Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unexpected Happies

Note: thank you!! for all your comments and love on my last post about bad pet parenting - I am definitely feeling better knowing that I am not alone!

It can be hard sometimes, I think, to remember to notice the little things in life and really appreciate them for what they are. It is especially hard for me to do that when we reach the loooong days of winter, when it feels like everything is gray and dreary and like it may never be warm outside again. (Hyperbole, I know, but come ON!) It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and focus on the things that stress us out, rather than the things that bring us joy.

I've had a few moments of unexpected "happies" lately - things that were semi-insignificant, but caught me by surprise and were a little spot of happiness that would sometimes go unrecognized. There are days when you have to truly seek out the positive things, but I promise you, if you are looking, you will find them.

Standard cheesy quote.
A few examples...
  • Recently, I was telling a coworker about a book I'm reading and really enjoying, but mentioned that my library checkout was going to expire before I could finish and I was bummed because the waiting list is about 100 people long (seriously). She thought for a moment and then said, "Wait! I have that book at home!" and the very next day she brought it to me. She hasn't read it yet, but was happy to loan it to me for the time being.
  • I received a small award at work, given to me by a coworker, recognizing me for my contributions to the team. I work with some great people, and we all value each other very much, but sometimes it is nice to see some formal recognition, especially out of the blue!
  • Yesterday, my friend, Aileen, brought over some K-cups of coffee that neither she nor her husband will drink because they are too sweet. In my house, we drink just about anything (and especially love flavored coffees!), and I'd just realized that morning that we were almost out of K-cups! Her gift came with perfect timing, and I thought of her while I enjoyed my morning cup today.

I am definitely guilty of overlooking happy events like these, in favor of focusing on more stressful or more negative aspects of my life. The truth is, when I stop and think and look around, there is always something to be thankful for and to be happy about. I just have to take the time to appreciate it!

What small thing has made you happy lately? Anything goes!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bad pet parenting

Last Tuesday, I posted this photo on Instagram:

Toby the Terrible had gotten himself into the giant, sprawling bouquet of lilies that C had gotten me for Valentine's Day, and managed to get himself completely covered in the bright yellow pollen that comes with them. He basically looked like he had been smeared all over with mustard. Delightful.

We took him up to the bathroom and tried to rinse him off and use some shampoo to clean him up, but that was only marginally successful - just think about the logistics of bathing a cat for a minute. Yeahhhhh.

He was pretty funny looking soaking wet, though, so to Instagram I went. Hashtag Toby the Terrible.

It became significantly less funny when one of my sweet friends alerted me to the fact that lilies are stupid poisonous for cats. (Thanks, Em!!!) We had no idea - and our cats are notorious plant-eaters. Like, if there are flowers anywhere in the house, they will track them down and munch. Great!

Both cats had only had limited exposure to the bouquet unsupervised (about an hour while C and I had been shoveling the driveway), but who knows what happened while we were outside. Cue panic.

I promptly threw the bouquet away and we tried again to wipe Toby down with a sponge (a little more effort this time, and with more success, luckily), and went to work trying to keep him from licking the area with the pollen. FYI - If you Google "cats and lilies," the internet will pretty much tell you that you're an idiot and a terrible cat parent and tell you all the horrible things that are going to happen to your cat before they die. Trust me, you will feel awful.

Our vet was closed because of the snow, and there really wouldn't have been much they could do anyway. The best we could do was monitor both cats, make sure neither of them starting acting unusual, and keep an eye out for changes in the litter box or throw up. Okay. We could handle that. I guess.

Until I woke up on Wednesday morning and found cat throw up (gross, I know) in the living room. Given the state of alert we were in and the fact that it is rare for either of the cats to get sick, I went into super panic mode. Neither C or I could afford to stay home from work that day and watch the cats, but we needed to not leave them alone for 12+ hours and wonder if they'd be okay while we were gone. What to do?!

If you think I called my mom at 5:30 AM on a snow day, woke her up, and begged her to drive an hour each way to spend the afternoon with my cats, you better believe you are correct. And because my mother is an angel and a saint, she did it without question, and ensured us that all was fine in the house. Nothing was amiss, both cats acting totally normal, and all was seemingly well.

By Thursday morning, we were pretty sure we were out of the woods (a la T. Swift song), because the World Wide Web says signs of being poisoned with show up within 48 hours. Apparently, the one case of vomiting was just a really, really poorly timed coincidence (thanks, whoever did that) - it's been just about a week now, and both cats seem completely healthy. Normal, no, healthy, yes. We are still watching them closely, but I think we are okay. Needless to say, it will be awhile before we have fresh flowers in the house again... and definitely no lilies!

Drowned-rat status. Good thing cats have 9 lives!
Someone please share with me a similar bad-pet-parenting story. It can't be just us! Anything else that you know is poisonous to animals that I probably don't know about? It is going to be rough when it comes times to have kids!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

cookies, steak, and stick-to-your ribs meals

Since we had yesterday off work, C & I took ourselves down to the lake for a long-weekend getaway. It was the kind of cold weather and cozy weekend that just screams for delicious meals, and we certainly delivered. I've got to say, we did some of our best cooking over the last few days! #winning

We both got home from work a little early on Friday, and loaded up the car and headed down. We took our time getting there, stopping for dinner and to grocery shop as we went. We also popped into an adorable little wine shop, which we've passed a million times and never stopped at. As it turns out, In Vino Veritas does free wine tastings on Friday night, so I got to start the party early!! We picked a couple of bottles that we liked, and splurged for a Valentine's Day treat. We don't do V-Day gifts, so wine is good for both of us!

On Saturday, we made a leisurely breakfast, then hung out relaxing by the fire for a few hours. Valentine's Day breakfast calls for mimosas. I have my priorities in order: cheap champagne and expensive orange juice. The perfect combination.

Have French press, will travel.
After an excursion to The Fresh Market in Roanoke for some fancy dinner supplies, we settled back in at the house and enjoyed a little happy hour.

We cooked steaks and scallops as asparagus for dinner and proclaimed it one of the top 5 meals we've ever made together. We loosely followed Kristen's advice for cooking the steaks and making a red wine pan sauce, and the filet mignon was just absolutely buttery. We actually made baked potatoes, too, but ended up putting them back in the fridge! We were stuffed from the rest of the meal. Very successful Valentine's Day, if I do say so myself!

On Sunday, my parents and my uncle joined us at the lake. It was miserably cold, so C made chicken Philly cheese steaks for lunch, and we watched movies all afternoon. For dinner, I made a big batch of Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew.... possibly another top 5 meal! I served it over garlic mashed potatoes instead of noodles, and it was the perfect stick-to-your-ribs meal for a cold night.

Yesterday, we headed home much earlier than usual, because it was already starting to snow at the lake. It's a good thing we did, because it snowed the whole way home, and the roads and traffic got worse and worse as we muddled along. A drive that should have taken us 3.5 hours took almost 7! C and I were almost ready to kill each other by the time we got home... we pulled into the driveway just in time to save our sanity.

Thank our lucky stars, they decided to just go ahead and make the announcement to close the government today before 10 PM last night, and we were able to relax and go to bed knowing that we got to sleep in a little. We don't get snow days, just telework days, but it was still nice to not have to get up and mess with trying to go to work! We got about 6" of snow, and I know my team members in Boston are just laughing at us. Sorry, guys!

There should actually be a porch railing there... we came home to some wind damage!
We were going to replace it this spring anyway.... guess that will be sooner rather than later :(
I always try to bake on snow days, and after looking through the pantry, went with two different types of cookies. I have the dough for Nutella cookies with white chocolate chips chilling in the fridge, and the best ever chocolate chip cookies are baking as we speak. I halved the chocolate chips and threw in rainbow sprinkles for the rest of the add-ins. They are going to be amazing.

