Thursday, May 22, 2014

Number 42: Estero Llano Grande State Park

It seems like stalling, and I admit, it is.  Though we visited our park number 42 weeks ago I am just now finishing the post.  Why so long to tell you all about Estero Llano Grande State Park?  The birds.

Altamira Oriole
The birds!  We documented 57 different species of birds on our walk through this park with two wonderful Rangers and a couple very knowledgeable birders.

They spotted birds that I would have walked by without noticing.

American Avocet
The problem came when I got home from the park, downloaded all my photos, and began the process of labeling what we saw.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
I didn't catch all 55 birds on camera, and not every shot was as clear as I would have liked, but what I did have took a lot time.  Thus, the stalling began.

Indigo Bunting
There were so many!  And I know so little.

White-Rumped Sandpiper
And to further complicate things (going back to the barely a novice thing) so many of the birds look alike.

Stilt Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper
But over time, with the help of the park through Facebook and other bird enthusiasts at work, I have been able to sort my pictures to share.

Our experience at number 42 might make this my favorite park: but at the very least, it's one of my best experiences at one.

Green Heron; look closely
It doesn't have the breath-taking canyons like Palo Duro or amazing fall color like Lost Maples, but what it did have was spectacular and I can't wait to go back in another season and see more.  I am especially interested in the ducks next winter.

Fulvous Whistling Duck
If you go, please take the bird walk tour.  It's the best of what the park has to offer.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

One Step Closer

I have had quite the wish list for redoing and upgrading several things around the outside of our home.  There are several I can now check off as finished.

Re-stain cedar posts.  Check!

Cement overlay on the porches.   Front.  Check!

Back.  Check!

Screened porch.  Check!

Repaint the red accent on the front. Remember the Chip It post to pick a color?  I went with Cardboard.


Only two biggies left:  repainting the front door a nice Tricorn Black from the Chip It swatch and bead board ceilings on the three porches.  Well, maybe three.  Wouldn't shutters on the front window surrounded by the stone (it's my dining room)  look nice?  Stained to match the posts or painted in the Tricorn Black like the door?  Hmmmm.  Always a work in progress.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Color Makeover

There have a been a few home improvement projects going on around here.  Most of them have been outdoors, but we also tackled an indoor one that I have been itching to get to for a long time.  Though I love the paprika paint in the open dining room, it just made the office feel dark and small.

The cabinets that I had built just faded into the background.

After picking a new color (no small task), Breck and I gathered our supplies and prepared to lighten things up.

Coffee was not the only supply, but it was an essential one.

You know the steps to painting:  tape, patch, and prime.

Then paint coat 1 and 2.

I could not be happier with the way it turned out.

Lighter and brighter.

I think I will be painting this color just about everywhere.  Valspar Linen.  Looks green, gray, or beige depending on the light of day.  I love when a color does that.

Still need to invest in the furniture for the office, but that will come.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Did I Know It Would Take A Year? No.

I warned you I was going to be a little all over the place with my posts.  I have showed you a few parks, some home improvement, and garden updates, and today we are going back to a project that began last last June!  My beautiful gourds.

Who Doesn't Like Gourds, Oct. 2, 2013
After planting seeds and nurturing two gourd plants in the Texas summer heat, fighting back powdery mildew and squash beetles, harvesting, drying, and waiting ever so patiently, MOST of my gourds were ready to clean this past weekend.

Mold Is Not All Bad, Feb 23, 2014
Some, believe it or not, are still not dry.  I am beginning to wonder if they ever will.  The ones that were ready, though, were plucked from their spot on the ladder where they have rested for 7 months.

They were covered in various types of mold, which is good, but they would require a good soaking in water and bleach before they were ready to be scrubbed.

Even with the mold, aren't they lovely?

So I filled my bucket of gourds with some bleach and water.

I needed to find a simple solution to keep them all submerged since they all floated.

A wet towel weighted down with rocks was perfect.

I let them sit in the water over night and much of the mold and dirt fell right off.

Again.  So pretty.

Next, I scrubbed the little guys to take of the natural waxy coating to reveal the smooth, hard gourd skin underneath.

Not all of it came off easily, and many of them will need another soaking and scrubbing, but there is only so much elbow grease in these elbows.

Back on the ladder they went until I can do the touch ups and hopefully the last of the gourds that are not dry yet.  Then I have something in mind for them that I think will be a lot of fun to do.

I had no idea that this project would last so long when I planted those seeds way back in June 2013.

So Far So Good, June 9th, 2013
But I am so glad I did.

A Happy Day In The Garden, Oct. 14, 2013