Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Celebrations

For those of you who are interested, check out "Making Memories" and "The Grandkids."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... :-)

When I woke up this morning, it was snowing "to beat the band!"

The photo above was taken around 9:00 a.m.

The photo at left was taken from the dining room of "out back."

This photo was taken out a family room window... do you see the junco?I noticed the birdfeeders were getting low, so I trekked outdoors to fill them.
As I stood there surrounded by the variety of bird and song, I decided to try feeding one from my hand.
I held the food on my extended glove. One brave little junco decided to see if the food was any tastier from the new "dispenser!" To say the least, I was thrilled.
What a wonderful experience. I'll do it again! :-)

The bushes standing in front of our front door seem a sanctuary for birds that have been frightened from the birdfeeder.

A Christmas gift from our daughter and son-in-law is this new birdfeeder (below). It's a "Yankee Flipper!" You may have seen some You Tube videos about them! Motorized by a rechargeable battery, it's guaranteed squirrel-proof! (And provides entertainment, as well!)I'm waiting for the opportunity to take my own videos of the squirrel/squirrel-feeder in action! ;-)

Below are two photos taken from our dining room window into very nearby trees. The first contains two cardinals... and probably other hidden birds, as there were many.

This second has a nuthatch. My version of a Bevy of Beauties(or a Bevy of Beauty)!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Inside Tree

Merry Christmas!

The year 2007 is passing by... and quickly!

May your upcoming 2008 contain rich blessings: good health, safe travel, warm memories made with family and friends, and delightful "small moments."

Some Christmas Ornaments from the tree: A soft-sculpture star I made years ago, a crocheted bell created by my Aunt MEA and given me this year...

... a random shot of a couple of ornaments, and

wishing you Peace.

(Nothing shady about that!) :-)

Check out this link to see Christmas Memories in the Making!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Do Amaryllis Bulbs Divide?

I brought my amaryllis indoors in October. I placed it in a basement storage room until this past week. After the leaves had (pretty much) dried out, I broke off the remaining one and ignored it.

I did succumb, thanks to the many posts of amaryllis blooms I've seen lately, to purchasing one in the local WM store. The bulb on the left is the new bulb. Note that it has a couple of leaves beginning to grow. The one on the right is the one in question.

Believe it or not, the soil had not even dried out yet when I brought the bulb upstairs. Now... it hadn't begun to grow, so I suppose I'm rushing things... but, what's that little spear sticking up next to the bulb? Did the it reproduce?

Or is my amaryllis shadier than I am? ;-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just have to share this photo!

I took this photo this past Tuesday morning after having received rain all night (and freezing to create a nice, thick coat of ice)! It was 7:04 a.m. and the light is a neighbor's outdoor "night light."
Thought you might enjoy it as much as I did.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, it will be blurry. I had the camera resting against the glass in the door, so it's not the camera's fault. It happened that it was still raining and I could even detect the shimmer while I gazed outdoors.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

What a Shimmery World!

I didn't have my camera with me today... sorry.

Because there were so many hungry birds the other morning, about all I got done was watching them and taking pictures! I'm sharing a couple of photos I took from my kitchen window. The day was not bright and shimmery. It was cold and icy! At least one of the following photos was not compressed, so you can better appreciate our ice!
I like the above photo because I caught a junco and a goldfinch in flight (you can tell by the white sidebar on his wing). Mr. cardinal is looking our way.
The one below shows a flicker on the birdfeeder (with goldfinches and sparrows), a male cardinal in flight, and a female "up front" waiting her turn.
I just had to try to take a photograph of the cardinal and blue jay on the ice branches.
Here's the cutest little fellow... a downy woodpecker!
The flicker is not at all intimidated by other birds. In fact, he's pretty mean about making sure no one invades "his space!" You can almost see the little sparrow using his "air-brakes" when he sees the flicker heading his way! The female cardinal turns her back.

Our female cardinal and little downy, side by side... watching - and I'm inside... watching! ;-)There were nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, house finches, red-bellied woodpeckers, and a hairy woodpecker, too! My what a fine morning.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Favorite Traditional Christmas Cookie #2

This is a Kringla.I was taught the method for making these Scandinavian cookies by a friend in 1973. I think I've made them for Christmas nearly every year since.

They are not a sweet cookie. That is why I like them. I was also taught to eat Kringla by spreading butter on the back first. Yum! Now that you know the special way to eat them, I'll give you a step-by-step instruction on making, baking, and cooling them. :-)

You must refrigerate the dough well, overnight or even for a day or so longer. Keep the dough tightly covered.

When you're ready to begin, clear a nice large counter space and set out your cooling racks and baking pans. Set out a measuring cup with flour for dusting the counter. Also, set out a small bowl of water with a pastry brush and two or more "tea towels" or dish-drying towels.

To begin: Put about 1 1/2 cups of dough in a cereal bowl and return the rest to the refrigerator to keep cold. Dust your counter with flour and, with a spoon, place about a Tablespoon or so of dough on the counter. Gently roll the ball into a long, narrow log shape (or worm!) ;-)
Immediately place the dough on the cookie sheet, forming an overlapping pretzel shape. This is step one, and the next photo shows step two. I do it very quickly and almost simultaneously.
If the dough is worked too long, it gets warm and won't work very well when you shape it. (You'd need to put it back in the bowl in the refrigerator.)

This is a pan of Kringla, ready to be placed into the oven.Some of my Kringla got a bit browner than usual. I really try to bake them until they're hardly brown at all. (Basically, so they're brown on the bottom and "set.") It's okay if they're a little brown. Better that than not fully cooked! Remove them quickly from the baking pan and get ready for the next step.

