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It’s no secret that Isaac and I love to spend time outdoors, especially when it involves Lillie. There’s just something so invigorating about getting away from technology and to-do lists, and simply spending quality time with the ones you love. Some of the memories I hold dearest are those I spent with my family on camping trips, hikes and even fishing at our hometown lake. Thinking about all the times we spent laughing together, hanging out without distractions, and playing around with our family dog still bring a smile to my face. And since Isaac and I have Lillie in our lives, we have begun to create some of those sweet memories of our own!
I love being a dog mom! (Although I’m sure you probably know that by now…). There’s just something so special about knowing that someone who loves you unconditionally is waiting for you to come home every day. Lillie constantly brings a smile to my face, and Isaac and I couldn’t imagine life without her! We bring Lillie with us almost everywhere we go, and she truly is our “daughter”. I hold this season of life so dear, knowing that it won’t last forever (especially when we start having kids). I know that as our family grows, we will still spend time with our fur baby, but things will be different. So I’m soaking in our time together as much as I can.
Today I’m sharing some of mine and Isaac’s favorite things to do with Lillie to hopefully inspire you to take the time to not only create memories with your pet and family, but to also get out and enjoy the great outdoors! The ideas are inexpensive, fun, and will help create memories that will last for a lifetime.
Five Ways to Spend Time With Your Pet
One of my absolute favorite things to do with Isaac and Lillie is go hiking. I love breathing in the fresh air, pushing my body to climb just one more hill, and watching Lillie have the time of her life. It’s a great way to mix up your workout routine, and you can explore areas you never would have gone to before.
Lillie is probably one of the funniest dogs I’ve ever met. She is so awkward and quirky, and I love every bit of it. The other day we went on a hike together, and Isaac and I couldn’t stop laughing at how excited she was. She ran from side to side, sniffing everything, hopping up on rocks, and prancing around like a little mountain goat. Seeing her have so much fun puts me in a such a great mood, and the time spent hanging out with my husband is priceless!
Growing up, I loved going camping with my family. Being able to sit around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, playing dominoes, and spending the day fishing or hiking were things I always looked forward to. We camped in tents, snuggled up with our family dog, woke up covered in dew, barely showered and I loved every minute of it!
Last October Isaac and I went on our first camping trip with Lillie, and we had such an amazing time together. Lillie, of course, loved being outdoors the entire day with us, and checking out all the smells around the campsite. However, as much as she enjoyed camping during the day, nighttime was another story! It was hot, so we had the vent flaps unzipped to let in any semblance of a breeze, but that also meant Lillie could see all around our tent. I don’t think she slept a wink all night because she was too busy listening to the wildlife around us and going from one end of the tent to the other for different views out. And, since Lillie couldn’t sleep, neither could we. Let’s just say the next night those vent flaps were closed and we slept much better!
When I think of summertime, one of the first things that comes to mind is going to the lake. Since we are nowhere near the ocean, lakes are the go-to place to cool down here in North Texas. There is a lake near mine and Isaac’s hometown that bring so many memories to mind! One of the first dates I took Isaac on was a picnic by the lake, and I remember driving out there almost every 4th of July to watch the fireworks.
I love bringing Lillie to swim in the lake! She is so funny, swimming around, fetching sticks, snorting water out her nose, and jumping off rocks into the water. If she gets close to me when I’m in the water with her, she’ll try to climb up on to my shoulders. I have no idea what she’d do if she ever made it to my shoulders, but I don’t think I’ll ever let her get close enough to figure out. Those claws hurt!
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that Isaac and I love running almost as much as Lillie does! It’s one of my favorite things to do as a family, and it’s pretty fun to tell people our dog has gone on every run we’ve been on for our half marathon training. We’ve come to find that Lillie’s three favorite words are “run”, “go” and “outside”, so it’s no surprise that she loves it so much.
However, especially when it’s super hot out, I prefer to go on a nice evening walk instead. This past summer Isaac and I did that almost every day, and it still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. We would talk the entire time, make plans for the future, joke around with each other and simply enjoy the time together without any distractions. All it took was a little bit of forethought (“hey, let’s go on a walk tonight after dinner”), and we were there. And Lillie, of course, thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace, since it allowed her to really get a good sniff of the place.
I think picnics are my go-to thing when it comes to Spring date ideas, or really anytime we do something that involves the outdoors. I love prepping our breakfast/lunch, finding the perfect picnic area, digging into the food (of course), and enjoying the beautiful nature around us. We go on picnics a lot throughout the year, partly because I like them so much, but also because they are inexpensive and easy to pull together.
This past weekend I packed up a bag with a blanket, some Taco Stuffed Cornbread Muffins for Isaac and me, and some Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® PEAK Open Range Recipe™ with Beef, Venison & Lamb for Lillie to eat after our trail run. It was the perfect post-workout meal for the three of us, and I loved ending our fun morning with a little picnic together.
When it comes to dog food, we try to feed Lillie with food from brands we trust that aren’t made with fillers and meat by-products. That’s why I love the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® PEAK Open Range Recipe™ with Beef, Venison & Lamb! It is protein rich, real U.S. farm-raised beef is always the #1 ingredient (Open Range Recipe), real U.S. farm-raised turkey is always the #1 ingredient (Northern Woodlands Recipe) and it’s grain free. In fact, 30% of the food is high-quality protein, which this dog mama loves to see! And let me tell you… Lillie LOVES it. She can get pretty picky about the foods she eats, but she’ll gobble up the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® PEAK Open Range Recipe™ with Beef, Venison & Lamb like there’s no tomorrow. I also love love love that a portion of the proceeds from each bag of dog food goes to Rachael’s Rescue®, which is a charity organization that provides food, medical supplies, treatments, and more for animals in need.
I found the food at Target in the pet food aisle! And you can use this coupon to save $4.00 on any PEAK foods this year (you can download and print it twice). When you begin giving your dog their new food, gradually introduce it by incorporating it into your current dog food over the course of 7-10 days. Slowly replace your dog’s current food with the new food until it’s completely switched over.
Taco Stuffed Cornbread Muffins
To take along on our picnic, I decided to whip up some cornbread muffins that featured one of the key ingredients in Lillie’s food: venison. Isaac and I love eating venison, and I was so excited to give this recipe a try. I combined two of our favorite things, tacos and cornbread, into a delicious muffin that you can eat at home, or on the go with your family. They are perfect for taking camping or hiking, since they travel well and are delicious hot or cold! Definitely one of our new favorite recipes to bring when we hit the great outdoors again with Lillie.
For the filling:
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño (optional), diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 lb venison
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pkg taco seasoning
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese
For the cornbread muffins:
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp shortening, melted
- Preheat oven to 450F. Spray or line 10 muffin tins.
For the filling:
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the onion, jalapeño and garlic together until the onion begins to caramelize (about 10 minutes).
- Add the venison and cook until most of the pink has gone.
- Pour the water in the skillet and add the taco seasoning. Stir until completely mixed, then let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Stir in the tomato paste and set aside.
For the muffins:
- In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Pour in the shortening and mix until a soft dough has formed.
- Scoop 1 Tbsp of the dough into each muffin tin, and create a small well in the center with a spoon.
- Add 2 tsp of the filling inside each tin. Top with 1 tsp cheese.
- Scoop out another Tbsp of the dough and smush it flat in your hands. Gently place it on top of the filling, and press down the edges to seal it in.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown.
- Remove the muffins from the pan and let them cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
Do you have any funny stories about your pet you can share?
Have you ever given your pet some Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK foods?