Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mardi Gras 2014

This was my first year to celebrate Mardi Gras. The American Women of Aberdeen (AWA) throws a Mardi Gras party each year complete with costumes, King Cake, hurricanes (drink), Cajun food, music, and dancing!

What is a King Cake?

"King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans.

As part of New Orleans's Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called 'A King's Cake.'

Inside every king cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved over time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

Originally, king cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's king cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the "baby" is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.

Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is the day our Mardi Gras season, hence king cake season, begins. Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (the day before Ash Wednesday)." - From: http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/kingcakes.html

For more information about Mardi Gras, you can visit the website listed above. :) Instead of posting pictures individually, I decided that it would save space to make a slide show. Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Another side of Scotland - The Dunes

I've made many posts about Forvie Nature Reserve, and I feel like every time I go there, it looks different. It's such an interesting habitat. You almost forget you are in Scotland. We had hoped to see the seals, but we got there too late. At any rate, I got some great (still learning, but hey, compared to my old camera, they are great) pictures with my new camera! It was also Tekara and Vivian's first time to visit the dunes. I think they enjoyed it.

Angel worked her way into many, many pictures!

River Ythan

The original was fantastic, but I thought this picture was so amazing with this effect. Don't you?

Angel is so tiny out there!
 Here we have come to the beach! The waves were really large and rolling in very quickly! The tide was really high! Usually there is about a 20yrd walk to the water, but not today! Wow!

 We had to time our walking in some areas for when the water was being pulled out the furthest. If you look at the water line in the picture below, you can see that we were in the "danger" zone. :)
 I started noticing these little jellies everywhere! Do you know what these are? So far, I haven't figured it out. It looks like there are little organisms in them.

Check out this view! You can see Bennachie in the background!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Camera and Book Club

I recently got a new camera, and I've been taking tons of pictures! The dogs make great models.

This is Frog's pathetic face. He practices.
Here are some pictures from our Yahtzee game with Taryn and Peter. I love Yahtzee. Apparently, so does Angel.

Aren't they cute? I love this and the picture below!

Other things going on: Our book club meeting was this week. I enjoyed the book (Of Bees and Mist). We get together once a month to have food and wine and talk about the book. We get questions on-line to help with the discussion. Sometimes books have questions in the back.

This was Laine's last book club meeting before her move to California, so we got her a little gift.
Me, Laine, and Pam

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Keeping up with the dogs - rough times and muddy times

I need to walk the dogs more consistently. I'm pretty good at getting them around the block at least once a day during good weather. Frog won't go outside if it's raining. Angel requires much more exercise than Frog. It's tough to find that balance, especially when Frog doesn't want to be left behind. It's also tough to take multiple excursions because you have two very different dogs.

Angel wants to run and play fetch.... I mean... run 3 miles. She did the Couch to 5k training with me. She drags me. She likes to play with and chase other dogs. She typically ignores people. She comes to me when I call her about 95% of the time.

Frog likes to run sometimes, but not very far, unless he sees something he wants. He's just worked up to walking 3 miles without dragging his feet that last mile. Frog loves all people and runs to them as soon as he sees or hears them. Then, he jumps all over them wanting attention. It's terrible if they are toddlers because he'll knock them to the ground. He wants your cuddles, love, and kisses... and your dog treats that he just KNOWS you have in your pocket. Frog fears all dogs, I think. He runs around them in circles barking for about the first 5 minutes he's around them. He'll run and play afterwards, IF the other dog and owner can tolerate his behavior long enough. Dogs are good at getting other dogs to chill out, if you just give them some time and space. I started Frog in puppy tweener classes when he was only 4 months old, and he's always been around lots of other dogs. I'm not sure what started this behavior. Also, if Frog sees something he wants, he will respond to me calling him about.. 20% of the time. Yeah.

Angel with run to beat Frog to all other dogs. She then gets them to play chase. Eventually, Frog catches up to them. He begins his ridiculous barking and circling routine until Angel is in such an excited and anxious state of mind that she begins attacking (light nips, mostly to the back of their neck like what a mother dog would do to pups) the other dog trying to force them into submission (trying to flip and pin them). In the process, she'll also jump on Frog trying to grab the back of his neck while barking in a way that makes me think she's saying, "Shut up! You're freaking me out!!!" It's like his anxiety and excited state of mind flips a switch in her that makes her go from a happy, playful dog to the territorial alpha female. At this stage, all of their senses have shut down. I have to catch up to them and either step in between them all to demand they go "AWAY" or drag them off by their collars. It depends on how excited they get. Spraying them with water works too. Nothing else.

So you see my dilemma? I can't constantly take the time to take them out separately, but I also get tired of chasing them. I hate that I have to keep Frog on a leash in the park 75% of the time while Angel gets to roam free chasing the ball. Frog will run away after children and other people with dogs. I think what I've figured out today, is that I can take them out on forest walks in less desirable weather. It was really foggy, muddy, and misty today. However, they got their exercise, and we ran into fewer people than on nicer days. The walk today was really muddy, and thus, so were they! HAHA. We only had once incident like what I described above where Angel was playing with another dog, and then Frog drove her to madness. I walked in between them, said 'Away!', and Frog and Angel left the dog alone. Frog stopped walking and was looking to go back a couple of times but because Angel and I kept moving, he decided to stay with the pack.  Here are some pictures from today.

The mud and puddles didn't seem to bother Angel, but Frog generally tried to walk around all puddles.