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.

 

Two Weeks In

It has been about two weeks since we brought the kittens home and I have to say, it has been wonderful to have a full house again. I loved Jessie, Leia and Gracie and I will never forget them, but Alinea and Ella are also pretty special and they needed a good home as much as any of my babies.

The first week, with the kittens quarantined in the spare bedroom, was the hardest. The boys knew something was there and Tigger got a little stressed. I started thinking I made a mistake when he stopped eating a little, but we pushed through. Once he met the kittens, he was back to his old self. He seems to like the girls – he hangs out with them in the third bedroom and doesn’t get upset when they come up to him or sniff his food or play with his tail. I think he likes having them around in a weird way. He still follows me to bed and he insists on his cuddle time, so he is still Tigger, he’s just Tigger with company.

We were a little worried about how Arthas would react to the kittens, but I think Val was right – he is perfectly ok with the tiny kittens, more than he would be with a new full grown cat. If he gets too close to her, Alinea will hiss at him, but he doesn’t do much other than stand there and stare at her. Ella tries to sniff him frequently, and he is ok with it unless she gets really close to his head. He hasn’t done anything more than growl and he sometimes seems curious about them. Mostly he wants their food and we had to alter the gate situation as he did manage to get into their room once. Yes, he ate the whole bag of kitten food – we probably had about 1/2 a bag before he got to it.

So personalities … Ella is a curious and she has almost no fear of anything or anyone, but she is cautious. She is a little slower in her explorations and she likes to find a place to curl up and rest. Shiny puff balls and sticks are her favorite toys and she seems pretty determined to make Arthas like her. (She does not care when he growls, she just stays where she is and turns up the cute.)

Alinea is apparently very aptly named. She is a daredevil – very different than she was at the rescue. She likes people and she is only mildly afraid of Arthas. She will hiss at him if he gets too close, but she stands her ground. She likes to follow me around and she will leap from one piece of furniture to another. She eats everything and the tiny kitten looks more like a cat every day. She has checked out Arthas’s food bowl (before he began eating) and Tigger’s food (while he was eating). She is now bigger the Ella, and I am really hoping her coloring doesn’t change as she gets her adult fur in.

We apparently did this transition right and everyone is getting along well. As the girls get a little bigger and I stop worrying about Arthas or Tigger stepping on them it will get even better. We had all three cats eating dinner in the kitchen for the first time recently, and it was great. I’m so glad we could give these two a good home and that Tigger and Arthas are ok with them. I”m hoping the kittens are good for Arthas and he gets as use to them as he was with Leia and is with Tigger. I know it will take time, but for now I can come home from long, crazy days at work and just enjoy the furry family.

 

Really, Mom?

We knew the end of August would be busy and hectic. We knew that Bob had to be away for business and I had some long days with the start of the school year. Despite this, after taking my exam for my Florida license (no idea how I did, results won’t be in for a while, but the test was nothing like the practice test the state puts out, or any of the review/study materials they publish. Given that … who knows) I decided to go look at kittens again. I figured Bob and I had been looking for a while and we didn’t come home with anyone, so we probably would not find a cat and that would be that. Well … we were wrong.

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Meet Ella (on the right) and Alinea (on the left). These about three-month old kittens stole our hearts almost immediately. Ella was super outgoing and very energetic. Alinea was shy and very skittish. They played well together (they are not from the same litter). We were a little concerned about each individually, and their impact on the boys, so when Bob suggested we adopt both (yes, two was his idea) I wasn’t going to object. And I have to say, he was absolutely right.

The girls both had a rough start. Alinea was thrown from a car and had a degloved jaw and road rash on her paws and tail. Ella was found as a tiny kitten in a barn all alone – no momma cat, no siblings. These two were incredibly lucky to be rescued by a great girl who runs her own rescue organization (and she is 23!!!) and rehabilitates cats so they can be adopted. She did an incredible job with these two and we just adore them.

The boys are still adjusting. Arthas is more interested in their litter box and food than he is in them. Tigger isn’t sure about them, but he isn’t objecting to their presence. I’m hoping once everyone settles in and gets comfortable with each other, they will all get along. We know it will be a while, but it will be worth it.

Personalities are still developing but already Alinea is more outgoing than we expected. Ella is curious, but shy with the boys and she likes her alone time. It will be very interesting to see how they change as they grow up.

(Ella got her name because of the dark freckle like marks on her face, and the darker smudge on the other side of her nose. Every time I saw it I thought of soot, so she made me think of Cinderella, hence the name Ella.  Alinea is both the name of an amazing restaurant in Chicago, but it is also the editing symbol that indicates a new paragraph. Since she had such a rough start, we want her to have a new beginning. She also LOVES food and eats constantly and voraciously, so the name definitely fits her.)

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).

Pupsicles!

It has been just over a year since we got Arthas. We thought about getting him some puppy ice-cream for his anniversary date, but when I looked at the ingredients, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. After a little thought I decided to make my own “puppy ice cream” but make them more popsicle like. The shelter had used frozen chicken broth with milk bones in them for treats, so we did a play on this concept.

IMG_20170807_111004Basic, cheap ice-cube trays from the dollar store were perfect for portioning out the treats. I found a recipe on-line and modified it just a little. Erin was super helpful and very encouraging (I am way more creative when she is around) so we just got a few ingredients and made pupsicles.

These are stupidly simple to make. Yogurt, honey, peanut butter and a banana. Mix then portion into the ice-cube tray and add a milk bone in the center as a stick/handle. They froze in about two hours, although we did keep them in the tray a little longer to solidify more. Except for the milk bone, these are all human ingredients so technically you could eat them too.

Recipe:

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • small Milk bone dog biscuits

Mash the banana with a fork in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Portion out into ice-cube trays and add the milk bone biscuit in the center for a handle. Freeze.

Arthas loved these. Small snack for him, but perfect for these really hot days.

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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. 🙂

 

Waffles

Breakfast for dinner? Yes, please. Breakfast for brunch? Yes, please. Breakfast for … well, anything? Absolutely.

I love breakfast foods, although I almost never eat breakfast. The only thing my stomach wants in the morning is coffee, so that is what I do. But I love breakfast foods and waffles are one of my favorites.

There isn’t anything hard about waffles, and these always turn out pretty perfect. The trick is to use actual buttermilk. I’ve tried soy milk with vinegar, but it really isn’t the same. Buttermilk.  I adapted the recipe below from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. You know, the old hardback with the orange cover that everyone’s mother had in the ’70s and ’80? Yep, I have a copy of it and for some things, it still does the trick.

  • Buttermilk Waffles:
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients together except the flour and stir until well combined. Mix in flour a little at a time until you have a pourable paste consistency. (Think a little thicker than Elmer’s School Glue.) Pour 1/4 of the mixture into hot waffle iron and cook per iron directions. Waffles should be golden and crispy.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

And just because they are cute …

Tigger was trying to help me study and Arthas tried to help fold laundry. I love my boys, but some days they make things harder than they need to be. Still wouldn’t trade them for anything.