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Posted on Nov 30, 2011 in Dear Diary, Giveaway, Pup Posts | 40 comments

Homecoming (Giveaway!)

Look who’s back!!

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Daxter is back home after his stay at the hospital and is on the road to recovery!

He’s still sleepy and having some, er, backend issues, but it’s nowhere near as bad as before. In fact, the doctor said that it is normal, and the main thing is to make sure he can eat, drink, and keep his meds down. He actually has a really good appetite, which I am beyond thrilled about since he had lost 2 whole pounds! And while two pounds is not generally a lot for someone like me, to a 17 pound dog it is a big effing deal. As long as that’s the case — and so far so good (knock on wood) — he is definitely on the up and up. $1,800 well spent, and I really do say that without a trace of irony (and luckily, thanks to pet insurance I’ll be getting a large chunk of it back.)

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Phew.

All I can really say is this: you know that emotional roller coaster I am constantly referencing was talking about? Well, hopefully this is the last loop-de-loop on that ride. I am SO ready to get off. And I’m sure that you are all ready to move on to happier things too! Can you tell how much my mood has already improved?

Now, due to the many hours that were spent at the emergency vet clinic, lack of sleep, and dehydration due to crying (don’t bother acting as though you’re shocked), I don’t really have much to talk about today. So for now, let’s just revel in the fact that it looks like Daxy is going to pull through. In fact, let’s revisit all the things that I said I’m thankful for last week, and put Daxter’s recovery as number one with a bullet.

While today’s post might not have too much going on, be forewarned/get excited for all the festiveness that is about to come. It is officially CHRISTMAS SEASON (slash whichever holiday you’ll be celebrating: Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus, etc.) and that means cookies will be baked, decorations will be hung, and dogs will be clothed. What, you think a little life-threatening sickness was going to get Daxter out of sweater season? Ha! Think again.

Sleepy

Oh, and don’t think you’re being spared of this fate either, Harry.

What you looking at, fella?

And okay, so I lied about there being absolutely nothing of interest in this post for you. In fact, if you’ve made it this far there’s something fun, festive, and most importantly (as always) FREE! In order to celebrate Daxter’s momentous-ish homecoming, the impending holiday, and just because I like you, I have a giveaway for you!

My awesome graphic designer Bailey (who designed my logo, header, and sweet business cards!) just launched her new business, think pretty, ink. She has a line of adorable, personalized holiday card designs, and is offering a free holiday card design to one lucky winner!

Ways to enter (leave a separate comment back here for each thing!):

1. Check out think pretty, ink.‘s Etsy page and comment on which design is your favorite (and don’t let the models in the example above bias you, hehe.)

2. Like think pretty, ink. on Facebook!

3. Blog/tweet/facebook about this giveaway! Make sure to reference @shrinkinggretch (Twitter) or my fan page (Facebook) and link back to this post! (Short link: http://bit.ly/sFe0Fu)

I will be randomly drawing a winner on Friday, December 2nd, so get your entries in and your list of holiday-card-worthy recipients ready! It’s going to be a grrrrreat day!

Update: And the winner is…

Sara L.! Congratulations! Email me and I’ll put you in touch with Bailey. Happy Holidays!

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Posted on Nov 29, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 15 comments

Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish

So as it turns out, my protestations over hospitalizing Daxter because of cost were for naught. ‘Cause, you know, he ended up in the doggy hospital anyway and I feel like a terrible person for delaying the inevitable. The latest update is that if he can keep down food and water he might be able to come home around noon. So in order to distract myself from the fact that my little guy spent the night in a hospital bed… cage… thing… instead of being curled up awkwardly on top of my laptop as I try to type this (CRY.), I wrote up another recipe. Hooray for filler!

Okay, I promise that this will be the last uselessly late Thanksgiving recipe I’m going to lay on you guys… for now, haha. And to be fair, it really does translate past Turkey Day, since it’s spreadable on everything from leftover sandwiches to crackers & cheese.

Saucy

It’s a bit of a spin on traditional cranberry sauce, with as much zing as you want! Even if you’re not a huge fan of spice, the slightly bitter flavor of the jalapeño peppers and the zip of the orange and lime makes it a dish that’s so complex you’d never believe how easy it is!

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Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish
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This zesty cranberry sauce will leave your tastebuds satisfied with its mix of sweet and spice. Make it hotter by including some of the seeds from the jalapeño, or downplay the spice by only using one pepper. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 jalapeño peppers
1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange, zest and juice
1/2 lime, zest and juice
1 cup water

Instructions:

1. De-seed and finely mince the jalapeño peppers. Zest your orange and lime halves and set aside.

2. Heat a pot to medium heat with a bit of nonstick spray or a small sprinkling of oil. Add the jalapeño and heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Add lime and orange juices.

3. Add cranberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until sauce is simmering. Add lime and orange zests and simmer until cranberries have burst and sauce begins to thicken, 10 – 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and let cool. The sauce will thicken and become more gel-like the longer it cools. I like my cranberry sauce cold, so feel free to refrigerate!

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce

Nutritional info per 1/16th (~2 tablespoons) serving: 58 calories, 0 g fat, 15 g carbs, 0.1 g protein. WW Points+: 2

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Posted on Nov 28, 2011 in Dear Diary, Pup Posts | 25 comments

Highs and Lows

Happy (?) Monday, everyone! I hope everybody survived their holiday weekend unscathed and with only an extra 10 or 12 pounds around their waists (heh.) Surprisingly, I’m actually glad to get into a bit of normalcy over the next week or so. Until the craziness of the next holiday settles in, that is. Not that this unusual for me, as you are all painfully aware, but even with all of the Thanksgiving festiveness, the past week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Ups and downs, highs and lows, it’s been a trip. Here are just some examples of each:

Feast!

