Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fiesty Birds!

We had some snow flurries this morning and the birds were so fiesty. I can't believe that we still have robins here this winter! In the past they have left, (or at least I didn't see them), and I knew spring was around the corner when I saw them return. They must have more food here this year with all of the Bradford and Cleveland pear trees in our newer neighborhood getting more mature. This is my Bradford pear tree and they were fighting over the berries that were left.

I love to see the little chickadees! Usually they flit around so fast that I have a difficult time getting a picture! This one settled on a branch in the B. pear tree for a few seconds, just long enough to snap this picture...

then quickly flew away when the giant bird flew in. (Doesn't the blue jay look huge compared to the tiny chickadee?)

The blue jays come in screaming, and they certainly are not happy when the morning supply of peanuts are gone.

The wind was brisk, and and it is around 20F this morning. I loved this picture of the downy feathers blowing in the wind.

They were in and out this morning in a flash and made it difficult to get decent pictures.

All of these pictures were captured through the sliding glass doors with my new Canon EOS 50D camera in the action mode. I still have so much to learn about this camera, but so far I am loving it!

I plan to do a few segments on my favorite posts and pictures for 2008. In the mean time, HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone! I hope 2009 is a great year for each of you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Enjoying the Sunshine!

We are enjoying another day of sunshine, two in a row! The temps are in the mid-forties today but at least the sun is streaming through the windows.

We are having to step over both the cat and dog as we go down the stairs, because the sun is now most prominent through the landing window. Libby is sunning on the stairs and Lilly is sunning herself on the landing. Good thing I'm not doing laundry today!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fun Recycling Bird Project

For the last few months I've been using this plastic plant saucer to feed the birds that like to ground feed. I usually put black oil sunflowers and cracked corn in it and it is very popular, even with its close proximity to the house.

It is on the patio right in front of the sliding glass doors. The cat and the dog will stay in front of the door for hours watching the Bird Channel. When the glass is cleaned of all the pet nose smudges, I can sit at the kitchen table and and take pictures without getting cold.

It is the perfect set-up. Well, not exactly...

because it often looks like this. It is very windy here, and when it rains the seed gets wet. It can make quite the mess on the patio.

Several months ago, maybe even as long as a year ago, my husband got a large freight package from his employer. It was delivered on a wooden pallet. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to dispose of it. I thought maybe I could use the wood for a project. I had been wanting a proper ground feeder for a long time, but didn't want to spend the money on one. I thought I might be able to make one from the pallet. Today was the day! I kind of had an idea of how I wanted to make it, but I am no handyman or handy woman for that matter. In fact, I'm such a klutz that I can be downright dangerous with tools and sharp objects. I cut off half of the pallet, and used that wood to enclose the screen stapled to the sides.

I was so pleased that my project turned out! I already had some screen here so this project cost me absolutely nothing! Now I have a ground feeder that will drain when it rains and won't get blown around in the wind! I can even attach hooks on the corners if I eventually want to hang it. It may not last that long in the weather, but it certainly was fun being creative and recycling the pallet.

It wasn't exactly a pretty day but it was gloriously warm, almost 70 degrees! I was able to do my project in the garage, and I even did a little gardening today. I cleaned up some and planted a few bulbs that I bought on clearance a few weeks ago.

Oh, just a little warning to anyone who might decide to throw kitty litter on an icy side walk. Make sure it isn't the clumping kind! Yes, I did it. I was desperate and it was all I had at the time. I think an outside cat took advantage of it, yuck! I hooked up the water hose today to clean up the clumpy, very nasty mess. I sprayed it into the grass. After everything was washed off the sidewalk, I went to turn off the water hose. I stepped on the grass and my feet immediately flew out from under me. Guess what? Wet clumping kitty litter is as slick as ice on the grass! Thankfully nothing is broken, just very sore ankle and wrist.

I hope everyone else had warmer weather to enjoy today!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just too Distracting!

The kitty and I sit at the kitchen table, while I have my morning coffee and try to do some reading and studying. Between the cat, who likes to be right in the middle of everything, (literally), and the distracting blue jays, I have had a little difficulty concentrating.

After only a few days the blue jays are beginning to watch for their morning peanuts. Of course they think it should be a never ending supply.

This one was a dud and was promptly tossed to the ground.

These pictures were taken yesterday, while the weather was clear. They still had their peanuts today, but it was too rainy for pictures.

There were several terrible accidents here today just a few miles from my home. The temperatures were hovering right around freezing and it appeared to be just rain; very quickly the roads turned icy and caused eight accidents that took the lives of three people. It's just December and we still have several more months of this.

I fixed some homemade suet today. I used lard and peanut butter for the base and then just threw in whatever I had on hand. Let's see, there were raisins, peanuts, 10 grain flour, cornmeal, dried bread crumbs, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and oatmeal.

Hopefully it won't attract the starlings like it did last year. They loved this stuff!

This might sound a little cheesy, but I like to think of the birds as flowers for my winter garden. If you provide for their basic needs during the winter months, you will have a beautiful bouquet of winter flowers to cheer you and brighten your days! It looks like we just might need that this year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blue, Blue Christmas

It is a somewhat blue Christmas for me this year since we are not able to go home to Alabama for the holidays. I'll miss seeing my family and I'll miss the 80 degree temperatures they will be having. That would certainly be a nice change from the ice and bitter cold we have been experiencing here in Indiana.

