Coloring Book Update

I’ve gotten ahead in my lesson planning enough that I can finally work on my coloring book project again. This project is my passion, it means a lot to me. I got the idea in February of 2020. I had stopped drawing completely for over a decade and a half, and stiffness and poor eyesight made it hard to pick up again. Playing with my daughter’s digital drawing tablet let me zoom in on lines and be able to hit undo, making art accessible. So, I got my own.

At the same time, I hit a long term goal that had a reward attached. I once tried to start a collection of carnivorous plants and killed them all, quite quickly. I promised myself that if I got a Venus Flytrap to go into and come out of dormancy, then propagated it, I would allow myself to try again. It took almost a decade of buying them when they showed up in the fall in grocery stores, but it finally happened. In the excitement of watching my baby flytraps grow while drawing again, the coloring book idea became inevitable. The project itself justified me making a nice starter collection a priority, and has given me reason to not give up when my little garden has its setbacks.

This is why my project is going so slowly, I’m meandering through while I gain experience growing and researching the plants, as well as allowing myself time to regain my drawing skills and experiment with style and technique. It’s been frustrating how long it has taken me, but I love sitting in my little carnivorous garden sketching, so I’ve been able to tell myself that it will happen eventually. After a year with the tablet, I was able to use pencil and paper again, letting me brush off skills that have been rusty way too long. Now, I’ve finally gotten brave enough to begin adding ink. No single page is done yet, some have still barely been worked on, but many of them are to the point that I no longer have to worry about if I will be able to get the lines right, the fear of the tiny mistakes I still make are no longer enough to hold me back, and I’m able to celebrate the confidence I’ve had to make myself feel to get to this point.

How to be Happier and More Effective In Life

Another journal transcription, this one I’m putting up to share with family.

*When crisis or events truly beyond our control happen, this perspective refers to how we react to what we can control.

An internal locus of control refers to feeling that you yourself are in charge of your life, the choices you make lead to success or failure, rather than external forces exerting pressure on you to bend you to their will. Those with an external locus of control are more likely to feel victimized, blame others, be pessimistic, focus on “what if” scenarios, have less resilience, and greater apathy. They sometimes become manipulative, reasoning that others are manipulating them, in an attempt to gain control of the external world that provides them with validation.

Internal locus of control shows higher rates of happiness, less stress, and more feelings of being empowered. The opposite perspective is sometimes framed as being faith in that a higher power will controls one’s life, but the two can be merged when seeing that God gave us free will and wants us to use it, to learn and grow, and affect the world in a positive way. We feel better when we attend schoolhouse Earth, rather than being used as God’s pawn, a built in reward system for using our free will.

Internal locus is associated with higher need for achievement, and self motivation. A fixed mindset believes they have natural talents that just occur, an internal locus of control leads to a growth mindset, where you are always looking to improve your talents by working hard, making a plan, and getting input from others. Those with an internal locus have a higher sense that they can impact the world around them, leading to greater satisfaction.

To Nurture an Internal Locus of Control:
1) Define your values and beliefs. When we have regret, that is because we were not acting in our true nature. We can regret missed chances as much as we might regret our own actions, both should be evaluated to help define who we are, and we should act accordingly.
2) Become aware of your choices and accept them. Systematically evaluate your choices. Be aware of what you truly can’t control, and where you may have made better decisions. Ask for help when needed, an outside perspective aids evaluation.
3) Embrace failure, that is how we learn. Those with an external locus of control will avoid situations that may involve failure, those with an internal locus of control will go out and do something they know could result in failure and use the experience to refine their future outcomes. Go ahead and take calculated risks, using your experience as a guide.
4) Accepting the choices we made and failure as a result also leads to accepting when we are responsible for negative outcomes that impact others, apologizing, and striving to do better or rectify the situation however we can.
5) Focus on solutions when you encounter problems. When something bad happens, don’t let it be all you think about. Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience, come up with an actionable plan. Distract yourself if needed, but see what plans you can form when you calm down.
6) Spend time in introspection. Try to truly understand yourself, and your limitations as well as your strengths, what you can rely on and build upon. Build the skills you need. Base your decisions on actionable goals, broken down into achievable steps.

