A few new things to try from Trader Joes’

On Friday October 18th, a new  Trader Joe’s near my home.  I was so excited that I rushed after work to not only get my free reusable bag, but to look around at all the goodies I’m always hearing about!  When I got there it was insanity!!!  I guess I wasn’t the only one who’d been waiting for Trader Joe’s.  

I couldn’t take the crowd, but I did manage to get a couple of things that I wanted to try.  First being this:

Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Latte Mix

Now, I LOVE Chai tea, so this just sang to me.  I tried it that very night.  What impressed me most was, many times you buy these mixes and they say to use water or milk.  If you use water it usually tastes horrible, but this didn’t!  It tasted amazing just with water alone.  I can only imagine what it tastes like with soy milk!

This deserves:

4 tuna cans – This stuff rocks!

small tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna can

The next thing I tried is Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack

Crunchy, a little salty, a little fishy and you can eat the entire package and only take in 60 calories!  I’m thinking about making a mock tuna salad spread with this.  Some experimenting is definitely in order.

I give this:

3 tuna cans – You have my attention.
small tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna can

So far, Trader Joe’s hasn’t disappointed me.  Sadly, it’s still incredibly crowded to go into. I’ll have to wait a few weeks until the novelty has died down a bit, so that I can go in and fully and calmly investigate things.


Opinions wanted about my article!

Some of you may have read I am writing a short article, in the hopes of submitting it to some cat magazines and having it published.  It’s finished, but still a work in progress.  I now I’ve got a bit more work to do here, and adding a little more personal experience with these different types of litter may be included, but I’d love some opinions from you all.  Even if you don’t have a cat, or any pets, your opinion would be appreciated.

Here it is…so far:

Litter me this, litter me that, what kind of litter is best for your cat?

I know what you’re thinking, another article about litter, OY!  But hey, litter is important, and we who serve the furry gods know just how important.  More so perhaps than making sure crazy uncle Fred doesn’t sit next to the boss’ wife at your wedding.

Most people I know who have cats buy the litter they like in the beginning, and while most cats cooperate, many don’t.  I’ve known many a cat servant who has gone through several different types of litter before they find one their cat likes.

As with ANYTHING, there are pro’s and con’s to each type of litter you buy and use.

Clay Litter:

To begin with, most of us start off with the clay litter.  This type of litter is fairly inexpensive, at first glance.  However, it comes with, I believe, the most issues.  The main one being when it gets wet, it stays wet for quite a while.  As we know, cats, most cats that is, hate getting their feet wet, so this will be an issue.  Each time your cat uses the litter, you would have to change out the old and add new.  Here is where your initial inexpensive litter becomes pricey.

Clay clumping litter:

A better option is buying clumping litter.  Here you can find clay-based and plant based options.  Clumping litter will form into a solid piece as soon as it becomes wet allowing you to just scoop the clump out of the box.  However, this type of litter can be very dusty, so you will have kitty tracks all over, not to mention this may present an issue with those who suffer from allergies, be they human or feline.   Also, if your cat is allergic to corn or wheat this litter will be an issue for you and it’s best you avoid it.  My own experience with clay based litter was I found it was too dusty for me, and I didn’t like knowing my cats were ingesting the product.  They get the dust on their fur and feet and the pieces get stuck in their paws and they swallow it.

Corn and Wheat clumping litter:

I have found that corn litter, while is advertised as a natural odor eliminator, didn’t quite work that way for me.  As for the wheat, it did control the odor slightly more, however the clumps eventually would get stuck to the box.  You may as well invest in a jack-hammer to help you clean the boxes, because it’s near impossible remove the clumps that stick to the boxes!  I wonder if the ancient Egyptians used wheat litter to build their pyramids because this stuff isn’t going anywhere!  I won’t tell you how many boxes I threw away before finally changing litters.

