Monday, January 30, 2012


The vet has declared that Winter is now too old and arthritic for a feeding station on the fridge and a litter in the basement.  I'm told that everything should be available to him on one floor, and at floor level, so that jumping isn't necessary.  Dog proofing kitty litters and cat food is a whole other problem, but I decided that it wouldn't be the end of the world to keep Winter's stuff in the guest bath.

I took the bathroom door off the hinges and lugged it downstairs - it's solid pine so this was no easy feat - to replace it with the door that already has a cat hole. That's when I discovered that idiot who built my house used different hinges - and I suspect installed all the doors without a jig.  So my doors aren't interchangeable.

As a result, tomorrow I get to buy a new door.  I'm sure as heck not cutting a cat hole into a solid pine door.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Best Spot

There's a war going on in my house, and it's over the best spot in on the bed.  It's the spot in front of the pillows on the other side of my bed (where I don't sleep).  It's where the sheets are exposed, between the pillow and the top fold of the comforter.

This is traditionally Cotton's spot to sleep.  It's his favorite spot in the whole world, and he watches me all day to look for clues that it's time to go there.  If it even looks like I might be going to bed - if I go into my room to change socks - Cotton runs into my room, jumps on the bed and curls up on his spot.  Except, he needs me there with him or the spot's no good.  If I'm not in the room, he refuses to stay.

Until this year, when the weather was cold, Cotton would start in that spot and then shift under the covers after a few minutes.  He'd be a lump under the comforter for the rest of the night, until I pulled back the blankets in the morning and forced him to come out and go outside.  This year, for some reason he's not telling me, he doesn't want to be an under the cover dog anymore.  This year, he's staying in his spot all night long.

The problem is that Winter has noticed this change in Cotton's habit too.  It used to be that shortly after the little dude crawled under the covers, Winter would curl up in Cotton's spot and he'd usually stay there most of the night.  With Cotton not vacating the spot anaymore, Winter's habits are having to change too.

Every night for the last week, I've found Winter in Cotton's spot when it's time for me to go to bed.  He jumps up on the bed, is rudely presented with a cat in his place who is ready and willing to defend the territory, and Cotton gets thrown into a tizzy.  If I go to bed and let Winter stay in Cotton's spot, Cotton will be very upset.  More than once when I've tried to convince him to find another spot on the bed to sleep, he's worked himself into a full-blown panic attack... which is hell, for everybody involved.

As a result, I've been having to be the meanie and move Winter to another location before I go to bed.  He's not happy about this, and is not shy about telling me about it - or lashing out at Cotton to show his displeasure.

So, I've taken to finding excuses to lure Winter out of my room.  Yummy food.  Cool toys.  Strings.  Or, sometimes I'm just mean and lock him out of the room until Cotton's settled in.  Each night, I've been making Winter move.  Each night he's been parking himself in the spot a little bit earlier.  Wednesday, he was there by 8:00.  Thursday, he was in place by 7:00.  I moved him numerous times, but each time he returned.  Ultimately, bedtime came and the cat had to be cleared out - but not before he hissed and spat at Cotton, who had just arrived on the bed.

Today, I looked into my bedroom at 2:00, and the cat was already there.  I'm thinking that maybe I'll just sleep in the spare room for a while.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christmas in January

I feel like I've been on a roll for buying stuff, but I really haven't spent very much of my own money.

First, as a result of my recent Chocolate Party (which was actually a very successful way to lure people in and help my friend sell Pampered Chef products) I got an incredible amount of free stuff.   I just put in an order for a full set of stainless steel cookware, a couple of non-skid cutting boards and a flurry of kitchen doodads.  It's good to have friends with deep pockets!

Last night, I cashed in my Airmiles.  I've been collecting for about 3 years, to save up for a Kitchenaid professional grade mix master.  I finally had enough points, but then I realized that I didn't really need one that badly.  I wanted it because a bunch of my friends had one, but my mix master is pretty good.  It's a Sunbeam stand mixer, and it's older than I am.  It's a workhorse.  It's got a bigger capacity and a stronger motor than the Kitchenaid professional machine, so I realized that I'd be downgrading if I replaced it.  I'm a little worried that it'll die soon because of its age, but I decided to take that chance.  Instead, I ordered two rain barrels, which I've been eyeballing for ages. Most people probably think I'm crazy, but I'm ridiculously happy with the choice.

Finally, I went out to do some damage on the insurance claim.  I haven't submitted receipts for a few months, so it was time.  I bought a couple of things that are unexciting and useful, but yesterday I picked up a memory foam mattress cover.  I really need a new bed, but since that's not in the budget this will have to do.  I've only slept on it for one night, but it's comfortable - and my hips weren't sore this morning, which is unusual.

