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Making biscuits with a Le Cordon Bleu chef | thepupdiary.com

6 Nov

It’s not every day that we get to make doggy biscuits with a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef! Well, truth be told, we weren’t even invited! But mom got to take a doggy biscuit class this past weekend at The Essex Resort & Spa and her teacher was a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef! The class was part of the resort’s Top Dog Weekend of fun!

Yummy biscuits!

Yummy biscuits!

Mom realized that making dog biscuits is not only very easy and fun, but also very inexpensive! And we love to save money whenever we can! We figured that each batch of the basic biscuits would yield about 3 dozen treats and cost less than $2 to make. Best of all, we actually love the biscuits and we tend to be picky treat eaters. The chef said that the added brewer’s yeast makes the biscuits extra special and appealing to us. All we have to say is YUM!

Basic Biscuits
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth – low sodium
1/2 cup brewer’s yeast
3 tablespoons oil
1 to 2 teaspoons water if needed
Mix all ingredients in a bowl to form a dough. Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Use 2 or 3 inch cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees on parchment lined pan for about 40 minutes. Let cool completely before storing. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The Essex Resort & Spa rolls out the green carpet | thepupdiary.com

5 Nov

It seems there are always several lists with “dog-friendly” hotels and places to visit. Often they are expensive hotels with huge pet fees and very few amenities that we want. Earlier this fall The New York Times published an article about dog-friendly hotels and we were very intrigued by The Essex Resort & Spa’s Top Dog Weekend. An entire weekend devoted to the pups at a beautiful resort near Burlington, Vermont! We were hooked!

Doggy treats at the reception desk

Doggy treats at the reception desk

Getting There
We rented a car and drove the 6 hours from Midtown Manhattan to Essex, Vermont. We stopped at Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury about 90 minutes east of Essex. We highly recommend this stop!! Dog Mountain is one of the most magical and beautiful places we have ever visited! The drive up to Essex is very beautiful with several stops along the way.

Top Dog Weekend
The Resort had several doggy activities planned for us beginning Friday night. The package deal for $499 included all activities, hotel for 2 nights, and the hotel pet fee (normally $45 per night per pet). We had a welcome reception Friday evening, a dog treat cooking class Saturday morning, a guided hike Saturday afternoon, and a grooming pawty Sunday morning before we left. Everyone at the hotel seemed to genuinely like pups! We got freshly baked doggy treats every day and we were given doggy toys and water bowls. Mom thought she was getting a bargain for all of the amenities and activities!! We will go back for sure!

Hanging by Lake Champlain

Hanging by Lake Champlain

The Hotel
The Essex Resort & Spa is an 18-acre property, so there is a lot to explore! We had a huge room with a separate bedroom and a full kitchen. The bell staff brought doggy treats straight to our room every day! We had really great take out food from the on-site restaurants. Mom said she needed more time to check out the spa, tennis courts, swimming pools, hot tub, zip line, gardens, and shopping! We did visit the chickens and looked at the bonfire with s’mores!

Side Trips
The Essex Outlet mall is walking distance from the resort. We loved the Orvis Outlet store! Burlington, VT is a 20 minute drive to the east. We enjoyed shopping on Church Street and found most of the shops to be dog friendly. There is also a beautiful walking path along the lake. Of course, Dog Moutain is a must see! Also, allow time for the cute shops and stops along the roads. The Resort can book a dog sitter ($15 an hour) and humans can check out the Ben & Jerry’s tour! The off-leash dog park is about 10 minutes from the resort by car. Next time we will stay for 3 nights since there is so much to do!!


Ghost towns, cemeteries, and haunted houses, oh my! | thepupdiary.com

17 Oct

It’s the season for spooky and scary FUN! Over the summer we visited two ghost towns out west. Find a ghost town near you!

