Mystery Serials

Berry Cherry Smoothie Bowls

Berry cherry smoothie bowl topped with dark chocolate whole grain granola, flaked coconut, dried goji berries and sliced bananas.

The other day, I decided I wanted a cold liquid lunch, and I made these smoothie bowls for me and my octogenarian parents. (They are both 82.) There are some great nutritional ingredients in these that are not only good for my own health but may help to combat some of the health issues my parents have. These smoothie bowls are full of superfoods.


Berries are delicious and my favorite fruits. They are low in sugar compared to a lot of other fruits, are low in calories and they are also full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B9 (folate) as well as magnesium and potassium.

The specific berries in this smoothie are blackberries and blueberries.


Cherries have antioxidants and Vitamin C, potassium, copper and manganese. They also help to fight gout, an affliction from which my mom suffers from time to time. They do this by helping to reduce the level of uric acid in the body.

Above is the exact bag of frozen fruit I found. It is unlikely you will find this exact sort if you live outside of the New York/New Jersey area. There are, however, many brands of frozen fruits and berry mixtures are popular.

You will need a cup of these mixed fruits for two smoothie bowls. You will also need a banana half. You can use a cup of fresh berries and cherries and a frozen banana half or, what I did in this case, a fresh banana half and a cup of frozen berries and cherries. It helps to have some of your fruit frozen to have a thicker and cool, refreshing smoothie.

You can also buy your berries fresh and freeze them yourself. Berries freeze well and will keep better as they are quick to spoil. When I first began freezing bananas for protein shakes, I made the mistake of leaving the peels on. This was slightly dopey but wasn’t an impossible mistake as I was able to scrape the frozen peel off with a knife. Still, it’s much better and easier if you cut and peel your bananas, before wrapping them in Saran wrap and freezing. Do this the night before in anticipation of a morning smoothie or freeze several banana halves at a time if you plan on a smoothie making spree.

Bananas have a lot of potassium as well as other vitamins and minerals and are good for digestive health.

You will also need a cup of milk and a cup of vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt. I used Skim Plus milk. Skim Plus is skim milk that tastes a bit creamier. You can use any kind of milk. You could use whole milk, two percent milk, lactose free milk or a non-dairy milk like soy milk or almond milk. I have sometimes used almond milk in smoothies and protein shakes.

These are the yogurt cups I used in two batches of smoothie bowls. You could add a drizzle of honey if you want it sweeter, but you might want to leave this out if you are watching your sugar or calories. There is already sweetness in the fruit and yogurt. You could also use plain Greek yogurt with or without the honey.

Greek yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium and probiotics as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Put one half banana, one cup of berries and cherries, yogurt cup and cup of milk into blender. Add a drizzle of honey if desired. Blend. Start out on slow speed like “Chop” and then blend on higher speed. Pour into two bowls.

With all those red and blue fruits, it comes out a pretty purpley color. You can get creative with your toppings and arrange prettily into rows. Toppings will float on top.

Slice another half banana for each bowl. Add about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of flaked coconut, a third cup of granola and a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of dried fruit. I used Goji berries.

Goji berries are another very trendy superfood that are high in nutrients and antioxidants and good for fighting macular degeneration, another problem Mom faces. They come from China, and I have never seen them sold as a fresh fruit. They also may not be the most frugal purchase, so you could replace these with a different dried berry or fruit. We have recently discovered This site sells Goji berry powder for smoothies, and this may be a little more frugal, since it should be possible to make it stretch further by adding just a bit to a smoothie made with other fruits.

This was the granola I used which was both healthful and delicious and also gluten-free, for those who need to eat gluten-free.

Click here for downloadable recipe card.

Very Random Music Playlist from All of My YouTube Subscriptions

Lately, I’ve been again reflecting on how difficult it is to define my diverse musical interests, so I decided to blog a long playlist with a sample from all of my musical YouTube subscriptions.

This post is more about discovering YouTube talent than mainstream artists from the radio. A few of these artists are musicians with YouTube channels but are not primarily YouTubers. Although some on this list are gaining more and more fame and a few of them have competed in or won TV talent shows, there is a good chance most of these will be unfamiliar to you. You may recognize many of the songs they cover, but be prepared for completely different interpretations or creative remakes from the originals. Also, there are a few worthy originals from lesser known artists.

I have a lot of YouTube subscriptions, so this is a pretty long list, 57 of them, to be exact. You can read things over and click on what interests you most from the description or video preview. There will also be a link to the full YouTube playlist at the end of this post.

