Monday, January 31, 2011

A midwinter guest

I was working in my kitchen/office when a movement caught my eye. I looked up and saw THIS beautiful hawk perching on my bird feeder. Amazing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Confessions of a bird nerd

I think these photos speak for themselves...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snowy backyard visitors and bread

It's been crazy snowy this winter apparently. I have heard from a number of seasoned New Englanders that this is just not the normal weather we have here. As I look out my window, the snow is softly falling, piling up a few inches on top of the already deep and frozen snow that we have in the yard. And tomorrow we can expect 6 to 12 inches more! I keep thinking that it just won't happen to us... we can't possibly get more heavy snow than we've already had, can we?

When I was a kid we lived in Groton, CT. If you've lived in a place where it has the potential to snow, you know that every kid's dream in the winter is that it will snow heaps, that school will be cancelled, and that you will be able to spend the whole magical day outside playing in the stuff. That RARELY happened to us. Yet the kids around here have been out of school so many days this winter I've lost track!

I'm prepared to believe anything of the weather at this point. But we're handling it well. Noah goes to a cozy warm office every day where they feed him breakfast and lunch and have espresso, coffee, cocoa and anything else he could want all day every day. And I don't have to go out in it at all if I don't choose to. Yesterday I woke up to below zero temperatures... and when it had warmed up to 10 degrees I took Tag to meet his friend Tilly at the beach! They had a great time romping in the ice, snow and sand while Renee and I trundled around in our multiple layers with our noses pink from exposure to the wind.

I took some pictures of our back yard creatures for you to experience. We're using the Costco birdfood again, after a stint with BJ's... I like Costco's better, and so do the birds. While we were on BJs we didn't see very much of Mr. Cardinal. We saw Mrs. a few times, but I think there were not enough sunflower seeds for Mr. As you'll see, he's back.

Also, Mr. Rudolph the squirrel (a childhood reference if my sister is reading, which I doubt) finally had his day. Before this current snow we had an icing so the snow around the birdfeeder was not only deep enough but also solid enough for him to hop onto the feeder.

For those of you who comment, do you like this version of this photo or the one below?

In other news, I borrowed a book from the library the other day on bread making, because... while I love Irma and Marion and would NEVER cheat on them (Joy of Cooking, yes, I call them by their first names)... I was searching for something a little more creative in the bread making area.

I LOVE bread. Love love love. So I was intrigued by this book title: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It sounded too good to be true. I brought it home and read the first few chapters about their revolutionary style... blah blah blah... and I decided I would try it. I was a skeptic. I was sure it couldn't be that simple. Bread needs to rise hours at a time. Bread needs to be kneaded by hand or mixer or bread machine... They said no! And by golly, they were right! We've eaten 3 small loaves over the past week, and I have one more loaf's worth of dough in the fridge waiting to be baked. I'm officially converted! The crusts were so crispy and crackly! The crumb was so soft and flavorful! And I got up the other morning, pulled off a hunk of dough and we had hot fresh bread for breakfast!!!!

I hope Irma and Marion don't mind...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cheesy little blog award post

There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

THANKS, Leslie. Leslie's blog is an invite-only blog about her adventures in horseback riding, which we used to do together... only 7 months ago. Leslie is amazing at describing the work she is doing with Winston and I learn quite a lot from her! And with the videos she uploads, sometimes it feels like I never moved away...

Okay, seven things about myself

1. I am a vegetarian. I have been for almost a year now. I'm married to a vegetarian, so that makes the decision to be one easier, but I grew up a meat and potatoes southern girl... 

2. I love animals. I mean, LOVE love animals. I have 4 cats and a dog who keep me laughing and warm in the winter, and who provide endless entertainment year round. When I was a kid I wanted to be a marine biologist. I ended up majoring in English... not sure how that happened... but every once and a while I think back longingly on that dream to become a marine biologist... and wonder if I could make it happen now.

3. I have a deep dislike for people dressed as animals. I will do almost anything to avoid being accosted by them.

4. I used to be fairly musical. I'm not so  much at this stage in my life, but I used to play the clarinet... from the 5th grade through college... I have also played the upright bass, the tympani, and the guitar, as well as sung in various choruses and ensembles. My current wish is to learn how to play the piano.

5. I currently do not work. I majored in English in college, but never with any intention to teach. I always had a romantic  notion that one day I would become a writer. My amazing husband has an amazing job and so I'm currently pursuing that notion... and also the notion of becoming an artist/photographer. I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to do that!

6. I play an on-line horse breeding game at I have been playing this game since 2007. If you're interested in it, let me know and I'll send you an invite. (I know... bigger nerd than WoW which I used to play until the last upgrade, when I completely lost interest).

7. I love books. I have an addiction to collecting them. The pile is not so big right now... but I still have more books than I have bookshelf space. I read a lot, and plan to read a lot, and re-read a lot... so the pile just keeps growing.

