The peach pit

We were packed and ready for a camping weekend when a curve ball was thrown at us. The plan was Mike would pick me up at 4pm and we’d leave town. Mike called a little before 4pm saying I needed to take a Lyft and meet him at the vet ASAP.

That morning Wiley was throwing up for a few hours and by the afternoon it had not slowed down. While at the vet he was given an injection to help stop the vomiting. We had blood work done plus a urine test to determine what may be the cause. All I could think was thank goodness we weren’t four hours away trying to figure this out.

That evening was a rough night with Wiley pacing and whining to go out. Early morning came and that’s when the diarrhea and dry heaves started. We waited for the vet to open and called to see if the blood work could provide any answers. The good news, all levels tested great from the blood work and the urine test showed he was dehydrated which was not a surprise since he was throwing up for 15 hours. So what next… The vet advised us to admit Wiley to the pet hospital and get him on an IV for fluids. Since it’s Saturday, our regular vet was unable to accommodate Wiley because they are closed on Sundays. Our vet recommended a hospital in NE, DoveLewis, where we could get Wiley on an IV, an ultrasound and x-rays to see what is going on internally.

Once we arrived we had to fill out paperwork answering if we’d authorize CPR or open body CPR if needed. Those questions made this all feel so much more serious and the tears flowed like streams down my cheeks. We haven’t ever had to leave Wiley overnight at a hospital before. While we were going through intake Wiley started again with projectile vomiting in the exam room. We reviewed costs and then we had to coach him through the ICU door which broke my heart seeing him walk away slowly.

When we waited. The ultrasound revealed a foreign object was lodged in his small intestines. We arrived at the hospital at 10am and by 3pm Wiley was being prepped for emergency surgery to remove the foreign material. We were told the best situation is the surgeon goes in cuts the small intestine to remove the object and stitches him up. The other situation could be that the intestines were damaged by the object and they may need to remove a section of the intestines which would require a much longer recovery. We are also looking at a longer recovery because of Wiley’s age, 11.5 years.

The hospital, DoveLewis, was excellent at providing updates and helping us through the process. It is stressful having money conversations and providing approve to move forward. I won’t lie, Wiley’s estimate of $4,000 – $8,000 did make me feel sick to my stomach.

The surgeon called to report Wiley did great in surgery and our mysterious foreign material was identified as a peach pit.

The house felt so strange without hearing Wiley clicks walking on the wood floors. I think this is the first time we’ve been home and not had Wiley with us in over 10 years. Sunday afternoon we were told we could stop by for a visitation. The techs were struggling to get Wiley to eat. He had no interest at all in anything, not even his favorite, peanut butter. While Wiley was under for surgery he was given a feeding tube through the nose that could provide nutrients until he’d eat on his own.


This was the hardest part. Waiting and praying Wiley would eat. He needed to pass food through the intestines to help the healing process. I packed his favorites to try to entice him to eat. Peanut butter, carrots, kibbles and bacon.

It was painful to see Wiley so drugged he could barely keep his eyes open and stare at nothing. Even more tear jerking was to see him turn his head from the food. After about an hour of trying all my treats we were able to get him to eat a small piece of the bacon fat.

The hospital techs would call every morning after rounds to provide an update on Wiley. Unfortunately that tasty bacon fat made him uncomfortable during the night. The techs suggested for our eventing visit to bring boiled chicken, rice and sweet potatoes since he still won’t eaten.

That evening, before we even had a bowl, Wiley snagged some rice from Mike’s hand immediately. Our boy finally had his appetite. We had to stop feeding him since he hasn’t had food in 3 days we didn’t want to put the stress on his stomach by giving him too much food.


Fingers crossed, we hoped this would be Wiley’s last overnight. Tuesday morning I received that sweet call informing us Wiley is ready for discharge that afternoon. I was giddy as we drove to the hospital. The tech went through instructions of Wiley’s 9 mediations. The best part, the tech kept that very expensive peach pit for us to see. Even with it sealed in the ziplock bag you could seem the horrible stick it was emitting. We were offered to keep it but that just seemed silly. A quick photo would to just fine.

The next few days were rough since having to give Wiley his medications every 2 hours day and night. He had pain meds, a few antibiotics, anti nausea, anti vomiting and lastly a slurry to coat the ulcerated regions of the esophagus, stomach and intestines. This one was the worse one.


