The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Happy Birthday Bella! (& Dog Treat Recipe) November 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 8:37 pm

This little lady turns 3 today!

Little dogs were never really my thing. When I got Bella, I thought she was absolutely adorable but was still not entirely convinced that I would ever feel she was “my” dog. Three years, lots of snuggling, silliness, burrowing and barking later, I really do love her. Small dogs are most certainly different from big dogs. There are a whole different set of benefits and issues with little ones, but they are just as worth it.

In honor of her birthday, I made treats! If you buy dog treats from the store, have you ever looked at the ingredient lists? There is some scary shit in there! Even “natural” brands can be full of unnecessary ingredients. These treats involve 5 ingredients (including water). They are made from stuff most people already have in their kitchen and they are super easy!

Honey, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Baked Dog Treats

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1-1 1/4 cup hot water
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Rub Baking sheets with olive oil on a paper towel
3. Mix flour and oats.
4. Add honey, peanut butter and water. I start with adding 1 cup of warm water and add a little more as needed. You want a firm dough, not crumbly or sticky.
5. Lightly flour counter and roll out dough ball to 1/4inch thickness (I always get excited to use my rolling pin)
6. Cut into desired shaped. I had dog bone shaped cookie cutters from a long time ago. Some of them were simply cut into squares. With the small amount of remaining dough, I rolled a few into balls and flattened with a fork just like human pb cookies.

7. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 min. Turn off oven and leave in oven to completely cool. The treats will get pretty hard as they cool~ just like dog treats from the store.

My dogs love these and I love knowing their treats are made from simple real food ingredients.

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Post Thanksgiving Traditions. November 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 10:22 pm
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While many people gear up for Black Friday Shopping the day after Thanksgiving,  my own traditions certainly do not involve going to any stores the day after the feast. Don’t let me fool you-  I love shopping.  It took me a while to learn that I can still fully indulge my love of clothes and pretty things without supporting a corporation I do not believe in or adding to the waste in our world. I buy 2nd hand almost exclusively the last several years and you can find great deal any day that way.  An occasional trip to the mall happens, especially when in need of a specific item or undergarments but that’s about it.

So, what do I do? I have friends over, I make brunch, I clean the house really well. I listen to Christmas music and decorate the house. I spend several hours gathering and then narrowing down recipes to come up with a holiday baking lists. I venture out to do some shopping & errands (on Saturday). I finish up my Christmas cards and make a list of things I will need to buy this holiday season. I tend to spend at least one whole day out of the weekend on my couch in my sweatpants, watching some of my favorite movies. I go out with friends who are in town for the weekend. I play games with my family. I read magazines. Basically, I just take time to relax and restore my inner reserves before the crazy rush of holiday parties and events start. I am always refreshed and ready for the upcoming fun after this weekend, which is more than I can say for people waiting in line at 3am on Friday morning for something they most likely do not even really need.

Next year, I decided I am going to host an Anti Black Friday party. Everyone can bring canned goods and used clothing to donate to people who may actually need more things. (People can also bring snacks and wine to share 😉 ) We can play games and just hang out and enjoy the people in our lives instead of the things. I am really looking forward to making this a new tradition.
Oh, I also dress my dog up in a Santa costume:

 

Giving Thanks. November 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 12:00 pm
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This post was planned for yesterday but I decided to just soak up the holiday & enjoy the fullness of heart, mind & belly.

After some grumbling because I didn’t sleep well, the pups and I headed out in the gorgeous weather for a 5k walk.

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Could not have asked for a more beautiful day for walking. It felt great to get in some sunshine & exercise before the feast.

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Dinner at my mama’s was delicious and thankfully uneventful. After dinner, we played games. Love that my family has become game players!

