Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Rough Night At The Theater

Mike and I went to see Marley and Me last night. Neither of us had read the book, but we both had a hunch we could relate to the story. The movie was cute, a bit cheesy at times, but we both enjoyed it. The one thing that really suuuucks about the movie is that, while watching, you know the story will inevitably end in Marley's passing. I spent the last 30 minutes crying because I knew what was coming. As soon as we got home we both grabbed our babies and held on to them as long as they would let us and then I cried a little more.



Monday, December 29, 2008

Peppermint Bark and Wine

Yum!! My post, however, is a recap of the dinner I made for the fam on XMAS eve. The peppermint bark and wine are just my treats tonight. This year I offered to make XMAS eve dinner to alleviate some of my mother's stress. She doesn't LOVE cooking and I really like experimenting so I thought, why not?

I did a little online research to determine my menu, mixed with a few tried and true recipes I made my decision.


The salad I decided on was swiped from foodnetwork.com

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Ingredients
2/3 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, or cashews)
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch arugula
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Belgian endive
2 ripe pears, such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Comice
2 ounces mild blue cheese (about 1/2 cup loosely packed crumbles)
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool, and then coarsely chop.

Trim the stems of the watercress and arugula. Wash and dry the leaves.

Meanwhile, whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a large salad bowl. Season with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing.

Halve the endive lengthwise, cut out core, then thinly slice crosswise and add all the lettuces to the bowl. Quarter and core the unpeeled pears and thinly slice; add to the salad. Scatter the cheese and nuts over the salad, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the salad gently to evenly dress all the greens. Divide among 4 plates and serve immediately


I cheated a little bit and added a few personal touches to this recipe. First, I opted not to buy all the individual lettuce types and used about 10oz of an organic mixed green lettuce. It saved time and was excellent, plus I don't know that you can get all the lettuce types the recipe called for this time of year. I also doubled the nuts(pecans) and used used three pears since I wanted to make enough for about. To add a local flare I used Boetje's mustard. It's made right here in the QC and is a staple in my house. I think I tripled the dressing recipe. I made this for my Mom's day after Christmas party too, it was a hit both nights!

For an appetizer I chose Bruschetta with Tomato Basil Recipe. I've made this before and I found it on http://www.elise.com/recipes/



Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil Recipe
Ingredients
6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
1/4 cup olive oil
Method
1 Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are too hot, you can protect your finger tips by rubbing them with an ice cube between tomatoes.) Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area. Why use plum tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes? The skins are much thicker and there are fewer seeds and less juice.

2 Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.

3 While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4 Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Take a sharp knife and score each slice 3 times. Rub some garlic in the slices and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice. This is the more traditional method of making bruschetta.

5 Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Makes 24 small slices. Serves 6-10 as an appetizer. Or 3-4 for lunch (delicious served with cottage cheese on the side.)


My twist here was that I used sour dough baguettes, YUM and mined garlic from the jar...rather than breaking my own cloves.

This turned out excellent!!


For the main course I selected a shrimp penne pasta from delish.com. I had a few issues while making this. Mainly because the original recipe called for several spices. I rang my mom the day before to confirm that she had the ingredients since I cooked at her home. What she neglected to tell me was that some of the spices, such as the ground ginger, were probably 20 years old. Gross! When I got done making the sauce it tasted like 1970. So I tossed it and improvised!



I ended up using:

two can of crushed tomatos and about half the sauce from each can
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Italian seasoning
garlic powder
1/3 cup of fresh cilantro chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds of shrimp shelled
1 box of barilla penne pasta

I boiled the pasta for about 9 minutes then added the thawed shrimp and continued to boil for 2-3 minutes, drained and added the sauce already mixed with the ingredients above.

Luckily this turned out really good. Very fresh and light, which was nice since we snacked so much beforehand.

Besides wine I surprised the family with another dinner drink. I bought fresh apple cider, also made locally. Heated it on the stovetop and added Bacardi Gold. Mike's cousin made this drink when we spent Thanksgiving out East and we both loved it. Although, I'm pretty sure I neglected to tell my family this and took full credit for the yummy concoction. I made this again at the Wilbricht after Christmas party and again, success!!

