Saturday, December 30, 2006

Good Planets are Hard to Find!

Good Planets *are* hard to find and that is why I was so delighted to find this monthly photography meme started by DharmaBums. It celebrates our planet in beautiful photographs as a gentle reminder to take care of this home of ours!

This month's host is Journeys with Jood. The collection went up today! {click}

Next month, our friend SomewhereinNJ! If you'd like to participate, you can send images for next month's collection to lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net.

I contributed one of my favorite images:

Loch Lomond
These redwood trees are at Loch Lomond, a local reservoir. So, a little manmade influence here but it is utterly lovely. I wanted to linger here but had kids and husband urging me on! We'll be back!

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Northern Sea Nettles
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
(Okay. I am setting aside the insane crowds, the noise, and the chaos. I'm setting aside rude people who pushed their children in front of mine while I was insisting my kids wait their turn. I'm setting aside the number of times that I was pushed out of the way of something just as I was snapping a picture of it. All that is gone now.)

We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today with the kids. We spent 3 hours there and had a fantastic time. We somehow missed the penguins (Greg was in charge of the map so I'm not sure how that was possible!) but we saw everything else.

Highlights . . . the great white shark was amazing as was the Ocean Sunfish in the same huge tank. My favorite was the jellies though -- wow! They named the exhibit Living Art and I couldn't agree more. They were spectacular! I got ONE good shot and I'm thrilled with it. I enjoyed the Sandy Shore exhibit and would have liked to spend more time there. Great captive shorebird photo ops.


The kids had a blast . . .

Ruthie at the Bat Ray tankWave Wall

My favorite shot of the day was this one of Greg and Gage watching the sea otters. I was grumpy (still fighting a cold and fighting for good pictures) and snapped at Gage to have Greg help him to see (charming, eh?). And, so he did and look what good came out of even the grumpiest mommy moment:

Greg and Gage at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Another pretty shot I got was this Tube Anemone:

Tube Anenomes

We ended the day by walking through the tourist-trap stores on Cannery Row. We were keeping our eye out for White Elephant gifts for a New Year's Eve exchange. We found just the things! Hurray! The kids also bought representative souveniers -- Ruthie got a soft, fuzzy sea otter with a shell and Gage bought a quite large shark toy. We had dinner at a restaurant (Sly McFly's) that could be called "mediocre" only if you were being extremely generous. Let's put it this way . . . the corn dog nuggets that Gage got were the best thing we were served. My calamari was a travesty and I didn't eat it. Oh well -- what was I thinking getting calamari at the site of the biggest calamari fishery in the US? Foolish me.

Still, it was a great day. Good strengthening those family ties kind of day. I think I'll go kiss my kids now and put myself to bed! Yawn!

another road

another road
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Nature reclaims
What man abandons
an empty fort now grows wild

For One Deep Breath.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Poetry Thursday -- Hummer Wars

The cold morning brought a steady stream
of delicate, beautiful hummers to my feeder
I stand, hands in hot soapy water, transported
from the mundane into their flittery world.

One at a time, they come perch sip
at the nectar I provide
One at a time because they are protective solitary warriors

A newcomer arrives
lured by the cold to seek sustenance
He hovers cautiously, looking about
He lands and sips
His little body almost shudders in delight

And then a whir of wings and blur of movement
and the chase is on
Flying, whirling, sprinting off
like arrows from a bow
They rocket away and whirl back again

The newcomer is gone, chased away
by the male who defends his feeder
with his tiny sword beak

And, I wonder if the newcomer got enough
precious fluid to fuel his escape or if he must start over,
worse off than he was.


For Poetry Thursday. My first submission to this cause.

A Quiet Day in the Dark

Around 3AM, the wind finally had its wicked way with the redwood forest that surrounds us and our power went out. Turns out that about 50,000 homes in the greater bay area lost power and about 5,000 in our little town (that would be about all of them!). So, we were not alone!


So, we had a quiet day at home. Well, as quiet as it can be in a neighborhood with generators blaring away! We live in a redwood forest and get all our rain at once. The power goes out a lot every winter.

Still, I had a big fire going and I sat and read most of the day curled up in a big, comfy chair with a mug (or two) of mocha watching the fire and reading. The kids (four of them from time to time) made it difficult but I managed to block them out. I read Julie Zickefoose's new book, Letters from Eden. And, all I can say is WOW! What a book.

