Tag Archives: puppies

Beachin’

Yesterday we took Finn down to Venice to check out a dog beach we had heard about. And while he’s probably still mad at me for the inopportune timing of a large, salty wave that came over both of us as I attempted to get him to swim for the first time, judging by the fact that I had to wake him up this morning, I’d say he still had a blast.

Here’s a slideshow recap:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

 

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

 

Happy Monday!

 

Sad Finn Diary

Last week I came across this sad dog diary video. There’s a cat version out there too. Take a minute and watch it.

Ok now stop laughing. Since I can’t get this out of my head, I thought I would let Finn share his take on this weekend’s activities. That and I realized my phone is chock full of sad Finn photos. So without further ado, I bring you the Sad Finn Diary.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary

Dear Diary,

My human has returned home from Minnesota and started grinding up all of her food instead of eating it whole. I know not yet the reason. She shoves perfectly shaped fruit into a loud machine until nothing is left but a pulp. Perhaps a form of self mutilation? I need more time to research. I have taken to eating items to induce sickness in solidarity. But for some reason my human is feeding me nothing but chicken and rice this week. It is delicious and I feel guilty but satisfied. I’m afraid she will have to learn this lesson on her own. Poor human.

http://instagram.com/p/a3bRYdTaaN/

My human shared my ‘tricks’ with the world through a new Instagram video feature this weekend. At least that’s what she told me. I don’t know what this Instagram she speaks so highly of but I don’t think I like it. Aside from the exhausting task that ‘high-fiving’ has on a 75 pound species like me, she asked me to do it twice. I can only assume this is because I knocked her device out of her hand the first time. I don’t think she realized I did it purposefully. I fear the device is brainwashing her. I must stop it.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

I received a new chewing device this weekend. Well two of them. I assume this is a sign that the other items in the house were not meant for this purpose. Specifically those that my humans sit on. I pretend to be interested as my humans try to decide what animal my new chewing device represents. The discussion of lobster versus sting ray goes on far longer than it should. Since I can’t don’t care to add anything to the conversation, I focus on the similarity in taste between my new plastic stick and the ottoman leg. I determine that this substitute will suffice for now. But not forever.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

On Sunday my humans took me for a ride in the car. I didn’t know where we were traveling but I was very excited nonetheless. As the building disappeared and the fields grew wider, I considered that they might be taking me back to my place of origin. I could not be sure. Contemplation makes me tired. I must rest.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

When we arrived at our destination I realized that my humans were meeting with other family members to sit under tents and talk. I spotted two other dogs across the yard. They looked familiar but it would take at least 15 minutes of butt-sniffing to determine how I knew them. Their humans called them by name: Harley and Charlie. According to my human they were my cousins. I’ve yet to determine how that is possible. 

golden retriever simply social blog

I soon realized that this wasn’t just a family gathering but a challenge of superiority between my kinfolk. The smell of grilled meat and beer wafted through the warm air as we clumsily tried to reacquaint ourselves after months of isolation. I chewed a stick to calm my nerves. It tasted much more authentic than the plastic version.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

There were children at the gathering as well. Some newer than others. My human thought they were adorable but to me they smelled of milk and mixed vegetables. To each their own I suppose.

Baby aaron simply social blog IMG_3221

We left the gathering some time later and began our drive back home. Exhaustion from the day’s events soon sunk in. I didn’t reign superior on speed, agility or weightlifing, but I did manage to be the only one brave enough snatch the victory napkin flag from the matriarch. And for that I am proud. I will voluntarily wedge myself into the smallest nook of the floorboard and reflect on how I can improve my skills before the next gathering. 

IMG_2325

I am starting to think that my human is afraid of me. Nearly every morning after I show her how to pee outdoors, she puts me back inside and runs away. Just today she offered me a treat but then ran away before she delivered it. Is this some sort of sign? She did glance at that wicked device first.  I will pull all of the dish towels from the counter in protest until she returns home.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

Vacation Recap: full heart, tired body

My body is tired. My heart is full. I may or may not be reconsidering having children of my own someday. These are just a few of my symptoms after a weekend spent with my family to the (slight) northwest. It was a Murphy/Gleason weekend and it was lovely.

Give me a weekend filled with little more than a long run and some time in the kitchen and I can give you a witty, recipe-filled excerpt sure to make your Monday (ok maybe not yours but mine at least) awesome. When it comes to documenting a big weekend however, I struggle.

How do you explain the amount of love laughter and mosquito bites shared throughout a weekend with family? How can you illustrate the joy that comes with watching young cousins become friends, celebrating two families become one or seeing someone get sprayed in the face with dirty puddle water?

What I lack in words today I make up for in photos. For those of you who were overwhelmed by my Instagramathon this weekend, I’m sorry I’m not sorry. For those of you that weren’t, prepare for an overload of cuteness. Lets call it Gleasapalooza.

Hit it.

