Oh No!!! It’s the crazy bird lady!

We’ve all heard of the crazy cat woman….well keep those cats away, I’ve officially been dubbed, the crazy bird lady.
Me!! – the person who has the attention span of a gnat, and with who the word patient has never been used in a sentence along with their name, can now sit alone, and quiet, for hours in a little hunting blind, waiting to see what little birds show up at the feeders.
Who’d’ve thunk!!!
Not me that’s who!
In fact….if anyone had suggested such a thing a year ago, I’d’ve laughed….no, I think it would’ve been more literally ROTFL < seriously!
But now, here I am….*patiently* photographing birds.
Ok, in the case of the Bluejay I’m not so patient….he plays games with me…(another story)
But the other birds, I am patient with.
photo-1My hubby went shopping after work one evening and surprised me with this blind.
It was not the one we had originally decided on. I think he picked this for it’s name….
The Doghouse!

I’m sure he gets a kick out of telling people I’m ‘in the doghouse’ 😉

But whatever the reason, I love it!
Not too great on a rainy day, the water does seep in the zippers and where there is stitching (and theres a LOT of stitching) and drips on me…not too much, but it can be a little annoying. But I remain hidden from the birds, and the only time they have any idea that something is off, is when they hear the click of the shutter.
And that makes for some very strange looks!!
photo-1-2At least now, in the winter, when there are no flowers to photograph and the grandkiddos aren’t game for pics….I can go outside and photograph the birds.

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There’s A Whole New World Out There!

A few months ago I joined a photography group hoping to learn more about portrait photography, mainly studio lighting.
What I never imagined would happen, is that it would stir up in me a passion for wildlife photography.
There I was, with my photos of people and flowers and bugs, and there they were, with their amazing photos of birds and animals.
The more photos I saw, the more I realized I wanted needed to try this.
So 2 weeks ago, hubby treated me to a new lens,
the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
It’s a beast of a lens and took me a while to get used to the weight of it, but I LOVE it!

Next, we bought a bird feeder…You gotta attract the birds IF you plan on photographing them, right?
I kid you not, I must’ve looked out at thing every 10 minutes for two days straight.
I thought the birds would never come. Then one morning a sparrow appeared. I was so happy….ok, just a sparrow, but it was thee cutest, most adorable sparrow ever.
photo-1-9For almost a week, I would photograph the little birds from the house. I didn’t want to scare them away before they got used to the feeder. It wasn’t long before other birds appeared. Crested Titmouse…..
photo-1-10Even a young woodpecker…photo-1-11And one day I spotted the one bird I was hoping would turn up..photo-1-7Cardinals have a special meaning to me…if you read the post
Peace Garden & Goodbyes, you would understand.
Although he didn’t come to the feeder that day, he was close enough for me to get a good shot of him.
A few days later, he brought his mate 🙂
photo-1

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Mastectomy – 2 years later!

Wow! only two years? It seems like forever ago.
So where do I stand now in this whole journey?

Truthfully?…I have no idea. After being discharged from my plastic surgeons care, I never went back to the hospital. No follow up appointment with the surgical oncology department, despite them telling me I should have half yearly check ups.
They never contacted me to make appointments so I never called them.
This being the third year though, I know I’m due to have an MRI in lieu of a mammogram. That, I might just make the appointment for.

As far as how I feel post mastectomy.
I have not regained any feeling in the skin around the implants, it’s still completely numb and often seems a little cooler than the rest of my skin, although the scars have now reduced to fine lines.

Talking of implants. After the surgery to put them in, you get the orders to do implant massage….a word of warning….don’t move them tooooo far to the sides and up and down.
I healed awesomely, with no scar tissue, but I feel that I’m left with larger than I’d prefer pockets so that when I bend over, pick something up and flex my pec muscles it seems like the implant gets stuck and I have to push it back down. Not too bothersome when I’m at home, but kind of annoying/embarassing in the middle of a crowded Walmart.
I imagine people thinking or saying…
“Oh look, there’s that woman who keeps checking her boobs”

Even more embarrassing, which was quite funny at first, is the dancing foobs…Any one sided flex of the pecs and the implant moves up. Party trick at first…majorly embarrassing now.
One thing, that I slacked on in the first year, was the walking my hand up the wall with my finger tips. I did it for a little while, but soon got bored of it and put it off till later, or just forgot completely … bad move on my part.
I ended up with a frozen shoulder and ended up needing a cortisone shot.
The shot itself wasn’t bad, and it helped immensely, but the pain from and leading up to the frozen shoulder was agony.