1. Everybody Wants To Be a Cat (from The Aristocats) Big Band Cover — Seb Skelly

Seb Skelly plays multiple brass instruments and creates multi-tracking videos where he plays all the parts and harmonizes with himself. He also does some of his own compositions and arrangements. Here, he collaborates with a lot of other artists to form a full band with vocalists.

2. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg) Harp Twins — Camille and Kennerly

This might not be the best example from these pretty young identical twins. Everyone expects classical pieces from the harp, but not everyone expects rock, pop and even heavy metal arranged for and played on harp. These girls play a lot of different pieces and produce beautiful videos where they film in outdoor settings and dress in identical outfits or costumes. They also play a lot of theme music from movies, TV and video games. I chose this one, because it was a newer one I haven’t overplayed. It’s great, sets a mysterious mood, and even features some of their vocals.

3. Google Translate Sings: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

Malinda Kathleen Reese (Translator Fails) uses Google Translate to translate the lyrics of popular songs into one foreign language after another and back into English to get Mad Lib like results. This Ed Sheeran song transforms into a song about someone who really likes geometry and biology. The original is a little suggestive, but the Google Translate version is somewhat more innocent, although a few strange words have slipped in, accidentally, of course. Watch out for the “Gradually Watermelon” part.

4. Bad Guy — Billie Eilish Cover (violin/cello/bass cover) — Simply Three

The original Billie Eilish song is very popular right now. Simply Three covers this one using a combination of acoustic and electric instruments, and I think they did a fantastic job creating interesting effects with acoustic instruments that match the original.

5, I Don’t Know Birds That Well — MonaLisa Twins (Original)

The MonaLisa Twins are 20-something identical twins from Austria, who, interestingly, do a lot of covers of Beatles and other American music from the ’60s. They both play guitar and sing in harmony. They also have a number of originals that are very enjoyable, and this is one of them. “I know I don’t know birds that well, but they always seem to sing about love … “

6. Material Girl — Walk Off the Earth

So, I always had a little trouble with this song because of the lyrics, because I really hope I’m not materialistic. The way Sarah sings it makes me believe she means it only satirically, which helps me appreciate it more. Several members of the band are multi-instrumentalists, so many different instruments show up in this song. There definitely wasn’t a theramin or banjo in the original! There’s also a clever percussive use of piggy banks.

7. (Toy Story) You’ve Got a Friend in Me — Sungha Jung

I first discovered Sungha Jung as a child prodigy with guitar. He’s a little older now but still a fantastic guitarist.

8. Hey Ya! — Avriel & the Sequoias

You may remember Avi Kaplan as the bass from the acapella group Pentatonix. He left the group and began his own folk band, Avriel & the Sequoias. I really enjoy creative restyling of songs, so here is a folk rendition of a soul/funk song.

9. Cheap Thrills – Sia (Oud Cover) by Ahmed Alshaiba

I don’t remember how I discovered Ahmed Alshaiba, but I’m glad I did. He plays an instrument which may seem a little strange to western ears, an Arabic stringed instrument called an oud. I began to write that there is a “wavery” sound though it was not the most musically precise term and then was reminded that the term I was wanting was tremolo. I’ve kept both terms, in case some readers might appreciate a less technical term. He plays a western pop song with the oud, guitar, bass, keyboard and percussion and ends up with a worldbeat song that sounds a little eastern and western at the same time.

10. Tetris Opera — Video Games Live (VGL) — Jillian Aversa

Tetris has a really great theme song, and here is an operatic version of it performed by Jillian Aversa at a past Comic Con. Aversa is a composer and vocalist who describes her style as “ethereal vocals/emotional music.” She has recorded music for several game franchises and has three solo albums.

11. Joachim Horsley — Beethoven in Havana (7th Symph., mvt. 2 Rumba)

Here is a rumba/Latin jazz version of a movement from a Beethoven symphony. The original piece feels a little melancholy to me, but not this version. I am impressed with the musical skill required to make such a successful arrangement. He also transforms the piano into a rhythm instrument. Joaquim has an impressive resume as a composer, creating scores for the Disney show, “Big City Greens” and the National Geographic show, “Great Migrations,” just to name a few.

12. Echosmith – Cool Kids (Acoustic Cover) — Gardiner Sisters

I first discovered the Gardiner Sisters after their collaboration with YouTuber Peter Hollens. I like their gentle voices and harmonies.