Derecho delayed our flights. Well some of us more than others. But that left time for a few things I usually don’t have time for in the middle of the week. Like sleeping in or a mid-morning run or locating the beaver that someone obviously let into my condo the night before.

chicago lakefront swiss mountain dog
Since I was first to arrive I had the privilege of picking up the rental soccer mom mobile car and getting to know Minneapolis traffic during rush hour. Totally different from Chicago traffic but annoying just the same. Especially with that carpool lane just wide open and screaming for someone in a minivan (hey that’s me) with passengers (oh shoot that’s not me) to cruise down it. My family lives near Lake Minnetonka so that evening we just grabbed a bite to eat at a local spot and spent some time catching up and looking at old photos.

while my cousins may look short-statured, that's just poor camera angle on my part. Oopsies!

while my cousins may look short-statured, that’s just poor camera angle on my part. Oopsies!

On Friday we went shopping. There’s no sales tax in Minnesota on clothing so we always seem to make a little time for a trip to the mall.  Shoes were on the agenda for the boys but we ended up with watches, slap bracelets and sour gummy worms. And not necessarily in that order. Then it was off to Nana Pat’s where Owen and Jake wasted no time testing the structural stability of each of their cousin Jon’s toys. 

IMG 2157[1] from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

Friday afternoon, my cousin Jennifer’s boys Jack and Ben came over to play. A lovely mix of giggles, sword fights and ‘your not the boss of me’ ensued.

boys

no cues needed for this shot. This comes naturally to them.

That evening we had an ice cream date/photo shoot along the lakefront. Special thanks to Ben & Jerry’s for the props. I cannot get over how tall the boys are getting. I’m getting old.

lake minnetonka minnesota wayzata simply social blog ice cream

Saturday we celebrated Jennifer and Jason’s wedding at local Noerenberg Gardens. My cousin Kate and I were in charge of the chairs so we arrived early to set up and catch a few glimpses of the details and the boys before the ceremony.

noerenberg gardens bouquet poenies

It was a beautiful and simple ceremony. And I just adored the way that they incorporated the kids, having Jennifer’s boys walk her up the aisle, and Jason’s girls walk him.

noerenberg garden wedding

After the ceremony we were invited to Jennifer’s sister’s house for a afternoon reception. The whole day felt comfortable and welcoming. A playground set in place of a dance floor. A sprinkled cake that wouldn’t show fingerprints and a general sense of comfort and love.

sprinkle wedding cake

I believe everything looks better with sprinkles. Sprinkles and peonies.

The real treat came that evening, when the new Mr. and Mrs. went off to celebrate and all of the kids (6 of them including Owen and Jake) headed back to Nana’s house for pizza and a sleepover. Here are the numbers:

  • 2 lawnmower rides with Papa (Uncle Jim)
  • 4 sleeping bags
  • 3 snapping turtles spotted (weekend total)
  • 6 pairs of shoes (few of which were actually worn)
  • Countless repetitions of you’re not the boss of me, Ben hit me, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I had it first and I can’t find my underwear. 
sleepover stats

sleepover stats

I managed to get a few hot and humid runs in on a nearby trail over the weekend as well. It was then that I spotted snappers #2 and #3 so I felt inclined to stop to take a few scenic photos. Because of the turtles. Not because I just wanted an excuse to stop and rest. Never.

lake minnetonka minnesota

The flight home was short and sweet. I even managed to get a brief nap in thanks to the white noise in the back of the plane. After all, when you just spent 24 hours with 6 yelling children, 1 screaming child is as soothing as a sweet lullaby.

I’d like to think it was careful planning on my part to save this post for today so I could properly wish my parent’s a Happy 35th Anniversary. That or exhaustion, but either one works. 35 years ago my Dad finally put a ring on it and my mother said yes after 6-plus years of dating. Poor Nana had to get that ring ready so many times she even told my mom to just move on. But she didn’t and I thank her for that because well, that’s how I happened and if I hadn’t happened then you wouldn’t be reading this blog. And wouldn’t that be tragic? Back to the marriage.

35th wedding anniversary simply social blog

Mom and Dad. You have shown me that a successful marriage is filled with hard work, love and a whole lot of laughter and for that I thank you. Happy Anniversary.

Have a great week!

Running for their lives

If you haven’t guessed by now I have a bit of a soft spot for animals. Ok a huge spot. Like a gigantic coffee stain all over your carpet spot. And in case you are wondering I pulled that analogy not only from the immensity of my animal love, but my knowing just how big of a splash a 32-ouncer of iced coffee can make (ahem, Murf).

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt an incredible urge to take care of animals. It started innocently enough. Injured or stray cats, birds, and a baby rabbit here or there. I’m sure my mother was just thrilled the day I offered to take home the corn snakes from Montessori over spring break. And I can still see the look on my sister’s face when I thought my smallest anole got loose near her bedroom one summer afternoon. George, the leopard gecko. Countless lizards. Gus, Gus the emaciated kitten who “jumped” into our trunk after a county tournament at UIS. If there was an animal out there looking anywhere near needy, you better believe I was going to find some way to convince my family that we were the only ones in the entire city who could give this animal what they so obviously needed. Right then.

