Miss Kitty.

When I was 19, I went with my friend Jessy for a weekend visit to her dad's house. He lived about 3 hours south-east in an area of southern California I'd never been to. When we got to Paul and Jan's house, we were greeted by a cat with a fluffy grey mane. She didn't have a name because nobody knew who she belonged to. The story was that one day, the cat came in through the doggy door and none of the dogs did anything about her. Jan was a little nutty and said that the cat would talk to her and tell her stories. The whole thing was pretty comical. And seeing how I've always loved cats, and this cat had no home, it was like we were destined for each other.

Over the span of the two days that we were there, I fell in love with the cat and decided I would keep her. Jessy and I went to a local pet store, we bought a carrier, and the three of us headed home. At the time, I was kind of like a live-in nanny and I'm sure the woman I lied with was probably like "Wtf" when I brought a cat home. Thankfully, she was totally okay with my impromptu plan and the cat stayed.

About a year or so later, during the summer, I moved out of the of family house and into a fraternity house at UCLA. I took the cat, Miss Kitty, with me. Not too long after our move, Miss Kitty went missing. I remember sitting on the disgusting couch in my dorm room, crying on the phone to my mom about how Miss Kitty probably got lost and how she didn't know the area, etc. I felt awful. I walked all around Westwood, looking under cars, calling her name like a crazy person. I ended up finding that damn cat sitting in some girl's apartment window, nice and cozy as I was sopping wet from the rain.

You better believe I knocked on their door and got my cat back.

As time went on, my life took me here and there. When I went back to college, I moved into a dorm where there were no pets allowed. I went backpacking across Europe. I got married. All the while, Miss Kitty stayed with my mom. Mom was always home and they kept each other company. And every time I'd visit, I'd get my Kitty fix. She was always game for dressing up. And she loved talking. Like, nonstop back-and-forth meow sessions. Always full of zest, she was one of those cats that would come barreling down the stairs meowing left and right as soon as she heard someone enter the front door. And her thing as of the last few years was to rub her face on the phone whenever mom was on it. Being on the other end of many of these phone conversations, it sounded like phone was being massaged by a jackhammer. Miss Kitty was always purring. And always trying to get into some unsuspecting person's lap so she could inconspicuously make herself at home.

Look at those magnificent fluffs in motion

Recently, Miss Kitty starting getting sick. Mom had been mentioning the idea of "taking her in." Neither one of us wanted to do it, but we both knew the time was coming. She tried to prolong the inevitable as much as she could. Like when Miss Kitty stopped eating and mom kept her nibbling on baby food. Even though her body was shutting down, we didn't want to let her go.

Today, Miss Kitty passed away.

It's a hard thing to accept when a family pet is no longer there. All evening, there's been a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball. And my face keeps crumpling into a mess of snots and tears. I didn't think I would be so upset considering we hadn't been very close lately. But I think that's actually why I feel so bad. Miss Kitty had turned into a garage-cat over the past several months and I hardly spent any time with her. The last few times I was at mom's house, I didn't even make an effort to see her.

I feel guilty and wish I could go back in time. It's hard knowing I didn't get to say goodbye. And I didn't appreciate my last visit with her. And I didn't get to tell her how sweet she was.

In the end, she passed while being held in mom's arms. I can't think of a better way to go.

I love you Miss Kitty.

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Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yesterday morning, I woke up craving chicken tortilla soup. I'd never made it before, but I'd been thinking about it for a while.

I looked around at a few recipes and settled on one that seemed easy and had pictures that looked good. Which, if you read my blog regularly, is how I always make my best decisions.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 lb shredded chicken
1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed and chopped
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
3/4 large onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil


1. Place all ingredients, from chicken to cilantro, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. It doesn't get much easier than that.

2. To make tortilla crisps: slice tortillas into strips. Fry in oil. Sprinkle with salt. Warning: these little guys can go from floppy to charred in no time, so make sure to keep an eye on them.

3. Serve with lime wedges, chopped avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cotija cheese, or whatever else strikes your fancy. 

