Friday, June 29, 2012

House Fowl

Speaking of birds, we have a new avian in our household...  Out of a mysteriously shaped, and partially-open package from Princess Bossy and Prince Helium, hatched a new funky chicken for my belated birthday gift.

I am not a fan of countryish chicken decor.  No offense to any who love it; it's just not me.  But several years back, I was amused by these funnily roly-poly, ceramic hens, and had to have some.  They have recently nested in the dish hutch in our kitchen.

This new guy is arty and metally cool, a little edgier than the comical hens, and with a more overbearing countenance... As every proud rooster should have.  
Deserving a place on high from which to guard his brood and coop, I have placed him on top of the hutch.  When it gets its top molding, he'll no longer fit... But I have a feeling he's safe there for awhile.

Prince CuddleBunny said he needed a name.  Prince Stoic said "Richard" would be an appropriate, 'classy, lord-over-the-ceramic-chickens, -type name.'  So Richard, it is.  I hope my uncle, who shares the same name, won't mind...  He is classy, after all.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quiet Entertainment

First, another Hubby Update:  The surgery was successful in moving the broken bone back into place and re-attaching it with 3 screws to stabilize his shoulder joint... Meaning his arm should now stay in place!  Big plus.  

It has been quite painful, but now we're able to spread the pain meds out a bit, so no more waking through the night to keep up.  It's not fun to be in the sling, and he's TIRED.  

The first few days he was content to mostly stay in our room, reclining in his chair, which has also served as his bed so that he doesn't turn in a bad way during the night.  Now he's happy to join the family downstairs, and enjoys a spot by the window from which he can observe the activity at the bird feeders Prince CuddleBunny and I set up.

Black-capped Chickadee
The chickadees are our most frequent visitors, and we've seen 2 kinds: The Black-Capped chickadees, and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.  Previously, I'd been aware only of the Black-Capped birds, but I've now noticed the distinct difference between the more monotone birds and the Chestnuts with their bright brown shoulders. 
Chestnut-backed Chickadee

--Is there such a thing as "bright brown?"  I wouldn't have thought so until I saw these birds.  The color really flashes when they move around.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Our first, more colorful guest was this orange and black bird with white spots.  Using our favorite bird identification book, Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound,  
Birds of Seattle & Puget Sound

we thought it might be a Bullock's Oriole, which are listed as common in the area, but seldom seen.  

After I was able to see its bulkier beak more closely in this (blurry) photograph, however, I discovered it was, instead, a Black-Headed Grosbeak.

Spotted Towhee
The Grosbeak looks very much like the Spotted Towhee we caught sight of in the lawn.  

Like his smaller cousin, the Dark-Eyed Junco, which we saw for the first time yesterday, they clean up under the feeders.
Dark-eyed Juncos

Notice how full this feeder is...

Tuesday our watching was rewarded with the sight of one of the brightest colored NW birds, the American Goldfinch.  This beautiful guy shared the feeder with the Chickadees, a Black-Headed Grosbeak, and other finches for awhile and then flew off.

...compared to this one.  They were each filled
to the top on the same day.

Mr & Mrs Goldfinch

But he was back in about a half an hour, his little bride at his side.  :-)  She has accompanied him many times since.

Beautifully colored House or Purple Finch
We've noticed a lot of orange and red tinted finches, too, but can't get a clear ID.  We think they could be House Finches or Purple Finches... or maybe we've seen some of each.  

They, too, often dine in couples.

We've seen a few hummingbirds at the liquid feeder, but not many... And never with enough time to get a picture.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gift of Hopeful Safety

Everyone enjoyed strawberry shortcake...
There was one more Father's Day gift presented during dinner Sunday night...

But first I must begin with the backstory that I've neglected to share before now.
...and a call on speaker-phone
from Princess Bossy before
the presentation of Surprise #2

A week ago Sunday, on the 10th, Hubby decided to quickly draw the layout for the upper floor framing on the top of the framed first floor.  That first floor is 10-feet tall.  

He thought he should get the extension ladder, but decided it was too much trouble and used the step ladder instead.  First of all, that wooden step ladder is 25 years old and shows about every day of it.  I never let anyone climb it without a 'spotter' at the bottom to hold it steady.  But Hubby thinks I'm a bit of a worrier...

Well, that Sunday, not only was he alone, and on a rickety ladder, but climbed to the top... 2 steps past the recommended climbing level.  He was doing fine, but turned to do layout to the side of him, then forgot he was no longer in line with the ladder, and stepped down... Into nothingness.  The next thing he remembers was picking himself up off the concrete.

The bruises and injuries tell he had somehow fallen on his right hand and the left half of his face.  He mangled the inside of his lip, but didn't damage his teeth. His hand and wrist are bruised, and his shoulder was dislocated.  It's slipped, very painfully, out of the socket a couple times since, so he's been wearing a sling most of the time (should've been wearing it in the photos of the fire pit), and he's seeing an orthopedist this week to get fully checked out.   

Our chiropractor thinks Hubby probably has particularly strong wrists and hands because of the building he does, and that protected him.  Mostly, God watched out for him, because he could have easily been seriously injured... or worse.  (Just days after this, a man Prince Inventive works with fell off a ladder...only from 4 feet up and onto lawn.  He crushed both bones in one arm and fractured the other.)  

Watching Princes CuddleBunny and
Stoic bring in his gift

Anyway... When Prince Stoic heard this story, he decided his dad needed another gift.  

I'll not quote his more humorous, but slightly colorful message he'd attached to the sturdy new ladder, but it basically said, 'Happy Father's Day, Dad... Don't do anything dumb.'

And there are plenty of stickers to remind him!

Happy Summer!  Stay SAFE!

