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
312-226-5300

 

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 Amazon.com

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

Mezzmerized

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!
Mezzmer
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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avec

When people ask me what the best restaurant in Chicago is, my reply is "I have no idea, but if it's the best cooking you want, that's at Avec."  When I've felt down about what I've eaten lately or about food in general, Avec has cheered me up.  Has an inedible bowl of cartilage-laden crab at the hot new Italian restaurant pissed you off lately?  Go to Avec and discouragement will vanish.  Avec takes food seriously.  Even restaurants I like sometimes fail to clean shellfish completely, occasionally overcook a piece of fish, or forget to taste a dish for seasoning once in a while.  In dozens of meals at Avec, it's been my experience that that kind of thing just doesn't happen there.  Never.  Of course, it's not enough to merely avoid screwing up.  Right now, Avec is also putting out some of the most flavorful, exciting food in town.

On a cold fall afternoon, you won't find a dish that warms the soul more than the wood-fired squid cooked and served in a piping hot cast-iron cazuuela with fideos, tomato, and guanciale.  The fideos seem to wiggle around in your mouth, adding a playful texture to an otherwise seriously rich, garlicky, and smoky dish.  I had a similar dish at Avec a year ago, and while I liked it then, this was a whole different level of delicious.  One difference came in the aioli that topped the cazuela; last time it was a somewhat bland cream that didn't add much, but this time the aioli was flavored robustly with fennel, simultaneously adding a jolt to the dish while bringing all of the ingredients into harmony.

The sweet, moist flesh of merluza at Avec is going to make it hard for me to eat fish anywhere else.  Merluza isn't the cheapest type of fish at the market, but it's not the most expensive of luxury ingredients either.  If what's served as Avec is representative, merluza should cost double what lobster or dover sole are fetching.   This fish tasted similar to but even sweeter than halibut, but was substantially meatier and more interesting to eat.  I don't know if it's the fish or the cook or, quite likely, a combination, but I want more merluza right now.  As with the fennel aioli with the squid, the creamy garlic sauce with the merluza was robust but sweet, rounded and not overpowering.  With a bit of grapefruit juice that seeped from the bright pink segments garnishing the plate, the garlic sauce turned into something magical, and with bitter treviso and sweet, tiny olives, it was a wonderful complement for the fish.

Veal sweetbreads seem to be the ingredient du jour around town these days, and perhaps excepting The Trenchermen, nobody is doing them on par with or better than Avec.  One huge, meaty, crisp but incredibly tender specimen was served with pungent cauliflower caponata and a slice of crisped Serrano ham across the top.  Nothing fancy, just absolutely delicious.

That's Avec.  No soil on a plate, no delicious liquids turned into chalky powders, no gimmicks.  Just straightforward, fantastic food.  Just the best cooking in Chicago.

Grayson is Selling Cookies!*

I thought it was kind of funny that on Facebook my SIL wrote that her son (my nephew) was selling cookies for a new playground at his preschool.  He's 21 months old.  You can't write my son is selling cookies because he's not, he can't even talk, you are selling cookies.  Really the preschool is selling cookies.  I wanted sooo badly to comment: So, is he going door to door?

So to direct my snark elsewhere I'm presenting this little poster for you guys.


*He's not really selling cookies, he's a cat.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Break In Update

I'm not even sure how many new readers I have so I'm about to repeat myself to get everyone caught up... Just to warn you.

I suffered some pretty intense stomach issues right after Valentine's Day (for a short while I thought I had food poisoning from The Melting Pot ;-) I was never sure if I cooked my protein long enough).  I ended up seeing a doctor after a week and a half who prescribed Imodium (used to control diarrhea).  I didn't really have diarrhea but I chalked it up to not knowing what I was talking about, when you describe pain as "all over here" and circling your entire midsection you aren't giving a doctor much to go on.  Our Oscar party was that Sunday and I wanted to cancel but Brian didn't because we cancelled last year's Oscar party when we went to New York because Brian's dad had a heart attack.  So he agreed to do everything and my god, that man pulled it off.  He made appetizer portions of Chicken Cordon Bleu all by himself with my grunts and hand gestures of how to do it.  He was awesome.

