Oh Canada! - Olympic Closing Ceremonies

It is with a bit of sadness that I watch the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  As a Canadian, I am proud with how well Canadian athletes represented our country.  Also, I could not be happier with the way Canadians welcomed the world during these Olympic Games: "With Glowing Hearts". 

I love watching the Olympics, the stories, the defeats, and of course the triumphs.  I am thrilled with how well the Canadians did, but I am also impressed with how well ALL of the athletes performed.  So many inspiring moments and so many touching stories of hard work, determination and unrelenting perseverence.  From Alex Bilodeau winning the first gold medal for Canada on home soil, to Shaun White tearing it up on the half-pipe, and Petra Majdic from Slovenia winning her country's first olympic medal with broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  And how about those Canadian hockey teams? 

Adieu Vancouver.  Thank you for your hospitality.  See you all in Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia in 2014!


Sephora by OPI: Nail Pads

I first was intrigued by these nail pads becuase they promised lint free nail polish removal.  I CAN'T STAND the little fuzzies that you get from cotton balls or pads.  At $6 it was worth the gamble to try these pads.  I figure that I can still use my cotton pads for my toner, so I'm not wasting anything. 

When it comes to lint free nail polish removal, these pads really deliver.  Not a single piece of cotton 'hair' is left on my nail.  I also love how these pads are a little bit rougher than cotton pads, so they do a great job of removing any glitter without making a mess. 

However, the problem with these pads is that they don't hold enough polish.  They're just too thin.  As a result, I find that I can only remove 2 nails worth of polish before I have to apply more remover onto the pad.  If I use a polish that needs more than 2 coats, and therefore have a thick layer of polish on my nails, I need to use two of these pads to get all of the polish off. 

I noticed that the pads are now 1/2 price on the Sephora website, which means that they are likely discontinued.  I am hoping it means that these pads are being redesigned to be thicker and hold more polish.  That would make them perfect.


Oldies but Goodies: The Body Shop's 'The Originals'

It has been AGES since I went into a Body Shop.  I have been using Lush for years now.  However, as Lush got more and more expensive, I started to seek alternatives for my bath and body needs.  Then, walking through the mall one day, I spied a huge poster for 'THE ORIGINALS'.  And the best part?  They were 3 for $20.  Good luck coming out of Lush with much for that kind of money!

So I picked out three of my favorites from back in the day.

Banana Shampoo and Conditioner
This was a winning duo for me in high school.  As a competitive swimmer and lifeguard, I was a pool rat.  As a result of all of that sun and chlorine, my hair typically felt like straw.  The banana line was the only thing that tamed the beast and allowed me to run any sort of combing device through my hair.

That was then.  What about now?  I had been faithful to silicone free hair care from Lush for over 6 years, so th first thing I did was check to mke sure that there were no silicones in the banana line.  Since there were none, I picked up a bottle of both the shampoo and conditioner.  From the very first time I used these, I was in LOVE.  My hair seemed more moisturized, less frizzy and softer. And the smell...oh the smell...it definitely brought back memories.  I have been using the banana shampoo and conditioner for almost 2 months now, and the love has not faded!  I have not reached for my beloved Veganese (Lush) at all.  My hair is just as soft and manageable as it was after the first time I used this duo, and there doesn't seem to be any problems with build up.

Ice Blue Shampoo
This was another favorite of mine when I was younger.  I love that it's blue, and so minty.  I love that it's pepperming and not spearmint.  And there is also a bit of vanilla mixed in there.  YUM!  I have used it a couple of times since I got it, and it's just as nice as I remember it.  I can already tell that this will be a summer favorite for now.

As for the history of this product...it was apparently developed by Mark Constantine, who now owns Lush.  He and the Body Shop did not part well, and he was not allowed to take any poduct/ formula that he developed for the Body Shop when he left.  Mark has since developed a soap with the same scent as Ice Blue Shampoo.  His soap, also called Ice Blue (which was supposedly going to be called 'Ice Blue F**k You') is not as nice as this shampoo.  Though the smell of the soap is identical in the store, when I used it in the shower, it had definite pee undertones.  So the Lush soap version went in the bin after only two uses.  On the other hand, the Body Shop's Ice Blue Shampoo smells just as magnificent in the shower as it does in the bottle.  Not to mention that it does lovely things to my hair.  Sorry Mark, this round definitely goes to the Body Shop!

Check out the rest of the originals line on the Body Shop web page.  And vote for your favorites HERE so that they stick around for many years to come!


Dog Kibble: The Good, Bad, and Truly Ugly

On top of the homemade dog food my girls get each morning, they also have kibble available to them all day.  This is called free choice feeding, and is a way of letting your pet regulate their nutritional needs.  My breeder feeds her dogs this way, and this is how the puppies ate when I got them.  I like free choice feeding because when we do big hikes, or when it's cold outside, my girls eat a little more.  On the other hand, on days when we only do our usual 1 hour walk, they eat less.  They also ate a lot more during growth spurts.