Here is my review at LibraryThing.

The wind was amazing most of the day and I had the pleasure(?) of watching as a particularly fierce wind blew through and a branch came down from one of the redwoods. It was huge and scary! About 30 feet long and about 6" in diameter where it broke off the tree. A true widowmaker. Thankfully, it hit the road (with a clunk) when no one was going by. Greg went out and moved it and called Ruthie inside -- she was riding her scooter in the driveway. Better safe than sorry!

Branch that came down in wind

Updated Christmas Tree Bird Count

Inspired by recent discussions, I went to the half-off-invitation-only sale at the cute little shop where my mother-in-law works and got myself some new bird ornaments. Here they are . . .

{All my bird ornaments on Flickr}

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Report

Thank you Ruthie!
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Our Christmas was one of the best I can remember. I think the kids are old enough now that its not so much work keeping them going through a long celebration. Everyone was healthy and happy. All the gifts seemed to make sense and everyone was happy with them.

Some details . . .

Ruthie was bound and determined to sleep on the couch in order to catch Santa at work. Needless to say, we indulged this desire although it made things more difficult to me.

(Do I need to tell you how much I loved that my husband put on a Santa hat and his big red parka to put the presents under the tree in case she was faking it or woke up while he was at work?)

Christmas morning dawned but I was already awake. Like a kid myself, I woke up at 6 AM and could not get back to sleep. At 6:40, I stopped trying and got up to go be in the living room when the kids emerged. Gage came out first. He was looking for Ruthie but he saw the scooters under the tree. He took her stocking too her -- Santa leaves them at the foot of one's bed in our house but she had gone back to her bed about 3 AM. So, they did their stockings in their rooms which gave Greg time for a quick shower. Then they came out to the living room to see what Santa had brought them. Santa had brought them scooters. OH BOY!

Ruth & Gage and the Razors Santa Left

Then we opened our family gifts under the tree. That was so cool. Gage had made two gifts at school that he wanted to share with his dad. I love his look in this picture -- could he show how he feels anymore clearly???

Do you like it Daddy?

The answer to his unspoken question was a resounding, "Yes!"

Thank you, Gage!

Ruthie made me a sketchbook for drawing birds. The picture at the top of the post is my reaction to opening it. (And, need I say another reason why I love my new camera . . . it takes good pictures of ME!)

The kids gave Greg sweatshirts -- two for them and one for him. I love them in them. Gage's says "Little Guy". Awwwww!

Big Guy, Little Guy, and Daddy's Little Girl

My kids gave me a pair of Dansko clogs which was a wonderful treat for my feet and the Julie Zickefoose book which they wrapped all by themselves although I had purchased the book myself and told them they were giving it to me! :) Greg had already given me my amazing camera but he got me a little "something something" to open that morning . . . the man knows the way to my heart -- it was a bottle of Glenfiddich! Yum! Greg will be getting his gift from me at MacWorld in January -- a new iPod. He's THRILLED!

From there we went to my in-laws. My whole family and Greg's whole family came as well. What a party! We have to open gifts in shifts but we start off with mimosas and snacks -- gotta keep your strength up! Then the kids do their gift thing and we all watch and ooh and ahhh. Then when the kids are done, the grownups go. This whole process takes hours as we open gifts one at a time! Insane! Then we take a break for awhile and do some food prep for dinner, take walks, get more snacks to keep our strength up, etc. Finally, we reconvene and tackle the stockings. In years past, we did this in shifts as well but all the kids are old enough now that we did it as a group. So much fun. We don't try to take turns on the stocking stuffers we just have an opening frenzy with much oohing and ahhing and who put this in my stocking. Sometimes big gifts end up in the stockings and it's just so much fun!

When all the gifts are done, the serious food prep begins. So, the cooks get busy while others nap, walk, entertain kids, play with toys, read, talk, etc. This is when I took my walk and photo'd the Mergansers.

The Christmas Dinner is a true feast. We have smoked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans almondine. We have prime rib, yorkshire pudding, and portobello mushrooms that are roasted along with the prime rib in the drippings with lots of garlic. We eat, drink, and make merry.

After we roll away from the table and lay around groaning for awhile, we find the energy to eat again and head in for dessert. The pumpkin pie is amazing and we also had rustic apple tart which was also amazing. Ouch! After dessert, we fill up bags of leftovers, pack up all our old and NEW belongings and head off into the night. I'm sure my inlaws fall down in a heap of gladness and relief that another year is over!