You Have Done Good – Yes, You – I Mean It

We leave fingerprints on people’s lives. I didn’t come up with that. I would say Sierra did, but when I really think about it, she probably didn’t either. Someone said it to her. It affected her. It left a mark. She shared it. The mark stuck on me, as well.

Then there was Chris, the disenchanted waiter. He affected me in the strangest way, completely accidentally. This must have been… 1994? I was a teen. I remember him very clearly, every toss of his hair embodied drama in action. If he didn’t have a fantastic story full of adventures to complain about, he would he sit in our booth (this was Denny’s), light up a cigarette, and loudly complain about his customers at the table nearby, within earshot. He once brought my friend the wrong order, and when he spoke up, Chris said, “Well, the sign does say Denny’s” and walked away. He did not fix the order, ever.

We loved him so much. He got all of our allowances in tips. He lived in the office, and the manager wouldn’t fire him because customers drove across the city to see him, and we would riot if he couldn’t get to work due to a lack of ability to get to work or like, not having a bed and stuff.

Anyway, once upon a dark and dreary long night of the soul, I was feeling fairly forgotten in a city far away from my friends and home, and Chris popped into my head and I laughed. My heart warmed with joy at the antics of that asshat, and I knew I would never forget him until the day I died. Then I realized I had no way to tell him that. Then I realized how shitty his life was at that time. It likely means he took a while to recover, and he probably at times became so close to broken or, well… probably even might have broken and maybe he needed to hear something like some random person far away would never forget him, he would always bring them joy, no matter how many mistakes he made. I was sad I couldn’t tell him.

Then, the weirdest thing happened. I wondered if anyone ever thought that way about me. Grocery cart races popped into my head. And the thing with the prom dresses, the prank with the foaming candy, that time they didn’t tell me a crowd was gathering to hear my spontaneous song. I could go on, and have actually been invited to a few parties because of my ability to do so. I’m just saying, that dark period of my life wasn’t the only period of life that I’ve had, and that night I realized a few things may have happened that probably make me actually a bit rather hard to forget. In the way of good things, with laughter, and song. I’ve probably left fingerprints.

It happens digitally, too. It’s easy to dismiss internet culture as not “real”, even telling people to “touch grass” indicating we need to focus on “what’s real” over “what’s not”, but that’s not really what’s happening, is it? Yes, the internet is manipulating us heavily, in ways that exaggerate or completely misrepresent reality, if we aren’t careful. But also, passing conversations from the days when forums were still popular are still with me. People who were just a picture with a user name of nonsense next to them really were people, they really did give me advice, comfort, laughter, a feeling of community.

We leave fingerprints. We can use that. We might even be able to smudge the world into the shape we want it to be.

I am at a phase of my life where my role is changing. My life was rough, but I had guidance. Yes, therapists. Yes, a few key people who were kind enough to step in and fill a role other adults in my life wouldn’t. Not just them, though. Some people weren’t even talking directly to me. Sometimes I was confused, or lost, and I overheard a conversation somewhere. The journal I started keeping, I got the idea when I realized a couple of those people had a journal on them that they would pull out, something they could rely on when they needed to present a logical argument. News clippings often backed up passages where they wrote down their thoughts, and then they shared those thoughts with people in their community.

Only a handful of those people have come into my life, and I remember them still. I think of them when I see activists online, getting weary. I remember I sent one a personal message letting her know that even though my interactions with her were nothing but likes, her words were being remembered. I’m glad I did that, because soon after she became targeted by unfair harassment, I hope I helped. As I mentioned, I feel my role is changing, like instead of maybe sucking up all that healing they were throwing my way, maybe now I can start doing what I can to turn some of that support outward, because I see a lot of tired people, and when I say things like “I want to show people how to see the world a better way”, I get replies saying it’s just not worth the effort.

I think maybe we as a species need feedback. We are social creatures. But the work of trying to reach out to others, you can’t always see the results right away. You might not personally see the results of what you have done at all. Those results might be kept secret, locked in the memories of people who will carry you with them forever, sometimes without knowing your name. I know this, because I have those secrets. I’ve spoken to people who have those secrets. It happens. It’s a part of human life. Don’t give up. We all leave fingerprints.

