Friday, September 30, 2011

In loving memory of my mother

Sandra Petersen

who entered into the arms of her Savior

September 22, 2011

I love you mom. I miss your smile.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ryan's Playroom

My little brother shared this video with me awhile back. We both like it, for several reasons.
First, Calvin and Hobbes is rad.
Second, time lapse video is rad.
Third, what a COOL idea for a playroom! Does this child know how lucky he is? Wow!
And lastly, there are several things (none of which I will get into right now) about this song and video that remind us of our big brother, who passed away a few years ago.
For that reason especially, it kinda tugs on my heartstrings. ♥
Anyway, just thought I'd share. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A few photos from the feeder

...alliteratively speaking

Joel had the bright idea of setting up the tripod outside and setting the camera to remote. I got a few OK shots. Then decided to turn on the flash. I usually hate flash photography, but it helped show the coloring a lot better. They are still really difficult to capture though.

This little guy (I'm assuming he is the same bird in each photo, which may not be true) visited me at about five different times yesterday. Mostly in the afternoon.

It's pretty amazing that even with a relatively fast camera and a flash, he still ends up a blur most of the time! Gives you an idea of how darty they are.

As for identification: I have read that there are mainly three kinds of hummingbirds in my area. Allen's, Rufous, and Anna's. They are pretty similar looking. But - based on the grey underparts on this guy, I'm gonna guess Anna's.

Constantly checking the porch,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Birthday Part Deux - Hummingbirds!

So the train table was mostly daddy's idea and mostly daddy's work. "Mommy's gift" is a little more... unconventional. And a lot smaller. :)

We were at the store a few weeks ago, walking through the garden department, when my son suddenly became fascinated by the bird feeders and asked to take one home. I told him I'd think about it. And I did. And then I thought I'd just get one for him for his birthday. (This was way before the whole table thing came up, otherwise I would've skipped it).

Here's the thing though. He wanted the kind you use with birdseed. When I imagined this contraption on our porch, all I saw were big obnoxious scrub jays with their loud screeches, defecating all over my patio and terrorizing my child. This was not a pleasant picture.

Right next to the birdseed feeders were the hummingbird feeders. This idea seemed much more agreeable, so I went with that. We hid it in the closet for a couple of weeks and then he opened it on his birthday. He helped me make syrup for it (super easy to do) and then we hung it outside the next day.

I'll be honest. For awhile, I was worried that my bird feeding experience would somehow rival my patio gardening experience and that we would be left waiting for days on end with no signs of life. I knew hummingbirds lived in our area, but I thought maybe they wouldn't find it or - worse yet - they would think our feeder was somehow inferior to the others in the neighborhood. Haha. I was gladly proven wrong. Within 24 hours, a sweet little family of hummingbirds had found the feeder. And they now visit us at least four times a day to refuel. :) There is a male and a female. They have come together a couple of times, but it's usually one or the other.

This is my first experience with hummingbirds on a regular basis. And I have to say I like them much better than scrub jays. They are very quite. They have a tiny little chirp they make sometimes. The loudest part about them is actually the sound of their wings flapping. (Hence the hum of the hummingbird) They are so small, you'd almost think it was just a big bug through the corner of your eye. And they are SO fast and skittish, that they never hang out for very long. In fact, it's been a challenge to try to catch a glimpse of them before they're done feeding or without scaring them away.

Here are a few photos I snapped yesterday with my ninja photography skills.
You can click on them to enlarge, if you like:

The color in these photos isn't great because of the back lighting, so it's kind of hard to tell what this one is. But the male in the family was kind enough to recently hover in the sunlight for a few seconds. And I was able to see what I think was a copper-colored throat. So I think he is probably a Rufous. Oh! Maybe an Allen's!

It's been fun having them visit and I look forward to enjoying them for a couple more months before winter sets in. I like that our son is excited about it too. The other day he was playing on the patio and probably scared them off when he yelled "MOMMY! I SAW A HUMMINGBIRD!"

Hahaha. We had a little discussion about talking quietly if you want to enjoy the wildlife. ;)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homemade Birthday Present: Train Table

For the last week and a half this has been referred to as "Daddy's Project," rather secretively. As in - "Don't go out there, daddy is working on his project." Or "What is this for? Well... it's for Daddy's Project."

