This Week at Finnegan’s

September 30th, 2014

I’ve been slowly collecting pieces in order to assemble an art wall in my office – I’m pretty close to a full wall, and this lovely print definitely fit the bill. It’s called “Out of the Stubble” by Archibald Thorburn, and according to this print it’s a special supplement to the “Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News” August 28, 1897. Thirty bucks, perfectly beat up wood frame included.

This Week at Finnegan's

This Week at Finnegan’s

September 9th, 2014

Well, nothing horrible has happened to our pet family in a few weeks so I think it’s safe to go back to my regularly scheduled programming.

My Finnegan’s Flea Market finds have been multiplying nicely – time to hurry up and start sharing them with you. This week it’s all about the perfect pitcher. Whether it’s to accompany a fragrant cup of tea with a splash of milk or to fill with wildflowers, who doesn’t need a pitcher (or five). This charming little number has a woodland pheasant scene that I couldn’t resist. Seven bucks.

This Week at Finnegan's on the Girlfriday Blog

On HGE and your dog

September 3rd, 2014

If you are squeamish or adverse to reading about bodily functions, you may want to skip reading this post – that being said, if you have a dog it could help save your fur monster’s life, so please read on if you can. I’m going to try and be as detailed as possible in the hopes that it might be helpful to somebody.

Our beloved Panda bear is fine today. Bouncy, smiling, eyes and coat shining. Ten days ago she almost died. We still don’t know why, and likely never will, but her symptoms were specific enough that I think it’s important to share them.

On a Monday, Panda started exhibiting signs of minor indigestion. You know, nothing serious, just softer poop than usual. Every dog owner has experienced this. Dogs eat everything. Panda proudly subscribes to a strict policy of “eat now, ask questions later”. So naturally I decided to let things run their course, but I kept a watchful eye on her. A few days went by, nothing changed – she didn’t get better but she didn’t get worse, either. Everything else was the same. Appetite, mood, energy levels were all normal. I Googled “how long should I wait if my dog has indigestion”… I didn’t get a good answer, but I did stumble on a bunch of articles about a condition called HGE: Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. I had never heard of this condition before, and it sounded terrifying. I started watching Panda more carefully just in case, but she really seemed to be fine other than the mild tummy upset.

On Wednesday night, Panda woke me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I let her out, puzzled – she’d never done this before. It was 3am and pouring rain; I followed her around with a flashlight, in my bathrobe and rain boots. She didn’t seem sicker than before, but the situation felt odd. We went back to bed and watched tv together before catching a few more hours of sleep. Thursday was business as usual: several walks, meals anticipated and enjoyed as always, chasing the ball in the backyard that evening.

On Thursday night, Panda woke me up three times. We must have slept two hours that night. She would try and go to the bathroom and very little would come out. She was acting a little hyper and I knew it was because she felt uncomfortable – I was really concerned at this point and decided to call the vet as soon as they opened the next day.

Friday morning, sleep-deprived and worried, I called the vet – thankfully they had a spot for me in about three hours’ time. I decided not to give Panda her breakfast just in case she had some kind of obstruction. She wasn’t happy about this but I somehow resisted her irresistible face. While we were waiting for her appointment to come around, Panda threw up. I got more anxious. She was getting worse. She went outside and lay down – this was the first time all week that she was showing signs of not feeling well. I sat near her and watched her. She stood up, began to go to the bathroom… and all that came out was a lot of water and blood. I felt my stomach drop down into my toes as total panic and fear took hold. No! I packed her up into the car and we arrived at the vet early – luckily they were able to see us almost immediately and within about 90 minutes from that terrifying moment in the backyard she was isolated and hooked up to an IV.

On HGE and your dog

Since Panda is a rescue, it was particularly heartbreaking as I knew that she probably thought I was abandoning her at her weakest and sickest – I went back that afternoon with a big towel that smelled like home and the vet was kind enough to let me sit with her for an hour. She tried incessantly to crawl out from under my feet and begged me with her eyes to let her come home. Nobody was able to tell me that she would be ok so it was a terrifying day. By that night they felt more confident that she was stabilizing so I went home and tried to eat, but the heartbeat of our house was gone and I could barely stand to be there. Third sleepless night, coming right up.

On HGE and your dog

The next morning, I called the vet as soon as they were open and received the best news: Panda was smiling and had eaten a tiny bit of food. So far she was holding it down. If she was able to hold down food, she’d be able to take her medication orally, and she’d be able to come home. A few hours later I got the ok: come and get her! Much to the hospital’s chagrin, as they had all fallen in love with her. Why am I not surprised.

Panda had to follow a pretty involved food and medication schedule for the next week, and she continued to lose a bit of blood for a few more days before things cleared up. But she continued to improve and is now back to her kibble, her carrots and her usual self. Needless to say, I have become a hovering nightmare. Panda has added “puzzled and annoyed” to her gallery of daily expressions.

