Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Thanks to Sew, Mama, Sew! for organizing the giveaway day. If you are looking for my giveaway click here.
Click on the MAY GIVEAWAY DAY ad to go back and check out all the other giveaways. There are so many, and they all look great!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Delicious Dessert

Last night we decided to make a great dessert from our Bon Appetit magazine. Each month I get the magazine delivered, and each month we make a few recipes from it. I figure, I have the subscription, I might as well try as many new recipes as possible. We made the blueberry shortcakes with lemon thyme biscuits. They were so good, and perfect for warm weather, since you can serve them with ice cream.
The preparation was super easy, and quick too. The blueberry mix could have been made a few days before, but since we were not pressed for time we made it all at once. I also cut the recipe in half since it was just two of us eating, and it worked out fine.
We sat on the front porch, and enjoyed our delicious dessert.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekend Weather

I thought we were expecting rain this weekend, however, as a nice surprise we had sunshine, and plenty of it. We drove down to the city for lunch today. Lunch was a short walk to Panozzo's Deli, a great italian deli with sandwiches and a small store. I got some great pasta while we waited for our food. We were going to go to the Randolph Street Market, but M was on call, and we had to come home after lunch. Since our plans in the city were cut short, I was able to spend some time out in the yard. I sat outback watching the creek, and the birds. The blue jays were jumping on the feeder knocking all the food to the ground. They are messy eaters, but the chipmunks are right there to clean up the mess. It is very nice to be able to sit out in the warm air, and enjoy the wildlife. What a great weekend. And there is still one more day, don't you love 3 day weekends!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Not too long ago there was a chance that we were going to be moving to Alaska. It was a one in 7 chance. Now, we know that we are not going there to live, but we will go for a visit. Whenever we would talk about our chances of moving to Alaska, ninety percent of the people we ran across had either lived there at one time wishing to return, or were very interested in visiting Alaska. Of course, there was the minority who said "Yikes, Alaska?".
We have a few friends that have been to Alaska and visited Denali Park. They said it was just amazing. I can just imagine the wildlife that is there in the park. Travel Alaska and you will be amazed at the wonderful wildlife, everything from bears to mountain goats. I would love to go in the summer months to get full 19 hours of sunlight a day. Can you imagine having that much daylight, the flip-side in the winter is not so nice, very short days.
Alaska travel can be for anyone, you could take a cruise to get there and have all the amenities included, get on the Alaska railroad, or you could go out on your own, and really get to see the great outdoors. I think that is the way we would like to see Alaska. Hiking in Denali Park or a tour of Kenai Fjords National Park. There is so much to see that you might have to make several trips, if you are not lucky enough to live in Alaska.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action

Researching cameras is something I love to do. I love to read all the latest reviews on both D-SLRS and the every so easy to use pocket sized digital cameras. I spent hours looking at all the D-SLRs when I made my purchase. It is a big decision, and mine weighed heavily on the fact that I had many lens to fit the Sony Digital Camera. I ended up purchasing the Alpha A-100 which I really like. It has been so easy to use, and the photos that I print are fantastic quality. I use the Sony when I am on a photo shoot, whether it is birds in my backyard, or if I am on a hike it is light enough with my 28-300mm lens to carry around all day.

When I am on the go around town I always have handy my Canon Digital Camera, which is the powershot sd500. This can always be found in my bag or in my pocket. This 7.1 mp camera has great quality pictures, and the color is true to the scene.
If you are interesting buying a camera whether it is Nikon Digital Camera or one of my favorites mentioned above, it is a good idea to read all the reviews you can. There are many reasons to buy a digital camera, in order to find the one that best fits your needs you can search by size, megapixel, and what you will be using for. Whatever you choose, make sure you read the manual so that you will get the most out of your new investment.

Happy shooting.

A new home for Avocados

I am not the only one that is excited about moving to Florida. I have a single indoor planter that plays host to 4 avocado saplings. These growing trees need more room, and of course would like to be outside for more than 4 months out of the year.