While looking for a replacement down duvet, I cut through the luggage section at the Bay.  These little lovelies caught my eye.

I'm hoping that the London Fog name means that they are good quality.  Plus, they were 70% off so I managed to get a set of three for less than what the insurance company was willing to pay for one (big) suitcase.

Saturday, my dad and I are driving up to Edmonton in his van, to buy and haul this home:
It's going to act as my basement closet, to hold my out of season coats and outdoor gear.  Note the feet, which will make it flood proof.

Finally, since I was on a roll and really felt the need to spend some of my own money, I bought myself a new treat: A Cuisinart Panini Press.  As much as I love my gas stove, it generates a lot of heat - so much so that it has destroyed the vent portion of my over-the-range microwave.  What that means is that I set off the smoke alarm somewhat frequently at my house.  As a result, I've gotten into the habit of using my George Forman Grill quite a bit, and I hate how hard it is to clean.  It can't be submerged in the sink, but the grill plates aren't removable.  It's a pain in the patootie, so it's been replaced.  I made a burger for dinner, and bought the ingredients for a panini tomorrow.  I've really very excited, but I suspect I'm also very easily amused.

It's a pretty great haul, eh?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


A friend of mine is celiac, and it can be hard to find food that she can safely eat.  When I invited her to yesterday's chocolate party, I promised that there would be something for her.  So, I set about making my flourless chocolate cake, which I have long considered to be fail-safe.  

This cake is baked in a bath in the slow cooker for two hours.  When it comes out, it's still liquid, and it goes into the fridge for 12+ hours to set.  Last night, I mixed everything up, put it in the slow cooker and then turned it on.  I remember seeing the lid steam up from the heat shortly after that.  Then I went to the store, and took the dogs for a walk.  After an hour and a half, I kept catching myself trying to turn off the slow cooker.  I know I stopped myself at least three times, thinking there was time left.  15 minutes before the time was up, I sat down to watch tv and promptly blanked everything out.  An hour and half later, I jumped up and ran to turn off the slow cooker.... which was unplugged and completely cold.

I know I plugged it in, but have no idea when I turned it off.  And, since the cake is usually liquid after having been in the slow cooker anyway, I had no way to tell if it was cooked.  I put it in the fridge and hoped for the best, but of course, it was still liquid in the morning.  So, I put it in the slow cooker for another hour (turned on) and then moved it to the fridge to set.  An hour before the party, it still had a pudding consistency, so I poured it into a bowl and called it chocolate sauce.

While some of the girls cut up the fruit, three of us made crepes.  When we were ready, we all had crepes with vanilla custard and fresh fruit filling, drizzled in "chocolate" sauce.  It turns out, that was one of the biggest hits of the party.

ps - I like to use parties as an excuse to buy flowers.  Long stem roses were on sale, so I bought a mixed bunch and chopped them down.

Aren't they pretty?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Death By Chocolate

It happened.  I found a trait that I have inherited from my mother.  She goes crazy with the cleaning before she has guests, and as a result has grown to hate having company because of all the work.  Today I had a "Death by Chocolate" party, and went a little crazy with the preparation.  Some was reasonable - I did a little bit each night last week, and planned to do the vacuuming and dusting today (some of the guests are allergic to cats).

Last night though, I may have gone a little overboard. I found myself up on a ladder, polishing the crystal chandelier.   Then, I got out the paint can and painted over some of the marks and dings on the walls.  After that, I reminded myself that it was friends who were coming over, and that they aren't the type to notice imperfections or judge.  So, I made myself relax and have a good time.  

We had brownie batter chocolate cupcakes, chocolate pumpkin loaf, Toblerone fondu with fresh fruit, chocolate martinis and crepes with more fruit, custard and chocolate sauce.    We laughed, we told stories, we ate too much chocolate.

I, for one, and pretty sure that I'm done with the sweets for a good long, time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


It was -34C (-29F) here this morning, -47C (-52F) with the windchill.  Cotton chose not to go outside, and pooped in my living room instead .  My instinct was to be mad, but the truth is that I can't really blame him.

He used to be paper trained when he was a youngin.  It might be time to remind him how that works.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Never Trust a Skinny Cook

I am having a party on Saturday.  To clarify, I am having a "Death by Chocolate" party on Saturday.  I'm not sure why, but I had the crazy idea to do this last November.  I was going to do it then, but my brother got sick, and with the family coming to town and the related drama; a chocolate celebration didn't seem appropriate.

