Friday, May 22, 2020

Homemade Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I don't know what the weather has been like where you live, but here in the Southeast it has certainly been an unusual May. The weather has been unseasonably cool for this time of year. I don't recall ever turning on the heat in May, but we sure had to this week.

In our area, strawberry fields begin producing fruit in May, and the season is typically over by mid-June. This year, the fields are bursting with beautiful red fruit. Due to the pandemic, however, our favorite farms aren't allowing people to pick their own berries. So my husband placed an order for three gallons of pre-picked berries (at $12 per flat) and we picked them up (drive-through service) last Saturday. It was a gorgeous day, which, under normal circumstances, would have been an ideal day for picking our own berries. 

Paul and I divided the work of cleaning roughly 2-1/2 gallons of strawberries, which we store in a small chest freezer downstairs (we use frozen strawberries year-round to make smoothies). This amount won't be enough to last until next May, so we'll head back to the farm for more berries. I'm worried about what all the rain we've had this week will do to the strawberry crops. We may have to wait a while for the sun to come out and ripen more fruit.

Last weekend, a friend shared with me a recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod. The recipe requires only four ingredients: fresh strawberries, sugar, Greek yogurt and lemon juice. It's very simple to make and very delicious! 

Last Sunday, I made the yogurt following the recipe almost exactly. The one thing I did differently was to increase the amount of strawberries. Because these berries are so sweet on their own, I felt the yogurt was a bit too sweet, so I made a second batch last night with half the amount of sugar and twice the lemon juice. Those changes made the yogurt a little tart and tangy, which I love. It's still a sweet, refreshing treat, without being too sweet. If you try this recipe, I suggest adjusting the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of your berries and to suit your taste buds.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

For the recipe, visit Two Peas and Their Pod

If you would like to make the adjustments that I made, simply:

- increase the amount of strawberries to approximately 1-1/4 pounds
- decrease the amount of sugar to 1/3 cup
- use 2% Greek yogurt, rather than 0% (I use Fage brand)
- increase the amount of fresh lemon juice to 2 teaspoons

You can also try cutting the sugar to 1/3 cup and using only 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Don't let strawberry season pass you by without making this delicious frozen yogurt!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Best-ever Chocolate Chip Pecan Banana Bread

Do you like banana bread? Do you like it with chocolate chips? And maybe some nuts thrown in? Then you'll love this recipe. I found it on Instragram, a Martha Stewart recipe, which I adapted because I didn't have buttermilk. I also added nuts for my nutty husband (he requests them in every baked good I make and pouts if I don't use nuts). Certainly leave out the nuts if you don't like them or are allergic!

Martha's recipe calls for freezing, then thawing, the overripe bananas before mashing them, which creates a syrupy, thick juice. You may want to try that if you have time. My overripe bananas were refrigerated, but not frozen.

One other tip: If you don't have cardamom you can certainly make it without, but I find the cardamom gives this bread a very unique flavor. I wouldn't omit it. This might just be the tastiest banana bread recipe ever.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Banana Bread

2 cups flour or gluten-free flour substitute (I used King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure flour)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan with better and dust with flour, tapping out excess (note: I skipped this step, but my bread wouldn't come out of the pan, so I recommend dusting with flour). 

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon). In another large bowl, whisk together melted butter, mashed bananas, eggs, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until mostly combined, but some dry ingredients remain. Add the chocolate chips and nuts and combine, stirring just until evenly distributed and no dry ingredients remain, but do not overmix. Pour batter into pan.

3) Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan set on a wire rack. Transfer bread to the  rack and let cool completely. Or, as we did, savor a piece while still warm. It's great for dessert and wonderfully decadent with coffee at breakfast. Enjoy, friends.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A Home Tour ... From Last Year

Due to the current pandemic situation, my favorite annual home tour, which is always held the first weekend in May, has been postponed. Better postponed than cancelled, right? As I was preparing a new post today, it occurred to me that I never shared with you some images from last year's tour. So what do you say we take a look around!

The first house didn't have a particularly great exterior, but it sure had a beautiful interior. Check out the master bath (I love that tub and the black-over-white walls). The next photo is of the kitchen eat-in area. I really liked the kitchen overall. Great built-in storage.

Some of the homes on the tour participated in a sidewalk/driveway stenciling promotion. The designs were made using a stencil and power washer. Here are a couple of examples. Some stencils let you cover a large area with pattern. Others are meant to add a decoration here and there. While I'd seen stenciling used to advertise businesses, I'd never seen it used as decoration before. I love this idea. The design is temporary and will fade over time. Is this something you would try at your home?

The next house was a 1926 Craftsman-style home with beautiful landscaping.

