Monthly Archives: September 2015

Here Comes October …

in my opinion the most spectacular month of the year…


Rain, Rain, GO AWAY

I think many of you on the East Coast know what I’m talking about.

We have had days and days of heavy rain and it has been AWFUL.  Between the mud and the sloshing, and the wet sheep……..I’ve had enough. Sadly, we are looking at getting the remnants of Tropical Storm Joaquin this weekend, as well.

The worst part of all of it is how damp and gross it makes the house – and cars – feel. And that’s even worse when you have several large, furry animals pooping everywhere.

Yes, pooping.

First, Cini and Lucy still hate the leash, and though they’ve agreed that they’ll pee when we walk them, pooping is still “optional”.

Anyone want to hazard a guess where they end up pooping instead?

The living room. The kitchen. The hallway.

So, picture going out to feed the sheep and sinking to nearly your knees in mud and poop, and then coming back in all wet and gross to find a pile of more poop in the house!

And it’s not just the house!!!

I took Orzo for his pre-neuter well-check this week. Paul suggested I take his car to save on gas instead of the truck.

“Just put a blanket down in the back”, he said.

I did, and off we went.

It’s about a 40 minute drive to Dr. Grover’s office, down a lot of winding country roads.

We got about 10 minutes into our trip, past the parts of the route where there are plenty of turn offs and stopping spots, when the smell hit.

I quickly realized we had poop, and frantically began searching for a safe place to stop.

There weren’t any.

To make matters worse, Orzo was moving around an awful lot in the back – squishing and spreading it – and THEN. Then he jumped over the seats and onto Oona in the backseat.

I managed to find a place finally to pull over and assess the damage. He had, in fact, spread it all over. You know how a lot of cars have cargo mats in the back? Those grooved things that are IMPOSSIBLE to clean?

Yeah. All ground in.

While I was trying to clean it as best as I could, cursing and yelling, a lovely gentleman wandered down from the road I had pulled off onto. As it turns out, he’s from Yorkshire, England, and used to train Border Collies for sheepdog trials.  He seemed to know everyone in the county, and when I told him about our recent drama, he really wanted to know who this person was threatening to shoot our dogs. I wish I knew with certainty so I could have told him. Just like many others, he reminded me having the dogs running about is a good thing, considering all the recent coyote sightings and attacks.

Small world, eh?

He helped me out a bit and sent me off on a very smelly ride to the vet.

Orzo is perfectly healthy and got his boosters, etc, so he can be ready for his neutering on the 12th.

Then it was another smelly ride home, with me desperately trying to keep his 75 lb self from jumping into my lap all the way home.

Oona and I emerged from the Prius into the rain, grumpy, covered in fur, with poop smears all over.

Paul spent the next 3 hours cleaning his car. He stripped it down to the bare metal to clean it.

Not even kidding here!

It is for times like this I’d really like to have a mudroom with a dog shower and floor drain.

For now we are doing our best to keep the dogs walked and happy, and I’ve been moving Sabine and Orzo’s tethers as much as I can so they don’t sit in one spot too long.

But I really, really need this rain to let up. It’s getting waterlogged out there, and I can’t get any real yarn dyeing accomplished when nothing wants to dry out.


I HAVE seen some lovely beginnings of fall color, though, and that’s a good thing.

Tagged: Farm, Pets

Post #1600 …

This is the first photograph here on Nov 12, 2008, it was titled ‘Welcome’ and the caption said, NJ foliage..



And here’s today’s version all fancied up…


October On The Vineyard …


October is, in my opinion one of the most spectacular months of the year.

No place is better for experiencing it than on Martha’s Vineyard.

Nature provides a fiery display of color in October, the greens and vivid colors of summer have been replaced with the rusts and orange hues of autumn.

The Vineyard is a beautiful place to visit in the fall … there are plenty of activities to take part in or just relax and enjoy the cool, crisp, beautiful month of October.

Here comes October……

Post #1599 …

This is post 1,599….that’s a lot of photos… the Bandstand in Ocean Park on Martha’s Vineyard is one of my favorite subjects to photograph.. this one in particular I posterized just to see how it would look… I like it.


Next post will be picture #1600… what will it be ?  Come back soon and find out :)


Post #1599 …

This is post 1,599….that’s a lot of photos… the Bandstand in Ocean Park on Martha’s Vineyard is one of my favorite subjects to photograph.. this one in particular I posterized just to see how it would look… I like it.


Next post will be picture #1600… what will it be ?  Come back soon and find out :)


Autumn Delights

It’s officially autumn now, and today it certainly feels it. It’s rainy and chilly, and the trees are showing the faintest hints of changing color. Only one mum plant from last year made it to this year, but it’s my favorite color, so that’s at least something!


I bought two more in orange and yellow; hopefully I’ll get around to planting them soon!

