Dessine-moi un mouton…


Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

When Sophie starts to look like the sheepdog that punches the time clock in the cartoon above, we know she is overdue for a grooming.


Returning from the groomer, she looks like a completely different dog. When people see her fluffy, they ask if she’s gained weight. When they see her just after being groomed, they ask if she’s lost weight. I guess, technically, she has.

We like to call our post-groomer-visit Sophie Jean our “little goat.”

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But truthfully, she reminds me of the little sheep from The Little Prince.

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“Dessine-moi un mouton…photo 4

What do you think?

If you have a pet, do they resemble another animal sometimes?





Fun for Friday: Link Potch-a-pourri


Potch-a-pourri = how a friend of mine thought potpourri is pronounced.

I just had to steal it from her! Here’s an assortment of links I’ve been collecting to share with you. Enjoy at your leisure…

For Laughter: The Best Way to Eat Popcorn at Your Desk – If you don’t think this extremely odd or laugh because you know someone who’d actually do this, what’s wrong with you?

Sobering: How to Survive on Minimum Wage – A very simplistic approach where I truly believe all the planets need to align for this to actually work for someone.

Self-care (My theme for 2014): On Guilty Pleasures & Self-Care – Enlightening.

Teach Yourself: How to Pronounce the 16 Most Confusing Food Words – Finally, the real pronunciation for gyro! This article reminds me of this commercial, which never gets old for me!

If you liked those, check out these links I posted a while back.

Please share one article or blog post that intrigued you this week!


Thankful Thursday


Today, I’m copying Racheal with a Thankful Thursday. I write in my Gratitude Journal everyday, but I’m needing a little thankfulness today, so I thought I’d participate publicly.

Today, I am thankful for the fact that we only got a light dusting of snow, unlike the 15 inches they got just 30 miles north of us.

I am thankful for all of the extra Sophie Jean cuddles and snuggles I am getting now that she has been groomed.

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I am thankful that we have three coffee shops within a half-mile of our house.

I am thankful that we have family in town this weekend. That we get to celebrate my brother’s belated birthday and that I get to see my nephew and gobble him right up! {Wrong holiday? ;-) }

I am thankful Rob’s parents will be in town in a few short weekends, too. We love when they visit. Plus, they need to catch up on Season 2 of House of Cards. ;-)

I am thankful for my friend Ceci who signs for our South Coast Wine Club wine because we are not home during the day to do so.

I am thankful that I am still going strong {or at least going!} with the Couch to 5k and that I found these stretches to do post-run.

I am thankful that it’s supposed to be in the 60s next week!


I am thankful to my friend Jen allowing me to borrow all of her Veronica Mars DVDs and waiting for me to catch up to see the movie together!

I am thankful that I got most of my pre-guest cleaning done last night, so I can focus on running tonight.

I am thankful for fresh sheets on the bed and a good night’s sleep.

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

What are you thankful for today?


How to Make a Bad Wine Good {Or a Great Wine Bad}


Back when I was conducting in-home wine tastings, one of my hosts said that she tended to only drink red wine. When she would drink white wine in the summer, she and her neighbor friends would put fruit in it to make it more palatable.

I found this interesting because it was usually the white wine drinkers who were trying to learn how to enjoy red wine, not red wine drinkers looking to make white wine more tasty.

On a hot summer day last year, I remembered this trick and talked Rob into giving it a try. I mean, we use fruit to make sangria, right?

So we took a mixture of fruit that we had on hand and put it in the bottom of two stemless wine glasses.

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Then we added a chilled dry white wine.

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We finished with a little citrus, too.

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The result? Something soooo tart and sour. I was kind of kicking myself because I know that fruit and wine do not go together. What was I thinking?

I know what it was… I thought about the fruit one puts in sangria, which made me believe this would taste great, too! Besides, it was recommended by a respected red wine drinker. But I didn’t stop to ask her what kind of white wine to which they added fruit. Maybe it was something sweet?

