Bad karma and good chocolate

Have you ever had one of those days where you knew the whole day was going to be off before you even left the house?

You know the kind. You’re just leisurely walking the dog (emphasis on the leisurely because your dog suddenly walks like a 90-year old who needs a hip replacement) when your phone jumps out of your pocket and shatters on the wet cement.

This weather has us all like…

A video posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

There’s something off in the universe, you think.

And how could you not wonder. Just a few hours prior the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. No seriously. They did. And they deserved it. Life will never be the same.

Do you ever think door frames and counter corners are out to get you?

Me neither.

Pop quiz.

Which of these items are essential for a successful post-work gym session?

A. Hair tie

B. Workout underwear

C. TWO socks

D. All of the above

Any guess what all these situations have in common? They require you to adapt. To shift. To consider wearing your glasses more often and to put out as much good karma as you can by texting your Cubs fan friends and family and telling them how happy you are for them.

Chocolate helps too. So here is a chocolate recipe I planned to post separately, but will now be forever linked to a really random few paragraphs about a string of bad luck and the team that finally broke the curse.

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Spooky Spiderweb Trifle 

  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 C Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • Oreos (I used Halloween Oreos)
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Cool Whip

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In a large bowl, mix cold water (or milk) into chocolate pudding mix. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Chop brownies and Oreo cookies.

Fold half of Cool Whip into pudding mix.

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Beginning with brownies, layer brownies, pudding mix, chopped Oreos in a trifle dish. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or reach the top.

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Add remaining Cool Whip to top. Drizzle chocolate syrup in a spiral. Using a toothpick, pull toothpick from center out to edge as if you are slicing a pie or a pizza.

Bonus points if you have a fake spider to add in the center. I didn’t so my spider is hiding under the whip cream and all you can see are her creepy eyes.

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All the fall things

I’ve been meaning to write this post for several weeks now but the truth is I’ve been too busy taking 1,000 photos of trees with changing leaves to get around to it.

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That’s what fall will do to you after a few years away.

It’s science.

And judging from the physiological reaction I had the first time I smelled a bonfire this season, consider me well-conditioned.

I realize that not everyone shares my love for crunchy leaves under their feet and nearly every iteration baked goods containing pumpkin you can squeeze into a few short months, so I thought I’d share a few of ways you too can fall in love with fall this season.

1.Check out a local fall festival. We were fortunate to get into town just in time for the 30th annual St. Charles Oktoberfest, complete with commemorative beer steins, traditional dancers and some of the best latkes I’ve ever tasted.

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2. Go for a brisk fall run. Or in my case, train for half of a half marathon while living in Florida, get one magical long run in where it was 60 degrees and then try not to melt on race day when temps reached the mid-80s. (coming soon: a fall running tour of the katy trail)

katy_arch3. Get into the Halloween spirit. (coming soon: oreo mummy recap. Pumpkin muffin recipe can be found here.) oreo_pumpkin

4. Buy a pumpkin. Or two. Or Seven.

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5. Make a big batch of chili. And eat it as you begrudgingly delete all of the leaf and tree photos on your phone. (solid vegetarian chili recipe here.)

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Bonus points if you have a dog that just so happens to perfectly match all things fall and loves the weather so much he happily sits on the front porch to feed your fall habit.

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Happy fall y’all!

Relocation: One Penske Truck at a Time

Oh hey guys. Sarah here. Sorry it’s been a while, but things have been pretty crazy with the move back to the Midwest. If you’re thinking to yourself, how crazy can it be just loading your life into a truck and driving it 16 hours? Well, if you want to go ahead and grab yourself a 5 hour energy and a Red Bull, I’ll tell you. And don’t skimp on the good stuff. No amount of coffee will be enough for this ride.

Let’s start back at the end of August. The sun was shining and a yet-to-be named yet storm system was gaining strength out in the Gulf just in time for us to pick up our first Penske truck from the local dealer in Sarasota.

And then, as if Sarasota was showing it’s emotion at our leaving, the rain started to fall. Hard.

As Matt waited for the truck to arrive in the rain, I headed back towards the house to meet the movers, pausing briefly as I drove through an already flooded road just outside the Penske lot.

Timestamp: 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.

