Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Christmas 2015: The Sturgis Edition

Something that Mike and Melissa have always been grateful for, are the numerous opportunities they have to spend holidays with family. Other than the two years they spent in South Korea, the couple has either been affiliated with a school holiday schedule or been their own bosses. Done right, self-employment offers the freedom to celebrate the holidays with both sides of the family without too much hassle or inconvenience.


Following up a grand time celebrating the holidays with the Harrington crew and a quick weekend of slinging beer and pizza at The Burlington Place, Mike and Melissa made their way to Sturgis, South Dakota in order to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with Melissa’s family.


Arriving on a Tuesday afternoon, the Harrington duo took to lounging and enjoying snacks, brews, etc with the Allen parents. Fire crackling, menus being planned, small talk being had; the first night in SoDak was perfectly relaxing.


Upon waking up and slowly getting ready Wednesday morning, the crew made a quick decision to head on into Deadwood and try their hands at a slot tournament. The slots of downtown Deadwood and the Deadwood Lodge were not too eager to pay out for the Harrington’s, but there was just enough winning to keep all participants engaged and entertained for a more than a few hours. After lunch and a few more pulls at the slot machines, the Allen/Harrington crew made their way back into Sturgis. In anticipation for the upcoming day of festivities, Melissa and her father headed to the grocery store and checked off the list of items that would have them enjoying entirely too much junk food and French Dip sandwiches in celebration of the New Year the following day.


Awaking New Years Eve day, Mike and Melissa were horrified to discover that their heads were stuffy, their muscles achy, and their overall energy levels dangerously low. An entire year of decent health came to a screeching halt as both Harrington’s set out to spend the New Years holiday feeling under the weather. Fortunately, there were no plans to leave the Allen’s cozy home, therefore, it was 100% acceptable for the Harrington duo to remain in their pajamas, drink hot lemon tea and take in some Emergen-C with hopes of feeling semi-decent when additional family arrived ready to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.


As the evening hour set in and the rest of the celebration crew arrived, M&M were unfortunately still feeling under the weather, but did their best to keep pace with the family; young nieces and nephews included. The afternoon began with the joy of Christmas giving; colorful paper flung far and wide, childhood exclamations of joy and excitement being shouted out and gifts being turned over and admired in the hands of many. Soon, Christmas activities were “out of the way” and the houseful of celebrants set into motion the joys of New Year’s Snacking, imbibing and gallivanting.


Between numerous dips, crackers, chips, roast beef sandwiches and out of this world sweet treats, the crew took part in a variety of activities. The children were given canvases for finger-painting (a future gift in the making) and a robot to build. Adults continued snacking and lounging in their pajamas. Movies were a go on Netflix, and Catchphrase made numerous passes around the dining room table. Soon enough, tiny eyes could no longer remain watchful and the over 18 crowd began a rousing, yet generally inappropriate game of “Cards Against Humanity”.


As the clock struck midnight, champagne was toasted (as were a few celebrants) and the Harrington duo begrudgingly gave up their spots at the game table and went to bed, hopeful that the morning would find them feeling less in the dumps.


Upon waking to the year 2016 for the first time, the Harrington’s were still below 100%, but could feel that progress was being made. The couple took their time packing up their belongings, old and new, said their good-byes and made their way back to Burlington, eager to see where the year 2016 would lead.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lights Out for Valentine’s Day: 2016

Traditionally, Mike and Melissa have cooked together as their unique way to celebrate Valentine’s Day (in theory: flowers, cards and chocolate are relegated to "surprise" moments). However, owning a restaurant, the couple now finds themselves cooking for others on this ever-popular dining out holiday. For the past couple of years, the couple has featured a weekend special at The Burlington Place which features two salads, two desserts and one of two of the Valentine pizza specials all for $25.00. Reminiscent of the meals the couple prepared together, this pizzas feature a few aphrodisiac items and flavor combinations that are all together lovely. Diners choose from either the Aphrodite which features asparagus, prosciutto and feta on a lemony garlic olive oil or the Pizza Enamorado which features fresh tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, red onion, bacon and an avocado drizzle all on a garlic olive oil. Each year, Melissa also develops two dessert specials for the occasion. This year, diners could choose from a Rumchata Pudding Shooter or a Sangria Brownie Tartlet. The plotting and execution of Valentine’s specials is always a joyful, hectic, crazy experience for the Harrington's, but one they ultimately anticipate and look forward to.


