Tag Archives: puppies

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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Now back to those cookies.

Super Groundhog Bowl Day

swiss mountain dog puppy

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

 

I am fairly confident that by the end of this post I will have some correlation between one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems and the events of this past weekend. Fact is neither Finny or I was sick, but we did take pause (well I did and inferred that he did as well) when it was reported that good ol’ Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow early Saturday morning, indicating that we might just be in for an early spring. The prediction couldn’t have come at a better time as Chicago was blanketed in our first measurable snowfall that morning. And with that, it was Saturday–time to go out and play!

swiss mountain dog snow

After a few days of sub-zero temps, I couldn’t wait to get this pup out in the snow and into his element.¬†He is a Swiss Mountain Dog, after all. And since we confirmed early on in our relationship that humid Chicago summers and Finny do not mix, we set out for the black diamonds of Mary Bartelme Park to take advantage of some fresh pow.

I of course thought it would be a good idea to try to schedule a photo shoot during the snow play. Let me remind you that temps were still in the low 20’s with flurries and a decent wind. To say I got some good shots would be lying. I managed to catch this snow-lover’s eye for a split second and then it was back to stick-eating and ice-inhalation for the remainder of the excursion. I learned one thing though, either I don’t hydrate my pup enough or he just really loves the white stuff.

I think we can all benefit from a little poetry in our lives. A little reminder to play when you get the chance. And that spring is just around the corner. Right, Phil?

Don’t be left in the dark (too soon?) Wednesday with a round-up of Super Bowl recipes that will keep your body looking more like Beyonce and less like Ma’ake Kemoeatu.

super bowl chex mix nutella cookies crab dip

Have a great week!