Scenes From A Hat

I haven’t updated this blog for real since early 2013. In an effort to make up for lost time, I am sharing a random assortment of photos from the past year.

To gather these photos, I opened up my photo library, selected a few dozen photos at random, ‘shopped them a bit, and uploaded them to this here blog post. The process reminded me of the skit on Whose Line Is It Anyway? called “Scenes From A Hat.” They draw scenes ideas out of a hat and act them out, pretty straightforward. Sometimes they have help from Laura Hall and Linda Taylor.

That show was the first to make me laugh until I cried while watching television, by the way. So happy they brought it back.

So here it is, a year of photos, plucked at random for your review:

Writing this post after pulling my photos out of a hat (and after a 13-month hiatus from web publishing) is going to take a good amount of improvisation too.

MY DAD AS A BABY! – Recently, my mom uploaded an album of photos of my dad when he was a child. These were never before seen by me or any of my sisters, and she managed to casually post the photos without any of us noticing. I was never able to imagine my dad ever being younger than age 22, I totally flipped over these photos. I mean, look at him!

North Beach Festival – One of the first photos with my current phone. We like to go for walks and sometimes come upon street festivals.

Rompus Reunion – We were lucky enough to have friends and family come visit us several times over the past year. This photo is from when one of my loveliest lady friends and her beau came to visit. I snapped this photo before we entered the caves at the Kunde Family Estate in Sonoma.

Golden Gate Bridge – Lots of trips over the Golden Gate Bridge. It has not lost any of its wonder to me. This photo was from when my dad visited!

Sonoma Wine Tasting – Vista from a vineyard we visited when my dad was visiting. We enjoyed a picnic of goat cheese, hot pepper jelly, and crackers. And we saw tons of turkey vultures.

Pat the Love Palm  – We decided to change our Valentine’s day tradition in an effort to live a greener life. Instead of giving me roses for a gift, I suggested to J that we could instead invest in a plant. A real, living one that hopefully is not going to die. This way, we don’t buy into the fresh cut flower business which is arguably a pretty wasteful industry. The bonus is that we green up our living space and can watch our (potted) garden grow over the years. So here he/she is, our first annual Valentine’s Day plant named Pat.

Wipe Your Butt – Oh, I went for it. One day, I painted a tall wall in the bathroom with chalkboard paint. Then, I proceeded to scribe inappropriate lyrics, limericks, and lascivious lines on the wall. This photo is a progress shot. It took a few months to think up enough poop-related jokes to cover the wall, but I managed. I am now the proud creator of one of the world’s least mature bathrooms.

Coyote Alert – California state parks are on their game regarding wildlife signage. I saw this sign outside work one day and thought “that’s a first.” I don’t remember worrying about coyotes in New England. I have also seen signs to warn dog owners not to walk their dogs in certain areas because it disturbs the wildlife.

The “I Have a Job!” Cake – This photo photo is about six months old. After working for a year on temporary contract, I was hired on full time for basically my dream job. I rejoiced by baking myself a big fat cake with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Jelly was not impressed.

Good Morning, Jellyfish – Speaking of that dream job, walking by this display of jellyfish in the morning is one of the perks.

Building Systems – More work stuff. This is proof that the photo selection process was random. This is a picture of the corner of the a room.

Our First Christmas Tree – We were so very broke for our first Christmas in San Francisco. The second go-round felt a lot more like home. We got a Balsam Hill artificial tree for our first “real” holiday here. We are totally pleased with the tree we got, by the way. It is pre-lighted and fluffed up very nicely.  Bonus is that we feel good about having a fake tree because that means less trees have to go into the chipper during the holidays.  Jelly continually pulled ornaments off the tree at a rate of two per day. 

Town Spa Pizza – We went back to Boston for a wedding, stopped back at home for long enough to see my family and eat an entire pizza. This is the best pizza on earth, if you were wondering.

Furniture Making – One unexpected addition to my resumé: furniture design and fabrication. I have had the opportunity to design a few furniture pieces, and  I even learned how to operate the CNC router so I can cut stuff out too. I use power tools and impress myself on a regular basis with how few flesh wounds I incur.

Prince – Pier Imports throw pillows on sale. Sometimes Jelly manages to prop himself on two pillows in a very regal manner.

Murica’s Cup – America’s Cup took place in San Francisco Bay this past spring. We sauntered up to the shoreline and watched a race. We had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Fuck Cancer – Every year, for the past 7 years, my next door neighbor throws a Fuck Cancer party to acknowledge the anniversary of her diagnosis/treatment for breast cancer. I went out for the soirée a few months ago and it was an awesome night. This picture is of a temporary tattoo that she designed and applied to everyone in attendance, even the bartenders. She is a rockstar.