Here is my recipe for my version of green beans almondine . . .

Enough green beans for the number of guests you are serving
stick of butter
several cloves of fresh garlic
sliced almonds

The night before, cut the ends off the green beans and put them in a microwave safe container. Toast the almonds in a large frying pan (I prefer cast iron). When they are browning slightly, add the butter to the pan and press the garlic right into the butter. Stir until melted completely. Pour over the green beans, cover, and put in the fridge.

A few minutes before eating, put the container into the microwave and cook for about 2-1/2 minutes. The green beans should be cooked but very crunchy.
It's a very simple, very satisfying dish and a nice counterpoint to the rich, rich food served at a holiday meal. Way better than the traditional green bean casserole!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
I took a quiet walk on Christmas Day and saw the Mergansers who are hanging out at the upper pond at my in-laws' senior community. There are about 6 mallard pairs there but these two Mergansers were visiting as well. I was running out of batteries but got a couple of nice shots of them.

I'll post a more complete Christmas report another time. Greg and I maintained until we got home from all the festivities and then we succumbed to a cold. Blech!

Here are more Mergansers in the meantime . . .

Swimming in the fountain


And the Mallards:

Mrs Mallard

Mr Mallard

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas Music.

It's funny because I don't consider myself a Christian but I love Christmas and I love Christmas music. We celebrate the most secular of Christmases but I love very religious Christmas music.

I don't fight it. It's part of what makes this time of year so special.

On my iTunes, I have a TON of Christmas music. I have a special Christmas "favs" section though and that is what I wanted to share with you today.

My very favorite, traditionally favorite, Christmas music is Joan Baez's album, Noel. To me, it isn't Christmas until I hear that music playing all the way through from beginning to end. My mother loved it and it is The Sound of Christmas to me.

Next on my favorite list is Jewel's Christmas album, Joy: A Holiday Collection. Her version of "O Holy Night" is worth the price of admission. Angelic voice.

Last year, I added Barenaked Ladies' Barenaked for the Holidays to my mix. They are funny and silly and yet produce some great classics along with the way. (Warning -- it starts to play songs from the album when you load the page).

This year, I added two new albums to my iTunes. The first is an obvious one, Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong is remarkable. Her voice is so fantastic. I love her version of River by Joni Mitchell. The next addition to my playlist this year is Christmas Album by Celtic Woman. Their voices are spectacular. Ethereal, otherworldy on some songs and folksy and warm on others. A fantastic find.

Other rare favorites are single songs by favorite artists or favorite songs by talented artists. Two are available on the Web as free downloads. For a few years, I've had Fleming & John's Winter Wonderland/Misty Mountain Hop. It is exactly what it sounds like -- an unlikely (and yet highly successful) combination of these two songs. Too much fun! They also have Carol of the Bells available. Note, these were put up in 2000 and aren't part of their main site yet so I recommend getting them onto your computer right away in case they are taken away! The next song is also a free gift from the artist. Jonatha Brooke has a fantastic version of Emmanuel on her site as a holiday gift. It is a duet with the late, great Kevin Gilbert, my husband's musical idol.

So, have yourself a merry little Christmas now! And, enjoy some really good Christmas music!

A good time was had by all!

Kids opening family gifts
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Our annual Christmas Eve Eve party was so much fun! We host it for Greg's family but now my folks started coming and my sister made it this year. Yay!

I highly recommend this method of hosting a party. We put out a big table and everyone brings their favorite appetizer or dessert. We have amazing food. There's no messing around with silverware and balancing plates on your lap -- it's all finger foods except some of the desserts. We do a big cooler full of sodas and drinks for the kids and the bar is open for the grownups.

For the first hour or so, we eat and the kids run rampant. Then the kids get to open their gifts from the family. After that frenzy is over, we do a gift exchange. Everyone who wants to play brings a gift worth $25 or so. We put them in a big pile and draw numbers. It's one of those cut-throat pick or steal games. This may have been the best year ever. Lots of stealing, lots of planning strategies, lots of laughing!

My favorite part of a party like that is when everyone has gone and Greg and I clean up the worst of it and then sit back and smile and know that we did a good job hosting a fun party. The kids are exhaustedly asleep. The bar glasses are still to be done but that can wait. We can sit back, have a last glass of wine (or in this case, ice water!), and talk about the evening and how much fun it was.

