Saturday, January 31, 2009

Birdwatching vs. chores!

My sweety gave me these binoculars several years ago! They are awesome! I have a hard time getting chores started on Saturday mornings, because I find myself watching the birds in my yard.
A female Cardinal in the oak tree.

Goldfinches on the thistle sock!
I love to watch them hang upside-down to eat!

A Mockingbird.
Inca Doves and House Sparrows under the roses. As I was watching out the window mid-morning, a large hawk swooped down into the yard, scattering the songbirds! He actually landed on the ground in front of the birdbath! I was relieved that no songbirds became a meal! The hawk soon took off and continued to circle over the area behind my house.
Now I need to stop birdwatching and actually get some house-cleaning and laundry done for the week!
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gator Gourmet! Say what?

The elementary school where I teach Pre-K is having a Winter Festival to raise money! Each grade level is asked to create a themed "basket" for the silent auction. We invite parents to donate to help purchase the items. I made the apron with a matching towel to include in our "Gator Gourmet Bowl". Our mascot is the Alligator.

My teaching assistant and I searched the internet for "gator" kitchen items! We found the cookie cutter ( ) and oven mitt (

Sugar Cookie Mix, green sprinkles, and a silicone baking mat complete the collection. Shall we start the bidding?
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Valentine's Tree

My Valentine's decorations are pretty much limited to the corner of the entryway. I use the feather tree for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day , Easter and Patriotic decor! I want to get my money's worth! The heart boxes were all given to me. I just bought the Mardi Gras doll on the internet. I needed to order an Alligator oven mitt for a Themed Auction "basket" for our school. I had to order something to fulfull the minimum order $ amount. I have been busy sewing an apron for the basket. I had hoped to photograph the apron and other goodies, but it was already dark when I arrived at home. ( I prefer to use natural light over flash) The theme of the Pre-K basket is "Gator Gourmet". Hopefully, I can get it posted tomorrow!
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Deadly delicious muffins!

A few weekends ago, my sister-in-law, Marie, called for my Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe. Her sweety was requesting them. I had always used a bought basic muffin mix with a Chocolate chip version. So she hit the internet and found two recipes to try. This was her very favorite. They take quite a few ingredients and steps compared to most muffin recipes, but they are definitely worth the extra trouble.

Twelve ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate, and 1 stick of butter with the sour cream about to be mixed in. That's a lot of chocolate--not to mention fat and calories!

Out of the oven, smelling scrumptious!

Definitely Deadly!!

Mrs. Field’s Deadly Chocolate Muffins

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or use choc chips)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
½ cup sour cream
1 cup sifted cake flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt4 large eggs
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Note: can also add ¼ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts and ¼ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350* and line muffin tin with paper liners. Melt chopped semisweet chocolate with the butter and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the semisweet chocolate chips. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centers are set. Set the muffin tin on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then remove the muffins to cool completely.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mockingbirds are pretty plentiful in my yard. They are attracted to water, suet, and any tomatoes in my garden! This one is at the fountain just outside our living room window.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Egg Trio

Call me strange, but I am fascinated with my chickens' eggs. When I gathered these eggs, I was surprised the find that one was quite a bit smaller than the rest. Usually, they are more uniform in size. One also had speckles that looked almost like paint drips! They don't show up very well in the photo. (It is the egg on the upper left).
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Come and Get It!

My sweety had been requesting this Ravioli soup! It is my kind of recipe--open and dump!
Add a bagged salad and "come and get it"! The recipe is another from Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.

Ravioli Soup
1 pound ground beef
1/ 4 cup soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon onion salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic cloves (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 28-ounce can Italian-style crushed tomatoes in puree ( I used Diced)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14 1/2 can beef broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 12-ounce package plain ravioli without sauce (located in the frozen or refrigerated section
parmesan cheese for serving

Cook the ground beef in a large pot until browned, about 15 minutes. Drain the fat. Combine remaining ingredients except frozen ravioli and additional parmesan cheese. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Thaw and cook ravioli according to package directions until just tender. Drain ravioli; add to soup. Salt to taste and serve with parmesan cheese.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Need Winter color? Make a Bottle Tree!

Tina at In the Garden, , left a comment telling me about photos of bottle trees at Felder Rushing's website . I was so inspired that I got right to work. Someone's Christmas tree had mysteriously made it into my backyard from the curb earlier this month. It was likely the work of my 13-year-old and his friends. I think they planned to use it for firewood. Since it is super dry here, and there is a burn ban in effect, I thought I might use it for a bottle tree, instead. After seeing all the wonderful bottle trees on Felder Rushing's site, I couldn't wait! I started trimming the branches!

It didn't take long, and it was a pleasantly scented job! The worst thing to happen was getting some sap on my hands. The sticky is gone, but I continue to smell of Christmas tree as I type. Not a bad thing!
All done. Now to test fit some of my empty bottles. I did decide that I like them without the labels. So, back into the kitchen to scrape them off with a razor blade. Citrus spray took care of any sticky residue. Next came a bath in soapy water to remove the oily residue! For now, it is held up against the Purple Martin house pole with plastic tie wraps. This will be OK until it is time to put up the birdhouse in February. Then I will have to decide on a base! I thought I had more bottles saved! I guess this will be a good excuse to drink more wine!
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Thank you Tracey at for another flattering award! I have a real issue with making decisions! You DON'T want to go shopping with me! I drive my family crazy! SO if you are in my blog list consider yourself "honored".
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Key Frustration!

