Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is Spring just around the corner?

I spent 15 minutes outside this morning before work. I fed the ducks and enjoyed quiet morning air. As I was standing at the edge of the creek I saw the first robin of spring. Overjoyed of course, I stepped closer to see him, next to that robin was another, and yet another. Trying to keep track of them all I counted about 25 of them coming in for a landing on the creeks edge that was covered in ice. This was all unfolding as the 24 ducks ate on the bank next to me. It was wonderful to see all that activity. The cardinals were out and the blue jays, and I even saw two cedar wax wings. It was a busy morning for the birds, heres hoping that spring is just around the corner.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Since we just celebrated Abraham Lincoln's birthday it got me thinking about the Gettysburg address. He gave his speech in Gettysburg, PA at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery. It would be a great place to visit, so rich in history. There are so many sites to see there including the largest battlefield shrine in America. I bet Gettysburg camping sites are packed during the reenactments of the battle of Gettysburg. The people that show up dressed in period clothing it would be a site to see, too.

I would love to spend a week RV camping in Gettysburg. With that much time you could really enjoy the Gettysburg Nation Military Park and all of the services, and tours that they offer. There are many historic houses to visit, and a guided tour through the park could be very informative. To get a glimpse of American history, a place where Lincoln gave one of the best speeches of all time. I would choose to go in the summer months if I were going because PA RV camping could be very chilly in the winter months.

At your fingertips

Wouldn't it be great to toss away your house key, and use your fingerprint as the means for unlocking your doors? It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. I could hardly believe that keyless locks would be an option for a house door. When I heard about the keyless locks, I imagined a James Bond movie, and retinal scans, to enter a top secret area of a building.
The kind of locks I am talking about are for residential homes, and you can just install them your self. I think the biometrics are the wave of the future, but they are here now. Knowing that only the people that are programed into the lock could gain access to my house would make me feel incredibly safe. Not to say, that the house would be burglar proof.
With conventional locks, if you lose your key, you are out of luck (unless you have a spare), you could be out in the cold for a long time waiting for a locksmith to come to your aid. With the keyless locks, you have your access with you at all times, right at your fingertip.
The keyless lock technology could be great for kids that are get home from school before their parents. The kids would not have to keep up with a key all day at school, they would just program their fingerprint in to the lock and they could come and go as they please.
A keyless lock is something I would love to have. I would never need to remember my house key again. When I have to replace the locks on my house I will opt for this great new technology.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My weekly Menu planner

Today I planned my meals for the week. We are doing a themed week of Risotto, Orzo, and Couscous. With a deviation on Sunday so that I can make my own chicken stock for the meals for the week! Now that is good planning, and a great way to save some money.

Sunday Roasted Chicken with Carrot Soup
Monday Cauliflower Risotto with Brie With left over chicken
Tuesday Orzo Carbonara with Shrimp
Wednesday Couscous with apricot served with Pork Chops
Thursday Pea and Bacon Risotto with new york strip

The List
parmesean cheese
dried apricots
arborio rice
whipping cream
pork chop
roaster chicken

Again, I brought my two cloth reusable grocery bags, and filled them to the brim. This time everything fit in except the beer. Even the milk was comfortable in the bag. I am amazed with how much fit in the cloth bags. No fear of them breaking or hurting my hands when carrying them out to the car. So my two bag challenge continues, each week I will try to fit my groceries for the week in my handmade grocery bags.

The Kingfisher

As I cleaned the house for a showing, my attention wandered. I sat for a few minutes looking out the back door at the creek and the ducks swimming by. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my favorite birds. The Kingfisher. The medium sized bird has a distinct call of a low rattling sound, and it echos as she flies down Butterfield creek. She landed so gently on a branch that over hung the creek. She preened her feathers in the sun, then dunked into the creek. Unlike most birds, the belted kingfishers female have the more colorful feathers. You can tell them apart by the rusty red feathers that she sports, the male feathers are grey.

