Introducing Tully! The Extended Version…

My mother, auntie and I drove up to Mistyglen in Northern Alberta today. As I write this, we’ve just left Edmonton in the dark to return back to Calgary for the night. My mom is driving, and Tully, my new Irish Wolfhound baby, is stretched out in the two seats beside me.

We left in the morning from Calgary. After a stop in Edmonton to fuel up on Pho, we drove the straight lines of rural Alberta all the way up to Newbrook, and hour and a bit North of Edmonton. We arrived at the breeders, and I got to meet the pups one on one.



As a simple version of a puppy personality test, I lifted each one of them in the air, rolled them over, called them and walked away. We quickly narrowed it down to two dogs… Mr. Chill, the blue collar boy, and Mr. Curious, the orange collared boy. And then I agonized… Which should it be?

While I pondered, we went out the kennels and visited with all the other dogs.



The orange collared one went along with the crowd, but the blue collared one stayed behind, all by himself at the house. I decided then that he was too independent for me, and appointed Mr. Curious the new moniker, Tully. Here he is shown in the picture with his grandfather, who is nine years old.

After I chose Tully, our breeder told me that he had fantastic potential for showing. And even though we had said we wanted just a pet, that she would be very happy for us to change the agreement down the road, and show him. So we will see! In the meanwhile, he will be the beloved newest addition to our family of furry, finned and feathered folk.

After signing the papers and talking through a bunch of questions, we bundled him up in the car, in the back seat with me. Tully cried or howled all the way down to Edmonton, over an hour. Poor dear. He didn’t want to pee or drink or eat… All he wanted to do was shove his head in my jacket and snuggle.

When we stopped at the fast food joint in Edmonton, Tully was relieved to get out of the car. He’d never been on leash before, but he padded along beside me, sat quietly at the picnic table while I ate, and peed on the snow. He’s not vaccinated yet, so I shouldn’t have technically done that, but we needed to eat and he needed to pee. Since he hasn’t gone through his puppy vaccines yet we will have to wait to introduce him to the world in person until about five weeks from now, until he’s had his first and second shots.

Mom says “he’s such a gentle puppy… So soft and cuddly! But a bit gangly like a teenager, too.” Both she and my auntie think I made the right choice. And I think I did too! He’s gentle and peaceful, just like his Gaelic name, Tully.

Tomorrow I meet my puppy!

After a harrowing drive over the mountain passes (stopped three times for accidents and avalanche) I arrived this afternoon in Calgary. Tomorrow, my mom and auntie and I will drive up north of Edmonton to the breeder’s house, and pick out the new pup! Then back to Calgary, so my gramma, uncle and dad can see him. And then we’ll take two days to come home Monday and Tuesday, stopping at my sister’s on the way.

I’m super excited… I’ve been preparing a lot for the little guy! I’ve read a few new books, worked on Laughlin’s training so he doesn’t pass on bad habits, and even moved my office in the workshop so there will be more room for the dog in the kitchen.

Jason an I put together this little video early this week about our puppy preparations… I thought some of you might enjoy it!

One of the things we talk about in the video is picking out your puppy. Our breeder has already sent us pictures and descriptions of each of the pups…. We think we have a sense of which we will end up taking home, but we still need to see them in person. I want to test their personalities.

Our puppy should be super chill and laid back, but also confident. After all, his first social engagement will be the girls grade three classroom! I borrowed my aunt’s umbrella and I’ll do a few basic tests like calling the puppy, walking away, holding him up, letting him lick my face, throwing something to retrieve, making a loud noise, and opening the afore mentioned umbrella. Hopefully that will weed out any nervous or overconfident dogs.

To keep you in suspense… Here are a couple of pictures from last weekend! Which one will it be??





Chechebsa, genfo and Ethiopian breakfast

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve barely cooked an Ethiopian food in the last 6 months. Maybe because it takes time, and I’ve been short on that! I’ve made some lentils and tibs, but I haven’t taken the time to make injera from scratch.

So a resolution… to make an Ethiopian feast (with enough sauces to stock the freezer) some time in February!

And, I might try some Ethiopian breakfast food one Sunday. A friend posted this great page with a recipe for Chechebsa which I really enjoy in Oromo country in Ethiopia. I think I might give it a try! T, Mom and I often order it when we are going through Debra Zeit, at the restaurant along the highway. It won’t taste the same, but my girls might enjoy it too.

One thing I won’t be cooking, though, is genfo. Ew. Sorry, genfo lovers, but that stuff is just gross. Healthy, yes, but gross. I’ve had some at an Ethiopian baby shower, and a couple times at special Ethiopian holidays. But no matter how many times I try it – ew. But don’t let me deter you. You can try the paste for yourself.

Anyone else have a favourite Ethiopian breakfast food?


Which puppy will be my Tully?

I’m very excited! This Sunday, I get to pick out and pick up my new baby Irish Wolfhound puppy. I’ve decided to name him Tully, which means “gentle.”

Irish wolfhound puppies

He’ll only be ten weeks old, but you might be surprised how big he is. He’ll weigh about the same amount as Maggie! and will already be bigger than Laughlin.

I decided that I’m going to take Laughlin on the road trip to Alberta, just so he can get used to Tully on the road. It’s not going to be easy on him, and I figure it’ll be better to introduce them on neutral territory. My poor auntie… We will be staying at her house in Calgary the night we retrieve the pup. I’m sorry in advance for the crying! (That will be me, not sleeping, btw. Oh, and the pup will be crying too.)

As it turns out, I get to have my pick from the four boy pups. Taking advice from my friend Pam, I picked up a puppy book by the Monks of New Skete, and it has great tips on picking the pup.