People were understanding at the time, but I 've been on the receiving end quite a few prods since the holidays.  People wanted their chocolate!  So, family drama behind us, I rescheduled.  I've got a number of chocolate treats planned, 6 of which I've ever made before.  What that means is that I have a lot of testing to do.  Or, Taste Testing.

Have I mentioned that I'm trying my very hardest to lose weight, and that I have some making up to do after the holidays?  This is going to be a challenge.

Yesterday, I went to a friend's house, and we worked together to make Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes.  We followed the recipe exactly, and they taste divine, but each and every one of them collapsed into a crator after they came out of oven.  A little bit of playing and experimentation later, we think we found the solution.  So, tonight I try again.  In the meantime, I've got 30 failed cupcakes that are too good to throw out, but I can't serve.

I hope the other recipe work out better than this, or my freezer's going to be full.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Somebody has spent a lot of time on the new dresser lately, hissing at any four-legged trespassers who dare to come near.

He even looks cranky in this picture, doesn't he?

The hissing is not cool.  I'm starting to think that the dresser might have to go to another part of the house, because I need to do something.  If I can't change the behaviour, I might have to change the surroundings that encourage the behaviour.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You never know 'til you try

Are you on PInterest?  I am, and it's a huge time suck for me.  It's a website where you can store links to anything that you might ever want to come back to, and you can browse links that others have stored to get even more ideas.  Looking to decorate a room?  Create a board for that, and post links to ideas that you find inside.  Then poke around at other people's office ideas and see where it takes you.  Like to read?  Create a Library Board for books you want to read someday.  Do you like to cook?  Create a recipe board, then watch it grow... this one's the big one for me.  I don't often post external recipe links, but I routinely go there for ideas.

PInterest is where I found this link, for "Birds Nests"  The picture looked so cool, I had to give them a try.

Except, the comments in the PInterest link gave a slightly different recipe than the original link. I ended up doing a little of both, and frankly, I think they'd have been better if I'd followed my intuition and tried something else on my own.

One recipe said: Bird Nests! 3/4 C chocolate chips, 3/4 C butterscotch chips, 1 C peanut butter, 3/4 chow mein noodles. Form in muffin cups!

The other (Credit goes HERE) said

Birds’ Nests - Servings: 12 
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, for greasing the muffin pan
6 ounces (1/2 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces (1/2 of a large bag) of chow mein noodles
36 mini Cadbury eggs 
1. Generously grease the wells of a muffin pan with the butter (this will help later when you are taking out the chilled nests).
2. In a large microwave-proof bowl, heat the chocolate and butterscotch chips in 30 second intervals until thoroughly melted, stirring after each increment.**It only took me two 30-second intervals.
3. Once melted, add the peanut butter to the chocolate/butterscotch mixture, mixing well until smooth and completely combined.
4. Carefully add the chow mein noodles, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until completely coated.
5. Using a large spoon, mold the mixture into the wells of your muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon.
6. Chill the nests until hardened, about 1 hour or so.
7. Once chilled, gently remove the nests from the muffin tin.***I used a butter knife as a lever to pop them out-this seemed to work.
8. Place three eggs (or colored jelly beans!) on the tops of each nest.

Here's the thing, though... I don't like chow mein noodles. The first recipe says to use 3/4 of a cup, but I ended up using about 2 1/2 cups, just to fill them in.... too many for my taste.

I also don't like messy food, which includes chocolatey things that melt in your hand before you can eat them.   I think these need more stuffing, so that they'd be less melty. I think that I should have used at least a cup each (maybe more) of coconut, peanuts and stick-pretzels instead of chow mein noodles.

The recipe itself was really easy.  Melt the chips and peanut butter, add the solids and dump them into greased muffin tins.  Where it because complicated was making the indent in the "nest", because the chocolate was still pretty liquid at that point.  I made indents, but they filled themselves in pdq.   So, I had to wait 15 minutes for them to cool in the fridge and then go back and muck about in them with the end of a spoon.  It was messy.  And maybe not so successful.  

If I was more patient, I might have waited until the whole mess had cooled quite a bit, then made freehand nests on a cookie sheet to avoid the flat edges on the sides from the muffin tins.

Whoever photographed the Bird's Nests from the other site did a better job  They hid the sides by shooting directly over top. (Good photography tip!)  Their's look like birds nests.  Mine?  Well, they kind of look more like cow patties to me.

