Pippa, Lady of Leisure

We got Pippa after Lucy, the greatest cat in the world, died at only a few months old. Pippa is named after a statue of a character in a poem called Pippa by Robert Browning. Pippa (the character) goes on a walk through the woods and encourages everyone. And I needed encouragement. Only Pippa (the cat), she’s not so encouraging. 

What can I say, I love her anyway. Charlie gets more camera time. Mostly because he’s always sleeping in an absurdly cute, otter-like position. Pippa’s mostly on the move or in a bad mood, so she doesn’t get a lot of pictures.

So in the spirit of cat parent equality and because I’m mad at Charlie right now because he keeps pooping in the garage, here is a glimpse at Pippa’s routine.

BTW – Many of these are phone pictures and aren’t exactly up to my normal quality standards.

Pippa Cuddles into Things

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Like the bed.

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And things she’s not allowed to touch. Like my curtains.

Pippa Attacks

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Run for your lives, all you broken cardboard coat hangers..and other such villains.

Pippa Achieves the Perfect Temperature

Accidental Okie Pippa Life 2Doesn’t she  look abused, mistreated, malnourished and unloved? Yeah, I thought so too.

Accidental Okie Pippa Life 14Oops. Too hot. Time to cool off.

Pippa Protects Her Turf

Accidental Okie Pippa Life 1This is my place of leisure! Move on knave!

Pippa Tolerates Charlie

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Doesn’t she look happy? She really is his protector. It’s actually quite sweet. I have to give Charlie baths with the bathroom door closed because if I don’t, Pippa comes in and bites my legs in an attempt to free him.

Pippa, Blogging Assistant

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Need to do an important photo shoot? Are ribbons involved? If so, Pippa’s your gal. She’s always ready to help with the blog.

Pippa Engages in Trench Warfare

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This is her reenacting one of World War I’s lesser-known battles, Battle of Shirt Drawer.

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Cat or secret agent? Now she’s looking innocent while waiting for the right moment to attack. Or fall asleep. One of the two.

Pippa, Roofer

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Last winter Pippa discovered the roof. It’s her own little kitty playground since Charlie isn’t athletic enough to jump from the fence to the roof. Or the ground to the fence. Charlie is firmly planted on the ground. 

I always know she’s found something good when I hear footsteps racing above my head.

Accidental Okie Pippa Life 13All clear!

Pippa Hunts Birds

Accidental Okie Pippa Life 10It was all fun and games until she actually caught one. She didn’t know what to do with it and just carried it around the yard for an hour. Don’t worry, it was dead. I checked. Now the birds have a vendetta. They dive bomb and harass her. Just like Alfred Hitchcock predicted, the hunter has become the hunted.

So that’s Pippa’s life of leisure. Are you as jealous of it as I am? 

My Hero

It’s no secret that The Professor and I have cats.

There’s Pippa.  She’s the oldest.  We got her after our four-month old kitty Lucy tragically escaped and was hit by a car.  We named her Pippa after a poem by Robert Browning about a girl named Pippa who goes on a long walk and encourages everyone she meets.  We needed encouragement and a fostered little kitten was sure to fit the bill.

Except Pippa apparently actually means pissy, because Pippa is the pissiest little cat I’ve ever had.  Just like how in the arctic in the summer when there’s flowers blooming and birds chirping, but the ground is still in a state of permafrost, Pippa is always somewhere on the annoyed spectrum.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comHere’s she’s sleeping on The Professor’s leg on a road trip. (Yes, our cats travel with us like dogs).  This is her begrudgingly happy face.

There’s only one exception to Pippa’s mood, and that’s when she’s warm…or, well, in need of warmth.  Her affection level is directly related to how cold she is, and how warm she wants to be.  I feel loved.  I feel used.  Mostly, I feel loved.

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Charlie, on the other hand.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comHis full name is Charles Bingly George Warren, and he’s an oaf.  He spends his days begging for food, collecting cylindrical objects from around the house – straws, razor blades, The Professor’s tooth brush, drain plugs – and sleeping on his back whilst loudly snoring.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comAnd despite being on a strict diet, he’s so fat that he can’t properly clean himself…ahem….down there.  So he gets frequent baths.

I have to lock Pippa out of the bathroom during Charlie’s baths because, hearing his plaintive cries, she gets protective and starts biting my legs to let him go.

On to my hero.  That is The Professor.  For Christmas, he got me the greatest gift in the whole world: a cat door.  Yes people, our cat litter is in the garage!  Hallelujah!

cats | www.accidentalokie.comHe bought a kit from Lowes.  We had to buy a “big cat door” to accommodate Charlie’s girth.  This is especially sad seeing that Charlie is not even a year old.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comNext off came the door – the only one in our house not yet painted.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comWe traced the pattern on to the door, which was laying on a work table.  And he used a power drill to cut through the door.  It is a double layer solid door, so we had to match up the template to the other side and repeat.

cats | www.accidentalokie.comThe idea is that you screw the edges and the door pops out.  Hurray!  It worked.

I couldn’t take pictures of the rest of the steps, as I was laying on the ground in the garage, holding one side of the door in place while The Professor screwed in cat door on the other side.  About 10 minutes later, we were done!

It took a little coaxing with treats for the kitties to accept their door, but within about ten minutes, Charlie had mastered it.cats | www.accidentalokie.comPippa, the suspicious cat that she is, chose to only look through it and attack Charlie when he tried to cross.  You shall not pass!

By the end of the day, they were both pros.

Every day I thank The Professor for what has to be the greatest gift ever…no more cat litter in the house!

Thanksgiving Superlatives

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Who else is still wearing (or longing to be wearing) stretchy pants?  Because I am.

Thanksgiving day was good and busy.  The Professor and I drove down to Dallas to my parents’ house who hosted Thanksgiving.  It was a small group – my parents, The Professor and me, one of my best friends Alex and her mom, and my grandparents, Grandmommy and Grandaddy.  My sister Jackie was in Massachusetts visiting her boyfriend.

Here’s all the girls.  On a related note, I’ve decided to grow out my bangs.  They never stay where I want them to.

Thanksgiving used to always be at Grandmommy’s, but a few months ago she declared she was too old to host Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth from my cousins and me, but we will get through it together.

All in all, it was a great day.  We ate a lot.  Cooked a lot.  Laughed a lot.  Watched a lot of football.  Did some Black Friday shopping.  The day was too busy to take step-by-step pictures of our recipes.  Instead, I present to you the inaugural Accidental Okie’s Thanksgiving Superlatives.

And just so you don’t think I’m infallible, we’ll start with this one:

Most Failed: Unset Pecan Pie

I’m not sure what happened.  Well, that’s not true.  I do.  I know exactly what happened.  I didn’t cook it long enough, and also had the broiler on for a few minutes to toast the Brussels sprouts, making the pie look deceptively done.  So we pulled it out.  It wasn’t set.  Like really not set.  So we scooped it with a spoon and ate it anyways.  We’re courageous like that.

Best New Side: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving

Did you know Brussels sprouts were Julia Child’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish?  My parents bought some on the stalk, so we made them instead of green beans.  They were delightful, and made me realize what I dislike so much about Thanksgiving food: everything is sweet.  Sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, carb-centric stuffing and mashed potatoes, rolls and desserts.  Having the slightly bitter Brussels sprouts brought perfect balance to the meal.

We made a variation on the Barefoot Contessa’s roasted Brussels sprouts, only I broiled them hot and fast for about 15 minutes, flipping them a few times, and I cut every one of them in half, no matter how small the sprouts.  The inside of the sprouts get delightfully crisp and yummy.

Best Extra: Citrus Plate for Water and Tea

This was one of those things I did while things were baking and I had some down time.  If I had been in a hurry, they would have been dumped in a bowl, but doing them ahead allowed me to make them oh so pretty.  There were oranges for the iced tea and lemons and limes for the ice water.  Everyone loved them, and snacked on the oranges.   It was a win-win-win.

Most improved: My Stuffing Recipe

I changed my stuffing recipe up a bit this year, and I loved the results.  I halved the corn bread to just one batch, doubled the celery, used a whole pint of sliced mushrooms and a whole bag of Craisins.

Most Likely to Change Your Life: Pomegranate Hazelnut Fall Salad

I made my pomegranate hazelnut vinaigrette salad dressing.  It was so scrumptious atop a salad of romaine lettuce, pomegranate seeds, pepitas (peeled pumpkin seeds), and ribbons of shaved Parmesan cheese.  I ate more salad than anything during dinner.  On a related note, I had more room for cake.

Worst Timing: Um, Everything

Okay, someone enlighten me.  What is your strategy for getting oven things cooked while the bird hogs the oven for hours and hours?

Best Averted Disaster: Kitty Thanksgiving 

My mom and I were stuffing the bird while my dad worked on one of the other dishes.  The Professor was doing one of six loads of dishes of the day.  I look away from the turkey for a second because a strange movement catches my eye.  And what do I see?  Lyla, my sister’s cat, running from the dining room, through the kitchen and to the garage.  With a flopping bird in her mouth.

Everyone dropped what they were doing and we all descended on Lyla, shooing her outside the house.  She saw this and tried to make a break – very alive bird still in her mouth – to the stairs.  We caught her, got her in the garage, and she lost grip of the bird, who promptly flew away to safety.

We still don’t know the answer to the following questions:  When did Lyla bring the bird into the house?  To what rooms did she take the bird?  How did she sneak it by us in the first place?  And, did she want her own kitty Thanksgiving?  I guess we’ll never know, but we all think the averted disaster was our Thanksgiving miracle.

Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

This year, I made Paula Deen’s French toast casserole recipe, using a loaf of Udi’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  It was delicious.  Actually sitting down and eating breakfast ended up being a good idea.  The casserole and a big glass of milk filled me up.  I didn’t snack while cooking, and was actually hungry when we sat down for lunch.  Breakfast is definitely staying next year.

Best Non Traditional Dessert: Carrot Cake

My mother had a brilliant idea.  Brilliant.  We made carrot cake for dessert.  Carrot cake is for Easter in our family, but the cake was a perfect complement to Thanksgiving’s rich and scrumptious flavors.  Plus, let’s be honest, who can say no to fresh cream cheese pecan frosting?  I know I can’t.

We modified my mom’s recipe with Better Batter Gluten Free Flour, and it turned out perfectly.  There were no other modifications – just a one-to-one ratio of flour to Better Batter, oh and halving the salt.  Always half the salt when modifying a gluten-free baked item.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  I was too busy eating it.

Best Black Friday deal: Modern Family Season One for $13

I love that show.  The first episode where Cam holds up the baby to Lion King music.  The ever-broken step.  The quotes.  Oh the quotes.

“I collect antique fountain pens. I’m quite adept at Japanese flower arrangements. Ikebana. And I was the starting offensive lineman at the University of Illinois. Surprise!”

“I design high-end electroacoustic transducers.  That’s just a fancy way of saying I get things to make noise.”

Best Friday Night: EVER

I had the greatest post-Thanksgiving Friday ever.  Shopping (mostly window shopping, although I did buy a berry bowl since Marcy told me to), a massage, cream cheese and jalapeno stuffed pork tenderloin, and a Duck Dynasty marathon.

It’s time to get The Professor to grow a long, sexy beard.  (sarcasm)

Best Thanksgiving Travelers: Charlie and Pippa

Charlie and Pippa have always gone to Dallas with us, so they’re great travelers.  Pippa always sits in the driver’s seat.  Charlie got relaxed enough to sleep on his back on my lap.  It was good times.  We love our kitties.

Best Texas moment:

Of course I’m the Accidental Okie, but I’m also an eight-generation Texan.  Every once in a while I see proof of this that blows me away.  Here was one of those moments.  This conversation really happened.

Sarah: Did you hear that Larry Hagman died?
Dad: (Calls his dad to pass on the news and then gets off the phone).
Sarah: Did Grandaddy know?
Dad: Yeah, he and Uncle Don had lunch with Larry’s brother last week, and he said that he wasn’t doing well.

Larry Hagman’s family is from the small town where eight generations of my family are buried.  Larry was in the same class as my great aunt Lou.

I hope your Thanksgiving was great, as well.  Tell me your superlatives!

My Instagrammed Life

My life changed a few months ago.  Yes, changed.  My mom and I traded iPods.  She had mercy on me after seeing my not-smart phone that only calls people and my old iPod that didn’t have a camera.  Since she has a fancy phone now and since she wanted to listen to my music, we switched.  Now life has changed.  I have Instagram.  Finally, I can record the minutia of my day for all to see.  Yes, the sky is bluer the grass is greener.  There’s no rose-colored glasses for me.  No, I look at life through funky 70’s photography filters.

In honor of this time with Instagram, I present to you, a slice of my Instagrammed Life.

After going camping without access to a camp fire (more on that later), I came home with the urge to eat S’Mores.  So I made some with my flambe torch.  This was not as successful as I would have hoped.  It actually wasn’t successful at all.  Unless, of course, you think that burned mini marshmallows and unmelted chocolate make successful S’Mores.

Gluten-Free, Allergy-Free Expo swag!  (I bought the books and some of the mixes).

I watched The Professor and his grading assistant grade some tests.

Then I got some good advice about good advice.

Charlie demonstrated that his life is difficult and that we should all feel sorry for him.

While he continued napping, I tackled this scary stack and my to-do list.  Boom.

I made a horrible dinner – detailed here – and then memorialized the equally grotesque lunch leftovers for all my Twitter followers to see.

After said failed dinner and the subsequent aftermath, I tried to will Big Truck Tacos to work their plastic cup magic and make all my dishes magically clean.  Surprisingly, it didn’t work.

In a matter of 20 seconds, Charlie and Pippa went from being friends to being frenemies.  I also caught the greatest pissy face Pippa has ever produced.

Photo by accidentalokiePhoto by accidentalokie

I broke my work phone and then got a fancy new work phone with a handle and everything.

I asked The Professor what he wanted for his birthday dessert.  He picked crème brûlée.

We had a cold front.  Pippa celebrated.

I made Ina Garten’s roasted Brussels sprouts just like my friend Diane taught me.  Yum.

I caught Charlie trying to kiss my husband.

Girl’s night.

I found the strangest birthday card at Target.  I guess there’s a card for everything now, even a card that says – Mom, I don’t like you very much, and that’s okay.  Don’t worry.  I got a better card for my mom.  And then forgot to mail it.  It’s sitting on my coffee table.  But on the up side, it’s not this card.

And through it all, Charlie’s life continued on track.

Charlie Update

Beware: This blog post talks about poop, and I don’t mean that in a euphemism sort of way.

When we last left our hero, he had just come back from an ominous vet appointment.  The vet said his big belly was indicative of feline intestinal peritonitis, a terminal disease.

www.accidentalokie.comSee – giant belly.

The vet suggested a new cat food.  After a few weeks, Charlie was still having explosive excitement in the litter box.  I wanted to go back to the vet, but to a new vet.  Our first vet seemed almost giddy to have a patient with a rare and terminal cat virus.  He exclaimed over and over how rare FIP is, and then feigned sadness.  Plus his office was in constant chaos.

We took Charlie to a new vet, and all I can say is I LOVE her!

1. She’s only a vet for cats and has about 10 cats who live at her practice full time and roam the clinic.  The fact that they all get along seemed to calm Charlie down.

2. At the height of her exam table is a large, plexiglass bird cage with a pair of bright yellow birds.  Charlie hardly noticed he was being poked and prodded, what with all the hunting he was doing.

Cue the kakakakakkaka – cat bird hunting noise.

3. The vet says the word ain’t, which I feel gives her street cred.

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She took one look and Charlie and said, “FIP cats are skin and bones.  This cat ain’t got no bone on his body.”  I immediately believed her because she said ain’t and because my cat was so perfectly distracted hunting birds.  She obviously knows a thing or two about cats.

She said she is 99.9 percent certain that Charlie does not have FIP.  He’s five months old, has no adult teeth, and should weigh about four pounds.  At his appointment he weighed eight.  The vet explained that he’s been growing so fast, his high-fat, low-protein kitten food doesn’t have the protein he needs to stay full.  So he’s been overeating to get the amount of protein he needs, and thus, the litter box explosions ensued.

The vet sent us home with new food.  Within a few days, Charlie’s litter box excitement was gone.

But that’s when poop problem two started.  I will spare you the details, but imagine a cat walking through your living room and suddenly a little one inch turd falls out of his butt, which spooks him and he jumps.  And then you have to fall asleep every night to the sound of your cat crying at your bedroom door because you’ve had to lock him out of your room, seeing as how you don’t want poop in your bed.  And then you wake up every morning and walk around the house looking for cat poop.

Charlie went back to the vet where after two days he didn’t not have one accident.  Figures, right?  They changed his food again.  Oh, and in the six days between his appointments, he had gained a pound.  The vet says he’s on track to be 30 pounds.

The official diagnosis is that Charlie isn’t a cat.  He’s a pig.  The vet has recommended that we put bowls of food around the house with just 1/4 a cup of food in each.  This way it’s harder for Charlie to binge.

So Charlie the sweetest cat ever is going to be okay.  He will continue fulfilling his mission of being Pippa’s buddy and my snuggly kitty.  And he’s going to be huge.  And we love him.

But if you happen to speak cat, we’d appreciate you passing on the suggestion to stop farting in our faces.

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The Two Stooges

Meet Pippa and Charlie.  Charlie’s in the foreground.  He’s about five months old.  He indiscriminately loves all food, and on a related note, he farts like an old man.  We got Charlie to be company for Pippa.

As Pippa grew from the six-week old kitten we fostered, it became increasingly clear that she is not a social kitty.  She loves her window seat and her cat treats and chasing bugs in the back yard at twilight.  The Professor and I are somewhere down on her list after her second-favorite scratching post…well third-favorite, if you count the sofa.  At only about eight months old, she became so neurotic and reclusive that she didn’t even like to be touched.

Pippa

After talking to some friends with multiple cats, we decided to get a sweet, gregarious boy kitty.  Charlie fits the bill, and miraculously our plan worked!  Pippa is about a thousand times happier now that she’s not the center of attention.  She and Charlie are pals.  They clean each other’s ears and wrestle, and every day their respective personal space bubbles shrink.  Pippa even likes us more, but nothing will ever sever her first love, the window seat.

A few nights ago, The Professor begged me to stay up with him and watch Rocky.  I’d never seen Rocky.  Why?  Because I have no brothers so we didn’t watch movies like Rocky.  My sister and I watched My Little Ponies and Beauty and the Beast and the six-hour version of Pride and Prejudice.  The Professor has taken it upon himself to indoctrinate me into the world of boy movies – Rocky, Hoosiers, and an entire cannon of badly dubbed kung fu movies.

But now I have seen Rocky.  All I have to say is this:

“Yo Adrienne!”

Finally, just as the big fight scene was starting, I decided I could resist sleep no longer.  Just one more thing before bed- scoop the cat litter.  It’s my every-other day chore that I dread and procrastinate.

Just as I was scooping the cat litter, Pippa and Charlie came in and decided to both use the littler box at once, side by side in an awkward group poop huddle.

It was all working out fine until Charlie finished first and reached around for litter to bury his business.  That’s when Pippa pooped on his head.  That’s also when I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep.

Charlie was rushed to the sink where, under extreme duress, he and his poop-matted fur got a bath – arms sprawled, claws activated – ready to hook onto anything, and meowing like he was being slowly mutilated.  This is also when Pippa came to investigate the cries of her partner in crime.  Now we had one cat in the sink covered in Seventh Generation Lavender Dish Soap (whose label states that although it’s not meant for consumption, it’s non toxic), and one cat on the rim of the sink crying in sympathy.  And Rocky was losing to the guy from Arrested Development.  And I too was covered in poop.  And the sound of my morning alarm clock was growing closer by the second.

With all the poop finally washed away, Charlie was wrapped in a towel.  That’s when Pippa, who loves water, got jealous.  Now we had a shivering kitten in a towel and a howling cat in the sink wanting her turn to play in the water.

We are magnets for weird animals.

I passed Charlie to the professor and turned on the water for Pippa, but she changed her mind in favor of checking on her kitten,  alternately attacking and cleaning him.

Finally at nearly 1 a.m., it was my turn to get the cat poop off me and collapse onto the bed.

Isn’t Pippa sweet?  She decided to help Charlie dry off.

And that is the story of why I splurged on a sugar-free vanilla latte the next morning.