25 November 2011

Feline Friday: Boxes!

Our coffee pot cracked this week, so Spouse went out on an emergency run to buy a new one. We seem to go through coffee pots pretty quickly, so there's no use spending a lot of money on anything fancy or high-tech. 
Plus, as anyone knows, the BOX is the best part of the deal anyway!  And this box is the perfect size for Lily. Or Tinsel. But not both at the same time.

So to keep the peace, I rounded up a second box for Tinsel.
They can be next door neighbors.

Or enjoy the high-rise life.
Life is good with new boxes in the house.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Re-posting a favorite Lily moment from a few years back. I used this photo on my Thanksgiving cards that year and wondered why no one wanted to come for dinner. I was just kidding, guys!

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

22 November 2011

Recipe: Spiced Cranberry Pear Sauce

I love cranberry sauce, but not the disgusting, gelatinous stuff you extract from a can. I'm talking about the made-from-scratch cranberry sauce which is full of texture and just the right blend of tangy and sweet. For the past several years, I've been making an old Martha Stewart recipe for cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, and I do believe it's the best thing ever.

In light of this, I'm not sure why I decided to try something different this year, but this recipe for Spiced Cranberry-Pear Sauce from Clean Eating magazine looked good and easy, so I thought I'd give it a try. I whipped up a batch today, since it can be made several days in advance. Click on the photo to read the recipe. (And yes, the Pear Pie recipe next to it looks pretty good, too, but is much, much more involved. And quite possibly beyond my skill level.)

The verdict on this recipe is that it is simple, healthful, and a nice change, but I still prefer my previous recipe. I'm glad I tried it, but next year I'm going back to Martha.

The recipe calls for all of 6 ingredients plus water. I can handle that.

Cranberries are surely one of the most festive foods around. They look pretty before you even do anything to them!

The combination of cranberry, pear, ginger, and honey sounded really good to me. And it is!

Add the cardamon and sea salt, and this recipe starts to take on a bit of an exotic flair. I have only used cardamon in Indian cooking, but I read on the container that it is also used in Scandinavian dishes.

Cook it until the cranberries start breaking down and the mixture begins to thicken. I got distracted (cat-related incident) and let it cook a little bit longer than it should have, so my final product isn't as lumpy as I expected it to be.

Near the end of the cooking time, I sampled the mixture and determined that the honey wasn't a strong enough sweetener, so I cheated and added a couple of teaspoons of sugar. It's no longer sugar-free, but it tastes better!

Let the sauce cool then seal in an air-tight container. 

Go, me! One dish is ready to go for Thanksgiving!

Tabby Tuesday with Lily

Hai, guise! Heer I am on dis stairh!

Mi mommeh tells me not to lai heer becuz I mite git stepped on in da dark. But I doo it aniways!

Now I iz gitting silly an shoween off mi tummie....
OOPS! I rolled down da stairhz!

Uh, I ment to do dat...

13 November 2011

EASY Crockpot Recipe: Cowboy Chicken Taco Bowl

I recently ran across a recipe for Cowboy Chicken Taco Bowl. It appealed to me because it is one of those "dump-it-in-the-crock-pot-and-forget-it" recipes. So that's what I did. And when I got home at 5pm, the house smelled wonderful. Dinner was ready! I love those days. I just wish they would happen more often.

I'll admit that my photo of this dish does not do it justice. Yes, I got a little carried away with the cilantro. (I bought such a large bunch of it that I hated for any to go to waste! You can see that I didn't even cut off the stems!) AND the blue flower bowl hardly works with the "cowboy" theme. If you can overlook the flowers and peer past the layer of cilantro....well, just trust me, this recipe is a keeper!

Cowboy Chicken Taco Bowl
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa (your pick!)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sweet niblets corn (or 1 cup frozen corn)
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilis
1 tblsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
cooked rice
shredded cheddar
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Layer the chicken breasts along the bottom of your crock pot. Dump the salsa, black beans, corn, tomatoes and green chilis over the chicken. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper over mixture and stir. Slow cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Using two forks, shred chicken while still in the crock pot and then give everything a good stir. Turn up the heat to high and allow to continue to cook while you prepare rice.