Our house is designed for parties and we really should entertain more often. It shines when its full of people.

And, now we get to have a quiet day. My parents took the kids to a movie. I have some gifts to wrap and some dishes to wash but first . . . a nap! Mmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?

Or for a lost diamond?

I would dig through the garbage can. I would crawl the entire house on my hands and knees. I would unmake and then remake my daughter's bed. I would walk through the house in the dark with an LED flashlight looking for sparkle. I would sweep each hard floor and then sift through the debris. I would put off vacuuming the house before my party and then sift through the contents of the debris catcher. I would dig through the garbage disposal. I would obsessively do some of these things more than once.

And, still, no luck. Very sad.

Greg and I have been together since my senior year in High School. That was a long time ago -- we waited a LONG time to have kids. We dated and lived together in college. When Greg went to graduate school, I stayed in San Francisco to finish my undergraduate degree (he's a year older than I am). We missed each other a lot. When I finished my degree, he took me out to dinner to celebrate. We went to an amazing restaurant in Capitola called The Shadowbrook. Before dinner, after we'd ordered, he started talking about the future and what our plans were for the future and what I saw in my future. Given the big life goal, I'd just achieved, this didn't seem out of place so I talked to him about the future and that the ONE thing I knew was that he would have a place in my future. He liked me answer and sat back and smiled and then the waiter brought a covered dish and set it in front of me. I thought it was our appetizer and wanted to continue this big discussion so I didn't lift the lid. Greg got impatient and lifted it for me. There was a box on the dish. A black velvet ring box.

I'm pretty sure that my mouth did that perfectly round "O" thing. With shaking hands -- and prompting from Greg, I opened it and stared in delight at the beautiful ring nestled in the box. Greg looked most pleased and said, "So, I take it that's a yes." Somewhere, my young self had the moxy to look up and say, "I don't remember hearing a question." And, so Greg asked me to marry him. And, I did say yes and the waiters all clapped and cheered from where they were all watching this drama play out.

I don't remember what I ate that night. I don't remember what else we talked about. When we got back to Greg's parents' house, all our local friends and my sister were there to celebrate with us. What I do remember was how right I felt when I saw that ring. A glittery, shimmering tangible symbol of Greg's love for me and our plans for our life together.

The story gets even better. Greg was a poor grad student but he's a smart, determined man and where there's a will, there's a way. He took a jewelry making class and made my engagement ring. He asked his family for gold -- broken jewelry, whatever. Part of my ring is from some of his grandmother's old bridgework! He made the ring and it's beautiful. He took it to a wonderful jewelry shop in Cambria by the Sea and bought a diamond and had them set it on his ring. This is what he gave to me. Thankfully, only the diamond was lost. I still have the ring which was made with much love. The diamond can be replaced but it won't ever be the same.

Oh, the follow-up is that the next year, I also took the jewelry class with Greg and we made our wedding bands together. Very special.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Grace Duchess Liza Lee the Scattered of Much Bottom
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

And, in other news, Her Grace is most distressed. While cleaning my house today, I discovered that the diamond had fallen out of my engagement ring at somepoint during the day. Much searching did not turn it up. You can imagine how dismayed and sad I am feeling.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I wrapped most of our presents last night. I only have stocking stuffers left -- in our family stockings are stuffed, stuffed, and over-stuffed. We take our stockings seriously! So, I usually do that as another marathon session.

Wrapping usually takes place in our living room, late at night, with bad tv shows on. However, I had another "keep the wrapping away from prying eyes" solution. As boxes were delivered (oh please, you don't think I go to STORES during Christmas when I could have everything delivered by our friendly neighborhood UPS guy do you?), I put all the boxes in our motorhome. Yesterday, I had Greg plug it in and fire up the furnace. Our motorhome is very, very houselike in a way that our 5th wheel trailer never was. Anyway, it was warm and cozy out there, I took my iPod out filled with my favorite Christmas music and speakers and I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. It was so nice!

The kids came out twice and got wrapping supplies to wrap up my gifts. Greg helped them on one gift but the gift that I bought myself -- Julie Zickefoose's book -- they wrapped that themselves. I can't wait to see it. Listening to them through the door as they wrapped it was delightful. They couldn't decide which side of the paper (it was candycane stripe on one side and christmas trees on the other) to use so they wrapped it twice -- once with each. :) That's my little compromisers!

