How to Make Limoncello

img_8909I’ve always loved the taste of lemons—lemon ice, lemonade, lemon tart, lemon cookies. You get the idea. Maybe that’s why I enjoy limoncello. It’s light, sweet and very refreshing, and especially welcome at the end of a hot summer day.

The lemon liqueur originated in southern Italy nearly a hundred years ago. Then, it was customary for the wealthiest Sorrento families to offer limoncello to their distinguished guests.

While the Sorrento-made limoncello is my favorite and has the most authentic taste, the homemade kind can be just as delicious. The secret to the unique flavor is to use lemons that are grown in certain areas of Southern Italy. But living on Long Island, those are hard to come by.  Instead, we chose medium-size lemons, grown locally. And it came out delicious!

Homemade limoncello is easy to make and something that can be served at your backyard barbecues. They make for great gifts, too!

Interested in making some? See the recipe below.  And if you do make it, please let me know how yours turns out!

Saluté.

 

Limoncello Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 11 lemons (medium size; you’ll only be using the peels)
  • 750 ml grain alcohol 95% proof or higher (or vodka)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Directions:

  • Step 1: Peel strips of lemon with a peeler, avoiding the pith (the inside can be used for other purposes). Add lemon peel and alcohol to a large container (glass is best) with a lid. Seal. Let stand at room temperature in a cool dark place for one week. This will allow the flavors from the peel to infuse into the liquid.
  • Step 2: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Slowly, stir in the 3 cups of sugar, one at a time, until completely melted. Let cool to room temperature; add sugar mixture to the container with the lemon peel and alcohol. Refrigerate for one day.
  • Step 3:  Strain out lemon peels and pour into individual bottles. Store in the freezer. Enjoy!

What’s great about this recipe is you can save the lemons to make another batch.

 

Doggy Day Hikes: 4 Things to Pack

For the last few weeks, the weather here on Long Island has fluctuated from being comfortable to extremely humid. On very humid days, Emma refuses to walk anywhere, and I don’t blame her. I’m not a fan of the humidity or higher temps either, unless of course I’m doing hot yoga. So, whenever the weather is more agreeable, Emma and I will be out and about early to enjoy the outdoors.

There are plenty of places to hike/walk with your dog on Long Island. (I’ve mentioned a few in previous posts.) But sometimes, Emma and I just like taking a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood or into town, which is a good one-mile walk each way.

When venturing out with Emma, especially in this weather, I make sure to pack the essentials to help keep her comfortable and hydrated:

  • Water. And plenty of it! In summer (and winter, too), I carry a bottle of water with a small collapsible bowl. Dogs can get dehydrated quicker than humans, especially in warmer weather, so they need constant access to water. If we drive to a hiking trail, I leave a small cooler in the car with extra bottles in case we need more. (No matter where you take your dog, always remember to provide fresh, cool water to prevent dehydration.)
  • Treats. Long walks/hikes require “special” treats. Emma likes boiled chicken, apples and pears. I store them fresh in a small Ziploc bag. But she’s not the only one who gets goodies on our day trips. I’ll always bring along a snack (fruit/veggies/peanut butter) for myself, usually something I can share with Emma, so it’s less to carry.
  • Sunscreen and flea spray. Westies have very sensitive skin, and I keep this in mind when we are outdoors for any length of time. Before we hit the trails, I’ll spray a special sunscreen on Emma that can be easily washed out. And if we are walking in wooded areas, I will definitely spray bug/flea spray on her to keep the flea and ticks at bay. Then, once we get home, it’s bath time!
  • Paper towels, paw wipes and misc. At some point on the walk, I know I’ll have to clean up after Emma or use paw wipes, as trails can get dusty or muddy, depending on the weather. No matter where I go, I always bring hand wipes and sanitizer (yes, I’m a germaphobe). I also carry a few small Ziploc bags in case I have to throw out paw wipes or a poop bag and there’s no trash can in sight. The Ziploc bags help keep the odor at bay.

