Pets and Other Things

I am not 25 any more. I can’t function on three hours of sleep for days on end and still have a spring in my step. Stress wears me down more than it use to and I’m counting the weeks until I finish grad school and can focus on just one thing at a time again.

Bob and I knew this semester would be rough – work full time, intern and class. We were prepared for it, but the reality is that I’m just tired. The kitties and Arthas help, but when I worry about the little ones playing around Arthas’s head, or using him as a launching pad for to the couch (I’m looking at you, Alinea) I do wonder about the wisdom of adding two kittens to the house at this time.  But then they curl up with me or I see Tigger playing with them or cleaning them and I know it was the right decision.  … So … cute pet pictures:

I am also behind on taking notes on wine. I have some that I remembered, but others that I just totally forgot. So .. for the wine I’ve had recently that didn’t make an individual post because I lost track of time …

IMG_20170928_182938.jpgThis Pinotage and Shiraz blend was fantastic. I’ve had wines from Spier before and generally liked them, but this was just amazing. Both Bob and I loved it and found it really easy to drink. I’m a fan of Pinotage in general and was surprised at how good this blend was. And for an $8 bottle of wine, I am definitely picking this up again.

The Furmint was ok – not as good as the bottle we had from Weekly Tasting, but not bad. It has some interesting notes and is easy to drink. As the weather gets cool

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er (well, cooler for Florida) I’m sure I will be drinking less and less white, so this was a bit of a last nod to summer.

I’m sure there has been more wine, but I didn’t take pictures of the bottles so I don’t have them to post.

On the food front, it has been Hello Fresh boxes or old stand by meals. Poor Bob has not had any experiments in a while and I miss exploring different combinations. Unfortunately I just don’t have the energy to search for new recipes, shop for all the ingredients and then make a totally new recipe right now. What I have been cooking has been pretty good, but basic:

I will admit the pesto pizza was fantastic – spinach pesto with mozzarella and pecorino cheese.  So good.

Not the most exciting catch-up post ever, but right now I will take it. I am looking forward to January when I can slow down a bit, enjoy the babies more and experiment with food more. I’m looking forward to going to work just for the hours I’m to work and not add many more hours for internships. I’m looking forward to reading something just because I want to read it and not because I’m researching and I’m looking forward to not feeling guilty for taking a morning to myself since there is so much work to do. I am definitely not 25 anymore.

 

Irma’s Aftermath

We are fine. Let me start with that because that has been the question of the day. We are fine. We are incredibly lucky also, and everyone is ok.

Irma had the potential to do major damage to us, and since we did get hit with (or were very near) the western wall of the eye, the little damage our area sustained is just amazing. Whatever forces of nature merged to slow and weaken Irma worked in our favor and while there were some definite scary moments last night and into this morning, it all came out ok for us. For other parts of Florida, large parts of Florida, they were not so lucky and cleaning up and rebuilding after this (heck, just getting the power back on for many, may people) will take some time.

Bob and I walked around the neighborhood today and the one thing that struck me most of the sheer volume of water that came down over the last 48 hours. Nothing like Houston, but it still boggles the mind. Places where I would walk Jessie (and sometimes walk Arthas) are now rivers. No, seriously – we have retention ponds that are usually ponds – they are now connected and flowing into we aren’t sure where.

There is usually a large path where this starts, with lots of land between the path and the pond on the right. Everything to the left as the camera pans is normally field. The still pictures tell the story just as well, I think:

You are not supposed to have rapids and white caps in a retention pond.

But we are all ok. There is a lot of debris to clean up, and some things to check on. There will be roads flooded for a few days (hopefully less) and friends to check on. I will definitely take what we got, especially since it could have been, and should have been, so much worse. What I hope doesn’t happen is that people don’t take the next storm as seriously. Just because this one weakened and turned does not mean the next one will. The house has never suffered damage until it does; everyone has always been ok until they are not. There is always a first time for everything and if we get lucky again, fantastic. If we don’t, we will be prepared.

Hurricane Prep

A number of people have been asking if we have evacuated as Irma approaches. We are still here and should be ok. We are in a non-evacuation zone and outside of any flood danger (100 year/500 year flood zones we are still outside of). Biggest concerns right now are projectiles as the winds pick up, and losing power. So far we are fine and we have provisions for when the power does fail. 

While I probably would stay put it was just us, I can’t take the kittens to a shelter since they are too young for their rabies shots. Arthas is still scared of other animals and I just can’t see putting Tigger through that. Multiple hours in a car to maybe get out also didn’t sound like a great plan so we stay. We prepared as well as we could and will make the best of the next few days. Right now I just want Irma to come and go so we can see what we need to do and just get back to normal. 

On the upside, it was really pretty out last evening as the clouds came through. 

