Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fig & Kale

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Well today was a big day. We booked our flight from Boston to Atlanta today. We will be flying out on Wednesday March 20th 2013. Reservations have been made with the Hiker Hostel to pick us up from the MARTA train station in North Springs Georgia. They will bring us to the Hostel were we will have a good night sleep, breakfast and then be dropped off near the top of Springer Mountain.

It is three months and one day until my last day of work. I bet the time will fly by.

We also ordered cards to hand out about our hike and Sassafras's Hike for Hunger.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Four Midwestern Bagel Service Atrocities

I tried to leave my New Yorkers know best attitude at the door when I left to become a Midwesterner 16 years ago, but there are some things that people in these parts really need to learn from Gotham.  That your legs don’t stop working when you step onto an escalator is one.  Another, which will be the subject of this post, is bagel service.
Mind you, bagel service is not complicated.  By no means am I implying that only New York minds could come up with the proper way to serve a bagel with cream cheese.  We can’t even figure out a reasonable way to transport people to our airports, for goodness’ sake.  No, serving a bagel with cream cheese the right way is so easy that even a PS 169 grad like me can do it.  You slice the bagel and you put cream cheese on it.  That’s it!  There’s nothing more to it, yet there are countless ways in which Midwesterners overcomplicate the process and ruin it.  I’ve listed some of these egregious errors below with the hope that anyone with bagel service responsibility will heed  my warning, and that anyone who knows a person with such responsibility will pass it on.  After 16 years, I’m getting angry about this. Do not keep screwing up my bagel with cream cheese. 
Four Common Midwestern Bagel Service Atrocities:
4. Double slicing.  A bagel should be sliced across its equator so that cream cheese can be applied.  Under no circumstances should it then be sliced again longitudinally.  I don’t know if it’s the more heavily Christian population here or what, but this cross-pattern slicing has got to stop.  The cream cheese oozes out of the center and it’s a mess to eat this way.  Stop it. Really.

3. Cream cheese on the side.  If a man orders a bagel with cream cheese, he wants a bagel with cream cheese on it.  This practice of handing over an unsliced bagel with a plastic tub of cream cheese and a flimsy plastic knife is insulting.  Those flimsy knives can’t even slice a ripe, peeled banana.  They’re hopeless against a bagel, and even more hopeless in spreading the rock-hard cream cheese in that tub you took directly from the ice box.  Do you give these knives out because you’re worried about customers having weapons to use against you?  Continue this cheese on the side practice, and such worry might become justified.
2. Calling the thing a “schmear”.  This is the only one that makes me think, maybe Midwesterners really are less intelligent than New Yorkers.  “Schmear?”  You’re an adult, for Willett’s sake!

1. Toasting.  Toasting ruins a bagel’s chewy reason to exist.  Toasting is for, well, toast.  A bagel is not toast.  Stop this.  If you encounter customers who insist on having their bagel toasted, I’ll allow you to decide whether or not you want to accommodate such misguided people.  If you’re the kind of place that allows people to add grilled chicken breast to any salad on the menu, then you should go ahead and accommodate this equally ridiculous request too.  But so many places toast by default, without even asking if that’s what the customer wants.  Stop this.  People complain to me:  “But what if the bagel isn’t fresh?  Isn’t it better toasted then?”  If you’re eating or serving a stale bagel, stop reading this blog and think about what your life has become. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Party Invitation

Scanning this invitation was almost as difficult as designing it. If it looks sloppy, I apologize. I'd work even longer, scan it for the 50th time but frankly I'm sick of doing it, it obviously doesn't want to be scanned. I even Photoshopped a smudge, I'm that lazy.

As usual, I bought my paper supplies from, which I just adore. I knew I wanted green and I had used Chartreuse before (which incidentally is very pretty), I wanted a darker green, like an emerald or even more like moss. When it arrived it was kind of a dull green but it's been growing on me. I wanted to dress up the dullish envelopes so I used a Christmas stamp from Michael's (40% off coupon) of a giant deer. It's really pretty and I wanted it to look glittery so I bought this platinum colored stamp ink and it's the color I wanted since apparently I can't buy actual glitter stamp ink and I'm not about to try my hand at embossing (crazytown). This ink never dries. It smudges so easy and the deer stamp has some pretty details. I know my husband is going to wreck them before they get to the intended invitees.

I also weighed myself today for those keeping track. I'm the exact same weight. I'm sort of being half-assed but I'm not exactly going crazy either. I need to count my calories, to tell you the truth I don't want to gain weight, but I'm just not into dieting right now. I try to think of what to eat to do the right thing and I can't think of anything, I go back to the same old stuff and it's so boring. I still just want to eat normally but eat less. I have to figure out how to do that without feeling like I'm starving all the time. Also, I really want to bake cookies. It feels pretty lame to not be able to. But I also want to fit into my Christmas dress.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Party Plan & Inspiration

Christmas Party

J Crew Glitter Ballet Shoes / Kate Spade Earrings / Emerald Party Dress / Green Tissue Pom Poms / Scalloped Glitter Garland

I found a dress for our Christmas Party!  I'm doing a loose green & gold glitter theme for the party.  I'm making the scalloped garland.  The tissue poms are on order.  I found the earrings on ebay for a lot lower in price.  I really love the shoes but I'm going to go with some black ballet shoes I already have with black tights.  I also ordered a cropped black cardigan for if I feel exposed (or cold).

