The Cat That Cried Salmon

It was a gloomy day in middle Tennessee on Monday.   To perk up after my lunch meeting, I decided to make myself a coffee. I usually limit myself to coffee in the morning so this is a departure from my routine. As my coffee machine (the setting up of which I will detail in a future post) was warming up, Gus started having an absolute fit, meowing loudly and constantly, desperately trying to get my attention. At first I thought something was wrong, but both he and Scarlett didn’t seem to be in any life-threatening binds. I went to the fridge to grab the half-and-half for my coffee and Gus continued his tirade, putting his paws up on the freezer drawer and looking up at the half-eaten can of salmon on the top shelf. He had been fed that morning per usual so I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss what about. Then it dawned on me. The term “conditioned response” popped into my not yet caffeinated brain and I realized that Gus heard the coffee machine warming up, which usually signals that I am about to crack open a can of Fancy Feast for his breakfast. As I assume he doesn’t track time very well, it was morning for all he knew and he heard his cue to beg for food like he hadn’t been fed in weeks and his life was falling to pieces.

 

I shouldn’t have been surprised that he would pull such a stunt. This is how we started the day (after his first round of salmon):

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I heard him crying like he was stuck or hurt and looked around the corner only to see him antagonizing Scarlett.

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He meows pitifully to provoke her and then punches her in face. What a punk.

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Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

 

2 Cinnamon Rolls a Day…

I have a new confectionery addiction: homemade cinnamon rolls.

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I’ve made the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon roll recipe several times now.  It makes 45-50 rolls per batch.  Somehow, my family and I have plowed through dozens of cinnamon rolls since Christmas.  And I think I ate most of them.  How did that happen? They are just so stinking good, especially when I remember all of the ingredients (I was so caught up in the active yeast rising process that I forgot the leavening agents my first go-round, but was able to salvage them).  Most cinnamon rolls don’t have enough icing and develop a hard exterior.  These are swimming in icing.  They’re moist and spongy and perfect.  Every bite is like that coveted bite in the center of your regular old cinnamon roll.

In the last few weeks, my addiction has really taken an alarming turn and I’ve found myself having two cinnamon rolls a day for an unmentionable number of days in a row.  But hey, two cinnamon rolls a day keeps the doctor away, no?

…no?

Two cinnamon rolls a day keeps the doctor employed?

Well, I’ve been working out more (successfully) in recent weeks, too, so I’m sure it kind of cancels out.  Kind of.  I am happy to report that I’ve found a new class that’s slightly less lethal than circuit blast called “sculpt.” The only part that made my arms feel like straws was the diamond push-up sequence after 45 sets of arm weight exercises.  Other than that, the group exercise approach has been going well.

Last week, however, I suffered a minor setback in the midst of a cinnamon roll binge.  I pulled my groin putting on my yoga pants to go to sculpt. For real. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of my flexibility, coordination, physical fitness level, or an indication that my pants are too tight.  Maybe all of the above? Maybe a sign from God to lay off the cinnamon rolls?

I just went to hot yoga and feel like I’ve been wrung out like a sponge.  In a really good way.

I think I’ll have a cinnamon roll since I’m already wearing my yoga pants.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Circuit Blast is Not a Blast

I joined the local YMCA a few months back and have been lightly salting my schedule with yoga classes.  The classes have ranged in level of difficulty, but none was more than I can handle.

Last evening, I decided to add a “circuit blast” class to my rigorous exercise routine as it promised an hour of cardio, weight-lifting, and “limited to no choreography.”  Perfect.  The last bit of the description really sealed the deal.  To understand why, please visit my “about me” page.   I got to the gym a little bit early so I hopped on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a fairly good clip to get my heart-rate up since all this bone-chilling weather makes me want to do is swaddle myself in blankets on the sofa. I was feeling nice and warm when it was time for the class to start.  I got my mat, my step, and my 3 sets of weights all set up.  I was ready to kill it.  There were people my age and people twice my age in the class so I imagined I would at least fall somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of fitness.

