Escape artist

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I unwittingly created a habit when we first got the new feline. In trying to get him comfortable with the formidable Nick Furry – well, actually, the other way around – I gave Loki and Nick treats one morning. They were both very pleased, of course.

And the next morning? They both came running down the stairs to sit at my feet. My confused feet. What? What do you want? And then the sleep-hazed lightbulb finally came on. Ah! They want treats, don’t they?

So my still-sleepy hand reached into the bag and gave them some.

And my fate was sealed.

Loki practically trips me as I walk downstairs. (In fact, if I have to get up to use the bathroom anytime after 3 a.m., he assumes I’m getting up to give him treats and meows plaintively at me.) Nick lies in wait on the stairs themselves and quickly positions himself by the cupboard. Their new morning routine.

Except for Saturday morning. Nick came bounding into the kitchen, a beat or two behind his normal pace. Loki, though, was nowhere.

Uh-oh.

Last time this happened he’d gotten trapped in the garage. So that was the first place I looked. Then I looked in all the closets. I opened every closed door I came across. I even checked in the washer, dryer and, crazy I realize, the refrigerator. I finally opened the outside doors and called out to him.

Nooooooo.

Scott then asks, “Do you need help?” YES, OF COURSE I NEED HELP!!! My cat is gone. He actually had the sense not to use his usual line when something is lost, “It’s somewhere in the house.” No, I knew in my gut that he wasn’t anywhere in the house.

Thus started a day of searching. Posting flyers on telephone polls. Sharing on Facebook. Asking advice of my Crash’s Landing cat people.

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We’d only had him for just over two months. The adorable fluffy mini bobcat stole my heart the very moment I met him. I couldn’t believe that we’d lost him. (To be clear, I’d be this upset if I lost ANY of my animals.) By the afternoon I felt defeated and sad. Even though many people had told me stories of how cats got out and came back just fine days later. I didn’t want to wait days. (Who does, right?) I wanted him back now.

Dev and I did one last circuit of the area in the early evening, shaking treat bags with gusto. Dev called out over and over for Loki. Nothing.

So I grabbed all three of our cat carries, some towels and clothing with our scent on them, and a big ol’ can of tuna and created three shelters for him. One out front. One in the garage. One in the backyard.

Dev was helping me with the carrier out back and asked for duct tape. When I was in the garage looking for it, Dev came running down the stairs, “Mom, I heard a cat meowing!” And then he and I pelted back up them and ran to the fence to check the neighbor’s yard. We called out his name and indeed heard a little meow in response.

Two yards over – run! (Scott will share with anyone who asks how Dev and I kept pushing the gate even though there was a brick on the other side.) I didn’t even put on my shoes. Just ran. When we rounded the corner, we saw him in the backyard. We must have looked like crazy people from his vantage point – and we were heading right for him. So he did what any normal cat would do: he started running away.

We both put on the brakes and he did likewise. Then Dev scooped him up and we walked back home. With peps in our steps. So, so relieved. To have his purring, biscuit-making, sweet little self back in our home.

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Eggcellent!

Yeah, I’m that kind of dork. My son is actually thinking of calling this science fair experiment the Eggcellent Egg Drop. So it runs in the family.

Lesson learned: let him choose one that’s messy and gooey and the child will complete the experiment, and his observations, in record time!

You start with some peanut butter…

…which is something the dog certainly appreciated.

He chose four materials to use to see which would best protect the egg. And he had to do three trials of each. So 12 plastic containers await their turn to be dropped. From six feet. Not so bad, right?

The water version held up better than we thought it would.

Tissue paper? Not so much.

Peanut butter rocks! (Until you have to clean it off of everything, that is. Ew.)







 

Meatloaf and (not) mashed potatoes

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Let’s start with the fact that any cooking project I embark upon is never a solo venture. There is always at least one furry friend about. If not all of them! Loki plopped himself in the midst of the action. Inconveniently.

But I had a bit of time to be in there, so he wasn’t in the way for all of it.

The potato recipe is not a new one. When the light is right in my kitchen, though, I’m inspired to photograph everything. I probably would have snapped a grilled cheese sandwich if I’d been so inclined to go that route.

