Triple Dog Weekend

Triple Dog Weekend

What’s better than enjoying a gorgeous Spring weekend outside in the yard? Sharing that yard with your two best friends, of course! I’m pretty sure that was Piper’s attitude a few weeks ago when Hershey the Chocolate Lab and Bella the GSP spent a long weekend with us.

Piper is 8 months old and full of impish puppy energy. Having two friends over at the same time meant that Piper could keep playing at her usual warp speed while the older dogs took turns resting. Piper would eagerly goad Hershey into a game of tug, then zoom around the yard a couple dozen times with Bella, return to instigate a wrestling match with Hershey, and finish off the rotation with a game of frisbee keep-away with her GSP twin.

During the rare moments when Piper needed a break all three dogs lounged around, blissfully chewing on sticks. SO many sticks! I never knew how many sticks were in our yard until we had three dogs scouring every inch of the lawn in an effort to find the biggest and best specimen. At one point Piper showed up with a small log (where did THAT come from??) and Bella gave her tips on how to position it just right to get the best chewing leverage. (Click on the photos to zoom in and see Piper’s funny expressions – priceless!)

I’m pretty sure that our triple dog weekend was the absolute highlight of Piper’s life thus far. Not only did she spend it with two friends in PERFECT mid-70s weather, she was also finally able to run loose in the yard without a leash or long line attached to her collar! We were in the final stages of training her to our underground “invisible fence” and, since the older dogs both know the boundaries of the yard, this was the perfect opportunity to see what Piper would do on her own with less direct supervision. Piper thoroughly enjoyed her freedom and never once showed any interest in leaving the yard.  Success!

Can you tell how much fun the dogs were having? 😀 Except in that one photo up top where Piper got totally crushed by Hershey… I didn’t realize how hard Hershey fell on her until I saw the photo afterwards!! Luckily none of the dogs sustained any permanent damage over the weekend and everyone went home tired and happy.

Love this pup.

I love this pup. ❤️

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Whirlwind Spring Recap

Matt and I have been going non-stop this Spring with yard work, running, family gatherings, weddings and work trips.  As a result, I’ve been pretty bad about blogging (I need to use our rare down time to relax!!).  Nevertheless, I do want to share what we’ve been up to so I’ll attempt to use this post as a catch-all recap of our Spring…

After returning home from California in mid-April, we spent a weekend in New Jersey to celebrate the marriage of two of our college friends, then I raced three weekends in a row (Rick’s, St. Tim’s, and Elwyn) before we embarked on another work trip, this time to Baltimore.  We were in Baltimore for three days and got in some good meals and two nice runs around the Inner Harbor (which is beautiful!!).

After Baltimore we were home for a few weeks during which I ran three more races (Victory, Rocky Run, and Radnor).  We also celebrated Mother’s Day, my mom’s and brother’s birthdays, and Memorial Day, AND started on a major home landscaping project… ripping out and replanting all of the overgrown shrubs along our front walk (more on that in a future post!).  For my mom’s birthday I did a photo shoot of her on her new horse and then Matt and I had my mom and stepfather over for a fancy dinner of grilled salmon and avocado with roasted corn relish and Mexican rice pilaf.  (And don’t worry, that recipe will be up on the blog soon!!).  🙂

After Memorial Day we had the pleasure of taking care of Matt’s parents’ German Shorthair, Bella, for a few weeks.  Bella patiently watched us dig up stumps in the front yard (fun!), went running with me at Ridley Creek State Park, and, best of all, got to come with us to the Hunting Camp where she got to experience the central PA wilderness.  We were at the Hunting Camp for 3 days, during which we hiked and ran over 20 miles.  Matt and I also made a big taco dinner for everyone on Saturday night but we were too busy cooking and eating to take photos of the food, sorry!

