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Being of British descent, this is properly termed porridge. But pumpkin pie and pumpkin pie spice is such a US thing, it should probably be called oatmeal….

While my liquid diet challenge was great for lunches and dinners, eating soup for breakfast was a bridge too far for me. For the most part, I don’t eat breakfast. But the medical issue I am dealing with is exacerbated by fasting, and that means no missing of breakfast.

So what to do about a liquid breakfast diet? I was also supposed to avoid or minimise dairy and fats: so no/minimal milk and no other ingredients that would make smoothies taste palatable.

After looking at liquid diets of this ilk online, porridge (oatmeal) became an option. But only if I processed the oats to cut them down even finer (like home-made steel cut oatmeal). And only if I didn’t use milk in it (or minimal milk in it)

I also had half a tub of pumpkin puree that I’d defrosted by accident thinking it was tomato paste (labeling freezer containers is for those who don’t want adventure in their lives.) How about Pumpkin Pie Porridge/Oatmeal?

Bowl of fancy pumpkin porridge

This will serve 1.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oats: process them in a blender to make the oats even finer (they will cook quicker and also good if you are on a liquid diet)
  • 3-5 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp – 1/4 cup low fat milk
  • 1-11/2  cup water
  • Brown sugar to serve

Pop your oats and water into a small saucepan on a low heat. The secret to cooking oats on the stovetop is use a low-medium heat and always be close to stir, by their very nature they congeal as they cook so they develop heat pockets: stirring is important to keep the heat evenly distributed.

As the oats start to soften and expand (should take half a minute to a minute), add the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup. Stir well to combine and then let cook for half a minute.

Maple syrup and pumpkin add some sweetness, so taste the porridge, At this point add the low fat milk and you may need to add a teaspoon of brown sugar at this point as well. Porridge should not be too sweet, so don’t go overboard.

Once the oats are cooked and the liquid absorbed into them (maybe 4-5 minutes tops), spoon into a bowl and top with a scatter of brown sugar. Because you added some milk in the cooking process, there’s no need to add additional milk to this.

And just think: you’ve eaten a vegetable as part of breakfast!!!! You’re already started on your 5 and 2 for today, you hero!

A bowl of Triple P: Pumpkin Pie Porridge

Soup with toppings

So this soup came about by accident: I was not feeling the greatest and wanted a comforting but filling soup that had chicken and also beans in it. Plus I had 2 tins of refried black beans in my pantry, bought by mistake for tins of whole black beans.

Soup without toppings

Soup Base Starting Point Ingredients

  • Diced carrot
  • Diced onion
  • Diced celery
  • 2 chicken thigh fillets, diced
  • Vegeta stock powder: 1-2 tsp
  • 1 tin refried black beans
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 2 pinches of dried rosemary and thyme and sage
  • 1 pinch of dried mexican oregano, if you don’t have then oregano is fine.
  • 1 tsp/clove of minced garlic

Add some olive oil to a large sauce pan, and pop in your carrot, onion and celery. Fry until soft and add the dried herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme and rosemary) and the garlic. Add the diced chicken and seal. Add 2-3L of boiling water and the vegeta stock powder and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add in the tin of refried black beans and stir to break it apart and combine with the soup. Turn the heat down and cook for another 10 minutes. At this point, add the tinned whole black beans and cook for another 5 minutes.

Now taste the seasoning: you will probably have to add pepper, but the refried beans contain a lot of salt so you may not need to add any salt to it.

You can serve this as is, and it will be a hearty bowl of filling and warming chicken and bean soup:

It’s pretty nice as is.

Or you can also top the soup with some diced feta (Australian substitute for queso fresco), diced red cabbage and diced avocado, and it will be a gourmet bowl of filling and warming chicken and bean soup:
The soup is nice both with toppings and without toppings, but it does look a little fancier with toppings:That’s one tin of accidentally purchased refried black beans down, and one to go…

Liquid diet chowder

I got really sick at the end of 2020. So sick I am currently in the waiting list to see a surgeon to be operated on. So that was a nice wrap up to a pants year. And a great start to the new year.

About a week into being sick, my doctor suggested I go on a liquid diet to remove any irritants further upsetting my stomach and other parts of my gastrointestinal system. Basically I had to rest my gut (and the rest of me as well). So the brief was a liquid diet: broths that could contain very soft noodles, no meat and no actual vegetable chunks etc. Liquid diet and rest. Lots of rest.

