Pumpkin not-quite-pie and a trip back into grunge

My new obsession is a pumpkin pudding that isn’t terribly awful for me, but tastes very similar to the guts of a pumpkin pie (my favorite). It’s incredibly easy to make and gluten-free.

To make it, mix one cup of milk (I use the lactose-free skim milk) with two small packages of instant vanilla pudding (I use sugar- and fat-free). Once mixed and very thick, stir in a can of pumpkin and the usual pumpkin pie spices. I use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. I like a spicy pie, but everyone is different. Some people love a pale pumpkin pie.

Top this lovely, orange, spicy goo with a big glob of Cool Whip and you won’t even know you’re not eating a delicious pumpkin pie. This chef recommends!

Here’s a song, too, in honor of my teenage self. We went to the EMP over the weekend and saw the Nirvana exhibit. It reminded me of that time in the early 90s when I would go to Portland for the dirty record stores and the obscure CDs. I think I was more interesting then. I wore longjohns under oversized shorts and an ancient blue flannel I dug out of my dad’s closet, and I had cranberry-colored hair down to my elbows.

Like Yoda, only hairier and with nicer sweaters

He likes his sweaters tight.

Anyone who witnessed Dougal barking and charging at an overturned flowerpot this morning understands he’s probably not on the short list for doggie MENSA. However, he has the best attitude about life. He’s always happy. Seriously. He is always happy. Since happiness often feels like a tall order, I’ve been observing Dougal and chronicling his approach to life in hopes it will help all of us ignite our inner Dougal-ness.

• Affection is the best weapon. Dougal knows the power of persistent, aggressive affection to make the angry soften, the cranky smile, and the treat-stingy head for the jar. As hard as it is to eat, pay bills, or talk on the phone when he’s constantly sneaking onto my lap and nuzzling my neck, it’s impossible to resist him. He’s just so darn snuggly! Gets me every time.

Dougal was all smiles after our long trail run.

• Confidence is everything. All of Dougal’s sweaters are skintight because his body type doesn’t exactly conform to the traditional proportions of dog clothes. He’s a bit too short in the torso and a bit long in the waistband (more George Costanza than David Beckham). But, he doesn’t let it bother him. He loves his sweaters, even the tight ones, and that confidence makes him even more adorable than all those skinny model dogs.

• If no one’s paying attention, bark louder. A small woowoo can, within a few minutes, become a full-on, cover your ears, WOOOWOOO if Dougal thinks he’s being ignored. He has needs and he’s not shy about making them known. He may not speak English, but he’s the best communicator I know. Barley and I always know where he stands on the important issues.

• Do your best. Dougal desperately wants to run with the biggest dogs at the dog park. Unfortunately, he’s small, slow, and prone to being run over. Still, he keeps trying (barking progressively louder, the further behind he gets). He has the spirit of a champion and he doesn’t accept his own limitations. He just keeps chasing.

For Dougal, it all comes down to attitude. He is a chubby, cuddly, persistent ball of happy and it’s truly contagious. No day ends badly when there’s a Dougal in your house. Even Barley, who can be a bit cranky, is powerless against him. Crabbiness doesn’t stand a chance.