13. F. Waxman — Carmen Fantasie — Leia Zhu

Leia Zhu is a 12-year-old violin prodigy who was already traveling the world and playing with orchestras as a soloist at the age of six. She also vlogs about her travels and adventures, and her vlogs remind you that, though her talents are advanced, she is still a young girl.

14. William Tell Overture — Insanely Difficult Jazz Piano Arrangement — Jacob Koller

Jacob Koller, who calls himself the Mad Arranger, plays an extremely difficult jazz arrangement of “William Tell Overture,” aka “Lone Ranger Theme,” in a cowboy hat and in the middle of what appears to be a ghost town.

15. [Electro Swing Remix] Pink Elephants on Parade (Dumbo) — Dave Wave

Dave Wave has a variety of interesting videos, some that explain musical concepts, some unlikely mashups of songs as well as electro swing, stride piano, ragtime and jazz performances, some of which are arrangements of songs of other genres.

16. Dance of the Line Riders — DoodleChaos

DoodleChaos has a lot of highly creative videos that are synchronized to music, such as Rube Goldberg Piano or Ping Pong Trick Shots Play the Xylophone. In this Line Riders animation, the three sledders help you visualize the harmonies and rhythms in “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”

17. Up Music Box with Illustrations (“Married Life”)

This YouTuber punches holes for a music box and creates adorable appropriate illustrations on the scrolling paper.

18. Super Mario Bros – A capella Medley — Julien Neel & Nick McKaig

This particular video by Julien Neel is fun and whimsical but doesn’t demonstrate his, uh, ordinary singing ability as in his other offerings. Here, he and his collaborator, Nick McKaig, scat sing and impersonate horns, kazoos and other musical sounds. The video is also entertaining as they impersonate Mario and Luigi.

Julien does a lot of multi-tracking acapella videos in several styles: traditional barbershop, Beatles covers, love songs, popular songs from various decades, hymns, national anthems, foreign language songs, themes from movies, TV and video games and even some commercial jingles. He is a French citizen who speaks English like an American.

19. Jolene — Dolly Parton (Janet Devlin Cover)

I fell in love with Janet Devlin’s voice after hearing her compete on The Voice with Elton John’s “Your Song.” This Irish girl has a sweet and unique voice and makes songs her own with her emotional musical interpretations. She has also recorded a few albums of original songs. She does a fantastic job with “Jolene.”

20. Avalon Jazz Band — Ah, dis! Ah, bonjour! (Charles Trenet)

I appreciate music from all different time periods, and, somehow, I discovered this group that performs vintage French gypsy jazz.

21. Malukah — Game of Thrones Theme and The Children Cover

So, I admit that I have never even seen an episode of “Game of Thrones,” but that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating the haunting and beautiful harmonies of this multi-tracking cover. Malukah is a Mexican singer who does a lot of fantasy and game related music.

22. The Pink Panther Fingerstyle Guitar (Marcos Kaiser)

I have become quite a fan of fingerstyle guitar, and “Pink Panther” theme is one of my favorite movie theme pieces. Marcos Kaiser has video performances in a variety of styles: classical, flamenco and various Spanish guitar styles, jazz, blues, funk, movie, TV and game themes, rock and popular music and his own compositions.

23. The Surfrajettes — Cha Cha Heels — Great Lakes Surf Battle

Apparently, surf rock is not a genre that died out completely with the ’60s. This group, The Surfrajettes, is playing an original, not an oldies cover.

24. Rhiannon — Fleetwood Mac — (Cover by Bailey Pelkman & Anna Gilbert)

I discovered Bailey Pelkman’s channel when she collaborated with Peter Hollens. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve heard from her. Her channel features gentle acoustic covers of hits from today and past decades.

25. Creep — Vintage Postmodern Jukebox Radiohead Cover ft. Haley Reinhart

Postmodern Jukebox is a fun and unique group that takes modern hits and restyles them into styles from past decades from the ’20s to the ’80s, mostly some form of jazz but also rock and some other styles like tango, bluegrass or klezmer. Here, they team up with American Idol veteran, Haley Reinhart, as lead vocalist. They don’t specify a decade here, but it is a jazz cover. Her vocals are so fantastic and so full of emotion that I think even fans of the very different original can appreciate it.

