What I’m Loving Today

This quote:

Lucy Quote

So true, Lucy. So true. I’m convinced that people make more bad decisions when they don’t love themselves enough.

This shirt:

Cat Queen

This combines two of my favorite things: books and cats. And I’m convinced this is my kitty, Queen Athena.

This drink recipe for Apple Cider Moscow MulesApple Cider MulesHoly yum, Batman. I need to make these.

This pumpkin:

Cookie  Monster

How cute would this be for a Halloween party? I love it!

This recipe for slow cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.Apple Cider ChickenI don’t like pumpkin, so I’ve been drawn to everything “Apple Cider” this fall.

This picture:

sisterBecause my brother and both sisters are coming this weekend, and this is exactly how I feel.

Happy Friday!

Anniversary Weekend

Yeesh! I can’t believe it took me this long to write about our anniversary weekend in Door County. I got back into my regular routine pretty quickly: work ten hours, come home, walk Ari and/or take him to the dog park, do the dishes, and make dinner, at which point all I want to do is plop down on the couch with a plate of food and a glass of wine. Dave remembers when I used to post three times a day, but I think he forgets I was only working 28 hours a week at that point–writing a blog takes time, my friends!

Anywho, we started our journey last Friday morning. I dropped off Ari at the pet sitter’s house and then proceeded to cry the whole way home. I know, I’m weird. It would have been different if he was staying with friends or family, but for all I knew, this lady made dog fur coats or threw them in a ring and made them fight with each other and the ten (!!!) birds she has in an aviary.

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How could I do that to this face?! Fortunately, Dave was sympathetic and didn’t tell me I was stupid; he just told me Ari would be fine. I knew the kitties would be fine because our friends Dan and Em took care of them while we were gone. And thus we started our journey by car.

I abhor car rides: I get nauseous, restless, dizzy, the whole nine yards, so I distracted myself by taking pictures.

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PicMonkey Collage 2

PicMonkey Collage

After two hours, we made it to Sturgeon Bay, and I asked Dave if we could stop at a cafe for some lunch to break up our ride. Google served me well in finding Bluefront Cafe.

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It was cute and cozy inside with a fantastic menu and really friendly waitstaff. Because it was a chilly day, I started with tea, and I was impressed to see that they actually had loose leaf tea in tea bags.

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I ordered the Maple Street Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a cup of their soup of the day: curried lentil.

012I cannot stress how amazing this grilled cheese sandwich was: 2 year cheddar, baby swiss, roasted red pepper, and mustard on grilled country sourdough bread. It was the best grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten, and I can’t wait to recreate it at home. The curried lentil soup was also amazing.

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Dave ordered the Bluefront Organic Burger which was served on a ciabatta roll with housemade fries, which tasted like they battered just like fish before they were fried. So good.

We thought it was another hour to the cabin in Egg Harbor, but it ended up being only about 30 minutes away, so we made it just after check-in time. Perfect!

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I opened the cabin door to a personalized sigh: Welcome to the Treehouse, Chelsea Leahy! Such a nice touch. The cabin was modern and comfortable with a beautiful view.

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The bedroom was perfect with a soft king-sized bed and huge closets that nearly made me weep. I really miss having a decent closet!

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After we settled in for a bit, we drove into town and checked out a few of the shops.

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I loved this British Import store. We picked up a bag of haggis chips and some delicious orange curd which we deemed perfect for biscuits and scones. I also found a pair of Chelsea football socks that I had to have.

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After a brief olive oil tasting at Fat Louie’s, we decided to come back the next day for some olive oil and balsamic and walked to Shipwrecked for a brew.

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Nearly every beer, wine, and mixed drink on the menu was locally sourced from Door County, which I thought was neat. I started with a tasty pumpkin ale, but the bartender cringed when I ordered a Fat Louie’s Martini.