Anyways, on to the point of the holiday… what am I thankful for? Gratitude is not reserved for this one day in my life but it seems like a good reminder to reflect on all we have. I am grateful for sunshine, my morning coffee, farm fresh eggs, silly dog antics, laughter with people I love, being an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a grandaughter, a friend & a lover. I am grateful for a beautiful home, good food to eat & a never ending supply of books to read. I am grateful for wine, dirty vodka martini’s and good beer. I am grateful for my sense of humor, ability to think & emotional maturity. I am grateful for my family & my ladies. I am grateful for social networks & the internet. I am grateful for art openings & thrift shops & movies that still affect me in some way even after I have seen them 100 times. I am grateful for a freezer stocked with vegetables I grew & all sources of local food. I am grateful to be able to work with children. I am grateful for camfires, sunsets & living close to both water & forrests. I  am grateful for long hikes, real seasons & my ability to learn. I am grateful for smiles, hula hoops, documentaries, new magazines, date nights, the stars, matinee movies & the smell of mud…

I am just grateful for all of it. Good, bad and all the in between. Life is beautiful, amazing and absolutely heart breaking & I wouldn’t change a bit of it. Hope you all found plenty to be grateful for this holiday & everyday.

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Sunday Inspiration. November 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 8:31 pm

This weekend was far from ideal. We couldn’t get tickets for the musical I wanted to see, book club was cancelled, I fought with my partner all weekend and my family is kind of mess right now. What had the potential to be an adventurous weekend turned into an emotional and exhausting one. That’s real life.

It wasn’t all bad. I got to hang out and eat cookies and do puzzles with my mama. My grandma, mama and I hung out all afternoon Saturday. Visiting with my best friend and her goony children always puts a smile on my face. Dinner and game night at my brother’s house with my sister and the children was certainly a highlight.  I am always inspired and beyond grateful by the amount of love in my life….

I also spent some time sorting out my own mind. I wrote a lot, I read, I went for a long walk. I cried. I cuddled with my dogs. I drank a lot of coffee. While nothing has been resolved exactly, I feel at peace this evening. Life rarely works out as planned, but it always works out as it needs to. I am grateful for so much  so often,  but it is still  easy to get caught up in my “plans” and forget to fully appreciate all that is already there waiting for me. Instead of being disappointed by failed plans, I was able to see a lot of the people I love most in the world and spend some time just simply being. It was good.

Purchasing some new nail polish, lipstick, earrings and a magazine always helps me feel better too ; )
So here is some inspiration to start the week~

I am certainly violating some sort of copyright with these images but I found them all on Pinterest and I am still learning about inserting links etc.

Hope you have a beautiful week!

 

You Know You’re a Grown Up When… November 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 7:35 pm
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You decide black loafers are appropriate date night footwear.

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The rest of my outfit was age & outing appropriate but, I’ve always been a heels on date night type of girl in the past. Just one of the many silly everyday things that make me feel like a real grown up 🙂

 

10 Minute Gourmet November 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 9:56 pm
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As much as I love cooking, sometimes I just need something quick and delicious with minimal effort. Grilled sandwiches fit that bill perfectly. Traditional white bread & american cheese sandwiches will always hold a special place in my heart, but I tend to get a little fancier these days. Last night was a grilled sandwich night.

I had scored some day old loaves of “everything italian” bread for $1. Before putting them in the freezer for another day, I cut a few slices for my dinner. I layered on some brie, marinated artichoke hearts & roasted red pepper.  And here is the secret to restaurant style grilled sandwiches… put the butter right in the pan & fry your sandwich in it instead of buttering the bread. I usually refrain from this not so healthy cooking method but since I had no soft butter, I went for it. Oh my delicious….

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Sorry for the sucky photo.

There are endless possibilities for grilled sandwich fillings. I tend to just rummage through the fridge and see what I find. One of my favorite combinations (inspired by a restaurant in Ellicotville NY) is sliced turkey breast, thin sliced red onion, basil pesto, roasted red peppers & brie on some good nutty whole grain bread.

What is your favorite “10 min gourmet” meal?

 

Recipe: Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal November 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 12:04 pm
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I love oatmeal. I eat it almost everyday for breakfast in the chilly months. I also love pumpkin. This is a delicious healthy breakfast that combines the two. (I used a combination of recipes I found online and came up with this) Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats

1tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 egg, beaten

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375, spray 8×8 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray

2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

3. In medium bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until center is set.

6. Let cool a few minutes, slice and enjoy!

* you could sprinkle the top with brown sugar before baking or my personal favorite, slather some almond butter on top right before eating.