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Made from scratch every day

13 Jun

My poor kitchen floor.  It’s under constant attack thanks to the crunchy granola, do-it-yourself lifestyle we seem to have embraced with both arms and legs recently.  After a winter’s worth of dirt, snow, and food refuse, my floor underwent a long overdue transformation last week after I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed.  It was back to it’s shiny, cheery, yellow linoleum state for about a day before I decided to bake 10 loaves of bread in one day and the fine dusting of flour started to accumulate again.

Today, our eagerness to make everything ourselves resulted in a double-whammy for the kitchen.  Earlier in the afternoon I had my first foray into the world of pastry making when I made a double batch of my own puff pastry dough.  Unfortunately, it turned out more like regular pie dough than anything close to puffing, but fortune favors the brave, and it made one hell of a savory pie.

But my floury kitchen capers are slowly but surely becoming the norm; the main event was yet to come.

For the holidays last year, my mom’s big gift to the son-in-laws was beer brewing equipment, and two weeks ago, Eric finally started his first batch.  It took up valuable real-estate in my front closet, bubbling away in a five gallon bucket while the coats and lawn games snuggled unused in the free corner.  Tonight was bottling day.

With our bellies full of my new favorite substitution for casserole, we all took our posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone’s obviously put a lot of thought into this beer bottling process because it was relatively quick and easy.  And now if I can get my mind off of the poor sticky beer soaked floor we can sing “43 Assorted Bottles of Beer on the Wall” until it’s time to bottle the next batch!

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Eli’s morning entertainment…

4 May

So, we got this bird feeder when we first moved in, thinking; Gee, these nice tall windows will be a perfect spot for the cats to sit and bird watch.  Well, that was in October and now, May 4th, 2011, we finally have some birds!  I was so surprised to come out to the living room and catch one on the suet feeder.  And of course, Eli was right there checking out the action.  Over the winter, seed has fallen down on the front walk, and the birds feeding there held his usually ADD attention for at least five minutes.  Anyone know what kind of bird we’ve ensnared?  I think it’s a sort of finch, but that’s what I think all small birds are.  Can’t wait to see what the rest of the spring and summer seasons bring us.

Eli Hits the Road

26 Apr

We may not have kids yet in the conventional sense, but we still get high marks for being fussy parents.  Who are we parenting exactly?  Our cats of course.  This Easter weekend one of the little furballs got the special treatment.

When you’ve lived with any animal for a long period of time, you start to notice patterns in their behavior that make up their personalities.  In Eli’s case most of the time these are endearing traits of cuteness laced with evil intentions thinly disguised as squirreliness.  I spend most of my days at home with the cats, so I tend to notice when something is out of the ordinary, which is what happened Wednesday night.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but Eli is a creature of habit.  If things aren’t just so in his little feline world, he get’s vocal about it.  He is fastidious to a fault, and will often drag objects such as paper, plastic bags, socks or my flip-flops over to the litter box to cover excess messes if it isn’t being cleaned out fast enough.  So when I noticed him squatting down in the bathroom sink right in front of me, I knew something was up.  First of all, the bathroom is Eli’s safe haven.  It’s where he goes when he gets overstimulated and starts biting everything in sight.  Usually mom and dad get tired of the nipping and give him a time-out, but sometimes he goes in there himself and has a little sit-down relax time on his pink rug.  I knew something was really off when he decided to take a squat on the rug almost immediately after he did a little business in the sink.

On our last visit to the vet for yearly boosters, I mentioned that our older cat, Thora doesn’t like to use the litter box in an attempt to gather some advice on what to do with her.  The vet told me about Feline Urinary Tract Infection as inappropriate urination is one of the symptoms.  It wasn’t what was wrong with Thora, but I kept the information tucked away just in case.  When Eli’s behavior hadn’t returned to normal last Thursday, I went on an info hunt to make sure I wasn’t just being paranoid.  I found that Eli had at least half of the symptoms listed on multiple sites and called our vet.  There wasn’t an appointment open that day, and we were scheduled to leave in the evening for the weekend, but the vet-tech I spoke with told me if I could bring in a urine sample, they could test it without an appointment.