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The Fat Louie’s Martini was made with balsamic, vodka, pureed strawberries, lime, and black pepper, but she said most people couldn’t drink it because they thought it tasted like salad dressing. Dave and I thought it would be good to order with a side salad, but I opted for the Snowbird Sour instead, which was made with Door County Whisky, cherry bluff infusion, orange marmalade, and sour soda, and I thought it was something my brother would have ordered.

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We thought about ordering dinner there but decided we wanted to relax in our cabin, so we drove to the local market instead for supplies.

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We took a turn down libation lane for some gin.030

We ended up walking out with frozen pizza, dolmas, reuben bites, and ice cream. Dinner of champions. We turned in early, and after a sleep punctuated by nightmares, I woke up early to read my book in the jacuzzi bath.

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Note to self: a jacuzzi bathtub is not like a regular bathtub. I lost a huge chunk of hair when one of the jets sucked it off my head. Ouch!

After Dave woke up, we enjoyed our morning coffee while watching a John Wayne movie, then hit the road for some antiquing and wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and cheese tasting.

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This giant thumb may have been my favorite antique. Because who doesn’t want a thumb statue in their house?

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The tapas place I wanted to go to wasn’t open for lunch, so we walked down the street to The Bistro.

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We had to wait a little, but it was cold and rainy, and neither of us (well, mostly me), wanted to venture out again before something warm. I ordered the crab burger with french fries, which was pretty bland and tasted more like tuna than crab.

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I also made the mistake of having a cup of orange spice tea, which I thought would taste like my mom’s delicious cinnamon orange spice tea, but instead tasted like I was drinking a cup of red hots. Blech.

Fortunately, the cheese tasting saved my palate.

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Cheese makes me very happy.042

So does bread.

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We only went to two wine tastings, both of which were packed with people, which made for kind of a hectic experience for those of us who don’t like large groups of people. Hello, claustrophobia! Thankfully, wine helps with that.

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After a stop at Grandma Tommy’s country store (which Dave and I nicknamed “Tranny Granny’s” and he didn’t think I should post on the blog because then people would know how strange and creepy we are sometimes), we decided to go back to the cabin, get in our PJ’ss, and have a European dinner night.

046We enjoyed bleu, trappist monk, and irish cheddar cheese, sunflower flax and country french breads, broccoli and hummus, and sausage while we watched Pride and Prejudice and Galaxy Quest. We packed up lots of leftovers for snacking on the rest of the weekend, and went to bed at 9:30. Old fogeys.

The next morning we were aimless: we got in the car and drove to the tip of the peninsula, and even though it was another cold and windy day, the views were lovely.

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We made our way to the Cana Island Lighthouse and paid to walk the grounds but elected not to pay the extra money to walk up to the top.

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050We drove back to Egg Harbor to try a pizza place we’d been recommended by a few people, but when we heard there was a two hour wait, we decided to try our luck elsewhere. Casey’s looked good, a barbecue and smokehouse place, but really we were craving pizza, so we took our pictures with the pig and headed out again.

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I found out that one of the Mexican places in town had pizza, and our day was saved with margaritas! Thank you, Mojo Rosa’s.

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There were only a few people in the place, and we finally felt comfortable. At my coworker Jessica’s suggestion, we ordered the nachos to start, which were awesome.

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We then ordered the Chipotle Meatball pizza which came with chipotle salsa, meatballs, black olives, onions, and was topped with fresh cilantro.

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It was such a unique and fantastic combination. We were so full from the nachos that we ended up taking more than half the pizza back with us. After relaxing for a few hours back at the cabin, we decided to head down the street to the Log Den for a cocktail but got sidetracked by some beautiful horses on the way.

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Hello, horses! When I’m rich and retire on a big, beautiful ranch, you will become my pet.057

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After our beverages at the Log Den, we spent our final night at the cabin with a multitude of delicious leftovers. It was another relatively early night for us, and we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning, eager to get back home to our pets. Because of our poor luck, Monday was the first truly gorgeous fall day, but at least it gave us a pleasant drive back home to our kitties and turkey butt.

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It was a much-needed vacation, and I’m glad Dave and I got to spend so much wonderful time together! We both decided that Door County was a little too touristy for us, but it was undeniably beautiful, and we really liked the cabin we stayed in. Our next vacation may not be for awhile, so I’m glad we finally got a trip away from it all.

Four Years

Where does the time go?

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It has been four years of crazy, beautiful, ridiculous, sometimes frustrating but always interesting wedded bliss.

I came home yesterday to a wonderful steak dinner from Davy.

004Steak with mushroom sauce, roasted vegetables, and baked potatoes. I enjoyed my delicious dinner with a dirty Tanqueray martini and an episode of Gilmore Girls (GG is on Netflix!!!),

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Happy Anniversary, baby love! We are so excited to celebrate this anniversary with a four-day trip to Door County!

Roasted Pepper & Potato Soup

Sundays are becoming my favorite days to make soup (and, yes, I resisted the urge to title this post “Souper Sunday”). There’s something so cozy about listening to music, chopping veggies, and letting a big pot of soup simmer on the stove and permeate the house with an aroma that can only be described as comfy. Or as I often tell Dave, “It smells like Thanksgiving!” It’s not even so much about the smell as the whole general feeling of contentedness.

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Dave and I have started a little tradition with our friends Dan and Em (who, at this point, are more like family): much like the friendship plate that circulates with cookies, we pass back and forth a mason jar filled with different varieties of soup. Dave will bring over curried white bean soup and they’ll give back potato leek soup. I’ll send over stuffed pepper soup, and they’ll drop off spicy chili.

For this reason, and because I like freezing leftover soup for late nights when we don’t have time to cook, I tend to make big batches. This soup supposedly serves 12, but realistically is more like 6. Because when you eat soup for dinner, it’s hard to stop at one bowl.

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Roasted Pepper & Potato Soup

  • 3 bell peppers, diced (red, orange, & yellow work best)
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups diced potatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine diced peppers with one tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt in a roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

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In a large saucepan over medium high heat, saute onions in remaining tablespoon of olive oil until tender. Stir in the roasted peppers, chilies, cumin, paprika, salt, and peppers. Cook and stir for a few minutes. Stir in potatoes, broth, and milk and bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in lemon juice. Use a stick blender to puree soup to desired consistency.

*Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Life Lately

Life lately has included lots of walks! I try to vary Ari’s walks by taking him down different streets and to different parks. He loves car rides (although he always tries to sit in my passenger seat up front, which is too small for his big butt) and especially loves different sights, sounds, and smells. I am enjoying experiencing the change from summer to fall. It’s been gorgeous lately; no complaints from me!

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I’ve tested Arion off-leash in our yard, and he’s been a good boy so far.

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Getting a dog was kind of a hot-button topic in our house for awhile, and Dave requested a “trial period” with any dog we brought home, which I obviously agreed to. I asked Dave the other day if Ari’s trial period was over, and he looked at me like I was crazy. Then he asked me to take a picture of the homemade French bread dog biscuit he baked for Arion as proof that he approves of this “marriage” between family and dog.

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I am so relieved that my kitties are not ignoring me, either. Athena is still my little cuddle bug, and Arty……is just as much of a bugger as ever (I had to wash about six pairs of shoes that he peed on last week. That darn cat! But he’s so cute!).

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Since Arion normally gets three walks a day (one long, two short), sometimes I run out of time to make a big dinner. So I think soup and bread are going to become winter staples in our household! I bought one of Newman’s quick skillet dinners on sale last week and made it for dinner Monday.

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I added extra broccoli, because I love my broccoli. Five minute brown rice on the side made an easy and delicious 15 minute meal.

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I’ve been serving Ari his dinners in this toy I bought on Amazon: 61ffULgzYML._SL1024_

I’ve been doing research on the best way to keep his brain active (since he doesn’t seem interested in fetch), and I love this toy for him. He has to swat it around to get his food to fall from two different openings and instead of taking him 15 seconds to eat, it takes him about half an hour.

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This and his Kong are his two favorite ways to eat.

As far as other hobbies, I’ve been reading a little bit slower than normal (only two books a month! Ha ha). I read Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, then polished off Liane Moriarty’s newest book Big Little Lies last weekend. I’m currently reading Cutting for Stone. Have I mentioned how much I love reading lately?

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I would sooner cut off a finger than give up reading. That’s true love, people.

I’m also getting more and more excited for our anniversary trip to Door County next weekend. Boy, do we need it. I’m looking forward to dinner out (not cooking or takeout—-no dishes!!!), a break from work, and some one-on-one time with my baby.

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I’m hoping we have nice weather and that Door County is as beautiful as Stevens Point this time of year.

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Livening up the Meal Plan

Hey, guys! Hope you had a good week. In one of my earlier posts, I was complaining a bit about the recipe rut I’ve been stuck in lately, so I decided to liven things up this week.

When I was visiting my parents last weekend, my dad gave me a brown grocery bag packed with potatoes, so they were first on the menu in Potato-Kale Hash with Eggs.

IMG_7444These were so fun to make! I finally used the shredder on my food processor to make the homemade hash browns. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve used it, but I’ll definitely be using it more frequently than once every five years.

This recipe was a combo unlike anything I’ve had before: hash browns, onions, and kale topped with cheese, a runny egg, and my own addition of sriracha. It may have been weird, but it definitely worked.

Tuesday, I thawed some ahi tuna steaks to make spicy tuna wraps for dinner.

IMG_7446 I seared the tuna on both sides for a few minutes, let it rest, then sliced it thin. Served with sriracha, guacamole, Greek yogurt, and lettuce on wheat wraps. Not the cheapest dinner, but really tasty. I served some (unpictured) corn on the cob on the side….also from my dad!

Wednesday was back to an old favorite, due to a late night: soup in a homemade bread bowl! Cheese on the side, because it’s me.

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Thursday, I wanted to copy one of my favorite recipes that I rarely make: gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and bacon. In lieu of Brussels sprouts, I sauteed more kale and instead of bacon, I used a crumbled chicken burger.

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This dish was great in theory, but the bleu cheese I bought at the store was so salty that it completely overpowered the dish. Dave made me feel better by saying that I rarely make anything that isn’t delicious, but I was so disappointed that this didn’t turn out like I wanted it to. Curse you, salty bleu cheese! I spit in your face! (Said in a French accent).

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Last night, I tried my hand for a second time at a ravioli skillet lasagna. I served it with a side salad of mixed greens, olives, peppers (from Dad’s garden), red onion, and feta cheese in a little balsamic dressing. A hunk of bread on the side rounded out my Italian meal nicely.

It has been a beautiful fall (ish) week, and I’m actually enjoying the cooler weather. It definitely makes for some lovely walks. Those of you who are ready for the pumpkin-craze, take a look at this baby:

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My neighbor has something up his sleeve.

Arion is still doing wonderful. I know these things about him: he loves ice cubes, he is highly motivated by food, he loves walks, and while he’s definitely not an “attack” dog, he loves to guard us while we sleep.

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I took him to the dog park again yesterday, and there were so many dogs there! The last two times, there have only been two or three, but there were at least twelve yesterday. I wasn’t really sure what the etiquette is at the dog park: some people were letting their dogs run completely free, while others had theirs on leashes and were watched closely.

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A little girl with a chihuahua seemed to be afraid of Ari, so we left a little earlier than he probably would have liked.

We’re celebrating fall for the first time today by going to Pointoberfest this evening. Can’t wait! Happy weekend, everyone.

Fall Lovin’

This summer lovin’ girl is anxious to celebrate all things holiday. Three months of celebrations:

Our 4 year anniversary with a trip to Door County! (Plus our friends Dan and Em’s a week before and my parent’s anniversary a week after–so much love).

Davy’s 28th birthday!

Arion’s 6th birthday! (42 in dog years)

Halloween! (I want to take Aurelia trick-or-treating in Point again).

My mama’s birthday!

Thanksgiving! (My favorite holiday, because….food, wine, family, being allowed to listen to Christmas music and Gabby the Gobbler….)

Family Holiday Shopping Day!

Christmas!

New Year’s!

Yes, I realize that is a lot of exclamations, but I have to get excited so I can store it up for after New Year’s.

Two Days at the Faire

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of running the Sage Hollow tea booth at the County of Brown Renaissance Faire.

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My mom and sister Emily have been key players in the implementation of a renaissance faire in the Green Bay area; in three years, the faire has blossomed into a wonderful event complete with live musicians, belly dancers, a fire show, a scavenger hunt, tea leaf reading, and magicians in addition to delicious food (think dragon legs and garlic mushrooms), drinks (three kinds of mead!), and vendors galore….including Sage Hollow!

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Since Mom and Emily were too busy running the faire and being a queen to run the tea booth, I asked my good friend Shelby to be my pirate-in-arms for the weekend.

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Couldn’t have picked a better one. She was amazing, and I felt so lucky to have her there helping me. I think the Sage Hollow tea ladies will soon go from a trio to a quartet!

Our feet got tired from running around so much, so eventually we broke character and changed our shoes.

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Pirate chucks.

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My sister Emily was a regal and beautiful queen, and her boyfriend Christopher made a very charismatic king. They received many compliments, and my sister was even asked to be a queen for another renaissance faire in the future. So proud of my little sis!

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My aunt Dina did a great job reading tea leaves. She “practiced” on me and Shelby and came pretty darn close on some things going on in my life right now. She even predicted my anniversary trip to Door County with Davy, which I hadn’t told her about! Behold the inner eye….

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It was so fun to see so many people in costume enjoying the faire.

People of the Fair

I loved the Irish Wolfhounds. They truly were “gentle giants.”

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Aurelia looked so tiny next to them!

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There were also stocks set up, which were perfect for photo ops.

Shelby and I got thrown in for spitting in public.

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So did Dina and Em.

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It was a fun but exhausting weekend, and even though I didn’t get to spend much one-on-one time with my family, I had a wonderful time. Huzzah!

Life with a Puppy

It is still weird coming home to a dog or just looking over and seeing him lying on the floor looking up at me and bumping his tail against the floor.

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The week started off a little stressful. I was taking turns giving the cats and Arion free reign of the house, so for the first part of the week, I was running home to switch them midway through the day and take Arion out for a bathroom break. I was so worried that they would hate each other and that the cats would be stressed out that I nearly had a panic attack at work.

Fortunately, their first meeting went incredibly well. Yes, our cats are cats, so they hiss a little when they run into him unexpectedly or he stands up quickly, but for the most part, they are getting along phenomenally. Arion pretty much ignores them and they ignore him unless they both want to be on or near us at the same time. The other night when we were going to bed, both the cats were on the bed and Arion came into the room to lay down by us, and I felt like we were at the zoo. “We should get a parrot!” I told Dave.

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I wanna hold your hand…

Eats this week:

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One pot pasta with fresh tomatoes from Dan & Em’s garden, homemade pesto from mom, basil from our garden, and shrimp. Dave raved over this one! He never used to like when I made pasta, so I’m really glad he likes this dish.

Tuesday after work, I started the rice cooker, took Arion out on a nice, long walk, and when we got back, the rice was done! We never had a rice cooker before because Alton Brown doesn’t like single-purpose kitchen tools (and he’s our kitchen god), but this one sure has come in handy.

I set fire to the counter the other week when I wasn’t in the kitchen watching my rice on the stove, so apparently I can’t be trusted. Rice cooker to the rescue!

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I made a quick vegetable curry to go over the rice with leftover sweet and regular potatoes from Sunday’s cookout and topped mine with a heap of Greek yogurt.

