Jan 31, 2013

On the Road Again

I'm trying to summon up the motivation to write a post about last weekend (which was uncharacteristically busy for us), and the goings-on of this week, and it's not quite happening for today.  So I'm going to keep this brief, mostly to explain why this week just sort of got away from me!

Today was my last day at work, and I am officially unemployed...yet again.  I plan to become a stay-at-home dog mom.  KIDDING.  I will be out on the hunt for a new vet hospital as soon as we get settled in up North.  Kind of sad leaving work today...I will definitely miss my friends Kim and Jenna.  I feel so thankful to have made good friends in the short time that I was here.  They made my CT-NJ transition so much easier and less lonely!  Murphy will miss his friend Kim too (although he was quite perturbed that she ratted him out for his garbage can adventure), so I'm sure we will be back to visit at some point!  He and I will also miss our barn pals, including Chubbles, Chance, and Kelly!

Which is the other highlight of the week...the move is happening, for real, this Saturday.  UHaul rented, boxes collected (Murphy has been looking concerned since the boxes appeared), fridge nearly emptied, and found a sneaky way to leave the dog behind without him knowing (KIDDING!  He'll be my only friend in North Jersey).  And can I just say, I HATE MOVING.  Not that anyone really likes it, but I feel I am entitled to complain, having moved almost every 6 months for the last 2 1/2 years.  BearFace and I are quite excited to get to Sussex, knowing we will be there for the forseeable future (which means there will be lots of Pinterest decorating projects to come...)   

Other perks of moving to Sussex County:
  • We can drink from the tap without worrying about dying
  • A real live garbage man will pick up our trash, instead of waiting for our landlord to do dump runs (It's been 4 weeks.  Not that I'm counting...)
  • I can forget that RoomDog and his disgusting shower-eating habits were ever present in our lives!
  • Murphy's dream of meeting a wild black bear may finally be realized (I'm actually a little worried he might get eaten)
  • I will be able to save gas money by purchasing a sled which I will use to travel down our mountain (Haven't figured out how I'm going to get back up yet... Maybe I'll hire a team of huskies.  Or I'll attach a rope to the ski lift)
  • We're living on a mountain (Enough said right there)

Tomorrow is packing and cleaning day (and one more ride on Chubbles) and then we will be off on our next adventure Saturday morning.  It's going to be a long, busy weekend, so tune in for an update from our new place of residence early next week!  Expect a new theme to the blog...I'm thinking "Tails of a Stay-at-home Dog Mom". 

Sometimes, I worry for his mental sanity.

Jan 24, 2013


We all know who I'm talking about.  That super cute, mushy-faced, speckled little guy named Murphy. Or Murphles.  Or Murphleson.  Whatever name you call him by, it doesn't change the fact that he is a BAD DOG.  Not all the time, not even most of the time.  Just occasionally.  Occasionally he forgets to be a good dog and goes to the dark side.

Take this week, for example.  It all started Tuesday afternoon, when I decided it was time for Murphy's monthly bath.  He was getting a bit stinky and looking a bit more ivory than white, so I knew it was time.  As soon as I called him to the bathroom, he figured out what I was up to!  As you may recall, Murphy HATES bath time.  I was not giving up, so I scooped him up and threw him in the tub for a quick bath, after which he was thoroughly blow-dried.  Well, the emotional fellow spent the rest of the night sulking and looking hurt, and even refused his nighttime snuggle!

By the next morning, he was his usual wiggling self, and I assumed all was forgotten.  False.  Very false.  My friend Kim came to the house on Wednesday afternoon to walk Murphy while I was at work, as usual.  Around 1:00, she called me at work.  She informed me that someone was feeling rather mischievous and had gotten into the garbage!!  She sounded a bit panicky, but I wasn't too worried.  I had her put him in his crate after their walk, and I headed home at lunch to clean up the mess.  I figured it would just take a few minutes to pick up the trash, put it back in the garbage can, and be on my way.  Again, FALSE!  I was greeted by this lovely sight as soon as I opened the door:

I don't know what happened.  The wind must have
knocked it over.  BUT MAYBE IT WOULDN'T HAVE