From the Southern Food Network website: "When you are ready to serve dinner, put some rice in a bowl, ladle on some of the chicken stew and top with shredded cheddar and fresh cilantro.  If you wanted to make this a tailgating recipe, simply ladle some of the chicken stew over nachos and top with cheese, cilantro or chopped green onions, and serve with sour cream on the side!"

11 November 2011

Feline Friday: Before the FALL...

Lily likes to walk on our second floor railing, but it always makes me nervous. She's not the handiest kitty in the world. Unlike Tinsel, Lily's not a great jumper and often misses her targets. That's okay most of the time, but it's quite a drop to the first floor from the railing!

So it was with some degree of alarm that I heard her running wildly through the house a few days ago, headed straight to the railing. Without slowing down whatsoever, she jumped and landed squarely on it. I'll admit I was impressed!

Looking somewhat cocky, Lily began her balancing act. So I grabbed the camera to catch a few pictures of her in full SHOW OFF mode!

Look, Mom! I can stand on dis cornur!

This is what that pose looks like from below, where I planted myself in case she fell. Not that I'd like to catch Lily and all of her sharp little claws, mind you...

Look, Mom! I can sit on dis post thingie!

Now I iz a gargoile!

Yes, it's a long way down, Miss Gargoyle. Be careful!

Ohai, Mom! I can ezen chase mi tayle whyle im on da raling! Look at mi trik......oh noez!!!

And with that fancy little trick, Lily tumbled head over paws all the way to the ground floor, landing hard on her side on the second step. She didn't land on her feet, like kitties are supposed to do. (Perhaps the quick drop didn't give her enough time to rotate properly...) I was there in an instant to see if she was ok, and of course she was. 

As if to say, "Ohai, I ment to do dat!" she trotted right over to her food bowl, ready for a post-show treat.

This little fall didn't faze Lily, but I'm sure it cost me one of my nine lives!

08 November 2011

Tabby Tuesday

Lily's not much into politics, but this is one cause she truly supports!

06 November 2011

Hasta la vista, Green Fan!

I'm still working away at the significantly overdue updates in our home office/craft room. I recently revamped my craft storage (still a work in progress) and have now moved on to other aspects of the room which sorely need updating. 

This shiny gold and green fan, which matches the lovely green wallpaper border, makes you think you might be dining in a Bennigan's or any of those other places with "brass and dark green" color scheme. It's still in fine shape, but it needed to find a new home. In fact, tomorrow I'm taking it (along with some other shiny gold treasures and some very fine leftover wallpaper) to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

Green Fan was replaced with Brown Fan, which features a much more palatable brushed nickle finish.

The box called this a "5-Minute Fan" -- meaning that's how long it should take to install it. It seemed to take Spouse more like three hours, but I think it was well worth the effort. Since this photo was taken, we shortened the ball chains shown here. (And yes, crafting friends, I KEPT the leftover ball chain for a future project!)

What's next? Take down that wallpaper border and paint the room -- for the first time since the house was built! That will be the biggest transformation of all.

04 November 2011

Feline Friday: Whut I Bin Doeen

Todai I wuz a littel bit nottie. Mi mommie telled me I shud confess mi notties on dis blog, so I'm goeen to tell u whut I did to git in trubble.

Furst, my mommie camed home an finded me sleping on da kichen tabul. I noes I am not sposed to do dis, but who cud resist a sunnie spott? Mi mommie tinks maybe I sleped heer while day wuz gone to IU. Im not sayin if I did or not.

I also braked into my fud contayner and eated all of todai's noms befor 8 o'clok in da morning! Den I tryed to git Tinsul's noms cuz day r better den myne. Now im on restrycted noms.