What our son didn't know was that the reason we were being so secretive is because Daddy's Project was actually his Birthday Present. And we were trying so hard to keep him from figuring it out, even though we were building it right under his nose.

Here is a photo of the Birthday Boy "helping" daddy, which he was very excited about. It's funny, isn't it, how much our children can utterly trust us sometimes? He was so diligent in helping and yet, when he would ask us what it was going to be or when it would be finished, all we could give him were very diplomatic answers.... like "we'll have to wait and see!"

Please note the teeny tiny 10'x6' space in which my husband did all this work!

It all began about two weeks ago. We were out as a family doing lazy Saturday afternoon things. One of the Birthday Boy's favorite places to go is the bookstore. Purely because they have a Thomas the Train table there with all kinds of track and trains and cool looking buildings... he could easily play there for hours. On this afternoon, while watching our son play, it occurred to Joel that he could probably make a train table for a lot less than the cost of buying one and since the boy's birthday was coming up, why not do it for him as a birthday gift?

I left all the drawing and planning and measuring and woodcutting and routing and sanding to Joel (of course). Haha.

When it came to painting the thing though, I agreed that Joel could paint the body "Thomas blue," but I wanted to paint the table top. I decided to take inspiration from the store-bought versions by painting grasslands and trees and lakes and all that.

So, tonight we finally did the "big reveal," so to speak. We had him hide in his room while we put the pieces together, and then brought him out and showed him what Daddy's Project had really been about all this time. It finally came together in his brain, and he was so excited. After a little giggling and a little hopping and a little playing with it here and there, he proclaimed that this was "...the best birthday ever." So that made it all worth it, of course.

Oh look, he's wearing his train shirt. How apropos.

We got one small set of track to go with it. But our son already had several trains that felt right at home on the table.

Joel did great work. Good job, honey!
Now we just gotta figure out how to fit it into the boy's room! :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

She's so granola

The other day I made my first berry salad, inspired by my son.

We were at the store a couple weeks ago in the sandwich bag aisle. He was looking around and suddenly pointed to one of the boxes of zip bags. "Can we bring this one home?" I stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out what my 3 year old thought was so appealing about a box of zip bags.

...Then I realized that there was a photo on the box of the zip bags being used to hold a bunch of berries. Ha! Apparently my child was under the impression that the berries came with the zip lock bags and were in the box, waiting for us to bring them home and eat them. I gave him a diluted lesson in marketing, and explained that, unfortunately, sometimes the photo of what you get doesn't always match what you really get....

But I agreed that the berries looked good and made him a promise that on the next grocery trip we would pick up what we needed to make a berry salad. Together, we studied to zip lock box to determine the ingredients: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. We decided strawberries might be a nice addition.

Here is what we came up with later that week:


I've made lots of fruit salads before, of course. But never just berries. It's actually perfect for my little one, because every time I make a fruit salad, he ends up eating around the melons anyway. :) I sliced up some melon and I just mix it in with the berries for me and daddy.

Another fun recipe I just got around to last night was homemade granola. It was my second attempt at the recipe from my friend Christina found here. It is a very versatile recipe and customizable. The first time I made it, I used agave sweetener and added craisins. I liked it, but knew I could do better. I forgot until after I made it that I don't really care for dried fruit in my cereal. heehee. So anyway, I decided this time to use honey and to add sliced almonds. It was You can go to Christina's site to find the original recipe (hers is Gluten Free!) and more detailed instructions. Here is how I made my version this time:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/4 cup honey (added a little extra, actually)
1 Tbsp oil
sprinkle cinnamon

Basically, I just mix it up, throw it on a cookie sheet (you can use a baking dish, but I like mine pretty toasty, so I like to spread it out more), put it in the oven - 325 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. Every 10 minutes, check and toss to toast evenly.

She suggests it over yogurt, which I agree is really good! I just had some with vanilla yogurt for breakfast this morning. Might go nicely with some of that berry salad. :)


9/6/11: I think it might need a little more honey, actually. I tried it with milk this morning and it wasn't as good as yesterday with the yogurt. A bit too bland.

I also forogot that the first time I made it, I added a splash of pure vanilla extract, and that was good. I'll try it with the vanilla and a little more honey next time. :)

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