Saturday, February 02, 2013

Trader Joe's Challenge: INTERMISSION!

Dear Internet,

One thing that I didn't stop to think about when I started the Trader Joe's Challenge, was that it meant that I have to cook everyday! We've greatly scaled back on going out to eat, and grabbing carry-out in recent times, but if I'm being honest, there is usually a night or two that we get dinner out. Last night was one of them. We've semi-started a new tradition of Friday night family sushi. I will probably begin again today with Trader Joe's meals, but if not, I promise to be back soon. I have some mushrooms that need to be cooked ASAP into risotto! In the meantime, this is what we've been up to.................



I am trying to take deep breaths, but this has been THE.BEST.BIRDWATCHING.MIRACLE. DAYS. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My backyard is blowin' up Yo! With birds!

I refreshed my feeding stations on Thursday. Fresh suet, seeds, peanuts, nyjer seed.....by Friday afternoon there was an amazing variety of birds, and this morning...this morning I can't go two minutes without seeing another amazing bird site out of my window!

I know, "birding?" some of you might say.
From the outset, it can seem boring, but I promise you, once you start learning about some of your local species, and you begin to attract feathered buddies to your yard, it's like a constant game of I-Spy! It's so much fun, and very zen-like, and the birds are just gorgeous.

Here is a quick re-cap below. I CAN'T EVEN BELIEVE IT.....TWO NEW SPECIES SIGHTINGS TO REPORT!!!!! The Purple finch, and the Hairy Woodpecker!!!!!!!!

And, to my complete JOY, after not seeing them since last fall, the Red-bellied Woodpeckers came back! I screamed out of surprise and happiness, when I saw them at the feeder!
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Yesterday started with beautiful snow on the ground.


And, a few days ago, it was ice everywhere!


The most ironic thing happened yesterday. It began the night before, I was showing my friend a photo of the absolutely gorgeous Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and was saying how sad I was, that I haven't seen one in our yard since last fall. I thought they had just moved on. 

The thing that makes the Red-Bellied Woopecker one of my favorite birds, is the fact that his BRILLIANT , VIBRANT,  red "cap" causes me awe in the world.  Like the way seeing Redwood trees does, or the Grand Canyon, or flying high above in an air plane. Natural awe, at life and the world around us. How in the world can nature produce such a perfect, GLOWING orange-red color? When I see the Red-bellied Woopecker, I am awe-struck and so thankful.

This is him flying.


And eating... TWO of them!


And pecking!


And eating again. Look at that color!


One came to the ground feeding spot.


And then flew away....


LOOK! Look! A NEW SPECIES SIGHTING!!!
Presenting the Purple Finch!  This little bird has a mottled red-maroon color. He was very pretty in person and came back to the feeder several times! I was so elated to meet someone new!


And, another of my favorites, the Tufted Titmouse, who only shows up sporadically. He's so cute!


 I think this is perfect live theater for the cats.


GUESS WHO CAME BACK!!!?? The Carolina Wren!!!!
I haven't seen this sweet, little guy in a while!


I nicknamed him the "Puppy Bird", because the Carolina Wren is brown and cute and round, just like a puppy.


There were so many American Goldfinches today also. I love them. As winter turns into spring, they'll start to become more and more yellow!


This is not my photograph (of course), I found it over at All About Birds. It is of the sweet White Breasted Nuthatch. I wasn't able to get a photo of this fast-moving bird, but one came right up to me at the window! It was the cutest thing, he made a quick call: "Meep, Meep"! Just like the Roadrunner, but tiny! :)

White-breasted Nuthatch Photo



And for the last of the bird news.... OH.MY.GOSH. ANOTHER NEW SIGHTING!!!!!!!
Friends, I present to you....The Hairy Woodpecker!!!!!!!!!
We have an abundance of "Downy Woodpeckers", and the infrequent visit of the Red-Bellied, BUT....today, for the first time, I met the HAIRY!!!!! YES!
I wish so much that I had a better picture to share.



Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers

(I'm sorry, I am not able to align this photo. It's from BirdWatching.com.)

