Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wine and also a bit of Wally

Sunday we drove to Braintree, MA for the flea market wine sale I mentioned Saturday. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect and really, given the verbiage the owner used, I figured it would be in a warehouse with a few remnants on sale. It was in a warehouse but that’s the only bit I got right.

There were probably 14 large tables set up with representatives from either the vineyard or the distributor on hand to let us taste their wares, and the place was packed. Bin Ends had provided lots of crackers and also dump buckets so no one got entirely sloshed. We limited our tasting to reds, and found some really nice ones at very reasonable prices. I’ll head back down there on Thursday to pick up our order.

We also got a couple of bottles from the stock at hand. Two were inexpensive and one was a bit more than we usually spend, although still under $30. We decided to save that one for a special occasion like our anniversary but realized we needed to mark the bottle so we didn’t inadvertently drink it.

Shortly before we headed to bed, Kent put a wide rubber band on the neck of the bottle and then put it in our wine rack. Not 10 minutes later, Wally’d gotten that rubber band off the bottle and had run off into our bedroom with it so he could chew it to his kitty heart’s content. Kent managed to get the rubber band back and this time he put it around the wide part of the bottle and then put the bottle back on the wine rack.

We went to bed but weren’t yet asleep when we both heard a bottle CLANKING very loudly. Wally had pulled the bottle OUT of the wine rack and was busy pulling that rubber band off the bottle again. Clearly we’ll need to just use a Sharpie or something.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Of fur, flies and wine

First the fur. This picture shows just a small portion of the fur I got off all three kitties Thursday morning. I use my dish washing gloves, put a tiny bit of water on them, and then rub the kitty fur like I'm grooming with a brush. The water on the gloves gets their fur damp and then the gloves can sort of tug at the fur. I think it's probably similar to how cat tongues work--only a lot bigger. All three seem to love this process because when I'm grooming one, the others circle around waiting their turn.

I got this video clip last night, and I do apologize for it being pretty jerky. But Eddie was bound and determined to catch the fly you see at the end. I'm pretty sure it was a fruit fly, and Kent finally squished it if only to keep Eddie from taking a flying leap onto Kent's head.

Finally, we are going to take a trip to Braintree tomorrow to check out this wine sale. I've been following the owner on Twitter and I think we'll be able to get some really good wines at very reasonable prices. Stay tuned, I'll let you know what we find.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three down, one to go

I finished the hobo bags today. Actually I made four of them, but the first one is horrible because I followed the directions and used fusible interfacing. That made the bag WAY too stiff so I made three more without. They turned out pretty well although as usual, my photo doesn't really show the fabric colors very well

Now I need to make a dress and then I'll be done with sewing until after vacation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Sometimes this blog gets a little Wally-centric. That's understandable, Wally is very photogenic and also curious. That combination makes for some great pictures. But in the last two days, Eddie's decided that my desk makes a great napping spot for a big long kitty. Check it out.

I like this close up too:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And after

We snagged the 10 boxes of pasta yesterday. I'm sure we looked like indecisive morons standing there scratching our heads over which kinds of pasta we wanted, but in the end we got our pasta.

I spent about 20 minutes reorganizing the shelves in our closet under the stairs so I could fit all those boxes in and also re-stack things so that items I use more frequently were easier to reach. That closet holds an amazing amount of stuff including the vacuum, all my sewing equipment and supplies, the extra computer parts and software, our sleeping bags, a broom, a swiffer, a mop and so on. We stuff that thing really full. Oh and when we moved in, we installed a shelf on the door too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Do you use coupons?

I do use coupons, but not very many. I’ve noticed most coupons are either for prepared foods or they are for cleaners or household products I don’t use, or they are a brand I really do not like. In the past I’ve felt somehow guilty and wasteful when I don’t use a coupon but a couple of good blog posts have helped me clarify when and how I’ll use them.

First, take a look at this article about first-order foods, which is just another way of describing food that’s lower on the food chain. Most coupons are for second-order foods and I pay a premium in dollars, quality and unwanted additions to my food when I choose most second-order foods. So that eliminates lots of coupons right there.

Second, here’s a list of coupons that should be in this Sunday’s paper. As I scanned this list, I saw either quantity requirements that disqualify me from fulfilling the terms of the coupons, or I didn’t see the few brands I do really prefer. For example I have a coupon for Lysol’s tub and tile cleaner. But I have to buy two bottles to save a dollar. Now I have the world’s most sensitive nose and most cleaning products smell really bad to me. I’m willing to take a gamble and buy ONE bottle of the Lysol cleaner but I probably won’t buy two bottles.