This year, however, a bit of a freakish wind surge had other plans for Saturday afternoon and evening diners. After a full and bustling second-Saturday brunch and Bloody Mary bar, Mike and Melissa had their Valentine plans shocked when the entire electrical system of The Burlington Place clanked off. Each whispered a few obscenities and waited with bated breath for a possible quick return of electricity on what should have been February’s busiest day. A couple hours later, after forcing the remaining heat of the pizza ovens to cook one last pizza for a couple who had called minutes prior to the outage, Mike and Melissa posted notices on the door: No Power, No Pizza. The duo then headed to Abode 212 to plot the next steps. Upon entering their home, the distinct smell of natural gas filled their nostrils and led the couple to their second spewing of obscenities.


While plotting their next steps (for home and business), Melissa texted a friend to inquire what her and her husband were doing for the evening. Together, Mike and Melissa decided that if electricity was not on by 4:00, they would leave The Burlington Place closed (seeing how the ovens take an hour to preheat, there was a very distinct window of time for electricity to return and allow the evening dinner hour to function relatively smoothly). If they were unable to return to The Burlington Place, they would then head to Worland where their friends would be watching Worland Warriors in their last home basketball game of the season before heading out to dinner themselves.


As 4:00 rolled around, the plan began to look a little clearer. The Harrington duo had a representative of Wyoming gas en route to turn off the gas and they themselves were loading into their Subaru to make their way to Worland for basketball and dinner with friends. Mike and Melissa were about to experience a Saturday night akin to those experienced by all those who don’t devote their lives to the service industry.


The Warriors conquered the New Castle Dogies and Mike and Melissa even had a chance to catch up with Tom Harrington and give a few hearty waves to John and Donna Harrington. Following basketball, the Harrington duo packed themselves over to Rumours where they enjoyed a couple of beers, wings and burgers with their good friends Cole and Lisa Nicholas. At approximately 8:30 p.m. Melissa received a text from her neighbor informing her that the power was finally back up in running. Good riddance.

Relieved to return home to power (although, no heat or hot water since the gas had been turned off), M&M said farewell to their friends, shrugged at the luck of the day and gave thanks for a surprise night out on the town.


Sunday morning saw M&M enjoying a brunch of Steak and Avocado Toast together prior to heading into The Burlington Place to serve up a decent handful of Valentine specials and learn very little about the previous days power outage. By mid-day Monday, all the weekend mishaps had been cleared up as the gas was back on and the smell was attributed to high winds making a strange mess of the ventilation system.


Cheers to all the love, all the delicious foods and all the unpredictable things that each life holds!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sunday Brunch: January 2016

With a few less holiday obligations to hi-jack the joys of weekly brunching, January proved to be a lovely month for enjoying relaxing Sunday mornings with some of the tastiest of treats to break the nightly fast.

Many brunch recipes came straight out of Melissa's Culinary Goals of 2016. Migas from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook (cookbook goal) and Popovers (popover goal and recipe box goal). Other items were just plain fun to dream up and devour!

The month began with a delicious dish of eggs, peppers and corn tortillas. Straight from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook, this recipe for Migas left Melissa desperately wanting a 12" skillet (which she has since ordered off of Amazon) and once again thrilled with her cast iron skillet...because, well, it's cast iron and that makes the world a more tasty place.

Another, fairly regular brunch tradition is the ever beloved Steak and Eggs. Having bought a side of beef late in 2015, the Harrington's ultimately have more beef than they can get through on their tight schedule, however, that does not stop them from trying and few things are more satisfying than a big, juicy, local steak with eggs and a homemade Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning.

