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Menace 2 my sanity.

I fought the cat and the cat won (but so did I, eventually, so I guess it was more of a draw)

Menace 2 my sanity.

Menace 2 my sanity.

This time last year we were heading into battle. It was a battle for the ages against a foe I doubted we’d ever overcome. It was a fight for olfactory purity, and it was being waged in our home.

It started in the darkest corners of the basement, where neighbor cat Boo Radley (yes, really) liked to sit in the window wells and taunt JJ T. Cat. It smelled musty, sure, but “Hey,” I told myself oh-so-naively, “that’s just what basements do.”

I didn’t put two and two together until JJ brought the fight upstairs and I witnessed him at work.

JJ was spraying.

I didn’t know it yet — not until I bought a little black light and investigated just like I was Horatio Caine and JJ was a Miami uber-criminal — but JJ was spraying everywhere. The walls. The front door. The filing cabinet. And most hideously of all? He was spraying into the heat register in Pete’s bedroom. (We discovered that when we turned the heat on for the first time last fall and suddenly the kid’s room smelled like the swamps of Dagobah.)

We were at war against the cat, and the cat was winning.

A little Google research let us know that the war would have to be waged on two fronts simultaneously. I couldn’t make the house smell clean if JJ was still spraying, and JJ wasn’t going to stop spraying until the house smelled clean again. So I set to work cleaning every surface — Pledge wipes on the walls, carpet deodorizer on the floors and Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer on every surface — and we took JJ to the vet for a checkup.

The cleaning worked well. The vet? Not so much.

JJ was perfectly healthy, the vet said, but nothing was going to make him stop spraying. He was unhappy being inside, where the neighbor cat could taunt him at will. We had a choice to make: JJ could be an outdoor cat, or we could have a funky-smelling house of horrors. Emotionally, it was a difficult choice to make. I never wanted an outdoor cat. It’s dangerous out there. But logically, I knew what we had to do.

JJ T. Cat has been outside for almost a year now. I’ll admit to missing his presence inside every now and then. He was an excellent snuggler. But now he’s the king of the yard. Boo Radley keeps his distance, and JJ gets to lounge on the sidewalk to his heart’s content. He also has his own private entrance to his suite in the garage, because it gets cold here in the winter and I have a softish heart.

It was a tough decision to make, but you know what? I’m really looking forward to the house still smelling clean after I turn the heat on this year.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Acorn: An Influence Company‘s #SmellsClean campaign. The “sponsored” part means money and some product changed hands. Acorn didn’t tell Nichole what to write, though, which was probably obvious as they almost certainly wouldn’t have suggested that she write about flying cat urine.

Seattle's Best Coffee Giveaway

Caffeinate thyself with a free cup of coffee

Seattle's Best Coffee Giveaway

Seattle’s Best sent us some of their coffee to try, and resident coffee expert Rockford liked it. I asked him to write a review of it for me, but he doesn’t talk about coffee. He just shambles into the kitchen in the morning, brews some joe, tosses it back and then springs off to work like a feisty little squirrel on the trail of a big ol’ mess of acorns. It’s exactly like “Shaun of the Dead” + “Fight Club” + “Ice Age,” except completely different because my husband is neither zombified, nor Edward Norton, nor an antediluvial squirrel nor — spoilers, maybe? I haven’t actually seen or read “Fight Club” — delusional.

He’s just very busy. He really does love coffee, though. As evidenced by Exhibit A:

Who needs words when you can emote like this?

Who needs words when you can emote like this?

This is what my pour-over coffee "system" looks like. Pretty advanced set up, huh?

This is what my pour-over coffee “system” looks like. Pretty advanced set up, huh?


Rockford rarely drinks more than one cup of coffee at home, so last year we traded our old “normal” coffee maker in for one of those bad-for-the-environment single-cup models. After he’d used the K-cup sample from Seattle’s Best, we used the so-called “pour over” method to make the ground House Blend they’d sent.

(Lifehacker says the pour-over is for coffee snobs; I say it’s for people who do have a bag of coffee but don’t have a coffee maker. Tomato-tomahto, Lifehacker.)

For Rockford’s pour-over coffee, I put a little cream and sugar in the bottom of the mug and a tablespoon of ground coffee in the be-filtered pour-over funnel thing. Then I slowly pour in 8 ounces of almost-boiling water, and a few minutes later it’s coffee time. I don’t drink much coffee myself, but I do have a cup of hot cocoa most mornings. Some mornings require more of a kickstart than others, though, so I have also been known to give my morning cup of hot cocoa a lift by doing a “lite” coffee pour-over into my cocoa mix. I use about a teaspoon of ground coffee and 8 ounces of water for my DIY mochas. It gives my drink just enough oomph, and it’s considerably easier than making a whole cup of coffee just to season my cocoa.

Vaguely Related Sidebar

I never drank coffee until I was in college, but it wasn’t because I was pulling all-nighters or anything like that. It was because I worked at the front desk of a hotel. By and large, it was a pretty easy gig, aside from occasionally being required to unclog a toilet or getting yelled at by an irate businessman or when the person on the midnight-8am shift decided not to come to work and the assistant manager thought it would be a fine idea to have the person who’d worked 4pm-midnight (i.e. me) go ahead and cover it. That last part is why I started drinking coffee, because that happened more frequently than you might expect, and it’s where I learned that I prefer my coffee spiked with chocolate.

My guy might not be so outspoken about his love of coffee, but Seattle’s Best has rounded up a bunch of guys named Duncan who are. Here’s what they had to say:

Even if your name’s not Duncan, Seattle’s Best would like to give you the opportunity to try their brew. Go to the Seattle’s Best Coffee Facebook page for a free sample of their House Blend; it’s available now through April 30, or while supplies last.

A sample isn’t enough to fuel your day? Then you should definitely enter to win one of five coffee kits that we’re giving away! Each kit includes a bag of House Blend packaged coffee, a House Blend K-Cup sample and a Seattle’s Best Coffee travel mug. Good luck!

Congratulations to Hannah, Mary, Amy, Karla and Don! There is coffee in your future. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eastern Spice Company Vindaloo Blend

Eastern Spice Co. makes Indian cuisine easy

Beef VindalooI love trying to make foods from different cuisines at home, so I was quick to say yes when Eastern Spice Company offered to send me one of their products to try out and review. The idea behind the fledgling company is to “make Eastern cuisines much more accessible to the average Western kitchen” by supplying tins of pre-blended spices. Each tin contains enough spice to make one complete recipe, and Eastern Spice Company has a recipe for each blend on their web site.

They currently offer four spice blends — Indian Chicken Curry, or Tamatur Murghi; Indian Tangy Curry, which makes chicken or beef vindaloo; Indian Coconut Curry, or Kaari Chawal; and Indian Vegetable Stir Fry, or Aloo Subji — all of which I’d like to try because I have yet to meet a curry dish that I don’t like. They sent me the vindaloo blend, and Rockford said he’d rather try it with beef than with chicken. So that’s what we did.

Our beef vindaloo was delicious and much spicier than I’d expected it to be, which was fine by me but too much for Poppy. Pete, Rockford and Rockford’s parents didn’t have a problem with the heat level, either. We all chomped it up while Poppy feasted on rice. (We served the vindaloo with a little yogurt on the side to cut the heat.)

The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the recipe format. The vindaloo blend is meant to be made with either chicken of beef, and the proteins require slightly different preparations. The recipe on the Eastern Spice Company web site co-mingles the instructions, which made it a little bit confusing. It would’ve been easier to navigate if they’d had separate recipes for beef and chicken.

A set of four spice blends would make a really nice housewarming or hostess gift, and at $4 a tin I think they’re definitely worth the price. The guys at Eastern Spice Company gave me a coupon code to share with you, too, to make them even more affordable! The code, ESC10, will take 10 percent off your order and is good until Friday (03/14/14).

Rockford and I will both be enjoying leftover beef vindaloo for lunch today, and let me tell you: I am really looking forward to lunchtime.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner the rest of the week:

Menu Plan Monday Woman Cooking

Monday: Sweet Spicy Chicken Tenders


Tuesday: Chilaquiles Verdes


Wednesday: Rosemary Chicken


Thursday: Spicy Taco Soup


Friday: Pizza

I’m linking this up with’s weekly Menu Plan Monday thing.