Because that’s why sangria works. You add some sugar (or other sweetener) and a sweet liquor of some sort. I have a slew of sangria recipes here. They never fail.

I recently found this beautiful Rainbow Sangria, too, that I’d love to try. I was looking for a white one to add to my arsenal anyway.

So what does this have to do with making a bad wine good?

It’s not that white wine is bad. Not at all! But if you have a cheap wine, one which you can’t seem to palate as your first (or second) bottle, make sangria with it! My husband used to stock up on wine at the huge liquor store wine sales. I would shake my head when he bought a case of “chianti” because it was a good deal.

“But you haven’t tried it before!” I’d argue. This was a big deal to me since I was marketing wines in a try-before-you-buy fashion.

He quickly learned that a “good deal” isn’t really one if it isn’t a wine you like, nor are likely to drink.

We learned to use these wines to make sangria. With added sugar, liquor and fruit, you can make practically any wine (that hasn’t turned) better.

Don’t think you have the time or ingredients to make sangria? It really isn’t that difficult. But if you want something else ultra quick, pick up a 2-liter of 7-up or Sprite and make this spritzer to bring your bad bottle of wine to life. You can even make it a glass at a time.

Would you want to do this with your favorite bottle? Absolutely not. That would be blasphemous.

How do you use a not-so-tasty bottle of wine?


The Most Underrated Pizza in the Twin Cities


While we were gallivanting about Nordeast Minneapolis one beautiful Saturday afternoon, we were in such of some grub. As we passed by Element Wood Fire Pizza, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it before. As Rob drove, I looked up Element’s menu online. It sounded delicious. So tell me again, Why hadn’t I heard of this place before?

In the Twin Cities, we all know about Punch, about Black Sheep, about Pizzeria Lola, about Pizza Lucé. I’d never heard of Element. Maybe you have. Maybe I’m just clueless.

But when Rob’s first choice to dine didn’t pan out, I began reading him the menu from Element. He conceded {either because it sounded good to him, too, or he just wanted to shut me up.}

It’s a tiny joint with maybe a half of a dozen tables. I imagine that they get more to-go and Bite Squad orders. It’s located in a part of Nordeast where lots of condos and apartments are situated. I can imagine taking a short walk to pick up a wood-fired pizza like this any day!

You order at the counter. Once your pizza is assembled, they put it in the wood-fire oven. If you are eating in, take a seat. They’ll bring your pizza out when it’s ready.

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There are a few beers on tap, but we ordered a bottle of wine because their prices were very reasonable.

I loved the simple names of the types of pizzas on their menu. They follow the Element theme, too:

  • Element
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Earth
  • Nordeast – They had to make one of these, of course!

And there are many more. It was hard to choose. Rob first considered the Primo which was made with olive oil, mushrooms, garlic and mozzarella. He then decided against it because he thought that to make that one work, a pizzeria would have to do it really well and he wasn’t sure about this place yet. Instead, he chose the Nordeast.

Nordeast - sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms & oregano

Nordeast – sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms & oregano

The crust was perfectly done, especially for Rob, who doesn’t like the burnt bubbles on the crust edges found on many wood-fired pizzas. Everything had very good flavor! But then we tried mine…

Earth - artichokes, salami, garlic & basil

Earth – artichokes, salami, garlic & basil

I ordered this one because I fell in love with salami on pizzas when we were on The Honeymoon in Italy. I don’t see salami as a pizza topping option very often in the U.S.

Rob immediately had pizza remorse.

This one had even more flavor! The garlic and fresh basil did it. Rob was kicking himself because why on Earth {ha ha!} would he order a pizza without garlic?! I offered to share my pizza and all was right with the world. The salami was a little different and not as flavorful as I’ve had in Italy, but I wasn’t complaining. The pizza here is still underrated!

Of course, we took leftovers home. And I didn’t do the pizza the injustice of putting it in the microwave when we ate them. Instead, I set the oven to 350, brushed the crust with garlic olive oil and baked the slices for about five minutes or so. It was devine. And Rob got his garlic after all.