Per the advice of Brock at the Sarasota Penkse (let’s go ahead and name each one by location for future clarification purposes), we waited to pick up the car hauler until after the truck was loaded. That meant 3-4 more hours of rain before we had to drive a moving truck and a CR-V back through the flooded road, which was now a full-on river.

Should we have seen the signs we were set for an adventure when we were blocked by floodwaters at the only road that would lead us to Penske?

Or perhaps when they told us the trailer we rented wouldn’t fit on a 22-foot truck and we’d need to swap it out for a different one before we even left? Perhaps. But we documented our exit from the Sarasota Penkse with a hopeful smile as the weather guy reported that I-9 was now a Tropical Storm projected to make landfall as Hurricane Hermine near the panhandle of Florida by Thursday.

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We’ll be on our way to Tennessee by that time, we optimistically thought. 

We were just north of Ocala when this happened.
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And if you’re asking yourself, well how far did you make it before the first truck broke down?

This far.

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A mere two hours in the rain to a truck stop just north of Ocala.

And unfortunately that’s as far as we’d make it for a few hours. Lisa’s husband, or brother or ex-husband informed us that we were not going to make it far with this particular sounds like its going to die, floor boards are melting my feet, jerking, shaking, AC and radio shorting out truck that is currently packed to the very edge with all of our belongings.

Now the good news is we were just 10 miles away from the Ocala Penske where they informed us that they had another truck of the same size waiting for us. We could spend the night in Ocala or they could call another set of movers to come over that night and ‘swap the load.’ We opted for the latter to try stay ahead of the storm, still hoping to make our reservation in Atlanta that evening.

Here’s a snapchat snapshot of what followed:

So they swapped the load and we set off for Atlanta Wednesday night but only made it as far as Valdosta to sleep for the night. The truck seemed better but as we set out Thursday morning, we ran into similar problems around Macon. After a brief stop at the Macon Penske dealership we were told nothing was wrong with Truck #2 and on we went.

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By this point I was googling Penske dealers out ahead of our drive and basically calling them to tell them we were coming. Just before the mountains on Thursday afternoon, we made a call into the Dalton, GA Penske and told them we were bringing our second truck in for service as there was no way we were going to make it through the mountains with it.

I’ll never forget the look on the lead mechanics face when he came into the break room and gave us the news as if we were getting a terminal diagnosis from a physician.

Unfortunately we’ve seen this issue on a lot of these trucks before guys and it’s not good. It looks like this truck was just serviced for the same issue a few months ago and they didn’t fix it. It’s not good guys. It’s at least a 4-day job. But you came to the right place. We are the place all of the other dealers bring their trucks because our technicians are diamond certified. 

And then he said the words that became oh-so-familiar to us so quickly.

Guys, we’re going to have to swap the load. 

Why don’t you go enjoy a nice dinner on us while we see about getting the movers here. 

And then he said the words that would save us for the rest of the trip.

We’re not going to give you another 22-foot truck. We’re going to tow a new 26-foot truck down from Chatanooga. It has air brakes and less than 17,000 miles on it and should be a more comfortable ride for the remainder of your trip. 

So we went and enjoyed a nice dinner at Chilis and tried to find humor in the last two day’s events.

Timestamp: 9:00 p.m., Thursday, September 1, 2016

Timestamp: 8:00 a.m., Friday, September 2, 2016

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Our new truck was amazing and we finally made it to St. Louis Friday evening, just a few days later (and a few more swapped loads) than we originally planned.

I’ll be back for part two where we unpacked boxes and found out how much of our stuff broke in the aforementioned load swapping.

And if you are wondering whether we would ever use Penske again after three trucks and as many days of moving, the answer is maybe. I don’t plan on ever moving ourselves again so that shouldn’t be a problem, but I will say their roadside and customer service made up for the crappy line of 22-foot trucks they acquired.

Until next time!

 

Seasonal Changes

Pop quiz.

Where’s home to the one of the most successful franchises in baseball and soon two Zalewskis and a Finnegan Murphy?

Hint for Cubs fans: they have 11 World Championships so Chicago is out.

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The first American city to host the Olympics.

Hometown to Jackie Joyner Kersey, Maya Angelou and perhaps most importantly, hip-hop artist and new country breakout, Nelly.

