Author: NikkiV

Better late than never

Since my last post, well, a lot has happened…but I don’t really feel like recapping, and instead I’d like to focus on what’s going on now. Right now, in fact. And that means ST. PATTY’S DAY O-BONES!

They’re a version of the first few batches of dog treats I’ve made that look like this:


I call them O-Bones for the obvious reason…they’re shaped like O’s…but more so because of, you guessed it…OWEN! I know, he’s a spoiled dog, but there’s no going back now, so I might as well keep on spoiling away!

So, anyways, the new and improved O-BONES have carrot and parsley (a natural breath freshener for people and pups). Yes, both ingredients are healthy for dogs but they’re also to celebrate ST. PATTY’S DAY! Owen’s name is Irish and I really got into the spirit, and bought him a new Dublin Dog collar too! 


Here’s are the green and orange O-Bones before…


Note the green and orange specs.

And with the scraps…a clover! Do I have too much time on my hands? Maybe. That’s up for discussion.


And the after…


If they’re a success with Owen, my time was well spent! Erin Go Braugh!

How about a bat dog photo for good measure?


Whatever you choose to do with your time today, get outside! Right now!



Whirlwind Summer

From road trips to weddings, beach days and college reunions, to hikes with the dogs and intense 6-week anatomy classes, this summer has been a whirlwind! I wish I could remember it all, but here are a few highlights.

5-year college reunion!

Sara and Matt get married!

Beach days!

A snapshot from Chicago of the cross-country road trip!

Hiking with the dogs!

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of my anatomy class but picture a classroom setting with a lab section dissecting cats and sheep kidneys. Not a really appetizing photo.

On that note, summer is almost over, I start school full time in two weeks, and then it will be fall before we know it! In the meantime, I’m planning to make tons of summer salads, new fruit popsicles and grill, grill, grill! Here’s the first of many quinoa salad conncoctions.

I almost forgot what makes it betta….FETA!


1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 small yellow onion

~1/2 cup chopped fresh parsely

1 can black olives

1 block feta cheese (or as much as you like!)


3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp sugar

1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

salt, to taste


Sautee onions and peppers until soft. Meanwhile, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil and add quinoa. Let simmer on medium-high until all water is absorbed. Add quinoa to peppers and onions, then add olives, parsley and feta. For the dressing, combine ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk together. Pour over quinoa salad and mix well.

I made this during tropical storm Irene, and honestly, I didn’t even notice when the wind and rain stopped because I was so busy eating this! YUM YUM YUM! And pretty damn good for you too! I like this dish warm, but I’m planning to try it cold tomorrow.

Happy Sunday!

Last Day in Adventureland

I’ve been back on the east coast for days now, but I’ve been very busy back in class and working so here is my last post about our last day in Colorado.

I flew out of Denver so James and I spend some of Saturday visiting the city. But first, our drive down to Denver was BEAUTIFUL!

Snow capped mountains in July? Yes, please!

Joe recommended we visit Washington Park and I’m soooo glad he did! What a cool place! A lake at either end, a running trail around the entire park and beer pong and lawn games throughout the middle.

I couldn’t capture the enormity and dedication to beer pong, but it was glorious. I’d like to spend more time in Denver when I visit next time 🙂

So, I’m home now (and happy to be back) and James is getting settled in Fort Collins. He’s doing so well…good work prospectives, new friends, places to hike, run, cliff dive and play ultimate frisbee.

I have to say, I’m so glad I was able to do this trip and even happier to do it with James. I loved seeing and experiencing parts of the U.S. that I had only heard about, but it also gave me an appreciation for home. I love my home and I’m so glad that place is Boston.

James and I Introduce Ourselves with Food

On our second day in Fort Collins, James took me to a trail in the foothills that he discovered yesterday. I forgot that we’re at about 5,000ft and I’m still VERY out of shape so climbing “foothills” felt more like scaling a mountain.

After our run, we began planning to cook dinner for all of his new roommates and their friends….BBQ! SO, we continued what we started the other night in Custer State Park and based the meal off grilled, marinated chicken and fresh vegetables. We added a delicious pasta salad and James’ famous onion relish, which is now coined by his roommate, Alex, as “Oni-Yum”. As in Yummy Onion.

Oh yes, and I made guac…because who doesn’t love that?

Success! Good homemade food = new friends!

