well...maybe not really but this is a lifesaver...especially if you're the owner of the world's fluffiest cat with the finest hair. Our cat Davie could be shaved and make a really elegant sweater. He lays all over the furniture because we're bad cat parents with no discipline. So, my furniture unfortunately always has a nice thin layer of his fluffiness on it. As my sister Heidi says...you can't wear black in our house and you need a lint brush...although I really don't think it's that bad.
Here's the fluffly source of our cat hair problem...Davie...he also goes by Smuggy McSmuggenstien and Snuggly McFluffy...he's also an award winning model..as Mr. Allan entered an amateur photo contest and received an honorable mention for a picture of this fluffball sunning himself.
such a cute boy
Here's Mr. Allan's picture of our smug award winning model cat
Davie snuggling up enjoying American Idol with me. I've turned him into the ultimate Mama's boy..Mr. Allan reminisces about how "cool" Davie used to be..they'd play fetch with a mini nerf football and now he's a sappy snuggly Mama's boy
Ok...enough with the cat pictures...but c'mon, he's super cute...I won't mention too much about my little Cujo biting incident when he didn't like the guy installing the water dispenser in the fridge and bit his Mama...but that's so behind us! Now..onto what I think is the second best invention ever..for this week at least.
We have microfiber couches. I really like them..nothing stains too much on them but we do have the issue of the cat hair. I tried the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for pet hair. It's the blue box like contraption and on the underneath there are two rollers that catch the pet hair when you rub it back and forth. It worked a little, but wouldn't really get everything up...it tidied up my couches but I'd resort to using a lint brush that we use on our clothes.
Then my sister suggested this little deal....and it's working so well on our couches.
The material of the Fur Fighter sheets just has more grip and gets more stuff off furniture. I even resort to using this on our stairs. When I vacuum, I have the hardest time getting the cat hair off the edge of the carpeted stairs....this does the trick. I bought the Fur Fighter and we used it for month. I ran out of the refill sheets and kept making a mental note to grab more when I did my Walmart Target runs. It was about 3 weeks by the time I finally remembered. I tried cleaning the couches with a lint brush and they were an absolute mess and it made me realize just how vital this little thing is to keeping the cat hair under control.
Now, I just need an invention to get the cat drool stains off the corner of the cushion where one little furball sleeps every day and neat little contraption to catch the cat hair tumbleweed that floats under the couches.
Unfortunately, panty hose are a part of my cold weather work uniform. I wear a suit every day for work, mostly skirts, and have to throw them on when the legs aren't tan enough to pull off the naked leg look.
I hate panty hose. No matter what size you are, they make you feel like a sausage. They always give you unsightly bulges at the waist and give you a muffin top even if you don't normally have one. I love L'eggs Sheer Engery and Sheer Vitality pantyhose. They last FOREVER. I have maybe two or three pairs and they last me the whole fall and winter season.
Now, the L'eggs people have a new product. It's like they heard my little prayers hoping for pantyhose that didn't give me the sausage muffin top effect. They invented WAIST BANDLESS pantyhose!!!!
I was a little apprehensive about how these would work. Would they stay up all day long, was the top going to roll down on me, or would I just have a smaller more minimal sausage look? I'm so happy to report that these are living up to the high lofty standards I thought they would. No rolling down at the top of them, no unsightly bulges at my waist line, and they stay in place. These are making me not detest wearing a suit everyday. I feel like I've had a little extra spring in my step all week and instead of reaching for a pants suit everyday (which is a huge pain with this winter weather...all my pants are sporting salt stains on the bottom!)...I've been happily showing the legs at work.
This might not sound too exciting but if you're forced to wear them like me...it's truly the most exciting thing I've encountered in months!
I might sound like a loon...but I'm really sad the neighborhood deer that we, as well as our two neighbors, have been feeding for the past month, died this week. She was in rough shape. Our neighbor thinks she was hit by a car last month and never recovered from her injuries. It was so cute the way she curled up under our pine trees and the baby deer looked over her. Our neighbor found her in her yard this week. She called the Department of Environmental Management who picked her up so other animals wouldn't get to her. She also said the baby was running around behind our houses :(
Here's one more shot of our little neighborhood pet. She did a number on the bush on the side of our shed...but we'll get over it...here's the Mama resting and her baby looking on
We could tell she was getting worse...this was Mama deer on Sunday morning. She stayed there for about 7 hours all throughout the day.