That will be one of the things I miss about our house, the wildlife that is in our back yard. My bird list has grown tremendously since I lived here from the cedar wax wing, to the belted kingfisher. It is amazing what you can see if you just take a few minutes to enjoy the outdoors. Bird watching from inside is a great wintertime activity. To keep those birds coming back a small bird feeder is all you need. Keep it full through out the cold months and you will have a wonderful show to watch, we call it nature-vision, much better than the television, if you ask me.

Here is my latest photo capture of my featured friends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A chance to Win

I was over at Misosouper today and saw that she was running a fantastic giveaway. I am always partial to giveaways that are considered "green" in nature. This time she has up for grabs a fun tote bag. The rules for this giveaway are easy, and there are ways to get extra entries!
Check it out, who couldn't use an extra reusable bag!

Missing the water

Back in Florida it was a regular thing to grab your swimsuit and head out for some aquatic therapy. Swimming that is. There is nothing better than a hot summer day than to run full speed, jump, canon ball into a sparkling pool of water. Of course, in Florida the pools are outside, or in a screened area, but we are not as fortunate in the weather department as they are in the south, I guess an indoor pool would be a good alternative. Up here, pools are only a summer fling, and some people that I have encountered living here, admitted they have never gone swimming. I can't fully understand that, but it is what it is.

If I had decided to make Chicago my home, I would have had to set up my own spa area, where I could retreat from the winter and become revitalized despite what was happening outside. The winter blues could easily be dismissed with your own indoor hydrotherapy pool! I can see it now, swimming inside, with the snow falling outside.

For me, in the winter, it is hard to get motivated to do any sort of exercise. With the resistance jets of a swim spa I could get all the exercise I care to within the comforts of my home. The pool is not just for exercise either, many of them feature jets for massage. I would even just enjoy hanging out in the pool just to relax. With the water heater, the pool would be like a gigantic bathtub, nothing more relaxing than that! I can just imagine the pool with it's crystal clear water, slightly warmed by a pool heater, how inviting that sounds right about now.
A girl can dream.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's for a good cause

A friend of mine asked me to donate a bag for a charity auction. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to get my bags out there. I made two bags for her auction, and they are from a great orange and brown floral. The fabric is probably vintage, but I can't date it so I will just say that it is old fabric. It really has that sixties/seventies feel.

Here are the two bags that will be on the auction block in a few short months. I hope that they fetch a high dollar for the charity, it is for a good cause.

That is not the last of that fabric though. I will be making a few more and then they will make their way to my shop. I will be posting more soon. Today I did post a great blue and brown reusable bag, it is made from my favorite fabric that I purchased when I was down in Mt. Dora, Florida.

What's In Your Bag

I went to the grocery store today with a menu for the week in mind. With my list in hand I gathered all the ingredients for a weeks worth of dinners for two.
The Challenge use only TWO bags.

The Menu
Monday: Potato wrapped halibut with spinach. Straight from this months issue of Bon Appetite
Tuesday: Roasted Potato soup (husbands favorite)
Wednesday: Roasted Turkey Breast with potatoes and salad
Thursday: Turkey tetrazzini (onion and sour cream with peas) served over pasta.
Friday: Turkey Sandwiches

The List:
sour cream
extras: milk, fruit, cereal
on hand: spinach, onion, bread

The grocery bagger today was great. He took the bags and stuffed everything in without squeezing or smashing anything.
I had two bags and everything fit except for the potatoes, but who would need a bag for that, they are already in a bag.

So what is in your bag? If you are using plastic I can guarantee it is a lot less than a cloth bag can hold.
A plastic bag would have ripped under the pressure of all that food. Not my reusable bags, they never let me down!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine Dinner

No work yesterday, no call, no pager, it was a perfect day. My hubby finally had a weekend off, it has been awhile, so we took advantage of the off call day to play. We went out for lunch with some friends at a great local resturant called Fresh Starts.
After we indulged in the food, we headed back to the house for wine, a red no less, appropriate for Valentine's Day. It was a bottle we had received as a gift, and we always love to share a good bottle with good friends. It was Domaine de la Charbonniere Vacqueyras vintage 2005, smooth, crisp and full bodied.