This is where my story gets funny.  A URINE SAMPLE?  I was thinking.  How in the world was I going to get a urine sample from a cat?  Here I was, it was a little after 1pm on Thursday afternoon.  I had 4 loaves of bread proofing in the other room for the weekend, I still needed to go work out, I was due at the animal shelter at 5 for my volunteer work, and now I had to try to get a urine sample from my little baby boy who was sulking in the corner.  Luckily, Eric brought the car back to me after his afternoon meeting (I honestly think he was more worried about Eli than I was) just as I was able to get a tiny sample from Eli.  I called the vet again to see if this would be enough, and as luck would have it, an appointment had opened up.  Working out for the day got bumped off my to-do list and I was just able to finish my bread before heading to the vet with angry Eli in his crate.

The vet didn’t have anything really interesting to say.  Nothing came of the sample I brought in, so all we could do was watch and wait.  So, Eli came with us to Minnesota.  He’s a great rider as long as he isn’t stuffed in his box and doesn’t get carsick.  He spent both the trip up and back in my lap cuddling like crazy and hissing at passing trucks and rain.  Once we got to Eric’s parents house, we picked up some Purina Urinary tract health food and let him have an Easter feast of his own.

So, after a weekend of cuddling and relaxation away from Thora, Eli is back in the saddle, peeing like a champ, and I think we’re out of the woods for now.

As a worried feline mom, I will pass on a little bit of advice.  If you have a cat and don’t know the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, look into it now.  This can be very difficult to detect in your cat because as naturally solitary creatures, they tend to internalize their pain, and won’t give you a lot of cues that something is wrong.  Left untreated, this can lead to fatal infection.  There are a lot of good sites out there devoted to pet health and your vet probably has brochures in their office.  It’s not paranoia, just something to know about.  Ten minutes of your time could save your cats life.

Yogic Cat

17 Apr

So after a week off the fitness train, and not quite rid of what I am now referring to as “Mac’s disease” I managed to drag myself to today’s afternoon yoga class.  It felt remarkably good to get back into it, and the instructor seemed to take a slower pace than normal.  It makes sense, everyone is busy, the students are tired and stressed out, why try to kill ourselves doing headstand?  I’m trying to plan ahead for this week’s workout, knowing I probably won’t be up to my average rigor.  So, I guess I’m back to doing a mile in the pool instead of 2,400 yards, and maybe I will take it easy at Zumba class tomorrow.  At least I have the comfort of knowing that Eli and I can relax together once again in full forward fold.

Riddle Me This!

16 Apr

What do you get when you cross a sometimes ordinary house cat, a late lasagna dinner, and a pasta press?

Pepe le Pew, eat your heart out, baby!  There’s a new skunk in town, and his name is Eli. 

No, Eli is not trying to grow up trans-species, passing as a spotted skunk, or trying to impress any lady skunks in the neighborhood.  Believe it or not, this happens every single time we get out the pasta maker.  It seems little mooch-master here has a penchant for really weird foods; in this case, flour.  That’s right, folks, he will pace around the kitchen whenever we are making pasta just waiting for the moment when some drifts down his way.  Then he hoovers it up as fast as he can.  Obviously, as he is hunkered down underneath the counter, more and more flour inevitably floats down, spotting his body.  A usually fastidious animal, he will stalk around for hours after with his new white markings.  Weirdest. Cat. Ever.

Side Note:  This totally still counts as an April 15th post, since I’m still up for the day 🙂

Cat on a hot concrete slab

10 Apr

I guess I should rename this as “Eli Whitney’s Get Famous Blog” but this was just too cute not to share.

In a pre-storm calm, temps reached 80 degrees here in unpredictable Iowa.  We gladly threw open all the windows, made a simple lunch with the panini press, planted nasturtiums, cat grass and catnip, and took Eli outside to work on our tans.  He loves the warm concrete and usually stretches out happily when we take him outside for supervised over-stimulation time.  Staying relatively obediently within the confines of our tiny concrete slab of a patio, he watches birds, sniffs the air, and of course rolls around.

How can you watch that and not be happy?

Awkward Cat Photo

4 Apr

There, how’s that for a totally lame title?  It’s about as creative as I feel today 😛

When we left Indiana yesterday afternoon it was 78 degrees, finishing out our Spring Break Indiana trip nicely.  It’s windy and cold in Iowa AGAIN!  You’re probably thinking, Gee, when is this person going to post about something NEW? And I apologize.  I have been desperately trying to work on my story since 8 am, and it’s just not happening.  So here I present a lonely cat trying to get attention from underneath the computer.  I think he likes to sit back there because it’s warm, and he can ambush me by attacking the keyboard.  Here he is chewing on my glasses:  A nasty habit he’s picked up, and he chews chews cords too when he’s angry with us.  He was certainly not thrilled about us being gone for a weekend 🙂