Why am I posting this long story? Because: another sweet doggie in our neighbourhood got the same thing. Unlike Panda, she started bleeding in the middle of the night – and by the time she was seen by a vet the next morning, it was too late. She passed away hours later. I can barely imagine the kind of pain and sadness her family has experienced. She was a friend of Panda’s that we always made a point of saying hello to and cuddling with, and I was devastated to learn that she had died. The entire neighbourhood is in shock and worried for their own pets.

There are many theories circulating – it’s been a very rainy summer, things have been more damp than usual – maybe they ate a bad mushroom, or perhaps bacteria was growing on a toy or a bone and they ingested it accidentally. Perhaps they inhaled some pathogenic spores. Or, worse, perhaps they consumed poison that was left out by somebody – for rats or raccoons I guess, which is bad enough, but I can’t even bear to think that anybody was deliberately trying to poison anybody’s pets. I can confirm that Panda has had all of her shots and has been vaccinated against Parvovirus, which is a very serious and highly contagious disease that exhibits symptoms similar to HGE. I spoke with some officials at city hall, discussed the situation with a well-respected local vet just to get a second opinion, emailed all the neighbours I knew who had dogs, and went door-to-door for those whose names I didn’t know and whose emails I didn’t have. I’m writing this blog post because perhaps sharing what happened will help save your dog’s life.

All I can say is that I’m convinced Panda and our neighbour/dog friend were affected by HGE. This is a general condition that can be caused by many things, so it’s not very comforting to identify it as a cause because it doesn’t mean you can protect your dog any better. The only solution to HGE is to catch it as soon as possible, go straight to the vet, aggressively re-hydrate via an IV and pump their system full of antibiotics. Dogs often don’t show that they aren’t feeling well until they are in really bad shape – Panda was eating and otherwise behaving normally until Friday morning, but then she became dehydrated at lightning speed. In smaller dogs it can happen even more quickly.

If you ever see blood, or suspect dehydration, don’t wait – if it’s the middle of the night, go to an emergency animal hospital. But please, please – do not wait. Panda sends her best. xo

On HGE and your dog

Goodbye, Bluebeard

August 8th, 2014

To a sweet and sour spitfire who was the boss of everything and everyone.

Goodbye, Bluebeard

To a gray-haired dame who would yell to get her water bowl refilled, yell to get the dog’s water bowl refilled, then go outside and drink old rainwater from a dirty crack in the deck.

Goodbye, Bluebeard

To a cuddly, creaky old lady who discovered the joys of the fireplace and our laps late in life.

Goodbye, Bluebeard

To a furry scaredy-cat who discovered in her recent deafness that the bone-chilling vacuum was actually a fabulous massage opportunity.

To a sprightly senior who caught more moles in her twentieth year than the rest of her years combined.

Goodbye, Bluebeard

Dear Blue, twenty years ago you fit into the palm of Christian’s hand. You’ve been with him, and then us, ever since. We are so sad. We love you, and we miss you.

Goodbye, Bluebeard

This Saturday at Finnegan’s was a memorable one. Hot, sunny, full of people, and I got to spend it with my dear friend Lauren, her wonderful husband Kevin and their adorable baby boy Gideon. Lauren is a girl who knows her housewares so I was happy that they went home with a little treasure trove of loot – as for me, I had been looking for a gardening hat and I finally found one. Pinky striped awesomeness. Five bucks.

This Week at Finnegan's

A special thank-you to my Christian for the picture! <3

New column! It’s summertime in Hudson, and that can only mean one thing: Finnegan’s Flea Market! We live ten minutes away so health permitting, we go pretty much every Saturday. Things started slowly in rainy May but this past Saturday it was going like gangbusters. Each visit Panda makes about a million new friends and we usually pick up a little something or three. Here’s my loot from last weekend: three hinged (which means they fit me, for once) cloisonné bracelets. Six smackeroos.

This Week at Finnegan's

And the winner is….

February 24th, 2014

Annabelle! Congratulations!! I’ll be sending you a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar tomorrow!

With a whopping three comments, this giveaway had VERY good odds, haha :) Thank-you so much, dear ladies, for participating! Panda sends you all kisses! xo

Happy Pandaversary!

February 21st, 2014

Happy Pandaversary!

*This giveaway is now closed – congratulations to Annabelle for winning!

Happy third Pandaversary! To commemorate three years of kisses, hugs, snow angels, grass rolling, car-trunk-hijacking, ball-non-retrieving, carrot-munching, cat-food-stealing, ear-scratching, tail-chasing and all-around smiley-ness and joy for life, I am giving away one of the few Panda calendars left in my possession. We have managed to sell almost all of them and I am so grateful – I can’t wait to make a collective donation to the Frontier Animal Society on your behalf!

