In Purrsuit of Flavors ~ November 2020

With autumn in full swing these days it’s time to start thinking about “tummy warmers”…or what I like to call, comfort food. Today we join our co-hosts, those wily Weimaraners…’da Phenny and da Nelly’ and their feline buddies, The Canadian Cats, ‘Tyebe and Master Chef Shoko,’ for this month’s recipe share.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love recipes that are adaptable, tasty and super easy to prepare. Emphasis on the easy part. I’m a big fan of Italian meals, and lasagna is a big favorite but frankly hate all the rigamarole putting it together. Enter this easy and delicious layered spinach ravioli that comes pretty darn close to the favorite dish with a minimum amount of work and cleanup.

This dish is so easy to make and, at least around the Ranch, I always have these ingredients on hand. It can be assembled in less than 10 minutes and that includes dragging out the baking dish from the cupboard. Let’s put this baby together, shall we?

I purchase my ingredients from the neighborhood Costco store but you can outsource yours wherever you shop. And the beauty of this recipe is you can  substitute or add ingredients (like meat for all you flesh eaters).

Recipe

Recipe

Ingredients

1 uncooked package spinach ravioli
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (I tend to go heavy with the Parm over the Mozz)

The best part of this meal is how quickly and easily it can be whipped up. Spread some of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Add a layer of the uncooked ravioli over the sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella and/or parm. Continue to layer the ravioli, sauce and cheese. Stand back and admire that beautiful dish and savor the wafting scent of marinara and parmesan. It’s one of my most favorite scents in the kitchen.

Recipe

 

Recipe

At this point, it’s probably a good idea to open a nice bottle of red wine as you clean up (which is minimal I might add with only one spatula used for the marinara jar). Let your wine breathe then pore yourself a glass as you pop that baby into a 400ºF (204ºC) oven. I baked mine for about 40 minutes since the ravioli was frozen, less if it’s not. You’ll know the right amount of time by that heavenly smell.

Once finished baking and the cheese is nice and all melty, set your table and  enjoy a lovely meal. Add fresh bread with a tossed salad and a glass of wine to complete. Buon appetito – enjoy your meal.

Recipe

Mangia!

Purrsuit of Flavours

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ November 2, 2020

A mere 60 days from now we will start a fresh new year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll happily kick 2020 to the curb of ancient history. Same for tomorrow. Can it come soon enough?

Enough of the doom and gloom, let’s start the week out with a bit of silliness. When I saw this cartoon I couldn’t help but chuckle and let the iconic Karen and Richard Carpenter planted an ear worm that has last a few days. Guess there are worse things (like the 87th phone call from some political group asking me if I’ve voted yet).

At any rate, here’s to a marvy week, sans any rainy days.

Monday humor

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 30, 2020

Snow
Pueblo West

Despite a nice dump of white stuff and very cold temps early this week along the Front Ranch, we’ve rebounded with more autumn like temps (60’s for the most part). This can only mean one thing-it’s Nature Friday where we join our friends and weekly co-hosts Rosy, Sunny and her two brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. Because Halloween is this weekend, Norman and Elsa want to share info about pumpkins since nature wasn’t all that generous with scenic images from around our hood (that pretty snow image above is from my mom’s patio in Pueblo West since I neglected to take a photo; as you can see, she received much more snow than we did).

Norman: Thanks, mum. Blimey, it sure was a wild week weather-wise and started out way too cold for this Sheep-Boy after that snow storm. This is the place I go to when it’s that nasty and cold.

Norman

Elsa: You do tend to like that spot, don’t you? But I thought we were supposed to bark about pumpkins?

Norman: Erm…egad, you’re spot on dear sister. I was just recalling how comfy that spot was and…

Elsa: {interrupting} Can it sheep-boy. You’re losing the plot here so let’s get to it, ‘kay?

Norman: . Right-o. So…let’s have a chin-wag about the ubiquitous pumpkin. This orange fleshy gourd (not to be confused with any political candidate) is an iconic symbol this time of year. The word pumpkin was originally from the Greek word pepon, meaning “large melon,” or something round and large. The French adapted the word to “pompon,” and while us Brits referred to it as “pumpion.” Guess you can see how American colonists came to just call it “pumpkin.”

