Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

Well, to be honest, I was about to call todays post Gotta hate NJ.  I'm just in one of those moods to spout out all the reasons this place annoys me.  The thing is, most of those reasons deal with moving and the hassle that comes with it.  OK, there is the weather.  Again though, to be honest, every place has weather swings.  Maybe not so drastic as 70F on Friday 32F with 4 in. of snow on Wednesday.  I also had to stop and remember that some of this mood is post visitor sadness and couldn't be blamed on the poor state.

So, today you gotta ♥ NJ because it has some, not all, but some towns where you can walk everywhere. Ours happens to be one of them.  Yay!

Gina and Jason came to visit recently.  Gina and I walked down to the nail salon place and got a pedicure.  Then we walked up Main St. just to see what it had to offer.  Did you know that we have a cupcake store?  I didn't.  The next day we did our part for the town and its businesses during our no kids/no dog shopping trip.  That night the four of us were able to do our own little Madison pub crawl (OK, just two pubs, but still!).  After that, we walked happily home.

My shopping buddy wearing MY new jacket!
I ♥ towns that you can walk in!  So, I gotta love NJ!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

because even though there is at least 2 in. of snow on the ground and it is still snowing, my kids are going to school!  Haircut here I come!

New bird feeder with snow

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

for its birds!

Birds, you may ask.  Here is the tale.

Due to our move to NJ, we spent a lot of time in TN during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We were dropping cars and dogs off as well as trying to keep plans that we had made before finding out about our move. During that Thanksgiving trip, my mom gave S an Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.  You may think this an odd gift, but S loves these types of books and gets them out periodically to marvel at our world.  She has an Animals of North America one that she has enjoyed for a couple of years now. The point, however, was that S was in a bird phase.  She kept the book with her all through Christmas.

When we got to NJ, we began receiving the free newspapers that give info on local events.  We are not very good newspaper people, but we were trying so that we might learn about our new place.  So, there I was eating my bagel and drinking my coffee on a peaceful Saturday morning when I see it: A Winter Bird Walk for kids 4-6 at The Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham, NJ which is about 10 minutes from our house.  Yay! I called up the babysitter and made a date so that S and I could enjoy a tour the following Monday.

The walk was a bit of a bust since the temperature dropped about 10 degrees while the nice guide was familiarizing us with common birds of this region.  But we did get to enjoy the birds that were around the feeders outside while he was speaking! He also had stuffed specimens which should have been a bit sad, but really they were better than just photos.  AND the tour introduced us to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)!

The GBBC is a project that allows bird watchers of all shapes, sizes, and expertise levels to help scientists get an idea of bird populations and movements around North America.  All you have to do is bird watch for at least  15 minutes, take note of what you see, and then submit your findings on the website.

I would not have been a very helpful participant as all I can do is say, "Look I see a bird." Unless said bird is a robin, cardinal, or blue jay, I am clueless. However, the girls have a particular uncle in TN who just so happened to have taken a couple of ornithology classes during his time at college and unlike most of us, he remembers what he learned!  So, it was plain ol' good luck that our trip down corresponded with the GBBC.

One afternoon during Presidents' Day weekend,  Uncle Birdwatcher took Tante Sonja, Tante Heather and four kids on a bird watching walk near their house.  We saw hawks, vultures, woodpeckers, chickadees, and several others that I have now forgotten.  We even heard (and could identify) others by their calls.  It was quite a cool afternoon activity.

Now, we are back home and I don't know the reason, be it mature trees in the yard or just the variety of birds here or perhaps being so close to a National Refuge,  but we are seeing new birds everyday.  And with the help of  a certain field guide (which we are still learning to use), an iPhone app, and a few calls to Uncle Birdwatcher we are starting to see and identify more of our feathered friends.  Our new bird feeder is also helping attract the fast little critters so that we have more time to identify them.

S below new bird feeder.  Notice the rain boots.  Apparently, our backyard is a little swamp of its own!

A Carolina Chickadee (Could be a Black-capped Chickadee but I think it is a Carolina one.)
Northern Cardinal-a bit blurry but they are quick and the feeder spins.

So, Ive gotta love NJ for its birds!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I might be a bit obsessed!

Or I might be using my new guest/sewing room as a distraction from the fact that I have no friends! Sad, but true.  Either way, the room is getting lots of love.  The latest improvement? Pillowcases for the new daybed.

Here is the bed...

As you can tell from my wonderful addition to the picture, two of the pillows do not have cases.  I didn't want to put just plain old white cases on them and to be honest, I only have one plain white pillow case.  I don't know where it came from or if I am missing one. It doesn't really matter. I thought the bed needed a little pop of color.

I just happened to have these IKEA duvet covers that E and I bought for our TX room.  I never really liked them on the bed, but I thought they would be great pillowcases.

The little embroidered flowers match the quilt perfectly.

It took just about 1.5hours to complete the two cases.  I used a french seam to finish the one inside seam that was left.  Using the duvet cover saved a lot of time in sewing since I just had to sew one side and the top.  However, truing the fabric was a bit of a challenge.  I assume if I had taken the time to iron and lay out the finished cases, I would see just what a poor job I did.  However, I was too excited to see the finished version AND pick up the girls from school.

The finished product...

The finished bed...

Two things were different about sewing here versus in Texas.  1. There is no Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's here so I had to (dun dun duuuun) use brown thread.  I have a lot of colors, but not this maroon.  Bummer.  2.  I don't have any sewing buddies to drag downstairs and see the finished product.  I miss you girls!

Room officially done. Time to go out and make friends...

Well, maybe I will sew some curtains first and then, I can go make friends!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

Because visits from family and friends lead to doing things that you have always wanted to do.

Poor A fell asleep before we could get the picture taken!

Glad Bret and Angie didn't mind us tagging along on their sightseeing trip!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

Because it is ONLY (said sarcastically) 10 hours from Tennessee!  10 hours is ridiculous, but a lot shorter than 17 which is how long the trip is from Texas.  This means that when feeling particularly optimistic I can agree to come home for my niece's birthday party so that my girls can have Tinker Bell buckets.  Of course, I regretted this optimism several times before and during the trip.  But honestly, it was worth it!!

S, A, and the birthday girl

A with Opa and yes, he is sporting Ariel sunglasses!