Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve! It has been a very busy month, but the holidays are here and I get to slow down, just for a bit. I worked a pretty ridiculous amount of hours between Thanksgiving and the start of Winter Break and spent the last few days just recovering. Poor Bob has had to fend for himself for dinner on more than one occasion, but I’m hoping to have an experiment or two in the kitchen before heading back in January.

  
I did manage to try my hand at ricotta gnocchi this week. I was searching for something light and quick, and decided to try it since I had ricotta in the fridge. I will say – fairly easy, and not bad. Much, much easier than regular gnocchi, and still good. 

  
We managed to get up to Orlando this week for dinner with John. We had a great time just hanging out and catching up. The boys geeked out on Star Wars talk and enjoyed the wine.

  
I do have one bit of news. I have probably lost my mind, but I’m going back to school for another masters. No, I’m not quitting my job, I still like my job, but when I think about the next twenty to twenty five years, I don’t see myself in a classroom the whole time. My options, with my current degrees, are a bit limited if I want to stay in Florida, so I decided  to look at my options. I’m going for my administrative certificate since a lot of jobs I’m interested in require it. I talked to my job, and I can get a little flexibility with professional days and such as needed and I might be able to do the internships there. (That would be ideal, but I am also going to talk to the local district as a back up plan.) Two years. Two years of being a little obsessive compulsive and probably driving Bob nuts. We did talk about this and he is prepared for the student version of myself to be around. I’ll do my best to limit the crazy and maintain a balance of school-work-personal time, but I know it will get tough. Already I’ve stressed and obsessed about the application, getting everything in, clearing the internships with the school, making sure my boss is on board and, now that I’m accepted, getting all the new student stuff done, acquiring books and just making sure I’m ready for this. I know I can do it, and it will be worth it and I have to admit, I’m just a little excited about being a student again. 

  
Here is hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday. (Even if Google and NORAD can’t agree where Santa is, which does weird me out, just a little bit.) 

 Merry Christmas! 

When It Rains, It Pours

Ever have one of those days? Of course you have, that’s why we all say it was ‘one of those days.’ It’s universal. Some day, sometime, everything seems to go wrong at once.

My “day” started off last night. Multiple times last night. What happened? Tigger happened.

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So cute. So sweet. So innocent looking. … The loudest cat you’ve heard outside a wild animal. Tigger, for all he’s afraid of everything, will sing the sing if his people, at max volume, multiple times a night. This is also interspersed with Gracie playing with her catnip ball.

IMG_0680.JPG Super cute and super sweet kitten, but she is not exactly a delicate player.

So we had the multiple wake ups from the cats last night followed by my alarm going off at five am. No big deal except for the life of me I could not turn it off. I managed to turn on the nightlight feature I didn’t know it had, but it took me so long to turn it off, I thought for certain Bob would be awakened by this. After finally getting the alarm off, I managed to trip over Tigger on the way to the bathroom before turning on the coffee pot only to have it not work.

Not only did the coffee pot not work, it managed to break in the loudest possible way. Out coffee pot has a bean grinder option. We never use it because it sounds like a tanker truck rumbling through the kitchen, or a jackhammer digging up the tile. For this reason I grind my beans in a regular grinder and set the coffee the night before. This morning, however, I pushed “start” and rather start brewing, it goes to grind beans that are not there. Realize the settings are correct – set to pre ground and brew – and I’ve done this pretty much every weekday morning since we got the coffee pot a year or so ago. But this morning it just would not work. I tried a second time with the same results. I unplugged the coffee pot, reset everything, and tried again. Same result. After the fourth or fifth attempt I was afraid Bob (whom I was certain was now totally awake) I nixed the regular pot of coffee and decided to use the weekend one cup at a time coffee maker.

So after a night of no sleep, trouble with the alarm clock (at least it went off at the correct time), tripping over a cat, a loud and broken coffee pot, I was ready to head to work … And could not find Gracie. She decided to wander a bit this morning, like she does most mornings, but she hasn’t gotten use to my new work schedule so she was no where to be found when I had to leave. I left a note in the one place I knew Bob would find it – on the coffee pot – and asked him to look for her before he left. And oh yes, the coffee pot is broken.