I know I said I wasn't posting this week but surprise!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quick Check In

I'm not going to be able to post for the rest of the week.

From here.

I have a huge project with a deadline at the end of the month and I need every available moment.

Also all the cats are sick, this has never happened before.  It started with Grayson and has slowly been moving through them all in slightly different ways.  Grayson has used up our vet budget requiring two visits to the vet in the last few weeks so we are trying to not go to the vet, I hope we don't have to go to the vet, we'll see.

I will say I weighed in at 226.6 on Monday morning.  I didn't even count my calories last week but I guess I did okay.  I meant to get back on track on Monday but I don't know maybe I'll just take it easy another week and go from there.

spinach & goji quinoa

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meet a Cat - Zimmy

Way back when we lived in the big house Aidan and Bella were my cats that I had before Brian.  They were pretty tight, especially now that we have 5 cats and none of them cuddle, I miss the days seeing Aidan and Bella draped on each other.

I also had a real job back then that made me cry and everything.  Oh those were the days.  One day Brian called me at work (on a freaking land line people! it was that long ago) and said there were kittens living behind his office.  Brian works downtown in this cute tiny little building that has a small fenced yard in the back, and a mom cat found her way back there with two tiny little kittens.  There are multiple restaurants nearby and birds and other creatures.  One of Brian's employees brought in a huge bag of cat food and they would feed the mom cat every day.  I would camp out in Brian's office window that overlooks the back yard, hoping to catch a glipse of the kittens.  Then I would slowly creep into the kitchen and try to open the backdoor without the mom cat hearing me and take pictures.  She was pretty quick so all I got were shadowy photos of them in then impossibly tiny area between Brian's building and the building next door, like 6 or 8 inches wide, not much at all.

One day Brian's office caught one of the kittens and every one was like what do we do, what do we do, so Brian calls me again and I said if they are still nursing then he needs to put the kitten back outside.

This, my friends, is my biggest cat mistake of all time and I'm going to tell you why.

I have caught multiple cats since Zimmy and I have learned the trick.  The moment you see a kitten eat the slightest morsel of cat food it's time to grab that cat.  You cannot wait until they never nurse again because I've seen kittens almost the size of their mommas still nursing, it's incredible.  You can't wait or they will get too feral.  You want that sweet spot between can sort of eat regular food and still wobbles around not knowing there's a scary human hovering over them.

When Brian called me, that was the sweet spot and he had Zimmy in his hands, perfect Zimmy in his hands, and he put him back outside.  We waited about 2 or 3 more weeks, maybe more, and borrowed a trap from animal control and we were ready to catch both kittens and catch & release the mom cat.  One of the employees was going to take the other kitten and we were going to keep Zimmy.

Brian caught two other cats before catching one of the cats we were trying to catch.  One we are pretty certain is Zimmy's dad because he was so gigantic when Brian opened the trap door this huge black butt wiggled his way backwards out of the crate in such a way that we still laugh about it to this day.  And Zimmy seems to have inherited that giant cat's rear end.

I don't remember the order that we caught the two kittens and the mom but we brought them all to a vet in a bordering county.  I can't remember what she charged us but I think the mom cat was free if we paid for the kittens.  The kittens were very sick with the eye thing Grayson had (and actually has today).  This was where I made my second cat mistake.  I kept the kittens together in the front, upstairs bathroom (oh yes, I used to have 3 bathrooms) and they kept swapping the sickness back and forth and prolonged the illness.  Also the other kitten, not Zimmy, hated me, I mean really HATED me and that rubbed off on Zimmy who thought perhaps maybe the lady with the feather wand was okay until his sister would hiss and freak out and then he'd start shaking.  Oh it was awful, awful times.  Plus I was only there after work and I'd sit in that bathroom for like 2 hours every night trying to socialize them. 

I should have either separated them, good lord we had the space, or given Mia to her new momma.  The plan was to get them healthy and then give Mia to Brian's employee but they ended up never really getting better so she had to give her medicine anyway.  By then it was even more weeks later, 2 weeks or so and Zimmy still had only hung out with me only when another cat was hissing and hating me.

Even then I moved Zimmy into the front bedroom for another week or so for his eye to heal and he was practically adult before he saw anyone but me or saw another cat.  He immediately took to Aidan and Bella but he is one scared cat.  He spends most of the time hiding and the rest of the time relentlessly wanting affection, like constant, overkill, one might say.

 The mom cat was the only cat we've ever tried catch and release.  We brought her back to Brian's office after her surgery, she was pretty pissed and you could tell she was really lonely.  The next day she was gone, we never saw her again.

When Andy joined the family a few years later Andy immediately became head honcho cat and Aidan suffered the brunt of that because he used to be head honcho.  A couple years later, Aidan doesn't really care anymore, so Andy takes the bulk of his aggression out on Zimmy.  I'm not sure why. 

Zimmy is like the sweetest cat of all time.  It's not all the time but it's there.  Fox has become Andy's right hand man so he is almost as bad.

Because Zimmy is somewhere between scared silly and wanting to be loved he spends a lot of time laying in the hallway watching us.  We call him our threshold kitty because that's usually where he is ready to flee if necessary but happy to hang out in the meantime.

