04 December 2019

Month in Review - November 2019


Another busy month has passed, the last month of this decade has arrived (can you believe it?) and the holiday season is in full swing. Hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving! But, before I get bogged down with planning planning our family Christmas feast and New Year's Eve party, it's time to recap. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for November 2019, chosen by you, the readers:

I'd like to take this opportunity to share a little insight into living with canine epilepsy - a subject matter near and dear to my heart. As many of you probably know, the two dogs pictured above were my Epi-warriors, Lana and Darren. They both developed Idiopathic Epilepsy...

Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837 - 1898), affectionately called Sisi by her close family members, was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time and a style icon...

3.  Wholesome Canine Nutrition: Lip-Smacking Thanksgiving Dinner



Thanksgiving is a most treasured holiday. It's a time when we gather with our family members and friends to celebrate, eat delicious foods and enjoy each others company. Every family has their own, unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving, and most pet parents like to include their furry children in those celebrations. Many dog and cat owners enjoy sharing their home cooked foods with their pets...

4. Book Cover Reveal: EXCERPTS FROM THE IMPERIAL DIARY - A Country Girl Empress Novel


I am so excited to reveal the cover of my upcoming historical fiction novel: EXCERPTS FROM THE IMPERIAL DIARY - A Country Girl Empress Novel. To make it a little more interesting, I decided to turn it into a game. Below, you will find two images of the new book cover, but there's a difference. Can you spot it?...

5. Empress Elisabeth of Austria: The Animal Lover



Over the last few weeks, I've received several inquiries asking me to write at least one article about some lesser-known facts regarding the main character of my Country Girl Empress series, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. Since I share the trait of being an animal lover with the late Empress, I thought it was only fitting to start with this little known fact...

Thank you for reading my blog! Please feel free to come by often to catch up on my latest endeavours and Happy Reading!



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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27 November 2019

Wholesome Canine Nutrition: Lip-Smacking Thanksgiving Dinner


Thanksgiving is a most treasured holiday. It's a time when we gather with our family members and friends to celebrate, eat delicious foods and enjoy each others company. Every family has their own, unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving, and most pet parents like to include their furry children in those celebrations. Many dog and cat owners enjoy sharing their home cooked foods with their pets, usually by way of sneaking a few bites off their plate underneath the table. 

It is, therefore, imperative to know which foods are safe and which are considered toxic to pets. Especially if your dog already enjoys the benefits of home-cooked food or even a raw food diet, then a few bites from your plate should be fine to share. However, if your furry companion is accustomed to a commercial kibble diet only, it is essential to know their level of stomach sensitivity to avoid an upset stomach. If you feel uncertain that the foods you'll be serving will be safe for your canine, you can always cook a special homemade meal for your furry child. Here's one of my favourite recipes:

Canine Thanksgiving Dinner


Ingredients 

2 Cups of ground or shredded turkey
1 Cup of sweet potato cubes
1 Cup of potato cubes
1/2 Cup of pumpkin puree 
1/2 Cup green beans
1/2 Cup peas
1/2 Cup chopped carrots
2 Tbsp Olive Oil





Instructions

- Heat olive oil in a pan and brown turkey meat. 
- Cut vegetables into chunks and boil them until they are soft. 
- Combine all ingredients and let meal cool until it's safe to eat.









It is vital to be aware of the foods that are considered unsafe and even toxic for pets to consume. Do not feed your fur baby anything that contains onions, garlic, grapes or raisins, artificial sweeteners to include Xylitol, coffee, yeast or bread dough, macadamia nuts, chocolate or alcohol...just to mention a few. For more in-depth information, please contact your veterinarian. 

It is also important to keep in mind that those family gatherings can be rather loud, depending on how big your family is. Therefore, it is a good idea to provide a safe and quiet place for your dog to retreat to. The holidays can be very hectic and busy time for all of us, and unfortunately, some of our furry companions do not tolerate loud noise and large crowds very well. So, be aware of your dog's needs and everyone should be able to enjoy this special time of the year. 

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!


