A stay of execution

by Marianne on 07/14/2014

in Dogs, Home

Soloman up close

Photo: BARC Houston

This is Soloman.  He got to live today.

Today was tough for me.  I’ve been crying on and off since early afternoon.  Maybe my heart is too tender for this, or maybe I just haven’t developed the callus necessary to not be reduced to tears every time I hear about a beautiful dog that has to be put down for some stupid reason.  I really don’t think I want that callus.  But, I guess I’m a little grateful that I don’t have to see it all the time, even though I know it’s happening all the time.  So, maybe there’s that callus, after all.

Soloman A1241434

Photo: BARC Houston

I saw Soloman in an email plea that went out today to the rescue group (Red Collar Rescue) that I volunteer/foster with.  He, and a group of others were scheduled to be put to sleep today, due to overcrowding in the city shelter.  It’s an ugly thing, but there are simply way more dogs getting dumped and abandoned than there is room for.  I’m pretty new to this rescue world, but already I’m fostering 2 dogs, which means four dogs in my home.  I’m also happy to be able to volunteer some of my time to helping some great pets-to-be find their happy forever homes. But, like most of the awesome dog-loving people I’ve met along the way, my house is full!  Maximum dog limit reached!

So, when I saw Soloman, my heart just broke.  I’ve got a huge soft spot for Black Labs.  I literally had to go take a cry break on the couch.  Finally, at the Nth hour, I decided I could sponsor him, which means I pledged to pay his expenses (mainly boarding costs) and Red Collar would pull him. (Red Collar was also at max limit this day, so without a sponsor they would not be able to pull him.)  And of course, I will work double-time helping to find this boy a great home!  There was a scary time when I wasn’t sure if he was already gone or not, but eventually found out he was still alive. Yay!  I also found out there were others that had been hard at work sending out more pleas to save this boy, and I think doing whatever they could to try and keep him at the end of the list.

It’s bittersweet though, because there was another dog on the list — another gorgeous black lab — that also tugged at my heartstrings.  I found out this evening he’s gone.  He was 3 and he looked so friendly and his family turned him in because they were moving. His name was Cole.  I’m screaming inside. And crying still.

ColeRest in peace, little guy.


Photo: BARC Houston

But Soloman is alive, and ready for his freedom ride out of there.  He’ll have to go to boarding for now, but hopefully he will find a forever or foster home very soon.  He’s so beautiful.  I can’t wait to go meet him, and give him a great big hug. Look for more pictures soon!

And so, at the end of the day, I did what I could, and I will go to sleep crying for Cole, but happy for Soloman.   And I will cuddle up with my 4 “girls”, and be grateful for the sweet way they sometimes lay their heads on me, even though they are total pillow hogs, and my legs eventually go numb from not being able to move them.

7/15/2014: UPDATE: Found out this morning a rescue group out of Colorado will be able to take Soloman.  RPM (Rescued Pets Movement) will be transporting him. I know he’ll love it there. I’m happy for him, and so glad he gets a chance for his happy life.

If this story has made you mad, or sad, or left you shaking your head then I invite you to DO SOMETHING!  Donate, Foster, Adopt, Volunteer, Sponsor.  Even just sharing the photos of those looking for homes can give them a better shot at finding homes.

Be sure to check out RedCollar.org, and like them on Facebook to see all of their awesome adoptables.    And please consider fostering!


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Cauliflower Soup

by Marianne on 06/29/2014

in Eat, Home

Cauliflower Soup

Oh, Cauliflower.  You get such a bum rap.  Raw, you taste a little like halitosis, and roasted you make my entire house smell like the aftermath of a bean-eating contest. But, I love you anyway.  Blended up in a dreamy soup, you are downright lovely.

Cauliflower Soup

The ingredients are simple, as the cauliflower is the star.  Don’t get all heavy-handed with seasonings.  A drizzle of olive oil and fresh cilantro sauce give it a perfect touch of brightness.

Make it.  You owe it cauliflower.

Cauliflower Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6

  • 1 head Cauliflower (large)
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 7 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 tsp Salt
Cilantro Sauce
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves (about a cup)
  • ⅓ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Serrano Pepper
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 TBLS Cider Vinegar
  • Pinch Black Pepper

  1. In a stock-pot, heat up Olive Oil, and add the onion (diced) and chopped garlic. Sweat onions and the garlic over medium for about 8 minutes until soft and tender.
  2. Add the cauliflower that has been broken into florets, and the water and chicken broth.
  3. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  4. Blend (in batches) until smooth.
Cilantro Sauce
  1. Add the cilantro, serrano pepper, salt/pepper, Olive Oil and Vinegar into a food processor, and run for about 30 seconds to create a pesto-like sauce.




Mango, Shrimp, and Avocado Salad

by Marianne on 06/22/2014

in Eat, Home

Mango Shrimp Avocado Salad

I don’t know why I love this so much, except that it’s Yummy, on top of Yummy, with some more Yummy stirred in.  And that’s a whole lot of Yummy.

You might remember that I was trying to do this crazy Whole30 thing, where I don’t eat anything involving cheese, sugar, wheat, peanuts, alcohol or fun for a whole month.  Well, I’ve done better than I thought I would do, but I did give myself a pass on weekend wine after 2 weeks.  So, I guess it’s more like the Almost30… or the HalfAss30.  Whatever.   I can’t say that I have lost any weight, or that I’ve developed super powers… basically I’m just hungry all the time.  So, maybe it’s not really the thing for me, but I am still trying to follow to food part.  I don’t know why.  Although I would swear my gray hairs are disappearing?  Nice little perk.

So anyway, this  recipe (minus the chips, which I didn’t actually eat) fills the bill.   I made some of my favorite Strawberry Poppy-seed dressing (minus the Truvia) and added mango, shrimp, purple onion, and avocado.  Soooo good!  It tastes like summer.

