Thursday, March 30, 2006

Little Junco!

I finally got a shot of the little grey junco who has recently returned from his winter sojourns. Cute little guy, isn't he?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sleepy Time!

Took this pic about a half hour ago, of Baby Boy and Casey sleeping together on Casey's bed. Baby, as I mentioned before here, was a feral kitten, and it took some time for him to come to trust Casey - but Casey is as gentle as a lamb, and now they have a very cute lovey-dovey relationship. Except when Baby gets feisty, and starts to swat at Casey's tail or ears for because they're wiggling, then Casey cries. What a silly! :)

New birds, and the return of the ducks!

Yay! On Saturday when I was doing all that gardening, I heard the "quack quack" of ducks off in the distance. Today I saw lots of them flying back and forth across the sky, scouting out their old swamp and lake haunts to find a place to nest. So the ducks have come back! And I saw a little grey junco, so they've returned too! (they're little birds, about the size of a black-capped chickadee, with dark grey on their backs and a light grey belly). And this morning, there was a brand new bird - we couldn't see him, but his little call was so cheerful - chip chip chip chip brrrrr. Very cute! I hope to get to see him soon! :)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sure signs of spring

Although, as I mentioned before, it's a little early for these parts, it does appear that spring is slowly coming to our little neck of the woods. For the last few weeks, you can see red showing up everywhere. I know, red is not the colour that immediately jumps to mind when one thinks "spring", but it really should be. The forest certainly thinks it should be, anyway. :) You can see everywhere, where during the winter, there was only grey, red start to creep into the outermost branches of trees and perennial weeds, as the sap starts to flow into them once again. It's really quite something, I had never noticed that before, but it seems to be everywhere I look!

And now today, the very first flowers of the year have bloomed! I don't know what they're called, they're similar to a dandelion, but they're not. [Edit: Asked Dave's mom, and she told me they're Coltsfoot. Holy Moley, I never put it together that these little flowers in the spring and those big wonkin' kinda shield shaped leaves later on in the summer were the same plant!!] And look who's taking advantage of the flowers already! Mr. Bee is having a good time getting his wings stretched out & getting back into pollen-collecting shape.

And while I was underneath the tree looking at the flowers, little black-capped chickadees were eating birdseed in the maple tree above me! You can see more red there, too, as the buds on a maple tree are red, and starting to swell up a bit.

Yay! It was a lovely time out there, I did a bit more work on bordering the garden, and getting rid of some rocks. If I just work on it a little bit every day (or at least, every not-rainy day), I'll have it ship-shape by planting time. :)

Friday, March 24, 2006

BeanDreams - Outside Prep

It's been a highly unusual winter, so it should come as no surprise that even though we should still have snow on the ground here in Nova Scotia, it's actually warm enough outside to get started on prepping the garden. The current garden situation is like this: we are very fortunate to have a family member come every snow storm and plow out our driveway. God love him, he has saved us more trouble than I can say. However, the garden plot happens to be located at the end of the driveway, and he was not aware of this, as there were no markings, etc. showing where it was. So now the garden has, unfortunately, quite a bit of gravel in it that has to be sifted out.

Here's some pics showing the view from the front (it looks worse than it is) and from the back (it looks better than it is). :) The log you see in the second shot is going to be used as one side of a "holder" for the raised bed (Dave's mom didn't have anything like that there before, but I think it would be a good idea to have some borders put in place).

But just in case you ever need to sift some rocks from some dirt, here's how I'm doing it (and best of all, it's free!).

First off, you get hold of metal mesh of some kind (this one we just had hanging around the house from some long-forgotten other project). Bend it up into a sort of bowl shape.

Next, shovel on some dirt with rocks in it (not too much though). Shake it somewhat vigorously, to separate the dirt from the rocks (you can sift it over a bucket, or right over the garden). Wear gloves, that metal's sharp!

And now you've got some metal mesh with rocks in it - just give 'em a toss back in the driveway and you're all set!

Of course, it might cost you a couple bucks to get some mesh if you didn't have some already. You want it to be fine enough to catch most gravel, but not too fine or else the sifting will take forever.

It might take me a little while to finish it, but the garden plot isn't actually that big, it'll be easier to see once I figure out where the borders will be, etc. Time marches on, and before you know it, it'll be planting time!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

BeanDreams - Transplant Day!