Let me just say, this picture does not do any justice to the scene of the crime!  Not only did he knock the trash over, he pulled the bag out, ripped it open, and pulled out every single piece of trash in the bag.  Which he then also ripped apart.  The damage covered the entire kitchen floor, all the way around the kitchen table and into the living room, all the way in front of the TV.  The worst part was, I had emptied the contents of my vacuum cleaner into the trash the day before, and Murphy certainly did not hold back while he was spreading it gleefully around the kitchen. As far as I can tell, he consumed a handful of Girl Scout cookies, some paper and a few vegetables.  BearFace's used Keurig cups were also a delight.  Luckily he has a rather iron stomach, and does not seem to be fazed by this excursion.  Except for emotionally.  He still can't look me in the eye!  I guess next time he needs a bath, I'll be sure to hide the trash.  He certainly is a loveable and loving dog, but spiteful at that!

In an effort to cheer Murphy up, I took him on a chilly winter walk this afternoon.  We both layered up and headed to the golf course near our house.  It was certainly frigid, but nice to get some fresh air!  (Personally I think he needs some doggie booties, but I think both BearFace and Murphles would leave me if I purchased some!)

Hold on.  I think I smell some trash over there...

Beautiful lighting this afternoon!

I intended on sharing a delicious swordfish recipe tonight, but unfortunately my delicious swordfish recipe did not go as planned.  (Every chef has to have a failure now and again, right?)  It started out well...I found a recipe for Swordfish with Lemon Sauce, and decided to give it a go.  That's basically where things started going downhill.  Turns out I only had about 1/4 of the necessary lemon juice that the recipe called for, but decided to go ahead with it anyway.  I also figured my cast iron grill pan would work in place of outdoor grilling in the 20 degree weather.  Neither of these decisions were good ones.  I ended up with fairly tasteless swordfish, a house that smells horrible, and an oil-splattered kitchen.  Anyway, I still think the recipe looks good, so I'll have to give it a try some other time!   

Jan 22, 2013

Worst Girlfriend Ever Award

Another relaxing weekend of riding and hanging out with the boys, both four-legged and two-legged.  The sun finally showed its face after a dreary, rainy week, and I was anxious to get out in the sunshine and breathe some fresh air.  Especially because it was so warm out...52 on Sunday!

Chubbles looks like a giant next to his friend Chance!

Other than some good-weather riding this weekend, Sunday marked the three-year anniversary of when BearFace and I started dating.  Ah, that fateful, fateful day.  We started out the morning with some anniversary pancakes at Cracker Barrel (who doesn't love Cracker Barrel?!), where we stuffed our faces and reminisced about the old days when we actually liked each other (just kidding, I still like him.  Most days).  Puppy-dog-love days in the past, I definitely prefer where we are now (aka, I can wear sweatpants 24-7).  

My plans for our anniversary were to cook a nice dinner, make a delicious surprise dessert the day before, and get a nice card.  Only problem was, I didn't know that our anniversary was on Sunday!  Before you convict me as the worst girlfriend in the world, let me explain.  Last week, I looked at my calendar to determine what day of the week the 20th was going to fall on.  Obviously I observed that it was on Sunday, but some time between looking at the calendar and this Sunday, my brain decided to play a trick on me and convince me that the 20th was on Wednesday (really the 23rd).  So, I had nothing prepared when I finally realized halfway through our pancake breakfast that it was actually an anniversary pancake breakfast.  BearFace was quite understanding, even though he was the one who remembered!

We ended up going to Fort Mott once I got back from riding, where we did some hiking and Murphy tried to keep himself under control while the wind threatened to blow us over (The little guy basically lost his marbles over all the shadows that were blowing around the park).  Hiking done, we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things...without a list.  BAD IDEA.  We finally settled on Michelle's Secret Mac and Cheese for dinner, and Oreo's for dessert (what can I say, we're simple folk), and spent the rest of the night relaxing on the couch after dinner

As for today, the warm Sunday weather was a distant memory.  We had a dusting of snow last night which ushered in the frigid temps.  It didn't get above 22 degrees today, although I hear there were 0 degree temps predicted for CT this week (For once, I'd rather stay in NJ!)  After a thorough cleaning of the house this morning, Murphy and I bundled up and headed to the barn to make sure Chubbles was keeping warm.  I hopped on bareback right on top of Chubbles's blanket for a short snowy trail ride in the woods, and although it was bitter cold, it was perfect.  It finally feels like winter, and I have definitely missed having snow on the ground, since we haven't really seen any in NJ so far.  