I sat at the table this morning drinking a second cup of coffee before heading to work and had the wonderful pleasure of seeing two very loud and brave blue jays make trip after trip to the patio to collect all of the peanuts I left for them.

Last winter I fed them acorns from my mom and dad's large oak trees. I was so looking forward to collecting even more this year.

They are such greedy little things! I'll have to ration the peanuts and just put a few out each morning, otherwise they would "eat me out of house and home".

Hopefully they will return each morning to collect their peanuts. If I'm home I'll be sitting there waiting with the camera to catch their antics.

This is one blue Christmas I don't mind having!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You Might Be a Redneck If...

While a friend and I were returning home from visiting another friend at Riley's Children's Hospital today, I spotted these dogs on the roof of this house.

I thought it was so funny and it reminded me of the redneck jokes I had heard. The weather was horrible! It was sleeting and we were seeing so many accidents along the way. I couldn't believe these dogs were even out in the elements. They may have been stuck on the roof because it was probably a solid sheet of ice.

I am so thankful that everyone in my family made it home safely this evening. We had to park on the street because there was no way we could make it up our driveway.

I'm wishing all of you safety in your travels during this Christmas Season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just for Fun!

With the limited amount of spare time I have right now I'm trying to get familiar with my new camera. Food shots have always been difficult for me. I could seldom get the lighting correct and my pictures were never very good.

I had fun practicing and trying to photograph some of the candy that reminds me of Christmas.

My favorite brand of chocolate covered cherries is the Cella's brand! It has the liquid center and not the white cream center that the cheaper chocolate covered cherries have. I had planned to photograph these, but not only are they my favorite, my husband and children love them as well. Next time I'll hide the box, (for more reasons than one)!

I've had the wonderful pleasure this week of watching this little boy and his sister. One evening he noticed the "choo choo train" ornaments I have on the tree. He had the most perfect expression of wonder on his precious little face. I was thrilled to capture this expression for his parents.

My schedule is crazy busy right now, and just in case there isn't another post before the 25th, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May you all experience the childlike wonder and excitement over each little blessing that comes your way during this special season of celebrating Christ's birth.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunflower Heads

I'm still enjoying the sunflowers that I planted this summer. No, unfortunately they don't look like this anymore.

Instead, they look like this. I attached several dried sunflower seed heads to a tree with a bungee cord. It's been fun watching the birds land on the seed heads and eat the seeds. This picture was taken very quickly several days ago through the kitchen window.

This picture was taken shortly after I had attached them to the tree. It was a thrill to see the bluebird sitting on it.

Next summer I will definitely be planting more sunflowers for the birds to enjoy. I'll have to plant a lot more than I did this year especially since the goldfinches ate the seeds as soon as they were developed, so there weren't many sunflower heads left for the winter birds.

On this icy, wintry day the picture of the sunflower sure brightens my day. I hope it brightens yours too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cooper's Hawk

A Cooper's hawk landed on a neighbor's fence post again. They seem to like this spot to watch for prey at my bird feeders and another neighbor's yard that has a lot of shrubs and trees that the birds use for shelter.

It was a freezing cold day, the wind was blowing and there were snow flurries.

It stayed for a few minutes and kept alternating feet, I assume trying to keep them warm.

Such beautiful creatures!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Something New!

I enjoy photography and love to photograph family, friends and nature. I've had the opportunity to do senior portraits for several people and have a few more sessions coming up. My current cameras do fine for most of my hobby photography, but I wasn't completely satisfied with the picture quality for senior pictures especially the enlargements.

I have recently been asked to shoot the pictures for my church's new pictorial directory in January. I'm honored and excited but also quite nervous about that endeavor. I had been dreaming of upgrading to a more professional camera for quite some time, but couldn't justify the expense. I was able to find a really good deal this weekend on the Canon EOS 50D and the 75-300 lens. My generous hubby agreed that it was time to upgrade considering the opportunities that were approaching.

These are some of the first shots with the new camera, (no editing has been done) . I haven't had time to read the manual yet and don't even know how to turn on the flash. It is quite different from my Sony A-100 and I'm eager to figure it out.

I'm looking forward to having birds other than house sparrows and finches to photograph! At least I had my precious little friend here today. Isn't he adorable? He is as sweet as he is cute!

Unlike my 21 and 16 year old children, he rewards me with a smile for the camera! Sweet!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last Year's Winter Favorite

A few people are posting their Christmas card pictures. Here's mine! I took this picture last year after a hoar frost and snowfall. It was on my friend/neighbors light post. I thought it was so pretty. I'll be using it this year on a few homemade Christmas cards that I'll be sending.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yummy Ginger Cookies

I baked these yesterday for the first time. They were so easy to do and made beautiful, uniform and delicious cookies. Perfect for those cookie swaps or gifts. The house smelled so yummy too!

Yummy Soft Ginger Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of all-spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup white sugar reserved for rolling dough.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water, (or juice) and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the reserved sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. (The dough is easier to handle if it is refrigerated for a while before rolling.)
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.