Family, Sheba

Sheba Saturdays

When I was growing up, we had three cats over the years. They were all male, all indoor/outdoor cats [with the exception of the youngest, Tigger, who was afraid of his own shadow due to his cataracts], and their main form of entertainment was hunting, fighting, and chasing wadded up paper, gift bows, etc. Ben on the other hand had only had female cats and believed that storebought cat toys were a necessity. I used to think that was silly. Until I met Sheba.

Then I started doing things like dropping $20 at Target two weeks ago to buy her this ugly hideaway, complete with scratching post, enclosed sleeping area, and dangly, noisemaking toys. I was convinced she’d love it. But instead, she was afraid and avoided it at all costs.

It took time though, but after a few days she was content to hang out next to it.

I was happy, but not thrilled. It’s not everyday that I spend $20…. cash that could have been spent on ingredients for cheesecake or something like that… on a toy. For a cat.

Crazytalk.

So you can imagine my delight when we looked over from our movie last Friday night and saw this:

Sweet sucess! I guess putting her blanket inside was a good move on my part.

Over this past week, Sheba graduated from simply resting in the hideaway to playing with the jangly noisemakers nearly everyday.

Sometimes she even jumps up on top and gets at them from above. It’s quite the sight to see… and quite the noise to hear. This kitty owner is a happy camper… even if little ringing bells at all hours isn’t exactly the most pleasant sound to hear. At least she rewards me with lots of cuddle time!

That’s more than worth the $20.

On a cat toy. I still can’t believe I did that… oh my… Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Bars, Desserts, Family, Recipes

Pumpkin Brownies

So I have totally been slacking on Pumpkin Month. 😦 But don’t despair! I have some great pumpkin recipes to share this week that I am so, so excited about to make up for it. First up is one of my absolute favorite fall desserts… Pumpkin Brownies. Normally I am a brownie purist, but this time, I’ve made an exception. Pumpkin is a fun add-in to any recipe, so why not experiment with pumpkin in my brownies?

Pumpkin Brownies via thepajamachef.com

I first made these brownies last fall, but they disappeared before I ever got a photo. That is just a tiny glimpse into just how delicious they are, because this happened several times. Making the same recipes over and over again is just not something that I do–there are too many good recipes out there so it is very rare!

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited about fall this year so that I could have an excuse to enjoy these festive fall treats. These brownies are rich, fudgy, and chewy–everything a perfect brownie should be in my book. Combined with layers of spiced pumpkin cake, Pumpkin Brownies make the perfect festive seasonal treat that even the non-pumpkin obsessed can love. [If you read regularly, you’ll know that I’m referring to my husband as one of the members of that club. :)] Slivers of these brownies are delicious any way they are served–warm out of the pan, at room temperature, or chilled from the fridge, though I have to say that room temperature is best.

If you’ll excuse me now, I’m going to go hobble off and lament the fact that we don’t have any of these brownies freshly baked. They would be the perfect recovery fuel for the Columbus Marathon on Sunday. We’re still feeling the soreness of the day, but we finished and had fun running together. I’m so proud of Ben finishing his first full marathon! Even if it’s his first and only marathon, he did an awesome job pushing through the pain and helping me run through some unfortunate knee pain that I’ve never experienced before. If he hadn’t been there, it would have been easy to give up, but instead we kept at it and crossed the finish line hand in hand. It was a great experience that I loved sharing with my husband. 🙂

Reader Question ~ What’s one of your most recent proudest accomplishments?

Pumpkin Brownies

  • Servings: 24
  • Print

from anecdotes and apple cores

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 15 tablespoons [2 sticks – 1 tablespoon] butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, combine melted better, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time and then fold in flour slowly until completely incorporated. Divide the batter in half evenly into two bowls.

In one bowl, stir in cocoa and chocolate chips. In the other, stir in pumpkin and spices.

Spread half of the chocolate batter into the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the pumpkin batter on top. Repeat the layers and then drag a knife through the layers gently to marbleize it. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.