I tried spending the night sitting very still and I remember at one point thinking to myself I should just go in the bedroom and stretch out.  I had developed some stretches that I felt helped, I don't think they really did though.  I realized in the bedroom that I couldn't get up.  This pain had just gotten to a new level, a very scary level.  Brian came in and I started crying and said, "I think I'm dying and I don't know why."  One of my more odd quotes.  He had everyone leave and we changed clothes and headed to the hospital, he had to help me change clothes, that's how bad I was.

I ended up having an emergency appendicitis and it was pretty serious.  I ended up spending four nights in the hospital (including my all night waiting in the emergency room).  On Wednesday night I remember watching television with Brian and telling him he should go home.  It was during Whitney and I knew he didn't like that show.

He got home and our house had been broken into.  They broke in the back bedroom window and riffled mostly through the bedroom and took all three televisions: a small ones in the bedroom and kitchen and the big monstrous one in the living room.  They also took my camera and Brian's 3gs iphone.  I think Brian almost walked in on them because you'd be surprised by all the stuff they left behind.

I didn't know any of this happened and when I went to call Brian the next day he didn't answer his phone.  I text him and still nothing.  I called the office and they were acting very weird.  The hospital wanted me to check out and hours were going by.  Finally Brian called me.  The first thing he said is, "everything is fine, the cats are fine."  This of course made me panic.

Many months past and I didn't think much else about it.  This isn't the first time things were stolen from us and even the blue house was broken into about a year ago when we had renters.  But then Brian got a phone call that they had a match from fingerprints taken from out house.  A kid who broke into another house was caught and they matched his fingerprints to our house break in.  Wow, crazy news.

I ended up finding the kid's twitter account which I was obsessed with for a while and started going a little nuts about.  I don't read it any more.  Let me just say this.  When I first heard about this kid after my initial anger wore off, I thought about him and thought maybe there was some way we could help this guy.  We don't have kids and maybe we could help him with trade school or something.  Whatever he needed to help him get on the right track.  I don't live in the best neighborhood but one thing you notice is kids are kids.  We are all born the same.  What happens to them and when to make them lose that innocence and how can we help is something I think about a lot.  Maybe this kid was meant to be helped by us.

But then I found his twitter account and Brian went to his first appearance and talked to the officers.  This is not a good kid.  He's really lost and he can't come back from here.  He grew up in a family of law breakers and has been breaking the law since he was a little kid.  He thinks everything happens to him, he's the victim in all this.  If everyone would just leave him alone.  Money and guns and drugs are all that matter to him.

Since he turned himself in he didn't do any jail time.  Since this happened before the conviction of his other break in it doesn't count as breaking his probation from the first conviction.  His next court date was tomorrow.  But today he just got arrested for having a firearm and Brian says this is a big deal.  He's going to do time for this for sure.

This whole time all I wanted was for our case to be its own thing, I didn't want it tacked onto his other break in and I wanted him to do time (though it was explained to me that he most likely wasn't going to do time).  Instead this was going to be another conviction that when he does the next thing would break the probation.  But since he has the firearm thing that breaks his first probation and he goes to prison for that.  Our break in will likely now be lumped with the firearm thing, lost again, pretty much a freebie which is the one thing I didn't want.

Brian says its going to take a long time but he will go to prison for the firearm, for at least a year.  I guess in a way he's doing time so I should be happy but I wanted him to be punished for what he did to us, specifically. 

But that's where we are.  I don't think I'll have much more to post about it since now everything will take so long.  We never got an alarm system because we thought they did a credit check.  But they installed for us with no issue.  I wish we had not waited for something like this to happen to install the alarm.  Live and learn.


Untitled

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RPM Italian

With the celebrity fanfare combined with bad experiences at recent LEYE openings, when RPM Italian initially opened I didn't take it seriously.  Then some relatively positive reviews seemed to indicate that there might be real cooking going on, and I became intrigued enough to take the short walk from work for an early dinner.  I should have trusted my initial thoughts.