AND, James has a great job opportunity! It is an upscale, fine dining restaurant and bar called Chimney Park Bistro in Windsor, CO owned by the head chef, Jason Shaeffer, who also went to Johnson and Wales and worked under one of the most respected and renowned chefs in the U.S.! What a great opportunity for James. Wish him luck!

Day 1 in Fort Collins!

After a perfect intro to Fort Collins at Coopersmith’s, James and I were wiped and hit the hay pretty early. Afterall, we had a big first day in James’ new city!

We had a few perspective roommates to visit in the afternoon, so we decided to explore Old Town in the morning.

Lots of bikes…everywhere.

The downtown reminded me a lot of West Hartford Center…quaint, little boutique shops and bakeries, brick roads…Fort Collins is just bigger in scale. Of course, James and I sought out the perfect coffee shop that makes all their baked goods, syrups and teas from scratch. The Little Bird Bakeshop is great!

The one thing we didn’t find was a fine dining restaurant. Looks like James will have to look outside the city for work. Not a bad thing though…you don’t want to spend allllll of your time in Fort Collins.

After a quick self tour, we drove about 2 miles outside of the downtown area to meet potential roommates…success! James will have a roof over his head for the next month! The house is great, for James (not for anyone other than a 20-25 year old guy), but the guys are great and all seem very welcoming. AND, they brew their own beer! The one on tap in the keg-orator right now is a stout. I liked it! The only catch is that they have another guy moving in August 1st so James will have to scoot after that. Hopefully, he’ll have his bearings by then and be all set.

As newcomers and co-beer-lovers, two of his new roommates, Alex and Colton, took us to the New Belgium Brewery. What a wonderful, earthy-crunchy, sustainable and delicious place!

My favorite was the New Belgium Somersault described by the brewer as “an ale with an opening brace of citrus aroma from Centennial hops, a soft apricot fruitiness tucked into the flavor, a fresh snap from a sliver of ginger root, finished with oats in a long cool mash. The color is blonde with a suggestion of cloudiness. Somersaults all around!” James really liked the Trippel, described as “opening with a bold blast of hops that slowly gives way to the fruity esters implied by our Belgian yeast strain. In the Belgian tradition of brewing singles, doubles and triples, Trippel is the strongest with the longest fermentation. Remarkably smooth and complex, our bottle-conditioned Trippel is spiced with a trace of coriander.”

But of course, we always think of our friends, and there was a tribute beer just for Sunshine:

Day 1 with new friends and good beer was a success! I’m feeling the burn of constant traveling, and I think James is a bit too, so I’m really glad our trip is ending so well. Just a couple more days in Colorado for me…James will be right at home by then 🙂

Buffalo Safari and a Real, Good Brewery

On our last morning in Custer State Park, James and I splurged for a Buffalo Jeep Safari. So cool!

We had a beautiful tour of the park and even saw antelope and wild burros too.

Literally as soon as we headed back to the lodge, the weather started to turn.

I can’t believe the luck we’ve had on this trip…from James’ wallet being found on the highway to dodging weather disasters by minutes…thank you!

So, after our safari, we hit the road for our last leg of the trip to Colorado!

There was a lot of that, but we finally reached Wyoming!

And since we were so close to the border, we made a quick detour into Nebraska to check it off the list.

A whole lot more grassland, farmland and endless highway…then mountains…and hello, Colorado!

We FINALLY reached Fort Collins, CO and Joe met us for our first dinner out! We searched out a local brew/pub that makes all it’s food from scratch and sources local vendors and discovered Coopersmith’s. Perfect find! We had a couple delicious freshly brewed beers, a buffalo burger for James and a spicy black bean burger for me, and relaxed in our final destination.

So good to see you, Joe! And thanks for welcoming us to Colorado in the best way!

Next on the list: find James an apartment.

Mount Rushmore and Wood Fired Grill!

Just to say we saw it, James and I went to Mount Rushmore on our second morning in Custer State Park. Driving through the park on winding, mountain roads was beautiful and then we saw it….the tourist trap.

It’s wonderful and grandiose and a total tourist trap. We were trapped.

After that, we decided to take the back roads and hike through some of the Black Hills. And what a view we found…

We hiked a little over 6 miles then headed to the store to prep for our campfire: woodfire grilled chicken and veggies and wine!


No campfire is complete without s’mores, and thankfully we prepared early and found our spears while hiking.

Last night in the tent and last night in South Dakota!