Batter up. The Zalewskis are taking our talents to St. Louis this fall.

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But why on earth would you leave Sarasota, home to the best beaches in the country, year-long sunshine, arts, culture and the most laid-back dress code you’ll ever encounter?

Decent Wednesday evening.

A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

A. Because we really miss gray winters and snow

B. Because alligators, fire ants and Trump supporters

C. Because we just love everything that goes into packing boxes and moving across the country

D. Because we were offered an earlier-than-expected opportunity to finally put down roots in a community we love, closer to friends and family and just in time to enjoy the best season the midwest puts on each year (insert all the I love fall hashtags here).

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If you answered “D” (with a sprinkle of “B”) you’re correct.

And while we are sad to leave Sarasota and everything never having to wear coats and closed-toes shoes has to offer, we know this is the right move for our family in the long run.

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Besides, since the Rams left town we won’t have to worry about standing in our driveway doing the SuperBowl Shuffle every Sunday.

You may be asking what our only sits under the AC vent, lover of the beach but not the water, greater swiss MOUNTAIN dog may be thinking about heading back to the midwest?

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Well, he loves car rides and cooler temps so we can only imagine he’ll love it as much as we think he will.  
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There’s at least one family member who will be pumped for a snow again after 3 years of 80-degree Decembers.

So that’s that. A little life update for you. My apologies for only using the blog for the occasional recipe and huge life change announcement.

You can rest assured that as soon as I come to grips with the fact that we just moved into a new house 4 months ago and have to do it again in less than 5 weeks, I’ll be back with more of the good stuff.

Until then we’ll be soaking up all of the sunsets and August humidity we can before heading back “home” this fall.

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Patriotic Pie: Behind the Scenes

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be the type of blogger who plans out recipes. I picture her sitting in a clear acrylic chair just off her kitchen at a built-in desk with various Pottery Barn dry erase calendars and magnetic boards above her head, sipping a latte while casually writing a post on her MacBook Air about how perfectly her Saturday Morning Chocolate Soufflé came out of her double-oven just minutes prior.

She schedules it to publish the following Saturday at 7:45 a.m. because she’s already got this week’s posts lined up so that perfectly fluffy and not about to deflate soufflé will just have to wait it’s turn.

She’s organized and she’s probably getting compensated by Ghirardelli for the whole damn thing.

If any of those thoughts cross your mind whenever you scroll Instagram or Pinterest and spot a too pretty to eat food photo, then get out of my head because we are the same person.

Kidding. Kind of.

Truth is I’m sure those bloggers exist. I’m even more sure that I am not one of them. Let me walk you through the Sarah stages of recipe post planning.

Sunday, July 3rd, 10:28 p.m.

Friend sends you a picture of her American Pie. Literally. Stars and Stripes and berries galore.

Now you want pie.

Monday, July 4, 4:30 p.m.

You decide that now’s as good a time as any to make a pie. Or a tart. OK, something with crust and berries because you have both and not much more.

Googles recipes that include berries and pie crust. 

Most tart recipes call for a filling that requires cream cheese. You don’t have cream cheese. Or cream. Or any filling essentials really. You narrow your focus to pies.

Googles recipes that include berries and pie crust and no cream filling. 

Monday, July 4, 5:30 p.m.

OK so now your’e making a pie but you’ve already pressed your crust into a tart pan.

You already start brainstorming funny names for a tart+pie combo. 

Partie in the U.S.A.? Artie? Tie?

Ok, but seriously you should probably just make the pie.

You add the filling to the tart and end up with just enough extra dough for three stripes but no stars.

Thaws out more dough.

Monday, July 4, 6:30 p.m.

You have to concentrate really hard to remember how to correctly carve a symmetrical star using only a paring knife.

You are actually pretty impressed with your ability to carve a symmetrical star using only a paring knife.

Snaps far too many photos of pre-baked pie for fear baking will completely disfigure your stars and stripes.

Monday, July 4, 6:40 p.m.

Pie is in oven. Focus immediately shifts from design to taste potential.

You’re now convinced that not only is it going to probably look like crap, but it may not taste good either.

Did you even add sugar? 

Monday, July 4, 7:20 p.m. 

Pietart is done and still resembles flag. Maybe you should blog this one.

