Tag Archives: puppy

A Perfect Fall Day

Today was just about as close as you can get to a perfect fall day. And believe me I’m just as surprised as you that it happened this early in October and this close to the Gulf of Mexico. But it did. And I’m perfectly OK with that.

Normally on a day like today, I would head out to a pumpkin patch with the sole purpose of stocking up on gourds, drinking cider and eating donuts until my glucose tolerance increased enough for the upcoming holiday. But since I’ve been warned that any pumpkins I purchase will likely melt before Halloween, Finn and I settled for a trip to the dog beach instead. Because nothing says fall like sun, sand and saltwater.

If you’re already sick of PSLs, puffer vests and pumpkin pics, let me take you on a day-trip with us to the dog beach. You can go ahead and stop reading now if you are over my alliteration or averse to a million dog photos.

Cat people beware.

I had planned on taking Finn to the dog beach this week as a reward for adjusting fairly well to me going back to work, but when we woke up to temps in the low 60s this morning, I wasn’t sure anyone else would be at the beach for him to play with. I tried to come up with something else to wear him out but neither he nor his cow were having any of it.

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


So off we went but not before Finn showed off how much control he has when he realizes he is in fact going for a ride in the car.

It’s not a very long ride to the dog beach but all that excitement about riding in the car usually wears Finn out for the actual riding part. After all, you never know what you’re in for once you get to your final destination so you might as well arrive rested.

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

Turns out everyone else was taking advantage of the great weather and the beach was actually busier than usual. Never very cognizant of his own size, Finn managed to find the only dogs on the beach bigger than him. Cocoa the Saint Bernard and Willow the soon-to-be 200 pound mastiff seemed like as good a pack as any to join.

finn, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy, dog, saint bernard, mastiff, brohard dog beach, venice, beach,


There was a lot of gossiping going on.

And quite a few selfies.

finn, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy, dog, brohard dog beach, paw park, florida, gulf coast, dog beach

get one with my ears blowing in the wind mom.

When we got tired of running around, we took a few more selfies.

finn, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy, dog, brohard dog peach, paw park, florida, gulf coast, dog beach

And how can we forget that moment when Finn thought he was posing for a picture and it was really a video. Awkward!

I still have to figure out another way to spike my glucose over the next few weeks but I’m glad that we can keep trips to the beach in rotation well into the fall.

Have a great week and please keep the pumpkin patch pictures coming!




Long time no talk

Hey there! Where have you been? Feels like we haven’t had a one-sided conversation in forever.

My bad. Truth is I’ve actually been busy. Really, truly, contributing to society again busy.

That’s right the sabbatical has ended. The summer of Sarah has come to a close. But what a summer it was! Beach time, dog walks, mid-day recipe posts, more dog walks, mid-day workouts, another dog walk. But it wasn’t all sunshine and summertime. The frustration, boredom and self-doubt that comes with re-starting your career in a place you know nearly no one can really wear on you.

sunset, florida, sky, palm trees

Nonetheless, I’m very excited to get back to seeing if the parts of my brain that have been resting all summer still work. So far so good. Brain cells seem to be multiplying and I feel like I need a nap by 3:00 everyday.

I ask that you bear with me as I remember how to live the 8-5 life again and somehow fit in workouts and meals along the way. And dog walks. Poor Finn might be the only one not thrilled with the new adventure.

So I’ll leave you with a photo dump from the past few weeks, including a visit from two of my best friends and a bunch of pictures of Finn looking guilty.

beachhouse restaurant, anna marie island, girls weekend, beach, sunset, sky, dinner

sunset, florida, sky, palm trees


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

Oh and just for good measure, here are a few fun fall recipes from last year to tide you over until I actually make something worth sharing again.

pumpkin bread streusel topping

Pumpkin Bread

spooky pumpkin toffee chocolate chip cookies simply social blog

Pumpkin Toffee Cookies

Have a great week!




Workout Wednesday: Work out like a dog

Before I got Finn, I had two choices. 1) get a dog who could I could take on runs with me but who may be miserable and hyper throughout the day while I’m at work or 2) get a dog who could nap with me. I chose the latter and ever since Finn has certainly lived up to his side of the deal.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

In the time since Finn came into my life, I have trained for 3 half marathons, a full marathon and several other races. And while he doesn’t go on long runs with me, he’s a heck of a warm-up or cool-down partner. In fact, he’d be great for one of those 3-day fundraising walks if anyone needs a team member. He’ll even carry your stuff if you reward him with carrots. Kid loves himself some carrots.