Tomorrow is our Christmas Eve Eve party and it should be a lot of fun although I have a LOT of work to do before people arrive at 5:30pm -- which, of course, explains why I'm still sitting in my jammies at 9:22 am. Hey . . . it's the first day of my vacation! Well, I better get to it. Lots and lots to do.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Year in Review Meme & bird report

As suggested by The Hawk Owl's Nest, I am continuing this meme. The idea is simple. Post the first line of the first post of each month of the year.

Well, I started this particular iteration of this blog in July so only a half a year's worth but here it is . . .

July -- I think I am mastering the art of procrastination. {more}
August -- Okay, so after a day of being super sad, I'm feeling better now. {more}
September --
So, yesterday I was helping out in kindergarten again -- what fun it is, really. {more}
October -- Took a few minutes at the end of a day long seminar on reading instruction to relax out at Elkhorn Slough yesterday afternoon. {more}
November -- November 1. Start of Project Feederwatch. {more}
December -- I just turned in my last assignment for my teaching credential program. {more

That was fun. Thanks for the review! I love that the first post of December was the most important event of my year. Coolness! I got a FEW bird posts in there too. :)

Yesterday the birds at school were taunting me. When I had my camera with me . . . none around. When I didn't, they'd come out of the woodwork, pose enticingly, and then stick their little tongues out at me and say, "Neener, neener!" Sigh. I did get a couple of shots of some ravens getting cozy with each other (bird porn???) and of a California Towhee butt. But, the Hermit Thrush was only seen when I had no camera as was the mystery bird that a good picture of would help me identify. We have Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni here year round but in the winter we get a HUGE influx of Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula. I saw ONE of these two little darlings yesterday. It was adorable and posed beautifully for me but . . . no camera and so I don't know which one it was.
Here's an article on the difficulty of id-ing these two tiny, cute birds.

Here's the shot of the California Towhee (pipilo crissalis) butt. How often do you get to post an orange butt?

California Towhee butt

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Tree Bird Count

Laura at SomewhereinNJ offered up a challenge to count the number of bird ornaments on your Christmas tree.

Mine is paltry but I've only been "into" birds for a year or so. Perhaps it will grow over time.

The first bird is my glass bird with a feather tail. It clips on to the branch. It's very sweet.

The next one is the most seasonal. A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Partridge in a Pear Tree

And last, the most spectacular bird ornament . . . my peacock

Peacock Ornament

I love the way he is looking over his shoulder at his spectacular tail in self-admiration! They do seem the most vain of birds.

So, that's it. My Christmas Tree Bird Count is just three but it's a start!

Thanks, Laura, for a great idea!

In trying to find a source for the peacock, I found these interesting options:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Grade Holiday Concert

Gage at Concert
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Gage performed in the First Grade Holiday Concert tonight. My boy is cautious and reserved -- until you get to know him and then he's as silly and wild as the next nearly 7 year old boy.

I'll hazard a guess, though, that the stage will not call his name. He sang and did a good job but this picture pretty much sums up his feelings towards the whole affair.

We had a packed MP room and were exactly on time so we had awful seats. Ruthie wiggled through the crowd and found two seats with a great view of Gage so I got a couple of shots. Yay!

What a cute little guy though, huh? When I asked him, he said he had fun! Yea, it shows!

Harbinger of Winter

Varied Thrush Close Up
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
It's cold here today. We started out at 26 degrees but it's gotten balmy now -- it's like 43 degrees. Before you laugh at my wimpiness, I'll remind you that this is California and we don't do cold here!

But, the Varied Thurshes like it just fine. When I walked to my car today at noon, there were 4-8 of them in the woods near the cars. They were wary of me but if I stayed hidden behind my car and didn't move quickly, they were calm.

Last winter, the Varied Thursh was a lifebird for me. I saw a pair of them in my backyard. I knew they were something I'd never seen before and with binoculars in one hand and my Peterson guide in the other, I figured out what they were. I was so proud of myself.

A week later, my husband told me there was a dead bird in the garden. I went and checked and it was one of the Varied Thrushes. It was in the lavender bed near my living room windows so it was probably a window strike. So sad. I saw the other one for the rest of the winter alone.

It was so nice to see so many together near the school today. I saw one on the golf course last week, near my house. I wonder if it is the same one from last year?

(So, how much do I love my new camera? A LOT! Last summer, I took this picture of a Varied Thrush -- it was the best I could do because I couldn't get closer to the bird. Not anymore!

Varied Thrush )

Christmas Celebration

Christmas Concert
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
My in-laws live in a wonderful senior community. They have the most active social life now -- it's wonderful. They have made some fantastic friends and have some really good times. My father-in-law, Ros, joined the Chorale at their community. They give two concerts a year and practice every week. This past Saturday, we went to their Christmas Concert.

They are joined by a bell choir, JuBELLation, that is directed by the same woman who directs the Chorale. They alternate songs and do two songs together.

It was wonderful! Very traditional which makes sense. They did a "community sing" in the middle which was so much fun. I found myself remembering alto lines from doing the same songs in High School. The picture below shows my father-in-law in the dark glasses with the dark hair.


We took the kids and it was a little long and slow for them but they were very good. My nephew, who is in 5th grade, was also there and also wonderfully well behaved -- including silently entertaining Gage when Gage was just about DONE! I took the kids up to look at the bells after the concert and one of the bell ringers came and talked to us about them and showed us how they worked. He let the kids try bonging them with the mallets they use sometimes. It was so thoughtful. And, I learned something too. Bellringers wear gloves so they don't leave fingerprints on the bells! I figured there was some fancy technical reason why but it's just not wanting to polish them as often! Love the practicality!

Here is a video clip of parts of two songs. First comes the bells doing We Three Kings and then the chorale doing the same song -- albeit a very different version. The songs are just snippets.

Monday, December 18, 2006

O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree!
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
O Christmas Tree!
O Christmas Tree!
How lovely are thy branches!

I am so proud of our tree this year. We did it together as a family -- which is a change since usually I am the only one who can decorate a tree correctly! :) (Let go of the control, Liza!) Our tree is eclectic -- filled with ornaments collected over the years that are special to each of us. This year, the tree is huge and holds all our ornaments beautifully. Really, there are only a few that I didn't put on the tree and they will be scattered around the house in other ways.

And, now the countdown begins -- getting ready for the holidays. Oh joy!

Running room

Running room
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
An empty room can
contain so many ideas
or just running feet

written for One Deep Breath's Weekly Haiku Prompt: Containers

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Final Result!

Whole Living Room
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
We are pleased with it. The yellow is muted and warm and glows. It could be more even but perhaps the mottling is part of its charm (she said, hopefully). As always, I see all the flaws but most people won't notice them. We decided against putting the black leather recliner back in the room. It was done and it served it's purpose.

When I was pregnant with Gage, my father's father died. My father's mother died when I was pregnant with Ruthie. Thus, I inherited a little money. We used it to buy a huge black leather recliner. I sat and rocked young Ruthie (my kids are 18 months apart) through many a sleepless night and then continued on with Gage in the same way. The chair had heat and massage which was blissful when I stayed in it all night by choice towards the end of my pregnancy. And, of course, it worked beautifully for nursing babies as well.

By the end, the massage and heat no longer worked. The seat cushion had a tear in it and we found we weren't choosing to sit in it anymore as it just wasn't comfortable! So, when we took it out for the carpet cleaning, we decided it didn't need to return.

In a perfect world, we would get a big wrap-around leather sofa with room for the entire family. We often all pile on the couch at night to watch TV, curled up under blankies, and cuddled together. A little more room would be NICE. But, it isn't a perfect world so another black leather chair may in our future. We'll have to see what turns up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yellow Walls and Chicken Nuggets!

Yellow Walls
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
In the insanity of excitement of getting our carpets cleaned, I had the brilliant idea of painting the walls. The walls in my living room that soar up ridiculously high. So, I told my husband -- who SHOULD know better -- and he thought it was a great idea. I wanted to pull a shade of yellow out of the stonework of the fireplace and give the room a warm glow. He liked that idea and wanted to make sure that there was enough contrast with the white beams and trimwork. "Go bold," he said.

