Post of epic kitchen-ness (and tall cats)

We have discovered that it’s a good thing my Annie cat isn’t about two inches longer than she is. It looks like she knows how to open the screen door and she was trying reeeeealy hard yesterday to stretch herself long enough to do it.

She doesn’t like it when she can see her people (Mum was out on the deck, knitting in the sunshine) but not get to them.

The poor love also gets distressed when she knows her people are in the house not asleep and she can’t find them. It’s all rather traumatic, according to her, so she sits and cries over her lack of people. Oddly, she doesn’t mind if we’re asleep and she can’t find us. I’ve got no idea how she feels about us being out of the house, but rather suspect that doesn’t phase her at all.

Annie is an odd cat.

Thank goodness she can’t reach the screen door handle. We’d never be able to sit out on the deck if she could.

Tonight is the big kitchen design meeting. Last week was the estimate meeting. Sunday was the “talking to our handy guy about installing the kitchen instead of letting Home Depot do it” meeting. Yesterday was the electrician meeting, so that he could explain all the things we can do to make sure there is lighting in useful places in the kitchen.

The lighting is one of the things that drives me nuts. There is nowhere you can stand to prepare food where you’re not casting a shadow on what you’re doing. Argh.

So tonight we’ll be doing the big design thing where we work out exactly what will fit where and hopefully get some extra hints and tips from the designer. So far, we’ve changed a few ideas on the advice of professionals (always good advice, I hasten to add) and I’m anticipating some more fine-tuning of our ideas tonight. With any luck, this kitchen is going to be so much more usable than the current kitchen. To be honest, the kitchen currently looks quite nice and we’re not unhappy with that.

It’s just that there are so many things that make the kitchen hard to work in at the best of times. Some of the ‘features’ make it nearly impossible. The one that drives me nuts is the oven. It burns things on the bottom before the top even cooks properly, no matter what we do, and the repair guys insist that it works perfectly and we just don’t know how to cook. The roast chicken a couple of weeks ago was a joke and baking is nearly impossible. I say nearly, because I’ve just bought a stoneware tray that at least lets me do cookies, shortcakes and hopefully cheese straws without problems. Between the oven, the bad lighting, the counter tops with no lip, the ceramic tiles (impossible to keep clean – stuff gets stuck in the grouting and requires hands and knees with a toothbrush to get properly clean) and the awkward corner unit that has a really narrow access door and goes so deep that you lose things because you can’t reach them anymore, it’s a kitchen that looks nice but isn’t fun to use.

We’re going for a convection wall oven with a cook top, making for a better cooking experience (even heat distribution!) and an oven that my tall father with a bad back can reach. We’re improving the lighting. We’re replacing the tile with stone-effect laminate. The counter tops will have at least a one inch lip, so things don’t pour down the fronts of cupboards the moment you spill anything. we’re having a dishwasher without a big poky-up thing in the middle designed to make arranging stuff in the dishwasher difficult. We’re changing the fridge-freezer so that the freezer is at the bottom, again for my tall father with a bad back who can’t reach most of the contents of the fridge.

Mostly, we’re just making this a kitchen better suited to people who do a lot of cooking and baking and dislike working against a dozen bad design features.

Er, my father is getting pretty much no say in it except for approval of the cabinet fronts. He wanted the granite sink that they both hate in their kitchen in England. ‘Nuff said, I think.

The only downside to this new kitchen concept is all the thousands of meetings. I anticipate my brain being utterly fried by the time we escape. “Fire bad, tree pretty” may be a bit beyond my mental faculties when we get home. Trash TV and Pringles may be needed as a recovery plan.

Experimental Monday: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

I haven’t blogged the last couple of experimental Mondays – I went on a bit of a soup binge and I can report that roasted sweet potato soup is yummy. Last week I was feeling totally uninspired and cooked easy, familiar comfort food.

But fear not! During the week I got a craving for cannelloni and did a bit of Googling for recipes. I’m trying to cut down on my meat intake (twice a week is plenty, I think) so spinach and ricotta was the obvious choice. I suspected that just mixing some spinach with ricotta wasn’t going to work and I was right. I ended up using the filling from one recipe, the construction/cooking principle from a couple of others and substituting homemade tomato sauce with store bought pasta sauce.