This recipe gets a thumbs up from me, Eric, and my mom. And Mom usually has no problem telling me when my recipes suck. The only thing I'd try next time is to either use low-sodium broth or omit the salt. The soup was already plenty savory and I think the salt could be removed without affecting the overall flavor.

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Restaurant Review: Lucky's

A few months back, we were watching a show on the Food Network called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Chef Cat Cora named Lucky's as her favorite dining spot for a strip steak and both Eric and I drooled over our TV. It was a little lot out of our price range, so I really wasn't expecting to go there any time soon.

Not to mention, it's in Montecito.

For those of you not familiar with the area, you probably have no idea what that is or that Oprah lives there or that it's definitely not a place for commoners like me.

Lucky's is located right on the main strip in Montecito. We lucked out with street parking directly across from the restaurant and it was free because it was after 6pm.

We started off with a cocktail. Eric ordered an Old Fashioned and I ordered the Blueberri Patch:
"Stoli Blueberri, Sweet & Sour and a Secret Splash. Served chilled and up with a sugar rim. An Ezra Atwill original."

I ordered the petit filet mignon. It was juicy and tender and came with grill marks that I don't even think were made with a marker. This place is way better than Sizzler!, I thought to myself. I asked for it medium and it was cooked to perfection- slightly blackened on the outside, pink through the middle. With just two saws of the knife, slices of meat were practically falling off. The steaks come with a sauce of your choice- I went with the peppercorn, based on our server's advise (who, by the way, was extremely helpful and friendly). It looked like a brown gravy and the flavor was rich and very buttery. There were whole peppercorns in it, but it definitely didn't have an overly peppery flavor.

Eric ordered the Bone-In New York, Delmonico. It was easily a larger cut than mine and, according to our server, had more marbling throughout. I tried a bite and it seemed pretty similar to the filet, but with a little more consistency.

For our sides, we went with a baked potato and the hashed browns with Gruyere cheese. The baked potato was topped with Cheddar and bacon and included a side of sour cream. The hash with Gruyere... A gooey, carboloaded treat.

Both potato versions were decadent and rich and you can't go wrong with either. But if you're going to splurge, do the Gruyere.

Worth noting: the steaks do not come with any sides. When you order a hunk of meat, you'll get a hunk of meat and that's it. I thought that was a little disappointing. Maybe that's just how fancy people eat. Fancy people hate side dishes.

If you're in the area and looking for a nice, quaint restaurant that oozes Santa Barbara style, head to Lucky's. Even if it's just for a drink, it's more than worth it.

(Thank you, Eric, for the best birthday dinner ever.)

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My Birthday: 34

I turned 34 yesterday and I have to say, it doesn't feel much different from 33. Except that now, I expect to start receiving AARP mags and Boniva coupons in the mail.

The festivities began a little early when we had Pearl for the previous weekend. On a strong recommendation from a friend (Hi Miss), we took a little drive up the coast and had lunch at Padaro Beach Grill. It was a beautiful day and everyone and their mom was there. Literally. Eric's mom and dad met us there.

It was a burger day all around and we took our time catching up on each other's stories.

Later that night, Eric, Pearl, and I went to see a local production of Willy Wonka. It was a little hokey, but I think that's pretty much par for the course. Pearl LOVED it and it provided some family time while also inspiring Pearl's creativity. A win-win, if you ask me.

As you can see, it was a packed house.

On my actual birthday, I was surprised with some low-key decorations at work...

And office cupcakes...

And a doctor's appt.


But at least I was able to snag a good-looking recipe.

Last night, Eric took me out to a surprise dinner at a nice restaurant we'd never been to before. More on that to come...

All in all, my birthday was great. And best of all, I received a surprise gift straight out of my SkyMall dreams: The Ostrich Pillow.

34 is looking strong, my friends.

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34 Years of Being Me.

Today is my birthday.

I'll post a more in-depth post later. For now, just know that the chances of me looking like the picture above are slim to none and the chances of me looking like the picture below are 100% guaranteed.

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