But it wasn’t until an early 90’s Christmas morning that I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Maggie and she was the most beautiful mutt I had ever seen. She sat whimpering in our kitchen, a big red bow perfectly contrasting her jet black fur. We had just finished opening presents and as soon as I spotted her I instantly forgot about the Fugees mixed tape I had just received and started bawling. I never thought I could love something so much so quickly. Her litter had been dumped off a truck on the side of the road. Someone no longer wanted her, but I couldn’t have imagined middle school without her.

And then there was Max. I still remember the man telling me that there were only two available puppies left when we got to the farm. One boy. One girl. As I picked up the little yellow lab and he wiggled in my arms, the man mentioned he was the runt of the litter. The thought that this guy would be left at the farm known as the runt no one wanted sealed the deal for me. I fell in love all over again. He was as perfect running  alongside me in high school and as was when he patiently waited for me to throughout college, keeping my parents company in between visits.

I considered going into veterinary medicine for a period of time. I even had the privilege of job shadowing at the zoo in high school where I not only got to witness a female gibbon being implanted with birth control, but the wrath of the male gibbon as he decided to take out his frustration on a fellow student standing a bit too close to his cage.  I eventually went a different route, but my love for animals hasn’t changed.

It took me a long time to decide I was ready for another dog after moving to Chicago. Well, I was ready, but I knew it just wasn’t fair to the animal if I wasn’t in a place both career and housing-wise where I could give him or her the life he or she deserved. I considered adoption. After all, there are thousands of homeless pets in the city and many of them need families more than those that are bred for it. Plus, they are free. But if you’ve read any of the preceding paragraphs you’ll know that the likelihood of me stopping at just one is slim to none. I volunteered and the guilt I felt was overwhelming. I considered fostering but I felt myself closer and closer to “dog lady” each day. I can’t stop at just one. What about the others? At the end of the day I decided I wanted to raise a pup from the start and after a lot of research and thought, I opted to get Finn.

And although sometimes (ok most of the time) I still feel guilty when I think about all of the other pets out there that are waiting to be loved, I decided to turn my guilt into action and sign up to run the Chicago Marathon as part of Team PAWS. I know I’m crazy, but it’s for a good cause, right? Please tell me I’m right.

paws chicago

This Sunday was the 13th Annual Zoetis Run for Their Lives 8K Run & 4K Dog-Friendly walk benefitting PAWS Chicago. My cousin’s girlfriend just so happens to be one of the folks in charge of the event, so it was a great way to raise money for a very worthy cause, spot some really cute pups and see just how much my running has rubbed off on Finn for his very first race. Ok, walk. Dogs weren’t allowed to run in the 8K and Finn is more of a walk a few miles and then take a nap kind of guy anyway. The timing was great as we had to run 8 miles on Saturday and I was feeling guilty leaving him at home on such a beautiful day. NOTE: there should be a dog-sitting service for those of us who run the lake path. Just two hours to complete your mileage and then you can pick up your dog and take him to the park, beach, wherever. Anyone interested? I know I’d pay for it. 

I spent the majority of the time making mental notes at the adaptations for dog-friendly races vs. human races. Here’s what I learned:

    1. Even though your dog has no clue that he’s signed up for a 4K race at an unfamiliar location with nearly 2,000 other dogs that morning, he will undoubtedly bark and spin in excitement when you mention the phrase “ride in car” to him early in the morning. He will then settle into his spot between the seats as if the previous 5 minutes of barking and spinning never happened.

      greater swiss mountain dog

      I’m so excited I can hardly stand it guys. Seriously.

    2. Dogs are not nearly as interested in pre-race photos as their humans are. Especially not with strangers taking said photos.

      paws chicago run for their lives swiss mountain dog

      got one, oh there’s another dog, got one

    3. Always check out the free swag. If you do, you might discover that your local daycare facility will outfit you if you stop by their booth before the race. Thanks Tucker Pups!
      tucker pups paws chicago race greater swiss mountain dog
    4. Just like human races, dogs dress up in all sorts of costumes to entertain the crowds. No they don’t. Their humans do and those poor pups are left to just sit there and get their photos taken the whole damn day by people like me.
      dogs in costume
      And if you think that middle photo looks familiar, so did I. Just like those toys we used to have when we were little. But what was the name…

      that’s right go go my walkin’ pup

    5. Ever experienced ridiculous lines for the bathroom right before a race? Not here folks. You can pee wherever you want. Slowing down through a water station? Not a chance. Just help yourself to a tub of water right along the course route. Race photos? No need to worry about losing pace. There’s no timing in this race.
      greater swiss mountain dog race running for their lives chicago
    6. Not all dogs are water dogs. Case in point.

Finn visits the lake from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

  • All races should end in a well-deserved nap.
    tired greater swiss mountain dog

I’m excited to be a part of TEAM PAWS this race season as I truly believe in what they do: Save Lives. If you are an animal lover like me or just want to support a great cause, I would ask that you consider donating to my page today, tomorrow or sometime before the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013. You can make a donation here.