Planning a hike? What do you pack for your dog? Tell me about it in the comments section and enjoy the walk!

5 Tips to Keep Your Dog Calm and Safe During Fireworks

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I was going to wait until closer to July 4th to write about this, since most pets run away around that time of year more than any other. But with Memorial Day weekend upon us—not to mention my crazy neighbors that look for any excuse to set off fireworks—I figured there was no better time than the present.

Over the years, Emma has gone from ignoring fireworks as a puppy to being absolutely terrified as an adult dog. In the last few years, though, she’s gotten much better in dealing with the loud sounds. However, she’s far from ignoring them, as she once did.

Unlike hunting dogs, most dogs have not been desensitized to loud noises. Most likely, your canine companion will not be a fan of the fireworks and will need some extra comforting, as well.

img_8152When dogs hear fireworks, they experience internally something similar to what we do when we are surprised by a sudden loud noise—a rush of adrenaline and increase in heart rate. Now, as humans, we are quick to realize the sudden noise is nothing to worry about. But dogs don’t grasp that same concept.

Whether this is the first time or the hundredth time your dog will be exposed to fireworks, here are a few things that will help keep her calm and safe during the celebrations:

  1. Exercise your dog earlier in the day. Go for long walks and give her extra play time. That way, she will be tired and in a calmer state when the fireworks begin.
  2. This is a no-brainer but keep your dog inside during the fireworks. And make sure you or another human is there to offer comfort. Dogs should not be alone during fireworks. If it’s hot out, crank up the AC.
  3. Create a safe space. Sometimes, dogs will want to hide under the bed or curl up in their crate when they are afraid. Give them access to small, cozy places and put a blanket or shirt that you wore earlier in the day next to them, so they have your scent close. A chew toy is also a good way to keep them busy and distracted.
  4. Stay calm. If your dog is anything like mine during fireworks, she will probably pant, pace and whine. I know that if I hold Emma in my arms, it helps her calm down quicker. During this time, I’ll play white noise on the Sonos with the volume up to drown out the fireworks. This combo works best for Emma.
  5. Be sure your dog is wearing current ID tags and is microchipped in case she gets spooked and runs off unexpectedly. That way, if anyone finds her, you’ll be sure to get a call as to her location.

Hopefully, your neighbors aren’t like mine and won’t set off too many fireworks this weekend! With all the dogs living in my neighborhood, you would think they would be more considerate to those little canine ears, right?!

Do you do anything special to help your pet get through the fireworks? I’d love to hear about it.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!

Doggy Day Trips—Old Westbury Gardens

img_7860Old Westbury Gardens has always been my absolute favorite escape on Long Island. It is the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy nature. As a child, I would go off exploring all that the Gardens has to offer—the thatched cottage, East Lake, the Walled Garden, nature paths and everything else in between—pretending that I lived in Westbury House and the gardens were all mine! It almost felt like I stepped back time, especially when walking through the house.

As the years passed, my love for Old Westbury Gardens grew. Every weekend, my mom and I would take a couple of lawn chairs, pack a picnic and our favorite books and spend an entire day under the shade of one of the massive breezy beech trees or find the perfect spot somewhere near the lake.

No matter the season, there’s always plenty to enjoy—from chamber music in the Red Ballroom and the summer Picnic Pops concerts to yoga on the lawn and members-only events and more. Some of my favorite memories have been from Old Westbury Gardens.

When Emma arrived on the scene, my mom and I felt guilty we couldn’t bring her to enjoy our favorite getaway. Then, shortly thereafter, we were excited to discover the Gardens began a new tradition—Dog Days! Twice a year, visitors are allowed to bring their canine companions to walk the gardens, do some canine shopping, participate in fun activities, meet animal rescue groups, and more.

Last month, when I took Emma to the first Dog Days weekend of 2018, it was a bit more crowded than usual, as they were undergoing landscaping renovations. Portions of the Gardens were closed; but it didn’t deter us from having a fun time. We had perfect weather, which always helps to add to the joy of the day. (Dog Day Festival Weekends are usually slated for spring (April) and fall (Sept/Oct), so be sure to check their calendar of events.)