What was I talking about again? Oh right, working out with your pet.

When the folks at DogVacay.com* reached out to me about my exercise routine, my first thought was

Nah. Not me. You guys probably want someone who can actually do a workout with their dog not someone who works out their dog then works out herself or vice versa.

But then they shared a pretty cool infographic with me and I realized one of my go-to workouts already incorporates a lot of the things that my pup does on a daily basis. That and I just really love a good infographic.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog

The circuit above is a great opportunity to change up your routine, which is just what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was at home for a quick visit. In fact, I wish I had seen this before I called up my trainer and asked him for a “quick workout” that day. If I had I may still have been able to breathe afterwards.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog, circuit training, fire hydrants, squats,


To get started grab a treadmill or a very hot Florida afternoon and complete the following:

  • 3 minute warm up jog (5.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 1 mile at a comfortable pace (6.2-6.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 30 second sprint intervals for 8 minutes total (20 seconds at 7.7+ and 2% incline, 10 second rest**)
    **you may just have to hop off the treadmill and let it keep running because these go pretty fast

You should complete roughly 3 miles or more depending on your pace.

Immediately following that circuit, grab a mat and complete the following, alternating leg and arm exercises as you go and trying to rest as little as possible.

  • Body weight squats (see infographic for proper form)-20x
  • Pull-ups-20x
  • Walking lunges-20 on each leg (40 total)
  • Push-ups-20x
  • Fire hydrants-10 each leg (20 total and yes you will look and feel silly)
  • Back Extensions-20x
  • Donkey kicks-10 each leg (same position as fire hydrants only you will kick leg up and back)
  • Planks-1 minute

Do this circuit three times, four if you’re crazy. Then throw in a down dog for recovery sake and call it a day.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

* I was in no way compensated for this post but that’s not stopping me from telling you if you have pets and are looking for a qualified person to watch them while you are away rather then boarding them, be sure to check out DogVacay.com.

Have a great workout!



Cupcakes and Ice Delis

Please accept my apology for ignoring the blog late last week. I had plans to fly home and surprise one of my best friends for her 30th birthday and I was not entirely confident in my ability not to spill the beans. All of them. All over the table and the floor. I love surprise parties, but I get really nervous having to lie to people to pull them off. When you use as many words as I do in a standard conversation, you really have to tread carefully. Fortunately, recently moving out of state gives you a pretty good excuse for missing large events so I had a pretty good alibi.

I flew home Friday evening just in time to join the celebration and catch up with some of my girlfriends. It was a great weekend with friends and family and lower humidity.

baseball game, nephews, little league baseball, boys


grace, puppy, bailey, chocolate lab, toddler, hugsice deli, boys, family, snow cones, summer, nephews

Here’s hoping I can get a few projects started at my parent’s house before they read this and call to stop me. Have a great week!



Family Photos

I realized when I unpacked all of my frames at our new house in Florida that my photos were pretty Murphy-centric. And seeing as how there are two of us in this house, well three if you count the big hairy thing that barks at us when we sit on the couch, I thought we needed some photos of Matt’s family as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, sleeping puppy, swissy, puppy

Trouble was when I asked Matt if he had any he looked at me like I was crazy. How silly of me. I should have known that men don’t take photos of anything other than race tracks and German bratwursts.


Lucky for me, Matt’s family already had a vacation to Florida planned before we moved here. And since their vacation spot was fairly close to our new house, we were very fortunate to spend a lot of time with them over the past week.











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Have a great day!

Winning in October

Can we just start this post with a big old Hip Hip Hooray Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Hakuna matata for the Cardinals heading to the World Series? October is so much more fun when playoff baseball includes your favorite team. Even more so when they clinch with a 9-0 score. Whew!

I’m especially excited because I completely forgot that back in February I placed a bet for the birds to win the pennant while in Vegas.

I’ve only placed a few legit bets in my life (with my own money) and they have all been on sports teams while visiting Vegas. My Dad gets credit because he usually asks me to do it and coaches me through the process. Completely overwhelming by the way. Anywho, as the old saying goes, if you place it, you will win. Not really. Sorry Kevin Costner. I do know it is if you build it, they will come but that doesn’t work for this blog post. Please note that I am not advocating gambling as it relates to your favorite sports team. Mine just so happened to have pretty decent odds. If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER. 


