Thursday, January 31, 2013

Finally! I Have Found My Muse.

There is so much more to building a "custom" home than creating a floor plan that is uniquely yours.  Been there, done that.  The part of  "custom" I am struggling with, and have been for 2 years and 4 months, is making the space reflect my family's style, personality, and the things we love.  For example, my living room is filled with furniture from our old house which was completely different.  The sectional couch is from the media room and the chairs are from the master bedroom sitting area and they just don't work in the space or with each other.

But then I found inspiration.  The room below is in a home in Montana with a beautiful vista and natural element decor.  I'm in Texas,so the mountain lodge look wouldn't work here, but the room dimensions and view are so similar.  To break down how I can use this as inspiration, look at the furniture placement.  Love.  Now all I need is a bench, 4 chairs, 1 sofa, a game table, coffee table, 2 small end tables, and 2 lamps.

I found this at Houzz.  It's a great sight for finding ideas.  Here are a few more inspiration photos I found.  I love the framed prints in the background of this room.  Something like that would be fun to make and look great in my guest suite.

We have a small office and  we would like to use it more than we do.  A table like this in front of the fireplace would be perfect with a chair.

The chair in the last photo wouldn't work, but this high backed one would.

I just need to win the lottery and finish paying college tuition and I can get started.  Well, maybe it wont' be that long.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

State Park Photo Gallery Wall Gets A Start

We now have six pins on our state park map (An Anniversary Present).  Enough parks and enough photos to begin decorating the rest of the wall the map hangs on.

Not many tools needed for this job, just a few picture hanging hooks and a hammer.

I placed small, felt disks on the back of the frames in each corner to help keep them from shifting when the front door is opened and closed.

With a white chalk pencil I wrote the name of the park where the photograph was taken on the black mat.

My favorite park photo is of a very large alligator at Brazos Bend State Park.
 I deliberately chose black thinking it would show off the pictures better than a white mat would.

Black Vulture in a lichen covered tree at Guadalupe River State Park
Three photos were enough to get a start on the gallery.

View from the top at Lost Maples State Park
It will make quite the conversation starter in the front foyer.

Can't wait for Breck and me to head out to another park to get more photos for the wall.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Honey Bees

I have told you about my neighbors' wonderful bee hives.  

What a unique experience it was when I had the opportunity to see the hives when Lucy was checking on them last year.  (A Trip to the Hives)

With the weather warming up (yes, I know it is only January but it was 80 when I took these shots on Sunday!), the bees are getting active again.

I found several on my blooming bottle brush collecting pollen almost before the sun was up.  Busy bees.

I sure hope this means honey for Lucy and Reily this year.

Maybe they will let me take pictures if they harvest any this year.  Won't that be another grand adventure?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Party At The Feeder!

I set my camera on a tripod in the front yard this morning on a whim.  I know, I know.  Weird, huh?  I was curious to see if I could get any good shots of birds coming and going from the feeder.  Wow, was I surprised.  I am no bird expert, and so many of the species look alike making identification difficult, but I must have had a dozen different types of birds come in for breakfast this morning.  These are stills taken from video, so the quality isn't the best, but you get the idea.  9 birds are represented.

From left:  2 Pine Siskins and 3 Chipping Sparrows
From left:  Red-Bellied Woodpecker and American Goldfinch
Keep in mind that all these guys came within a 30 minute period of time.

Tufted Titmouse
From left:  Clay-Colored Sparrow, Yellow-Throated Vireo, and  Chipping Sparrow
The sounds of all the different birds calling to each other and singing was quite amazing.  If you watch even part of the video below you can hear their songs.

Northern Cardinal
Carolina Chickadee
After watching the video repeatedly, I must say my favorite part is the woodpecker throwing out the small seeds to get to the big sunflower seeds.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Felt Cat Toy For My Boys

My ladybugs are coming along nicely.  I now have 10 finished, and several more in various stages of completion.  It has left my craft area a mess, and me in need of a break.

I made a little bird pattern with some scrap paper and decided to try my hand at making a little cat toy for my Inhibitors with some of the leftover felt.

I had spent some time in the morning pulling some old clothes for Goodwill, but found a few I wanted to use in crafts projects, including this cute skirt and its tie.

The knotted end of the tie was a perfect hangy thing for the birds tail.  Cats love the hangy things.

I whipped it in place with a little thread making sure not to go all the way through.

A heart made a great wing blanket stitched onto one side.  I must have Valentine's Day on the brain.

By this time Kracken had gotten curious about the goings ons and planted himself right in the middle of things.  I threw a little scrap of felt on the floor and he was easily distracted so I could get back to my bird.

I started around the edge of the bird (I had a front and a back with wrong sides together) with a simple running stitch, but before going all the way, I tucked a little fiber fill and catnip into the opening.

Rudy showed up and I gave him a sniff.

 That was all it took for him to decide that it was his, and off he went.

Kracken didn't agree, and promptly stole it (do I need to give the guy a name?) and took off down the hall.

Don't worry.  Rudy got it back.  Pretty sure that look says L O V E.

And pretty sure I need to make another one.

Here are a couple short videos if you would like to see more.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Egg Sandwich Endorsement

I love cooking in bulk.  One day in the kitchen can yield a month of quick breakfasts on the go, lunches that require no work, and dinners on nights I'm too wiped out to cook.  However, when using new recipes it can be a bit hit or miss.  I have been very lucky and liked almost everything I have made.  Several of the recipes have even made it into the regular rotation and can be found on my What's Cooking list.  This past Monday I  did my big cooking day and so far have tried two of the items.  One was the Cornbread Cake which was fabulous, and today I brought an Egg Sandwich to work.  It also exceeded all my expectations.  I have had egg sandwiches from the frozen food section of the grocery and had an expectation of similar flavor and texture.  Wow.  So much better.  So one more recipe goes on my list of "will make again."

I made 6 sandwiches and they went together in very little time.  While the bacon was cooking (6 slices), I toasted 6 English Muffins, and cooked the eggs.  For the eggs I poured 1/4 cup of Egg Beaters (you could use regular eggs if you prefer) into a small, LIGHTLY greased ramekin.  Cook the eggs for 1 minute in the microwave and sprinkle with salt and pepper if you would like.  Scoop the egg onto a plate and repeat 5 more times.  By the time the bacon was ready, I had rotated the ramekin through 6 times.  On each muffin I place one egg, one slice of bacon broken in half, and one slice of Swiss cheese.  Then I wrapped them in clear plastic wrap and stowed them in a gallon freezer bag.  Out of the freezer I would cook for 1 minute, but mine was thawed by the time I got to work, so I only went 30 seconds.

My husband is going to love these!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cornbread for Breakfast?

For whatever reason, I woke up earlier than usual this morning.  4:30AM.  Did you know there was such a thing?  I tossed and turned for 30 minutes before deciding that my mind was working way too hard for going back to sleep to be an option.  I was actually a little excited since the day before at the grocery store I picked up a new coffee pot (in store $10 off coupon! Win!).  My old one bit the dust a couple weeks ago and I have been making French Press every morning.  Doubly excited because it's programmable.

I had set the timer the night before to begin brewing at 5:30, so I folded a little laundry and worked on my ladybugs.  At 5:30 when I didn't smell coffee, I went to check on the pot.  I had set the timer for 5:45 which normally would have been fine, but this morning it just delayed my caffeine injection.  I sucked it up.  I could wait another 15 minutes.  5:45 passed and I still didn't smell any coffee.  When I checked again, this time consulting the manual, I found I had not set the timer correctly.  Oops.

I hit start and waited another couple minutes to finally have my coffee.

Wow!  The coffee was so strong.  I think I will be able to cut back on the number of grounds I need to get the brew I like.  It was worth the wait, especially served on the side of one of my new freezer breakfasts (9 New Recipes for the Freezer).  I thought about pulling an egg sandwich, but decided to save those for mornings when I need to grab breakfast to go.  I ended up having the Cornbread Cake from Linda at Stick to Your Hips with a drizzle of maple syrup.  Only 30 seconds in the microwave.  Look at that crispy, shiny crust and the way the syrup soaked into the side of the cake.  Those little dots of spices made it smell amazing.

Enough waiting!  I had now been awake for 1 1/2 hours with no coffee or breakfast AND I had still taken the time to get my camera and take a few photos!  I dug in.

This recipe exceeded my expectations.  Great alternative to pancakes which don't reheat from the freezer without taking on a funny new texture.  I love this for breakfast in the morning from the freezer, but I would also make it for company.  Yes, it's that tasty.  It's going on the What's Cooking list for sure.