26 February, 2010

And Now It's Truly BATH-TASTIC!

Can you believe we're finally done? (except for touching up the ceiling and baseboards and replacing the faucet) Here's two pictures. There's lots more - before, during, and after - up on my Facebook page for those of you who are my friends there!

This picture shows everything we did: the lighting, the mirror, the towel ring, and the print. Oh, and of course the incredibly purple wall color! (I tried to tell you...)

And this picture spotlights the beautiful print we found and fell in love with at World Market. I voted to paint the frame white, but Scott voted to do a brushed nickel finish so that it would match the light. He was absolutely right. The print just pops on that back wall, and it's positioned so that it looks just as pretty reflected in the mirror when you're sitting on the potty or when you're standing at the sink as it does when you're looking at it straight ahead.


I'm so proud of us! I'm absolutely beyond thrilled with the final project... so if you don't like it, please go easy in the comments.

24 February, 2010

Black and Blue and Purple All Over

It's a thing of beauty, in the homemade-and-therefore-doesn't-look-like-it-would-in-a-restaurant sense. It's tart and sweet. It can't possibly be bad for you - it's 4 cups of fruit (with sugar, shortening, and butter).

It's the Black- and Blueberry Pie!

It was supposed to be a blueberry pie. I made chicken pot pies for dinner yesterday, and had the dough for a single-crust pie in the fridge. And I also had a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer (which had been bought for blueberry pancakes). Unfortunately, the recipe called for 4 cups of fruit and there were only 2 cups in the bag. So I used 2 cups of blackberries to round out the recipe.

The filling recipe was super-easy: 4 1/2 cups of blueberries, a squeeze of lemon juice, 5 Tbs of flour, and 1/2 cup of sugar tossed together and dumped into the pie shell. I also am slowly but surely improving on the crumble topping. The peach pie basically had a sugar crust on top. At least this one resembles crumbs!

I'll make this again, though with the correct amount of blueberries, and maybe with 2 crusts. Or maybe I'll wait until summer when I can get some other fresh berries to add. This is looking like it could be a contender for a holiday dinner or office potluck. And special bonus: it's purple! Scott said we should eat it in the bathroom.

And in case you were wondering, this picture is also currently the outside screen picture on my phone. That's how much I love pie!

...this concludes today's example of "This is Why I'm Fat."

19 February, 2010

A Comparison

Photo editing really isn't my thing. I'm a pro at cropping, and if you want one person's head comically placed on someone else's body, I can help you out. But actual editing for quality? Not so much! I gave it a shot this morning though. In an attempt to better my fish-catching photos (and to make one the correct shape for the desktop), I cranked up both the brightness and contrast. Below are the original and then my new version. Still, neither is good. I'm not even sure I like the new one better. Any thoughts?

18 February, 2010


Well, I missed the posting for yesterday. I was downstairs watching TV, and then I looked at the clock and it was 12:13 am. I never officially signed up on the NaBloPoMo site due to some technical difficulties early on, so there was never any chance I was going to win any prizes.

I've got another 3-day weekend right now. It's the weekend-o-painting, come Hell or high water. Nothing's gonna stop us now. We're livin' on a prayer. Purple or bust! Nope, that last one wasn't a song title or a cliche.

We're also going to see GodSpell tonight, so maybe I'll have something interesting to talk about tomorrow. I guess time will tell...

16 February, 2010

Better Late than Never

I took this picture of Harley on a particularly cold and dreary day a few weeks ago. You can tell it's cold because he's got no neck.

Anyway, here's your required post for the day. I'm not going to talk about anything else, because it will undoubtedly turn into a whine/rant, and no one wants to read that.

Hoping tomorrow brings better thoughts to my head...

15 February, 2010

It's a Cat Day Today

Milo and I have a common personality trait: desire to curl up in a comfortable spot for as long as possible. After all, who needs work when there's a warm comfortable place to nap?Meanwhile, Elph is more the dominant task-master type. Here she's either saying "don't forget to flush," or "this room should be painted by now...stop slacking!"

Poor thing...since she's smaller than the boys, she'll probably always be my little black kitten. Of course, you can see here she's definitely more cat now. And look at that puffy raccoon tail! She still has it! So cute!

14 February, 2010

And Here We Are Again

Happy V.D. I hope you all get the card/flowers/chocolates/whatever other commercial item you were hoping for.

As for me, I'm off to work. And then Scott is cooking dinner. Yep...just like every other day, only with better food!

13 February, 2010

(just one) Mission Accomplished

I did our 2009 tax return today. Of course, I couldn't file because the IRS now requires paper documentation to prove that we bought a house. Because apparently last year they didn't require any proof and - surprise, surprise! - people claimed houses they didn't own! So now I just need to print, attach copious amounts of paper, and send via certified mail.

My 'honey do' list today was much longer than just that, but I fizzled out early. I didn't re-texture the patches on the bathroom wall, or tape & tarp the bathroom in preparation for next weekend's painting extravaganza, or grocery shop... Today was pretty much an epic failure.

But boy, did I need the rest!

So now I embark on another four-day work week, followed by the aforementioned taping & tarping (now scheduled for Thursday while Scott is at work), priming on Friday, and painting on Saturday. Then all that's left is the mounting (heh) of the mirror, the new towel ring, and the artwork above the toilet.

12 February, 2010


Here's a list of actual things that Scott and I did today:

1. Trip to Lowe's to buy paint, primer, and a new towel holder for powder room.

2. Removal of old towel bar, using sharp blade and new pry bar.

(also bought pry bar and mallet at Lowe's during #1)

3. Discovery of two perfectly rectangular holes behind old towel bar.

4. Discovery that builders installed vanity light without a junction box and that installation of new vanity light without a junction box is impossible.

5. Googled "install vanity light no junction box," and got great instructions from on how to install a junction box.

5a. Curse like a sailor, throw brief tantrum.

6. Trip to Lowe's to buy wall patches, spackle, and aerosol can of "orange peel" wall texture to fix holes where old towel bar was. Also bought new junction box. The girl in the drywall section was quite helpful. The guy in the electrical section was dumb as a box of rocks. And he looked like the boss from Office Space. Luckily, there was a nice middle-aged customer who came to my rescue. Twice. I say "my" rescue because, as a man, Scott can't ask for help. So he disappears ("hey - we NEEDED a drywall saw!") while I ask for help. It's ok. At least then I get to hear the instructions first-hand and don't need to second guess later.

7. Scott patches holes in one wall while I cut a big circular hole in another wall.

8. Realize plumbing is close to the wall and that junction box is too deep and therefore won't fit.

8a. Curse like a (&$%(# sailor. Lament that we're stuck with ugly Broadway-style lighting forever.

9. Scott uses drywall saw to cut the back off of the plastic junction box while I watch two hours worth of DVRed TV shows. Yep...two hours. The man is dedicated!

10. Anchor junction box into drywall, install light fixture, and test out lighting.

11. Go to garage and do some test-runs of orange peel texturing on cardboard (and on the garage wall). Damn, it's cold out!

12. Eat dinner of chicken tenders and fish planks at 9 pm while mocking the Olympic opening ceremony.

13. Blog about day that was supposed to be fun but, like most home improvement projects, turned out to be frustrating.

I took lots of pictures today, but I'm saving them for a full before & after. Tomorrow while Scott is at work I'm definitely going to texture over the wall patches and tape off the baseboards and ceiling. I might prime, but it's likely I'll wait for next Friday and Saturday to prime & paint when Scott is there to help. Not that there's room for two of us in there at a time...

11 February, 2010

Spot the WICKED Fan!

We're not even going to discuss how long it took me to do this. And really, I'm sure Janette is sitting there right now thinking I ruined a perfectly nice bird picture just to make the point that I'M GOING TO SEE WICKED TONIGHT AND I'M SO EXCITED I CAN HARDLY SIT STILL! (ok, the not sitting still part might also have to do with the Coke I have consumed this morning)

Anyway, about the birds. I thought these guys were cattle egret (egrets?), but now I'm not so sure. There were a whopping 11 of them out back today, in two separate groups. Whenever I see them, they are in the grass and not on the water, which fits the cattle egret foraging, but there's no red wash over the bill and no fancy plumage on the top of their heads. Any guesses? Here's one more picture, with a great egret for comparison:

10 February, 2010


So... remember this fixture that I had fallen in love with for the powder room? It's been replaced. I actually tried to buy the original this morning, but the website I had originally found it on (not the one linked here) wouldn't let me buy it. I took that as a sign that maybe the one we found at Home Depot for half the cost was the one destined to live in our bathroom.

I have 3-day weekends for the next two weeks, and am determined to at least do a dry-run of the new light install and the mirror install this week so that I can paint next week.

Sure, it's just the powder room. But I'm so excited to get it started I can hardly stand it!

09 February, 2010

Triple Feature

Here is yesterday morning's white ibis. Isn't it pretty? I feel bad that I'm sort of an egret snob - they just don't fascinate me. But these guys, with legs the same length as their beaks, are much more compelling to me.

I'm going back to the TV now. "The Secret of My Success" is on AMC, and it seems the perfect way to waste the rest of my pre-work morning. But before I go, here's another picture from yesterday. It's a triple feature - snake bird, cattle egret, and ibis. Enjoy!