I’m adding this to my go-to repertoire.   Yummy.

Mango Shrimp Avocado Salad



Mango, Shrimp & Avocado Salad
Recipe type: Appetizer

  • 1 lb. Shrimp
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ TBLS Olive Oil
  • ⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Mangoes (ripe)
  • 2 Avocados (Large, semi-ripe)
  • ½ Purple Onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • ⅓ Cup Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing (http://www.heartbellyandsoul.me/strawberry-poppy-seed-dressing/)

  1. Heat oven to Broil.
  2. On baking pan, toss cleaned shrimp with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Broil for 4 minutes.
  3. Make Strawberry Poppy seed dressing.
  4. Cut Mango and Avocado into cubes, and add to medium sized bowl.
  5. Slice onion thinly, and add to bowl, along with juice of ½ lime.
  6. Chop shrimp into pieces. Add to bowl along with ⅓ cup Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing. Fold gently. Taste for salt/pepper.
  7. Chill for 1 hour or more.




The Whole30 and stuff

by Marianne on 06/05/2014

in Eat, Home, Move

So my friend Jenn and I are doing this thing called The Whole30, where for 30 days, we eliminate grains, alcohol, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar and sugar substitutes, and various chemicals from our diets.  Sounds crazy, right?  Now, I know that eliminating entire food groups doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, but the basic premise of this thing is to stop eating foods that are either just not good for you, have been known (or suspected?) to cause inflammation in the body, or just don’t really do much for you nutritionally.  Then after the month is up, add them back slowly to see how your body deals with them.

As much as I hate people telling me what to do, I hate people telling me I CAN’T do something even more.  So this sounded more like a dare than an order.  Game on!

To be honest here,  a big reason for trying this is that I’ve let some pretty bad habits take root, and so this is a sort of self-imposed intervention.  As much as I’ll miss cheese,  ice cream, and dark chocolate Dove bars, it’s the daily (or sometime twice daily) Diet Rock-Stars, and the nightly (bottle of) wine that are the toughest to part with, but really must go.  I’ve never been good at moderation, this much I know about myself.

Other reasons for subjecting myself to this month of eating healthy foods is to locate my waist again, and to hopefully get my running mojo back.  Both have gone missing.  They were last seen together.

Me and Jenn BolderBoulder

After the first few days, it’s getting easier.  But days 3, 4 and 5 were a bitch:  brain-fog, low stamina, and on Saturday (day 5) I became Bitchy McCranky-Pants!  By Sunday,  I was feeling better, and this week I’m feeling pretty good.  I still have some moments where my wine demon is screaming at me, but so far I’ve resisted.  My brain is making some new connections, and it’s fighting me, but I know that’s just part of creating new habits.  I made it through my first weekend sans alcohol, and I’m 9 days in so far, which is the longest I’ve gone without a drink in a long time.  That alone is huge!  (Wait a second… hear that?  I think it’s my liver smiling!)

This was me on Saturday.... all day!

Anyway,  fair warning… my recipes may seem to get odd over the next few weeks (uh…I think you forgot the cheese?), but I promise to share only the truly delicious ones!

My new best friend.  Wait, you'll see!

These are some things that are saving me:

  • My friend (Jenn) – knowing she is going through this with me, and will mock me mercilessly if I quit first
  • Almond Butter (no sugar -  find the kind that is made fresh in-store if you can)
  • Strawberries/Blueberries
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Leftovers – always have something good on hand for those Must Eat Right Now times.
  • Sparking Water – from a can.
  • Tazo Tea – Passion flavor
  • Distraction – get out of the house, finish some neglected project or start a new one, window shop
  • Franks Hot Sauce (the original)

I’ve come up with a few new favorites recipes, and will be sharing those soon.

Stay tuned, and wish me luck on the waist thing!

Making some Iced Tea. Love this stuff!

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Zucchini Ginger Soup

by Marianne on 06/02/2014

in Eat, Home


Summer weather has arrived (with a big thunderous splash) around here, so I’m happy to welcome chilled soups back into the mix.  This little recipe was found in a cookbook (Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season) by Patricia Wells that I picked up a while back. The book has a gazillion more amazing sounding recipes that I’ve tagged to try.   Anyway, she called this one Zuchhini and Fresh Ginger Velouté because of the smooth, dreamy-creamy texture, though that was a little word play on her part.   (I had to google it…a velouté is a rich, creamy sauce made with stock, cream, butter,  flour, such as bechamel, or hollandaise.)  Spoiler alert… there is actually no cream in this (or butter, or flour for that matter)!

I used my Homemade Chicken Broth, which made it extra delicious.  I don’t know if I’d recommend using store-bought broth/stock because they really don’t have the same flavor as homemade.  If you’ve got that on hand, the rest is a piece of cake, and only takes about 20 minutes, plus chilling time.


I enjoyed having a big batch of this in the fridge, and having it at the ready for quick snack.  It would also make a great starter for a summer meal.


Go ahead and give it a go.  And have a great Summer!

Oh yeah, remind me to tell you the story of the Giant Zucchini someday. Winking smile

Zucchini Ginger Soup
Recipe type: Soup, Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 


  • 3 TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 Green Onions, white parts
  • 1 TBLS grated fresh Ginger
  • 3-4 large Zucchini, scrubbed clean (not peeled)
  • 1½ quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
  • Salt to taste

  1. Thinly slice the white parts only of the green onions. Add to a medium stock pot along with the olive oil, lightly salt, and sweat over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook another minute.
  2. Chop the zucchini into roughly 1-2 inch slices, and add to pot.
  3. Add the chicken stock, and simmer (covered) over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and blend in batches until smooth.
  5. Salt to taste. Chill for several hours before serving.





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