A Secular Devotional Journal

I have a tool for navigating today’s turbulent world. I have what I think of as my secular devotional journal, and I know that’s a thing that is out there, but I don’t know what others look like, or how they go about it. But, I did something with mine recently that was really cool, and I wanted to share it, because it made me feel good, and we all need a little hedonism in our lives. I got through to someone (face to face, in the real world), and it felt excellent.

No scandalous details provided, sorry. Not of the event, nor of the trauma involved. Just the method I used to calm down, and explain my position more clearly. I will, however, admit to being the emotional person. I’ve been in years of therapy, starting with childhood, and have a (dusty and relatively unused) BA in psych. I was talking to someone I know is intelligent and compassionate, but not about the same issues as I am. Nor do they have the same approach to conflict.

The journal is the evolution of an attempt to review my skills. I’ve been sitting at home comfortably, and my ability to maintain my chill during difficult conversations has grown slack. My degree is looking like so many wasted dollars, my ability to explain my opinions based on my education has grown fumbly and weak.

The journal starts with a guided meditation (a prayer or calming motivational passage will do, maybe a soothing poem about nature), followed with topics organized like a bullet journal. The topics are notes on subjects such as de-escalation, differing perspectives, logical fallacies, and (most recently) notes on a webinar I attended for standing up to street harassment (of any type). When I am angry and frustrated at the world, I pick up my journal and read the meditation to get my chill, and then review my notes. That way, I know I am more prepared for discussions that make me angry, frustrated, and likely to panic.

I highly recommend this practice. Those notes are what helped me be more confident and calm during a critical discussion recently (combined with breathing and soothing skills). The discussion itself reminded me of things I wanted to make sure I kept in mind. To give you an idea of what goes in my journal, below is my reaction to that discussion, something that I typed up on the computer and revised, and am now about to transcribe into my journal.

Sometimes what we focus on the most makes it seem as if we are speaking different languages, and we may have different approaches to conflict resolution. Some people come from an environment where feelings were respected, and the phrase, “Stop, that hurts my feelings” is met with acknowledgment, and the behavior stops. This is done out of respect for how people have different comfort zones on different issues, this can be difficult to navigate, therefore the rules of acknowledgment remain consistent, giving the encounter predictability.

Sometimes, the request is met with an attempt to calm the feelings by discussing the problem logically. This strategy tries to cool the waters of conflict with logic, to decide the most productive way to look at the situation. The logical person tries to respectfully explain their perspective to aid balance. When they respond to claims of hurt feelings by trying to discuss their perspective and are told to stop the behavior, this is seen as a selfish attempt to control them.

When the rules of acknowledgment are not met, the emotional person might see it as disrespect, and the attempt at explaining their perspective as telling them that they did not have the right to have their emotion. When they try to explain why their comfort zone has been violated, this is met with being told they are not being logical, even if the emotion stems from a traumatic experience. They feel they feel they are being shamed for having a normal human reaction to events beyond their control. They can become even more hurt and flustered by this, and when their arguments devolve, it is interpreted as an attempt at emotional manipulation. In the environment the emotional person comes from, a mutual immediate respect for emotion allows them to back off and calm down, before discussing things in a more respectful way. If there is lingering trauma, these rules give a person a safe space to react, and regain control, and this becomes valued highly.

To the person from a background that respects logic over emotion, this can represent a power struggle, and emotional immaturity. After all, a breath of fresh air can clear the mind. Many have been through trauma themselves, and their coping skills work just fine. When they tell the emotional person that they need to just let the bad feelings go, or try to offer their motivations to give perspective, those from an emotionally respectful background can become enraged, as the rules of engagement have been broken, their stability is threatened. Those taught to respect emotion are also taught logic, but they are taught to navigate stress and biases differently, and the rules that provide them with stability are ignored, while the other person insults their approach.

