Tag Archives: st. louis

All the fall things

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

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

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

It’s science.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy fall y’all!

Relocation: One Penske Truck at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This far.

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

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

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

Here’s a snapchat snapshot of what followed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

 

Seasonal Changes

Pop quiz.

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

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

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The first American city to host the Olympics.

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

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

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

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Decent Wednesday evening.

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

A. Because we really miss gray winters and snow

B. Because alligators, fire ants and Trump supporters

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

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

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

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

bears football, chicago, greater swiss mountain dog, halloween, Chicago Bears, Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarasota, lido beach, florida, beach, sunset, lido key

A weekend under the Arch

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a weekend recap on the blog. Please accept my apologies. It’s not that I don’t love sharing my every free moment with thousands of my closest friends and the occasional Internet troll, but rather that our weekends haven’t been filled with much more than trips to Lowe’s and the occasional beach visit. Not that there’s anything wrong with Lowe’s. Except for the fact that it’s not Target.

It’s probably no surprise to you that we are big Eric Church fans. So when we had the opportunity back in April to get pre-sale tickets to his first big headlining tour, we decided St. Louis would be a good spot to catch a show. Even better when as the date approached, we found out one of my best friends and her husband were planning a babymoon/anniversary trip the same weekend. Bonus!

st. louis cardinals, st. louis, baseball game, travel, broadway oyster bar, yadier molina

We caught a Cardinals game and got to put all of those fall clothes we had packed away to good use under a very brisk November-like September sky.

rooster, pi pizza, st. louis, st. louis arch, travel, weekend, breakfast, lunch,

On Saturday, we had breakfast at a cute farm-to-table spot downtown, immediately followed by lunch with some of my favorite guys…and my sister, too.

eric church, st. louis, concerts, country, tour, music

Saturday night was everything I expected it to be, minus the hour-long-line to get in and the fact they ran out of beer by 9:30. Perhaps the latter explains the reason I am just now feeling like a normal human again.

Until next time Midwest. Back to the 90’s.

 

 

 

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!