I just wanted to show you how similar the Downy and the Hairy are. The only difference is that the Hairy is a bit bigger, and his bill is longer than the width of his head. The Hairy that I saw today was quite large, so that was our immediate tip-off. (The males of both species have red caps.)








In addition to birdwatching, other things happened yesterday. I had an appointment, I ran some errands, I straightened up the house, and I shined my sink! I've mentioned recently, that I love the FlyLady, and her helpful tips and plans for keeping your house clean and organized. 

One of the things that the FlyLady has done, is to make twelve "monthly habits", habits to slowly work on, one month at a time. January's monthly habit was "Shine Your Sink".  The FlyLady feels that when your sink looks nice, you feel better. I have to agree, as silly as it sounds. You're in your kitchen or at least walking through your kitchen many many times a day. When the sink, the center point of it all, looks yucky, it's not the best feeling. Right!?

Even though I was a day late for January, I thought I'd start from the beginning, and I shined my sink! It was easy! :)


Here is what I wore. I have always hated taking pictures of myself. It's embarrassing, and I hate how I look. I read on a blog that I enjoy, called "Scathingly Brilliant", that the author, Kate, felt the same way, but started taking daily outfit photos and began to accept and like herself better. Go Kate!

This is what I wore today. I think it would have been better with a a brown leather belt, but I'm all about simple, soft dressing. This is a super comfortable cotton dress by Boden! And whoa, look, it's even on super sale!

This is Hector, just being his cute, furry self.


Here is a random shot from last week, when Noah went to the Auto Show with Jon. I think Noah looks great in it!


Last night we went out for "Sushi". I put "sushi" in quotes because, I know that SOME of my Japanese friends will be rolling their eyes right about now. I dated a boy from Japan for two years in college. Before then, and during that time, I made some of the best friends I could ever ask for. I miss my Japanese friends. Everyone, except my sweet friend Yuko, are now living back in Japan. (By the way, Yuko would NEVER roll her eyes at me. Just for the record.)

When I see photos of my friends' SUSHI in Japan....it looks a bit different. LOL. ;)
BUT! STILL! I love our Americanized "sushi". It's SO delicious to me! At least the vegetarian kind.....
HAHAHAHA, now some of my friends are REALLY rolling their eyes. :)

We stumbled across a new, small, casual and unassuming sushi restaurant called "Wow Sushi".
Being that this is Detroit, it is sometimes not the easiest thing to come across great "sushi". Well, compared to the freshness of the sushi in San Francisco!

Wow Sushi serves your typical, ginger dressing salad, with the little iceberg mix. I love their dressing though. Cut above the rest!


And we love the cucumber salad. This restaurant has Korean owners. I remember my friend from college, who was from Korea, making the BEST cucumber salad! Yum.

These are called "Goroquet", but essentially, there are potato croquettes. SO good. The sauce is sweet. NOT gluten-free, the first time I have cheated since last spring. I only had a little and was fine. I'm too afraid to touch bread or pasta though. Oh! Btw- you can bring your own gluten-free soy sauce. I did, nobody notices or minds!


Noah and Jon shared some beef teriyaki for dinner.


And here is the "sushi"! I know this looks redic, but let me tell you, it is SOOOOO good!
We shared two sweet potato rolls, one spicy CA roll, and one French CA roll.  The French CA roll has a bit of "inari" inside, which is a sweet tofu wrap. It is topped with tempura sprinkles and spicy sauce. Again, gluten fail. I feel guilty, but luckily ok.

So, not traditional "sushi", and decidedly less nutritious, but once-in-a-while, it's the best!


Also under the category of ok, once-in-a-while.... Noah requested french toast for breakfast. I think Jon did a great job! What a nice Dad. :)


Well, that's the scoop! I need to get moving and on with this fantastic day! I hope you have lovely day too!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox,
Lauren
























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2 comments :

Laura said...

Hector is so adorb. Hope you guys had a great sushi night!

Loulou said...

Fantastic bird sightings! I want to get some feeders so badly, but our cat Ed is an outdoor guy and I don't think it would be a good idea to attract more birds to our yard. But one day I shall have some feeders for sure, because I so love birds. Last summer I got a great shot of a Perigrine Falcon in my neighbour's tree. It was amazing.