There's no better "seat warmer" than your horse's 
back on a frigid day.

Chubbles and I spotted a rare, frolicking snow
 bunny on the trail today.  Oddly, he was wearing a coat. 

When I finally defrosted, it was time to whip something up for dinner.  BearFace and I are having another salad week, and we decided to try something new.  

Pan-Seared Tofu, Apple, and Pear Spinach Salad 

(Please don't worry, we are not and will not be going vegetarian any time soon!)

1 container firm Tofu
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/4 apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 pear, cut into bite-sized pieces
Fresh baby spinach
Feta cheese
Whole lightly salted almonds
  1. Remove tofu from package and slice crosswise into 8 thin slices.  Place on several paper towels, top with several more paper towels, and then place a heavy pan on top.  Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Season tofu with garlic powder, pepper, and salt. 
  3. Saute over medium heat about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  
  4. Cut into bite-sized pieces, then combine tofu and rest of ingredients in a salad bowl.
We used balsamic vinaigrette on top, and the whole combination was delicious!  This is the first time I have made tofu at home, and I really enjoy the texture of it.  It doesn't have a whole lot of flavor, but when seasoned correctly it is delightful.  (Just for the record, BearFace was actually the one who requested the tofu.  Just because he's a bear doesn't mean he only eats meat).

A little sweet, a little salty, and a bit of crunch.  Sounds 
like a good combo to me!

I hope everyone in New England stays warm this week!  It's going to be a cold one.  

Jan 15, 2013

Movin' On Up

Big news today...we are finally officially moving out of Salem County and up North!  Once BearFace is finished with his game warden training, he will be in charge of patrolling Sussex County, NJ.  As of February 1st, we will be trading in the flat landscape of South Jersey for something a little more like home.  I officially gave my notice last week at work, so only a few more weeks until we are on to our next stage.  We settled on a one-bedroom apartment in Vernon, NJ.  (Sounds normal enough, right? Well here's the cool part...)  The apartment is the bottom floor of a house that is part of a ski community.  This means two things: A) We will be living on top of a mountain.  And B) There is a ski-lift at the end of our street (So instead of driving to work, I will be sledding!)  There are tons of ski trails that will be perfect for hiking with the smushy-faced beast.  My favorite part about this move is that we will be just under two hours from CT!  It will be super easy to head home for the weekend, or even just one night to visit friends and family.

Of course I will miss Chubbles, so I have been trying to ride as often as possible before we leave!  Everything is still pretty soggy here from the rain we've had the past week, so riding is a little tricky (one of the downfalls of living in such a flat area).  Murphster and I headed to the barn this morning and had another messy ride, although splashing through puddles never seems to phase the four-legged troublemaker.  Chubbles, on the other hand, was once again feeling "spirited" with the cold weather snap, and gave me yet another run for my money out on the trail.  Luckily, I'm used to it by this point and have discovered a few Chubbles-wrangling tactics that are key in keeping me on the horse and off the ground:

  1. As long as I don't let him get away with anything, and I mean anything, he usually gets himself under control and we avoid the bucking bronco trail gallop that never fails to give me an adrenaline rush.  
  2. If I am not on top of my game, one split second of head tossing or trotting up a hill=I am suddenly riding a wild, unbroken stallion.  
  3. Worse comes to worse, my "MURPHY STOP EATING POOP" scary Mom voice also works wonderfully on Chubbles.   

Chubbles: I didn't kill you today, so you should probably
give me a carrot or two.
Murphy: Carrots?  I like carrots.  Why does he get carrots? 

Murphy and Chubbles are mapping out how to 
smuggle Chubbles onto our moving truck.  

