Caturday Heatwave

Luna Makes a Statement
In this photo, Luna is expressing my own feelings toward the heatwave we’ve been having for the past two weeks. I don’t do heat. At all. The least bit of warmth and my head aches and I feel ill. As a result, I’ve been hibernating since it turned warm.

Despite the photo of Luna, she and Lola have both been enjoying the heat, although even Lola’s moved down from the top floor (where it’s warmest) to our bedroom (where it’s still incredibly warm).
Miss Lola Feels the Heat

Both cats have been spending plenty of time soaking up the heat, indoors and out. Lots of neighborhood cats have been making an appearance, as well, even if it is a rather lethargic appearance.
There are actually three cats in this photo, the third one in the background. All were in a heat-induced state of bliss, happy that the temperatures had finally warmed after a cool start to the summer.

One briefly raised his head when he sensed he was being watched, but quickly went back to sleep.

The cats may be enjoying the heat, but I’m ready for a return to slightly cooler temps, although even I thought wearing a heavy sweater at the end of June was a bit much. A storm came through earlier today, and though it came with a code orange warning and some impressive clouds, it ended up being rather mild, at least here in Utrecht. Fortunately, the worst of the humidity seems to have moved away with it. Small blessings.
Stormclouds over Utrecht

Eggnog and Spirits

Homemade Eggnog
After thinking about it all week, I finally put up our Christmas tree today. Part of the delay came about because I couldn’t decide which eggnog recipe to try. I don’t think I’ve made homemade eggnog since I was little and tried the recipe for it that was in my Betty Crocker cookbook for children. Normally, the only time I drink it is while I’m actually decorating the tree, so in the past, I’ve simply bought a carton from the store.

Sadly, though, I’ve been without eggnog these past two Christmases in the Netherlands, as it doesn’t seem to be sold here. The Dutch have a drink/liqueur called advocaat, but I don’t think it’s the same. Can anyone who has had both eggnog and advocaat tell me the difference in taste (other than advocaat having the alcohol already added in)? Since it didn’t look like I was going to get any eggnog help from the grocery store, I figured this season I would finally make my own eggnog to help get me into the holiday spirit — with the addition of some spirits, of course. I searched foodgawker, looking at all the different variations of the recipe, going back and forth on which one to try. I eventually settled on a combination of a couple of recipes that seemed simple and that didn’t have quite as much sugar as the others. One of the reasons I rarely drank much eggnog in the US was because it was so sweet.

In the end, I was quite please with how the eggnog turned out. The addition of some dark rum made the aroma complete, taking me back to past holiday memories. With eggnog in hand, and Christmas music on the stereo, the tree went up fairly easily. I even got to dance with Lola to Elvis’ Blue Christmas, a tradition that I love to do, but I’m not sure she’s as thrilled with it. Especially when I pulled her off the heater today in order to dance. She had a death-grip on the heater, but I won in the end. I’m sure she’ll look back on it all with a laugh some day.
Merry Freakin' Christmas

Eggnog Recipe
serves 2 decent-size glasses or 4 small glasses

2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg or to taste
rum or bourbon to taste

Whisk together eggs and sugar in a sauce pan and then slowly add in the milk and then the nutmeg. Turn the heat on low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. When it’s the right consistency, take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla, then refrigerate. You could add in the alcohol before you refrigerate it, or simply add it to the glasses when you’re ready to serve it up. It will take a bit of stirring to combine the alcohol and eggnog, so leave room in the glass. I like to top the glasses off with another light sprinkle of nutmeg.

Cat Training

Is It Worth It?
Cute, isn’t she? This is Lola. She’s the adventurer who likes to rush outside any time a back door is open. She’s also the one who jumped up onto the very tall wall in our back garden and lead to me injuring my knee so that I couldn’t get around very well for about a month. As a result of that misadventure, I don’t let her out into the back garden downstairs; she’s restricted to the terrace upstairs.

The problem is that because I can’t let her out downstairs, I also can’t open the back door to let any air in when it’s warm and stuff inside. Today, after coming back from grocery shopping and feeling like the downstairs was a bit stuffy, I came up with a solution to our problems. You see, I recently dug up our cat harness and leash, which is a lifesaver when having to get Luna somewhere, since she hates being crated, but she is ok with the harness. We’ve also got a rope hanging from the terrace balcony upstairs, used to haul items up from the kitchen when necessary, saving an awkward trip up the stairs. I decided to tie the rope (at a safe length) to the leash and put Lola in the harness, thus letting her go outside, without going too far to get in trouble. Everyone should be happy, right?

Wrong. Lola hates the harness. I had hoped that with a bit of time and the lure of being outdoors, she’d get over it. I was wrong. She did go outside — well, I picked her up and put her out there and she stayed for a few minutes — but she was not happy about it at all. She soon made her way back inside.