Another problem, although the area surrounding the implants is numb, just under the left ‘foob’ is a small area (about the size of a finger tip) that is extremely painful if anything touches it. Nerve damage we suspect. It has left me unable to wear a bra, and in turn, not moving my arms to the back of my body to hook a bra, t’s also left me unable to actually put my arms behind me and up my back.
This is something I’m still working on, getting full range of motion back.

For anyone about to have a mastectomy, one tad bit of advice I would give…once all your restrictions on reaching and lifting are gone. Move your arms every which way, or you’ll end up in pain and unable to move them, or at best, not having that full range of motion.

Well, that’s pretty much where I am now. I stood by my decision not to have further reconstruction, and besides the few minor annoyances, and bumps in the road, I can honestly say that if I was faced with a do over, I wouldn’t do anything different, I’d still have the double mastectomy, and still choose to have immediate reconstruction.

Posted in Breast Cancer Posts | 2 Comments

I made baby shower cookies….

I should rephrase…not only did I make baby shower cookies, I decorated them too.
And to those of you, who are talented enough to think of this as a ‘no big deal’, let me tell you, for me, it was HUGE.

I have only ever decorated cookies once before.
This was the result….
1st attempt cookiesNot pretty…..not pretty at all!
And the camo effect was an afterthought …after I thought there was even the slightest chance I could pull this off.

So, four years later, after I recovered from that trauma, I decide to try again, for my youngest daughters baby shower.
Yes! I know, I’m a glutton for punishment.

But this time, I had the secret weapon that I didn’t have four years ago….Pinterest!!!
Even better than that, a link to Amber Spiegel’s web page, and her awesome tutorials.

After reading a few of her tutorials, purchasing her cookie and icing recipes, and watching her videos on youtube, I was armed and ready…with icing bags that is.
And here is the results.

Shower cookiesAfter decorating the baby bassinet cookies, and loving how cute they turned out, I decided to break out that onesie cookie cutter and see if I could do better than last time.
I think it’s safe to say I did  ‘much better’, without sounding big headed.

shower cookies 2I also tried baby faces and hearts.
( I was certainly on a cookie decorating kick!)

My daughter couldn’t believe I had made them, and I got so many compliments from the shower guests.
So a HUGE Thank You!! To Amber of *sweetambs.com*
for sharing her talent, and making me feel like a superstar at my daughters baby shower.

Posted in Craft Projects, Photography, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The eye of the beholder…..

We must accept finite disappointment, But never lose infinite hope.                         Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lately I’ve developed a bit of an obsession. I can hardly pass by a pretty flower in the store these days without wanting to purchase it, just so I can bring it home to photograph. The latest ‘had to have’, was this dwarf sunflower. RS-1-2 I saw her sitting there in the store window and immediately knew exactly what photos I wanted. Ok, I admit…she may not be the prettiest of plants. And that flat top, facing up to the sky, single bloom, wasn’t going to make taking the photo’s I had envisioned an easy task. But she had potential.

I have to tell you, the look on my hubbys face was priceless, as he watched me setting up these sunflower shots. He must’ve thought I’d completely lost my marbles.

Here I was, spray bottle in one hand, tripod, camera, plant (and me) all set at very strange angles, and holding a flashlight in the other hand. I’ll be the first to admit, it would’ve been much easier to take the photos if I’d used my remote, especially with the back lit one. But hey, we got there in the end. And I think you’ll agree, she really was quite pretty after all 😉

RS-1RS-3RS-2

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Hello Sunshine!!

And I’m not referring to the weather.
In fact it’s dreary, wet and cool here right now, and there’s no sun in the forecast for today, and not much for tomorrow either.

family

My reference is to our little ray of sunshine, our newest little 2 y/o granddaughter, who we finally got to meet for the first time, this month, and whom I’d like to share with you all now.

To say she is a sweetheart, is the understatement of the millennium.
She really, really is a sweet hearted child.

It’s hard to believe, with such a sunny disposition, that she spent the first year and a half of her life in a South American orphanage.
Our family has made their home there, and after visiting with the children at the local  orphanage and taking them toys that our other granddaughters had outgrown, they eventually decided to add another little girl to their family.
Unlike here in the US, you cannot choose which child to adopt, it’s actually severely frowned upon.
Our little sweetheart was chosen by the court judge.
I think they chose perfectly. But then, I may be a little biased. 🙂

Posted in Photography, Quotes, Randomness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

How about some – English Crumpets!!