A Little Secret


Mike and I were able to experience one of the Quad Cities best kept secrets on Saturday night. We were invited to my friend Carly's 30th birthday party at La Flama in Moline. Carly told me that they would be eating dinner at La Flama, a restaurant that I reviewed a month or so back, and that the restaurant closes at10. Then at 10:30 La Flama opens back up for some serious salsa dancing.

Mike and I were super excited when we walked through the door! We heard the music and immediatly felt like we were back in Mexico. So what did we do? A shot of tequila! After a couple we were able to brave the dance floor. Carly's sister told us we were really good, I highly doubt it BUT it did give me the confidence I needed to keep going! I think we did ok for our first time!!

We definetely plan on going again! Maybe even this Saturday. It is a 3$ cover for guys, ladies are free ;)

Anyone up for some dancing? Let me know!

Wedding Books

Some of you may have seen the shutterfly books I made our parents for Christmas.

http://weddingday080208.shutterfly.com/

There are two versions, pretty much the same just a different picture here and there! Just copy and paste the link above in your browser.


It's hard to believe that we've been married almost 5 months now! Time sure flies when you're having a blast!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Disco Tree

Favorite Cookies


Mike and I both made a couple different kinds of cookies this year.


The black and white cheesecake bites were a crowd favorite. They are also one of mine. Really good, look great on a platter and fairly easy to make:

1 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. butter
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To Prepare Crust:
In medium saucepan over low heat melt chocolate chips and butter. Stirring until smooth. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Remove 1/4 cup of this mixture for later use. Press remaining mixture in 9x13 inch baking pan.

To Prepare Filling:

In large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in condensed milk, then egg, and vanilla. Pour over prepared crust. Sprinkle with reserved crust. Bake until set, about 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool in refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours or longer. Makes 24 squares.

Another favorite was one of Mike's Creations. We'll call them Mike's White Chocolate Macadamia Cranberry Dreams


3 c. flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. butter softened
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 c. vanilla baking chips
1 c. chopped macadamia nuts
1 c. dried cranberries

In a medium bowl set aside flour, baking soda and salt.

Cream together white sugar, light brown sugar, and butter. Add slightly beaten eggs and vanilla.

Add flour mixture until just mixed. Stir in vanilla chips, nuts, and cranberries.

Preheat oven to 350. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet by small scoop pr rounded teaspoon. Bake for 10 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Cookies will sink slightly.

Variations: To make chocolate cookies omit 1/2 c. flour and replace with 1/2 c. cocoa. Drizzle melted white or dark chocolate on cookies.

I also made sugar cookies this year. I searched a long time for just the right recipe and I think I found it. The cookies were light and soft, the perfect base for a sweet frosting.

in case you noticed the fleur de lis and bats...just my own personal twist ;)

Happy Holidays!

I've been a little behind on my blogging this holiday season. I'll be catching up the next few days now that all the family events are winding down. I have a few new recipes to post and some pictures. To start things off here are some pictures of our babies celebrating in their christmas attire and opening gifts from Grandma Mashl!





Wednesday, December 10, 2008

OYE!




A hangover (veisalgia) describes the sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of drugs, particularly alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, and thirst.

Hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, and vitamin B12 deficiency are all theorized causes of hangover symptoms. Hangovers may last up to two or three days after alcohol was last consumed.[1] Roughly 25-30% of drinkers may be resistant to hangover symptoms.[2] Some aspects of a hangover are viewed as symptoms of acute ethanol withdrawal, similar to the longer-duration effects of withdrawal from alcoholism, as determined by studying the increases in brain reward thresholds in rats (the amount of current required to receive to electrodes implanted in the lateral hypothalamus) following ethanol injection.[3]

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breakfast, on sunday? at noon? Now That's Crazy!

