Friday, April 4, 2014

Migratory Buffleheads and American Coots

From the weather reports, it appears that we dodged a big snow event.  We live in Princeton which is in Central Wisconsin, but some places in Northern Wisconsin have received almost a foot of fresh snow today.  We had some rain and a few flurries, but overall just clouds and cool temperatures in the mid thirties.  It's a mixed blessing.  A big snowstorm would add some much needed water to our lakes, but not getting the precipitation helped our mental health. 

This time of year is exciting because we see birds and ducks passing through the area that we don't usually see any other time of the year.  Many of the migratory ducks I can't identify, and I can't get a clear picture to research.  The last couple days I was able to get a picture of some American Coots and a pair of Buffleheads.

The American Coot has a gray body, a black head and a white bill.

A pair of Bufflehead ducks.

The buffleheads are really fun to watch.  They just float around.  Suddenly they dive completely under the water for 15 seconds or so, and then they pop up like a fish bobber.  They do this over and over again.  They must be a very high energy duck.

Last year we had a Loon stop by for a few days.  With the ice and snow in the north, we may see them again.  They only stay until the Northern lakes open up.  Everyday is an adventure to see what new wildlife will appear and to watch the species that migrate here and stay for the summer.  It keeps me busy.

The Common Loon

This Great Blue Heron thinks he is hiding from me. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps

The nice day we had yesterday is only a memory.  It is windy and chilly again today.  At least we don't have any snow left.  The counties to the north of us are going to receive a bunch of snow again.  They have been hit very hard this winter.  My major problem at this time of year is dead stagnant air in the house.  After the long winter all the dust, dirt and cooking odors have accumulated.  I noticed that walking into the house doesn't smell very fresh.  In fact, I can't wait to open up the windows and doors and let the fresh air blow through.  Until that happens, I bought a large air purifier.  It was a brand recommended by my brother-in-law.  It works pretty well.  The unit on high could blow a cat across the room.  The house does smell better.  In addition to the air purifier, I purchased a Salt Crystal Lamp.

Himalayan Ionic Salt Crystal Lamp

My friend Wendy told me about these lamps.  They are supposedly a way to freshen the air naturally.  The lamp comes in many styles.  I chose this basket.  It has a small light bulb in the middle.  When the bulb is lit, the heat causes the salt crystals to give off negative ions.  Negative ions are oxygen atoms with an extra electron.  It's complicated unless you are a physicist or chemist.  All I know is
 that it is proven that when you have pollution in your home from smoke, odors or mold, the particles in the air clump together and cause allergies, respiratory problems, headaches and infections.  Negative ions create an antidote to these.  That is why a lot of air purifiers have an ionic feature.  This lamp creates negative ions in a natural way. 

Salt Lamp makes a nice night light.

I think it's pretty too.  This one has a dimmer switch and makes a great night light.  I think it would be great in a bathroom or a bedroom.  I put it by the front door, and I have noticed that I can't smell any unpleasant odors when I come into the house.   I will ask my daughters about it when they come to visit.  Hopefully they will tell me the truth.  If my house still stinks, then I don't know what more I can do short of bringing out the caustic chemical air fresheners.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Start of our Spring Cleanup

Today, April 2, 2014, turned out to be a lovely sunny day.  It is a little cool, but we still got a lot done.  The wood ducks are back in many numbers, so we got the wood duck houses cleaned out and repositioned.  We have three boxes now, so I hope to see the wood duck babies again this year.

The next big job we accomplished was burning off the flower garden.  It doesn't hurt the perennials and lets the new emerging plants come up without any competition.

The first thing is to knock down last years dried plants with the weed wacker.

Dad is serving as the fire inspector to make sure we do it right.

There are a lot of plants coming up even though the temperatures have been on the cold side.  I hope nature knows what it's doing.  The irises, poppies, mums and many others are doing fine so far.

We did have some plant damage from the bitter cold temperatures we had this past winter.   Some will recover and others are lost.  This is just the beginning of our spring cleanup, but it was a really good start.

This is one of our holly bushes.  The top is dead and needs to be cut down.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sunday Brunch Eggs and Cinnamon Rolls

The previous weekend was very busy.  We had the play on Friday and Saturday that our grandson Dylan was in.  Dylan plays Oliver Twist  Then on Sunday we celebrated his brother Ewan's birthday.  Ewan's Birthday Party  My daughter had a brunch for the family on Sunday morning.  I wanted to bring something but I ran out of time.  I had to come up with something quick and easy to make.  On Sunday morning I got up and made these two recipes.  I had made the egg dish before, but not the cinnamon roll casserole.  I had them both in the oven at the same time and in 1 1/2 hours we were out the door.

Sunday Brunch Egg Dish

1/2 pound bacon cooked until crisp
12 eggs
1 cup milk
1 large package O'Brien frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Cook the bacon until crisp.  Crumble and set aside.

Beat eggs and milk.  Stir in the hash browns, cheese, salt, pepper, and bacon.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Cut into squares.

 Cinnamon Roll Casserole

2 cans of refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. vanilla  (by the way, my homemade vanilla turned out awesome) Make Your Own Vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Separate both cans of dough.  You should have 16 rolls.  Place them side by side in the pan.
In a bowl beat the eggs, cream, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended.
Pour liquid over the rolls.  Sprinkle with pecans.  If you like, you can drizzle some maple syrup over the dough as well.  I didn't have any so I left it out.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until brown.  Let cool for 15 minutes and drizzle the icing over the top.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ewan Turns Four Years Old

Happy 4th Birthday Ewan

I can't believe it's four years ago today, March 31, that Ewan came into this world.  All of us, including the doctor, thought he was going to be a girl.  My daughter was going to name her Piper.  She received a lot of pink clothes because we hadn't had a baby girl in the family for a while.  After the birth, my son-in-law came out to the waiting room and said that he had good news and bad news.  We looked at him with horror fearing some really bad news.  He said the good news was that the baby was healthy, the bad news was that HE didn't have a name.  Needless to say, even though it was a shock, it was wonderful news.  It took a little while, but they came up with the name Ewan that was a bit unusual and went very well with big brother's name which is Dylan.

Baby Ewan Theodore

Yesterday we had a little family birthday party.  Ewan didn't really want to eat because he had presents to open.  When we arrived, he was in his fireman suit.  For a long time that is all he would wear, but now he changes off with super hero costumes.  All our grandsons have been through the super hero phase.  It so happens that one of his gifts was a Flash costume.

Could this be a Flash costume?

It was a great day with the family.  Aunt Sarah had to work but she was able to come later.

Ewan blowing out the candles.

Ripping open presents.

Thanking his big brother with a big smooch.

 It's time to play with some new toys.

And now they have a little girl dog that they named Piper.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oliver Twist

You know how you aren't supposed to live through your children's and grandchildren's accomplishments.  They are individuals with their own abilities and achievements, just as we are different from our parents.  I couldn't help myself this weekend.  All my life I envied people who could get up in front of an audience and speak or belt out a song.  This past weekend I was able to watch my second oldest grandchild Dylan, who is twelve years old, do just that.  Dylan played Oliver Twist in his Middle School play.  He did a wonderful job and we were so proud.  I am not an overly emotional person, but when I saw him up there singing and dancing and speaking all those complicated lines,  I had all I could do not to cry.  Dylan was born happy.  He smiled the moment he was born.  Since we can remember he has been singing so it wasn't a surprise that he tried out for the play.  His voice is amazing, and he can hear and feel the music like my mom could.  I wish I could post a video but because of copyright laws I am unable to.  This was a big production for a middle school.  They practiced two hours a day for three months.  All the kids said their lines with British accents and spoke like they lived in 1850's London.  I can't say enough about all the effort put forth by the many people who were involved with this play.    It is something I will always remember.

Left to Right:  The Artful Dodger, Dylan as Oliver, Nancy, Fagin and Bill Sykes

Dylan taking his final bow.
Great Job Dylan.  You were fantastic and we love you so much.