Homemade, Healthy and Affordable Dog Food Recipe That ‘Fido’ Will Love!

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When it comes to my fur baby, Bevo, I have what seems to be one of the pickiest eaters ever, his breed tends to be. For four years he has shunned his food more often than eating it when put in front of him. His meals which usually consisted of chicken, rice and dog kibble weren’t goo enough for my picky eater. Often times, Bevo would go too long between meals that he would vomit up bile due to his empty stomach. In fact, this occurred more often than not.

With all of the recent, and excessive, dog food recalls I have removed kibble from his diet altogether. I personally do not trust what manufacturers are putting in dog food, even the expensive brands.

This summer, Bevo accompanied us to Florida for an extended stay at my dad’s house. We started feeding Bevo the same homemade recipe as my dad’s schnauzer, Molly. It’s nothing short of a miracle (ok, that’s a little exaggerated, but if you have a finicky eater, you would understand). Thanks to my dad, our little man now eats every morning and evening when the food is placed in front of him and licks his bowl clean, every single time. Not only he is getting rich nutrients from this recipe which has put him at a very healthy weight, but his bowel movements are now consistently solid and he goes on a regular basis. Overall, we believe his health has improved dramatically over the last six weeks.

It’s always a good idea to consult with your pet’s veterinarian when implementing any changes to your pet’s diet to ensure it meets their daily nutritional needs.

You will want a big bin to mix everything in as this makes close to a month’s worth of meals for your dog. Recipe is below the slideshow.

Here is the recipe (super easy if two people tackle this together):

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped in chunks.
  • 2 pounds total of chicken gizzards (which are nutrient-rich organs heart and stomach) and chicken livers.
  • One large frozen bag of cut green beans
  • One large bag of frozen peas
  • One large frozen bag of corn
  • Two sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in chunks
  • Minute Maid Instant Brown rice (enough to make at least 8 cups)
  • Additional items that make food prep easy include: Bin, scoop to mix everything, sandwich bags and either half-gallon or gallon sized freezer bags.

Instructions:

  • Dice the frozen green beans in a blender if you want them cut in smaller pieces.
  • Add all frozen vegetables to the bin and mix with a scoop.
  • Using a microwave-safe bowl, cook the chunks of sweet potatoes for five minutes. When done, pulse in the blender & then add to vegetable mix and stir.
  • Bring water to a boil and boil chicken breasts until cooked. Pulse in blender and add to vegetable mix and stir.
  • Pan sear chicken gizzards until cooked, drain any excess water while cooking, if necessary, pulse in blender and add to vegetable mix and stir. This can look like pate so when I pour it out of the blender, I spread it out to make stirring it up easier.
  • Cook 8-9 Cups of Brown Rice following the instructions on the box. Add to bin and stir thoroughly.
  • Make little “boats” with the sandwich bags. I make around fifty to get started.
  • Scoop one cup of the food mixture into a sandwich bag. This is based on my 18 pound dog. Your portion may vary depending on your pup’s size.
  • Seal the sandwich bags and store several in the freezer storage bag. We use the half-gallon bags so we store six sandwich bags= six meals.
  • As you get low on portions, pull another bag out of the freezer and let defrost in the fridge.
  • Heat for 30-35 seconds and serve. Heat up time will vary based on how much you put in a bag, as well as your microwave.
  • This batch made 53 Cups of food which works out to 26.5 days worth of food.

Tips:

  • Its much easier to do with another person, especially when bagging the food. I scoop the food, my husband seals the bags and then together we load the freezer bags. If it’s just you, no biggie! My dad does this one his own once a month.
  • I get 6-7 lbs. of chicken breasts from Sam’s Club for $1.79/lb.
  • You can also pick up bulk quantities of sandwich and freezer baggies from Sam’s Club if you have a membership.
  • This costs a little over $0.50 per meal based on one cup servings!!
  • We also add a dollop of plain, no sugar added, greek yogurt as a probiotic on the side.
  • I drizzle a few drops of Omega-3 Oil on Bevo’s food in the morning.

Have a good recipe for your fur baby? Post it below in the comments!

Happy Feeding!

#HomemadeDogFood #Healthy #Dogs #Furbabies

Take Control of Your Homebuying Experience 🏡

Are you in the market to purchase a home? The process, even if it goes as smoothly as possible, can be very stressful.

With 18 years of experience in mortgage lending, I can tell you that there are definite steps you can take to better control the process which will help minimize the stress associated with buying a home. Whether you have purchased a home before or are a first-time homebuyer, below are some tips to guide you through the process.

First- talk to a trusted mortgage broker/lender. Complete a loan application and get pre-qualified to determine not only the loan amount you qualify for but how much you can actually afford.

Note: There is a distinct difference in how much you get approved for and how much you can afford. You don’t want to be broke every month because your house payment is so high. Don’t forget other payments such as utilities that aren’t factored into the housing payment.

Fact: You do not need to put 20% down in order to buy a home. There are many programs available with low or no down payment options. Yes, in most cases you will have mortgage insurance included in your payment initially, but as you build equity, there are ways to have that removed. A mortgage expert can discuss this with you.