08 February, 2010

Breakfast in the Backyard

Following this paragraph are four of the coolest pictures I've ever taken. I won't lie - the morning sun reflecting off the pond sucks. That means these are by no means the best pictures I've ever taken. But if you sort of squint, you should be able to follow along with the story without words. If the pictures really are that unclear, a) I'll be heart-broken because I think they're awesome and b) there's another paragraph at the end. I'm sorry that the entry is more graphic-heavy than I would usually prefer.

Ever wake up super hungry? Eyes bigger than your stomach? You're not the only one!

This morning I peeked out my blinds before getting in the shower and scanned the shoreline. I saw the snake bird, but already have pictures of one so wasn't inclined to run for the camera. To the right a little was a white ibis. Since I haven't gotten any ibis pictures yet, I got the camera and ran downstairs. It wasn't until I looked out the sliding glass door that I realized the snake bird had a fish. A big fish. (A catfish?) So I snapped a dozen or so pictures. The first two are the "before" pictures. I couldn't decide between the two, because the first one is such a cool action shot, and the second one really shows the scale of fish-to-beak. How does he hold on? The third picture is the one that gets captioned, "gulp!" And you can actually see the fish in the bottom half of the throat in the fourth picture.

Usually, all you see of a snake bird is its neck and head sticking out of the water. When they are on shore, I'm taken aback by their big goose-like proportions.

I really hope you liked these pictures. I'm still excited about them!

(as for the ibis, you'll see it tomorrow. stay tuned!)

07 February, 2010


I'm watching the Super Bowl. OK, I'm mostly watching the commercials, but it's turned into a pretty good game. I decided that I most certainly did not need to watch The Who perform during halftime, mostly because I knew I needed to put something up here.

I have a great weather-related bird picture to share, but not until I have more time to edit and upload it. Maybe after the game?

If you're looking for me in the next two hours, I'll be that lump between the sofa and the green fuzzy blanket.

06 February, 2010

Wood Storks

(I think)
Wow...this is the first time in a while that I've seen more than one bird out behind the house at the same time. I'd like to believe this is because we removed the stinky dead bird yesterday and it doesn't smell so scary out there anymore. More likely it's the weather... or just a coincidence.

Anyway, according to my vast knowledge of birds (and this website), this is a pair of wood storks. Judging by the difference in neck feathers and the different coloration of their bills, I also think it's an adult and a juvenile (juvie on the right). It was nearly impossible to get a picture with the full beak because these guys were hoovering along the shore and rarely picked their heads up. Just after I took this picture, they separated and started walking in opposite directions. A few minutes later I looked again, and they were on opposite sides of the pond. They are definitely dedicated hunters!

Here's my one halfway decent photo of the whole bird:
I'm starting to yearn for being in New Jersey this time of year. Throw some birdseed on the snow, and you'll have all sorts of pretty cardinals and blue jays. Meanwhile, I have the bastard love child of a vulture and an egret in my backyard!

05 February, 2010

Where Have You Been All My Life?

There is a store...

at Downtown Disney...

that sells mismatched socks!

I admit, it's not the mismatched-ness that appeals to me. It's the plethora of funky, adorable socks. Ankle socks, knee socks, toe socks, mitten socks (ok, they call them flip flop socks), leg warmers... plus sock puppets, bags, and other accessories to match your mismatched socks.

The socks are also sold in packs of three (here's my favorite). So really, I could buy two packs and then have three pairs of matching funky socks. But I guess that goes against the point of the store. I managed to make it out without buying anything, mostly because the balance on my credit card is 2 months from being $0 and I'd like to keep my momentum going.

Impulse shopping: it only feels good until you get the bill!

In other news, it's yet another rainy day her in ParkHopperLand. Luckily, Scott snapped a few pictures of Harley yesterday afternoon when the skies were a little clearer. Here's the best one of the bunch:

I love the golden tone that the afternoon sun gives to pictures. Of course, I hate being out in the afternoon sun, because the angle of the rays makes me feel claustrophobic. (nope, can't explain it any better, but it really makes me nuts!) I guess it's a good thing Scott was there to take this photo for me!

04 February, 2010

Late! and Late-Night TV

Yesterday I left the house - no lie - 25 minutes late. I hate being late, and am generally chronically early. I ended up being 5 minutes late for work. Meh, there are worse things!

I might have made it on time, except as I was closing the blinds on the sliding glass door I happened to notice a single bird out there, and I just HAD to stop for a picture. Granted, I didn't go upstairs where I could've gotten a good angle. I didn't even go to the side of the door without the screen. So the picture isn't the greatest. But here you have it - a snake bird drying out on the shore after a morning fishing trip.

