Big News: We’re Adopting A Cat (!)

For anyone who knows me, one of the first things you probably find out is that I love cats. I talk about them so often that people will often just say, “What kind of cat do you have?” To which I then have to embarrassingly respond, “I don’t have a cat… YET.”

E is also a cat lover. (Thank God, because that honestly would’ve been a deal breaker for me.) And we both wanted to wait to check out a cat to adopt until after the holidays and after I came back from Sundance. So, last weekend our lives slowed down, and we decided to head to Sante D’Or, a local shelter by our home.

I cannot tell you how massively unprepared I was for cat adoption day. We walked into the shelter, and there were roughly 40 cats that peered back at us, all looking for someone to take them home. And at Sante D’Or, there are some cats in cages, and other cats are just walking around, rubbing against your legs, swatting at your head from perches. No matter where you turn, there’s a new cat face to lock eyes with yours and try to burn into your soul. We did a lap around the place, and the first cat that E noticed — like, REALLY noticed — was Misty.

Misty The CatShe was sitting quietly in a chair, minding her own beautiful business, and E pointed to her. “What about that one?” he said. When I first saw Misty, I will fully admit that she looked like any other cat to me. She was pretty, but was she the one?

I decided to sit down next to her. And let me tell you, Misty knows how to work it. Within seconds, she was sitting on my lap, and within minutes, she was rubbing her kitty face against my human face, and basically saying, “YES, I’M THE ONE, OBVIOUSLY.”

The thing about Sante D’Or, is that you have to put in an application for adoption. It’s not like other shelters, where they’re handing you a cat to take home that day, and trying to shove another three in your bag. No, at Sante D’Or, they have a thorough process, and when someone puts in an application for a cat, they put a sign on their cage that reads, “Adoption Pending.” I asked E to go find Misty’s cage, so we could see how old she was, her history, and other details about her. I was not prepared for what E found, because when he pointed to Misty’s cage, there was one of those little signs: Adoption Pending.

We asked one of the volunteers if the sign was a mistake. It had to be a mistake. I literally couldn’t stand up from the chair, because Misty was now standing on my chest, rubbing her furry head all over me.

“Oh, Misty,” one of the volunteers looked at her, then at me, then at the sign on that cage. I thought I was going to start crying. E was quite certain I would. It took me a few minutes to be able to actually pick Misty up, and put her back on the chair, alone.

Once I was able to leave her, it took me a while to adjust to the idea of not getting her. But I tried really hard, because it was cat adoption day, and we really wanted to put in an application. We walked around again, this time really checking out those adoption pending signs and not getting too attached to anyone. The volunteers showed us other lap cats. There was Rosie, and Ophelia, for example. They were great, but they weren’t Misty. Eventually, they showed us an area we had somehow missed, which is when we saw Smash — an orange tabby cat with a tail as fluffy as a duster.

Smash was sweet, younger than Misty, and extremely playful. We played with him for a good twenty minutes, and felt like if we couldn’t get Misty, then we could certainly take home Smash and love him to pieces. There were other people eyeing Smash, saying his name as if the cat was already theirs. So we hurriedly picked up an application and began to fill it out. When we filled out the app, we listed Smash as the cat we wanted to adopt, but also added a note. “If Misty becomes available, we’d like to adopt her.”

We turned in the application, waved goodbye to Smash, (and I secretly waved goodbye to Misty), and then carried on with our Saturday, knowing we wouldn’t hear back on the application for a few days.

Cut to Tuesday of this week, and my phone rings. A woman named Sandy left me a message, saying that Misty was available again, as her adoption fell through, and Smash really needed to go to a home with other cats already there.

I emailed E, because in those few days I’d kept telling myself we were getting Smash, and all of a sudden Misty was an option again. I was confused and, to be honest, a little torn. But he reminded me of how much I loved Misty. Then I looked up her Petfinder profile to remind myself:

Misty was brought to the rescue with her three legged daughter, Osita. After a close call with some street thugs, she’s got a clean bill of health and is ready for a forever home.