Fourth of July Rooftop – My friends live in a building with a stellar view of downtown SF and the surrounding bay. It is the best location for viewing the fireworks on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve (plus or minus a lot of fog.) This photo is from last 4th of July.

Jelly Being Convenient – Self explanatory.

We Do Art – Justin and I made these abstract panels together and hung them in our living room. Jelly ran across them while we were painting and so there are black paw prints on every panel. We had to put him in the tub to clean his paws.

Homemade Banh Mi – Self explanatory.

USD Graduation – J’s sister graduated with her master’s last summer. We went down to San Diego to celebrate with her. Now she is engaged so we are celebrating for different reasons!

California Flora – There are so many different types of flowers here. I see new ones all the time just walking around in any neighborhood, no matter how dense or developed. I saw fuchsia in the flesh for the first time. Mind blown.

Poster Wall Project – This is actually a project our cat did not manage to hinder or obstruct. Blog post to follow on this poster wall effort.

Wildflowers – More obsession with the local flora.

City By The Bay – We took a ferry over to Angel Island and hiked around on a sunny Sunday. We brought a picnic and ate it next to a dumpster. The dumpster was about 100 yards away from the scenic vista featured in this photo. So, at least we know where to eat the picnic next time. This photo reinforces why I love the Bay Area to pieces.

Bay Bridge – Bridges and boats. Typical.

Trans America Building – J snapped a ton of pictures of sea gulls flying above the ferry when we went to Angel Island. They had a pretty fly backdrop.

Claude the Albino Alligator – A friendly face that I pass by each morning, on my way to get coffee and a scone from the cafeteria. He is usually in the water, but sometimes he sprawls out on the his heated rock for the day. I feel more connected with nature just by being in close proximity to animals on a daily basis.

Sweet Sonoma Sun – We found an idyllic bed and breakfast in Sonoma county. They had fresh baked cookies out for everyone, a hot tub, and a babbling brook out back. We really step sideways into staying at this place, but I wound up wishing we could have stayed forever. This photo was the view from the deck outside our room.

 

 

Well, that was a mouthful. I hope you enjoyed catching up as much as I did. Stay fresh!

 

Internet Cat Video Film Festival

My friend sent me a message about an Internet Cat Video Film Festival taking place in Oakland, and I bought tickets to it without hesitation. The event took place on some closed-to-traffic city streets in the middle of downtown Oakland. It was a fun street festival with a crowd of cat-loving people of all ages.

There was street food, cat-related crafts for kids, whiskers being painted on faces of everyone, and lots of cat paraphenalia for sale.

The main event of the festival was a video shown with a large projector on the Great Wall of Oakland. The wall is a huge side of a building with a parking lot beside it.

At one point, some acrobats did a performance on the side of the Wall. They are probably not afraid of heights.

All the festival-goers set out chairs and blankets on the street and sidewalks, waiting for the sun to set and the nighttime show to begin. By 8PM, there was a big crowd and the film began to roll.

They showed the same silly cat videos we’ve all seen a dozen (or more) times on the internet. Patty cake cats, tiny kittens falling asleep, surprised kitty, etc. But there was something special about watching those cat videos on a such a big screen with a thousand people laughing together. I guess they did a tour of the festival in other cities, and I hope this comes back around next year.

My favorite part of the whole night, though, was the merch.

We purchased this postcard after mulling it over for a half a heartbeat.

And, the Cat People had a table set up at the event which I could not resist.

They are a San Francisco based company and they make adorable cat accessories. For $10, I bought a high quality shirt collar with velcro bow-tie and neck tie attachments.

I mean, come on.

The collars are adjustable width, available in small and large sizes. They told me to get a large because Jelly is big, but he might have been okay with a small.

I’m not sure whether I love the bow tie or neck tie more.

All I know for sure is that Jelly will have none of it.

 

 

 

Green Pea Birthday Cake (for Cats)

Jelly recently celebrated his 9th birthday.

This past year was full of grand accomplishments. Some of his most notable ones…

He’s been a busy feline.

I had a hard baking act to follow after last year’s Birthday Cake For Cats post. It is actually the #1 most popular post on my blog to date. I have received so many comments from readers who are spoiling their own cats with birthday cakes, it makes me so happy!

Shawna recently commented that I should use green pea flour in recipes for cats because it is healthier for them than wheat flour. I had never heard of it before, but sure enough, Bob’s Red Mill sells it.

