Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Hobby

Anyone who knows me knows that usually I am home nights, cross stitching.  I am sitting on the sofa, though lately it's been right by the fire, "watching" TV or a movie, sewing.  (Now, you understand why I go through a lot of Netflix.) 

It is always Beatrix Potter characters and for a friend's baby who usually has come way before I have chance to finished. So, the present is a litte late but it's the thought that counts. Right? 

After every project, I have to reorganize and straighten out my thread, especially if I have had to buy additional colors, to stick in my binders that hold nicely all of the colors. 

Would you believe that I don't have all the colors?  I have recently finished one project and will start another shortly... and yes, I have to go and get additional colors. 

And Later in the Day...

...After Will ate his breakfast, elevensies, lunch, snack, and teatime....

Before and After

Red Current Scones for breakfast!  Delicious...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good to Know: England takes Visa to get a Visa

Apparently I need a visa to marry Will in England. These Brits, I tell you, they don't let just anyone marry them in their own country. The good thing is one can apply online. I had give them all sorts of information: how many, when, and why I have visited foreign countires; income statement; family info; blood type; name of first pet; preference for the bacon butty or Scotch egg; the genealogy of the Queen;... the list goes on and on...

An hour later and at the cost of $116.00, I have completed, finally, the online application.

Once I clicked "done", I then printed off the application. Next, I must show up in person with Will for an appointment in February to an office in Alexandria with paperwork, passport, and acceptable passport photo to obtain permission to get a visa. Afterwards, I will have to send more paperwork and granted permission (yes, I am assuming it will be granted) within two weeks of the appointment to a consulate in New York. After that, I guess I await for the visa to be sent in the mail.

All of this when we live three blocks from the British Embassy. Literally, three blocks. I pass it on the way to work...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It snowed here today and our office closed at 3:30 pm. Currently, it is snow-raining.  Though, to be fair, it isn't as bad as in Kentucky. I am sure that all the Obama folks in town from Chicago are laughing at us Washingtonians and our weather-fearing, school-closing, moisture-aversion to snow and sleet. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Version of Toast

We can toast FOUR slices of bread at once now!!  We have enough power in the kitchen to do this.  Before we couldn't.  Toasting four pieces of bread tripped the fuse, overdrawing the power as the kitchen shares the same circuit as the basement, the upstairs hall, the guest bath, our bath.... you get the idea.  We fixed heaters in the basement, which had their own circuit, so Kelly wouldn't need to use the space heater. Not using the space heater freed up enough power so that Will and I can have four slices of bread become four slices of toast AT THE SAME TIME.  And Kelly is warm!  Ahhhh, fabulous. 

To celebrate, we had BLTS, which required eight pieces of toast. Just inconceivable with a normal 2 slice toaster.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Radiator Hell

So, remember this post? Course you do, it was just this morning. That sound of running water I mentioned.... um, yeah. 

We were told to go get a radiator key and bleed the radiators, as there was probably an air pocket preventing pressure and water from getting upstairs to the those radiators. We got the key from the local hardware store, and we bled the old radiators upstairs: nothing but a lot of air came out.  Then to downstairs.  All air coming from these radiators until I get to the sun room, which we have closed off for the winter as it is really cold since the room is basically windows with no insulation and only one of the two radiators in there works.  

I open the door to that room and discover this:

A Closer view: 

The non-working radiator, the one with shelving built around it--yeah, it was the one that sprung a leak.  Really, it was more of a stream.  A stream that has been running into that room, onto to the floor, through the floor, outside of the house, and into the crawl space below the house.  We have 5 cm think icicles on the side of the house!  


We called a lovely heater/plumber/ac repair man and he found a crack in the radiator valve. About four hours and $800+ later,  he discovered that this radiator was not hooked into the main system, but had been capped off on the supply side of the water. But water still went through the cold radiator.... Yeah, I didn't get it either. 

So, he explained.  Radiators have two pipes connecting them to the main water supply line that leads to the boiler.  The boiler heats the water and the pressure is what runs it through the pipes.  The connecting pipes to the radiator bring hot water to it--that is what heats the room-- and cold water runs out of it and back to the main line, back to the boiler, to be reheated. Now, this radiator had been disconnected to the supply of hot water but not from the cold water.  So the cold water from the entire system still ran through this radiator, and in this instance, had been leaking for at least a week into the sun room.  The great thing about boilers, too, is that they are constantly refilling to heat water to send it out again to keep the house warm.  That meant that the radiator had basically an endless supply of water to pour out of itself, until we turned off the heat entirely. 

