Goodnight, Gracie


Nine and a half year ago I saw a three and a half week old kitten who stole my heart within ten seconds of meeting her. The little kitten looked straight in my eyes and meowed as if to say, “take me home. I belong with you.” Nothing in the last nine and half years ever changed my opinion of her. Gracie is my kitten. My little girl.

About a week ago she went out at night, which is not unusual for her. But she has not come home in seven days, and I have to admit, as much as I hate every part of it, that she is gone. I found some fur on the front lawn and have to believe that Gracie tangled with something, as she is want to do, and this time, got the worst end of it. I am still checking the back door when I get home, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked under the bed for her in the last week, but I know – somewhere in my heart of hearts – that she is gone.

Parents sometimes say, “I hope you have a child just like you one day” as a curse upon their children. Gracie was me in cat form. She demanded attention when it was most inconvenient – such as on the phone, or going to the bathroom. She was smart, but not so smart that it was intimidating. She did her own thing and really, really didn’t care what anyone thought. She was her own cat, and I love her for that.

Jessie’s passing took a lot out of me, but I knew that she had a peaceful death and the time was right. I was there for her, as I was there for Patches, and if I couldn’t prevent their deaths, at least I could be with them and let them know they were loved right up until the end. I can’t do that for Gracie and that is the hardest part of loosing her. It wasn’t necessarily the best thing for her, I wasn’t there to love her; a small part of me will always wonder if just maybe, I could have done something differently.  I know the answer and I know she probably died as she lived – on her terms, doing her own thing and doing it her way. That doesn’t make it any easier.

Leia and Tigger have started to notice that she is not here, that something is different. They don’t care all that much, but they do notice, and need some comfort  – generally at 3 am which is not ideal. Arthas did’t get the chance to know Gracie – the loving, sweet kitty that she was – but he knows mommy is sad and he tries to help.

Goodnight, Gracie girl. You are loved and missed. Every day.



Ok I started this post about three weeks ago, maybe four. And somehow I didn’t get around to post it, so …

It has taken me almost a decade of being in Florida to get use to the planting cycles. When my natural instinct is to pull out the tomatoes and put in lettuce (maybe) or just be done with the garden, I’m instead planting tomatoes … and herbs and other stuff … just in time for winter – aka our growing season.

I looked at my back yard and the flower boxes this morning and realized they were in terrible shape. We had so much rain for so long that I stopped watering everything and got out of the habit. Well … it hasn’t rained much since the tropical storm and my plants are showing it. I spent the morning cleaning out the boxes – trimming, pulling and just plain getting rid of most of what was there. The cats loved this since the rather large catnip plant had dried out and they got to play in it. All three of them. I created monsters.

But I also looked at the now cleaned out vegetable garden and realized – it is actual the right time to plant stuff! I can try tomatoes and peppers and herbs and … well, whatever I can find and remember to take care of. Bob and I went to Home Depot (because I couldn’t remember if the local nursery has vegetables and if they are open on Sunday) and I stocked up. Four kinds of tomatoes, kale, a variety of herbs and a poblano pepper plant for Bob.  Oh .. and more catnip, but that goes in the boxes. Vague attempt to keep the pets out of my vegetables.

I like it. I bought a bag of new soil and mixed it in with what was left after letting the garden go fallow this year. I made sure to dig down and make plenty of room for roots and I remembered to water. Now I just need the very large, very bright sticky note to remind me to water regularly. I’m super excited at the possibility of going out and picking dinner one night.  Yes, food my food eats, but whatever. I like rabbit food.

Ok – these might be a little hard to see, but Arthas is really such a cute puppy. Yes, he is all black, and that makes getting a good picture hard, but when I get one … such as him trying to lick the silverware in the dishwasher, it is pretty priceless. We also are now full advocates of the food toys – toys that you put kibble in and he has to work to get it out. Rather than downing his breakfast and dinner in thirty seconds, he has his toys down to ten minutes. We found the mushroom and the ball/donut work the best. He seems to like them and I like that he takes longer to eat and has to think. I would love it if I could get Tigger to use one, but he is stuck in his ways and won’t go for it. (I tried)

So the garden … it is growing. The pepper did’t do so well and the rosemary is hanging on at best. But the kale, oregano, thyme and tomatoes are doing great! I’m hoping that soon I will be able to pick my lunch.