Inside, I loved every room. The dining room featured a beautiful dining table, dramatic walls and trendy chandelier (normally I don't care for this style light fixture, but in this room it looked great). I'm a huge fan of black and white in decorating and in art, so the room's stark contrast of white paneling and black walls really appealed to me. The paint color is Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams.

The casual dining area is off the family room. I really liked the patterned cushion on the bench, the light fixture, the dining table ... all of it! And check out the tall wooden exterior door with a single, large glass panel. The photo doesn't show just how gorgeous it is. There were two sets of these beautiful doors leading from the family room out to the back yard. They looked old to me, though possibly not original to the home since the family room was an add-on by a previous owner.

The third house – a 1928 bungalow – was probably my favorite. The adorable exterior, pretty front garden and interior decorating were all my style. The original living room at the front of the home was light and neutral with a painted brick fireplace. The bathroom had toile wallpaper and an antique claw foot tub. The family room at the back of the house, an addition, was gorgeous with its high ceilings and adobe-like fireplace – the photo does not do it justice. 

There were several more homes on the tour, but these were the best. I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Flourless Chocolate Cookies with Coconut and Almonds

Hello, it's me. Sorry for being absent from the blog since late December. I think I needed a short break. I started feeling the need to blog again in late January/early February but wasn't sure what to write about. Then COVID-19 began impacting the world, and in March things changed dramatically here in the U.S. 

It's hard to know what to say during this time. I am grateful every day that I have a job and able to work from home. My husband, who is employed in an essential industry, is still able to go to work. Every day I hope he will remain healthy. 

Like millions of others, I am praying for the health and safety of everyone around the world. Praying for a vaccine and treatments to combat this awful virus. I pray for businesses large and small and for all who have lost their jobs and are struggling financially and emotionally. I pray those who are sick or have lost loved ones to the virus. I pray for the health and safety of health care workers and first responders who carry on in their efforts to protect us. I hope important lessons will be learned so this period in history will not be for naught. And finally, on this Easter Sunday, I pray that those who don't know Christ will be touched by the Holy Spirit and will find healing, hope and love through Him.

Here's what I've been up to this past weekend. I took Good Friday off from work, as I do every year, and watched Bishop Barron perform Mass through his Word on Fire site. I spent some time in the kitchen making the chocolate cookies featured in this post (yes, they are as delicious as they look). 

Saturday felt like a completely normal day, with hardly any thoughts of the pandemic. I made a big batch of this vegetable soup and we ended the day enjoying a bowl of it by the fire in the back yard. I posted photos and video on Instagram: @claudia_mylittlebungalow. On Sunday I fixed an asparagus and leek quiche with a salad for brunch, and watched Mass online.

If you have a bit of free time on your hands these days – and I'm guessing you do – I highly recommend making these decadent cookies. They are a chocolate lover's dream and flourless – perfect for anyone following a gluten-free diet, or not.

Stay healthy, stay well and stay positive! See you again soon.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies with Coconut and Almonds

3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used a scant measure)
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup roughly chopped toasted almonds
4 large egg whites at room temperature

1) Position oven racks in middle and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, cocoa and salt until well blended. Add chocolate chips, coconut and almonds and stir to combine. Add egg whites and stir just until combined; don't overmix.

3) Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto lined baking sheets. Bake until tops are dry and cracked, about 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool completely on wire racks.

  • I found that baking the cookies for the longer amount of time allowed them to be removed from the sheets with less sticking.  
  • To toast the almonds, I chopped them first, then put them on a baking sheet and put them into the preheated 325 degree oven for about 6 minutes.
  • Rotating the sheets means to turn each sheet 180 degrees, so the cookies on the back side of the oven are moved to the front side of the oven. I looked this up online because I'm never sure if it means to turn the sheets or to move the sheets from one rack to another.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Chocolate-covered Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Bars

Being sick over the Christmas holiday sucks. I'm just gonna say it. I know it could have been worse (I have a cold, not the flu). I tried last week not to feel sorry for myself, but it was challenging at times. My sister-in-law was sick too, but she had it worse – bronchitis with a terrible cough. Late Monday afternoon, while at work, I started feeling really cold and my throat was scratchy. Then I woke up Christmas eve day and knew I was sick. Not wanting to infect anyone else, and with two of us sick, the family decided to cancel our plans for Christmas brunch at our house. I wasn't able to attend church, either, which bummed me out (I love our Christmas service and the singing of carols). I continued to feel kinda crummy the rest of the week until Saturday, when I began to feel less crummy. I'm happy to say that today, Monday, I feel pretty darn good! And I'm still on vacation until Thursday, so I have time to do some of the things I love, like creating new blog posts!

