Friday, May 27, 2022

Imaginary Macaws

Hi everyone. Happy almost weekend. This upcoming weekend is the long Memorial Day weekend here in the US. Not only is it a weekend to remember those who serviced their country and lost their lives, but it is the unofficial start of the summer "season".

The other day I shared some tropical toucans that I saw in Costa Rica, and today I will share another bird I saw while on that trip many years ago, the Scarlet Macaw. OK my bird today isn't exactly a scarlet macaw, just inspired by them, as this bird is more of a species I created for my page using a stencil that looks like a macaw's body.

Macaws are one type of parrot. The little info blurb I included is about a species in the parrot family found in Australia, where macaws are NOT found, but I liked having the info on my page as it makes my imaginary parrot look like a more official species. Smile.

My background is a mix of different watercolor paints as well as some stamped images. The macaw is stenciled and then colored with watercolor markers, a black marker and a white pen. I drew in the branch and then used many Art by Marlene punch out leaves on the branch. I also  added some mini flowers as this tropical tree that have many types of leaves is flowering. I also added some details to those leaves.

Does my parrot work for Nicole's Face Off challenge? He does have quite a face!

A couple of you asked about my school trip to Costa Rica (which was back in 2013) after reading my toucan post. This trip was a cultural immersion trip to a very small town in in the wilds of the Osa Peninsula, which is in the rain forest. This trip was just for teachers, although the school ran a similar trip for students during the school year. (We went in the summer.) We spent much of our week working in local schools and other than the first couple and last nights where we stayed in a private hostel, we lived with locals for the rest of the time. I stayed with a lovely family who I still keep in touch with through  Facebook. 

 I could also earn graduate credits for like $100 (that was a deal for sure), and besides getting to see some of Costa Rica, I was able to bounce up my credits and reach the next credit level for pay raise too when I returned to school in the fall.  It was win-win situation, but even if I didn't have the grad school opportunity, just visiting Costa Rica was amazing.

We did get to do a few other things when we weren't working in the schools.  We took a rain forest hike; I rode my first horse; we visited a sustainable chocolate farm (the best coco ever as we made it from scratch-starting with roasting the coco beans), and we also took a boat trip to an eco friendly resort. We didn't get to stay at the resort, but we learned about being eco-friendly in Costa Rica and also had an amazing boat trip seeing dolphins and humpback whales.  Since the whole area we stayed in was rainforest, we saw lots of wildlife and local plants. And we had noisy howler monkeys wake us at  like 3 AM. This was my first and only (so far) trip to a Central American tropical rainforest. It was eye-opening, both literally and figuratively.   It was a great experience, and I'm very glad I decided to do it when I had the opportunity. 

Here's a few photos I posted back in August and September of 2013. There's more in various posts I put up at the time.  I'll start with a sign from the eco-resort.

Here's some beautiful tropical flowers,

and some leaf cutter ants carrying their prices along an ant trail.

I'm not sure what type of hummingbird this was.

This is one of the classrooms we worked in.

A view of the Gulfo (the bay) from the town we stayed in.

A new fruit I tried that was delicious once you pealed away the spiny looking skin called maman-chino. It is so called rambutan.

Grinding our roasted coco beans for hot coco.

Another view of the shore from town.

And at another school.

One night we visited a Costa Rican bullfight, which was more like a rodeo with bull roping.

And here's a banana flower, and then more tropical blooms.

And finally, I was pretty fascinated by those leaf cutter ants that seemed to be almost everywhere.

I'm glad I had the chance to go on this trip. It was quite the adventure. 

Thanks for visiting.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Time to Bloom

HI everyone. Happy Thursday to you.

This week Rain's Thursday challenge theme is Flowers Blooming. 

First let me share this art journal page for Matilde's bird challenge at Art Journal Journey. You can see it has both birds and flowers blooming.

I think flowers in a garden without any birds singing nearby just wouldn't seem complete.

It was very relaxing to make this page and layer all the papers as well as the images. This month has not been the busiest art month for me as I've had lots of indoor and outdoor chores to do. I won't mention the indoor ones, although I am HAPPILY  moving art supplies back into the new space. I'll be sharing  photos soon.  I also get very carried away every spring with my gardens as I love  putting my hands in the dirt and planting. 