On what RPM calls a Bolognese sauce, I am calling boloney.  It's just an overly sweet tomato sauce with some shreds of slow cooked meat in it.  I'd wager that the meat and the sauce met shortly before service, having spent little or no time together on the stove.  And there's way too much of it, overwhelming what were actually pretty good house made parpardelle.  A loveless dish.

I had to send back my squid ink pasta with crab after awkwardly spitting out two 3-inch pieces of cartilage which came from the first two bites.  Crab isn't easy to clean, but this was a ridiculous level of carelessness or incompetence.  I didn't get far enough into this dish to determine whether it had any potential.

Stuffed, fried olives were a tasty snack, but paled in comparison to other versions I've had.  If you're ever lucky enough to be at Spacca Napoli when Jonathan Goldsmith is handing out his version for free to waiting patrons, you'll know how wonderful stuffed, fried olives can be.  By comparison, RPM's were an amateurish rendition with olives that were too small to stuff with any meaningful flavor.

Gelato which a manager brought me for free to make up for the crab debacle was icy but tasty.

There may be reasons to go to RPM Italian, but food isn't one of them.


New phone

I just purchased my first smart phone, a Samsung galaxy s III. I am trying to learn how to use it. We hope to use it for calls, email, texting, blogging, pictures, video, and surfing the net. Kaboose

Birthday Presents for the Nieces

Birthday presents for nieces



I purchased these adorable coin purses on etsy.  The shipping was very fast and they are SO cute.  I wanted to keep the kitty one so bad but they are being shipped off to Texas today for our nieces.

I hope they like them as much as I do!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary Baby

October 8 not only commemorates my wedding anniversary to my dear husband but marks 7 years of infertility and not being able to grow our family.

I remember long ago this one blog post where I posted with such desperation, I even remember where I was, in a hotel at one of my husband's conferences.  I was so distraught, I think I started my period early or something and really had a melt down.  There was no way this was happening to me, no way I will ever accept not having children.  I have to have children, there is no alternative, etc.

Well, here I am many years later and I think I'm really working towards acceptance.  Not to say I'm there or that it's easy.  It's difficult to spend your whole life thinking it will go one way and then it doesn't.  A lot of people like to say this is life, and maybe it is, maybe this is the recognition of that for me, in my early 40s or what life is really like.  I always thought life was hard and imperfect and not fair but I would always look toward the days I would be a mom as a benchmark to push onward.  Everything will be okay because one day this will happen.  And now that's not going to happen and it's hard to mesh that with my younger self and tell her, hey, it's still going to be okay, everything I went through didn't kill me, didn't make me a terrible person, I don't do drugs, I don't abuse people, I do overeat, but hey, you can't be perfect.  Life can still be wonderful.  I just have to see it a different way now and that's okay.  It's a slow process but I'm geting there.  I no longer pound my fist at the injustice of it, I actually miss that, I miss knowing in my heart that it was going to happen one day as long as I believed it.



Now I'm 41.  I had fibroid surgery when I was 35.  I had a polyp removed the same year.  I had two pregnancies, both ending rather quickly.  I had 10 iui's.  I was finally told I was a poor responder to fertility meds.  Then I had an emergency appendectomy that was caused by endometriosis.  My body obviously does not want to get pregnant.  It was not meant to be afterall.

Still, I'm amazingly fortunate.  I love my husband and he is such a gift to me.  It makes me feel vulnerable but that's what life it about.  I'm a very lucky girl and I value my life.  I'm going to make the best of it whatever direction it turns. I miss what was lost and Facebook especially makes me very sad sometimes, but I'm very happy in so many ways. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

We are starting this blog to document our planning, preparation and to give updates of our 2013 northbound thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Sassafras is in the seventh grade and will be 13 years old when we start in Late March of 2013. She loves hiking and backpacking. In the last 4 years she has section hiked all of Maine (much of it 2 or 3 times), northern New Hampshire, Southern Georgia and the southern part of Virginia.

We have meet Parent/child teams each year thru hiking and she has wanted to do a thru hike for the last 3 years. With the support of my wife, her school and my work, we are able to attempt this adventure.

We will be doing gear reviews and planning updates in the future.