I'm going to sound like a crazy cat lady, so bear with me, because I know, in a way, I kind of am. The cat population in our house outnumbers the human population...something my co-worker, M, told me is not normal. The not so funniest why is this happening to me while Mr. Allan is away thing happened the other night.
I went to the gym, worked out like a mad woman in full I'm going to Mexico and wearing a bathing suit mode. I come home to three very cute furry and very hungry cats. I turn on some lights, get situated, drop the work bags to the floor, and get their food bowls and feed them. We have a very cute calico cat named Annabelle...or A-belle as we like to call her. After she eats she typically heads downstairs to our lower level where the litter boxes are located. She does her business then bee-lines it upstairs like a little speeding bullet and does a lap around the house. It's her signature bathroom routine...but as long as she's going in the box, I could care less what she's doing.
Last night was no different. I settled in on the couch with my bowl of brown rice and black beans, flipped on Tivo to see what bad reality television I could get into. A-belle bounces downstairs to do what she's got to do. Her brother, Davie, is sitting patiently trying to get some of my beans and rice, even though I know he doesn't like them. All of a sudden I hear a weird thumping noise. Our cats love to play with their toys, so at first I thought...hmmm..maybe its one of them throwing a mouse in the air and tackling it. The thumping got loud and erratic. I turn to see A-belle doing the butt rub all up and down the hallway. Any pet owner knows what the butt rub is.
So I try to grab her to help her out a little even though the LAST thing I want to do is to wipe poo off my cat's butt, but even worse than that would be trying to clean off smooshed poo that she rubbed on a rug. Luckily, I contained her the hardwoods and had skid marks up the hall that needed to be cleaned up.
here's the kicker. During the wintertime when I'm slugging around the streets of downtown Providence in a suit for work, I wear Dansko clogs. Mr. Allan loathes these shoes. He groans when I put them on and I try to defend myself telling him I wear them to walk to court and put on heels once I'm there, but I'm not trucking around the streets in stilettos. While A-belle was furiously doing the butt rub trying to dislodge that pesky piece of poo, she butt rubbed right over on my shoes and left a huge mark. It was like Mr. Allan, who's on travel, directed her to do so.
So, here's where I sound like the crazy cat lady. Mr. Allan travels, a lot. I swear to God, when he goes away, the cats act crazy. The first day they're a little needy and want to snuggle up to their mama. They sleep with me, will sit on my lap, ask for some extra scratches. The next day, when they really notice he's missing, they start to get a little on edge...like Lady, what'd you do with our dad. The following day, they get vengeful..thinking I have Mr. Allan tied up, bound and gagged, in the trunk of my car. They'll run around the house like chickens with their heads cut off, run downstairs to the main door and scratch it like Mr. Allan's hiding behind it. They cough up extra nasty hair balls, usually like to be a bit messy around their litter boxes, and they fight like there's no tomorrow. So, I'm fully convinced, this was a vengeful poo incident.
But...here's my absolute favorite part of the night. After the mess was cleaned up, the floor washed, and Nature's Miracle sprayed, I decided to go to bed and watch Teen Mom 2. Little A-belle decided to come with me. She walked around the bed and finally settled in......
right on Mr. Allan's pillow
So, needless to say, laundry is in my future tonight as Mr. Allan returns from a business trip tomorrow :)
A couple weeks ago I was out shopping with my friend, L, and stumbled upon a cookbook by Food and Wine Magazine called "The Best of the Best." It had their all time favorite recipes from their all time favorite cookbooks. I have way too many cookbooks, but this one was on sale for $4.99...so I couldn't resist!
One of the coolest parts of the cookbook was a section featuring the recipes from a cookbook called Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. They've collected 6500 vintage cookbooks and have a vast collection of recipes from the 1890's to the 1970's. Most of the recipes and cookbooks they discovered at tag sales, flea markets and antique stores. I loved the story of their cookbook and decided to give a few of their star recipes a whirl! Warning...nothing about this recipe is remotely healthy...I've got a husband who travels a lot and I bake when I'm bored and bring the goods to work!
My little $5 find
Some of the main stars in the peanut butter cookies...
My little recipe book holder sporting the recipe for Nel's Wonderful Peanut Butter cookies..I'm not sure who Nel is, but I did enjoy her cookies
This was a nice, almost spongy dough..then came the chocolate and salted peanuts
Prepped for the oven..
