Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So, is Little Merry Sunshine back for good?

I have been asked the question above in various forms a number of times since Monday, when I posted for the first time in two weeks. This post marks the fourth post in three days, so it sure looks like Little Merry Sunshine is back.

The truth is I don't know whether Little Merry Sunshine is back or not. That may sound silly, since you know, I write this blog. You might think that if anyone knows the answer it would be me. That logic is sound. I should know the answer.

But here's the thing: I don't know that I feel like I have anything to say anymore. Exhibit A: What's for lunch? A PBJH&C Sandwich! posted just after midnight on Monday morning. That post, all 430 words of it took two hours to write. TWO HOURS. Do you know how many times in the past 30 years I've told that story? I bet it's close to 430 times. I probably tell it in less than five minutes. And yet, I couldn't put it down in writing in less than two hours.

I can stand in my shower and dictate blog posts all day long. So if you were standing in my shower with me, I'd regale you with many witty, thoughtful, relevant blog posts. Unfortunately, just as I rinse the shampoo down the drain, my top-notch, Pulitzer Prize winning blog posts run disappear too. In fact, in the past few months, that's really where Betsey and Ross let me down. It was their job to transcribe my wit each morning and each day I'd step out of the shower and they would have failed . . . again. Oh, well, I loved them anyway.

But I digress. I'm just not sure where Little Merry Sunshine stands.

Let me be clear about one thing, if nothing else: my lack of writing has everything to do with me and nothing to do with you, my dear readers. You keep reading LMS each day, even when I don't post. When I do, you show up in amazing numbers and you comment. You send me notes when I'm quiet for days (or weeks) on end asking if I'm okay. One of you in particular, pokes me to write almost daily. You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words.

Here's the promise I will make to you: Little Merry Sunshine will not just disappear. I will tell you if I decide to close down my blog. For your loyalty, I owe you that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta . . . It's What's for Dinner

In looking through my refrigerator the other day, I realized I had some pesto, chicken breast, sautéed onions, and pasta that needed to be used, so I decided to make chicken pesto pasta and found the recipe below on

Before you read the recipe, let me just say that I don't often follow recipes to the T. I usually view them as suggestions and add my own twists to make the dish my own. That's what I did tonight. I'll make this dish again, but next time, I'll grill the chicken breast rather than cook it on the stove. Additionally, I used pre-made pesto rather than making it from scratch, but I would make it from scratch in the future. I used vegetable broth rather than chicken broth and did not include sugar or salt or extra pine nuts.

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta


2 cups fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 medium ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons dried basil
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

1 16 oz package dry penne pasta
5 Tablespoons olive oil divided
1 large onion, diced
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 (8 oz) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place basil, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, and tomato in a food processor. Gradually add olive oil, while pulsing, until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. In a bowl, stir together chicken broth, 1 cup white wine, dried basil, oregano, and minced garlic. Stir in chicken pieces.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until just al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, and sprinkle with sugar. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken and marinade. Stir in 1/2 cup white wine. Simmer chicken pieces, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add pasta and pesto to the skillet. Stir in cream, and cook until the sauce is thickened. Adjust salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Been A Month . . .

It's exactly one month since I said good-bye to Betsey and Ross.

I've gotten to the point where I can now mostly think or talk about them without crying or being sad, but every so often the pain is still raw.

Don't misunderstand me, I know I made the right decision, but I miss them.

  • I miss them hopping up on the dining room table in an attempt to share my dinner.
  • I miss Betsey nuzzling my neck and purring as I fall asleep.
  • I miss Ross greeting me at the door each night.
  • I miss the way they'd warm up my bed each night and give me the stink eye each morning when the alarm went off.
  • I miss them shedding on everything and never being able to get their hair off my clothes.
  • I miss the mess they'd make with their food on my bedroom floor.
  • I miss finding Ross hiding in my bedroom closet or under the bathroom sink.
  • I miss Betsey "talking" all night long.
  • I miss the way they would groom each other, protect each other, and curl up into each other to sleep.
  • I miss Betsey "helping" me work by laying across my left arm while I typed on my computer and "reading" every word I wrote.
  • I miss waking up in the morning to find all my lower kitchen cabinets wide open because Ross has opened them during the night.
  • I miss them talking to me while I am in the shower, where they knew they had a captive audience.
  • I miss Ross's rough and tumble attitude. In 16 years, I never saw him lose his cool and calm demeanor. He even purred when he saw me coming with the insulin needle.
  • I miss the way Betsey would suddenly be under foot before I had a can of tuna completely open, even if when I pulled it out of the cabinet she was three rooms away.
  • I miss the how they would scratch at a closed door when I was on the other side because they thought I was having fun without them.
  • I miss looking over at the wing-back chair and seeing Betsey curled up on it.
  • I miss pulling out a chair at the dining table only to find Betsey or Ross curled up on it and giving me the "do you mind? I'm sitting here" look.
  • I miss walking into the kitchen and finding Ross on the counter licking drops of water out of the faucet. I guess I'm just lucky he never figured out how to turn it on.
I guess I'm just trying to say I miss them a lot. I keep thinking I'm not going to miss them so much. People keep telling me it'll go away when I get new cats to replace them. I've actually looked at some cats online at the local shelters and considered adopting a cat a friend was giving away because her new home wouldn't allow her cat. But I'm just not ready. Maybe one day, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