I'm pretty certain Zimmy is the most beautiful cat I've ever seen.  I love photographing him because he is so pretty and isn't hyper and will hold a pose waiting for my fumbling fingers.  I always feel a little sad that Zimmy is such a timid cat and I could have grabbed him earlier and he'd be a completely different cat.  But I think at the same time he's very loved and happy and he's so lucky to have the life that he does, I just wish I could have made it a little better for him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Weigh In - Week 2

Well this week was a bummer.  I don't know where to begin.  First of all, my daily calorie allowance is 1412 calories (I'm using  I went over by 867 calories (for the entire week, a little over 100 per day) and I gained 1.5 pounds.  Even if I was the world's worst calorie counter, and I can assure you after years of doing this I am not, there's no way I'm off by 5250 calories for the week over what I need to maintain my current weight which should be in a low estimate around 2260 calories a day.  I was pretty much weighing around 226 or 227 all week and then I weighed 228 this morning.  I did start my period on Friday and it's been a pretty bad period but still.  Come on.

I was thinking about throwing in the towel and going by Dunkin Donuts to get some donut holes but I didn't.  This week is going to be crappy too with Thanksgiving.  I'm eating at three different houses for three different days for Thanksgiving, no matter how hard I try it's just going to be difficult.

I having a hard time getting in the right mindset.  I'm still eating bigger portion sizes than I'd like and eating the wrong foods.  I just get sick of Subway so fast.  Sick of grilled chicken sandwiches and sick of all of it.  I think I was trying to make a lifestyle change and still eat to a degree where I didn't feel too deprived but I need to do more.  It's not enough.

I also need to post more often, sorry about that.  I will try to do better.

From here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hiking with Sassafras

As we get started in planning our 2013 Appalachian Trail adventure, I have been thinking back on how this all got started. I have always had an interest for the outdoors. My grandfather was the classic Maine outdoors-man  He was an avid hunter, loved to fish and was very independent.  He gave me my first exposure to the outdoors and have had a love for it my whole life.
My Grandfather as a small boy with his father 

I tried to pass this love of the outdoors to Sassafras. I took her hiking as soon as she could walk. We went camping, fishing, hunting, snowshoeing and canoeing whenever we could. She loved all of it.
A young Sassafras already wearing a pack

When she was 8 years old we were car camping at Mount Blue State Park in Maine and went to the evening  presentation. At this state park on Saturday nights they offered a nature presentation of some sort each summer. On this particular night a gentleman gave a talk about his thru hike of the Appalachian trail. Sassafras was enthralled by the presentation and after his talk she went up to him and he was nice enough to answer her questions for over 1/2 and hour. He told her that in two weeks a young lady who he thru hiked with would be giving a talk at the park. She begged us to come back and see the presentation. Two weeks later we were back and the hook was set. The young lady brought her gear from her thru hike and after her talk she spent a long time letting Sassafras try out all the gear and answer her many questions.

The next weekend I had no choice but to take her out on an overnight backpacking trip. So i got out my old gear and off we went. We hiked Baldpate Mountain near Bethel Maine on the A.T. and then stayed overnight at the shelter. That night as we were ready to go to sleep two thru hikers came in, having just gone thru the mahoosuc notch and down Old Speck. Sassafras talked to these guys for about and hour asking one question after another. The were so kind and patient with her (this has been my experience with the people we meet on the trail). The next morning she told me that some day she was going to thru hike the Appalachian trail, little did i know how soon that would be.
Hiking down to Fry Notch Shelter-notice the huge 1989 Camp Trails Backpack

So from that time on we have been hiking as much as time would allow. Sassafras loves to hike and meet all the interesting people. I remember that first hike well. I bet my pack weighed 50 pounds (for and overnight hike) all my gear was 15 to 20 years old and heavy. I also remember to odd looks I received from thru hikers that met us those first few hikes, I guess because of the huge pack and little girl. We learned quickly to lighten the load. The first few year we did our hiking on the A.T. between the New Hampshire line and Rangely Maine.  Living in Maine and doing most of my hiking in Maine and New Hampshire, we both thought this is how the A.T. was i.e. steep, rocky, and rooty, but still has a great time. After hiking in Virginia and Georgia I am sure that this foundation will do us well on our Thru Hike.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekly Weigh In - Week 1

Oh, what a week.

I thought my week was going pretty well until I woke up on Monday morning for my weigh in and gained 2 pounds from the day before.  I weighed two more time and got two different weights, that's three different weights getting on the scale three times in a row.  Needless to say I'm getting a new scale.  This morning I went down about a pound but I also got some weird electronic blip.  I think my scale is done.  I have had it since my last big diet on this very blog, that was a long time ago.

So that was a bummer.  I went with my highest weight just in case it was the real deal, just in case I gained 2 pounds eating 1500 calories.  Crazier things with my metabolism have happened.  In a normal week 2.5 pounds would be really great but I really wanted to benefit from a strong, water weight start.

