Friday, December 31, 2010

Where did 2010 go ?

2011 is just around the corner and I am wondering how 2010 passed so quickly. I have always heard that the older you get, the faster the years go by. I guess that is true.

April - Nov was spent focusing on the renovation - packing and moving furniture, living thru the construction and then painting. I do not have such lofty goals for 2011. Although, a new front walkway is hopefully in our future.

Next year will be an exciting time as family members graduate high school and head to college. Some will start their Senior year in high school  and focus on choosing colleges.

I pray that our pack will have continued good health. May the dreaded C-word NOT be heard in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2 Dogs & 2 Bags

We lost power at noon on Monday. I was surprised, because the snow storm had stopped by then. It turns out that several large tree limbs had snapped and taken down a power line . I called CL&P and was told they did not know when power would be restored, due to the high number of outages.

When I called CL&P  at 6:00 pm, I received the same status message - there is no estimate for repair. By this time the house was getting cold. Being on a well, when we lose power, we lose water. Jeff and I went out to eat.

With the high winds and cold temperatures outside, the house was a cool 52 when we got home. Cooper goes crazy when he sees a flashlight, so we had no light inside. At 9:00 pm, we went to bed. I was freezing. Even with  both dogs on the bed, it was still cold. I knew it was bad, when Coop snuggled up to me to try and stay warm.

Jeff went down into the basement and brought up 2 mummy sleeping bags. Jeff said he used these when camping and were good to -10. I had doubts that this light weight bag could do much good, but it was worth a try. 10 minutes after crawling inside, I was starting to feel warm. One hour later, I was feeling hot.

At midnight, the power returned. Thankfully the pipes didn't freeze. I guess technology has replaced the 2 dog night with a 2 bag night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bulb Watch IV

While the paperwhites seem reluctant to show themselves, the amaryllis is ready to bloom.

After reading last year's bulb watch, our LI family decided this would be the perfect gift. I agree!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard's End

The blizzard is over. We have about 12 inches of snow and  very strong winds.

The dogs find it difficult to walk in the deep snow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blizzard Update

6 inches of snow so far. Wind is starting to howl and snow is much heavier than earlier in the day. Cooper does NOT want to go out in this. What can we expect from an Alabama pup ?

Blizzard

The snow has been falling since 11:00 am. The weatherman predicts 18 inches of snow to fall by noon on Monday with 40 mph winds producing white out conditions. If it has to snow,  I am glad it that it happened the day AFTER Xmas.

We received a call on Xmas morning and found out that some of our LI family had encountered car problems. It turns out that just like the Grinch, a blown transmission cannot stop Xmas from arriving. The roast was started a little later than planned and dinner time found all of us gathered around the table. 

Santa was extremely generous and we now have several new electronic toys to play with. A large box of Godiva chocolates was one of my favorite gifts. Otis and Cooper received new toys which they immediately ripped apart. I would declare this Christmas a success!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


We wish you a very Merry Christmas! As you can see, Cooper is concentrating on sending a message to Santa - please  help all the pets in shelters find forever homes.

Our Christmas began with midnight mass at St. Luke's. The choir did a fantastic job in bringing a voice to the spirit of Christmas. In a few hours, our Long Island family will be arriving to share this special day.

May this Holy Day be spent with those you love the most. As we reflect on our many blessings, let us remember the soldiers who are far from home and missing their families.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We Do

I received this beautiful piece of custom artwork for my birthday. (Thanks Wendy!)

The picture is created based upon a list of "We do" statements that Jeff and I provided. The artist creates the picture describing those things that matter most to us- dogs, books, sporting clays, kindness....

I smile every time I see it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jolly Old Elf

Fitz and Floyd and Christopher Radko Santas are not the only ones that adorn our home.

Aunt Judy has stitched us several beautiful Santas. I think this is my favorite. Santa's big round belly and smoking pipe makes me think of "The Night Before Christmas"!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where's Cooper ?

As I pulled into the garage after work, I heard Otis barking. When I opened the basement door, Otis was dancing  around, wanting to be petted. I did not see or hear Cooper.

I looked at the door which leads upstairs, but it was still closed. My heart skipped a beat. All I could think was that something bad had happened to Coop. I went to read the note from Carol, thinking perhaps Coop had gotten sick and was at the vet.

It was then that I saw Coop, still curled up on his bed in the corner. Coop slowly stood up and wandered over to me. I guess Coop was tired, but otherwise fine. Once we got outside, he was ready to run.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Congratulations Jeff!



Jeff was awarded the prestigious Connecticut Travelers Shooting Sportman of the Year award! This award is given to a person who has helped to advance the sport or dedicated significant effort to help the Travelers.

Jeff is very active with the Travelers; running their website, coordinating shoots, writing articles and publishing the newsletter. Hearing the warm words of praise when the award was presented, made me very proud. I think that anyone who knows Jeff would agree that, "He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet."

Congratulations Jeff !

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Otis Update

Otis is feeling better. He has been eating small amounts of Science Diet Canine I/D and I am now mixing in some dry food.

I am crossing my fingers that there will not be any surprises when I get home from work tomorrow.

Budget concious

I read a review of Dooney & Bourke handbags, which stated that these purses were for the budget conscious consumer. I nearly fell out of my chair. I certainly agree that D&B bags which run $250+ are not in the same category as a Louis Vuitton purse at $800+. However, are they really reasonably priced ?

I used to think that spending more than $50 for a pocket book was  a splurge. Is this new definition of "budget conscious" one of the reasons we have a credit crisis ? I suppose everyone has a different definition of what luxury is. Still, it makes me wonder......

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sick

Otis is sick. We found this out at 5:00 am, when he whined and raced to the door to go out.  Every two hours after that Otis needed to be let out.

I am not sure if Otis ate something or if he has a virus. Our vet says don't feed the dog for 24 hours and then give him a small meal. If Otis is not better tomorrow, we will have to make an appointment with Dr Duffy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in Connecticut

Last Christmas was spent searching for the Aurora Borealis in the Arctic Circle. This Christmas will  be spent in Wilton. What a difference a year makes.

Traveling is much easier than hosting - pack your suitcase, kennel the dogs and drive off. Hosting means decorating, cleaning and cooking. All the work is worth it. The chance to celebrate with family should not be missed.

I am crossing my fingers for good weather, so our guests can travel to CT.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Tree


Our Christmas tree is now decorated. In order to get the tree into the living room, we had to move some of the furniture out. I love how beautiful the tree looks, especially at night when the lights reflect off the ornaments.

Coop went crazy when we tested the lights. Cooper's eyes nearly popped out of his head when the first strand was plugged in. You could see that Coop was thinking "Holy cow! Bright, shiny, WOW!".

Most of our decorations are by Christopher Radko. I found a large Radko box at the bottom of one of the ornament crates and was so excited. I could not remember what ornaments were in this big box. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found a single ornament (bottom picture). Jeff suggested hanging it off the ceiling fan, but I found a place on the tree.

Jeff threatened to hide the dog ornaments next year. I always cry when I hang Brandy, Jake and Danny's ornaments and reflect on how much I miss these special pets.  If the bottom of our tree looks sparse, it is because wagging tails often knock the ornaments off.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to School

Otis and Cooper are headed to obedience school in January. I am not sure that either dog will be very excited about this Xmas gift.

I think that Jeff & I will probably learn more than the dogs. I know that practice, practice, practice will be the key to success.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tent Sale

I received a postcard from Dooney & Bourke stating that there would be a tent sale at their headquarters in Norwalk, CT. Thousands of handbags were being discounted.

I read online that this annual event drew large crowds and things got crazy in the tent as people grabbed the handbags they wanted. Jeff suggested we go after work and see how long the line was. I was pleasantly surprised to see no one on line when we pulled into the parking lot.

Dooney & Bourke did a great job organizing the sale. There were attendants in the parking lot to direct traffic. Once inside the tent, we saw tables full of handbags. Most bags were discounted 30-40%. The prices were good, but not great.  You can get similar discounts at their outlets, but there was a much greater selection of purses. The tables were constantly restocked. Checkout was fast as there were 15 registers and a person directed you to the next available cashier.

I was like a kid in a candy store. As I wandered around, I picked up the bags that I liked. By the time I was done, there were 5 possibilities. I realized that even though Santa is generous, 5 handbags would be too much. In the end, we left with two beautiful leather purses and the promise to return next year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bulb Watch II

My paperwhites are off to a SLOOOOW start. Jeff predicts flowers in February. These bulbs will not be the centerpiece at the Christmas dinner table.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coal for Cooper

The dogs do not seem to understand that Santa Paws brings gifts to GOOD dogs at Christmas. Otis usually is the instigator, but this morning I wandered into the bedroom and saw that Cooper was chewing  my sweatshirt!

I took the sweatshirt from Cooper and found that he had chewed the collar off. I yelled "Bad, Cooper, bad!". Coop just looked at me with unblinking eyes and showed no contrition.

I looked around the bedroom. There are balls, chew toys and tug toys scattered all over the floor. I do not understand why Cooper choose my sweatshirt over any of these.

Could the smell of the tacos I had made the night before lingered in my sweatshirt, making it an appealing plaything ?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Death of the Letter

Over the past few days, I twice heard that letters may be dying. I used to work for Pitney Bowes and know that the number of letters being mailed has been declining for years.

I heard on the radio that Christmas Letters may soon be extinct. It seems that with so many people using Facebook to announce events in their life, an annual letter is no longer needed.

I also read an article that said most kids communicate by electronic text messaging. The idea of picking up a pen and paper is foreign to them. Many students learn cursive writing, but rarely use it and as a result penmanship suffers. Texts are brief and often a few words, not full sentences or paragraphs.

I can't help but wonder what the future may hold. Will we be in a purely electronic age with no paper books or letters ? I still write letters and enjoy finding the perfect birthday card or stationary that reflects my mood. Special cards that I have received are stored in a drawer, to be read again another day. I can't say that email has the same magic.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting you in the Christmas Spirit

Lap Dog

I was laying on the bed watching tv and Cooper jumped up next to me. Cooper curled into a ball and placed his head in my lap. Cooper slowly thumped his tail and I petted him. Cooper closed his eyes and fell asleep.

As I looked at Cooper, I wondered if this was really the same dog we brought home 2 years ago. The Coop who didn't want to get too close is disappearing.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Santa's Back

With Christmas approaching, it is time to start decorating.

The Fitz and Floyd Santas and reindeer are sprinkled throughout the house.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Not Color Blind

I had always heard that dogs were color blind. It turns out this is NOT true.

Dogs can see color. However, their spectrum is limited compared to human vision. Dogs can see yellow, blue and violet. Reds and greens appear in the yellow-blue spectrum.

It also turns out that a dog's mouth is NOT cleaner than a humans. However, that does not surprise me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Why I love M&Ms

We went shopping at Cabela's with a coupon that said, spend $200-$299.99 and save $50. Spend $300 and save $70.

We took our purchases up to the register and the total was $299.96!  Spending another 4 cents would save me $20. Luckily for me, there was candy for sale next to the register. I picked up a bag of M&M's. The 99 cent purchase reduced the total bill by $19.

Not bad, chocolate to snack on and a lower total.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Bulb Watch I

The paperwhites are slowly growing. I do not think we will have flowers in time for Christmas.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Party Animal



Otis got in the middle of our wrapping birthday gifts and ended up with a new collar.

Cooper wanted no part of this.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Breast Cancer Walk

In September,  I brought in our garbage can and noticed a letter on pink paper taped to the lid. The note was from our garbage man. He was asking for donations to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Both he and his wife wanted to walk and needed to raise  $1,800 each to be eligible to participate.

I immediately sent in a donation for this worthy cause. I wondered how many customers would respond to his request.

In this month's bill, there was a letter thanking everyone who contributed. A whopping $21,000 was raised! Congratulations, Chris! Thanks for helping to find a cure.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

More salmon, please

Cooper cannot get enough of the new Taste of the Wild Salmon dog food. Cooper gobbles up all his food, licks the bowl clean and stares at me with his big eyes, waiting for more.

Cooper used to be a picky eater. Cooper would eat what he wanted and then walk away. Otis loved this, because he would get a second breakfast or dinner.

Now, when Coop walks  away, Otis races over and finds an empty bowl. Otis sighs and move on.

Sunflowers

I bought some striking red-orange sunflowers at the grocery store. I thought their color was unusual, but did not stop to consider how the flowers acquired this shading.

The flowers were in a green vase and all died except for one. I put the one sunflower in a clear vase. In the morning, I found the water had turned pink!

I then realized that the sunflowers must have been placed in red dye. When the flowers absorbed the red coloring, they turned orange.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Van Cortlandt Manor

We visited Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY over the Thanksgiving weekend.

We toured the manor, ferry and tenant houses.  The guides were dressed in period costumes. We saw demonstrations in blacksmithing, soap and candle making, cider and apple butter making, and spinning.

The manor house had beautiful antique furniture and porcelain dishware. This was in stark comparison to the pewter dishware at the ferry house/tavern. At the tenant house, we learned that there was one main room which served as the kitchen and bedroom for the entire family. I think we live in a small home, I can't image living in a single room with 6+ people!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Natural Fries

While we were out Christmas shopping, we stopped for lunch at Wendy's. As we opened the door into Wendy's I spotted a big sign stating that Wendy's now sold Natural Fries with sea salt.

It turns out that natural fries still have the skin on them. I did not like these new fries. I am not sure why Wendy's ruined a good thing. Jeff said perhaps these fries were cheaper to purchase.

In any case, my trips to Wendy's will be greatly reduced because of these fries.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Look What I've Got

With family visiting, Otis was in rare form. This paper bag which was folded on a table became his latest toy.

The words "Otis, No!" and "Otis, Drop it" rang throughout the house as Otis grabbed shoes & towels  and raced around. It seems that Otis forgot his manners.

Cooper on the other hand was well behaved and outgoing, going up to family to get petted.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Carnival Glass

We received this beautiful carnival glass vase as a Thanksgiving gift. However, we are not sure who manufactured this piece.

The antique shop marked the vase as  Imperial Jack in the Pulpit, but based upon an internet search it appears to be an Imperial Morning Glory vase.

If you know anything about carnival glass or specifically this vase, please email us!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Juicing an Onion

I wanted to make crab dip for Thanksgiving. I found a highly rated recipe on line and  purchased all the ingredients. When I started to make the dip, the recipe said, "collect the juice from an onion".

I admit I am not a chef, but had never heard of juicing an onion. Reading further, it said to grate an onion on the smallest grater hole and collect the juice. I followed the recipe and in 2 minutes, I was sobbing. If cutting an onion releases an odor, grating an onion is 100 times worse.I was crying so hard, that I could barely see to collect the onion juice.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the crab dip, so it seems my efforts were worthwhile.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Success

Hours of cleaning and cooking paid off with a successful Thanksgiving. I love how beautiful the dining room looked with the fire blazing and the china and crystal sparkling on the table.

Our guests brought side dishes, wine and dessert, which reduced the cooking I needed to do. The turkey took an hour longer than estimated to cook, but no one seemed to mind. Good wine and interesting conversation flowed throughout the house.

Everyone commented on how nice the house looked with all the changes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all our friends and family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Carols

Driving to work on Monday morning, I heard the first Christmas carol on the radio. All I could think was, "I'm NOT ready for Christmas".  All of my energy is focused on preparing for Thanksgiving.

It seems that radio stations, just like stores,  are starting the Christmas season earlier each year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sears Never Fails

We've needed a new TV ever since we moved our 14 year old 32" CRT TV to the bedroom.  It still works and has a decent picture, but it takes up a lot of room.

When we renovated the downstairs, we thought about furniture placement and where the TV would go.  We carefully measured so that our older buffet would fit between the two new windows and it ended up being the perfect size for a 46" Flat Panel TV.

We've been putting off buying the TV for about a month, but with company coming it just had to be done.  Valerie did her research with help of her sister who is in the business and we decided on either a Samsung or Sharp with Internet connectivity for downloading Netflix movies.  She found the best price on the Samsung at Sears and saw online that our local Sears had exactly one left.


We arrived at Sears at 10:25 and they opened at 10:30.  We were the first ones in the side door, but still managed to get to the electronics department with four people ahead of us.  I kind of felt sorry for the salesman because there was five people waiting and he was the only one in the department.  Of course, the first person on line had to do a return and then a purchase and he wanted his discount for opening a Sears credit card.  Awesome.  He needed a manager override for the new price, and helped the next person at a register at the front of the department.

After about 20 minutes, we tracked him down at the front of the Electronics department helping other customers.

"Oh, I'm helping people up front now", was his explanation when we finally got to him.

Our salesman's associate was explaining the "Extended Warranty" to his customer when the customer said "It's a scam, no thank you."  Our salesman stopped what he was doing (helping us) and explained the virtues of spending an additional $250 on a $800 TV.

The customer was a little smart alleck and asked the salesman, "Are you saying that my TV won't last three years?  Maybe I better go somewhere else to buy it..."

"No, no, no, it's a good brand, but it's just like insurance!"

The other customer politely declined again and our guy got back to us.