It becomes worse when both are compassionate people. The emotional person might become frustrated with what they see as part of a cycle of abuse, feeling they are being told they don’t have a right to feel an emotion or react to stress, and this is part of how manipulative people in their lives have gained control over them. They want to reach out to the logical people and explain what they feel is basic empathy. They want to teach them about how to maintain safe emotional space, and how good it can feel, and they are met with criticism.

The logical person with compassion might want the emotional person to learn how to control their emotions, and feel if they tried harder, they would not need to try to control others around them. They might see discussion of chemical imbalances or psychological distress as signs of a weakness that needs to be combated with better emotional regulation and control. It’s very possible, though, that the person from a supportive emotional environment came to that environment as part of their experience with therapy and their attempts to heal, they might not be at a part of their journey where they are ready to easily dismiss the stress, or there could be a real physiological reason for their emotions, and criticism of their emotional control is seen as an attempt to shame them into feeling worse, until they behave to try to meet approval of someone whose ideals they don’t agree with. They feel giving in would be weakness or a lack of self respect, and they end up in a true power struggle, thus confirming the logical person’s belief that the request for emotional space was an attempt at control all along.

A Pond Water Video For My Baby Girl

Teaching my daughter about the natural world frustrates me, because I am mad passionate about it, and have to resist the greatest urge to infodump. She is six, and while I can answer her questions, she gets bored as I try to simplify complex things. She also doesn’t have much patience for looking through the microscope waiting for something interesting to happen. When I promised her a video of the most interesting bits, stuff naturally fell into place. Hopefully the fact that I made it especially for her, on her very own channel just for things I made for her, will mean she wants to watch it many times, and it can help with reading practice that way.

Venus Flytrap Digestive Glands

And with that, the last of the designs and recolors I posted about last time is officially up, the previous gallery of potential requests has come to an end. Since it did indeed seem to help my visibility and sales to post every Friday, I’ll keep that up.

Meanwhile, something cool happened. I got a microscope. Now, not only can I improve the art I have planned for a few pages, but I can also treat the bladderwort food I culture like a pondwater life safari. I’ve had it about a week, and it’s been a blast. So, this round of weekly designs and recolors to feed the algorithm gods features a repeatable tile I drew by hand using little paper squares in an old school analog style offset filter. They make nice desktop wallpapers, so I put them up on the goodies page for download.

Anyway, you can now buy a throw blankie adorned with Venus flytrap digestive glands, so you can wrap yourself up and pretend you’re a fly being digested. Yay! Click –> here to see all of the products available in this design.

A Few Offerings

I am very much enjoying the path my project is going down. It looks like it will be three parts, and I’ve finished the research and most of the writing for the first two thirds of the coloring book. I’m mostly alternating between that and layout planning, but recently decided to stop and sort out a few things about techniques I’ll use when drawing the pages.

This meant I ended up with a few drawings to play around with, and I thought I’d seize the chance to pay a little quiet heed to the Redbubble algorithm gods in the hopes that my art supplies can start to pay for themselves. Supposedly, releasing designs on a weekly basis can help increase their visibility, so I figure I’ll give it a shot. Every Friday I’ll post a new design or a recolor for a bit, see how it goes. That would be this store: –> the one right here.

Rather than posting an announcement every time something goes up, I thought it would be less spammy to have a little gallery to pin. Since I can’t really think of a good reason to keep the upcoming designs a secret, and in fact it might benefit me to provide people with a chance to request something now, here’s a little preview of the designs and recolors I’ll be occasionally posting over the next few weeks. If you see something you would like on a shirt or book or whatnot, certainly let me know and I will definitely put it up right away, I have fancy paper and inks to buy. All recolors of the skull over the pitcher plant have both a tall version and square version that removes the dome and stems.

Anyway, it’s time to stop playing around and get back to this project, toodles!

Page One

I like how my swamp ecology coloring book project has evolved. I’ve been frustrated with how slowly I’ve been moving forward, but I’m glad I allowed myself time to experiment with various media and work on my skills before I committed myself, because I’m excited about the changes I decided to make.

Originally, I wanted something simple for young fingers, something that educated, presenting the information in a storybook way. Now I’m leaning toward graphic novel, but still a coloring book. I’m far too excited about illustrating hydrochloric acid digesting a fly to keep thinking I want to target a younger audience. Thinking of it as something for young readers means I kind of hold myself back, while this perspective means I’ll feel more like I’m expressing myself.

Plus, thinking of it as a coloring book means I spent too much time trying to make my lines perfect and clear, I ended up overworking everything and becoming unhappy with my results. I always get so sad when the last of the sketchy lines are gone, I think it’s time I lived up to the fact that I like things a little messy, a little imperfect. So many graphic novels I have loved because there were often sketchy lines left behind here and there, it’s like peeking into the artist’s process, life, soul. Whatever it is, it means too much to me, I might like the challenge of refining my art to look better, but if I’m never happy with my art because I tried too hard to make it perfect and it became empty to me, I will never release it.

Anyway, here’s a draft/sketch of probably page one. I finished up the last bit of research for chapter one (How a Venus Flytrap Digests Its Prey), and I only have a draft, but it’s a chapter and this is page one, and I finally feel like I have begun. To commemorate the occasion, I’ll add a coloring page to my meager gallery of early offerings.

This project will cover a lot of info, and some of it (maybe all) will be animated as well. I’m still experimenting with my process, but it feels a lot less like fumbling around with a vague idea and zero confidence, and more like I’m moving forward on a project that will expresses what I want it to in a way that feels like me.

International Dandelion Appreciation Day – Belated.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In my defense I was without a computer for a few months. While I was away, I missed International Dandelion Appreciation Day (April 5th), and it was sad because not only was I working on a journal entry for my favorite flower, but I had the perfect poem to share, and no way to get to it behind my broken screen. But, today I saw that the two awesome dandelion varieties I bought were germinating, so I feel like celebrating all over again. [Edit – It turns out the world decided to celebrate with me, as today is International Day of the Dandelion, this is the most timely thing, ever. Also, please don’t tell people they have two days. They need this.]

Two seed packets, one for pink dandelions, and the other for Italiko Rosso, a variety with a red midrib.

Dandelions are more than simply tasty and nutritious. It’s considered invasive, but that’s because of how it behaves as a pioneer plant – a plant that fills a particular niche. In poor quality soils, plants that have adaptations to cope with such conditions come in first, a wave of “pioneers”. They have features such as deep taproots that break up compact soils (like dandelions) or the ability to pull nitrogen from the air. Then when they grow and leaves and roots die off, they release those nutrients back into the soil, along with organic matter. The soil quality improves, and other plants begin to move in and take over, the pioneer plants get crowded out.

The reason they are difficult to combat in lawns is due to the poor soil quality of lawns. When we use strong fertilizers, it kills off the microbial colonies that help keep the soil fertile by retaining the nutrients at the soil’s surface. Rain washes the nutrients to a lower level, where the dandelions can reach and the grass can’t. The grass suffers, so we add more fertilizer, just like the labels written by people who sell fertilizer tell us to do. We set up the environment for our grass to die off without chemical intervention, and for the dandelions to thrive. Thus, the inspiration for a poem I once wrote, and will share again today.

Suburban Sunshine

Across the lawn, a man of gold did flow
His grace spoke soft, his strength gave truth
He sang his hope, his pride of glories grown.
But lo, behold, the putrid waves of smoke
Tendrils of bitter lion’s teeth entwined
He fell to monsters beneath soft blue grass
His cries lost to the raw eldritch madness
Into the soft embrace of well-fed soil.

A Dinner Date With Your Dog

This is a recipe designed to be shared with your pets (I have checked safety for cats, though I focus on dogs here). It’s adaptable to whatever meat you wish. It is not meant to be your pet’s complete diet, just a meal you can share to add variety while still paying attention to their health.

Skip to the recipe.

This time of year, with hearts decorating half the isles in the grocery store, we love to shower our loved ones with treats. It’s widely recognized that gifts of candy and a fancy dinner can demonstrate your love to a partner, but often the desire goes beyond romance. We include the children in our lives, both giving treats to them and encourage them to share treats with their friends. Naturally, many of us want to include our pets. I can see the evidence of that in how quickly the Valentine’s day doggie treats vanish at Target.

