Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest Post: Great Recipe!!


Boo-Boo’s Banana Bake:

I think my dogs are catching on that Saturdays + Mom not working = homemade dog treats.
This weekend I decided to make a dog treat with banana, because I had one lone banana in the house, looking like it needed to be used for something.

The ingredients:
• 1 ½ cup oatmeal
• ¾ cup wheat flour
• 1 egg
• 1/8 cup oil
• ¼ cup honey
• ¼ cup milk
• 1 mashed banana

First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I blended the liquid ingredients, mashed banana and egg. Then I added in the oatmeal and flour. Next, spread the mix onto a greased pan (or pizza pan) and bake for 25-30 minutes.

When done, remove it from the oven to cool and cut into shapes or strips. I’m going to refrigerate mine.

Now for the fun part…did the picky, peanut butter loving St. Bernard (who has a million nicknames including Boo-Boo) like it?? Looks like we’ve got a winner this time around because both of my dogs loved the treats! If you’ve got a little time, give these treats a try. Later, Dog!

Name: Jennifer Grathwohl, Co-Founder of

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Ugh, groceries??


I despise going to the grocery store. It's always freezing and I am bound to get that one cart that strategically stops working when I am as far away as possible from the front door.

Today was no exception to my dislike for food emporiums. I debated on going for the past six hours and although I was planning on using Peapod, I still needed dinner for that night. So I finally peeled myself off the couch, and journeyed to Jewel.

I realized that I must have forgotten that it was a Sunday night. Shit. This is the dreaded "lonely man" night at the grocery store. What do I mean by that? I mean that everytime I go here on a Sunday night, I am harassed by men with cheesy one-liners and nothing better to do than pretend grocery shop while they are really trying to find the domestic goddess they always dreamed about.

Unfortunately, today was not an exception to the rule. I rolled up and down the aisles in my dysfunctional cart (yes, it didn't work even after I test drove three of them in the entrance!) trying to avoid direct eye contact with anyone.

Of course this was an impossible task, as the grocery store was so busy, you literally had to practice defensive driving. My lame cart would go right when I wanted it to go left and sure enough nailed a few innocent passerbys.

As I rolled down the rice and pasta aisle, I looked up and there he was. Mr. I've been at the grocery store for the past three hours and only have one bag of chips and bottle of booze to show for it.

"Hey, hey, coming through! Didn't mean to get in your way!"

Nervous laugh - "That's OK! You're fine!"

Damnit, Lauren. I said too much. Lesson #1: Do not entertain the grocery store loner. Why am I so friendly??

"So what are you cooking tonight, dear?"

OK, why is this weirdo following me now! I'm screwed! Don't answer him, keep walking!

"Oh, I don't know, maybe seafood for my FIANCE and I."

That must be enough for him to get the point.

"Man, I wish I had someone to cook for me like that. Do you live around here?"

Seriously've got to be kidding me. I just told you I was on the verge of getting married but you still think I am going to go home with you and whip up a tasty and delicious meal??? Paging dilusional man following me in Aisle 7!

My mom always warned me about being too nice. We always talk to strangers and seem to make best friends with everyone around us.

For example, my mom comes to visit Chicago and 45-minutes after her scheduled arrival, I come outside to find out that she has become best friends with the taxi driver who has three kids, all of which are going to medical school and is desperate to help them financially. Oh, and apparently he went to Harvard. By the end of the ride, my mom was ready to donate to the "Random Taxi Driver" fund, until I told her that his story sounded a bit bizarre and unrealistic seeing as how his chosen profession after graduating from Harvard was a taxi driver (nothing against cabbies).

So needless to say, we are both WAY too naive and nice for our own good. Meanwhile, I am dealing with a stage 900 clinger STILL following me. I realized that I had no other choice than to b-line for the checkout and cut my shopping trip early. I can't believe this guy forced me to leave!

When I got home, I had about half the ingredients for dinner and was exhausted from my nightmare shopping experience.

I decided to take a break from cooking and took Guido outside. It was a beautiful day and there were a million dogs out for Gui to annoy.

Gui has this, I think adorable, but could possibly be construed as annoying, habit of following dogs around.

Today he decided to latch onto an innocent yellow lab. First it started with the butt sniff, then a face lick and from there I was sent on a race to be sure he didn't follow the dog all way out of the park.