Because I can’t do two days of no (or very limited coffee) in the morning, we decided to go out and get a new coffee pot this evening. Wouldn’t you know we got caught in a down pour, soaking both of us. I thought the pouring rain was pretty fitting for the day. But we have a new coffee pot!

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Needless to say, Bob picked this one out, but I think it’s very pretty. It’s also very simple and has few parts so I’m hoping it lasts longer than the last one. As long as the cheap coffee pot that brewed pretty good coffee that Bob had for years would be fantastic.

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Oh. And Gracie got a new box.

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So while this was a comedy of errors kind of day, it was still a good day. The new job is fantastic. I commented to a Bob that I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with myself right now. I’m not stressed out, don’t have a knot in my stomach and actually like going into work each day. It’s weird, but in a very good way.

And on that little note, I’m going to end this day by getting my coffee set for the morning and try to sleep through Tigger’s singing tonight.

Winnimere

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Yes, it’s a cheese post; no, it’s not the February Cheese Post. That should be this weekend.

But … I did stop by the cheese shop this past weekend thinking it was the cheese box week and because Bob wanted to try a particular cheese from the newsletter. (Yes, we get a newsletter from our local cheese shop in addition to our monthly cheese box, but hey – it’s a hobby.) The description was fascinating and slightly weird and Bob actually asked me to pick up a round. Before I did, I read a review or two and fully admit I was a little uncertain. So, bright and early Saturday morning, after the farmer’s market Mom and I stopped by (thus discovering my inability to correctly read a newsletter or calendar before coffee) the cheese shop to pick up a round of Winnimere.

20140212-195724.jpg First, let me say this cheese is heavy. It is larger than two people would need and I hesitated just a touch when I realized you can’t split the round. (Clearly the coffee had kicked in) but Bob specifically asked for it, and it was washed in beer, so okay, I’ll get it. As a treat for myself I got more Midnight Moon, which is my favorite cheese, and one more to round out our cheese night.

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So how did it go? Well … This is a very distinct cheese. The smell is pretty stinky (feet or old socks) which means I hesitated to try it, but it’s cheese. I love cheese. And most stinky cheeses don’t actually taste like they smell. So I scooped out a little (it is very runny) and put it on some French bread I made

20140212-200227.jpg and gave it a go. I have to admit it was really, really good. Unless I got the rind – that was pure beer bitter to me so I just did not like that part. Bob did. He gushed over the cheese. All through dinner and even after. He raved, and gushed and ate lots of cheese. We are saving some for this weekend – we are having a few people over for the cheese box night this weekend so we are kind of excited.

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On a side note, I took a Tigger to Mom’s this week. Temporarily. The last week or two he has gotten really bad with Gracie. What was an every now and then pouncing turned into five days in a row of him going after Gracie, pouncing on her and rolling her. Monday she was favoring her back leg and then he went after her while she was hanging out on the back patio Tuesday morning (and managed to bend the screen door just enough to make it difficult to open). So … I asked Mom and Dad if he could visit with them for a few days. I made sure he had everything he needed (although I did forget to bring a bed for him) and plopped him in the carrier and into the car. If anyone remembers any of the vet stories, or the story of driving from Jersey to Florida with him will know he does not like cars. I did record him for a few minutes, but it is painful! You would think I was torturing him. In his mind a car ride is torture so I still feel bad. But Gracie needs a break and if I take her to Mom and Dad’s I’m afraid he will just get worse when she comes back. He’s fine. Mom assures me he is okay and not totally hiding halfway under the couch (he didn’t exactly fit totally under it). I’ll bring him home soon, but for right now, the girls are enjoying the break – especially Gracie. I, of course, feel like the worst pet mother ever, giving her “child” up, but I know it is temporary and necessary. And Val assured me if Mom and a Dad do keep Tigger, she has another orange kitty I can have.

Cats

Cats are the teenagers of the animal world. They are moody, needy, insistent little things that eat way more than their size suggests and they stay out way too late and become so very cute and cuddly when they want something.