I did push myself to do some cooking last week. I made an interesting tomato, chickpea & coconut soup that I found on the Love & Lemons website – I highly recommend it. On Saturday, I made a curry with sweet potatoes, green beans and turkey. I'll be posting that recipe on the blog soon. It's excellent!

Wanting to get in some holiday baking, I chose these very yummy chocolate-covered peanut butter rice crispy bars. I found the recipe on the blog Half Baked Harvest. I read the reviews after I made the bars (I know, that's backwards) ... and like many others' results, my bars came out crumbly. Not too bad, but definitely a little messy to eat. That's okay, though, because the bars are so finger-licking good, my husband and I don't mind a little mess. I'm more of a chocolate fan than Paul is. He said last night he thinks these bars would be great without the chocolate on top. I think the chocolate is what holds them together.

A couple of notes:
  • The recipe calls for brown rice krispies (cereal). I used regular, inexpensive, store-brand crispy rice cereal.
  • The recipe calls for 8 to 12 ounces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate, melted. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, and weighed out 10 ounces using my handy kitchen scale. Once I got to the step where you pour the chocolate over the cereal mixture, I realized more chocolate was needed. So I quickly melted more chips but didn't measure. I'd use 12 ounces to be safe. 
  • When I began to "spread" the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture, that's when the panic set it. Bits of cereal separated from the bars (which I had firmly pressed into the pan as instructed) and incorporated into the chocolate. There was nothing I could think of to prevent this. Next time, I will thoroughly chill the cereal mixture before pouring/spreading the melted chocolate over. That may help.
  • I topped the bars with Snyder's of Hanover gluten-free mini pretzels. This makes the recipe gluten free. You can use regular pretzels, or omit them.
  • I haven't noticed any difference in how the bars hold together whether stored in the fridge or on the counter.
You can find the recipe at Half Baked Harvest. I suggest giving them a try. Let me know if you do.

Thank you, as always, for visiting My Little Bungalow. I hope you have a very happy, safe and healthy New Year! See you in 2020.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Hearty Vegetable Chowder

Making soups and stews from scratch is one of my favorite pastimes during the chilly months of fall and winter. Today I'm sharing a recipe for vegetable chowder that I adapted from an old issue of my favorite (now defunct) magazine, Everyday Food. No cream or cheese is in this recipe, making it a healthier chowder. Rather, the creaminess comes from milk and partially blending some of the veggies. It's comfort food that isn't too heavy or fattening. I hope you like it!

Hearty Vegetable Chowder

3 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium red bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed, diced
3 cups 2% milk*
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cubed (3/4" cubes)
4 cups frozen yellow corn kernels
1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed and beans cut into 1" pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) In a large stock pot*, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

2) Add the milk, thyme, potatoes and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

3) Stir in the corn, 1 tablespoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer for 3 minutes. 

4) Using an immersion blender*, puree the soup until about 1/4 of the vegetables are pureed.

5) Add the green beans; bring to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Season with more salt, if needed. Serve with hot pepper sauce, if desired, and a crusty bread. 

You can substitute 1% milk for less fat or whole milk for extra creaminess.
I use a 7-quart stock pot to make this soup. 
If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer about 3 cups of the vegetables to a blender container using a slotted spoon and process until smooth; return pureed veggies to the pot.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love. I'm thankful for faithful visitors, readers and commenters on this little blog I've been writing for almost nine years. I am grateful for your interest, support and kindness. Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy holiday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mudroom Refresh

We renovated our small mudroom in 2015. If you didn't follow along, feel free to check out these mudroom renovation posts: the new bead board ceiling, choosing our paint colors, restoring the wood floor, some before and after photos and a new cherry and steel storage cabinet from Room & Board.

A few months ago I gave the mudroom a refresh. The first thing I did was to purchase a basket for stashing flip flops, shoes, slippers, umbrellas and the like. My husband and I had gotten into the bad habit of sticking our shoes under the storage cabinet when we came in the door. This looked sloppy and took away from the beauty of the cabinet. When you live in a small space, it's important to keep things streamlined, simple and organized, so I knew I had to come up with a solution.

Since there was a little space to the right of the cabinet, I thought a storage basket would be both useful and attractive. And who doesn't love shopping for baskets, right?

I headed to HomeGoods where they have a huge selection of basket styles, shapes and sizes. In fact, their selection is so large, it was hard to choose. But, since I had limited space, I was able to narrow down the choices based on size. I liked the idea of a soft basket made of cloth rope since the door to the basement is to the right of this space, and I wanted something soft that wouldn't scratch your leg when you walked by it. I was also leaning toward a round shape to soften the hard edges of the cabinet and door frames in this room.

