Monday, January 31, 2011

A Visit from Ashley

Ashley stopped by a couple days ago, and he and Scarlett were not happy to see each other. Melly, as usual, seemed mostly curious about the neighbor cat.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just Hanging Out

I was sitting on the couch with Scarlett next to me when Melly hopped up to join us. Scarlett was surprisingly unfazed.

I love how teeny Melly looks in these pictures (she's really just farther from the camera) since it reminds me of when she was a kitten. Remember this?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lap Kitty

Geoff and I were eating breakfast when Melly hopped up into my lap. Shortly after that, Scarlett came into the kitchen, saw that my lap was occupied, and put her paws up on Geoff's leg (it's how she asks permission before hopping into a lap - she's very polite). Geoff said no, so Scarlett put her paws back down and mewed mournfully. Of course, Geoff relented and up she went.

He did use Scarlett's head as a mug rest, though. She was thrilled, as you can see.

Ah, that's better.

And in answer to yesterday's questions about what Melly was looking at out the window, I'm not sure. It was pretty early on Saturday morning, so there weren't any cars or people, and I didn't see any wildlife. She was really fascinated by whatever it was, though!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Laser Pointer

Laser pointer is the only game that the cats actually play together. It's pretty cute once they really get going: they take turns running laps of the hallway in pursuit of the red dot (of course they won't do this for the camera). Geoff is driving the laser pointer in the video, which is why the dot frequently appears in such places as inside shoes and on Melly's tail.

On another note: I finally updated the Friends of Scarlett and Melly blog list on the sidebar. If I've missed anyone, I'm sorry and please let me know!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trying Something New

I still have no pictures or videos ready to post but I do have an update: Melly has joined Facebook! (Scarlett is much too busy being dignified and sophisticated for such newfangled activities.) I just set her profile up a couple days ago and haven't done much with it yet, but if you or your kitties are on Facebook, I'm sure Melly would love it if you friended her. Click here for the link to her profile.

Happy weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in the Kitchen

I have fallen behind on my feline documentation recently as I have spent the past few evenings in the kitchen making:
  • chicken stock
  • chicken salad
  • chai concentrate
  • ginger ale
  • ginger muffins
So instead of containing cat pictures, today's post is a very wordy one about food.

Chicken Stock & Salad

This was my first time making stock, so it was something of an adventure (the salad was pretty straight forward). I used the carcasses of two roast chickens, one of which still had to be stripped of its meat, and I spent a whole evening pretty much up to my elbows in chicken parts. Of course this was of great interest to the cats - Melly sat on top of the kitchen garbage can the whole time I was cooking, and Scarlett skulked about doing her best to look hungry. Given that the entire apartment - and possibly the whole building - smelled of their favorite food, it really was only fair that they be allowed to partake, so I gave them some plain chicken for their dinners.

Now on to the fun stuff!

Chai Concentrate

Chai lattes are one of my favorite beverages, but a lot of coffee shops make them way too sweet or too spicy (and the chai at one local shop tastes oddly of apple). I've experimented a bit with making my own chai mix but didn't have much luck until yesterday, when I tried this recipe, found on the Tasty Kitchen blog. Next time I will double up on the cinnamon and cut the ginger and vanilla (I already halved the sugar), but even without those modifications, the batch I made is so good. I will never go back to store-bought chai!

Ginger Ale

I got a big piece of ginger root since I was using it for both the muffins and the chai, and ended up with just enough left over to make a single glass of homemade ginger ale. First, I made a ginger syrup, then after cooling it, mixed it in a glass with some ice and club soda. I am a big fan of ginger sodas, from Canada Dry to those fancy organic ginger beers, but this is the best one I've ever had. Next time I'll make a bigger batch!

Here's how to make the syrup:
Mince a bulb of fresh ginger (leave the peel on), either by hand or in a food processor. In a saucepan, combine the minced ginger with granulated sugar and water in a 1:1:3 ratio. Bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for an hour. Strain out the solids, and let it cool.
Ginger Muffins

This recipe sounds a little strange since it involves fresh ginger with the peel left on, but since the blogger herself admitted the peculiarity of this and still insisted the muffins were worth trying, I decided to go for it. I am glad I did! They are seriously tasty.

Here's the recipe:
Marion Cunningham’s Fresh Ginger Muffins
Adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from The Breakfast Book

Before you get started, make sure your ginger is washed very thoroughly. I used the scrubbing brush I normally use for potatoes to make sure I got all the dirt off.

One piece of unpeeled ginger root, a little less than 3 ounces
¾ cup plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
Zest from two large lemons (~2 Tbsp)
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin.

Cut the unpeeled ginger root into large chunks. If you have a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces; alternatively, mince by hand. Measure out ¼ cup – or a little more, if you like. It’s better to have too much than too little. Put the ginger and ¼ cup sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. Don’t walk away from the pan: this takes only a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add to the ginger mixture.

In a large bowl, beat the butter slightly to break it up, then add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat well. Add the buttermilk, and beat until blended. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat just until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture, and beat to mix well. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Snuggles

I was clearing off my camera's memory card when I found a few more pictures of the cats at Geoff's house.

This is Melly's sphinx pose. She crosses her paws while she does it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sharing the Dresser, Part II

On Saturday, I saw for myself!

As a couple of you pointed out, Scarlett and Melly are pretty grumpy about sharing this prime spot. But hey, I'll take it - at least they're interacting peacefully! And it's not just limited to the dresser: Scarlett spent all last night curled up next to me, which she always used to do in our pre-Melly years. (Melly herself spent at least part of the night sleeping by my feet.) It's the first time Melly has left Scarlett alone for so long - normally they have sparring matches and repeatedly kick each other off the bed.

By the way, did I tell you what Geoff got the cats for Christmas?

If you're getting a warm and fuzzy feeling at the thought of Geoff buying them Christmas presents, well, I had that same feeling too.

Until I found out that he got them squirt bottles.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sharing the Dresser

About a week ago, I happened to catch Scarlett and Melly snoozing on the dresser at the same time. I was surprised and excited to see them sharing the space and immediately pointed them out to Geoff, who was unimpressed and said, "oh, they do that all the time." Well then.

A couple of days later, Geoff emailed these pictures to me at work.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you ever seen a panting cat?

I have to say, it's one of the stranger things I've witnessed. They make the same sort of sound that dogs do, but it's much quieter and there's no lolling tongue.

The first time I saw a cat pant was when Sarah (the wonderful pet sitter) came to drop off my keys. She also brought a feather wand that she said Melly had loved during her visits. I wasn't surprised, as it's no ordinary feather wand: it has a whippy handle that's three feet long attached to a string of equal length, with a large bundle of feathers at the end. Sarah gave a demonstration, using the flexible handle and long string to make the feathers fly around in a convincingly bird-like manner, and of course, Melly went bananas. Eventually she was sprawled out on the couch, panting hard.

These photos are from Sarah's visit and were taken by Geoffrey.

After watching Melly zip around the room in pursuit of the feathers, Scarlett eventually joined in. Since she is usually thoroughly unimpressed by feather wands (after all, she has caught a real bird), it was fun to see her batting at the toy and chomping the string.

That's me Scarlett's looking at. It was a very "Mooom, tell her it's my turn" sort of look.

Sarah generously allowed me to keep the toy, and I've been using it with the cats regularly. It's taken me a few tries to figure out how best to maneuver the feathers, but I had Melly panting today after about 20 minutes, so I think I have the hang of it! Next time Geoff is here I will ask him to take some video - it's hard to get the full, hilarious effect in still photos.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Laundry Hamper

This is my portable laundry hamper. Its framework is a large metal spring, so the whole thing bounces and sways at the slightest touch. Last time I was doing laundry, Melly couldn't resist it.

Of course, since the whole thing is a giant spring, getting out proved problematic for our intrepid explorer kitty. She tried several times to jump out, but the hamper moved with her as she leaped, and she was thwarted.

Eventually, she realized that the trick was to throw herself against the inside of the hamper, thereby knocking it over so she could crawl out.

As it turns out, a sideways hamper is just as fun.

Thanks for your furminator reviews and advice! Given the amount of hair I've gotten off Scarlett alone, I'm already a fan, but I'll give a more complete review after I've used it for a few weeks and have a better idea of its effectiveness.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scarlett Purrs

When Scarlett wants attention, she starts to purr before seeking it so that by the time she has settled herself in my lap or started head-butting my hand, her motor is going full bore. If I approach her, she starts purring as soon as she notices that attention is imminent.

Here's a recording.

In other news, I got a furminator yesterday to deal with Scarlett's shedding. Scarlett is not normally a fan of brushing, but both she and Melly (who doesn't shed nearly as much as Scarlett does) seem to actually like this new device. And I have now brushed out enough fur to make a third cat.

Do any of you use a furminator? How often do you brush your cat with it? Do you like it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Bird TV

Melly and Scarlett kept a very close eye on the birds outside the window, and both of them did that chirping, chittering thing that cats sometimes do when prey is in sight. It was the first time I'd heard Melly do it, and since her meow is pretty squeaky already, her chirping was very high-pitched and adorable.

[chirp, chitter, squeak]

"Hey, Scarlett, you're scaring the birds. Leave this to me!"

"Hm, something smells interesting. Bugs, perhaps."

[sniff, sniff]

"You are scaring the birds too, Human. Begone."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On the Window Sill

This window sill is Melly's favorite spot in the condo, whether the curtains are open...

... or not.

The trees outside are often visited by chickadees and one especially loud blue jay, which Melly very much enjoys watching.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Change of Scenery

Thanks for all those lovely birthday wishes for Melly yesterday! We had a nice little party with treats and catnip and playing.

The kitties and I went to Geoff's last weekend. The cats don't much care for the road trip, but they love Geoff's condo because there are lots of snuggly places to nap and big sunny windows. I took tons of pictures which I will share over the next few days.

Scarlett's favorite spot is on the corner of the bed, which is high enough to provide a good view of the surrounding room and is right by both the heater and the window.

I couldn't resist.

After a while, Scarlett got a little annoyed by my incessant picture-taking.

But she was pacified by many pets and snuggles. Mostly.