My goal is to be in onderland on Valentine's Day.  I'd love it to be in Christmas but that's not going to happen.  Because the holidays are the worst time to try to lose weight I don't plan on "dieting" on Thanksgiving Day or the bar Christmas party.  It's just too sad to diet on those days.  I would add our Christmas party too but I generally don't eat a lot during our parties.  I have like adrenaline or something (total exhaustion) and it makes me not eat very much.  I'm not going do the baking thing this year.  It was really fun last year always having homemade cookies ready during the season but I think I'll live.

Valentines Day seems so far away.  I just don't want to blow it before then.  Onderland is just a start anyway.  It's a great first goal.  I cannot believe I weighed 205 pounds last year and blew it.  I'm such an idiot.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween in Retrospect

...I know, Halloween is so done right now. But I want to share my thoughts and photos anyway.

 I really enjoy using pinterest to get ideas for holidays and parties.  One rule I have for pinterest is to never pin anything that I can't recreate or afford (in the short term, anyway).  I don't want pinterest to be a fantasy wish list, I want it to have real things that I can make or do or buy or decorate.

For Halloween I came up with a lot of ideas.

The first thing I wanted was some sort of garland for the ceiling between the kitchen and dining room.  I also knew I wanted to hang tissue paper pom poms, which I found a pack of three by Martha Stewart for $3 at TJ Maxx, score!  I hung those over the island and they are still there.  I'm hoping to keep them up through Thanksgiving and then replace them with something more Christmasy.

I got my Bat Garland idea from here.  I used her template and spent an afternoon cutting out bats from cardstock I bought on Amazon.  I'm really happy with how this turned out.

The inspiration is on the left, mine is on the right for these collages.

I think I was most excited about the cake.  I really wanted to find a black cake stand but when I saw this one (on the right) I had to have it.  Black would limit when I could use it and now I can use it all the time.  Right now it holds bananas.  It's my new favorite thing.

I used this site for the cake and the toppers.  I tried using her pdf as a stencil but it was very intricate so I tried printing it on black cardstock and it left a shadow so I could cut the bats out that way.  I was not easy attaching tiny paper bats to super thin wire when you have 2 hours before your party and you haven't showered or started cooking dinner (shaky hand syndrome) and the cats are like "oh, toy!" so keep that in mind.  I had the bats cut out in advance and I should have gone ahead and glued them to wire.  Also I'm not a neat cake person.  I don't like leveling cakes especially when it was obvious I was missing a couple layers to match my inspiration cake.  I used a cake box for the cake but made the frosting homemade.  Next time I'd do it all homemade, it was lacking for me.

For my tablescape I really fell for the matte black pumpkin from here.  I actually first used chalk paint and then ordered a sample pot of seriously matte black paint hoping for a more matte effect.  In the end I could not obtain what I was looking for.  This was a fail and because I went with the sample pot I spent more money that I would have liked on this project.

I don't know how I found this bouquet but I really liked the white flowers with the black feathers.  I found a feather at Michaels and used grocery store roses.  They have since really opened up and look even more stunning.  I got the vase from TJ Maxx.  The pumpkins are $2 from Target but I spent like $15 on paint like an idiot.

I also was still not finished with my husband's (the Dark Knight Rises) Bane costume. So I was still tweaking it and had to essentially give it up. It looks a little rumbled but it is what it is. I was supposed to be Cat Woman from the masquerade ball and I was so exhausted by party time I wore my Nike Sneakers and didn't take off my glasses so I didn't wear my mask. One of the three reasons I got fed up with myself is I bought a special dress for the night and when I went to put it on for the party it didn't fit me! I bought it a month or so ago and it fit barely. I remember thinking at that time I better watch it or this dress isn't going to fit me. And it didn't. I went with an old Old Navy party dress and it's not like I was pulling off Anne Hathaway anyway. Speaking of, like no one knew who Brian was. It's the second highest grossing movie of the year and like 10% of people knew who he was. Me, I'm a cat with a black dress on. Kind of lame...

The party was not, it was one of our greatest parties. I made Jambalaya and it was so good. We had nine people total gathered around our little table and we had more trick-or-treaters than ever before and all the kids wore costumes! It's always really upsets me when kids can't afford trick-or-treat costumes. We almost ran out of candy!

 I hope your Halloween was wonderful too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Slow Boil

First a little history.

I made a determined effort at the beginning of the year to lose weight.  I was doing pretty good too until after Valentine's day when I started feeling nauseous every hour of every day.  Two weeks later I was in the emergency room for an emergency appendectomy.  I had continued to lose quite a bit while I was sick.  I didn't and couldn't really eat a lot so it made it easier.  I also was certain I had IBS and started trying every IBS diet I could find to find some relief from this terrible constant ache and twisting I had.  None of them helped, obviously, because I didn't have IBS.  Even after surgery for some unknown reason I got nauseous about a week after I got home.  I was so scared because I thought I had rid myself of that feeling and here it was again, agonizing me.  But luckily, thank god, it finally went away.

It was around that time that I started associating hunger with my nauseous and I took a break from feeling hungry.  I thought I could control it, I never went crazy, but I do know I cannot maintain weight, even over 200 pounds, and not be hungry most of the time.  This is my reality.

I weighed myself from time to time and kept telling myself it wasn't so bad.  I don't know where this rationality comes from.  Brian describes it as the frog in a pot scenario.  If you put a frog in boiling water he'll jump out but if you put him in cold water and slowly let the water get hot, he'll just sit there.

I'm really good at just sitting there.

Then about a week or so ago a few things happened that are not things I really want to go into here but they forced to me to think about some things I hadn't thought about in a long time and after 7 years of marriage I shared some stuff from the dark parts of my childhood with my husband that I had never told him before.  I don't know if it was the crying about it or finally sharing it with my husband but I felt this sense of release.  A couple other things came into play and it felt like a switch went off inside me.

I think I'm going to be able to do this.

So I wanted to take some time to make sure I was serious and it wasn't some 24 hour diet bug I got and it's been about a week now, maybe a little more and I feel really good.  Really strong and really determined.

When I started my diet in January I weighed 241 (crazy!) pounds.  When my surgery was over the last of the nausea went away I weighed 205.5 pounds.  I know, don't tell me.  So close.  A couple days ago I weighed myself and I weighed 229.  The boiling frog in me actually thought hey, less than 230, like a dumbass.  I gained 23.5 pounds since March.  That's a lot and it was very easy.  I wasn't like stuffing my face 24/7, I was just eating pretty normally with the occasional comfort eating episode.

For me, food is very comforting.  I don't smoke or drink (very occasionally, like once a year) or do drugs or dangerous sports or even drive fast.  When I'm stressed or just want to relax I eat something amazing.  I don't think I'm a binge eater, I used to, but I'm very particular about what I will eat.  I want something delectable or I won't bother.  I love desserts most of all and I like a big portion.  And I think, it wouldn't take much to gain 24.5 pounds with that sort of mentality.  And that's why this is so hard for me.  There's nothing to comfort me, I have nothing to replace that feeling with. 

So I have to find other ways to comfort myself like the thought of feeling pretty and more secure with myself or taking care of my husband or being the best kitty mom in the land.  I'm still working that part out.  And I've failed so many times before but I don't care, I want to try again.

I don't feel healthy at this weight and I certainly feel no confidence.  My confidence is at an all time low.  And it's really sad because I know inside I'm a pretty person but when I see myself I know what people think of me and it makes me feel very small (irony!). And I don't want to feel small anymore.  I've been though a lot in my life, I've missed out on a lot, and I don't want to miss out on my happiness and my sense of worth anymore.  I want to feel as beautiful on the outside as I do on the inside.  I'm worth that, it's worth giving it another go.

From here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

La Sirena Clandestina

I walked through the door at what turned out to be a few minutes before opening time.  The staff was busy readying for service and I felt bad for interrupting, but right away John Manion smiled and invited me to have a seat while they finished things up.  I felt like a welcomed guest in somebody’s home.  La Sirena Clandestina is a tiny place, decorated humbly but warmly with candles and flowers.  The setting, the smiles and the relative quiet at 4PM were a great respite from the more typical hustle and bustle of other hot new West Loop restaurants.  Things are surely different at prime dinner time and later, but I suspect that at its core, this place will always be warm and welcoming.
The two dishes I had were good, though I wonder if it’s that same vision to be a welcoming respite for all comers which held the food back from being what I’d hoped for.   Take the Acaraje, for instance: black eyed pea fritters which were split and stuffed/ topped with dende-poached shrimp and pickled onions, with dime-sized circles of dark-orange (not that) hot sauce brightly decorating the plate.  It was a pretty dish to look at, and an enjoyable one to eat, with a crisp outer shell giving way to relatively light interior, much like some of the better falafels around town.  The oil poached shrimp had a soft texture and mild, sweet taste.  What’s to complain about?  Nothing, perhaps, but this was my first time trying Acaraje, so I did some research after dinner.  While there seem to be variations, it sounds to me like many of the best and most authentic ones are packed with powerfully-flavored dried shrimp, often pounded  with nuts into a paste, and crispy bits of shrimp shell that provide big taste and crunch.  La Sirena  Clandestina’s dish was good, but it didn’t seem to push the envelope in any way.  It was safe.  As with John Manion himself when I entered the restaurant, the Acaraje wouldn’t turn anyone away.
The same seemed true of the crispy chicken thighs.  They were very nicely done and served with the advertised rapini, chili and garlic.  It was balanced.  It tasted homey.  The use of garlic was very restrained, with just a few ultra-thin fried sliver.  Ditto for the chile.  Certainly I knew they were both there, but for my taste, much, much more punch would have made the dish better. 
It’s a wonderfully inviting space with well-prepared food and one of the friendliest staffs I’ve encountered.  The restaurant deserves to do well.  Based on admittedly limited menu exploration though, the food at La Sirena Clandestina doesn’t quite resonate with me as I’d hoped.
La Sirena Clandestina
954 W. Fulton Market


Thursday, October 25, 2012

More About the Litter Box

A request for an inside view.  The difficult part was finding a tub that fit the dimensions of the cabinet.  Lots of  larger litter boxes are 17 inch wide.  I found rubbermaid tubs at Office Depot that had almost the perfect dimensions.  One of the cats is a high pee-er so the walls had to be tall.  The 18 gallon tub is even taller than than the smaller one I went with.  I cut a hole in the front, not easy to do, I used heavy duty scissors and then went over the new edges with a piece of sandpaper, it didn't feel particularly sharp but I wanted to make sure.  I have the shelf set so they have ample head room, I wanted it to feel very spacious.  Obviously you don't want your dishes in the same cabinet because of litter dust so all my cleaning supplies are stored in the rest of the cabinet.

