Monday, February 27, 2012

High Tea at Ana Beall's Tea Room

I've recently become obsessed with Downton Abbey. I've always been obsessed with aristocratic English life. Formal dress. Butlers, footmen, and lady maids. Beautiful sprawling manors. But mostly tea time. I LOVE tea time. Even as a kid, I loved tea time. There used to be a tea shop near the Liberty Village outlet shops and whenever we went, I would BEG my mom to take me there for tea and scones.

This weekend, my mom gave me a Groupon for High Tea for Two at Ana Beall's Tea Room. I made a reservation for Steve and me for 2:30 on Sunday. The tea shop is located in Westfield across from the train street in a little house. It feels like you're going to someone's home for tea. We were seated on the second floor in cushy seats and given our tea options. I chose English Breakfast and Steve chose Pomegranate Hibiscus. With High Tea, we had the option for soup or salad before our finger sandwiches and scones. We both chose the salad over the spinach vegetable soup.
I loved that the sugar was natural unbleached brown sugar cubes. And Ana Beall's is serious about their tea. It's all loose leaf tea in long sleeve tea bags (that's what's peeking out of the back of the tea pot) that are easily removable after it has steeped long enough.

Our scones and sweets arrived moments after our salad plates were cleared away.
Tower of noms
The top tier held two scones, white chocolate cranberry and cinnamon sugar, with strawberry jam and cream. The middle tier had finger sandwiches: two each of egg salad, chicken salad, red pepper humus, and cucumber goat cheese. The bottom tier had various desserts including crumb cake, a shortbread cookie, some kind of rainbow almond cake thing, and two other things I couldn't identify but were yummy.
We enjoyed the tower of noms. 
Overall, it was a lovely experience. It made for a great Sunday afternoon date with Steve. The environment was bright and cheery and conductive to conversation. There was a back room on the second floor where a large party was celebrating something. (I couldn't tell what.) And when we got there, a baby shower was just wrapping up. I could definitely see having a bridal/baby shower there.

I will definitely go there again!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My cat has body image issues

Maya is a recovering bulimic*. Around age 4, she used to throw up constantly after she ate. Like, constantly. CONSTANTLY. Poor thing could barely keep her dinner down. She would binge and purge, usually onto or very near my favorite shoes. It was very sad. Her belly was very sensitive, but she was otherwise very healthy. She weighed around 7.4 lbs two years ago at age 4.

Her vet prescribed Pepsid. I gave it to her for a month, but didn't really see a big difference. I ended up switching her food from a regular indoor cat formula to Eukanuba Sensitive Stomach cat food. It worked wonders. It seems she just had a very delicate belly. Her weight zoomed up from 7.2 lbs to 9 lbs at age 6. Maya was officially chunky.
So now I have a fluffy, chunky cat and her weight keeps climbing. I know that the treats I give her for her "workouts" are part of the problem now that she keeps all of her food down, so I did some research and found some natural, low fat kitty treats.

I guess I should explain her workouts.

To get my mostly sedentary kitty moving, I hold up a kitty treat, wait until she sees it, then throw it across the room. My floors are hardwood, so she runs and slides to get it. Then she comes back for more. Sometimes she tries to catch them. It's highly amusing. We play this game daily.

Back to the treats. I ordered Catswell Vitakitty chicken jerky, Wellness Pure Delights chicken and lamb jerkyThrill Natural Freeze Dried chicken cat treats, and Innova cat treats. All of these treats got excellent reviews, have high protein and low fat content, and hopefully Maya will like them. I spoil my little kitty.

I'll let you know how it goes when they arrive.

*Just to clarify, I don't take eating disorders lightly. I'm aware that bulimia is a serious medical condition. But I am also aware that I have a cat who binges and purges. So laugh, people. Laugh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I don't have to remind you that today is Valentine's Day. For most of my life, I have hated this day. This day was always filled with lovey dovey grossness that reminded me of what I didn't have. Before last year, I had never had someone to love on Valentine's Day. And now? Steve and I celebrated our first Valentine's Day together last year with dinner and a movie. And with that one dinner, most of my cynicism over the day vanished.

I was actually cheerful today. Seeing people with flowers and giant teddy bears actually made me smile. It seems that with the glaze of cynicism removed, I can see this day for what it should be. It's a day for showing the people you love what they mean to you.

I'm not spending today with Steve. Because Valentine's Day is Tuesday, we decided to have date night last night. We had a lovely dinner and watched a movie at home. It was a nice quiet night. This morning when I woke up, I found this on my laptop.

He got me a card!!! He's always been anti-cards, but knowing that he went to a store and chose a card was so sweet!

So I'm alone tonight. I got dinner from Trader Joe's, a salted caramel cupcake from Crumbs, and I'm having a lovely Valentine's night snuggled on the couch with Maya. I'm happy and content and loved. And today was a good day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Maya needs a Catio

Maya has the boredom. I know this because she attacks the television when I'm watching it because the attention is off of her. She's normally a very well behaved cat, but ever since the television has entered our lives, things have changed.

It all started this Christmas when Steve got me a new TV and a Wii. I always had a TV, but I barely ever used it. Now I have a Wii with streaming Netflix and a new TV stand. And Maya doesn't like this. Now I no longer sit at my desk and let her lay across my arms while I type at my laptop. I sit on the couch and the laptop is on my lap and there is no room for Maya. She does not like this. Not one bit. Maya decided that the television is her mortal enemy. And it needs to be destroyed. 

First wave of attack: kill it with cuteness. Maya thinks that by distracting me with her fluffy butt, I will forget that there is a TV behind her and give her lots of love and num nums.
She's mocking me. You can see it in her eyes. 
This did not work. I attempted to deter her from sitting directly in front of the screen and batting at the screen by setting up a complex trap consisting of a cardboard strip with double sided tape stuck to one side (sort of like a weak glue trap) and bowls with fresh lemons on each side of the screen (lemons are natural cat repellants. I'm not kidding. Look it up.)
I'm watching Blue Planet. That's a shark. 
Maya scoffed at my feeble attempts to deter her and took the high ground.
Creepy cat is creepy.
I was out of ideas, but Maya had an appointment for a checkup, so I asked the vet if he had any suggestions for me on how to stop her from attacking my television. He said he'd never heard of anything like this. Awesome.

He suggested that I put on cartoons or nature shows or anything else very animated for her to watch when I'm not there so she can think that the TV is for her too. I didn't do this. But I did put on Blue Planet while I was there and we watched it together. 

So that brings us to the Catio. Steve and I have been watching Jackson Galaxy's show on Animal Planet and HE says that bored cats need outlets for their inner wild animal. So this weekend, we're going to Ikea and getting stuff to make a catio. That's a Patio for Cats. Or a cat friendly patio. Or something like that. Except I don't have a patio, so we'll probably just get shelves and make Maya a perch so she can look out the window and not attack my electronics. It's worth a shot. I want to keep her happy. She makes me happy. :)

Maya is good for migraines. Apply directly to affected area.