Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Top 5 Cat Toys

5. Furry / Feathered Mice

Dangling these in front of Nomnom will usually elicit a batting of the paw, and sometimes we catch a butt wiggle then pounce after the fake critters.



4. Crazy Circle

I didn't expect this toy to work as well as it does. I bought it for Nomnom to have something to play with when I'm not home. My boyfriend and I have been gone a lot more than we used to be. It didn't take long for her to become interested. Sometimes she just sits on top of it.


3. Electronic Bug Toy

This was definitely worth $12 to see kitty go bonkers. It's a plastic bug with wings that flap when you press a button. It's on a wire on a plastic wand,and you can swing the bug around and make it buzz through the air. Nomnom would chase me all over the apartment.

Downsides: the toy is cheaply made and the plastic wings fly off. You have to find them on the ground and snap them back in. Some super glue might have taken care of this, but we played with toy so much that Nomnom bit through the wires. The lifespan of the toy was only a few months, and the toy is made from all plastic so this toy loses points for being bad for the environment.



2. The Laser Pointer

Oh Holy Laser Pointer, I pray to thee. It's really hard to beat the laser pointer when it comes to kitty crazy-ness. When we first got Nomnom, this is the only toy that would really make her run around, until we got Da Bird . . .



1. Da Bird



This is the best cat toy EVER! It's just a feather on a wand, but it's amazing. All you do is wave it around. Nomnom goes bananas for 'Da Bird. She will chase it, jump 4 feet in the air for it, jump off of walls/doors for it, sit on it, and run off with the feather in her teeth. It requires no batteries and the feathers are replace-able. All of the other toys pale in the shadow of 'Da Bird.

On a side note, they recently changed the design of the wand, and it is now made of two separate parts that connect. They don't connect well, and a little super glue will permanently connect them. The new design works better and is easier to take home / ship, but I was irritated that I had to "fix" my brand new thing with super glue.

Below is a photo of Nomnom in mid-air going after 'Da Bird.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dragonfruit

My boyfriend brought me a treat recently, a beautiful dragonfruit. The fruit itself was about half a pound, and cost $7! Other ones at the store were nearly a pound, a single fruit for $14.

Upon first inspection the fruit reminded me of a technicolor pineapple.



When you slice open the dragon fruit, it reveals a hot pink interior, peppered with black seeds. Pink with black polka-dots, like a dress from the 80's.



The taste is bright and buttery like a papaya or a guava, and the texture is like a kiwi, firm but yielding easily to chewing, not crispy like an apple. The black seeds have a little crunch just like a kiwi.



Dragonfruit is also called "pitaya". They are native to Mexico, Central and South America, but are also cultivated in parts of Asia. Some varities have white interior flesh with black seeds. Looking at the pictures on Wikipedia, it appears that the dragonfruit we shared was from Costa Rica.

Recently on Top Chef, one of the finalists used Dragonfruits to make the desert in his final challenge. It was a spin on the Singapore Sling. He hollowed out the dragonfruit, put coconut on the bottom of the fruit, and layered fruit macerated in a singapore sling cocktail in it. It looked delicous, surprising and refreshing.

I loved trying the dragonfruit, next on my list . . . mangosteens.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Integrity vs. Performance

When shopping for home and body products, I continually struggle to find products that possess both integrity and the ability to perform.

A couple of examples where I find it challenging to satisfy both desires:

1. Toothpaste
I'm sorry. Tom's of Maine just doesn't work that well. Plus, I get self-concious about my teeth getting yellow, and I don't trust anything natural to be able to whiten as well as the synthetic stuff.

2. Deodorant
Again Tom, I"m sorry. Your deodorant just doesn't work that well. I've tried a few other natural deodorants, and they are pretty similar. I admit it. I really, really like anti-perspirant, enough that so that even when I think about the parabens and the cancer forming under my armpits, I'm still happy that I'm not sweating. If someone could invent a powerful natural antiperspirant that doesn't stain my clothes, I'd be first in line to buy it.

3. Styling products (gel, hair spray, mousse, etc)
The synthetic hold of drugstore / salon hair products is hard to beat. I've tried a few natural hair products, and they were all super sticky on my hands and sort of crunchy. I've been using Aveda products, but I don't think of those as natural. I think of those as smelling very nice through the help of SOME natural ingredients.

4. Eye Cream
I have dark circles under my eyes, and I see the wrinkles and crows feet looming around my eyes. I recently purchased a drug store eye cream with retinol and oh my gosh, it makes such a difference. For the first time, I started to understand the appeal of botox. Is there anything natural out there that would caffeinate my skin cells with the same effect? Unlikely.

5. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Nasty grimy brown toilet rim, I spray you with Ecover toilet bowl cleaner, and you smell better but you don't look any better. Do I need to use bleach? Are you going to make me?

6. Shower tile/grout cleaner
For day to day, I think it's fine to use natural cleaning products on your tub and tile, but when you move out of an apartment, things need to sparkle and they need to be white. I think of Lois Gibb's children dying as I use Dow Scrubbing bubbles and I feel bad, very very bad. Will anything natural out there kill mildew and mold?

Products I have no problem with

1. Dish soap.
Ecover rocks my socks off. I heard that it took years to develop their formula. The suds, the smell, the price, I'm in domestic Whole Foods bliss.