Thank you for your consideration and have a wonderful week.

Moments of Clarity and Prancercise

Have you ever had a moment of clarity in the midst of an everyday routine? As if all of a sudden you are experiencing it for the first time? Not so much a deja-vu moment, although I have plenty of those on the regular, but a lovely mix of nostalgia, beauty and hope all wrapped up into one? For example, you find yourself walking the same route you’ve walked a hundred times, but for some reason you become more present. You notice the way the lilacs smell sound as they blow in the wind, the incredible shade of green that the grass has turned across an open field, the sound of a running stream alongside the road after a big storm. In the city, these moments are typically followed by a blaring horn and expletives as hurried commuters try to get to work, but they are there nonetheless. But it’s when I’m back home when I really notice them.

I traveled home for the weekend to see my family and to go to St. Louis with some girlfriends for a Cardinals game. Owen finished up school this week so I was fortunate to spend most of Friday afternoon hanging out with my favorite boys. 

boys_collage

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Don’t underestimate the brainpower of a near-7-year-old. Not only did Owen act as banker, making correct change for what I deemed to be difficult real estate transactions, but he managed to negotiate hotel development and rental fees with a strategy that would impress even Trump. Watch out 2nd grade.
  2. Kennels are not just for dogs. At least not in this family. From the time I brought Finn to visit, these two have insisted on locking themselves inside his kennel for extended periods of time. I like to think they get their imagination from their Auntie Sarah, going on all sorts of adventures as Finn looks on confused at the reversal in roles. Whatever the case, excersaucers are expensive and seeing as how this Kennel has paid for itself 5 times over, I think I’ll be all set by the time I have kids of my own.
  3. Dogs don’t wear pants. Therefore boys who dress up as dogs don’t need to wear pants either. At least according to Jake. After a series of negotiations as to why he needed to keep his underwear on in order to don the dog costume, Jake finally agreed. But not before informing me that if I hadn’t noticed, Finny doesn’t have any underwear on so imaginary dog Jake shouldn’t either. Good boy, Jake.

It was early Saturday morning that I had one of those moments of clarity. We had storms the night before and as I took Finn out for a long walk, I had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for the place I grew up. For a long time, my neighborhood was just that, a neighborhood. A pickup destination where I ran out the door before my ride could honk twice. A place where I ate and slept and rolled my eyes on a daily basis. The older I get the more I realize that it’s not just a house or a neighborhood at all. It’s home. As we walked I wished I had my phone to snap photos of the little elements of home I was finally seeing after all those years. My parent’s house is nestled above a creek and off what was formerly a country road. My “home home” is nearly the antitheses to my “city home.” Quiet, wide open and filled with big old trees and wildlife.

running trail ladder

Memories always flood back of the days where my girlfriends and I spent hours rollerblading in and out of each other’s driveways, hiking down to the creek and through the fields to visit our friend’s houses the next neighborhood over and selling friendship bracelets, lemonade or our older sisters’ belongings for Ice Deli cash.

There’s also an old railroad track that has been turned into a running and biking trail nearby. So I try to say hello whenever I’m home.

trail run earthworm Here’s what I learned:

  1. After inches and inches of rain, sticks feel just like snakes under your feet. This can be positive however, in allowing you to do a quick set of high-knees as a warm up before you start your run.
  2. Even if snake sticks under your feet give you the willies, the 7 year-old self in you will never let you leave a stranded earthworm to the fate of a bike tire or rogue tennis shoe in the middle of a trail. It may be the only life you save that day as you will then encounter at least 6 more on your way back, but saving lives takes time and you’ve got a pace to keep up.

After my run, my mom and I headed downtown to the farmer’s market. It’s still early in the season, but we both really enjoy going on Saturday mornings when I’m home. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t love fresh produce first thing in the morning?

farmers market strawberries radishes

Here’s what I learned:

  1. My mom carries indeterminate amounts of cash in various locations at any one time. Just when you think she’s spent it all on rhubarb and radishes, she pulls out another wad of ones faster than a bookie on race day. If you want to learn how to farmer’s market it, go with the farm queen.
  2. Farmer’s markets can cause you to be a hoarder…of tomato plants. If you don’t scope properly, you are sure to buy several tomato plants at one stand only to find that the stand 3 down has bigger ones for a cheaper price. The same can be said for fresh loaves of bread, asparagus and lettuce this time of year. It’s like instagramming a photo and then seeing a better opportunity just a few minutes later. Doh!   

Saturday afternoon it was off to St. Louis for the Cards game.

st. louis cardinals

Here’s what I learned:

  1. You are never too old for a road trip with friends. Weddings, babies and real jobs aside, everyone can benefit from a good old-fashioned weekend with the people who knew you when you had braces. My chest still hurts from all the laughs and my body from the prancercising.
  2. Speaking of, there’s something to be said for this whole  prancercising trend. At least if you ask me and the guy who recognized that was the trend behind my ‘springy, rhythmic way of moving forward’ after a day of drinks and lots of tacos.

