108 Steps to Deodorizing a Dog Home

Four years ago, I picked her up in a relatively shady neighborhood of Los Angeles. Back then, she was a tiny, eight week old, sweet smelling puppy. 

Fast forward a few years and rather than a puppy, we have a dog. More specifically, we have a rather LARGE dog. Runner is roughly 80lbs. We’re told she is half German Shepherd, half Boxer; though we aren’t 100% certain of this, as we had rescued her from a litter of free puppies on Craigslist. 

Here’s what you need to know about Runner:

  • She is a GREAT guard dog
  • She has endless energy
  • She has short hair like a Boxer, but sheds like a German Shepherd

I started out truly loving Runner… Really. But between her social awkwardness (she doesn’t do well in crowds. Or with other dogs. Or in public, in general. In fact she got quaranteened in her obedience class- but that’s a story for another day…), her larger than life bark, and the way she makes my home SMELL, she frequently annoys me more than most. 

I have tirelessly searched and experimented over the years for ways to keep my home smelling fresh; and to no avail. I thought the problem would resolve when we moved out of a tiny apartment and into a house, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, it almost seemed worse. 

After a lot of trial and error, not to mention a lot of money spent on products that did NOT work, I think we finally got the smell under control. I still catch a whiff of dog from time to time, but that could be because she still lives here. ;) 

I’ll skip all of the failed remedies (and the obvious bathe/brush your dog- be careful not to over-bathe!! It can dry out their skin. No good.) – but here are the steps that seem to be working for our smelly yet lovable mutt:

  1. Vacuum. EVERY day. This is an obvious one; but it really does make a difference. I try to run over the living room rug going in all different directions and using short motions to more efficiently lift the hair and dander from the fibers of the rug.
  2. I take it one step further, and use the attachment to vacuum the dog bed, daily. I’m not super thorough, and yes, it’s machine washable which is helpful on occasion as well, but getting that fresh layer of hair and dander up helps keep things mild. 
  3. EMPTY the vacuum! I do this once a week. It’s really only practical if you have a bagless vacuum. I swear the heat from the vacuum intensifies the dog smell, so emptying it frequently prevents the spread of smell through the home. 
  4. Essential oils. I dilute a few drops of Purification and Lavendar in a spray bottle with water. I lightly spray the dog, her bed, and areas of the rug that she frequently lays, daily. 
  5. I also use an essential oil diffuser to help purify whatever might be stirred up into the air. Purification or Lemon + Lavendar are great. 
  6. Shampoo the rugs/carpet. We went ahead and just purchased our own shampooer since a renting Rug Doctor can get pricey if you’re doing it a lot. Instead of using the carpet shampoo, we use a white vinegar/water mixture to avoid chemicals and a film on the rug. We do this just a few times a year. 
  7. Baking soda/Borax. Sprinkling this mixture on the rugs for an hour or two and then vacuuming also helps to absorb any lingering scents. I do this roughly once a month. 
  8. Fabric refresher. Last but not least, it’s important to remember that smells tend to cling to fabrics. I make a simple fabric refresher I learned from my mother using water, a spray bottle, and a couple dryer sheets. Just stick the dryer sheets in the bottle, fill with water, and shake it up. Spray over fabric furniture, curtains, rugs, pillows and blankets as needed for a quick refresh between washes. 

    Like I said, it’s not perfect: the dog still does live here, after all. But it’s leaps and bounds better than it was; I can walk into my home, take a deep breath, and feel confident that my house smells clean. 😊

    The BEST Apple Breakfast Cookies

    Okay, okay; I’ve gone a little bake-crazy lately… But the PERFECT fall weather we’ve had in Minnesota this month, coupled with delicious freshly picked apples we hand-selected at the orchard have just made my favorite fall activity THAT much more irresistible. 

    I had exactly one apple leftover from our orchard stash, so I had to make it count. I decided I really wanted to make cookies with it, so I searched Pinterest for a recipe resembling what I was craving (with every intention of making it my own, of course). I found this recipe, if you’d like to try the original… Or, keep reading to try The Modern Homemaker version!

    This cookie is everything that is good about fall and cookies. It’s chewy, slightly tart, sweet, and is bursting with warm spices. 

    As always- I encourage you to mix it up. Try different add-ins or spices and make it your own!! (Suggestions I thought of while baking- omit one of my add-ins for almonds or walnuts, or trade out the nutmeg for pumpkin pie spice. YUM…)

    The BEST Apple Pie Breakfast Cookies 

    *disclaimer: might actually eat all 24 cookies before breakfast. 


    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla extract)
    • 1 + 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 apple- peeled, cored, chopped into very small pieces (tart is really good!)
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
    2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. 
    3. In a separate large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well blended and smooth. 
    4. Add in egg and vanilla, one at a time, and mix until blended. 
    5. Slowly add dry mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until combined. 
    6. Add oats. Mix well. 
    7. Add apples, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips. Mix until evenly dispersed throughout dough. 
    8. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. (Helps to pack them when rounding somewhat, to keep the add-ins from falling)
    9. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden. 
    10. Cool on rack.


