Six Things Sunday

I just ate a super delicious dinner of ribs, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, and I’m lying in my bed thinking, “Hmm, what do I want to do with my Sunday night?” And then I heard this sad little voice call from the corner of my mind, “Blog! On lalalyssa!”. So here I be, regaling you all with exciting tales from my life. Or, six things on my mind this Sunday. Whatever works, right?!

1) You should enter to win a yummy little prize package of pot de creme and cookies from San Francisco based company Petit Pot! I’m hosting this on my other blog and believe me when I tell you these desserts are luxe and well worth every single “my jeans are tight” moment.

2) This meme made me LOL for real, not just in my head. It’s pretty much how I felt on Friday after a super busy week.

3) I’m seeing Radiohead on Thursday night! I somehow got lucky and was able to buy tickets in the lottery they held, and I can’t wait! I’ve never seen them before, and my dear sister is graciously watching our kiddo. If you haven’t heard any of the new Radiohead, here’s one of my favorite new songs. (The video is a little bit sinister, but it’s really cool claymation.)

4) I was one of the 215,000 people who bought an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker on Amazon Prime Day, and I am in love. I was skeptical before I hit the buy button and wondered if it would collect dust in the corner of my cabinet like the ill-fated panini press or even my industrial sized food processor, but this thing is magic. I made Spaghetti Squash in 8 minutes start to finish, sweet potatoes tonight in 7, Rice in 12 minutes, a bolognese pasta in 30 minutes (including meat), and a pot roast in 40 minutes. I’ll write a blog post later on about the full wizardry of this appliance, because despite initial fears about blowing up the house, this appliance deserves a spot in kitchens across the country. Thanks to What I Run Into for helping me make the decision to invest!

5) I had the opportunity to watch From Fat to Finish Line, and I was so happy to see a documentary about a team of people from all across America who lost a ton of weight running the Ragnar Relay together. (Side note: two of my blog friends have run the Ragnar, and it looks so fun! Maybe one day if I find enjoyment in running I’d consider doing it… today is not that day 🙂 )  I think what I loved most is that the group had two people on their team who were still in their “during” phase of weight loss, and they spoke candidly about how it felt to be on a fitness journey surrounded by “afters”. I found their stories to all be really inspiring when many obesity documentaries can come off too dramatic and sinister. The fact is obesity is a serious problem many of us are facing (yours truly) and while there’s no denying the health risks or dire state of emergency we’re in, I like it when a documentary or film can add some levity along with the overall “This is why you need to change” message. I’d highly recommend From Fat to Finish Line, especially if you’re into running!

Here's one of my favorite people from the doc, Carly.

Here’s one of my favorite people from the doc, Carly.

6) It took me an embarrassingly long time to find this cat. See if you can do any better.

Find a cat from pics


That’s all, folks. Happy Monday to ya!

The Hemingway House: a Cat Lover’s Paradise

Matt and I recently took a vacation to Key West and the Bahamas, by way of a totally snazzy Groupon deal I got ($400 for two for a four night cruise to the Bahamas! Deal alert!). Before our cruise, we drove down to Key West so we could check out this quaint island town and the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway saw this abandoned house in 1929 and fell in love with its unique stylings, having been built by a ship architect and captain in 1851. With Victorian touches and a plantation style wrap-around porch and shutters, this house is perfect to imagine sitting with a cool glass of lemonade, flipping the pages of a favorite book, and scratching a few wandering kittens.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.56.28 PMWhile the house itself is gorgeous, I was most taken with Hemingway’s cats — all said to be descendants of his first cat, Snowball, that he got from the docks of Keywest. There are currently 50 cats that live on the property and receive medical attention and care through the Hemingway Foundation. There are truly cats everywhere — and in this picture, you can see our tour guide doling out some treats, which brought them all running. See Joe DiMaggio’s paw? (Yep, that’s his real name) He’s a polydactyl, which means he has five toes instead of four. Many of the cats at Hemingway house have five toes. (I at first wrote pterodactyl and then was like… wait, that’s not right.)

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Because the cats are such an important part of the house, they even have their own graveyard. Hemingway liked to name his cats after famous people. Can you imagine if he was alive today? There would be Lady GaGa’s, Obamas, and Angelina Jolies.

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The house still has much of Hemingways’ original furniture, like this gorgeous bed in the master bedroom.

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To commemorate our visit, of course we had to get something for the cats… so lucky for them, the Hemingway Home Bookshop sells reproductions of 1940’s style Hemingway-esque cat bowls. Lucia and Ollie are loving slurping their water from this very fine literary vessel.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.25.50 PMIf you’re planning a trip to Key West, definitely stop by the Hemingway House. Even if you don’t love cats, you’ll love seeing where this tremendous writer set up shop and wrote many of his masterpieces.


My Transition to Crazy Cat Lady

Today, my awesome friend Shelley texted me that she wanted to lodge a complaint against LaLaLyssa. I immediately assumed she was going to say that I am not blogging enough, which is kinda true, and I’d admit it, but mostly because lately if I don’t have anything to say, I don’t say it. BUT! To my surprise, she instead told me that she clicked on the “Cats” section of the site and that there was nothing there! This is a tragedy of course, because I do dearly love cats. But it wasn’t always the case.

Me and Rosie and Daisy

Me and Rosie and Daisy

I was born into a house with two black labs named Rosie and Daisy. Daisy vanished into the cornfields one night while my family was on vacation, never to be found again. Rosie survived our move to Florida and the addition of our cute but bitchy dachshund beagle mix, Peaches. Peaches knew how to play a room, and often sat on her hind legs in what I called her circus act. However, if you got too close to her when she was in a mood, she’d quickly snarl at you and snap her shiny white teeth. She had ‘tude.

Peaches, Rest in Peace.

Peaches, Rest in Peace.

When we moved to California, it was decided that Rosie’s old age and frail state couldn’t make the cross country move, so she was lovingly put down. Once we were in California, we picked out our new dog to be Peaches’ companion: a fat, wriggling Black Lab German Shepherd mix puppy whom we named Bailey. Bailey was fiercely loyal, and I do mean fiercely loyal: she nipped the thighs and buttocks of many of our childhood friends. My parents warned me and my siblings that if Bailey bit someone again she would be surrendered to the pound… so we just never told them, as Bailey continued biting her way through the fleshy thighs of our friends. (It was never serious… just a small little bite on the ass here or there. Yes, I realize how horrible that sounds. Haha! Sorry, friends. My parents have also since found out and are in disbelief how many people Bailey sampled. LOVE, it makes ya do crazy things.) Bailey never once opened her jaws at us, and instead allowed our constant pestering and devotion.

My sweet but bitey Bai.

My sweet but bitey Bai.

Peaches succumbed to a seizure, and years later, my parents adopted Bella, a beautiful but clingy, massive golden retriever that lived in the backyard of the guest unit I rented. They now live with Bella and Maggie, a golden retriever my mom picked up the day after I got married (she always likes a project).

My parent's dogs, Bella and Maggie

My parent’s dogs, Bella and Maggie

Growing up I never really liked or disliked cats, I just had never been around them. The first time I met Matt’s mom, I was delighted that their very shy, very choosy Abyssinian cat, Abby, climbed right up into my lap and settled into a tight little bun. His mom remarked upon how unusual it was for Abby to take to a stranger, and thus I decided maybe me and cats could be friends. I began to get used to the slinking around of Matt’s cats, and when Matt and I moved in together, we decided to get our first pet (I’m not counting the horrible brief time period of owning miniature red eared sliders). I stalked Craigslist for days, waiting for a gray, female tabby kitten with stripes to come onto the market., because I loved their polka dotted bellies and elaborate patterns. And she did… in the form of ‘Bianca’, a four week old kitten who had been rescued from a 7-11 dumpster. It was love at first sight, and as you can see in this picture, my eyes were alight with the possibility of our blissful future. We renamed her Lucia after the beautiful green sea of St. Lucia (which we had recently visited). Lucia quickly captivated my heart, with her dedicated cuddling and attempts to steal my sandwiches.

Lucia and Lyssa, love at first sight

Lucia and Lyssa, love at first sight

We decided that Lucia needed a friend and in came Leo, a majestic, shy orange Maine Coon kitten who had been overlooked for the four months of his life at a local kitten rescue. Lucia hated Leo with a passion, and our plan for their friendship was quickly foiled, but we never gave up. Leo was Matt’s shadow and Lucia was mine, and that was good enough. Leo had a constant hunger for the outdoors, always sneaking off through the door when we came in. Sadly his lust for the outdoors ended his life as he zigged when he should have zagged one night on our busy street. Now our cats are indoor only 🙁

Leo, rest in peace.

Leo, rest in peace.

Next up was our little ball of fur, Oliver. We initially were interested in Oliver’s brother, a fuzzy gray and brown kitten named Note. Right when we were going to say we wanted Note, his adoption was finalized. We went home empty handed and I decided to write on the organization’s Facebook page asking them to let me know if they had any male kittens. Sure enough, Note had a brother, ‘Cymbal’, who was out for neutering and would be available the next day. We visited ‘Cymbal’ and were smitten by his somersaults and leaps through his cage. And how could you resist such a little fuzzbucket? True to his show that day at the rescue center, he’s a curious, playful, mischievous cat, constantly chewing up telephone lines or figuring out ways to get up on top of doors, closets, furniture, and yes, even the ceiling. (I didn’t know it was possible until he did it. The wonders never cease…)

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Oliver as a kitten.

It’s been two years with Ollie and Lucia is finally beginning to maybe, kind of, just a little bit, like him. They sleep within two feet of each other sometimes without killing each other, and I count that a win. I never thought I’d be a cat lady, but now I can proudly admit that I love cats. I love about them the many ways in which they are different than dogs: They are definitely moody, they’re very independent, they’re incredibly intelligent yet sometimes very dumb, and they can be very, very devoted. I love how they can find a loose bead on the floor and be amused for hours, yet the food they’ve been loving for months they suddenly have no interest in. I love that they’ll stalk a gnat all day but ignore a giant spider that lives in the corner at eye level (can’t blame them). I also love that they have a whole kitty language, ranging from the most annoying meows to the most angelic mews to the most rattling warbles to the most strange sounding chirps. I love that they truly do sleep 22 hours out of the day, will use anything as a pillow (even lemons) and are the laziest animals I’ve ever seen. Cats! There’s just so much to love.

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I definitely want a dog one day (a yellow lab named Butter, please), but until we live in a place that allows them, we’ll continue to be a two-cat family. Now what about you — cats, dogs, or both? (And proof that diehard dog fans can change: my parents recently adopted Marlie, shown below. I like to think my cat-lady ways had something to do with it!)

Marlie and Maggie demonstrate interspecies love

Marlie and Maggie demonstrate interspecies love