The Puppy

It feels like things are just starting to get back to normal since we brought the puppy home just over two months ago. Pepper turns 18 weeks old today and I’m just now able to keep up on orders, make new designs for the shop and create content for the blog like I did before, all while giving her the care and attention she needs. I’ve typed a lot of weird, desperate and frantic questions into google these past two months but the one I searched for the most, and never really found an answer to, was, when do puppies learn to chill.

The Puppy | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I knew bringing a puppy home, especially when I work full time from home, would be a lot of hard work. I did plenty of research leading up to the day – and I’ve raised one puppy and one difficult rescue dog before with my family – but I was not prepared for just how physically and emotionally taxing the first couple of weeks and months can be when you are the adult in charge. I felt like I’d given up my entire life to care for this rambunctious puppy that did nothing but pee on the floor and bite me. I could feel myself falling in love with her, and her bonding with me too, but the emotional strain of working doubly hard all day to get half as much work done and then not being able to relax and unwind at the end of it because she’s still here and still needs me was overwhelming at times. Add to that the constant fear that I’m doing everything wrong and will raise a bad dog and you can see why I really needed to know when this puppy would learn to sit still long enough for me to catch my breath.

I read many discouraging non-answers to this important question, most being:

  1. Small dogs mature more quickly than big dogs. – ok, thanks
  2. The puppy phase generally lasts one year but can vary by size and breed, lasting anywhere from around eight months, to two years. – surely, there has to be some difference between a ten weeks old and ten months old!
  3. Dogs don’t “chill out” until they are one year old; three years old; seven years old; some never do. – I don’t expect a stuffed animal, I just need to know when I can have a second to myself

These answers were very unreassuring to the new owners of an Australian Shepherd, a breed known to be difficult due to it’s high intelligence and high energy levels. I understand where they are coming from, it’s a hard question to answer when every breed, even every dog, is going to be different and you want people to be prepared for the realities of dog ownership before they take it on, but come on! Giving these types of non-answers to such a frantic question can make a person in a normal situation feel hopeless. I desperately needed to know when I would have time to sit down again. I just wanted to know when this puppy would stop needing 100% of me, 100% of the time. When she would sit on the floor and calmly chew a toy instead of trying to bite me all the time. When she could go for a walk without going crazy and having a meltdown in the middle of the street. When she would stop tearing across the yard just to rip my clothes. When my husband could greet her after being at work all day and not have her demand a blood sacrifice. Most importantly, when would life with a dog be at least a little more joyful than it was miserable.

So here’s my answer.

For my dog, who is a medium sized herding breed, spends nap times behind a baby gate but has at least one owner at home 90% of the time, takes three walks a day, and has had consistent, positive reinforcement, “tough love” style training since day one, she has just started to “chill” at four and a half months. What I mean by this is, she still needs constant supervision but is now able to entertain herself with an appropriate activity for a few minutes at a time, she can cuddle on the couch without immediately getting mouthy and we are able to control and deescalate her meltdowns when they happen. She is still very much a puppy and her training is nowhere near over, but she is now a silly, polite and charming puppy more often than she is mean, frustrating and destructive hell-beast. She still has bratty moments and can struggle to control her emotions when she’s tired, but she is starting to become a good dog.

The Puppy | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Puppy | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Puppy | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Puppy | Sophster-Toaster BlogThe Puppy | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Dress Sophster-Toaster
Top H&M
Tights Target
Shoes ModCloth
Necklace Craft Arts Market / Emery & Opal

All photos by me.

Boozy Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream

Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I bought an ice cream maker last week and got experimenting right away! While trying to come up with the perfect fall flavour to bring to Friendsgiving potluck this weekend, one that wasn’t too obvious (looking at you, pumpkin spice), couldn’t be found at the store, and wouldn’t be out of place next to a slice of pie, I eventually landed on chai tea & Baileys. I’m glad I waited for the perfect idea, because this one’s a real winner! It tastes just like the holidays.

Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup loose leaf chai tea
    • fairly inexpensive at Bulk Barn
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1-2/3 cup heavy cream

Method

  1. Add milk, sugar and salt to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar while bringing to a simmer.
  2. Remove mixture from heat and stir in the tea leaves. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture into a clean, medium sized saucepan, making sure to press the tea leaves to get every bit of liquid out.
  4. Bring back to a simmer.
  5. Beat the egg yolks in small bowl and temper with the milk mixture. (Slowly stir about ½ cup of milk mixture into the egg yolks, then add the egg mixture back to the milk to slowly bring the eggs up to temperature and not curdle them. Don’t worry if some curdles, we’ll strain again later.)
  6.  Cook over low heat, stirring almost constantly, until you have a nice custard thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (or until it reaches 175○F). Do not allow custard to come to a boil. Strain into a medium bowl and chill in the fridge until cold.
  7. Stir in the Baileys and heavy cream.
  8. Churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I got my ice cream maker here.)
  9. You can eat it now but it will be better if you freeze it overnight. Scoop into a suitable container and press cling wrap down onto the surface.
  10. Optional: garnish with cinnamon.

Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog Chai Tea & Baileys Ice Cream | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Rain or Shine

Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog

We had every kind of fall weather yesterday. I woke up to a hazy, cool morning. Dressed for the day as the clouds gathered and the sky grew overcast. Sipped my tea through a thunderstorm. Worked while the strong, gusty wind stirred the clouds away. Then ran some business errands in the balmy early evening sunshine. This unpredictable weather seems to create a perfect pathetic fallacy with what’s going on with my skin lately.

Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Nearing the end of my late twenties, I though I had finally figured out my unique skin type as the sometimes severe acne I had lived with since I was 11 started to clear. My complexion would experience good and bad days, but the bad days were getting fewer and farther between.

Having spent more than half of my life with bad skin, I don’t often let breakouts get me down or shake my confidence. The past few weeks, however, have created the perfect storm on my face. I did a big outdoor market with lots of dirt, sweat and stress, I started using a really good serum again after letting my routine lapse a few weeks and had to go through the purge again, and I got PMS pimples all at the same time. My face is such a mess that I’ve wanted to stay inside and hide until it heals. But this isn’t me, this isn’t what I do. Acne is normal. If I can go out, live my life, meet up with friends, do a photoshoot and not try to hide or cover up and just one young girl or boy sees that it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, I’ve done my good deed for the day.

Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog Rain or Shine | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Sweater Old Navy
Skirt ModCloth
Rain Shoes ModCloth

All photos by me *in good light that makes my skin look way better*.

September Favourites

September is almost over and fall is finally here. The air is fresher and cooler, the fall rain is here and the leaves are just starting to hint at a change. It’s time to cozy up indoors with tea and soup. It’s September and here are my favourite things for my favourite month:

1. Subtly Sassy Accessories 

September Favourites | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Little Arrow’s FU Heart Earrings

2. Staying Home

September Favourites | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Stay Home Club’s Stay Home Club Long Sleeve Tee

3. Flashes of Fall Colour

Swinging Sixties Necklace

ModCloth’s Swinging Sixties Necklace

4. Comforting Art for a Cozy Bedroom

September Favourites | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Bubby and Bean’s There is Beauty in Simplicity Art Print

5. Layers of Light Fall Outerwear

September Favourites | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Larmoni’s 2o Colours Wool Beret

All photos courtesy of retailers.