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A Big Moment for Zoey + Recent Eats

We hit a major milestone over here this week.


On Monday I left to go to lunch and an appointment and decided to leave Zoey out in the house instead of crating her. I closed the bedroom, office and bathroom doors and gave the two girls the run of the main part of the house. A few hours later I walked in the door to find everything just as I’d left it! We’ve since left Zoey out every day this week for stretches of up to five hours at a time and she’s been perfect! I’m so proud.

When Sullie was a puppy she started staying out of her crate around 12 months old. Funny story on Sullie…my ex and I first attempted to leave her out of her crate at 7 months old (new dog owners…we had no clue) and he came home to find the living room an absolute disaster. She had completely ripped up a brand new dog bed that my parents had given her for Christmas and also done a number on a houseplant. There were shreds of leaves everywhere. We waited to try again when we moved from an apartment to a house when she was a year old. We never put the crate up in the house and she never needed it!

Zoey is just over 19 months old right now. She’s definitely a lot more curious and mischievous than her sister so it took me a little longer to find her trustworthy enough to be left alone. 😉 Say a little prayer that this good behavior keeps up! I think it helps her to have Sullie as a role model.

I have a few meals from the week to show you…


Welcoming back peanut butter in my smoothies. I have to admit that I have become a recent fanatic of almond butter and cashew butter but there is nothing like a big scoop of peanut butter in a smoothie.

Here’s today’s blend:

Frozen banana
Frozen cherries, strawberries and blueberries
Coconut milk (from a can, not a carton)
Big scoop of peanut butter
Half a scoop of Premier Protein Vanilla Milkshake Protein Powder

I’ve had some questions about my post Whole30 dairy cut back and whey protein. So far I’ve been able to enjoy dairy in moderation (a few times a week), including whey protein, with no negative side effects on my skin (and luckily dairy has never bothered my stomach).


Speaking of vanilla protein, I tried tried this Wild Friends Vanilla Peanut Butter with whey protein added with some apple slices this week. The texture is definitely different than that of their normal peanut butters due to the protein powder addition but it does include 12 grams of protein.


Lunches have been my usual variations of salads. Spinach, farmers market arugula (<– so peppery and good!), tomatoes, strawberries, hardboiled egg, pistachios, smoked salmon, dried cranberries, olive oil and fig balsamic.


Spinach and arugula topped with tomatoes, radishes and a leftover avocado salsa chicken burger. Dressed with our coconut milk ranch from Namastay Kitchen and a spoonful of salsa.


One last chicken burger salad but this one with avocado, tomatoes, radishes, apples, dried cranberries, pistachios, olive oil and fig balsamic.


Here’s the dinner that gave me the chicken burger leftovers. I made salsa and avocado chicken burgers and served them in a kale wrap with salsa. Roasted potatoes and roasted okra on the side.


Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken. If you haven’t made this recipe yet, you must! It’s one of my all-time favorites and my go-to recipe for cooking a whole bird.


All plated up. I roasted the chicken over carrots and leeks that I got at the farmers market last week. The veggies that you roast under the chicken are insanely good thanks to the pan drippings! I also made a batch of my braised red cabbage and apples.


Here’s a random dinner for you…I went to hang out with a friend on Wednesday night and just snacked on a bunch of hummus and chips while I was at her place. I was still hungry when I got home so I made this egg and avocado toast on my dad’s homemade sourdough and ate it at 10:30 p.m. This will always be one of my favorite easy meals no matter what time of day.

I have a pound of homemade Italian Sausage from the farmers market so I think tonight I’m going to make stuffed spaghetti squash with it. I’ll keep you posted on how that turns out.

Does your dog stay out in the house or in the crate when you’re not home? 

If they stay out, how did you know they were ready? 

What’s your favorite late-night/easy/comfort dinner? 

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Jessica Suazo May 12, 2016, 9:06 pm

    Ugh!! My terrier mix is 7 and when left out, he poops. My greyhound is 4 and eats anything on the counter and/or anything from a trashcan and/or anything she can find wooden (pencils, dining table insert, etc). And my chihuahua is 2 and pees where he wants if not taken out frequently. I keep my eye on them 24/7 and they go in their kennels when we leave the house. They are the best dogs when you’re watching them…but don’t turn your back! I wouldn’t trade them for the world though. 😉

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 1:30 pm

      Oh no! I hear you on the poop frustration. My fiance’s pug will do that even when the doggie door is open and it drives me CRAZY! And I laughed at your greyhound story. Zoey is also a counter surfer but luckily hasn’t figured out the trash can yet. Yes, dogs are a lot of work but totally worth it! 🙂

  • Brittany May 13, 2016, 6:36 am

    Our two stay out. We tried it one day on a grocery store run and all went well so we started testing it on longer increments. We had a few problems a few months in with the youngest one, but that’s it. We clothes all of the doors and that seems to help. When I get home after work, one is always at the top of the stairs and the other downstairs on the couch. It’s as if they split up the guardian responsibilities 😆.