                                                                   Piper

PS: Interested in more pet friendly recipes? You can find them in my book LIVING WITH CANINE EPILEPSY.  


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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20 November 2019

Empress Elisabeth of Austria: The Obsessive Beauty Queen



Teenaged Sisi
Source
Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837 - 1898), affectionately called Sisi by her close family members, was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time and a style icon. But this transformation didn't happen overnight. When she was a teenager, Sisi was rather plain-looking and at one point, could even be called plump. Then, after giving birth to her first child, Archduchess Sophie Friederike Dorothea Maria Josepha, this beautiful woman began to emerge.

Since a marriage proposal from Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria couldn’t be refused, they got married on the 24th of April 1854. However, the marriage was an unhappy one. The teenaged Empress, who had always longed for freedom and independence, found herself imprisoned in a golden cage called the Austrian imperial court for the rest of her life.

Perhaps it’s because of this that she became obsessed with her appearance. Staying thin was important to her. She was quite horrified by the sight of fat people or just the thought of becoming fat. She was preoccupied with her body weight and ensured she never weighed more than 50 Kilograms; a rather low weight considering she was 5 foot 8 inches tall. She was also repulsed by physical intimacy, hated what her pregnancies did to her body, and despised the thought of growing old.

So, how did this beautiful woman take care of herself?






Maintaining Her Slim Figure

Look at that tiny waist!
Source
Sisi had an incredibly slim figure and maintained a 19-inch waist throughout her adult life. She went to great lengths to keep it that way, and even slept with a cold, wet towel wrapped around her midsection to keep the muscles of her abdomen taut and supple. The Empress of Austria followed a stringent diet. She often only drank a bit of milk, freshly-pressed meat juice, or a mixture of egg whites and salt and ate a few slices of oranges or violet ice cream (her favorite). In addition, she frequently procured laxatives from the imperial pharmacy. To accentuate her slim waist, Sisi wore a tight-laced corset. Quite often she was sewn into her opulent dresses and gowns, so no lumps, bumps or creases from clasps and buttons were visible. 















The Empress was one of the best equestriennes of her time, and when riding began to cause her too much joint pain, she turned to excessive walking. While walking was a common pastime, and often a recommended type of exercise for women of the time, Sisi enjoyed going on long walks that could last up to 10 hours. Even the pitiful protests of her ladies-in-waiting who accompanied her never stopped the Empress.

The Empress was a world-class equestrienne
Source


Sisi's "gym" at the Hofburg Palace
Source
Sisi was also obsessed with gymnastics and worked out every day. It was a pastime that attracted a lot of criticism from courtiers as well as the imperial physician, as it was considered eccentric and indeed unseemly. After all, who wanted a sweaty Empress!? She even went as far as having workout equipment installed in her rooms at the Hofburg Palace, Schoenbrunn Palace, and the Hermesvilla. 

Today, many historians believe that the Empress suffered from Anorexia Nervosa. Undoubtedly, she led a life that many others envied but was filled with duties, restrictions, and demands. Her life was strictly regulated by court etiquette and the Spanish Court Ceremonial. She was not allowed a personal life, which made her feel out of control. However, the one thing she could control was her appearance.








Her Majesty's Skincare

Empress Elisabeth used lots of creams and lotions on her face and body. She didn't stick to a specific one but often liked to experiment. Some of these concoctions sound delightful, like the strawberry pulp or rose petals used as a facial mask. Others were rather gross and somewhat disturbing, even by today's standards. For example, thin slices of raw veal placed on Sisi's face and then held in place by a leather mask overnight. I can only imagine how appalled her husband must have been at the sight of her with that contraption covering her features!

To keep her skin soft, Elisabeth often bathed in warm water infused with olive oil and used a lotion called Cream Celeste. It was a mixture of spermaceti, Cera Alba, sweet almond oil, and glycerin. This rich cream kept her skin well-moisturized, especially during the long winters. 

