Saturday, July 31, 2010

Better

Moose better1


The lump is finally gone from my throat.

My stomach has settled.

I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Moose is better.

Not completely back to his old self, but so, so much better.

After a month of seeing this little guy laying in pain, panting, physically exhausted, he is finally getting back to himself.

He's back out in the fresh air sniffing in the grass again.

Moose better

He's eating.

He wants treats.

His tail wags.

My heart is happy again.

Thank you all again for your well wishes.

They meant the world to me and Moose too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

At this time of year everyone seems to have zucchini coming out of their ears. My crisper drawers are full to the top with the suckers. I love to eat them sautéed in olive oil with some onions and garlic, but let’s face it; you can only eat so much of them that way.

I’m a little zucchini OD’d.

I’ve made my Chocolate Zucchini bread a few times already, once making it into loaves and once making it into big muffins.

I needed a little change.

So I wandered around the world wide web. Googled zucchini recipes.

Pondered over a few and then….I saw it…..

Cake

That’s what I haven’t done with zucchini before.

Make cake.

So I did and what a cake it was. This was just as good as any decadent chocolate cake that I have made in the past. It's birthday party worthy.

What I love about zucchini in any baked good is that it gives it such great moisture.

This recipe was so delicious and moist that you would never, ever think there was 2 cups of zucchini in it.

You can peel the zucchini before shredding it, but I never do. I love the green specks.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake 1

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Bon Appetit, November 1995

2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup applesauce instead)
2 large eggs
1 teasoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 ½ medium)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional, I left them out)

Oven to 325.

Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a bundt pan. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt into a medium bowl. Beat the sugar, butter and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Mix in the dry ingredient alternating with the buttermilk in 3 additions. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

A better day

bouquet1


Moose rested pretty well today. He ate well too.

This makes my heart happy.

He laid under the gazebo on a comfy cushion.

Even though he can't tell me, I know he was saying "thanks for bringing me out to lay in the sunshine Mama". I just know that's what he was thinking.

Once again I whispered "a few more days and you'll be feeling better sweet boy".

I picked some veggies.

I went barefoot in the grass.

Evan and wandered around the yard and picked some flowers to cheer ourselves up.

We put them in a little mason jar and nestled some ferns in among the flowers.

bouquet

I feel a little more like myself with each passing day.

Soon my sweet boy will too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Moose Update

Since so many of you have asked, here's a quick update on Moose's condition.

The roller coaster ride continues.

Went went back for a check-up on Saturday.

We thought Moose was showing signs of improvement, but clinically, he really hadn't gotten any better. Our vet was concerned enough that she kept him for a few hours to repeat his echocardiogram.

John and I wandered around the town. There was a beautiful little farm stand that normally I would have enjoyed, but all that was on my mind was Moose.

When we got back we met with the vet again.

My heart is always in my throat when I'm in that little sterile room.

The new diagnosis is Immune Mediated Polyarthropathy.

I really can't go into all the details or I will be a puddle on the floor before I finish typing, but I will tell you this....we have to take Moose off one of his pain meds until Wednesday night and the Vet said, he will become much more painful without this med.

We have to stop the med to flush out his system so he can start steroids which will help him improve very quickly.

5 days of pain.

Today is day 2 since we this med was a PM med and he hadn't gotten it yesterday. He is already showing signs of discomfort. He's panting, he's breathing heavy, he's so, so lethargic he can barely move.

I was up every hour on the hour listening to the sound of his breath, telling him I was right here. I feel like he's looking at me saying "why are you putting me through this?".

It's like watching a little baby suffer. I wish I could take away his pain and just let him sleep peacefully for the next 4 days.

I don't think I need to tell you all how much this is killing me. Seeing him like this is breaking my heart into pieces.

I'm watching him hurt and there is nothing I can do. It's horrible.

We are trying to just take it day by day. One day closer until we can start steroids and make Moose feel better.

We go back to Tufts on Monday, August 2nd for a repeat echocardiogram.

We are hoping that Moose is feeling much, much better by this coming Friday when the steroids kick in.

This has really been a trying few weeks for us all. We just want Moose back to his happy ole self.

Thank you all again for your comments and emails. Your lovely words mean the world to me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sugar Snap Peas

The garden is providing us with lots of veggies.

I've got a few zucchini recipes coming up.

Man, do we have zucchinis (and cukes)!

This was the first year I planted sugar snap peas, so I was most excited about harvesting them.

Not only are they delicious, I think they look pretty cute too.


Sugr snap pea CU

Sugr snap pea bunch

Sugr snap pea bunch1

Sugr snap pea CU1

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Home

Moose boo boo


What a week. It's been a whirlwind.

I can't tell you when I have been so emotionally drained, scared, upset and just a plain ole wreck....not to mention broke.

I think I have cried more in the last week than I have in a year.

I was physically making myself sick over Moose's illness. Couldn't sleep, was throwing up everything I ate, constant worry. It really was taking a toll on me.

I know some people would say, "oh it's just a dog", but he's not. He's part of our family and when one of us is hurting, we are all hurting.

After 6 days in the ICU at Tufts, Moose is finally home.

Moose meds

The road ahead is going to be rough. He is on 7 different meds. He's nauseous. He's tired. His voice is crackly and hoarse from anesthesia. He's not broken, he's badly bent.....but he's home.

Home in his comfy bed with his toy baby bunny.

Home where he can get lots and lots of belly rubs and ear stratchin'

Home where we will all help him recuperate and get back to being the Moose we all love.

He was finally diagnosed with Bacterial Endocarditis, which means he has a bacterial infection in one of his heart valves, which traveled through his bloodstream, effecting his joints, making it hard for him to walk, along with a host of other side effects. Before we can treat him with a steroid (which will make him feel better very quickly) we have to clear up this infection and that could take 2 weeks.

It's going to be long road, but we'll just take it day by day and work on making him better.

Thank goodness for the wonderful vets at Tufts who diagnosed him and took such good care of him. I can't say enough good things about Tufts except that I wish is was much closer to home, but they were absolutely wonderful. Treated Moose so well and with such care, that it made it a tiny bit easier leaving him, knowing he was in such good care.

Moose Tufts

He goes back on Saturday for a check up and another blood sample.

Please keep him in your thoughts.

I have no doubt in my mind that all the positive energy and prayers that are being sent are helping him.

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

It means so much to me. So very much.

The last line on the information for home care said "Moose is a very sweet dog and was a wonderful patient to work with".

A very sweet dog indeed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Sweet Boy

Last Days of Summer - Moose hanging out

My sweet Moose is in the ICU at Tufts Animal Hospital in North Grafton, MA.

We made an emergency visit this afternoon.

There is an infection raging in his body and my poor little guy isn't doing well at all.

To say I am a total wreck is an understatment.

He hasn't slept more than 2 feet away from me since they day he came home. I'm missing him already.

I can't remember when I have cried this much.

I'll probably be scarse for a bit while we travel back and forth to see him.

Please keep my little guy in your thoughts and prayers. Ask whoever hears your prayers at night to please help heal him.

I can't imagine my life without him in it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beach 2010

We took a drive down to the beach when the heat wave let up just a little so that Mom & Dad could see the water before they left for back home.

The cool ocean breeze was a welcome relief.

Evan and his friend Brandon did some seashell hunting and very close inspections.


Evan seashell

Brandon seashell

They also had a great time trying to splash a bunch of seagulls off the rocks.

Gull Splash

Gull Splash 1

Gull Splash 2

Gull Splash 3

Success!

Gull Splash 4

One of the little fellas even flew back over to the beach while the guys were building a sandcastle.
Gull Splash 5

It was just sea and sun and smiles for a few hours.

Evan beach

Evan beach 1

Evan beach 2

Evan beach 3

Evan beach 4


We love the beach.

Evan beach 5

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Dark Choc Espresso Cookies

I'm back.

Vacation was wonderful but would have been even more wonderful if my poor in-laws didn't have to suffer through this miserable heat wave we had while they were here. In fact, it's still here and shows no signs of letting up soon. The humidity is killin' us.

A few other things happened over the course of the week too. Let's see there was the unplanned dentist visit for a toothache I had for 3 day over the 4th holiday. Emergency root canal - Yipee!!! Leave it to me to wait till I'm on vacation to need a dentist. I have to say, I always conveniently wait till I have personal time off before I get sick. Oh I remember Christmas of '08 that was spent in the emergency room well. It's just a little quirk of mine to get ill when I'm on vacation.