Technically I haven't had them use the cabinet yet with the door shut and the new hole.  I painted the opening white last night and let it dry overnight.  I'll get back with you if it doesn't work.  All our cats have used covered litterboxes so I didn't feel like it was very different if anything they get extra head room and extra privacy, but I could be wrong.  Also they've been using this cabinet with the door open and without the door for weeks and we've had no problems.  I do clean the litter box at least twice a day, this is a must with so many cats.  I'll let you know how it goes today with the new hole.

I also had a question about the inside of the cabinet. It is laminate inside but it's totally glued down solid.  It's easy to wipe up.  If it gets wet too often like under a sink with a leak it might start to peel up.  Under my sink for precautionary reasons I put down a puppy pad so if it does drip it's on the pad.  This is overkill but I spent most of last fall resolving a bug issue and water is the biggest issue with bugs.  I've never had to change the pad, I don't think it leaks at all, very little if anything.  In the cabinet, as you can tell, I don't have anything under the tub.  I thought about putting a puppy pad there but so far I haven't had any issues.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Laundry Room Progress

Oh my god I can't believe I did this. 

This stupid door has been off the hinges for weeks waiting for the handy man to come cut it for me.  Finally today I thought, why can't I do this?  Just because I'm scared to do it.  Just because if I mess up I can't run out and get another door?  Why should that stop me...

So I improvised some saw horses, loaded up my jig saw, and went slow and steady.  I did it, I can't believe it!

So much cleaner.  The new pantry cabinet cost more than I wanted it to but the results are really terrific despite the price.  I want to move the washer/dryer a bit to the left so it doesn't look crammed against the wall and curtains.  In the future I still have space to put in another pantry cabinet if I want but there are more pressing house to do issues to resolve first.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet a Cat - Andy

We were watching this show the other day called The Woman with 700 Cats.  It was about this lady and her cat shelter and though I couldn't watch it for very long, a tiny kitten died and I started crying and that was the end of that.  But I got her, I got how she got there with 700 cats.

We are up to 5 cats and it's been hard to not have more.  It's been a sad week because one of outdoor kittens got sick and we ended up taking him to the vet where they put him to sleep and it reminded me of the kittens from the Spring and how they all died except of course Grayson and one outdoor cat named Mini Gus.  I could have brought that kitten inside, I could bring all the kittens inside and save them all!  But we can't.  Five cats is too much.  But we saved five cats.

Andy is one of them.

From time to time a cat will show up in the backyard of Brian's office building.  His building is right in the heart of downtown and we have a little backyard that's fenced in and behind that is a bank parking lot and then the back of a bank. There's a string of office buildings lined up like Brian's.  I don't think any of them have yards but Brian's.

One day Brian called me and said this adult cat showed up and unlike most ferals, he was super friendly.  Brian opened the backdoor and this cat just walks right in.  You could pet him or pick him up, whatever.  We started putting out food for him and letting him come in for a while during the day.  It didn't take long to install a cat door and Andy could come inside whenever he felt like it.  One day Brian was in a conference with a client and Andy jumped in the client's lap.  Often he would just sleep in the conference room in one of the chairs and no one would even know he was there.

Andy had a bad habit and that was his love for killing creatures and bestowing the remains or mostly dead remains on his new family.  Brian would arrive at the office and often find scatters of bird feathers or carcasses left in the kitchen.  No one really liked this.  Well, Andy did.

A short time after that Brian came in the office and found Andy pretty badly beaten up with a huge ugly sore on his nose.  It was time to take Andy to the vet.  His nose was badly infected and he either got into a fight with another cat or some other animal.  The safe thing to do would be to bring Andy home and make him an indoor cat. 

His transition to indoor cat went awesomely.  He only tried to get out once and ran immediately under the house where Brian had to crawl under the house to get him and pull him out.  He never tried to escape after that.

Andy is 100% personality.  He makes us laugh more than any other cat, including the kittens Fox or Grayson.  His mix of finicky and affection is endearing. He also immediately became alpha cat, I feel bad for Aidan, but there was no other option.  We often try to imagine where Andy came from, did his family drop him behind the bank.  Were they just moving and couldn't take him or were they mad at him?  When Andy does something off, I often wonder about that.  Did they hurt him?  Did they think he was an ass?  Andy can be an ass sometimes.  When we moved from the yellow house to the blue house Andy had a difficult time, hiding under the covers of the bed for days.  I wonder if it's some sort of left over anxiety from his former life, is he afraid we're going to abandon him? We'll never let you go, Andy, we love you so.

The most remarkable thing about Andy is how much he adores kittens.  When we brought Fox in he was enraptured with Fox.  He was so gentle and loving and let Fox beat him up and never tried to hurt him back.  Although he has a special affection for Fox he's always been extra gentle with Grayson as well.  When he wants to play with the kitten, he'll flop on his back and wait for the kitten to jump on him.  He chases them around and let's them win.  It's so much fun to watch.

Andy also is a great cuddler.  He loves to cuddle during TV time on the sofa.  On the bed he likes to sleep between your legs and it sounds sweet but he weighs 100 pounds and won't let you adjust.  After a few years I finally got him to go sleep on Brian.