Empress Sisi may have starved herself, exercised beyond exhaustion to maintain her thin figure, and tried every concoction to keep per face looking young and fresh, but preferred her natural beauty to artifice. She hardly ever wore makeup and was hypercritical of women who, in her opinion, wore too much coloring. One of those women was the strikingly handsome Princess Pauline von Metternich. Of her, the Empress wrote in her diary: “She wears two inches of red powder on her lips and is dressed in material from countries that are far away even though she is too flat." 

Imperial Hair Care

Empress Elisabeth had luscious, chestnut-brown locks that almost touched the ground. Her hair was her pride and crowning glory, and she spent two to three hours per day sitting on a chair or on the billiard table to have it combed and styled. 

The Imperial Hairdresser
Franziska (Fanny) Feifalik nee Angerer
Source
In April 1863, Sisi hired Franziska (Fanny) Feifalik nee Angerer as her personal hairdresser and drew a lot of criticism at court because Fanny was a former theater hairdresser. The Empress had seen a beautiful hairstyle on the lead actresses one evening and wanted to know who was responsible for it. So, Fanny changed her job and became at least partly responsible for Sisi's famed beauty. It was not easy to work for such a demanding employer, but, on the other hand, Fanny Feifalik earned the same as a university professor at the time. For her efforts, she was eventually awarded the title of "Imperial Hairdresser".

Sisi would sit on a low chair in the center of her dressing room, while Fanny, dressed in white, including white gloves, would comb and style her hair into elaborate up-does. Once the procedure was done, the stray hairs would be collected from the comb and counted. If too many had fallen out, the Empress would get upset. This prompted Fanny to attach adhesive strips on the inside hem of her apron to hide the wayward strands of hair, thus avoiding Sisi's inevitable temper tantrums.












Sisi with flowing hair
Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Source
Empress Elisabeth was rarely seen with her hair down. The famous paintings of her wearing a loose robe with her hair unbound were intended for the private rooms of Emperor Franz Joseph, and not for the public eye. Since her hair was so long that it nearly touched the ground, it was also the cause for horrible headaches as it was so heavy. Nevertheless, she thought it her most precious beauty feature.

To pass the time while having her hair styled, the Empress studied languages such as Hungarian and Greek. Another, rather time-consuming procedure, was washing her hair. This was done every fortnight with a mixture of cognac and egg yolk and afterward conditioned with a so-called disinfectant. Once her hair was rinsed thoroughly, Sisi's hair was towel-dried and combed before she would walk up and down her dressing room until her hair was dry. Is it any wonder that it took the Empress all day to wash her hair?













The Empress hiding her face behind a fan
Source
All her efforts definitely bore fruit, and the Empress maintained her youthful looks well past her middle-age. At age 40, Sisi decided to refuse to be photographed of have her portrait painted and often hid her face behind a parasol or fan from opportunistic photographers. Everything contributed to the myth that Empress Elisabeth's beauty never diminished and to this day, is considered one of the greatest beauties of her generation.


















Want to know more about this fascinating yet complicated woman? Try the first three books of my Country Girl Empress series:



Related article: 

Empress Elisabeth of Austria: The Animal Lover



Over the last few weeks, I've received several inquiries asking me to write at least one article about some lesser-known facts regarding the main character of my Country Girl Empress series, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. Since I share the trait of being an animal lover with the late Empress, I thought it was only fitting to start with this little known fact...


by A. Piper Burgi

Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
Don't forget to share this post! Choose your platform below:

13 November 2019

November is #EpilepsyAwarenessMonth: A Day in the Lives of Two Epi-Warriors


I'd like to take this opportunity to share a little insight into living with canine epilepsy - a subject matter near and dear to my heart. As many of you probably know, the two dogs pictured above were my Epi-warriors, Lana and Darren. They both developed Idiopathic Epilepsy (Epilepsy with unknown cause) within two days of each other when Darren was two and Lana was four years of age. I did my best to provide them with everything they needed and the quality of life they deserved. But, in the end, Darren suffered a massive stroke, and Lana lost her battle with bladder cancer; they passed away within four days of each other. At which point, I decided to write a book about their journey called LIVING WITH CANINE EPILEPSY, to let everyone know that dogs with canine epilepsy can lead a happy and meaningful life. Prayers for all the Epi-Warriors out there...may they stay seizure free for a long time!