I’ve definitely been sort of a broken record when it comes to meals: pretty much every week we have a variation of one-pot pasta, curry, pizza, enchiladas or burritos, soup, and chicken burgers with fries. Dave hasn’t complained yet, but I need to find a new recipe soon! (Time to flip through Smitten Kitchen….)

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Wednesday was windy, cold, and rainy, so I suggested Dave pull some homemade soup from the freezer to thaw. Since he had off, he made more bread bowls to go with! Soup in a breadbowl is such a cheap, easy meal and so satisfying. Dave took the breadbowls out of the oven right as I got home from work, so it was perfect timing. Nothing quite like freshly baked bread.

Yesterday was another cool day. Last week I wore shorts and a t-shirt; yesterday I wore a sweater with jeans and my fall boots. Yes, Wisconsin, we get the fact that you are sooooo changeable.

Since I have Thursdays off, I had the whole day to spend with my pets. :) Athena and I had a nice cuddle fest in the morning while I sipped on some Cinnamon Orange Spice tea.

img_7332Then Arion and I ran some errands: two quick trips to Fleet Farm and the library, then a trip to the vet for Ari’s free health exam.

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He was such a good boy and is in perfect health except for his dry skin. He has to go back in two weeks for some vaccines and possibly antibiotics depending if his skin clears up. I got a head start on helping it along by taking him home and giving him a bath. Too bad Arion thought it was a game and not a very fun one at that. I rinsed him off as best as I could, then rubbed some coconut oil into his fur, which Dave claims is greasy and I claim is “good lotion” when you pet him.

On Arion’s walk last night, he and I discovered the Stevens Point Dog Park!

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30 acres of a fenced, leashless dog park. It’s pretty much an open, woodsy field with a few benches where dogs can run free and play with each other.

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Arion had so much fun being off-leash and kept galloping off, then turning back to see if I was still behind him. All in all, I’ve been getting a lot of exercise the last week, and so has Dave. (This is why people with pets are usually healthier…)

Because of the cool weather, I was craving comfort food so I made myself a big bowl of mac & cheese for dinner with steamed veggies on the side. (I made Dave chicken burgers and sweet potato fries, because he doesn’t like mac & cheese).

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Definitely not the healthiest dinner, but it sure hit the spot.

This weekend I’m leaving Dave, Arion, Athena, and Artemis home while my father-in-law comes to visit, because I’m going to be working my mom’s tea booth at the County of Brown Renaissance Faire! I’m bummed to miss Barry’s visit but excited to see my family and dress like a pirate to sell tea. Happy weekend, everyone!

Can’t Buy Me Love

I’ll buy it myself.

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So, I didn’t last very long volunteering at the humane society before I got sucked into adopting a dog.

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Or perhaps I should say Dave. We ADORE our kitty babies, but Dave was terrified that we couldn’t make it work having both a dog and cats. We still don’t know, but we are both willing to try our hardest. It was either that or me bringing home at least three more cats and fostering some kittens.

 

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Meet Arion Sirius, the newest member of our family.

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Arion (whose name was originally Aaron) had one owner for six years who surrendered him when he moved. At the humane society he was nicknamed, “The Gentle Giant.” He’s laid back, good with cats, kids and other dogs, and a wonderful walker. And after having him for only about 24 hours in our house, it is clear that he is falling in love with us as much as we are falling in love with him.

I was so excited to pick him up yesterday that I woke up bright and early to get the house ready for him.

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Shopping for dog supplies was the highlight of my Friday.

After all the paperwork was signed on Saturday, one of the employees at the humane society put on his new collar and leash, then told me to come back in if I needed help getting him in the car.

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I didn’t need any help as all. As soon as I opened the car door, Arion jumped in, ready for his new life to start.

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I have read up extensively on the best way to introduce cats and dogs, so for the time being, we are switching off allowing them free reign of the house. It’s not fun, but it’s better than rushing them into meeting and it ending up badly.

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We are now two adults living in a three-pet house.

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Now I have both indoor and outdoor best friends!