Monday, February 28, 2011

Temp & Time

These neighboring bank signs tell the weather story here earlier today. But, it quickly changed by early evening.

warm temps0228 (2)We’re now in the midst of an evening forecast of heavy downpours, thunderstorms and gusty winds. Yes, we know that fellow bloggers with inches of snow on the ground (or more on the way) are hardly sympathetic. Here’s some good news . . .

Spring is coming – if these robins we saw Sunday are an omen.

robin022711 (15)robin2 022711 (2)

What is This Building? #1 of 2011

It’s been fun showing objects for the What is This? challenge, but since this is the end of the month, it seemed time for something new – a Building challenge.
OK, so you’re probably thinking (and rightfully so) that buildings are difficult if you don’t live in the area. And you’re absolutely right!

However, this building is a place visited by many at one time or another. It’s located some 18 miles from our home and we passed it today, hence this challenge.

NOTE: This challenge is open to everyone EXCEPT folks who live on the Eastern Shore – you know who you are – Possum, Marty, Diana. Since you all KNOW this building, please refrain from participation (pretty please).
what building0228what is this bldg collage
Hint: It is a public place, but the architecture does not define its purpose. Alas, there is no information on the building or the file name to give it away (on purpose).
Check tomorrow for the answer – you may be surprised!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heritage Festival 2011

You might remember last year about this time we took you to the Eastern Shore Heritage Festival. Well hold onto your straw hats ‘cause we’re going again.

Two of the best things about this festival is ONE- it is free for artists, and TWO- lunch is free. Now if you want to really snag all the starving artists in your neighborhood i just gave you the perfect bait combo.

Of course the most important artists there were ,,,, well US of course!!!!! WNT-collage

Even though i didn’t sell anything, Beatrice sold some of her photos. Truth be told this was not a buying crowd. But being the first show of the year for most of us it serves as a sort of reunion and ‘catch-up’ day. You get to hear what others did for the holidays, see what new works they have, and hear what shows they will be doing.

The Heritage Festival is held by and at our local Community College. For many of the local folks this is the only time they set foot on the campus other than to complain about their tax dollars being wasted. BUT I'll save that RANT for another day.

Artists1 collage As with most artist in a small community, we all know each other. And when a new artist joins in, even if they work in the same basic medium as others they are always welcomed. And what would a festival be without some local entertainment. Here on the Eastern Shore Gospel groups are popular, as are country, blues  and bluegrass groups.

Entertainment collageAnd in case you don’t know, here on the Shore “Everything looks better in Green”. John Deere Green that is. This year the Peninsula Tractor Organization again brought beautifully restored antique JD Tractors. They were also grinding corn and making ice cream powered with single cylinder “hit or miss” engines. Some of these engines and machinery are well over 100 years old and still run like tops. No, i didn’t get any of the ice cream. Actually i ended up gaining a few pounds yesterday. Of course it had nothing to do with the Key Lime Pie that Klick and Klack brought over for desert. Now the left overs of Beatrice's ‘Famous Cheesecake’ that she brought home from this afternoons book swap may be a problem that will be measured in inches.

Sunday Walk

This morning, Grenville and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Boy, did we need it after pigging out on treats yesterday Festival (Grenville will post about what we did) . I brought along the camera to capture these feathered visitors.

Spring is nearly here – we spied our first robin!

robin collageNearby, a Tufted Titmouse sang . . .

tufted titmouse collage1A Red-Bellied Woodpecker posed . . .

downy woodpecker collage1A Mockingbird walked along the RR tracks . . .

mockingbird collage1At the backyard feeders, these visitors stopped in:
Goldfinch, House Finch (male), Junco . . .

goldfinch collage1male housefinch collage1junco collage1Chickadee, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove

misc bird collage1

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mocha Ricotta Crème

mocha ricotta 0211 (1)Do you like dessert?

So do we. How about combining chocolate chips, cocoa powder, vanilla extract,  part-skim ricotta cheese, espresso powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips?
OK some may not think it sounds appetizing, but it’s actually good together in a dessert that’s allowed on the South Beach plan. (Notice that it’s being called a plan not diet because that sounds too much like something for the short-time vs. the bigger picture of changing our eating habits.)

F&P Note: All recipes listed below are for a single serving , adjust as needed. Also, we add sugar-free Cool Whip® on top

Mocha Ricotta Crèmemocha ricotta 0211 (2)
  • ½ C part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pkge sugar substitute
  • 6 mini chocolate chips
  • Dash espresso powder
Mix together the ricotta, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sugar substitute in a dessert bowl. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and a dusting of espresso powder on top. Serve chilled.
IF you don’t like cocoa powder or chocolate, try this version:

Vanilla Ricotta Crème
  • ½ C part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract *
  • 1 pkge sugar substitute
  • 1 tsp slivered toasted almonds
Mix together the ricotta, vanilla extract and sugar substitute in a dessert bowl. Serve chilled, sprinkled with toasted almonds. Another variation is to make almond crème by using ¼ tsp almond    extract instead of vanilla.

And another variation that we enjoy in warmer months.

Lime/Lemon Zest Ricotta Crème
  • ½ C part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest OR lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pkge sugar substitute
Mix together the ricotta, lime (or lemon) zest, vanilla extract, and sugar substitute in a dessert bowl. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orange You Glad

This year, I started a fun project of selecting a color and then taking photos of things that feature the color. My challenge was to see how many items could be found with that color in them, whether at home or while out.

The first color was Seeing RED, followed by Mellow YELLOW.
It’s taken a bit longer for this color – ORANGE. Things found around our home . . .
orange collage1
And in stores . . .
orange collage3
While going places . . .
orange collage2
Now for some ORANGE fun, do you know what this is?
No prizes this time – Grenville said it’s too cold to spin the compost barrel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Empty Box Special $24.99 & Up

WHO would pay $24.99 to $29.99 for a boxempty box (sans shipping)?
As noted in a recent post, I’m looking for a Nikon D90 digital SLR. While new is preferred, this seems to be a very popular model. It was introduced over 2 years ago and still commands a high resale value even for used models.
It’s SO popular that even the box is for sale – EMPTY!
Searching online has proved very amusing. Here are some actual eBay listings and photos – all were online over the past week.

empty box3EMPTY BOX ONLY - Nikon D90 with 18-200mm VR II Kit Box
Brand New
Starting bid
- US $24.99
FREE worldwide shipping

Box Condition: Brand New
Payment - PayPal only
Empty Box Only - NO LENS NO CAMERA Perfect for those who have a Nikon D90 with 18-200mm VR, don't have the box and want one OR who wish to sell the kit but don't have the box - higher resell value with this box.

 empty box2Nikon D90 Camera Empty Box Nikon Only
Item condition - used
Price  - $29.95
Shipping - $8.95 -  No Returns Accepted Description - Please note that, this is Box only, no camera or lens included.

Item Condition - Most boxes I am selling here are in excellent shape. I wouldn’t say they are new because they are listed as used. No damage or cut off.
Items Included - Nikon 90 Empty Box, carton inserts
No other accessories included except described above.What you see in the pictures is what you are going to get!

empty box4
Nikon D90 Empty Box Only DSLR Camera
Item condition – used
Starting Bid - $29.99 (Buy it Now)
Shipping $5.95

Nikon D90 Empty Box Only. Nothing else is included, only the box. Although I listed the box as used, but it's really in excellent shape. No damage or cut off.

While I haven’t found a great deal on a used camera, the search continues. Most likely I will opt for a new D90 – hoping for a price drop if and when Nikon introduces a new model. Several photo forums have suggested this may happen in the next few months.
Luckily, I’m in no hurry and searching is always more fun than finding something.
Is that ever true for YOU?

Monday, February 21, 2011

GBBC Results

SAM_3748The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was held the past 4 days (Feb 18 – 21) and this was my first time.