    Pumpkin Spice Protein Bites

    First things first: updates!! 

    1.  It’s been a crazy-busy last few weeks of summer. My brother AND my sister both got married within 6 weeks of each other, Hubby started his cross country season (assistant coaching), and I worked the last day of my job, which means that The Modern Homemaker is now officially a stay at home mom!! I’m so excited!! 

    2. We found out that baby number two is a BOY!! Here’s how we told my husband’s side of the family ;) 

    Note: this was actually round two of the game. The first round included ONLY balloons filled with white paint so the fun wouldn’t be over too quickly. The fam wasn’t too happy when they popped the last balloon and it didn’t reveal the gender.😉 It was such a blast, though! 

    3. And now, onto the purpose of today’s post! I was inspired by the pumpkin-spice everything that I’m seeing everywhere and had to make SOMETHING now that it is officially fall. I went with protein bites, but naturally I wasn’t satisfied with using just any recipe I found. So I winged it and luckily, they’re delicious!! Enjoy ❤️

    Pumpkin Spice Protein Bites


    • 3 cups quick or steel cut oats
    • 5 tbsp chia seeds
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • 1/4 cup dark honey (or maple syrup)
    • 1 cup pumpkin purée (I like Simply Balanced Organic Pumpkin!)
    • 1 cup peanut butter 


    1. Mix all ingredients together!! *if you’re feeling less lazy than me, mix dry ingredients together separately, first, for an even distribution of spices. 
    2. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and place on pan lined with parchment paper. 
    3. Freeze for one hour; transfer to air tight container and refrigerate. I’d tell you how long they’re good for but it wouldn’t matter because they’ll be gone long before they go bad.

    *Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on your definition of “tablespoon-sized balls”

    *Mix it up! Chocolate and cranberries appealed to me, personally. You can swap either or both for chopped walnuts, almonds, peanuts, raisins, coconut flakes, mini m&ms, butterscotch chips, etc. Peanut butter may be swapped for Almond butter, and chia seeds for ground flax seeds. 

    *Want an extra kick? Try adding a few tablespoons of ground espresso! Yum! (I skipped this because- preggo). 

    Minnesota State Fair for Young Fam-bam’s. 

    Ahhhh the “Great Minnesota Get Together”, formally known as the Minnesota State Fair. 

    It’s a time for gluttony without guilt, exhilarating rides that bring child-like abandon to people of all ages, smelly yet adorable animals, a market full of merchandise for every quirky collection, and every joy you can think of… All on a stick (naturally). 

    It can be quite fun… And yet, quite exhausting; especially with children in tow. But what’s a state fair without families? 

    These are my tips on how to not only survive the state fair with children in tow, but how to ENJOY it!! 

    Photo is pre-food, pre-nap, and extremely accurate of our moods when we first arrived. Hahah!! 


    1. Leave the kids at home. Haha. The funny part is that I’m not joking. If you really want to enjoy the fair, consider going twice. Arrange for a babysitter, budget effectively for two trips to the fair, grab your honey, and have some child-free fun. Drink flights of beer (don’t worry- I didn’t forget I’m pregnant, we skipped that part), go see some live music, be in a news audience, eat food without having to sharing it with little humans with snot crusted above their lips, walk fast if you want to, walk slow if you want to. Heck, use the bathroom only when YOU want to. Do you. Trust me on this one. 
    2. Once you’ve had your time to be child-like and have your OWN fun, share it with the little ones! There are so many great activities for children of every age. Since you’ve already had your fun, you can truly relax and enjoy the little things that bring your kids joy. (See below for toddler aged suggestions! …I’ll update with more categories in a few years when we have older kids to entertain😉 )
    3. Have a plan. You know your children better than anyone, and what they will or will not do well with. Ours hates being confined to the stroller. Enter: child leash and Ergo. SERIOUSLY SO GOOD.  When the stroller is necessary, we are NOT above giving her handfuls of french fries, or when the day starts to catch up with her lack of napping, a little YouTube kids on my phone. No shame. 
    4. Study the map. Did you know that there are several lactation stations? These are super helpful for nursing in a quiet, cool place. Most of them also have relatively clean areas to change your diaper aged kiddos. So much nicer than the hard plastic (FILTHY) changing tables in the bathrooms. It’s also helpful to know where the bathrooms are as well, for the sake of small can’t-hold-it-very-long children. Lactation stations located at/provided by: MyTalk 107.1 (Underwood St), Tpt, Twin Cities PBS (outside 4H building), and at Care & Assistance (West Dan Patch). 
    5. Coupons!! Our family swears by the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. We buy it at Cub Foods for $5 every single year and save a TON of money. The coupons apply mostly to food, but there are several for rides and merchandise as well. You CAN give your kids every experience the fair has to offer without breaking the bank. 

    Activities for toddlers: 

    • Pet a bunch of animals. This one is kind of obvious. It’s the fair. Duh. Ellavie LOVED making all her favorite animal noises!! 
    • Outside of the barns there is a stand (forgive me- I can’t recall what it was called!! Pregnancy brain) that gives out FREE string cheese! That’s a win in my toddler’s world. 
    • Kidway offers age appropriate rides that even tots can enjoy! (we skipped this year). 
    • For a decent (or, you know, strap your kid into a high chair) meal, check out the dining halls. We went to the Hamline Dining hall because of a coupon from the bargain book. It was cool, relatively quiet, and had restaurant style high chairs. We were able to get a burger, roasted potatoes (several other sides to choose from as well!) and a pickle for just $5! There was also a soda machine where we were able to fill our water bottles and her sippy cup with ice and cold water.  
    • Near the Kidway and north of the 4H building there is the Baldwin park area that has an ENCLOSED large sandbox complete with dozens of buckets and shovels (and it’s FREE).  We spent a good chunk of time here. An area where your child can run and play freely without getting trampled by day drinkers or run over by the elderly scooter drivers is GOLD. Plus, she absolutely loved it. 
    • Organized activities: depending on the age and attention span of your toddler (ours is only 1.5), there are DOZENS of organized activities and exhibits geared toward children (many in the Baldwin Park area, Kidway, and PBS area mentioned above). They can do spin art, chalk drawings, “farm”, sing, meet characters from their favorite pbs kids shows, there’s a swing set vendor where you can test out equipment, etc.         

    I HIGHLY suggest downloading the Minnesota State Fair App- it lists all these activities and more; not to mention, provides an interactive map. Yay! 

          I hope you enjoy the fair as much as we did!!

          Summer Veggie Bake

          You know me- unless we’re talking about baked goods (we’re not), I just can’t follow a recipe; not even a good one… And most of the time, it works out in my favor. 

          This is one of those times. 

          While doing my regular, run-of-the-mill grocery shopping this week, I grabbed some eggplant and yellow zucchini. Perhaps I was inclined to do so because the only thing our garden yielded this year was basil, but hey, who knows. 

          Of course, I didn’t actually plan on what I was going to make with these vegetables. 

          Naturally, I typed the words ‘eggplant’ and ‘zucchini’ into Pinterest and up popped several yummy looking recipes. 

          I wasn’t in the mood for anything coated in bread crumbs- be it fried or baked; and then I stumbled upon THIS delightfully tempting recipe. 

          Though eggplant is hearty enough to stand alone without meat, my marathon running husband would not be satisfied without a substantial amount of protein at dinner time, so I added some chopped up chicken breast tenderloins (which I cooked in a slow cooker to keep this simple recipe, well… simple). 

          Then there’s me: my pregnant and indulgent self wouldn’t be satisfied without some sort of grain-y, carb-like side to pair all those veggies with. I went with a pre-seasoned 5 minute couscous (Near East brand; roasted garlic + olive oil) to keep things simple and quick; but you could substitute quinoa, rice, potatoes, pasta, or nothing at all if you so choose. That’s what I love about cooking. You can make just about anything your own!

          Lastly- I used dried parsley instead of fresh because it’s what I had (but stuck with the formentioned fresh basil since I have an abundance of the herb), and I added balsamic vinegar because I thought it would add another level of flavor. 

          Oh!  I also decreased the garlic by an entire clove; the author of the original recipe mentions it’s quite heavy on the garlic flavor, and garlic tends to stick with me longer than it does most people (not to mention it makes me slightly nauseous after the eating while pregnant, so there’s that as well). 

          Here’s my complete, modified version of the recipe, though I highly suggest mixing it up and making it your own!

          Summer Veggie Bake


          • 5-6 small chicken breast tenderloins
          • 2 medium yellow zucchini 
          • 1 large eggplant
          • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes 
          • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
          • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
          • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
          • 2/3 cup grated parmasen cheese 
          • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped 
          • 1 tbsp dried parsley 
          • 1/4 tsp freshly ground sea salt
          • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


          1. Cook frozen chicken in crockpot on high for 2 hours, or less if thawed. I lightly seasoned mine with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. There’s no hard and fast rule on this part. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked- it will finish off in the oven later. Remove and chop into 1 inch pieces. 
          2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a large baking dish with olive oil (I used Corningware). 
          3. Cut zucchini and eggplant into roughly 1 inch pieces and put into a large mixing bowl. 
          4. Halve tomatoes lengthwise (no reason for lengthwise- I just think it’s prettier!), add to bowl. 
          5. Add basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Toss. 
          6. Add chicken to the bowl and toss (I saved the chicken for last because I want the veggies to absorb most of the flavor first!)
          7. Pour into baking dish and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Cover with foil and bake an additional 10-20 minutes. (I went with 15!)
          8. Follow cooking directions for couscous or other side while dish is baking. 
          9. Remove veggie bake from oven, uncover, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. 
          10. Serve!