Having said all that, we are in the process of stockpiling the foods we do use when they are on sale. Shaw’s has Barilla pasta on sale, 10 boxes for $10. That’s a pretty good buy since it’s usually $1.49 a box. So now I need to make room in this closet for 10 boxes of pasta. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do we live in Boston?

Kent received two job offers almost two years ago--one offer was in Seattle and the other one was the offer he accepted here in Boston. One factor in our decision to choose Boston was the weather. But take a look at our forecast for the rest of the week. Doesn't that look more like typical Seattle weather?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How humid is it?

It's so humid that I cook my steel-cut oats outside so I don't get any extra humidity in the house. If you look carefully you can see the steam rising from the cooker. I make two servings at a time (that's all it will hold) so every other day, I hope it's not raining and I haul the steamer outside.

Here's another story of how humid it is here. We have two outlets on either side of the pass through in the kitchen. They are nowhere near water, but because they are nominally in the kitchen, they are equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter. On Monday, that GFCI tripped. It's never tripped before so I suspect the air in our home was really just that humid.

And now to yesterday's adventure, well and today's too. Chloe cried all the way to the vet's, while Wally only cried once. Then again he was in the larger, more airy carrier. They each weigh 10 pounds on the nose. As usual, Chloe was as good as gold and even purred at the vet while getting examined. Wally was a different story. In addition to hissing and spitting at poor Dr. MacDonald, he very nearly escaped while getting his rabies shot. Bad boy. I lugged fat boy in today. Mr. Eddie weighs 15 pounds exactly and he was even worse than his brother since he hissed, spat AND tried to bite Dr. MacDonald.

Fortunately all three are in excellent health. That's a good thing because my back is a bit tired from 35 pounds of cat.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Saving money takes work

We rejoined Costco on Sunday. We’d tried BJ’s but didn’t like it as much as Costco, although we were prepared to switch since BJ’s membership costs $5 less a year. But when our free 60-day membership expired, we returned to Costco. It’s always shocking how tiring it is to make a full Costco sweep, and we were there probably a full two hours.

The cats are always enthralled when we bring in stuff from the car, and Sunday was no exception. As you can see, Wally made himself right at home in the box our groceries were in. I love this picture because you can really see the color of his eyes.

Eddie has a new fascination with Kent’s vitamins. In this video, he’s gotten between Kent’s monitor and keyboard, pushing the keyboard practically into Kent’s lap—all so he can get closer to the vitamins. Cats are strange.

Today I'm hauling two of the cats to the vet for their yearly check up, and I'll be walking since finding a parking spot near the vet's office is pretty difficult. Chloe will be in the soft-sided carrier we got last year that they know how to unzip (I'll use a twist tie to secure those zippers). Wally will be in the soft sided backpack pet carrier we got this weekend. I'm sure I will look quite hilarious carrying 20 pounds of wailing cats about a half mile to the vet's office.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An amazing cake

I like to read blogs, and love finding all sorts of information or ideas to try. I've bookmarked blogs about personal finance, productivity, devotionals, information about WoW and of course food.

I stumbled across this recipe while searching for a granola bar recipe (which I found here). I'm tired of paying at least $3 for a box of granola bars. I want to check out the cost of ingredients and see if it would make financial sense to make my own. I liked the tone of this blog so I checked out her current entries and found this strawberry cake recipe.

I made this yesterday afternoon--behold the yummy strawberry cake. It's similar to a shortcake but not so spongey. And it's also very simple to make. I took it to small group last night and was barely able to save a slice for Kent. This recipe is a keeper. I did use 8 T of butter rather than the 6 T called for in the recipe. I learned that trick from my friend, Shima, who is the most amazing baker I've ever met.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Creating and sticking with a budget takes a lot of time, especially the food budget. Who knew grocery circulars could be so fascinating? We kicked off our official budget on June 1, even though we haven't yet finalized all amounts for all categories. We'll save all our receipts for at least a couple of months so we can find out what we spend in some of those not-yet-finalized categories, and also get a real-time idea of where our money goes. We can do that when we get our credit card statement but then the information is a little dated.

I made the most amazing pork chops last night. I'd read a blog post about how to decide if a cookbook is worth buying (yes I know, I should have read that prior to my last cookbook purchase). That spurred my decision to more fully use the cookbooks I have on hand before caving in to buy more. So I pulled out my Food & Wine Fast cookbook and made chili-dusted pork chops. Wow, just wow. They took less than 30 minutes to make, had enormous flavor, were tender and just all around fantastic. If you're interested in the recipe, holler and I'll send it to you.

Finally, lest I neglect the namesake of this blog, here's a funny picture of the boys. They are riveted by some small flying bug on the wall.