Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Doldrums

In my vow to keep my blog somewhat updated I decided to check in again despite not much happening on the birding front.  In fact, it's been pretty much non existent except for the yard considering I'm not fond of frigid temps and unforgiving winds which is a common theme when one's brave enough to venture outside for FOY birds.  In the past, I wouldn't let this bother me, but now realize the birds will still be around come March and April when signs of spring awaken as well as many of my feathered friends I already miss as they winter down South.  That's not to say I'm done birding by any means, it just means this type of weather makes me more of a home body where I putter around the house thinking of things to do like my jar of home made hot chocolate with another nifty French label!    So good with no trans fats which is win/win as far as I'm concerned.  Also notice the pretty little ribbon tied as best I could on top of the jar.  As you can see the estrogen continues to flow freely in the Allen household.  My son was impressed I could accomplish such a task considering he's never seen me do it in his 20 years of life.

The birds in my yard are as sick of the winter as I am and doing a good job emptying the feeders including quite a few American Tree Sparrows who are now regulars in my yard as they love the cheap wild bird seed I put out for them.  I had to go out and spend another $6.00 on those freeze dried mealworms I blogged about this past November when I thought I'd have no takers, but it's just the opposite as the Chickadees and  Titmice seem to prefer that over the sunflower seed.  Two new birds who developed a fondness for these worms are the White-breasted Nuthatch and Carolina Wren.

The American Crows are also a daily regular but not brave enough to cross the fence to get to my feeders for some reason.  At one point I had them taking whole chunks of real suet from my feeder and they were doing it so much I had to put it into something they couldn't do that with so I guess I took all the fun and ease out of it for them.  The picture above is of one such crow in my neighbors yard with a squirrel headed my way for a little late breakfast!

And since I've gotten so much better at my bread baking, we've been inhaling it here so no crumbs to throw out to speak of  for the crows so it's either climb the fence or get nothing!

And I'm really hoping the crows do cross the fence as I've put out a special something just for the corvids!  I buy all my eggs either from a local source or certified organic at the grocery store as it's still a very cheap source of protein and can't stand the way factory farmed egg chickens are treated so have my voice heard every time I buy a dozen.  I consider every part of the egg precious so decided to grind some up for the Blue Jays and crows so they can get some of the calcium they need in my naive hopes that if they get enough they won't rob nests of my beloved local passerines.  Plus it would also give me a chance to try out my new French vintage potato masher I got from eBay as part of a French kitchen utensil lot for a steal of a price if I do say so myself!!

The finished product that I just throw on the ground once a week in hopes for takers and if there are no takers than it will be good for the soil even though I grow nothing here as the leftover sunflower shells makes for unhappy plants and flowers so keep my feeding area bare of anything all times of the  year.

And since we're on the subject of birds check out this beauty made with my Aigre Doux and garnished with some of my dehydrated meyer lemons which are out of this world in tea and ice water.  While I really enjoyed the Aigre Doux, a little goes a long way and need to think of other ways to use it including beet salad and maybe a vinaigrette when I get the motivation.

The finished product with some organic carrots, potatoes and snow peas.

And I know you are all eagerly awaiting an update on the grapefruit pine marmalade I made which came out better than my last batch of marmalade from a consistency standpoint, but don't think I used enough pine tea as the flavor was lost in the grapefruit.  Still tasty though on top of a water cracker with some soft cheese and a glass of Pino Noir, hiccup.

And lastly an update on my vow to quit eBay with the last thing ordered (this one on Etsy) approx 12 days ago, was this adorable French towel holder shipped straight to me from France.  These towel holders were popular in the 20's and 30's where the French would have a towel used only for the specific item.  Verres were for glasses, Assiettes are plates, Couteaux are knives and Essuie Mans are for hand towels.  I'd get it dirt cheap and while it wasn't an enamelware towel holder I was still pleased with my purchase considering I've wanted one of these for ages now but never found one for a price I was willing to pay.

Well imagine my surprise when I go onto eBay Saturday morning and somehow find myself in the antique ceramic arts section of eBay where I'd see a honkin rooster staring at me.  Hmmmmm...I'd think.....There's o way that's antique I'd think and then my eye would be drawn to something else which would make me catch my breath as I registered what it was...

The sky would open and the angels would sing when there before my eyes was a red and cream vintage enamalware towel holder in the most cherished and sought after pattern, the rare lustucru !!  Lustrucru was a maker of pasta in France back in the 20's and 30's with one of their trademarks being their checkered boxes.  Some marketing genius came up with the idea of having the housewives collect and mail in the bottom of their used pasta boxes as part of a point system where prizes were canisters, pitchers, towel rack, etc in the very fashionable lustucru pattern!  In summary, the more pasta you bought the more kitchen items you'd get as you'd rack up the points!  Since it was only made by one company it's a little more rare than other forms of French enamelware which makes it very pricey so imagine my surprise when I see the starting bid of $9.99!!  I force myself away from my computer to go tend to my bread in the oven but it's no use.....I'm already picturing where in the kitchen the towel rack would go if I were lucky enough to win the item.  I go back to eBay to check out the bidders to see if any of them are my usual competitors and none look familiar.  HA I think to myself...These must be rooster collectors and not enamelware collectors which means it would be criminal for me not to bid as they wouldn't even appreciate the towel rack.  Out comes my calculator to factor in how much I'm willing to spend and I don't bid until the last minute as to not give the highest bidder the chance to outbid me.  The clock ticks as my heart is beating so fast I can hear it and I'm feeling dizzy as I'm no longer breathing just watching the countdown.  10...9.....8...7.....  Finally the clock spares me the agony and I realize I won the towel rack!  I'd jump up and down still in my pajamas with the same adrenalin rush I used to get during my gnarly trail runs as euphoria took over and I celebrated my victory.   It would be then I'd also feel a tinge of failure as my eBay quit vow only lasted 10 days, but Hell, how could I pass on such a deal!  Don't know what I'm going to do with the honkin rooster but I'll figure it out as he's actually starting to grow on me some!!  Yes, the weather better start improving soon as I'm a lot healthier when I'm outdoors.

Take care all.

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