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You notice back-to-school sales at every store. You can no longer lie outside and tan until 9 pm every day. Your morning commute is being slowed down by a barrage of yellow buses. The temperature no longer hits triple digits every day of the week.

austin forecast

Only one 100° day in a week? That’s practically winter, by Austin standards.

It’s happening. Summer is nearing its end, and the return of fall is nigh.

It seems only yesterday we were sharing recipes for frozen cat treats, doggie ice cream, and pup-sicles and debating whether or not you should shave your pet for summer. But, alas, nothing gold can stay.

Hey, wait…Fall’s not so bad! Fall means farmer’s markets with dog-friendly produce such as apples and sweet potatoes. Also…we technically still have a month of summer. (You can keep making ice cream.)

fall equinox 2013

Okay, I was being dramatic. We still have a month of summer.

But if you’re in the market for a natural, chewy dog treat with a more autumnal taste, look no further than these homemade dried sweet potato treats. These treats are made of a single, whole-food and are completely natural and grain-free (good if your dog has allergies or you’re just into that kind of thing). Additionally, the treats are dried out so well that they should take a while to chew, meaning that they will keep your dog busy and provide him with chewing stimulation that he might otherwise seek in your closet.

dog ate louboutin

A dog with refined tastes, via dogshaming.tumblr.com

The following recipe is based on this post at 17 Apart and the number of treats yielded depends on the size and number of sweet potatoes used. If you have a food dehydrator, this recipe should be a lot quicker, but these treats can be made via a slow dehydration process in a standard oven (the process used in the following instructions).

Supplies:

sweet potatoes at farmer's market

Sweet potatoes at farmer’s market via Natalie Maynor’s flickr

Large sweet potatoes

The bigger the better! Use as many as you think you will have room for in your oven. This is a long process and you probably don’t want to commit to making a few batches in a row.

Mandoline or sharp knife

Cutting Board

Baking sheets

Again, you’ll probably want to make all of the treats in one go, so make sure you have multiple baking sheets available, rather than just trying to do one batch at a time using the same single baking sheet.

Nonstick spray

Or other fat of your choosing, used to grease the baking sheets

Oven

Or a food dehydrator, if you happen to have one of those. These directions are for a conventional oven.

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to the lowest possible setting.

Step 2: Cut the Potatoes

No need to peel the potatoes before slicing. Slice off one tip of each sweet potato so that the potatoes balance more easily while slicing. Cut thick lengthwise slices of the sweet potatoes using the knife or mandoline. You want the slices to be about 1/3” thick, as they will lose almost all of their moisture in the oven and reduce in size. The thicker you cut the potatoes, the “meatier” the finished treats will be.

Step 3: Prepare Slices for Baking

Grease the baking sheets with nonstick spray or other fat of your choosing. Place the slices flat on the sheet. The slices can touch, but shouldn’t overlap. Use as many baking sheets as necessary to accommodate the potato slices.

sweet potatoes before baking

Sweet potatoes before baking via 17 Apart

Step 4: Bake!

Put the baking sheets on the top racks of the oven and leave them there until the slices have reached desired doneness. You’ll leave them in for less time if you want softer, chewier treats and for a longer amount of time for drier, tougher treats. You can expect the dehydrating process to take about 8 hours.

For best results, turn the oven off when the treats are almost fully dry to the touch and leave the treats in the oven for a few more hours (or overnight).

Step 5: Enjoy!

Voila! You now have homemade, all-natural treats that will provide a challenge to your dog. Be sure to supervise your dog when eating tough treats, as fragments can break off and pose a choking hazard.

sweet potatoes after baking

Finished treats via 17 Apart

Would you make these treats for your dog? Do you have any treat recipes of your own? Share in the comments below!

 
 

DIY Pet-Proof Placemat

Friday, August 16, 2013 by

cat in shower

No need for messy eaters to take their meals in the tub, just put a mat under their bowls!

Is your dog or cat a messy eater? Do you find yourself sweeping kibble off the kitchen floor or mopping up spilled water on a regular basis? Tired of looking at the soaked dirty newspaper you have put under your pet bowls to minimize floor damage?