Later in the month, Melissa decided it was high time she busted out her never-used Popover pan and try her hand at the fluffy, custardy little morsels. Using her mother-in-laws recipe (with a little help from the Better Homes and Garden's cookbook since one key ingredient seemed to be missing from the recipe card), Melissa whipped up a batch of Popovers. Having had this pan and recipe for as long as she has, Melissa had decided at the start of 2016 that making popovers would indeed be a Culinary Goal - not that popovers are's just there are some things Melissa has yet to get around to making. The muffin look-a-likes were full of fluffy goodness that held onto a bit of butter and jam in the most supreme of manners. Not to mention, they were the perfect compliment to a Hard Chai Latte!

The month concluded with Breakfast Burrito Bowls. This was the one brunch of the month the Harrington's were able to share with a family member. Having come to town to assist Mike and Melissa with their late season crow hunt, Katie was keen to dig into this inventive breakfast. The recipient of quirky kitchen items like tortilla bowl makers, Melissa figured breakfast burritos were just as easy to transform into a bowl as a taco salad and set about filling her bowls with cilantro lime rice, black beans, bacon and scrambled eggs. The completed dish was lovely, delicious and well suited to Bloody Mary's, of course.

Sunday Brunch continues to be the weekly routine that brings a semblance of normalcy to Abode 212, tricking the Harrington's in believing, for just a few moments, that their life doesn't revolve around managing, maintaining and staffing The Burlington Place.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Christmas 2015: At Home with the Harringtons

Following a lovely brunch the morning of Christmas Eve at sweet little Abode 212, Mike and Melissa began the task of loading up the Subaru with gifts, pajamas, a few sweet treats and eventually themselves and their mutt. With Worland only an hour away, Christmas with the Harrington's is an easy, quick trip. Mike and Melissa arrived on Bluebell Lane just in time to crack open some beers and mingle with family members in preparation for a full series of Christmas Eve traditions.

Yearly, the Harrington's Christmas Eve table is set with a Seafood Casserole (prepped just as Grandma Carolynn had done for years) and, depending on who's cooking and who's coming, a pot of Oyster Stew can be found on the stovetop. Bread, veggies, fruit salad and desserts round out the meal which always preludes the Christmas Eve Service at the United Methodist Church. Filled with the once-a-year meal, steeped in tradition and holiday memories a plenty, the Harrington family makes their Christmas Eve trek to the United Methodist Church for the lighting of advent candles, gospel readngs and the infamous candle-lit singing of Silent Night.

Following this series of advent and Christmas-Eve traditions, expectations and joys, Mike and Melissa along with siblings, in-laws and parents return to Bluebell Lane for the making of much merriment and joy. Traditionally, the crew returns home, begrudgingly yet willingly agrees to take a family photo, knowing that they'll be in no hurry to dress in the morning to. take the beloved photo prior to the Christmas meal the following day. Thus, Christmas 2015 was no different, following the service, family members agreed that although they'd love to be wearing their pajamas, they'd rather take the family photo right away rather than attempting to wake up and get ready early enough to take the photo Christmas morning. So the crew piled around the tree, grabbed their pups and smiled long enough to capture a couple of photos before throwing on the pajamas and hunkering down for some gift unwrapping.

Being an all adult and dog Christmas experience, the unveiling of gifts took on a leisurely pace as each person opened one gift with all eyes on them awaiting joyful expressions, laughter and heartfelt thanks. While the Harrington clan is not all too eager to spend thousands and encourage the commercialization of the holiday, they are eager to give useful, thoughtful, fun gifts. One particular highlight included a smattering of outdoor backpacking themed gifts (including a pack for the brother-in-law who has yet to experience a good ol' Harrington backpacking trip) which promise to be used in the summer of 2016 for a family excursion into the wild. With the giving of gifts and the planning of excursions going late into the night, the crew soon found themselves brushing their teeth and making their way to bed.