It was so good. Really, so good. Must write it up so that I have for the next time. I divided the cannelloni and sauce between one glass dish and three foil dishes. Topped the glass dish with a bit of cheese and baked it, the three foil dishes have been covered and put into the freezer. So I now have three portions of home cooked yumminess for another day. Yay!

With all the cheese, I suspect that it’s not the lowest calorie thing ever but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s wonderful comfort food while tasting nicely fresh from the spinach. Plus, it’s vegetarian!

Now I must go and cuddle a cat. Annie is rather determined that I need to pay her lots of attention and give her lots of cuddles pronto. Pushy little annoyance πŸ™‚

Updatey thing

It seems like lately all I do is apologise for not posting. Must get better.

Mum has been enjoying her visit so far. I think she’s feeling slightly at a loose end because she’s so far re-organised several cupboards and cleaned out my freezer. It’s all little jobs that needed doing, but the kind of thing that I never seem to find time for or that I start to do, look at the stuff and conclude that I have no idea how to better organise it all. She even asked me this morning whether there was anything she could do. Er, no, you did all the housework that I’d planned on doing yesterday!

Thankfully she’s borrowed my sock book and is working out her gauge preparatory to tackling her first pair of socks. That should keep her nice and quiet.

I finally got to see her famously broken wrist and, I must say, she did a number on it. They’ve fixed it as best as they can, but it’s not straight and she’s got a lot of swelling in her fingers still. We’re doing regular applications of a cold pack, which is helping a bit with the pain and swelling. The consultant has basically said that, should she ever break it again, they won’t be able to fix it. So she’s being very careful.

Interestingly, knitting is helping her to get a bit of mobility back in her fingers. She can’t work on anything heavy so she’s doing a lace scarf and we’re hopeful that the sock will also be suitably light. At least she has stuff to craft now!

The Girls are enjoying the company during the day. Annie has even been discovered to have a “Mine! Go away!” noise that she’s never displayed before. She steals Blue Snake apparently. And possibly torments Kate.

Work has been amazingly busy. I don’t talk about it much here anymore because I don’t have quite so much venting to do. I work for a good boss, my colleagues are good people and I don’t have insane directors throwing things at me. Even the corporate culture is much better. And when things break, it’s part of my job to fix them. I’m in the team that monitors, fixes and enhances the data warehouse. Everything I do is based on trouble tickets, whether it’s a new feature, an enhancement, a bug fix or a catastrophic failure of a data load (abend). For the last week, all I’ve done is open abend tickets and fix things. Monday afternoon, one of my colleagues donated chocolate to me because I’d been having a nightmare attempting to get Monday’s four (!!) abend tickets fixed. Not problems working out what to do, problems getting people to co-operate with me on what needed doing to fix them.

Today was a bit calmer, only one abend ticket. Lovely. I’ve been asked to help out with our upgrade from Oracle 10g to 11 so this afternoon my colleague assigned a ticket to me to investigate some C programs and look at whether and how they can be replaced with a more Oracle-ish thing. I’m actually looking forward to doing something other than work on trouble tickets!

Think that’s all the catch-up. I’ve got a new novel idea and quite a bit of background notes already written. It’s quite exciting πŸ™‚

Kitty antics

In less grumpy, whiny news…

Last night, the cats decided to show off just how crazy they can be for Mum. At first it was just Kate, wandering around look at the ceiling, jumping onto counters and uttering pathetic little meows.

Eventually Mum and I worked out that there was a bug up there, tormenting her by being up there rather than within pawsreach for Kate to catch and play with. Or possibly eat.

She spent a fair bit of the evening perched on the back of my sofa, shouting at the bug.

Eventually Annie decided to see what the fuss was about. Annie loves playing with bugs. And eating them.

She joined Kate on the back of the sofa, looking up at the bug that was on the ceiling (probably waving its pincers and blowing rasberries) and chittering in her funny, talking to the bug way.

They finally gave up on the bug when we turned off the lights and went to bed, rendering the living room too dark to see the bug even with kitty vision. Poor kitties. The bug was totally unco-operative.

I can’t believe that they’re a year old now!

So that’s why I’ve been grouchy!