Andy is Brian's cat.  He waits for Brian to come home and runs to the front door to greet him like a dog would.  It's so sweet.  Most of the cats are obvious mom lovers so it makes me happy that Andy prefers Brian to me.

All our other cats came to us as kittens but Andy certainly proves that inviting an older cat into your home can be equally loving and enjoyable.  Andy is a treat and we wouldn't trade him for the world.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

10 Ways You Know You're a Cat Mom*

1.  You're a girl and you have a cat

2.  You finish vacuuming the house and then walk past 3 cat fur bunnies on the way to put the vacuum away.

3.  At least one of the cats will throw up at least one time any day you are expecting visitors.

4.  You can tell when it's cold outside because the cat will sleep on the heat vent.

5.  It's impossible to not have paw prints on the countertops.

6.  You're never in the bathroom alone.  One likes to nap on the floor mat while you pee, another likes to lick the shower tiles while you shower.

7.  You have $100 worth of cat toys and they prefer the box from

8.  You know which cat gets flea medicine first, otherwise he'll smell it on the others and hide where you'll never be able to get to him.

9.  The smelliest poops occur right after you scoop the litter.

10.  You've mastered the art of pretzel sleeping so as not to disturb the cat sleeping in the crook of your knee.  

* because as a cat mom who has time for 100.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's All in the Details

I was watching Property Brothers on DVR today and I saw the cutest remodel.  Usually they are more catered to masculine finishes so this one was refreshing for girlie tastes like myself.

One thing that really struck me were the blinds they used through out the house but especially in the dining room where they used a yellow trim down the front of the blinds.  I really like it.

Our house isn't fair from the sidewalk and is even closer to our next door neighbor's porch.  In the other rooms I've been layering curtains with sheers but the living room requires something more substantial.  Right now we keep the curtains closed but I don't like the look, I like when the curtains are open.  I think having blinds with this ribbon trim detail would be perfect for the living room.  I usually don't like blinds but I like the way they look here.  Only four windows in that room, no problem at all. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hating Fat People

I always feel a little weird writing about what I'm about to write about.  I never know the place of things people tell me and how they fit into this whole blog thingy.  It's never my intention to make readers dislike someone in my life, I just feel like it's important to share real life experiences that happen to me, things you might not expect and my thoughts and reactions when things like this happen.  Maybe you can relate to what I'm about to share or maybe it will help you realize some of the things you might say in your life.  I've stuck a foot or two into my own mouth, none of us are exempt from that I'm sure.  Again, I am not fishing for any sort of negative reactions here, I love my family, I'm just sometimes amazed at the things that come out of peoples' mouths.

I don't even remember what we were talking about, the four of us driving back from dinner last night.  On Wednesday nights we have dinner with my inlaws and we had just finished a delicious Italian dinner and were heading home.

FIL: You know what I hate.  That woman in the new Wendy's commercials.  She is a large woman.  She does not make a good spokesperson. When people look at her they don't want to eat at fast food. 

Brian tried explaining that the woman was Dave Thomas's daughter and Dave Thomas used to do ads for Wendy's and was very popular and successful but it wasn't really working.

FIL:  McDonalds doesn't do that, you think that clown is the owner of McDonalds?

I don't even know if my FIL realized how insulting and demoralizing it felt to be the "large woman" in the backseat of the car.  I don't think he meant to hurt my feelings, but he did.

I tried finding something that said that Dave Thomas was too fat to be a spokesperson for Wendy's but only Wendy popped up and the comments regarding her looks were excruciating to read.  When did we become this society that thinks it's okay to be so pissed off at women that aren't what society considers as hot.  Dave Thomas supposedly did over 800 commercials and people loved them.  This is a woman issue.  I think it follows along with the news lady who got the hate email about her size.  I was going to write about her but I felt like everyone did a much better job talking about that and I had nothing to add, but in this case I was right there in the back of the car while it was happening, he was talking about me, whether he knew it or not.

I wanted to crawl in a ball and be invisible.  Did I go home and throw up my dinner and do jumping jacks until I fell over?  No, I did not.  I watched television and ate Halloween candy, felt like a shit, like I don't matter in the world.  Thank you Reece Cups.  My own personal heroin.

I certainly now know my FIL hates fat women, for the sake of being fat, and I now know what he thinks every time he looks at me.

This is what Wendy looks like:

She probably wears a size 12 or 14.  That's like my goal.  I think she's cute and I think her ads aren't anything to be annoyed about in any way.  I also tend to think most of America looks like her and maybe it would be nice to see folks on television who look like you.  

Along with the real Wendy ads they also use a younger, thinner redhead for other Wendy's ads along with the slogan, "Now that's better."  I guess this is supposed to be a dig at McDonalds but considering they only use that slogan for the skinny redhead and not the real Wendy, I feel like it's kind of a dig at overweight Wendy, intentional or not, who knows.  I just don't understand why the slogan wouldn't be used for both ads.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I really like ordering my glasses online. I've found that when I buy them at the Eye Doctor's office they cost a small fortune. I've ordered from Warby Parker before and I really enjoyed the experience. You select 5 pair to have shipped to you for free and you try them on and decide which one you like. Unfortunately I have a very large head so this time around I didn't find a pair I really liked. I tried a trial 5 pair from Mezzmer and had trouble making a decision between three. In the end I went with the Manhattan because I liked how they looked on the model on the website.

