Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Chocolate Lab

I would like to start this post out by acknowledging that chocolate is very bad for dogs.  I do not give my dog chocolate.  Nor do I condone any dog eating–or even licking–chocolate.

But, well, I have a Labrador.  And when it comes to food, Labradors are exceptionally crafty.  As I have mentioned before, ninjas could take lessons from Princess Adelaide Grace.

One year for Christmas, a friend was so very kind to send me a kilo of dark chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide (hahaha, Adelaide.  Not that I’m laughing at the city itself, just the irony of the chocolate coming from a place with the same name as the princess).  My friend didn’t tell me what she sent in her magical package, which arrived one day in early December.  It was filled with a Christmas card, a letter, and a few small wrapped gifts.  The card just said “Happy Christmas!” and the accompanying letter told of a year filled with adventure and fun.

Nowhere was there any mention that I should keep the largest/heaviest of the wrapped gifts far, far away from the princess’s reach.  It was all nicely wrapped and so I put it under the tree.  For nearly two weeks, Adelaide (the dog, not the city) seemed uninterested in any of the packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog).  Since Adelaide (the dog, although perhaps also the city) cannot contain her excitement when she smells food, I presumed that nothing in the packages was edible.  Therefore, I did not believe any packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog) would be tempting to Adelaide (the dog, not the city).

HAHAHAHAHA. Wow! I was spectacularly wrong!

One day while I was leaving work, Ann sends the following text:

what’s Haigh’s?

To which, I responded:

An amazing chocolatier in Australia.

The reply back with a picture:

would it have been wrapped in Christmas paper?

I responded:

uh…maybe…why?

Of course, I was on the subway and since phone service was sketchy, I couldn’t call Ann.  What I did manage to do was text my friend in Adelaide, who confirmed that the AWOL package was, in fact, a full kilo of dark chocolate, not just a small bar of chocolate.  I relayed that information to Ann.  The second I came above ground, I called and received the following diatribe:

YEP! YOUR FUCKING DOG ATE THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE.  ALL OF IT.  EVERY LAST MORSEL! GONE!  IT’S ALL OVER HER FACE AND SHE’S JUST LYING ON YOUR BED BASKING IN THE GLORY OF EATING ALL THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE!  AND NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!  SHOULD I TAKE HER TO THE VET?  SHE SEEMS FINE BUT SHE COULD DIE!  I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE!  I MEAN, YES I CAN, BUT WHY?!?!?!  IT COULD KILL HER!  DOES SHE KNOW THIS?  OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES, BUT SHE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE SHE ATE ALL THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATE!

After several minutes of panicked back and forth about the antics of my newly minted Chocolate Lab, I hung up and immediately called the vet.  After explaining Addy’s dalliance to the vet tech who answered the phone, I was put on a brief hold and the vet himself came on the line.  After repeating the story to him, he asked a couple of questions about how Addy was doing.  I replied no vomiting, no diarrhea, no sluggish behavior, and that according to my roommate, she is happy as a clam and proudly flaunting the remnants of her feast.

To which the vet responded:

well wouldn’t you be happy as a clam if you just ate a kilo of dark chocolate?!?

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Touché!

Thankfully the worst thing to come out of this was that a) I was deprived of some delectable chocolate (the real tragedy of this story!) and b) now the pupcicle thinks she is immune to the evil effects of chocolate to dogs and is constantly trying to sneak a taste when I’m not looking.

sigh… #lifewithlabs

MWWC #26: Solitude

This month’s wine writing challenge is SOLITUDE, as selected by last month’s winner Beth of Traveling Wine Chick.  Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss with this topic, as I’ve spent quite a few previous MWWCs talking about how wine is best paired with great friends.  But even the most extroverted extrovert needs to reset sometimes, so with George Thorogood playing in my head–click on his name if you need background music!–here goes:

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I think one of the best things about summer is sitting outside and drinking wine.  Sure it’s a lot of fun with others, but it is equally enjoyable by oneself–sitting on the porch reading a book or lounging on the beach listening to the breaking of the waves.   It gives you time to relax, to enjoy, and to appreciate everything around you, like the delightful syrah-viognier blend you randomly picked out a few weeks back.

The thing I enjoy most about drinking in solitude is that it is very decadent. Opening a bottle of wine simply because you love it–not having to think about catering to anyone else’s palette or worrying that the food pairing is not quite right.  Taking your time to really get to know the wine.  Trying new styles and tastes you might not dream of trying in front of others (I mean, I know very well that my friends drink merlot when I’m not around!).

