IMG_4203

Hello, world. Is anyone still listening?

Image

As I mentioned a few months ago, I was able to successfully move my blog over to a different site, one that’s free and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. That’s important, since I’m rarely around here. But it’s also important because I like to have the memories – I don’t want this site – all these hours of cooking, taking photos, and writing – to disappear.

Just now, I was perusing the recipe archives for menu ideas this week, and came across a few of my favorite posts – some sad, some hilarious (I mean, dang, sometimes I crack myself up), and some downright weird (like, a month of vegetarianism?! wtf). It reminded me how much value this site used to hold in my heart, how helpful it has been to write my thoughts, for the few who read but mainly, just for my own benefit. It reminded me how much passion I have for food, for photography, and really, just for life.

We lose site of that sometimes, don’t we? Those important things. They are easy to forget in the ebb and flow of other moments.

So here I am.

What’s new? Oh, you know, not much. I guess my last real post here was last September, shortly after my baby kitty (well, of 14 years) died. I did manage to take a photo every day last year, which I shared here, but that really sucked. We’re still living in San Francisco, we’re still in that little ol’ apartment in the Mission (with NO DISHWASHER), and we’re still pretty damn happy and feeling rather lucky, overall.

We spent a really awesome week with Jennifer & Jon in Hawaii last month, we’ve continued hiking around California, and we’re planning to conquer Half Dome in July with Liz & Kevin. I still coax Chris into bike rides on occasion, too. Last weekend we took a ferry over to Angel Island (photo above), and I think he, aside from his knees, enjoyed it.

Hawaii

Sasha, our cat, is more and more loving every day. She’s still her regular skittish self, but she now ‘wears the pants’ in the family and has her way with the both of us. Chris sometimes worries that I’m stealing her away from him, but ultimately, we know she’s daddy’s girl. One day, we’ll get another little kitty, but it still doesn’t quite seem like the right time. I miss my Tangerine every day, and some days when Sasha jumps in the chair beside me, for a split second I think it’s Tange. The chair wobbles the same way, a loud thump and thud as she finds her balance. But that chair was Tange’s chair, and I keep meaning to fix that damn leg so it doesn’t make that same noise, but in a way, I think I like the memory. In a way. Sorta like the way a scar reminds you of something stupid you did – the hurt is still there, but the experience was worth it at the end of the day. Good memories.

IMG_4183

I’m currently unemployed. Don’t worry – it is NOT a bad thing. In short, I had a very trying job. And now I get to really think about what I want in life, in my career. Being home alone during the week is sometimes really, really monotonous and boring (yes, that’s redundant; pun intended). But I’ve completed a few kitchen projects, I’ve watched a lot of ‘Parts Unknown’, I’ve gotten out on my bike and I’ve even tackled some trail runs. So far, I only busted my ass once. Also, I’ve eaten a lot of tacos. I do live in the Mission, remember.

We were in the process of house-hunting until May. Unfortunately, people in the Bay Area happen to have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around, and can often pay cash for condos. We are not those people. In fact, we’ve worked really hard to just save a down payment, of sorts. As such, we’ve lost a few bids on places we really liked. But truthfully, it’s better this way, for the time being. We’ll pick it back up once I figure out my job stuff. Meanwhile, I miss my dining room table, the other half of our couch, and plenty of other items locked away in storage.

But at the end of the day, we have everything we need, and more.

So that’s all for now. I just thought I’d say hi to whoever’s listening. Hi, and I’ll try to show up around here on occasion. I took a few food photos the other day, so maybe I’ll get back into that process again. We shall see.

How’ve you been?

country, city

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need

IT WORKS!

Hey friends!

I’m sure everyone thought I was LONG GONE. I sort of am, but I was finally able to restore my actual domain name after I moved my blog to the FREE wordpress site. I just needed to sit down for 2 seconds and figure it out.

Aaaannnyyyway, it works! And the recipe links work too! fiiiinnnnallly.

That said, now we’ll just have to see if this means I might blog again. I’ll keep my fingers crossed ;).