Don’t let the area you live in price you out of the market because you continue to put off purchasing a home. Get in to a condo, townhome or house as soon as you’re able so you can begin to experience the benefits of homeownership.

Now that you know how much house you can afford, you and the real estate agent you have selected can begin to shop for homes.

What factors should influence your decision?

  • How much house do you need? Two, three or four bedroom? Will the size meet you and your family’s needs?
  • What neighborhood would you like to live in?
  • Is the home located in a quality school district? Even if you don’t plan to have children or they are grown, good school districts can impact the resell of your home down the road.
  • What style of home appeals to you? Ranch, Two-Story (consider the problem with stairs for aging parents who visit or for when you get older). Talk to your real estate professional about the resell value of the different styles of homes available.
  • How much maintenance will the home require and what might those costs be? Depending on the age of the home and appliances, for example, you might find yourself replacing large ticket items such as a water heater, furnace or fridge.
  • What about lot size? Is it so large that you will spend every Saturday working on the lawn? Maybe that’s your thing and you will love it or maybe you would rather relax out back instead. How much water will it take and what will that monthly expense be to water the lawn?
  • Finally, talk to your agent about anything negative about a property that you’re interested in that could affect the resell? Is it located on a busy street with heavy traffic, is the lot too big or too small, do neighbors maintain the exterior of their properties – if it’s not located in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association that ensures properties are maintained.

If you have ever watched the “Buying {insert respective geographic location} shows, the individual or couple provide the agent with a wish list- great idea- and a budget- even better idea! Especially since you’ve consulted with your mortgage expert and you know much you can afford.

BUT, inevitably in these shows, the agent takes them into properties that exceed their desired budget, they immediately come across as overly concerned- maybe the shows tells them to act dramatic. We finally get to the end of the show, they pick a property beyond their budget and put in an offer that falls within their budget. Their offer gets accepted and everyone is happy… well everyone except maybe the seller.

So this brings up a great point, you might be able to shop in a slightly higher price range, but make an offer that falls comfortably in your range. This is where your real estate agent’s expertise is priceless. Can you lowball the offer price? These are the factors that will come into play that will answer your question:

  • Is this a buyer’s or a seller’s market?
  • How long has this listing been active?
  • How does the listed price compare to similar homes in the area?
  • How badly do you want that specific home?

You find a home that is perfect for you, so you put in an offer and the seller accepts! This is very exciting and nerve-wrecking! As I stated earlier, even if the process goes as smoothly as possibly, it will still feel stressful. I believe that is because you will grow emotionally attached to the idea of owning that home. You lie awake at night, thinking about where you will place certain pieces of furniture or the family events you can host.

Just relax and be sure to get your mortgage expert the items they request in a timely manner…and before you know it… the keys to your new home will be handed to you. If you’re being asked to provide something that you don’t understand… just ask. Your mortgage and real estate professionals are on your side and ready to assist you.

What about the home that you walk into and can envision hosting family gatherings, it’s located in the perfect neighborhood, and it’s even in your price range? Let’s say that it’s an older home, but has seemingly been updated throughout… gorgeous updates! Then you walk into the master bathroom. Oops, its seems as though this one got skipped in the renovations. Your heart sinks, the home was perfect until you entered the gross, outdated bathroom… and now you can no longer envision living here.

Don’t get discouraged! There are mortgage loan programs that will allow you to finance desired improvements and updates at the time of purchase. Make sure your mortgage expert offers renovation loans. Fannie Mae Homestyle, FHA 203k and VA renovation loan programs are available! You can get into the home of your dreams, finance the renovation costs into your loan and have that completed in just a few short months! Crisis averted! Phew.

Many investors who will review your credit worthiness and ability to repay the mortgage allow your file to be submitted as a “To Be Determined” property- meaning you haven’t actually found the home of your dreams yet and are still shopping.

By submitting your income information, your file will actually be reviewed and approved by an underwriter. This could improve your “buying power” when you decide to put in an offer since you’ve already received an actual conditional lender approval.

Getting started with your mortgage expert is easy! Be sure to gather the following information and documentation so you are prepared to accurately complete the application:

  • SSN for all applicants
  • Residential history for two years
  • Employment history for two years
  • W2s
  • Two years of tax returns
  • 30-days of paystubs with YTD income
  • 60-days of bank statements
  • Other asset accounts, if required for qualifying
  • Source of down payment
  • Name and number of Homeowner’s Insurance Agent

Tips:

  • Make sure you work with a mortgage expert that has access to a vast number of loan programs so they can find the right one for you!
  • VA loans do not require any down payment or mortgage insurance. Thank you for your service to our great country! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
  • With certain programs, your down payment can be gifted.
  • If using funds deposited to your asset account, they have to be seasoned for 60 days or the deposit will have to be source/explained.
  • You’re making what is likely the largest financial commitment of your life, I would consider talking to a financial advisor about life insurance and other solutions to protect your family and home.
  • Don’t make major purchases during the application process as that can negatively impact your approval.
  • Don’t make significant deposits to your accounts or withdraw money from your accounts without first talking to your mortgage professional.
  • Some expenses associated with buying/owning a home might be tax deductible. Consult with a tax professional to learn more.

