Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Bye, 2009

It was a great year for me.
I can't wait to see what 2010 has in store.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We seem to already to be trained. Stirling gives us this look:

and off we go on a w-a-l-k. We have discovered a dog run not too far from us where we've met several dogs and owners. Turns out we've got to make inroads into an entirely new society. The established owners, however are thrilled and welcomed us with open arms. It has been fun albeit cold for the moment.

We did take her to the vet's office today and she is 48 lbs, has a healthy-sounding heart, and is up-to-date on shots and heartworm medication. The vet could not believe that Stirling had only been with us for two days, as she was so calm and comfortable with us. We think that has more to do with how special she is and not how awesome we are. Though, it could be a bit of both.

Mexican Standoff

We are currently experiencing a series of Mexican Standoff.

Underneath the table, we have the 14 year-old, surly, cross, cantankerous kitty.

And on the couch, we have the sweet, young, 5-year old pup.

So far, the Kitty seems to winning. The Dog stops in her tracks, and even sometimes back ups out the Kitty's way. The Kitty hisses, glares, and every once in a while, swipes at the Dog. Once the Dog figures out that the Kitty really doesn't have front claws, we figure, it is on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Cat No Longer Loves Me, Or Why Andrew is Super Jealous of Us

Yes, that is right, Andrew: we got a dog.

Her new name is Stirling. She is a rescue from a rat-infested house in Austin, TX with a 91-year-old man no longer able to care for her or himself. Friends of ours convinced us she would be perfect and delivered her to us last night. They were right: she is perfect.

She is 5 years old, house trained, and knows how to sit. We will work on sit and stay (not to mention, "leave it" when it comes to the cat). She is about 55 lbs, comes to our knees, and part Gorden Setter and I think Shetland Sheepdog (the small ones). She is lovely. We are in love.

Now, the cat isn't really thrilled. We are slowly introducing them and so far has only one swipe from Jackie to Stirling's nose. And Stirling took it. That is a good sign! Currently, Jackie is sleeping in the sun, so it is sorta business as usual.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Return to Normalcy

The Cunninghams survived the Kentucky Relations Extravaganza and patiently wait for the return to quietness, curtains, and free museums back in DC.

Little do they know that a dog arrives tomorrow to ruin it all.... ;)


Mom and Dad are enthusiastically supporting Will's new hobby of whittling. For Christmas, they gave him a bundle of sticks--labeled, even-- and hope that he makes something pretty for them. It isn't often that getting a bundle of sticks at Christmas is a good thing.

Also included were thumb protectors and a fancy whittling knife, that looks remarkably like a pocket knife.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Louisville

Well, I would say that the trip was a success. The planes to and from were on time, the food was outstanding, and the company and family were lovely. I think that the Parents-in-Law survived their first trip to the Bluegrass State.
We arrived Christmas morning to my parents house looking like a restaurant, but when you have 44 people coming to dinner, and everyone has a place to sit down, that is to be to expected. Edward and Sylvia did amazingly well, thrown into the deep end of my gene pool and came out swimmingly.

Christmas was spent with the Downs and they managed to not only remember names and faces but family groupings and which number of the 10 Original Downs Jimmy, Donnie, Matie were. Then to the Farm, where even more Downs were meet and Edward and Sylvia walked around a knob, once they were explained that it is not on a door.

I did eventually make a family tree for Edward and Sylvia so they could see where I fit in. It did take writing very small and two sheets of paper. It certainly helped in the quiz that my family gave the Cunninghams afterwards.

Just kidding, there was no quiz. We were all too drunk on wine, good food, great conversation, and cooing over Brando and Chloe.

And yes, I even brought back some leftover country ham to have here. Not mention cookies, nuts, a few presents, and lots of good stories. Edward and Sylvia will be dining out in Edinburgh on their crazy in-laws for years.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the Twelveth Day of Christmas...

I have a lovely new tablecloth for the Christmas Season. It is the 12 Days of Christmas and it is beautiful and makes me smile every time I walk into the Dining Room (though currently the same Dining Room is being used a sewing room, as the mother-in-law is in town and busy working on repairing our bedroom curtains.) (yes the same curtains that I hate but she has repaired them anyway).

We have the partridge and the pear tear, the milking ladies, and the French hens. Below are details of my favorites ones.

The Piper piping

Four calling birds

Swimming Swans

One of the (little) drummer boys.

Tonight, we have Christmas Eve meal here with Will's parents and some of their good friends, Bob and Patty. We are having lamb crown roast, and brussel sprouts (as they are Will's favorite). Will's mother will make a steamed pudding (which is very exciting) and then we will open our stockings.

Tomorrow morning, the four of us are off to Louisville for Christmas with the Downs and then to the chaos that is the farm. It will be a whirlwind of a holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baking Bonanza

Today's baking involved chocolate walnut flourless cookies. They are very similar to French meringue cookies, but more powdered (icing) sugar than egg whites. I added walnuts to mix and then a few more on top before the cookies were baked.

I have to tell you, these are delicious. Who needs flour? This now brings the baking bonanza to a batch of homemade caramels, white chocolate chunk-macadamia nut cookies, pistachio and chocolate biscotti, and three kinds of scones: cranberry, raspberry, and cherry. And yes we have clotted cream for those.