I've transplanted my little seedlings into their peat pots. They seem to be doing well now, although there were some mistakes (I forgot to soak the soil of the first pot of seedlings, and as careful as I was, the soil was so dry and lumpy that I ripped off some of the root system. The rest of the seedlings I soaked with water first, and the earth fell off the roots nicely).

I'm SO glad that this little image was on the packaging for the peat pots, or else I think I would have totally freaked out if I started to see roots growing out through the pots! I assume that it's actually normal peat pot procedure. :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BeanDreams mini-update

Picked up some peat pots (very nifty little things, you put your transplants in them when they're very small, and when it's time to plant them in the garden, you put them in, pot and all - this means no transplant shock, and the peat dissolves into a nice healthy addition to your garden soil), my new watering can and a bag of dirt. Tomorrow I'll have to re-pot some of my tomato plants, they're way ahead of the others and need their own little pot to grow in. :)

World Baseball Classic!

Yipee! Japan wins the first World Baseball Classic! Nihon ichiban! Awesome! They deserve it!

Some of the best baseball you'll see this year was played during this series. It was really wonderful to see all the different countries playing the same game, but with their own different styles. Very cool!

It must have been great for teams like Cuba who have only really been able to play against amateur teams to finally test their mettle against the best in the world. To come in second for them must be fantastic! I was surprised that the Dominican Republic didn't make it to the final, but there is some degree of luck involved, and if you have one bad game, that might be all it takes to send you home early.

And Korea! Where did they come from???!!! (And don't say Asia, I know that!) :) But they were incredible! They just kinda snuck up on the rest of the world, I don't think people were aware how good they had gotten, but we all know now!

This was a great experience/experiment, and I'm sure it'll very quickly become one of the most anticipated sporting events!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Chicken Suit - A guaranteed smile

I swear, whenever I need a smile, this photo is guaranteed to give me one! It's just so freakin' hilarious - and it's such a well made suit, I think that's the funniest part, it's not saggy or anything! It's really form fitting & seems quite functional (you know, for those chickens with a sense of haute couture, or who live in a chilly climate). Its just great! :D Be sure to take the time to look through their site with its selection of images, it's well worth the time.

Smile! You know you want to! :D

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Added Epsom salts to the water for 3 of my four pots of tomatoes, as they seem to be yellowing, which might be a result of too little magnesium. The fourth pot has no yellowing, and its really accelerating in growth! It's got many true leaves already, and I hope that the others plants will catch up now that they have proper nutrients (I'm trying to be careful to strike a balance between over-fertilizing (which will cause the plants to cease growing) and too little (which will result in sickly plants)). It was funny, as I was detangling a couple of tomato seedlings from each other, I caught a whiff of them, and they smelled like tomato plants! Its a very distinct smell, my parents have grown tomatoes for years so I have lots of experience smelling them (not that I snort them or anything, it's just something you notice) :D, and already they smell like full-grown plants! Its great, it makes me feel like things are really coming along! :)

The sage, BTW, is doing magnificently well, no troublesome issues at all, and have true leaves set out already! Hooray!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Some applause please, for the retiring King of Donairs!

Mercy me, I guess time really does march on!

John Kamoulakos, a founder of Mr. Donair Ltd., is retiring. His brother, Peter, was the creator of the donair, and together they sold it through their chain of shops, which grew over the years. John also helped create Pizza Corner in Halifax, so when you get a 11 pm donair craving (yes, it does indeed happen, I can attest to that), you've got a place to go. :)

The donair spread throughout Nova Scotia, but for some reason, places outside can't quite get the recipe right, so we're still the best place to get one. My GOD they're good!

For those who don't know, a donair is a very spicy creation, kind of like a gyro, but instead of lamb, it uses beef, and it has a sweet and tangy sauce which is also different from the gyro sauce. The meat is rotated on a spit, then cut off and fried. A piece of pita bread is lightly fried with water and oil, to make it a little crispy but flexible. The meat, tomatoes, mozzarella, and onions are piled on top, then its rolled in half, kinda like a taco shell, and you pour some sauce on top! It is AMAZING!