I decided to yield her good advice for this year’s cake.

Chicken and Green Pea Birthday Cake (for Cats)

Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-12 servings (invite your feline and canine pals!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup green pea flour
  • 1/2 cup cooked chunk chicken (plus 6 small pieces for cake centers)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tbs shredded cheese

Instructions:

  • Place 1/2 cup cooked chicken chunks in a food processor and pulse for a minute until fine crumbs are formed.
  • Mix together chicken and green pea flour in a medium bowl.
  • Stir in beaten egg and water until mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon cake batter into a miniature cupcake pan or two-bite brownie pan.
  • Push a small piece of chicken into the center of each cake. Spread the batter on top to cover it.
  • Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 350F, until firm.
  • Allow to cool completely.
  • You can slice the cake in half to help the cat sink its teeth in. Garnish with a spread of wet food and a piece of shrimp for birthday flair.

We surprised Jelly with his cake while he was soaking up the sun on his cat tree.

He was instantly intrigued.

He hopped down on to the ground to make eating easier, and we watched as he gobbled up the cake and chicken bits like a ravenous lion.

The little piece of chicken hidden on the inside of the cake was a big incentive for him to tear into it.

Judging by the way he licked up all the cake crumbs, I think he liked this recipe a lot.

After he ate half the cake, I took the rest away and so he could digest for awhile. He wound up napping and coming back for the second half an hour later.

Happy kitty, happy life. Happy Birthday, Jelly!
 

Cat-Proofing Windows

A weird thing about Bay Area apartments is that most of the windows don’t have screens. Our landlord explained that they don’t need insect screens here because there are no bugs to keep out.

When we were staying with my sister in the East Bay, we had to close the windows once it got dark out because moths would fly in. For the record, Jelly is so good at catching moths. But here in San Francisco, we can keep them open all night (if it weren’t for the crazy people hollering or noisy dump trucks.)

Bugs or no bugs, living in an apartment with no window screens poses a problem for a cautious cat mom. How can I prevent my kitty from shimmying down the fire escape and harassing the neighbors, or worse, potentially falling out one of the windows?

Chicken wire. That’s how.

Since our half of our windows swing out on hinges, there is no place for a traditional screen. For the rest of the windows with sliding glass panels, we would have spent a fortune custom-ordering screens to fit those dimensions. So instead, we used chicken wire to create a barrier on the window that Jelly cannot fall through.

Any other material could easily be clawed at and torn, but Jelly’s full weight (or even mine, for that matter) won’t impact this sturdy mesh.

Here’s how we mounted the wire to our windows. (I say we, but Justin did the whole thing.)

We got the wire and the rest of our supplies at the best hardware store in the world; this place seriously has anything and everything you could ever think to purchase.

Supplies:

– 1/2″ mesh chicken wire

– nails with wide heads (cut tacks)

– washers

– double point tacks

First, J clipped the wire to the appropriate dimension for each window. Then, he affixed it to the window frame with a washer and nail along the sides. (We will probably be reprimanded by our landlord for nails into the window frame, but it’s better than having a dead cat.)

Here’s a closeup of the assembly. We used a washer that was bigger than the mesh of the chicken wire so there would be no way for it to slip out.

Next, he hammered down the double point tacks to the bottom of the window frame. He noted that this step was a particular P.I.T.A. But, better safe than sorry.

Last, he trimmed holes in the chicken wire (with wire cutters) for the window latches. We can unlatch the window and then push or slide it open.

Now we can open and close the windows relatively easy, and don’t have to worry about leaving them open all day.

We also cat-proofed the latch in the bathroom when we were worried that Jelly could flip the latch and push open the window. We’ve since mounted chicken wire to this window, too, but this was a clever solution in the interim.

We nailed a hook with a safety on it into the wall, then affixed a few inches of chain around the latch to keep the latch secure while its closed.

And there you have it. We live in a chicken coop, but our kitty is safe.

 

 

Moving Out, Moving In

We’ve been in California for almost a month. I figured now is as good a time as any to share pictures from the move.

Here are some of the last photos taken in our Boston apartment, shot at approximately 3 A.M. the night before we flew out.

Jelly was helpful as ever.

We were tossing furniture to the curb just minutes before we had to be in a cab heading to the airport.

In a flash, we were in the airport with Jelly in tow. I didn’t photo document the travel part because I was generally exhausted and worried about our moosecat handling the 6-hour flight.

After a strong dose of sedatives (because of course he didn’t respond to the average-kitty dosage, or even twice that), he was mostly sleepy and quiet for the flight. He stirred during the final descent, but thankfully the jet engines drowned out most of his meows.