Matt and I left the Hunting Camp late Saturday night so that we’d be home for our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.  We celebrated by sleeping in, doing some yard work, then spending the afternoon wine tasting at our wedding venue, Sweetwater Farm and Grace Winery.  The winery recently started hosting dog-friendly tastings so Bella came along and happily flopped on the ground between our chairs as we sipped our wine.  After the tasting we had dinner at La Porta, our favorite local restaurant, and then returned home to — you guessed it — MORE yard work!  🙂  Good thing we both like hauling rocks, compost, and stumps around!

The Tuesday after our anniversary we headed out of town again, this time for a work-related trip to a nuclear power plant to do a nighttime lighting demonstration.  It was a productive visit but between the Hunting Camp (4 hours away) and nuclear power plant (5 1/2 hours away) it meant that we spent close to 20 hours in the car in less than a weeks’ time.  And the road trips weren’t quite over yet…

On Saturday we were on the road again, this time to Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey for another fantastic wedding celebration.  The weather was perfect and we spent the night in Asbury Park right next to the boardwalk and the beach.  I loved waking up to the view of the beach and sand right outside our window.  New Jersey is pretty nice!

That’s about it for my whirlwind Spring recap.  Now that our travels are done (until 4th of July, at least), I’m hoping that we might have a little more time to kick back and relax.  First I need to make it through the Media 5 Mile race on Friday night!  🙂

How’s your Spring going so far?  Has it been busy or relaxing?

What’s Cookin’?

I haven’t posted a new recipe on the blog for a while but, rest assured, Matt and I are eating well!  We’ve been re-making a lot of our favorite recipes and, quite frankly, I’m finding less motivation to try new recipes since we know we can throw together a garlicky pasta dish, flavorful stir fry, or quick rotisserie chicken burrito in less than a hour with delicious results.  Here are some of the dishes that we’ve been enjoying this Spring…  (mouse over for a link to each recipe)

This Spring has been pretty hectic with traveling, racing, and LOTS of yard work, but I have a feeling that things will slow down soon and we’ll find ourselves paging through our trusty cook books in search of new recipes to try.  We’d like to try smoking something (ribs? brisket?) this Summer and maybe try a grilled Romaine recipe.  I also definitely want to make Paella and I’d like to start making more desserts (cobblers and crumbles, anyone?).  I better start looking at those cookbooks!!

Do you have any go-to Summer recipes that you love making at this time of year?  Tell me about them (and feel free to link to them) in the comments!

Spring is Here!

I’m pretty sure that the universe really wants me to post some photos of flowers today.  Why, you ask?  Three reasons, primarily.  First, Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge is FLOWERS.  Second, the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is SPRING.  And third (and most importantly of all), my yard is in full bloom!!!  Look at the beautiful spectacle I was greeted with upon arriving home from work today.  Spring is really here!!!

Cherry Blossom-lined street

In addition to the blossoming pink cherry trees that line the street in front of our house we also have weeping cherry, pear, and crabapple trees that are all blooming.  Combine those with my daffodils, viburnum, vinca, and potted dahlias and that makes for a pretty amazing Spring scene!

Unfortunately the deer have also realized that Spring has arrived and they are doing their best to gobble up the tasty tulips and azaleas as quickly as they can grow.  This was never a problem in the past because Bailey patrolled the yard like it was her job, but it has now become clear that the deer have learned that their german shorthaired nemesis is no longer around to harass them.

Here’s an example of deer destruction in my tulip bed.  Photo 1 is from last summer, 2 is what the baby tulips looked like in late March before we went to California, and 3 is what they look like now.  Ack!!  I have since pushed several pointy sticks into the flower bed (photo 4) to try to prevent the deer from wedging their heads in to snack… it’s not pretty but so far it has worked!

All deer issues aside, after the long, cold winter we had it is really wonderful to finally experience Spring.  I’m going to try to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the weather this weekend, starting off with a 5K trail race tomorrow morning.  Wish me luck!