Using the pastry brush, you will lightly (and quickly) brush each Kringla with a bit of water. Immediately afterwards, cover them with the dishtowel until they've cooled. Then you can put them in storage containers. (However, you absolutely MUST eat one, with butter, first!!!)
And, here's the recipe.


Cream together:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter

Add and blend:
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Mix and add dry ingredients (alternating with liquid) first and last:
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

Hint about buttermilk: I purchase "dry buttermilk" for baking. Instead of reconstituting it, I measure the dry milk and add it to the dry ingredients. Then I use the 1 cup of water as the liquid ingredient. After opening, to make it last longer, store the container of dry buttermilk in the refrigerator.

Enjoy! :-)

Visions of Christmases Past

One of our favorite cookie-making projects, as I was growing up, were "Cherry Winks." You not only have to get all your ingredients in order, but you have to do a bit of light prep work.

You'll be adding chopped nuts and chopped dates or raisins to the dough. Do the chopping before you begin mixing ingredients.

You'll also be rolling the teaspoons of dough in crushed corn flakes and topping with a slice of maraschino cherry, so do your crushing and slicing ahead of time, also.

It goes ever so much faster when you have your cookie-making divided into "stations."

Here we are, adding chopped nuts
and chopped raisins - (I can't keep dates on hand... I eat them!)

Next comes the crushed flakes and the cherry slice.

Ready to bake (I could have placed them closer, as they don't spread.)

Tah, dah!

Would you like one? :-)

Here's the recipe:

Cherry Winks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp. grated lemon peel (opt.)
Cream the above ingredients until fluffy.

1 egg
1 Tblsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix well.

Stir together and add to creamed mixture:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Mix well.

Stir into the cookie dough:

1/2 cup chopped raisins or dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Drop from teaspoon into crushed corn flakes. Toss lightly to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Top each cookie with a cherry slice (approximately 1/4 or 1/6).

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes.
Important: Don't let them overbrown!

Makes about 3 dozen.
This batch can be successfully doubled.

Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It Rained During the Night

Today we have a lot of ice. Some of our oak trees hold their leaves until Spring. One of them, a beautiful tree right by the driveway (that has sagged twice in the past week due to the heaviness of the ice) broke a good-sized limb this morning.

This is the remaining branch... arching in front of the garage. I was hoping it doesn't break, also. My husband sees the need to cut it also, because the two limbs forked above the part that grew from the trunk.
Before the above tragedy occurred, I took some lovely photos due to being inspired
by Kylie at Our Little Acre last night. She has posted some beautiful icy photographs.

This is our ice-covered anemone.

and a close-up of an encapsulated blossom seed head.
Ice-encrusted berries and branches of a Burning Bush.
It appears "shady," but it's merely overcast. :-)

Monday, December 10, 2007

December 10 at 7:30 a.m.

Good Morning!

It's still a little dark outdoors, but plenty light enough to see this normally-raucous group!

(What was the name of the comic that did this routine years and years ago? I don't remember.)
You could call 'em Ray, or you could call 'em Ray-Jay...
"a band of jays", "a cast of jays", "a party of jays", or a "scold of jays," and on occasion, they're each of them.

But, today, they're merely a Band of Blue Jays because they're actually sharing space!
At one point, a missed photo-op, they even allowed a red-bellied woodpecker to join them!

Below, you'll notice two downy woodpeckers. One is on the suet feeder and the other is waiting its turn. At this moment, there was no one on the feeder in the background.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Weather, Whether, Feather and ...

Today's weather began with freezing temperatures and sleet. It stuck on the walkways, driveways, and roadways. In other words: A free day with no plans or obligations!!! Yea!

Here's a photo from the front door (indicating the Weather)
It was nearly noon and I heard a familiar "bump." If you feed birds in the winter, you will often hear that same sound... and you'll know that a bird has hit a window. Sure enough, I looked down and saw a nuthatch lying on the walkway in front of the living room window. It scrunched around a bit and then just laid in shock.

I ran to the bathroom for a lightweight towel and scooped him up in it.
This is the Whether...

I brought him indoors for a moment until his little bright eye opened.
Then I set him, still loosely covered in the towel, just outside the door.

About an hour later, when I opened the towel,
this is what I found.

You're expecting the Feather, right?

No, it's the . . . ;-)

Here's a picture of our bird feeder. If you click on it, you'll see a nuthatch.
He's not upside down, as they usually are...

I wonder if it is "mine?"

Interesting Photos Taken August 2007

I need to do some research, but isn't this a grand photo?
Someone at UBC thought it could be Thelephora terrestris.
What do you think?

A cute little fellow. Again his name I know not...

This next little fellow and I have been introduced. We met earlier in the garden.
He is a Stinkhorn (Lysurus mokusin) You can probably guess why.
I found three of these this past Summer. Don't know as I'd ever seen one before!
My first posting shows a lurking fly.

I use a link to UBC Botanical Gardens for information about fungi. They are helpful. There's also a link on the sidebar. I will see if someone there can help me with my "unknowns." Perhaps you could help?? I'd be ever so grateful.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Muscari Bulbs Are in the Ground!

I really thought this seemed an ingenious idea, but it didn't work as well as my shovel. Oh, well. Perhaps I'll give it a little more thought... any helpful hints? :-)
I just received a bit of static about using the drill bit for that purpose. I may have dulled it. I only drilled about 6 holes before I gave up, though. Every time I lifted the bit out of the hole, the dirt fell back in.

FYI: It was 20 degrees this morning at 7:30 a.m. I waited until about 9:00 a.m. to head outdoors. It was actually very nice. I wish I'd had more bulbs! I'm already envisioning how beautiful that little easterly bed will be in the Spring. Perhaps I'll find a few more bulbs, yet!

I'm headed "to town" with a friend tomorrow (in other words, to a larger metropolitan area) where I actually might find a few last-minute things I need. ;-)