Tomato Kale Quiche


I’ve been lax in the food creativity department lately. I would like to say something pithy as to why I’ve been lax, but really, this Ed Law class and work are keeping me busy. Add to that the stress of trying to get Leia and Arthas to get along (I’d settle for feel neutral feeling from Leia at this point) and well … dinner is what dinner is. What I can remember to make, that is fast and does not require a lot of effort or brain power.

But … but I did make a very pretty quiche this weekend. I went to the farmer’s market with Mom and picked up some tomatoes and kale. I saw this recipe and wanted to try it, so … with modifications, I did.

I followed the crust recipe fairly closely, but I used a sheep gouda for the cheese since I had it on hand. (Yes, I have weird cheese on hand – Sarasota has a lovely little cheese shop that I like to patronize frequently so my on hand cheeses tend to be … different than most people’s.) But I mixed the egg white, the rice and the cheese together with salt and pepper and pressed it into a pie pan. I baked it at the requisite temperature and then mostly cooled. I say mostly because I was hungry and impatient and the quiche itself has to bake for 45 minutes or so … so … mostly cooled.

The final product was good. Really good. I can’t wait to have leftovers good. There was enough cheese in the crust to get a bit of cheese flavor, and I added a dash of mustard to the egg mix for a little more flavor. It worked. Bob didn’t complain about the kale in this – he really likes eggs – and I got another vegetarian dish that, if not exactly fast, is still really easy to make. Win!

On the pet front … Leia took a mini vacation to Mom and Dad’s for a few days. Bob and I decided to give everyone a chance to relax and not be on guard all the time. I felt horrible doing it, but it was necessary. Leia came home Saturday morning and she and Arthas are doing better. She is still watching him intently a lot, but she has stopped stalking him and has not (knock on all wood available) attacked him since she returned. He is still ignoring her for the most part, so we are seriously hoping this works.

I mean, really.  Look at how cute they are? They are so good individually and I’m hoping they can get to be really good with each other. Leia took a little while to warm up to Jessie, so there is hope. And Arthas does well with the other two (and they with him) so we are almost there (fingers crossed).


Spaghetti and “Meatballs”


I have been on a mission lately to make childhood favorite dishes, but without the meat. There was the mac & cheese, the tacos , a BLT sandwich, and a variety of pizzas that I have made over the last month, all in a vegetarian version. The quinoa tacos are still a favorite although the eggplant bacon is a close second. But pasta and meatballs is a little more difficult. Yes, I could go the soy crumble in sauce route and make “meat” sauce, but I really wanted spaghetti and meatballs, but without the meat.

So I found this recipe for zucchini meatballs and it intrigued me. The review were pretty good, so I thought I would give it a try. I do tend to forget to follow recipes exactly, and this was no exception. I missed a part in the very beginning about salting and squeezing the water out of the zucchini, but I made up for it later by shaping the meatballs with a paper towel and squeezing the excess water out then. I did do an initial squeeze, but it wasn’t enough.

So I started with two large zucchini and I grated them well, then squeezed out the water with paper towels.  To that I added the pecorino cheese (because I like it), the garlic, basil and panko. To that, I added an egg then salt and pepper. I mixed everything together then shaped the meatballs and pressed them with a paper towel again. They then got fried in olive oil for about ten minutes, turning a few times.

Since I was going for childhood food memories, I added tomato sauce and put the whole things over pasta.

img_1833This surprisingly worked. I was skeptical and thought for a minute or two we might be ordering pizza, but it worked really well. So well, in fact, that the leftover “meatballs” will become meatball sandwiches later this week! They have a different flavor and texture than meat, but the overall feeling is spaghetti and meatballs. And since that is what I was going for, I’m calling this one a success.

And I had to add the pet pictures.  Just cause.


A Very Fall Salad


In my quest to find different flavors and to make something that I have not made a thousand times before, I found a few recipes for a salad with the flavors of fall. It may not technically be fall, but since school is back in session, I decided to go for it. Fall salad is here!

img_1822I started with a sherry mustard vinaigrette and then diced the apples and a little red onion and coated them in the dressing. From there, I added some dried cranberries, walnuts and a lettuce mix. To top the whole thing, I added a gouda cheese – a nice, nutty gouda that went perfectly with the whole thing. Yes, this was a simple dish, but it was something a little different than what we have been doing for the last few months, and it got me in the fall mood.


  • 1/2 apple of choice
  • bit of red onion, diced
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of walnuts, chopped
  • ~2 ounces gouda cheese (or other nutty cheese)
  • lettuce mix


  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to tast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Make the dressing. Mix everything except the olive oil. Add and apple and red onion, toss to coat everything. Right before serving, add the olive oil to the dressing/apple mixture, and whisk. Add cranberries, lettuce and walnuts to the apples and dressing and mix together. Coat the lettuce, then plate immediately. Top with cheese.