IMGP0919

IMG_3685

Life. 365-Style (12/3-12/31).

I’m probably much more excited about this post that you guys are, but for me, this marks an end to a really long year of reminding myself to take a picture every day. As much as I eventually dreaded this task, I’m proud to say that I only missed 1 day. Hoo-fucking-rah!

We are glad to say goodbye to 2013, and happy to look on to what 2014 might bring. We hope to add to our family this year (and no, I don’t mean kids, I mean we might be ready for another cat!), settle down in a more permanent location (with a dishwasher), and continue our regular quest of backpacking more and enjoying the outdoors on the wonderful West Coast. We hope to see more of our family in 2014, and keep our fingers crossed that they all figure out a way to travel west, since, you know, planes go both ways.

Aside from that, 2014 is wide-open. Maybe you’ll see me more around here, maybe you won’t. I haven’t figured that out yet. So with that, here’s the end of the year in pictures. Amen to that.

IMG_3582
337 – We never turn down a chance to meet up with Brook, one of our Chicago buddies. He was out for a business trip and we decided that, rather than unpacking from Seattle, we’d much rather eat pizza with him.

IMG_3583
338 – It’s already looking like the holidays in our parts. The Mission is full of lots of colorful lights. Some tasteful, some super tacky. #missionlife

IMG_3585
339 – This can’t be good, right? Mini dealership says it’s because of the unseasonably cold weather here. They best be right.

IMG_3586340 – Not a bad start to the day – a nice clean view of City Hall as I make my way to Philz for my Friday coffee treat.

IMG_3587
341 – I love wandering around my neighborhood and finding houses I’ve not yet seen. The color schemes on the Victorians are really fun to look at.

IMG_3592
342 – I can’t tell if she loves me more lately, or if I love her more. Either way, things have definitely changed now that there’s only 1 cat to love. Sasha certainly doesn’t hurt for attention. Or neediness.

IMG_3595
343 – It is really cold here compared to regular NorCal standards. We turned on our heat, which doesn’t do much since there’s only 1 usable unit, and we bundle up.

IMG_3596
344 – Think this would look nice in our house?! Just kidding. This is a shot from a random furniture shop in the Mission; I was helping a friend pick out some new furniture.

IMG_3598
345 – This is a typical view upwards of a grocery store in our ‘hood. Need a piñata? Look no further than the produce aisle.

IMG_3600
346 – A smoked paprika roasted turkey breast and kale salad. Although, turkey breasts last way too long when they’re only feeding 2 people.

IMG_3601
347 – The Holiday cards are starting to roll in. Every single one we received this year had a picture on the front – how things have changed!

IMG_3606
348 – This day was supposed to be filled with holiday adventures, like ice-skating, but we realized the ice-skating park was really really lame. So we went to a bar instead.

IMG_3616
349 – The chocolate part of these cookies turned out great, but the peanut butter filling was way to slimy. Maybe because of the use of natural peanut butter? But don’t worry – they were consumed anyway…

IMG_3621
350 – Sutro Tower at night.

IMG_3623
351 – Watching highlights of Saturday Night Live. I really have no excuse for not watching that show more often.

IMG_3625
352 – This is the stout from my hometown brewery, Mother Earth Brewing. We buy 2 every season. This bottle sat in the cabinet all year, and man, the bourbon barrel aging flavors really came through. Can’t wait for the 2013 version!

IMG_3627
353 – SFO has an entire walkway of Japanese art displays, and this one was loaded with dinosaurs! SFO is hands down my favorite airport.

IMG_3628
354 – My mom picked me up from the Raleigh airport and I had two demands before heading to her house: Bojangles and Dunkin’ Donuts. I might be running on fumes from the red-eye, but at least I have Dunkin’!

IMG_3633
355 – I found Clayton’s new-ish brewery when in NC this past September, and had to take Chris for a visit. Always nice to have a local watering hole.

IMG_3641
356 – Rayleigh sure loved some Chris. Such a cutie!