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Meatloaf really doesn’t lend itself to photos the way colorful potatoes do. Turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, dijon mustard. This is my go-to meatloaf recipe. Always moist and flavorful. But I never use parsley. Spinach all the way, baby!

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See? Not all that attractive. And I didn’t take after photos of either of these because I was scrambling a bit to get the table set and such, so the denouement of this post is raw meatloaf.

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Or maybe it’s the critters?

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Cats on my desk

 

One of my favorite photos I ever took was when my cat Maggie, who just walked into the office and is heading for my desk as I type, was hanging out on my desk while I was trying to work. It seems to be cat thing. I caught Nick Furry giving Obama the hard stare. These furry beings are always on my desk.

Here’s Maggie just a few moments ago, in fact, trying to get as close as she can to the space heater. (Really close is her preference.)

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This is Loki from last week. Looking very innocent. Which he tends to do right before he does something completely naughty.

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And here’s Nick, visiting a few minutes before Maggie did. He wasn’t into looking at my camera today. But he was just fine with the chin scratches.

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We’ve dubbed these the Poop-tastic cupcakes

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Yes, yes, childish humor, I know. But Dev and I both agreed that our novice attempt at being creative with chocolate frosting slightly resembled dog poo.

You’ve seen, I’m sure, those lovely photos of cupcakes with the perfect, thick swirls of frosting crowning each? These are close, no?

The cupcakes themselves are paleo except for the chocolate chips I used. They’re from Against All Grain’s first cookbook. I took the batter for chocolate cake and simply went with cupcakes. The frosting is the same I used for the cake we made previously. I considered going with the buttercream in the AAG book, but it was more time-consuming than I felt prepared to tackle today. So not at all paleo.

I see merits in that approach to eating, but I’m not following it. Just borrowing some recipes from time to time, since deleting refined sugars from my diet is never a bad thing. And the non-gluten angle is just a natural benefit of their approach. There can be such a thing as too much almond and coconut flour, though.

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Handy is not my middle name

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I have bigger aspirations for things than what my actual talents can provide. But that didn’t stop me – and Dev – from tackling a build-your-own-shelves project.

The first part was fairly easy. Buy the stuff. Sand the boards. Put the brackets together. Prime and spray paint them. Stain the boards. (Stinky!)

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Then came the task of getting the shelves onto the wall.

My level confounds me. It has some laser thingy on it that seems fairly useless. But other people looked at me funny when I talked about this. So I’m thinking it must be me.

With the kid’s assistance, I managed to draw some straight lines. But what you don’t see pictured here (thankfully) was the painstaking, anxiety-causing process of getting the brackets into the wall. After I got over the melodrama I had to laugh. Of the six brackets, only the last two made it in without incident.

I broke one of my husband’s drill bits. Yes, I did.

And I stripped a couple of screws.

But, dang it, those shelves were up in time for Christmas (ahem, a bit late on my post, I know). The bottom-right bracket went in crooked, but we’re pretending it’s fine. If you ignore it, it might go away, right?

 

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What did you do for Valentine’s Day?

We got a cat.

Probably the least-romantic thing to ever happen to my husband.

But the little rascal sure is cute.

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Sadly, the only reason we were able to bring this fluff ball home is because we had an empty space. We lost Finn just a couple of weeks ago. He was such a sweet, mellow guy. I’m so sad that he had to deal with so many health issues. In the end, we couldn’t keep his diabetes under control and his body was just rebelling.

I really can’t believe we jumped in so soon. The truth is, Bonkers (now dubbed Loki) was a newbie at Crash’s and he was just so stinkin’ adorable. (He does air biscuits, folks. Air biscuits!) I’ve never been so smitten with one of the new arrivals before – and there have been lots and lots of adorable felines coming through those doors!

We just won the Adorable Lottery!

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Let’s make a cake!

My kid has this thing about cakes. A couple of months ago he asked me to buy a yellow cake mix. “Let’s make a cake, Mom!” Yeah. Sure. OK. Fine.

It wasn’t bad.

But the baking fan in me struggled a bit with the fact that it came from a mix.

Still, it was fun. He loved it. And it was easy. Easy is good, right?

I was at Target recently, just browsing the grocery aisles, when I spied another vanilla cake mix. I smiled remembering the other cake we’d made. Then I shrugged, picked it up and put it in the cart.