Believe it or not, I actually managed to bake something last week. My girlfriend made a gorgeous lemon pound cake for the pig roast the weekend prior and I wanted to try it out. Well, a little part of me wanted to. A bigger part just wanted an excuse to use my new juicer I bought after our cooking class the other day. Motivation is motivation, right?

lemon juicer

And so I did. During the ‘Hawks game nonetheless. I knew when I decided to let it cool in the pan overnight that I would be in for trouble the next day. After all, it said cool for 30 minutes and then flip. But I wanted to spend that next 30 minutes sleeping instead so the bundt and I had a battle the next day. Do as I say, not as I did and maybe your bundt won’t be as messy as mine was.

glazed lemon pound cake

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 C flour (gluten free all purpose flour can be used too)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 TBL lemon zest
  • 6 TBL lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 C greek yogurt
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour bundt pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon zest. Use your awesome new juicer to beat in 4 TBL of lemon juice. Add eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each one.

Alternate flour mixture and yogurt on low until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour or so until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes then flip it onto cooling rack. Don’t let it sit in pan overnight or your lovely ridges will be divots.

lemon pound cake

Mix powdered sugar and 2 TBL lemon juice for glaze. Drizzle over cake in a manner that will look prettier than mine. Enjoy!

lemon pound cake slice

Have you ever experienced a moment of clarity?

Have you ever prancercised?

Have you ever experienced an epic baking FAIL?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Shrimp Fried Rice

I’d love to pretend that my attempts at cooking are preceded by careful meal planning, leisurely trips to the grocery store, soft music and casual chopping. I imagine there are actual people out there like that. Laughing to one another as they chop vegetables, sipping on a perfectly-chilled glass of pinot noir and then sitting down to eat a nice hot meal with a pristinely-cleaned kitchen in the background. Instead, a typical night inside casa de Murph involves an 8 p.m. decision to attempt a recipe I vaguely remember seeing in one of 3 cooking mags I browsed while at the gym (much to the chagrin of those around me I’m sure), blankly staring in the fridge to see if I have ANY of the ingredients said recipe calls for and hurriedly putting my knife skills class to the test as I throw things into my dutch oven. Remember that scene from Edward Scissorhands? Yeah. I’d imagine I look a little something like that.

edward scissorhands

Here’s how it went down last night:

Scene: The BF had just gotten off a plane after a 24 hour trip to Columbus for a game. A snowy game. Apparently they had to plow the field 3 times before the game could begin. You may remember playing soccer in the rain post from a few weeks ago. Well, I don’t think these guys enjoyed the snow nearly as much. I, on the other hand, was wait-listed for my weightlifting class and on the fence about whether I’d get in or not. Finn was barking and staring at me, eagerly awaiting a trip to the park.

Me: What do you think you want to do for dinner?

BF: I don’t know what I feel like right now

Weightlifting class calls and says no-go. I decide to run outside instead.

Me: I’ve been wanting to try this shrimp fried rice recipe I saw in Bon Appetit last month. Or maybe it was Cooking Light, or Self? I don’t remember. It looked really tasty. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted fried rice before. Did you see that the cardinals beat up on the Mets today? I don’t even know if I have any of the ingredients. I need to come up with something to make for Easter this weekend.

BF: (blank stare)

I take Finny for a walk and to the dog park. He pounces on a pit bull puppy for a few minutes and then goes back to his latest routine of hoarding nasty mystery drool-soaked tennis balls in his mouth. He sets a PR with three in the mouth at once. I’m impressed. The other dogs stare blankly at him, obviously annoyed because there are no more tennis balls to play with. We head back home. I go out and run through Little Italy and Greek town. I’m hungry. When I return the BF is napping. I take Finn for another walk. I FaceTime with my parents. Like my nephews I think they are more interested in seeing Finny than me. I’m ok with that. He’s cuter. The BF wakes up.  

Me: So what are you thinking for dinner?

BF: (holds up Bon Appetit issue from last month-aha it was that one!) This shrimp fried rice looks good. Do you have shrimp?

Me: (opening freezer) Why yes, as a matter of fact I do. I bought some last wee…

Say what? No shrimp in the freezer.

Me: How about chicken. Chicken fried rice?

By that point it was happening. The idea of shrimp fried rice was filling our heads and no other animal or soy protein would cut it at this point.

BF: I’ll go get some shrimp.

Fortunately amidst the shrimp panic I realized that I was fairly prepared with the remaining ingredients that the recipe called for. Even fresh ginger. Point Sarah.