IMG_3648
357 – I was helping my mom clean out some boxes, and I found a folder from my study abroad trip to Italy in 2001, which is where Chris and I officially met. This is the roster of the group – so fun to have those memories!

IMG_3651
358 – We’ve since left my family and headed to Greensboro, where my brother-in-law, Matt, is making a gigantic pot of chili for the night. It was perfect since it finally got cold; we had 70-degree weather at my mom’s house the day before!

IMG_3652
359 – Santa was busy this year!

IMG_3667
360 – Sadly, I had to catch a super-early flight back to SF the day after Christmas to get to work, but I had a great trip nonetheless. I love the different colors of water near SFO, which I think is the Cargill Salt Ponds – all naturally colored water!

IMG_3676
361 – We have a good set-up with our neighbors in terms of cat-care. I took care of Laz after I got home and he likes to come over and hang out with Sasha and me. I don’t think they like each other, but strangely enough, they don’t hiss or fight – they just follow each other around.

IMG_3682362 – Chris doesn’t come home until late Sunday night, so I’m a single lady this weekend. Which ultimately means that I talk to Sasha and take lots of pictures of her. But we’ve certainly enjoyed each other’s company!

IMG_3685
363 – A nice Sunday walk up to Bernal Hill with clear views all the way around. Sutro Tower on the left, in the middle background is Mt Tam, and if you look closely in front of Mt Tam is a small view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

IMG_3687
364 – Pizza + kale salad.

IMG_3707365 – I made it to the end! But Chris didn’t make it all the way to midnight without a little nappy nap. We took advantage of the situation, just like we would have at a high school slumber party. Maybe 2014 will be a year of maturing. But probably not…

IMG_3580

Life. 365-Style (10/22-12/2).

Welcome to the new digs, folks. I’m still getting the actual chiknpastry.com site moved, but will be posting here from now on. It’s cheaper ;).

Below are a good months+ worth of shots. I’m ready for the year to be over so I can stop having to take a picture every day. It’s a lot of work. ha!

IMG_3450
295 – Chris was mid-dance here. Lumberjack-style, no less.

IMG_3451
296 – I had to lecture to a group of genetic counseling students at Stanford. It felt nice to be back! But sad, too.

IMG_3452
297 – Sunset over Dolores Heights. These after work runs are harder with the sunset being earlier and earlier.

IMG_3455
298 – a much-needed Friday happy hour!

IMG_3462
299 – pumpkin carving at Liz+Kevin’s house. my first time, if you can believe it. Not sure how I’ve never carved a pumpkin before….

IMG_3464
300 – caramel chicken. this was good stuff.

IMG_3465
301 – Sasha continues her quest to lick all plastic in the house.

IMG_3467
302 – waiting for the bus in The Mission.

IMG_3470
303 – boots. (and yes, I forgot to take a picture so I just snapped the first thing I saw before I went to bed.)

IMG_3472
304 – I’d never seen this movie before. Now, I know why.

IMG_3474
305 – I think this was an 80’s flick like Breakfast Club. I can’t remember…but when I took the picture I thought it was really cool.

IMG_3475
306 – hangin’ at Liz/Kevin’s. For the first time in ages, I totally rocked it at Hearts. #cardshark

IMG_3476
307 – Sasha loves the stairs in our entryway. Every time we open the door, she runs out and up and down the stairs.

IMG_3477
308 – the view from orientation. Not bad on a clear day, except I was only allowed outside for a few minutes.

IMG_3478
309 – You’re jealous, aren’t you, ladies?!

IMG_3481
310 – the first of many Korean-spiced pork burgers. I made a batch of 30 and froze individual patties. Tell me that’s not a smart idea!

IMG_3482
311 – grilled cheese and tomato soup – the ultimate in comfort food.

IMG_3484
312 – A Friday dinner at a new spot in town called TBD – this was their wood stock. It was nice, but not nice enough to get proposed at over dinner. That totally happened to the girl beside me. Her husband was lame, but her ring was gigantic. If only that balanced out…

IMG_3485
3
13 – Chris getting excited about a bottle of wine from Deerfield.