The final result..
I love nice symmetrical cookies
These were a great cookie. I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter...but everyone who tried one said they were great and I saw a lot of people going back for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths....
Nel's Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup salted peanuts (NOT dry roasted)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside
Cream together butter, brown sugar, sugar, and peanut butter. Then, add egg and mix thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients. Then fold in peanuts and chocolate chips.
Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until it is firm enough to handle. Roll dough into balls and about 1" in diameter. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.
I didn't change anything about this recipe...well, I didn't roll little individual balls...I used my cookie scoop and I thought they came out great. This recipe says it will yield 42 cookies...I got about 30...and they weren't huge cookies..you saw em! So, I'd say that's the only complaint about this recipe!
This video is too funny...not necessarily beause of the content...but because the man in this video is a local physcian. Apparently he didn't know there is a drive thru liquor store in Middletown, RI. To boot..he didn't even get a beer out of the deal!
Last week there was a brief break in this unbearable winter weather. I hate the cold..my hands are dry, I have static electricity, I rarely wear lipstick because I'm too busy bathing in chap stick and there's snow, ice, and slush which really limits the fashionable footwear unless you have a personal chauffeur dropping you off everywhere you go.
I also hate winter because it's too cold outside to do anything and I become a bona fide gym rat. I do enjoy working out and taking classes at the gym but something else I got into a few years ago...running.
I was never a runner before. I was a fat awkward kid in elementary school and unfortunately carried that on throughout all my years in any educational institute I attended. But, even though I was the fat kid, I was athletic. I played 3 sports in high school, intramurals in college...but don't get me wrong, never did you see me whizzing around the track or running for fun. I hated it. I could eek out the 1 mile run for the fitness tests in gym class but the 1 mile mark was my cut off. So, a couple years ago I set a goal: to run a 5k. A lot of our friends would get together and participate in local races and I never wanted to admit that I couldn't do it because there was no way I could run for 3.2 miles and I didn't want to resort being the walker of the bunch.
A great program I used was the Couch to 5k program on www.coolrunning.com. It slowly trains you to run your first 5k mostly through interval work..run 1 minute, walk 5 minutes, and builds you up until you hit around the 30 minute mark. An even bigger bonus...I found a podcast on Itunes that was free. It was some guy who mapped out the whole program to music. Every interval was timed for you and he told you when to start and stop running. This was key especially if I wasn't trying to run on a treadmill watching the seconds tick by ever so slowly thinking to myself I have totally been running for way more than 4 minutes.
Here's a picture of me in one of my first races.
Now that February is coming to an end (hoo-rah!) the first 5k is around the corner in mid-March. I've run here and there at the gym but have started to kick it into high gear. Well, what I consider high gear. Although I reached my goal a couple years ago and ran the 5k and have continued to do so every year after, I am not a fast runner..but at least I finish. I dusted off the Ipod and turned the TV on my treadmill at the gym off and started up with the podcast and Couch to 5k program.
It's not too late to get yourself moving! One thing that amazed me...once I started to shed the pounds and started losing weight a few years ago, I had this yearning and desire to get fit. I might sound like a crazy lady, but I really enjoy exercising. Half the battle is just getting my butt to the gym, but never once have I walked out of a workout or class there and not feel good about what I just did for myself. It's one thing to eat healthy, but it's another to keep your body in shape. When the two meet, it's a great thing and you'll never feel better. Just find something that works for you. If you're not a runner, never run before...you have to start somewhere. Challenge yourself, set a goal, and try and achieve it.
if you're interested in the Couch to 5K...here's the Link
Is it really Monday already? Weekends fly by..but I love packing them with fun events and meeting up with friends. This weekend we had some interesting stuff...Friday night we checked out a new restaurant..and Saturday was Winterfest in Newport, RI. One fun event...winter polo on the beach! We love to go to polo matches during the summertime...we load up the car with appetizers and cocktails and set up camp and tailgate for hours. So, we were curious to see what it looked like on the beach...windy and cold but it was interesting...
It was held on Second Beach and it was quite interesting to see the players bundled up on their horses..
Mr. Allan with our Irish Coffees...the only thing that kept me going in the windy weather.
Our friends, M and T, who had the right idea with blankets and lots of layers...