Hubby Update:  He broke his shoulder.  At his appointment yesterday afternoon, his doctor scheduled him for surgery today, saying "Sooner, rather than later."  Surgery will be followed by 6 weeks of no use, plus 6 more weeks of no use except for prescribed exercise. So his wings are clipped for the summer, and his 'to-do' list is limited to 
  • Supervise
  • Relax! 
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

Back in the Kitchen

"What's that mysterious smell coming from the oven?" my family may have asked... but really didn't...

Motivated by how well the yard was looking, I thought I'd keep working at it through this week.  God had other plans... Apparently all of His creation in this area needed plenty of water!

So I was forced in, and probably better off for the break from yardwork.

This was Tuesday's first baking project...

I came downstairs to see that the previous night's dish doer had left one cast iron pan unwashed, and, worse, one of them soaking.  Aaargh.  Since another I have was getting pretty dry, and one lid looked rusty, I decided to do a group seasoning.  I started warming them, wiped down with Crisco, on the stove, but then moved them to a 250 oven to finish over a few hours.

Meanwhile, I hoped to improve the smell of the house, and fulfill a food need, by covering up the hot oil smell with that of baking bread.  Mostly, the smell just changed to that of oily bread, but at least the loaves don't taste like that.  

After the bread, it was on to pies.  Monday night we'd watched the TV show, Master Chef, on which they baked delicious looking apple pies.  I said, "Oh, now I want pie!"  
Prince CuddleBunny told me I could just 'make some tomorrow.'  I decided he was right, especially since last weekend, while organizing the freezer, I'd discovered some pie fillings we'd made last fall... After all, they need to be used!

Speaking of my oven... See that little silver spot in the lower left, front corner?                                                                                                          
It's supposed to be bluuuue.  But true to Wolf form, they were ready and willing to back up their product.  After I sent photos of the bare spots (1 in each cavity), the customer service rep called, and  Oven #6 (Wolf oven #3) is on the way...  He insists it's nothing I'm doing wrong, but also that this problem is unusual, especially to run into twice!  Sometimes it's not fun to be unique...  If you missed my sad oven saga, you can start at the beginning here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I don't remember why the peanut M&M got away from Prince Steadfast, and ended up landing in a glass in our prep sink.  (Also, I don't know why there was a glass in the prep sink, because there is a rule about "NO DIRTY DISHES IN THE PREP SINK."  Ha.)  No one grabbed it right out, and over the next couple of hours, some water got into the glass as people used the sink.

We were so surprised later, not to see that the blue had dissolved off into the water...

But to see the spunky, little m floating about, whole, and all by itself!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Gift of Family Service

When he knew something big was afoot, Hubby started trying to guess... "Maybe the beams got put up in the garage?... Or, the foundation started for the family room?"  You can't say he doesn't dream big!  But he had to wait.  A couple of the princes were at graduation parties, and would be home in time for dinner.

Meanwhile, he was allowed to enjoy the newly trimmed yard from the newly cleaned front porch, while Princess Sassy filled him in on the new whereabouts of the tools she'd moved.  ;-)

We also started working on dinner.

The boys finally returned, and most of us gathered at the site, as Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast led Hubby around the corner of the house, with his eyes closed.  

To remind you of the before...

And here's the result:

Checking out Prince Go-for-It's contribution: a nice bench

After dinner S'mores!

He was pretty pleased... and I'm sure we'll enjoy this spot a lot this summer, and, hopefully, for years to come.  Of course, the greatest gift was seeing the kids all pull together and do something so loving for their dad, and for something we can all share, making more fun, family memories.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Project Gift

When clearing to build the house... 2006
Since Hubby and the kids always enjoy time around a fire together, I had planned, for quite a while, to buy him a fire pit for Father's Day.  I thought it would be nice to have little fires, as desired, in a nicely planned area, rather than wait for a burn of yard trimmings in the lesser-groomed part of the yard.  

But I only thought of buying the metal fire pit, and deciding with him later where it should be and how it should be set up.
Would've been a relatively sad gift, just by itself

Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast thought better of that.  They wisely suggested that it would be a much nicer gift if it didn't become another project to add to his long list.  They were set, right away, on creating a surface for the fire pit, and researched stone, pavers, and all sorts of options.

With Hubby away for most of the weekend as coach/chaperone for the annual cross-country team camp, it was wonderful timing, so the rest of us could do a proper job on this Father's Day gift.  (Prince Go-for-It and Princess Artiste also attended the camp, but in support of what was up at home.)

My initial job was to decide where it should sit.  I not only thought about how we use our yard now, but how it might fit in if we ever get to add our longed-for family room, so we'd be creating an outdoor plan that makes sense.  I wanted a site nice to have guests, and where we could have a good view of the yard where the kids play games and use the pool.

I knew from experience this project would likely be more complex (and costly) than the 3 of us (the newlyweds and I) initially imagined. And since Hubby's "love language" is "acts of service," it seemed the perfect opportunity to rally the troops for a group, family-accomplished gift.  

We decided on pressure-treated 2x8's, landscape fabric,
and crushed (3/4-minus) gravel as our most economical
but durable base - Prince CuddleBunny helped, all
the way through & is sad he missed getting in the pics!

We also decided it wouldn't be great to plop the gift in the midst of an unkempt yard, so we rented a mower again, and got it and the weed-eater working while the pit-prep got underway.  

While some of us visited my parents after church on Sunday, Sassy and Steadfast did more yardwork, spiffed up the house, and even completely cleaned the front porch.  
This project begat a lot of good accomplishments!

Prince Inventive picked up the campers from school, and made Hubby close his eyes when he came into the yard.  We didn't let him near certain windows, and kept him from looking in certain directions.   I'll share more about his special day tomorrow... 

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