Moving from England to the U.S. brought with it a lot of adjustments.
The biggest, for me, was the food.
All the tried and trusted brands I was familiar with, for example,  Oxo cubes, Heinz soups, Bisto etc; were no more…unless I wanted to pay the exuberant prices at an import store that is.
And forget things like a good old ‘banger’ ‘pork pie’ ‘cornish pasty’ or ‘yorkshire pud’..they just don’t exist.
And don’t even get me started on what the Americans refer to as bacon 😉

All was not lost, over the years I’ve learned to find comparable products….and make my own.
( food, not brands 😉 )

But one of the things I found myself missing the most was the good old English crumpet!
Seriously…of all things.
So, last week after pricing them online
(and deciding $16 with shipping, for ONE pack was beyond ridiculous)
I figured I’d have a bash at making my own.

Off to good old Google I went…..
A bazillion recipes later, I stumbled upon one from Delia Smith.
Ahhhh, now that’s a name I recognized…I couldn’t possibly go wrong with her recipe.
It states it makes 12 crumpets!! Yay, 12 delicious buttery pieces of heaven.
I could hardly wait to get started!!
I rushed over to Amazon, placed an order for crumpet/muffin rings…selected free two day shipping.
And off to the store we went to get the ingredients.
(well the bread flour..the rest I had in)

Well, I followed the recipe to the T…every step did exactly what she said it would…until:
1 tablespoon of batter in each ring???
Are you serious?….I want to make crumpets, not pancakes.
So I used 3 tablespoons per ring.
I ended up with 8 crumpets….they were nice but maybe a tad too yeasty tasting, and still pretty thin even using 3 times the amount she suggested.

Crumpets using Delia Smith's Recipe

Crumpets using Delia Smith’s Recipe

Next I tried modifying the recipe a little…made it with a blend of half bread flour, half AP flour. Size wise, they were perfect…holey, as they should be…but now pretty blah tasting!

Modified Recipe 1

Modified Recipe 1

And sooo….Modification #2.
And you know what they say? Third time’s a charm!!

So I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe.
I ended up with 12 crumpets of a decent size and they tasted just how I remember them.
Not too bland…not too yeasty!

So…let’s get to it…

Ingredients

Ingredients

16oz (2 cups) Bread flour.
1/2 Pint (1 cup) Milk.
1/2 Pint (1 cup) Water.
1 teaspoon Sugar.
1 teaspoon Salt.
I x 7g packet of Active Dry Yeast.

Heat the milk and water together in a saucepan until hand hot.
Then pour into a bowl, add sugar and yeast and whisk a little to mix.
Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes until the yeast activates and it gets a frothy head on it

Yeast Mixture

In the meantime, sift the flour and salt into a bowl.flour mix
When the yeast mixture is ready, pour it into a mixing bowl and give it a whisk.
Slowly add the flour, whisking after each addition to maintain a smooth batter.

Add flour to yeast mixture!

Add flour to yeast mixture!

Now cover the batter mix, and leave in a warm place for approx One hour 30 minutes, until it has risen, fell and frothy.

Frothy Batter

Frothy Batter

Now comes the bit you’ve been waiting for…making Crumpets!!
I used a scrunched up piece of plastic wrap and a spread similar to ‘Can’t Believe its not Butter’ to grease both the crumpet rings and my heavy bottomed non stick ceramic frying pan.

grease the rings

grease the rings

Put the frying pan over a medium/low heat and arrange the crumpet rings in the middle.

heating the pan and rings

heating the pan and rings

When the pan is heated (I checked by putting my hand over it until I could feel the warmth) ladle in some of the oooey gooey elasticky batter to approx half way up the rings.

batter

batter

(I overfilled the first couple of rings as you can see in the photo)

Cook them slowly for about 8 to 10 minutes until the top has dried out and filled with holes.

Photo-11
Remove the rings (you can remove them when the outer part of the crumpet is dry) but be careful, they are HOT. I used a folded piece of kitchen towel to grab the ring.
They should slip out easy if you greased the rings well, if not, give them a little nudge with a knife.
Now flip the crumpets over, and cook for just a minute.

flip crumpets

flip crumpets

Cool on a wire rack while you prepare for the next batch.
(I allowed the pan to cool slightly between batches so that the crumpets didn’t cook too fast on the bottoms.)
Clean the rings if necessary, or just re grease them well and re grease the frying pan.
And you are set for batch two!

Here’s my batch of perfect crumpets!
I know I said there was 12…but a couple may have disappeared already 😉

Finished Product!

Finished Product!

If you are new to crumpets….let me warn you…you never eat them cold.
Cold crumpets are nothing short of YUK! EEEW! GROSS!
You pop them in the toaster, and serve them hot with lashings of butter.
Or if you prefer, a fruit spread or even honey.

I prefer butter…lots of butter 😉

That's where that pesky Crumpet went to ;)

That’s where that pesky Crumpet went to 😉

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments