December 30, 2015

Sunsets for Amanda

Have you ever seen a story unfold and it just feels surreal? That's how I feel about Amanda. She isn't one of my best friends, but I've known her for four years.  There have been laughs over birthday parties, shopping, mexican food and wine expos; comments on Facebook statuses and pictures.  She was, I believe, the soul sister to someone I hold near and dear.

Amanda was a nurse. A mom. A daughter. A sister. A friend to many. A lover of sunrises, Disney and running.  Amanda was chosen to represent her prominent Boston hospital in April's Boston Marathon.

By now, you've noticed that I'm speaking of Amanda in the past tense.

Two days before Christmas, Amanda was out for a run and was hit by a car. Despite the news stories online with fuzzy details - I won't speculate as what precipitated someone hitting Amanda and then striking a telephone pole so hard that it broke.

It goes without saying that she fought to stay...she would never choose to leave her little boy. But her injuries were just too much to overcome.

Five days after getting hit, Amanda passed away.  But not before making one last gift to humanity; she was an organ donor. While I will miss hearing of her adventures; seeing her beautiful sunrise pictures from the vantage point of her hospital; seeing her name pass across my Facebook or Instagram feed, I know that she will live on through those organ donations.

One of Amanda's very best friends captioned this image. Amanda would understand the sad joy so many of us feel in her being the Oprah of organ donation.

The sun has set on the life of a woman who loved sunrises so very much.  Hug your friends and family.  Tell them exactly how much they mean to you.  And maybe, watch a few sunrises and think of Amanda.


P.S. I've had a few people you can donate to Amanda's Boston Marathon fundraiser HERE or the GoFundMe account for her son and assorted needs HERE.

December 29, 2015

While I Was Gone...

I won't bore you all with the doldrums of what happened in my life over the past 19 days.  (You're welcome!)

Instead, I'll share just a few highlights...

My handsome Beckett turned 10!!

If you weren't on my Christmas card list - you missed out on this cuteness!

I read three books while gift-wrapping at Barnes & Noble for Little Paws Dachshund Rescue.  Reviews coming soon...but this one is my favorite of the three, I think.

I took part in an dog cookie swap, and as you can see - Paisley thought our swap partner makes some GOOD cookies!  I think I might want to try a dog cookie (or human cookie) swap in February.  Would anyone be interested?  Maybe want to co-host with me?

Now. What have I missed in your life?!


P.S. I've missed you all, so I think their will be giveaway coming soon!

December 28, 2015


So sorry for the unintentional break everyone!  With a dozen dates at Barnes & Noble - it almost felt like I lived there.

I hope everyone had an AMAZING Christmas!  Back to our regularly scheduled program...  I promise!


December 09, 2015

Santa Freaks Dogs Out...

Last Saturday I had the pleasure to be the photographer (and I use that term very, very loosely) at Petco for pictures with Santa.

The first thing I learned is that my dogs aren't the only ones who see Santa and freak out!  About half of the dogs that came in had some sort of reaction to our Santa.  It ranged from suspicion to intimidation to anxiety to one who had a fairly aggressive reaction.  Santa did, in fact, get bit once.  Thankfully, it didn't break the skin.

Beyond that, my biggest hurdle was getting the parents to stand behind me to get the pups to look in my direction.  Dogs take direction better than people... Despite that, I did get a few pictures that I was pretty happy with.

Here are a few of my favorites!

Two of the sweetest pups, ever!

She promptly took a nap after this picture...

Yes, this little one does have a mohawk with vegetable-based dye!

This sweet boy is SEVENTEEN years old!  I may have teared up while talking to his family about how special he is to them. 


Want to be on my Christmas card list?  Click HERE!

December 07, 2015

Barnes & Noble Residency...

I mentioned it in my last post.  At the moment, it feels like I live at Barnes & Noble!  I jokingly call it my "B&N Residency Program".

Nationwide, Barnes & Noble has a number of charity initiatives and one of them is their gift-wrapping program.  Every year, the store manager or community manager at each location work with local charities in order to bring in volunteers for gift-wrapping.  This allows each charity some "face time" with a fairly captive (and usually generous) audience.

Sure, it means that you have to be dedicated to showing up for your assigned shifts and it would be best if you at least quasi enjoy gift-wrapping! B&N is kind enough to provide the signage, overhead announcements, and wrapping paper.  That means each charity is giving of their time and perhaps a little marketing material to pass off to the folks visiting your table. While their primary focus is literacy (for obvious reasons), the staff has a wonderful appreciation for animal related charities.

This year, the community manager at "my" store in Hingham, MA was...well, generous, with the dates he gave me.  Between Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas week, I'll be at B&N a dozen times - three of those shifts being open to close!  I'm so appreciative of B&N, as well as the generosity of the shoppers who make donations (trust me...not everyone does, even after I've wrapped quite a few oddly shaped gifts for them); it helps bring in more awareness of Little Paws Dachshund Rescue!

I also have to say that I love the baristas at my store.  They keep me caffeinated!  If you happen to live near me - or know someone who does - I could use a wrapping buddy!

P.S. The book you can see on a few of my Instagram pictures (Some Luck by Jane Smiley) is wonderful.  I'll be reviewing it soon!


December 04, 2015

They're Like Herding Cats...

Christmas is the happiest time of year.  Right?!  Sometimes I need a little reminder.

I should have taken Christmas card pictures of my darling herd 'o dachshunds over Thanksgiving weekend.  But I was lax, and starting my Barnes & Noble "residency program" (more info on that soon), and well...distracted.

So Tuesday night I tried to get the pups to all look in the same direction at the same time.  Which, no matter how sweet they are - is like herding cats. Brady wanted to play chase, Beckett wanted belly rubs, Paisley refused to look at the camera and Meadow kept turning and facing in the wrong direction.

I know, you're probably asking why I had to get my Christmas cards done Tuesday night.  Well, this crazy lady doesn't use those pretty plug and play Shutterfly/Tiny Prints/Minted templates.  She designs her own cards...and the Vistaprint 60% off sale ended at midnight. Motivation, thine name is SALE!

I won't show you all my Christmas card yet.  Instead, here are a few outtakes.  Sorry if you already saw them on Instagram!

Want to be on my Christmas card list? Fill out this handy form.  :-)


December 01, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Dragon's Breath Dip

Happy December!  The last few months seem to be flying by even faster than normal.  I can't believe that Christmas is a few short weeks away!

Did you all enjoy your Thanksgiving?  Find any awesome sales over the weekend?

This week I'm sharing one of my more potent recipes.  It tastes delicious.  But I wouldn't recommend it for parties where you might encounter mistletoe.  Kissing someone with garlic breathe just isn't fun!

Dragon's Breath Dip

2 heads garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz. Brie cheese
1 (3-oz.) small pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash or two of fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut top 1/2" off the top of the garlic heads and remove some of the loose papery skin, leaving the heads intact. Place each on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle each with the olive oil, and wrap tightly. Bake at 350 degrees 50-60 minutes, until the garlic is very soft and begins to brown. Cool until easy to handle and squeeze each head to remove the soft roasted cloves. 

In a food processor, process Brie cheese and cream cheese with the salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors. Serve with melba toast, crackers, crustini or the like.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


November 29, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - Hope

As this month draws to a close, I have hope.  Sometimes it's easy to feel cynical and occasionally even a bit helpless to the way life seems to be going. It's been a trying year, that has brought tears of sadness and frustration. But I have hope!

Hope that:

  • I am enough.  A good enough sister, dog-mom, daughter, friend, co-worker and rescuer.
  • Some day, my Prince will come...
  • Sooner or later, I'll figure out what I want to be "when I grow up"!
  • I find the courage to write a book some day.
  • I keep loving blogging as much as I do now.  Views and comments aren't particularly high right now, but I love it nonetheless.
  • All the trials and tribulations of this year mean that 2016 will be much easier.
  • My rescue continues to grow and flourish.
  • That a new blog design and moving to Wordpress are in my near-ish future.  :-)

What are you all hoping for?


November 27, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - Family

One of the things I'm most thankful for is family.  They are the people who encourage me, make me laugh, support my crazy addiction to rescue, and occasionally, give me the reality check that I need.