26. You Got It — Roy Orbison Cover — Anne Reburn

Anne Reburn is another multi-tracking YouTuber who harmonizes with herself as well as plays several instruments. In this cover, she plays keyboard, bass and guitar and sings several parts. She has an idiosyncratic voice. On her channel, she covers songs from different genres, from today and past decades, as well as performs originals.

27. What If Katy Perry made a Nickelback Song? — Ali Spagnola

By now, you probably know that I appreciate creative remakes of songs, which is why YouTube recommended Ali Spagnola to me. Honestly, I’m not much of a Katy Perry fan, and I think she is sometimes a little risque with her whipped cream cans and whatnot, but I just found this fascinating how Ali analyzes the music and figures out how to restyle the song. Ali actually describes her entire process before she performs. That might sound a little boring, but her personality and enthusiasm for music keeps it from being dull.

28, Mission: Impossible on Piano Feat. Tomplay — Vinheitero

Vinheitero is a talented Brazilian pianist who does a lot of interesting videos. The linked video is one of few where he actually looks at sheet music in some form, on a tablet. He is usually gazing into the camera as he plays, like in the photo above, or as one commenter put it, gazing into your soul. He plays several songs or snippets of several songs in most videos. In one, he gives a brief tour of the history of music. In several others, he does sad versions of happy songs, which shows his talent for arranging. He also does top 10 videos in different categories and much more.

29. Shut Up and Dance Mashup — Evynne Hollens and Nick Pitera

I keep mentioning Peter Hollens’ name, and he has yet to appear in this list. Evynne is Peter’s wife, and she has her own channel where she sings Broadway, Disney and pop songs. Whereas Peter does acapella videos, Evynne usually sings with instrumentals. She also does duets with her husband. Her videos are well produced and visually fun to watch. Here, she collaborates with YouTuber, Nick Pitera, in a mashup of “Shut Up and Dance” with “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

30. Tintarella di Luna — Hetty and the Jazzato Band

Hetty and the Jazzato Band is another vintage jazz band, although I think “Tintarella di Luna” is more of an oldies rock and roll song, originally recorded by Italian singer Mina in 1959. If you are an American and the title, which translates to “Moon Tan,” seems unfamiliar to you, you may have heard it before. The original was recently used in a commercial for The Venetian.

31. Lindsey Stirling — Prism

Lindsey Stirling is a violinist who plays electronic music and dances at the same time. She’s also a composer and does some singing. She was first discovered on America’s Got Talent. I chose the video below, partly for the visuals. Here, Lindsey has a lot of costume changes and sports a variety of wigs while playing and dancing with clones of herself.

32. Tarts — Performed by Erutan

The artist known as Erutan (Nature spelled backwards) is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who plays several folk instruments such as Celtic harp, lute, violin and kantele. Her musical style is Celtic/medieval. Those who know me well know I am a fan of Alice in Wonderland. This song is inspired by a Lewis Carroll poem in the book. The video is beautifully produced with costumes and visual storytelling.

33. Lenka — Everything at Once (Official Video)

Lenka is an Australian singer/songwriter who made her debut in 2008 but I’ve only discovered somewhat recently. This is a fun song with a lot of comparative phrases and a video with interesting black and white visuals.

34. 2Cellos — Smooth Criminal [Official Video]

2Cellos, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, play both acoustic and electric cellos. Their albums have covers of rock and heavy metal as well as movie scores. In this video, they cover Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

35. Wintergatan — Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles)

Wintergatan is a Swedish folktronica group. Wintergatan means “Milky Way” in Swedish. Band member Martin Molin created this complex marble machine that plays a vibraphone, bass guitar, cymbal and drums when marbles strike them.

36. Now We Are Free (Gladiator Main Theme) — Tina Guo

Tina Guo is a cellist who plays both acoustic and electric cello. I love some of her costumes and staging for her movie theme music. Here is one of my favorite movie theme pieces, though I’ve yet to see The Gladiator. Her repertoire is pretty diverse, from classical to heavy metal.

37. Be Prepared — The Lion King (2019) — Caleb Hyles

On his channel, Caleb Hyles describes he sings Broadway, Disney, anime, Top 40, Steven Universe, and then adds, “I think that covers it?” I selected this Lion King cover, because it suits his voice so well and he’s incredibly dramatic with it, even the spoken parts.