We loaded ourselves and our luggage into a cab and wound up at my sister’s place around 3AM EST. Jelly did not throw up or poop or pee at any point during the 10-hour stint in his carrier. I was so grateful.

After a day or so, he had adjusted to Pacific standard time and was back to his old antics.

Once I got into the swing of things at my new job, J & I started apartment hunting. My sister insisted that we would have to look at “twenty or thirty” apartments before we found one in SF.

We got lucky on #2.

The view blows my mind each and every morning. We are up on a hill, so we can see for miles upon miles. Coming from the east coast, I can’t get over the mountains on the horizon in (almost) every direction. This city is so damn pretty. Crazy and beautiful.

So, for a solid week, the only furniture we had in this one-bedroom apartment was a mattress. I ate cereal on a blanket in the kitchen every morning before work.

Jelly, again, quickly made himself feel right at home.

Last week, Christmas came early in the form of a jumbo delivery from IKEA. And then two days too late, our power tools came in the mail.

Now, we are a fully functioning home with a couch, bedframe, desk, and even chairs.

Home sweet San Franciscan home.

Once the place is decorated and organized, I’ll post some more pictures!

 

California King

A lot has changed since I last updated the blog. Our zip code, for example, moved approximately 3,300 miles west to the Bay Area!

This has been a long-term goal of ours, and it’s hard to believe we’re finally here! I start work this week with a new company (Justin is working from home). Jelly will start exploiting a whole new state for its resources. There is a lot to recount and I have approximately 0.001% of the required time and energy to do so.

But we’re here, and I’m thrilled. If you are a Bay Area blogger, I’d love to hear from you! Be back soon!

 

 

North of the Wall

There are plenty of nights when Justin stays up much later than me. We call late night shifts in this apartment “defending the Wall.” White walkers have nothing on our ferocious feline. While I sleep in a room with a door that doesn’t close all the way, Justin defends my peaceful slumber, fighting epic battles with Jelly in the living room.

For reason unbeknownst to us, the hours of 12-3AM are Jelly’s most aggressive. He is always on a warpath, ready to conquer anyone who dare stay awake and disturb his midnight lethargy. Justin does what he can to survive an onslaught of shin-biting, face-meowing, and relentless belly-rolling.

I’ve stayed up and seen this same behavior from him late in the night. And, once we go to sleep, there is no assurance in us staying asleep. So these are our main strategies of cat management in the nighttime:

1. Wear him out during the day. We got some new interactive toys that get him really riled up.

2. Keep a yoga mat next to the bed. Jelly enjoys waking us up at night almost as much as he likes to hog the yoga mat while I’m stretching. I started keeping the mat next to my side of the bed, and when he starts bother me in the middle of the night, I just roll it out. He is drawn to it immediately and most mornings I wake up to him still laying there.

3. Keep a spray bottle near the bed. (Not ideal but it’s more effective than locking him in the bathroom.)

4. Take more naps to catch up on sleep. Jelly loves family nap time.

5. Sprinkle dehydrated chicken power on his kibble. I know we shouldn’t reward his bad behavior by feeding him in the middle of the night, so we give him an extra scoop of kibble before going to sleep. This doesn’t always appeal to him, so Justin started sprinkling the powder from the bottom of his dehydrated chicken treats onto his kibble. He’s not actually getting pieces of chicken, but he can’t tell the difference so he’ll eat the kibble and eventually leave us alone.

Needless to say, I’m tired.

I know there are cats out there who can really be destructive, so we are lucky in many ways. I’ve watched enough episodes of “My Cat From Hell” to know that the likely culprit here is an abundance of energy. If we wear Jelly out during the day, he should sleep soundly through the night.

At least that’s what we hope.

But part of me wonders if Jelly actually is the worst kind of cat because he isn’t riddled with anxiety or territorial issues. He doesn’t viciously attack us out of nowhere (very often.) He’s just kind of a jerk, kind of a sweetie, and kind of a crazy monster.

Jackson, if you are listening, please help us defend the Wall.

 

Bottled Emotions & Pet Tags

I went two whole posts without sharing a picture of my cat.

This is what happens when you bottle things up for too long:

You get a whole post only about cats.

He got a new tag. Well, he got 2 new tags before I found this one. This one is a keeper because it has ALL the information a crazy/worrying cat lady could ever dream of putting on a pet’s ID tag.

