Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coffee by the Fire

Coffee around a warm fire in the fire pit on Sunday morning turned into quiet an unexpected show.

The birds, in mass, came and went from the feeder for hours.

There were cardinals and tufted goldfinches.

Tufted titmice and chickadees.

They came and went and barely seemed bothered by our presence or the smoke from the fire.

I have gotten better about identifying species and even, on occasion, can tell the males from the females.

At one point 9 cardinals lined the branched in the tree the feeder is hung in.

In case you can't find them all . . . here's a little help.

And on the ground, eating the seed the others tossed aside were doves and our resident yellow bellied sap sucker.

I would like to go back through all the photos I look to see just how many different types we had visit.  I couldn't even hazard a guess, but I can tell you this.  There will be more coffees by the fire in our future.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snowmageden? Not really.

It's not as rare as unicorn and leprechaun sightings, but snow in this area is something to take note of.

It doesn't matter if it's 3 inches or .3 inches, it is still photo worthy.

Honestly, I had hoped for more, but I'll take what I can get.

Hopefully my broccoli won't have suffered too much and will be fine when it warms back up into the 60's tomorrow.  Texas weather is crazy.

Work had a delayed start, so I was able to take a nice walk this morning when the sun came up so I could get some pictures before it melted.

Really it's mostly ice with a little snow on top.  Nonetheless, beautiful.

I do feel bad that my bird feeder is empty.  I will need to pick up some seed in town.

I do love this time of year.

And Jeff?  The Snowmageden title is for you.  Hope I spelled it right.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Knitters Should Have Puppies

I woke up to this.

Yards and yards of my yarn spun out and laying on the floor.

From room to room and down the hall I followed the trail.

And in the end, around the last corner, I found the culprit of the shenanigans that occurred while I soundly slept.

Guilty.  Happy.  But Guilty.

And he had no shame, continuing to play with my would-be scarf right in front of me with no regard for my feelings.

This as the "good kitty" stayed clear of the mess.  Smart boy.

Even as I wound the loose threads from their piles, making order of the strewn out mess, my playful offender continued to be entertained.

A day in the life of a knitter with cats.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Home Grown Oranges Preserved.

For the second year in a row I was the lucky recipient of a bag of fresh, homegrown oranges from my neighbor Peggy.  Her father grows them at his home in Louisiana and is a sweetheart to share.  Even though I have been eating at least one a day, there are still many to use before they soften and go bad.

I love orange segments in my chicken salad, with cranberries, and in my yogurt.  I usually keep a few of the canned Mandarin oranges in my pantry, so canning my own with the bounty seemed like a great idea.

I peeled about 2 1/2 pounds of the gems.  They weren't seedless, but my sharp paring knife made short work of removing them.

I also confess that I got a bit obsessive with removing the white stringy membranes.

I boiled a very light syrup with 6 cups of water and 3/4 cup of sugar.  After filling my hot jars with the orange segments, I poured the boiling syrup over top and removed the air bubbles with a small spatula.

After 10 minutes in a hot water bath I have 3 half pint jars and 3 pint jars of my own lightly sweetened oranges and still have several fresh ones for breakfasts this week.

They won't last as long as my jams, but if they last full 9 months of their shelf life I will be surprised.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Number 34: Inks Lake State Park

If you are a Texan, if you went to school in the Austin area, or if you enjoy the great outdoors you have probably heard of Devil's Waterhole.  You may, like my son, have even jumped off the rocky cliffs and into the lake here if you are a daredevil.   However I am way past my daredevil days years, so when Breck and I went to Inks Lake State Park last weekend we didn't even take the trail to that popular spot to see it in person.  Here is how I thought it would go in my head if we did:

Scene:  A bunch of twenty somethings hanging out on the rocks, taking turns jumping.  Young men showing their bravery, wooing the ladies below with their courage.
Young man #1,  pointing at the 40 somethings:  "Look!  Old people!"
Young man #2:  "Do you think they are lost?  Maybe we should help them find their way back to the road."
Young man #1:  "No, they have cameras.  I think they are taking pictures of us.  Weirdos."
Young man #2:  "GET A LIFE, old folks!" he yells before taking a mighty leap into the lake below.

Yep, pretty mortifying.  So we skipped it.  It's okay, though, because this park has 7 miles of trails that proved to be quite beautiful.

The trails run around the lake and over pink granite.

It was such a pretty day.  We shared the trails with several other hikers, some with their dogs, but it never seemed crowded.

I believe we might have seen Coots at every park we have visited.  Surprised it's not the state bird.

Would I go back?  Sure.  But we have so many more on our list to see first.