I've had them for a while now and I really like them. I do miss the Warby Parker eyeglass case, it's turquoise on the inside, so pretty.

I'm not affiliated with either of these online eyeglass sellers, I wish I was because I love them that much, but I like to share shopping experiences I think might help you too. Both companies sell their glasses for $99 a pair with free shipping. I used to spend about $300 a pair of glasses so this is a big savings. There also aren't enough photos of real folks wearing these online glasses from various places so I thought I'd help out.

Happy Shopping!
Warby Parker

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Meet a Cat - Fox

In a continuing series, meet a cat, the next youngest cat to Grayson is Fox.

One night we were about to fall asleep when Brian saw a flashlight between our house and the house we rent next door.  It was a chilly fall night but Brian went out in his boxers and a trusty baseball bat to check it out.  He came back in and said the tenant was outside with a flashlight trying to locate the sound of a kitten crying.  The wail on this kitten!  There have been many stray kittens around and 99% of the time they are quiet as a mouse.  But not this one.  He was under the house in the crawlspace.  There was a vent near him that was screwed in the foundation and stuccoed in place.  I went in and got a screwdriver and pair of plyers and Brian ripped at it for a while before he could pull the wire mesh back.  The tenant reached her hand in the small hole and pulled out the tiniest kitten crying his head off.  I cannot believe he was just under the grate where she could reach him.

She was going to keep him but after about five minutes of him wailing his little kitten lungs out she pretty much just gave him to me.  We decided to take him to the emergency vet.  At the time I thought well that's what you do when you have a stray kitten.  You just turn him over.  But of course that's not what happened.  They gave me a can of formula and a bottle and sent us back home.

Surprisingly I've bottle feed a kitten before.  I hundred years ago, I was in my early 20s and I lived with a guy and we decided to adopt a kitten.  We found an ad the the newspaper, see I told you it was a long time ago, and we drove out to get a kitten.  We brought home the cutest black and white kitten with cow markings on his legs, he was so adorable.  And the folks who let us adopt him gave him away too soon.  He couldn't eat on his own.  That said, it wasn't long before the cow kitten could eat food, a couple days maybe.

Fox was so tiny his ears were still curved.  He was hungry ALL THE TIME.  I feed him every 2 hours and his little claw fingers would mark up my hand where I held the bottle.  He also could not use the bathroom on his own.  When kittens are very small their moms lick them to clean them and help them use the bathroom.  A warm wet paper towel stood in for a mom cat's tongue and it wasn't easy.  I went through a lot of papertowels.  I think he pooped 24 hours a day.  Because of this he was kept in a cage a lot of the time for easy clean up and when he was with me on the sofa I'd wrap him in a flour sack towel first.

And he bottle feed for like 6 weeks!  I'm not kidding.  He would not eat cat food, not dry food or wet food, tuna, none of it.  Finally we took him to the vet and the vet just shoved wet cat food down his mouth and gave me a syringe and some very wet cat food and he ate like that for about 3 days or so until finally, FINALLY, he would eat.  I was never more relieved when he finally ate cat food.

Fox had this habit of walking right under you so we would step on him all the time.  He also decided to jump on the stove for the first time when I was cooking for our Christmas party right on a hot burner.  Brian had to take him to the vet while I finished everything.  Fox's cone didn't make it through the party.  He'll still jump on the stove.  I'm super cautious with the stove now.

Fox is still very vocal, VERY WHINEY.  He doesn't know the word NO or if he does he doesn't care. I just a spray water bottle for discipline and all the other cats will jump down or stop what they are doing if you even lift the spray bottle but not Fox.  He looks right at you and squints waiting for the water.  You have to actually spray him for him to get down.  Stubborn.

He's also the only cat that tries to escape.  He's always trying to get outside and often does because he's sneaky.  He knows when you're hands are full.  He's eaten through the screen on the screened porch when we lived in the yellow house and escaped.  He's tried eating through the screen here, as a matter of fact I should check on him right now... 

Despite all that, Fox is my favorite cat.  Maybe because he needed me more, I don't know.  When he sleeps with me at night it's my favorite of all time.  His fur is so soft.  And I pretty much let him get away with murder.  Otherwise he just squints at me and who can spray a cat that's squinting at you?

bigalow update

It snowed over night and it got cold. We slept  well and all of our gear worked great. I really like the marmot precip jacket, it weights a few ounces more than the marmot mica, but for bad weather it is worth it. Sassafras said she was a little bummed out when she thought it was raining at night, but was happy when she saw the snow and said it was beautiful and that this was the best part of the hike (you have to love her attitude).  Kaboose

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bigelow training hike

We hiked up the a.t. from Stratton me. To horn pond, boy was it cold. We hiked down to the fire wardens trail about 9 miles. We started at 130pm.  It is about 35 degrees now, but we are warm in our down 15 deg sleeping bags. Kaboose.                              

Today was a easy trail to hike, but there was snowy ,and ice high up the mountain. It was more fun when we got lower. See ya later. Sassafas ps you can see snow and ice in the picture. sassafras