Please leave a comment below if you’d like to participate for a chance to win a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar – I will be randomly selecting a winner on Monday. And as always, in honour of Pandaversary, feel free to do one of the following things today (or, continue to celebrate all weekend!)

– share hugs, kisses and smiles
– go for a walk outside
– take a nap or three
– eat some carrots

Panda will be getting even more love than usual today – if that is even possible. Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Calendar Girl

December 17th, 2013

Here at Girlfriday, we like to give back. As 2013 winds down, I’m proud to have donated work and time this year to the very deserving and amazing Ten Oaks Project in Ottawa, as well as the tirelessly hard-working St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation in Montreal. This year, Panda asked if she could get in on the fund-raising fun – so we hatched up a little calendar project to give back to Panda’s favourite cause, because they are also the reason she is alive today. Now you can get your monthly dose of Panda even when the internet is out!

Panda Calendar 2014

I’m pretty excited to finally have a first offering in my Etsy shop, and extra-pleased that any profit these calendars make will be going straight to the Frontier Animal Society. We’re hoping to make this an annual fund-raising tradition!

Panda Calendar 2014

I’d like to give a big thanks to Mylène and Warren at Pazazz, who were very patient with me and did such a beautiful job on the printing. The 2014 My Dog Panda calendar is in a handy 5 x 7″ postcard format, printed on satin finish FSC-certified card stock – I love how it turned out. A special thanks also to my darling Christian, who helped take the pictures.

Click here if you’d like to purchase a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar for yourself or for the animal-lover in your life, and give back to an amazing, no-kill animal shelter to boot. It’ll give you the warm fuzzies, Panda style.

We love our calendar girl!

Cashew butter cookies


Today’s groundhog-like emergence from blog hibernation is for one very important reason: cookies!

Said hibernation was disappointingly due to chronic illness – when health issues become too big to handle, I need to re-prioritize, and social media fun therefore comes to a halt. Things are slowly on the upswing so hopefully I’ll be popping in here a bit more often from now on. But, I digress – this post is not about illness, it’s about cookies. Delightful, scrumptious, stuff-your-face cookies. When you’ve eaten nothing more than a few plain meats and even less vegetables for months on end, the possibility of cookies is truly glorious.

These aren’t “ordinary” cookies in the sense that they are grain free, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a sweet treat, I know, but you’d be surprised what deliciousness can come from restrictions – in fact, one could argue that when challenged by a swarm of “can’ts”, the most triumphant kind of yumminess can result. I can safely eat a small mountain of these and not feel ill for days afterwards, so these are the best cookies in the whole world, currently.

You can make these cookies with other nut butters. Cashew butter is quite expensive; it’s just what I seem to be able to handle best right now, and it’s reeeeally delicious, so that’s what I use. I tried two different brands of cashew butter, and got two very different results:

Cashew butter cookies

My first (and favourite) batches were made with this cashew butter. It’s a raw cashew butter with no other added ingredients – it is soooo yummy. The resulting cookies are sweet and chewy with an almost caramel-like flavour. They have a slight crust to them when they are fresh from the oven, but over time become almost Dali-clock-like in their pliability. I think that if one were to use sugar instead of honey as sweetener it would help with this, but since that’s not an option for me at the moment I will just enjoy my Dali clocks and twirl my imaginary moustache.

The second cashew butter I tried contains dry-roasted cashews and sunflower oil, and resulted in a very different cookie. They didn’t spread out as much while baking, the texture was more dense and the flavour was completely different: tasty, but less sweet and totally missing the caramel-ish flavour. I suspect it’s the dry-roasting that’s responsible. And, they were a little bit greasy on the fingers. I actually wanted to like these ones better because this cashew butter retails for almost half the price of the first one – but when it’s one of the only things you can eat, I guess you just gotta splurge sometimes.

The recipe I’m including below uses the first kind of cashew butter and is inspired by this recipe. These cookies are also Paleo and SCD-friendly. Flourless nut butter cookies are infinitely Google-able so I encourage you to experiment – I think these would taste amazing with chocolate chunks or diced dried fruit, but I can’t eat either of those things just yet. Which is pretty tragic, yes. But don’t worry. I have cookies.

Cashew butter cookies

Cashew Butter Cookies

makes: approximately 30

1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 shakes of cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
1 cup cashew butter (or, one 227 g/8 oz jar of Artisana Raw Cashew Butter)
slivered blanched almonds or other (chocolate chunks, dried fruit, chopped nuts)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line 1-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper (I use 2 cookie sheets and just rotate them so I don’t use up too much parchment paper). Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add cashew butter and mix well. Using a small cookie scoop (a bit less than a tablespoon per cookie) drop them onto the cookie sheet, about 9 per sheet. Sprinkle slivered almonds on top. Bake them one tray at a time on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden. They brown quickly at the end so keep an eye on them. Allow to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes. Eat one. Grin with delight. Make a pot of tea and have some more. And don’t forget to share :)