Wednesday, July 23, 2014

National Hot Dog Day

Truffles: Run for the hills, everybody! Mommy's in the kitchen!!!

Melissa: Oh, stop being so dramatic, Truffles! I can hold my own in the kitchen.

Truffles: Hah! You almost KILLED me yesterday afternoon! You dropped a big piece of onion on me and onions are POISONOUS to kitties!

Melissa: Sweetie, you were laying on the kitchen floor while I was chopping an onion. A small piece landed on you. I picked it up immediately. You were hardly in any danger. Now why don't you calm down and tell everybody about our little friend.

Truffles: He's cute, isn't he? Many of our readers may not know that Mommy's favorite breed of dog is the dachshund. (I actually wouldn't be too surprised if I end up having to live with one someday.) The little stuffie in the picture with me is a doxie dressed as a wiener made by Annalee Dolls, a popular manufacturer of dolls in New Hampshire. When we heard that today was National Hot Dog Day, we decided that he would be a fun way to celebrate.

Melissa: And if it's okay with you, Truffles, I would like to share with our readers my favorite recipe involving hot dogs. (It's actually what I was making last night when your tragic story occurred.)

A tradition here in Vermont is the Charlie's Red Hot, which is sort of our version of the Michigan hot dog. I've tweaked the original to my taste, and it's one of my favorite treats. 

All it involves is 1/4 pound of cooked hamburg, a chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce, a beef bouillon cube, and a 1/2 cup of water. I combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan, heat it through and then let it simmer until the water is gone. Then just smother the top of your hot dog with the sauce.

It's REALLY good and makes your kitchen smell great's not for kitties, though!

How do you like your hot dogs?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 Review: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Treats

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! One day last week while I was taking my afternoon siesta, the UPS man brought me a package! Knowing how exhausted I get being so adorable all the time, Mommy wisely waited until I woke up to tell me. Just between you me: my new goodies from would have been worth cutting my nap short for! This is what I got:

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Cat Treats

Cats who are pretty good deserve a bite of chicken. Cats who are on their absolute best behavior… chicken AND salmon are the treats of choice. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Cat Treats combine two popular proteins in one soft and chewy treat. Wilderness Chicken & Salmon Cat Treats contain whole ground potatoes for complex carbs and are naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols—no artificial preservatives or fillers here!

Key Benefits
  • Grain-free treats mirror the diet cats eat in the wild
  • Great for cats with sensitive stomachs
  • Rosemary freshens breath and reduces allergies
  • Naturally preserved and made in the USA

At first Mommy was a little concerned because usually my tummy is quite sensitive to anything with fish in it, but she cautiously gave me just a few to try and I absolutely LOVED them. Happily, my tummy did too! No issues there at all. These treats also come in Chicken & Trout, Chicken & Duck, and Chicken & Turkey, so I'm looking forward to trying out all the other flavors too! is pure heaven for a little treat junkie like me!!!

Disclosure: We received a free package of treats for review; all opinions are our own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Truffles Interviews...Bentley & Pierre from M.K Clinton's The Returns

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Have I ever got a treat for you today! I'm interviewing Bentley & Pierre, stars of one of our favorite dog blogs, Barking from the Bayou, and of their Mom M.K. Clinton's exciting new mystery series, The Returns. (Mommy!!! When are going to start writing a book starring ME???)

Make sure you leave a comment because one lucky person is going to win their choice of a paperback or ebook copy of The Returns! 

I hope you enjoy the interview...

Truffles: Welcome, boys! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog. Can you explain to my readers what The Returns are and how you can join this exclusive group?

Bentley: “We are happy to visit with you. We read your blog and enjoy it. Mom is a caffeine fiend, reading mysteries and cats so she loves Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows! The tricky thing about being a Return is that you have to be a human who dies before they have finished their life’s work.”

Pierre: “It’s true; we were all humans that met an unexpected death. We were sent to Heaven’s Return Department and they sent us back as dogs. It’s all very hush-hush because humans would freak out to know that there were so many of us along with angels walking around."

Truffles: Please introduce yourselves and tell us how you came to be in your current situations. 

Bentley: “Oh how silly of me. I am Bentley Clanton, a former FBI Agent now living life as a Basset Hound. I took a bullet as a human that was meant for my partner. I still have my Badge #7 on my side so it’s all good.”

Pierre: “Perhaps you have heard of me in my human form. Pierre Sinclair was a fabulous designer of haute’ couture fashion and my designs were on some of the most beautiful people in the world. I am also a gourmet chef and the brains behind the Returns as a computer guru."

Truffles: How about your other furry cohorts...what are their stories? 

Bentley: “Tucker is a former Navy SEAL, but now he’s a Golden Retriever. He loves to laugh, give high fives, and swim. You know how Goldens are, they look on the bright side of everything.”

Pierre: “That leaves me describing Bones. Hmmm, how can I put this delicately? Bones is now a feisty Chihuahua, but he was the World Champion Featherweight Boxer back when he was human. I think he suffers from short dog syndrome, but he is a great little guy. It is sometimes hard to understand him, because he just learned to speak English. He likes to work on cars and talk about kicking butt."