Will's parents are arriving tonight and after she sees the baking bonanza, she will most likely call him fat, and me responsible! But, it is oh delicious! And don't worry, I intend to share.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Frosty's Lady Friend

We built a snow lady today, based on the red lips and the fetching red scarf, not to mention the dress-like base.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Candy Makers

Since the weather outside was frightful, I made cookies (white chocolate macadamia nut) and caramels. Every year for the holidays, my Aunt Carol sends my mother her homemade candies: bourbon balls, pecan bark, and caramels with hickory nuts. My mother has to hide the caramels from me because I will eat all of them. In one sitting. Carol lovingly shared her recipe with me and I set about making it, which includes (no joke) about 55 minutes of constant stirring.

I will admit that my caramels are darker and not as smooth as hers, and I used walnuts instead of hickory nuts, but the result is still amazingly delicious. I plan on giving them away, along with cookies, but Will has intentions of hiding them away, so he can eat them all.

Playing in the Snow

The aftermath of the 18 inches! We are so happy that the roof was recently done because we couldn't imagine all that snow on a leaky roof.

The snow is literally up to my knees. Thank goodness for my wellies.
Our street, unplowed at 8:30 this morning and still unplowed at 2:23 this afternoon.

Going back to the alley, down the garage side.

We will have to dig out the trash cans in order to use them.

I am making snow angels in the snow in the alley. It is only 14 inches......but when facing a 14 inch ice-snow shelf from the dry garage, it is a common fact that we aren't using the car any time soon. Because even if we could get the cars out of the garage, did you see the unplowed alley? Thank goodness the grocery store is a two block walk!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow at 10:15 pm

It is 10:15 pm and it is still snowing, though not at all like this morning and afternoon. But, every little bit counts. The goal: to be above 2 feet EVERYWHERE in the garden, and not just the snow drifts and where Will threw the snow that he shoveled off the walk and stair. Twice.

Some milk jugs and plant pots, covered in snow,
but also sheltered by the house and
a tree--still, they got covered!

Out our front door and after Will shoveled it twice.
You can see how deep it is on the side where he did shovel by looking at the footprints.

Our Magnolia tree, burdened down with snow.

Looking towards the MacDonald's house.
Look at the cars!
Look at the drifts in the bushes!

It is truly an amazing amount of snow.
We seem to have topped out at about 19 inches,
though it could be slightly more by the morning.

Snow at 5:15 pm

At 12:15, we had 11 inches.
At 1:15, 13 inches
At 2:15, 15 inches

Currently we are between 17 and 20 inches, depending on where we stick the tape measure.

And yes, it is still snowing. Will has already shoveled the steps and walk twice and it will need to be done again, but we will wait until morning.

It is now time to sit back, watch a movie, enjoy a cuppa, possibly one of the cookies I made (white chocolate macadamia nut), and curl up by the fire. The BBC News have dubbed this snow the "Shopper Stopper Snow" and it is just about right.

Snow at 12:15 pm

We have been upgraded from a winter storm warning to a Blizzard Warning! Yea! Upgrades are fun! The snow is currently falling at a rate of 2 inches per hour and isn't supposed to stop until tomorrow morning. We are at 11 inches (28 centimeters if that helps you) and it is still coming down in white-out conditions!

Snow at 9:30 am

our ladybug house

temperature gauge

our new fence with snow!

the alley behind our house

up at the Cathedral

walking in a winter wonderland

the new roof and dormer are holding up well!

it is about 8 inches now,
and it's still snowing!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snuggling Up to the Fire

Baby Kitty has taken the best seat in the house at the moment. She is warming her belly by the fire. I dare you to go in front of her so you can warm your frosty toes. I double dog dare you.... Yeah, I didn't think that you would; I certainly wouldn't dare.

So, we will wait until the Baby Kitty gets all toasty underneath that massive fur coat of hers and then *we* can get warm.

Buying Your Own Christmas

self gift buying: caught in the act

It is that time of year where I scratch my brain and try to think of presents for Will. I don't have the best of luck with getting him presents that he actually likes (i.e. the mini globe made of sparklely rocks and semi-precious gem stones because he travels so much or the mini postal scales because he has bigger, old fashioned scales for plant stands and I thought mini ones would be a fun desk toy). And to make matters worse, Will usually takes this time of year to buy himself presents and doesn't tell me that he would like Santa to bring them. But, more to the point, they are usually gifts that I had NO CLUE he even wanted.

Case in Point, item one:
A combo sundial-bird bath. Now, we have both of these items in our garden already, so who was I to think that we would need both things combined into one. So, you can't fault me for this one.

However, for this second example, maybe I missed a clue? A passing comment or stray thought? Looking back, I *think* I would have remembered that Will *wanted* to learn how to do this, should he have said it out loud, because learning to whittle is something that would catch my attention. Yeah, he bought himself a book:
I guess he figures he has a working fire place and with the 20 inches of snow coming down, he will need something to pass the time. But, yeah, I *never* saw this request coming... I guess that is why he decided to take care of it himself.