Hey, I entered a photo contest. No, I do not think I am that good. However, I really enjoy photography and am trying to improve. Looking at some of the beautiful other photographs that people have submitted has made me feel silly for entering but I am still glad I did.
I did not enter the photo at left, though it was one of my choices. I had a great cicada photo but it was not quite in focus. Instead, I chose:
I really wanted to enter a sewn something in the Wisconsin State Fair a la my blue ribbon amassing friend, Marsha, but thought of it too late. I also considered entering my Banana Dream Bundt Cake but, again, too late. Alas, my blue ribbon dreams are put off for another year.
We've had a pair of ducks in the neighborhood and didn't know where they were nesting. This is a new nest. My suspicions are their first nest was raided by those nasty raccoons as they did last year and that this is a second nest.
My big concern now is that I haven't seen Father Duck around at all. What happens if he isn't around? Can we help feed her or anything? Is it normal to not see him hanging around? They've been walking around the neighborhood together and have been inseparable but before seeing her in this nest this week, we haven't noticed them for a few weeks.
Update: According to Wikipedia, Mallards form pairs only until the female lays eggs, at which time she is left by the male. The clutch is 8–13 eggs, which are incubated for 27–28 days to hatching with 50–60 days to fledging.
Onto happier thoughts. Here are some more pictures from the yard today: clematis, primrose, butterfly bush, yarrow, and bunny-gobbled Asiatic lily.
The cookie has a mild taste - more like a spritz cookie than a sugar cookie. I wouldn't mind testing these with a sugar cookie recipe. I tweaked a couple things with this recipe, including making the color balls first and then refrigerating, adding the sanding sugar on top and giving a little snake rolling explanation.
More pictures at the end of the recipe to show the process.
Adapted from All Recipes
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
assorted colors of gel food coloring
white sanding sugar
Sam Taylor-Wood is a lucky gal who took this photo of Daniel Craig. Alright, she is an artist who made photographic portraits of leading actors crying called Crying Men. I bet we can guess who the hottest crier is. Years ago I would have said Ed Harris but that was before he was beat with the pompous stick.
I do wonder what Daniel is thinking of. Is it a big deal getting a guy to cry on cue if he is an actor? I could cry on cue right this very instant. Load up some sappy Mastercard Priceless commercial for me. Oh boy, just the mention of them is starting to tap the waterworks.
On a side (but related) note: a couple days ago Aidan tried some spicy food and said it was smoking hot.
After posting about my butterfly garden and mentioning my beautiful butterfly bath, I recalled pictures I took last summer of my dad making the bath for me.
One thing I admire about my dad is he digs in and does things when he has an idea. I tend to contemplate my ideas for a long time before actually working on them. Don't get me wrong, dad is a real thinker and perhaps he thought about creating concrete baths for 10 years before making them but I don't think so.
Since I have a lot of pictures of the process, I made a photo album. It isn't as hard as it looks and really just takes a bit of space outside to make them.
Dad, I have a couple questions for you about this process but since it is after 2 AM, I decided not to call you with them. Here they are: 1) How long does it take for the concrete to dry? 2) How thick do you mix the concrete up? 3) What type of paint do you use on them? 4) Could you color the concrete when mixing somehow instead of painting them? 5) Um, was it OK that I used your picture?
Update from Dad: I use a combination of sand mix and vinycrete to get the definition. You could use either and I have, the vinyl is a finer mix but is 2-3 times as expensive as a bag of sand mix when you cost it by the pound. You could tint the mix but it would take quite a bit of it and wouldn't necessarily improve the appearance. You can use any water-based paint and dilute it to the desired degree of tint. The concrete mixture should be 1" to 1.5"thick and should cure for at least 2-3 days. (Concrete never stops curing, even under water) The Tint dries in a day and then a coating of Thompson's Water Seal is applied.
Check out the process here.
At left, is step 8 of our process to clean up our back garden. The first steps were to clear out the ground cover. That took a lot of effort. We had a bush and some stumps removed. Jeff dug up a ton of big rocks. I've planted 40+ perennials and we have to add topsoil (oops -should have done that first but the clock was ticking on those plants), mulch, a brick wall (oops - should have done that first but see above), and some type of fence to hide the atrocious, ant-loving railroad ties that separate us from our friendly neighbors. Please humor me and enlarge to enlarge the photo at right of the evil garden we have worked hard to rid.
This isn't any old garden. It is a butterfly garden! That's right, I don't want garden spider as my only friend in this garden. In fact, garden spider could keep quite hidden this summer, please. I happen to love all the plants I have put in but my main reason is Aidan used to sing this song he made up: butterfly, butterfly but-ter-fly. So sweet, so magical. So we have planted all kinds of goodies from plants that butterflies love to plants that their caterpillars will eat. So far, I've seen a robin, evidence of a bunny or two, a dragonfly, two wasps, and some mosquitoes. Um, butterflies, please come lay your eggs in my backyard!
To help reach my plants for dead heading and weeding, I picked up 3 lannon stones from a quarry just north of here. I also placed a concrete leaf bowl full of water for the butterflies to drink and rest upon. My dad made it - isn't it cool?! It might also be a mosquito breeding pool so I intend on washing it out daily.
The back garden isn't all - we have also removed the dreaded red rock from around the front and side of the house (and some ugly shrubs) and have planted an herb bed, tomatoes and peppers. Lots of gorgeous annuals are planted as well as some shade loving plants on the other side of our house. Did I mention the Columbine? I love, love, love it. Guess what else I love? Moss! Hooray for summer!
I promise to discuss more baking and sewing projects including a sunglasses case sewing tutorial. Here is a peak of what is to come:
Movie : 3:10 to Yuma
Verdict : Some people may not have enjoyed it. However, my Contention is it is pretty darn good.
Jeff and I managed to avoid another night of the Jesse James movie and instead made the rather good choice of watching this movie. Another night of skipping Jesse James and I guess it should go back to Netflix.
I must say that I really like Christian Bale in every movie he is in. I also have to admit that before we unwittingly named our son after Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe was the movie star object of my affection. They both did awesome jobs in this movie. I even now like an actor that I really disliked in the past--Ben Foster (maybe it was your acting that made me wish your character would die in Six Feet Under. Awesome gun-slinging, BTW.).
Now go rent this movie.
I know that George Carlin was so much more than the voice of Fillmore in Cars. I'm quite familiar with his work other than the Narrator for Thomas and Friends. I just found it interesting and rather sweet that he would do this work (along with Shining Time Station) which seems so opposed to his filthy-mouthed, pessimistic, crass comedy routines.
I appreciate his work as a comedian who said what you were thinking and thought of things in ways I hadn't. I didn't always agree with his views but I certainly got to thinking about and defining my own views on subjects he discussed.
I'm saddened to hear of his death.
Here's Daniel, taking a break from filming for some charity. Even his finger, which was just about hacked off at the tip, is a little hot. In fact, Daniel Craig is so hot that even Barbara Broccoli, the producer of the Bond films had to PAY for a kiss from him.
I guess that ear nibble I've been dreaming of is way out of reach.
Movie : Dreamgirls
Verdict : And I am telling you it was alright.
Jeff and I were ready to settle in for yet another night of the Jesse James movie when we caught the beginning of Dreamgirls on HBO. We were sucked in.
There was too much singing. Yes, I know that it was a musical but geez... I do have to admit that outside of Guys and Dolls, Grease, and Jesus Christ Superstar, I don't really like musicals. Even those have a few too many songs.
It was predictable and the characters were a little one-dimensional with the exception of Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson. All I can say about Jennifer Hudson is wow. Plus, she made me cry when she was SINGING in a movie that I thought was just alright.
To sum it up, it wasn't like I wasted an hour and a half of my life but I'm glad I didn't pay extra to see it.
Movie : [deep breath] The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Verdict : Still watching it...
It is amazing how much Salma Hayek looks like me. I'm a bit paler, though. You might call it wan. But our bodies--so, so similar. I could be a body double.
Anyway, I didn't think it would be fair to give the ladies their Mother's Day gift without one for the dads. Plus Jeff says I should have a daily hot shot of Salma Hayek a la Daniel Craig. Hey Jeff, get your own blog. Go write about stocks, coins, tennis, outer space and Salma Hayek. You can complain a little, too, about your wife's craft stuff all over the place.
But that is the great thing about Jeff. He doesn't complain about my craft stuff all over the place or my less than stellar housekeeping. He indulges my love of Daniel Craig. In fact, he turned on Casino Royale last night for us to watch a little. He indulges me in almost any way he can. Is this a recipe for a good husband? Kind off... Actually, I don't think so. I just think it is because I know how much he loves me and Aidan. He works a full-time job and teaches college 2-4 nights a week depending upon the semester. He sells coins on the side and runs a stock business. He is the frickin smartest guy I know and he works so hard so that I can stay home and take care of Aidan.
He loves Aidan so much that it is painful. With the trials we went through with Aidan's health, it was that very toughness and hurt that makes Jeff shy away from wanting any more children. He doesn't think he can bear it and I understand. I really do.
He is the most wonderful father in the world to Aidan. Because Jeff has long days, he spends little special moments with Aidan whenever he can. He made a special routine in the morning so they could spend mornings together before Jeff goes to work. Even after a long day at work, he lays down on the floor and plays Cars or trains or whatever else is the toy of the day. Their games are crazy - they make up their own rules, have their own inside jokes and I can't ever step in to replace daddy. In fact, I usually am not even allowed to play with them because I mess things up. And I haven't even mentioned the drawn-out, complicated, silly, giggle-inducing night time routine with Aidan, his 356 stuffed animals, Mucha and whispers about gas (don't tell Mommy), fruit rollups and other things that make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE in a bedtime routine. I wonder why Aidan takes an hour to fall asleep after that windup.
I can't encompass the essence of Jeff's fatherly ways. You would have to be here to witness it. What I can say is Aidan is absolutely nuts about Jeff and the feeling is mutual. And I'm silly about them and proud to be married to such a wonderful husband and father. The man who was reluctant to be a father turns out to be amongst the best there is.
Tis herself, Maureen O'Hara. Isn't she beautiful? My dad thought she was smoking hot in The Quiet Man. I enjoyed John Wayne, myself. He normally has pretty good taste in women (you should meet my mom) and is fair in his assessment in the men. However, he is dead wrong about Sean Connery being hotter than Daniel Craig.
My dad probably won't have his best Father's Day but I hope he can have some nice memories today.
My dad never missed any of my track meets. He taught me how to shoot a gun (my grandfather's .22 rifle, actually). He introduces me to the best mystery books. He is there to help anytime any of his kids need it. Dad is interested in making sure our world is safe. He likes jazz music, plays poker, is a former pipe-smoker, wine lover, tea drinker, dog and cat loving, woodworking, boy scout leading, adventure taking, pond building, sassy joke telling, mustache wearing, bungee-jumping, outdoorsy, bull-headed, sensitive, kind man.
Happy Father's Day, Dad, from your baby daughter. Now go take care of yourself.
Yesterday was a terrible day. Aidan and I were visiting my mom when she received a phone call that her beloved Scout, who was at work with my dad, had been hit and killed by a car. Scout got outside without anyone knowing. We are grateful that the poor guy that hit her called to let us know.
It was devastating to my mom and dad who were just silly about her and heartbreaking for their family who are upset for our parents but also because we adored Scout.
Scout, nicknamed Girl Scout and Scouters, was a dear, sweet little lady. She just couldn't be a kinder dog yet on a few occurrences, she was found to be protective of Aidan, her brother cats, and of Scarlett, her little golden sister.
It was impossible to shield Aidan from the situation so there were many, many questions during the day and at bedtime that were difficult to answer. Jeff and I were honest yet soothing in our answers. We decided to end the discussion telling our favorite stories of Scout. My favorite memories are of how she would greet her visitors on the staircase by the front door. Sticking her head out between the rungs, she would measure your height and step on the appropriate step so your head and her head were the same height for the perfect greeting. I loved taking a moment to play chase outside or tug-of-war inside.
We said a prayer for Scout with hopes that she is running around, playing in a field with other dogs with that sweet grin on her face, we asked for comfort for my mom and dad, and we said thanks for getting the opportunity to know the sweet little girl.
Ever since I've lived in the Milwaukee area, I have always heard the cars racing at the Milwaukee Mile . We are probably 5-10 miles away but can hear their hum. I have never bothered to go see them--until today.
I have a 5-year-old son who lives and breathes the Pixar Cars movie. When I heard the tell-tale signs of the cars this morning, I looked up what was going on online and found out they were having time trials for Nascar cars. Then I saw that fans could get in free to the grandstand to watch. A snap decision was made for an unplanned trip for Aidan and me.
What a hoot. I found myself giggling everytime a car would go past. I was calling family, snapping photos. I think I'm a convert.
Wisconsin (and other neighboring states) got slaughtered over the last couple days with rains, wind and tornadoes.
Yesterday, Jeff and I worked in the yard and I planted a bunch of stuff and some seeds (goodbye seeds and topsoil). We decided to take Aidan on a jaunt to Toys R Us to find Ramone's House (not found) or some other Cars delectable with his birthday money. When we left without any prize, Jeff ran into Walgreens to see if they had any. In the brief 2 minutes he was in there, the wind starting blowing like mad, rain started pouring and the tornado siren went off.
I freaked a little as we hurried home listening to the radio announcers telling us that we had exactly 15 minutes to get home before a tornado would wipe us out. It has been a long time since I've hung out in the basement for a tornado warning. We accomplished a bit of organizing, actually. Quick fact about me - my mom and I were shopping in the late 80's and when we drove home, wondered why the road was so empty until we spotted a TORNADO in a valley on our drive home. My husband is way jealous. It was just a mini tornado, though.
Jeff ran out last night and several roads were closed due to flooding. We got hit again this morning with the rain. We had minor water seeping into the basement and in our sun porch. I lost my seeds, of course and a lot of topsoil but that is all so non-important!
When the weather cleared, we drove around to see some of the damage and it was interesting to see friend's backyards covered in a pond (with ducks taking advantage) as shown in the picture above as well as soccer fields covered (with kids taking advantage). Take a look here or here: