The Amazing Adventures of Josie and Seb

October 31, 2009

Happy birthday, Joe!

Filed under: adventuring, food, googly eyes, pictures, triumph! — Cate @ 4:37 pm

So Mr. Joe is officially a year older (and wiser…ish). We had a pretty chilled out day to celebrate, just watched movies and laid in the Sac and relax.

I tried my hand at making him an authentic Southern red velvet cake. Not only have I never baked one, I’ve never even tasted one, so I was flying totally blind. The cake came out mostly OK (Joe ate it and professed to like it, which is the important thing) but it was a trial and a half.

I couldn’t get the batter smooth (hand mixing SUCKS), I forgot to sift the sugar for the icing so it was all lumpy, the cake was red but not RED! like I wanted, the edges and part of the bottom of one cake burned while the middle was raw-looking and sunken, I used canned vanilla frosting in the middle because I thought I wouldn’t have enough cream cheese frosting but I did have enough after all, I forgot to buy candles, I didn’t have a plate big enough for the cake (had to use a cutting board…so trashy), on and on and on.

Look how sunken the middle is! WHYYYYYY?!

Look how sunken the middle is! WHYYYYYY?!

Stupid cake.

It says, YAY JoE iS 27. I'm a corn ball.

It says, YAY JoE iS 27. I'm a corn ball.

Luckily, it ended up being pretty damn edible.

The animals didn’t let Joe’s birthday go unnoticed. Sebastian got him a back yard full of shedded-out hair (so sweet)…

Mmm...less edible.

Mmm...less edible.

…and Miss Josie didn’t claw his face off.

"You're welcome. Mrrarr."

"You're welcome. Mrrarr."

All in all, his birthday was, if not a smashing success, at least an interesting experience.

Obligatory birthday boy self-portrait.

Obligatory birthday boy self-portrait.


October 30, 2009

Holy Mother of Quail!

Filed under: food, googly eyes, pittsburghing — Cate @ 11:12 am

Tomorrow is Joe’s birthday (that’s Halloween, if you’re playing along at home). Last night, as part of the Birthday Week celebrations (really, why limit it to just one day?), I took him out to Bona Terra for dinner. I knew I wanted him to have a Good Meal at a foodie-approved restaurant and I debated for a while over which of Pittsburgh’s many dining establishments to take him to, but Bona Terra won out. All reviews pointed to “awesome,” and they have a local-food mission that aligns with our priorities, so it was just a great fit. Even better, I managed to keep it a secret till we walked in the door.

OK, enough about that. Let’s talk FOOD.

I wish I’d been able to keep the menu because I’m about to reveal how little I know about fine dining. We started off with a teensy bowl of luke-warm green stuff – all I heard the waitress say was, “…blue cheese, heirloom tomato and chili oil.” But it was delicious. We ate it with an itty bitty little spoon. So fun.

For our appetizers, I got a semi-boneless quail with pears and Joe had a tuna thing. Blah blah blah tuna, but my quail was AMAZING. I’ve never eaten quail before and I think I had it confused with pheasent because I was shocked at how tiny and delicate it was. Tender and moist and with this wonderful crispy herbed skin…oh golly. I wanted to take it home with me and learn its secrets. But there was none left.

Then soup and salads. I skipped the soup because they only had clam chowder and tomato, neither of which I really care for, though now of course I wish I’d been less picky because I’m sure it would have been divine (Joe’s chowder was yummy, and I don’t even like clam). Anyhow. I had a baby spinach and greens salad with other things – I don’t remember what they were, but they were good – and gorgonzola crumbles. Joe’s had feta and bacon and other things. Both very tasty.

Then a taste of sorbet before dinner: cantaloupe. I cannot express deeply enough my love of that little dish of heaven. If the waitress hadn’t said it was sorbet, I’d have thought we were just eating a very finely pureed piece of fruit. Holy crap. It was so good. I licked the plate clean, to Joe’s horror. (Not really. But damn did I want to!)

Then dinner, the baby animals course. Oh, yum. YUM. I had a veal rib chop with braised cabbage and the most wonderful risotto I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. Joe had lamb with mashed potatoes and beans – his potatoes were divine, his beans so fantastically green. It. Was. So. Good.