FYI - Another photography suggestion would be to not take a bite out of the sample, until you had finished taking the pictures.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boys Confuse Me

There's a group of us that meet most Wednesday nights for dinner.  One of the guys from the group was at a car rental shop earlier to rent a car.  Being the single guy that he is, he chatted up the girl behind the counter and ended up inviting her along for our weekly chat and chew.  She arrived a few minutes after us, ended up sitting beside me and joined the other girls and I as we joked around and gabbed.

At the end of the night we all got up, paid our bill and left.  The one guy who had invited this girl to join us was the first to leave.  He walked away without acknowledging her.  In fact, he didn't talk to her at all - or make eye contact, that I saw - even once all night.  Granted, I am admittedly at least a little bit socially inept, but I'm a little bit perplexed about why he bothered to ask her along.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nothing to talk about here

Have you ever noticed how blog entries ebb and flow?  Sometimes, I've got so much to say that I have to consciously withhold information, lest I overwhelm.  Other days, I can hardly come up with anything worth mentioning.  This would be one of those days.

  • A friend of mine does aesthetics out of her home, and I usually go to her for whatever I need done.  I cheated on her a week or so ago, and went to get a pedicure at a nearby shop.  There, the lady cut the nail on my big toe too short, and I've been in pain ever since.  I know without a doubt that when I tell my friend this, she'll say it serves me right.
  • I cashed in a gift certificate recently and ordered "The Inconvenient Truth" book.  It just arrived, covered in mark down and sale stickers, which I've been unable to remove.  In fact, when I pulled the one sticker off, it tore the cover. As unreasonable as it may be, my nose is seriously out of joint over this.  The book is now damaged, before I've even had a chance to read it.  And why would a Mail Order company need to slather its products in price tags???
  • I went to a birthday party on the weekend for a friend's two year old.  She made a beautiful farm-yard themed birthday cake for him, using fondant and chocolate figurines that looked better than some of the professional cakes I've seen.  When it came time to blow out the candles, the birthday boy didn't show much interest, so each of the many two year olds in attendance took turns to blow (aka spit) them out.  Not wanting to be a stick in the mud, I waited until they were cutting from the far side of the cake before I took my piece, and then planned to only eat the unexposed parts.  However, shortly after I sat down, the little girl beside me (who spat out way more cake than she swallowed) needed to be changed.  Her mom took her out of the high chair, held her up over the table, and shook all of the regurgitated food off of her lap and onto my plate before she laughed and walked away.  That may have been the first time in my life when I sat with a piece of cake in front of me for a good half hour, and felt absolutely no desire to eat it.
  • I'ma gonna crawl back into my hole now.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Neither a Filing Cabinet nor a Microwave Cart

Two items that I'm looking to replace after the flood are a filing cabinet and a rolling microwave cart.  The microwave cart was actually used as a make-shift printer holder from my college days.  The filing cabinet was  stored in the basement due to its lack of.... aesthetic appeal.   That meant I hardly ever used it, and my filing got way behind.

Right now, I am in need of both a place to store the printer and a place to keep my files.  I don't have to buy exactly the same as what was damaged, but I kind of sort of have to show how they are related.  And, I'm trying to stay within the amount that insurance is willing to pay.

I've been looking for a cupboard of sorts that would be big enough to hold a printer or upright files.  I wanted it for the window nook in the library, so it had to be a specific height and size.  I haven't been having a lot of luck.  Anything that fits the criteria tends to be out of my budget.

I found this today.  It's too small to hold upright files, and much too small for the printer; but I think it looks pretty good.  

It squeaked in at at just below the amount that I had budgeted.  I got a discount, because there was a wee little chip in one of the corners under a drawer.  The little piece wasn't even quite chipped off, so I got out the wood glue when I brought it home.  When the glue dries, nobody will ever be able to tell.

The price tags are still on it, so I guess it's not a done deal yet, but I think it'll probably stay.  Now I just need to decide if I'm going to try to pass it off as a microwave cart or a filing cabinet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nap Time

The other day, Cotton begged and begged to go out for a "walk".  Every time I turned around, he was running for the door or doing his funny little hoppy dance that he does when he wants to head out.  Finally, I put on the sling, popped him inside and then took the dogs out.  We were out for an hour, but it was maybe only 5 minutes before this happened:

The Dude fell asleep.

And he stayed asleep until about 10 minutes after we got home.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


If you build forts, they will come.

 In one form or another.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Things I know to be true

Days when your dog steals and consumes both a bar of soap and a bowl of brussel sprouts may seem frustrating, but they don't hold a candle to what you'll experience over the next 24 hours.

Tallulah Belle Poodle has done more than her fair share of contribution towards global warming today.