Epilepsy is a condition that globally affects over 65 million people. However, did you know that dogs can be afflicted with this ailment as well? Up to six percent of the canine population suffers from a form of epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy is the most diagnosed canine neurological disease. This is only a rough estimate since many cases of canine epilepsy remain undiscovered by the respective canine parents as dogs often experience their fits when they are inactive, late at night or during the early morning hours. So, throw on a purple shirt and let's raise epilepsy awareness for all sufferers, human and canine alike!

What is Canine Epilepsy?

Epilepsy manifests in terrifying ways, causing a dog to experience sudden, uncontrolled convulsions. First recognized in ancient times, Hippocrates referred to epilepsy as the “sacred” disease. However, nothing about it seems sacred! Watching a beloved companion suffer a seizure can be an extremely traumatic event. Learning to live with an animal with complex health issues is never easy. In general, we distinguish between two types of epilepsy - genetic and idiopathic. 

Genetic epilepsy is passed down from one generation to the next, and certain dog breeds are more prone to this form of epilepsy than others. 

Idiopathic Epilepsy is caused by unknown factors, and it is often difficult to predict what will trigger the next seizure or when.

Living with a dog that has epilepsy can be a daunting prospect, but with some help from a veterinarian and much planning, epileptic dogs can live a relatively normal, happy and meaningful life.

...no one had a seizure. We all got up around 6:00 am...well, Lana and Darren stuck their wet noses in my face to wake me up. Breakfast and the first dosage of daily meds by 7:00 am. Walk/jog, either outdoors when the weather permitted or on the treadmill by 10:00 am. Outings, errands, and playtime throughout the day. Dinner and the second dosage of daily medication by 7:00 pm. This schedule had to eventually be adjusted once Darren had to switched from Phenobarbital to Keppra, due to his hypertensive liver; a medication he had to take three times a day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

...one of my furry children or one after the other would have their first seizure of the day in the early morning hours, anywhere between midnight and 5:00 am. I wiped away excess slobber off the dog's face and administered a pill pocket with Valium in an attempt to prevent a vicious cycle of recurring seizures. Then it was time to give the dog a quick sponge bath to remove the remnants of urine and/or stool after the dog lost control of bladder and/or bowel due to the seizure. I cleaned/replaced the doggie bedding and adjacent carpeting as necessary, fed the patient a snack, provided a fresh bowl of water and the opportunity to relieve him/herself. I would put the dogs back to bed if it was still nighttime. I would sit on the floor next to the dog bed until they fell asleep again, and prayed that there wouldn't be any more epileptic episodes. Eventually, I crawled back into bed and attempted to go back to sleep. If we were lucky, no one had another seizure. If we were not so fortunate, then the above scenario repeated itself many times throughout the following day or two, and we would eventually end up spending the day at the vet clinic. 

How to Help Your Pup Through a Seizure

Whether your canine companion has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder or just experienced his/her first epileptic episode, it can be challenging to keep your wits about you during such a heartbreaking event. 

I took care of my two epi-warriors, Lana and Darren, for over four years, and today I'd like to share my basic practices for protecting your furry friend from coming to harm and minimizing the effects of a seizure with you.

Protecting your dog from injury during a seizure is essential. Many dogs will give off physical as well as behavioral indicators before convulsions begin (pre-ictal phase). If you notice signs of agitation or distress such as heavy panting, whining, or incessant pacing, lead your dog to a safe location, if possible, before the seizure begins. Spaces away from staircases, furniture, and cables are best. If at all possible, clear the area of items that could potentially injure your pup or may be knocked over such as breakables, decorations, candles, hard or sharp-edged furniture. If your dog is laying on the sofa or bed, lower your friend to the floor to prevent a fall, if it is safe to do so. Make hardwood and tile floors more comfortable with towels and blankets. Please, do not attempt to move your dog if the seizure has already begun! Instead, improvise by padding the area and blocking off potential hazards with towels, cushions, and blankets as your dog may be thrashing about, banging its head on a hard surface.