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Pups are also welcome at many cemeteries, which can be great places for walks and history lessons. Earlier this year we toured Arlington National Cemetery in the Washington, DC area. Leashed dogs are welcome to tour the cemetery and see the famous sites. We have also visited many beautiful cemeteries in Vermont and recently on Block Island. Permanently New Yorkers was a recommended book to find burials of the famous and infamous in New York state. The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is on our list!

So we aren’t actually going to visit any creepy haunted houses! But we will attend some fun upcoming doggy parties with haunted house decorations! Etsch Farms will welcome pups at their corn maze on November 2. Pups on the Runway will feature spooky decor at their October 25 event. And we’ll also check out the Central Park Pumpkin Fest on October 26.

Dog-friendly trip to Block Island | thepupdiary.com

15 Oct

While out in the Hamptons this past weekend for the ARF walk, we decided to take a day trip from Montauk over to Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. We had heard the island was very dog friendly and we were not disappointed! Block Island is a smaller and more dog-friendly version of Martha’s Vineyard!

Sitting by the beach on Block Island

Sitting by the beach on Block Island

Getting There
We took the 75-minute Viking Fleet ferry from Montauk to the New Harbor area. The roundtrip fee is $80 per person and leashed dogs are welcome. Parking is available across the street from the dock for $10 per day. (This was a passenger-only trip.) Other ferry options from Rhode Island and Connecticut arrive in the downtown Old Harbor area where most of the shops and restaurants are located. The Block Island Ferry is pet friendly with leashed dogs welcome.  If you plan to bring your car, vehicle reservations are required. From the Montauk Viking Fleet ferry stop in the New Harbor, it’s about a 30-minute walk into town. Taxi cabs were near the marina and were dog friendly. We paid less than $15 for a taxi into town.

What To Do
Block Island is truly dog friendly! As one of the residents told us, “Everyone knows Block Island is a doggy paradise!” All of the restaurants we checked out welcomed the dogs on their outdoor patios, beaches had few dog restrictions, and we were welcome in all of the shops. (Many shops close for the season mid October and reopen in May.) The West Beach, part of a bird sanctuary, is not dog friendly. The 3 by 7 mile island is lined by 17 miles of beaches! There are also 32 miles of hiking trails. But beware of the ticks!

Loving the fresh air!

Loving the fresh air!

Where to Stay
We were on Block Island for the day and had plenty of time to shop, eat, and check out one of the beaches. We would love to stay a few days longer and fully explore the island! We found a list of dog-friendly accommodations on the Block Island Family Vacation web site. We were also advised to call the Block Island Chamber of Commerce for updates on dog-friendly listings – 1-800-383-2474.  (Many of the hotels require a minimum nights stay.)  We stayed in Riverhead at the Holiday Inn Express and then drove to Montauk for the ferry.

We can’t wait to go back next year!

Two spooky ghost towns we toured | thepupdiary.com

4 Oct

There sure are a lot of spooky ghost towns out west! This past summer we toured Virginia City in Montana and Jerome in Arizona. We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did have a lot of fun! (BTW – A ghost town is just an abandoned village, town or city. Not too spooky!) Find a ghost town to tour near you!

Jerome, Arizona Ghost Town

Jerome, Arizona Ghost Town

Virginia City is an old mining town from the 1860s located about 20 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. Leashed dogs are welcome to tour the grounds and check out the open-air style museum with dozens of buildings and artifacts. We were welcome in all of the shops and they even have dog-friendly stagecoach tours through the streets. Although a major tourist destination, the town still maintains an authentic old west feel. We really enjoyed our visit! We had lunch on the picnic tables at Town Haul Diner in Harrison, Montana.

Jerome, located 20 miles from Sedona on top of a mountain, is an historic copper mining town from the late 1800s. Known for its artist community today, the town attracts lots of tourists. We were welcome in most of the shops, but none of the restaurants or wineries allowed dogs either inside or outside.  We had fun just strolling the winding streets and window shopping.  Walking ghost tours were available.  Head to Sedona for several dog-friendly dining options where most restaurants with outdoor patios welcome the pups.