Have any questions about loan programs or the home buying process? Comment below and I’d be happy to answer them.

Happy House Hunting!

#Homeownership #Mortgages #RealEstate #AmericanDream

Sweet and Savage’s Guide to Self-Publishing a Book

Years ago I was reading a romance book and I told Hubby, “I think I could do this.” And I did. It was slow going for awhile. I worked on it at random times. If I’m being honest, it was a hot mess and needed so much work.

Writer’s block is a thing. You have the gist of the storyline but get caught up on what the conflict might be or the direction in which your book is heading.

Then a writing contest crossed my path. For my genre, I needed to write 50K-60K words. During that three week period, I completed the first draft of my first book, You and Only You. It’s a lot of work but if done right, you fall in love with your characters.

Note: If you feel your characters’ emotions so will your readers.

So time passed… a lot of it. The manuscript got metaphorically dusty on my computer. Then one day, thanks to my Uncle Al and Aunt Linda- who wrote an autobiography- I was re-inspired. I worked evenings and weekends polishing my manuscript, I do after all have a full-time job that I absolutely love.

In September of 2018, I decided after scrubbing my book over and over, to self-publish rather than go the traditional route. Really for no reason, other than the self-publishing resources are pretty impressive and I’m too impatient to submit manuscripts and wait anywhere from 60 days to 6 months to hear back from an agent/publishing company. There’s nothing wrong with traditional publishing and it has it’s obvious benefits, but that’s not the direction I chose.

Note: Watch out for “vanity publishers”. No legitimate agent/publisher will charge upfront fees if they truly believe in your work.

It starts with an idea, research the genre you’re interested in, read books in that genre to get a feel. Remember that everyone has their own style, don’t let someone else’s style intimidate or discourage you.

Decide if you’re going to write under your name or a pen name- I selected a pen name for a multitude of reasons. If you’re really interested as to why, comment below and ask!

Once you have that decided, jump on twitter and search and use the hashtags #writingcommunity and #amwriting. NEVER before have I found such a supportive industry or group of people as this community! Trust me. Follow, follow, follow. Click on an individual with a lot of followers and follow them. Get followers back but remember that it’s important to interact in the Twitter Writer’s Community.

It was in this community that I also found my editor, whom I used for my second book When A Stranger Watches, ready for publishing soon. Charlie Knight is so talented and reasonably priced for her services. The old adage “You get what you pay for” doesn’t ring true here. She’s EXCELLENT at her craft. I’m so grateful to have found her. She makes it affordable for self-publishers to have professional editing work completed on their manuscripts and worth every penny!

You can also request beta readers and trade services- you read mine, I’ll read yours and we offer feedback. It’s expected to hear critique. Don’t take it personally, their feedback is what will make your book more appealing to your readers.

What comes first? The title or the manuscript? That’s up to you. My titles come to me before I even start the book. My third is called Margaritas on the Riverwalk. I have about a page and a half written! But you will need a book cover. Come back to this blog as I will link Book Cover services as they reply to me. PEOPLE DO JUDGE A BOOK BY THEIR COVER, so a quality cover is important.

Kindle Direct offers easy self-publishing solutions… with reasonable royalties. You can also choose to print through Kindle though I haven’t gone that route as of yet, so I can’t speak about the success of their printing services.

Create a Facebook author page, invite people and interact in it, using hashtags for the days of the week… don’t just promote your book. Make it interesting, host giveaways (it’s easy to comp several Kindle versions of your book for those who participate).

Consider forming a business- maybe an LLC or an S-Corporation for your expenses and royalties. Consult an accountant or tax attorney before doing this, but your writing space in your home, traveling to areas for research, a new computer or marketing your book(s)- even via a coffee mug- all can become a write-off so it’s worth considering!

Finally, here’s a link to my own self-published book You and Only You -OF COURSE I had to include this- by Brooke Young, my pen name. This one’s not perfect, far from it. My second one is better thanks to Charlie Knight’s editing services, but You and Only You is a steamy romance- it will make you blush- but hey that’s . It’s my first attempt as a novice writer and I am, admittedly, proud of it… even if I switch point of views often. I love Jack and Berkleigh… they are a great couple that you root for! But he betrays her (duh! that’s expected in my genre) and it’s up to you, as the reader, to decide if what he’s done is forgivable or not. Should they (and do they) end up together?

By the way… the greatest compliment you can give an author is to leave a review if you enjoyed the adventure they took you on!

If you decide to write a book, comment below what you would write about. AND if you ever decide to sit down and write THAT book, whatever it might be about… hit me up, I’m happy to help.

The Journey Begins…

Thanks for joining me! Originally, my intention was to blog about my unfortunate experiences surrounding my divorce and offering suggestions that will hopefully prevent others from making the same mistakes. Once I composed the first article, though, it occurred to me that it would only take one or two articles. Plus there’s so much more to me that I’d like to share!

My blog will contain a variety of lifestyle posts ranging from mindfulness tips, travel suggestions, relationships, the love of and for dogs, recipes and more. I hope we laugh and learn through this journey and I look forward to interacting with my readers.

~ Sarah Arnett

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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