Monday Musings ~ July 30, 2018

It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

With a break in the heat, celebrating the Year of the Dog at the annual Dragon Boat Festival couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve attended this festival many times in the past and it’s usually one of the hottest weekends of the summer so imagine my delight when pizzas actually came from the food trucks, rather than the sidewalk. Billed as the largest of its kind in the nation — this festival has been a source of pride and cultural preservation for thousands of Asian-Americans across the Rocky Mountain region. With killer boatsmanship, entertainment galore and enough food trucks and vendors to choke a horse, this year’s version was bigger than ever, with an estimated 120,000 in attendance. Opening ceremonies included a dragon dance and the dotting of the eye ceremony (which I sadly missed).

Photo courtesy of Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
Dotting of the eye ceremony photo courtesy of Colorado Dragon Boat Festival Facebook page

Along with cultural performances, the festival boasted tasty food, shopping, family activities, dragon boat races and other celebrations of Asian and Asian-American heritage and all around good fun for everyone.

Team logo
I think these guys just might be hard-core judging by the Captain’s name

Does this particular heat seem as unfair to you as it did to me since the geese don’t get to race with oars? They did perform nicely, nonetheless.

Hey…not fair…where’s our oars?

 

Snagging the flag ~ we have a winner here
Attendees came in all sizes and shapes
There were many canine cheerleaders
Even the geese cheered
Meanwhile back at the lagoon, a bunch of kids went spinning in these bubble thingies
Racing in unison wins heats~this team was wicked fast and seem to beat everybody
Colorful and practical umbrellas kept sunny conditions at bay
For those not competing yet wanting to get out on the water, there was paddle boarding
People watching opportunities galore

All an all, it was a great two-day dragon adventure certainly worth telling others about. Tolkien would have been proud. How was your weekend?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday ~ July 27, 2018

Last Saturday the annual Lavender Festival was held at the Denver Botanical Garden’s Chatfield Farms location. Having had a terrific time last year (click here for a flashback), I wanted to check it out again this year. It was hot but heavenly and I wasn’t disappointed.

Last year’s festival featured around 800 lavender plants. This year the festival featured nearly 2000. From white to pale pink, to blue and purple, there’s something for everyone to love. I’m all about the dark purples and the darker the better, but every single plant was a stunner. And that divine fragrance…swoon. As I walked through the rows, I was struck by the mesmerizing effect this incredible plant has on people. In an age where everyone seems to be constantly jockeying to get ahead of everyone else, people were kinder, gentler and just more consider to one another. It was a pleasure being there, even amongst a huge crowd. Knowing it would be a warm day, I had arrived 30 minutes after the festival opened thinking I could avoid the crowds. But the crowd was already so large, a sheriff’s deputy ‘kindly’ blocked me just as it was my turn to turn onto the access road leading toward the entrance. Harumph…dude, should I bring you back a big bunch of lavender to lighten up your cantankerousness, I grumbled to myself, in between HBO words.

Us plebeians were directed to the backside of Chatfield and I began to wonder if I’d need  4-wheel drive to cross through that back-forty pasture. Up, down, swerving back and forth to avoid small car swallowing ruts, I traversed the access road to find myself in the middle of a fallow pasture that had been turned into a temporary parking lot. At least I had sense enough to wear close-toed shoes unlike many who were clad in low-heeled sandals whose feet were going to be dirty in a matter of seconds as we hiked through the dusty pasture toward the pick up area where ‘farm limos’ waited to whisk us closer to the entrance. Look out Uber, you’ve got some serious competition out there.

Near the ticket booth, I was greeted to a picture perfect, blue-sky day guaranteed to lower the aggravation quotient.

Having pre-purchased my ticket the day before, I didn’t have to stand in the 50+ deep ticket line and made my way toward nirvana. Despite being early in the day, I was surprised there was already a sizable queue at the wine and spiked cider tents. I like wine with the best of ’em, but if you are in need of an alcoholic beverage at 9:30 in the morning, you definitely could benefit from wandering through rows of lavender in which to mellow out.