The four little seeds were headed for the trash can when I thought I can plant these. Planting avocados is so easy. I just cleaned the seed and popped it into the dirt. Since we live in Chicago, and the winters are brutal, I realized that my garden planters needed to come inside. So for over 6 months my indoor planter sat in the window that got the most sun. The hours of sunshine are greatly diminished in the winter months. These avocado seeds are fighters. With only two hours of sun a day, they started to grow, and the leaves increased in size and now I think they will make the move seamlessly to Florida. However, I will need to get four outdoor planters where they can continue to grow into large trees. Their new home will be in some decorative planters at the four corners of our swimming pool. I think there they will thrive in the sun from morning till night.
I have been transitioning the plants to the outdoors. I take the planter outside every morning and bring it back to the safety of the house each evening. I can certainly see they difference of getting a little more sun each day. The pot they are in now is not so pretty, so I will make sure their new pots will be high end planters that will last a lifetime!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May Giveaway Day

I was just over at Sew Mama Sew! where I saw that she is organizing a great bunch of websites that are hosting giveaways. I am going to participate in the May Giveaway Day by hosting a giveaway for a fun reusable coffee sleeve. This eco-friendly coffee cozy is handmade by me and you can see others similar to it in my Etsy shop: Threadbeaur. These great reusable sleeves can save lots of cardboard sleeves from going to the landfills.
Think of your coffee consumption:
1 to go cup a day snuggled with a cardboard sleeve=7 per week, 364 per year!
That is on a light week! Compound that by the number of coffee drinkers around the world and the number becomes staggering! Make your daily cup of coffee a little more green, win this coffee sleeve! Read the fine print below the picture.

The rules of the game are simple. Go to my shop look at the items I have and tell me what you like. I am always looking for feedback on my shop. Please leave your email so that I can contact the winner. The drawing will be a random pick of all the entries that comment on this post. This giveaway will end on May 31st at Midnight. Winner will be announced on June 1st!!! Good luck to all!
This contest, however, is for US participants, due to the shipping costs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Water Sports

Instead of organizing and packing up to move, I have been looking for Kayaks online. The house we are moving to is just a block from a small boat launch on to the Choctawhatchee Bay. We wanted something fun to do on the water and I think kayaks are the boats for us. We don't like engine noise when enjoying the water, but we don't have the funds for a sailboat. And since we first met while kayaking in the Florida Keys, we thought our own kayaks would be perfect.
I don't know much about kayaks. The Internet has been very helpful there. We found some that look like they might fit the bill. Have you heard of a recycled kayak? Ocean Kayak makes one that is environmentally friendly from 100% post-industrial plastic. How cool.
I would get the Venus 10 since it only weighs 34 pounds, which means I could carry it by myself. That is a determining factor in our purchase. I can't wait to get down there to have some fun in the sun.
If anyone has any info or stories about your own kayaking adventures I would love to hear them!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Bird Gets the Worm

It is like waking up in the jungle here. The birds start with their magnificent songs around 5 in the morning or so. I get to wake up gently to the sound of nature, can't get better than that. The calls can be loud and soft, I lay in bed most mornings somewhere between asleep and being fully awake and try to identify the birds by the song they sing. The usual suspects include the cardinal, whose song is fairly recognizable and the loud carolina wren who lives in our birdhouse outside our window. There is such variety, that it is easy to doze back off to sleepytown. Sunday morning I got up fairly early to take a look at which birds I could spot.
The variety is outstanding here in Northern Illinois, more so than you might imagine. Out in the newly budding trees I saw the blue jays, cardinals, and black cap chickadees. The robins, of course, where chasing worms in the damp soil, one lucky robin found a big one and gobbled it down. The squirrels take turns at the edge of the water taking small sips then they dart up the trees. On the bank of Butterfield creek sat the drake mallard, the sun shining down on his head revealing the shimmering green.
Just above him in a smaller tree was one of my newest bird findings the red breasted grosbeak, then another. I took a picture, of course, but it was too far away. The photo is not my finest work, but it works for identifying the newest addition to my birding list. It is a beautiful bird with what looks like a red shield on his chest surrounded by stark white and black on his back and wings. His beak is yellow and short, next time you are out birding be on the look out for this bird.
Over our last few weeks here in Chicagoland, I will continue my ever growing bird list, and enjoy what late spring has to offer. Then I will have to get a new bird book, one that is for North Florida!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Golf-The Sport for All Ages

One of the best things about golf is that you can play at any age, from young to old. Whether you enjoy golf for the fun of being outside with friends, or for the fierce competition, you can play this sport forever. If you tire of walking try using the golf cart, if your game is slumping a few extra lessons might help you beat your partner next time.

I am moving to Florida and there are a ton of places to play. One of the nearby areas has wonderful courses to check out. Myrtle Beach Golf Vacations can be just what the doctor ordered! In Florida golfing is just another excuse to ditch work early for a little fun in the sun. I can see it now, the bright blue sky the deep green of the golf course grass, what is not to love.