IMG_3492
314 – I searched high and low for all the ingredients for this Indian dish, chaat papdi. It was worth it, though. Like a burrito bowl in India, pretty much.

IMG_3494
315 – It feels good to book vacation! Now May needs to hurry up and get here.

IMG_3504
316 – banh mi pizza? totally. I’m all into the cross-cultural dishes this week.

IMG_3505
317 – another episode of plastic-licking

IMG_3506
318 – finally settling in to my new office – with a window!

IMG_3508
319 – another Friday happy hour, this time at Rye.

IMG_3511
320 – the last backpacking trip of the year. we even packed the heavy sleeping bags, and we certainly needed them!

IMG_3521
321 – deer yoga?

IMG_3523
322 – I can’t believe it took us almost three years of living here to see Brett Dennen. He’s one cool dude.

IMG_3525
3
23 – rain in SF is like snow in North Carolina – it happens so infrequently that people absolutely can not drive. hence the red traffic lines – worst commuting day so far at my new job, but it still took less time than a good day at my old one!

IMG_3527
324 – I finally dug back into the archives and made my version of pad Thai. Such a tasty dish.

IMG_3528
325 – Having my old coworker Frannie as a friend means that she calls, I answer. I’m always available for an after-work cocktail, even if I show up in running clothes ;-).

IMG_3529
326 – pizza take-out night called for a stop to pick up a bottle of my favorite condiment, ranch dressing. Pizza crusts never tasted so dang good.

IMG_3530
327 – not a bad view for an afternoon run, eh? this was taken along the east side of the city, in Mission Bay.

IMG_3538
328 – the shortest Stairway Walk of them all, in Sunnyside. This was taken at the conservatory.

IMG_3539
329 – Chris’ version of tools.

IMG_3541
330 – I took a slightly different running path and ended up seeing a great view of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower.

IMG_3542
331 – We are headed to Seattle for Thanksgiving! My first time ever flying first class (it was just ok). And what you see Chris eating is his worst mistake – a gigantic hotdog the day before a feast. I totally told him so, too.

IMG_3548
332 – Cheryl and I made name cards while the adults made dinner. Does Chris’ picture look like a Pilgrim, or Walter White?!

IMG_3555
333 – What does a nosey pepper do? Get jalapeño business. And in my beverage. BOOM.

IMG_3557
334 – How do 6 of us get around together? Why, we just cram into 1 small car and smile. Plus, we got plenty of nice fresh air while out hiking that day. A little snuggling never hurt anyone!

IMG_3571
335 – Luke’s wallet. I think Cheryl bought this for him the first year they started dating. Which was forever ago.

IMG_3580
3
36 – This was my view for my 500th mile in 2013!! I thanked Jennifer for ensuring that Seattle would be sunny that day.

That’s it for now! Only another month of these pictures to go!

IMG_3321

Life. 365-Style (9/18-10/21)

Another month has passed, friends. October has really been flying by. We’re out enjoying as much of our warm weather as possible – getting some of our final Stairway Walks wrapped up, squeezing in a hike or backpacking trip, and whatever else we can do to stay outdoors.

In addition to all of that regular stuff, life has been full of changes since August. Some horrible, some not too bad. I had an amazing time in NC with my family, and started a new job right after I got back. We continue to adjust to life without Tange. We had to put mom’s cat down while in NC, and that experience brought back all those all-too-recent memories. But we move on, as is our only choice.

All in all, putting things into perspective, life is still good. Here’s the short summary:

IMG_3301

261 – I had no idea I’d have to say goodbye to yet another cat in such a short time. This was mom’s cat, Boo, who was hiding a large tumor from his mommy until he just couldn’t anymore. He didn’t like me at all, and this is the closest I ever got to him.

IMG_3321

262 – One perk of my visit to NC was spending lots of time with family, and one extra-special perk was getting to finally go to another NCSU football game. We had some pretty awesome seats, and my Pops and I (along with his drunken friends!) had a pretty good night.