Den mi mommie finded out mi secrit project! I bin takeen down da wallpapur border in da basement! I heered mommie talkeen about takeen it down an thinked it wud be a nyce surprize fur her. I guess she dint meen dis one. Oopsie!

An I had alreddie finished anudder part! I bin workeen vary hard on dis. Vary quiettlie cuz it wuz a surprize! I do not see whi mommie is upset. Whi is da border bi da floor aniwai? Seemz liek a bad plaice fur it to mee!

Den I been scracheen da wallz again. I tryed to stop but oopsie i
haz started up again. I ben doeen it in da nite to git mi mommie out of da beds. In order to gif me noms.

Pleeze do not be too upset wif me, mommie! I had lotz of tyme on mi paws whyle u wuz gone to see Baiwee!

Maybee if u let mee go to collij ill lern not to do deez notties. Pleeze?
Luv, Lily

03 November 2011

Our Visit to IU

We spent last weekend visiting Bailey at Indiana University. We hadn't seen her since dropping her off at school in August -- WAY TOO LONG! This time, we were able to leave a day earlier than usual which gave us a bit of extra time to check out the local area while she was in class.

On Friday we ventured out of Bloomington toward Lake Monroe, the largest lake/park area in Indiana. Southern Indiana is quite hilly and beautiful, especially at this time of year. 

I think we missed the peak of the fall color by a week or so, but the leaves were still gorgeous.

It was nice to have a little bit of extra time to see this area. I think the 100-year old park ranger was glad to have visitors, too. He regaled us with all kinds of information about the lake and surrounding areas and provided us with a stack of maps he had carefully highlighted. It was obviously a slow time of year for him, as he had completely plastered his ranger station with Halloween cling-ons!

We stayed at the Union hotel for a couple of nights. Brightly colored mums had been planted all over the campus, adding to the already beautiful fall color.

IU's campus is really gorgeous at this time of year. This photo features the Sample Gates, one of the prettiest areas on campus.

On Friday evening, we went to the Homecoming parade to see the Marching Hundred. Since it was Halloween weekend, the band members were in costume. I've never before seen a cowgirl playing cymbals!

Todd Rundgren was back again, this time as grand marshal of the parade. (Jay thinks he's looking for gigs these days.) Last fall, the legendary rocker was a guest lecturer at IU and came out to "direct" the Marching Hundred at a football game when they played "Bang on the Drum".

We met up with Neil and Bailey after the parade. He doesn't always dress like this. :)

Bright and early the next morning (as in 6am for the drumline), the band was back at it. We got to see "Sing Sing Sing" again played in front of Assembly Hall.

And Bailey asked me to take a photo with Andrew and Evan, the other two percussion/music ed majors in drumline. (She's the daughter of a scrapbooker, you know!)

Other than the fantastic marching band, the fireworks were the best part of Saturday's game against Northwestern. IU football is in a sorry state again this year, in spite of the best efforts of the new coach.

It's a shame the football team continues to struggle. The stadium is really beautiful -- it's sad that the games are not well-attended. The "public" side of the stadium was relatively full for Saturday's game, but the student side largely emptied after halftime.

By the time of the post-game show, the student section was basically empty. Too bad they missed such a terrific performance! It was also alumni band day, and nearly 100 former band members participated in the show. They sounded great!

We got to see one last performance of "Sing Sing Sing" featuring the drumline...

... and our favorite cymbal player!

After the game, she posed for ONE MORE PICTURE for her mama.

Later, Jay and I had some additional time to walk around the campus. The colorful trees against the limestone buildings were very striking.

There is a large wooded area running through campus which adds to its character. 

We stopped by to see the bronze tribute to Hoagy Carmichael, an IU graduate who wrote "Stardust" and many other old standards.

And we got to take these two very tired and hungry music ed majors to dinner one more time. Such a treat for us!
Once again, I'm nothing but thankful that Bailey is so happy and doing so well at IU. I miss her like crazy, but it's a delight to see her developing into all she is meant to be!