Takes hot pie outside onto hot patio to capture it with what little natural light is left.

Monday, July 4, 9:30 p.m.

You finally taste pie and realize that you didn’t waste all your time taking photos of a pie that tastes like crap.

Happy Birthday America.

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Patriotic Pie (adapted from the Casual Craftlete)

  • 1.5 pie crusts (1 for bottom and half for topping)
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint whole blueberries
  • ½ cup  sugar (plus a little for dusting)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBL water
  • Flour for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse and slice strawberries. Place rinsed berries in bowl and mix with cornstarch and sugar. Set aside.

Roll pastry on mat until circle is a little larger than your pan. Press dough into prepared pan. Trim edges.

Pour berry mixture into center of pan and spread out.

Trim remaining pastry dough into patriotic shapes. Place over berries and connect to edges of crust.

In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes or until filling bubbles and pastry turns golden brown.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Hope that your readers don’t think you scheduled blogged this from your Pottery Barn desk weeks before the Fourth of July because now they know how randomly your blog posts originate.

Thanks for following along anyways!

Trifles and Patriotism

What’s red, white and blue and inappropriately timed on a random weekend between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July?

Sarah’s version of a triple berry trifle of course.

Because why would someone make this in time for the first patriotic holiday of the year, or instead wait until the second patriotic holiday of the year when they could randomly decide to bring it to a friend’s house for dessert on a completely plain Sunday?

If the above statement sounds like you then we should be friends. If you are my husband, stop rolling your eyes at yet another moment when your wife threw things together at the last minute and pretended like it was in the works all along. That’s just how she rolls and you married her so let’s just grab a spoon and dig in together shall we?

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The nice thing about trifles is that they are fairly easy to make. In fact, it typically takes more time to gather and chop the ingredients than it does to put the entire thing together.

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You may remember this recipe from a few years ago. If you want to revisit it and see how cute and tiny my friend’s little girl was at the time, head on over to the previous post to check it out.

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If you’re like me and you remake a recipe forgetting that you actually made and posted it already three years ago then stick around and read below for the aforementioned triple berry trifle revisited.

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Triple Berry Trifle (feeds 4-6 or 1-2 depending on how hungry the fellas are)

  • 1 package shortcake cups, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries

Pudding Layer:

  • 6 TBL sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 9 oz fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium bowl, whisk water and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Add pudding mix and stir for another minute or so. Let mixture set for 1-2 minutes. Fold in cool whip. Set aside.

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Start with a layer of cake and then alternate blueberries/raspberries, pudding mixture and sliced strawberries. Repeat until you reach desired height, run out of ingredients, or just become disgusted at just how large that trifle dish is. Feel free to get creative once you reach the top layer or just copy the photo like I do whenever I’m re-creating a recipe “on my own.”

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Matters of the heart

They say time flies when you’re having fun.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

And they also say you should probably create your wedding video prior to the eve of your first anniversary.

Well I say two out of three ain’t bad.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our wedding day. On the one hand it feels like just yesterday we were finalizing details and using all the big-ticket grandparent prayers we could for what turned out to be a beautifully sunny and warm spring day. On the other hand it seems like so much has happened over the past 365 days:

  • We visited 8 countries (ok so Matt visited 8. I only got to tag along for 3 of them)
  • italy, bologna, rome, venice, florence, honeymoon, air canada, duomo, colloseum We hosted our first Florida Thanksgiving
  • Happy Florida Thanksgiving from the Murphalewskis! 🦃🌴

    A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

  • We moved into a new home (still a few vacancies for visitors during hurricane season)

Dinner and a view. 🌅

A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

  • We enjoyed some romantic meals and date nights

Romantic training room lunch today with @mtzalewski.

A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

Cheers to date night. How in the world did I get so lucky? 😆 #zalewskidate

A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

  • And we had a lot of visitors

Two out of three are already on their second icee in as many innings. #gobirds

A photo posted by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

So since I’m sure my husband is already celebrating our anniversary across the world right now in Goa, India (barring another record heat-induced power outage), I thought I’d share my better late than never look back on the day that I was blessed with the opportunity to walk through life holding this guy’s hand.
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Sarah + Matt

(photos courtesy of the oh-so-talented Wright Photographs)