A couple of you read my letter to the Editor of the QCTimes that came out the day after our wedding. You know, the one where I voiced my frustration about landlords not renting to tenants with animals? Well, I have a new MAJOR frustration. Now, maybe I lived in Chicago too long where you can pretty much find whatever it is you're looking for 24/7, but I don't think so. I am a fairly consistent person, work a 9 to 5, weekends off, go to bed at a decent hour, so what is my beef you ask?? Sunday, that's right, Sunday in the Quad Cities.

You might as well write Sunday off, a day to stay in and accomplish your tasks at home. It's certainly not a day to explore local shopping in the Quad Cities, nor to eat at the local restaurants, Why? They're not open!!

This has frustrated me for some time, but really hit me today. Julie is in town from Chicago and we are planning on brunch or breakfast at noon. I got online to look up some places I've been wanting to try to see if they're open since I am aware of the Sunday plague around here and only one of them was! I tried Atlante, Cafe Fresh, Mama Comptons, the Bread Basket(which was open till 2 but no real breakfast just yummy pasties and breads) and Cafe Indigo. Cafe Indigo is open until 2 today, but they STOP SERVING BREAKFAST AT 11????

I don't understand how a business owner can shut down their operation on a day when the majority of the population is not working? To me this is a huge opportunity to make $$.

Since moving to the QC I see so many opportunities to pump some life into this place EVERYDAY. From this experience my idea is to to open a restaurant called, "Just Breakfast, Anytime" how clever,right? No it's simple. My restauant would serve breakfast all the time. My hours would be Sunday - Thursday 6am-11pm and Fri-Sat 24/7. I would serve regular breakfast and have a section of my menu devoted to organic and vegan dishes.

Now, I'm off to get ready. I'll be meeting my freind at Johnny's Steakhouse for brunch. Great brunch, but not the quaint, local place I was hoping to spend my $$ at.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It was a Tofurky Thanksgiving at the Brown Casa




Before we left for Mexico, I decided to make my annual Tofurky. I look forward to having Tofurky at Thanksgiving all year, and usually can't resist and make a few during the year as well. This year I didn't go all out on the fixens since I knew we'd be eating a lot in Mexico. I kept it fairly simple, making a baste of soy sauce, sage and olive olive for the Tofurky along side of carrots and potatos lightly coated in butter. This made for a healthy, meat free, pre-Thanksgiving dinner. The leftovers came in handy since Mike loves Tofurky sandwhiches for lunch!

This weekend I am going to start some holiday baking, including fleur de lis sugar cookies ;) Should be fun decorating them. If anyone has an icing recipe you recommend, please send it my way!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Honeymoon Part Dos At The Posada Freud In Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Honeymoon Part Uno At The Valentin Imperial Maya In The RIviera Maya, Mexico

We're Back from Mexico



Stay tuned for a blog about our trip :) In the meantime. December first was a big night for the Illinois side of the Quad Cities. It was the "soft opening" for the long awaited Jumer's Rock Island Casino. The first "vegas style" casino in the QC. The GRAND opening is later in December.

Mike and I arrived around ten. We were amazed at the amount of people there. Where the heck did they all come from? Usually it's like a ghost town after 8pm, I guess we now know what gets Quad Citians out of their homes. While walking through security my first question was, "How late are you open?" 3am, sweet!

Mike and I walked around a bit to check out the casino. The decor is a little bit cheesy sort of 1990 Miami Vice... but it is a casino after all. The gaming area is just one floor, which is nice for the old people. There are 4 or 5 restaurants. One buffet, a diner, an upscale steakhouse, and a cafe is what I saw. There is a massive bar in the center of the casino, this is what you see in Vegas. They make it easy to find the booze, one of my biggest complaints about the riverboats. Speaking of rivers, you won't find this casino on one, it's built on a "riverside" structure aka land with a stream underneath, way to bend the rules! The casino is also smoke free, although they sell these vaporous nicotine sticks and cigars.

