Friday, April 29, 2011

He's Gigantic!

 At least to us he seems gigantic. We've had Pepin for a month and a half now and in that time he has gone from just over 2lb. to a whopping 4.5lb. It's hard to tell he's bigger when he curls up, but if he stretches out, you can tell how much he's grown. 

In some ways, he is a very strange kitty:

He insists on being at least at eye level with the counter when we are cooking in the kitchen, even if that means sitting on our shoulders or in this case, tucked into the hood of my sweatshirt. 
Please ignore the 6:30am version of me in the picture.

He sometimes sleeps at my feet, similar to a dog.

And if you look at Lolcats at all, you'll know what I mean when I say that he vastly prefers to be held "monorail cat" style.

In many ways though, Pep is most certainly a cat:

Upon receiving some cosymakes yarn in the mail, he proceeded to make it absolutely impossible for me to get any knitting accomplished.

He's found his way up on to the mantel, using our bottle of used corks as his own personal toy dispenser and putting our "fine crystal" (haha!) in danger. We've since remedied the problem by both installing a deterrent (double-sided tape) and getting rid of his way up (a.k.a. our TV that he would jump from is now dead, and will be replaced next week with a flat screen that he hopefully can't balance on to use as a jumping-off point).

Pep has also taken to attacking my houseplants. You can barely see it in this picture but he had already taken a chomp out of the bottom right leaf (the plant has since been moved to higher ground). And fittingly, this reminds me of a little ceramic cat that my grandma has hanging off of the side of one of her houseplants.

Pep also loves to play, mostly by attacking our arms. Thankfully he is quite gentle, never using his claws but we are occasionally bitten a bit too hard.

And he talks and complains almost constantly. Especially with a Siamese cat, you can never, ever do anything right. *sigh*

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Our little family of three had a nice, lazy Easter Sunday this year. We started the morning opening our Easter basket (bag) filled with Highland chocolates and Jelly Belly jellybeans. Pep even got a bag of treats in the bag but as per usual, he was much more interested in the packing materials than the actual gift.

So, we spent most of the morning with the crinkling of paper and occasionally we would see a freaked-out blur of yellow speed by when a claw or tooth got stuck.

After a delicious brunch consisting of an asparagus and goat cheese omlett (sounds yummy, huh Mom?), cappuccinos, and bloody marys we spent a good few hours playing Pep's favorite game of "stalk and pounce". (Sorry for the poor photo quality.)

We then dyed eggs and hid them for each other.

And at dinner time we made this amazing Roast Leg of Lamb with Tarragon-Mint Butter, roasted-garlic smashed potatoes and salad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I can get used to early planting times in the Midwest!

I seem motivated to blog lately! So motivated, in fact, that I spent a few hours this morning figuring out how to stitch together photos in Pixelmator (something I have been meaning to figure out for oh, maybe a year now) just to show you all how much my lovely balcony garden has grown. 

I mentioned in the post about my family's visit that while Mom, Grandma and I were at the Botanical Gardens enjoying all of the pretty colors, my dad stayed home to build me a balcony-wide planting box. 

Not only did he befriend the local lumber yard owners while buying the supplies, but he also managed to convince a man working at a Catepelar store to use his torch to bend the brackets you see holding the box up in the photo (originally simple L brackets) so they could wrap around the bottom of the planter box and up over the balcony railing.

Many of the plants on the balcony were herbs planted in pots and other railing boxes that were already here and they are all doing splendidly. 

But we also planted some plants from seeds to fill the planter box and some other spaces in the other railing boxes and despite some lack of sun (which will be aided come summer when the sun is higher in the sky), and a ridiculous amount of rainfall, they are all doing amazingly well!

The "before" pictures were taken just a few days after my family left and the "after" pictures were taken yesterday (just two weeks later).

 Leaf lettuce: I'm going to need to start pulling some micro-greens for salads here soon.

Radishes and Scallions: look at those babies go!

Sage (not really important) and Cucumbers (really, French Cornichon seeds that we kind of snuck through customs on our way back): These took awhile but I'm happy to see some sprouting.

Lavender (not important) and more Cucumbers: same as before, but this pot actually has all three cucumber seeds sprouting as of today!

I have lots more going on out on the balcony that I'll be sure to update you on, but for now, keep your fingers crossed for me that no natural disasters or my black thumb cause any damage.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have a seat

 Our four dining room chairs are done (2 more to come soon) so I thought I'd give some insight into the process.

 Step 1: acquire your clean, unfinished furniture, fresh from the store
Step 2: (not shown) disassemble, making sure to number each chair and seat so they fit together afterward

Step 3: apply primer to avoid nicks to heavily used furniture

Step 4: make a huge mess out of your living/dining rooms while everything is stained and painted

Step 5: re-assemble and enjoy the view

Step 6: sit and eat!
Step 7: buy two more chairs and repeat steps 1-6

Monday, April 25, 2011

We didn't sit down for a minute...(cont)

My parents and Grandma set out on the 800+ mile drive on that Friday morning. The original plan was to stay the night along the way and arrive Saturday afternoon. I called it though, I told Michael the night before to expect a phone call saying that they were just going to tough it out and drive straight through on Friday. And the phone call came, happily, meaning one more day with the crew all here.

As you can see, Pep warmed up to the visitors quickly.

I'm not sure what we did on Saturday...I think we were a bit lazy, which was understandable for those who had spent 12.5 hours in the truck on the previous day. We did however manage to get out of the house and to the grocery store to pick up dinner supplies and tulips to adorn the table for our first meal at it.

Everyone is smiling in this picture but really, they are probably cringing from the pain of sitting on seatless chairs since up until this point, we still only had one solid chair that included a seat (Grandma is sitting on that one).

Sunday morning we hopped in the car and headed out MO rt100 towards the wine region. Grandma claims she was falling over from exhaustion in this picture but I think she was just being camera-shy.

Here's the group taking a tour of the wine cellars at Stone Hill Winery in Branson, MO.

And here we are during the post-tour wine-tasting. We cut Grandma off at this point (kidding...kidding).

I don't know what we did up until the afternoon on Monday but when Michael got off of work we met at an unfinished furniture store to fill out our dining room set with some chairs (with seats). We bought four for now and plan to get two more in the near future (although, since our TV just crapped out, I don't know when we'll be able to afford two more chairs).

I'll post more on the finishing process in another post.

Anyway, on Tuesday, we realized that our hometown Pirates were in town playing the Cardinals and get this: the Pirates had won the previous night's game against the Cards!

Sadly, the Cardinals won this game (but lost the next night's), but we did have a great time with a great view. I am anxious to go to another game to cheer for the Cards. I really tried at this game, but I just couldn't bring myself to root against the Pirates.

On Wednesday we loaded up into the truck and drove across the Mississippi river into Illinois to visit the Cahokia Indian Mounds.

Here we are at the top (Grandma didn't bother, there were lots of steps up). Dad and I may look a little tired. This was taken seconds after we raced up the stairs. Unfortunately Michael wasn't able to come along on this trip since he had to work. (boo.)

We may have been miles away but from the (relatively) high viewpoint on top of the mound, we were able to pick out the arch in the distance.

On our way back from the Mounds we stopped off at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

The walls, ceilings, floors, everything is covered with 41.5 million mosaic pieces.

Coincidentially, after posting these photos to facebook I was told by Michael's Aunt Susie that "Many of these were done by the Frei Studio or Ravena (sp) Mosiacs...Joe's (Michael's Uncle Joe, that is) grandfather's/great-grandfather's company."

We have an exciting familial St. Louis claim to fame.

I particularly loved the red on the ceiling in this chapel, made to symbolize the blood of Christ.

And in this chapel we have the Cardinal hats, left to hang until they turn to dust. Literally.

After the day's excitement, Mom and I did more work on the chair we had been caning all week while Pep drank our cane soaking water.

On Thursday, while dad whipped up a balcony planter box for us, Mom, Grandma and I hit up the botanical gardens. There was much more color on this visit.

It looked as if an Easter basket had exploded.

I love tulips.

We visited the local gardening center at the Botanical gardens so I could drool over the raised bed gardens,

And the cold boxes.

And on Friday we hit up the free (with the exception of the 12.50 parking pass, unless you want to walk 1 mile for free parking, which is what we did) Zoo where we had the pleasure of seeing some incredible birds,

A tiger losing his lunch,

This rather large giraffe,

Pairs of penguins,

And an elephant coating himself in mud to stay cool. (I missed this one, I was busy fetching the truck from a mile away.)

And after the swealtering heat (something like 85°) at the Zoo, we were in need of some lunch and cold beer, so we headed off to Schlafly Bottleworks. After an excellent lunch we took the tour and...

(You guessed it!)...tasted!

And on their last night here we ordered take out BBQ from one of the highest rated St Louis BBQ joints and spent the evening finishing up the chair.

And we moved this beautiful family piece to it's final placement and filled it with all of our (mostly wonderful hand-me-down) china. I forgot to mention earlier that this China cabinet, my Grandparents' (first belonging to my Grandpa's parents) China cabinet, came with my family in the truck so that we wouldn't have to keep all of our special dishes in boxes in the corner of the dining room. Thanks again Grandma!

And thanks to all three of you for the visit, we had a wonderful time!