Baking + a new cat (yes, another one)

I have not, of course, been baking non-stop since September, when I last updated. I’ve had a few baking experiences and then came the holidays when baking went all out for a bit. Like with these little guys that we made last year, sans the outlines this time around.

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And then we made these tasty little temptations. Another repeat. And it will be repeated again, you can be sure. These are dangerously good. I ate two yesterday and three today. I’m going to take one in and make my intern eat it tomorrow just so I won’t pop another one in my mouth.

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And then there’s that bit about the cat. Why on earth would I get another cat? Well, we didn’t actually add headcount. We lost Nick Furry in July. Which was tough to take. Not that the other two weren’t too. But Nick? He was just a baby. Two years old. It doesn’t seem fair. And I don’t like things that aren’t fair. No matter how many times my mom tried to drill into me that life just isn’t.

On to the second part of this sad story. We waited a few months. But being surrounded by adorable felines during our volunteer shifts at Crash’s Landing, and wanting another younger cat to interact with Loki (the crazy boy), we eventually decided to add another feline to the family.

Zuzu!

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She’s a diva. Loves to get on shoulders. Sleeps on heads. Scampers down the stairs super fast. Is not bothered by the scoldings she gets when she attacks my 15-year-old, fragile dog. You get the picture.

We like her.

And to add to the furry crowd we have around here, albeit temporarily, we had a houseguest over the holidays. Rizzo the rat. He was charming and pretty cute. But he ate holes in my favorite pair of jeans. So I wasn’t entirely sad to have to take him back to school on Monday.

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What’s my theme?

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I was looking through my Instagram stream the other day and it’s apparent that I have three go-to subjects when it comes to photos.

1. Cats! Everywhere. (I love dogs. Yes, I do. But J doesn’t really appreciate the camera. So fewer of her.)DSC_9799

2. Foliage. It’s that time of year, of course. I love wandering around my garden snapping photos as things grow bigger, wider, taller. The lettuce you see below, for example, is already bursting from its container. (I always break the rules of how closely you’re supposed to plant stuff.)

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3. Food. I’ve always loved taking pics of my food.
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Both pizzas below were made with crust from The America’s Test Kitchen GF cookbook. Easy to make. Crispy on the outside. Soft on the inside.DSC_9828 DSC_9826

And this soda bread is sooooo good! I was in the baking mood yesterday, saw this on my Pinterest wall and was mixing it up minutes later. DSC_9858 DSC_9851

My kid used to be in my top three as well, but he’s getting older and I feel a bit more conscious of his privacy. (Psst…he’s on the right here, second row from the top.) The boy hates singing. As do I. He played along for the spring concert, though, lip-syncing along.

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I count drinks in the food category. This is a mango margarita from Donkey Taqueria. Yummo.IMG_8867

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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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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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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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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A cat and some breadsticks

Cats. I love them. Sometimes, though, they can be incredibly frustrating (as any human or other animal can be, I’m sure). Such as this morning when I was walking around in the dark looking for my gym bag and stepped on Finn. He has far better eyesight in the dark than I do. Why wouldn’t he have moved when he saw me blundering his way?

Nick Furry has his own issues. He’s a total nut. He’s still a teenager, though. First thing in the morning he races around the house, jumping on furniture and into windowsills. He hits the dining room chairs so hard that they often slide across the floor. No one’s chasing him. But I think he thinks someone is.

He and I also have a skirmish, usually daily, regarding his desire to sit on the dining room table. Our cat Lucy used to do the same. I’d take her down, she’d get back up. I’d squirt her with a squirt gun, she’d stand there and take it with a look on her face that said, “Nice try!” Nick actually gets down when squirted, but he pops back up like a prairie dog as soon as I’m not looking.

And he, like her, often plays this game when I’m baking. There must be some cat sense that tells them that it’s more fun to be naughty when it requires me to wash my hands after every extrication.

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So, he was interrupting this particular project: rosemary breadsticks from Against All Grain. They are super easy to make, but you have to roll them out one by one, of course, and that’s when he would hop on the table. He’s too smart for his own good.

I want to make sure to mention that not only did Scott like these, Devin actually asked for seconds. That never happens! Especially if he has an inkling that they’re gluten-free. The recipe is in her book, which I highly recommend.DSC_7651
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The first official weekend of summer

Summer is officially here. We’re doing our best to get outside, but also to get things done. Sometimes it’s hard to do both. But I managed it this weekend when I finally painted our coffee tables. I set them up in the garage and did cleaning between coats of paint. I felt very productive, I must say!

And then my husband had the brilliant idea for a family walk to dinner. We hadn’t been to Bombay Cuisine in a long time. So we got in tasty Indian food and four miles of walking. Now that’s some good family time!

And now for some random weekend photos…

This? Is a dog eating a pizza. A tiny pizza. I can’t resist giving our “old lady” treats.DSC_6572

I love my gnome.
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And then there’s my adorable kid. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to get away with calling him adorable. But he doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe for a bit.
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The weekend: it came and went

Weekends are too short, don’t you agree?

Looks like Nick could use another few hours in his weekend too. Lazy cats! I can’t resist taking photos of his big ol’ paws. Especially when he stretches out so adorably. The only bad thing about the photo is that the flannel sheets are still on the bed. They’re usually gone by mid-April. But I see hints of hope this week. Some high 60s and low 70s. I might be able to fold them up and stuff them in the linen closet soon.

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The garden is certainly giving me some hope as well. I haven’t planted bulbs in several years but was determined to have some nice spring flowers to greet me after winter said goodbye, so I planted a few dozen in the fall. I think I’ll do that again this year. The garden just looks so much more lush, even though the perennials are just getting started.

 

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My cooking mojo seems very scarce during the week. A by-product of getting up so dang early and then feeling so rushed around that time of day. I don’t really have the gumption to put too much energy into the whole event. So weekend dinners are the ones that I tend to be proud of. I scroll through my Pinterest faves and find something new to try. This time around it was a Quinoa Taco Bake, which I actually made without any quinoa. I subbed in ground turkey since that’s what I had (and I knew the 10-year-old would more likely eat it).

The original looks splendid, I admit. But I was pretty happy with my results. A little basmati rice on the side and we were good to go. With plenty of leftovers, well, uh, left over.
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Today was Museums Free 4 All, which I made sure to put on our calendar. We hadn’t been to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in quite a while. It seemed like a great opportunity to get in a visit. The kiddo wasn’t as into some of the historical aspects of it. It is politics, after all. But he was smitten with the aircraft carrier. He read the entire story that was displayed around the base of the carrier. And then he asked for my phone to take photos. 
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Afterward we walked around by the river. It was sunny and beautiful. The only downside was the wind. But it didn’t seem to have an impact on their hair in these photos. That’s a plus!
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