Saturday, November 29, 2008

For Auntie Fiona

Look, an empty Christmas Tree just waiting for Fiona's visit to be decorated. I saved it just for you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Childhood mug shots

The best thing about being home is discovering stuff your mother has unpacked from your childhood. Stuff that you had forgotten even existed but she kept for some reason and then you rediscovered all over again, like these mugs. I am not sure whose was which. I think Becca had the lion, the ostrich was Jeremy's, the elephant Caroline's, and the monkey was mine.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How Many Engineers Does It Take to Light a Pre-Lit Tree?

William & I are home in Louisville for Thanksgiving, or, as we sometimes call it, the Great Eat Off. (We have been here for several days and all we have eaten way more food than we normally consume and we love every eaten calorie.)

As part of our Thanksgiving tradition, we decorate the Christmas tree. When my brother went off to college, this was the only weekend we were together until about a week before Christmas. Mom can't go that long in December without a tree-- I utterly agree. This year, because of schedules of coming and going, we have to decorate the tree *before* Thanksgiving.

Because of allergies, we have to have a fake tree. Because of years of frustration with putting the lights on the tree, we have a pre-lit tree. These are great: you unwrap, assemble, and plug in. Then you are ready to go with the pretty ornaments. Only this year it didn't work like that. One of the strands of lights on the bottom of the tree didn't light up. Mom says to turn that part of the tree to the back, and put the ornaments on anyway.

But having a section of lights out is verboten in the engineer's world. Especially when that engineer is a mechanical engineer... and my Dad.

He has this nifty tool purchased at a store that I can't believe he supports. He bought two, in case the first one breaks. It is a wand that tests Christmas light bulbs and strings of light to see if the bulb is bad or the fuse is blown. You see, Mom's solution is too easy. And I have an *entire* family of engineers of varying specialties. Therefore you *have* to find out which bulb is burnt out or which fuse is blown... the rest of us watch the ensuing hilarity, warning each person to abort! turn around! don't get sucked into the search! it is futile and you will never get those 3 hours of your life back.

One little...

Two little....

Three little...

Four Little Indians....

After *all* this engineering help, we still turned the tree to the back because that section of lights are out. Mom's solution works everytime....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Currently hosting: Turkey

And no, it isn't about the upcoming holiday....

Will and I are becoming a half-way house for historians, many of them foreign.

First it was Fiona, but she doesn't *really* count in the "historian" category in our book. (Yes, she is a historian by profession but she is first and foremost A #1 Friend. Very few achieve that level of friendship; I have a couple in that status. The rest of you can keep trying.)

Then came the AHA's annual meeting, where we had Fiona (historian of 19th Century US) again--actually she has been here quite a few times; Dan (from England, historian of Kenya) ; and Jason (from TX, which really is like a foreign country if you think about it, historian of the Caribbean/Modern US foreign relations) staying here. Over the summer, we had Fabian (from Germany, historian of the German Empire and human rights) for a few nights. He is due to make a repeat visit in December. Roger (from TX, historian of British Empire and well, just about everything really), was here for a night when the hotel messed up his reservation. Jason might also make another appearance along in December.

Currently, we have Zeynep from Turkey (by way of Jason, who met her in England. Jason gets around... the archives that is). She is here for the Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America's annual meeting. Unable to get a hotel room, Jason called us and asked if she could stay. Sure, no problem! We currently have the room.

And what do we get for our hospitality? Yummy delicious authentic Turkish Delight and this lovely tradition trinket.

Apparently, most Turkish households have this hanging in their house.

The flowers are common around Turkey (notice the irises...) and it is just so pretty! We haven't found a current home yet, so it is now hanging from the fruit basket in the kitchen. I'll let you know when we find a permanent home... as well as, when the guest room becomes available. We are booked solid until at least February.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bah bah ...

No, I don't have a sheep thing (I have a giraffe thing, actually), but when William and I were in Scotland in August 2007, and we saw these at Castle Eileen Donan, we could not resist.

We have them hanging in the powder room. (The horse one being my favorite.)

So, when Jen, Lydia, Jean, and I (my shopping partners!) went to the Junior League of Washington's annual Christmas Bonanza and I saw these hand towels, *of course* I had to get them to match the other sheeps.

The sheep is wearing a sweater and a wooley hat. How sweet is that? Totally irresistible as well as necessary to complete the decor.

Doesn't it make you want to come over and visit our powder room?

The Grand Finale

Here is it, the very last of the fresh garden veg. We have been ripening them on the table in the house... but I am thinking that this is as ripe as they are going to get and that we need eat them now or compost them for later. Ahhhh, summer.... how I miss thee already....

Putting the Garden to Sleep

Remember this photo from the summer of the main garden?

Or of our herb garden, full of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers?

Well, today, William and I put the gardens to bed. We pulled up the remaining plants, some with peppers and tomatoes still on the vines, stacked up the stakes, and rolled up the hose & sprinkler. Now the garden is asleep for the winter, save for the one lettuce plant in the main garden and Brussels sprouts(?) we have in the herb garden. This is what we have now:

All is resting for the next great summer of production, where we have bigger, better fruits and vegs (and not so many identifiable squashes).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Now that the Carly Simon is in your head too, look at our Christmas Cactus!! It is all ready to bloom for the holidays! We are rather excited and check the progress daily....