It’s been a week since all this happened. The lack of sleep is challenging but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to have Wiley longer with us. We have one more week till the 15 staples can be removed. Wiley amazes me with his will to live and what he has overcome. To add to his list, he’s survived stage 2 cancer two years ago which left him 30 staple scar. Wiley’s a tough guy and no doubt will be back to normal and ready to camp in no time!





Dutch Oven No Knead Bread

Rainy weekends make baking homemade bread a delightful treat! One of my favorites is grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh baked bread and served with hot tomato soup. We usually jazz up our grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and avocado.


Bacon, avocado, grilled cheese sammie with tomato soup


3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water room temperature


1. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl. Using a wooden spoon add water to the bowl and mix until it’s a sticky ball.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add cast iron pot to the oven while it’s preheating.
4. Remove the cast iron from the oven and set lid aside. So the bread doesn’t stick to the pot, sprinkle flour or cornmeal to the bottom. I prefer to use cornmeal.
5. Flour your hands really well, pick up the dough and shape roughly into a ball. Place the dough into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place into oven.
6. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
7. Remove lid and back for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Remove the bread from the pot. Let cool before slicing to serve.


No Knead Bread

Marinated Chèvre Topping

This is tasty holiday crowd pleaser for those crazy lactose intolerant relatives, yes this is me. It’s one of my favorite creations by my dearest sister-in-law, Jocelyn Woods.


Serving size: 4


1/4 c green onion
1/2 c golden raisins
1/3 c diced dates
3/4 c cranberries
1/3 c sliced figs
1/2 c sliced apricots


1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
1 small clove garlic
1 T fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c canola/vegetable oil
salt and pepper


1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well.
2. Serve over goat cheese rounds. Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Contributor: Jocelyn Woods

Stollen bread

Weihnachtsstollen is a traditional German fruit bread that has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The Wisconsin Electric Power Company would publish an annual holiday cookbook. This recipe was from their 1966 edition.


Stollen dates back to the 14th century when Germans baked loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals for holiday celebrations. It can be enjoyed at anytime of day!


Serving Size: 3 stollen loaves


  • 2 packages active dry yeast or 1 oz. compressed yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup seedless dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup diced dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • About 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter


Soften active dry yeast in warm water or compressed yeast in lukewarm water. Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt and butter; cool to lukewarm.

Stir in 2 cups flour, yeast, eggs and cardamom; mix in fruit and enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead on floured surface; place in greased bowl; grease top of dough; cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down; cover; let rest 10 minutes.


Divide into three equal parts. Shape each piece into an 8 x 10 inch oval; fold lengthwise and place in greased shallow pans.


Let rise until doubled and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Frost and decorate if desired.


Contributor: Elaine Woods

Cucumber and Feta Salad

This recipe is from a dear friend, Brad Thomas. It is a great appetizer for any occasion. It’s so good even the kids will beg more. Typically for a smaller gathering we’ll half the recipe below.


Serving Size: 8 – 10


  • 1 large seedless, English cucumber
  • 2-3 T, fresh minced dill fronds
  • 6-8 green onions, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • Pink peppercorns, for color
  • Olive oil
  • ¾ pound of Greek Feta
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


Cut the cucumber into long strips and dice into ¼” pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the dill, green onions and garlic. Toss with olive oil until saturated. Add the juice from 1 lemon and about 1 tsp. of lemon zest. Add the peppercorns. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the feta and arrange in a layer on a platter. Pour the cucumber mix over the top of the feta.


Serve with sliced baguette or toasted pita triangles.

I’m on a boat

Every year we go on a long weekend vacation with Mike’s family and this past summer was particularly special since it was Mike’s parents 50th wedding anniversary. I had a mission to find the family a memorable experience. My searches guided me to a 70′ Monte Fino Yacht named OASIS in Seattle, WA.


This was my first trip to Seattle and having spent our evenings from a boat was the best way to experience the beautiful city. From OASIS’s top deck we had a great view of the Space Needle and off the back we were able to watch the seaplanes take off and land every few minutes.


The boat had 3 stories and approximately 1800 sq ft of livable space. The main deck had the living room, dining table and kitchen. The lower deck had a master suite, stateroom with queen bed and a bunk cabin for the kids. The upper deck was my most favorite where we could watch the skyline light up as the sunset.