IMG_3363

263 – My Sis and I realized the rehab center had this rando bird cage at the entrance. wtf?

IMG_3364

264 – sometimes there’s nothing else to do but watch movies. Bridesmaids never disappoints.

IMG_3366

265 – Neither does bonding with my sissy. We had a really great time together, even if her feet did stink.

IMG_3368

266 – Mom will KILL me for posting this, but I like to think she’ll be ok with it, since I’m commenting on how amazing her hair looked after a good wash and curl – the old-school way!

IMG_3371

267 – Mom stayed in the rehab center for about 10 days, and then I brought her home. Before that though, I loaded the fridge with a whole cheesecake from this cute lil’ place in downtown Clayton. Super tasty.

IMG_3373

268 – Bye, Boo. This was without a doubt the worst day of my visit. It was hard to see mom so upset, after she’d made so much progress, and knowing how excited she was to come home to her cat.

IMG_3375

269 – BBQ one last time. I couldn’t get enough! And I’m glad I discovered Charlie’s.

IMG_3376

270 – Ok, one more time. With Cheerwine, too!

IMG_3378

271 – As much fun as I had in NC and as hard as it was to leave, it felt good to be home to my normal life. Plus, I missed Philz ;).

IMG_3380

272 – Mom wouldn’t have liked Pumpkin Curry, but we sure do!

IMG_3381

273 – Speaking of my normal life, it felt good to not be unemployed. I had three weeks off from working once I left Stanford, and my new job started on 9/30. I was none-too-excited about this pic, but whatever. I can’t ask for much for an ID, I suppose. And for anyone who’s wondering, my job is going well. It’s very similar to my old one in many ways, but I do miss my Stanford coworkers.

IMG_3382

274 – The best part? this dang commute. I bike by City Hall and the Civic Center every day, and lately, it’s been just gorgeous. The hills on the way IN to work? They’ll take some getting used to…

IMG_3383

275 – I should just call this post BBQ and be done with it. Not a week later and we met Liz and Kevin at Southpaw. I actually got the fried chicken, but Chris and I split that and his BBQ.

IMG_3385

276 – Sometimes Sasha really does think. Just not often. But isn’t she so pretty?!

IMG_3386

277 – Another Friday happy hour at Pi.

IMG_3391

278 – We got out of SF for a day and picked up some of our wine in Sonoma. We decided to stop at Matanzas Creek, a winery we went to on our first trip to Wine Country when we were still in Chicago. The views there are gorgeous.

IMG_3392

279 – We finished a Stairway Walk in the Upper Market area of town, right smack dab in the center of the city.

IMG_3393

280 – I love a good fall beer. This is Anchor Steam’s Big Leaf Maple.

IMG_3394

281 – Another benefit of my short commute? I’ve figured out how to make my running work into the trip home – a couple of days a week I take the bus to work instead of my bike, and I run home, creating random zig zags along the way to complete my full program. It takes a little planning, but it’s great to get a full run in and still be home by 6:15. This is one of the views from Dolores Park (and yeah, after barely surviving up the hill, sometimes it’s nice to stop and snap a pic!).

IMG_3396

282 – weeknight vegetable curry. This one was from the True Food book and just ok, but the leftovers tasted better.

IMG_3398

283 – I had a benefits orientation this morning, so of course I managed to squeeze in a trip to The Mill on the way.

IMG_3401

284 – Do you see the lil’ one in the back? I can’t tell if he’s scared or excited.

IMG_3402

285 – It was a little difficult to backpack what with the government shutdown and all, but we found a smaller state park in the area with a short hike in and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of napping and reading in the sun.

IMG_3412

286 – there’s water back there in the distance. These are the Santa Cruz mountains.

IMG_3415

287 – SPRINKLES! need i say more?

IMG_3418

288 – It’s hard to capture these moments, but Sasha has a weird infatuation with licking plastic. Remember how I said she wasn’t so smart?!

IMG_3423

289 – Pigeons! As Chris would say, #missionlife.