In no particular order here are some blogs I read that I think are worth noting (I have interesting stories to go with some, not all):
1. The Clutter Museum - I met Leslie MB at a Social Media Conference at UC Davis. She was leading some discussion at the Twitter table. The more I get to know her, in person and through her blogging, the more amazing and inspirational I find her.
2. MindFULL Musings - Margaret and I have been friends since middle school. During those trying teen years, she was always there for me, and though our ways have been long parted since those days, she still occupies a dear sweet place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoy reading her blogging about homeschooling her children and being a cancer surviver.
3. bmusing - This great mostly foodie blog is by a dear friend of mine from college. She was my sorority big sister, but she was a soul sister ever so long before that. She posts the most delicious recipes with a dash of humor and sarcasm.
4. - This is a new blog by an aspiring writer/comic who has recently transitioned from the military to civilian life and who also happens to be my cousin, Keegan.
5. writing as jo(e) - This person I have never met in my life. She writes eloquently about her life in the Northeast and also takes beautiful photographs. I enjoy her musings on life and family.
6. - This is Neil Gaiman's assistant. She is amazing. She writes about being a writer's assistant, about being a musician in an Irish band, about riding horses, about becoming FIT, and about rescuing Bengal cats.
7. Hyperbole and a half - This blog makes me laugh until I cry. Every time...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Camera fun with light and also with icicles

Playing around with a light up spinning top that Las Barbas sent us, Lori and I came up with some cool photos.

Took these out the bathroom window before the current icy rain storm that washed away all the frozen sculptures that nature creates out of winter weather...

I won't lie to you... it's been a cold couple of days. I look forward to evenings when we need to bake things in the oven, because it adds so much extra warmth, inside and out. Tonight's baker's delight: home made pizza!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hiking post-blizzard

Some fantastic person broke the trail for us this morning... otherwise a couple miles in 2 feet of snow would have been FAR more strenuous. As it was, it was pretty strenuous. But Tag loved it... and it was nice to be outside being active. I took about 80 photos... here are a few :)

I love the contrast and the lines made by the sun shining through the trees and onto the snow.

My gorgeous dog

It was so windy out by the lake that the trail had been blown clean of snow. Made it easier for us to run and play here.

Tag doesn't mind the deep parts either, though. He just plows right through.

Look at all those teeth!
I tried to make a snow angel as well... but Tag was having none of it! He kept trying to pull me out of the snow. Silly dog! I'm sure he was thinking "Don't lie down! We're almost there! Don't lie down!" Ha!

And now we're home and Lori's making lentil soup for dinner and I'm going to try making Brown Bread... with graham flour and butter milk and molasses. I <3 Irma and Marion Rombauer... Joy of Cooking.

Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow day 1/12/11

We had a winter storm blow through last night. Actually... it's still blowing through. There is still snow falling outside! We've had a foot already... expecting it to round out at a foot and a half before we're done, but it is starting to slow down a little bit now.

Earlier when there was a break, and to entertain Lori while she dug her car out of the driveway, Tag and I went out to play and for Tag to do his business... he loves the snow! Here are pictures of our little adventure:
Forging a path down the stairs. No, the lack of perspective is not a trick of the camera... the snow actually came up to the top of the deck!

Lori digging out. Noah had already dug himself out at 6 a.m. to brave the roads and go in to work.

Plowing along

I'm so cute in the snow!

Sadie was a little nervous... the snow was piled up higher than she is tall! See the grill to the left for a comparison.

Chad digs a path for Sadie, who has her sweater on now!


Tag, doing his impression of a St. Bernard and digging me out of the snow bank.

Hee hee hee!

Trying to catch the snow

Now that we're thoroughly caked in snow and ice, it's time to go in!

Banished to the kitchen until he thaws out/dries off.

The birds can almost walk up the the feeder now!
The Pileated Woodpecker stopped by for a visit, too, but I couldn't get a good shot... he doesn't come to the feeder, but chatters to me from the trees.

My $20 snow pants from Target worked great! I was warm and dry underneath, even when I sat in the snow with Tag. Later we'll go back out in it and shovel the driveway so Noah and Lori can get back in again!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A few things I like about January

In general I don't like January very much... no matter where I've lived, January is always chilly and wet... and the days are short... making for less time outside, less windows open, and less room to move because of all the extra clothing you have to pile on to stay warm. To be fair, you didn't have to pile on too much extra clothing in L.A... but it WAS sweater season in January, and the days were the same dark length.

It doesn't help that I have a cold, either... because my motivation to get out IN the cold is greatly depleted by the coughing and sniffling and tiredness. It's been like that for both of us all weekend, so today I made us get out and run errands... and we took Tag to the dog park for some romping in the snow.

Even if you don't know Tag, if you've read this blog you know OF him... that he's my beautiful, wonderful blue merle rough collie and I love him. :) Little did I realize when I chose to bring home a collie that he would receive so much attention and admiration, but he surely does! Everywhere we go he gets looks and I can hear people saying "Is that a collie?" to each other... sometimes they ignorantly ask me if he's "part collie" because they associate his color with another breed of dog. I take those moments to educate people. NO, he's not an australian shepherd mix... (rolling my eyes...).

Today at the dog park Tag was upstaged by an even MORE amazing dog... a Puli. I couldn't be mad... Pulis are truly magnificent in their weirdness and this one was no exception. I could only smile and nod at the dog's owner and tell him what a beautiful, unusual dog he has.

After getting out with Tag and running by the store for more medicine, home we came and have spent the rest of the day napping... and that brings me to the things I like about January. Aside from the warm snuggle time with Noah and Tag (who was codependent the rest of the afternoon himself because he had his flea and tick medicine applied after we got home... poor puppy), these are the things I like about January.

Homemade chocolate chip cookies

A ridiculously hard puzzle from S&S Beard, and a cup of coffee (decaf this late in the day)

Tag loves listening to Noah practice his banjo. Me too.
So January is not all that bad. It may be snowy and cold outside, but it's cozy and comfortable in here. I think we'll survive the winter just fine.