dog Toys

I like posing, I'm good at it and I get lots of food when I pose!! I love food... So I was immediately interested when I heard that my person got a book called "Market Yourself" , published by Cooperative Press. I know how to look cute, but I know there's more to it than just lookin' good.  And the book has really good info that helps  creative people channel their creativity into a business.  It has great chapters on getting your message out there, finding the right people, and tips for marketing your product both online and offline.
I found the book fascinating and I know my person picked up LOTS of good ideas to grow her pattern business and Woolie Dog toys of course!

I know she'd LOVE to have that iPad mini with all the Cooperative Press books on it. I'd love it too because she'd probably get more great ideas for those dog themed patterns that I could model!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


That fleece lined hat I just finished? It's really, really nice now that the temperature is in the single digits with a below zero windchill! it is super warm and seems perfect for this type of weather.

 "This type of weather" has also included lake effect snow. That has produced white out conditions at times in the last few days.  Winter has returned with a vengeance.

 But that means I've got snow for dog sledding! I've always wanted to dog sled. Keeping a team of huskies is kind of out of the question for now, But Kenzi likes to pull! Sure, I'll never be able to ride on a sled behind her (unless I get a couple more dogs to join her in harness) but she could be able to give the nieces and nephews rides!

  So I took the dogs out today and harnessed them up for some practice.

 This picture clearly communicates Kipp's thoughts on the whole sled dog thing

Kenzi, however, thought it was a simply marvelous idea! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A frigid weather hat - and random dog pictures

 With no snow. Very weird for Michigan this time of year. It was in the low 40s today again and still no snow. We had a bit of the white stuff right after Christmas but it has long since melted.

 But the mild weather is supposed to change starting tonight - tomorrow is supposed to bring temps in the teens and twenties and lake effect snow. By Tuesday we're supposed to have highs in the low teens - Brrrr!

 In light of the weather forecast, I decided to begin a new hat last week. A WARM hat. I wanted one that would quite snug around my ears much like my headbands. So I started out with a cable strip. Using a provisional cast on, I CO 32 sts and worked the cable pattern over the center 24. It was about 4.5" wide and I worked it until 22" long. I then picked up the sts from the beginning and sewed the together using the kitchener stitch. At this stage I essentially had an headband. I then picked up 84 sts around the top of the band and worked a k3, p1 rib for about 4" I then decreased over the course of 6 rnds and ran the ends in. 

With a normal hat, it would be all set to go at this point. But I wanted super warm frigid weather hat! So the next step was to cut a piece of polar fleece to line the inside. I sized it the same as the cable band and sewed the end together to form a band. I then folded the edge of the hat brim around the the fleece band and sewed it in place. It gave me a nice finished edge. I got a little lazy with the top and just whip stitched it in place.

 I wore the hat this afternoon and I think it's just what I was looking for! The cable band backed with fleece is thick and cushy. It also fits snug to my head and comes a little lower on my head than most hats, fully covering my ears.  It ended up being too warm for the 40 degree afternoon, but that's fine because I want it to be warm and snug for a gusty 10 degree day!

And because the morning was so gorgeous, I took the camera along when I took the dogs out to play frisbee
"Would you just throw it already?"

"I have both of them - HA!"

"If I stare long enough..."

"So glad this toy comes with such a handy window"

Happy dogs :-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No dogs on the bed! (yeah, right...)

 I don't really do the whole dog on the bed thing. I like my bed. I like to stretch out and relax without random bumps in the way.

 So I've provided them with nice, comfy beds of their own - Memory foam, fleece and the like. They're so nice I'd like to sleep on their beds sometimes.

But in November I was gone for a week and my sister dog sat for me. She's great with them - they can stay home, they get plenty of exercise and everyone stays happy. It's perfect. Except for the fact that she lets the dogs on the bed. I think they know a sucker when they see one.

Ever since I've gotten back, instead of going over and curling up on his own bed at night, Kipp comes and stares at me, asking to be let up on my bed.

If I leave the room, he's started to take advantage of the situation. I'll come back to this -

Not only is he on the bed, but he refuses to look at me because hey, if I don't see him, I can't tell him to get off the bed. And more often than not, I don't have the heart to tell him to get off. Guess I'm a sucker too...