The Team


It all began with Buffy, so I feel compelled to back up and mention her importance to us.

I got Buffy, my first four-legged kid, year one of college. I lived in a high rise apartment in downtown Portland, OR and everyone was against my getting a dog. I drove 2 hours in the pouring rain to get her after reading an add in the paper that spoke to me. She was a fluffy ball of white fur; all butt and head, no body, just like in the cartoon. Her head could fit into a coffee cup and I could hold her in the palm of my hand. Since pets weren’t allowed in the building, she learned to jump into a backpack to be escorted outside; a trick she continued to do for the rest of her years even though at one point, she no longer fit. The night I brought her home was the night my life was changed.

My husband, Tom, came into Buffy’s life when she was 8 but he felt as strongly about her as I and cried even more violently than I did when she passed. But for nearly 8 years, it was the 3 of us. I was much less aware of proper nutrition back then. It was not uncommon for her to get her own cheeseburger at Dick’s Drive-In or a continuous stream of bites from the dinner table; she even had her own seat. As I became more educated on the importance of reading labels and eating smart, she graduated from hamburger + Kibbles & Bits to fresh salmon + Prescription Diet duck & potato dog food; my dinner plate began looking different as well.

Fast forward to just shy of her sixteenth birthday and we had to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I couldn’t remember a time that Buffy was not a part of my/our life. And then she wasn’t.


She came to us 13 years ago, 10 weeks after Buffy passed away. We were not looking for her but I’m pretty sure Buffy sent her looking for us. Turned out her birthday was the day after Buffy passed? We didn’t find this out until after we had decided to bring her home.

Ginger is pampered beyond belief. She is smart and playful, cuddly yet independent. We think she must have been a dancer in a previous life because her back legs, not the front, are very long, she stretches like a cat and mimics yoga moves alongside me. She barks only when she has something special to say or when there is a knock on the door. She has many favorite spots in the house which she rotates through regularly, she has claimed our sofa as her own, and rather than a guest bedroom in our house, she has decided that sometimes she needs privacy which requires her own room; guests may stay there too. Most notably however, for our purposes here, there is the “orange square”. Meant only to be a transition “rug” but currently a permanent fixture at the head of my kitchen, keeping her pampered rump cushioned (sort of) from the wood floor as she watches me cook. It is to her what the blanket is to Linus from Peanuts; we don’t dare remove it now.

MEET BUDDY:  As of August 23, 2017, Buddy is only with us in spirit.  He will not be absent from this website, his presence will remain, in our hearts and in our kitchen.  Buddy had four very important legs, even when they couldn’t support him anymore.

He won our hearts without us even knowing what had happened. When he arrived at our house (adopted from Rebecca’s Rainbow via Fur Baby rescue at the age of ten), he was well worn, stinky and anxious (not because they didn’t take care of him but because he had a rotten tooth, had not eaten well most of his life and while his personality suggests he was loved early in life, he obviously lived through some traumatic experiences at some point). Next to Ginger, he looked much older even though they are the same age. Today, Buddy and Ginger both look much younger than their 13 years; something to be said for healthy living (and eating)!

Buddy is a character who was probably once a cowboy, an old crotchety one, or else he was a baby. On one hand, he walks bow-legged, stiff back end swaying side to side and likes to bounce up and down on my knee. On the other, once too frail and uncomfortable being picked up, he now loves to be carried like a baby, fetal position, tucked in tight to my chest; better yet, swathed in a blankie, chin resting on his stuffed panda. He barks only at squirrels, to go out, and food (this is a long story and part of his character) but he talks volumes with his eyes and tail. He mimics Ginger’s mannerisms as well as a love for her favorite spots. They like to jockey for position but respect each other’s boundary’s. He knows how to get me to do anything but is obedient and loyal. When we announced his arrival to our family, my brother said he had won the doggy lottery! We think he is right because he couldn’t be more loved, but we are the real winners.


My (occasional) stand-in ghost editor/writer is my husband, Tom. We finish each others sentences, balance each other out, and even after 20 years, still love to eat, live, work and play together. He is my sometimes witty copy editor/thought finisher and all around partner in life.

He will show up quite a bit here and when I am absent, he might even step in to report his (not so skilled) efforts in the kitchen. He has gotten past boiling water now and soon he’ll be on fries (inside joke). Actually he makes a good prep cook and is pretty skilled with a knife (he is meticulous and steady with his hands). Last time I left him alone, he even cooked a few meals, none of which required thawing. However, to date, he has yet to cook me a meal. Although, I get to cook and he does the laundry (jealous girls)?

Tom has his own graphic design studio (with a focus in experiential design, place making and way-finding). He has great talent and while he doesn’t cook, we have countless conversations about food + design and he offers critique, inspiration and great companionship, in and out of the kitchen.

He has supported me in sickness and health, good food and bad. Thanks to that support, he has been both Guinea & the Pig but will always be my number one!


He was instrumental, in getting this site off the ground both by creating the clever banner at the top of my page and by prodding me along to prioritize my busy life! It was he that helped me navigate the world of blogging to make it more approachable and helped educate me on my choices. Pete will be a translator for Buddy and Ginger from time to time when they want to write while I am away (think Mel Blanc from Looney Toons).

Pete is a freelance graphic designer with exceptional skill and a rare gift of exceptional wit. When combined, he captures exactly, every conundrum I have thrown his way. He was Tom’s roommate in college and the best man at our wedding, carrying the leash for our ring bearer, Buffy. He is part of our family.

8 thoughts on “The Team”

  1. Greetings from So. Oregon! I love visiting Portland, my hubby and I hop the train to escape the madness here and spend many weekends there. Your blog is awesome and love the title. Cheers!

  2. Victoria, it doesn’t look like I replied to this (thought I had). I see why you thought I lived in Portland; because I went to school there.

  3. Love to see/read about other people who love their furry friends. Mine is such a big part of my life and it’s fun to see how other people feel the same!

  4. Hello Stacey!
    I accidentally found this blog and then…WOW, realized who the legs belonged to. Long time no see.

    FANTASTIC blog (which I never blog, but will now as your follower). Love your recipes and creativity.

    Ciao Bella and cucciolies!

    • Stacey Bender said:

      Well hello stranger! How random of you to find me here but so glad you did. I have been pretty absent in my writing as of late but hopefully will get motivated here again soon. Ginger is almost 19 now and although slowing way down, still letting me know she loves eating my food.

      Hi to Paul and Cheers!

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