Please go to our youtube channel to see video's of our past hikes and video updates from our thru hike.
mainebob6363 youtube channel

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hey, a Workout Post

I want to be one of those women who takes photos of themselves after a great workout. They look so happy and glistening with sweat. So I tried last night and it was the biggest dud, maybe swimming and psuedo-showering afterwards and then taking a photo doesn't have the same effect. I look like a wet dog with smudged eyeliner.

Last night was the second time I swam since we joined the gym. My first time was a tough experience for me because for some reason I thought I was going to get in the water and just start swimming laps. I did it in college! How hard can it be?

And it turned out it was much harder. It's like all of my social fears hitting me at once. 1) wear a swimsuit that's not a tummy friendly tankini or has a sporty cute skirt. 2) walk around a small pool with SCUBA folks messing about to a big pool with actual people in it without a cover up with the world's smallest freaking gym towels. 3) have someone watch me work out (a lifeguard, oh the humiliation), and 4) forget straight out how to swim and proceed to do everything in my power to appear like I meant to do that, I am not in fact drowning, and I like to breast stroke for 45 minutes (frog kicking that long does not hurt your legs).

Then get out of said pool now dripping wet with runny makeup and flat wet hair and waddle back to the locker room to shower in all sorts of bacteria (I forgot to bring shower shoes).

That was the first swim.

How was the second swim?

I have a gym bag but I'm still working out the logistics, where do I need it and when. Fancy shower shoes are expensive so I used flip flops and flip flops squeak when they are wet drawing further attention to myself, just what I wanted. I have a swim cap and I've never worn a swim cap in my life, it rode up a bit, more on that later, I have goggles which helped when the best thing in the world happen. Are you ready for this???

I remembered a fundamental point to freestyle swimming that I forgot. You have to breath out when your face is in the water. I was holding my breath and then when I turned to take a breath I had to blow out and blow in in that brief moment. Now the issue is when I'm swimming I feel like I'm loud. I blow out under water and it sounds loud. I take a breath and I feel like I'm gasping (drawing attention from the lifeguard, oh crap) and when I look up there are waves and fat girls aren't allowed to make waves, everyone knows that. Am I flailing about gasping loudly, riotously when I swim? I have no freaking idea because my head is underwater.

But, but, I did swim 3 lengths freestyle, this is a huge improvement over last time.

I got a kick board before I got in the pool so my routine was something like, try to freestyle, go into breast stroke. Breast stroke four lengths, use the kick board for kicking for four lengths, try freestyle again, into breaststroke and repeat. Swimming is kind of monotonous, I can swim a lap (2 lengths in like 3 minutes or so) so going for 45 minutes is a lot of laps. And no music, just your own depressing thoughts, HOW LOUD AND FLAILING AM I?

Then I got out, dried off with these ridiculous towels, put my flip flops back on and squeaked all the way back to the locker room where I sort of showered (I have swimming shampoo but I guess I need soap), impossibly dried off, the showers are hot and steamy and the towels are tiny and non-absorbent. They do have this spinner thing for your swimsuit that practically dries it in seconds, very cool. I think I'm supposed to go into the locker area to dry off, it's nice and cool in there but there's no way I'm going naked in that room or any room. That's just not me.

I worry about my phone too much and obviously workout photos aren't my thing so I'm going to leave my phone home next time. I'll bring soap. And I'll try to shake these horrible self-conscious feelings I have about swimming. This is supposed to be fun and it just brings up every single self-conscious thought I have to the forefront for me to just deal with. It's so hard. But I'm going to do it. And I'm going to get better and more confident.

I hope.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet a Cat - Grayson

Grayson is at the vet today being neutered, so in honor of that I decided to start the meet the cats series with him, the youngest member of the crazy cat house family.


Every spring and every fall we get stray kittens.  I feed the neighborhood strays so when they have babies they stay pretty close.  I know you're already hovering over the comment button to let me know I should look into spay and release and trust me I have.  I think it must be this area but the way they do it is they'll call you the night before and give you a trap.  You trap the cat and bring her in in the morning where they'll spay her for a reduced price and clip her ear and then give her back to you.  I wish it was so easy.  We have a multitude of kitties around here, boys and girls of all ages and I won't be sure who I'll catch or if I'll even be able to catch a female, granted I haven't tried.  The weird thing is once they are done weaning the kittens the females don't stick around and they'll be mostly missing for another 6 months.  It's quite weird.  Where do they eat when they aren't here?  When we get to Zimmy I'll tell you more about our experiences with catch and release but for now, just know, I feed these cats and it's not cheap but I want to do it and I will continue to do it as long as they come.