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Tigger is a particularly interesting case. He is a rather large (yes, probably fat) cat, especially when compared to the other two. He is super friendly and cuddly with me – a regular lap cat.

20140119-131605.jpg When Bob and I sit on the couch he curls up with us and you can do pretty much anything to him. Mess with his ears, hold his paws, move his tail … he just rolls over and requests a belly rub.

20140119-131838.jpg He also does all the usual cute cat things like hiding in boxes

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20140119-132002.jpg playing in trees

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But have company over? Have anyone including Mom and Dad in the house, and he hides under the bed. Look at Tigger when walking by him (or just walk by him) and he runs like his life depends on it. I’m pretty sure Val and Bill have not seen him in person as he is just the scared-y cat of the bunch.

20140119-132627.jpg I suppose that isn’t a bad thing in the grand scheme of things; after all he is a cat.

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Oh My Pad Thai

I am a huge Pad Thai fan. I love the flavors and the comfortable homey feeling of eating it, but I do not like getting sick when I eat it. Most Pad Thai is made with fish sauce as a main component to the sauce (which, let’s face it, makes the dish what it is) meaning I can’t eat it. Oh, I’ve been known to order it knowing full well I will be very, very sick for the rest of the night (on a very rare occasion) but those days are becoming fewer and fewer. So I did what any self respecting food addict would do – I scoured recipes until I figured out something that would work and hopefully taste great.

I began my search in my favorite vegan cookbooks. I figured if there was a fish free sauce out there, I would find it in a vegan cookbook. I did adjust the recipe a little, and it ended up working really well:

4 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime

This made enough sauce for both Bob and I to have plenty for dinner and I have half the sauce in the freezer for use this weekend. As for the rest РI sliced three small chicken thighs and just cooked them through in some peanut oil. I took the chicken out and scrambled on egg in the same oil. Remove the egg and saut̩ a quarter red onion, one shredded carrot and one clove of garlic, crushed and diced. I added some lemon grass paste I have, then added the rice noodles, scallions and some cilantro. I also added back in the egg and chicken, pour the sauce over everything and toss off the heat. I added some crushed peanuts and came up with dinner.

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Bob’s only ‘note’ was that it wasn’t spicy enough for him. He liked the flavor, but he wanted more heat. I liked it as is, so we compromised; he puts hot sauce on his dish and I leave mine alone. Best part of this was that the whole thing (once I figured out what I was doing) took about 15 minutes to put together. Seriously. I chopped the veggies while the chicken was cooking and the rest was maybe five minutes to heat everything through. It was great!

And while most of the country is buried in snow, my Bougainville is recovering nicely in the new pot on the patio. I noticed this little gem while we were eating lunch out there today.

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Yes, Mom. That is a flower. There were actually two of them on the plant which means I should be set for the equinox in spring.

Oh, and as I was walking Jessie today I came across this sure sign that I’m in Florida:

20140102-193947.jpg I want to know how I missed them all season and where I can get them!

Happy 2014 everyone.

A Day Off

Work has been kicking my butt lately and I think it is a little worse since I know I have three more weeks of it. Seventeen meetings in two days takes a toll, and it is not just the meetings, it is the prep, paperwork and finalizing after meetings that just adds more time. But it is done for now and Bob and I headed up to St. Petersburg for a nice day out today.

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We originally planned to go to a place that has 120 beers and an extensive wine list. But they didn’t look open, so we wandered around a bit and found a cool Mexican place. The food was so good, and I was so hungry that I forgot to take pictures of the food. I did manage to get one of Bob’s beer. It really isn’t the beer so much as what they add – Worcestershire, pepper and spices. Bob said it was good, and very different.

And … Bob and I decided we missed Brad and Emmie and Logan so much we couldn’t wait for the summer to visit. So since Bob had to take a few days off and I have Spring Break coming up, we decided to freeze our tushes off and go visit. We found a great deal on the flight, making it cheaper than DC (sorry Karen and Erin … we’ll get up there soon, but we just could not pass it up!) so we are going for it.

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Gracie, of course, loves the suitcase and decided she needs to go to England too. Not sure how Renny and Luna would feel about that … or the neighboring rabbits.