High: The socially accepted binge that is Thanksgiving Dinner.

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Low: Not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my family (fur-family excluded).

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High: Completing 7.02 miles in preparation for the 15K coming up on Saturday (!!!)

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Low: How sore I already am, less than 24-hours later. And I only actually ran for half of it. Also a low? Seeing the race course and elevation map:

WHY SO HILLY?! Just kill me now. Ow.

High: The amazingness that is The Muppets Movie. Seriously, go see it right now. Mah-na mah-na.

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Low: Coming home post-movie to a sick puppy. Not that you need the specifics, but let’s just say my night — and day — included more than one messy clean-up. :(

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Extra Low: My sick puppy continuing to be sick, waking up every half-hour Saturday night to check for anything that may have spewed from either end, and, after 24+ hours of vomiting and diarrhea, finally making the decision to take him to the emergency vet at 10 PM last night. Prognosis? Undetermined, of course. It could be any number of things: upset stomach, parasites, blockage, gastrosomethingitis… They wanted to keep him overnight and IV-this and X-ray-that but even with my awesome pet insurance my monetary situation forced me to stay on the conservative side here. Which makes me feel like a horrible pet parent just saying so, but you know me: any sign of worsening or further trouble and I’ll be speeding (literally!) straight back to the Hope Center. But for now, at least my $585.00 procured a few meds and instructions for taking care of my little guy. Therefore, I’ll be playing the roll of Doggy Nurse today and hopefully things will go smoothly… for both of us.

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So, yeah… with all that, I’ve been doing some (more) emotional yo-yoing. And while mentally I know that Daxter is going to be okay, it’s still very worrisome. Oh, plus there’s the fact that I’m running on approximately 85 minutes hours of sleep thanks to getting home at 1:45 AM from the Doggy ER and Daxter’s frequent trips outside. I’m sure that my emotional instability will only continue to worsen as time goes on… and as I get closer and closer to Saturday’s race. For the latter, I know I just need to keep telling myself that I just need to FINISH the race: time be damned, pace be damned, other people’s opinions be damned. Right?

…right?

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Posted on Nov 27, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 6 comments

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

The belated Thanksgiving recipes continue! Put ‘em in your Christmas box, or be like me and randomly make mashed potatoes for no reason other than because they’re delicious.

Peeled

Even if you’re not a potato fan, this recipe will teach you my not-so-secret method of making uhmaaaazing, creamy mashed potatoes without butter! I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But it’s delicious! And you can thank my sister for sharing this tidbit of knowledge with me.

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I’ve mentioned how I “roast” garlic before, and you can either do it my way or by roasting full bulbs of garlic in the oven (here’s a great tutorial on doing it that way.) Behold! True deliciousness!

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes
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These creamy, dreamy mashed potatoes are so rich-tasting, you’ll never believe they are butter-free! The garlic and olive oil provide both flavor and a dose of healthy fats. Feel free to leave the potato skins on if you prefer that “smashed” potato texture, or whip until fluffy and light!

Ingredients:

10 red potatoes, peeled
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for roasting (1 tbsp used in recipe)
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

Instructions:

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and cook until potatoes are completely soft.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add peeled garlic cloves until oil begins to softly bubble. Reduce heat to very low and “roast” cloves until they are browned and soft. Remove from heat, set aside cloves and 1 tablespoon of the oil, and save garlic-infused oil for other uses.

3. Once the potatoes are done, drain the water and return to the pot. Add a splash of heavy cream if you are using, then whip together using an electric hand-mixer (alternative: use a potato masher or standing mixer.)

4. Mash together soft garlic cloves with a fork, then add them plus the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix together well. Garnish with crumbled bacon bits, chopped green onion, plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), or shredded cheese!

Nutritional info per 1/8th serving: 196 calories, 3.3 g fat, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber), 5 g protein. WW Points+: 5

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Posted on Nov 26, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 13 comments

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples

Prepped

Because it’s so super helpful to post a recipe for something like stuffing AFTER Thanksgiving has happened.

Stuffing Ingredients

But hey, it’s possible that there is someone out there who makes stuffing for Christmas dinner too, right? RIGHT?!

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Well, at the very least, perhaps someone will want to file this away for next year, since it is pretty much the most awesome stuffing I’ve ever cooked/tasted/looked at.

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Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples
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This robust, savory stuffing has all the classic flavors of Thanksgiving, with the added bonus of butternut squash roasted with cinnamon to give it an extra zip. This would also be delicious with the addition of some chopped walnuts or dried cranberries. Enjoy with turkey and gravy, or simply by the spoonful!

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 apples (I used fuji), chopped
1 10 oz. bag of seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable stock

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss your butternut squash in the oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper then place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, chop and dice the rest of your ingredients, then melt the butter in a large pan (with high sides) on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to get soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add celery.

3. When the butternut squash has finished roasting, mix it into the onion and celery. You want to be careful when mixing now, as the squash is probably very soft. Add the apples and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.

4. Add your dried stuffing mix directly to the pan, then pour water and vegetable stock over it. Mix the combination well. Add additional stock as necessary to achieve desired moistness.

5. At this point, you may transfer the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake for 10 – 15 minutes to achieve that crisper, drier top layer, or simply serve as-is.

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples

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