There’s reason for this strong connection between love and food. The bond over sharing food is recognized beyond this holiday. Festivals and celebrations across the world feature food, and sharing it to celebrate each other. The reason for the season might be lost on our pets, but the significance of bonding through shared enjoyment of treats certainly isn’t.

It’s disappointing when a vet tells you to stop, that your doggie’s health might suffer otherwise, especially when you know the treats communicate so much to your dog. One of our Pomeranians is a senior who struggles with joint pain, heart disease, failing eyesight, and alopecia (he went almost entirely bald after a groomer inexperienced with Poms clipped him too close, it took a couple of years to start growing back). All of these are problems I can ease somewhat by paying attention to his nutrition.

I bought an excellent book by the Dog Food Dude, did a bunch of internet browsing, even doodled bullet journal pages. Then, I spent the last couple of years doing what I could to help him within the constraints of time, energy, and budget. What I can do varies, as our situation varies throughout the year. But, we’ve learned to make it a priority to do what we can for Baby Bear nutrition-wise. He has more vitality, and I’ve gotten most of his hair to grow back.

Sometimes, money is tight, but time is plenty, so I cook the food for all three dogs from scratch. I learned the hard way to not make a large amount of a recipe, a sample large enough to last a few days will show if they are willing to eat the same thing long term. Switching things up every now and then is definitely appreciated, and leftovers can be divided into portion sizes and frozen, making it easy to maintain a variety while still cooking in batches.

However, I usually don’t have money for a fully balanced diet when I resort to this. I tend to see it as a healthier substitute for low quality dog food, and not something I do long term. In theory, home cooked food is more nutritious. In practice, if I can’t afford vitamins to add, then it’s better to get the highest quality kibble I can and enhance it with a couple of tricks. Gluten-free and hypoallergenic kibble is preferred with Bear’s joint pain, to keep down inflammation as much as possible.

Then I pour bone broth over it to help his joints, and top it with a few sardines or squirts of fish oil. I might add a few roasted carrots or sweet potatoes to help his eyes. Other things I might add, if I can get them, would include coconut oil, seaweed, and organ meats like heart, kidney, or liver. You can find other things to add online, but also pay attention of lists of foods to avoid for both dogs and cats, they are different.

It isn’t that difficult to do, and the results are worth it. The problem comes when the family wants to eat something fried, or with heavy spices, and the dogs think that looks much better than some roasted sweet potato sprinkled with seaweed. It’s a struggle to say no to good doggies, especially when the bond through food obviously means so much to them.

This can be solved by setting aside a few dog safe foods during cooking and putting them on the edge of your plate, and also by making something designed for everyone to share. This recipe is a guide for the latter.

This can be done with a pound of any meat, but naturally the goth in me couldn’t resist the darker side of the season. Heart is a source of vitamins B2, B6, and B12. It also has iron, zinc, and selenium. Using organ meats as a source of protein can help add variety to the diet, and at a fraction of the cost of the choice cuts.

As it turns out, beef heart is wicked delicious. It tastes like steak, but the texture is different. The muscle fibers don’t get stuck in your teeth. It’s a texture that might be described as a little bouncy. It almost reminds me of agar jelly, but more firm.

As the family’s resident weirdo, I was the only one delighted at the thought of cooking organ meat for my dogs, and sampling it. There are still certain organs that the humans in my family aren’t anxious to try, but as soon as the scent of beef heart rose in the air, it was like a magnet drawing curious tasters who came back for seconds and thirds.

You have a choice of one of two ways to cook it. The civilized method would be to slice the heart into even strips, and saute them as such. For those who love chaos and darkness, I suggest throwing the whole thing on a cast iron skillet, sear it, and then lower the heat to prevent too much char. The center will take a while to heat up, and it will bleed, bleed, bleed. Sip some red wine out of something with a skull on it, and hum your favorite horror movie theme. Turn frequently to prevent burning. It can be sliced into strips or chunks to serve. The result will be something that will delight those who love a range of textures and flavor on their meat.