The sun is shining and the sky is blue for the first time in over three weeks. And suddenly my funk is gone – I’m feeling cheerful and hopeful even though my back is still quite painful.


I’d never considered myself to have seasonally-affected moods before. Turns out that I do, though. Damn.

In other news, Best Friend in America flies in tonight for a visit! Woo! I am rather ridiculously excited about this. It’s so good to have the weather behaving this weekend so that I can show her my new home at its best. Right now, I’m considering having a road trip along the coast on Saturday and mooching around the city on Sunday. If I can arrange it with work, I’m going to leave early tomorrow so that we can go for a walk on the beach and then have supper at my local seafood place.

It’s going to be so much fun πŸ™‚

The Tour continues to be thoroughly enthralling. Someone yesterday commented that this is the most exciting Tour since, er, 2005 (Lance’s last) and that it seems like Armstrong’s presence has livened up the peloton a lot. While I don’t want to attribute the recent problems in cycling to Armstrong’s retirement, I have to admit that this Tour has already had more drama than the previous ones and none of it has been related to drug busts. No, I don’t think that it’s entirely down to Armstrong being there but I am willing to admit that it’s a factor in the level of excitement in this year’s race. Cavendish would be the other factor πŸ™‚

Problem is, I don’t really know how we combat that. All the riders that have got me really excited over the last few years have been arrested at some stage in the race for failing dope controls. On the one hand, the sport is catching the cheats. OTOH, it’s been getting hard to continue being thrilled and excited about riders when you’re just waiting for them to get busted. I’m really hoping that the new, young riders that are starting to come through will reverse that trend.

In other news, I bound off a sock last night and it actually fits πŸ™‚ This is particularly exciting because it’s the first pair that really do that – fit, I mean.

I’ve gone down a needle size to 2.25mm, which has produced a denser, firmer fabric. I’m a pretty loose knitter at 2.5mm needles were not working well with the very fine sock yarns that I like. I also re-measured my feet and discovered that I’d been working to the wrong measurements for all these months. Those two factors combined have produced a sock that fits beautifully and feels really great. Yay me! I shall cast on the second one in the pair tonight and probably work on it while I wait at the airport.

My lacy sweater is proceeding well. In fact, it’s proceeding much faster than I’d anticipated (all those hours of Tour watching are a help) and, after a week, I’m already most of the way up the back. It’s entirely possible that I’ll finish it by the end of the month. Weird feeling.

In cat news, I have finally figured out where Annie goes when she disappears in my office. My wireless router sits on a shelf, hidden by the hutches over the desks. Annie has discovered that she can lie on the shelf with her head and front paws pillowed on the lovely, warm router and take a really comfy nap. Silly kiten. I am onto her now!

See? I must be feeling better because I just babbled extensively. Heh.


I have a migraine. There’s been a thunking headache for the last three days (tiredness, I suspect) so I toddled off to church as normal thinking it would just stay as a headache and started to feel nauseous during the sermon. Taken Migraleve (I’ll need to get Mum to bring some over in the summer) but lying down hasn’t helped.

So I did the neck/shoulder shaping on one side of the tunic to relax me a bit. Now I’m in the main house with all the (screened) windows open and the screen door adding to the breeze. Nausea is, at least, starting to recede and the headache is down to thunking rather than blinding.

The cats are thoroughly excited and can’t quite decide which window is best, so they’re running from window to window πŸ™‚ It’s quite sweet. They run away from open doors (the outside might get them!) but they love open windows. Thank goodness for screens here.

Anyway, after a miserable foggy day yesterday the sun is out and there’s just enough of a breeze to keep it nice. If I were feeling better, this would be an afternoon to blow off everything and go to the beach. Bright sunlight isn’t my friend right now, though 😦

Perhaps I’ll go to the beach after work this week?

I’m seeing this Doctor Who-ish thing around

Annie woke me up by clawing the door again last night. Not impressed. At least I’ve worked out who it is now: she did it while I was doing my physio in my room yesterday afternoon and I opened the door just to see. And then I continued to ignore it once I knew which bad cat was doing it. Hopefully she’ll grow out of it – anyone have any suggestions if this behaviour continues? Right now I’m ignoring and hoping that she’ll stop when she realises that it’s not getting her anywhere.