Well, we started off with a lot of cardio that required more coordination than I could muster.  But that was ok; I flailed my way through it.  After all, I wasn’t trying out for a dance competition.  Clearly.  About 15 minutes in, I had about reached my limit of kicking, punching, jumping, hopping on one foot and balancing at the same time.   Then we started with the weights.

I started to feel faint.  My ears were ringing, my face was hot but my sweat felt cold.

I plowed through 478 squats with weights.  My yoga breathing really helped with this.  I was audibly huffing and puffing.  Too bad my breathing skills don’t help with coordination.

Towards the end of the class, I had to do every other exercise so I didn’t pass out.  It was a serious concern.  Every lunge-jump from the floor to the step while swinging weights over my head was a struggle.  It seemed my two poached eggs on toast that I had for lunch had ditched me hours ago and I was running on fumes and electrolyte and fluoride-infused water that I had purchased just before class.

With 10 minutes left in the class, I was genuinely concerned that I might lose consciousness.  I put away my torture equipment and headed to the locker room to collect myself and splash water on my face.  I looked as white as a ghost.  Time to call it a day.  I walked over to the stairs and as I started down the first step my leg almost gave out.  I clutched the railing to save any dignity that wasn’t left behind in my class.  Each step was a near-death-experience.  I somehow managed to get to the bottom of the stairs using mostly my arms and feeling like Gumby.

As I got to the car, I was fiercely craving salt.  I guess I hadn’t realized how hungry I was.  Continuing my healthy choices for the day, I came home and ate some cheddar and sour cream Ruffles potato chips and felt markedly better.  And my legs were sore already.

This is not good.

I’m afraid to go back.

But I need to face my fears.

I just need a few more handfuls of chips first.

Y’all stay active,

Sugarlump

Knock Knock…

During the ice age we experienced recently, there was a woodpecker that kept trying to peck through the exterior wall of my office.  I don’t really blame him except for the fact that he made it very hard for me and Gus and Scarlett to concentrate.  Me on my work and Gus and Scarlett on their naps.

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Barney Fife and Andy Griffith had narrowed in on this situation, springing into action from their deep slumber on the sofa in a matter of seconds.

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Scarlett tried to stare a hole through the wall.  Gus got distracted by a woman walking her dog.

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Scarlett assumed the position as the suspect’s knocking intensified.

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Scarlett decided she needed a better angle.

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Although this looks like a tender moment, Gus was not pleased that Scarlett infringed on his personal space.

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Gus shared his feelings and Scarlett quickly made him regret it.

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“Are you calling me fat???!!”

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Tensions subsided as the two were quickly reminded of the task at hand.  Mr. Pecker had resumed his knocking.

All in a day’s work.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Apocalypse Averted

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I went outside the other day.  It was terrible.  I don’t think I’ll do it again for a while.  Not that I’m having much better luck indoors.  A delightful side effect of these frigid temperatures: reduced amperage to my cable box.  Or something like that.  Translation: my connection freezes every 45 seconds, making it extremely irritating to try to watch TV as I only get about 1/17th of every story on the news.

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So I had nothing left to do except hunker down and make food like the end of the world was imminent.  I made LOTS of tomato soup, which Eugene and I feasted on for several meals, and homemade meat sauce.  I froze most of it so now I have a very full freezer and I’m tomatoed out.

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Tomato soup with grilled cheese…

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Tomato soup with garlic bread…

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Naturally, I also had to make something sweet. I decided to make those peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies.  My recipe made 20 cookies but I only had 17 kisses (don’t ask me how that happened) so I had to improvise a little.  I adorned the 3 kiss-less cookies with a row of chocolate chips.  Eugene said she actually preferred this set-up because the chocolate was more manageable and evenly distributed.  I can see her point, but the cookies are totally not as cute without the kisses.

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Scarlett thought these drastic times called for drastic measures and the relaxation of house rules like the one about her not being allowed on my coats or the table and especially not both at the same time.

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She was wrong.  Busted.

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Gus is having a hard time coping.

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Things were getting really rough.  It was so cold that the water draining from Eugene’s car was frozen mid-air.

In fact, conditions were so bad that Eugene casually mentioned something about how she thinks ironing is “kind of therapeutic.”  I think she kind of slipped on some ice and hit her head.