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apparently, I'm grounded

She won't let me out of the house. Look at that face, would you cross her path? Yeah, I am not that brave either.

Instead, she is demanding that we curl up on the couch and nap. Ahhh, what a tough disciplinarian my kitty is. I guess I must listen and obey....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Care for a lounge with me?

We bought a new sofa. And by "bought", I mean Will saw a sofa online, IMed me the link for my thoughts, and then he got it. It took all of 3 seconds.

It arrived in pieces and (thank goodness for her!) Kelly and I pushed, heaved, carried, slid, and pulled them into the house. We put it together, much to our amusement (and equal loathing of Allen wrenches), and then we spent the better part of the evening arranging the living room. All in all, an excellent cardio workout.

The sofa really is a twin bed in disguise. It looks like a sleigh bed, it has numerous pillows as a day bed would, and two people can lay on it, shoulder to shoulder.

At first, I didn't approve. It is so big and....well, bed-like. Will came home, saw it, sat on it, and then fell asleep on it for the entire night. Thus proving the point that this sofa is not a sofa but an extra a house with 3 extra beds already (and yes, all of them booked for the Inauguration, sorry!). It completely met with Will's approval.

But having now spent my own time on the couch, enjoying the view out the windows, stretching out with my kitty AND Will, I approve.

Now, you can't really sit in this couch, per se. Case in point: if I were to sit with my back against the back of the sofa, the end of the cushion hits my ankles--and I am a tall girl. Imagine if you were shorter?

You really lounge in this sofa. But, really, isn't that the point??

Sunday, November 9, 2008

15!! Hot Air balloons!

A few weeks ago, Jen and I went to a Virginia Hot Air Balloon Festival, Craft show, 10 K race, and wine tasting. We had to get up super early to drive down there and, having been to the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, we were looking forward to balloon lift up.

We were disappointed, not because the scenery wasn't gorgeous:

or, at least interesting:

But once you go to New Mexico and see 300 balloons go off at once (even if you are there for 4 days and you only see them go off once), anything less than that isn't that impressive. So, sorry Festival organizer who was excited that there were going to be 15 WHOLE hot air balloons at this show, though not all were taking off or landing where we were, but we would be able to see them over the Shenandoah Mountains. Yeah, At first we thought he said 50 and we were impressed, but he corrected us to 15. 1-5.

The only interesting balloon was the beagle:

However, in the end it was worth it. Of only because of the freshly popped, sugary-saltyness of the kettle korn....

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Cheese is...

Lydia, Jen, and I had a shopping adventure last weekend. We were going to the Leesburg Outlets about an hour away from here, but on the way out of town, Lydia sees this sign.

She asks the car, "How do you all feel about estate sales?" Jen and I both say, "Which way do we turn?"

It is amazing what you can find at sales like these. In some ways they are sad, but you have to think that whomever has died and whose stuff is on sale, their children have already gone through and picked out what they want and now are sharing it with the rest of the world.

This one was a great estate sale. There were a ton of things I would buy: silver tea set, beautiful Japanese dining set for 12, lovely dressers. Lydia found a great globe circa 1968 (the decolonization seminar has come in handy! I could figure out about when the globe was based on which African countries were still called by their colonial names. Aren't I clever?!), and two sweet leather bound books, one entitled "Fifty Great Stories". Jen got a few things (though to be honest, at the moment I can't remember what).

And I bought these:

Aren't they even more clever than me? It is a set of 6 porcelain cheese tags! You can write on them with a wax pencil (the marker has long gone). Now you can read cheese type and, for example, avoid the goat cheese. Though *why* would anyone want to avoid goat cheese.

Lydia and Jen are totally excited for me too. But I think it is more because they want me to host a party at which I actually use all 6 cheese tags.... I think I am up to that challenge. Gouda, anyone?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birthday Presents in November


Yes, so for Will's birthday in July, I bought him a min lemon, lime, and orange tree. I was even early in my purchases of these presents, quite proud of myself for that accomplishment. Only to be told a day before the birthday that the plants wouldn't ship until OCTOBER. Now, no where on the site was this indicated. But fine, whatever, he really wanted them. As did I.

Then comes September and we get *part* of the present: rhubarb. Not the mini citrus trees. Rhubarb was a fine hold over for the trees. Will was excited (home grown and made rhubarb crumble anyone?) and he planted our second rhubarb plant with glee.

Then comes October. And instead of the mini trees I get a mini postcard: they aren't going to send my trees. Apparently they are now out of stock. Riiiiiiiiight.

So, I immediate call Fiona to complain. As if there is any other thing to do! And of course she has a solution: order from another company and sends me an email instantly with a link to the company she always uses and loves.

I order, I get plants. How novel. And guess what: I got the plants! Finally.

Will's birthday presents in November. Better late than never.

Aren't they the cutest? And they weren't kidding when they advertised the plants as mini. Maybe they will produce citrus in my lifetime....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

vote Voting VOTED

We have voted: William, Kelly, and I. We walked to the polling station, received last minute political brochures, and walked right in. No line, no waiting. Though, Kelly *did* wait in line to vote on the electronic machine.... behind Will.... So efficient! And so satisfying. Now to watch the results come in....


Go Vote today!

SO easy even a baby can do it!

though to be fair, his parents are pretty much he is smarter than your average baby.