This year we choose three resturants, and we tried to replicate our favorite dishes from each.
The appetizer was the wonderful creamy artichoke dip with my homemade baguettes.

Main course: Crab Legs (W G Shuckers in Savannah, Georgia).
They came out great, it was the first time I had made them at home, so imagine my delight with the first bite.

We went through the pile of crab legs in very short time. They remind me of warmer days. They were fantastic.

Last but certainly not least dessert: It is called Morton's Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake and it calls for 15 eggs! Yikes, that is a lot of eggs. Well worth it though. This dessert was so rich, dense, and delicious. We served it with raspberries.

What a wonderful day, wonderful food, and wonderful company! Who could ask for anything more.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Snuggly Flannel

Who doesn't love flannel, whether it is in PJ form or part of a snuggly quilt, the soft fabric is just so nice. I ran across a great giveaway for a few fat quarters of flannel fabrics. The fabric being given away is Urban Flannel Collection By: Valori Wells for Free Spirit. The bundle looks so nice and soft, I sure hope I win. You can put your name in the hat too, just head over to Sew-Fantastic and check out her fabric giveaway. Easy to enter, and who knows, you could be the winner 6 fat quarters. She has pictures posted of the fabric up for grabs, check it out before the contest for fabric is over.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Early To Rise

This morning, with the thought of warm weather outside, I hopped out of bed...early! I got up to ride my bike for 15 minutes, before the hustle and bustle of the day. It is a great way to get your body for the day. After the invigorating ride, I stepped outside with the dog, and it was just glorious. The air was crisp, the sky was clear and best of all the temperature was 50 degrees.

With a few minutes to spare this morning, I grabbed the corn (duck food) and headed down to the creek. The ducks were waiting, they come racing down the creek when they hear the door open. So there they were 21 ducks waiting for their morning chow. Then over the golf course and through the trees I saw the moon, it was full and peeking back at me. It was beautiful, sinking down toward the horizon where 12 hours earlier the sun had set.

What a wonderful morning, and now it is time for work!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Etsy Shop Slowdown

I have been taking a break from the shop. Not intentionally, it just sort of happened. Once I was back at work after the holidays I was just not able to make as many bags to fill the shop. I am hoping to get more bags into the shop in the coming weeks. Though I have had much success with the reusable coffee sleeves, it is the grocery bags that I love to show off.

Is there anything that you would like to see more of in Threadbeaur's eco-Friendly shop? Grocery bags, shoulder bags, or coffee sleeves.
My sister just sent me a great big box of vintage fabrics that she found in her travels between Mt. Dora, FL and Los Angeles. I hope to have those up in the shop soon. Keep your eye out for more eco friendly items at Threadbeaur's Etsy shop.

Continued Search for Web Hosting

I am digging deeper in to web hosting. I found this great idea of Green Web Hosting. What is that? Well, the green web hosting are companies that are doing their part to reduce their impact on the earth. They might use alternative energy to run the company and the data centers. If you are a blogger trying to go green I would imagine that you would want to choose a company that is eco friendly.

There are a handful of green web hosting companies that have great prices and provide a lot of features. Some of the sites boast that they have energy efficient servers, and participate in tree planting, and some are even wind powered! It is just one more way that you can reduce your carbon footprint. Use companies that are involved and interested in protecting the earth. You can check out some reviews of the eco friendly web hosts, and see which one is right for you. Look for easy uploads, and upfront pricing, be careful of ad ons. The best thing to do if you are looking into these green web host for your blog is to read the reviews and email them with any questions. That way you can see just what kind of customer service they have to offer!

Dreaming of Vacation

When the weather is so cold here in the Midwest, I often dream of an easy vacation further south. We love to go camping and it is quick weekend trips that are the most fun, one hour to pack the car and we are on the road. Sometimes we head to the Indiana Dunes, but not in the winter. I would rather drive down to an rv park in North Carolina to get away from the brutal cold. NC rv parks can offer great amenities, and wonderful wooded campsites. One of the things I like best about camping is that we can bring along our furry friend. She loves the outdoors, and sleeping on our blowup bed. There is nothing better than sitting around in the sun with a good book, or just watching the birds, with nothing else to do.

Though we will not be vacationing this month, or even the next month, I am planning on a summer of camping around the US. Since we are moving in June, we will have a few weeks to make it to our location. I hope that we will take our time, and stop in some of the small towns along the way, and camp in the great outdoors. After being cooped up all winter long, it will be a joy to be out in the woods for a few weeks. Who know we might get to stop at the rv park NC.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lighting is Everything

We have very few switched lights, built into the ceilings. It is a challenge to get enough light without cluttering the house with lamps. It is a decorating challenge, especially now that our house is up for sale. We want it to be bright and cozy looking, but we don't want the buyer to just see all the accessory lights as clutter. Lighting can create a mood, bright and cheery, or dim the lights for an intimate dining experince. There are so many options when it comes to lighting, for now I will stick with what I have.

We did not have space in the entry for a floor lamp so we had to find a ceiling fixture to install. The one we choose is now my favorite light fixture. It is a motion light, it only turns on when you walk through the foyer. It is fitted with a compact fluorescent bulb and throws enough light to highlight the space, but not over power it. The fact that it is a motion sensor light is great because we don't waste energy by forgetting to turn it off. After several seconds it goes off on its own.

Upstairs we installed a ceiling fixture that has a fan and light. It is high on the energy efficiency scale, and with the remote, you never have to get out of bed if you forget to turn it off. I was able to move the two table lamps out of the bedroom, and relocate them to the craft room where I need much more light for my quilting projects.

Every time we have a showing for the house, I go around turn on all the lamps and all the switches to create a warm inviting environment for the prospective buyer. When it it is cold and dreary outside lighting is everything on the inside!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Turning to Japanese Fabrics

I have recently discovered fun Japanese fabrics. The designs are so different, among my favorites are the novelty animal prints. I was entering a contest to win a $20 gift certificate for fabric, when I discovered one of my new favorite etsy shops. It is clear around the world from me, and yet I can buy fabric with a click of a button. Over at the fabric shop called Matatabi, the selection is large, and the shipping is low. Check out this contest to win, there are 5 chances, so see if you will be hooked on Japanese fabrics.

Monday, February 2, 2009

School Loans?!

We are in the final countdown now, and the prospect of paying back the medical student loans is now becoming a reality. Many people find themselves with debt after college, and paying back the loans should be the first priority. As I am finding out, it was much easier to get the student loan than to pay it back. In a few months time we will be in a new state with a new job, and college loans to prove what we have been doing for the last 10 years. There are different loans, with different pay schedules, and of course different interest rates. When you are paying back your student loans the best way is to pay down the highest interest rates first. Sounds like common sense, but I was checking out our pay schedule and the company had us paying down the lowest interest rate first, then paying down the other loan on the highest interest rate. With a few phone calls we were able to straighten out our pay schedule. It saves money to check on your rates. Here are three easy ways to keep your college loans in line:
1. Education- Stay informed about you loans terms.
2. Payment schedule- Pay loans on time to avoid unwanted late fees.
3. Consolidate- If available to you, combine all those loans into one. One payment is easier than trying to remember to pay each loan on separate days.

Of course, if you are having trouble, ask for help. There are plenty of financial advisors out there if you need some advice. I am not one of those advisors, I am just sharing some of my personal experience with student loans.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fabric Giveaway

I just found a great site that is hosting a fabric giveaway. They have done a feature showing off the fabrics from a great etsy shop, and they are giving away fabric along with the feature. The shop is Downshadowlane, and they have a great selection of fabrics, in all sorts of variety. From Amy Butler to fun Japenese prints, but check out the giveaway on A Heart For Home.
This giveaway won't last forever so get over to the blog for their fantastic fabric giveaway. The rules are simple, and the reward could be fabric, doesn't get much better than that!