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Thankfully, when the sun comes up tomorrow it will be over 50 degrees.  Back to some sense of normalcy…or as close to normal as things get around here.

Y’all hurry back,

Sugarlump

Little Lunch Date

My four year old cousin Jake tagged along for girls’ lunch at Annie Ruby’s the week before last.  It was me, my sister, Eugene, my cousin Lauren, Grandmother and my mom.  Jake is used to this set-up as my family is overwhelmingly comprised of women.  He certainly kept us entertained.

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As we enjoyed our delicious fare, we asked Jake about what he’s been up to and his Christmas.  Every response started with “well….” and “actually….”  He is very articulate for his age.

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When I asked him what he got for Christmas, he said “one hundred and one hundred presents.”  A couple of other ladies who came up to the table asked him the same question and they got the same response I did.  Jake is a pretty smart cookie so by the end of the afternoon, cousin Lauren had taught him that one hundred plus one hundred is two hundred.

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I asked him if he likes his new baby cousin Vera, which he said he did.  I asked him if she can talk and walk and he said no.  I then asked what she does do and he said “she fusses,” which cracked up the whole table.

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Though the rest of us ordered soup and sandwiches, Jake ordered superman ice cream (which we did not tell his mother…). I was unfamiliar with this flavor of ice cream.  It’s coloring resembles cotton candy, but I tasted it and I’m fairly certain it’s just vanilla ice cream with food coloring.  What a scam!  Jake loved it.

We also got him hooked on orangeades, a drink that has been beloved by my family for generations.  I suppose we should consider it Jake’s initiation.

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On the way back to his grandmother’s house, we drove by a pasture of black cows.  Jake has been around the agricultural community since he was born so I asked him if he knew what kind of cows they were.  He very confidently said, “Angus!” Lauren, Eugene and I were very impressed.

When Jake got out of the truck, he insisted on giving us all hugs and kisses  He then invited us to come to his house and play and even offered to take us to the park.  Jake sure is a ball of energy but we had a fun time with him!

Y’all keep it real,

Sugarlump

A Tad Bit Chilly

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Oh hey….it’s like cold here.  Like, REALLY cold.  I thought I moved to the south for a more moderate climate? I think I accidentally brought the northeastern weather with me.  Actually, you know what? My sister just returned to Nashville from Boston on Friday by some sort of miracle considering every other flight on the planet was canceled.  I think I’ll blame her for bringing the snow and frigid temperatures.  I feel warmer already.

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It is so cold, in fact, that I had to use all of my Xena-warrior-princess strength to open Eugene’s car door last evening.

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This is my bedroom window.  Hooray for single pane glass! Not.

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The driveway is covered in ice, which makes for especially exciting picture-taking/ice-skating in flat boots.

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This almost looks fake to me, like when they frost the windows on movie sets in Hollywood.  I wish I were in southern California at the moment.

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Time to invest in some firewood.

Off to make gallons of hot chocolate,

Sugarlump

Ladies’ Lunch

In recent years, my mom and some of her good childhood friends have gotten together for a ladies’ lunch with all daughters, mothers, aunts, and sisters invited, too.  And absolutely no boys allowed.  It would be rude to invite them anyway because we have to talk about them.  Or at least the ladies want to hear from the daughters about any boyfriends on the scene.

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Although we got together for lunch, Glenda, this year’s host, had prepared quite a delicious feast: baked ham, green beans and potatoes, candied fried apples, butternut squash, cranberry sauce and rolls.  It was positively scrumptious and beautiful.  Glenda had set the table with lovely pieces of china and vintage dishes.

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Served alongside the food were lots of great stories about growing up together and how much the small town has changed.  There was quite a discussion about how hitch-hiking was no big deal back in the day, the new art gallery in town, and big personalities that everybody knew and loved.

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And, in true southern fashion, there were just as many desserts as there were dishes for the main meal.  Among them were jam cake with both dough icing (my favorite) and caramel icing (my mom’s favorite), chocolate cake, bourbon balls, coconuts balls, peanut brittle, cookies and more.