Anyway, I’m completely shattered. To the extent where I felt sick when I realised that my bread rolls were soggy and had to ditch them, necessitating crackers for lunch rather than egg salad rolls. My back is also very unhappy with me, which I think is due to the exhaustion. For the first time in nearly a year, I’m actively contemplating buying some caffeine tablets. I need to do something to stay awake during my drive tonight!

This afternoon/evening I’m driving my aunt up to her son’s graduation, 100km away. It’s the first time any of her children have graduated from something (he’s graduating college with a diploma in social work) so this is a huge deal for her. I’m just looking forward to seeing my cousin in his silly hat and robes πŸ™‚ Must remember to pick up some spare batteries for the camera.

Tomorrow I am sleeping in. Annie can trying to dig her way to Australia for all I care, I am not getting up until I’m good and ready. So there.

And now onto Doctor Who spoilers…


Photo post: cats and knitting

First, I know that everyone is most interested in the kittens so that’s where we’ll start. There are a bunch of new cat pictures up.

The rest of the photos can be found in their Year One photo set, the final 17 are new:

Next up is some knitting pictures – I’ve actually taken photos of a couple of recent projects!

This little hat is for a colleague at work and I made it yesterday afternoon. His wife is due in two weeks so we’re throwing a shower this week and I couldn’t let that happen without a handknit. It’s superwash wool and surprisingly soft. I’m so pleased with it – the pattern is called Blueberry Hat. Awww.

These are my Crazy Blue Monkey socks. The yarn is Estelle Araquipa, a wool/alpaca/nylon blend, and I adore both the yarn and the pattern. They look amazing and fit the best of all the socks that I’ve so far made. The one mod I’ll make the next time I do this pattern is to sub the reinforced heel from New Pathways for Sock Knitters because it’s a better shape.

All the pictures of the socks and hat can be found here:

And now I need to do some fic editing before sending stuff to beta.

Is it too soon to be considering a return trip to see Star Trek again?

I must be insane

Today I drove to work. I must be insane.

This would be due to the snow (that is not *light* snow, damn it!), the blowing snow and the distinct lack of ploughing everywhere.

I thought the lack of ploughing was just where I lived, but the main roads were actually worse and I am trying to shut the highway out of my memory. And they wondered why half the highways are gridlocked this morning? In fact, the only evidence of a plough was where the plough did my side of my road sometime before 9.30pm last night and chucked several very large chunks of frozen slush onto the end of the drive.

Those chunks were way too large to drive over, so I had to shift them by hand this morning and they were very heavy. I also did a bit of clearance around and behind the car to make it easier to get around while I cleared the car off, although I didn’t clear the entire drive. Just didn’t have the energy or the strength in my shoulder.

Apparently it’s going to turn to either rain or freezing rain for my drive home. It’s going to be so much fun!

My plan to drive over to the bank to deposit a cheque this evening has been put on hold because the weather is just too nasty.

Also, apparently I do not own the pork chops that I thought I owned so supper tonight has had to be changed. Drat. And Annie was being her baddest possible this morning, so breakfast was repeatedly interrupted to pull her out of things and one time she snuck around and tried to eat my breakfast while I picked up the soil she’d pulled out of the flower pot. I resorted to locking her into the craft room just to get the peace to finish brekkie and make lunch. Plus I was late due to all the shovelling and the dreadful driving conditions, so I’ll have to work through lunch if I don’t want to be staying late tonight. Bugger.

Can I get a do-over on today? With less snow?

Silly kittens

Note to self: must make Kate and Annie icon.

I accidentally left the downstairs bathroom door open a few minutes ago. Pure oversight. The door is kept closed so that my little girls don’t cause too much havoc and mayhem.

A couple of minutes later I heard the familiar sound of kittens playing with the cord for the Roman blinds. I walked through, spotted them at it and started to firmly tell them off.

Kate just looked at me with the cord dangling from her mouth.

Annie ran and hid. She hid behind the shower curtain.

She hid with her tailing sticking out, trailing beautifully over the side of the bath.

She has a very, very, very fluffy big tail that is as wide as she is.

Um, I laughed. And then tried to tell them off through the giggles. And then had to herd them out of the bathroom because my shoulder won’t let me pick them up yet.

My girls brighten up my day πŸ™‚

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