For dessert, Joe had a cup of tea (such a civilized young man) and a lemon pound cake with berries. I had an apple tart made with local fujis. It was melt-in-your-mouth good, with a crispy crust and just the right amount of crunch on top. Oh momma.

Even the bottle of wine I picked out because it was pretty ended up being great. Even the music they were playing was great – an eclectic mix of Willie Nelson and Radiohead and others that somehow all worked just right. At the end of our meal, they started playing Sigur Ros, which I always associate with Joe and I. In the very early days of our relationship, when we were first starting to learn each other, he’d put on Sigur Ros. Those were happy times (heck, they’re still happy times!) and it was touching to hear it after we’d just finished that incredible meal and were staring at each other across the table, all full and happy and lovey…

I wish I had pictures, because it was so extraordinary and beautiful and DELICIOUS – did I mention delicious? – but I refrained from whipping out my phone to snap grainy photos while we ate. Barely. I didn’t even remember to get pictures of us all dolled up in our finery. Trust me, though: we looked good. Even despite a lack of photographic evidence, it was a wonderful night. And I certainly couldn’t have asked for better company.

We’re hoping to make a habit out of this kind of luxury, or at least a birthday tradition. Only four months till mine!!!!

Worth every penny.

Worth every penny.

October 23, 2009

It’s just Thursday in our house…

Filed under: apartment, conversations, food, googly eyes — Cate @ 3:42 pm


Scene – Thursday evening

Cate, curled up in the Lovesac, calls to Joe (off camera): Oh, darling? Be a dear, won’t you, a bring me a spoonful of that delicious cookie dough that I made the other day but have not, as of yet, bothered to make into cookies?

Joe (off camera): Absolutely, shnookems!

(Josie bats a ball of yarn past; Seb snores as he naps at Cate’s feet)

Joe (entering the living room with a serving spoon heaped with cookie dough): Here you go, dearie-poo!

Cate (eyes widen): Oh, you!

(laugh track)

October 20, 2009

In which we are happily reunited!

Filed under: apartment, googly eyes, pictures — Cate @ 3:57 pm

It’s funny how fast you can get used to a person’s company. The boy (my “better half,” if the guy who sells hummus at the farmer’s market can be trusted) took off for Washington D.C. for five days or so and left me and the animals to fend for ourselves. It wasn’t that big of a deal, really. He left butt-early Wednesday and we said our goodbyes and life went on. Joe and I did the long-distance thing for more than a year, so we’re pretty good at being separated. No biggie.

Where is my human?

Where is my human?

Josie and Seb and I had a pretty chilled out week/weekend. We played outside when it wasn’t raining. We snuggled. We watched a ton of movies: 3:10 to Yuma (okay); Appaloosa (bad); Valkyrie (okay); Milo and Otis (nostalgic favorite); Gosford Park (still boring); Stepbrothers (dumbfunny); Perfect Blue (gory but good); Law Abiding Citizen (Gerard Butler = hot); The Invention of Lying (bad). There’s probably more that I’m forgetting.

Had to keep Seb busy so he didn't get sad.

Had to keep Seb busy so he didn't get sad.

Mostly I just nested down in the Lovesac and vegged and napped. I made up a huge batch of cookie dough but lost interest in actually making cookies. Just one of those weekends!!

You didn't want to sit here, right?

You didn't want to sit here, right?

A funny thing happened on Sunday night. I started really missing Joe. Really missing him. It felt like it had been months since I saw him, like he was still in Portland and I was desperately looking forward to his visit. Monday at work was even worse. How did they expect me to process paper work? Didn’t they know my boyfriend was out of town?!

(It ruffles my feathers to think of myself as one of “those girls” who can’t function without her man, but he’s more than just my man. He’s my friend. And I missed him. So it’s totally different.)

Monday after work I had a little bit of time to kill. Josie and Seb were all keyed up too, probably feeding off my excitement. I took a poll…

“Seb, are you happy that Joe is coming home?”



“Josie, are you happy?”




Finally I got to bring Joe home and there was much happy prancing and purring and kissing.

And then I let Jos and Seb say hi, too. ;)

October 13, 2009

Babies, pancakes and reinvention

Filed under: food, girls in the world, googly eyes — Cate @ 1:55 pm

For the past handful of years, I’ve noticed a three-pronged trend among young women around me (who I know in school or knew in high school or see around the city): first everyone seems to get engaged, then everyone’s getting married, then everyone gets pregnant. “Everyone” is obviously an exaggeration, but sometimes that’s how it feels.