Regardless of whether you have a dog or not, spending a day at the Gardens is certainly worth the trip. There are year-round activities; and if you become a member, you’ll receive extra perks, discounts and members-only events. Old Westbury Gardens is easily accessible by both Northern State Parkway and the LIE (I-495).

Let me know if you visit—or attend the next Dog Days! Emma and I will be on the lookout for you.

Doggy Day Trips: Long Island’s Sands Point Preserve

img_7565Even though Long Island was hit with a few snow storms since the official beginning of “spring,” I took advantage of a nice day last weekend to take Emma on a day trip. (Thankfully, all the snow melted quickly.) When the weather is nice, we both love being outdoors. One of our favorite places to visit is dog-friendly Sands Point Preserve on the original Guggenheim Estate.

The Preserve has six hiking trails that start at a quarter-mile, or you can loop all the trails together and walk for several miles. On our favorite trail, there’s a spot that overlooks the beach and the Long Island Sound. It’s the perfect spot for a photo on a sunny day.

Some of the trails are not shaded, so if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning and take plenty of water for your dog. (If hiking isn’t your thing and you want to leave your pooch home, the Preserve does have other year-round activities and events.)

We visit the Preserve year-round, and each time we go, the terrain can be different—dry, muddy, snowy, icy, depending on the previous day’s (or week’s) weather. I usually stay away from the trails after it has just rained or snowed. That can make for messy or dangerous conditions.

The Preserve is located on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau County and is fairly easy to get to off the LIE (I-495) or Northern State Parkway. It costs $10 for the day and is worth every cent.

Do you have a favorite spot to hike with your dog?

Doggy Day Trips: North Hempstead Beach Park

fullsizeoutput_34acBefore New York’s fourth Nor’easter hit this week (and here I thought spring arrived), I took Emma over to North Hempstead Beach Park, formerly Bar Beach. It has a special meaning for me—it’s the place where my parents met a bazillion years ago—but has become a place that I love to go with Emma since they now allow dogs!

The day that we went, it was extremely windy, but we got to enjoy a long walk back and forth on the promenade, breathe in the salty, sea air and soak in the warm sun, thanks to the cloudless blue skies. Emma and I love the cold, but the 20-degree wind chills were enough to send us home after an hour!

BarBeach2018This park is one of our year-round favorites, especially in cooler months when there aren’t many people there—and we don’t have to worry about the scorching weather. But because it’s right there on the water, there’s not a lot of shade on the promenade. So, if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning or at dusk so the concrete is cooler for your dog’s paws. They have a shaded picnic area, which can be fun in warmer months; but it does get crowded.

The park is free to enter in the off-season, and a season pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day) will cost you $50.

When Your Dog’s Paws Smell Like Corn Chips

img_7340.jpgI was on the phone recently with a friend who mentioned that, although she’d just given her dog a bath, his paws smelled like Fritos! I knew all too well what she was talking about. From time to time, Emma gets that same smell.

The corn chips (or Fritos) smell has to do with yeast and bacteria on your dog’s paws. Pseudomonas or proteus are types of natural bacteria that make their way into the crevices of the paws. This happens when you take your dog outside and whatever is on the street or grass gets stuck on the paws. Like humans, dogs sweat. But they sweat through their paws. So, sometimes when they sweat, the moisture becomes trapped in the fuzz between their foot pads, causing the smell.

To keep the smell to a minimum, be sure to trim the fuzz between your dog’s foot pads, then clean and dry properly. Whenever you come in from outside, wipe your dog’s paws thoroughly. I always keep a pack of paw wipes at the door, so before I let Emma back in the house, she gets her paws (and bum) wiped.

Keep in mind, dogs lick their paws. It’s their way of cleaning themselves. But if you notice the excessive chewing, licking and nibbling, there may be something else going on with your fur baby. He or she might actually be allergic to something and you may want to schedule a visit to the vet.