And then yesterday I did something I never thought I'd do. I asked Scott to set the DVR for me for two episodes... on Fox "News" Channel... of the O'Reilly Factor. (there was a knock on the door this morning. I think it might have been the Florida Democrats coming to take away my membership card) In my defense, I only wanted to watch because Jon Stewart was the guest. It's a two-part interview, so the second half will be airing tonight.

I'm not sure I can stomach it.

Who watches this show? He spins stories worse than The Daily Show. He actually compared his show to TDS, which is ridiculous considering one is on Comedy Central and the other is on Fox News. If he thinks you're making a point he won't like, he just talks over you until you stop. And through all that, I really think that Jon Stewart won Round 1. Also? Either they taped that interview at 8 am or The Daily Show has much more forgiving lighting. Jon was looking old and tired.

After the Stewart interview, I stuck around for Dennis Miller. I thought I liked Dennis Miller. Turns out I must've had him confused with someone - anyone - else. He went on this yelling rant about Rahm and the whole "retarded" debacle*, and his fake indignity was just too much. I stopped and deleted the show mid-sentence. And after I watch the second half of the interview tonight, I'll do the same. I won't make that watch-another-segment mistake again. I'm worried that I'll have to exorcise the far-right demons out of my DVR after all this. For real, watching that show literally raised my blood pressure to a point where my stomach started to hurt. *shudder*

*Question to the group: didn't they stop calling mentally-challenged people "retarded" some time ago? Because "retarded" had a negative connotation? So if we're no longer using the word as anything but an insult, then why does everyone get so pissed off every time someone uses it? What's the difference between "retard" and "bitch" or "homo?" Sure it's unkind, but why does it get everyone's panties in a twist? Sheesh!

03 February, 2010

8 Days, 1 Month

There were no birds out this morning, so we're taking a brief pause from bird watching. Today we're going to discuss two big things I'm looking forward to!

Eight days from now, we've got a date night in Tampa... for WICKED! I cannot wait to see this show again, especially from our super kick-ass seats! Note to self: bring tissues.

One month from now... any takers? IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! Thank goodness I won't be 30 anymore! We don't actually have any concrete plans. I don't even know for sure whether I'm going to take my actual birthday off from work (leaning towards yes). But I've got plans that weekend including a show in Tampa (with Katie, because Scott just doesn't want to see the Little House on the Prairie musical), dinner with friends (sorry Matt - it's dinner at a place without mac n cheese on the menu - I didn't think you'd mind the lack of invitation), and Oscar night 2010.

I'll leave you today with a picture taken at Gatorland last February. Their breeding marsh is a great place to see native birds. Snowy egret? I'm thinking so...

02 February, 2010

Rainy Day

It's pouring here at Casa ParkHopper. It's a tough day to get motivated to leave the house, especially when I know that leaving the house is going to require a stop at the gas station. Did I mention it's windy too? I have a half hour to go, so I'm hoping it clears up a little bit between now and then.

I did get some pictures of the one solitary bird at the pond this morning. He eventually gave up and headed some place less exposed. I can't really blame him! I couldn't pick just one picture, so here's two:

This is, to the best of my bird-spotting ability, a plain old egret. Though according to All About Birds, it's a great egret. You can find them all over the world...especially here in Florida where they live year-round.

In other news, it's Oscar nomination day today. Meh. I love the Oscars. In years past, I have taken the day off from work to watch the Oscars. This year I'm just not feeling it. The only movie I saw that was nominated for anything was Up. I'm against Avatar in principle. Really, I get that it was technologically amazing and that it sucks you in, but I just can't help feeling that its Golden Globe win and its Oscar Best Picture nomination were the equivalent of the voters taking a collective gasp and saying, "ooh shiny!"

According to Twitter (because that's the only news source I've looked at today so far) today is Groundhog Day. But I didn't hear whether good ol' Phil saw his shadow or not. Today there are no shadows in Central Florida...just puddles.

And that, my friends, is how you go full-circle. Many words, not much substance. That's why I gave you the bird pictures.

01 February, 2010

Thank You!

I'm pretty bad at peer pressure. In the comments of my last post, I suggested to wickedmess that we do NaBloPoMo for February. And then I got an email from her at 10:34 telling me she's in and 'don't forget yours.'

Yeah, I had totally forgotten.

So here's my just-under-the-wire post for tonight. I'm going to try to focus on my local birds this month (her suggestion) least until I run out of ones to photograph! Here's another picture I took on Saturday. This guy has quite a beak! I sure wouldn't want to make him angry!

...and if I do run out of bird pictures, perhaps I'll enthrall you with some Tales from the Stand Mixer.