Springtime at our house

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: WHITE

White Crabapple Tree

I don’t usually participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, but I follow a few bloggers who do and I was inspired by how Pami from Pa-BLAM! handled this week’s topic, the color white.  Here in Southeastern PA snow has been covering the ground for 6+ weeks so you might think that ‘snow’ would be the first thing that comes to mind for a white photo challenge, but Pami defied old man winter and focused on spring instead.  It’s so much nicer to think about crocuses, daffodils and cherry blossoms, don’t you think?

So, without further ado, here are my cheerful, non-wintery entries for this week’s Foto Challenge:
White Crocuses... they'll be blooming in just a few weeks!!!!

White Shasta Daisy

And remember, despite this cold winter weather, Spring really isn’t that far away.  Here are the dates that the above photos were taken.  I wonder if this year will be an early Spring like 2012 (trees in full bloom by mid-April) or a later Spring like we had in 2013 (same trees blooming in early May).  I vote early Spring!!  🙂

Weekend Getaway to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

This morning it snowed (AGAIN!!) but as I type this huddled next to our propane stove I am thinking of the warm, sunny, amazing weekend that Matt and I just spent with our friends in the quaint seaside town of Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Cape Charles Beach

We drove down to Cape Charles on Friday afternoon and checked into Cape Charles Blue, a cool boutique hotel with exposed brick walls and super high ceilings.  Then we walked down the little main street to Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, a great restaurant/bar in a converted bank that dates back to 1907.  We ate in the old bank vault and the food was delicious… I had bangers and mash (yum!!!) and Matt had a rich shepherd’s pie with lamb and beef.  In addition to excellent food Kelly’s also had 10+ beers on tap which made it the perfect place to hang out with our friends the next day.

On Saturday we woke up to perfect blue skies and amazing temperatures in the mid-60s.  After the insanely cold winter we’ve been having in Pennsylvania it felt like we had traveled to an exotic tropical island!  I went for a run that I had intended to be around 4 miles, but I felt invigorated by the great weather (and the total lack of hills) so I kept on running until I hit 6 miles.  I paused a few times to take photos of the beach and fishing pier.  What a beautiful day!!!

After my run we joined our friends at Kelly’s for drinks before hopping on a chartered minibus and heading up to nearby Machipongo, Virginia for the weekend’s main event – the Barrier Island Center’s Annual Oyster Roast.  The Oyster Roast is an all-you-can-eat oyster and clam fest that benefits the Center’s mission of protecting and preserving the history of Virginia’s barrier islands.  And when I say all you can eat, I mean it!  There were huge metal counter-height tables set up on a grassy lawn and the caterers continuously delivered perfectly roasted, steaming hot oysters and clams to the tables by the bushel-full (or maybe by the half-bushel-full… either way it was a lot of mollusks!)  We crowded around the tables with little containers of melted butter and cocktail sauce and ate oysters as fast as we could.  They were delicious!

31 Shucking Oysters

That’s Matt shucking an oyster in the photo above.  I was a little hesitant about using the oyster knife so Matt opened my oysters for me.  Luckily the clams were already steamed open so I could eat those while I waited.  🙂

After a late post-Oyster-Fest night at Kelly’s we woke up to another unseasonably warm day on Sunday.  Matt and I went on an easy 3 mile run around town before joining a few of our friends for breakfast and saying our goodbyes.  5 hours of driving later we returned home to our snow-covered yard and cold temperatures which was a bummer, but at least we got to enjoy two days of spring-like bliss in Virginia!

Cape Charles beach

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!  Our yard has made a beautiful transformation from Winter to Spring in just two short weeks.  Our trees are blooming, the tulips are coming up, and the garlic that I planted last Fall is looking great.  Here are some photos from April 19th:

That beautiful spinach patch is actually leftover from spinach that I planted in October.  It never really took off at the time (probably because I planted it too late) but as soon as the weather warmed up in April it started growing like crazy.  I harvested it today and I can’t wait to enjoy with some cucumber, feta, and toasted almonds tonight!

If you’re interested to see how this year’s growth compares to the same time last year, check out my Garden Update from April 17, 2012.  Thanks for stopping by!