Usually it is my sweety rushing around,frantically searching yesterday's pants pockets for keys! I've even joined the hunt numerous times! Two days in a row, I have been the one frantic because my key was not in its appointed purse pocket! First it happened on Tuesday morning. I gave up quickly, not wanting to be late for school, and used the spare. My absentmindedness continued. After school, I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot intending to get milk. I reached for my purse which was NOT there. I had left it in my classroom. (I had put my trailblazer key in my pocket that morning.) Forget the milk! I returned home and found the key on the end table in the living room! I can't imagine why I put it there. Then it happened AGAIN on Thursday morning. I reached into my purse pocket and NO keys. I raced through the house looking for them. I gave up and took advantage of the spare key rack again!
As I drove to school, I retraced my footsteps upon arriving home on Wednesday. C'mon think. After school, I went to Hancock Fabrics to get fabric for a Gator Gourmet apron (more about that later). Then I went to clogging practice. Next came the stop at Wal-Mart for milk, apples, bananas, and bagged salad and the impulse purchase of potted daffodils! So far so good--had to have the key to be driving--couldn't have left it any of those places. Now what did I do after I pulled into the garage. OH NO, I cleaned some tissues and wrappers out of the console. AAAAAGH I must have dropped the key into the trash with that handful. YUCK, I hate digging in the trash.
I looked in the garbage can as soon as I pull into the garage! NOPE not there. Keep looking. As I put my purse in the laundry room, I saw THE KEY! Yippee! Hooray! Do the Happy Dance! There it is in the Hancock Fabric bag! I must have dropped it as I was carrying my bags into the house!

I was very careful to put the key back in my purse! I hope my key losing escapade is over and done!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I am honored that Tracey at included me among her favorite blogs! I want to pass it on to everyone in my bloglist. It would take me too long to re-type the list!
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Touring Trade Days! OK Shopping too!

We arrived at Fredericksburg Trade Days near closing time! We agreed that we definitely have to return. (It is held every 3rd weekend). We could hear live music from inside this.

Old doors, windows, columns galore! I found something here. I think I'll wait to share it after it is in its new home!

Wow, there is sure to be a treasure in there!

Bug browsing!

Many of the "booths" had already closed for the weekend.

I really liked this door!

This poor chicken has seen better days!

My brother collects Texas Beer items! This booth had plenty to look at.

Take a look at the interesting sculpture!

I have helped tear down barbed wire fences and rolled up the old wire. It is very hard to manipulate! I can't imagine making this barbed wire sphere! After leaving Trade Days we headed toward Johnson City to visit Marie's friends, J. David and Margaret Bamberger on their Ranch, Selah.

The ranch is beautiful. This is one of the many scenic sights on the way to the Ranch house. The Bamberger Ranch specializes in conservation. Mr. Bamberger built a "cave" just for Mexican Free-tail bats. He calls it his "Chiroptorium"--incorporating the scientific name for bats. He is also growing the Texas Snowbell, an endangered plant to reintroduce to areas in Texas.

We met another friend to eat. We arrived back home that evening around midnight!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So many shops, so little time!

We overslept on Sunday morning! We awoke at 8:20 and still made it to 9:00 mass. We had brunch at the "Old German Bakery". YUMMY! Marie and I had crepes. She had cherry filling and I had raspberry. Bug had a pancake, eggs and bacon. I also bought a raisin almond coffee braid to bring home.
As we were leaving the bakery, I saw this wonderful vine covered wall! I love the trim along the roof.
We changed, loaded the trailblazer and checked out of the motel. Time for more shopping! We loved "Things in a Room". Marie loved the western themed fabrics, and I was smitten with the vintage reproductions.
Marie found fabric for some throw pillows!

I found a sweet feedsack towel! It was another gotta get for Cackleberry Cottage!

Hee hee, Pert little hens and foxy little roosters, that just makes me giggle!

Of course, a three-year-old means frequent restroom breaks! This awesome stair rail was near one of the public restrooms.
We went into "Linens and More" because I have been wanting to get something new for our bed. Bug liked the huge teddy bear!
This is what I found at "Linens and More". I already had the white crocheted bedskirt. I use a king size bedskirt under that or it isn't long enough because our bed is tall. The head/foot board was in my Dad's attic, and we had it refinished. My stepmom made the small pillow for me. The portrait of me was a gift from my sweety when we were dating. The striped skirt was not part of "set", but I liked it better than the perfectly matched skirt. I am very happy with the way it came together!

Bug much preferred fish watching to shopping, but she hung in there with us.
She found them fascinating!
My chicken-loving brain adored the laying boxes being used as a planter. Now I WANT one! (Brandon, my sweet brother, do you have an extra one lying around?)
All that shopping made us hungry. We went to "The Lone Star Candy Bar" to sample AND buy some fabulous fudge!

The fudge was definitely finger lickin' good!
Next stop-Fredericksburg Trade Days!
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