Next on the list: a new rug. I knew I wanted an indoor/outdoor rug for this room – something durable and washable. The previous indoor/outdoor rug in the mudroom was all fuzzy around the edges. Actually, it started looking not-so-great soon after we bought it in 2015. Then it began to smell sour this year (probably due to some doggie accidents). While we could have taken it outside to give it a good soaking and scrubbing, I didn't think the rug was worth the effort, and I'm also a bit of a rug junkie. I'm always looking at them online.

Somehow I landed on the Annie Selke website and saw some very out-of-the-ordinary-looking indoor/outdoor rugs. I landed on this Dash & Albert rug – the Samson in black – and I absolutely love it! Part of the Bunny Williams collection, the Samson was inspired by an antique rug sample from the designer's personal collection. It is handmade, low-profile and very durable, but still feels great underfoot. You'd almost think it was wool. I can totally recommend this rug and wouldn't hesitate to buy another one for a different room. I'd also like to note that this is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing with you one of my favorite purchases!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Diffusing with Essential Oils

Before diffusers were popular, I bought my first bottle of essential oil – eucalyptus scent – to help alleviate nighttime congestion (I'd put a couple of drops on the edge of my pillowcase). My next essential oil purchase was lavender, one of my favorite scents! I mixed it with unscented hand lotion, put several drops on a cotton ball in the vacuum bag to scent the house while vacuuming, and made my own fabric softener with it.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I purchased a PureSpa Natural diffuser for scenting the house. If I remember correctly, it was in the $25–$30 range at Whole Foods. I actually bought it with our beagle, Ella, in mind because I'd read that certain scents – lavender, in particular – can help create a sense of calm, which Ella needed. At first I thought it helped lower her anxiety level a little, but did not produce the result I had hoped for. Even so, the diffuser is great for adding a nice fragrance to the house without burning candles. 

After a while, I added sweet orange to my essential oil collection. Just the other day I added balsam fir needle and clove bud and am having fun experimenting with different scent combinations. Orange is definitely my favorite along with lavender. The label reads "brightening" and it really does provide a mood-boosting effect. It's the perfect year-round scent and combines beautifully with the balsam fir and clove to create a lovely holiday aroma. The next oil I will buy is lemon, but I will wait until springtime.

Holiday Evergreen-Citrus Essential Oil Blend

To the water in your diffuser, add:
  • 3 drops of orange essential oil
  • 2 drops of balsam fir needle or other evergreen essential oil
  • 2 drop of clove bud essential oil

There are many, many different diffusers to choose from in a huge variety of styles. Amazon sells this one which is by the same company as mine. It has a thin band of light that changes colors, but has an option to run it without the colored light. It's silent, except for a slight bubbling sound, which I don't mind. It has an automatic shut-off when the water level gets low. I read some mixed reviews on Amazon's site. I would shop around and read reviews if you're looking to purchase a diffuser. Always unplug it when not in use. I also wouldn't leave the house with it running.

Do you use a diffuser or essential oils? If so, I'd love to know some of your tips and tricks, favorite products and scent combinations. Please leave a comment by clicking on "comments" below. Look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Apple Cider-Cranberry Sorbet

Hello, do you remember me? So October came and went and now we're almost into the middle of November. How did that happen?! Sorry for my lack of presence the past few months. I feel like I have a lot to share, but have lacked the motivation to write about it. This December will mark 9 years of blogging on My Little Bungalow. Maybe it has run its course. We'll see.

For now, how about a recipe? We had friends over for dinner last night and I made boeuf bourguignon, which is a bit of a production. I wanted to make an apple dessert, such as apple crisp or apple cake, but I didn't have the time (or energy) to make dessert plus the main course. So I opted for something much simpler. 

As I was thumbing through my list of recipes made over the years, this apple cider-cranberry sorbet jumped out at me. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner in 2016. It is an icy cold dessert, which seems better suited for warm weather, but the cider and cranberry flavors give it an autumnal feel. It is an easy, make-ahead dessert that can also be served between courses to cleanse the palate. And with only a few ingredients, it is suitable for people who follow a gluten-free, vegan and/or low-fat diet.

Apple Cider-Cranberry Sorbet

2 cups cranberry juice (I use Ocean Spray 100% cranberry juice, not cranberry cocktail)
1-1/2 cups apple cider (apple juice can be used, but apple cider makes it more flavorful)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • In a saucepan, bring cranberry juice, apple cider and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.
  • Let cool slightly, then transfer to a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
  • Freeze for 2 hours, then mash with a fork. Cover, and continue freezing until set, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  • Transfer sorbet to a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container. Refreeze until ready to serve.