We spent our days exploring what the city had to offer. We toured the Space Needle and wondered the Public Market where we sampled the best smoked salmon I have ever had. Late afternoons we would return to the boat for snackers and cocktails.

One of our last evening together we wandered down the street and stumbled upon a cute little Italian restaurant, Pasta Freska. It was an enjoyable ordering experience where Chef Mike asked if anyone had food allergies, what types of food we liked and didn’t like and how hungry were we. Chef Mike and staff treated us as family bringing plate after plate of incredible dishes and bottles of wine flooded the table. If you are ever in the area, it’s absolutely worth a stop at this little gem.


We paid extra for an evening charter of the puget sound with Captain Chuck on OASIS. Captain Chuck was an excellent guide pointing out Bill Gates mansion, the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat and the Nathan Myhrvold T-rex mansion. We ended our evening tour with a belly full of proper brats and a competitive game of Farkle.


If you are planning a trip to Seattle remember to bring good walking shoes, eat lots of seafood and get out on the water.

Where it all began

We had a rough start to 2014 having to return early from our around the world trip for Mike to recover from dengue and typhoid. The silver lining is this setback provided time for us to discover a new found passion which ignited our adventurous spirit and love for the outdoors.

In late January, four months into our international travel, we flew back to the states. We opted for Arizona’s sunny skies rather than Minnesota’s frigid below zero temps. We had our 60 liter backpacks, holes in our cloths, we were sun-kissed, exhausted but happy.


Oro Valley, AZ visiting Mike’s mom

We had no official home or even a vehicle to get around. Mike found a great deal on a Mazda hatchback in Minneapolis, so we flew back to buy the car. We exchanged cloths, visited family and friends and were reunited with Wiley, our amazing pup. We grabbed what little camping gear we had left which comprised of sleeping bags, pillows and a coleman stove. Next we hit the road to Colorado to see my brother and their new baby girl, Kadence Lillian. Luckily for us Travis wasn’t planning on camping anytime soon so he borrowed us his tent and headlamps.

A week later we were on the road again, headed southwest toward Moab. Utah instantly captured my heart as we drove south on Hwy 128 surrounded by the massive red rock walls and the babbling Colorado River. We saw campsites available as we drove closer to town.


Hwy 128 heading toward Moab, UT

We rolled in Moab for gas, looked at each other and agreed immediately we should stay a few days. Our most affordable option was to camp. Moab was smaller than we expected and fortunately for us we were able to find everything we needed at the True Value Hardware. The essentials included a blow up mattress, two spoons, two bowls, canned soup, triscuits, firewood, an axe and of course, our camping staple, hot sauce.

Camping in Utah during March was colder than expected. You know it’s cold when Wiley paws you awake in the middle of the night to crawl into your sleeping bag. In the morning, Wiley was shaking from the chilly morning air. We boiled water for our coffees and cranked the heat in the Mazda for Wiley to warm up. We headed into town and found the best breakfast burritos.


Big Bend Campground, Utah

We spent the week exploring Utah’s five National Parks and camped our way back to Arizona. We kept our camping momentum for the next several months as we road tripped around the western states exploring the national parks.

It’s been two years since this trip and last summer alone we camped almost every weekend, started in April and ended in October. On a rare occasion we were in town we would get the itch and need to, at a bare minimum, take a day trip to a national forest or the coast.

We closed out this summer with a 5000 mile road trip to Wisconsin and back. We picked up a cute little travel trailer, the r-pod, from my parents. Thanks mom and dad!


Leaving Beaver Dam, WI

We found it only fitting to repeat our Utah adventure on the journey back to Portland, OR. I was beyond excited to cross off another bucket list item – driving the 37 miles of the Shafer Canyon Road in Canyonland National Park.


Top of Shafer Canyon Road

I am humbled and honored by what nature provides us. It surrounds us everyday, from the smallest of creatures to breathtaking views. Appreciate your surroundings no matter the scale. It can be as simple as a snail crossing or a waterfall pouring down from a giant mountain. Seriously, where does all that water come from? Find a tree wider than your arm span or wake before the sun to watch it rise.


Natures beauty

Find that sense of wonder and appreciate all life has to offer. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Love hard and do things that make you happy. Get out there and keep discovering!