In the coming weeks, BearFace and I will be busy planning the logistics for our move, plus tying up a few loose ends (such as learning to ski...).  We are both looking forward to the change, and hopefully it will be for the better!  

Jan 13, 2013

A Shocking Adventure

This weekend turned out to be much more active than last weekend!  Everyone in our house is finally healthy, and I was quite ready to get off the couch and back to my packing my days with more things than I have time for.  It's one of my talents.


We didn't waste any time waiting for the weekend to start, and headed out on Friday night to meet up with one of BearFace's police academy friends and his girlfriend for a double dinner date.  We met them at their house, then settled on Chickie's and Pete's, a nearby sports bar.  We left it up to Mike and Nicole to pick a restaurant, since our only option within 15 minutes of our house is Friendly's...pretty much anywhere would have been exciting for us.  The highlight of the meal were the crab fries...perfectly cripsy golden french fries seasoned with Old Bay, served with a side of Chickie's and Pete's signature CHEESE SAUCE.  Need I say more?  I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak for dinner and it hit the spot (Still kind of confused on the sandwich situation down here...how can you call it a cheesesteak if there is no steak on it??)


Saturday started off with a barn trip for me and Murphy.  I was quite happy to see Chubbles after another week away from the barn!  Unfortunately the ring and paddocks were pretty sloppy from Friday's rain, so it was a bit of a messy ride.  Murphy thoroughly enjoyed splashing around and even conned another boarder into giving him some horse treats.  He must have convinced her that he was actually a miniature pony.

When I got back from the barn, Drew and I decided to have a "dinner and a movie" date night, and drove over to Vineland.  We planned on grabbing a quick dinner at Fat Jack's BBQ before the movie, but apparently no one liked this restaurant as it had recently gone out of business.  We ate at Appleby's instead because it was close...disappointing at best.  You could say the same about Promised Land.  I had high hopes for this movie, but turned out to be disappointed (At least the Mike and Ike's I snacked on during the movie were not disappointing!)  


A lazy and rather hazy morning ended in another trip to the barn to ride with Kim.  Unfortunately her horse Chance was a little sore, so she decided to work with Cashew, Kelly's miniature stallion.  Murphy thought this was the best idea EVER.  Finally, a horse his size that he could play with!  I was not super thrilled about this, since Cashew has been known to kick at Murphy in his paddock.  Of course I was on Chubbles, so there was only so much I could do.  Yell as I did, I could not keep Murphy from chasing Cashew and actually sticking his nose under his tail!  Luckily Cashew behaved himself and Murphy left the barn without having his head bashed in.

Normal-sized horses are quite fascinated by tiny stallions!
The tiny stallion does NOT like mud.

Though he escaped Cashew's hooves, Murph did have a bit of a run-in with the electric fence.  Apparently he was a little too enthralled by Cashew to pay attention to where he was going, and got too close!  I suddenly heard a yelp, and saw a streak of white flash by.  The poor guy looked quite shocked and upset for all of three minutes until he forgot about it, and was off exploring like nothing ever happened. 

Riding time over, we spent the rest of the day doing some cleaning and grocery shopping, so I could whip up something yummy for dinner:

I was drawn in by the recipe's use of cilantro, lime, and avocado (some of my favorite flavors!), and it turned out to be quite tasty.  If you prefer chicken breasts, you could easily substitute 4 breasts for the 6 thighs used in the recipe (If I make this again, I plan to use breasts instead).  We added a dollop of sour cream on top, and served with an arrepa on the side!  What is an arrepa, you might ask?  A Colombian tortilla, essentially (You can find these in the refrigerated dairy section of some grocery stores).  BearFace and I became addicted to arrepas during our trip to Colombia a few years ago (We actually own an arrepa toaster.  No joke).  They are delicious toasted with a bit of butter and salt on top, work very well for dipping in soup, too!  

I may have doubled the amount of cilantro that was called for...

One more thing, my dear father kindly reminded me that I failed to mention his birthday in my post last Tuesday.  I blame it on an overdose of cold medicine.  So HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD.  With that said, I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Jan 8, 2013

HGTV Overload

This weekend was a bit of a bummer for us.  Drew and I both had to work on Saturday, and my almost-gone cold returned with a vengeance Thursday night.  I felt, sounded (and looked) pretty nasty, so I spent pretty much all of Saturday and most of Sunday on the couch with Murph.  Still not feeling any better on Monday, I stayed home from work, and then had my usual Tuesday off as well.  Sooo Murphy and I have spent quite a bit of time together over the last 4 days.  Which has led me to this conclusion:

Murphy is actually a cat in a dog's body.  To give credit where it is due, BearFace actually came up with this theory first.  I laughed it off.  Of COURSE he's a dog!  But, having spent almost every waking moment with him for 4 days, I started to rethink my position.  

Reasons That My Dog Is Actually a Cat:
  • He takes cat naps 20 out of 24 hours of the day. 
  • Any light fragment or moving shadow sends him into a tizzy (Ever see a cat chase a laser pointer?)    
  • When sleeping on his bed, he curls himself into the smallest possible ball.  Like a cat.
  • Birds, groundhogs, bunnies, and pretty much any small mammals are fair game for a rousing game of chase. 
  • He spends at least an hour every day grooming himself.  Cat-like. 
  • After his breakfast, morning stretch, and venture outside, he spends the rest of the morning moving around the house with the sun spots.  Where he curls up in a tiny ball and sleeps until the sun moves again.
  • And finally, he is OBSESSED with cats.  I assumed he just wanted to play with them, but now I think it is because he is trying to reach out to his own kind!
Although he may in fact be a feline, he is definitely a great sick day companion. As long as he can be on whatever piece of furniture I happen to be on, he is quite content to snuggle quietly until I get up.

I'm finally feeling better today, so will be heading back to work tomorrow.  Couldn't come soon enough, because I'm about to go stir-crazy after being trapped in the house for this long...I've had about all can I take of HGTV and FoodNetwork, and I think Murphy is getting sick of me force-snuggling him on the couch.  Pretty much, we've been doing this: 

Sometimes he lets me share the blanket.  Sometimes.
I haven't done much cooking in the last few days, but now that I'm back on my feet, I ventured back into the kitchen!  On the menu tonight, another homemade pizza at BearFace's request.  

This recipe was super simple and easy to make.  I used leftover cooked chicken from the night before, and also used my pizza stone in the oven, rather than making it on the grill.  Here's what I did:
  1. Place pan or pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
  2. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil over medium-high heat about 5-10 minutes until they are soft, and beginning to brown on the outside.  Remove from pan.
  3. Heat cooked chicken in pan, then add about 1-2 tsp Chipotle Tabasco sauce.  Toss chicken in sauce to coat, adding more if needed.
  4. Return onions and peppers to pan and mix with chicken.  Add a few more shakes of Tabasco and toss to coat.
  5. While chicken mixture is heating, mix Original Tabasco, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl. 
  6. Roll out dough on floured surface until it is the size of pizza stone, then transfer to stone and poke liberally with a fork.
  7. Spread sauce thinly over dough, then top with cheese and chicken/vegetable mixture.  Top with a few more shakes of Chipotle sauce. 
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbling.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing and gobbling up!
Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up cilantro at the store sooo my pizza was cilantro-less.  Considering how much I love cilantro, this was pretty disappointing.  But the pizza was still really tasty.  I'm a big fan of trying non-traditional pizzas, and this one definitely made the cut!   

Oh pizza stone, how I love you!  You make my pizza so 
crispy and amazing!

Jan 6, 2013

Holiday Blues

I'm finally summoning up the energy to write my holiday post.  Which, unfortunately, is bringing on the holiday blues.  Seems like Christmas and New Year's went by so fast!

Christmas Eve 

BearFace, Murphy and I actually made pretty good time on the drive home on Christmas Eve.  I think most people did their traveling over the weekend, and were off the roads by the time we were heading back to CT.  We made it home just in time to make it to the annual Christmas Eve festivities at my great aunt Mollie's house.