IMG_3428

290 – I’m on jury duty this week, and they don’t require potential jurors in court until 9:30. So, I obviously went to Craftsman & Wolves beforehand for a thai curry scone. Duh.

IMG_3438

291 – Just barely escaped jury duty after being in court for 2 1/2 days. I had to grab another Friday Pi beer.

IMG_3441

292 – This weekend was amazingly beautiful. Chris and I completed 2 Stairway Walks, both on the north side of the city. We even tiptoed around Fisherman’s Wharf for one of them. Tourist count was off the charts, and I think I don’t need to go back there for at least a few more years ;).

IMG_3445

293 – After a sad Bears loss, we hit up a nice semi-outdoor late lunch at Namu Gaji, tossed in some soft serve from Bi-Rite, and laid in Dolores Park for a little bit. Cannot complain about that day, despite the loss.

IMG_3447

 

294 – Post-run Bernal fog rolling in.

20130918-163347.jpg

Life. 365-Style (7/30-9/17).

Hi friends. Thanks for all the kind words through your comments, calls, and all sorts of other ways. It means a whole heck of a lot. Things are slowly becoming normal again, a new normal, but still – it’s progress.

Meanwhile, I’m in North Carolina for this week and next – mom got herself a new right hip last week and I flew in to help out. She’s keeping me busy and her recovery is going really well, but on occasion there’s a little downtime. When I’m not eating BBQ in said downtime, I’ve tried to get these pics organized so we could get up to date for a change. So here goes:

IMG_3100
211 – Tange had no idea what was in store the next day, and neither did I. This is her all nice and happy, the day before we found the tumor.

IMG_3103
212 – Maverick has fried chicken night on Monday and Wednesday, so we finally decided it was time to give it a try. We’re hooked!

IMG_3105
213 – Chris says Sasha isn’t chubby, but this picture says otherwise. She’s still a cutie though.

IMG_3106
214 – Words to think about….

IMG_3108
215 – Craftsman & Wolves has one of my favorite treats – toasted chocolate bread with ricotta cheese, vanilla, honey, and Marcona almonds. This is a version I made at home which is mighty tasty. Holy moly.

IMG_3111
216 – Judy’s new doggy, Orson T Cumberbatch III, came to “Off the Grid” to celebrate Jared’s birthday, and he dressed up!

IMG_3118
217 – Dinner for three: Tange loved her bacon!

IMG_3119
218 – A coworker gave me some green beans, so they got tossed onto a mushroom-gruyere tart. Not bad for no real recipe!

IMG_3121
219 – finally got to Kronnerburger. Sorta pricey for a burger and fries, but still good in my book.

IMG_3124
220 – I follow the rules.

IMG_3127
221 – STAY. As seen from the Tenderloin. No thanks, Tenderloin.

IMG_3133
222 – Fiats in the water! This was an ad campaign over in Sausalito. Chris and I did a big bike ride from home to Sausalito (his first time biking over the Golden Gate Bridge!) and we took the ferry back. Way fun.

IMG_3139
223 – Mission neighborhood mural art.

IMG_3142
224 – We’ve had a gift certificate to Chez Panisse for a while now, so we finally went for their Monday night dinner, which is a little less expensive than other nights. My opinion this time around? Still overpriced and just blah. The coolest part of the day was going to Berkeley Bowl for groceries.

IMG_3144
225 – we decided to watch Breaking Bad since we have HBO for a bit. This is going to be a problem. So good!

IMG_3146
226 – Pi Bar is a spot near our house that opens at 3:14 each day and has specials until 6:28 each day. Genius! They have a great beer selection.

IMG_3151
227 – the day before Tange’s surgery, she got plenty of love.

IMG_3095
228 – ironically, Chris took a picture of Tange prior to going to the vet. We had no clue this would be her last photo-op.

IMG_3154
229 – big tangerine flowers for Tangerine

IMGP0690
230 – a stairway walk to get us out of the house. This was at Lands End.