What's for lunch? A PBJH&C Sandwich!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of my house burning down. I've written about the details before (here and here) so I won't repeat myself. Instead, let's talk about lunch.

Lunch is one of the three most important meals of the day. The other two, of course, are breakfast and dinner.

After our house burned, we spent a month or two living in the Arlington Park Hilton (later the Sheraton and now gone). Each morning as Dave and I got ready for school, I called the restaurant to order our brown bag lunches. And each day, I ordered the same thing: a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for Dave and a Ham and Cheese with mayo, lettuce and tomato for me.

Typically, we'd pick up our individual lunches when we went down for breakfast and then hop in the cab to school, but on this particular morning, rather than fixing two bags of lunch, the kitchen sent us just one bag, but said both our lunches were inside. For some reason that day, Dave and I decided that rather than stay at school for lunch, we'd run home and have a picnic lunch with Mom, so I didn't bother to divide up our lunches at school.

Three hours later, Dave and I surprised our mom who was at the house with the contractor. She grabbed her lunch and we all spread a blanket out on the lawn to enjoy our lunch together. Unfortunately, our Norman Rockwell-ish lunch didn't last long.

I opened the bag of sandwiches Dave and I picked up at the hotel only to discover that not only were our Peanut Butter and Jelly and Ham and Cheese sandwiches wrapped together in one large piece of foil, but they also shared two slices of bread. That's right, we received two pieces of bread containing mayo on both slices, ham, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, lettuce and tomato.

Let me repeat myself: in spite of having made us the same two sandwiches every day for a month or more, for some reason on that morning, someone in the kitchen thought I was asking for one sandwich that contained mayo, peanut butter, jelly, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato.

Once my mom got past being irritated at having to get us McDonald's for lunch because there was nothing else we could get fast enough and still get back to school on time, we all enjoyed a good laugh.

To this day, thirty years later, we still laugh about the day Dave and I shared a PBJH&C sandwich.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happiness Is Love

Each morning I receive inspirational quotes about happiness, called the "Moment of Happiness," from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I love The Happiness Project. It's one of the most feel-good websites I know.

Each quote in the Moment of Happiness is unique and focusses on a different aspect of happiness. Today's quote I found to be particularly special and I thought I'd share it with you. It also happens to be a favorite quote of mine from the Bible.
"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
-- 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Monday, April 2, 2012

I've Been Quiet Because I've Been Mourning

You may have noticed that I've been quiet since March 23rd when I posted Betsey and Ross's obituary.

The truth is that I've spent a lot of time crying and missing them. I miss them more than words can begin to say. In fact, even writing those words make me tear up and I've gone all day without crying once. Some days, I do really well and can smile when I talk about them or see their picture. But I haven't been able to read the obituary I wrote since I posted it because to see it is too still too much.

The cards, notes, and comments from friends and readers have helped me. It's amazing how many people really understand that pets are more than just pets. They're family. And, in a way, they're more than that. Unlike some family relationships, my relationship with Betsey and Ross was never complicated. They never judged or said "I told you so." I never felt inferior with them and they didn't care if I put make-up on in the morning. They simply loved unconditionally and let me love them unconditionally. They taught me that.

I picked their ashes up on Saturday morning from March Animal Hospital to bring Betsey and Ross home for the final time. Walking through the vet's door, I burst into tears. Kathy, one of the wonderful receptionists, spotted me and brought me the package containing their ashes, in one urn, and their paw prints. Inside the velvet bag was a card with a story a co-worker had sent me earlier in the week. Each time I read it, the story makes me feel just a little better.
Until we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge . . . 
There is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. 
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had been left behind. 
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly sops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carry him faster and faster. 
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again career the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from life but never absent from your heart. 
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together . . .

Betsey and Ross are playing together at the Rainbow Bridge. And until we're together again, their ashes live in a special place in my house and their paw prints hang next to the collage of my favorite Betsey and Ross pictures.