38. Jerry Lee Lewis — Great Balls of Fire — Christopher Bill

Christopher Bill, a trombonist, collaborates with three others, Ryan Keberle, Javier Nero and Jennifer Wharton, playing “Great Balls of Fire,” while standing in a ball pit at the Color Factory in New York City. Christopher plays popular hits, theme music, does his own arrangements, creates looping or multitracking videos for harmonies, collaborates with other brass players and creates educational videos for musicians.

39. Lemonade — Alex Boye

Alex Boye was discovered on America’s Got Talent. He is known for his “Africanized” covers of popular music, sometimes called “hipster Africanized” covers. He was born in Nigeria, was raised in the U.K. and is now living in America. I like his style and personality that comes through with his performances. “Lemonade” is one of his originals. It is fun and uplifting, and the video is even a little comedic.

40. Scarborough Fair –Harp/Voice — Christy-Lyn

Christy-Lyn is a South African harpist and singer who creates videos where she sings and accompanies herself on harp, a few acapella multi-tracking videos and some educational videos for harpists. She also does livestreaming concerts on YouTube. Strangely, I remember learning “Scarborough Fair” in elementary school music class and finding it a strange song. I guess I’ve learned to appreciate it since then.

41. Honoka & Azita — Bodysurfing

These two Hawaiian girls play wonderful surf music on ukuleles. Their fingers are so fast. It’s hard for me to believe they can create this kind of sound with ukuleles.

42. Mazama Mornings — Official Music Video — The Gothard Sisters

The Gothard Sisters describe their music as contemporary Celtic music, “a blend of Celtic, folk, classical and northwest musical influences.” The three girls play a variety of folk instruments including violin, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bodhran, djembe, octave violin and whistle. They also sing in harmony.

43. Be Thou My Vision Hymn — Acapella Arrangement — Sam Robson

Sam Robson is a really impressive acapella multi-tracker who has a ridiculous vocal range and does some astonishing music arranging and video editing. He does a number of hymns as well as gospel, Disney, Broadway, traditional folk, rock/pop and original music. “Be Thou My Vision” is one of my favorite hymns.

44. Celtic Thunder — Caledonia

Celtic Thunder is a Celtic music show featuring all-male singers who sing a lot of traditional Irish songs and mix in a few other styles such as folk, pop and oldies rock and roll. Although the singers are all men, there are sometimes female instrumentalists. They are backed by a band including traditional folk instruments and sometimes a full orchestra. The group’s membership changes from time to time. I first discovered them in a PBS concert.

45. All Time — Tyler Ward, Mike Tompkins, KHS — Timex Song — Kurt Hugo Schneider

Kurt Hugo Schneider is a music producer who creates a number of interesting videos and helps to produce music videos for a number of YouTube musicians. Here is a song featuring Mike Tompkins and Tyler Ward. It’s an uplifting love song and is visually interesting with a lot of video effects, settings and dancing.

46. Classical Music Mashup III — grantwoolard

Grant Woolard has some great talents for music arrangement and creative video editing. In this mashup, he created counterpoint arrangements with snippets from several popular classical pieces, and you can follow along the sheet music with composer heads on the staff to represent the snippets from the particular composers. He has a few other similar videos, some for classical music as well as Disney and game music.

47. Viva La Vida (Coldplay) on Harpejii G16 by Mathieu Terrade

The harpejii is an electric stringed instrument that is kind of a cross between piano, guitar and bass guitar. If you’re not sure what that is, you should check out Mathieu Terrade’s channel. He plays all different musical styles from classical to jazz, pop and rock.

48. Video Puzzle – F.U.N. — We Are Young — Joe Penna

Joe Penna, aka Mystery Guitar Man, is ridiculously creative and talented. He plays guitar, as his YouTube name would suggest, as well as multiple instruments and is also very skilled with video techniques. Some examples of his creative work are “Bohemian Rhapsody” featuring slide whistles and other instruments, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on vuvuzelas, an orchestra arrangement where he plays all the instruments and another where he plays “Miserlou” using 90 different instruments in one video. Maybe, he should change his name to Mystery Every Instrument That Exists Man? Some of his videos are non-musical and more about playing with video techniques. This example features both his guitar and video editing skills.

49. Lucky Chops — Full Heart Fancy — (Official Video)

Lucky Chops is a brass band I’ve discovered somewhat recently. In this video, there are dancers in strange, abstract, paper costumes. Strange as that is, it does help keep things interesting, light and happy.