IMG_3155
231 – a cleansing salad, of sorts. Lots of cabbage and chicken. Good stuff.

IMG_3156
232 – a good campus run

IMG_3157
233 – card from the vet

IMG_3158
234 – shadows!

IMG_3160
235 – BART is always interesting. And, we’re headed to Chicago!

IMG_3165
236 – it isn’t a visit to Chicago without a trip to Handlebar. This Bloody Mary was excellent!

IMG_3179
237 – I miss the CTA.

IMG_3204
238 – Chicago Millenium Park view

20130918-145642.jpg
239 – hopping on the train to head back to SF. At the California stop – crazy!

IMG_3225
241 (yes, there’s not a 240 – whoopsie!) – ready to bake some pumpkin rolls!

IMG_3226
242 – kale and cabbage salad

IMG_3227
243 – writing notes to the coworkers

IMG_3234
244 – I fried a rabbit.

IMG_3236
245 – Chris was really feelin’ The Beatles

IMG_3237
246 – time for alfajores again!

IMG_3238
247 – Happy Hour with my buddy, Sunny!

IMG_3240
248 – look what Joanne made for me – a board of cupcakes in an “H”. We had a great farewell day with treats at work and a nice dinner. I’ll miss these guys a ton.

IMG_3249
249 – last ride on Caltrain after a lovely happy hour with my Gwennie.

IMG_3250
250 – my coworker Cynthia always called me feathers, so this seemed appropriate to send to her.

IMG_3251
251 – as you know, I made maple bacon donuts the other day, so this weekend I did the same, but with pancakes.

IMG_3253
252 – I’m now jobless for three weeks, and my flight to NC isn’t until Wednesday night. So for dinner, I finally got around to making a salmon dish I’d had in queue for quite some and it was worth the wait!

IMG_3277
253 – a mid- afternoon beverage at Coqueta following a really really hard bike ride up through the Marin Headlands. It was well-deserved!

20130918-163248.jpg
254 – our friend, Brad, was in town for the day and he and I tested our US map knowledge. We did just ok… (Note – we stopped when we got east because we have the east on lockdown. Duh.)

20130918-163305.jpg
255 – flying the friendly skies. Waking up to a turbulent red eye flight into DC and then RDU.

20130918-163325.jpg
256 – sunset at the hospital. Mom’s getting ready for rehab!

20130918-163331.jpg
257 – a nice day for a run around the high school track near mom’s house

20130918-163337.jpg
258 – rando Instagram shot of some good lookin grilling

20130918-163716.jpg
259 – cheapo gas

20130918-163347.jpg
260 – BBQ time! Charlie’s was pretty legit, even though their sauce isn’t as vinegary as I like. I let that slide every now and then!

IMG_2968

Tangerine.

IMGP0590

I’m sure you’ve come to accept less frequent posts from me. For a minute, well, lots of individual minutes, I’ve contemplated calling it quits altogether. But I come back to one source of momentum: I like writing. I’ve never felt that I was particularly good at it, or that I had anything of any real importance to write about, but writing, it makes me feel good. It’s cathartic sometimes. And while I know that there are very few of you guys hanging on and reading here, and I do appreciate those of you who do, at the end of the day I write for me. No offense, of course ;).

I haven’t had much to say lately. 2013 was off to a great start, but once it turned into August, things really started to suck. Most of life’s stresses are typically overcome by taking some deep breaths, sometimes simply a little time, maybe even some conversations with loved ones, and always with a drink or two (sorry, but who disagrees with me? exactly.).

But some things, some of life’s pains, they just don’t fade away that easily. In this exact case, that pervasive pain is occurring because I’ve lost someone I love.

That someone just happens to be Tange, the best cat in the whole wide world.

It’s noteworthy to say that Tange was living her 15th year and, quite frankly, she was living it gracefully. It should also be noted that, despite her age and apparent well-being, I was and always would have been unprepared for how empty parts of my life have become without her.