This week’s DIY project is a cute solution to this messy eater problem. This project (inspired by this one at Pink Chalk Studio) yields a customized, durable floor mat which can be placed under your pets’ bowls to keep your floor mess-free.  Also, this mat is super simple to make and can be simply wiped clean when it gets dirty.

If you want a mat for your pet’s dishes and don’t want to go through the trouble of making one yourself, check out Petmate’s offerings.

Supplies:

Waterproof fabric

Oilcloth or any other laminated fabric will work. The amount you need will depend on the size of your mat, which is determined by the size of your pet’s bowls, which is determined by your pet’s size. Use your best judgment.

Sewing machine

diy pet mat

Photo via Kathy Mack’s flickr

Straight pins

Thread

Scissors

Border fabric/ribbon (optional)

Step 1: Cut Your Fabric

This is where your creativity comes in—right at the beginning of the project. After choosing a suitably whimsical or minimal fabric for your mat, choose what shape you want your mat to be. For a cat, consider a fish or the outline of a cat’s head. For a dog, try a bone shape. Or just keep it simple with a geometric shape (rectangle, oval, etc.). Keep in mind that you will have to sew around the edges of whatever shape you choose, so consider your sewing machine skills before committing to a life-size outline of your dog.

You’ll be sewing together two pieces of fabric, so whatever shape you choose, make sure that the two fabric pieces are identical in size and shape. Additionally, you will want the laminated side of the fabric to be exposed on both sides of the finished mat, so account for that in your cutting if you are making an asymmetrical shape.

cat head template fabric

Draw out your desired shape on the non-laminated side of the fabric.

If you’re feeling confident, you can freehand the shape. Otherwise, draw out your shape on the non-laminated side of one piece of fabric, cut it out, and then use the cut shape as a template for your second piece of fabric.

Step 2: Pin the Pieces Together

Place the two pieces of fabric together so that the non-laminated sides are touching. Pin the two pieces together, lining up the edges as best you can. Pins can leave small holes in oilcloth, so if this is a concern for you be sure to pin as close to the edges as possible.

diy mat line up pieces

Make sure that the two non-waterproof sides of the fabric pieces are touching when you pin them together.

Step 3: Sew the Pieces Together

Using a sewing machine, sew the two pieces of the mat together along the edges. You now have a basic mat to place under your pet bowls.

diy mat sewn

Basic mat without border. Waterproof on both sides.

If you’d like to jazz up the mat a bit and protect the edges from wear and tear, continue on to the next steps.

Step 4: Create Border Fabric

Choose a thick, wide (about 2-3” wide) ribbon or fabric in a color or print that complements the fabric of your mat. Place the fabric good side down and fold in the long edges so that they just meet in the middle. Pin the edges. Sew the edges down, trying to place the seams near the center. You should have a long, narrow piece of fabric with two seams near the center, as shown in the diagram below.

folded border fabric

Fabric should be folded and sewn so that the long edges just touch in the middle, with the good side of the fabric facing down.

Step 5: Pin the Border to the Mat

Place the center of the border fabric onto the edge of the mat and fold the halves of the border fabric down so that each side of the mat has an even amount of border fabric showing. Pin this down.

Step 6: Sew the Border to the Mat

Use the sewing machine to sew the border to the mat on both sides. Depending on the shape of your mat and your sewing finesse, you may have to cut separate strips of border fabric to cover each edge, but ideally the border will be one continuous strip of fabric. It doesn’t have to be perfect—remember, this mat is to catch fallen kibble!

DIY mat final pink background

Cat head mat with border.

Step 7: Place Under Your Pet’s Bowls

Voila! You’ve made a stylish (or tacky, depending on your fabric choices) homemade mat which will keep your floors clean of pet food mess. To clean, simply wipe off the mat with a damp paper towel. Or take it out back and hose it off. We won’t judge.

What do you think of this project? Have any ideas for DIY pet projects? Share your thoughts in the comments below!