Our visit was pretty short. I lost $20 on Wheel of Fortune in a matter of minutes. I was pretty bummed that I never got a spin, the three machines next to me probably got about 20(no joke) while I played. After gaming we decided to go to the nightclub, Edge. Lots of red lights and glitter, two of my favorite things, made for a great atmosphere but the music was super lame. I'm all for 90's music, but a dorky white guy playing Sir Mix a Lot and Vanilla Ice come on! In my opinion, the music did not fit the classy club vibe the casino was going for. The drink menu was very impressive. A great martini list, several types of margaritas, rum drink, including a new favorite of mine the Cubre Libre(fancy name for rum and coke), popular in mexico. The drinks range from $6-8. Despite the fact that the drinks sounded good, we weren't actually able to try one. After two songs by our friend the dj and watching the 4 cocktail waitress's chat it up at the bar, we left after not being served. We headed to Mac's Tavern in Davenport for a couple of good night dirty martinis. Those were another story, let's just say we managed to get them down.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Former Vegetarian Returns To Vegetarianism




While meandering through Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago this book caught my attention. Recently, a friend of mine had mentioned it to me when I questioned her slower drinking pace. She said to me, "I'm not drinking beer anymore, becoming a vegetarian again, and I want to quite smoking because I read the book Skinny Bitch." I thought, huh... I could use some motivation post wedding so I picked it up.

Skinny Bitch is a very tough love, in your face read. (no surprise from the title) I'm about half way through, I stopped at the graphic animal cruelty section, it got to be a bit much for me. I'll start reading it again in Mexico. The book is pretty harsh, which I find aggravating at times, but the authors certainly make some good points and I have actually made a few life changes since beginning this book:

1. I came out of my 10 year vegetarianism for about 6 months it was fun, but I am a vegetarian again. Even though I ate organic meat, minimally processed and bought vegetarian fed and cage free when possible, I can't be certain that the animals are being treated properly before they become my meal, and for that reason I can't support the industry.

2. I have given up dairy and found a new love. Dairy products are filled with growth hormones used to increase milk production from the cows among many other pesticides and chemicals. I certainly don't want that crap in my body, so I'm sticking to soy milk and products. Now, if someone hands me a chocolate chip cookie I'm not going to turn it down because it's made with butter, but when making my own food it will be dairy free! O, and my new love Starbucks Soy Lattes! An expensive addiction but so super tasty.

3. I have cut back my alcohol intake. The past three weeks I've only indulged in a few cocktails. I love a nice stiff drink, but alcohol causes dehydration and bloating.

4. Green Tea! I used to drink a lot of tea years ago, but stopped over time. Now I'm up to about three to four cups a day, decaf or I would not be sleeping.

5. Soda, I used to drink one a day, now I'm down to one a week. Soda is filled with chemicals and causes bloating too, I think I can live without it.


These are the changes so far. We'll see what I get out of the next half of the book. On second thought, maybe I should read it when I'm back from Mexico.

P.S. Another tip I learned, when you eat fruit eat it before a meal or snack not after, or alone. Otherwise the fruit sits on top of the food that's digesting and starts fermenting in your belly. GROSS! Now, every morning I eat my banana and then my oatmeal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Highway to 56



Last night we celebrated Dad's birthday at Jersey Grill. 55 was a busy year for him. He picked up a new granddaughter, Reese, a couple of new grandanimals, Finn and Kira, walked both his daughters down the aisle, and moved into a new house! Am I forgetting anything? Maybe 56 should include a couple of relaxing vacations!


Thou giveth, and thou take it away.

I found this video on a fellow bloggers site. I've wanted to write about the passing of Prop 8 in Californina for a while, but was having difficulty putting my thoughts on the issue into words. Keith Olbermann sums it up in this video.