As Will likes to say, "Basically, it was a big, ol' messy mess." (Though, to be honest, this was not the *first* phrase that came out of Will's mouth)....

The plumber dude recommended that we at some point hook this one back into the main system.  But that *someday* will be way after the wedding and when hell freezes over...oh wait, it did.  In my sun room. 


Reason #842

Why older homes are problematic: Radiator heating that has not been properly maintained. 

I love radiator heating.  It isn't as drying as the heating systems of today.  I love the sounds they make; I like the window seats that the covers make.  It is *usually* a really good way to heat a house, *if* they have been properly cared for.

Last night, however, Will and I discovered that the upstairs radiators are no longer working.  I have been hearing clanking (totally normal) and water running (not so much) coming from them while Will was away and I ran the heat higher (65 degrees).  Yes, the old adage of the cat's away, the mice will turn up the heat.  

Will came home, and turned down the heat (60). Last night, I noticed that upstairs was particularly cold.  I checked the radiators in all the bedrooms, and they were stone cold. Turning up the thermostat didn't make a difference, either.  

So now it is Sunday and we are on Angie's List trying to find a radiator repair man to come and see what is up with the radiators upstairs and bleed the radiators downstairs, which are producing a bit of heat.  

In the meantime, it's 9 am and I am going to light a fire to stay warm....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Composting=Happy Squirrels

We compost. We have one bin and several bags of compost, just waiting for the springtime. In the meantime, we have a lot of decomposing food.

We also have a lot of squirrels. They are certainly well fed on our bird feeders and suet feeders. And now, they are supplementing their whole grains and carbs with some much needed Vitamin C. They must be warding off a cold...

Before and After

Will has grown a tree. Isn't he amazing?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kitty Found the Warm Spot

On the radiator in the office.... Move over, kitty.
I am coming to join you!

Date and Location, Check!

June 27th, in Merry ol' England, Will and I will wed!

This is where the reception/bed and breakfast where we will stay: King John's Lodge. 

Next decisions: church v. registrar's office, band v. dj, buffet v. sit down, oyster bar v.  hm, really, who is against an oyster bar? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Concert on the National Mall

Here are photos of my amazing day yesterday as one of the 400,000 on the Mall for the Inauguration Concert for Barak Obama. It was electric. It was worth braving the cold to be there and hear what Obama had to say, hear the music, etc. Several times the whole crowd was singing along and it was just an awesome, in the truest sense of the word, experience. I am so excited for this presidency....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Remember, Soft Knees

Yesterday's weather proved a dilemma: too cold to walk to the gym and workout. Not to mention that we (Kelly and I) really wanted to just go home. However, I have to get *wedding ready*. The solution: Dancing with the Stars: Latin Cardio Dance at home.

We loosened our hips, legs, abs, and arms. We merengued, cha-chaed, mamboed, and sambaed. We spun, kicked-balled-changed, and twistled. We laughed and laughed as I lost the beat and the count and tripped myself; as Kelly walked forward into the lamp several times and got dizzy on the spot turns. It was hilarious... and we will do it again.
50 minutes of laughing at yourself while learning rhythm and burning calories, awesome. But, as Maskim reminds you, soft knees. And to shake out your arms every once in a while.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank you, S&G

A few weeks ago, some of Will's friends from Denver came over for a visit and we had a lovely night by the fire. Lots of laughs and wine and good food.

This morning, I opened my front door and there was a package for Will and I from them. A lovely box tied up with a spring green ribbon-- my favorite color but just how they wrap the boxes.

Inside: the cutest chocolate caramels ever!
It comes from John and Kira's Chocolates, in Philadelphia. They are artisan chocolate makers, among other things. Sandy and Genevieve gave us the ladybugs and bumblebees, which are either dark chocolate ganache or salt honey caramels. They are the sweetest things! And very tasty.

The sad thing is that Will is in Florida for the week. Wait, sad? Lemme rephrase, the *lucky* part is that Will is in Florida this week. heh heh heh

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If it's not Scottish...

For Will's big Christmas gift, I found a 1795 map of German (frame included)! It's perfect, since his heritage is Scottish and mine, German: A perfect melding of us. We have hung it in the dining room, so our dogs have something at which to look.