Again, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with scheduled feeding.  This is what works for us.  My dogs do not have any weight problems due to free choice feeding.  The only issue I have had with this type of feeding schedule is that when they were puppies I always had a ziploc bag with kibble with me on longer outings.  I have been told at the dog park that free choice feeding is bad training, but have not found this to be the case.  My girls are well behaved, follow my instructions well, and come when called (even when there is a squirrel involved!).  What more can I ask for?

According to the scale I posted yeserday, here are some of the dog foods on the market rate:

Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 73 D
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

When compared to some of the more popular brands, I am impressed with how well the Kirkland brand kibble compares.  Especially since Kirkland Dog food is made from human grade meat that is hormone and antibiotic free. This such a great value that if you have a large dog, it in itself is worth the yearly membership costs.  It's about $23 for a 40lb bag!

The girls get this regularly, and grew up on the Kirkland puppy food.  The have had no problems digesting this food or being sensitive to it.  In combination with the homemade food, their coats are shiny and healthy.

We're currently in Canada.  But when we were in California I discovered Nature's Variety dog food.  They have two types of kibble, one without grains (Instinct) and one with grains (Prairie).  I was giving my girls Prairie, which comes in several varieties.  If your dog has a sensitivity to a particular food, you can choose varieties that do not contain it, otherwise you can alternate between the different varieties for more complete nutrition. 

I loved this dog food.  My dogs LOVED it.  Their coats were even more shiny and it even smelled good.  Their favorite was the salmon, but they enjoyed all of the varieties.  There was no adjustment period when alternating between the different varieties. 

What I love most about Nature's Variety do food is that you can look up the ingredients on their website, and then look up each ingredient  individually for an explanation about why that ingredient is beneficial to your furry friend.  Check them out at http://www.naturesvariety.com/.  And if you're in the Bay Area, you can get this dog food at Pet Food Express, where if you buy three bags of dog food, the fourth one is free!


Dog Food: What I Feed my Fur Girls.

I have two large (>75lb each) Rhodesian Ridgeback/Southern Black Mouth Cur fur ladies. When I got them I did a lot of research into dog food. As a result, my girls enjoy a home cooked meal in the morning (recipe below) and they free choice feed on either Nature's Variety or Kirkland kibble.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet, nor am I claiming to be an expert in dog nutrition. I am just sharing the info I have found in my research, and what I feed my pets.

I found dog food to be the most challenging aspect of owning a dog. There are so many dog food brands out there, at so many different price points. I don't think that expensive means good quality. I think there is good and bad at all price points.

The Scale
The most useful resource I found when researching dog food was a scale by which dog food can be rated according to ingredients.   Here is how it works:

Start with a grade of 100:

1) For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points

3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
5) If the same grain ingredient is used two or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than two meats in the top three ingredients, subtract 3 points
7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
9) If corn is listed in the top five ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10) If the food contains any animal fat otherthan fish oil, subtract points
11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point
Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one, count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D
69 = F

For more info, check out The Dog Food Project.

Homemade Dog Food Recipe
I buy what is in season (tends to be cheaper), what looks good in the store, and what is priced well.  I try to buy good quality ingredients.  As such, the food does vary somewhat from batch to batch.  The dogs do not react to this variation in any way.  Feel free to vary ingredients depending on what is available in your area or what you have in your freezer/fridge/pantry.  It helps to be friends with your butcher to get good meat variation at great prices

Meat (approx 40% total by volume)
    Pork (including: shoulder, hocks, chops, leg)
    Beef (roast, stew, shank, tendons)
    Chicken (stewing hen from farmer's market)
    Turkey (legs, wings)
    Veal (breasts, chops)
    Other as available (venison, moose, bear, lamb, etc)

Wash meat and add to boiling water, skin, bones and all.  Cook until falling off the bone.  Lately we have been puttng the pot into the oven and letting it cook slowly overnight.  The beef tendons should be very soft and signifcantly smaller.  Take meat out of pot and chop when cool enough to handle.  Strain and save liquid.  Discard all bones as cook bones are brittle, often break into shards, and can cut up your dog's digestive system.  Add cut up meat back into pot.

Vegetables (approx 35% total by volume)
    Sweet Potatoes
    Purple Yams
    Chinese Broccoli
    Butternut Squash
    Brussel Sprouts
    Green Beans
    Chinese Long Green Beans
    Any other veggies in season (avoid: onions, eggplant, peppers, tomato, citrus, corn, soy)

    Fresh or Frozen Parsley

Process all veggies in food processor, until chopped.  Most veggies can be shredded in your food processor.  Shred cabbage first, add back to meat and simmer until well cooked (while you process the rest of the veggies).   Add water as needed.  Add some salt, though it should be very underseasoned by human standards.  After cabbage is cooked, add the rest of the veggies and bring to a boil.  Simmer with veggies for 5-10 minutes.

Grains (25% total)
    Roasted Buckwheat (10-15% total)

Make sure there is enough water in your pot to completely cook the grains and that the pot is boiling. Add grains to pot and bring to a boil agin.  Add garlic and parsley.  Stir and cover and let sit in a 250oF oven for 30-40 minutes, or until grains are cooked.

Cool completely before giving to your dog.

We make huge batches of this food and freeze in portions.  Defrost and serve. 

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