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.


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.



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.


Cluck, cluck


Also titled “What I did with my Monday lunch break.”

New school. New adventures. New parent-volunteer responsibilities.

Enter chicken adoption.

The goal? Sit in a circle with nine other kids. Wait for teacher and parents (like me*) to place ruffled-feathered (literally!) chickens in the center. Recite a poem or sing a song, that you wrote yourself, to entice the chickens to come and sit in your lap.

Really. That’s the goal! The chicken that sits in your lap is YOUR chicken for the rest of the year.

How did this go, you may ask?

Well, a chicken actually did sit in D’s lap. But the kid did NOT sing a song or recite the poem he wrote. He told me he forgot his paper and hadn’t memorized it. I was a little skeptical about what that might mean, but turns out most of the kids were ignoring the recitation/singing portion of the assignment and just talking directly to the chickens. Or tempting them with grass and weeds.

“Here, chicken!”

“Hey, I want that chicken!”

“Chicken! Please come sit in my lap!”

The chickens were more concerned with trying to escape the circle. In fact, I think that’s why three of the kids ended up with feathered friends in their laps. My theory is that the birds were trying to leave the circle and then got “stuck” in the laps. DSC_1789 DSC_1792

By the end, the teacher was helping out the kids who were chicken-less by plunking chickens into laps. It worked!DSC_1815

D’s new buddy is named Thor. I think it’s a girl. But I’m sure she’s not taking any offense to the tough, manly name.DSC_1820 DSC_1825 DSC_1827

*I’ve never picked up a chicken before. I learned quickly that they move their wings out in a defensive posture as you approach. And picking them up below those wings is not the smartest move. I found that out with the first chicken who flapped her wings very mightily until I put her back down. After that, I smartened up.

A week in review


Let’s go backward in time, shall we? Today. This afternoon. I made this scrumptious smoothie. Peach-nectarine bliss. Sounds like a good name for it, right? I haven’t made enough smoothies this summer. Seems like a goal for the next few weeks. Perhaps I’ll have some more tasty photos to share.


This was from Friday. Friend. Backyard. Tent. All went well until the storms rolled in. Ooops!


While they were setting up the tent, I snapped some garden photos. This one is one of the many stems of hollyhocks rising up along our deck railing. I planted the first one before Dev came home. A gift from my mom. And it nicely cooperates each year by returning. I planted some wildflower seeds in the backyard garden this year with no expectations, but one of them sprouted up nicely too.


This is Lion. He looks ferocious, doesn’t he? Well, he’s not a warm and fuzzy guy, but he’s not thaaat bad. I definitely kept my distance for the photos, though, since he’s a bit persnickety about strangers getting anywhere near him. We had a lovely visit with our friends, and Lion, earlier this week. Which is where I shall leave off in the backtracking.





My neighbor has a cherry tree.

But she doesn’t like cherries.

What does that mean? Neighborhood cherry picking! With the help of the kiddos, we bagged (or colander-ed) ourselves quite a lot of cherries. And as I stood there with the 8-plus cups of cherries, I had a moment of panic…what the heck am I going to do with all of these?

Cherry pie? Sure. That was tempting. But I decided to tap Pinterest to see if I could find anything else. And I did.


These are actually Almond Oat Cranberry Bars, but cranberries are tart so wouldn’t it follow that tart cherries could be a good substitute? Why, yes. Yes, it does follow.


What’s my theme?


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.

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.


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

Escape artist


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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!


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.


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.)



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


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.


We’ve dubbed these the Poop-tastic cupcakes


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


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!)


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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