While I have some wonderful genetically related family, I view family not only those people but also the friends that I've chosen to be my family.  Some of the folks that I count as family I haven't met in person - and maybe I never will.  But I know that if I'm having a bad day, that they are no further than a comment, Facebook message or email away.  And I can't thank them enough for that!

This group of people from blogging, rescue, selling Jamberry, work or being related to me are amazing and I hope they know how much I love them. <3 p="">


November 26, 2015

Thirty Day of Thankful - Thanksgiving Day

I'm sure you're all ready of the end of my month of thanks...

I'll keep it brief, I know we all have things to do.  Today, I'm thankful for Thanksgiving Day itself.  It's a labor intensive day for those of us cooking - but it's done out of love and out of thanks for everything around us in the past year.

I'm thankful for the police, firefighters, nurses, doctors and other first responders who have to rotate through working on holiday.  I'm thankful that it's illegal in MA to open for Black Friday before midnight - all of you who go shopping immediately after Thanksgiving dinner are crazy!  I love ya...but you're crazy!

I'm thankful for being forced to cook some foods that are only prepared on holiday.  As much as they aren't my favorites, it keeps family traditions alive. I'm thankful that even though I have to work tomorrow, it's likely to be a quiet day where I can sneak in a few projects of my own (shh...don't tell anyone!).

What are you thankful for this year?  Anything you've been surprised to see on my list so far...or shocked I've left off? A few more days of things I'm thankful for and you we can move firmly into December!


November 25, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - Knitting

By now, you've all figured out that I'm a creative type of person who, despite being painfully shy, likes to express myself.  What better way to do it than in a form that is totally reusable?!

I was lucky enough to learn to knit under the tutelage of my mom, aunt and grandmother.  My cousin Kristin and I learned early; I'm going to say somewhere around kindergarten age.  While we all had projects going most of the time, it's the holidays where we were all together and knitting that are most meaningful to me.  Over the years, our particular knitting specialties ebbed and flowed... mom and my grandmother (until alzheimers took away her ability to knit) love the large less intricate projects, while Kristin and I seem to excel with the smaller, very detailed work.

While I was on vacation last month in England I started this project.  Life has been a bit busy, but I'm hoping to get some quality knitting time this weekend so I can either give it to a friend - or maybe one of you - for Christmas!


November 24, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Turkey Enchilada Casserole & Thirty Days of Thankful - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday.  I love that fall is firmly in place with its cold, crisp air.  The holiday is one of family and friends, without the added stress of gift exchanges and the worry I have that I've somehow picked out a gift that is less than perfect.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE me some Christmas!  But I like having a "practice" holiday first!  This year I am looking forward to a fairly quiet day that is filled with food and love.  I have to work on Black Friday, but it will be a quiet day (hopefully) and I'll finish my Christmas shopping that evening.

This week I'm reposting one of my favorite casserole recipes.  It makes great use of all the extra turkey!

Turkey Enchilada Casserole
1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked turkey, diced
1 package flour tortillas
1 jar (16 oz) salsa verde
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons (approximately) vegetable oil

Mix diced turkey and about 3/4 (12 oz) of the salsa verde in a bowl and set aside.

Heat tortillas in the oil, one at a time for about 10 seconds. Drain on paper towels.

In casserole dish, place a layer of tortillas. Top with ½ of turkey mixture and ½ of black beans. Place another layer of tortillas topped with turkey mixture and beans. Top with tortillas. Place the last 4 oz of salsa verde on top of tortillas. Top casserole with cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and guacamole (optional).

What's cooking in your kitchen?


November 23, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - Travel

Am so grateful for travel and a family that has a bit of wanderlust as well.  Because my parents loved to travel, and because we had lots of out of state family, I was a roadtrip kid.

I thought everyone got put in their grandparents RV and drove from Massachusetts to New Mexico or California and back.  Or that that all the kids had been to both Disneyland and Disney World, and some of the other larger theme parks before they hit kindergarten.

Let's also take a minute and talk about the fact that my parents put me on a plane ALONE at almost 5 years old from Boston to San Diego and no one thought twice about it.  It was a different, safer world...but I felt like such a grown-up flying all by myself! (Yes, I flew back to Boston on my own too.)