I didn’t realize she’d been a teen mom! Or had a three-legged daughter! Or been a street thug! All of it kind of melted my heart, and reminded me of what made Misty so amazing in the first place. I called Sandy back, and we decided to move forward with Misty, the girl who first stole our hearts.

On Saturday, we’ll have what’s called a “home visit,” where Sandy will come to our house, without Misty, and make sure that what we have is a cat friendly environment. We’ve already bought cat toys, cat treats, a litterbox, and even a cat shaped mat where we’re going to put Misty’s food bowls. Tonight I plan to clean and sweep and make this place SHINE so that Sandy can give us her cat stamp of approval.

If all goes well, we could be given the OK to pick Misty up, and take her back home with us that very same day. I’m feeling extremely excited about the idea of having her here, but also really nervous that it won’t work out.

In any event, I will keep you all posted on our cat adoption, and hopefully the next Caturday update will involve our very own cat!

Sub Out The Beef, Sub In The Healthy: Turkey Meatball Sub

Yeah, so, this just happened…Turkey Meatball SubHave I mentioned that I was a fat kid? Well, I was, and one of my favorite fat kid foods was meatball subs. I used to get one from Subway, which was a 5-minute drive from our house and which my Mom would agree to drive me too after I whined enough. And I’d get that sub, and I would savor the shit out of it. I mean, like, worship it as if it were my last meal, and slowly eat each and every bite until I was licking my fingers. I just drooled a little, thinking about it.

The other night, I thought back to those meatball subs, and I found myself to be very very hungry. All I had were healthy things though; ground turkey, whole wheat rolls, cheese that was part skim…. And yet, the meatball sub came out really yummy, and it was incredibly filling, and way healthier. It was the same sub, but better for me, and I was still able to lick my fingers after.

Here’s what you’ll need (makes 2-3 subs):

Supplies:
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (if you want a stronger kick, try pepper jack cheese)
  • 3 sub rolls, preferably whole wheat
Directions :
  • In a large bowl, crack and whip the egg. Add in ground turkey, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands (it will feel weird and awesome!!!) and form 1 inch to 1.5 inch meatballs with that mixture.
  • Take out a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add as many meatballs as will fit in the pan, let them sit on one side for 2 minutes, then flip and cover the pan for another 3 minutes, or until the meatballs looked cooked (but not totally browned, as they will be cooking more).
  • Once you cut a meatball and make sure there’s no more pink inside, keep the meatballs in the pan, and add the tomatoes, half the basil, onions, and butter. Stir all of it up, and cover over low heat.
  • While the tomatoes and meatballs meld together, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Take out your rolls and open them up. You’re going to lightly drizzle the remaining olive oil (if you need a little more, then feel free) over the inside of the rolls.
  • On a foil lined baking sheet, place the rolls open-side up on the sheet, and bake them at 350 degrees for five minutes, or until they’re warmed and toasted.
  • Take out the rolls, and take the meatballs off their heat. When the rolls have cooled enough, pile on the meatball/sauce mixture, and top with the remaining basil leaves and a nice handful of shredded cheese. VOILA! Healthy, delicious, and so filling.

The 10 Most Introvert Things I’ve Ever Done

Socializing, ugh. This weekend was very social for me. I had something to do Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, and they all took place outside of the comfort of my apartment. It was fun, but exhausting.

Tonight I have plans outside of my apartment as well. Which I’m excited about, because it involves friends and food. But because I’ve been out so much the past few nights, in order to not feel like I’m losing my mind I need to remind myself of simpler times. Of times when I was being a big introvert and loving every minute of it.

  1. Pretty much every time I told a friend I wasn’t feeling well, which is code for, “I’m feeling fine, but if we hang out tonight I will not feel fine. So, we’re not hanging out.”
  2. There was a Saturday, roughly two years or so ago, when I had a fuck it day, and turned off my phone. Then I made a pot of macaroni and cheese, turned on the Lifetime Movie Network, and painted. I took out a big canvas with all of my brushes, and I just painted, with Lifetime in the background, and I’d occasionally take mac ‘n cheese breaks. That was one of my favorite days.
  3. When I was going to USC for my master’s degree, and I found this one little nook that no one seemed to know about in the film school. I would hole up there for hours, just grading papers or writing, and no one was ever able to find me.
  4. In New York, at least once every weekend I would pop in my iPod, and walk for about an hour or two by myself. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I would just walk and be with my thoughts and my iPod. That was delicious.
  5. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, then there was that summer when I lived on my grandparents ranch in one of their cabins all on my own. Every day was Christmas!
  6. I think that whenever E and I go to Big Bear, that’s basically like an introvert field trip to a place much calmer than Los Angeles. Bless Big Bear.
  7. I’ve always been a little bit addicted to going to a party, and leaving pretty early into it, before it’s socially acceptable to do so. There’s an introvert high there that’s fairly undeniable.
  8. On the whole, any time I go for a run or hike with E, that feels like quality introvert time.
  9. When I need a space to call my own at work, and I’m able to go in one of our conference rooms (but in particular, my favorite spot: the green room) and just sort of… ZONE THE EFF OUT. That feels quite nice.
  10. Oh, and my daily dose of introvert heaven when I wake up early in the morning (like right now), plop myself on the couch, and write.

OK, yes, now I feel much better about going out tonight, because I know that more introvert times await me.

Sorry For The Radio Silence, But I Was Busy Living It Up In Utah

I didn’t think that I’d get to cross an item like this off of my bucket list for a long time. But, as the BuzzFeed fate would have it, I got an opportunity to go and cover Sundance for a week, and it was really quite incredible. (So long, item #46!)

For those who may not be familiar with the Sundance Film Festival, it was started by Robert Redford in 1978— I didn’t know that off the top of my head. I had to look it up on Wikipedia, like all the other kids — and it’s an opportunity for independent filmmakers to get their movies seen on a large scale. The ultimate goal for these filmmakers is that a company will finance their film and help it get distributed to a larger audience and more theaters.

I don’t know why Sundance was on my bucket list, really. I prefer TV to film. I’m not a film snob. I don’t really know MUCH about film, other than I like watching movies. Oh, and I definitely don’t ski. So going to a ski mecca like Park City, UT had no appeal to my athletic side. (If there is one.)

My flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was exclusively filled with people who work “in the industry.” Meaning agents, managers, lawyers, directors, actors, producers, la di da. All of them were talking about movies, while I sat and quietly listened. It was one of the most bizarre moments of my life, if only because it felt like a parody of a Sundance flight.

Being at Sundance in general often felt like a parody of what Sundance should be. From the way people wore a ridiculous amount of fur, to the frenzy that often occurred when someone famous walked down the street. But that part of it I absolutely loved — it didn’t feel like anywhere else I’d ever been. I got to interview a lot of people I never would’ve been able to otherwise — looking at you, Lance Bass and Michael C. Hall— and, ya know, it was just really fun and different. So there was that.

What I also learned about Sundance was this:

  1. It’s sprawling. Like, you can’t just WALK from one theater to the next. You have to be shuttled around everywhere, or take taxis, except the taxis charge an absolutely outrageous amount of money. (As well they should, I suppose.)
  2. If you’re given the opportunity to eat a meal, then you better eat everything on your plate, because you never know when you’re going to be able to eat again. There’s no time to eat ever, or room to eat, actually. I basically lived off of a diet of peanut butter granola bars, which I took from the hotel front desk every morning on my way out. Once you get onto Main Street, there are tons of restaurants. Except all of them are packed, and require reservations. And when you get to the theaters to see a film, they have snacks like popcorn and gummy bears for sale, but at that point, you’re so desperate for real food that the thought of eating flavored popcorn actually makes you want to die a little. If someone brought a food truck to Main Street, they’d make a KILLING. (And if you plan to implement that idea, I’d like 10%.)
  3. Black ice. Everywhere. They manage to salt most of the ice to a point where you won’t slip and break yourself, but the black ice remains, and I found every single patch of it.
  4. SMOG. Holy guacamole, I had no idea that Salt Lake and Park City had such enormous air pollution issues. Because of where they’re situated below the mountains, all of the polluted air is basically trapped in those cities. Each day when you look out and across the skyline, it looks… hazy. Much like Los Angeles, but even worse. That’s air pollution. Really nuts.
  5. There are WEIRDOS who go to Sundance, aside from myself, but seriously strange folks. I met a man who brought his pet owl to just hang out in the middle of Main Street, another guy was wearing a fur jockstrap and nothing else, even though there was snow on the ground, and then there was the party of a film exec I went to, who required that all guests remove their shoes and leave them in the hallway outside of his penthouse.
  6. Everyone comes back from Sundance with the plague. For me, that plague was the flu. I’m still recovering. (Though, will I ever really recover?)
  7. I really really knew that I wanted to go to Sundance. Mainly because I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to know. And I have to say that while I didn’t know what to expect, it really exceeded all of my expectations. It was a festival unlike any other I’ve been too, and I had such an amazing time there.

Crossing #46 off of my bucket list has definitely made me feel like I can cross off a whole lot more this year. It’s not even the end of January, not really, so maybe there’s time for one more before the month ends… Either way, Sundance is a thing that I’m glad I was able to go to, and now I can say that I have!

Happy Caturday, From The Best British Cats Ever

Best British CatsThis little punny cat gem comes from artist Derlaine and her insanely entertaining blog. (My favorite is Daniel Catliffe.) She has a lot more cat art up, so definitely check it out.

Meow xoxo

The Problem With Being a Woman On Pay Day

In light of the fact that it’s the 15th of the month, this video about where and why all of those tax dollars get taken out of our paychecks seemed topical and important. Important in that I was fuming a bit over how much taxes get taken out, and this sort of calmed me down. Sort of. But not really.

The video is great though, because it really breaks down how much of your taxes go to which parts of the federal pie. It’s not that knowing all of that makes it easier to give part of your paycheck away, but more that at least you have a better sense of how the government is spending our money.Federal Spending HabitsThe problem with all of this is that as a woman, you’re getting a double whammy: a bunch of taxes being taken out of a paycheck that isn’t nearly the size of your male coworkers.

I think Bey said it best, so I’ll just let her do the explaining on that end:

Beyonce on Gender EqualitySomething to think long and hard about this pay day.

Baked Ziti That Will Wow Everyone (And It’s So Easy To Make!)

Need to feed a big crowd? And need something that will make people think you’re an awesome cook (even if you aren’t)?

My aunt Eileen’s baked ziti is one of those go-to recipes I always use when I’m trying to impress people for a few reasons:

  1. Because it’s so cheesy and delicious that I can’t even handle it. People will be licking the plate.
  2. It looks like one of those things that’s really hard to make and took you forever, when in reality it’s laughably simple.
  3. It almost tastes better as a leftover than when it’s fresh out of the oven.

Baked ZitiMy Aunt Eileen was an awesome cook. She passed away when I was younger, but to this day the only ziti recipe my mom and I ever make is Eileen’s. It’s perfect for large crowds, as you get 6-8 servings, and is seriously so good when you eat it cold out of the pan the next day. (I wish I was joking, but I’m not. I love cold ziti.)

I recently made this one night when I was feeling homesick and really needed something warm to just fill up on. I knew it was ziti that would make everything better, and it really, really did change my mood entirely.

So, if you’re looking to make something to wow your friends, or really just need a hearty meal, here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies:
  • 1 box of ziti noodles (I use Ronzoni!)
  • 1 jar of plain marinara sauce (you can also buy flavored sauces, or one that has basil/garlic/etc)
  • 16 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of white mushrooms
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Directions :
  • Heat a large pot of salted water until it boils. Add the box of ziti noodles and cook for 7 minutes, then strain. (It should be a little al dente.)
  • While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet add the olive oil and brown the pound of ground beef with the mushrooms, it should be 5-7 minutes.
  • In a large oven safe dish, add the cooked ziti, then the meat and mushroom mixture, and top it off with the sauce. Mix until it’s all well blended.
  • Miz in the mozzarella cheese, and add 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan.
  • Add ricotta cheese in very large clumps. Take a spoon, and spoon out a clump at a time. Whatever you do, just DON’T MIX it in. Let it sit in those clumps.
  • Cover the dish with tinfoil, and back for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Why Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas Is Worth A Visit

When I was visiting E and his family over the Christmas break, one of the places I really wanted to visit was the Dickson Street Bookshop.

Fayetteville is a small, college town, and there are only a few main drags of stores to explore. One of those streets is Dickson, which has quite a number of bars, and the book shop is smack in the middle of it.

I wanted to visit the shop because it specializes in out-of-print books, is one of those rare gems you definitely don’t see in Los Angeles, and most importantly, it’s been owned and operated by E’s dad since 1978.
Book Shop

This dapper man is E’s dad. He gets up very early and goes into the store every day to check inventory and sell books. Pretty cool dude, right?Dickson.jpg

There are so many beautiful editions of books that it was hard to capture them all, but I tried!Dickson Bookshop.jpg

And then there are the modern touches, like this little slice of Chuck Palahnuik heaven.Chuck Palahniuk

I really enjoyed the music section, mainly because of this “Stones” marker.Bookshelf Glory

Eoghan and Charles

E and his dad.

At one point Charles, that’s E’s dad, gave me a brown shopping bag and told me to “get whatever” I wanted. I felt like I was on an episode of Supermarket Sweep, where I’d have to just run through each and every aisle and try to dump as many books as I possibly could into my bag.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at the whole “endless options” thing. There were so many aisles, so many sections, and so many beautiful book spines to pet. I ended up wandering into the foreign aisle, and leaving with a bunch of Spanish language flashcards. (No joke.)Eoghan in Dickson Bookshop

Jack Kerouac

Man Booker prize winnersThe best part about this store is all of the independent touches. Unlike a Barnes & Noble or Borders (R.I.P.), every inch of this bookshop is unique. There are handwritten signs, little details, like the Man Booker prize winners, and a seemingly endless supply of witty New Yorker cartoons cut out and tacked to the wall like art.

It was such a special place, and really reminded me of the importance of supporting independent sellers. If you’re ever looking for an out-of-print title, or a unique gift to give someone that is truly one of a kind, Dickson Bookshop sells and ships all of its titles via Abe Books. (Lucky for all of us!)

Oh, except the Spanish language flashcards. Those came home with me.

Stuffed Peppers With Shredded Chicken, Couscous, and Mushrooms

Why the hell had I never made stuffed peppers before? Seriously, they are so easy, they look gorgeous, and when you cut into them, it’s like a pot pie, only without all the bread. They are amazing!

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

I decided to make these the other night for two reasons: 1) A friend once told me that peppers are good to eat when you’re sick, and I had a cold, 2) I’ve been eating so much pasta. So much. Like, I might actually be SICK of it right now. (It will pass, trust me, I’ll be back on the pasta train in no time.)

So, I had chicken breasts, two big peppers, and a couple of other things that I scrounged out of the cupboards. I don’t know how, but it all came out SUPER tasty and I will definitely be making these again. Based off of a few recipes I saw online, this is what I ended up using:

What you’ll need:
  • 2 bell peppers. I used red, but yellow or any other shade will do!
  • 1 shredded chicken breast.
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock (or 1/2 cup of water).
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
  • 1/2 cup of white mushrooms.
  • 1/2 cup of canned black beans.
  • 1 cup of couscous (I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat version, and it’s super easy to make).
  • 1/2 a lime.
  • 1/4 cup of shredded of thinly cut pepper jack cheese.
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red chili flakes
  • Hot sauce to taste
Directions :
  • Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over low to medium heat in a skillet. While that heats up, take out the chicken breast. Place the chicken breast in the skillet and coat it generously in salt and pepper. Let the chicken sit for five minutes on that one side, then flip the chicken over. Add the chicken broth and cover, keeping on medium heat, for 10 minutes. (It’s the exact same process I use for my shredded chicken salad.)
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the heat and let it cool for ten minutes.
  • While the chicken cools, make at least one cup of whole wheat couscous according to the directions on the box. (For Trader Joe’s, their serving size will give you more than one cup, which is great for leftovers.)
  • In a large pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Shred the chicken and toss it into the pan. Add a cup of couscous, the black beans, chopped onion, white mushrooms, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and a few shakes of hot sauce. Squeeze half of a lime over it all. Stir occasionally over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove all of the seeds from the inside.
  • Line a baking dish with tinfoil, place the topless peppers (LOL) on the foil, and fill them with the chicken skillet mixture. Really stuff them as full as you can. If you have leftovers, make sure to try a bite, because it will be damn good.
  • Top the peppers with the pepper jack cheese slices.
  • Bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns a little golden.

That’s it, now enjoy this protein rich meal! And you might want to bring a little extra hot sauce with you, in case you like a bigger kick.

 

The Problem With Getting Back Into A Fitness Routine

Griffith Park Bear

2013 was the year that I became incredibly lazy when it came to my health. The first half of the year was fine; I attended Bar Method classes regularly enough that I felt fit. I ate foods that were green. All of the things you need to tell yourself that you’re doing OK in life.

But the second half of the year… Holy guacamole did I give up on myself. Maybe “give up on myself” is too harsh of a sentence. It’s more like I stopped caring. Lost interest. Let myself stop going for runs. Slipped into a comfortable routine where each day was distinctly without a lack of exercise.

This is not like me at all. I’ve been working out, in one form or another, since I was seven. Whether that was soccer practice, or boxing classes — I was always an active kid. That’s not to say that I’ve been fit my whole life. I was fat in middle school. I know that I was fat, because people my age called me names, and my pediatrician told me that I might get diabetes if I didn’t get things under control.

Even when I was fat, though, I exercised. Clearly I didn’t exercise enough to change my body, but I was still active. And in high school, I joined cross country, which was arguably the most active I’ve ever been.

Cut to now: I’m turning 29 on Tuesday, and I can’t remember a solid week in the past 6 months where I was exercising regularly. It may not sound like a big deal, but it makes me feel… terrible, actually. Working out has always kept me level. If I’m having a bad day, I can go work out and feel like at least I accomplished a little something. I haven’t had that feeling of being leveled out in a long time.

Why has this happened? I don’t entirely know. I’ve been trying to figure it out myself over the past few weeks. I know that there have been a lot of mornings where I can either work out, or write more, and I have chosen to write more. And while E and I used to go for runs after work together, our work schedules have been conflicting enough where that hasn’t been able to happen. The drive home from work is too long. I’m tired. I will do it tomorrow. The list goes on.

I’m going to stop making excuses in 2014. That is a big resolution of mine. Working out and taking care of my body is going to become a priority again. If it comes down to working out or writing in the morning, I will work out, and write more at night. I’m going to get back into a routine that involves my fitness.

I made this resolution to myself yesterday before I went on a run. There’s this statue of a bear at the entrance to Griffith Park in Los Feliz. I see this bear everyday on my drive to work. Once, someone knit the bear a sweater, and when I drove past the bear was in a rainbow knit turtleneck.

Yesterday I ran for 20 minutes straight, and made it to that bear. It was a goal I’ve had since we moved here, and I made myself do it yesterday. Then I walked home from the bear, because I was exhausted. It was the first time I went for a run that lasted more than 10 minutes in a few months, and it felt insanely good.