And let the record show that I purposely did not bet on them to win the World Series. I don’t want any money riding on that series. Just good ol’ fashioned watching each game through my hands because I get so nervous baseball. Please win. Please win. Please win. 

Speaking of ol’ fashioned, I traveled home this weekend to celebrate the birthday of one of my very best friends. I’m still on the mend from the marathon madness so I had time last week to whip up a batch of spooky pumpkin toffee chocolate chip cookies to bring with me.

pumpkin toffee chocolate chip cookies simply social blog

Per usual, Finn decided to photo bomb them. Kid loves him some pumpkin. I’ll share the recipe with you later this week. Don’t worry I was sure not to deliver the puppy-versions to my friend.

On Saturday morning, Finn and I went on a nature walk. He gathered sticks and I took pictures of pretty leaves. It was lovely.

autumn fall changing leaves springfield illinois simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, fall leaves, gsmd, simply social blog

I did a little morning crafting in an effort to represent a few friends who couldn’t make the party. It’s sort of a tradition we have that when someone can’t make it we put them on a stick. And by we I mean I. Only for big occasions of course. And since our pseudo-theme for this thing was harvest party, I figured a pair of scarecrows were as good a representation as any. And let me tell you, those scarecrow girls had fun on Saturday.

fall birthday party simply social blog

We had fun too. Starting at a local spot for lunch then riding the party school bus to a winery where we were treated with musical entertainment from the birthday girl’s brother-in-law, cake and later, a family strongman competition.

oakford winery birthday party simply social blog

The pictures don’t do it justice. Let’s just say my stomach still hurts from all the laughter. I can’t speak for the birthday girl but I’d say we all had a pretty nice weekend.

Here’s hoping you did too. If so, let me know in the comments. I get tired of talking to myself all the time.

Have a great week!

The Year of the Swissy, An Infographic

For the past several weeks I’ve been visualizing life in infographic form. I’m not exactly the numbers-type but when I see those stats all wrapped up into a perfectly packaged design element, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. As if suddenly I need to know everything about the power of Pinterest, the triggers of asthma or what type of Facebook personality you exhibit. But seriously, I now know all of those things thanks to recent infographics.

For just about as long as I have had Finn I’ve been building this infographic in my head. As you will see below, he and I spend a lot of time walking together. And since he doesn’t always talk back to me, I spend the majority of the time thinking about random things. Like how many times he and I have passed El Famous Burrito when someone has NOT been taking a bite of a taco (4). Or whether or not crazy neighbor lady will squeal and ask what kind of dog Finn is today like she did yesterday and on Sunday. If you have a pet, or a child, you can probably relate. Dogs are very habitual. And so are their owners.

In typical Sarah fashion I underestimated the amount of design time actually needed to put my facts into visual form, but hopefully you will get where I’m headed. You may have read my past posts about all of the things my pup has ingested over his short year of life. Another episode this week, along with the celebration of Finn’s birthday a few weeks ago, finally gave me enough of a push to create an infographic about him. Without further ado, I give you:

greater swiss mountain dog infographic simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic pounds of food eaten simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic number of walks simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic dog beds used simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic objects eaten simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic visits to vet simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic love simply social blog


Happy Birthday Mr. Finn. I can’t believe how much you’ve grown.


Now please stop eating foreign objects.

greater swiss mountain dog infographic love simply social blog


Take me out to the ball game

So I missed What I ate Wednesday but I have a good excuse. I took the afternoon off and headed up to Wrigley for a cubs/cards match-up. I always try to save my luck for when they are in town and it came through this week with 4th row seats and gorgeous weather. There’s just something about being at Wrigley in the middle of the day that makes you  feel like your cheating the system. And it’s awesome.

Beautiful day for a ball game! Go cards!

What did I eat Wednesday?

Baseball season.