Pets

There is apparently a small problem with having some time off from work around the end of July, beginning of August. I start to think about adding pets to the house. This was not a problem when we had four furry creatures, but less than that and I start to think, and look, and really want another pet. Last year I decided to “just look” at dogs and ended up, on the first visit, falling in love with Arthas. Although in my defense, how does one not fall in love with this face.IMG_20170814_122232

This year I was so busy for June and most of July that I barely had time to think about a new cat. I went through the “I’m not ready” phase, then the “Tigger isn’t ready” phase, then the “it’s not a good idea” phase, followed closely by the “I’m good with just the two boys” phase, and then hit the “oh screw it, I want another cat” phase. I can give you twelve different logical reasons why a new kitty is a bad idea (and counters to every one of them) – Arthas has issues with other animals (but he does fine once he knows the animal and it doesn’t rush him – we can train a cat), Tigger had his world turned upside down four times in the last year and he needs stability (he has always had other kitty companions and might like the company), I have a full time job plus an internship coming up (cat will still get more attention and love than she would in a shelter), and we have no idea what my job situation will be like in a year (technically this is always true, so why should this year be any different).

So … I started looking. I went to a few area shelters, scoured petfinder.com and just looked and looked for the right kitty. Bob went with me a few times to look at kitties and there were one or two that I really wanted to be the right cat, but just weren’t.  There was one cat that I wanted to want to bring home (ok, more than one, but one in particular) as she was sweet, calm, friendly and super cute (admittedly I think most cats are super cute, so take that with however much salt you need) but something kept stopping me from taking her. There were two kittens I really wanted to want, but they just weren’t right either.

I want the feeling I got when I first saw Jessie or Gracie or any of my other babies – that feeling of you belong with me and I just can’t wait to bring you home. I want to be eager for Bob to meet the kitty and fall as much in love with her as I will and I just haven’t found that yet. Add to this mix I want a cat the boys will be ok with, and maybe even like (I do have little fantasies of our own“Dear Kitten” video moments). I know it will be an adjustment period, and we have so much going on right now that it is a bad idea, but I’m going to keep looking. Heck, if I can go to multiple shelters over multiple days and not bring a kitten home, I think I can be trusted to wait for the right cat, and not just the right time. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my boys – cause the are super cute and super sweet and my babies (ok, Arthas has become Bob’s dog, but he is still my boy).

Progress Report

We are half way through the year and I thought it would be a good time to measure progress. Like all good teachers, I want to see where I am, and what I need to do to get to where I need to be. Have I learned what I wanted? Do I need to go back and revisit something?

School: I just finished my 9th class and have three more to go before I graduate. I am pretty sure this is the *last* time I am going back to school – two master’s degrees is enough and I don’t have it in my to go for the PhD. I registered for the Florida exam for next month and I have the next few weeks to study for it, so hopefully that will be enough time. Three more classes. (deep breath) I can do this.

Pets: If I am being completely honest, I did not expect to be here pet-wise. Somehow, even knowing that Leia was sick, I though she would pull through, get all better and still be making Arthas love her. I miss that cat. I miss Gracie and Jessie too, but I’ve had longer to adjust to losing them and having Tigger, Leia and Arthas around definitely helped. Arthas is awesome even if he isn’t the easiest dog, but he is pretty great and I am so glad we adopted him last year. I am trying to not add another cat to the house, but I do miss having more than one. I need to go back to work *soon* so I don’t have time to look at adorable kitties that need a home.

Wine: I am having a ton of fun with my little wine experiment. I went back through all my notes from the last two months (yes, I take notes) and did discover a few things:

  • I *think* I can identify cherry, mineral, apple, and peach in wines fairly consistently. They are about the only flavors I can identify with any regularity.
  • I don’t like earthy dark wines. This is not a shock, but there is it.
  • Barbera, Zinfandel, Pino Noir, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc – when done well – are delicious wines.
  • Tannat is not to my taste
  • Chien Blanc and Muscadet are amazing. I need more of these wines in my life
  • Un-oaked or very minimal oak Chardonnay is actually really good. Who knew!
  • I still have no idea what “legs” are supposed to look like in low, medium and high alcohol wines. I guess, but I think I’m guessing wrong.
  • Yes, there is a difference between the ten-dollar bottle of wine and the thirty-dollar bottle of wine. There is. That isn’t to say the ten dollar bottle doesn’t have a place, it does, but there is a difference.

Travel: Bob and I have not done much traveling this year for a variety of reasons. We did manage a quick weekend trip to St. Augustine Beach where we did pretty much nothing, and that was awesome. Nothing is planned for the rest of this year, but I’m starting to think about next year and where we might like to go. A lot is going to depend on airfares, my job situation and the pets, but I’m starting to think.

Food: I love food and I love eating. I really don’t like eating the same things over and over, and work plus school makes it hard to be really creative. I’ve given myself a bit of a break and just accepted that I can do some creative cooking, but not a lot right now and I know I will barely have time to cook this fall. I do think I’ve had a few culinary successes this year and I’m sure I will get back to more experiments, but for now … it is what it is.