After polo we curled up at home, defrosted, watched the final season of Big Love...and then unfortunately an all too familiar site in our house...Mr. Allan packing for business. I'm not sure who deals with the situation worse...me or the cats....
Reese tried to stow herself away in Mr. Allan's luggage...
She hopped out and her sister, Annabelle hopped in...
and....all weekend long we were on deer alert. I posted last week about our neighborhood pet...the injured mama deer and her baby that watched over her. On Saturday Baby was around but Mama wasn't...and we feared the worst..that something happened to her. This morning, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 6am because a cat bed dived onto me...one of our cats crawls up onto our headboard and walks back and forth and then decided to jump right on my chest...of course I, in a dramatic fashion, sit straight up gasping for air like someone clotheslined me..fun times. But..after our mischievous cats had full bellies, I opened the curtains on the slider to see Mama deer curled up under a pine tree in our backyard. She proceeded to sleep there until noon.
In honor of President's Day...all Ann Taylor Loft stores are offering 25% off regular price purchases both in stores and online. If you're shopping online use the code PRESIDENT. You also get free shipping for purchases over $125.
I feel like I might need a thing or two for our upcoming vacation and I've had a Loft gift card burning a big hole in my pocket since Christmas!!!!!
I have no idea where I got this recipe or who gave it me..but it's become one of our favorite meals to make when it's cold outside. I've been making this for Mr. Allan for years now. It's simple, easy, you can alter it a million different ways and it falls into our healthy comfort food category. We call it Chili Mac...it might be a little similar to an American Chop Suey recipe..whatever you call it, it's good.
This is a great recipe to sneak vegetables into. Tonight I only had some peppers and onions on hand. I've added mushrooms, diced zucchini and squash to it as well..pretty much any veggie you have in the fridge that you can dice up and throw in goes!
Why do we call it Chili Mac...because of the two star spices...
Saute the veggies and add in about a pound of lean ground beef or turkey. Tonight we had some ground beef from our Meat CSA that went into the pot. I've used ground chicken and turkey and both work well in this recipe.
Then I throw in a can of Crushed Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce...I forgot which one the original recipe called for but I interchange them all the time...mostly only because I goto the grocery store telling myself to get crushed tomatoes and then inevitably grab the wrong can and buy tomato sauce..I'm good like that! Also in the mix..some whole wheat elbow pasta. If you have someone in the house that doesn't eat whole wheat pasta..this is a great way to sneak it in..guarantee they won't notice.
My favorite thing about this recipe...I basically saute veggies, brown meat and then throw everything else in the pot...15 minutes later, it's done. No standing over a stove, constantly stirring etc.
I top it with a little bit of cheddar and dinner is served!
1 lb of lean ground beef or turkey
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup whole wheat elbows
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp diced green chilies
Dice onion and peppers. Saute in a dutch oven or large stock pot/pan with a tsp or so of olive oil or non stick cooking spray. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain off excess fat. Add in spices and crushed tomatoes. Then add pasta, water and chilies/jalapenos. Cook for about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Top with low fat shredded cheddar. (also great with a dollop of sour cream and some scallions as well!). If you don't like jalapenos or green chilies (I have a jar in the fridge of green chilies that are always on hand to throw in stuff)...you can omit them..it takes a little jazz away from the recipe but doesn't make or break it!
I haven't made a cookie order in a couple months. The past couple years I've done orders for showers, birthdays, and other parties on the side. It's fun, but they're a lot of work and time, and sometimes the compensation for an order wasn't worth the time it took me. But, I still do them for friends and family, and when you have someone that really appreciates your handy work, it's always worth it!
So...here are some cookies for my friend, C, for her girls weekend...I thought it would be fun to show how the cookies go from a blank slate dough to the finished product!
Here are the rolled sugar cookies ready for the oven..
here are my naked cookies fresh out of the oven!
First step, I outline them in royal icing. These outlines act as a little bridge for when I fill the cookies in
A quick little tip...royal icing, the icing that hardens once it dries, can be tricky to handle. I like to set up my decorating bags, put the tips in them, and then put them in pint glasses. It makes it soooo much easier to fill the bags and gives me a place to rest them if I'm switching colors.
One the black outlines dried for a few minutes...I filled in some pink royal icing...
Then, to finish them off, I filled in the rest with some white royal icing
Once they're dry, they get bagged and tied with a ribbon for the final product
For Rhode Island, where I live is considered the country. I say the name of my town and I half expect people to do the up down to see if I'm wearing flannel, have all my teeth, and am driving the biggest pick up made. I'm about 5 miles from the next closest city, 2 miles from the major University in our state, but for RI, it's country living.