And, so I did. And, the result was YELLOW walls. And, not in a good way given that most of our furnishings are black, white, light wood, and a blast of red. Sigh. What to do. I have been watching a LOT of Debbie Travis' The Painted House lately so I got brave and went and got a sandy color of paint and a LOT of glaze. And, after some failed experiments, I ended up pouring a quart of sandy paint into a gallon of glaze and rolling it on the walls. The result wasn't EXACTLY what I'd hoped for but it worked. The room is still yellow but now it glows rather than glaring. I'm pleased. The trimwork around the windows (mostly) got a new coat of high gloss white last night. Greg will scrape the windows clean and it should be ready for furniture again. THANK GOODNESS!!!

And, then we can finally decorate for Christmas. I'll document everything with my fantastic new camera.

Speaking of which. I let Ruthie cook dinner for herself and Gage last night. She wanted to and wanted to -- particularly give me a break which is the type of sentiment I want to encourage in my daughter and son!!! -- so I guided her through the process of making chicken nuggets. She set the table for the kids, poured their milk, got them veggies to eat, and dipping sauces (ketchup and ranch) and proudly served up her first home cooked meal.

Proud Chef

Yes, I was mighty proud of her!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Check This Out:

I stumbled across the most amazing resource this evening while taking a break from painting. I urge you to go check it out -- particularly if you live in the Western US.

This gentleman, Eric Goetze, loves taking VR Panoramas and seems to be a big time hiker. So, he hikes, takes panoramas, creates amazing maps, and posts them all on his website. It is truly amazing!

I urge you to go take a look! This is the California State Park nearest my house. It is so lovely and with the VR you really get an idea of what it is like. All the little purple diamonds indicate panorama locations. Click away! I live about 10 miles away from this park.

Enjoy the tour!

I and the Bird

Don't forget to visit I and the Bird! I plan to spend some quality time with it this afternoon when I should be putting my living room back in order!

Two past midnight nights of painting that living room have left me somewhat stupid with exhaustion. Pity my students today!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Are the Clampetts moving in or moving out?

Neither! We are getting our carpets cleaned. All my living and ding rooms furniture can easily be stored in the entry way to my house -- or as my mother dubbed it, the lobby. You can't see it in the picture, but there is a path to the front door that is easily navigated.

Getting the carpets cleaned yesterday was SO wonderful. We bought the house with white carpets in it. White! We had, at that time, a 3 year old and an 18 month old. Our decision was to live with the carpet until we couldn't stand it anymore and then to tear it all out and put in something more practical. Well. Best laid plans.

Now the kids are nearly 7 and 8-1/2 and we still have the damned white carpet. So, each year before the holidays, we have it cleaned. My mother-in-law pays for it and we gratefully accept. It feels sooooo nice to walk in and see the carpets clean that you can ALMOST understand why someone would pick that color to begin with -- almost!

Too much fun!Two things happened with the cleaning though.

1. The kids went wild with the wide, open spaces. Running and wrestling ensued.

2. I went wild with the wide open walls and decided that we needed to paint the living room too. My husband (whom I count on to talk me out of such things) thought it was a swell idea -- even when I started talking about such insanity as paint techniques and pulled on my Debbie Travis overalls.

Empty living roomThe tall ceiling
Insanity, you say? Here is my living room . . . it's so big that one shot won't give you the full impression.

(There are more interior shots here).

I've been watching Debbie Travis and have been inspired to make bolder choices. So, I chose a yellow color out of the stonework of the fireplace. Greg suggested I be bolder than I intended so it contrasted enough with the white beams, etc. So, I did. It was clear upon putting up the samples that the yellow was too yellow. No worries, I'll do a glaze technique over it to make it look like linen wallpaper. It'll be gorgeous!

Wall is finishedAnd it will. But OH MY GOODNESS that's a lot of wallspace to cover with paint and then cover again and then drag a brush through. And, that is a tall ceiling and did I mention that I'm afraid of heights?

I'm really hoping that in the light of day, a 2nd coat of yellow doesn't seem necessary! Fingers crossed.

While I was at it, I painted an accent wall in the dining room green. Now that turned out good and was an accomplishable goal for one day.

But, it will look gorgeous when it's done. This is what resulted the last time I lost my head and did a paint technique on these walls.
My first decorative painting
And, yes, my friends, that is the world's largest TV. It's 80 inches and great -- although you have to be across the room from it to see it and we worry about neighbor's being distracted and driving into a tree when we watch it with the blinds open!

So, with that, I leave you with a link to a post at 10000birds to a great poem about birds and the depths of winter . . . {click}. Enjoy!