fashion cats

Is it just me, or are more and more editorials featuring models with cats?

I really want to get a leash for Spot.

P.S. The kitten above is Karl Lagerfeld's Choupette.


It continually surprises me that we live in Texas, and that I don't mind it at all.

Manhattan clam chowder

The first recipe that made me want to learn to cook was New England Clam Chowder from Domino magazine. Since I stopped eating dairy, and the idea of trying to make it from soy milk sounded really icky, I decided to try Manhattan Clam Chowder. I don't like tomato-based soups very much, and had never eaten it, but this recipe by Emeril on Food Network's website was so highly rated that I decided to give it a try. It was so good that I will definitely add this to my rotation of recipes. I'm listing the recipe below, even though it's freely available, because I halved it and noted the actual amount of everything to buy (I bought like five potatoes, and only needed two). I also replaced the bacon with olive oil and used dried parsley instead of fresh.

My husband cooked and chopped the clams, because I feel bad doing it.

But I love chopping everything else, it's so therapeutic...

Emeril's Manhattan Clam Chowder
(3 to 4 main course servings)

3 doz. littleneck clams
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped (~1/2 large white onion)
1/2 c. celery, finely chopped (~1 1/2 stalks)
1/4 c. bell pepper, chopped (~1/2 small green bell pepper)
1/2 c. carrot, diced (~1 large carrot)
3/4 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (~2 medium white potatoes)
1/2 c. vegetable stock
1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
2 tsp. dried parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Uncover, quickly stir clams well with a wooden spoon, and recover.
Allow clams to cook 5 minutes longer, or until most of the clams are opened.
Transfer clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. (Throw out any unopened clams!) You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.
When clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.
In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Do not allow to color.
Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Increase heat to high and add potatoes, reserved clam broth, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil, covered.
Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened somewhat.
Add tomatoes and parsley continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add reserved clams and season with pepper and salt, if necessary.
Allow chowder to sit for up to 1 hour to allow flavors to meld, then reheat slowly over low fire if necessary. Do not allow to boil.

custom pet portrait: do or don't?

I've been joking about getting a giant custom painting of Spot the Cat for a while, joking only. But after seeing how cool it could look in these photos of homes, I'm becoming more serious about it. I think it adds just the right amount of humor to the rooms when done right.


Hubby and I took a two-day mini-vacation to Carefree, Arizona earlier this month on our way back from San Francisco. All play, no work - it was incredible! 

We stayed at the Boulders Resort (and got a crazy deal - $95 a night! It was off-season, and really hot, but living in Texas it was nothing to us.) in an adorable little villa:

The maid service even made my glasses into a towel face:

The pool was fantastic:

I love the Southwest desert mountain feel out there. We had so much fun, definitely going to make time for things like this in the future. 


IKEA hack = modern cat bed

Hubby wanted something more stylish than the beige carpet covered cat furniture we've had the last few years, but I wanted to make sure the cat would like and use whatever we replaced it with. After looking online at lots of modern cat beds with metal posts (not practical for scratching...) we decided to make one instead. A trip to IKEA later, and we had something modern that Spot loves even more than his old stuff.

Expedit Wall Shelf ($19.99)

Malinda Chair Cushion ($6.99)
Seagrass Scratch Pole ($29.99)

EDIT:  I've tried to reply to the comments below or just leave my own comment so many times but it keeps disappearing. Seriously, how are you guys leaving comments when I can't? 

Anyway, the cat box is secured to the wall (with included hardware - screws and bolts) and windowsill (with extra strong velcro tape - works for almost anything) and the scratch post is just wedged below, making it super easy to change out once it is all scratched up. We were lucky that the windowsill and scratch post were exactly the right sizes. In our new apartment, we used these posts: with the short bolts and had to drill a hole in the bast of the box to accommodate them. Still just wedged in, our cat vigorously scratches them and they still don’t budge. Also, Ikea stopped selling those square wall shelves, but if anybody finds a replacement I want to know about it!