This summer was a particular difficult summer with the strays.  Three females that I know of had babies and every single kitten died except for two, and one was Grayson who we grabbed at about 4 or 5 weeks.  The other one was a very cute orange and white cat, the last of four stunningly gorgeous kittens.  They were so beautiful it was heart wrenching to watch them get sick and not be able to do anything about it (they are fast runners if you don't catch them young).

One day I was in the backyard in a nightgown and no shoes giving the outdoor cats some food and I heard this kitten crying from next door, not my in-laws side but the other house.  I yelled for Brian who went next door to check it out (they don't have a fence that goes all the way around.  I know it's kind of bold to go into your next door neighbor's yard but I can't just leave a stray kitten crying).  I rushed to get clothes on and he came back over with this little gray fluff ball kitten whose eyes were completely sealed shut.  I tried gently using a warm wet papertowel but they were REALLY sealed.  We had to take him to the vet.

We didn't have an appointment so we just had to sit at the vet waiting for an opening.  The waiting room was enamored by him despite his crusty eyes.  He was super, super tiny and that's rare to see.  And so fluffy!  They ended up having to shave part of his face including some of his whiskers, much to my dismay, to get the crusties off his face, then they gave me four different medications for multiple times a day and went to see if he would eat canned food.  Thank god he did because bottle feeding Fox was a nightmare.

Even still I had to feed him wet cat food every 2 hours and it wasn't exactly easy.  He took his meds like a champ though, never an issue, even pills!  We quaranteed him in a crate and when I could I'd let him out and keep our cats away from him.  They were very good about it.

We tried finding him a home and even had a taker but they were in the process of moving and couldn't quite get it together.  He was going to be indoor/outdoor and that concerned me.  Meanwhile I was falling more and more in love every day and it gets harder and harder to let them go.  So we ended up keeping him!  Hurray!

Grayson is very even tempered and even listens when I say NO, imagine that.  He's a lot of fun and keeps the house young, which is even more evident today when he's not here.  He lays really funny with his back legs sprawled straight out behind him, we laugh every time he does it, it never gets old.  He runs to the kitchen everytime I grab a small plate because that used to mean he's about to eat some wet food but now it's just me having a snack.  He also runs, I mean literally runs, into the litter box in the kitchen every time I walk in there, I think because I used to put him in the litter box every time I went in the kitchen when he was a kitten.  He loves all the cats and all the cats love him, the orange outdoor kitty likes him too.  I've even seen old man Aidan play with him.  He will play a little harder and longer than the cats want and sometimes I hear some hissing especially from Fox but Grayson will listen when you say NO and I think neutering will help as well.

He has never jumped on the counter and jumped in the tub once and couldn't get out so now he's deathly afraid of it.  The worst thing about Grayson is he's nocturnal.  He's ready to play at night when we are ready to sleep.  I've never seen it this bad, he will run around the bedroom like his pants are on fire and he NEVER CALMS DOWN.  So since Grayson we now shut the door at night with all cats out (Fox will stay in sometime if he wants).  This kind of bums me out because I like having the cats cuddle at night so I keep trying to let him in there but he always gets thrown out.  Like Fox he also likes to eat inedible things like paper or plastic or whatever he finds on the floor (I'm about 90% sure he ate a giant cockroach one time) so we're careful about leaving stuff laying around.  He loves toys and his favorite toy is a green frog I used to put in his crate.  Currently it's missing though, probably under the sofa or the bed.  But he'll carry it around, he'll carry trash around too and I'm afraid if he does find a bug he might carry that thing around too, leave it on the bed or something.  That would be the worst.  Ugh.

When he is cuddly and he often is usually in the late afternoon or early evening he's the best.  He purrs really loud and like to knead, he'll nap on my lap while I write blog entries or mess about on Pinterest.  He really great, I love him.