The dog looked backed annoyingly at Guido, as he was jumping in his face and inadvertently tripping him. It occurred to me that my precious Guido was definitely a stage five clinger. He always overstayed his welcome and definitely creeped other dogs out.

I initially felt bad for judging the grocery store loners because I am sure they, like Guido, don't know any better ways to try and pick up girlfriends. I decided that I was going to become Guido's dating/life coach - show him the ropes on how to attract members of the opposite sex without driving them insane.

And if I decide to ever venture to the forsaken Jewel again, maybe I will give the lonely men out there some helpful hints...they will start something like this, "Please do not sniff my butt and follow me around. From there, you are golden!"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Aug Bear


There is a love greater than the love you have for yourself - although sometimes I meet people that make me doubt this fact. Then I go over to my sister's home and I walk in their front door and am immediately enveloped in the ever present love that happily resides there. As you enter this palace ruled by a little boy, I see what unfailing love can look and feel like.

My sister used to work at Neiman Marcus for many years as the resident PR persona. She was undoubtedly the most stylish and put together person I'd ever seen. She was surely always in direct contrast to me...disheveled, hair messed up, heels half broken off and a piece of food that couldn't wait to assume its traditional role in between my two front teeth.

The life at Neiman Marcus was dazzling to me. Another place filled with perfect people and endless money all effortlessly flowing from the shopper's cashmere coated pockets. It was easy to see why she was fascinated with this superficial and self-fulfilling world.

I would occasionally try on this life for size but it never seemed to quite fit. It was always a bit stifling and unrealistic for me. I was sure they could see that I was an "other". A person that got 60% off their designer garb and a free pass to the hottest fashion shows. At the time, I thought it was quite unfortunate that I couldn't be part of this elite society.

However, the older, and possibly wiser I became, I realized that I was never meant for this life because I always knew that there was another person or thing that was higher and more important than myself.

My sister soon found this out as well - she left the land of superficiality for a non-profit helping in-need children. Although she didn't know if that was where she was meant to be in the future, I knew it was a step in the right direction.

Then my sister got engaged, and the spotlight was back on her. It suited her well. She was beginning to devote her life to Freddy but he was gracious enough to still allow her the much desired time to focus on herself (on occasion of course).

As you loyal blog readers know, my sister then conceived the most perfect being in this cold, sometimes shallow world. His presence brought instant light, warmth and hope. I watched as little Aug bear rocked my sister's being. She transformed herself into a perfect mother (still clad in designer clothes;). For the first time, I saw her love someone more than could be imagined. She cared for him like every minute was her last. Andrea had reached the powerful moment when she loved something more than herself - and what a beautiful and infinitely awesome thing that was to see. I can never get bored of watching that.

So when I peeled myself away from Augie's loving spell, I arrived home tonight and looked over at my baby Guido - I kept staring at him until I saw a furry little Augie standing in his place. I loved him more than myself and would give anything to make him happy. I know some people think that you should not care for your pets this much but to me it's just the first lesson on how to be a good to be selfless, generous and ever-forgiving. And I didn't see anything wrong with that. So call me the crazy dog lady but I've got a soulmate in that little furry maniac and I am hoping that one day he'll make a fabulous big brother...just another person to devote my life to and give selfless, crazy love.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Self-Imposed Anxiety


Oh poor, poor Guido. Little did he know that his mom would turn him into a nervous ball of fluffy, frizzy unmatched fur.

Sure, Guido started off being crated (for approximately two days). But due to my extremely high level of anxiety and paranoia, I was convinced that Guido was gradually beginning to despise me. He was planning a sinister plan to escape from my wretched home if I did not take him out of his crate immediately.

I could see it all over his face and in his pitiful cry...he could not bear the thought of not having me around for at least 23 hours of the day. Being the stellar mom that I am, I chose to grant his wish and decided to devote 23 hours of my day to this little munchkin. I was already the crazy dog lady to most that know me, so what could a few more hours of my day do devoted to man's best friend.

The problem arose when I decided that I actually needed to work again. Every pain staking minute that went by when I was away from my Italian son, resulted in heart palpitations and chronic nail biting. He thought I was going to leave him. He thought I was a terrible mom.

I could picture Guido picketing outside my place. "Dead beat mom! You left me again!! Please take me to a place where I am loved and appreciated."

My anxiety got increasingly worse each day when finally my boyfriend had to stage an intervention.