Important Information:

  • Pet’s name
  • “I’m lost” – in case that isn’t obvious
  • Home phone #
  • Home address
  • Microchip ID #
  • HomeAgain phone # – in case I am unreachable
  • Rabies Vaccine date – so he doesn’t need another tag

I ordered it from Boomerang Pet Tags because they allow for printing on the front and back of the tag (and they are inexpensive with free shipping!) The plastic heart-shaped tag I ordered is approximately 1 1/4″ wide and very light. I threw out another tag that I ordered from Petco because it was made out of a heavy metal, too big even for this moose of a cat.

My only warning (and the company makes the same warning about shipping) is that sometimes mail handlers think the tag is junk mail. Who knows why?

I didn’t think that would be a problem for me, but it actually was. I had the tag shipped to work, and the envelope came to me a week later than expected, torn in half, then taped back together. The mailman said, “I don’t know what happened.” Neither do I, man, neither do I.

Other than that weirdness, the tag is great quality and I would recommend it to those who want to keep their pets safe, but not weigh them down with a handful of tags on their collar. (More on shopping for Jelly’s collar here.)

In other news, he’s been spending a lot of time in this window.

One day we put a box (from Ramen noodles) on the sill, and he stayed there ALL day long.

Never mind the flap of fat sticking over the edge of the box. He fits just fine.

Happy Friday, folks! Go pet a cat!

 

Birthday Cake for Cats

Let’s talk birthday cake for cats.

Food is the focal point of all matters for Jelly, just like his momma. I knew nothing would make this birthday boy happier than getting to eat all the human foods he usually steals off our plates.

I googled ‘birthday cake for cats’ and searched around for a friendly feline cake recipe. What I found was much more than that, I found the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Those cats are so stinkin’ lucky! I actually teared up when I read the post because I am a crazy cat lady I was so happy to finally have my own cat to spoil!

Jelly waited patiently while I baked for him.

You can refer to the original inspiration and recipe for full instructions, here is a quick how-to.

Birthday Cake for Cats

Yield: 2 small cakes | Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 egg

1/2 can of tuna

2 tbs flour

2 tbs shredded or grated cheese

defrosted shrimp, to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Break up tuna in a medium bowl. Lightly beat egg in a separate bowl, then combine with tuna. Add in flour and cheese. Stir to combine. Scoop batter into cupcake tin or silicone cups.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Above: before

Below: after

These “cakes” are actually more like muffins. They were pretty dry, so I trimmed the top off a little so that Jelly could tear it up more easily.

I think the shrimp garnish is most essential. It was the first thing he went after.

The presentation on a plate was really just for the blog. I barely got photos of his reaction once I put it down on the table. He kept grabbing it and running off to the corner – as he usually does when he is snatching things from the kitchen. It was funny that the one time he could sit on the table and enjoy it, he wouldn’t.

How will I top this next year?

Update: Check out the birthday cake I made for Jelly’s next birthday – new post from April 2013!

 

Jelly Turns 8

I didn’t have many pets growing up. We never had a dog or a cat, just a handful of caged rodents and birds – animals I usually run away from when I encounter them in nature.

I look a little scared there, right? I am afraid for me, still.

When I finally had the chance to adopt a “real” pet in college, I jumped for it. I got a 6 month old orange kitty off of Craigslist (first mistake) named Charles.

I was head over heels in love with this animal, until he fell ill a few months later.

I did everything I could to help Chals, including paying hundreds of dollars worth of vet bills and feeding him with a spoon while he was cooped up in the kitchen cabinet. In the end we learned he had FIP, a disease that occurs in young cats, which is incurable and fatal. Soon after, I had to put him down. It was the absolute worst.

I lived with a few other cats owned by roommates after that, but I didn’t adopt again for almost 5 years. Mainly because I wasn’t allowed to have pets in the building where I was living, but also because I have planned to move to the West coast and figured it would be smarter to wait until I was situated there to get another pet.

Then came Jelly.

One day last spring, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. It took no more than 15 minutes in the animal shelter to pick out Jelly (formerly known as Nikey). The rest was history.

I am telling you all this because that is how I rationalized my over-enthusiasm for celebrating Jelly’s birthday. He turned 8 this year, but it was his first birthday with us.

There was cake, home-baked with love (recipe in my next post!)

With a shrimp on top.

It was devoured.

I bought a present, and he won’t even acknowledge it.

Dogs love kong toys – have you ever met a dog who didn’t like them? I thought it would maybe work with my ravenous cat, but Jelly could care less.

He got plenty of treats on his birthday (on most days, actually) and napped for hours afterward. I don’t think a cat would ask for more from a birthday celebration.

Let’s see if we can suffer his reign for another year. Long live the king!

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