Liquid diet vaguely japanese inspired

I do like variety in my food. In case you missed the memo: I’m not the sort of person who can do the same food day in day out, or even meal in meal out unless it’s something that I am utterly, utterly craving. I could probably do cheese on toast on repeat, but I would tweak that each time I ate it too (vegemite on cheese on toast, cheese on tomato sauce on toast, cheese on ham on toast, cheese on toast…I could go on.)

Pumpkin liquid diet soup

So a soup only diet with no solids apart from very soft noodles? Definitely something that would get very, very boring very quickly, or would appear to take significant additional effort to seem like it had variety.

Basil pesto liquid diet

That…sounded like a challenge to me. So game on b*tches.

Eastern European inspired liquid diet soup

I went into this 7 day liquid diet with the aim of both having the same base broth for lunch and dinner meals, and also with the aim of jzuzzing it at each meal to  make it flavoursome and interesting and DIFFERENT.

Unadulterated liquid diet soup

The starting point was a good soup base. This was pretty simple:

Soup Base Starting Point Ingredients

  • Diced carrot
  • Diced onion
  • Diced celery: I had to make 2 batches of this soup, for the first batch I actually used the stem and leaf of the Celery Leaf plant (it was part of a French Salad Mix seed pack, and has basically taken over). If you don’t have celery leaf plant taking over your pot of french salad mix, celery stalks will do fine.
  • 2-3 chicken thigh fillets: I know the doctor said no meat, but let me finish
  • Vegeta stock powder: 1-2 tsp
  • I also had some home-made frozen vegetable stock that I added to this, but it’s not required
  • Dried rosemary and thyme
  • 1 tsp of garlic

Use a big saucepan. Fry off your vegetables with the garlic, rosemary and thyme until they are softer. Dice the chicken thigh fillets and add them. Cook them until they are sealed, then add any frozen home-made stock you’ve made plus 2L-4L of water to your soup pot (I did tell you to use a big saucepan) along with your stock powder.

This is what happens when I watch River Cottage episodes, I start making stock.

Set your saucepan to medium heat and cook. If it starts to come to the boil, turn down the heat. Simmer for about 40 minutes then check the flavour: you might need to add more stock, and also add salt and pepper at this time. When you are happy with the flavour (it can’t be too overpowering but it should taste like a broth you could eat on its own), let it cook for another 5 minutes.

I did mention using a large saucepan

Let it cool, and then ladle into containers for freezing. For the liquid diet containers: these shouldn’t contain any vegetables or meat so do these first. Most of the broth will go into these, but don’t take all the liquid for these.

This goodness flavours the soup and becomes chunky chicken soup you can eat post liquid diet

You want some liquid to ladle into other freezer containers along with the vegetables and chicken (basically the dregs of your liquid soup broth). These dregs become a chunky chicken soup you can eat post liquid diet.

I popped all my liquid diet soups into 2 x 1L jugs in my fridge, and popped the rest into 450-500mL takeaway containers and froze them.

Jugs and jugs of soup.

AND THEN WHAT?

So you’ve got your base broth frozen in single portions in the freezer/fridge. For each meal, you will need one of those portions plus things to jzuzz each meal with. The jugs in my fridge each had 2-3 meals in them.

Here are the flavour permutations I came up with:

  1. With elbow pasta: soup is unadulterated in this version. The green you can see is from the celery leaf I used in the soup. You can cook the pasta in the soup, it will add starch to the broth which makes it a bit more filling.
  2. With 1 tbsp of basil pesto and spiral pasta:
  3. I defrosted what I thought was tomato paste, but was actually about 300gm of pumpkin puree. So I added half of the puree to the the soup and cooked some elbow pasta in it. Also tasty:
  4. Ajvar: ajvar is an eastern european condiment made from roasting eggplant and red capsicums together and blending them into a delicious  mash with garlic and oil. It’s a revelation I discovered while watching one of Rick Stein’s many cooking shows. A tablespoon of this plus some elbow pasta is in your liquid diet soup is d.i.v.i.n.e. It’s also good with grilled meats.
  5. Chowder: add a tiny amount of butter to the soup pan, then fry 1tsp flour in it to make a light roux. Add your soup base to it and some very finely diced potato (1 tbsp worth) and some frozen corn and peals (a tbsp each). Cook these you have a chowder. Sprinkle some fresh dill before serving, it’s deluxe:
  6. Vaguely japanese: Prepare some rice vermicelli and add to your heated soup base. Sprinkle in some sesame oil and garnish with a finely sliced nori sheet:

Lots of flavour, minimal cooking

I have a couple of easy cheat meals that I don’t share with other people: they’re my “Want Flavour but CBF Cooking” meals. Ones where I expend minimal effort, but get maximum flavour when doing so.