Pine pellets:

Pellet litter is made mainly from either pine/wood, recycled paper and recently I used a product made from walnut shells.  Of the three, I have found the pine to be the most effective for odor control.  I live in a not too large loft.  With 6 cats and a dog, believe me, I appreciate the odor control!  A trick many of us know is adding some baking soda, preferably the kind without aluminum, as this can also be ingested by your cat and cause health issues.  The biggest issue however with the pine is it could pose a health concern if your cat is asthmatic.  I recently have begun to suspect one of my cats suffers from what I hope is just a mild case of asthma.  There is a naturally occurring substance in both pine and cedar, plicatic acid in cedar and abietic acid found in pine, that can damage the respiratory tract and cause problems with asthmatic cats.  For this reason, I am looking at some alternatives.  This is an ongoing process, as these days funds are low and it isn’t easy finding something as cost effective as a forty pound of pine pellets for $8.00.

I was able to try out one product, a walnut based product, that seemed like a good alternative, but as with these previous litters, it has it’s pro’s and cons.

Walnut based pellets

I asked the feed store I purchase my pine pellets from if they could order me a bag of some walnut based pellets.   The pellets were slightly smaller than the pine pellets, mainly because this is made for “cat litter” purposes, and the pine litter I buy is used as “horse bedding.”  That’s why it’s so inexpensive, it’s the labeling.  Anyway, the first thing I noticed was how dark this litter is.  It’s like a really dark charcoal gray.  I immediately didn’t like that.  If you are like me, and regularly monitor the color of the litter, this dark color makes it impossible to see any change of color in urine.  By that I mean, finding blood. I recently  had one of my boys develop a case of cystitis.  I noticed Vlad using the box a little too frequently, and as I waited for him to come out of his box at one point, I noticed a drop of blood hit the litter.  Now, Vlad is black, and I saw the drop of blood as well as some pinkish color in the litter because of the yellowish coloring of the pine litter.  Had I been using the walnut based litter, I never would have seen this.  That concerns me.  Also, just for daily scooping it’s hard.  I mean, it’s REALLY hard to see the poop!  The odor control was so-so too.  I wasn’t a fan, even though two of my cats didn’t seem to mind it.  Actually the one that I do suspect as being asthmatic, Oksana, hasn’t set one foot in the litter.  She prefers the pine in the other boxes.


This is something I have never used.  When searching for a litter I stuck with the one that had been next on my list, which happened to be the pine pellets.  I also don’t like the idea of silica being something my cats can ingest.  I have however read that the odor control with this kind of litter leaves much to be desired.

Most litters I have highlighted come either unscented or scented.  In my opinion, I think the “scented” is more for the human, and not so much for the cat.  Cats don’t want to smell their own urine or feces any more than we do.  Finding something that can minimize the odor is the key. For me, pine has worked the best.  I do not have to dig for brown gold on a daily basis, because as long as it’s covered, the pine covers the smell.  Of course, unless my cat Czarina gets into the box.  I don’t mind telling you, her stuff is toxic.  She was a stray for about 3 years before I found her and brought her indoors, although I do suspect she at one time may have belonged to someone since she was already spayed and showed no sign of having been part of any TNR program.  She’s never really though learned how to bury her poop, and sometimes one of my other cats finds it so particularly offensive that they bury it for her.  But when they don’t, I have to dispose of it immediately, because it WILL fill the entire apartment with the smell.

Lastly, there is a product I have used that I would gladly use more if it were not so economically unfeasible for me. Dr. Elsey’s is a brand that has several products for different situations.  There is a special “Cat Attract”, “Kitten Attract” “Senior” and “Respiratory relief”, litters.  I have used the Cat Attract with the last stray I rescued.  Tatiana was nine months old when I brought her inside, and had no clue what a litter box was.  For several days she either went inside the carrier she was hiding inside, or on the floor.  After having to clean the carrier several times and lining the floor with pee pads, I decided to buy the “Cat Attract” litter.  It worked within the first hour of placing it in her area.  This is an excellent brand of litter.  It is pricey however.  Not so terrible if you have one or two cats, but I myself have six, so it’s very difficult for me at the moment.  If things change for me financially however, I do plan to move to this litter.  Let’s hope the cats decide to as well!

Getting older isn’t so bad.

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, on the phone, and she mentioned to me how she was starting to feel old. I can relate. Really. Now, for the record, I’m only 45. I don’t think that’s “old.” Hell, I don’t even think 60 is old these days, but I certainly don’t feel as young as I used to. I remember the days when I used to play with board games and ride my bike around my neighborhood. I find myself not really interested in too much new music, and more and more prefer to listen to the “classic” stations. Yeah, classic as in songs from the 80’s and 90’s! Brother, if you had ever said to me that U2 would ever be considered a classic band, I’d have laughed in your face and told you to take your Geritol grandpa. See, I’m dating myself because I don’t even think they make Geritol anymore! Do they?

The reason for these thoughts began couple of days right before Thanksgiving Day this year. My niece was born on November 22, 1990. Christ, in 1990 I was 23 years old myself and living with a total loser, out of work and wondering how much worse my life could get. Fun times right there.

As my friend and I kept talking we remembered the times when we rode in the back of stations wagons with the windows down, and rode in the front seat of cars standing up with little thought of seat belts. My father actually ripped the seat belts out of one car we had because the noise that went off when the seat belts weren’t worn was driving him nuts. I mean, hey heaven forbid we actually buckled up! You see, back then we didn’t have the mass exodus of information coming from every possible outlet today. We weren’t worried about being thrown out of car windows in accidents or being impaled by lawn darts. Today, between cell-phones, tablets, laptops, radios and television, we’ve got news coming out of our pours. It’s virtually impossible to NOT be informed about something!

At the risk of sounding like a naive child, there are days when I wish I could be back in grade-school, not really knowing what the rest of the world is going through. Too much information comes with it’s risks. For someone like me who already has anxiety issues and tends to be slightly OCD, having all of this information at my fingertips can make a person just want to stock up on Diet Dr. Pepper and Ramen noodles and just shut the world out! However, that would irresponsible and frankly a bit ignorant. You just can’t live that way no matter how difficult the world around us and everything going on gets. Me? I have medication, and I AM NOT afraid to use it!

It’s not all bad though. With the passage of time, and growing older we begin to really find ourselves. We become something a little different than what we were in our youth. I find myself a little more mindful of others feelings, and realize it’s not just about me. This world isn’t just for me! This world is about WE and US. Being kinder to others and going out of your way to help and do something good. Not because you’re getting anything out of it other than a good feeling. I’ve become more active in social issues than I was as a young adult. The environment is more important to me than it was when I was 15 or 18 or even 25! I advocate for animal rights, and am a militant animal lover! I’m a vegetarian working hard on being a vegan. I’m more interested in politics and feel this ever growing need to inform others as I myself become informed. Self-awareness is pretty awesome, and I was nowhere near this aware of myself and the world around me 20 years ago.

I look around many times and think, I’m not where I thought I’d be when I would think of my future at 23. I thought I would be married with a couple of kids at this point. I’m not, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that maybe I never really wanted to have kids. I saw my cousins getting married and having kids and thought, that’s what I was supposed to do. It’s just never happened for me, and really, at 45 I am not about to start having children. As for the getting married part, I’m still open to that, but admittedly, I’m a hard pill to swallow. I have my issues and I’m very settled into the way my life is now. Still, I do think I’m in a better place than I was back in my younger days. There are times when I wonder how I got here, but I guess where we are at this point in our lives is where we are supposed to be in the grand scheme of things. In my case, the loser boyfriend has been long gone for many years, and while I do have a job, I am desperately looking for something better. I have a small dog sleeping next to me, and 5 cats sunning themselves next to the window. At this moment in time, I’m where I am supposed to be, ready for what life, God and my guiding spirits have in store. Yep, getting older is not so bad.

I live with animals!

Last night, as I was laying in bed, my iPhone in one hand playing Words with Friends, and my remote in the other as I raised the volume on Storage Wars, I realized, “I live with animals!” To my left, on the nightstand lay Czarina on a pillow. At my feet lay Kiska, and Maks. To my left side Sofie, who had just wiggled her way to comfort. Oksana was on the dresser watching as Vlad walked across the room and contemplated either jumping up onto the bed.