2. Body Soap
My skin doesn't react that much to different soaps. It doesn't take much to de-stink me. I generally pick bar soap. It lasts long, and you can often buy it without a wrapper or handmade from your local farmer's market.

3. Recycled paper towels.
They do the same sopping as their virgin counterparts. I don't need the bounty strength for most jobs. I know rags are better, but emergency spills and super nasty cleaning jobs (like the trash can) are perfect for the natural paper towels.

I do my best to "vote with my dollar," but sometimes I break down when the conventional stuff just-works-better. There is a really great salon article written by a woman who had to resort to lots of DIY stuff because her husband decided to take a lower paying job. The article "I am a Radical Homemaker Failure," discusses things topics like baking your own bread or reusing containers. All of this nice when you have the ability to make the choice, but at the end of the day, she was tired and if she had the choice, she would have taken the fat 401K and the disposables.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ideals vs. Budget

I suffered a consumer dilemma today at Whole Foods buying trash bags. I want to buy more environmentally sound trash bags. The Seventh Generation 55% recycled plastic trash bags were $5.49 for 30 trash bags. The compostable trash bags were $5.99 for 12! I want to buy the compostable ones. This burned me inside, but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't pay $6 for only 12 trash bags. I bought the Seventh Generation bags, knowing that they were still made of virgin plastic, but needing some compromise between my ideals and my budget.

The other day I had similar dilemma buying eggs. I ran to the organic food grocery store near my house for eggs, and outside the cooler where the eggs are kept, a chart was taped to the freezer door. The chart detailed the treatment of the chickens at all of the places the eggs came from. I checked out the chart noting that only three of the available dozen or so brands of eggs could state that they didn't snip the beaks off their birds. I scanned the cooler for the three brands that left the chicken beaks intact. $8.50 for a dozen eggs! I stewed over this fact. I wanted to buy them, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $8.50 on a dozen eggs when I struggle so hard for my money. What to do? I compromised and purchased organic fed eggs for $4.50.

I see the internal battle with myself to choose the small organic products that I desire and admire vs my ability to financially stomach big organic. One step at a time I hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Purple


Some colors simply look better on me than others despite how much I may love the colors that look awkward on me (Mustard yellow, some oranges). One of the colors I have come to the conclusion that is favorable is purple, which I have resisted, but think it's time to embrace purple in all of it's new age aura. I found a beautiful purple scarf at Gravel and Gold the other day by Paula Frazer Handwoven, but wasn't able to pick it up that day. I hope something similar will be there when I can go back. Purple is such a bold color. I think it works most fabulously on accessories.

I did a search on Etsy for purple items and I came up with this bizarre painting of corgis around a campfire. Not wearable.


And by request:

Blog Spam

I've been getting a lot of comment spam and it is completely lame. Where do these bots come from? Who is behind them? Who writes the program for a spam bot, and how do they sleep at night? I do however hope that this entry gets spammed, so that I can take a little pleasure in the irony.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Buttermilk Cheese


I saw the recipe for buttermilk cheese on the Kitchen. The post on the Kitchen linked to a feature and video about the Cheese from Martha Stuart Living. (The video was helpful!) The recipe is from the Lee Bros. and a book called Simple Fresh Southern. It looked so easy, I decided to try it. There are only three ingredients in the recipe: buttermilk, whole milk and salt. You put all three in a pan, heat on medium high heat for around 8-10 minutes, and then the curds start to form. I wasn't sure what they would look like, but all of a sudden, the curds come from underneath the surface of the water and grow like lumpy white storm clouds.

I put the mixture in cheese cloth over a colander. I cut the cheese cloth small and had to put it all in a smaller colander to make it work. The whey drains out and you squeeze the cheese cloth gently to get more whey out.

I tried the cheese while it was warm. The texture is like cottage cheese with fine curds and the cheese was salty. It would be great to have it warm in the morning. The recipe says you can add lemon zest, pepper or dry herbs. I'm looking forward to eating it on toast tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Biggins' the Chicken

Last night, my bf showed me how to cut up a chicken. We started by removing the wishbone, slicing down the sides of the sternum and then we popped the joints of the legs and sliced them off. It was more a watch and learn experience for me, but I got some hands on time slicing through the joints and feeling out the wishbone. (Click here for a Chow.com video demonstrating the process).

We bought our chicken from whole foods for $1.99 / lb. and we got about a 4-5 lb chicken that ended up costing about $8.88. The chicken appeared very large to me so I named him Biggins' (which co-incedentally is the name of the nudie magazine that Al Bundy reads in Married with Children).

Once Biggins' was chopped up, he(she?) was marinated in olive oil, paprika, cumin, honey, soy, red wine vinegar and garlic.



Biggins' journey continued into a cast iron skillet where he was braised with crushed tomatoes, parsnips, yams, mushrooms, and red wine with the help of some bacon grease for browning. My boyfriend did most of the cooking and I watched in wonder. Biggins braised for close to an hour, and then was served with shaved horse-radish on top. Wow!



I'm eating the chicken as leftovers tonight. That's 4 filling delicious meals for around $20.00 give or take. I can see how meals can get cheaper when you're know what you're doing. The meat that was cut apart at the butcher cost about 3-4 times as much per pound. It always seems like you pay more in time or money.
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