"Lauren, you can go to dinner and a movie without paying someone to stay with him. You are not a bad mom. You will only be gone for three hours."

"Oh really, Mark? Do you see his brown beard switching to gray at an exponentially fast rate? This dog is in doggie hell right now. I am aging him - quickly. He is probably chasing his tail for hours, looking for possible escape routes and cursing my name. I cannot handle this thought."

"Lauren, it's me or the dog right now. We need to at least be able to go out on a date."

A part of me instantly saw a silver lining to this situation...finally, HE is begging me to go on dates. I could get used to this. However, the more rational part of me thought, screw this. Guido is a way better cuddler.

My anxiety regarding Gui didn't stop at leaving him, though. It unfortunately came with me to the dog park. One day he met a Vizsla that seemed nice enough. She was slightly bigger than him but not by too much. Ten minutes into their playtime, Guido let out a yelp followed by a growl.

Supermom to the rescue!! "GUI!", I shrieked and leapt forward. I swept up my poor fur ball and instantly started crying.

"Your dog should NOT be out here if she is mean to other dogs. Look at my dog! Do you see the terror on his face? He will never be the same with dogs now! I can't believe this!"

This poor man....he seriously looked white and was obviously not expecting my outburst. Nor was I for that matter. I had no idea what came over me. For a fleeting moment, I saw my mom in her exact persona embodied in me. All of her protectiveness and sometimes craziness (sorry mom) was clearly passed on. I needed to get ahold of myself - fast.

I noticed that the more paranoid I acted, the weirder Guido got. I realized that my self-imposed anxiety was rubbing off on my furry friend. Every time I would leave and start crying, Gui stood at the door crying. This was a new behavior for him and the last thing I wanted to do was perpetuate it.

OK, yoga to the rescue and some much needed de-stress time with little Stiffey. Let's hope that does the trick!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poop...yep, I said it


There are some people that feel entitled to everything they come across. There is one thing in common among all these people...they do not pick up after their dog.

Nothing irritates me more than walking behind someone that lets their abnormally giant Great Dane poop in front of my building and then saunter off like they've got somewhere better to be and that they have the God given right to pass up their responsibility of pooper-scooper-dum.

I have to admit, that there are times, that I will call these people out and act like a lunatic, yelling at them while they hurriedly walk away.

"Buddy, don't worry. I'm behind you with bags just so that I can clean up your dog's poop so our entire city doesn't become over run by rats."

Ugh...some people.

I think part of the reason why I am so sensitive about this, is because I have been on the receiving end of poop.

What do I mean by this? Well, I'll tell you.

My first poop experience was three years ago. Flaunting a brand new pair of Cole Haan heels, I pranced to the EL, so excited that I could finally show off my new investment.

Once I got on the EL, I noticed a foul smell. I looked around for the typical unkempt person that you always make a b-line from once you see, but there was no such person in sight. A stinky baby maybe? Not so much...

I slowly began to work my way over to the other side of the car, when I noticed that the smell was following me and that people were staring at me, and not to admire my new shoes.

"Crap," I thought...literally. All over my shoes. Covering the sides of the beautiful polished leather. Even though I was four stops away from my work, I jetted off that train like my ass was on fire.

Second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth time (yes, it has happened to me that many times), I have been knee deep in some irresponsible owner's issue. Except now, it's my issue.

In an effort to de-poop myself, I have gone so far as to hose myself off in some random person's yard, hoping that they will have sympathy for me and not call the police on some girl that looks like she could be homeless.

Why have a dog when you can't pick up after him/her? It just doesn't make sense to me. Don't people know that dog poop is a rat's delicacy? At night, they migrate towards their favorite dessert and I certainly don't want it to be anywhere near my home.

I have decided that the "Please pick up after your pet" signs are no longer working. Instead, I am going to begin posting signs that say, "Pick up your dog's poop, otherwise you will be immediately labeled as an irresponsible asshole." Or maybe we could punish them by letting them live a day in the life of Lauren - the girl that perpetually steps in poop. I bet they will think twice after that.

But I really want to know, has this ever happened to you? Or am I the only unfortunate one? (Please don't make me feel bad about myself:)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Patience my dear, patience


ME - "Guido, buddy, give me a few minutes. Actually, give me a few hours."

CANE - "Mom, I'm ready to party (panting profously). Look around you...I smell bones, rawhide, bacon, grass, poop and ENERGY (saying at a furiously fast rate). It's time to rage!!!"

ME - "Gui...the only people outside right now are those nut jobs that decide to go run five miles before the sun comes up. And let me tell you, I refuse to be one of those people. I will not step out of this house until the sun hits the sky like a big pizza pie (Italian reference that only an Italian can make)."

CANE - "Mom, I hate you. I am going to pout now."

ME - "Guido, you'll get over it once you turn 20, now go back to sleep."

I am a nice, positive person...most of the time. The only time this ever changes is when I don't sleep. In fact, when I miss out on sleep I get easily agitated and turn kujo on my nearest and dearest. My sleeping never used to be an issue. I would always manage to get my ten hour minimum (don't be jealous).

But ever since my munchkin came along, I have been on edge. Not anything having to do with him directly, just the fact that I get hourly urges to put him on A.D.D. medication, so that he can chill out for a bit.

I have been utterly perplexed on how to go on with life and business when I cannot think through my foggy headed sleep deprivation. I have been walking around with no makeup on, with shorts on that look like Umbros and my hair slopped on top of my head in a soaking wet heap. The idea of waking up 20 minutes earlier is just not an option.

There are few people that can wake me up at 4 a.m. but when my little furry dust mop wakes me up to go to the bathroom for the 20th time, I can't help but love him.

Fast forward six hours.

I don't hear Guido.

He must be sleeping.

"Sleep is for suckers mom."

I search around my house until I find him chewing on my favorite (not cheap) hallway rug. From there, he went on a single handed kamikaze mission destroying my shag rug, Louis XIV refinished vintage armchair and armoire that I labored 2 straight days redoing.

They say that puppies are cute for a reason but Gui better start batting his eyelashes STAT because he is slowly ruining my perfect home aesthetic. (if he attacks my pillow collection, he's getting shipped back to Wisconsin)

It's moments like these when you have to call on your patience. My patience would probably have been greater if I had more sleep but the only advice I can give is to take that little munchkin and get a good sniff of his puppy goodness. I love Guido even if he kills everything pretty in my house because he will make so many more beautiful memories fore the rest of his life.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grandma Lucy


If you meet Grandma Lucy, you are one of the lucky few.

She is frank. Candid. Hilarious. Absurd. And awesome.

To know Grandma Lucy, is to adore her.

Everytime I am around her, I wish that I could take those memories and store them in the vault of my mind where the most treasured, and hysterical moments live on.

My grandma is a reality TV junky, Buffalo soothsayer and my improv hero.

This post may be a bit chaotic in structure, but I just want to give you a pleasurable sampling of Grandma Lucy-isms.

When I went to college, my grandma called me and briefed me on what to do and not to do while in the throws of my crazy new environment. Her most memorable piece of advice went something like the following.

"OK, so I was watching 20/20 and you really need to be careful about people slipping stuff in your drinks. One pill and next thing you know it, you're face down with your a** up in the air. Those guys are sons of a bit****."

Point taken Lucy.

Another legacy grandma passed on, was created on Christmas Eve two years ago. My grandma has never been the best driver but she took it to a whole new level that day. My dad was sitting in the living room (ironically, underneath our family portrait) reading a magazine. About to doze off, my dad was awakened by my grandma crashing through the garage into the living room where the family portrait almost decapated him. When my grandma emerged from the car, the only thing she muttered to my dad was, "I think someone stole my checkbook."

My grandma loves to tell my aunt to go to hell and about what celebrities are annoying her that day. Lately she has it out for Katherine Heigl.  Don't ask me why.

When I call her for our weekly conversation, my grandma has already memorized the obituaries for that week and what Italian is getting married, divorced or  moving to his mistresses home.

Lucy stays up until 3 a.m. and for some reason, takes it upon herself to repeatedly wake up my mother and I to see if we want to watch Nancy Grace at 2 a.m. 

My family recently went to the Turks and Caicos, and Grandma Lucy was gaming to go. She was very perplexed as to what swimsuit to buy, but she finally decided on a polka dot tankini. Instead of worrying about showing too much skin, she asked my aunt if she looked too "matronly." Gotta love the Italians.

I am truly blessed to have a family with a sense of humor, and even more blessed to have a family obsessed with dogs. I am proud to call Lucy my grandma and hope I can live up to her standards as the coolest grandma on earth.