Plus you get the whole bottle to yourself.  Not that I’m telling you to drink the whole bottle (for legal disclaimer purposes).  I’m sure you can look up on Pinterest 846 things to do with leftover wine.  Personally, I always thought “leftover wine” was a myth or a horror story told to oenophiles…but if it is really a thing feel free to share your “friend’s” leftover wine horror stories suggestions.

whole bottle

If the thought of a bottle is too daunting, find a great little restaurant with a spectacular view and start with a glass.  Take your time to enjoy all the sensations of tasting the wine without expectations or boundaries and just allow yourself to enjoy.  Order food.  Enjoy it more.

Several years ago, I found myself with a free afternoon in Sydney.  In need of a bit of respite, I happened across a little cafe near the Opera House with a fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge.  Fresh oysters were the special and I just couldn’t resist (I never can!).  The waiter recommended a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and while I’m not a big fan of the ol’ sauv blanc, I decided to give it a go.  BEST. DECISION. EVER. (or at least at that moment in time).  The crisp apple finish of the wine enhanced the creaminess of the oysters; the lapping of the waves and the cool breeze coming off of the water provided the perfect setting for allowing myself to just relax and indulge.  While I don’t remember the name of the aforementioned New Zealand sauvignon blanc (I know, epic fail!),  I vividly remember wishing I could bend time and make that moment last forever.

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That is the beauty of drinking in solitude: making an experience and enjoying the moment…of you.  I think in this day and age of technology we expect–no, we demand–to be entertained 24/7, when in reality what we need is more unplugging and appreciating not only what is around you, but what is you.

disconnect

Do yourself a favor and try it–you might like it.  I’m not asking you to make it nightly habit (for legal disclaimer purposes), but as a treat for yourself.  If you want to be even more decadent and celebratory, pop the bubbly (trust me you won’t be disappointed!)!

Still not convinced that drinking in solitude is for you?  Before I go open that blanc de blancs chilling in the fridge for a special occasion (you know, like Monday night), I leave you with this final thought:

drinking with dog

Cheers!

Paul Bunyan and Other Big Things

A few posts ago, I mentioned that April and I had penchant for searching for “World’s Biggest [insert random object here]”–well, this trip was filled with them!  I mean, how else are you going to break up a long road trip?

sidenote: now that I’m thinking about it, Minnesota and Australia seem to have a large number of “World’s Biggest” objects.  And I would also like to express my personal belief that if you’ve never seen the World’s Biggest Prawn in Ballina, NSW Australia, your life really is never going to be completely whole.  Of course, you could disagree with me, but well….you’d be wrong.

Anyway, back to Minnesota and this trip.  April had already marked out several stops to see big things, such as the World’s Biggest Walleye.

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However, this turned out to be a BIG FAT LIE.  It’s not the biggest.  We have actually seen one bigger (ha! that’s what she said!!).  It was on my first trip to Minnesota years ago.

see?  this one is A LOT bigger!

see? this one is A LOT bigger!

We also stopped to see the World’s Largest Hockey Stick.

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I’m not arguing this point…it’s dangerous to even talk about hockey in Minnesota unless you’ve grown up there (or Canada) and since I grew up in neither place, I respectfully abstain from commenting…except to say that is also the biggest hockey puck I’ve ever seen.

While it took a bit of a detour and it’s hard to see the scale, this is apparently the World’s Largest Loon.  It didn’t appear to be anchored, but of course, it could have just been on a really long line (The World’s Longest, perhaps?).

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I’ve already shown you the large lumberjack–again, not the biggest in the world but pretty darn big–and Smokey the Bear, which was the largest Smokey I’ve seen…does a bigger one exist?  I’m not entirely sure.  But if it does, then that’s one biiiiiiiiiiig bear.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

The highlight of this trip (in terms of World’s Biggest objects) was Paul Bunyan and Babe.  As long as I’ve been visiting Minnesota, I’ve been trying to track this elusive legend and his blue ox [click here for the story!].  We got close on my first trip, but…something didn’t seem quite right.  Perhaps it was the blatant advertising for the bowling alley that shared its parking lot with the Minnesota icons?

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Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine Paul Bunyan and Babe bowling with anything so…small…

This trip was totally different.  As soon as we pulled up, we knew it was the real deal.  Paul Bunyan and Babe.  My quest at last was over–and in the process–a few more World’s Largest objects added to my collection!

I HEART ROADTRIPS! 🙂

Healing

Before I launch into Birthday Trip #2, I did want to take a moment to pay homage to ANZAC Day.  Today marks the 100th Anniversary of this very bloody battle, where the “winner” lost over 80,000 men and the “loser” gained a sense of self-independence.

One of my friends was able to make the trek this year to pay honor to her great-grandfather and his sister.  Following her travels on Facebook has brought a flood of memories back–of such a fantastic and memorable trip, especially Dawn Service.