For the record, I picked Maggie and Hamish, but Laughlin was Jason’s pick. For all of you that know Laughlin, you will know what I am saying between the lines.

Anyway, there is a neat personality tests in the Monks of New Skete book, and I’m hoping to give elements of the test to the pups.

I don’t want a shrinking violet, nor a bullish brute that will conflict with Laughlin and be hard to train. Somewhere in the middle will be the best… Hopefully opening an umbrella and clanging some pots will give me an indication of their fledging personalities.
Either that, or I will scare the bejeebers out of the poor things.

Ok, so votes in advance… Which pup will it be? Orange collar, red, blue or green? What do you think? Which will be my Tully?

That was them a few weeks ago, so of course, they are double the size now 🙂

The breeder kindly posted some pictures of their last vet visit, on Thursday… You can see they are a lot bigger!

The green collared male pup… Such a snuggler. That is him on an adult man’s lap, so you get an idea of how big they are now…


The blue male pup… She calls him Buddha

After the vet visit, all tuckered out…


Just to whet your whistles, here is a little video about Irish Wolfhounds, so you can see what my baby will look like in a year… And why I think they are so awesome!

A Picture Perfect Christmas


This year, our Christmas holiday was quiet, peaceful, and full of family and friends. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer time and a better staycation. Unfortunately, after our guests left, the girls and I got horribly sick with influenza, and I’m just now catching up with work, home and play. But for those few Christmas days, pre-sickness, it really was divine.




Part of the joy of the holidays is having family visit. My sister Ena and her hubby Uncle M staked out the foldout bed, while my parents stayed at our generous friend’s vacant house, a short drive away. Spreading out the relatives, and dividing up the meals between us really helped ease the stress of hosting. I highly recommend it. Each adult couple was in charge of a specific meals, and those same meals they cleaned up after. Which meant, that two thirds of the time, you just got to eat and enjoy.


One of the highlights of the holidays was our Christmas Eve dinner. Ena and Uncle M had a Ukrainian feast from scratch… Perogies, sausages, perushkey, and more. Ukrainian blood flows on M’s side of the family, as well as ours, so it was a nice heritage dinner for us, evoking my memories of making perogies with my great aunts when I was little.


Our extended Ethiopian family, Haile and Menbi, always come over at Christmas, but this year ended up being at our house on Christmas Eve. They had never had Ukrainian food before… “I just can’t stop eating, it’s so good!” Was the compliment of the night, from a delighted Menbi. We had bison sausages and bacon on the side, just for her.


In our family, big presents are really the norm; however carefully selected or home crafted little gifts are really appreciated. So we don’t power through Christmas morning… We savour it.

The girls first woke and opened their Santa gifts at 3am (hello, next year an alarm clock rule!) but then went back to bed and slept until 9am. Mom and dad arrived just in time to cook us a huge breakfast pancakes and bacon, of course. Dad always makes shaped pancakes for the kids… This year they had dog pancakes. Then we leisurely opened our gifts.

Some of the documented, fun gifts this year were Uncle M’ Uncle peanut butter beer…


… Sugar and Spice’s science kit, complete with protective eyewear…


… And the Mocha Mix, lovingly made by Sugar and Spice for their Daddy. He has been blissfully caffeinated ever since.


The most exciting day surprise of all, however, was the announcement from my brother up north. He and his girlfriend skyped in to tell us that they got engaged! And will be married this summer. So that was wonderful to hear. I know they will be very happy.

Jason and I planned a super simple Christmas dinner, with just turkey, stuffing, and a yam / carrot bake. Here is my super helper, Sugar, chopping happily away. It looks like I’m stabbing her, but I’m not.


Ok, well it was almost a super simple feast, because my mom is currently gluten free and dairy free, and one important kitchen appliance gave out mid-cooking. I baked the gluten free bread for the stuffing from scratch (yum) and dessert was the darkest, most delicious gluten and dairy free gingerbread cake with whiskey sauce. The bread and cake baking went swimmingly; however, after baking the bread, the oven gave out! So our turkey ended up being baked, hours late, in the veterinary clinic oven a couple of blocks away, and we ate hours later than expected. But whatever… It was delectable.


Boxing Day, we played games, went out for poutine and took the kids skating.




And the day after, we had a few friends over for roasted hotdogs and marshmallows outside. It was fun to hang out in the snow, drink gluhwein (double yummy!) and warm up around the fire… And I was reminded that sometimes the simplest of parties are the best.


After Christmas, two memorable events… First, the plague. Sugar and Spice were both ill… Poor babes. Sugar had a raging fever for about a week. This is her passed out in front of a heater. Sometimes I have no idea how kids can sleep.


Then while my subsequent fever was raging (dang, I don’t think I’ve EVER been that sick before…) we had the snowiest day in a generation. It was supposed to be the first day back to school, but instead, Kelowna has its first, and second, snow days in 35 years.


Not only were the cars completely snowed in… You should have seen the chicken coop! Note the faint light from the coop’s window on the left.


Jason walked to work anyways (picture below) but of course, almost no one came. So he got the course he was working on finished up, which was a hidden blessing. Now he’s asking clients about their pets energetics, and checking patients’ tongues… A very useful course in traditional Chinese medicine!


And meanwhile, I was curled up in bed for 10 days. Seriously… 10 days. Thanks to my mom, who braved that very same snow day on the greyhound, and traveled from Creston to take care of me for a week. Thank you thank you Mom.

Now that I’ve caught you all up form our picturesque Christmas, the big news is that I get to pick up my puppy next week! So you can expect lots of gratuitous puppy pics. Lots of puppy pics.