In that moment I became amused to no end. Think about it. Here you have these little lives. They’re all furry, have sharp nails and VERY sharp teeth. They eat in your kitchen and most of the time sleep on your bed, and they’re animals. Yes, to me my cats and dog are just as important as someone’s child is to them. These ARE my children, they have feelings and they all have their own distinct personalities. They are intelligent little beings, but yes they are animals and they are in my house! I think that’s just the coolest of things.

Pandora Radio

I’ve been listening to Pandora online radio for a few days. I love how it allows me stations that play similar music to an artist I list. But sometimes they like to confuse you.

Much like today. I have a “station” named Pablo Cruise. If any of you are familiar with them, they’re a late 70’s band, I think their biggest hit was “Love will find a way.” Really laid back easy going music. So imagine my confusion when the next track on the station right after “Baby come back,” by Player was, “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) by W.A.S.P.

Yeah, I didn’t get it either, but hey I love the song either way and I really needed the chuckle.

Honey and Plantain cheesecake.

There are times when I have very little in my fridge, very little.  Friday, was one of those times.  I had a few things and went online to see what I could make with some cream cheese and eggs.

I found a recipe for honey cheesecake.  So, I decided I’d go with that, but I’d add something extra.  I had a ripe plantain and wondered if I could incorporate that somehow.  I didn’t have any graham crackers or any vanilla wafers, so I had to improvise.  I had Count Chocula cereal.  Yes, you read right.  Having nothing to lose, I went at it.

In the end, I wound up with a pretty damn good cheesecake.  It’s not overly sweet, which makes the ingredients of honey and plantain to stand out more.

Here it is:

Honey and Plantain cheesecake


2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1 large ripe plantain (very important, make sure you use a ripe plantain, not a green plantain)
4 eggs
2/3 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 dash cinnamon (optional)
1 dash pumplin spice (Optional)


1 cup Count Chocula cereal
1/4 cup butter

Pre-heat oven to 350.

For the crust, mix the Count Chocula and the butter. (trust me.)
This will give you enough to make a thin coating at the bottom of the pan.
For more, use 1 1/2 cups of cereal and 1/3 cup of butter, which will allow you to bring the
crust up the sides a bit.

To make the filling, boil the plantain for about 20-30 minutes on medium heat, until soft.
Mix room temperature cream cheese with plantain, eggs honey, vanilla.

Pour the mix into your tin and then place your tin in a water bath, which is just a large pan, filled with water.
Place into the oven for 1 and 15-30 minutes.  Depending on your oven, until firm.
When done, take it out of the oven, and allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then place in the refigerator
for at least 3-4 hours before you take the cheesecake out of the tin.  Then place it back into the fridge and allow it
to further cool overnight.

As I said at the beginning, this is not an overly sweet dessert.  The honey and the ripe plantain, along with the cereal crust allowed the natural sweetness to come through.

When you serve, add a drizzel of honey or even chocolate.  I also like spreading a bit of raw honey over the top.


Don’t mind the kitty legs in the background. My assistant liked the spotlight.


Easy Quiche

One of my favorite things to eat and make is quiche.  I have a very easy recipe that I’ve been using for several years.  I found it in an old recipe book.  Over the years I’ve adapted it so that I can make something easy and I can use any number of different fillings.

To begin with, you need your ingredients.

Okay, don’t mind the large black kitty. He’s my assistant.

It’s not easy cooking with 5 cats running around.

I always try to by cage-free.

Add a dozen eggs in a bowl and beat as though you were making a very large omelet. For a very hungry giant.

After you beat the eggs, you add a half-pint of heavy whipping cream. Make sure it’s heavy and don’t add more than the half-pint. Then you add your spices.

These are dill seeds. Or are they fennel seeds? No, sorry that’s dill. I suppose you’d say that’s a good dash. I add a little more fennel, because I like fennel, but you can play with it. You really can add any of your favorite spices. It’s all about experimenting. I also added just a shake of white pepper and oregano. I didn’t add salt, simply because I’m not a big salt eater, and with everything else I added, it’s flavorful enough for me.

I buy the small blocks of spinach from the freezer section. I’ve also used the packages, which is easier because you can add them directly from the package, instead of having to thaw it out and squeeze the water out.

This is the block of spinach after I squeezed the water out. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s plenty, believe me.

Mushrooms. Not too thick cut, but not too thin either.

I put the spinach in first, then add the mushrooms and lastly the cheese on top.  I would say I add about a little more than half a cup of shredded cheese to each quiche. But again, it’s up to you how much cheese you like.

I add the egg mixture with a ladle. I add one ladle at a time to each shell, so that they each get the same amount. The ingredients will yield two quiches. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, and then bake for 35-40 minutes. With my oven, 35 minutes is perfect. The quiche comes out moist, not too dry. It should not be too dry if you plan on re-heating in the microwave. And don’t worry about the pie shell being yucky if you re-heat in the microwave. I do it all the time, and it comes out fine. Just be careful and nuke the suckers in 10-15 second intervals.

And here you have the finished product. That’s how you want it to look, a nice light golden color. I love this because as I’ve said before, you can add anything. I’ve made this with tomatoes in the past, I’ve also made them with asparagus. You can add meat if you like as well. Experiment and add things you like. This is a breakfast, lunch and dinner meal and it is very satisfying. This keeps well, covered in the fridge for about a week.

Of course, one of the best things is how inexpensive this is for a mean that, at least for one, can feed you for a week for less than $10.00

I hope you make this and enjoy it!

This is my recipe, but I’m still giving it 4 tuna cans!  It’s awesome!

Sonia Kashuk cosmetics

I’ve been searching for a cruelty free cosmetic line ever since I found out Clinique (who I had been using at the time) Mary Kay, and Avon were no longer cruelty free. It turns out they have been trying to sell their products in China, and the Chinese government will not allow any products used for personal care to be sold unless they have been tested first…on animals. So, hearing this news I began looking for a company, that was not only cruelty free, it’s suppliers cruelty free, AND reasonably priced!

There are several great options out there. Urban Decay and Hard Candy, are two such companies.  I had decided to get some things at Target and thought I’d check out Sonia Kashuk, since I knew this line is sold there.  Imagine my extreme surprise when I found out that not only are all of Sonia Kashuk cosmetics are cruelty free, but so are their suppliers as well as their make-up brushes.

I wound up buying some concealer, and I have to say I’m thrilled with it.  It actually covers better than the Clinque I had been using, and was almost three times less expensive.  My next purchase will be foundation.  There are a couple of colors that look like a good match for  my skin, and I’ll also get some blush.  I think I’m going to be very happy with this.

I give Sonia Kashuk 4 tuna cans – This stuff rocks!

So Delicious Dairy Free

As many of you know, I am a vegetarian.  I do eat eggs and dairy products.  But, yet again, in an effort to live cruelty free, I am always looking for alternatives.  For a time I was drinking soy milk only, but I stopped after reading some articles linking soy products to cancer.  I still eat soy, but not as much as I used to.  I’ve been buying Rice Milk, which I like if I’m having say, milk and cookies.  But for cereal I like to use So Delicious Dairy Free.  like the taste, but for me, it’s too rich to drink alone. I hadn’t tried the ice-cream, but yesterday I decided to give it a go in the hopes of this being another product I can buy to replace dairy ice-cream.

Here’s what I tried:

Since I bought this at the supermarket, they didn’t have the varied selection a place like Whole Foods may, so really my choices were limited to Vanilla Bean, Cookie dough, and Chocolate.  Of course, I chose chocolate.  You can’t go wrong with chocolate…usually.  I was pleasantly pleased with this.  It was actually much creamier than I thought it would be.  Originally I thought it might be the consistency of say a sorbet or something similar, which I really don’t like, but it wasn’t!  It didn’t have as chocolaty a flavor as I would have liked, but it was still very good, and it had a hint of coconut taste, which was expected.  This product is soy free and dairy free, and they have a couple of flavors that are gluten free as well as no sugar added flavors.  There are also some Almond milk varieties, which I’ll have to look for as well.

All in all, I was quite happy and I give this 4 tuna cans – This stuff rocks!