As has been a Tom Harrington family tradition for ages, Christmas morning was not just a time for stockings but more notably the sharing of eggs, sausage and Grandma Carolyn's Apricot Coffee Cake with a beloved family friend; Heidi. Heidi is a sweet friend of the Harrington's who yearly makes Christmas breakfast with the Harrington's a priority. She arrives on time, every time. She excuses the fact that most of the Harrington's are still in their pajamas and have yet to finish their first cups of coffee. She says hello to all who are joining her, including the dogs. She gracefully allows the Harrington (and Dawson) men to carry or wheel her and her wheelchair into the basement family room. She politely accepts the meal, a glass of juice and a variety of gifts from the Harrington clan. She kindly offers a gift for the Harrington's, typically addressed to Patty, yet meaningful for the family as a whole. Heidi's experience of the holiday is a bit different than the full set of seasonal traditions as experienced by the Harrington's and most Americans. Yet, each and every Christmas morning Heidi reminds us all that love is the central element to the holidays and a life being well lived.

Following the breakfast tradition that ties family to generations past through food and the character of loving others as though they are family, the day continued by hitting the road toward Cody. Mike and Melissa had a quick stop over in Burlington to frost a few dozen mini eggnog cupcakes and grab some beer before heading on to John and Susan's for the family meal. Upon arrival on Sunshine Lane, the guests and hosts alike enjoyed festive cocktails, cold beers and all the most tasty appetizers while the scent of prime rib filled the air. The big meal was followed by take-away bingo, a family tradition that yields many guests walking away with something another deemed ridiculous, BUT everyone leaves with a gift and lots of laughter fresh from their bellies.

Wanting to soak up as much time as possible with parents, sisters and brother-in-law, Mike and Melissa returned to Worland for a night of games and snacking, opting to wake-up early in the morning in order to get the ovens on and a weekend's worth of work in at The Burlington Place before heading on to their next family engagements in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Wherever and whenever the holidays are celebrated, Mike and Melissa find themselves filled with immense gratitude and contentness at having been given these people to celebrate with and these traditions to carry out year, after year.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Work Perks: Hitting the Slopes of Sleeping Giant

Since graduating college with a double major in both International Studies and Spanish, Melissa has found herself with at least one foot in the world of education. Stateside, she's served as a paraprofessional in three different schools and while living in South Korea she served as resident Native English Speaker in three different Korean Elementary schools. These positions have all held their various perks and moments of pure joy, always revolving around the students and gaining added favor with a variety of "work perks".


This past Monday, January 25th, Melissa and Mike both enjoyed the perks of being connected to Burlington Schools AND of owning their own business complete with a respectful clientele that understands M&M need/deserve the occassional break. So it was, the couple, along wtih middle school and high school staff and students found themselves enjoying a day of skiing, snowboarding and outdoor enjoyment at Sleeping Giant Ski Areat just outside of Yellowstone National Park. This, all in thanks to a school that values offering students opportunities outside of textbooks and tests AND a small community that's will to chip in and ensure the day is available not only to students but to community members at large.

The day saw Mike Harrington busting out his snowboard after about an 8 year hiatus. As should be expected from the man- the myth- the legend, he took to his snowboard as if it'd only been on hiatus for 8 months. After a quick reacquaintance with his board, he was shredding his way down the mountain, impressing numerous students who were convinced his skill set was fairly well limited to pizza-builder extraordinaire. By the close of the day, Mike had made just over 20 runs, for a total of 73 minutes, 12 miles and a top speed of 36 mph - feats he deemed were just a bit more exciting, active and enjoyable than lounging around at The Burlington Place building the weekly trivia.