It’s also time again for me to play with yarn and dyes, and combined with all the baking I’ve been doing, the house smells of wool and cinnamon. It’s heavenly!



Apple pie is most definitely our favorite treat this time of year.  As always, I use Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. 

As for the filling, I sprinkle dry tapioca on the bottom crust, and toss in chopped apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar.  Add some dabs of butter, cover it with a second slab of crust, and voila!


We’ve been hogging out on the pie and my Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.  Last night I changed it up just slightly by adding a teaspoon of boiled apple cider along with everything else. It added a whole other layer of delicious.  The combination of all these things makes for such a lovely, cozy evening.

But, though it’s not all doom-and-gloom around here, it’s also not all rosy and rainbow unicorns, either.

We are still trying to raise as much as we can to better contain the dogs.  Orzo has an appointment for a neutering, in the hope it will quell some wanderlust (and make him gain enough wait to not be able to clear a 6 foot fence anymore!).  Paul is in talks with a few folks for estimates, and we have made a campaign of aggressive friendliness while out walking the dogs.

Now, let me ask you: have you ever tried walking dogs that have spent their whole lives off leash? It’s getting better, but my first efforts were nothing short of epic disaster.  CIni is 12, after all. They all sort of had this reaction of what fuckery is this???

Cini and Lucy flat out refused to do their “business” while on the leash for the first two days altogether, and there was quite a lot of cleaning up to do in the house from that debacle.

It’s getting better with them, but Lucy is still pretty upset about the whole thing and regularly digs in her paws and refuses to move.

But we’ve been doing our best, and trying to greet as many people as we can with them.  We already know quite a lot of our neighbors who are wonderful, but we’ve seen a few out and about we haven’t met yet. A couple have been unfriendly and refuse to wave back or acknowledge us; but they’ve been few. Oh, humanity. You’re a crazy, messed up, beautiful, awful thing!

Our nearest neighbor told us she misses having Lucy keeping guard over her and her dogs; Lucy, for her part, seems to miss them as well, and keeps pulling me hard to get over there to greet them.

Sabine and Orzo are firmly chained up at the moment. We have no idea how else to keep them close while we await fencing options. They are not happy at all; Orzo has been whining and barking non-stop. Sabine just seems defeated.  It breaks my heart. But, they have shelter and access to food and water, even if they are unable to chase off any threats.

I’m cautiously optimistic; we’ll figure out something. In the meantime, we are hoping to keep some donations coming in so we can be sure we area able do things right!

And, lest you think it’s only the dogs that are tough to contain, I leave you with this hilarity:


For donating, go HERE, or click the button on the right side of the page.

Tagged: Farm, food, Pets, Seasons

Weekly Challenge: Change …

My interpretation of change. I think the fortune cookie fortune is the perfect touch. :)


A New Direction

our first sunflower this year

our first sunflower this year

For the last five years, I have been struggling to find a direction for this blog. I’ve bounced around from yarn and knitting and crafty things to a little bit of self-discovery and a whole lotta lackluster this-is-what-i-think-i-should-be-doing. A couple of times I thought I should be a freelance writer, but I have the same problem with that as I do with working at my day job. The work pays. It’s distracting, sometimes even exciting, but it’s not for me. I am putting all of that effort in so it can be a feather in someone else’s cap. I’m vain. I want all the feathers.

I’ve known my whole life that I wanted to create my own career, but I didn’t know yet what that meant. I knew that I wanted to make Tiny Dino Studios into a creative place, one that motivates and inspires and make’s it’s readers all around feel good while giving them something to think about. Sounds nice, right? Vague, but pleasant, like sitting on the porch drinking coffee on a foggy fall morning. Likable, but lacking in substance.

For a long time, I’ve lacked clarity and a plan because the energy to cut through the fog just wasn’t there. That coffee only got me so far as the porch rail, trying to peer through the mist and make out my hazy goals somewhere out there in the future. I knew my goals and how to get there, but I hadn’t found the mechanism to get me there.

Over the past few years, both in my person and professional life, I have met too many small business owners who have the opposite problem. They know they want to sell. They know their passion, but they don’t know how to make it work. Something is stopping them. Fear. Exhaustion. Trepidation about where to start. All of the above. And because I’ve worked in retail for over ten years, I get asked the same questions over and over again from new and experienced business owners alike.

After awhile, it only made sense to start writing my answers down and share them with anyone who could put them to use. While I could talk to you about why you need to stop, drop, and figure your wholesale pricing all day, I also feel that insight into specialty retail, valuable though I hope it is, does not make a whole person, business, or blog. The things that inspire and engage outside of our business endeavors fuel us and help us succeed, and I want to include them to.

The knitting and the occasional patterns won’t go away. The odd other endeavor might pop up every now and then. I’d love to get a discussion on books going. I read and reread and devour books of all sorts, so expect to see some more talk that way popping up. And there are possibilities for so much more.

Tell me what you want to read about? What’s going to engage you, reader friend?

The Essence of Autumn

Although it’s hard to tell here in Virginia, Autumn has officially arrived! In an effort to jump start my favorite season, I decide to bake something pumpkiny a few days ago. My first thought was pumpkin muffins, but– let’s face it– a pumpkin muffin is really just a cupcake without icing. I decided that it would be hypocritical of me to make cupcakes and call them muffins, so I started searching the internet for pumpkin recipes.


I googled pumpkin + cake + easy, because I have a five-month-old excuse not to engage in anything to difficult/cerebral/time consuming. I was looking for a seasonal version of the classic Southern Wine Cake that your aunt used to make if you grew up where I did. (I have two aunts that make it. My Aunt Cricket makes the classic version but Aunt Shirley is a strict Southern Baptist so she substitutes white grape juice for the wine. We call her’s Baptist Cake.  Both are really good but Aunt Cricket’s might just barely have the edge.)


Nothing I found was exactly what I was looking for, so I did a bit of combining of recipes, some improvising and threw in a tried and true hook that I was sure would throw this cake over the top. The result was magical. So good that my husband and step-daughter said it was the best thing I’ve ever cooked. (I went to culinary school and I don’t happen to believe this was true, but still.) So good that we devoured it before I could take a picture. So good that I decided I need to make another one to refine the recipe and photograph it. This cake is as easy as it gets. If you can pour something from one vessel to another, you’ve got this knocked. There is one step that is time consuming but it’s the most important part, so I urge to you to give this a go. And it’s not hands-on time consuming. It just takes a bit of planning.


Autumnal Equinox Cake

Autumnal Equinox Cake


1 gallon apple cider (Yes. 1 whole gallon)

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

2 or 3 cloves (optional)

1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (or 1/4 cup sugar with a tablespoon of cinnamon mixed into it)

1 box Spice Cake Mix* (Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker will do nicely)

1  15 ounce can of pumpkin

4 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter or canola oil

1/3 cup greek yogurt (unflavored, of course)

2/3 cup sugar


Pour the entire gallon of apple cider into a large pot and add the cinnamon stick and cloves if you are using them. Bring to boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and then find something to do of the next hour or so. (Your house will smell heavenly during this process, BTW.) When the gallon of apple cider has reduced to about two cups, it’s done. The apple cider reduction will be syrupy, although it may be hard to tell until you allow it to cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves and set aside. Pat yourself on the back– you just made liquid gold.

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Grease a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray and “flour” the pan with the cinnamon sugar, tapping to coat the pan and discarding any excess.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the remaining ingredients plus 1/4 cup of the apple cider syrup you just made. Mix slowly until combined and then on medium high for a couple of minutes.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake at 350 until done. (In my convection oven, this took about 50 minutes, but every oven is different so start testing for doneness at about 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Carefully pour 1/4 cup of apple cider syrup over the cake while it’s still hot and in the pan. Wait about 30 minutes for the cake to cool, the ever so carefully invert the pan onto a cake round or large plate. Now pour another 1/4 cup of apple cider syrup over the top of the cake as evenly as you can.


Serve with whipped cream, because if you’re going to eat all that cake, why act all high and mighty when it comes to what is essentially a garnish? Drizzle with yet more apple cider syrup and devour the essences of Autumn.

Store any remaining apple cider syrup in a tight jar and store in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for however long you freeze stuff. For ideas on how to use it, see this post, but definitely try it on salmon.

* Once, many moons ago, I did a post about making chicken soup for a house full of people while we were all sick with a nasty cold. In that post, I conceded that homemade chicken stock was always preferable to boxed broth but admitted that we were so sick and so short on time that I was using the boxed. Not long afterwards, I noticed we were getting thousands of hits that were coming from a famous (actually notorious might be a better word) website. I clicked the link and found that someone had posted a link to my soup recipe and the entire forum was outraged (OUTRAGED, I TELL YOU!) because anyone who cares about food would never use boxed chicken broth. Anyone with the slightest taste would rather go hungry than use it, in fact. It was actually pretty funny, now that I think about it, that total strangers were ready to burn me in effigy because I made soup in my own house for my own friends with an ingredient that they didn’t approve of. It’s a funny world we live in these days.

Anywho, I say all of this to say, I get it. Boxed cake mix is the WORST. You would never DREAM of stooping so low as to feed your family boxed cake mix! How could you possible inflict such a plebeian and base concoction on the refine and sensitive palates of your family?!? I should be locked up for even suggesting such a thing, etc. etc.  I wish you peace and send you on your way.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here eating cake.