I find travel so joyous and energizing - sometimes even more so than the time spent at the actual destination.  I LOVE TO FLY!  While I still have more countries I want to explore, I feel so blessed to have visited Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Wales, France and Belgium. (And I feel like I'm missing a country or two...)


November 22, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - Challenges

I have given a lot of thought to this particular one...  It's easy to see challenges as a reason to give up, or to hide and hope it just goes away.  I can't imagine that any of us have gotten this far in life without making it through at least a few challenges.

The past few years have been particularly challenging for me.  Life has taken a few turns I never quite expected. I could detail the hurdles the past few years have thrown in my path, but that's not the point... I'm thankful for them.  They have taught me perseverance, determination, to take more joy in the simple things and I appreciate the people that have had my back even more than ever.


November 21, 2015

Thirty Days of Thanks - Freedom

Today I'm thankful for living in a country where I have freedom.  The freedom to be any religion I want to be, to have purple hair and tattoos if I wanted to (for the record - the purple streak grew out; two tattoos), to speak my mind and engage in friendly (and hopefully EDUCATED) debate with no fear of persecution.

I freely admit that I don't agree with certain things about our government, but rest assured - I'd never trade our government for that of...oh, say...Korea or Iran!  That said, I do occasionally think of moving to the UK or Canada.  Anyone want to come with me?


This is a repost from November 2013 because I feel the same way now as I did then.

November 20, 2015

Thirty Days of Thanks - Cheat Days

Is anyone else surprised that I posted 20 days in a row?  Nobody?  OK...I'll be shocked over here on my own.

I'm thankful that you all are going to let me slide today with just a few of my favorite quotes about being thankful.  Though cheat days where you eat what you want are pretty good too!


November 19, 2015

Thirty Days of Thankful - My Health

Here's one that is on most people's "thankful" lists.  While I'm not in perfect health, I'm thankful for the ability to manage my asthma so that I stay as healthy as possible.

After being admitted to the hospital in the early Spring with sepsis and asthma issues, I started to take my health even more seriously...  I mean not being able to breath has always been scary, but that trip through the ER and getting admitted was a whole other level of stressful.  So I joined a gym, tried to cut out some extra calories and decided to participate in my health plan's mentoring program.

It's a process...and some days are far more successful than others.  But I feel like it's helped.  The holidays are busy and stressful and I know that no matter how good my intentions are - a little extra dessert will make its way into my life.

Who wants to come walk around the block with me after Thanksgiving dinner?! Ha!


November 18, 2015

Thirty Days of Thanks - Giving

Yes, another of my quirkier things to be thankful for.  You see, I'm not one of those people that LOVE to shop all the time.  Don't get me wrong - I'm always up for a good trip to Target, but outlet shopping or a full day in the mall?  Let's just say that I have to be in the right mood for it. I blame it on the years in my late teens and early 20's that were spent in retail.  So many disgusting experiences.  You just haven't lived until someone has pooped in your dressing room...

Anyway, I'm thankful for the feeling that I get from finding gifts that my friends and family will enjoy.  I take such joy in trying to find the *perfect* gifts for the people I care about!  I'm on track to finish my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving.  It may not happen...but cross your fingers for me!


November 17, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Cinnamon Swirl Bread & Thirty Days of Thanks - Friends

I am so thankful for my friends, and I am so lucky to have made some great friendships through blogging.  While I don't have tons of friends, the ones I have are people of substance - the people I can be my geeky, introverted, sarcastic self with!  That they like me just the way I am helps me like myself on days when I wish I was prettier, more outgoing, more successful or just think I'm not as good as everyone else.

Thank you for being a friend!  Your comments mean more to me than you know!

My work friends know that Dunkin Donuts coffee cake muffins are my breakfast weak spot.  This week I'm sharing a quick bread that tastes as good, if not better than those muffins!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 1/3 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a loaf pan. 
In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup of the sugar, the nuts, and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat egg with a fork; stir in milk and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
Pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture. Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon mixture. Draw a wide rubber scraper down through batter and up in a circular motion to marble. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. 
What's cooking in your kitchen?

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