A lot of places outside of NS say that they serve donair, but it's actually just a gyro you get, which can be very disappointing! Dave and I make our own here, we have a recipe for the meat, and while it's utterly fantastic, nothing beats getting one from the local pizza shop (always get a small one when trying a new place out for the first time, some places are better than others).

So, all hail the retiring King! You and your brother contributed a huge gift to our Nova Scotia culture! (seriously, the donair is synonymous with NS, it's something visitors find out about rather quickly when coming here!) Read the whole story from the Chronicle Herald here:

(I'll share my recipe later, the instructions are a little complicated and take some time to explain - they are SO worth it though!)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Spring has sprung - away, and home "grown" eggs

Spring has sprung - away

Augghh! Where did spring go???'s been very pleasant and sunny lately, but late last night it started to the time I took Casey out for our very short walk at around 11 am, it was pouring cold, cold rain. Poor Casey, she really doesn't like stormy weather; whenever we go out in it, she starts lagging behind very quickly, and I ask, "Do you want to go home?" and she turns abruptly around and heads back home at a trot. I really need to get some oil cloth and make a little raincoat for her, I think that would help a lot. I know, it's pretty silly, the idea of this "grand" German shepherd in a raincoat, but if it makes her happy, it'll have to be okay. :D

Poor Max the squirrel, he's out there on our back deck railing right now, grabbing a snack, and his normally big puffy tail is soaked through; he looks so tiny and wet!

Home "grown" eggs

I thought I'd share this pic of some of the eggs we have in our fridge. My mother-in-law raises chickens (a flock of about 10), and brings eggs home for our use. She has lots of stories about the chickens, they can be quite funny sometimes (and very, very stupid). :) I really wonder how much clucking went on during the laying of some of these eggs - the tiny ones (not pictured) that the new, younger hens lay are very cute, but some of the ones that the older ones lay are ENORMOUS and look very painful! I mean, look at the size differential in some of these eggs! The individual variety of sizes and shapes of eggs per bird is really something! Some are perfectly round, some are squished on two sides, some have big's amazing.

But we're always happy to eat these eggs because we know that the chickens that produced them are happy and healthy, despite the occasional "tough egg to lay". :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gallery update!

FINALLY! I hadn't had the time to update my online gallery in months, but it's done! I've added some of my favorites from my recent additions to my Cafepress shop. Here are just a couple you'll find:

As I mention in my design description, this style of design has a lot of good memories attached to it. Growing up, it was on tonnes of products throughout my home, and the homes of my Dido (grandfather) and Uncle. Soup tureens, kitchen spoon holders, candlestick holders, and mugs, mugs, mugs! It's like those "comfort foods" you eat when you're older to remind you of happy childhood times - these designs say "comfortable home" to me. I'm very pleased to carry on this tradition to a new set of products, and put my own spin on these folk designs. This design is based on traditional Ukrainian folk embroidery, with a customary trio of colors: red, black & white.

Nova Scotia is inundated with huge quantities and varieties of seafood! (but PEI has the biggest shellfish expo (it's International!) every year in September - someday I gotta go there and try the lobster! They cover it on the news every year, and it looks like SUCH a good time!)

But I digress - Nova Scotia has a proud and deep rooted fishing heritage, too, so it's natural that I should find such inspiration in it! This fish I created in a whimsical folk art style with heavy Celtic design influence. I'm really pleased with the gold effect I created in its outline, it turned out really well.:)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BeanDreams and weird new underwater life!

BeanDreams - Sage Update

Hey! My sage sprouted! So, it wasn't so slow after all! :D


Weird new underwater life!

You gotta read this story! They found a new lobster-like creature that is so unusual they had to create a new family and genus to accommodate it! It's blind, blonde and hairy! WEIRD!!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Desire - or "Gimmee!!"

Here's our two cats watching the bird feeder from inside the kitchen. They are strictly indoor cats, so this is the closest they'll ever get to the birdies outside. They spend hours there, making little squeaking noises, saying "Please gimmee!" The nice warm sunshine is another great bonus of this particular spot in the house.

Molly is the elder cat, about 9 years old, and very cranky. Baby Boy is the big ol' cat (about 2 1/2) who's right at the window. He's a big thug, but he was a wee baby at one point! :) He is the most affectionate cat I've ever had, but it wasn't always that way. We rescued him and his brother from the wild, as their mother was a feral stray. Someday I will share their story here, but we lost his brother last year, and I still find it difficult to think about their story since he's gone.

Anywho, its lots of fun to see these cats watch the birds, I enjoy watching them too! :) I've found some inspiration in seeing them in this new spot, I'll be doing several art pieces in the coming months featuring cats and birds. It'll be a lot of fun!

BeanDreams - Monday is fertilizer day

It's the tomatoes' first watering/fertilizing! Here's a distance shot of how everything's laid out. The background shows the tomatoes reaching for the light, and the foreground shows my sage, which was planted last Thursday and hasn't sprouted yet (I understand it's a very slow starter).

It's funny about the sage, I've been looking for over a year for sage leaves in the grocery store, I had run out and loved to use them on chicken, in meatloaf, etc. I prefer the leaves to the powdered form. But for some reason locally they had stopped carrying it. Then it struck me, *duh* grow your own! Then you can have all the leaves you want!

Here's a closeup of how the tomatoes are progressing. Their first leaves are getting very large, & I see the barest beginnings of their first "true leaves" peeking out. So, BeanDreams is coming along well! It'll be another month and a half or so before the ground outside will be thawed enough to start giving it a poke and seeing if it can be worked, so BeanDreams will be mainly focused on the indoor transplants for the next little while. I'll keep you all posted!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Local fauna

Here's some of the cute little animals that have come to visit our bird feeder over the last couple of months - it's a good cross-section of the types of animals that are common to the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

The Black-Capped Chickadee (not sure if it's male or female, they look virtually identical). Extremely common around here, we see them every day all over the place! They have the cutest little chick-a-dee-dee-dee call (and I understand from an item on TV that the number of "dees" at the end indicate a threat level. If they're really nervous, there will be up to 14 "dees" on the end, but if everything's okay, they'll do a regular "chick-a-dee" or a little "cheep"). You can imitate them, and they will call back. :)

Red-Breasted Nuthatch (I think it's a male because of the black, not grey cap - then again, the male's breast is usually darker red...oh well, it's one or the other!). I hadn't seen this type of bird before moving out to the Eastern Shore. We only have two here now, I imagine there might be more in the summer time. One of the little dears has a deformed leg. It's fully formed, but twisted up facing backwards, and has no mobility. I assume his mate stayed with him, and that's why there's only the two of them here. They're very lively, similar to the black-capped chickadee.

This is the squirrel I call Max. He's a boy, and has a lovely red-tinged tail, and is very typical of the sort of squirrels we have around here. And, when you watch squirrels a lot, you really see where they get the expression "he's a little squirrelly". Holy moley, he's just so jittery! He runs around chittering and hopping, moving around in quick little movements, ready to dart off at a second's disturbance. And he is NOT shy, he will walk around doing great acrobatics to get to the bird feeder - I put some stuff on the railing just so he won't have to do that, but he does it anyway. Maybe he thinks it's fun. :)

These male and female Common Redpolls (which I had formerly erroneously listed as Ruby-Crowned Kinglets -- oops!) were just passing through in late February, 2006. I haven't seen them before or since, so I'm really glad I caught them on camera. They are really cute, and such a lovely bright cherry red to brighten up the winter! My favorite is that cute little male there, looking right at the camera, he looks so jaunty!

We also have blue jays and crows in the neighbourhood (I hear the jays, but I don't see them in our immediate area, I don't think they've come far enough out of the forest yet). We also have grey-slate juncoes, but I haven't seen them in several months, so I think they've moved on to deeper into the forest until the weather warms up. As I get more pics, I'll post them! :)

BeanDreams update

Well, so far, so good! The tomato seeds have all sprouted, and aside from some unexpected leggyness (they are like TOTALLY pressed up against the light, and they're STILL leggy) *sigh* everything is going well. I've set up a page to put photos, etc. in a calendar format - BeanDreams-at-a-glance, for those who are interested in the gardening process.

Of course, stick to this blog for regular updates too, I just wanted to have an alternate place where people could see just the garden stuff. :)

I've got lots of great pictures of the little birds in the area, I'll be posting them shortly!