The first thing I always plant are my flowers. What can I say, I love flowers. They might be seen as frivolous parts of the plant world as they bloom for such a short time. But they do feed bees and other pollinators. And they  produce the seeds to keep the plant species going. Plus (just as an aside) they just make me happy to look at.

Last week I planted many of the containers on my back deck until I ran out of plants. That's OK because it meant another trip to the greenhouse. Hurrah! Good thing I know this about myself and always budget May as plant buying month. Smile.

Here's some photos to share which I took after we had a little rain shower.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you're having a great week.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Quiche for Lunch

 Hi everyone. I hope everyone's week is going well. 

This week for Food Wednesday over at Kathy's blog-Hummingbird Studio at the Lake, I want to share  last week's savory bake.  I was inspired to make a savory dish  because my older asparagus plant gave me a few fresh stalks  to eat, and I was also able to pick a bit of spinach growing my cold frame. We even had a couple of slices of left over bacon in the frig.

It didn't take a whole lot of thought to know that it was time to make a quiche.

I chopped and sauteed my veggies to soften them. I mixed the eggs and milk while my veggies (and also the bacon at the end)  cooked down. I was lazy and bought a ready done, just-needed-baking pie crust which made the whole quiche process really quick and easy. In fact so quick and easy I need to make quiches more often.

Here's the recipe I used.

1) Pre-bake your pie crust either following the package directions or at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15-20 minutes until it  starts to brown and isn't raw dough any longer. Take it out of the oven and cool. The crust doesn't need to be cold, just cool, so it shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes to be ready after it leaves the oven.

2) Chop and saute any veggies you'll use to soften them.  I also chopped up and reheated my 2 strips of left over bacon. Depending on the size of your piecrust, you don't need many veggies. My total came to just over 1/2 a cup.

3) In a bowl I whisked together 2 eggs, 1 cup milk (or use 1//2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream or half and half), a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg.

4) When the crust is cool, put your sauteed veggie mixture at the bottom. Pour the egg mixture over that and then sprinkle with shredded cheese over the top. I used Swiss cheese as I couldn't find Gruyere at the store, but the choice is yours. You want to cover the top of the quiche with cheese but don't add a mountain of cheese. And if you don't want cheese, you could skip it.

5) Set your oven for 250 degrees F (about 120 degrees C). You want a cold oven so the eggs cook slowly. The recipe said the quiche will need to cook for 20-30 minutes, but my oven is on the cool side so it took 40 minutes for me. You know when it's done because there is NO wiggling of the filling on the top of the quiche. At that point the top should be just starting to brown.

Et voila. Here is my finished quiche. If you want more filling for a bigger pie shell, you could double the eggs and milk, just be sure you keep the ratio of those 2 ingredients the same. 

Too bad the hubby won't eat quiche. He'll eat a breakfast tortilla with eggs and veggies though. And he eats pie. I don't understand why he won't eat quiche, but then again, we all need some great mysteries in life. Oh well, more lunches for me. Smile.

Have a great Wednesday. And happy eating to you. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

T Stands for The Weekend's Excitement

 Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday (or Monday night) to you. It's time for T over at Bleubeard's and Elizabeth's blog where we share our drink related posts and often chat a bit.

This week is definitely not one of my exciting posts, but I do have 3 drinks to share.

Last weekend I attended a wedding on Saturday night and then my niece's bridal shower Sunday morning at 11. I wish I had taken photos from the wedding as it was held at an ocean side resort in Kennebunkport, Maine. It was quite pretty. The bride is a friend of my daughter's whom we've known since they were both 2 years old. The couple had their ceremony on a pretty knoll overlooking the harbor.

The only photo I remembered to take at the wedding was this chocolate stout I had which was delicious. 

My niece's bridal shower was in the other direction as it was down in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The shower was also very lovely. And I did remember to take a photo of my plate from the buffet brunch where you can see both my glass of water and the Mimosa with pineapple juice. 

The brunch was yummy. I picked a mix of breakfast and lunch items. 

It was nice to catch up with some people I hadn't seen in awhile.  I had fun at both events, including quite a bit of dancing at the wedding.   I'm a bit of a worry wart about catching covid though, so hopefully my worry will be for nothing.

That's all for me this week. It's been a busy day, and I'm tired tonight.
Thanks for visiting, and I hope you have a happy T day and week ahead. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Funny Toucans

 Hi everyone. I hope everyone's having  a nice weekend. 

It's very hot and humid here again this weekend, before we get another cool down this upcoming week. 

I'm up early today as I need to head off to Massachusetts for my niece's bridal shower. The shower is at 11, and I have a  2+ hour drive, as long as there's no traffic to slow me down. And last night we had a wedding in Maine. I responded to both of the RSVP's when both covid numbers and gas prices were much lower than they are now. I guess next week I will be testing to be sure I didn't catch covid, even though I did/will mask up for much of these events, but you can't eat nor drink with a mask on, can you? 

The wedding was  fun though. Much of the wedding was actually outside, and it luckily was much cooler at the coast than it was at home.  The bride at the wedding has known my daughter since they were 2 years old, and I know both her and  her mom and step dad quite well.  And my niece is my  only niece not through marriage. Since her mom died of breast cancer a few years ago, I feel like I needed to go and be there for her.  Plus, she is my niece, and I want to enjoy this part of her life with her. I'm sad that I can't stop on my way home from the shower and visit my mom though, as I go right through the area where she lives. Her assisted living is in the midst of a covid outbreak, and they are requesting no visitors until it settles down. It is probably best since I'll have been to the 2 events, but it's time for a visit.

Enough  babbling. Today I have another  bird page for Matilde's challenge over at Art Journal Journey.

Several years ago when I was still teaching I went on a school sponsored trip to Costa Rica where I saw wild toucans. My page today is inspired by not only that adventure, but also by this fun set of toucan stamps I have.

I started my page by inking some foam stamps and stamping them on my page. I used purple and red ink with the stamps. I used green ink for most of the background. I was trying to create a very abstract rain forest, or at least the feel of one.  I left some whitish space where I wanted to stamp my toucans. Then I stamped my toucans directly on the page, and I colored in the toucans  with markers, as well as giving them a few details too.  

I then stamped the flower (which I also used white ink to color), some small background images, and the small words which are all from my toucan stamp set. Finally I used a stencil and a Sharpie to  add the large phrases.

This would have made a great travel journal page, although that was one trip that I never created a travel journal about when I got home. (I was also getting college credit for the trip so  when I  came  home I had to write  a paper instead.)  Oh well, if I ever go back on my own maybe I'll collect enough "items" to make a journal.

That's all for me. If I don't get by your blog today, I will do some catching up tomorrow.

Have a great start to the new week. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

My Week's Adventures

Hi everyone. Happy Friday and happy almost weekend to you.

Whoever says staying home is boring doesn't know what they are talking about. I've had a lot of adventures this past week that didn't even involve getting into my car and driving. 

1) Home Chores: I've been hanging low this week trying not to go through a lot of gas. Mostly I've been busy with gardening and also unpacking a few craft supplies back into the just about finished art space. I've also stained and urethaned the trim boards which hopefully will go in tomorrow morning, and then, I can officially move everything back into place. Hurrah! 

Soon my lettuce, kale and spinach will be ready to pick out of my cold frame.

And my newest garden is coming along. I planted some dahlia bulbs and some zinnia seeds this week so I hope they grow.

2)  Nature: The other day I took a long  walk (thankful for wind to keep the bugs away), and that turned out to be  an adventure also.

The coltsfoot flowers (Tussilago farfara)  (Thanks David for mentioning this plant in a post so now I know what it is) may have passed, but I love these pom-poms left to spread their seeds.

And I also spied a lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule).

This fern looks like fabric. 

And  further on the way home, I heard a large crack. It didn't sound good, so I took a quick look around, and maybe 15 feet in front of me an old rotted tree came crashing down, bringing a branch off another tree down with it. I took this photo where I was standing right after the big fall.