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 1:26 pm

      I laughed out loud about one of them being upstairs and the other down. That’s so awesome! 🙂

  • Rebecca May 13, 2016, 10:03 am

    My dog stays out of her crate, but doesn’t have free reign of the house exactly. When we first got her (at 18 months old), we tried crating her when we left the house for a couple hours at a time and she *hated* it, she tore up her crate bed. Then we tried leaving her out, but she tore up all the magazines I had on the coffee table, plus my foam roller.

    So after some trial and error, we leave her out, but make sure anything that could be chewed up (as well as the kitchen trash can) is put away and she has a couple of toys to chew on if she needs them. We close off the upstairs with a baby gate (our cat hangs out upstairs, he needs some space and it prevents the dog from getting into the tasty litter box!), plus close our bedroom and guest bedroom doors. So basically she can hang out in the living room (which is big) and kitchen (where her food/water are). Everybody is happy this way!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 1:25 pm

      That’s awesome that you’ve found a solution that works for all of you! Sullie and Zoey have always liked to chew up paper products too. Luckily, Zoey has yet to figure out the kitchen trash can (and Sullie has never cared!) so I hope that we can keep it that way!

  • Kate May 13, 2016, 10:30 am

    so funny, our “puppy” is about the same age as Zoey – and we left her out while we went to dinner last week for maybe 2-3 hours, and she was perfect. haven’t put her in the crate since, and she’s been great! we tried a few months ago, around 1 year old and she tore up EVERYTHING she could find. so funny how one day they just…stop! love seeing my girl in the window when I get home from work now!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 12:53 pm

      I agree that it’s crazy how they mature and stop doing things as well. (I wish Zoey would just “stop” counter surfing…haha!) Mine wait in the window too and it’s such a sweet thing to come home to!

  • ACKTIVE LIFE May 13, 2016, 11:12 am

    Lucy graduated pretty quickly to not staying in the crate, when I left the house…She’s a smart rescue pup! Although sometimes when I leave the house, she likes to take my dirty socks out of my laundry basket and leave them around the house…LOL! PS: That Kirkland PB is a staple in my fridge…I love the texture!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 12:52 pm

      YAY LUCY! She’s so stinking cute! And haha…Zoey is forever stealing my socks too. She also leaves them around the house and doesn’t do much with them but so funny that they like them!

  • Amanda May 13, 2016, 11:15 am

    Your recipes are so inspiring! Our dog is just about 1.5 years old and we started giving her free roam of the house after about a year old. We only did that on the weekends though. During the workday, we thought 8 hours might be pushing our luck. Today is actually the first day she will have free roam for over 4 hours. I have a half day at work today, so we’ll see how she does for 5 hours home by herself!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 12:51 pm

      Thank you Amanda! Hope your pup keeps up the good behavior! Zoey is still holding strong! 🙂

  • Tara May 13, 2016, 1:47 pm

    LOL this is why i am a cat person through and through ! though my mom had a cat that went through a stage that when she left he would take the toilet paper from the roll and shred it up ! it was so odd to come home to shredded paper everywhere. it was to the point she put the paper in the cabinet. after a while all of a sudden he stopped. you could put a roll right in front of him and he would look at it and you like he had never seen it before. we had a dog when i was young who was excellently mannered and stayed out of the crate less than a year old. she was just the best. a black lab. she passed away when i was 14. never had a dog since. i think its cuz she was almost to good and now i see people with dogs and think its to much work for me !

    • Jen DeCurtins May 17, 2016, 12:51 pm

      Haha on the cat comment! Although I have seen them get into things like you’re saying about your mom’s cat. So funny that he just quit doing it one day. It is a lot of work but totally worth it! 🙂

  • JennyV May 17, 2016, 2:07 pm

    After a couple destroyed pillow incidences we ended up putting our girls back in their kennels and 3 months later we’re finally allowing them to stay out. We’re certain it was our younger dog, but we decided not to take chances if we’re gone more than 4-5 hours! This occurred after long work hours, in the middle of winter, and limited play time for the pups — I think I called it into being as I told my husband it was only a matter of time. Sure enough it happened just days after that statement! It seriously looked like they had a blast though… pillow with fluff all over and it looked like they had rolled around in our bed?! We can only laugh about it now.

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