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I’m so very happy that she was selected to go this year (to ensure the peninsula wouldn’t be completely overrun because the 100th Anniversary, there was a lottery in both Australia and New Zealand for tickets to this coveted Dawn Service)–it truly is a trip of a lifetime.

While I was trying to figure out what to write about ANZAC Day this year, I came across this great post that Uncle Spike shared of an ABC story of a man who’s life was remarkably affected by this battle and, while he’s never been to Australia or New Zealand, has been the keeper of their sacred sites safe for 3 decades.

For his full story, click on the picture below or here to see Uncle Spike’s post.  Thanks Uncle Spike for sharing!

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Lest we forget.

 The Lone Pine:    Ironically, not the original pine after which the hill is named. This one was planted in honor of that Lone Pine that remained after the bloodiest battle in the entire campaign.

Mother’s Day

We interrupt our tales of Turkey and Greece to bring you Mother’s Day.  So, first and foremost: Happy Mother’s Day! to everyone out there who (biologically or not) is a mother.

Now, if your mom is anything like my mom, she has several signature dishes.  You know, the ones everyone requests; the ones she could make in her sleep, blindfolded, and with one arm tied behind her back?  Yeah, those dishes.  My mom has 3.  Now, if you know my mother, you might argue that she has two…but no, it’s actually 3.  The confusion, of course, stems from the fact that she hasn’t made her lasagna in probably close to 30 years–so even she might not consider it her signature dish.  But I remember it well–the ooey, gooey, cheesy, tomatoey deliciousness that exploded flavor in your mouth when you ate it.  Everything was fresh and amazing and it seemed to take her forever and so it was a very rare occasion when Momma would make lasagna.

What she does make frequently–and at everyone’s request–is her Chicken Spaghetti and her Dorito Gook.  Gook?  Yes, don’t ask–if you’ve had it, you love it and if you haven’t it just sounds weird and like something you’d never want to try, even though yes, yes you do.  But the Gook is not why we’re here.  It’s the Chicken Spaghetti (and celebrating mommas!) that bring us here today.

NO ONE on the planet makes Chicken Spaghetti like my Momma.  I’m not even going to argue this point with you, so save your breath and your emails.  The problem with Momma’s recipe is that the ingredients aren’t always the easiest to find when traveling the globe.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but it took forever to find a replacement for pimentos when living in Australia.  These days, I’m on a quest to make it a bit healthier by substituting some of the ingredients, like switching to whole wheat pasta.  Mine is still very tasty (IMHO!) and made with lots of love, but nothing will beat Momma’s.

A quick shout-out before I begin to Super Healthy Kids, where I found a simple and easy recipe for a substitution for cream soups.  And while it’s not low fat, at least I can pronounce all the ingredients!  If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, One Good Thing by Jillee has this one!

And now, let me present:

Chicken Spaghetti à la Shez

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10oz (1 package) of white button mushrooms, washed and diced into chunks
  • 12oz (1 jar) fire roasted red peppers (or you could use a large can of pimentos), sliced
  • 16oz  whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2lb grated cheese (I like to monterey jack)
  • 1 cup of cilantro + more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cream of Soup recipe:

3 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup of milk

salt & pepper to taste

Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and whisking in flour until paste is smooth.  Add broth and milk, stirring continuously and cooking at a slow boil until mixture is thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now, for the spaghetti: saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a stock pot for a couple of minutes until translucent.  Add chicken breasts and enough water to cover chicken by about 2 inches (I usually use about 8 cups).  Add salt and pepper.  Honestly, I never measure–a good sprinkling of each (I know, I know it’s not helpful, but honestly I never think to measure it out so I can share it with you).

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Bring to a boil and let it boil for about an hour until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Once chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the pot (it’s hot, yo!) and place it on a cutting board to cool off.  DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WATER!!!  In fact, bring it back to a boil and add the pasta.

adding the tasty stuff!

adding the tasty stuff!

While the pasta is cooking, make the cream of soup recipe above and then add it to the pot (or you can use 1 can each cream of chicken and mushroom–just give the pasta 5 minutes to cook before adding them in).  Dice the mushrooms, slice the peppers, grate the cheese and adding them in as you go (put in the cheese last).  At this point, the chicken should be cool enough to handle (although maybe not, so be careful) chunk or shred the chicken and add it back to the pot.  Give it a few good stirs to incorporate all the ingredients and ensure that the cheese is nice and melted.  Right before serving add the cilantro (or you can use parsley, if you prefer) and give it one final stir before dishing it out.  Garnish with more cilantro (or parsley) and dig in!

mmm! mmm! goooood!

mmm! mmm! goooood!

Thanks Momma–I LOVE YOU!!

 

just us girls!

just us girls!