Over the summer we had the “wedding” trend. Now we’re full-swing into pregnancy. And it makes me a little crazy. How are you supposed to react when someone approximately your age announces she’s knocked up? I guess the polite response is, “wow, that’s great, congrats!” (or in Facebook-English, “OMG!!!!!!! that’s awesome!!!!!!!”). But I can never quite contain my gut reaction, which is always along the lines of, “oh…uh…yikes. Sorry.”

I have an irrational fear of being near pregnant women, as though somehow the condition is contagious, like I might catch it. Also because I don’t want to let my lack of enthusiasm ruin someone else’s happiness. I don’t want to be that bitchy girl that hates babies and thinks women who have them are stupid.

Obviously I don’t feel that way. My mom had babies, which enables me to exist. I’m in favor of that. Some very dear friends of mine have some very sweet babies and children. Good for them. Good for the world. But it’s not my priority. I’m young and kinda selfish and immature and it’s hard for me to understand the desire to “settle down” and “start a family” and “end my life as I know it,” because my desires are so definitely in the opposite direction – maybe not forever, but certainly in the near future.

I try to be nice. If there’s a way to weasel out and just not comment, I’ll take it. Otherwise I fake it as well as I can and swallow my horror till I get to a safer place. Like my blog, in which I can whine about babies in a broad, vague sort of way, without attacking anyone personally and hurting feelings.


Pets and babies are basically the same. Here Josie makes a fun game out of digging her claws in electrical wires. Sigh.

To each her own.

[As an aside, I was in college before it occurred to me that I wasn’t a crazy freak for not being all amped up to eventually have babies. I remember reading Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street and coming on the author’s bio in the back: “Sandra Cisneros lives in (wherever). She is nobody’s wife and nobody’s mother” (emphasis mine). It was a profound moment.]

On a happier note, last night my dear Joe made Breakfast For Dinner, one of my all-time favorite meals. He made pancakes and eggs and peppers and onions and home fries and sausage and toast. I was too busy stuffing my face to remember to take a photo, but imagine a very full plate and two very full tummies. It was amazing. The perfect end to a long day of work and class and grainy ultrasound images of fetuses plastered all over Facebook.

Also, you may have noticed a new look to the Adventure blog. I’m trying it on for size. So far I like it! I went with orange because it’s finally fall and the city is starting to color up. I love the crispness in the air. I love sleeping with an extra blanket on the bed. This is definitely my favorite season.

Even abandoned houses look OK in front of that blue fall sky.

Even abandoned houses look OK in front of that blue fall sky.

September 27, 2009

Our G-20 Weekend, in pictures

Filed under: adventuring, food, googly eyes, pictures, pittsburghing, triumph! — Cate @ 11:28 pm

This weekend, courtesy of the G-20 summit being held in Pittsburgh and the general hysteria surrounding the protesters’ arrival, I got two days off work and a blissful four day weekend. Here’s how we filled our time.

We snuggled.

We battled a nasty ear ache/infection.

We shared our toys.

We looked out the window.

We dropped an egg on the floor.

We made cookies.

We ate cookies.

We snuggled.

We made our boyfriend cook dinner.

We had pancakes for breakfast.

We went downtown to see what all the fuss was about.

We talked stir fry.

We snuggled.

We finished the second draft of our thesis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We Facebooked.

We gave in to temptation.

September 9, 2009

Lovely long weekend

Filed under: adventuring, apartment, conversations, googly eyes, pictures — Cate @ 12:23 pm

Sadly, Joe and I didn’t make it up to Torch Lake this weekend as we’d planned – rental car fell through. The whole situation is pretty ridiculous. After getting a run-around about whether or not there’d actually be a car for us, hundreds of dollars of extra fees and deposits were tacked on making the car unaffordable. We’re trying to be really responsible and live within our means and pay down our credit cards and that of course makes us bad candidates for car rentals. That’s how the industry works, I guess – fuck you coming and going.

Instead we decided to take our long weekend (I even took Tuesday off to make for an extra-long weekend) and enjoy the city, the apartment and each other. Well, kind of. We had our first fight on Friday. Not a fight, per se, but our first “I’m really mad at you right now” moment. It went something like this:

Joe: Hey, sucks about the lake.

Me: Yeah.

Joe: Let’s go grab some dinner.

Me: Sure.

Joe: Thai sound good? What about bar food?

Me: Whatever.

(hours pass…I sit like a sad lump on the couch)

Joe: So…no dinner?

Me: Whatever.

(Joe gives up and makes us a quick dinner at home)

(this is all internal/unspoken)

Joe: Give me an answer like a human being!

Me: Don’t feel like it!

Joe: Maybe you should just throw yourself a pity party, Debbie Downer.

Me: Maybe I will! And you’re not invited!

Joe: I wouldn’t come anyway!


Joe: FINE.

Eventually I got over myself and started acting like a human being again. Clearly I have to work on communicating my needs (a night to be miserable over not going north) so Joe doesn’t feel like I’m shutting down on him (which I was). It’s a process.

Saturday we hit up the local farmer’s market and got a BOUNTY of fresh veggies for an unbelievably low price. Looking forward to going back even earlier this weekend to get some local meats!

Then we went to the Home Despot to look at paint. I think we’ve got the living pretty much picked out and the kitchen too and the bedroom. We trotted home with supplies and primer, ready and excited to get the show on the road.

So we get back to the apartment. We prep. We change. We sand the paneling. We wash the paneling. Joe straps on his ventilator mask. We. Are. Ready!

Joe does some prep

Joe does some prep

The before shot - hideous wood paneling

The before shot - hideous wood paneling

And then we paint. And paint. And paint. For hours. Oh, I admit it, I got pretty whiny. I was ready to be done. Joe was all, “let’s just paint till we fall over exhausted and can’t lift our arms anymore!” and I was all, “I HATE PAINTING.” All told, we painted for six or seven hours before calling it a day. The walls were successfully primered, but I can’t believe it took so long. That’s the smallest room in the apartment!

Primed wall with test patch

Primed wall with test patch

Two more walls with test patches

Two more walls with test patches

Our poor painty floor

Our poor painty floor

Joe cleans brushes

Joe cleans brushes

The color isn’t showing up great in those pictures, but it’s a lovely deep red-burgundy-garnet color. Afterwards we went out and got some food in our tummies.

All that work exhausted Miss Josie

All that work exhausted Miss Josie

Seb tried to help, but just got a painty face for his trouble.

Seb tried to help, but just got a painty face for his trouble.

Sunday I declared a Lay Around All Day day, so we did. And it was good.

Monday we ran errands, including laundry, which makes me a happy camper. Also, good news: now we own a vacuum! No motivation to continue painting.



Tuesday we did some more lazing about (good stuff). Then Joe made a fantastic salsa and I made cake. A chocolate zucchini cake, to be exact. With Hershey’s cocoa icing. What else?

Hello, delicious...

Hello, delicious...



All told, a great weekend. Bit of a rocky start, but that happens and we both got over it pretty fast. And now I only have three days in my work week until I get another weekend…a Highland Games weekend at that!

September 2, 2009

The usual song and dance…

Filed under: adventuring, googly eyes, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 3:53 pm

Joe and I had a fantastic date night last night on the South Side – homemade pierogies at the farmer’s market, burgers and beer at Fat Head’s, an intimate little concert with three new (to me) bands. We saw the Emily Rodgers Band/Group/Company (she called them something different every time), which we’d been meaning to do for a while. Emily and I go to school together so I was happy to go and support her non-writing art (though I guess songwriting counts as writing, doesn’t it?). They were joined by Vandaveer from D.C. and local powerhouse Paul Luc.

I talk like I know something about these bands, but I don’t.  Joe knows the guys from Paul Luc and likes their music, but I never heard of them or anything by them. Vandaveer was really interesting – just a guy singing with an acoustic guitar and his sister (I think?) doing back-up vocals. All the percussion was him stomping on the stage. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed all of it – the company most of all…

This weekend we’re headed up to Torch Lake for some R&R and also to introduce people I love to one another. And to introduce Joe to my lake. I’m confident he’ll love it and I know Sebastian will, too (poor miss Josie has to sit this one out). I’m also hoping to up the ante on my tan…

Speaking of Josephine, here’s a couple frames of the gang. Joe went down to Maryland last weekend, so I had plenty of time to annoy the animals with my camera. Josie won’t sit next to Seb long enough for me to get a picture of both of them, but I’m sure that day will come.

Josie sticking her claws into me (thanks)

Josie sticking her claws into me (thanks)

kitty in the window, watching the world

kitty in the window, watching the world

Seb is not one to let his snuggling be interrupting by a lens

Seb is not one to let his snuggling be interrupted by a lens

August 28, 2009

In praise of good eatin’ (among other things)

Filed under: adventuring, apartment, googly eyes, pittsburghing — Cate @ 2:30 pm

It happens a lot lately that I’ll open up the door to our building and a smell will tickle my nose. A different sort of smell from that old, slightly musty building – a building with history and dust and smells aplenty. A cooking smell. A food smell. As I walk up the stairs to our (our!) apartment, I’ll say a little prayer that the smell is coming from our kitchen. Please, please, please, I’ll think, lingering exhaustion and annoyance from my work day making me feel a little prickly. Let that smell be coming from Apt 2.

I have yet to be disappointed.

Joe is an amazing cook – and (lucky me!) he loves to share. Prior to Joe, I had a fridge full of farm produce slowly going rotten. Now I have a fridge full of fresh ingredients just waiting to become yummy food. Last night he made us turkey burgers, with a side of string beans and potatoes (he had cous cous, but I’m more of a potato girl) and a big salad. Where I’m content to just make patties and slap them on a bun, Joe’s turkey burgers were full of onions and pepper and spices and he even made bread crumbs and bound it all up with egg. Oh, and sprinkled with fresh basil and cheddar cheese.

I don’t think I have to tell you how delicious it was. Even better: there’s leftovers. A girl could get used to this!

Things are going well in every way. All of the remaining tack strips from the carpet saga are gone (thanks, Joe) and things have been organized (thanks, Joe) and furniture assembled or moved to a better spot (thanks, Joe). Also the floors have been kept pretty clean (thanks, Joe). I must be the worst live-in girlfriend ever. All I do is enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Last night, Joe and Seb and I took a stroll around Highland Park – the neighborhood and the park itself. I call it a stroll because we walked in Cate-speed (ie, slow), but it was a sort of urban hike. We walked for almost two hours, up and down huge hills, getting home sweaty but happy. I like this neighborhood more and more as time goes on. I think the boys had a good time, too. We couldn’t find the dog park, but that’s just an excuse to do some more exploring!

August 25, 2009

The Amazing Introduction of Josie and Seb

Filed under: apartment, googly eyes, pictures, triumph! — Cate @ 4:54 pm

I was so excited about Joe and Seb just being here that I forgot entirely to talk about the actual first time face-to-face meeting of our animals. In a word: uneventful.

Miss Josie saw the Big Yellow Dog coming and went into full-out defense mode: arched back, huge puffed tail, growly sneer. Seb looked in her direction and then totally ignored her. “Oh, there’s a cat here,” he seemed to say. “Whatever. Now about that snuggling…?”

Once Josie realized he wasn’t going to eat her, she settled down and went back to being her normal chatty, cuddly self. They’ve only been living together a few days, and she’s already taken to rubbing up against his face and sniffing him when he’s sitting still. Seb, a gentleman through and through, has once or twice snuffed in her direction but that’s it.

Actually, once or twice Josie has tried to make a speedy exit from a room only to find Seb and his long legs blocking her path. It’s sort of funny to watch her crash into him and Seb look baffled by this fluffy thing careening out of nowhere. Oh, animals. You do amuse!

Josie desperately wants to play with him. A few times now I’ve seen her deliberately rub on him and then go thundering away, only to stop and stare at him, wondering why he doesn’t chase her. She’s learning that living with a small-breed puppy and a large-breed adult are quite different, but I think she’ll end up preferring a dog that doesn’t grab her by the throat and drag her across the floor.

Last night as Joe and I sat on our couch, Josie curled up on my lap and Seb sat in front of us to get some lovin’. They touched noses in the most adorable display of inter-species affection (well, awareness anyway) I’ve ever seen. Of course I didn’t get a picture, but here’s proof that they do share space! It’s dark and hard to tell, but Josie and Seb are both in that picture, quite close and happy about it.

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