"I see we only have one of your model in stock, I have to go and verify the inventory", he told us.  I kind of appreciated this considering what happened last time.  He came back in about 20 minutes and sure enough, they didn't have the unit.  Didn't even try to sell me another brand, a bigger size, or a different model.

As we were walking out, I said to Valerie that Sears never fails to disappoint me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Ready

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, we are getting ready for guests. The turkey has been purchased. I wanted a 10 lb bird, but the smallest I could find is 13 lbs. Let's hope everyone is hungry.

Cooper and Otis are freshly washed . Otis whined excitedly in the car and raced into the dog wash. However, once Coop and Otis realized it was bath time, they both tried to head back outside.

The linen tablecloth and napkins are washed and the Lenox cornucopia  is on the dining table.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time to Walk

When I work at home, I do not see much of the dogs in the morning. After breakfast, Cooper and Otis spend the morning napping on the bed.

When it gets to be around 11am, Coop will wander into the office and lay down. By 11:30, Cooper is thumping his tail. If I pet Coop, the wagging stops, but immediately starts again. Cooper is making it clear that it is time for a walk and a snack.

If I still don't take Coop out, he will paw at my arm and head to the door. Looks like the dogs have me well trained!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Taste of the Wild

When Cooper was first rescued, his foster Mom, Linda P fed him Taste of the Wild Salmon dog food. This high protein food was given to Cooper to help increase his weight and muscle mass.

We have now switched the dogs back to this food. I stopped at the pet store and picked up a 30 lb bag. When I paid the bill, I said, "Wow!".  The clerk said, 30 lbs should last a month. I told him I had 2 Goldens. His response was, "See you in 2 weeks!".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paperwhites

Last Christmas I grew an amaryllis in water. After weeks of watching the leaves grow, the bulb eventually flowered.

Earlier this week, I received a  catalog from White Flower Farm, which showed beautiful paperwhite arrangements in glass vases with pebbles. Not wanting to spend $50 to purchase their kit, I spent $5 for bulbs at Walmart.

I have grown paperwhites before and am hoping that in 6 weeks these bulbs will be in full bloom.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let's Play

Saturday was a beautiful warm and sunny day. Jeff went out onto the deck and both dogs raced outside. I heard Jeff laughing and looked out the window.

There was Otis, racing around the deck with my slipper in his mouth.  I often find my slippers in different rooms, but never imagined they could end up outside. Jeff reclaimed my slipper and said you will need new ones by Christmas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Putting It Back Together

The sheetrock repairs have left dust everywhere, on the floors, walls and furniture. Sheetrock dust is very fine and does not vacuum up well. To remove the dust the floors have to be mopped and dried several times.  The dust travels throughout the house so it is not just the downstairs which is impacted.

There is nothing more frustrating than having to once again put the house together.  I keep thinking, didn't we just do all this work a few weeks ago ? At this point we have no curtains, no ceiling lights and no art on the walls. Most of the furniture is in the guest bedrooms.

I am no longer enthusiastic about the renovation. After 6 months of turmoil,  all I want is a clean house and a couch to sit on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sheetrock Repaired


The sheetrock has been repaired.  Steve sanded off the mesh tape and installed paper tape in the damaged areas. I am hoping that this permanently fixes the problem and no new issues arise.

The sheetrock problems have left me extremely jaded. I don’t know that I would ever want to renovate again.   Jeff is more philosophical and says this negative experience should not dictate what we do in the future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fresh Air

Cooper is happiest when he is outside in the sunshine. While Jeff and I raked the lawn on Sunday, Cooper was out on the deck, barking and chasing the falling leaves.

On Sunday night, Jeff went out on the deck to barbecue and Cooper raced outside. It was dark, cold and windy. I thought Cooper would immediately want to come back in. Jeff cooked dinner and we ate, all the time Cooper was curled up on the deck, staring out into the yard.

After dinner, Cooper reluctantly came inside. His ears were a little cold, but his eyes were shining. I guess Cooper really loves the fresh air and the many interesting smells carried on the wind.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sears Open on Thanksgiving

I saw a news article that stated Sears would be open on Thanksgiving. I thought this was rather sad.

Thanksgiving is one of the few days where businesses are closed and people can spend time at home with their families. I realize that some people may prefer to shop on Thanksgiving or do not have anyone to share the day with. However, it still seems that something is being lost with our endless consumerism.