As I was sick, home bound, robe clad, with my box of tissues in my hand a couple weeks ago, my cats suddenly went ape shit, doing 5 laps around the house at mach speed over something they saw outside...
This is Davie, on high alert, on top of the brand new dining room table (bad boy!), spying some wild life..
I peeked outside to see a little head emerge from a bush
I live on a main road, so we occasionally see some odd tracks in the yard but I don't really see the actual animal too much
It's also an explanation for why this bush on the side of our tree gets eaten and weird looking every year...Mr. Allan though it was bugs...turns out it's popular with the deer
I tried to hook up the deer and threw a carrot its way. It sunk in the snow and the deer didn't look to inclined to dig it out
A crowd started to gather at the window to check it out...
So, what I thought to be a one time thing has turned into an everyday sighting...this deer has become the neighborhood pet. The neighbors that flank our house on either side have been feeding it grain. One neighbor told us that she got a close look and the deer looks like it may have been attacked by a coyote and has wounds to her face and body.
So, we've hopped on the adopt a deer program...our yard is mainly used for sleeping by the deer. She now comes around with a younger baby deer who stands guard while she naps under our large pine trees.
Every morning, whoever wakes up first, peeks out the window to do a deer check and see where they're sleeping in our yard.
Here they were this morning...the injured mama under the bush and the baby watching over her...
Those of you that really live in the country might be chuckling and rolling your eyes thinking..lady come to the real country...but this is country living in Rhode Island..
Ever since my Kindle came into my life, I've been reading like a mad woman. I've always loved to read and the excuse this year has been that I just don't have the time to settle in with a good book. Now that I have my beloved Kindle in my purse at all times, reading has become readily accessible to me all the time. I whipped out my Kindle while I was waiting in the doctor's office waiting room the other day and read a couple pages..it's really allowed me to get back to something I love to do.
So...I've been asking for recommendations left and right of books to read. I have a very cool co-worker, H, who can give me a new book a week to read..and she's so good that she can instantly tell me if it's my thing or not and guess whether I'll like it not.
So, on the advice of her....two books I've read in the past month that get solid grades from me...
First up...One Day by David Nichols
Normally, I don't like to read novels that are set in England or that have British main characters. It just drives me crazy to read the English lingo..is this silly, yes, but I try so hard and it drives me nuts. But, my co-worker assured me that even though the main characters are British, it wasn't laced with all the Brit lingo..so I gave it a try and it turned out to be a good solid book that I enjoyed. I didn't shut the last page and say to myself...this was absolutely fantastic, but I was satisfied with the story the whole way and would recommend it. So..what's it about?
It's the story of Emma and Dexter. Two college friends who hook up right after graduation only to part ways and go about their lives for the next 20 years. They're from quite different backgrounds and the story follows them through their paths and how they intermingle. Dexter goes from traveling the world to a career in TV, Em goes from working in a tex mex restaurant to suddenly emerging as a new young adult author. The plot brings you through the will they be together or won't they, which i enjoyed. So, all over, a solid B+ on this one.
Next up....Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Another recommendation from my co-worker..she hadn't read it, but said she read absolutely great reviews about it..so I figured...let's give it a shot!
When I started this, I thought...hmmm...different...as the book starts out with the Bigtree family and their life on an island called Swamplandia. They run a tourist attraction where the family is involved in alligator wrestling and they refer to their gators as Seths. Their mother, the star or their attraction, dies and the family struggles to keep Swamplandia afloat. The oldest son, Kiwi, just wants to start a normal life off the island. The older sister, Osceola, is somewhat of a lost soul and the youngest, Ava, just wants to follow in her mom's footsteps and become the star alligator wrestler that revives Swamplandia.
I really enjoyed this book. It switches back each chapter by telling the story mainly from Ava and Kiwi's point of view. It started strong, maybe got a little slow (but only for a tiny bit) in the middle, and ended so strong. When I finished the book and read about the author, Karen Russell, I wasn't surprised to see that she was previously a short story writer...it made a little sense for the tiny slowness I felt in the middle of the book.
If I took this book off the shelf and read the back, I may have not bought it, but I'm so glad I did read it, it turned out to be amazing in the end.