Bona Food Magazine - October Issue




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Invitations

I'm usually really bad at posting this kind of stuff and it's one of the things I'm working on.  I'm planning a Halloween dinner party this year and I'd love to share my planning and how it all turns out.

First up invitations.  Paper-source.com is my go to source for all of my DIY invitations.  Their paper and color choices are impeccable.  I can't find anything like that local here and even though they are a little pricey I seem to give in with every event, I just love them.


Halloween Invitations



I went with a smaller A2 note card and envelope, for the Oscar party I go a little bigger because I want them to look more substantial.  The poppy color is so beautiful.  I almost went all black, I'm so glad I didn't. 

And here's how my invitations turned out.  I typed them up in word and added bat clip art and a little florish, it took way longer than it looks like it did. I removed all our personal information for this demonstration, that's why it looks weird.  I printed them on white card stock and cut them just smaller than the note card so you see a black border, attached them with a glue stick.  Then I stamped the envelope with my new bat stamp (we're going with a bat theme this year).



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Plus Size Pink Coats

Plus Size Pink Coats

 1/2/3

I have been wanting a pink coat forever.  I never seem to get on the bandwagon fast enough and they are either sold out or too expensive.

1. Lands End usually has a pink peacoat every year but I just can't justify the cost.  I think if I lived somewhere colder where I would wear a coat more than a couple of weeks a year would make more sense to me.  This coat is $169.00 and right now you could get 30% off and free shipping.  I really thought about getting this coat until Old Navy came out with their outwear for the winter.

2. & 3. are both from Old Navy.  I'm a huge fan of Old Navy.  Their clothes don't last forever but I don't like my clothes forever anyway.  If you spend over $50 you get free shipping no coupon necessary.  I can return items I don't like to the local store, yes, even plus size stuff.  The prices are usually okay but they are great about coupons.  Right now they have 30% off as well.   I was going to go with the 2. the pink peacoat for plus size  for $78.00 but then I saw the 3. coat with a peter pan collar in size XXL so I'm giving it a shot.  I've been wearing a black peacoat for years.  Time to try something different.  For 30% off $67.50 why not?

I'll let you know how it goes. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home

I just spent four days on vacation and when I got home and we opened the door this wave of emotion hit me.  The room and the whole house pretty much hugged me and everything felt right in the world.

I've been thinking a lot about returning here lately and why I want to do that and what I hope to accomplish.  Since leaving this blog and my second blog I've never really felt at home when I came to write and share on the internet.  I think part of it was because I felt like I had to leave, like the house (being the blog) was virtually on fire and it was time to scram.  I never wanted to leave but I had to and I missed it ever since.  I tried new blogs, anonymous, always moving, always trying to feel at home but I never did.

Maybe if I come back here, maybe things will fall into place and blogging will be a happy place for me again.

I think coming here though, dusting off Tales from the Bathroom Scale and assuming the identity of "Diet Chick" has some responsibility and I think that is a good thing.  Multiple factors have brought me to a weight I'm not happy with and I want to change that.

I'm not going hard core 1200 calories and working out 5 days a week, maybe that will come, but for now I want to make better choices, I want to do more activities, like swimming.  I want to become more aware of my eating, why I eat the way I do and how to be more aware of triggers and options available besides chocolate when those bad days hit.  I also really want to be more involved in sharing what I know and can find out about plus size clothes.  I wish more folks would do this.  Clothes shopping and looking cute in general is so difficult being plus size and I'm really trying to make an effort in that department.  I'm also on a budget so whatever I share you can do as well.

And finally I've always loved sharing my life on the internet and will continue to do so.  I've been married for seven years (in seven days) and I love being married and I love my husband to pieces.  We also have 5 cats, I know, it's crazy town, and each cat has his own story of how he ended up making us crazy cat people.  I love to decorate my house and share my house.  I love to plan parties and decorate and design menus and invitations (Halloween dinner party is coming up).

I feel like this will be a place where I will share my daily life and interject my weight loss story along the way.  Please tune in, tell your friends.

I'm back.