Like I said, a very simple dish, but one that really works.🙂

What did Mommy do?


I’ve come to the conclusion that I am destined to always have pets. Not just cats, not just a dog, but pets. When Jessie died I thought we would be dog-less for a long time. I didn’t think there would be another dog that I just loved as much or who would fit into the house as well. She is irreplaceable, but I’ve learned that there is enough love in our house for another dog.

I discovered this because I went to the local animal rescue to look at a dog whose eyes drew me in. She, however, is not good with cats, so I didn’t even meet her. I did decide to look around at the other dogs. They were cute, but they were not right for me. That is, until I came to one little guy in his run. He, unlike the other dogs, didn’t run, jump or bark when I walked by; he walked up to me, smelled my hand, licked once and laid his muzzle along my hand. My heart started to melt. I took a picture to show Bob because I was beginning to think a new dog would be just fine.


Bob agreed to look at said dog the next day. He was a little concerned but we agreed that if either of us was uncertain we would not adopt him and be without a dog for a while longer. We didn’t take him home on that first visit together, but later that day, the dog who needed a home and a name was ours.

Welcome Arthas – the newest member of the household. He is a little under a year and a half and had a very rough beginning. He was rescued from a hoarding situation in February or March, was severely underweight and extremely timid. He has some scars from fighting for food, but they don’t detract from how adorable he is. The rescue did a phenomenal job with him and he is super friendly with people. He now needs to loose a little weight, but he walks well on a leash, and he likes to play, so that should help. He likes his walks and will go wherever you want him to go. He’s a little nervous around cars, but he’s getting there. He has also learned the dog door in a day and he uses it regularly!

He is also a little bit of a couch potato.

Arthas has very limited vision (so he fits well with the family) and is totally blind in one eye which means, in part, that he wants to sniff the cats. He’s not aggressive with them, but he is curious. Ms. Leia is not amused and right now we are working on helping her get along with him. She is getting better, but it will take time. Gracie and Tigger are fine unless he gets very playful, then they just go to our room and hang out where he can’t accidentally hurt them. I can’t say this is the smoothest transition ever, but we are getting there.

Jessie will always be my baby and will always hold a special place in my heart. But like the kittens didn’t replace Patches, Arthas isn’t replacing Jessie. He is just a puppy who needed a home and someone to love him. He was the right dog and has already wormed his way into our hearts.



Happy September!


It has been a month! August went by both very quickly and very slowly. Very quickly because there has been all kinds of excitement around the house with the Arthas now firmly ensconced with the family, and the kitties alternating between being ok with this and very unhappy about this. Mostly things have gone well, but every now and then we have an issue. It can be Arthas going on the ottoman in the living room and causing Ms. Leia to go ballistic or Gracie kitten brushing up against the puppy and him reacting as though she is going to hurt him. In those moments, I sometimes feel like a failure for not being able to solve this, and full of guilt for bringing a new pet into the house. But then Arthas or one of the cats does something totally cute and cuddly and I renew my efforts to make this work. 90+% of the time everything is fine … it is just those moments when it is not fine that I question pretty much everything. However, it has only been a month, so we keep going. In rational moments I remember that it took several months for Leia to be ok with Jessie, and given Arthas’s background, it may take more time than that for everyone to work everything out. I love them all and so we will make this work.

In the meantime, I have been back at work, and I finished my fourth class towards yet another degree, with the next one starting tomorrow. As in Tuesday. We also came through the tropical storm just fine. I had a harrowing drive home Wednesday and then didn’t go in on Thursday or Friday for fear of being swept away by flood waters. And no, I am no exaggerating about this. The roads were bad in parts and I am very lucky to be home in one piece after Wednesday. But … I got lots of puppy and kitty time over the last few days – and it will have to last me until November as the week of Thanksgiving is my next time off.

I have also been very …. well, very much in a rut cooking wise, so I am attempting to make things that are different yet still seasonal. We’ve spent the last three months eating tomatoes, corn and zucchini and I’m just about tomato, corn and zucchini’d out. Not that I don’t love those flavors, but I need something different. I do this every time the seasons change. I want new flavors, but I have to wait for them to be in season.  But I should have a few food posts up in the next few days. Not totally exciting, but still not bad.

Enjoy your September!