Maddie was totally unimpressed, but it was a bit scary until I knew what exactly was being blown over. I called the town highway department to let them know they'd need someone to clean it up.

That same night, around 2 AM, the dogs started going NUTS. I totally missed this photo op  as I was more concerned about my bees and bird feeders than grabbing a camera, but once I snapped on the back light, standing in my yard was a big old black bear. He and I took a good look at each other through the window, and then I rapped on the glass and he ambled off into the woods. 

Of course bears are really smart, and what they do is only amble out of sight, figuring you'll turn off the light and go back to sleep (or most likely forget about them) so they can then come back. I waited about twenty minutes. Then I let the dogs out,  and I took my flashlight to go check on the bees (all OK) and to grab my hummingbird feeder, which was the only one still out. I didn't walk very far out into the yard though, because I don't want to come face to face with a bear.

All was good with the bees and feeder, but I did hear Mr. Bear running through the underbrush of the woods. He was loud as he ran over branches, snapping and cracking them, and also as he ran through brush. I could tell he was getting further and further away from the noise level. I knew then he was really gone. Maddie did some of her "Get Out of My Yard" barking and Pete ran around smelling the ground, followed by Maddie. Pete has chased a bear or two in the past, and I was glad he didn't decide to do that because the bear was far off and if he did go off after it, he'd be gone at least an hour.  Plus dogs can get hurt if a bear swipes at them with their claws. Most importantly, I wanted to go back to bed.

3)  My Art for Today: My journal page will probably be lost in this post, but since that's originally what  I planned on  sharing today, let me include it.

My inspiration for this page was this fun lady. She was on a birthday card I got from my aunt this past March. I didn't want to hang onto the card, but it came from my only aunt still left alive, so I thought I could recycle her onto a journal page. That way there I would always think of my aunt whenever I looked back to this page. It also explains why she has no feet because her legs ended at the  bottom of my card.

I started by inking half the page orange to match Myna's hair, and then I used gesso and stencil to make the design. I layered some paper scraps, some of which I added details too because they just looked too blah without any details.  I also added some washi tape with letters on it and some little paper scraps to make the ground.  And I also used markers and a pen to draw outlines not only around my page but also around the paper layered sections on the left.

I added my Myna, and then I found some silly punch out birds from an Art By Marlene punch out book. I also found the scooter image. I think Myna looks like a lady who would have fun and be on the go. I did color and add some details to both the birds and the motorbike.

I'm linking this art piece up to Art Journal Journey. This month Matilde is hosting and as you probably already know, the theme is birds.

I am also linking up to Gillena's Friday lunch break, and Nicole's Friday Face Off.

Have a great weekend. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, May 19, 2022


Hi everyone. 

This week  Rain's challenge is Pollination, and this topic is right up my alley at the moment.

I'm going to start with a journal page for Matilde's bird challenge at Art Journal Journey. You should stop by and add some bird themed journaling if you have any. It would be a great way to welcome Matilde  as a first time host.

Since my journal page is about birds, I looked up about birds and pollination. I knew hummingbirds were pollinators, and I was surprised there are over 2,000 species of birds that help pollinate.  According to what I read, much of this bird pollination occurs in tropical places or places where insects are not as abundant. Bird pollination is called ornithophily, which is a new word for me. Common North American species that do ornithophily are hummingbirds and orioles. 

OK, I didn't include bird pollinators on my page, but to make my page I used a hexagon (honeycomb) stencil and some watercolor markers. I used watercolor paints for the background splatters. I also used a couple of interesting paragraphs from a worn children's bird book. The flying birds, singing birds, bird cages and quote are stamped images. And I finished up my page with some washi tape as well as a pen to outline the honeycomb.

And since my pollinators have arrived and been installed in their hive, here's a few bee photos.

I needed to check the hive 5-7 days after the bees arrived to be sure the queen had eaten her way out of her little queen shipping box. That's when I discovered another issue.

One hive has mostly absconded. Oh no!
Basically that means that the bees from one hive have flown next door and joined the bees in the other hive. It's not exactly known why bees do this. I spoke to a woman where I got my bees from wondering if the shipping issues had anything to do with this, and  she thought no.  Her take on it was that the queen in the hive that the bees moved into has stronger pheromones. In this case those hormones are what attract the workers to their queen.