Olbermann raises some good points. There was a time when black people were not allowed to marry white people. Had this law not been redefined in 1967 our new President's parents would not be allowed to marry in the country he is soon to be leading. I wonder why people vote to prolong discrimination. And are we still debating that being gay is a choice? Who the hell would choose a life of lesser rights?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great Indian Restaurant

Mike and I checked another restaurant off our list a week ago this past Saturday. I've had a lot to blog about lately so my review (lol)keeps getting delayed. We decided to try the, cleverly named, Great Indian Restaurant in Moline. It's really the only Indian place in the QC anymore, but came highly recommended from a coworker of mine. We arrived for a late dinner, around 9. When we walked in I thought the atmosphere was quaint with a good amount of character. Not the classiest of places, but clean, comfortable and lots of personal touches making it a cozy nook. After looking at the menu we decided to go the easy route and try the vegetarian dinner for two along with a couple sodas since we'd had a couple pre-dinner drinks. The way the vegetarian dinner for two works is you receive a first course of soup:



The soup was very light and full of flavor, Mike and I both enjoyed it.

Next up appetizers. There were 6 appetizers total, 2 of each type so we could each try one. Each of the appetizers were in some sort of pastry shell; green peas, potatoes, carrots mixed with ginger, cumin, marsala and curry were some of the vegetables and spices I could pick out. One of the appetizers I did recognize were the samosas. Along side of the delicious dipping sauces these pastry puffs were inhaled.



Entree selection was the only part of the dinner we actually had to pick. We were given a choice of two types of paneer, we chose the matar paneer. We also selected two entrees all served with rice. I can't remember the names now, but one was more potato and tomato based, the other lentil based. By far, our favorite was the paneer. If you really want to get a feel for the true flavors and spices used in Indian food paneer is the way to go. Paired with nan, the bread served with the entrees, this made for a great meal.


Naan


Matar Paneer

The thing to remember when eating Indian food is that it is extremely filling because of all the rich sauces the veggies are cooked in. I was stuffed at this point, but still managed to save room for rice pudding.



What a meal we had at the Great Indian Restaurant, Mike even had leftovers to take to work on Monday. The only downfall was, we were both so full we couldn't really drink the rest of the night, so we went to a bar and played a few rounds of pool to work it off!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Little Under the Weather

It hit me Friday at work, I made it through the day but have been taking it easy all weekend. I'm not really sick just have a stuffy nose and a sore throat. What a great reason to have a low key weekend! Aside from eating lots of soup, yummy bread and smoothies from Greatest Grains, Mike and I took some time to hang a couple more things on the walls. I'd bought some paper a while back and thought that if I could find some frames the prints would look cool in our living room. I didn't want to spend the money to have them framed since they are just pieces of paper I found on sale at Cottage Corner in Davenport http://www.cottagecorner.net/ and I have a whole pile of art and prints I've bought the last few years to have framed first!

While walking aimlessly through Gordmans yesterday I found the frames! At only 10$ a piece they were perfect!





Next up, a really cool etsy.com find! I found this piece at a store called Abandoned Treasures. I had marked it as one of my favorites about a month ago. A few weeks later I received an email from the seller. She noticed I had marked this as a fav and offered to sell it to me with free shipping. With a $9.95 discount I was sold and the treasure was mine!



Alis volat propiis is Latin for "she flies with her own wings" beautiful! The phrase is painted on an antique door panel and now hangs in our kitchen. (notice the fleur de lis too)

Last but not least, we picked up a winterberry wreath at Gordmans. The is our homage the the East Coast. We spent last Thanksgiving visiting Mike's family out there. I noticed that everyone had some sort of winterberry decor in their home. I thought they were beautiful, and if we'd had a winter wedding winterberries would have been our theme.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Finn and His 9 Lives

Finn. For those of you who know him, all I have to say is Finn, and you get it. Finn aka Big Buddy aka Big Dummy is a special dog who has luck on his side. After an incident last night, I'll explain later, Mike and I were chatting....another conversation about how we can't believe Finn is still alive! Let me start with Finn, the beginning.

A couple of years ago Mike decided that he needed a companion, a best friend, a loyal buddy to always be by his side. Actually, he went to the shelter to get a cat and as fate would have it his eyes locked with a goofy Irish Wolfhound mix, the rest was history. Now, being that this was a shelter dog, Mike wondered about where his Big Buddy came from. The shelter employee told Mike that he was found in a forest preserve in the North suburbs of Chicago. He was scrawny, the shelter employee believed Finn had been on the run a few weeks, scavenging for food and fending for himself. Now that Finn has been in my life a couple of years I wonder, did his previous owners open up the door and let him go? Did he escape from his previous home? Did he jump a fence and run away? Who knows? What I do know is this is what I consider Finn's first life, somehow this big, clumsy dog managed to stay alive and make it to the shelter where he found his new Dad.



