Category Archives: puppies

To Finn, with love

I’ve tried my best to fill this blog space with happy moments, decent recipes and bad jokes over the years, often leaving out some of the more serious sides of life for in-person updates in an effort to keep this space upbeat and positive.

But last week we lost a part of our family and key content contributor so I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a little time sharing the update with you as he played such a big (and often loud) role in our lives.

Last Thursday we said goodbye to our sweet Finn. For those of you who didn’t know or who hadn’t visited our home to see the Grandpa-sized (no offense Grandpa) day-of-the-week pill sorter that we used, Finn was diagnosed with canine epilepsy (seizures) when he was just over one year old. And while he lived a seemingly normal life (see posts about all the things he ingested-namely the cashmere scarf) in the four years since he was diagnosed, we knew this was a progressive disease that would likely end his life earlier than any of us had planned.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary

I could spend hours updating you on the specialists, medications and treatment of epilepsy in dogs, but if it’s ok with you, I’d rather just focus on the love and laughter he brought to everyone who spent time with him over his 5 years and all the adventures we had together.

swiss mountain dog puppy, west loop, chicago, mary bartelme park

The truth is, I probably don’t need to spend a lot of time telling you about Finn. He was my number one blog content contributor, by far the most photographed and overgrammed member of our family and the topic of many conversations with both strangers and friends.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd, puppy

He started out as ‘my dog’ just a few years after Matt and I started dating, but he quickly became ours as he won the heart of a former ‘not so sure about big dogs’ guy in Matt.

He spent his puppy years in Chicago learning to pee on command on a 3-foot-by-3 foot wood chip pile outside my one-bedroom condo and frolicking in the snow through polar vortexes. His teenage years were spent trading snow for sand and air conditioning during our time in sunny Sarasota. He was just as uninterested in squirrels as he was armadillos but give him a doorbell (on tv or in real life) and he pretended to be the toughest dog on the block.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

He shared my love for loving people, almond butter and brushing off clumsy encounters with sidewalks, door frames and tables as if no one saw them. And he shared Matt’s strength, stubbornness and ability to look photogenic no matter the situation.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy simply social blog

He was a stage-five clinger, an expert napper and the most narcoleptic car rider I’ve ever seen.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

He helped Matt and I announce just about every life change we’ve experienced over the past few years, which looking back now is quite a few.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

And while he wasn’t quite sure the extent to which our family was beginning to grow, he made sure to stay as close as possible lest we’d leave him out of this important milestone.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd, maternity, puppy

For now, the house is deafeningly quiet but it will soon be filled with welcome noise again when the baby comes in just a few weeks. And while we had visions of the two of them together over the next few months or maybe even years, we find peace in knowing Finn decided it was time for him to go ahead of this big life change we are about to encounter.

If you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, I encourage you to consider donating to your local shelter or to one that’s close to our heart, PAWS Chicago. Finn was a huge fan of sharing (mostly in the form of anything we were eating or drinking) so we’re honoring him this year by helping out those dogs and cats who weren’t as spoiled as he was.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd, puppy


hello autumn

Happy first weekend of fall! In case you missed it, yesterday we celebrated the autumn solstice with record heat in St. Louis.

Because nothing says autumn like leaves just giving up and falling because they are too dry to hold on any longer.


But there’s hope for your weekend, still. Here are a few ways to make the most out of the new season even if summer won’t loosen it’s death grip just yet:

Step 1: Crank down your thermostat to 65.

Step 2: Wrap up in your giant blanket scarf and watch College GameDay.

Step 3: Boots still look cute with sleeveless dresses. Just don’t forget deodorant.

Step 4: Be thankful there isn’t a pumpkin shortage because both you and your dog are going through 2+ cans a week.

pumpkin apple muffins, pumpkin, baking, fall recipes, pumpkin muffins, fall, autumn, breakfast, dessert

Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping (Makes 18)

  • 1 C unsweetened canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 2 C peeled and chopped apples (Pink Lady or Honeycrisp)
  • 2 1/2 C flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 TBL pumpkin pie spice mix (cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel Topping (because streussel makes everything better)

  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 TBL oats
  • 2 tsp butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugar, flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice mix, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, blend pumpkin, oil and eggs together.

Add dry ingredients into wet and mix until just combined. Add apples.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins and fill about 2/3 of the way.  Top with 1 tsp streusel topping per muffin.

Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

pumpkin apple muffins, recipes, breakfast, brunch, baking, fall, streusel topping, apple, pumpkin

I make these nearly every year on repeat. They are a great excuse for a mini carb-load anytime of day and they freeze well if you’re afraid you might eat them all in the first few days.

Not that Matt and I would know what that’s like or anything.

pumpkin apple muffins, recipes, breakfast, brunch, baking, fall, streusel topping, apple, pumpkin

Happy fall!

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd,

For this child, we have prayed

It seems fitting that I begin any of my less-than-frequent blog posts lately with an apology. The intro is typically where I tell you how busy we’ve been or how sidetracked I’ve gotten with work or Finn or my success in developing a white chocolate chip cookie recipe with a texture hard enough to break records for Matt’s birthday this year.

The flavor was good, though!

So I suppose I should start this post by apologizing for my absence on the blog lately.

My bad.

The truth is I thought this would be one of the easiest posts I would ever write. After all, I’ve written this post in my head more times than I can count over the past two years. Drafting the words and willing the opportunity to actually be able to put them into print (or in this case digital format) to finally share them with our friends and family.

If you’re starting to worry, stick with me as this story has a happy ending, but given the road that brought us here, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the challenges we faced along the way.

Because as many times as I prayed for this outcome, I faced the reality of another month where the only draft I had was an alternate version that involved all kinds of tests and ‘it will happens’ and doubt.

I wanted to share the struggles we experienced because I know how many other couples face them too. I wanted to share them because I knew there were so many more that would continue to struggle even after our prayers were answered.

But I couldn’t find the words.

How ironic that when the time finally came where we felt comfortable enough to share our good news, I still struggle to find the words to actually share it with you.

For those of you keeping track, you can go ahead and mark this down as one of the few times I was ever at a loss for words in my life.

Ok, let’s move on.

And don’t think I was the only one. A lot of folks get prayer credit for this blessing. Bonus points to my mom for including it in her Lenten journey this year.

So without further ado as I just totally buried the lead by making you read this far, Finn has some news he’d like to formally share with all of you.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

Sure he may look excited in this photo, but that was only after we told him that he and the baby would share a love for frequent naps and meals.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

Reality soon set in once he realized all the attention would no longer be focused on him on a daily basis.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

We are overjoyed to be able to share our good news with all of you and we are looking forward to an exciting New Year. Thank you for your continued prayers. We can’t tell you how much it means to us to be surrounded by so much love.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,






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.

5 ways to fall in love with fall, fall, midwest, st louis, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, katy trail, st charles, running, pumpkins, halloween recipes, mummy oreos,

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.

5 ways to fall in love with fall, fall, midwest, st louis, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, katy trail, st charles, running, pumpkins, halloween recipes, mummy oreos,

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.

5 ways to fall in love with fall, fall, midwest, st louis, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, katy trail, st charles, running, pumpkins, halloween recipes, mummy oreos,

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.)

5 ways to fall in love with fall, fall, midwest, st louis, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, katy trail, st charles, running, pumpkins, halloween recipes, mummy oreos,

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.


Happy fall y’all!

Super Spring Break

If you couldn’t tell from my overgramming last week, my nephews (and my sister) came to visit us to celebrate their spring break. Unfortunately I spent most of the week at work, but I’m grateful for the afternoons and evenings I spent brushing up on my toilet humor, identifying fire ant hills and avoiding getting jinxed.

Days were spent punching water spouts at the splash park and evenings cheating at mini golf. We even managed a second attempt at the beach since the first time was ‘too boring.’


On Thursday, we celebrated Jake’s 5th birthday the only way Jake prefers to celebrate, with superhero masks and store-bought cookie cake.

IMG_4663IMG_4664IMG_4669IMG_4670IMG_4671Friday we had a picnic at the beach and then spent the afternoon drop-kicking waves to cap off the trip. And is it just me or did we do so right next to a Nana lookalike? IMG_9943



We miss them already but we’re soaking up the quiet and resting up the busy months ahead.

Caption This

It’s this little game I like to play when I’m running short on time but feel badly that I haven’t talked to you in a while. I call it caption this.

It’s simple really. In fact I don’t even force you to participate. I’ll do all the work for you.

You’ll see.

florida sunset, sarasota, florida, winter, sunset, palm trees

Aloha Sarasota


They say couples start to dress alike after some time together. I wonder if the same thing could be said about how they smell?


Murf spotting in Naples

florida sunset, sarasota, florida, winter, sunset, palm trees

If this is winter, I don’t need to see spring

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finnegan, finn, greater swiss, puppy,

I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me

kirkland, costco, shopping, event planning,

it’s a tie between #chamberlife or #liquiddiet


wedding wire, hashtag generator, wedding planning, social media



florida sunset, sarasota, florida, winter, sunset, palm trees

this photo makes me forget about the bug I inhaled shortly after snapping it


greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finnegan, finn, swiss mountain dog,

just putting the vibe out there ladies


lolita tartine, french pastries, sarasota,

remind me again how the French stay so skinny?


greater swiss mountain dog, beach, venice dog beach, sarasota, florida, swissy, finn

March lions are pretty tame down here


feeling nerdy with a side of renewed confidence for street sign visibility




The votes are in

And apparently you like my random musings. According to my content poll, many of you prefer random musings and the method in which I determine my blog content (which is basically whatever pops into my head) so I’m just going to do as you say and keep on keepin on. Feel free to comment below if you have a content suggestion as I am still accepting write-in votes.

Sometimes I like to dig into the analytics behind the blog to see how people are finding me. Yeah, sure there are probably hundreds of robots trolling for keywords across the interwebs but I like to believe that it took a real person to find the blog via a search for ‘mermaids santa and snowman on siesta key’ or ‘christmas goblins eating santa’s cookies.’ In fact I’d really like to meet said person. The mermaid one not the Christmas goblin of course.

So if you get nutty over web analytics like I do then you might be interested in knowing that 2,000 or so of you really liked searching for ‘winter ONEderland’ parties in January. Thanks snow! And Pinterest! The cute baby probably helps them once they get to the page too. Thanks Trista! And Paul!

Some handful of you were in search of a ‘blue layered Frozen cake.’ No Frozen branding intended while making this cake but I bet Elsa wouldn’t have let a slice of this go. I know I didn’t and I can thank a few extra miles for getting back on track after that celebration.

And let’s not forget about the lone soldier who apparently needed a few good ‘Smuckers Willard Scott photos.’ Because really, who doesn’t need a good Willard Scott photo?

So let’s make a deal. I’ll continue to provide you random musings like this post as well as a few more wedding rants (I’m looking at you registry) and the occasional photo dump (coming soon) and recipe post (maybe after the wedding), if you promise to continue to provide me with keyword searches like ‘indy 500 tutus’ and ‘dimples in 62 year old butt’ that somehow lead you to my blog.

Because what is a blog if not to give people what they’re searching for?

BONUS: Here is a collage of photos of my mom and Finn being besties at the dog beach yesterday.

greater swiss mountain dog, beach, florida, venice, vacation, dog beach, swissy, finn,