I wasn't the only one not feeling well, our dog Moose was extremely lethargic. We thought his back was acting up again. Fast forward 2 days later (today) and he's in such bad shape that we call the Vet where John works to have him refer us to a family vet to help my poor baby. Luckily we got right in. I really liked the new vet. He even kissed Moose on the forehead (a nice sign in my book). Turns out Moose has an infection somewhere in his body, hence the laying around and feeling crappy mode. He got a shot in the butt, some meds to take home and lots of blood work and tests to figure out where the infection is coming from. Hopefully we will know by tomorrow or Monday the latest. Right now he's conked out on the floor. I'm hoping the meds are kicking in so he can have a restful night.

So anyway....my pockets are empty after the dentist and vet visit, but I'm hey, it's only money right? Right. I keep telling myself that.

Ok on to the cookies. I actually made these before the great heat wave of 2010 hit. I'm sorry but I have only turned on the oven when absolutely necessary this past week. Cold suppers....you bet.

Ok, ok cookies....

Let’s pretend there’s this brownie and he meets up with this delectable chocolate cookie and they merge together just before someone throws some chocolate chips and espresso into the mix.

Some nice lady pops them into the oven and lets them bake just until the chips start to melt and the center is still moist and gooey.

What's born out of this collective merger is one scrumptious cookie bursting with espresso flavor and chocolate. These “cookies” are really a cross between a brownie and a cookie. The best of both worlds.

I made this batch for a small dinner party at my house and by nightfall there were only 2 lonely cookies left on the plate.

Be sure not to over bake these. You want them almost gooey in the middle.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
3 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 box Dark Chocolate Premium Brownie Mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge, 19.8oz)
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups dark chocolate pieces, semi-sweet chocolate pieces and/or white chocolate pieces (combined into the 1-½ cups. In other words, whatever you are using, make sure it 1 ½ of it).

Oven to 350.

Lightly grease a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a small bowl combine the water and espresso powder, stirring until it’s dissolved. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the brownie mix, egg, oil, cinnamon and the espresso mixture. Beat with the electric mixer on low speed until combined, scraping sides.

Stir in the chocolate pieces by hand, using a spatula or wooden spoon. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet.

I baked mine for 10 minutes exactly or until edges are just set. (Center may appear doughy). DO NOT OVER BAKE! Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes.

Dark Choc Espresso Cookies CU1

Friday, July 2, 2010

Crunchy Asian Pasta Salad

Asian Pasta Salad 1

I'm all giddy and excited.

My in-laws are coming for a vacation.

They are coming in tomorrow on John's birthday, so they'll be here to celebrate with us on the 4th.

We do the 4th of July up pretty good here. I just love this holiday. I love the American flag and nothing makes me happier then seeing red, white and blue everywhere I look.

It's all about the firecrackers (which are finally legal here in RI), and sunny skies, dips in the pool, flip-flops, cold watermelon, deliciousness cooking on the grill, and precious time spent with family and friends.

No presents, no obligations to buy the perfect gift, just a time together, relaxing and chillin'.

Here's a really terrific salad that would be great to take to a 4th of July celebration.

I don't really think this salad is "Asian" at all. I mean just cause you throw Oriental Ramen in it, does not make is Asian, but it is good. I substituted the broccoli slaw for the coleslaw mix that was in the original recipe. I also added in pumpkin seeds that I got in the bulk section at Whole Foods.

This is very similar to the famous "man salad" or "ramen salad" that everyone I know makes. I love the addition of the mandarin oranges and pea pods. Yum!

Crunchy Asian Pasta Salad
adapted from a recipe at Betty Crocker.com

1 box Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad classic pasta mix
1 pkg (3oz) Oriental flavored Ramen Soup Mix
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bag broccoli slaw
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal into ½ inch pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cans (15oz) mandarin oranges, drained

Empty the pasta mix into a pot of boiling water. Gently boil for 10 – 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake to drain again.

In a large bowl stir together the seasoning mixes from the pasta and the soup mix, sugar, oil, vinegar, water and soy sauce. Add the pasta and the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine.

Just before serving, coarsely crush the dry noodles from the soup mix and stir into the pasta mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Asian Pasta Salad

I won't be in front of the computer much during the next week or so. I'll be scare for a bit while I prep for the 4th and then enjoy time with my in-laws

So will you all do me a favor this weekend? Pretty please.

Kick your feet up. Empty your mind from worries. Relax and enjoy. Connect with the people you love. Laugh...hard.

Remember these are the moment that make up your life. Cherish them.

Enjoy your 4th of July celebrations!


Our yard 2009-9