Mike and Finn had about a year or so together before I came into the picture. During this time Finn had a few minor issues but seemed to be a fairly well adjusted dog aside from the occasional cries when it rained or thundered. At some point in time, this changed.

If one were to speculate, this change could have taken place one breezy Chicago afternoon sometime in August 2007. It started off like any other summer day. Mike decided to take Finn for a walk, about half way into the walk the clouds started to move in. I was only a few blocks away and I remember a coworker, who listened to the radio all day, screamed "Tornadoes have been spotted in Chicago!" I immediately ran to my window and noticed the wind, how strong it was. Then the rain came, it was so windy the rain was blowing horizontally. A few minutes later my phone rings and it's Mike all panicked. He explained to me that he was walking Finn when the storm suddenly swept it. Him and Finn were running home when a tree branch fell on them! Was this when Big Buddy went crazy?

Finn, life two, October 2007. Mike and I had just moved into our new place in Chicago. During the first week of us living there, the landlord had a couple of guys doing some repairs and painting. One afternoon a worker left the front door open a crack, I think he was still standing by the door but Finn tore through it. I was not home but Mike began chasing Finn down our street. Finn does not run like a normal dog, he gallops like a horse and is next to impossible to catch. As far as cohersing him back, forget it! Once he's running he is in a zone. Mike continued to chase Finn, his heart sank as Finn took a turn to Ashland, a very busy street in Chicago. Mike fell to his knees as Finn bolted across the street though moving traffic. Relieved, Mike thought "Phew he made it!" Finn stopped on the other side of the street, his eyes met Mike's, inside Mike was saying to himself "Please don't run towards me, please stay over there" knowing that if he ran back across the street he would surely get hit. Well, Big Buddy did it, he ran back across the street, got hit and the car didn't even stop. Somehow Mike managed to get Finn and take him back to the house. Finn had some tire marks on him but appeared to be ok. Mike called me and told me what happened, we watched him for a while and didn't notice anything different so we assumed he was fine.

Life three, now this is luck. Last 4th of July Mike and I decided to walk to the lake to watch the fireworks. We thought about taking the dogs, but knowing Finn's fear of loud noises we decided, probably not a good idea. As we were leaving we thought it would be best to put Finn in the garage. Mike took his food out, a bone, his bed was already out there since he sometimes slept in the garage, and Mike leashed him up. We were on our way. We returned home after being gone for about two hours, a little disappointed that we didn't bring the dogs since the fireworks really weren't loud from where we were standing. Mike went out the garage to get Finn. He come back in shaking and said "I think I need to take Finn to the hospital" My heart started racing, I said "What happened?" and ran out. Little did I know, what a gruesome scene I would be walking into. Finn must have spooked himself while we were gone. We had a 7 foot tall, old glass paneled door in the garage. I had taken it out of a nearby dumpster and thought I could so something cool and artsy with it. It was covered in blood, the glass was shattered, there were pools of blood all over the garage, splashed up on the shelving. Finn had gone through the glass.

After so many things like this happen you start to get desensitized. I told Mike I thought we should wait it out and take him tot he vet in the morning. He had some cuts but it didn't look that bad. Ok, so I was really desensitized, but this only lasted a few minutes, I called the emergency vet and they advised us to bring him in immediately. After a long night in the emergency room, some stitches, some meds Finn made it though life 3. It was a long recovery though.

So that's life one, two and three, the rest all take place after moving to Iowa and goes something like this:

4. Mike finds Finn's harness hanging off the basement stairs. Our guess is that he was hanging from the stairs for a while until he broke loose.