And the very next day I decided to mix it up for him. (He assisted with the previous one but was hosting a friend for a video-game session this time around.) I just couldn’t remember which frosting recipe I’d used last time. (That part I can at least say I made myself!) So I searched Pinterest and came up with one that used ingredients I had on hand. This one.

And that was my mistake.

Why? Because that frosting is possibly the best I’ve ever had. It wasn’t super-sweet like some buttercreams. I could sit with a bowl of it and easily eat it all. Sadly. (Can you say sugar freak?) So in these photos you see a cake slathered with frosting. Because I went WAY out by making a double batch to ensure I had enough. And I was determined to enjoy it to the fullest! (The kiddo loved it too. He asked for leftover cake every night this week.) So I guess you could say I recommend you try that recipe.

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Frozen

I’ve lived in Michigan nearly all my life, yet somehow I’ve never managed to visit the lakeshore during the winter. This weekend the idea struck me for some reason. And when I brought it up to Scott he told me he’d actually been thinking the same thing. So planned it and made it happen. Grand Haven decked out in snow. And ice. And wind. Lots of wind.

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We did NOT walk out on the pier like these people did, much to Dev’s chagrin. We watched parents take their kids out, but there was NO WAY I was going to do that. Ice, people. Ice is slippery. And there’s a frigid lake right there waiting to suck you in. Boots, winter coats and all. OK, yes, I’m a bit paranoid. But I have a kid, which gives me certain rights to access paranoia when it’s called for.
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Dev did get plenty of face time with the ice and snow, though.
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Of course I’m not much better than those other parents because I was cluelessly wandering on the icy stuff here not realizing that the beach had ended and we were climbing around on top of frozen Lake Michigan. Scott had to point that out to me and tell me to get my butt back on shore.
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And my paranoia kicked in again when he started throwing snowballs right near the iced-over railing. Which drops into the channel. Of frigid, deathly water. He thought we were being very over-protective. But he was nice enough to back away a bit before lobbing the next one.
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Is it possible to have too many cookies?

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Some people would say yes. I might have said yes at the end of the sessions. And yet it’s nice to have a lot of tasty gingerbread people cooling their heels in my freezer.

If you can believe this, I’ve never made gingerbread people before. So this wasn’t just an adventure in baking cookies that my gluten-free stomach can, uh, stomach, but also in baking a classic that I really didn’t have a good standard to measure against.

We had various thicknesses so some are soft and some are crispy. But they’re all good! And Dev rocks the icing piping. He was so eager to help me this year. I’m not sure how long the sous chef/baker thing will last, but I’m enjoying it for now.

We made snowy lemon cookies for the previous weekend, along with a GF version of the classic tollhouse variety (because Dev insisted he was going to bring his own cookies to the shindig). So between the three, we’ve spent our fair share of time in the kitchen together.

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Playing catch-up (as I always am)

So most of my September posts actually featured photos and events from August. The delay is not something the very anal part of my brain appreciates. I used to snap photos and blog about my day on the SAME DAY things happened. Obviously things have changed a bit. To appease my more orderly side, I’m sharing several from September, including two from today, so I feel sort of, well, “caught up.”

First are the chocolate chip cookies I made (along with the breadsticks from my previous post). From Against All Grain. Verrrrry easy to make. Verrrry yummy.

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Then came the first day of 5th grade. Wow! Summer went by so fast. So, so fast.IMG_6621

Then a couple of fun shots of the four-legged critters. (I always take pics of them.) The first one is of the two eldest gatos sitting on one of the brand-new chairs I nabbed at my company’s annual sale. They’re comfy and sturdy and fairly fashionable. (The chairs, I mean.) What more could you ask for?
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And these two shots were taken today as part of his ecology homework. In the first one he’s grinning big because he was excited about being “photobombed” by the squirrel who’s hanging out on the back fence. I’m not sure it counts as photobombing if you place yourself strategically in front of said squirrel to ensure he’s in the photo. But maybe? We made pizza today too, but the camera battery was dead so no photos were snapped. It’s the most delicious crust recipe I’ve tried to far from the new America’s Test Kitchen book.
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