thy leaves are so unchanging

Thanksgiving 2009 was remarkably similar to 2008, so I noticed as I went through my pictures from a year ago. Except we’re all another year older. But wiser! I ain’t complainin’! Both last year’s and this year’s Thanksgivings were quite enjoyable—filled with family, food and happy-fun-times-drinking-lotsa-wine.

Rocky, my mom’s dog, very much enjoyed his lap time with Drew.

Off we went on our annual let’s-cut-down-the-first-tree-we-see-and-get-the-heck-out-of-this-cold trip to William’s Tree Farm, except this year we neither hurried nor froze. In fact, it was pretty darn warm in northern IL that weekend. By golly, we were going to enjoy the heck out of the unseasonably warm weekend. So we took our time, watched the horses trot by and joked around until we actually had to start picking out a tree.

At the Browning’s, it was the first holiday with both my sister-in-law’s kitty and my mother-in-law’s kitty staying in the same house! Nanaa was content with hiding under a dresser all weekend, but Oliver really wanted to make friends and play. I managed to capture one of their many standoffs in the hallway.

Someday, we all hope, they will learn to like each other. They look so similar but their personalities are vastly different.

Exhibit A: Oliver. (Pictured here up inside the tree). Playful.

Exhibit B: Nanaa. Subdued. Stoic.

We enjoyed two wonderfully cooked turkeys with all the fixin’s. Already looking forward to getting the family back together for Christmas. My sister flies in on the 22nd!

See the rest of my pictures from Thanksgiving weekend.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Oh Christmas Tree” (a Christmas classic)

you can crush the flowers but you can’t stop the spring

This year for Easter we traveled home to Rockford to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday early. We were so excited to give Barb her presents that we made her open one on Friday night. Kari had bought her a bunch of cat accessories. The first thing she opened was some fuzzy mouse toys. “What?” She was really confused and of course we were all laughing. “No. no. no. no.” she said. “YES!” We were taking her to the animal shelter the next morning to pick out her very own kitten! I love how we didn’t give her a choice. HA! Of course, she warmed up to the idea. And of course, I was there with my camera, eager to snap pics of the new kitty. But first, the cake!

I had been reading a great foodie blog – Dinnercakes (I know the author personally through my sister-in-law!) and saw that she made a rainbow colored cake and I thought that’d be perfect for an Eastery-birthday cake for Barb. So I did my version with pastels. (The cake wasn’t homemade, so no recipe to post.) I made it two layers with white frosting. I poured green in first, and then right on top I poured the remaining colors one by one. Then, I dragged a skewer through a couple times to get the colors to move a bit.

I kept the decorating simple (because I’m so not good at that part.) But I wanted it to have the flower theme for Easter – and to go with the little birthday plate I painted for her at Color-Me-Mine. The plate looks like it was painted by a kindergartener (no offense to kindergarteners) – we’ll just say I mean it to be that way (instead of confessing my poor painting skills.) She loved it nonetheless.

The colors of the cake didn’t get as marbly-mixed as I thought they would – you could see the half-circle shapes and that’s still cool! It tasted great too!

Now for the kitty! We went to Winnebago County Animal Services and spent some time with all the kitties there. It broke my heart to see them in their little cages – meowing and pawing to get out. That was tough. But we found a perfect match for Barb! Meet Oliver.

He was a little shy when he arrived at his new home, but it didn’t take him long to start exploring. By the end of the day, he was jumping up onto tables and being held by everyone. He and Barb are gonna be best buds I can just tell! I get first dibs on cat-sitting!

You may notice that he looks a lot like a certain little kitty who’s appeared here before – but there is no relation. Nanaa is from Africa! I hope to chronicle the highly-anticipated first meeting of Ollie and Nans.

Ollie & Nans

After celebrating with Barb and getting Ollie acquainted in his new home, we headed to my Mom’s for a delicious Easter lunch. She had a turkey she wanted to “experiment” with (although all her recipes are experiments.) She did three or four different treatments on parts of it—braised, marinated, jerk-style. It was all yummy!

See more pictures from the weekend on Flickr.