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?

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