Now I have one hive very full  of bees, and comb is already being made.

In this next photo I'm showing you the box the queen arrives in.  Can you even see the box? There are bee ladies all over the queen's box. I needed to check that the bees had eaten out the candy cork so the queen could leave.

I really like in this same photo how  I caught the bee flying towards the bottom right corner. 

And the bad news is my other hive has a queen , but only a few ladies remain.

According to the woman I spoke with, these bees will abscond soon to the other hive as did the rest of their hive mates. I read that even the queen will go. 

I've also read that I can move eggs, but since the queens are just coming out of their boxes there are no eggs to move. It looks like it will be a one hive summer again.  Perhaps I shouldn't have ordered 2 boxes from the same distributor, as they say the most likely time bees abscond is when they are new to the hive. It's not a common thing to happen, but it's not rare either. 

Oh well, at least I can I say I haven't lost bees.

Hope your week is going well!
Thanks so much for visiting also.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Being Naughty-Twice!

 Hi everyone. 

It's the middle of the week and time to share some food over at Kathy's Food Wednesdays.

This week for Food Wednesday I am sharing 2 high calorie dinners I had over the past weekend.

I'll start with Friday night when my husband and I decided to have hot fudge sundaes for dinner.

My hot fudge sundae with coffee ice cream was yummy, even if it was about a million calories. I should mention my husband had taken the day off from work, and we had skipped lunch as he was working on finishing the floor in the spare bedroom project I've  mentioned too many times already. When he finished, we had an early dinner about 3 in the afternoon, so by evening we needed a little something but not a lot. An ice cream sundae seemed like a good choice.

Funny I don't eat much ice cream in the winter, but as soon as it warms up I could (but don't) eat it daily. My mom, who is 92, does eat it daily and has for years, so maybe there is something to it. 

And then on Sunday we also had an early dinner. This past weekend our favorite summer restaurant, Pop's Clam Shell, opened.  They are a take out place on one of the lakes near us that serves mostly high calorie fried food. 

We guessed Saturday with the sun and high temperatures the line would be really long so we decided to wait until Sunday when we were predicted to have showers. Hoping that would keep the line a bit shorter. From what we heard while waiting, it was over an hour wait in line on Saturday. I'm glad we went Sunday EXCEPT that they were out of lobster rolls. 😕

So I had a fried clam roll instead. 

As usual there were more clams than could fit into the roll. My husband had fried chicken tenders, and we split a small side of onion rings. And I was impressed that their prices either stayed the same or only went up $1 from last season, depending on what you bought. I do think I've had more clams when I've bought a clam roll before, but there was still more than enough here. In fact, they wouldn't all fit into the roll.

This week I am eating lots of salads and other healthy foods after this past weekend's being naughty twice binge.
OK, that's all for me this week. I'm  keeping my post short.
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Butterfly House

 Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday. 

It is the middle of May and already time for a new challenge at Try It On Tuesday. Thank you to everyone who joined in our Use a Stencil challenge.

This time you may still use a stencil if you'd like, but our newest theme is 


Here's my page for this latest challenge. 

Have you ever been to a butterfly house? I've been to one a few times, and they are such amazing places to visit.  That is the theme of my piece today.

I have a 4 ring journal that came with some pages in it. The paper is rough, but surprisingly takes stamped images well. It's not good with wet media though, so to color the white background I took an ink pad and rubbed it on the paper. I do like the texture that technique  created.

I glued down some scraps of printed tissue paper. I also added a piece of washi tape. Next I stamped the butterfly wing image 3 times.  Finally I glued down some acetate images, including what I am calling a butterfly house, and then I stamped the quote.

Be sure to check out the art the design team has included. There's lots of fun you can have with butterflies for this challenge. I am also looking forward to seeing lots of butterflies, because who doesn't love them?  You have 2 weeks to join this challenge, and any kind of art is accepted.

I look forward to seeing your art over at Try It On Tuesday for our latest challenge.
Thanks for visiting my blog