So that’s it. I’m going to work on identifying aromas and tastes in wine, finish school, try to keep from getting another cat and find some more easy, yet delicious and interesting foods to make. Hopefully in six months, I will have accomplished all of that, but if not, there is always next year. 🙂

 

Wine, but something a little different

I like to think that when I decide to learn about something, I go in all the way. Some may call this obsessive (ok, even people who love me call this obsessive) but it works for me. It is why I do well in school, and why I’m good at my job. But I knew wine had to be a little different. I’m not going for a sommelier certification and I need to be careful how much I drink so I could do a lot of research, be super organized, try a lot of different varieties, but the actual drinking had to stay to one or two glasses a day.

IMG_20170610_172749Thankfully I also have friends that like to drink wine and are game to try new things. The other night we had Kate and Leta over and we did a little exploring of French wines with the help of a site I found by a podcast I listen to (long story). Weekly Tasting (no, I’m not getting multiple bottles every week) offers different packs of wine each week. You get the wine (4 bottles), pairing suggestions (with recipes), wine notes and access to a tasting video. IMG_20170610_174653We thought it would be fun to see how our sense of taste and smell compared to what the professionals said, and we tried a few new wines along the way. We had a blast. The one white was a particular hit – a muscadet that was salty and had some great lemon-lime notes. We paired everything with cheese, cause, well, it was cheese box week, and we made it a little end of the school year celebration.

IMG_20170507_195955I’ve also gotten very organized in my wine storage. It takes a little upfront work whenever I get a new bottle, but it helps. Yes, it is a spreadsheet. A color coded spreadsheet so I know where I go the wine from, but there is no longer the mystery of what is in the wine fridge or where a particular bottle is. IMG_20170507_132540For the wine fridge in the kitchen, we went low tech but the miracle of the white board has made my wine life so much easier. It is kind of like my meal list – it takes the guess work out of what to have each night.

I’m still taking notes on each wine, and refining what I do and do not like in a glass of wine. I’ve found that I’m a little more adventurous with my wine than I was before, and that makes me happy. If I go to a restaurant and there is a wine varietal that I don’t know, I’m more likely to try it. I may ask a little bit about it – make sure it isn’t a super big earthy wine that I just won’t like at all – but I venture beyond pinot noir and zinfandel. I can add wine regions to my list of places I want to travel and go beyond cities with lots of deep history. (Not that I will ever stop traveling to old cities with deep history.) I am enjoying my little adventure and feel like I’m learning a little something along the way. Since that was the whole point of this experiment, I’m calling it a success. No need to order pizza. 🙂

IMG_20170612_170044

 

Harvest

Last fall I planted a few baby kale plants along with some tomatoes and herbs. I hoped to get a few kale salads out of the plants and we have been eating kale from the garden all winter. The other day I looked at the garden and realized two things – 1) I have baby tomatoes just about ready to pick and 2) I really have to harvest and pull the kale. It is just getting too hot for it.

On Saturday, I harvested everything I could, pulled the kale out. I got a nice bunch of cherry tomatoes (purple cherokee, I think) and a lot of kale. A lot.

That is the large side of our sink, about ten inches deep, filled with kale. Filled. Picture two plastic grocery bags stuffed with kale, or one really large shopping bag, stuffed with kale. My four little kale plants gave us kale all winter and enough kale for batches and batches of pesto. All with benign neglect since I tend to let the garden go during the school year and only really check on it every now and then. I was kind of impressed.

The garden is a little sad looking now. This time if year in Jersey I was looking for what I could plant in a few weeks, maybe start some seeds so they would be ready for transplant, but in Florida, well … it’s time to let the garden rest for the summer. I do still have a few things in there, so I won’t totally neglect the garden, but for the most part, once the last of the tomatoes are harvested, the garden can rest.

The tomato plant looks awful, but there are still a number of blooms, buds and ripening tomatoes on it, so I’m doing my best to keep it alive. I picked up a watering system – terra-cotta spikes that fit a wine or other long necked bottle in it. This should slowly water the area over the course of a week or two so if I forget, the plant still gets water. I have one in and have three more spikes that I’m going to use as I acquire clear wine bottles (better to see if they need refilling) for the herbs that are left. I will say, the parsley did remarkably well with all of the kale cover – I’m not sure if it will last now that it is fully exposed, but we shall see.

I do have a little rosemary, oregano and chive in there also, along with one sad looking, but still alive poblano pepper. I’m hoping I can keep everything alive until the fall when I can plant some more. The big question is what to plant. The kale did excellent, but I might want to branch out.

I had to include this picture. Kale was the one food – the only food – that Arthas every rejectedIMG_20170415_105844. He just would not eat it. But, as I was making my batches of pesto, a leaf fell to the ground and before I could get to it (admittedly I didn’t rush cause he didn’t eat kale) he had the leaf and was munching on it. I figured he would stop after a bit or two, but no.  Nope, he
ate the entire thing. Leaf, stalk and all. So it’s official, there is not a single food that he won’t eat. Nothing. I’m not sure if I should be happy about this or worried. I’m just going to go with amused.