Melissa opted to don a pair of skis for the first time since middle school, remembering how miserable she felt after her first and only time snowboarding about 10 years ago as a college student. She sat in on student lessons, learned a few things that made skiing a bit more pleasant than it was 17 years ago, pizza-wedged her way down the bunny slope, made it up the chair lift with her hubs once and then mostly enjoyed lounging around, drinking a bit of coffee and taking in the lovely winter scenery. She also had the added joy of running into Mike's aunt and uncle Cowger who were touring with a friend of theirs who was visiting from Maine - talk about the joys of Wyoming being one expansive small town!

Students and other teachers all enjoyed the day similarly to fit their own personal interests. Many students conquered the mountain on skis and snowboards, whereas a slew of 6th grade and middle school students received lessons and tried their hand (and legs, minds, muscles, core, etc) at winters pleasurable sports for the first time ever. A handful of students made their way down a few sledding runs while still others enjoyed games of Apples to Apples, Connect Four, coloring and chatting in the ski lodge. Overall, Monday, January 25th was among a special handful of Mondays that does not impart a case-of-the-Mondays to the workers and attendess of Burlington Schools.

As an additional perk to getting out and closing up shop, the duo made plans to enjoy dinner with a couple teacher friends and their spouses at Pat O'hara Brewing in Cody, Wyoming before returning home to soak in the hot-tub and rejoice at having experienced a bonus day off without having to travel far and wide for a holiday or wedding.

Somedays, work feels like just another day of engaging in the same ol' daily grind with a few small joys but nothing necessarily brag-worthy...somedays however, you can really get your brag and love that you are in a position to enjoy some fairly major "work perks".

Cheers to you and yours and here's to hoping you have some work perks to look forward to!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Years Ago: Lady Annyeong's Adot-a-Versary

The Harrington's have opted out of the traditional Christmas Card. Not because they are complete scrooges, but because Christmas is a busy, stressful season! The duo obviously loves receiving all the holiday cheer, but, since returning to the states and choosing to live life in Burlington, the couple has taken a more haphazard approach. This year, the celebratory card comes as a celebration of five-years sharing hearts and homes with a sweet little three-legged mutt named Lady Annyeong.

Thanks to Vistaprint, these postcards can be adorned with as many pictures of her majesty as the Harrington's so choose and a letter can be produced on the back side with very little effort. To family and friends, Mike and Melissa hope you've received your official copy in the mail - if you've mooved recently, perhaps now would be a good time to send a Facebook message or email to on the Harrington's so they can get their address book updated and add you to their relatively-annual holiday mailing list!

Oversized Postcards by Vistaprint


Greetings and Happy New Year!


A couple years ago, we opted out of the yearly Christmas card and decided to be a bit more haphazard and spontaneous in our mass update mailings. Thus, our mailings are unpredictable to say the least. For the year 2016 (specifically January, 21st) we are celebrating our 5-year Adoptaversary of Lady Annyeong Harrington. Hoo-ray! So, you have the pleasure of receiving an update adorned with the face of the sassiest, three-legged mutt from the streets of Seoul, South Korea.


A few Lady Factoids: She’s obsessive over cheese-sticks, jumping up on the chests of her humans for regular cuddles, and wagging her little nubbin’ of a tail. She’s queen of Abode 212, inside and outside. She loves her backyard access and is certain that the queen size bed was purchased with her in mind. She is the source of great joy, many giggles and all the best feelings - five years with Lady has provided us a lifetime of great happiness.


Aside from celebrating life with Lady, we continue trucking along with the community of Burlington and our rockin’ little pizzeria/gastro-pub/bar. The Burlington Place is our constant source of joy, annoyance, success, ridiculous stories, inspiration, faith in mankind, disappointment in mankind, great eats, fresh beer, innovative cocktail experiences, and so much more. A few BP factoids: Record pizza sales in one day - 84; 10,000th pizza sold in April. 456 Crows killed at our most recently hosted crow hunt. Over 1,000 views on the #TBPPizzaSpecial known as More Than a Club (cream cheese, chicken, bacon, tomato, pickles and raw onion).