Family, Musings

two for 26.2

In high school cross country, my team did something every season called Secret Pals. If you were in team sports, especially as girls, you know the drill. A team captain divvies up names to every girl on the team, and before each meet, you’re supposed to give your secret pal a little gift like a bottle of Gatorade, some granola bars, maybe a pretty hair tie, and some encouragement in the form of a note of well wishes. These gifts were typically packaged in brown paper bags and decorated with magic markers. At the end of the season, the secret pals revealed themselves to each other and it was a fun time to thank a teammate for the encouragement they provided over the season.

cross country state 2002
My cross country team placing 5th at the state meet, 2002. I'm on the first row, far right.

Not to pick a favorite secret pal or anything–because all of mine were great–but my most favorite secret pals were the girls who took time to decorate their bags with quotes  I loved reading quotes about running and saved many of them, later transcribing them into a Word document on my computer. My coach also frequently put quotes on the bottom of our workout or pre-meet information sheets, so I always had a plethora around me to learn from and soak up.

Today as I type this, less than 48 hours before the start of my third[!] marathon and my husband’s first, I can’t help but think of those days of high school cross country, secret pals, and the heartfelt encouragement and camaraderie we shared.

While I wasn’t forward thinking enough to be my husband’s official secret pal with treats and all for Sunday’s Columbus Marathon, I have been thinking this afternoon about some encouragement for him. So, here’s to Ben’s race on Sunday, secret pal meets the 21st century style! I love you! You can do it!!

Source: None via Samantha on Pinterest

“You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”- Steve Prefontaine

Source: None via Marisa on Pinterest

“A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best.” – Ken Doherty

Source: google.com via Jenn on Pinterest

“I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don’t think about the mile I’m on right now, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.” – Ryan Hall

not impossible

Ready or not, 26.2 is a-coming, and I need to be a-going. Happy weekend!

P.S. We’re planning on running the race together. You can follow my times on Twitter.

Family, Sheba

Sheba Saturdays

On this installment of Sheba Saturdays, I’d like to introduce you to Ben’s favorite time of the day: Bathtime. Don’t worry, there’s nothing inappropriate in these photos. I even had Ben put a shirt on just to make sure of it. 🙂

Most days when Ben gets home from work, he’ll give me a quick hello kiss while I’m in the kitchen getting dinner ready, and then head on into our bedroom to change into comfy clothes. Inevitably, Sheba will follow Ben into the bedroom, hop up onto the bed, meowing all the way to tell Ben about her day.

Ben, sometimes needing a rest after a long day at work, will lay his head down on the bed. Sheba understands that Ben is also a dirty little boy and needs to be cleaned up. So, she begins mothering him by licking his little head clean. This can go on for ten minutes at a time, and I have learned that if Ben is taking a long time changing that it is not “his fault,” but rather, the kitty’s.

Bathtime is not restricted to after work hours, as evidenced by the iPhone photos below.

Ben can occasionally be found sitting on the couch, reading a book, when Sheba will take one look at him and decide that he is due for a bath. She jumps right up and bathtime begins.

Both Ben and Sheba enjoy this little ritual which has become a fixture in our day. I wish I could partake, but alas–I have too much hair on my head and Sheba does not know what to do with it. It would be a sad, sad day if I ever had so little hair that she could bathe me like she bathes Ben. So long, until the next installment of Sheba Saturdays.

So tell me… have you ever had cats/know of cats who bathe their humans? I’d never heard of it until Sheba started doing it, so I guess Ben just needed mothering and Sheba stepped into that role. 🙂

Family, Sheba

[Belated] Sheba Saturdays

Whoa, two posts in one day?!? Crazy! I just had to pop in to continue Sheba Saturdays, albeit a day late.

But I have an excuse… we were actually in beautiful Vail, CO for the past week with my family (recap to come) and since getting back home yesterday afternoon, have been doing a lot of cuddling with this adorable kitty, Sheba Genevieve.

She’s not normally this huggable or snuggly so I’ve had to take advantage. I think 9 nights at the kennel was a little much for her, poor thing. I must say, I was relieved that instead of being mad at us for being away so long, Sheba just decided to enjoy being home again. I’ll take a cuddly kitty over an angry one any day!

How do your pets react after you’ve been away from them?