50. My Hair Song — Rhett & Link

Buddies Rhett & Link are fairly well-known on YouTube for their Good Mythical Morning show. I’ve only recently begun to listen to some of their comedy music. Here is one where they make jokes about their hairstyles. It’s not one of their more recent songs, and some commenters have pointed out that Link has since changed his hairstyle. My favorite lines, “A mama bird laid some eggs up there. I didn’t mind that much. She raised them in my coif ’til them birdies flew off, and we still keep in touch.”

51. Fantasy Music — Village of the Crystal Falls — Fantasy and World Music by the Fiechters

Identical twins, Derek and Brandon Fiechter, compose fantasy and world music. Many of their pieces are good for quiet moods when you want to play something soft, soothing and non-distracting. This one has a lot of ethereal sounds.

52. Loch Lomond — Peter Hollens

Here, finally, is acapella artist Peter Hollens singing a traditional Celtic song. Peter sings Disney, Broadway, traditional folk, pop songs, a little bit of everything. He has collaborated with artists such as Lindsey Stirling and The Piano Guys and many others.

53. An Awkward Duet feat. Jon Cozart — Dodie

Dodie Clark is a singer/songwriter. Here, she plays and sings this entertaining and humorous duet with YouTuber Jon Cozart on the awkwardness of feeling shy while singing with your duet partner.

54. Jackson 5 and Bach were funky way before Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” “I Want You Bach” — The Piano Guys

The Piano Guys are really one piano guy, Jon Schmidt, and one cello guy, Steve Nelson. They have a lot of creative arrangements and visually interesting videos, and often put a little humor into their acts. This is one of my favorite performances by The Piano Guys for comedic reasons, a mashup of 1770s and 1970s music.

55. Cissie Redgwick — Gimme That Swing

I do like some retro jazz sounds. This one is a little modern and retro at once in this electro swing song. I absolutely love Cissie’s sweet vocals. The rhythm is catchy, and it’s fun to watch the swing dancers in this performance.

56. Don’t Worry Be Happy — Playing for Change — Song Around the World

Playing for Change Foundation helps provide art and music education to children around the world. Playing for Change has also created interesting music videos featuring musicians from all over the globe.

57. When the Saints Go Marching In — In 11 Styles — Tal Zilber

Tal Zilber is an Israeli pianist who does some impressive playing in different styles. In this video, he works with pianist, Eyran Katsenelenbogen, to deliver “When the Saints Go Marching In” in 10 styles: boogie woogie, Mozart, stride piano, Chopin, Latin jazz, Liszt, gospel, Debussy, bebop and Bach.

The Playlist

Puppy Dog Treat Taste Test

Roxy, the soft-coated wheaten terrier puppy

I’ve been doing daily care visits for Roxy, the ball of fluff above, a soft-coated wheaten terrier puppy. Today, there were two bags of treats left out, and I decided to try a dog treat taste test to see if I could figure out which she preferred.

Here were the contenders …

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers, beef flavor

Crazy Dog Train-Me training reward treats, bacon flavor

I sat on the floor with Roxy and put one Instinct treat in one hand and one Crazy Dog treat in the other. I then presented my open hands to her with palms up and then waited to see which she would eat first.

My plan was to put my hands both at equal distance from her, but she somehow got to one side of me. She went to the Train Me treat first and ate that, but it was in the hand nearest her, so I think she was just doing what was most convenient.

I have no photos of the actual taste test but enjoy this photo of Roxy being cute.

Next, I switched treats to opposite hands. Roxy went first to the Instinct treat, but she was, again, to one side of me and chose the hand closest to her. I decided I needed to change my approach.

I put a treat in each hand once more, turned my body towards Roxy and presented two closed fists this time to her face. She sniffed at each hand but paid much more sniffing attention to the hand holding the Instinct treat and ate that one first.

Roxy’s cute little tushy. She is not tasting treats here but looking out for a deer in the neighbor’s yard.

I then switched the two kinds of treats to opposite hands and presented two closed fists to her face once more. Roxy began once more to sniff at and even lick and chew the hand that held the Instinct treat. Perhaps, that treat has a stronger smell, but it looks like we have a winner!

These treats are actually meant to be mixed in with plain Kibble and might entice a picky eater to eat.

Although it seems we have a winner, perhaps more testing is needed and Roxy probably wouldn’t mind that at all. She may have preferences, but she likes both and wouldn’t refuse either if given a chance.