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I love my mom’s face in this picture.  I think she was saying, “Don’t be eying that caramel iced jam cake, lady.”  Just kidding. I think.

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We shared lots of laughs over good memories.  There were some really good ones, but if I told you about them I’d have to kill you.  Or at least I might not be invited back to ladies lunch.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Crafty Cousins

Christmas Eve night, the Dyer girls got crafty.  My cousin Kristen had bought a gingerbread house kit at Sam’s club for $5 on a whim and asked us if we’d like to entertain ourselves by putting it together.  Of course we did!

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We sat around Granny and Papa’s table and giggled and cut up like old times as we took a stab at confectionery construction.  We’ve had some good times and crazy conversations at that table.  One thing is for sure: what happens at Granny and Papa’s table stays at Granny and Papa’s table.

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Though we were certainly enjoying ourselves, we took our craft very seriously, too.  We worked hard to get the walls and roof pieces to stick together.  We even enlisted the pepper and jam containers sitting on the table to hold the pieces in place as they set.  We soon discovered that our “mortar” (icing) wasn’t exactly of the highest quality.  I had the bright idea to use marshmallow creme as a binding agent because, as I recalled, it sticks to EVERYTHING.  It wasn’t exactly easy to control, unfortunately, so one side of the house looked like it had insulation bursting out between the roof and the walls.  Rookie mistake.  We kept that side concealed from our photographer.

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The kit also came with fondant (or fon-DANT! if you’re my enthusiastic cousin Kristen) to make the doors and windows.

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It was looking a little rough there for a while, but with the addition of the windows, bushes, random peppermints adornments, layer upon layer of frosting that tasted like joint compound but didn’t act like it, and dusted flour (an improvised touch) it really came together.  You could barely tell it was homemade.  Ha.

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Papa did say it was the prettiest house he’d ever seen.   It was charming in a very haphazard, out of plumb kind of way.

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This is where the $5 cost came into play.

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Not 5 minutes after we completed the house, disaster struck and it toppled to its death on the way to the dining room table from the kitchen table.  No one was sadder than Granny.  She almost cried for us.  We took it pretty well.

For next year, we’ve vowed to make our own superglue-infused icing and construct the house out of graham crackers instead of gingerbread so the walls and roof aren’t so heavy.  Just wait for it.  It will be epic.  And we’ll have Papa write us a State Farm homeowners’ policy just in case.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Kitty Christmas

Having had such a nice Christmas ourselves, it would have been just plain rude not to get the cats a little something. Not that they really care.  They normally end up playing in the gift boxes anyway.  But I happened upon another fabulous fur find and couldn’t resist getting the little boogers a treat from Santa.

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I got them a big, soft bed and a new scratching/play toy combo gym thing.

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While Gus was immediately hypnotized by the carpeted ball tree, Scarlett gave me the “I asked for a Play Station 4″ look.

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Scarlett pouted for a minute as Gus executed his attack.

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It took a few minutes for them to declare the new bed habitable, but they eventually got in it.

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The bed is plenty big enough for both of them to relax in it comfortably.  This isn’t exactly the sleeping configuration I had imagined. From the looks of it, it wasn’t what Scarlett had in mind either.

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After a while, Scarlett settled into a position with a little more breathing more.  As for Gus, I decided to have a little fun with him and put one of those paper “ribbons” on him.   At first, he acted like it was some debilitatingly heavy back brace even though it couldn’t have weighed 1/8 of an ounce.  He went and sat in the bed with Scarlett to recover from his condition.

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Then he forgot he had a condition and a back brace and decided that hangy-ball needed catching.

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Mmmm, tastes like salmon.

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Time for a nap.

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Burst of energy!

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Time for another nap.

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He slowly overcame his condition, got up from the bed…

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and started to step out of his back brace to check out the carpet ball tree from another angle…

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Then he got distracted and had to sniff Eugene’s gift boxes…

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Nearly free of his shackles, he spotted Eugene’s egg-shaped lip gloss that was evidently much more entertaining than his gifts.  He and Scarlett then spent the next 30 minutes chasing it around the living room.

I should have just gotten them lip gloss.

And a Play Station 4.

Y’all keep it real,

Sugarlump