I decided to start on the rice while I waited for my fresh fish delivery and make a big salad to go with it. For a first-time fried rice maker, the recipe was easy to follow and really fast. Point Bon Appetit.

iPhone photo x2

The BF even returned with a bottle of wine to pair with it. Point BF.

shrimp fried rice

pardon the low-quality iPhone photo

Shrimp Fried Rice

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound peeled fresh shrimp (double-check ahead of time)
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 scallions, whites chopped, greens thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBL finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 1.5-2 C cold cooked white rice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 C fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 C frozen peas
  • 3 TBL reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TBL unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Heat 1 TBL vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. As pan heats, chop garlic, scallions and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add rice and stir to coat. Cook until rice is crisp. My rice was pretty fresh so it took a little longer to crisp up. Be patient. I was not. Once rice is crispy-ish, push it to one side of skillet. Add eggs to other side and cook, stirring and working into rice mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add broccoli, peas, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Toss rice often until vegetables are heated through. I used fresh broccoli so I let it cook until they softened a bit. In the meantime, steam some edamame for an appetizer.

At this point I transferred rice to another bowl and added shrimp to dutch oven. Well actually I didn’t do this part at all. I showered. But the BF seasoned it with salt and cooked it until opaque. Once shrimp is cooked through, add rice back in and heat through.

I like a little heat so I served mine with a chili garlic sauce like this one. If you want a little more acidity, add more rice vinegar.

Prefer the original? Recipe adapted from the March issue of Bon Appetit.

Reality may not always reflect the magazine meals that you imagine, but if you can share a good recipe, a nice wine and a few laughs along the way, it’s well worth it.

Cheers!

Running in the Rain

I have a secret love for running in the rain. I think the positive association comes from all those years of spring soccer where field conditions allowed for overzealous slide tackles and everyone wanted to try their hand at goalkeeper. Why wouldn’t you? In the rain, balls either stopped dead in the box or you at least got a 90 minute mud facial without having to tip the esthetician. Whatever the case, when the clouds opened up just in time for my 7-miler on Saturday, the 7 year-old Sarah in me smiled.

I traveled home this weekend to pick up Finn and to celebrate a few birthdays. It was a beautiful day on Friday so I stopped at home and brought Finn with for some afternoon errands.  After all, it had been nearly two weeks and I really missed him.

finn_car

plotting his next move

But don’t let the sweet face fool you. Theres a Brian Urlacher hiding behind those eyes just waiting to come between you and the last 7 steps of a staircase if you leave him for too long. And apparently two weeks is just enough. Trust me. I’ve got the whiplash to prove it.

Time: Saturday, 6 a.m.

(Loud thud)

Mom: Don’t worry, Mike, I think that was just the dog.

(Sarah moans)

Mom: Oh no, nope that was Sarah. Oh Finny, what did you do?!

He just tried to make a lesson out of his momma, that’s what.

finn_couch

And while there were no additional murder attempts, the rest of the weekend was still rather eventful. March is not only the start of running in the rain season, but the kickoff to birthday season in my family as well. We began the bonanza with a surprise tennis-themed party on Saturday night and a brunch celebrating my mom’s birthday Sunday morning.

tennis_party

Tennis and Chocolate

macaroons frittata birthday

Celebrating Mom’s Birthday

Here’s to an early spring and a few more chances to get out and run in the rain. Have a great week!

Viva Las Vegas

I spent the better part of my Sunday traveling. The morning hours spent driving the oh-so-familiar 55-north back up from Springfield after a weekend at home. The reason for my trip south (beyond the worship and adorement of my father) was to drop off Finn for an extended vacation at my parents house where I imagine he will continue to spend his days like he did the rest of the weekend, filled with spontaneous naps in the sun, acorn search-and-destroy missions and general crumb pick-up. At least with the latter he’s earning his keep.

20130225-001116.jpg

I’m fortunate to have parents who enjoy spending time with my pup so I can go to Vegas for the next 5 days. I know what you’re thinking. Well one of two things perhaps: You’re either thinking Awesome, Vegas! Or you’re thinking holy craps, five whole days in Vegas? I’d never survive. And either opinion would be correct. Vegas is awesome but for three days max. Thursday through Sunday is best. Knowing full-well by Saturday night you may have to take extreme measures to pull yourself together enough to make it out that last night. So much for whats happens in Vegas. I’ve got a tagline for you tourism bureau: Vegas-over-stimulation at its finest.

Now before you start feeling sorry for me, as anyone in the middle of a cold Midwestern winter might (insert sarcasm here) I’ll tell you that I am going to Vegas for work. Feel better? You don’t think I’d actually put my body through that sort of distress by choice do you?

Lord knows this will be nothing like the last two Bachelorette-party trips that Vegas rolled out the red carpet for. I’m fairly certain my liver is still regenerating from both. And while the current Vegas tagline prohibits me from sharing any of those stories, I am looking forward to spending time in a warmer climate and taking advantage of the food scene. It may be known for its all-you-can-eat buffets and bottle service, but Vegas actually has a really wonderful restaurant scene.

I’ve been fortunate to experience some pretty cool places the last couple of years including Yellowtail overlooking the water show at Bellagio, tapas at Aria’s Julian Serrano and several others but I’m looking forward to trying some new spots as well.