Awkward Cuddles with Roxie, the English Springer Spaniel

I had the privilege to watch Roxie and some of her animal housemates, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Rory and two cats, over Labor Day weekend. Above is my perspective as she lay with her head on my chest, her doggy schnoz just under my chin.

So, this particular cuddle wasn’t awkward. In fact, it’s quite pleasant having a doggy head resting on your chest or even a doggy body comfortably laying across yours.

You can’t see it, but I am under those covers and under the doggy.

Roxie looks half asleep here, but here is anther cuddle moment. I am underneath that heap of covers.

However, we did have a few awkward moments like when she lay in the Sphinx position below completely on top of my body, with her pointy elbows poking into tender parts of me. Solution: Pull on her legs and adjust them so that we’re both comfortable.

It got even more awkward when she wanted to lay across my chest with her shoulder blade poking into my face. I somehow coaxed her out of this position.

Roxie is the most agile dog I’ve watched so far. She had the habit of walking a thin, tightrope line between me and the edge of the bed and seeing if she could lie down in the practically non-existing space. Although I have not mastered the “selfie with dog,” you can see here that it is a wonder she did not fall of the edge of the bed.

I think she must be part mountain goat … and part Tigger. One night, I could hear her on the floor by the opposite side of the bed from where I was. She must have been three or four feet away. I called her name and, a second later, she was not only on the bed but flopped up against me. My next thought was, “No wonder they call it a springer spaniel!”

Do you remember Tigger’s theme song? “Their tops are made out of rubber. Their bottoms are made out of springs.” A Tigger may be a completely different species, but I think Tigger’s theme song could be Roxie’s too.

But sweet Roxie has her merits, though she is sometimes, as her owner calls her, a “goon.” She is the only dog, so far, who has hugged me. She would stand on the bed, get up on her hind legs and place her front legs on my shoulders, wrap them around my back and put her face next to mine. That is pretty close to a human hug!

And, if her cuddles are sometimes awkward and a little uncomfortable, I can forgive her, because she is just trying to show me that she loves me and wants to be close to me.

Does your pet, dog or cat, cuddle with you awkwardly sometimes? Share your comments about their funny cuddle positions.

Amazing Talented Show Dogs Who Dance (And Sing)

Dogs are amazing creatures that help mankind in a number of ways. Besides being loyal companions, they work as hunting dogs and herding dogs, can be trained to assist the police, assist people with different handicaps and physical issues, comfort others as therapy dogs or just entertain us.

I actually think that dogs who learn entertaining stunts think of it as play. Here are some dancing dogs and one “singing” one.

Sara and Hero

Sara and Hero almost didn’t continue in the America’s Got Talent competition, but Simon Cowell saw something in their debut act. You may notice that Simon, although he has a reputation for being harsh and critical, has a serious soft spot for dogs. Hero is a Border collie, and you will notice a few other Border collies in this list. The breed has a reputation for being agile and very trainable. I love the clever little heist story told through this act.

Ashleigh and Sully

Ashleigh first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent with her adorable dog Pudsey. Sadly, Pudsey is no more, but Ashleigh continued to act with Pudsey’s friend and Ashleigh’s second dog, Sully. This act has a bit of a boxing theme, but Sully doesn’t seem too fierce.

Marc Metral and Wendy

As a puppeteer, I find Marc Metral’s act fascinating. He essentially does a ventriloquist act with his little dog, Wendy. Someone mentioned in the comments that Metral uses a false jaw for Wendy which he can operate. This makes complete sense to me, since I’ve seen ventriloquists use false jaws on audience volunteers. I’m sure the fact that Wendy is such a fluffy dog helps to hide any attachments.

Pinterest graphic showing Ashleigh and her dancing dog, Sully

Jules O’Dwyer and Matisse

Here’s another little heist story with an ending so touching I teared up a little bit. It also has its funny moments and some demonstrations of amazing dog agility.

The following three acts are from Crufts, an annual international canine event held in the UK.

Lucy Creek and Skiffle

Skiffle shows himself to be “Lord of the Dance” in this act set to Celtic music. He also “plays” some sort of wind instrument which is rather clever.

Mary Ray and Her Two Dancing Dogs

The announcer gives Mary Ray credit for introducing “heelwork to music” to the UK. Her act to “Singin’ in the Rain” is very imaginative. I love the spinning umbrellas and the foot crossing little dance steps.

Lusy Imbergerova and Deril

This faithful “army dog” helps his soldier with her morning exercises and even performs CPR. I love the storytelling in this act.