Sure, Pizzeria Lola is still our favorite. Punch still makes a killer classic Neapolitan. But Element is a pizzeria that shouldn’t be left in the dust. They use fresh ingredients and have pizzas with flavor. That impromptu visit was worth every morsel. Our only gripe? The wine was warm, almost hot. It’s hot in there with that pizza oven! A wine fridge may be in order.

In your opinion, what’s the most underrated restaurant where you live?




His & Hers Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese


This past weekend, I made an impromptu visit to see my friend Stacy. While there, Stacy was kind enough to help me get my sushi fix!


I was delighted that my visit included not only going to one of the painting classes with which I’ve been obsessed, but also that it was a fundraiser for Stacy’s daughter’s school.

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There was an excellent turn-out.

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Stacy made painting one-handed look like a breeze. But the cast on her broken arm did make for great shadow entertainment on her canvas. E.T., anyone?

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And a couple of hours and glasses of wine later, this:

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…became this:

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Wait? Who set Stacy’s hand on fire?!!


So what’s on tap this week? Well, first I think I should share a dish I made last week with all of you. Because sometimes I get ideas for meals or snacks when people post what they’ve eaten. I’m sharin’ the love. I’ve definitely gotten some great ideas from these gals.

Last week, I made this Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese for the first time.  I really wanted to make my husband swooooooon! I knew it was high-cal, so I separated into six servings instead of the suggested 3 – 4. I dished up our meals into his and hers servings:

His was topped with a little extra bacon and blue cheese crumbles. Hers was a slightly smaller portion served over a bed of spinach and topped with chopped tomatoes. The only trouble I had making this dish is that it was really runny. And if there is anything Rob despises, it is a runny sauce! I tried to let it sit, but it was starting to get cold; so I popped it back on the heat and slowly stirred in some corn starch. That seemed to do the trick.

Rob went absolutely nuts over this dish.

He said he’d order it in a restaurant any day and that it’s probably the best mac and cheese he’s ever had! I wouldn’t go that far. It was great, but I’m not a huge bacon-in-my-food lover. Yes, I just said that. I’m an alien to this planet.

I’m trying to incorporate more meals into our routine that Rob will love and just serve smaller portions, rather than trying to make healthy things he gets bored with or just doesn’t want to eat.

We had a couple free plates coming, so we are trying Plated again this week. To read my Plated review, click here. If you want to give it a try yourself, click my referral link, to get two free plates yourself!

Now for this week:




  • Monday – Fontina Polenta with Roasted Spring Vegetables from Plated.  Meatless Monday! We were originally going to go with the amazing Grilled Cheese concoction with the chickpea-tomato salad, but they were sold out by the time I placed the order. Lesson learned!
  • Tuesday – Lemongrass Pork with Vermicelli Noodles from Plated.
  • Wednesday - Beer and Beef Risotto. Hey, I made Rob soooo happy with the Blue Cheese and Bacon Mac & Cheese last week, that I thought I’d go with another combo of things my husband loves: Beer, Beef and Risotto. Crossing our fingers it rocks his world just as much!
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – Family in Town
  • Saturday - Family in Town
  • Sunday – Family in Town




  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 2
  • Thursday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 3
  • Sunday – REST

 What is your favorite twist on Mac and Cheese?


Sophie in a Cup


Sophie / Shamrock Saturday

For World Run Day about a year and a half ago, I posted this photo of me with my beloved Sophie Jean when she was just a wee pup:

March 2005

March 2005

Now remember that a-dog-able face.

A week or two ago, I got an email in my inbox titled 14 Things You Didn’t Know About Sonic. I don’t know what compelled me to click that link. Maybe because I find their commercials so funny. Or maybe it was that Rob was utterly terrified of the place the first time he went because he wasn’t sure how to order or what to do.

In any case, it doesn’t matter if you are interest in Sonic or not. Just click the link and scroll down to the end of the article…

It’s Puppy Sophie Jean in a CUP!