In an effort to spare myself from discussing the details in depth one more time, I’ll be as brief as I can, and say that we incidentally found an abdominal tumor, and we proceeded to exploratory surgery. We dropped her off on a Friday morning, we gave her a mini-hug (she was already pissed at that point because she was, once again, at the damn vet), and we drove to work. That afternoon, we learned that she had a rare complication that resulted in a load of internal bleeding. A few transfusions and a stressful drive back to the city later, we stood by her side watching her breathe through a tube, one short breath after the other. And after what felt like days but was really an hour, we decided it was time to say goodbye.

I’m not kidding or even being the least bit dramatic when I say that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

I immediately wrapped my arms around her, and I cried like a baby. I cried all weekend, and I cried practically every day until last week. When I thought I was finished crying, I started writing this, and then I cried again. I look at the beautiful wooden box of her ashes, and I cry. I look at her picture, and I cry. Sometimes I even look at Sasha, our other cat, and I cry.

The thing is, I knew I was going to lose her soon. But soon was within the year, maybe even a couple of months. Soon meant I had plenty of time to hold her more, to let her eat a donut from my chest, and to feed her bacon and rotisserie chicken. Soon meant I could cry in front of her while she was living, not over her lifeless little body. Soon meant I could be selfish, but instead, we had to be self-less. We had to be grown-ups, and we had to recognize what was best for her. And maybe it was best for us, but damn, that’s so hard to rectify.

I like to say that my heart is full of memories. I like to say that I’m grateful for every day I had with her, because truthfully, she was so special to me. I like to say that one day this hurt, this emptiness, will go away. I hope it does. But the truth of the matter is that I miss her exactly as much as I knew I would. I knew this would be hard – she was my baby. She’s been with me through everything, she’s moved across the country with me, she jumped onto the couch every night with me after dinner, and she practically raced me to the bed each night. She made those faces that said, “Mama, I know you love me. I know I’ve got you wrapped around my finger (well, paw), but I love you just as much.” And she did – that cat loved me more than bacon.

In some ways, it’s relieving to know that we don’t have to consider chemo, that we don’t have to continue her thyroid medications, that we don’t have to worry about her if we leave for the night. It’s comforting to know that cancer never took over her entire little body. And I’m so thankful for that last night we spent with her – a typical night with lots of love, but a really big dinner that included bacon, her favorite, and a taste of a donut.

But I’d give anything to have her here, even knowing how bad it hurts to lose her. I’d give anything to have another month or two, another week or damn, just a freakin’ day, because even now, I see her everywhere, I feel her everywhere, and this house just isn’t the same.

I miss her so much. I can’t even explain it. But I do trust that time will heal.

If you’re still here, I appreciate that you took time to stay and read. Thank you for that.

In the meantime, I made a lot of baked goods over the past two weeks because, as it turns out, I’m switching jobs. I made treats for the last days at Stanford and on the final day, I decided it was time to cook bacon, and to do the only thing that made sense – to put it in a donut. Why not?

If Tange were here, I just know she would approve….

IMGP0706

Maple Bacon Donuts
from King Arthur Flour; makes 12

time commitment: 1 hour

ingredients
donuts
1/4 c butter
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 t maple extract (or 1 t vanilla)
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 c milk

topping
6 slices bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled into large pieces
3 to 4 T maple syrup

glaze
1 c confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
about 1/4 c maple syrup, enough to make a spreadable frosting

instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans or use 1 and do in two batches.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and maple flavor.

Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Distribute the bacon pieces evenly among the wells. Drizzle the maple syrup over the bacon, using about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per donut.

Spoon the batter evenly into the pan(s), filling the wells up to the rim.

Bake the donuts for 15 minutes, or until they’re raised and firm, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.

Remove them from the oven, and place on a rack or trivet. Loosen the edges of the donuts with a table knife or spatula, and immediately turn the pan(s) over onto a piece of waxed paper. Cool on rack.

Make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and enough maple syrup to make a spreadable glaze.

Spread the glaze over the donuts. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Wrap any leftovers loosely in plastic, and store for 1 day at room temperature; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

IMGP0705