Elsa: Oh jeez….will you stop your yammering and get on with it? Why not let peeps know that the term pumpkin itself has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, but instead it’s frequently interchangeably known as “squash” or “winter squash.” In North America and the UK, the pumpkin commonly refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo. As a warm-weather crop, the seeds are generally planted in July and are generally quite hardy. The plants produce both male and female flowers and are fertilized usually by bees.

Norman: Ahem…no need to be cheeky now, Elsa. Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been cultivated as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple for both Canadian and US feasts though pumpkins used in pie fillings are different from varieties used to carve Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween. The top pumpkin-producing state in the US is Illinois (where 95% of the US. crop intended for processing is grown) with Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California rounding out the top-five producers.

Pumpkin

Elsa: Alas, canned pumpkin is in short supply these days. And no, it’s not the new toilet paper of the panDAMNic. Seems that the planting season was rain delayed so harvesting will occur later than normal—which means it’s taking longer for this year’s canned pumpkin to make it onto store shelves. You can roast your own but mom says it’s a pain to roast and deseed.

Norman: Nutritionally speaking, pumpkins are very versatile with most parts being edible. Canned pumpkin (not the pie filling which should never be fed to pets due to the included spices) is often recommended by vets as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats with digestive ailments (i.e. constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs) because its high fiber content aids digestion. Did you know raw pumpkin is fed to poultry, as a supplement to their regular feed during the winter to help maintain egg production, which tends to drop off during cold months? Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc for peeps and are a delicious and low calorie snack.

Elsa: We’ve been noticing lots of pumpkin decorations around the neighborhood. I’m guessing this one isn’t quite the digestive aid that you’re talking about but maybe it’ll keep the neighborhood hoodlum squirrels from trying to eat this one.

Halloween

Both Ranch Hands in unison: Whatever you do, we hope you stay safe, have fun and enjoy being in Nature. We are hoping for a nice quiet evening with no door bell ringing from little goblins. With the recent spike in COVID cases here, we think it’s probably not very safe for trick-or-treating even with proper masks even if they’re covered in pumpkins.

Masks

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ October 28, 2020

Coffee

Life is full of illusions these days.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 26, 2020

It’s Monday and this is where we start out the week with a smile. Even as we’re being buried in about 9″ (so far) of snow with single digits. Yup, it’s true, winter arrived at the Ranch. Both dogs took one look outside, sniffed then turned around saying, “Nah, we can hold it for a while.”

Humor

The snowstorm has somewhat stemmed the growth of the fire (despite it consuming now more than 192,000 acres) as well as much of the containment work across Northern Colorado’s massive wildfires. Some evacuation orders have been lifted in Larimer and Grand Counties as of Sunday night. This is good news. That said, because much of the region is in rough, steep country, heavy equipment used to fight fires will not be able to make additional progress in the icy conditions. Perhaps the 700+ firefighters can get some much needed rest. We continue to keep them and the residents of the fire areas in our thoughts and prayers.

Here’s to a ‘wagnificent’ week of smiles, mask wearing, social distancing and paw washing.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 23, 2020

Pat yourself on the back-you’ve made it to another Friday. We are joining our furry friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. It’s the time of year where the Ranch hands call it “Hallowinter” as autumn and winter collide around Halloween to spoil little goblins’ annual candy begging trick-or-treating. Even when there’s snow, I see kids run like their lives depending on hitting every possible house in the neighborhood. It’s incomprehensible to me but probably because I’m no longer a kid who now has far more pressing matters to pursue. Since nature usually makes the young ones hardy and primed for adventure, it should be interesting to see how many actually go door to door in a state where the COVID rate has significantly increased. Let’s just hope people use extreme common sense and mask up (or better yet, forego the whole thing). I personally can’t fathom any kind of candy being worth the risk and I’m a chocoholic, but hey…what do I know?

Nature is still very upset with its human tenants with more fires springing to life around here with warm temps and high winds contributing to more fires popping up. Eleven fires continue to burn in Colorado, including the Cameron Peak fire near Glenwood Springs which I posted about 7 weeks ago. This week a new fire blew up in Grand County near the town of Granby. Known as the East Troublesome fire, it grew over 150,000 acres in a 24 hour period and now has consumed over 170,000 acres, making it the second largest fire in Colorado history. High winds and dry conditions allowed this fire to literally explode across the area. Even with a foot of snow predicted to fall over the weekend, firefighters say while it will help, it will not put the fire out. As of today, it is only 5% contained. The Cameron Peak fire outside of Fort Collins required officials to close Rocky Mountain National Park to visitors; with Trail Ridge Road (highest paved road in Colorado that crosses the continental divide) being the only road allowing evacuees to leave the park though it is not passable on west side because of downed trees. The air quality is hazardous.