Filling the feeders on Sat and Sun, Grenville and I then sat outside on the back porch and patiently waited for the throngs of birds we expected at the freshly filled feeders.SAM_3819

It didn’t happen – at least not while we were watching and counting. There were some birds, but since it was windy both days, this may have kept the count down. The 2-day tally for an hour outdoors each time:

  • 8 goldfinch
  • 6 cardinals
  • 6 cowbirds
  • 4 chickadees
  • 1 tufted titmouse
  • 1 nuthatch
  • 10 sparrows
  • 10 snow geese (in flight)
  • 6 turkey vultures (also in flight)

Many unwelcome visitors (starlings, grackles, blackbirds) hung out in the neighbor’s tree, and were excluded from the count.

GBBC collage2 022011cardinals collage 022011GBBC collage022011

Shopping Cart – the Answer!

This challenge stumped almost everyone – so many folks thought it was a mile carton.

Possum was correct, but it’s NOT from Tractor Supply.
Sandra had gone with her 2nd guess,it could also could be a plastic grocery cart ”  she could have been the winner AGAIN, as she was correct in another
challenge earlier this month.

So, What is it?

orange what is this (1)orange what is this (2)

It’s part of a shopping cart – from Rose’s Store.

orange answerP1040931

Thanks, everyone for having some fun and Congratulations again, Possum *.

* Grenville said that if you want you can give the compost barrel a spin for your “prize.”

Salmon with Horseradish Topping

south beach bks0211 (3)A couple of weeks ago, Grenville and I resolved to stop the problem of our shrinking attire and returned to eating foods recommended on the South Beach Diet®. We already had the assorted recipe books from previous melt-downs.

Of course, we could have just stopped putting clothes in the dryer as Grammie G had suggested, and even though of putting ourselves on spin dry.

Results to date – 18 pounds down (combined) with Grenville being the winner, so far.  And, Grenville announced that he’s nearly ready to pull out his Speedos – a frightening thought that won’t be shown in this blog, nor will my bikini.

We’re been eating seafood, chicken, beef – all allowed, but no grains, starches, or fruit (at least for the first 2 weeks). Here’s a favorite recipe using 2 things we enjoy: salmon and horseradish – delicious when combined.

Salmon with Horseradish Sauce

  • 2 salmon pieces (about 10 oz.)salmon horseradish sauce0211 (1)
  • ¼ C dry white wine
  • 2 TBSP chopped onion
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 C water
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint (use dill or parsley as a substitute)
  1. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, combine white wine, water, onion, lemon juice, peppercorns. Cook over med-high heat until comes to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to med-low, add salmon, cover & simmer until salmon flakes easily when tested with fork (about 5-6 min.)
  3. While salmon cooks, prepare horseradish sauce. In small bowl combine sour cream, horseradish, flour, mint, white pepper. Stir to combine & set aside.
  4. Transfer salmon to serving platter and keep warm.
  5. Pour cooking liquid through sieve into bowl, discard solids.
  6. Return to skillet and cook over med-high heat until comes to a boil. Stir in horseradish sauce.
  7. Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens. Pour over salmon & serve.

This is really simple to prepare and wonderful served with a side vegetable of fresh wilted spinach or steamed broccoli.

Bon Appétit

– From your shrinking (we hope) fellow bloggers –

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is This? #5 of 2011

WOW almost 2 weeks since the last one, which means 1 thing – at least to me – time for a NEW photo challenge.

So, here goes. . .Can you figure out what this is?

orange what is this (1)orange what is this (2)







Hints: it’s the same thing shown vertically and horizontally, but not the entire “thing,” which would give it away if completely revealed.

It has nothing to do with Grenville’s planting and is not something you would find in the greenhouse – or in any house. And, it’s part of something most folks have used at one time or another in various places.

Check back tomorrow for the (hopefully) surprise answer.

Bargain Reads

book finds0211 (1)

As our friend, Possum, noted in a recent blog post comment, electronic books can’t be found in thrift store book sales (yet), freely traded with friends, and you certainly won’t find surprises in them like this.

Grenville and I not only use the local library, but scour thrift store book racks weekly. We LIKE printed books; Grenville said that he can’t put an electronic book in his back pocket – and sit down. And, we enjoy holding printed books, especially hardcovers, so we’ve happily decided NOT to join the trend towards electronic versions – no Kindle® or Nook® in our immediate (or long-term) future.

For us, great book finds can be found not only at the local thrift stores, but the local library has an ongoing “dollar-a-bag sale table.” It’s filled with discarded and/or withdrawn books, donated books (hardcovers and paperbacks), magazines, and even some audio books on cassettes (remember those?). The selection is constantly changing and is usually quite amazing. Usually, I buy a bag, only planning to keep a couple, then save some to send to friends, but most often donate the rest to the thrift store where I volunteer, which in turn sells them – everyone profits.

Here’s some “finds” in the past couple of weeks – several travel books for our possible late spring road trip to Florida (yes, another one) and a couple of light, fun mysteries to read along the way. These can then be left with a Florida friend who likes mysteries.

FL travel bksmystery bk finds

Retail cost of the 3 travel books was $50.95. The 2 paperbacks retailed at $7.99 each ($8.99 in Canada, ouch).

For more serious fiction reading, I found the first two books of the wildly popular Millennium trilogy by the late Swedish journalist and novelist Stieg Larsson. One was included in the local library sale; the other was 25 cents in a thrift store. Retail cost of both paperbacks new was $27.90 vs. my cost of $1.25

dragon girl bks2

Still need the paperback version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, to complete the set and hopefully will find it in paperback (current U.S. price, $12.99) on a future search. I started the first book (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)  over a year ago on loan from a neighbor, but could not “get into” the story line and returned the book as I feared it would be a slow start and dislike holding onto a borrowed book. Ownership means I can read them at will, and the cost was very right, plus paperbacks travel well.

blogging dummies bkAlso found this book – retail $21.99 ($25.99 Canada – really OUCH). It was included in the $1 library sale.

Grenville figures it might make our blog “more interesting."

Is that possible?


Total retail cost of ALL the books shown at the top of this post would have been – are you ready – $213.75 (U.S. prices only – higher elsewhere.)

Our cost was under $2 – cheaper than buying an electronic reader – and to our thinking, a lot more satisfying.

What’s YOUR preference?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

One Minute & One Degree

snow shovelaGuess we can put these away for awhile.

These shovels have been on our back porch since the December 2010 storm and a few smaller snowfalls afterwards.

This week, temps climbed into the 70s.

When we went for a late afternoon walk, yesterday they had dropped a bit.

This was the time and temperature at the bank we use.


A minute later, the bank next door showed these results.


One minute and one degree of separation?

GBBC is Here

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)MCardinal-feeder021011 (14) being held this weekend, Feb 18 – 21. 

And, you can all participate from your own backyard.

Thanks to Kathie at  Kathie’s Birds and also to Ruth at Body Soul and Spirit who mentioned Kathie’s blog in a recent post.

In all the years that I’ve been bird watching from our kitchen window, back yard and other places, I never participated in this event. And, the weather here (VA eastern shore) this weekend is warm enough to be outdoors doing this count.

Not only is this a fun event that will get you outdoors, but there’s prizes – birdfeeders, books, t-shirts, caps – everyone has a chance to win since it’s going to be a drawing from among all participants.

Here’s more links to information from the GBBC website:

New to the GBBC? It's easy to get up to speed on what you need to know to take part and to enjoy your birding experience.

Send Us Your Photos Upload images taken during the GBBC so they can be considered for our photo contest.

What's Been Reported in Your Town? Find out what others are seeing in your state, province, or locality.

Here’s a few visitors at our feeders the past couple of days.

tufted titmouse021511 (1)nuthatch sing021211 (1)

SAM_3214Enjoy yourself outdoors, have fun, and you might win a prize!