Asian-inspired noodle soups are definitely one of my Want Flavour but CBF Cooking meals, because as long as you have a couple of key ingredients and flavours, then you can do whatever you want with it.

I call this Variety Noodle Soup because apart from those key ingredients, you can go where you want with this. The version I’ve photographed is Tofu, Green Bean & Prawn rice vermicelli soup, flavoured with coriander, ginger, garlic, soy & oyster sauce. It was pretty tasty.

Key Ingredients

  • Noodles: think rice vermicelli noodles, or ramen noodles, or those 2 minute noodle cakes
  • Frozen prawns (raw): you only need 6, so a 500gm bag will give you oodles of potential Want Flavour but CBF Cooking opportunities in the future
  • Spring onions

Key Flavours:

  • Oyster sauce: vegetarian oyster sauce if you have to.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Vegeta stock powder
  • Minced garlic or garlic powder
  • Minced ginger or dried ground ginger

Once you have those, then you can riff off whatever else is in your fridge, freezer and/or pantry. Choose 2-4 items from the list below and you’re golden:

  • A couple of halved cherry tomatoes
  • Some green beans
  • Sliced snow peas
  • Bean shoots
  • Tofu cubes
  • Frozen dumplings
  • Julienned carrots
  • Sliced celery
  • Broccolini
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil

Method

In a small saucepan, heat 500mL-750mL of water. Slice your spring onions and add the white parts and most of the green (reserve some to add at the last minute). Prep your noodles: you can cook the ramen noodles and 2 minute noodle cake in the broth, but I’ve found it easier to cook rice vermicelli in boiling water from the kettle and then draining them to add to the soup at a later stage.

Add your frozen prawns, and a dollop of oyster sauce (1/2 – 1 tbsp) plus a teaspoon of garlic powder and ground ginger (you can use the minced garlic and ginger from your fridge, but this does leave a lot more sediment).

Start adding the other fridge, freezer and pantry ingredients according to their cooking times and your preferred eating texture (I like my carrot and broccolini al dente), but reserve any fresh herbs to the very end.

Add the noodles and a splash of soy sauce (1 tsp should do) about a minute before you plan to serve. Stir to combine and then add cubed tofu if you’re using it, along with any fresh herbs and the remaining spring onions. Stir gently, take off the heat and serve. This makes you about 2 bowlfuls with left over broth.

Tofu, Green Bean & Prawn rice vermicelli soup

 

Houseolutions 2021

Beautiful native flowers from friends I ❤

I’m now cat free for the first time in 21+ years. Which is very weird.

Really weird: there’s still a little Benjamin Franklin sized hole in my house, and I occasionally hear his miaows or the tinkle of his bell as he prances…but those are all memories.

I planned what I would do to my house with the view he would be with me for 14 years, so as to not disturb him. Technically I planned what I was doing and when, so as not to have to deal with the consequences of me disturbing him, because they would be manifold. But life didn’t work out like that. So I don’t have any 4-legged dependents/housemates/furry dictators to accommodate, and I’ve been in my house over 10 years now.

With no 4 legged dictators, I am starting to thinking beyond the smaller goals I’ve carried across from last year (and the year before etc etc). A quick reminder:

  • Fencing infills: turns out the only thing holding up the crappy lattice fencing infills on my front fence is the native wisteria…so I need to start considering my options there. Ugh.
  • Floating shelf in the toilet above the door (it’s been briefed into DIY Dad for cutting and logistics). As you know I buy Who Gives A Crap TP…and it comes in boxes of 48. In an effort to keep my studio free of clutter, I am looking for convenient and appropriate places to store bulk TP. The life of an home owner is just SO GLAMOROUS.
  • Dig out my front planters to seal my bricks because it turns out decisions by previous homeowners about setting earth filled planter boxes against exterior house walls…did not include any waterproofing (something that became really apparent thanks to the soakwell issue.
  • Repair one of the planters (it needs to be shortened and tied into the wall)
  • Buy another 5 metres of Gallery Hanging System (And then I’m done. Promise). Don’t tell DIY Dad but I bought 8 metres for him to install. He’s going to LOVE that.