This screenshot of some of the nearby active fires is a grim reminder that Nature is not a happy camper these days.

Wildfires

Here is a photo from Saturday of the East Troublesome fire just west of my neighborhood showing apocalyptic clouds billowing across the northwestern suburbs. High winds and dry conditions allowed it to explode out of control during the week.

Wildfires

A  bit closer to home, the trees are changing colors (and dropping their leaves after last night’s hard freeze) and our daily walks involve loads of crunching sounds along city sidewalks. Plumbago has changed into its annual bright mahogany shade and looks glorious in golden autumnal light even with a freezing mist falling this morning. It’s definitely time to pick all the tomatoes and bring them indoors to ripen up. As nearby fires continue to burn out of control, these colors remind me why autumn is my favorite time of year.

Plumbago

Whatever your weekend plans are, we hope you stay safe and cozy. Keep an eye out on Mother Nature, she’s likely to provide some beautiful (and/or scary images) this “Hallowinter.”

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

A Midweek Introduction

Hello friends, I’m a bit late to this party, I could not let an opportunity to share the news of someone who’s been a good friend of the Ranch and introduce you to his new blog despite being tardy. Let me just say this seasoned blogger knows how to serve up a tasty post.

Allow me to dish up the inaugural post from our friend, Frank, he of the former “AFrankAngle fame.” Frank thought he was done blogging but then realized he had another voice where he could showcase his “Beach Walk Reflections” posts on a new blog. His insight and thoughtful prose is definitely worth a check out, so please drop by. Frank also has some of the cleverest followers and everyone will leave you with a good feeling with thoughtful observations at a time when we need it the most. Very best wishes, Frank…may you experience continued success my friend. I know I am looking forward to this new batch of thoughtful posts, lovely images and videos and smart followers. So check it out at and see why the Ranch hands gives this new puppy their 4 out of 4 paws endorsement:  Keep up the good work, Frank! https://beachwalkreflections.wordpress.com

Pawprints

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 19, 2020

Before we get to Monday, I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks to all who were so kind with their welcome back comments on our last post and extra thanks to those of you who reached out privately over the past six weeks. It has been so incredibly touching and most appreciated. The pet blogging community is quite special and I will always be grateful to each and everyone of you for your kindness and caring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now, let’s get to Monday.  For those of you living in the US who are not quite ready to welcome another week of the campaign, I hope you find comfort in the thought there are only two more weeks until the election. Thank heavens for small miracles. I’m sure everyone will be grateful for the end of the weirdest election ever. But if that doesn’t make you smile, how about seeing therapy dogs in action from Norman’s recent inaugural visit to Lutheran. The panDAMNic has taken a real toll on healthcare workers everywhere and it certainly  disseminated our therapy ranks, but ten dogs were scheduled for this event, five for each shift, which was a nice way to start up again.

Even with reduced numbers, there was still a good variety of participating pups from tiny Bindee to buffalo-sized Norman. Whatever your jam, the Lutheran pet therapy dogs have you well covered.

Therapy Dogs
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprinkle ~ Bindee and Norman

Norman was especially taken with little Bindee, wiggling his butt non-stop whenever he was around her but always remaining a well behaved, gentle giant. I wasn’t 100% completely sure how’d this mass get-together would fly  but Norman showed why he should do quite well when it comes to pet therapy work. There were loads of “hi there, how you doing, nice to meet you” kind of sniffs with tails wags and wiggles by all the dogs. It was particularly nice to also see the handlers after many months being away.

While I personally wish there had been more doctors and nurses from the Emergency Department (they had been lobbying for dog visits for some time and could definitely use the pet therapy visits as the hospital is once again full with patients as the city’s COVID numbers have spiked lately), we did get a few drop in’s from folks I’d previously seen around the hospital with probably half a dozen EMTS and police officers.

Police
Photo courtesy of  Janet Gradwell Lewis  ~ Bismark and Logan
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Janet Gradwell Lewis ~ L to R: Bindee, Kai, Bismark, Logan, & Rylie
Pet therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie

Everyone seemed very pleased to visit with all the dogs on a perfect autumn day with mild temps and the dogs were glad to be back to work. We’re all hopeful that we can do this again soon.

Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle  ~ our most experienced pet therapists, Beau & Roxie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle ~ Zoe and Rylie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie (Kai and Bindee in background)
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle ~ Axel

Rylie also made her maiden voyage with Norman. She’s going to be a great addition of the group. At the end of the day, the Good Dogs of Lutheran’s pet therapy program made the event a resounding success and everyone is already jonesing for the next time when these special dogs are able to make people smile and breath just a bit easier in these weird times.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re Back…sort of

Hi there, remember us? You know, that merry band of misfits consisting of two dogs and an upright who thinks she runs things but let’s face it, we all know Norman and Elsa are the real brains around the Ranch. Sorry we’ve been AWOL. A series of life events tripped us up pretty hard and took the wind out of my sails with little to no bandwidth remaining in the tank to do any kind of job at blogging. I began to sink in mental mud rather than focus on much of anything else.

Flowers

Although we were served a large crap sandwich, I realized when I ran into a nearby neighbor couple this morning that life can easily serve a bountiful meal as well. They were loading their newborn baby boy into the car (egad, I hadn’t even been aware they were expecting)!  What a beautiful and reaffirming sight to see their new son peeking out over dad’s shoulder gazing at the world while the two fur beasts and I observed this blessing from a more than social distance. The realization that a new life joined the rest of us in 2020 had an impact on my psyche and that made me realize I absolutely needed to begin to post.

In the ‘more good news’ category, the hospital recently contacted the pet therapy teams to see if we were interested in participating in some form of hybrid form of pet therapy visits. While visiting patients and staff in the hospital would not be possible (and probably won’t for the foreseeable future given the recent uptick in cases in the Mile High City), they worked on creating a new way to bring smiles at least to the staff of the Emergency Department. Norman is scheduled to visit their parking lot venue for greeting doctors and nurses (today is our first day and we’re wiggling with excitement and will report back on just how it goes so wish us luck). Norman is all spiffed up having survived the water torture and is now ready to make his first appearance spreading a little joy later this morning.

Pet Therapy

Please know we’ve missed you all and hope to pick up where we left off with new adventures to share. I’ve continued to visit your blogs and left a few microscopic comments but you’ve all been in my heart. It appears the summer has been good to the fair majority of you and we hope autumn continues in that vein. Until the next time where we update you on how Norman’s inaugural entry into the world of pet therapy goes, remember…

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Labor Day Monday ~ 2020

Holiday Labor DayIt’s Labor Day today in the US and its territories where we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of workers. Every first Monday in September we honor the labor and union movements (if you work 40 hours or less a week, you can thank unions) as well as the role all workers made to the strength and well-being of the nation. Many of us will have today off (Labor Day is a national holiday) and this day often signals the new school year along with the start of football season. Although with the current age of the COVID panDAMNic, nothing is the way we were used to on past Labor Days when swimming pools, amusement parks generally close at Labor Day, summer concerts and festivals wrap up the season. Labor Day is usually considered the unofficial last weekend of summer with BBQ get-togethers often being a frequent pastime as well as any number of retail sales events. All that has been turned upside down if you’ve been following common sense, local mandates about personal distancing and mask wearing in public.

Ungodly heat has marked these past days of summer (we send particular sympathies to our friends in California after the weekend of hellish temps), and because it’s 2020, nothing is normal this Labor Day (including tomorrow’s forecast of snow with temperatures in the 30’s after again being in the 90’s today.

If you’ve ever wondered how Labor Day came about, a look at history indicates that as the trade and labor movements began to grow, calls for a day commemorating workers’ contributions were proposed. Colorado has long been progressive on social issues and was one of the first five states to enact legislation recognizing Labor Day, with Oregon being first to officially make it a public holiday in 1887. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. Our Canadian neighbors to the north also celebrate “Labour Day” on the first Monday in September.

But as is often the case with social change, it wasn’t all roses and candy. Following deaths of workers during the Pullman Strike of 1894, Congress unanimously approved legislation making Labor Day a national holiday and Grover Cleveland signed it into law by shortly after the end of the strike.

So on this Labor Day, we hope you celebrate (safely of course) with pride for all your work accomplishments, just like we will.

Sleeping dogs

Live, love, bark! 🐾