Always enjoy the annual Aunt Kay Memorial Beer Pong Tournament!

As always, it was an entertaining evening with the cousins, complete with a delicious feast and a bit of snow at the end of the night.  


Which means we woke up to a white Christmas!  My family started off the day with Christmas morning Mass at our church.  It was rather an emotional mass as I thought about all the families in Newtown that would be celebrating Christmas without their children and loved ones.  My prayers went out to all of them, and still do.  

After Mass, my mom and I took the pups to the park in an attempt to get out some of their energy before our guests arrived.  

I'm going to get you!! 

Can't say it worked as far as getting their energy out, but they had a blast all the same.  Next it was present time!  Ruby, apparently, is quite the present-opening expert!  Murphy wasn't really sure what to make of his presents, but got them open with a little help from Mom.  

                                          SQUEAKS!                             Hmm, this doesn't look like 
                                                                                                what I asked for.

Around noon, I headed over to BearFace's sister's house for Christmas lunch with his family.  I hadn't seen his nieces in quite a while, and it was a lot of fun to spend some time with them.  BearFace and I both tried to hold ourselves back a bit on the food, but certainly inhaled our fair share of lunch and dessert.  And then we were off to Christmas Round Two (dinner at my house)!  It was nice to spend time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins as well.  I had not seen them in quite a while either!  Murphy and Ruby had to go into time out for a while, but everyone, including the pups, had a good Christmas!


The day after Christmas brought a reunion with 2 of my favorite people!  First, a long coffee date with MagSauce, who was nice enough to drive halfway down from Massachusetts to meet me for a catch-up!  After that, Murphy and I drove a bit farther to meet Jenny and and Elise for our UConn reunion!  We walked around the barns for a little while and visited some UConn ponies, although my favorites were all out in the field.  Also Elise was a bit of a cripple, so we couldn't drag her too far!

Our plans were to have a feast of our favorite college foods, including Wings Over Storrs (BEST late night weekend snack), and UConn Dairy Bar ice cream!  Jenny and I were frequent visitors to the Dairy Bar during college, especially since most of our classes were directly next to it (It's like it was meant to be)!  Sadly, neither of these tasty treats made it into my belly.  Apparently, Wings Over Storrs does not open until 4:00, and the Dairy Bar closed as we were walking up the steps!!!  So, so sad.  We ended up eating at Willington Pizza instead, another one of our favorite delicacies from our college pastimes.  


I started Thursday morning off with breakfast with my friend and ex-roommate Sarah!  We had some snow overnight, which turned to freezing rain in the morning and unfortunately canceled our riding plans.  We stopped by the barn first to visit my old friend Doones, and then headed to breakfast to catch up on our lives!

Peaceful, snowy morning in New England.

Murphy and Ruby had their own little adventure while I was breakfasting.  My mom decided to take the two of them for a car ride to Hubbard Park near my parent's house.  The three of them were sitting in the van, watching the ducks swimming on the pond.  Now I can't speak for Ruby, but I can certainly say I could not imagine Murphy highly enjoying this activity.  Apparently, he did not.  He decided that active participation was better than watching, and without a warning, leapt out of the open van window.  Ruby followed suit, and they both sprinted to the duck pond and dove in!  My poor mother parked the car as quickly as possible and ran to the pond, where she found the two troublemakers clinging to the wall, trying to get out of the freezing cold water!  I imagine the whole scene going something like this:

Murphy: Sooo...how often do you guys watch the ducks from the car?
Ruby:  Mmmm, couple times a week maybe?
Murphy: Yeah, it's real, um...exciting.  Have you ever thought about chasing them?  
Ruby: Uhhh...no.  Not really.  
Murphy: Alright, watch this.
**Dogs hit the water**

In reality it was probably more like this:

Murphy: Duck.  Duck.  I like duck.  Want duck.  Need to chase duck.  DUCK.  RUNNING AFTER DUCK.  IN WATER.  WATER COLD.  DROWNING.  HELP.

Needless to say, both dogs took a much-needed trip to the groomer after their swim in the duck poop-infested water.  