Onto the bigger goals of:

  • Kitchen renovation: I NEED MORE STORAGE and COUNTER SPACE
  • Bathroom + toilet renovation: I NEED MORE SENSIBLE DESIGN, LESS SOAP SCUM and MORE STORAGE
  • Laundry: ALL OF THE STORAGE and NONE OF THE MESS ON DISPLAY (since it is my only way out to the back garden, which would be more pleasant and enjoyable if I didn’t have to walk past a mountain of chores each time I go out to it)
  • Automated sliding gate (made out of Corten like the future fencing infills).
  • Carport
  • Garage Door
  • New garage roof

And the biggest goal of: ABOVE GROUND LAP POOL THAT I CAN DIVE INTO. Okay, that one is probably a bit ambitious for my current timeline and budget, but a gal can dream. Especially on 35°C+ days.

Bonus:

  • Anything else on the 2018 houseolutions list which is long and filled with things to do and was the last time I properly outlined what was in my mental list of things to do for my house.

You know me, dear reader. So you know I like a cushion. I like a pretty cushion, I like a playfully witty cushion, I even like to make a cushion or two.

I like to swap them around, I like to change the covers with other covers from my (currently small) stash of spare cushion covers. Because of course I have spare cushion covers: I do like a cushion.

I like how they change the mood of rooms, I like how they bring pops of colour and difference to a room, I like how switching them brings out different aspects of an existing room: the room is exactly the same, but the cushion design and colours mean you focus on different things and you “read” the room differently. Yes, I do like a cushion.

I like lots of cushions and I cannot lie, you m*thafl*ppers can’t deny….

So it may surprise you to know I’ve been harbouring a little stash of cushion covers that I’ve not yet used.

Cushion covers made to my specifications by my sister in the UK, we’ll call her the ckrafty roo (yes, she does spell it differently, but spelling has never been her strongest point 😛 ). And they are g.l.o.r.i.o.u.s:

Crazy Kitten Cushions

Aren’t they just the maddest, funnest and perfectest cat (or kitten) cushions ever:

Not one but TWO crazy kitten cushions

The ckrafty roo made me a library/shopper bag out of this glorious fabric and had more metres of it so I asked if she could make cushions. They had to have the perfectest thinnest yellowest piping around them (at my request).

My list of demands includes: a plethora of crazy kitten cushions

Imagine me making bold but precise demands because if you did anything else around the cushion edges or they didn’t have piping…my soul would .d.i.e.

It’s not that hard to imagine, is it?

Without the perfectest yellow colour, and the thinnest yellow piping, my soul would DIEEEEEEEEE

It’s really not.

And my poor, beleaguered (or so she would have it) sister rolling her eyes and adding this to her ever increasing list of specifications for the cushions. Because I wanted multiples dahling. MULTIPLES.

I love how their eyes just follow you around the room. Watching you, with that mad eye.

And you KNOW the yellow piping had to be the perfectest yellow colour. Or my soul would d.i.e.

Much mad, such kitten.

I’ve stashed away them away while I had a feline housemate, because imho if you have actual cats and you also have cat themed memorabilia on display in your abode, you are just setting yourself up as the target recipient for every possible cat themed present there is under the sun.

And that’s a risk I could not take.

I did bestow some of my crazy kitten cushions bounty as gifts to some grateful (or shellshocked) recipients. Why did you think I wanted multiples, dahling?

DIY Dad was astonished to receive two to compliment his new living room curtains. Astonished, bemused, flabbergasted…to-mah-to to-may-to I say.

If you would like a crazy kitten cushion or two (or even several) in your house, my ckrafty roo is selling them. You can message her facebook page for details: https://www.facebook.com/KraftyRooUK

Another thing I did as part of my 2020 CoVID Cleaning, was go through my herb and spice storage:

Lots of space, inefficiently used.

Turns out there’s two sizes of small moccona jars (I use them for my herb and spice storage). The older versions of the small jars are too tall to sit on top of the storage risers I have in these overhead cabinets.

So I discombobulated my spices and herbs, and popped anything I wanted to be on one of the risers into a smaller jar:

I can see some spare acreage being developed as part of this project

This the created space on the actual shelf for the taller of the smaller jars and the medium sized moccona jars along with several other jars of random stuff. So I managed to rejig everything to work better:

And now I will never lose my jar of bee pollen again #firstworldproblems

Much like you, dear reader, I explored the confines of my house during WA’s brief WFH period. 2020 was “interesting.” Like many others, during this time, my attentions turned internal: to me, and to my housie.

I’m just including this for the gloss white coupe plate p*rn

And we’ve had it pretty sweet in WA: 2020 was the one time Perth’s isolation has worked for us, rather than causing us to miss out on bands, festivals, certain plants and bulbs, and anything else too expensive to transport across the Nullabor to our lil town. There’s been no community transmission of CoVID-19: as of 19 days ago we’ve had no community transmission for 266 days.

We’ve also had a hard border until quite recently (great for everyone in WA, not so great for anyone trying to get back into WA): sitting back on the West Coast and letting everyone else sort themselves out. The luxury of distance vs the tyranny of distance.

So our “lockdown” was pretty laid back, and brief compared to other parts of the world. In late March-April we started working from home, we could gather in groups of 10 in early May and could return to work in early June. We’ve also been lucky to escape dealing with quarantine breaches leading to community transmission, unlike our Eastern States. And Australia has a great public health system, as well as focus on public health promotion and social good promotion. So while there has been a little d*ckheadery, thus far it’s not been bad for WA. Who knows: we might make it to the vaccine without a second lockdown, unlike other states and countries. The privilege of distance, and having a great public health infrastructure at state and federal level and having community focused politicians who can make hard calls and overall a society & culture that’s predominantly focused on benefiting as many as they can.

So yay, lucky me. Unlucky many other people though, like my family in the UK who are separated by distance and different lockdowns. And all the different places I have visited overseas: it’s hard to imagine what some areas of the USA must be going through. My heart bleeds for everyone.

So even though WA has been nowhere near affected compared to other parts of the world, 2020 was still a time for internal interrogations: of who we are, what we value, what we want and when we want it.

I’ve been studying since 2015: doing a micromasters before I started my Masters. And the year prior to starting my Masters (2017-2018) was full on because I did 3 modules of the micromasters to get them done just in time to start my masters.

On top of that, my work went through a significant change management that came into effect in 2018. That’s the 5th change management I’ve been through while working for this workplace. Speaking from experience: even if you are not directly impacted by change management, you know people who are impacted. That sucks for them, but it’s also exhausting for you as it won’t just be one person. You’ll also be directly impacted by the months and months of speculation and brinkmanship from other colleagues, and the inevitable jostling for position, power and perceived influence. It’s obvious (although apparently not to some), and exhausting. From a sociological perspective, it’s interesting…but when you’re going through it or you know people going through it: it’s sheer hell.

I’m lucky: one of my friends has been through TWO change managements since 2018: each time it’s the same draining and gruelling endurance contest that saps energy, drains emotion and increases one’s cynicism.

So I am tired. TIRED. Both physically and emotionally spent. And I’ve been ill this year: I have never consumed so much sick leave as I did this year. I have a lot of sick leave up my sleeve, so that’s not a problem. But it’s also not the point: you cannot go on at 120% and not expect the wheels to come off. Especially when you through the pressures of other people and personalities into the mix.

When I am like this: I tend to turn to the little interior and internal things that feed my soul. That’s what I need to renew myself.

So in the last 6 months I’ve been working towards goals. I’ve been working towards having time to paint (canvases not walls), time to sew, time to finish projects that just need that last little bit to be done, time to pursue some artistic ideas that have been in a holding pattern. I’ve cooked creatively, I’ve knocked off items on my small household things to do list….and I’ve even starting planning beyond my small household things to do list.

But let’s start with one of the items on my small household things to do list. Actually it’s a twofer:

  1. Get new crockery, as my current dinner sets have served me well but are at the end of their life
  2. Consider how to rejig storage of aforesaid crockery to better use the space in my tall pantry storage.

You can see the previous set up ↓

Much square, many white

I treasured this dinner set. Most of it was a 30th birthday gift from dear friends…but after *cough* years of entertaining on, it had seen better days. There were knife scratches on the plates…and some of the glazing had either been worn off, or cleaned off…or could have been the dregs of apparently immovable melted cheese.

FYI: I scoured these plates with Bicarb, Jif and Gumption…so while I was hoping it was apparently immovable melted cheese, it was not.

↑ Even at this point, you can see the storage challenge: those shelves are really quite far apart. It would be the perfect storage for wine bottles, cereal boxes and cat biscuit boxes…but for anything smaller it’s just a f*cktonne of wasted space.

And then on top of the pantry with wine-bottle sized shelves, I store my baking sheets. And they mostly stay in place, but it is important to keep an eye and an ear out as you open the cupboard doors:

Nothing hurts like a friand pan to the head when you are least expecting it.

So I needed to renew my crockery, and reconsider my small storage: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Of course it took a while: I wanted a plain white gloss coupe plate set (ideally high rim, but I would settle for just a coupe plate).

I wanted this for two reasons:

  1. White is still imho the perfect background for any food you want to present
  2. I did not want to replace my plain white gloss lion head soup bowls (those were DEFINITELY keepers) or my plain white gloss ramekins. And where I do mix and match, I don’t do it in the dinner settings (that’s platters, salad bowls, glassware and placemat territory, you philistine).

I did find several contenders: Mark Newson’s designs for Noritake are #chefskiss and there was another other one that (with shipping) would have set me back $1500.

That might be my dream, but my reality is that I need to be able to get replacements as I have a tendency to break things. Glasses, plates, bottles, jars: I break stuff with the lack of attention and the clumsy.

So after much research and many winnowing downs of contenders (the bowl shape was the sticking point) and a couple of segues into “what if I got a dinner set that wasn’t plain gloss white?” territory, I found the perfectest shape for the perfectest price: the white China sold individually by Big W.

Yes, it is the essence of vanilla:

But it is ALSO the perfect canvas for any food you put on it.

I liked it so much, I actually bought two shapes of bowls ↑ noodle bowls AND pasta bowls. Mainly because I didn’t want to eat my risotto out of the noodle bowl shape, and couldn’t imagine eating my porridge out of the pasta bowl shape.

First world problems, right?

As part of this renewal, another problem arose:

What I really need to do is give up on dinnerware, and only store wine in this cupboard.

It was an acknowledged problem before, but it became more pressing once I invested in pasta bowls that turned into an uneven tower of very likely to fall over pasta bowls in my shelves.

It’s not like I need help breaking glasses and plates, I’m doing fine on my own thanks. I don’t need any additional assistance.

Eugh.

Clearly I needed to do more research and many winnowing downs of contenders…but this time in terms of small kitchen storage and organisers. And so, dear reader, I did:

There is mothafl*ppin small storage in that pantry

Although I have IKEA’s variera in deeper cupboards, this stupid pantry is stupidly thing (with stupidly high shelves). So I ended up with two baking tray racks (one for plates ↑ and one for the baking sheets on top of the pantry ↓ )

I call that bloody home organisation project: done.

2020 was the best of years and the worst of years. On the 4 December I had to say goodbye to the housemate I regularly featured on this blog: Benjamin Franklin, aka The Ginger Menace, Sir Pouncealot, The Butterscotch Cavalier, Captain Flouncealot, my boo, bae.

Always watching

Benjamin was  ~11 years old. He was the second cat I was never actually going to get: I was happily being a single cat household, Her Majesty was very happy to be sole super supreme ruler of the roost. I had no plans for a second cat. 2 days before I found him, I told someone I would never get a second cat. And then I found a scrawny, near death, starving cat.

And the rest, as they say, is history: I became a double cat household, consisting of one owner and two cats who wanted to be the only cat in the household.

Sir Pouncealot was the only cat I ever knew who would purr when he jumped on his bed, he was so happy to have a home. He had had a lot of trauma in his past life, so he would never purr when patted (…it took years for me to be able to pat him from head to tail. Years.) But he would purr as soon as he was laying on his bed (technically my bed, but hey) or his couch (also technically my couch, but hey). He even purred himself to sleep.

HRH leaning into me for a a sideways hug, the closest he really got to lap catting barring 2 notable exceptions…was standing on the couch and leaning into me.

It took a long while, years even, for Benjamin to relax into his place and trust. It took about 4-5 years before I could pat him head to flank, after 5-6 years he wanted to be picked up when I got home, 8+ years before he stopped attacking me in my bed in the middle of the night every day-week (that was a lot of fun to work through: I literally barricaded myself with pillows each night). He would still get the occasional flashback to bad before times. I’m very proud to have worked through that with him (rest assured I am only human, and there were a few swear words and stern “talking tos” along the way), so that he could be the cat deep down he really wanted to be….although he never did quite master the art of sitting on a lap.

The Butterscotch Cavalier loved his lady visitors and their leather bags and shoes. He had some favourites (you know who you are, ladies), and some fans.

He was a little livewire, doing things on his own terms, always. From bumping his head against chairs during dinner parties; to watching the neighbourhood from his perch on the window sill; to judging me and company from his perch outside the dining table window on his occasional jaunts outside; to sitting on the remote control and looking fierce as if daring you to try and change channels…

He didn’t even have to sleep on the remote control to turn changing the tv channel into an adrenaline sport tbh

…to fetching his Ikea rats for me and for company and just because (only the grey and the brown ones, never the white) with his very special song; to perching on his cushion throne (he preferred to sit on a couch only if there was a cushion he could sit on…like the Princess and the Pea, except the cat and the cushion);

This is the face of a cat happily ensconced on their throne

…or attempting to sit on a lap (which he did about as gracefully as Patsy trying to eat in Ab Fab), he was not gifted in that area (I blame early trauma before I found him) and only successfully managed that twice in the time I had him (I believe he considered legs to be quite untrustworthy); to hiding not one but three mechanical mice in my small house (…he liked them even more that the Ikea Rats. One day I will find them tucked away somewhere);…

Majestic floof majesticating

…to tinkling up and down the hallway in the middle of the night (he did not walk, he pranced so his bell would always tinkle); to insisting he be let outside (he was such a ball of energy, he got really mean if you didn’t let him run around to let off steam), only to run straight to the dining table window and miaow piteously to be let back inside with panic in his eyes;…

One of the very rare occasions he deigned to sleep cat to couch over cat to cushion to couch

…to skedaddling as he raced inside the house and turned the corner down the hall (there is no other word for it: he skedaddled like a Looney Tunes character…and wore away the varnish on that spot in the floorboards while doing so); to happily clawing the union jack rug in my office, nuzzling and pulling out the pile of the shag pile rugs in my living room (second set of rugs bought to replace the first rug which had bald patches as a result of this, now also have bald patches.);…

Snuggling…but socially distanced

…to being a constant presence at the bottom left of the bed; to being my little couch companion whenever I was ill (sometimes hogging the blankie…and when I type sometimes: I mean always);…

Little ball of cute, that will mong you if you try to move him or pat him or look at him funny while he is sleeping.

…he liked to nap on top of me when I was lying on the couch, I miss that weight on my chest;…

Oh hai.

The house is so much emptier without him: for a tiny little ball of affection, temper, tooth, claw and fur he had a GIANT personality and presence. And it’s so much quieter without his conversation and questioning miaows, the twinkle of his collar bell whenever he walked, pranced, ran or skedaddled and of course the songs he’d sing whenever he fetched his mice.

Gone but never forgotten

He had a good life, and he is missed. I was with him to the last.

Happy StyleMAS 2020

All lit up and CoVID to go

Given I only got around to writing about StyleMAS 2019 in.July.2020, I am making a point of trying to document 2020’s effort a little earlier. So here I am in January posting about Christmas Tree decorations I put up in December and took down 2 weeks ago. My posts are definitely getting more timely… 😉

Obligatory side view

This year’s theme was pale blue, silver and white: so I used miniature white, silver and pale blue Christmas baubles along with mercury glass acorn lights that give out a blue hue when lit. And finally my long beloved wire butterflies (I got those when I got this tree umpteen years ago).

Nothing says Christmas quite like pale blue butterflies imho.

Popped my tin star lights at the base of the tree for a final bit of shiny festivity, and I call StyleMAS 2020 DONE.