24. February 2008 · Comments Off on Spring Splendor! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

“Wait just one doggone minute! It’s mid-February! Spring isn’t for another month!”

(At least, that’s what the Groundhog said!)

Well, someone needs to tell my flowers about that, since my crocuses and daffodils are opening up, just like all over the rest of central North Carolina. Seriously confused, they are.

I didn’t mind the pretty pictures I was able to take, nonetheless. These were from Monday. Click on the photos to access the entire album. Enjoy!

From 2008 02 18 Da…
From 2008 02 18 Da…
30. January 2008 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

About a week ago I rearranged my bird feeders. I also changed the type of bird feed I offered, from a general small seed mix to only black oil sunflower seeds. In addition, I took down my windowside hummingbird feeder and replaced it with a windowside standard feeder, filled with sunflower seed. I also switched one of the feeders into a nijer seed feeder, hoping to bring back my goldfinches.

From that point up till this weekend, there was very little bird activity. The new arrangement and feeding options probably spooked everyone for a while, but starting this weekend, our friends started to return.

Today I was able to photograph both Mr. AND Mrs. Hairy Woodpecker, a red finch, a tufted titmouse, a Carolina wren, a Carolina chickadee, and Mr. Bluebird. The cardinals were around, too, but I didn’t get any pictures of them. The goldfinches have been around, but I didn’t see any of them today.

I was crouched towards the floor of my kitchen, camera in hand, all the while trying out different settings in an attempt to get the best closeup shots. Here are some of the best ones I got this afternoon. This was at about 3pm.

From 2008 01 30 Bi…

Mr. Bluebird on the gutters along our back porch. If this were a cloudy day he’d probably appear much more vibrantly colored.

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This is Mr. Woodpecker chowing down on suet. This is typically how he’ll remain for up to 10 minutes. After he finishes, Mrs. Woodpecker will come by.

From 2008 01 15 Ha…

Here’s a shot of him from Jan. 15th, you can see the red patch on the back of his head better.

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Mr. Housefinch looking right at me!

From 2008 01 30 Bi…

This is the first picture I’ve been able to take of a bird at the window feeder. ANY motion usually scares birds off. This is a Carolina chickadee.

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Here’s chickadee’s cousin, the tufted titmouse. They’re in the same family.

From 2008 01 30 Bi…

So here’s MRS. Hairy Woodpecker for her meal. How subservient — she typically waits for the man to finish his meal, then she takes whatever’s remaining. Not that Mr. W has taken everything. That’s the squirrels’ job!

Enjoy! Click here if you’d like to see more of the pictures. I’ve uploaded 36 of them, out of the 65 that I took.

26. January 2008 · Comments Off on Birthday Parties, Cary, NC Style · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Today is Timmy’s 3rd birthday. Today was Timmy’s 3rd birthday PARTY, too. In part because of all the wonderful parties we’ve been invited to, and in part because this is Timmy’s last birthday party while we’re living in North Carolina (sniff sniff), he had a pretty big shindig.

For Jacob, a summertime birthday is pretty simple: pool, park, or backyard, right? Well, when your child’s birthday is on the climatologically coldest week of the year, you don’t want to risk the weather not cooperating, so you take action nice and early to book a great indoor location. I booked Planet Child in early November for today’s party. I’m not making that up — I booked this venue 3 months in advance! Everything around here seems that way — preschools, soccer teams, art classes, swimming lessons. Act fast if you want happy kids, right?

So for this party I invited Timmy’s preschool class, and several of the neighborhood friends he’s known while we’ve been living here. I think it came to about 16 friends total.

But those friends have siblings. And many of their siblings happen to be Jacob’s age.

And we don’t want Jacob to not have his friends around, right?

9 friends for Jacob. So the 16 kids we invited became 25. That’s a lot of kids! Add to that Jacob and Timmy, and I was planning a party for 27 kids plus their parents!

And like Jacob’s birthday party (which was at a park with no limits on how many could attend), they ALL RSVPed “Yes”. I never expected I’d have such popular kids. It’s sorta nice — I don’t think I was ever that popular!

Unfortunately, at the last minute, 4 of the children had to back out. I was sad that they couldn’t make it, but it helped keep my requirement for goody bags to the original 24. Everything seemed to come in sets of 8 or 12…ever the mathematician. I purchased some spare items for the extra 3 goody bags, but I have to admit the stuff wasn’t quite as cool.

Anyway, the party was wonderful — the facility is first class, the people helping to set up the room helped our event run smooth as silk, and (most importantly) the kids and guests had a terrific time.

Having the party at Planet Child helped me focus on the two (count ’em, TWO) cakes I made for the party. I needed enough for approximately 50 people, and one Wilton Thomas cake just wasn’t going to cut it. Maryann had both the Thomas and Lightning McQueen Wilton cake pans, so I made BOTH. Thomas was yellow cake, Lightning was chocolate. Yes, I’m crazy.

I ran into a minor emergency with Thomas: because it was an egg-free cake recipe, the cake started drying out while it was still on the cooling rack, so I got to work pronto to frost the cake. The first batch of icing ended up with clumps of powdered sugar all over that would stick in the piping bags. Ugh! Out of frustration, I had to pitch that entire batch of icing and start over, remixing the icing, and re-coloring the colors I needed. But at least the 2nd time was a charm, and Thomas ended up looking pretty decent when I was done.

From 2008 01 26 Ti…

Note the ring of grease around Thomas — I had a brain fart and failed to cover the cake board with aluminum foil. Oops.

Lightning McQueen worked out much much better. I had him iced with no problems in under an hour. The front end of the cake severed while it was cooling, but it wasn’t a problem to re-attach it with some icing before I frosted the whole thing.

From 2008 01 26 Ti…

So far it’s been a pretty great weekend for Timmy — his Grammy and Grampy flew in from New York, he’s been showered with gifts all weekend so far! He’s making out like a bandit! And…thankfully he’s been a great kid all weekend — no meltdowns and no potty accidents (so far, knock bytes!)

12. January 2008 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

On Thursday night, Dave and Timmy performed in a pre-opening celebration — for the big donors — for the new Apex Performing Arts Center. Timmy is the smallest boy performing (white shirt & black pants — he turns and looks at the audience just before they start dancing), while Dave is in black and white with dark suspenders.

The little lady in the dress with red bodice and plaid skirt stole the show, though. You’ll love it!

I offered to take a video of the dance for the group — it was my only way to get into the event 🙂 Pardon the shakiness of the video, the camera was held over my head the whole time. Got a great arm workout!