For those of you that will be visiting us once we move to Florida there are a variety of Myrtle Beach golf packages available. Some of the courses near by are well know, and have hosted the PGA tour in past years. Golf Packages in Myrtle beach are everywhere, you can just pick the courses that appeal to you and book them online. Dust off those clubs, shine your shoes and get your sunscreen, it is time to play golf.

Neighborhood Gatherings

We live in a special place where the neighbors get together for an annual progressive dinner. It is a fabulous event, and it is always themed. In the previous years we have had a Hawaiian Luau, Great Gatsby theme, and my favorite one was the Pirate theme. This year with the economy dipping and every one feeling the pinch, we decided on a Depression Era theme. It was a huge success, and much less extravagant than years previous.
The appetizers included such delicacies as spam stuffed potato skins, and spam stuffed mushrooms. The 40+ attendees ate almost all of the wonderful items. Usually the left overs are a hassle, but this year there were none. After taking a wonderful group photo we all moved on to our dinner houses. One neighbor made homemade bread for all the dinner spots, she must have made about 50 loaves! It was amazing. To compliment the bread we had soup and salad. It was an easy preparation for a great meal with friends.
Around 9:15pm we were all to reconvene at the house designated for desserts! The decorations at the dessert house were so fun, they had authentic 1929 newspapers all over the place, and out front was an outhouse with a sign that said 1 hour limit. It was amazing, they had the mock apple pie (made with ritz crackers instead of apples), a fantastic chocolate cake, pineapple upside down cake, and the hit of the evening was the MOON PIE! Not a pie of sorts, the kind of moon pie that is individually wrapped in plastic.

On Sunday morning we were walking the dog, and inside our mailbox was the entire box of moon pies! That really made our day. We will miss our neighborhood parties when we move away. Hopefully we will be able to return to one in the future.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What to Do with all those Photos

I have a ton of pictures, mostly they are kept on an external hard drive, locked away for safe keeping. Unlike, traditional film photos, I rarely print my digital pictures. They are stuck for eternity on my computer. I enjoy sharing my pictures, and looking through the old albums that I do have. It is hard to get the family to sit around the computer screen while I hit the arrow key to cue up the next picture.

For those special pictures that deserve a spot on the wall, I have wanted to try to transfer the photo to canvas. That way it would could be displayed for all to see. It would be nice to have a gallery wrapped photo of my sweet dog hanging in the entry way of the house.

If you are looking for something a little different from your photos you could try one of the artistic treatments. I found this great Pop Art style canvas that really would make your pictures POP (Andy Warhol style)! Another style that looked like fun was the Graphic style. This would be perfect for the comic book fanatic. They would love to see themselves, or their favorite someone, on a large canvas with the comic book flair.

There are so many things you can do with your photos. I am really going to try to get some of my favorites out of the computer and up on the walls where I can enjoy them everyday.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Perfect Bird Day

I was out in the yard soaking up some much needed sunshine, when I saw that our bird house had some activity. I grabbed my camera that is always waiting just inside, and slowly sneaked on to the back porch. Just off the deck we have our bird house we made with the recycled plastic bag roof. A small Carolina wren has made it this season's house. I heard them around the corner, and then I saw them approaching the house as a pair. One seems to distract other birds, as the other one flies into provide some food for the little ones. I was not going to be distracted though. I had my camera pointed and focused on the opening on the bird house. Then the small bird landed on the side of the house, then jumped around to the front. I was able to snap a few pictures before she was off to find more food.

For being such a small bird they sure do have a loud song. One of the loudest in our yard for sure. If you are interested in hearing this Carolina Wren you can check them out here. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great site for all your bird identifying needs!

Everything Please!

I love baking. I wanted to have some everything bagels, so I took down my book The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and got to work. The bagel recipe is easy, and most delicious. It is an overnight recipe so make sure you don't want to eat them until the next morning. I use a great mix of garlic, poppy seeds, caraway seeds and salt for the topping. They are so good, it is like having a bagel from the local bagel shop, only better, because you made it!

If you are interested in Bread Baking or Bagel making, I would recommend that book. My copy is never far from the oven, it is filled with great recipes and wonderful baking tips! If you have a successful bagel story I would love to hear about it. There is nothing better than a bagel straight from the oven slathered with cream cheese!