7 December 2011

list progress

Someone informed me the other day that my blog was getting a little 'boring'.  Sorry about that; like I said here, I have this problem of constantly moving from one hobby to the next as soon as I get slightly distracted.  The distractions as of late have been CrossFit, playing with my new iPhone, Pinterest, and unfortunately a helluva lot of studying.

In the meantime, here's an update on the end of summer to-do list.

  • have exterior drainage checked and/or cleaned
  • arrange for new gutter and downspout installation
  • finish painting shed
  • sand and stain front and back wood doors
  • get quotes for adding to rock retaining wall in back yard
  • clean out birdfeeders
  • order new drapery and hardware for both sliding glass doors
  • fix wood trim around new staircase

The gutters were installed just last week; we ended up going with 'Canyon Clay' to match up with the trim color as close as possible. We also got leaf guards which should hopefully help with the masses of fir tree needles and maple leaves that buildup a few times each year.

Who woulda thought I could ever be so happy about an aluminum channel that aids in water diversion! Exciting times for sure.

29 November 2011


These are too good not to share...srsly what could be better than Ryan Gosling and some beautiful interiors?  Not a whole lot.

Images compiled by Alison Brislin of Apartment Therapy

22 November 2011

how to catch a mouse

Humanely, that is.

I have a friend who just bought a house which is apparently inhabited by a few critters in the basement.  We had this same problem when we first moved into our century-old house a few years ago, but have since solved this by sealing up the foundation and insulating with spray foam.  I absolutely couldn't stand the sight of any more mouse traps in my crawlspace, so I used this little technique a few times to say the least!

What you need:

  • toilet paper roll
  • peanut butter
  • large garbage can

The rest is pretty much self-explanatory.

Spread some peanut butter into one end of a toilet paper roll.

Carefully balance on a ledge with the garbage can underneath.

When the mouse crawls through to get the peanut butter, the roll will fall into the garbage can.

Sometimes his friends will even join him-- a couple times I had 3 or 4 at one time.

Seriously how can anyone hate these critters?  So cute.  Rats?  Different story...

Then all you have to do is relocate them.  I walked them down into our forest and across the creek.  Not to say I wasn't repeatedly catching the same three mice every day, but at least I could sleep at night.  You can spray paint their tails if you're worried about this and want to see if you are in fact providing little pinky and the brain a free meal every day.  Or if you just have way too much time on your hands.

21 November 2011

red velvet cake

This was so good, I didn't even have time to take a photo of the inside because it disappeared so quickly.   True story.

So here is someone else's pic of the inside, which is spot on with what my own looked like before it was frantically devoured.

Recipe: Red Velvet Cake (adapted from here)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons red food coloring
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour two 8'' cake pans
  • Lightly whisk the eggs together, then add remaining liquid ingredients and whisk until blended
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix on on medium-high for until completely combined
  • Pour into prepared cake pans and drop on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • After about ten minutes, remove from pans and transfer onto wire racks until cooled completely

Now for the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups icing sugar
  • Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.
  • Add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.
Then, ice your little heart out!

 I think the buttermilk truly makes this cake.  The red color of the cake originally was from a reaction of the cocoa powder with the vinegar and buttermilk, but extra food coloring is added here to really enhance the pigment. 

This is foolproof and amazingly moist, I highly recommend it the next time you need to impress important dinner guests.

Second and third photos here and here

12 November 2011

hardy hummers

Amidst this terrible rainstorm, the hummingbirds are still going strong and ferociously guarding their feeders.  Try to imagine what a raindrop feels like to a little hummingbird-- the equivalent of a gallon of water being poured on a human's head.  That doesn't really sound fun to me.

Here are a couple shots that really illustrate the iridescent quality of the male Anna's.  Same hummingbird, only a different angle makes his head look jet black instead of fluorescent pink.

Then he got mad at the resident photog and flew to a nearby branch.

This is a female Anna's at different feeder, who let me get much closer.

Of course I already want a lens upgrade, although looking back at older photos (like the one below), it is nice to see a difference in quality even with my lower-end current zoom lens.

So for our trip to Maui in a couple of months I decided to try out this company and rent myself a nice expensive telephoto to take with me- a EF 100-400mm L-Series IS.

I looked at a ton of reviews and this is one of the top choices among professionals for wildlife photography, before getting into the 10K+ supertelephoto lenses.  The cost is about $170 (insured) for two weeks.  Also a good option if you are in the market for a new lens but wish to try one out for a little longer than the camera shop is willing to let you!

9 November 2011

bulb bonanza

I meant to write this post a few weeks back but just haven't found the time.  Let's call it 'end-of-summer-garden-refresher'.  I planted about a hundred tulip bulbs in the back garden in front of the newly-transplanted Japanese Maple.  I bought these guys after the bulbs course I took last month.  Key word here is foolproof.  If you're a little unsure of color combos (as am I), it helps to just cheat and buy the pre-packaged combinations sometimes.  Also new to me this year is bonemeal.  I have used it a little in the past, but learned at this course that it helps the bulb's root system immensely and makes for a stronger and healthier flower.  Just sprinkle a little in the ground before you place your bulbs. 

I planted these Fritillaria bulbs in a front garden border in front of a row of Hellebores.  They are very expensive and very small but i'm hoping the look will be worth it come Spring!

Then I ripped out some tired looking summer annuals from their pots and replaced them with some pansies and grasses for a little fall colour.

Also tried to fill in a few tired looking spots on the back lawn.  This was a few weeks ago and all the rain we've been having has helped new grass to almost completely grow back over the compost mix. 

That's all for now.  Gotta get back to raking thousands of maple leaves from the driveway.  Doesn't it feel like just yesterday that we were doing fall cleanup?  Still trying to grasp the fact that summer has ended, not to mention that Christmas is in full force in the stores already. 

7 November 2011

real estate stalking

Get a load of this beaut, designed by Leith Anderson and built by Coastal Construction.  I love this look; being enveloped in a west coast rainforest with amazing rockwork and panoramic ocean views.  Not to mention the amazing combination of Japanese-inspired rain chains paired with Native-inspired wood carvings.


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