After much searching, we found the Cunningham region on the map. It is in top left of the orange bit (see the different colors of the different sections on the photo of the big map?) it is right on the western border of Scotland, near Arran Island. If you look at the second photo, you can see "Cunning......h....a..m" spreading out towards the east.
I totally think that this means that Will *has* to wear his kilt at our wedding. I mean, he has to honor his family's heritage. I plan on wearing a drindl, after all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A return of an old friend

Our sharp-shinned hawk has returned for the winter. He is simply amazing. Will and I watched him try to scare out little sparrows in the bush for a good ten minutes. Last year we watched him get at least two birds and drop one very wiggly squirrel. After he flew off, Will promptly went out and refilled some of the empty bird feeders. I am not sure who he was trying to lure back into the yard....

Indoor Grilling

My big Christmas gift was a Le Creuset Grill. It is FANTASTIC! We have grilled fish and pork chops so far. This salmon was absolutely delicious. Fiona-- you should be very jealous.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What will our garden grow?

I am trying to not think about the mounds of work on my desk as I write this.... or the web browser open with 344783042 tabs open searching for tea-length wedding dress.... instead, I will focus on spending the gift certificate my sister C got Will for Christmas from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Hmmmm do we need purple carrots, green tomatoes, and pink swiss chard?

*Sigh* I want my garden back....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Location, Location, Location

Will and I are trying to figure out when/where/how to have this wedding. At the moment, since we can't agree on a figure for a guest list as we have competing ideas of numbers and how many people are parents can invite, and the budget for all of this is a bit blurry, we are seriously contemplating the DC Courthouse. And then have a huge party later. Wouldn't any bride love to be married under the archway with fake roses?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Upon request

As requested: closet photo. Though only one finished with Will's stuff....

Here is the labor intensive photo part:

New Closets

I got back from NY with a surprise! Will redesigned the two (out of 4) closets in the dressing room before our bedroom. Now I can have (some of) my stuffs in there too, as opposed to the dresser and closet of one of the guest bedrooms. Very exciting. This makes me feel *more official* then the ring.... ;)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I don't get it.

Okay, I know that Christmas windows of the New York stores are supposed to be all hip and fanciful and stuff; they are supposed to strike with awe the passers-by and make them stop and stare at the displays.

But as Fiona and I walked by Bergdorf's what we were struck by were the sheer bizarre-o combinations in the windows.

the dead birds....

the hideous and super-sized jewelry....

the uniformed serving monkeys....

the acordian....

We don't get it.

Obama's favorite Chocolate is now MY favorite too

As an engagement gift, a lovely colleague of mine from Seattle handed me a box of Fran's chocolate. She gave Will and me the gray & smoked salt caramels in dark chocolate. They are amazing, as Fiona can attest.
Apparently, these have become Obama's favorite candy. And Oprah. And Harrison Ford. With fans like these, you know it's gotta be good.

And as my colleague: chocolate is decadent but doesn't last long, unlike love: equally as decadent, but sweeter and more enduring.

Will and I (and Fiona) will eat to that!

This is what I need

Right now. Maybe all three of them....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Working" in January

Every January, Fiona and I meet up for a week. It is under the pretense of "working/attending the AHA's annual meeting." The location and exact dates change from year-to-year.

This January, we are meeting up in New York right after new year. We are staying (for a steal) at the Waldorf-Astoria. As I check into this amazingly ornate hotel, I am struck by the Art Deco style... ZOMG. Is that a chocolate fountain AND lobster claws in the lobby?

Why, yes. Yes it is.... Being here really can't be called "working."


One of the delicious edibles from England to which Will has introduced me to is Battenberg tea cakes. Sometimes called Chapel Window cake, it is a pound cake-like dessert wrapped in apricot jam and marzipan. The cake itself if divided into sections, pink and yellow, to look like a window. We requested that we get these (and Bath Olivers and hot water bottles) brought over from the Motherland whenever we have visitors from there.

Now, we don't have to wait until the next Englishman (or woman) arrives. I have learned how to make it! Especially key now given the fact the British government in April 2008 asked for a voluntary ban on artificial food dyes in food, which would effect Battenberg cakes (and Turkish Delight and mushy peas)!

It might be a heresy committed against my great grandmother Mammy's pound cake to wrap it in anything because it is so yummy on its own, but I have taken it, divided the batter in half and added red food dye to get the pink color. And no way can I pass on the recipe for the cake (My mother might kill me), but those of you who have tasted the cake know that it is too.die.for. And to be honest, this cake might have been the best one that I have ever made.

Once they were out, I let them cool completely, and then put them in the fridge (wrapped in cling wrap), to really set up. Then I cut them into square logs, spread apricot jam in between and all around, and finally wrapped marzipan (rolled out over sugar) around the whole cake.

Viola! Homemade Battenburg.

When you come to our house for tea, we will serve this to you with your cuppa.