Peanuts. Salted in-shell peanuts. And lots of them. Welcome to baseball season folks! Growing up my dad and I used to head to Lanphier Park to watch the minor league cardinals affiliate, a bag or two of salted in shell peanuts in tow. After all, a good game is determined as much by the layer of shells under your feet as the runs scored.

photo (7)

And lucky for me the Cardinals pulled out a win. I forget how much better  it is to watch live baseball than on television. The crack of the bat, the smell of hot dogs and the look of a meticulously-groomed field. And if that weren’t enough, the Duck Dynasty lookalikes seated next to us were pretty entertaining as well.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

What Finn ate Wednesday Tuesday. A tennis ball. Nearly a whole one. Swallowed it in one full gulp before I could get my hand down his throat to remove it.

We interrupt this blog post for a dog owner rant:

I was thoroughly annoyed at the owner who was letting his dog lay in the middle of the dog park shredding tennis balls into giant chunks Tuesday night. He wasn’t playing with any dogs. Just laying there letting the rubber fly. Finn of course trotted right over to the destruction and snatched up a piece within seconds. I managed to get the first piece away from him but before I knew it he had another (larger) one and down the hatch it went. I equate situations like this to dropping a bag of marbles in front of a group of babies. Of course some of the kids will play nicely with the marbles, but it’s only a matter of time before one or all plop those suckers right in their mouth.

The moral of the story is that some weeks you’re on track and some weeks you’re not. And that’s OK.  Unless you’re eating foreign objects and in that case it’s not.

And so I add tennis ball to the unique list of non-food items my puppy has ingested in the past 10 months:

  • Fully intact pressed rawhide bone
  • 5-7 wooden letter stamps (This is why your Christmas gift tags said “To and “Fro”)
  • Cookbook covers (who needs ’em)
  • 1/3 stuffing from bed he was obviously done with
  • Enough bark to wood-chip a small garden
  • Half of an entry mat-unwoven
  • NEW ENTRY: Tennis Ball

To read more about the fun things my dog eats click here. Otherwise enjoy the weekend and I’ll hopefully have some real food to share for Mother’s Day.

Will Bake for Barks

Growing up as a family with dogs, we always had a box of milkbones in the pantry. Sat down when told to? Milkbone. Did your business outside without running away? Milkbone. Now there were pig ears and other dried meats given as well, but from my memory, milkbone had a corner on the dog treat market throughout most of my childhood.

Fast forward 18 or so years and you have to search through a million varieties to even find a box of old-fashioned milkbones. Trust me I did it. I bought a box when Finn was a pup and tried to give him one. He sniffed it, looked up at me and walked away. This coming from the dog who gets his daily fiber from bark chips and the occasional chewed piece of gum?

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

When we started manners class, I was told to bring high-value treats to use as rewards for our training exercises. We mixed kibble in there as well, but I found if I rewarded with beef jerkey or dried chicken, I could get that dog to fold my laundry for me if I asked. And still today, I can’t make a batch of almond or peanut butter without his nose nearly inside the food processor. We officially have a treat-lover.

It wasn’t until we started lurching and sprinting into  visiting our local pet food store daily that I realized just how crazy the dog treat market is in Chicago. Not only is there aisle upon aisle of packaged treats, but there are entire bakeries dedicated to dog treats, special sections in grocery stores and as I learned last night on our evening visit to the dog park, gourmet dog food trucks. That’s right folks, you might be starving for a snack, but this vehicle caters to pooches only.

They see me rollin’ they barkin’

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone deserves a special treat now and then, but on the regular, I’m not going to pay $3.00 a piece for a custom designed Preppy Puppy Mini Poodle Puff so my dog can inhale it in less than 5 seconds and not taste the sprinkles. I am however a sucker for a food truck so I may or may not have taken their business card, liked them on Facebook and went home and whipped up a batch of my own homemade treats immediately after.

homemade peanut butter dog treats

Homemade Dog Treats

  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C Oats
  • 1/2 C peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1 tsp olive oil (or coconut)
  • 1 C chicken broth

Prefer the original? Recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, honey, oil and chicken broth. In another bowl mix flours and oats. Here’s where it gets tough, mix wet ingredients into dry until combined. Try to avoid the looks coming from your puppy as he smells his favorite things all rolled into one giant ball.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

Listen lady, this better not take all night.

Roll dough onto floured surface.

homemade dog treats
Use cookie cutter to cut treats and place onto non-stick baking mat. I used a 3-4″ biscuit cutter. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

homemade peanut butter dog treats

Hold in front of your dog while you try to take a photo, causing him to bark incessantly because you are a mean mother.

homemade dog treats greater swiss mountain dog puppy

ok, go ahead and reward your puppy for being patient with you.

homemade peanut butter dog treats

I would say enjoy but I don’t know how you feel about the combination of peanut butter and chicken broth. Perhaps it’s the new chicken and waffles? Finn seemed to enjoy them but remember he also has an affinity  for stranger’s chewing gum.

Have a great weekend!

Will Run For Food

This weekend kicks off race season in the Murphy household. And by household I just mean myself. The only race Finn would win would be that of kibble inhalation and I’m fairly certain he would medal every time. Kid’s a maniac!

swiss mountain dog

training is tough, folks.

Each April various members of my family and I run various distances in the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in Champaign. From the youth fun run to the half marathon, it’s always a fun weekend to get together with family, see the campus and remember life before responsibility and real food.

Memories of Pokey Sticks and Ranch Sauce

Typically this time of year we also have a few birthdays to celebrate. One perk of a large family is that there is no shortage of excuses for a party. And with parties come food. If you haven’t yet guessed by the popular categories on this blog I have a small love for food. Ok, big love. Enormous, at times.


Sometimes I run for food. I’ll admit, I used to hate running. If there wasn’t a ball involved in the process, I was not interested. Sprints were ok but only if I was racing someone else. The idea of distance running just to get in shape repulsed me. Just ask my former soccer coaches. Sorry guys. 

It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I started running just to well, run.  It was a chance to explore my new city on foot. A chance to avoid traffic both on the roads and at the gym. A chance to meet some very interesting people. I signed up for my first half marathon that year and have been running ever since.

I still have a hard time calling myself a runner. Yes I run. And fairly often. But I don’t know if I can classify myself as one by name. Is there a mileage requirement perhaps? Or maybe years spent? Heck I don’t know.

What I do know is that 4 or so years later I still haven’t quite conquered the running just for fun thing. Don’t get me wrong there are days I just go out to clear my head and figure out what I’m going to cook for dinner, but I prefer to have a race and a training plan to follow to hold myself accountable. I’m a creature of habit. I found that the best way to get myself to run the 4 miles I’m scheduled for that evening is to picture myself wheezing and cramping through my next race. I’m sure there are more positive motivations out there but that seems to work for me. Probably because I’ve experienced both a time or two. 


I’m sure worse on some days

It wasn’t until I started running regularly that I realized my diet needed an adjustment as well. Until training for a half marathon I had never run anything over 5 or 6 miles. And I don’t know about you but that mile marker is typically when my stomach goes completely empty. Don’t worry I’m not getting all nasty on you or anything. I just mean that at that distance point my body has absorbed all fuel I’ve put into it and starts to growl at me. And this isn’t just a oh it’s time for lunch growl. This is a listen lady you clearly did not give me enough to get through this workout rumble.

I quickly realized that I had to start thinking about what I was putting into my body vs. what I was burning off. And that, my friends, is when my love affair with the oat began.

It started with those measly instant variety and transitioned from quick to old fashioned. (A rare instance where we moved back in time) I began eating oatmeal before my runs because it was the only thing I could stomach that close to exercise and that early in the morning. It soon became part of my morning routine and has been ever since. My name is Sarah and I like to oat, oat, oat.

Oats are a simple food. And I like that. You can experiment with them. And I like that. Doctor them up with fruit and honey or get real crazy and stir in a spoonful of homemade almond butter and you’ve got a great pre-run meal. Sarah science shows that eating oats before exercise helps your metabolism, enhances performance and keeps your stomach happy.

After a few years of eating oatmeal hot, I’ve recently transitioned to the world of overnight oats. And you should too. Once you get past the idea that they aren’t hot these things are a great alternative. And because you aren’t heating them they lose less of the good stuff.

overnight oats banana blueberry

Easy Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats (you may prefer rolled)
  • 1-2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk (I use half almond milk and a splash of water)
  • 1/3 C plain nonfat yogurt
  • Pinch salt

In a small mason jar or tupperware, mix yogurt and milk. Add chia seeds, oats and salt and stir. Place in fridge overnight or even for just a few hours. Top 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 a banana or both. Add a little honey if you want it a little sweeter. 

If you’re looking for a million more ideas as to how to make your overnight oats, check out Kath Eats Real Food. Fair warning, if you are overwhelmed with options like me, make sure you have enough time in your evening to do so.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to experience family, friends and good food this weekend!