Best laid plans, etc. Oh well. At least the weather is cooling off now, so I probably won’t be as tempted to try it again this year. But next summer! Let’s just say I may try getting her used to the harness slowly throughout this winter so that this becomes an option for next summer. Wish me luck!

(No cats were harmed in the making of this video. I took her out of the harness as soon as I finished filming and she went back to her normal self. Promise! Oh, and forgive the mess in the house. So embarrassing! Trash had just been taken out, recycling has to go out, and a lot of stuff has been dumped for the moment while I work on a few projects.)

Heat Wave

It’s turned quite warm here in the Netherlands these past few days and looks to stay this way a little longer. Fortunately, our downstairs stays nice and cool thanks to the thick walls. The upper floors get a bit warmer, though. The cats are quite happy, spending lots of time in the warmth of the top floor, occasionally venturing downstairs to cool off a little. Within days of moving into this house, the cats claimed the upstairs bedroom as their very own. I admit that I haven’t heard the heart to fold up the bed since my parents were here. Luna and Lola just look so comfy and content, not to mention they always seem to be up there every time I think about getting the bed sorted out.
Girls' Bedroom
Pippo, not to be outdone, has become a sunbathing fanatic. He’s constantly out on our terrace, lying on his side in the sun, panting the whole time. He’ll come inside for a few minutes to cool off, and then it’s back out into the full sun! I was out on the terrace myself the other day and got this photo of him when he’d gone inside for a few minutes.
Later, after baking himself silly, he joined me downstairs to make the most of our little fan.
Cooling Off
To be fair, this is nothing new for him. Here’s a shot I took of him on our back porch in North Carolina.
Out Cold
Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

She’s a Rich Girl

Amy recently posted a link to an interesting map about names in the Netherlands, particularly the regional differences. It’s fascinating to see the tendencies toward certain names depending on the location, but I was particularly interested in (and amused by) the naming tendencies here in Utrecht.

Red areas would seem to coincide with affluence (or at least elitism), for the first names prevalent here are associated with socio-culturally prominent groups. These names, prominent in and around Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Haarlem among other places, are often Old Testament-y (Daniel, Sarah) come from nature (Luna), or might be French (Stéphanie, Olivier).

Thank goodness my Luna will fit right in here! Poor Lola and Pippo. I hope they don’t get teased in the schoolyard!

Luna living up to her rich-girl name:

Lola and Pippo, the buitenlanders:
Sit Anywhere

On Guard

When we adopted Lola, the youngest of our pet menagerie, we were living in North Carolina on close to an acre of land on a corner lot surrounded by tree. As a result, there was little more than squirrels to see when looking out the window. Now, though, living in the city center of Utrecht, in the typical Dutch home that sits right on the sidewalk, there’s plenty for Lola to see as she hangs out in our front window. (The fact that one of the radiators is located under the front window ledge also tends to entice both of our cats to the window.) As a result of this new living environment, we’ve discovered that Lola is quite the guard cat — or guard dog in cat clothing.

She’s quite firm in her discussions with the local cats who try to trespass on her windowsill. In fact, any neighborhood cat who even dares to walk within her eyesight gets a stern — and at times, hysterical — talking to. This morning was one of those occasions. One of the neighboring cats dared to hop onto the sill on the outside of the front window. Even worse, he just hung around, even after she told him to go! Lola didn’t waver, though, and kept up her diatribe, eventually convincing the other cat to get off her property! I couldn’t help but imagine her as a little gun-toting, North Carolina redneck yelling at a trespasser to “git”. “We shoot trespassers where I’m from,” she almost seems to say. 😉

Poes en Vogel

This little guy has been hanging out in our back garden recently. This means that Lola has been hanging out in our kitchen a lot recently. Any time she catches a glimpse of him, she starts chattering away and stares intently until he flies away or we distract her.

It would seem that just the sight of him here on my laptop is enough to catch her interest, as she’s currently standing on my left arm and staring at the laptop screen. She’s a patient devil; I could be trapped here for ages! It wouldn’t be the first time she’s trapped me.

It’s a good thing she’s such an adorable little sausage!

You Provide the Q …

and I’ll provide the A. Inspired by another blogger — a couple of them, actually — if you’ve got any questions about Utrecht or about me, I’ll try to answer them. Or, if you’re one of the regular visitors here who never comments, simply drop me a comment and let me know what brings you back here or what you’d like to see more of in my blog. I’m curious about the visitors I get!

Why yes, this is my way of getting a post churned out without having any real content. I’m feeling a bit better today, but still coughing and generally wiped out. Tomorrow, you can look forward to another statue-themed Photo Friday. That is if I’m not killed between now and then by two cats currently chasing each other around me!