In selecting ingredients, avoid onions, garlic, chives, leeks or anything in the onion family. Go easy on seasoning as much as possible in general, especially salt and hot spices. If you don’t like the result, remove some of the food for your pets, then season your own remaining portion how you wish.
Go easy on seasonings, especially peppers and curries, but a little bit is okay. Cats might avoid foods with pepper added, and may be more sensitive to digestive upset from it.

Use bone broth for the liquid, to give as many beneficial nutrients as possible. If you want to cook chicken or pork, you might want to substitute half the broth with apple juice. Do not try grape juice as a wine substitute in a sauce (or wine itself). If I don’t mention an ingredient specifically, always check if it’s toxic to your pet. Avoid oily foods and supplements for cats, though they might like a sardine as a garnish.

The basic meal format I use for sharing is a starch topped with vegetables, then a meat, then a sauce. If you like, you can simply make a plate and toss bits to the floor if they are good doggies (they are). Or you can serve them in their own dish, mixing in some kibble with the starch. This also gives you a chance to add things that some people might not want on their plate, such as ground flax seed, or coconut oil. If mixing in something for omega 3 fatty acids, stir it after cooking to prevent nutrient loss. Aim to serve dogs up to 40% protein in puppies, 30% in adults, and 25% in seniors. Just cook the meat separately so you can eyeball this and avoid a lot of math.

If you have an ingredient you want reluctant pets (or kids sharing the meal) to eat, such as green beans or peas, you can purée them into the sauce, or serve the meat and veggies as a pâté. Put it on a bed of rice, shaped into a heart, and drizzle sauce over it. Show it off on the innerwebs. You can also sneak ingredients into meatloaf or meatballs.

Tomato sauce can be used, but only from ripe tomatoes without a hint of green on them. Add something such as carrot puree to thin out the tomatoes, and serve only a little. Dogs can benefit from a little olive oil and basil as a dressing to the starch, but cats should only have a limited amount of oil or it might upset their stomach. Avoid dairy based sauces, which leaves mostly gravies.

For a starch, I usually use brown rice, gluten-free egg noodles, or barley. Brown rice and barley can be prepared before you start cooking the meat, egg noodles can be dropped in boiling water as the sauce is being made.

If using brown rice, I cook it in my rice pot, with vegetables in the steamer insert, rather than sautéing them like I do in the recipe. You can cook the meal however you like, thinking of it as a stir fry, stew, pasta with meat sauce, or a one pot meal. Eggs are also an excellent protein source, sometimes I include a few sliced hardboiled eggs as a “garnish”.

If not using heart, use lean meat, no more than 10% fat. I usually cook the meat in a stainless steel skillet, deglazing with a drop of bone broth to start the sauce. To thicken sauces, I use corn starch or rice flour, as a lot of pets have a wheat allergy.

No grapes or raisins, avoid anything in the onion family, curries, cumin. Go easy on spicy peppers, if feeding a cat you might want to keep them out entirely. Go easy on sugar, it can mess with their digestion.

Things to use
There is more, this is just what has occurred to me to check for safety in my cooking, therefore made it into my notes. Use enough rice and veggies to serve all who are eating, leftover sauce and meat can be frozen in individual servings, to be warmed up and served over freshly cooked starches.

Starches and Grains:
Black Beans
Brown rice
Gluten free noodles
Red Beans

Green Beans
Sweet potatoes


Sauce thickeners:
Rice flour

Heart over Noodles
This is a make as much as you like, and season to taste kind of recipe.

You need:
1 beef heart
Gluten-free egg noodles
Beef broth
Zucchini, cut into chunks thick enough to not cook too quickly.
Sweet potato or carrots, cut into thin pieces to make sautéing easier.
Just a pinch of salt and pepper

Start warming water to boil. Slice beef heart into even strips. Sauté in a skillet on medium high heat, letting the juices blacken and stick to the pan. Move the meat to the side. Sauté vegetables, and move them to the side.
Throw the noodles into the boiling water. Use the beef broth to deglaze the pan and make the sauce. Season the sauce lightly, whisk in about a tablespoon of cornstarch, and stir as it simmers until it is the desired consistency. Drain the noodles, top with the veggies and meat, then the sauce, and serve.