Later on that evening, I met up with some more UConn ladies for a happy hour in West Hartford.  Caitlin, Honeybear, and Banana and I met up at Max Burger (YUMMM) and got a few drinks and snacks.  

And what's better than one dinner?  Two dinners!  My parents and brother Joe picked me up for a second dinner at the Cheesecake Factory down the street in West Hartford.  Another fun-filled day with friends and family!  


My last day :( I had a couple appointments, did some errands, and kind of just hung out before the trip back Saturday morning.  My mom and I had our nails done that evening, and then we all spent the rest of the night watching some TV and relaxing.


And then it was back to NJ early Saturday morning.  It was a whirlwind week, but I had so much fun seeing everyone.  I only wish I could have been there longer!  The trip home was a quick one, since I left around 6 am.  There was no one on the road, and I got back a little before 10.  Just enough time to do a bit of cleaning, unpacking, and then repacking for Ian and Michele's wedding in PA!  

It was the first black tie event that we have been to, and it was a blast!  We had a wonderful time, and were happy to be able to celebrate with Michele and Ian. We spent the night in a nearby hotel, and stuck around for brunch the next morning as well.  


CRASH.  After having so much fun visiting everyone the week before, and then our late night at the wedding, BearFace and I were exhausted, and spent Sunday lounging around on the couch.  

New Year's Eve

Our New Year's Eve looked like this.  After seeing Django Unchained Monday afternoon, we picked up some Chinese food, Ben and Jerry's, and sparkling cider (that's right, the non-alcoholic kind), and plopped ourselves on the couch for the rest of the night.  Didn't even make it to midnight.  Not our most exciting night, but it was nice to stay in and spend some quality time with my favorite guy...Murphles!  Just kidding, I kind of like BearFace too.  

And that's the story of our CT Christmas trip...can't wait to see everyone next time I'm back in town!

Jan 3, 2013

Packing Peanuts and a Kale Craze

Sooo I just got off the webcam with my dear friend Jenny in Lexington, KY (thank goodness for technology), and she yelled at me for slacking on my blogging.  Which I have been, and which I apologize for.  Truth is, without RD around, things have been a bit dull.  Relaxing, yes.  Clean, yes.  But not too many disgusting, yet funny stories to share.  Does this mean I miss him?  Absolutely not!  Anyway, I figured I better kick my butt into gear and bang out a post before bed tonight.  I promise I will share about my CT trip this weekend, but for tonight just a few more recipes and a Murphy story or two.

Since I was away for a week and sick the week before that, Chubbles and I have not gotten to spend much quality time together, and he was definitely not pleased about this.  When I got to the barn on Monday, I gave him a quick pat and then went into the tack room.  Chubbles expressed his displeasure with my lack of attention by BANGING on the gate as loudly as possible.  I took that to mean, "WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN, WOMAN?"  Anyone who thinks horses don't have personalities has clearly never gotten to know one.  I headed over to the barn after work today for a nice trail ride with my two boys, Chubbles and Murphy.  I knew Chubs would be raring to go after 2 1/2 weeks off the trails, and boy was I right!  Luckily I was expecting him to turn into a rodeo horse, and was able to keep a step ahead of him.  We made it through our whole canter stretch with no bucks!  

Murphy, as always, frolicked about like a rabid bunny, leaping through the bushes and making laps around us.  I've noticed during the last few months that Chubbles seems to really like Murphy.  When he gets close enough to his nose, he will bend down and sniff his head (which usually results in Murphy jumping straight off the ground like he was just electrocuted).  Chubbles will also speed up when he loses sight of Murphster around a bend, and sometimes halts and turns to look back if the little guy has stopped to smell something delicious (mostly poop-related items).  Today Murphy was walking behind him, right on his heels, and Chubbles actually slowed down and stepped to the side to let Murphy run past him.  Who would think that a dog and a horse would be friends?  So cute!

Sadly, Murphy was too busy acting like a rabbit on 
drugs to get in on this picture. 