So even though I don’t have my girlfriends in tow this time (they’ve been a little busy) I’m heading to Vegas with some cash from my dad and the promise I will put it towards odds on several carefully-selected sports teams and not let it all ride on Yard-O-Rita’s or a low-back tattoo. Not that I’ve considered that or anything.

20130224-221949.jpg

Viva Las Vegas!

What Finn Ate Wednesday

In light of recent events, I decided to dedicate this What I ate Wednesday to my pup. After all, he’s ingested more interesting stuff than I have this week. Except maybe that delicious antipasto at Coco Pazzo, or the leftover roasted beet salad and quinoa from my Sunday post. Oh, and snickerdoodle dip. But more on that later.

I used to think Mondays were rough. Coming off a relaxing weekend away or at home to the impending workweek ahead. Trading the freedom of leisurely activities for cost centers, conference calls and a cold commute. But as much as I think we have a hard time transitioning into Mondays, I’d imagine our pets have it even worse. Unless you have a cat then they are just excited to get you out of the house.

5-plus walks and 3 park visits per day. Ok, this is cool! A spontaneous car ride to visit Nana and Papooch where I can eat acorns and meaty things and run in the backyard until I puke? Don’t mind if I do! Weekends are AWESOME!

But then Monday hits. And just as you come back from your early morning walk and finish your continental breakfast, suddenly you’re faced with the dreaded baby gate of doom which can only mean one thing: She’s leaving.

Ok don’t panic, Finn. Let’s evaluate the situation. She’s not going to that ‘Jim’ she talks about because she’s clearly not wearing stretchy pants. Is it time to eat again? Darn, she’s just refilling that round thing that holds my water. Oh yes! Here comes that soft and fluffy pad I sleep on in my crate. It’s so cozy I could just lay down right…no Finn! Focus! Oh look! Toys! She’s throwing all of my favorite toys in the kitchen. Not anorexic big bird. I love anorexic big bird!

finn_bird

It’s official. She’s going to work and she won’t be back for a very long time.

A few hours pass.

Stupid bird. quit looking at me. You’re no fun. You don’t even squeak. Silly pillow. You’re not THAT soft. Oh great, I’m out of water. What the heck do I do now? Where the heck is my mom? I’m annoyed. What can I do to show her how bored I am? She likes to cook. I know that. Sometimes rarely she uses those paper things on the shelf. Maybe if I chew off this outside cover thing she’ll get the hint. After all, I do love the taste of paper.

finn_mess_1

It’s probably my own fault that this behavior transitioned into Tuesday as well. After all, I had a work function and a social event Monday night so I warned Finn it would be a long day. I think my exact words were ‘Look, I know it’s Monday and this one is going to be tough, but I promise to make it up to you.’ We tried to squeeze in as much play time as possible in the time I was home but it just wasn’t enough.

So as I open the door Tuesday afternoon I was greeted with another surprise.

You know that rug I pulled a string out of yesterday, lady? Yeah, well that was your warning. And you left it out for me anyways. Silly Mom. And since the cookbooks didn’t do the trick either, I chewed that rug to pieces just about 10 minutes before you got here. I notice how meticulously you put it back in place every time I move it. Maybe you’ll get the hint now? PS you know it was time for a new one anyway.

finn_mess_2

Guilty as charged, Finn. After cleaning up mess #2 for the week, I bundled myself in as many layers as possible (sub-zero temps have joined us again here in Chicago) and spent the next few hours walking, playing, standing in the dog park so Finn could let out some of the energy he was obviously storing up this week. And when we were too cold to play outside anymore, we headed home and played some more.

So what does a guilty mom give her puppy after a few ‘alternative meals’ the past few days? Dessert of course! As I pulled out a jar of peanut butter I was reminded of a recipe I made a few months back. And so we cooked. (NOTE: no cross-contamination of dog peanut butter vs. human peanut butter occurred during the making of this recipe)

I kept stumbling upon the same recipe on Pinterest. Over and over a photo of something called ‘Cookie Dough Dip’ kept popping up and sparking my interest. First and foremost I love cookie dough. I’ve always been one more in favor to eat the dough than the cookies themselves and this recipe was egg-less so you don’t get that awesome weird taste in your mouth afterwards. Shout out to my Aunt Barb who let my cousins and I make a batch of cookie dough and (gasp) just eat the dough on our visit to California several years back.

So I finally got around to actually clicking on the recipe and was even more intrigued to read that the main ingredient was, wait for it…chickpeas. Say what? No chance this tastes like cookie dough. I had to attempt it. And while it tasted a little more like chocolate chip peanut butter cookie dough, it was good. Too good.

Several spoonfuls later, I decided to try an alternative version from the same web site. This time Snickerdoodle. Same basic ingredients with the addition of cinnamon and substitution of chocolate chips. Once again, too good!

snickerdoodle_dip

Snickerdoodle Dip

  • 15 oz. White beans or chickpeas
  • 3 TBL nut butter-I used homemade almond (recipe posted soon)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • up to 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxmeal
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Garnish with raisins

In a colander, drain and rinse beans. Add all ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth. Add raisins if you like them. I happen to love them. So much so that I should rename the blog simply raisins. Raisins rule.