Lavender does surprisingly well in arid Colorado and English lavender in particular, is quite cold-hardy and generally thought to have strongest fragrance over its French and Spanish cousins. Lavender’s overall health benefits and healing properties were discovered more than 2,500 years ago. A powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial and sedative properties, the Greeks were the first to experiment with this natural remedy and soon the Romans and Egyptians were on board. Many monarchs in Europe made lavender widely popular. Lavender’s underlying chemistry allows for the diversity in its many medical to culinary uses, with a range of biochemicals, terpenes, and acetates accounting for the healing properties of lavender. Okay, enough with science and history of this awesome plant, let’s check out the festival.

Lavender and lemon flavored pops for those with a sweet tooth
This blooming Red Yucca plant was exceptionally striking
This is where a scratch-and-sniff screen would be incredible (Lavandula Augustifolia – English lavender)
Lavender with Black-eyed Susan’s
A pretty bucket of English Lavender
A visitor soaking up sun and scent among scads of lavender
Beautiful white lavender
Some of the new plants
Craft offerings galore
Whiskey pops for adults
Sweet smelling handmade soaps
Wildflower backdrop for a row of lavender
Pretty coneflower with insects
Don’t know what this plant was but it was so beautiful among some lavender sprigs in the meadow
Musical entertainment rounding out the festival

Hope you enjoyed the festival as much as I did. Have a great weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Did You Know? The Difference Between Certified Naturally Grown vs. Organic

As many of you probably know, I’m interested in providing natural treatments and care for myself and the dogs so I often look for organic designated items when shopping. There are some fruits I won’t buy unless they are organic, like raspberries or strawberries. But did you know there are differences in the difference between certified naturally grown versus organic? 

Recently I toured the “Certified Naturally “Grown” Homestead Organics hemp farm, the local producer of Black Dog Botanical CBD oil, which will be offered on our Sam’s K9 Kreations page (despite the ongoing challenges in getting the PayPal plugin to work properly…grr…but I digress). As Gabe, owner of Homestead and Black Dog Botanicals showed me their CNG operation and greenhouse, he explained the differences between certified naturally grown versus organic of which I was unaware.

So what is Certified Naturally Grown (CNG)? It’s a grassroots-led alternative for small-scale farmers who distribute products at local venues like farmers markets, community supported agriculture subscriptions (known as CSA’s), restaurants and grocery stores with local produce initiatives as well as shoppers trying to reduce their environmental impact by choosing locally grown products compared with the USDA’s National Organic Program. With CNG, farmers audit one another for sustainable practices.  Certified Naturally Grown is neither costly nor overburdened with bureaucracy which permits small farmers to devote their energies to farming, rather than to proving themselves to strangers via a mountain of forms. Using a “participatory guarantee system” model where inspections are typically carried out by other farmers, ensures a sharing and community approach to CNG standards. [Source: Naturallygrown.org]

Though a Certified Naturally Grown farm leaves less of a paper trail than a Certified Organic one, all CNG records are openly available online. Growers clearly state their growing practices and attest they have abided by all of the CNG regulations (which are essentially the same as certified organic).  So what’s the difference? Besides price and time, the auditors are other farmers and are allowed offer advice as they walk the fields, talk to the grower, and evaluate the farm (USDA verifiers, on the other hand, are not allowed to offer any suggestions during an audit). To avoid conflict of interest problems, you are not allowed to audit the farmer who audited you. In addition, every year, CNG randomly selects farms for pesticide residue testing, at no cost to the farmer. [Source: Organic Authority]

Organic farming works in harmony with nature rather than against it. This involves using a variety of techniques to achieve good crop yields without harming the natural environment or the people who live and work in it (i.e. recycled and composted crop wastes and animal manures, proper soil cultivation at the right time, crop rotation, use of green manures and legumes, mulching, controlling pests, diseases and weeds without chemicals and careful use of water resources).