5. Mike comes home to find Finn has wrapped himself up like pretzel in his leash, can't move. Mike saves him.

6. Mike and I go to run some errands, we leave Finn in the backyard since he absolutely loves it out there. We return home and he is gone. Somehow he managed to escape from the the yard, which he had never even attempted before. Mike and I both panic, knowing how he gallops we both jump in the car to go look for him but assume we will never see him again. A few minutes into the search we pull over to ask a man walking on the street if he's seen a giant yellow dog, I look to my left and see Finn in between some houses. I open my door, scream "Finn" and he surprisingly runs to the car. He had some blood on his face, so again...we wonder, "What happended?" We watched him closely that night, he lives.

7. Yesterday Mike comes home to a catastrophic scene in the basement. Finn has chewed through a plugged in extension cord that goes to the sump pump and electrocuted himself. Apparently a side affect, or reaction rather, to electrocution in spraying liquid poo EVERYWHERE. Mike called me and told me not to even come home, that I did not want to see what happened. I don't disagree and go to the gym. A few hours later I get home and Mike is still cleaning. PHEW.


So here we are, life 8. Who knows what will be next. All I know is Finn is one lucky dog. Not only for his nine lives, but for his patient owners.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trick or Treat

Our adorable babies on Halloween. These are a little overdue, but I couldn't resist!



swarms

After making it through security Julie and I stood back a minute to take it all in. This is a 30 second video she took. The lady yelling at the beginning cracks me up! Swarms


I was fianlly able to get my video uploaded, this was my perpective of the same 30 seconds julie took, notice the funny woman getting some assistance!
video

Less than 24 hours

In less than 24 hours I drove to Chicago, attended the rally in Grant Park and now find myself sitting back in my office at work. wow!

This video was played at the rally right after Obama's victory was announced.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day




This morning I dragged my butt out of bed at 6 am to get to the polls by 7. I was a little groggy, but shortly after arriving that turned to excitement. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people already in line and didn't mind the 30 minute wait to vote. As far back as I can remember living in America has been a privilege, the world was hopeful, the economy great, employment, not a problem. Boy, has that changed in the past 8 years! For the first time I really feel that my vote can and will begin to heal the US. It will take time, but I'd rather not wait another four years for the process to begin.

Tonight I will returning to the lovely city of Chicago to attend the rally at Grant Park. Hopefully around midnight I will be listening to a victory speech along with millions of other Americans!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

it's officially official!

the honeymoon is booked! although from this point on i'll just start calling it our winter vacation lol. i will be mia for thanksgiving this year. actually we will be flying back into chicago about 5PM on thanksgiving day. we will probably stay in a hotel there thursday night since thanksgiving weekend is awesome in chicago... the entire city clears out!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Es Muy Frio!

Saturday night Mike and I went to dinner at La Flama. Our friend Carly recommended the joint for their salsa dancing and food! For those of you who are familiar with the Quad Cities, you know that a good Mexican restaurant is hard to come by. There was Chi Chi's for many years, Carlos O Kelley's and that place on Brady street that I went to once or twice. None of which really impressed me, and after living in Chicago for ten years I'm even more spoiled!

It took us a while to find La Flama, I thought it was going to be in west Moline but it turns out La Flama is right in the downtown area. Upon entering we were hopeful, the warm vibrant colors made the place alive, and there were quite a few people dining. I felt, for a minute, like I was home(Chicago). Not what I expected, but I was pleasently surprised. We started off with a couple of drinks, my margarita was awesome and just what I needed, the chips and salsa were very tasty too. One thing I've never understood are Mexican restuarants with gross salsa, if they can't get that right... La Flama's salsa passed my test with flying colors.

The service was super fast and the waitress friendly. I opted for a combo platter that included: a bean, soft corn tortilla taco, and guacomole tostada, and a veggie enchilada, all were great and really hit the spot! Mike had a streak burrito that enjoyed as well along with his Pina Colada haha!



I can't say La Flama was as good as Mi Tierra, my Chicago fav, but it was really close. I can say we found a REALLY GOOD Mexican restaurant in the QC!