Trust me on this one. I know it sounds weird, but this stuff tastes like cookie dough. Grab a spoon and dig in!

Prefer the original? Try both versions from Chocolate Covered Katie.

The good news is it’s Wednesday. And we have just a few short days before more walks and a long vacation with Nana and Papooch. I haven’t told Finn yet but I’m hoping that keeps him from destroying anything else. At least until Monday.

Finding Balance

Do you ever feel like you are juggling things just fine until all of a sudden someone throws a bonus ball in your court causing you to lose focus and have them all crash down on your head? Me too. Except the bonus thrower is usually myself. Bet you wondered how someone already juggling could throw in a bonus ball? I surprise myself too sometimes.

loved me some Harlem Globetrotters growing up

Sometimes I overcommit myself. I am a self-admitted over-doer. And I don’t necessarily mean that I go above and beyond (although sometimes I try) I simply mean that some(often)times I try to do too many things at once, try to shove too many things into too short a time slot, try to add just one more dish to the menu. I notice that it’s affecting my sentence structure lately as well. But I digress.

Fortunately or not, once I do put my mind to something, I usually end up finishing it regardless of energy level or clock time. What does this mean in real life? Frantic last-minute errands the morning of a party, loss of sleep and physical flexibility due to excessive hours spent hunched over icing cookies while standing on my concrete floor and messes; Big messes everywhere as I attempt to organize the bathroom, the closet and the baking cabinet all simultaneously on a Saturday afternoon. Not that I’m speaking from recent experience or anything. Sometimes things have to get messy before they get organized, right?

I must also admit that I enjoy the stress of a looming deadline. If I’ve got something coming up, I tend to implement self-imposed deadlines to light that fire that allows me to get things done in record time. Like deciding to brush my teeth while drying my hair. Because that’s not efficient.

My name is Sarah and I’m a multi-tasking procrastinator.

Hi Sarah.

But I’m trying to get better. I write this post on my phone as I wait for 40 soon-to-be conversation heart sugar cookies to cool enough to ice, while attempting two new salad recipes and stopping briefly for a pre-grammy workout.

I’m trying.

In addition to several other resolutions that I made last month, I’m really attempting to find balance this year. And since things like un-iced cookies and salad-making weigh heavily on me, you may be wondering what I am doing to counteract this craziness and reach my goal?

Yoga.

I’ve tried yoga in the past and it just hasn’t worked for me. After years of sweat-filled high-intensity workouts, stretching and slow movements with a side of zen just never felt like a ‘real’ workout to me. But because I’ve always struggled with a very tight back, I knew I needed something like yoga to ‘balance’ the running and lifting. Unfortunately after giving it a few college tries, my interest always seemed to fizzle.

My friend and I were recently discussing the requirements for a successful fitness session and I was reminded how I approach my workouts the same way as I do my hobbies. I’m picky but once I find something I like, I’m very loyal to it. To stick to a workout, I have to find it engaging, challenging and see it as a means toward and end goal. Oh, and it would be nice if it fit into my schedule as well.

For years I only really had to worry about adjusting exercise around work, friends and family. When my furry little friend came into my life, my focus shifted a bit. I felt incredibly guilty working all day and then leaving him again so I could go workout in the evening. Running was acceptable but only because warm up and cool downs could be spent walking my pup around the neighborhood rather than spending the better part of an evening fighting loop traffic to get to the gym. But then winter hit. And then winter really hit and my above 30 degrees and dry conditions rule forced my workouts inside.

Fortunately, walks though the neighborhood included a stroll past Barefeet Power Yoga, a new studio nearby. And by nearby I mean practically outside my garage door.

So when the weather turned and Finn gave me puppy eyes, I gave it another college try. After all, this place has the convenience factor and according to the name ‘power’ yoga has to be better than regular yoga right?

finn_yoga

After about a month or so I am happy to say I’m a believer. Not only does the class hit on all requirements on my workout list, but the instructors are really cool. Did I mention it’s around the corner!?!

And while I’m finding the workout itself enjoyable, it’s the things I thought I disliked most about yoga previously that I’m getting the most out of now. I’m learning to focus more. To accept the fact that some days you’re strong and balanced and some days you just aren’t. And that’s ok. To breathe deeply. To push myself. And to realize that sometimes things are beyond your control.

Life is about finding balance and each day is a new attempt at doing just that.

Note: If you don’t have a studio close by or simply want something to try at home, I like the Body by Bethenny instant video from Amazon. It’s a good, quick workout, you can play it on your iPad and Bethenny says all the things you think but never say out loud in yoga. An inexpensive way to get started or keep up on the road. I may or may not have squeezed it in before finishing this post.

cookies

Now back to those cookies.