Many large farms seek the USDA organic certification status as a savvy and ethical business move. However, it’s not enough to simply claim “organic.” You must make sure that your product carries the certified USDA Organic Seal.

The USDA National Organic Standard Seal not only shows your ongoing commitment to a healthy planet but assures consumers and buyers that your product meets stringent USDA organic certification requirements making your products more marketable and profitable. The process for obtaining an organic certificate is not an easy one and requires plowing through loads of bureaucracy. The designation doesn’t expire unless you voluntary surrender your certification or if your certification is suspended or revoked by a certifying agent, the State Organic Program’s governing State official, or the Administrator for violation of the Act or NOP regulations. USDA organic certification is an ongoing process that requires dedication. Getting certified means making a long-term commitment to the organic process and may take years in advance in order to become certified organic ad you must comply years in advance in some cases. National Organic Program standards state that organic crops must be grown on land that has been free from prohibited pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers for three years preceding growth. Becoming certified organic means considering your entire operational procedure, not just the end product. [Source: https://www.thebalancesmb.com]

When shopping at a farmer’s market, grocery store or online, the question to ask is not “Is your product organic?” but “Are you certified naturally grown?” There is a difference that definitely means you’re supporting local farmers which is better for the earth overall.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wash Day Wednesday ~ July 25, 2018

We’re off to West Pines today which requires Sam get bathed. Do you think he could be any more pitiful? The scar looks worse when he’s wet but does seem to look more pronounced than we thought though the vet said the hair might grow in but it could take a couple of months. I rather doubt it, but it does kind of give him some street cred.

Elsa was afraid she might be the next bath victim subject when Sam was finished and immediately declared ‘King’s X’ and ran to her self-designated safe spot. These knuckleheads should get an Emmy for best dramatic performance by a dog.

I am declaring a time-out. I’m not taking a bath, no how, no way.

Happy Hump Day.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Tongue Out Tuesday

If it’s Tuesday that must mean at least one tongue will be out. You guys sure made us laugh yesterday with your captions. For starting out the week, you were pretty darn clever.

Let’s go, mama!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 23, 2018

Is it really Monday again? Wow…where did the weekend go? Here’s an image that I came across in my photo archives that has always tickled me. I laugh out loud thinking of different captions for it. How would you caption it? Here’s to a ‘wagnificent’ Monday!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday ~ July 20, 2018

It’s been hotter than bloody-blue blazes this week and while there’s still 64 days until the official beginning of autumn, this week’s entry, Zinnias, seems to enjoy the hot weather.

One of the easiest of all garden plants to grow from seed and one that is exceedingly cheerful and colorful in the garden, deer resistant zinnias  bloom until the first frost. Zinnias provide a burst of color and attract butterflies. An annual that must be planted every year, they have bright, daisy-like flower heads on single, erect stems that can grow up to three feet tall. When deadheaded, you’ll have a show of flowers all season long to enjoy. They make a great addition to the cutting garden.

We hope you have loads of cheer today and throughout the weekend. I’m hoping to not evaporate this weekend at the annual lavender festival held at Denver’s Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms location (you can read  about last year’s festival here). What are your plans for this weekend?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Twosome Thursday

So I’ve been working on a few “Did You Know” posts that are taking longer to put together than I had hoped. As I was catching up this morning on blog reading and research, this happened. It’s not often the ying-yang gangs lie this way. On a day when the temperatures will hover around 100, we hope you are able to stay cool as you get ready to welcome our good friend Friday back.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

It’s been just one week, buddy…you still have a few days to go. Sorry Rip Van Winkle.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

I’m baaacck Monday

Sam here and I just want to let you know I’m baaacck. I even woke mom up this morning at 3:49 am to let her know I’m feeling good and ready to rock-n-roll. As you can imagine, she’s thrilled, especially since I told her first! Thank you for all the good wishes. I may be a little scarred but I’m the same knucklehead good dog as I was before. I’m hoping those stitches come out by the end of the week. Hope you have a great Monday and a great week!

Live, love, bark! 🐾