Snow days call for hearty meals, so I'm going to make a batch of my mom's chicken and dumplings tonight for dinner. I got my workout in earlier this morning by shoveling the driveway, so I'm looking forward to just settling in in my sweatpants and letting other people deal with driving. No, thank you! Mom sent me pictures of the recipe... aren't the best ones pulled from old, wrinkly cookbooks with food spills and stains? I take that as a sign that they are well-loved recipes. I'm already excited for dinner. It's been years since I've had this!

Hope you are staying warm and dry, wherever you are. What is your favorite hearty, cold weather meal? Comfort food is the best.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five for Friday: TGIF!

Is it just me, or has this been theeee looonngggeessttt weeeeeeek evveerrrrrrrr?

Seriously, it feels like about 10 days have gone by since last weekend. And I've been suffering from "day ahead" syndrome all week, always thinking I was one day closer to the weekend than I really was. That is the WORST! So my TGIFness is in full effect this morning. Cheers to the (LONG!) weekend!! Un-cheers to the fact that the temperature has dipped into the negatives around here with the wind chill. We are freezing our tatas off in these parts.

It's been a while since a good ol' fashioned Five for Friday post, so let's get on with the fun!

1 // C and I have a long-standing tradition of staying in and cooking something delicious for Valentine's Day. We were debating over what to make this year when I saw this post for Surf and Turf for Two from Iowa Girl Eats. Decision made! Surf and turf is the way to both of our hearts, and that red wine pan sauce looks to-die-for. Throw in a side of veggies, and we've got a gourmet meal on our hands. What are you doing for V-Day?

2 // Fifty Shades of Grey debuts this weekend. Did you read it? Will you see it? In theaters or in the privacy of your own home? Why was Ana so confused over how to use a laptop in 2011? Why did she and Christian text in all capitals? Discuss.

3 // I caved and placed my first Fabletics order. I've seen so many cute pieces floating around the internets, and I'm on the hunt for some new workout gear because most of my staples have seen better days. With an offer for 50% off the first order plus a $10 off coupon, I got my first two pieces for under $15. I kid you not! Now, we'll see what they are like when they actually arrive at my doorstep. Standby for a review! Want to try it? Click here.

4 // I was a religious Grey's Anatomy watcher in college. Seriously. It was a thing. (I know you know what I'm talking about!) But I quit watching after the plane crash, because it really just got to be too much for me. It was ridiculous. However, in the last few weeks, I've started watching again... and I just can't tear myself away. So yes, I was sitting on my couch last night, glass of wine in hand, full-on ugly crying... and it reminded me exactly of watching in college. Some things don't change.

5 // I am a little bit obessed with "Style" by Taylor Swift.... it's just so dang catchy. She just released the music video this morning. It's a little weird but.... I'll keep in playing in the background today regardless. You're welcome!

Happy weekending! What's on the agenda? Happy Valentine's Day, my loves!

linking up with the five on friday girls:  Darci, Christina, April,and Natasha

linking up with karli and amy

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If I wasn't here, I'd be there

It's always approximately this time of year when I start to get really antsy and cabin-fevery: I love winter, and will always prefer being cold to being hot, but it reaches a point where it's just too much. I inevitably find myself researching vacations and daydreaming about spontaneously escaping for a few days.... the likelihood of actually ever doing this is slim-to-none, but thinking about it saves my sanity for a couple of hours. If only I had a bigger bank account and a lot more vacation leave saved up. Wishful thinking! But how good do these deals look?

IRELAND! Another Groupon Getaway. OMG, what I'd give to hop on a plane...

A quick two-day cruise to the Bahamas with Groupon Getaways... that would be enough, wouldn't it?

Wine tasting in Carmel, CA, with LivingSocial Escapes - I'd be there in a heartbeat.

I had a work trip to Florida booked for next week, and the thought of it was keeping me going... and then we had to cancel. BOO. Seriously. Work, sure, but Florida, also! Where it's sunny and 70 and not windy and gray and cold. It would have been amazing to be there for a few days instead of here.

What's your best cure for winter weather blues? If you could go anywhere today, where would you go? I'm talking pack-a-bag-and-you're-gone.... what's the destination for you??