And some non-business factoids from the life of M&M: There are two guest rooms available at Abode 212 in Burlington, WY. M&M celebrated 8 years of marriage in September 2015. In 2015, M&M were able to attend the Mountain West Conference basketball games in Las Vegas. They also attended the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, CO. Mike built a patio and deck in the backyard AND set-up a hot tub(!) Melissa has resurrected the blog ( if you’re so inclined to stay relatively updated, that’s your resource.


Cheers to you and yours! (especially your furry friends!)

Mike, Melissa and Lady Annyeong Harrington


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Christmas at Abode 212: Burlington Traditions

Two thousand fifteen marks the third year Mike and Melissa have enjoyed the holiday season with Abode 212 as their home base. In that time, a few traditions have been well established with a couple more finding their way into the mix.

Each year, a Sunday afternoon is deemed the "Heathen Cookie Exchange" - an event for those of us who are more often found at the local bar than the local church. The event always features a healthy assortment of appetizers, a good deal of win and liquor, copious amounts of fresh baked cookies (each attendee is asked to bring 6 dozen of their favorite cookie to share with others) and loads of holiday cheer!

This year may have been the biggest yet: Cookies were lined out on every available surface, the infamous flaming cocktail was imbibed, bellies were overstuffed and this little community of heathen women showed-up in true fellowship format, filled with love, good-will and holiday cheer. The Heathen Cookie exchange is one of the most cherished (and, ironically, long standing) Burlington holiday traditions.

Other "traditions" to be described here within, are only traditions in terms of having been successful in their initial year, and therefore are now held as tentative plans and traditions for future years of Burlington living.

The Hot Chocolate tradition. As a paraprofessional at the local middle/high school, Melissa was eager to offer a gift for all co-workers, but was a little less excited about going to all the work to figure out a cute gift to give. She combed her Pinterest memory and suggested to her "Resource Nook" co-workers that, as a team, they host a Hot Chocolate bar for all faculty and staff. The idea took hold and soon the team had plotted who would bring cups, hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, coffee creamers, candy canes, whip cream, sprinkles and so much more to make the event truly memorable and absolutley delicious.

The day of the "teacher-lounge-hosted" event, the wind was blustery and the temperatures a bit uncomfortable, making Hot Chocolate that much more enjoyable and appreciated. Many adults enjoyed multiple cups of Hot Chocolate throughout the day (Melissa enjoyed a grand total of 6 cups of hot chocolate; that includes two on the day the hot chocolate bar experience was shared with resource room students). The day(s) were so much fun and the hot chocolate so incredibly delicious, that the Resource Nook decided unanimously to instate the Hot Chocolate Bar as their yearly tradition.

Hot chololate combinations of note:

hot chocolate + pumpkin spice coffee creamer + whip cream + nutmeg + gingerbread marshmallow = perfection!

hot chocolate + spoonful of Nutella = heavenly

hot chocolate + peppermint mocha creamer + whip cream + red/white sprinkles + peppermint marshmallows + candy cane = elevated classic

Finally, to add to the list of traditions that are yet to be traditions but are worthy or tradition status, Mike and Melissa hosted family at their home for a Christmas Eve Eve dinner of pizza (one even featured beer-battered pheasant from a pheasant Mike shot earlier that day!) and beer, games, chatting and puzzling. Morning rolled around and had everyone enjoying Brunch Sliders and a Bloody Mary Bar (using nothing less than the infamous infused vodka straight from The Burlington Place). As family slowly departed to prepare for traditional-tradtions of Christmas Eve, Mike made a quick offer to wear out the dog--nieces with a bit of hunting. Upon returning, the dogs and man were sufficiently exhausted and the rest of the crew at Abode 212 was set to head on to Worland and prepare for the continuation of Christmas traditions.

Having the chance to fill Abode 212 with family twice during the holiday season was a true joy for Mike and Melissa, to the point they are plotting future opportunities to invite their loved ones into the whole of their Burlington life, not just the work part of their Burlington life.



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