During a seizure, your canine’s brain is flooded with abnormal electrical impulses. Any additional stimuli in the form of bright light, loud noises or excessive touching can actually prolong its duration. While it is our instinctual need comfort our furry friends during a time of distress, please rest assured, that your pup is not in pain and is more than likely unaware of what's happening. Many times, dogs will bite the inside of their mouths during an epileptic episode, but it is physically nearly impossible to swallow or choke on their own tongue. So please, keep your hands out of your dog's mouth! Your furry friend has no control over their body during a seizure, and you would only end up getting inadvertently bitten. 





You can make the surrounding area more peaceful by:

- Removing other pets and people
- Turning down/off the TV or radio
- Dimming the lights/closing the curtains
- Not touching the dog
- Remain calm

While every second of a fit can seem like an eternity, in reality, they usually only last a few minutes. Most vets recommend timing the duration of the seizure(s) to determine if it is an emergency. It might also be useful to film the seizure, as it may provide helpful information to your veterinarian.

Although most seizures are not life-threatening, they do indicate an underlying medical problem. If your pup experiences a seizure for the first time or has possibly been exposed to a toxic substance, seek veterinary attention immediately. For animals with a diagnosed seizure disorder, the rule of thumb is: It's an emergency when an epileptic episode last longer than five minutes or the dog has more than three seizures within 24 hours.

For epi-warriors with recurring seizures, it can be helpful to keep a detailed log of any seizure activity you may observe to help your veterinarian diagnose the problem, identify potential seizure triggers, and determine future treatment options. It's a good idea to include information such as the length of each seizure, observed seizure activity like convulsions, “air-biting”, staring off into space, etc., whether or not bladder/bowel control was lost, and observed behavior before, after, and in-between seizures.







What I would like everyone to remember during this Epilepsy Awareness Month...it is not the end of the world if your dog has epilepsy. Yes, it is challenging to live with canine epilepsy, and there's no cure for this condition. However, it can be managed. There may be bumps in the road along your journey together, but you can get through it. Just take a deep breath and deal with it one day at a time.

To learn more about living with canine epilepsy, click here.



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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06 November 2019

Month in Review - October 2019




Wow, it's already November, and we are, slowly but surely planning our family Thanksgiving. Amazing how quickly yet another month has passed, and it's now time to recap. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for October 2019, chosen by you, the readers:

Over the last few weeks, I've received several inquiries asking me to write at least one article about some lesser-known facts regarding the main character of my Country Girl Empress series, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. Since I share the trait of being an animal lover with the late Empress, I thought it was only fitting to start with this little known fact...

2. The Silent Killer All Dog Owners Should Know About: Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia




This cutie is 'Zoey'. Our troubles with her began a couple of days before Halloween 2016. Zoey was extremely lethargic and had no appetite. All she wanted to do is stay in her bed and sleep. This was very unusual behaviour from the dog who usually couldn't wait to eat breakfast and dinner...


3. #WritersLife: Time Management for Writers




This week I struggled with my blog post. Not necessarily with the topic (although, there was a bit of that also), but mainly just finding the time to write. As a devoted dog mom of three high-energy pups, I am in the habit of pouring my heart and soul into each of my furry children every day.  Not to mention all my other responsibilities...


4. Record Keeping for Writers: The Essentials




You're a writer, and without a  doubt, you keep a copy of every story you've written. I'm sure you have plenty of files filled with fantastic story ideas, outlines, and descriptions. More than likely you also maintain a collection...


5. Howl-A-Ween Safety Tips for Pets




It is that time of year again! Halloween is finally here, and it can be such a festive and fun time for all. However, let’s face it, for our furry companions it can also be quite the nightmare. But it does not have to be this way...


Thank you for reading my blog! Please feel free to come by often to catch up on my latest endeavours and Happy Reading!



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
Don't forget to share this post! Choose your platform below: