Sep 29, 2012

This Means WAR

Things have been coming to a head with RoomDog over the last few weeks. The days of hoping we'd be friends are long gone. I stopped saying "hello" to him when I got home a few weeks back after he replied with stone cold silence one too many times. And then, this week, war was declared.

Reasons why we are at war with RD:

  •  He can't seem to grasp the concept that other people need to use the sink and can't when his dishes have been there for 3 days.
  •  The fruit fly that watched me shower has invited his entire extended family to the show. Dinner is provided in the trash can, courtesy of RoomDog's banana peels.
  •  RD decided that rather than filling the propane tank on the grill which he emptied making his weekly meals, he would leave it empty for me and BearFace to fill and use the oven instead. 
  • Why does the cabinet containing your food have to stay open?? Why?? Is it too much work to open and close each time you want to slather some tuna fish with mayo??
  • I literally can't listen to him speak for more than 30 seconds without feeling the need to dramatically roll my eyes.

And this was where the proverbial "line in the sand" was drawn:

• There was OATMEAL on my razor in the shower. Oatmeal. Ok, A) I still dont understand why you are eating oatmeal in the shower? But more importantly B) why are you touching my razor???

So this week BearFace decided to go to war with him, and I agreed to join! (Of course this is a passive-aggressive war so I'm not sure he's even going to notice.)

Our battle tactics:

• No more washing his dishes.
• Ran out of toilet paper which Drew and I have been supplying for the past 3 months. Hid the new stash in our bedroom. Tough luck.
• Removed the trash can from the bathroom.
• Dropped his "clean" tupperware on the dirty kitchen floor and let Murphy lick it. Oops! My bad. (He doesn't use soap to wash dishes anyway!)

Here's the score so far:

Michelle and BearFace: 1
RoomDog: 0

He actually left his bedroom today to (presumably) go buy toilet paper.  I'll post updates as the battle continues to rage.

Right now I'm on a train to NYC to visit the bro and 2 of my Uconn cronies! Which is good for RD because my claws were starting to show. As I'm sure you can tell by the bitter undertones in this post...

I leave you with an adorable picture of Murphy to lighten the mood a little!

Sep 27, 2012

Attack Goat

Nothing too exciting down here in Alloway today...just a trip to the barn after work to ride my friend Ty.  Murphy decided he wanted to come along today.  Which sounded like a good idea at first, but then I remembered how crazy he gets at the barn sometimes.  Especially when he hasn't been there for a while.  AAAND especially when there's a mischievous goat named Ember who roams the property.

Murphy's thoughts on Ember: OMG SOMETHING LIVING THAT I CAN PLAY WITH!  

Luckily Murphy is quick on his feet, and Ember is twice as wide as she is tall, because she would have head-butted him if he hadn't moved.  After the rearing and attempted head-butting, Murphy decided to play duck-duck-goat.  It looked something like this:

(Sorry, I can't get the video to upload for some reason!)

And then it was home to the mouth-watering aroma of my crockpot dinner, just waiting to be eaten!

 Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

I actually put this together last night, and refrigerated it until Drew put it in the crockpot for me this afternoon.
  • 6 chicken breasts, defrosted
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) mild or medium salsa 
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice
  1. Mix together salsa, lime juice, taco seasoning, jalapenos, and cilantro.  
  2. Place chicken breasts in crockpot.
  3. Coat chicken with salsa mixture.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  5. Cook rice according to package instructions slightly before chicken is done.
  6. Pull apart chicken breasts with fork.
  7. Top rice with chicken, salsa mixture, and cheddar cheese.
I am a baby when it comes to spice, so I opted for mild salsa and only 1 jalapeno pepper.  When it comes to cilantro, however, I can't get enough.  (I actually munched on some while I was chopping.  Weird? Maybe.)  I probably added closer to 1/2 cup than 1/4 cup.  I recently read that loving cilantro is actually genetic.  Apparently this cilantro-loving gene determines whether you find cilantro irresistible, or find that it tastes like soap.  (Or bug-infested bedclothes.  Who knew?)  I certainly am NOT a cilantrophobe.  Just can't get enough of the stuff.      

This dish smelled amazinggg while it was in the crockpot, and I couldn't wait to eat it.  I was certainly not disappointed.  I am plotting a cilantro lime chicken burrito for lunch tomorrow.   

That's all for now.  I'm off to NYC to visit my favorite brother, Joe, this weekend, and meet up with the long lost Mad Dawg and Caitlin!  

With that, I leave you with one more Murphy video:

Sep 25, 2012

Murphy HATES Baths

Today was bath day for my poor dog.  The downside to having a mostly-white dog is that the dirt really stands out.  Usually by the end of the month, he is more off-white than white.  For someone who likes things to be sparkly clean at all times, I find this unacceptable.  I would probably give him a bath once a week if it wouldn't dry his skin out (who are we kidding...probably once a day).  Luckily for Murphy, he's on a monthly bath schedule, because he HATES being wet.  Which always confuses me because he loves to swim! (More like splash...the dog was definitely not a born swimmer.)  Even rain is an enemy.  He thinks he is going to melt.

Since today was cleaning day anyway, and it was a bit nippy out this morning, I decided to throw him in the tub rather than hose him down outside (Don't worry, the tub got a thorough scrubbing afterwards).  Everything was going well until I decided to leave him in the tub to get my iPhone.  I couldn't resist snapping an embarrassing picture to post online.  Besides baths, Murphy also hates to "stay".  He'll do it begrudgingly while I am in sight, but as soon as I'm around the corner, forget it.  That steak I left on the table?  Gonzo.  The same is true for "staying" in the bath tub.  As soon as I got across the hall into my room, all the while telling him "STAY" in my most serious voice, I heard a giant splash and little puppy paws doing the slip 'n' slide across the tile in the bathroom.  Lesson of the day: Do not leave your dog unattended in the bath tub unless you want your bathroom to look like it was hit by a tsunami.

I so hate you right now, Mom.  Can't you see I'm melting?!?! 

Once the shampooing and rinsing portion of the bath was over and we moved on to the drying portion, Murphy decided he didn't hate me as much as he thought.  He LOVES the blowdryer.  Yes, I blow dry my dog.  He was shivering! It took me about an hour to mop up the giant watery mess, scrub the shower to a satisfactory level of sparkliness, and clean the other bathroom surfaces.  

And then it was off to the barn, where I discovered that my friend Lamont was still nursing his injury.  (I'd say more like milking it, but I'll let it slide.)  I rode this little mare, Ty, instead: 

Michelle: Ty, that's my finger.  Not a carrot.
Ty: No, I know it's a carrot.  

Ty: Seriously, give me the carrot. 
Michelle: IT'S MY FINGER.

For dinner tonight, I prepared another quinoa dish that was rather reminiscent of summer.  It's almost time to break out the fall soups and stews, though!  I am in love with quinoa, and this is the BEST quinoa recipe I have made or had so far!

There are no instructions on cooking the shrimp, so this is what I did:
  • 20-25 uncooked, deveined, and thawed shrimp
  • Cajun jerk seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Place shrimp in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil, approximately 1 tbsp.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and jerk seasoning (Just eyeball it, I didn't measure.  If you like it spicy, add more jerk.)
  4. Spread shrimp on a non-stick baking pan.  Each one should be laying flat on the pan.
  5. Place on highest oven rack and broil for 4-5 minutes, turning shrimp once after 2 minutes.
Add those puppies to the salad, and you're good to go!  I actually doubled the recipe, and there was enough leftover for dinner tomorrow night, plus lunch for me tomorrow.  I skipped the pomegranate because I find them annoying to deal with, but I'm sure it would have been delicious.  I was skeptical about the oranges, but trust me, they are worth it!  


Sep 23, 2012

Crazy Dog Lovers, Unite!

Sunday Funday, I always say!  Not really, but today was certainly a fun Sunday.  

First off, a Sunday morning trip to the barn.  I couldn't pass up a ride in this gorgeous weather...70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!  I rode Lamont for about 10 minutes before he decided he was going to be lame.  (As in, he was limping.  Not like, uncool.  Apparently he got kicked by another horse earlier in the week.)  Another rider was nice enough to let me hop on her horse for a few minutes until I talked to Kim and got the ok to ride Chance.  So not all was lost!

The best part of the day, however, was a family trip to Fido's Festival in Woodstown!  That's right, a festival all about dogs.  I decided it was about time Murphy got to have an adventure of his own.  After being cooped up in the house for 3 weeks, this may not have been the best idea.   Having left all his doggie friends back in Connecticut, he's pretty much desperate for some dog conversation.  So let's take him to a fair at which there are more dogs present than people and see how he behaves.  Brilliant.  (Talk about sensory overload!)  Aside from some mild leash-pulling, barking at me when I stepped on his foot, and almost dragging me off the bleachers when a puppy ran by, he did pretty well.  He was definitely not the worst-behaved dog there, and that's good enough for me.  

Highlights of the festival: (which BearFace just LOVED, by the way.  Kidding,  but he is a good sport!)

  • Dog costume contest (Ok, these people are the true crazies.  I would not participate in such an activity.)
  • Dog dock diving contest (Best part was watching a very confused chocolate lab try to figure out how to retrieve his toy from the water without jumping in.)
  • Dog playground (Murphy was overjoyed to play with a coonhound named Tesla, who was more concerned with taking a dump in the middle of the concrete.)
  • Dry land dog sledding demo (Murphy thinks huskies are the devil.  We steered clear of that one.)
  • Lure coursing (We watched many dogs crash and burn through the course.)
Murphy actually participated in the lure coursing activity.  Basically, the dogs chase a motorized lure around a track.  We were about 15th in the line to run your dog.  Murphy was more interested in making friends with the dogs in front of and behind us at the beginning.  But as we got closer, he actually started watching the dogs go.  By the time it was our turn, he knew exactly what to do.  Also, moving objects make him INSANE.  So of course he was a natural.  He clocked in at just under 17 seconds.  Certainly not the fastest run of the day, but far from the slowest.  (Hey, he's out of shape!)  I actually had to drag him away from the course after his run.  He wanted to prove that he could run faster!

I was born for this. 

We also spent some time watching the Disc Dog Demo.  Man, can those dogs catch a frisbee!  Murphy got a little upset watching them play.  It reminded him of his frisbee-playing days (again with the moving object insanity), which are now over due to his knee-injury. 

Just doin' a quick back flip.  No big deal...

With a busy day behind us, I whipped up a tasty dinner of sausage and quinoa.  I wasn't really satisfied with my last attempt at sausage and quinoa, so I did some recipe searching, and came up with this.  It's a combination/improvisation of several different recipes:

1 pound Italian sausage, sliced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa
1 cup broccoli (I used frozen; if you want to use fresh broccoli, add it at step 3.)
1 cup spinach

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Brown sausage and onions over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes.  
  2. Add garlic, rosemary and sage and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  
  3. Add chicken broth, quinoa, and salt and stir.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli, cover, and continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add spinach and stir until wilted.

I put some grated Romano cheese on top of my bowl (Can't have a meal without cheese!) and I really enjoyed it!  Very flavorful, filling, and healthy.    I have a few more recipes up my sleeve for this week, so stay tuned!

Sep 22, 2012

Home on the Range

It was pretty hard to follow-up last weekend in Myrtle Beach with a weekend in Alloway, but it was nice to relax at home with Murphles and BearFace.  We (all 3 of us) actually had quite a few adventures!

Saturday morning started off with our usual trip to BJ's since our fridge was starting to look pretty empty.  Our week of salads used up all of our veggies.  Then it was off to the barn for me.  I met up with Kim and we took her horse Chance and Lamont out for a trail ride.  

Ahh, nothing like the open trail!

It was a beautiful day for a trail ride, but Lamont can be slightly frustrating at times.  I think he might have ADHD.  He makes me look like I'm riding drunk.  His thought process goes something like this (or at least I imagine it does):

Michelle: Come on Lamont, let's pick up the pace a little!  We've moved about 6 feet in the last 10 minutes!

Lamont: Wait, where am I supposed to go again?  Oh yah, follow the trail.  Boy, am I getting tired!  I better slow down!  Hold on, I think we're lost.  I don't know where to go. HEY!  There's a steep drop coming up; let me just see if I can balance on the edge of it.  Hold on, hold on, tree branch in the way.  I better go wide.  OOOO grass.  I'm hungry.  Shoot.  Lost again.  I gotta slow down and pay attention.  


Lamont:  Sorry, did you say something?  I thought I saw a squirrel.  YUM more grass! 

After our very slow trail ride was completed, I went home to make our last salad of the week for dinner, and then BearFace and I were off to the rodeo!!  Our previous attempt to make it to the rodeo was rained out, and of course there were some severe thunderstorms forecasted for Saturday night.  But we laugh in the face of weather!

We arrived at the rodeo around 7 pm, and it was scheduled to begin at 7:30.  As we sat in the bleachers waiting for the opening speech, we watched a very large, very black cloud roll slowly in, and checked the doppler radar on our phones every 30 seconds.  It was basically a race between the rodeo and the storm.  

A black cloud of doom

Fortunately, the cloud moved just slowly enough for us to see a solid hour of the rodeo before the rain started.  

Steer wrestling

Tie-down roping

UNfortunately, it did start raining before my favorite events, barrel racing and team roping, could take place.  We did plan ahead and brought rain jackets, and considered waiting out the rain.  Until we observed multiple lightning strikes heading our way.  And then the deluge began.  By the time we got back to the car we were drenched, even with the rain jackets!  That makes the 4th time I've been caught out in a thunderstorm this summer.  YOU CAN'T STOP ME WEATHER!!  Luckily we remembered to take my car instead of Drew's.  His windshield wipers are broken.  Kind of inconvenient, and also rather dangerous.  

Sep 18, 2012

Business as Usual

Myrtle Beach Uconn Reunion- check!

Now we're back to business as usual.  Can't say I missed Salem County all that much. (Although I did miss my boyfriend and four-legged beast, of course).  My flight got in at 10:30 Sunday night, and then I had an hour drive from the Atlantic City Airport back to Alloway.  It was rough, especially since I didn't get my required 10 hours of sleep/night while in Myrtle Beach.

Reasons I was not excited to return to Alloway, NJ:

  • 17 deer.  I passed 17 deer on my way home at 11 pm.  Luckily, they were street smart and stayed out of the road.  Which is good because I could barely keep my eyes open!  
  • Giant spiders are building giant webs around my yard. (If I ever find one in the house, I will be back in CT in 3 seconds flat).
  • I found this when I got home from work on Monday: 

RoomDog does not believe in dish towels.  Instead, he dries his dishes on the deck.  
  • My dog, although very cute and lovable, is a trouble-maker.

You forgot to close the bedroom door when you went out, and I might have gone through your trash.  Again.  It was a good time, but I'm feeling pretty guilty right now.  

I did enjoy my Tuesday off though.  Weekly cleaning, laundry, and riding.  

Finally got to go on a trail ride in New Jersey!

It's no Ayer Mountain, but it will definitely do!

These made my trail ride more enjoyable:

This llama is photobombing my socks.  

Hands down, the funniest birthday present I have ever received, thanks to my Buddy!  I am the proud owner of the only pair of llama riding socks ever made.  Ever.  

BearFace and I are on a salads-only diet this week to clear out my system after a weekend of hearty meals.  (And because we like salad.)  So no recipes for a few days, but I have some in the works.  Have no fear!

The First Annual Uconn Reunion

This weekend was epic.  Only word to describe it.  Once we got past all the catching up, it was like we were back at Uconn!  It felt great to be with people who really know you (it happens after 6 years of friendship!), and be our crazy selves without worrying about outsiders judging us.  Needless to say, it was incredibly hard to leave that behind Sunday night. 

Some highlights from the trip:

Anne "Big Hands" McManus strikes again.

Anne, MagZilla and I were the first ones to arrive early Thursday morning.  We cabbed it to the condo, where we wandered around aimlessly for about 30 minutes until we discovered that we could get into the condo without checking in.  Actually getting in took us another 15 minutes until we could figure out the lockbox which held the key.  3 girls with B.S. degrees vs. 1 lockbox.  Victory goes to the lockbox.  

After a filling breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we hit the pool and awaited the arrival of Honeybear, Cari, and Beenbag!

Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant, SC

Since our 2 rental cars arrived with Jen and Halina, we were no longer trapped at the resort!  We decided to take a trip to Charleston, SC on Friday.  We made a stop at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant.  It has been a working plantation for over 320 years.  It was also in The Notebook (no, Ryan Gosling was not there).  We took a tour of the mansion, and then hopped on a tram ride around the grounds.  Which are HUGE.  Our tour guide informed us that Boone Hall used to be home to 15,000 pecan trees.  The pecans were harvested and sold.  Unfortunately, due to storms and other natural forces, there are only about 800 of those trees left.  

Avenue of the Oaks

The Avenue of the Oaks leads up the mansion, and is the longest avenue of live oaks of all the surrounding plantations.  Wouldn't mind waking up to that view every morning.

We were quite hungry after our historical adventure, and we all know Honeybear gets quite frisky when she is hungry.  Or cold.  Or tired.  So we headed to The Tattooed Moose in Charleston for a late lunch.  This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  Absolutely a dive, no contest.  Not that the food wasn't good.  It was very tasty.  We all shared an order of the Duck Fat Fries with gravy, and Banana and I shared the Super Melty Grilled Cheese and Mike's Famous Duck Club Sandwich.  Probably some of the best fries I've had, and the duck club was excellent (although their grilled cheese ain't got nothing on my avocado cheddar grilled cheese delight!).  

That being said, if you enjoy being served food by an arsenal of overweight, greasy-haired, big-bearded men, then this is the place for you.  I, however, do not.  Everyone knows by this point that I am a clean freak, and this extends to matters of hygiene.  So if you are not clean, DO NOT TOUCH MY FOOD.  I attempted to think positively by reminding myself that the waiter was not the one cooking my food.  This failed when A) I noticed open sores all over his hands, B) I observed a similar-looking overweight, greasy-haired, big-bearded man cooking in the kitchen while I was waiting for the bathroom and C) Honeybear's sandwich was topped with a (presumably) beard hair.  So when it came time to consider dessert, I passed.  

From there we headed to downtown Charleston for a walk along the waterfront shops and restaurants, where Halina proposed to Maggie.  What exactly she proposed, no one is sure. But it was moving.  

Anne is moved by the proposal.  Maggie is speechless. 

That night, we partied like we were young again.  Well, some of us still are young.  I am not.  I am 24 going on 84.  So it was a big night for me.  We did some bar hopping at Broadway on the Beach, and then cabbed it home at 2 am when the bars closed.  And we danced like we had never danced before!  Well, Anne did.  She is a wild dancing machine.  

Anne takes a break from dancing to join in a group picture.  No, I do not know who those dudes are

And then Saturday we beached it!  It was a glorious beach day at a beautiful beach.  Free of rocks, seaweed, and sharks.  

This picture is actually rather terrifying.

After a day of sunning and being tossed around by the waves, we headed out for the strangest night we had ever experienced.  

It was strange because:

We started out at Mango's On the Beach for dinner.  Halina and I shared the lobster ravioli and crab cake sandwich, neither of which were picture-worthy.  (Thank goodness I have friends who like to share food!)  The food was mediocre at best, but our waiter clearly had never heard of deodorant.  

From there we took a cab to a bar called Sharky's on the strand.  We left shortly after an older gentleman (probably 60's?) wearing an open leather vest with no shirt underneath approached Anne and Maggie and whispered sweet nothing's in their ears.  Creep alert!  

Next stop, back to Fat Tuesday's at Broadway on the Beach.  Where we witnessed the makings of a 5-some in action.  No joke.  And not the cool kind either...2 older women took turns making out with a group of 3 older men.  EXTRA CREEP ALERT. 

And finally, we headed to Rodeo Bar next door for some live country music and dancing.  It was a blast, and totally made up for the creepiness of the evening!

On our last day, we started out with a stop at the House of Blues for the Sunday Gospel Brunch.  Where we were forced to sing!  Honeybear will be having nightmares of the experience for months to come.  

And then back to the beach.  I could definitely retire here.

A group of traveling singers.  They weren't very good. 

Anne, Maggie and I left Sunday night after celebrating Halina's 24th birthday, complete with cupcakes!  

The birthday queen herself.  

Like I said, it was so hard to leave these ladies behind.  But there's always the Second Annual UConn Reunion to look forward to next year!  

Sep 13, 2012

I'm Sorry, What Was That?

I say some very dumb things to my dog. And most of the time I don't even register what I'm saying. It just comes out. Word vomit. I caught myself saying something particularly stupid the other day. (I just blue myself. Arrested Development, anyone?) Pretty embarrassing.

Things I regularly say to my dog without even hearing what comes out of my mouth:

• Good morning stretchy pants!!! (Apparently he reminds me of yoga pants?)
• Hello my baby mush face!! (If Murphy's face suddenly turned to mush I would be very concerned.)
• Murphy! You are a naughty pants! (My dog does not wear pants. Although I did catch him in my t-shirt once...)
• You are so cute I just want to eat you up!! (His cuteness makes me hungry?)

I imagine his response to any of these comments would be: I would appreciate it if you would stop threatening me with death. Please do not eat me. I am a dog, not a hamburger.

A conversation with BearFace recently:

Michelle: Murphy, you are a stretchy pants! You are so cute I want to eat you!
BF: I think you love Murphy more than you love me.
Michelle: (silence)

Perhaps it's good Murphy and I are taking a break from each other for a few days...

Speaking of which, I'm writing this from the air right now. Of course I will not be posting until we land, but I needed something to occupy myself! I'm doing this on my iPhone so the format may be a little weird.

Luckily I conquered my phobia of airports and made it onto the plane this morning. It was a close call. Well, closer than I would have liked. This is because A) GoogleMaps is a liar. Atlantic City Airport is 1 hour from my house in Alloway, not 40 minutes. B) There were at least 6 deer that decided 4 am was a good time to play chicken with oncoming traffic. And C) My roommate decided 3:30 am was a good time to eat breakfast in the bathroom. Yep, I caught RD red-handed, making oatmeal and going into the bathroom with it. Thankfully my toothbrush was in my duffle bag so I could brush in the kitchen!

A perk of living in the country, however , is that there is no traffic, no traffic lights, and almost every road is 50+ mph. You just have to watch out for the deer...

Landing in Myrtle Beach in 20 minutes, and I am ready to kick off this UConn reunion! It will be epic.

Sep 11, 2012

My Dog is Fat

Ok, not really.  And believe me, I would know.  I see some fat animals in my line of work.  (First place goes to the 27.1 pound cat, who had to roll himself to the food bowl every day.  Second place goes to the 28 pound Miniature Pinscher, who closely resembled an engorged tick.) So Murphy is not fat.  But he's getting a bit pudgy.  It's really not his fault; the poor guy is back on house arrest after playing too hard in Connecticut last weekend.  For a dog that normally hikes with me, goes running with me, AND goes to the barn with me, house arrest is absolute torture.  Plus I won't let him snuggle on the bed with me at night because he kept hurting himself jumping down.  He had a hissy fit the other night and refused to come in the bedroom while I was watching TV.  

Combine all that with the diet he's on due to his inability to exercise (diet is a strong word; I only cut him back 1/4 of a cup/day), he pretty much hates me right now.  I was amazed at his ability to discern that I was skimping him on about 8 whole kibbles.  The first day, he paced back and forth from his bowl to the food bin at least 3 times before collapsing in an exasperated heap.  And he's been following me around with a worried look on his face each night, starting around 5 pm.  I think he is concerned that I am going to cut out a meal altogether.  I finally had to break down last night and let him on the bed to cheer him up.  But of course I didn't want him to hurt himself, so I lifted him up onto the bed.  Yup, I did.  You could call me a crazy dog lady.

 Being mad at Mom is so tiring.

Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal...

Today he got an extra special treat and got to go for a walk at the old golf course that's down the street from our house (on-leash of course, to prevent leg-reinjuring.  And shadow-chasing.)  I couldn't help it; he guilt-tripped me with one too many pathetic whimpers.    

Also it was incredibly gorgeous out today!

The tricky thing about hiking around here right now is hunting season!  Deer season opened last weekend, and the golf course is a prime spot for deer hunters, or so I have been told by the locals.  Especially because one side of the course borders the Obissasqout BowHunter's Club.  Not that Murphy looks particularly like a deer, but you can never be too careful.  He has been known to sport antlers on occasion.  BearFace suggested I wear some reflective orange gear.  He left me an orange hat and vest.  I went with the hat; the vest smelled like buck scent. (Didn't want to accidentally attract any does!)  As an extra precaution, I blasted music out of my iPhone while walking so any hunter would hear me coming, and hopefully decide to dance with me instead of shooting at me.  I hope you have this image in your head, because I looked like a crazy.  Blaring music in the middle of the wilderness with my shadow-chasing dog on a Tuesday afternoon, wearing a seizure-worthy orange hat which did not fit my head.  (I have yet to find a hat that fits me in the 24 years I have been alive.) Crazy.  

Luckily, there were no hunters in the area at the time, or they were deterred by my obnoxious attire.  Either way, we made it home alive.  Thank goodness, because I had to cook this delicious dinner:

This recipe uses Greek yogurt and olive oil instead of heavy cream and butter.  Much healthier, and it was just as tasty.  

The recipe calls for cooked chicken but fails to mention how to cook it, so this is what I did:
  • Heat olive oil in pan
  • Slice 2 chicken breasts in half 
  • Season each side with garlic salt, pepper, and oregano 
  • Cook chicken approximately 5 minutes on each side
  • Cut into bite-sized pieces before adding to alfredo
I also used frozen broccoli, which I defrosted before adding to the sauce/pasta mixture.  I considered popping it in the oven to roast for a few minutes, but BearFace's grumbling stomach was quickly turning him into an actual bear.

If you want to roast the broccoli:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spread broccoli on a baking pan 
  • Drizzle with olive oil, garlic salt (love me some garlic salt!), and pepper
  • Roast for about 15 minutes, or until crispy **Do not walk away from the oven!**
Best part of the day...a video chat with my Buddy in Lexington (Jenny)!  Her life makes me jealous.  She plays with horses all day.  Also I kind of miss her and our adventures at UConn, often involving Taylor Swift sing-alongs and llamas.  If only teleportation were possible so we could visit each other weekly!
This llama is photo-bombing those unsuspecting people.

Speaking of teleportation and nostalgia, I'm off to Myrtle Beach on Thursday to meet up with some other UConn ladies!  Sadly, some of our group will be missing but a good time shall be had!  If I can get over my fear of airports.  I have no issue with the actual flying, it's just the airport itself scares the crap out of me.  Go figure.  (And hopefully BearFace will remember to feed Murphy while I'm gone, although I don't think Murphy would let him forget!)

Sep 9, 2012

Super Sunny Sunday

Sunday After the Storm

I suppose I can't be too upset with the all-night rain, since it did get rid of the awful humidity that was hanging in the air last week.  Today was absolutely humidity, sunny, and mid-70's (my favorite temperature!)  

The clouds were just chillin' with the corn.  

Caution: Do not attempt to take pictures while driving.  Unless you live in the country and there are no other cars for miles.  

I spent the morning riding Lamont, a quarter horse I am leasing at a barn in Franklinville.

His legs are rather crooked, but I try not to hold that against him.  I met my coworker, Kim, there this morning and she rode her horse, Chance with me and Lamont (I made a friend!!).  Very relaxing way to spend this beautiful day, even though Lamont is constantly trying to get away with anything he can as soon as I stop paying attention.  He is devious.  

Before I left for the barn this morning, I threw together my Big Sunday Meal!

Things I changed: 
  • I substituted canned beans for dry.  (1 can of beans=1/2 cup dry).  So I used 2 cans of navy beans and 2 cans of kidney beans.  
  • Combine all the ingredients in a crockpot and set on high for 8 hours. 
  • In order for this recipe to work, you need to have a dog that will growl at the crockpot's bubbling sounds for the greater part of the day.  If you don't have one, I can lend you mine.  

I must say, this meal did not look highly appetizing when it was done.  Probably why there was no picture of it on the website.  But don't judge a book by its cover!  The pork was pull-apart-tender, and the navy beans had a nice creamy texture.  There were tons of leftovers which should last us most of the week.  I think mixing rice and maybe some sauteed spinach with the pork and beans would really complete the dish!  

As a side, I made some mashed sweet potatoes.  I had to resurrect my image of the sweet potato as an edible item after BearFace's shriveled creation from last night.

As usual, I was missing a few of the ingredients in my pantry, so I switched them up rather than make another trip to the store.  

My version: (I still followed the steps in the recipe, just used my own ingredients)
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chile powder (that was the end of the bottle!)
  • 1 tsp curry powder (this is about the 3rd time I thought I had cumin in my spice cabinet, and then remembered later it was curry powder!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

The sweet potatoes were excellent, and yes, I am patting myself on the back for that one!  

Sep 8, 2012

Rained Out Rodeo

Having had so many adventures in Connecticut last weekend, BearFace and I had to make an effort to compete this weekend.  A bit more difficult here in New Jersey, but we tried our best.

Friday Night in the Big City

Friday was a bit of a scramble to get home from work, shower, and get to Philly for happy hour.  We met up with Drew's old boss's fiancee who is in vet school at Penn State.  Drew saw his previous boss, Ian, while in CT, and it was immediately obvious to Ian how much Drew was dying to socialize.  There have been times when I've been almost convinced that my dear boyfriend would prefer to be a hermit, so he must have been pretty desperate for him to notice.  Ian was nice enough to suggest that we hang out with his fiancee, Michele, in Philly.

We made it there just in time to meet up with Michele at the vet school happy hour.  A school-sponsored drinking event.  Weird.  But when I walked into the school and was greeted by 15 happy dogs and a SeaDog BluePaw, I began to think that perhaps I should go to vet school.  I kind of think studying at vet school is a myth.  I think they just drink beer and play with their dogs all day.  

At the end of happy hour, Michele gave us a tour of the school, and then we went to grab some dinner with her brother and a few of her friends at White Dog Cafe.  Caveat: this restaurant is not cheap!  The restaurant serves only locally grown, organic foods, which makes the menu items pretty pricey, but delicious.  Drew and I both started with the Wild Mushroom Soup, which was on the heavy side, but soo flavorful!  I ordered the Pan Seared Scallops for dinner.  They were cooked perfectly and served over Jersey corn, mushrooms, and bacon.  Excellent.  But I only got 3 scallops...for $26.  Ouch.  (I also do not have any pictures....I try to avoid taking pictures of food when meeting new people.  It's kind of awkward to explain).  Too full for dessert, but there was a Jersey Blueberry Bread Pudding on the menu that sounded heavenly.  I am a sucker for bread pudding.  

Saturday Night Rodeo?

Weekly grocery shopping in Vineland.  Boring.  Far away. Always makes me hungry.  We had to add a trip to Verizon to get Drew a new iPhone too, so the whole excursion took up a big chunk of the day.  I think I was more excited than he was about the phone.  He refused to FaceTime with me when we got home.  So what if we were in the same room??

Our big plan for the evening was to go to the CowTown Rodeo in Woodstown.  Pretty much the most exciting thing going in Salem County, and we haven't been yet!  A coworker told me to get there at 7 to make sure we got good seats before the rodeo starts at 7:30.  Well at about 4:30, I took Murphy for a nice walk down the road.  It was a bit windy and cloudy but I didn't think much of it.  During my walk I got this text from Drew's sister:
Kathy: You guys ok? Any tornado action by you?
I seem to have recently acquired a new hobby of planning activities in the middle of severe storms.  Or maybe I just attract the storm?  I'm not sure.  All I know is, it's about a 70/30 chance of rain every time I A) go hiking, B) go riding, or C) go out in the city.  Well, the same is true for rodeos.  About 30 minutes after I got home from walking= torrential downpours.  Very sad.  I actually downloaded a doppler radar app on my phone because of the multiple times I have been caught in thunderstorms this summer.  Apparently I need to use it more.

Instead of rodeo-ing, we made a quick and easy chicken salad for dinner.

Quick and easy chicken salad

  •  Grilled chicken seasoned with garlic salt, pepper, and oregano (I let BearFace grill the chicken on the grill pan so he didn't have to go out in the rain.  I'm so nice.)
  • Arugula
  • Iceberg lettuce (Normally I am against Iceberg because of its lack of taste and nutritional value, but we had some in the fridge that needed to be eaten.)
  • Radishes
  • Celery (Yuck! Drew's choice)
  • Baby carrots
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
I used Paul Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette, but anything works.  

Drew's side dish- microwaved sweet potato.  Good thing I'm the chef!

Not one to go to bed without dessert, I followed it up by making this delicious treat:

Super easy, healthy, and yummy.  The mint sprigs make it very refreshing.  You may notice that I put the blueberries on top rather than on the bottom.  I'm such an innovator!

Labor Day Weekend

This may be a bit lengthy, but here’s a recap of my adventures back in good ol’ Connecticut this weekend:
Murphy, Drew and I took a trip back to CT for the long weekend.  Unfortunately, Drew and I had to drive separately since I was going to stay until Tuesday, and he had to be back for Monday. Note: middle of a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend=3 1/2 hour drive turns into a 5 hour drive!  
My parents were out partying like the social butterflies they are when I got home, which meant that I had to do the Ruby (their new dog)/Murphy re-introdction by myself.  After a few minutes of growling and barking on Ruby’s part, and wiggling and snorfling on Murphy’s, they settled down and got along quite swimmingly.  
Synchronized walking.  A new sport in the Doggy Olympics.
Ruby is lacking some basic obedience training, so I tried working on it with her as we were walking.  She heeled pretty well, but absolutely refused to “sit” for me.  It went something like this:
  • Michelle: Ruby, sit.
  • Ruby: I know exactly what you are saying, but I am going to pretend to be stone deaf.  WHAT WAS THAT YOU SAID??
  • Murphy: I’m sitting, Mom!
  • Michelle: Ruby, sit!
  • Ruby: Your lips are moving but there’s no sound coming out.
  • Murphy: I SAID, I’m sitting!!!
  • Michelle: Ruby, SIT!
  • Ruby: You’re pretty.
This resulted in:  A) frustration on my part. B) Ruby still standing.  And C) Murphy rolling on his back on the sidewalk in an effort to be recognized for his good behavior.

Sunday was a trip to the Madison Surf Club with the parents.  We packed quite a tasty picnic lunch with us, since food/eating are the foremost preoccupation of the Santoro family.  In our cooler:
  • Pasta salad
  • Grilled chicken breasts, legs, and thighs
  • Hummus and crackers
  • Blue cheese dressing for the chicken
  • Hershey’s mini chocolates (A picnic without chocolate?  No thank you, I will pass.)
We could have fed 6 people instead of 3. I can’t take any responsibility for the chicken (my dad cooked it).  My favorite part was the pasta salad, a pretty simple one.  
  1. Cook 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  2. Mix pasta with chopped red onions, celery, and black olives
  3. Season with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste  
Just a day at the beach…

Of course I could not go back to CT without a trip to my favorite place in the state, Ayer Mountain Farm in Franklin.  Many happy hours of riding was had there before I moved.  I took my favorite little paint mare, Tiger, out to the “field of dreams” with LeighAnn and Peppy! Our friend Sophia (the dog) came along to chaperone.  Luckily too; we almost took a wrong turn at one point, but she steered us in the right direction!
Sadly, I do not have any pictures of the “field of dreams”.  It was quite dreamy.  Good spot for a gallop!

I capped off the day with a dinner with MagSauce, HoneyBear, and Rachel (Rachel, do you even have any nicknames??) at Max Burger in West Hartford.  One of my favorite restaurants. 
Spinach and artichoke dip with goat cheese and toasted flatbread. Drew, be jealous.  I took this picture for you :)


Miss Daisy: turkey burger on brioche with melted brie cheese, bacon, lettuce, and apple honey Dijonaise.  SO GOOD.  Feeds my unhealthy addiction to cheese. (I once ate an entire wedge of brie by myself.  In one sitting.  True story.)

Because I couldn’t leave CT without stuffing my face one more time, my parents and I had breakfast at O’Rourke’s Diner in Middletown.  They had tried it after seeing it on FoodNetwork’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and highly recommended it. 
Irish Galloway: poached eggs and hollandaise sauce over grilled brown bread, bacon, and smoked salmon.  GO THERE AND EAT THIS.  Now. 
Dad at breakfast: I don’t understand why you keep taking pictures of food?
But of course I couldn’t head back to NJ without a car conundrum.  For those of you who know my trusty steed UJA, you probably know it’s seen better days.  The “talking” it used to do recently became more like “cursing”.  I’m not exactly car-savvy, but I believe the technical term for what UJA was doing is jangling.  Or rattling.  Or making wobbly sounds.  
Anyway, after an oil change and a fuel-up, I had my dad listen to the cacophony of noises the car was making, and he thought perhaps the tie-rods were loose.  This reminded me of the guy at Costco telling me he thought perhaps the tie-rods were loose.  He told me this when I got my tires rotated.  Two months ago.  Oops.  (This also reminded me of the same time when I got my tires rotated at Costco, and then lost my hubcap somewhere on my drive home.  My car is a real champ.)
I was all set to drive back to New Jersey with loose tie-rods and have them fixed there, as soon as I filled up my windshield wiper fluid.  My mom really likes windshield wiper fluid.  She gave me one of the approximately 12 gallons she keeps stocked in the garage, just in case every company that has ever made windshield wiper fluid shuts down simultaneously, she will have a supply.  (I’m guessing she’d sell it on the black market.)  So I popped the hood, and poured it in the tank.  And then felt something dripping on my foot.  Yep, a hole in the tank.  Half a gallon of precious windshield wiper fluid down the drain.  Like I said, a real champ.
Well, that did it for my parents.  I could drive back to NJ with the rattles and wobbles and jangles.  BUT NOT WITHOUT WINDSHIELD WIPER FLUID!!!  What if a bird pooped on my windshield??!?!  How would I clean it off?!?!?  They insisted I take my brother’s car and leave UJA behind to get fixed.  They are so nice and so generous.  
Ruby and Murphy had a thing or two to say about the whole car-switching and going-home situation.  
Murphy: WAIT wait, I wasn’t ready!  I thought I was going to sneeze.
Ruby: What?  I still can’t hear you.
Murphy: Ok, I’m ready.  Shoot me from the side.  It’ll look artsy.
Ruby: Really, you’re going to have to speak up if you expect me to listen.

All in all, it was a great trip.  Saw some friends (and missed some…I’ll get you guys next trip!), spent time with family, and most importantly, ate a lot of delicious food.  Not that New Jersey doesn’t have good food.  It’s just really far away from my house…