(Warning: this next story contains the word "poop" many times)

In other Murphy- related news, while unpacking my brand new PIZZA STONE!! the other day, someone ate a tiny piece of styrofoam, which instantly made him salivate uncontrollably and then have a bit of diarrhea the next morning (the diarrhea may actually have been from the massive quantities of horse poop he ate at the barn, but who can say for sure?).  Of course, being the overprotective mother that I am, I texted Drew while I was at work to see if Murphy was ok.  

Michelle: Has Murphy pooped today?  He had a little diarrhea this morning.
BearFace: Not on my watch.

A little while later...

BearFace: Murphy pooped out a packing peanut.
Michelle (in typical instantaneous panic mode): OMG really?!?!?  Where did he get one of those?!?!?
BearFace (in typical nonchalant BearFace style): He's fine. 
Michelle: I just hope he doesn't have a lot more in there...
BearFace: silence

Obviously I instantly began prepping myself for the possibility that my accident-prone dog would have to have emergency exploratory surgery to remove a whole (theoretical) box of packing peanuts, while simultaneously racking my brain to figure out where on Earth he could have found them.  By the time I left work, every one of my coworkers and both doctors knew that my dog had pooped out a packing peanut.  And when I got home and incredulously exclaimed to BearFace, "Where could he have found a damn peanut?!?!?", BearFace finally found it in his heart to tell me that he was joking.  There was no peanut.  He thought it would be amusing to tell me this based on the tiny piece of styrofoam that Murphy had swallowed.  Not. Amusing (ok, maybe a little).

Now on to the recipes!  I have several...all of which have been the result of trying to use up stuff in the fridge.  Also, I recently discovered how much I love kale.   

#1 Chicken, Tomatoes and Kale with Marsala wine sauce

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Grape tomatoes, halved
Kale, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
Garlic salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup Marsala wine
  1. Slice chicken breasts in half the long way, and season with garlic salt and pepper. 
  2. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then cook chicken breasts about 5 minutes per side, or until meat is white through the center.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Saute onions, tomatoes, and garlic until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add kale and cook additional 3 minutes until slightly wilted.  Remove veggies from pan and set aside with chicken.
  4. Melt butter in pan.  When sizzling, whisk in flour until smooth.  
  5. Add wine and chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, then add veggies and chicken back to pan until warm.  

Not bad for a quick weeknight "gourmet" feel.

#2  Chicken and Veggie Pizza 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound refrigerated pizza dough (I used whole wheat, but honestly like the regular kind better)
Grape tomatoes, halved
Kale, roughly chopped
White mushrooms, sliced thin
1 jar Marinara sauce
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Garlic salt and pepper
  1. Place pan (or PIZZA STONE!!) in oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
  2. Season chicken with garlic salt and pepper, and cook in olive oil over medium heat about 8 minutes, or until no longer pink.
  3. Roll out dough on floured surface until size of pizza stone.  Place on stone, and liberally poke with a fork.
  4. Spread sauce to desired thickness on top of dough, then sprinkle minced garlic over sauce.
  5. Top with cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, and kale. 
  6. Bake 6 minutes, then top with chicken and bake for another 6 minutes.
  7. Slice and eat. 


#3 Chicken Stir-Fry

Leftover cooked chicken from pizza
Leftover rice from weekend Chinese food feast
Mushrooms, sliced
Kale, roughly chopped (surprising, right?)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Sugar snap peas, whole
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 eggs
Sesame oil (Can substitute olive oil if you don't have sesame)
Soy sauce
  1. Heat sesame oil over medium heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and snap peas and saute about 5 minutes.  
  2. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add rice and stir until it breaks up and becomes soft.
  4. Push ingredients to sides of pan to make a clearing in the center, and crack 2 eggs in the space.  Cook eggs for a few minutes, then stir to mix with rice and veggies. 
  5. Add cooked chicken and kale and stir until chicken is heated and kale is slightly wilted.  
  6. Add soy sauce to taste and stir.  

I don't usually add ginger to my stir-fry, but I really liked
the flavor it added. 

I hope that holds you over until I finally have time to write about my holiday adventures!  It's going to take a while, so I've been gearing myself up for it.  I hope everyone is staying warm in this frigid cold snap.  Brrrr.