Sunday, April 21, 2013

Look "Hoo Hoo Hoo" It Is...

We have the most amazing backyard visitor ever - an Eastern Screech Owl!  He/She is just magnificent.  I could watch him all day.  He lives in a little wooden box attached to my neighbours tree.  The tree is just on the other side of our fence so we have a perfect view from the windows at the back of our house and an even better view when outside. 

We are not sure if it is a male or female but we can't help but wonder if it is a female sitting on an egg.  Baby owls would just be too much - cute overload!!!  My 4 year old has named him "Flapper."

Thanks to Google, I have learned a lot about the Eastern Screech Owl.  Flapper is reddish brown.  They can be red in colour or gray.  I have yet to see him leave the box.  Perhaps he does at night, when most owls are alert and hunting for food.  If I did see him, though, he would look like this cute little owl to the right.  Throughout the day, he just sits inside the little box.  You can usually see his head just inside the hole.  When the sun is shining, he likes to poke his head out to catch some rays.  Sometimes, you can't see his head at all.  The box is quite deep so I think he hides below.  There are many birds around here and I see some of them pester him at times.  The blue jays even land on top of his little house and squawk at him.  He retreats to the bottom of his box until they go away.  We heard him make a little call the other evening.  I recognized the sound and realized I have heard it before in our backyard and in the woods around our house.  It actually sounded more like a horse neighing!  Listen to it here

I'll be sure to let you know if Flapper Junior arrives!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Violet!

My sweet little Violet turned two this week!  It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating her birth.  I've been saying to my husband for a few months now that I don't want the girls to get any older.  I wish they could stay this sweet, cute and perfect forever.  I so desperately want to freeze time.  They are just too perfect right now.  Life is truly wonderful.  But as Lily reminded me (she must have overheard me say this once or twice to dad) "Mom, I will still be this cute when I'm four!"  And it's true, she will.  They will always be sweet and perfect, at least in my eyes.

We celebrated Violet's birthday by doing what she loves most - going swimming!  We went to our favourite local pool for an afternoon swim with her two older cousins.  My daughters love their cousins and the feeling is reciprocated by them.  My brother has two girls, eight and ten.  The four girls have a blast together.  Afterwards, we came back to the house for a little family party.  It was a nice simple evening.

I tried something new this year for the birthday cake.  I decided to have my first go with fondant icing.  Probably not the best idea when I was super tight for time to decorate it but that's how I roll.  When I have my mind set on something it is very unlikely that you will convince me to do otherwise.  My poor husband.

I LOVE the look of fondant.  The smoothness and often the simpleness of it.  Fondant cakes just  look pretty.  I wasn't foolish enough to make my own with such limited time.  I bought a ridiculously large tub of it from Bulk Barn.  It was a little tricky to work with.  It's super stiff and requires a lot of rolling.  When I transferred it to the cake I started to get some cracking around the bottom.  It was pretty obvious in spots, but I really didn't care at this point.  I really wanted to put some purple violets on top but I couldn't find a small enough cookie cutter to make petals.  The only thing I could find was a flower shaped chocolate mold, so I went with that.  The flowers were huge, much larger than I wanted, but they looked pretty and that counts.  I added some food colouring to the fondant to get a little purple and yellow to make the flowers.  Then I pressed it into the molds and very carefully pulled it out (that was difficult to do without destroying the look of the flowers).  I stuck them on the cake with a little water, much like scoring with clay.  It looked very pretty, despite the cracks and massive violets!

Did it taste wonderful, you may ask?  NO!  I was a little disappointed, but not completely surprised.  Fondant is super sweet and has a weird texture.  Thanks to the buttercream underneath it, it was edible.  Almost everyone left a large chunk of fondant on their plate.  Even my girls, which says a lot.  They never leave a crumb behind when it comes to cake!  That night when my husband was putting Lily to bed she told him "I liked Violet's birthday cake but there was a problem with the icing."  That pretty much sums it up.

Oh, and the cake was a simple white cake.  Actually, "yellow butter cake," by Martha Stewart.  It was okay, but I'm still in search of the perfect white cake recipe.  Have one?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Hoop Art

I had a successful day yesterday with a table set up at my daughter's preschool's "Mom-to-Mom Sale."  I had one table to sell some of our used toys and baby stuff and another table for Pepper Picnic products.  I sold lots of snack and sandwich bags and had such lovely feedback from everyone about my products.  It was a fun morning.

Last week I was pretty busy sewing lots of stock to sell at the sale, but just before that whirlwind of sewing I found some time to make my long awaited hoop art!  Turns out I didn't need much time.  Hoop art can be super fast to do if you keep the embroidery to a minimum, like I did.

If you remember, a while back I went fabric shopping with a friend and bought some beautiful fabric in shades of blues and greens.  My house is full of blues and greens so I had to stick with the decor.

I love these shades of blue.  So soft and pretty.  I wanted to hang my hoops in my front entrance way and we recently wallpapered one of the walls there with a beautiful bluey green wallpaper.  It was hard to find a fabric that matched but the combination of these and the colours around the rest of the house tie in nicely together.  All I did was use three hoops (one small and two medium) to display three different fabrics in.  I embroidered on one hoop the words "Welcome home."  Very sweet and simple.  It made the entrance way so much more welcoming and homey.  I love it!


I'm new to embroidery and it shows in my work!  I have some practice to do.  I used a pencil to write the words and then I stitched over them.  I think it's called a running stitch.  I would like to try it again with a back stitch or split stitch.  Here's a great site with some basic embroidery stitches to try.