This ice cream keeper from Tovolo comes in handy for storing homemade sorbet and ice cream.

Now it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. I love planning and making Thanksgiving dinner! And I've been craving pumpkin pie lately, so I am looking forward to that! What are your Thanksgiving plans this year?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Remembering Ella

Hello, friends. I apologize for being MIA since early July. About two weeks after my last post, on July 24, we had to say goodbye to Ella, our sweet senior beagle. It was a very difficult loss, and I've not been able to write about it until recently. 

Ella came into our lives in March 2013. We adopted her when she was 10 years old; she had just given birth to four puppies and her owner surrendered all five dogs to the county shelter. I have no idea what the owner's circumstances were, so I try not to judge – but I admit, it's hard not to. Ella was 10 years old and not spayed. She may have been used as a breeding dog. Then she gave birth to four mixed-breed puppies and was given up. It's unfathomable to me how someone can just get rid of a pet. In our house, our dogs become family members and we give them our full love and devotion. It makes me sad that not everyone feels this way.

I love his photo of Ella and two of her four pups. It was taken at the shelter shortly after they were surrendered. Fortunately, a selfless volunteer who already had dogs, cats and two boys to care for, took Ella and her puppies to her home to foster them. Shelters are not good places for tiny puppies; they can easily contract serious illnesses and die. You can read more about Ella's entry into our family here.

In late May of 2013, one of Ella's pups, Vivian, came to visit. Vivian was adopted by Ella's foster mom. The reunion, chronicled here, was very sweet. Ella definitely recognized her daughter. Vivian was 5 or 6 months old at the time, and you can see she was already as large as her mama.

Once Ella settled in, things were great. She and the other dogs got along wonderfully. There was a lot of snuggling, many walks and even a trip to the antiques mall. There were overnight stays in hotels and canoe rides on the lake.  

Ella had her share of surgeries in the six years she lived with us. The first was to have her spayed (a county adoption requirement) and while she was under anesthesia we had her teeth cleaned; eleven had to be pulled. Several mammary gland tumors were removed. Later, she had more growths and small tumors removed, including one on her snout, near her left eye, leaving a long scar. This growth eventually came back and was inoperable due to its location and size. After each surgery, despite her advanced age, Ella rebounded and was back to her lively self. 

Ella's eyesight diminished toward the end of her life. We prepared to have cataract surgery performed, but her retinas failed the test, which meant inevitable blindness that cataract removal wouldn't help. She also lost most of her hearing. These sensory losses brought about some changes in her personality. For at least the last year of her life, she had nightly episodes of barking and restlessness, like sundown syndrome common to people with dementia. However, her loss of vision and hearing did not slow her down physically. She ran wide open up the three steps to the side door of our house, which occasionally resulted in a tumble. But she'd get right back up again. She never got hurt, even when she took a bad spill down a flight of 20 hardwood stairs in a beach rental house. That was scary! But after a couple of minutes of being held and examined, all she wanted was dinner! We said over and over that Ella was tough as nails, and we meant it.

Ella was a true beagle and had a voracious appetite. Sometimes her appetite got her into trouble, like the time she ate a small hole in a bag of dog food. Fortunately we caught her, otherwise she might have eaten herself to death. Over the course of the evening, though, her belly started to bloat and she began whimpering, so off to the emergency clinic we went. X-rays showed a mass of food in her gut that only time and IV fluids would help (they couldn't induce vomiting). It required an overnight stay and resulted in an $800 bill. That beagle!

Ella lived to eat, snuggle, sleep and go on adventures – and probably in that order! Ella would curl up in the darnedest places, including my husband's open guitar case. She did this many times over the years, sometimes with her head hanging over the side of the case, making it look like she'd had a long night of hard partying.

Ella was a good sport. She let me dress her in sweaters, coats – even a Halloween costume. She didn't care much for the hat, though. Ella greeted the children who came to the house at Halloween and even the little ones who were scared of dogs warmed up to her. She was wonderful with children.

Ella loved to roll in the grass. It was a form of exercise for her. She'd squirm her way from one side of the yard to the other!

Ella was spunky and playful until the end, and she left an imprint on our hearts that will remain forever. While I'm grateful she lived to be 16, we only had her in our lives six years. Even so, it was a fun-filled six years, and I wouldn't hesitate to adopt a senior dog again. I encourage you to visit your local shelter and consider adopting an adult or senior dog. Please adopt, don't shop, for your next pet. The number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters is staggering. Every single animal adopted out to a loving forever home helps lower that number. You can make a difference.

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