Truffles: How do you feel about kitties? 

Bentley: “We love kitties. Miss Gitty is our Guardian Angel’s mentor and she keeps us on our toes. She is a straight shooter and often gives us advice on our cases or problems.”

Pierre: “Of course our friend Amos is a black cat from the lower Ninth Ward. He was just a teenager when he was killed during Hurricane Katrina. The cat is a great friend and helps us with our cases. He knows people that know people if you catch my drift. Amos can get his paws on just about anything. We are a diverse group, but show that things like breed, color, or sex is not a deciding factor in becoming best friends. The Returns believe it is what is in your heart that matters."

Truffles: What is life like in the Big Easy? 

Bentley: "New Orleans is the best place for great food, fun atmosphere, and parties. It gets awfully hot in the summer and it rains, but we don’t complain. Like most big cities, there is crime and that is where we can help."

Pierre: "Oh, the French Quarter is my favorite place in New Orleans. We take trips into town and walk around Jackson Square and along the streets to see the tourists. I love the jazz music, the ornate wrought iron balconies, and the parades. It is a very dog friendly city."

Truffles: Can you tell us about your real life counterparts? 

Bentley: "The real Bentley is a cool Basset Hound and really does have a number 7 on his side. His mom loves him very much. Tucker was her Golden Child and Bentley’s best friend; he misses him every day. Miss Gitty and Amos were her cats and she thought they were the best. Amos disappeared many years ago when he was about 8 years old, but Miss Gitty lived with her for over 20 years. You see, she puts all of her pets in the books. It makes her feel like they are still alive and bringing joy to lots of humans. Bentley and the gang don’t really eat any of the junk food we do in the books."

Pierre: "Well, the real Pierre belongs to Bentley’s human sister. She had to move to Alaska to live with her hubby, so Pierre moved in with Bentley and his Gramma and Papaw. He will be leaving to live with his mom and dad this summer. They are moving to a place where he can live with them. He will be very happy. Bones belongs to Bentley’s human brother and he is just as funny as his character in the books. We can’t help but laugh at him trying to be a tough guy."

Truffles: What will readers find in your first 2 books of adventures?  

Bentley: "In The Returns, we meet each of the characters and learn about how they became a Return. The problem is that there is a bad guy bringing illegal weapons into the port of New Orleans. As if that weren’t evil enough, he wants our Guardian Angel, Faith Fullilove. She is a rookie angel and a disaster in the kitchen, but we love her. She is simply too trusting of people. The Returns go undercover to arrest him. It gets pretty scary for a while. That is a photo of me on the cover of the book coming out of an FBI badge."

Pierre: "In the Returns 2 ~Showstoppers, I am on the cover so it is a great looking book. We are on another fun crime-solving adventure. Someone is stealing the top contestants from dog shows and we have to go undercover again to infiltrate the group of thieves. I get to prance around the show ring too. Then, we get to visit New York City and it is amazing! We get to tour the city and try to stop any more dogs from being stolen while we find the ones that are being held hostage."

Truffles: Any idea what trouble you will be getting into in your upcoming adventures? 

Bentley: "We are in the midst of stopping the person responsible for sending threatening notes to the FBI. I believe that we have some solid leads to follow, but this character is preparing to set off explosives in our beloved Crescent City. A few new friends are joining in the adventure along with all of our usual gang of Returns."

Pierre: “I am getting to use some of my scientific background to determine the make-up of these bombs. If we can just find him before anyone gets hurts. With some luck and help from our friends, The Returns always get their crook!”

About the book: What happens if you arrive at the Pearly Gates before your time?

F.B.I Agent Bentley Clanton finds out the hard way as he is directed to a little-known area devoted to correcting glitches in the longevity system. The Returns Department specializes in finding appropriate bodies for “early arrivals” before sending them back to earth. It seemed an acceptable solution until Bentley realizes his new body includes long velvety ears, four stubby legs with giant paws, and a tail. Helping him adjust to life as a Basset Hound is his rookie Guardian Angel, along with three other canine Returns.

Laugh along as a delightful Golden Retriever, a feisty Chihuahua, and Flamboyant Westie join Bentley to form an unlikely brotherhood of crime-fighting heroes. The Returns takes you on a fun-loving, junk food eating adventure through the exciting streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

Tortie Shorties
Book reviews that are short and sweet...just like Truffles!

It would be virtually impossible for this book to be any more adorable. It is an absolute must read for animal lovers of any age.

The idea behind the story is that when people die before their time, they are sent back to earth as an animal where they are pairing up with a guardian angel to solve a crime. Thus Bentley the Basset Hound (former FBI agent), Bones the Chihuahua (former champion boxer), Pierre the Westie (former fashion designer), and Tucker the Golden (former Navy SEAL), are sent to live with probationary angel Faith, a former fashion model. Each of these dogs is the perfect depiction of their breed.

The humor in this book had me in stitches: from Faith's cooking disasters to Bones, a teeny tiny dog with a big attitude who can hot wire cars. And just wait until you hear Tucker's prayers! There's romance too when Bentley's old partner falls in love with Faith while trying to solve Bentley (the human's) murder. I loved the setting of New Orleans at Mardi Gras too.

The two cats in the story, wise old Miss Gitty and street cat Amos are extra special to me for obvious reasons, but what touched my heart more than anything is the fact that every animal character in the book is based on the author's real life pets, both past and present. What an incredible act of love and way to keep your beloved pets' memory alive forever. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Caturday Art: Goats!!!

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Did you know that I have goat friends? I do! You can meet Pricilla and the rest of the Happy Goats at their blog, The Maaaaa of Pricilla. But starting on Monday, the Farm Cats that Pricilla cohabitates with are taking over her blog for a Catastic Event! There will be reviews, giveaways, and guest posts from famous blogging cats!

And guess what??? Little ol' me is going to be one of her guests! My post about cat adoption is to commemorate a very special day in my life: one year ago this week I was rescued from the streets and brought to the animal shelter, and just a month later I rescued Mommy. I'm so excited to be a part of this fun event and hope that you'll visit Pricilla's blog all week! (Breaking news: My post is scheduled for Monday!)

Look!!! I already have some goat fans!!!

Check out more artsy kitties here!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pies & Peril Book Tour with Janel Gradowski: Meet Pogo the Pooch (w/Giveaway)

Hi, Melissa and Truffles! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. My name is Pogo and I am a mutt. A dog, through and through, even though my human momma sometimes calls me a mutant dust bunny. I can’t help it if I’m small, gray and fuzzy. When you have ancestors that include chihuahuas, miniature poodles and a giant sheepdog great great grandpa…well, you end up with quite a gene pool full of interesting characteristics. Even my brothers and sisters from the same litter didn’t look anything like me. We’re all one of a kind.

My momma’s name is Amy Ridley. She’s a very good cook. I love the sweet potato and peanut butter treats she makes for me, but she also makes yummy food for daddy and her friend, Carla (I think her hair is crazier than mine). In fact, momma cooks so good she wins contests! Really. There are all kinds of shiny trophies on the mantle and bookshelves in the living room.

Something went wrong at the pie contest Momma Amy was in, though. Believe me, she made an awesome pie. But she didn’t win. Then she got really scared and nervous. How do I know that? Because she paces around the house and cooks a lot when something is bothering her. I’ve had to hide in the closet to get any sleep because she wanders around so much at night. Also, my treat jars are overflowing, but I am FINE with that.

Somebody keeps giving momma pieces of paper with writing on them. Notes are what she calls them. Whenever she gets one she gets even more upset. I saw the person deliver one of the notes. Since I can’t talk human, I can’t tell momma who it was, but I plan on biting the bad person if I ever see them again. I’m just happy that daddy and Carla are taking care of momma. A big man named Detective Shepler is also helping figure out who the bad person is.

You can find out more about me and my family in Pies & Peril. There isn’t a recipe for doggy biscuits, but there are recipes for yummy human food. Just be careful, it might make you hungry reading about all of the food momma makes!


Blurb: When Amy Ridley decided to compete in the Kellerton Summer Festival Pie Contest, the last thing she expected was to find the reigning pie queen, Mandy Jo, dead—a raspberry pie smashed on her face! Mandy Jo made fantastic pies, but she accumulated more enemies than baking trophies. But when Amy receives a note threatening her own life, she decides to do some investigating herself.

It seems that half the town has a reason to kill the mean pie queen, and Amy finds herself sifting through a list of suspects that’s longer than her list of recipes. Not to mention playing cupid for her love-shy best friend, fending off a baker intent on finding out her prize-winning culinary secrets, and ducking the deadly attentions of Mandy Jo’s killer. If Amy doesn’t find out who wanted the pie queen dead soon, her own goose may be cooked!

About the author: Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.




Purchase links:

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, July 23rd for the chance to win an ebook copy of Pies & Peril.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

#CatSummer, Truffle Pops, & Christmas in July

You know what made me happy this week? Watching Grumpy Cat, Nala Cat, Hamilton the Hipster Cat, Oskar the Blind Cat and Klaus celebrate the warm weather in a Friskies music video, "Cat Summer." The video pays tribute to Colonel Meow, who passed away earlier this year. The best part is that Friskies Grillers will donate one meal per video view to cat charities in Colonel Meow’s name (up to one million meals). I'm almost ashamed to admit how many times I've watched it already...

Speaking of summer, last weekend I discovered just about the most decadent, refreshing treat ever. Since adopting Truffles I find myself seeking out anything truffle-related (luckily at the moment my waistline can handle it), so when my local news recently ran a story about a new company called Queen City Pops selling "frozen chocolate truffle pops" on the Burlington Waterfront, I knew I had to try them. They are beyond amazing, and if you have any summer vacation plans in the northern Vermont area you absolutely have to treat yourself to one!

Lastly, since I am *so* not a summer person, I always look forward to Christmas in July events. Particularly, the Hallmark Ornament Premiere. I add quite a few to my collection every year, and for the first time this year I joined the Keepsake Ornament Club as well. These are my latest additions: