Saturday, February 28, 2015

Italian Cooking Club

Yumi hosted the February cooking club, and the theme was Italian! Emily brought prosciutto-wrapped melon as an appetizer.

Nancy made Italian Wedding Soup!

I made focaccia bread. Two loaves, one with thyme and one with parmesan.

They went great with Nancy's soup!

Yumi made a mixed mushroom and winter greens lasagana. Mmm, mushroomy!

Valerie made a classic Caesar salad, and Summer made Cacio de Pepe - buttery pasta with black pepper served in a bowl made of pecorino cheese!


Emily made a ricotta tart that dates back to Ancient Rome!

Mmm. What a great Italian feast!

Having leftover focaccia bread has been great. I made Cuban sandwiches for lunch with it!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Calzones & Rodrigo

Dad's friend Rodrigo is visiting Athens from Brazil, working in Dad's shop while he interviews for jobs in America! Tonight we had my parents and Rodrigo over for calzones.

After dinner, Rodrigo played his guitar for us!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Introducing Felix

Right before the holidays this year, a burglar came into our house in the middle of the night. We screamed at him to leave, called 911, the whole nine yards. They stole some items from our home and left us feeling violated. It was terrifying and traumatizing and more than anything they stole our sense of security! The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, and ours were downright dark.

However, one good thing came of the incident. We were inspired to make a major change in our lives. We decided to adopt a dog! For one thing it would make us feel safer at home, but it was also something positive for us to focus our energy on. It was Ben's idea, since I have always been a total cat person and NEVER saw myself owning a dog. But I'm open minded, and it was really important to Ben, so I decided to at least consider it.

We went to the dog shelter and looked at some of the dogs available online. This one named Felix especially caught our eye. He was featured on the Athens Friends of the Shelter Dogs web site. Here are the pictures from his online profile:

And here is what his profile said:

"About Felix

Felix is a gentle, loving dog. He is very smart and would love to learn new tricks. This playful boy also loves to play with soft toys and the toughest of them should last him a week or more. Felix would do well with a like-minded doggy playmate around his same size at his new home and/or an active owner who will keep him busy with adventures. When not playing, Felix loves to show off his cuddly couch potato side and get belly rubs.

In foster care, Felix has learned all his basic commands (sit, stay, shake). He is crate-trained. He ignores the resident cat.

He was found as a stray, so his background information is a mystery. He came to us too thin and with irritated skin, but now he is thriving with the care he has received. He is looking for a family who will care for and love him forever.

He is about 1.5 years old and 65 lbs."

His profile haunted us for days, so we made an appointment to go and visit him! He was part of the new dog program at SEPTA Correctional Facility. Friends of the Shelter Dogs fosters four of their dogs at a time at SEPTA. The inmates care for and train the dogs. Felix had been at SEPTA since August. On New Year's Eve we headed to SEPTA to meet Felix. It was a very cold night and we took him outside for a walk.

Here's a dark photo of Felix and Ben walking around the prison fence.

One of the stranger New Year's Eves I've had. The following weekend, we had Felix come for a home visit. This step was a bit of a miscommunication, because at this point I wasn't fully on board yet with FOR SURE getting a dog. I thought the home visit meant that he would just be coming to visit our home for a couple of hours, but apparently he was coming to stay for the whole weekend! I was feeling unsure, unprepared and overwhelmed.

The first thing Felix did when he came inside was to hop up on the couch next to me. It's like he could tell I was unsure and wanted to convince me that he was special. IT WORKED.

Felix had an eye infection when he arrived. He had gotten a scratch on his eye somehow at SEPTA and it was infected.

So one of the activities we did that first day was to take him to the vet to get it looked at. They gave him antibiotics and ointment.

On day number two, we went out and got him a dog bed and some toys! Remember, at this point he was still on a trial run (ha ha).

Later that weekend, Summer brought Brisby over so he could try going for a walk with a dog friend! They were both really excited. It went well.

He began regularly doing adorable things like eating yogurt and getting a little yogurt dribble on his chin. How could I not want a dog??

The biggest factor determining whether we would be able to keep him was how things went with the kitties. We decided Felix will not be allowed in the basement, so the basement became the safe zone for Charlie and Emma. They stayed downstairs for a solid week, totally freaked out.

Eventually they began to sit on the top step and peek out.

This was progress! Felix would come up to the crack and sniff at them. They would hiss, but stand their ground.

Summer and J had us out to their house a couple of times to have play dates with their dogs! Felix had so much fun and loved getting to play with new toys and try new treats. And we were starting to get used to the feeling of owning a dog!

Summer's dogs are SO well behaved, so they are great examples for Felix!

As Felix has become more and more comfortable living with us, his true couch potato side has come out. He LOVES laying on the couch and spends a lot of time there. There was a moment when we first got him that we considered not allowing him on the couches but that lasted seriously about a minute. Two at the most.

They were BOTH snoring:

The true moment of glory was when Charlie finally came back up on the bed! The bed is his FAVORITE place in the house, and it's where he usually spends most of his time. Felix sleeps in a crate in our bedroom, so not only did Charlie have to get over his fear of coming upstairs, the crate was a scary new addition to our room. But he finally made it! It took him two full weeks to approach the bed and several more visits before he actually felt comfortable.

Felix's eye has been healing really well and the hair has been growing back! So handsome.

It's been a long journey, with lots of this:

And this (both pretending not to notice the other one):

The animals haven't become friends yet, but we feel comfortable with the way things are going. The kitties can now walk past Felix, usually without hissing, and he mostly ignores them. Of course there are still moments of weirdness like this:

But lots of moments of happiness, like this!

So on January 15 we made it official! We signed the adoption papers and he is now a part of our family! We even bought a rug for the living room so he wouldn't slip slide across the floor (doesn't he look handsome and shiny on it?).

We've had fun taking him on car rides!

And hikes!

And LOTS of snuggling on the couch.

So there you have it! I honestly never thought I would ever ever ever own a dog, but now I do and I totally love him. He's SO sweet and wonderful and he makes us laugh every day. And he even has marshmallow paws! The burglary was a really horrible experience and dealing with it was stressful and upsetting, but Felix has been a really wonderful addition to our lives and we're feeling happy and strong again.