through my camera lens

Rabbits, groundhogs and birds… oh my!

I’ve often spoken about the woodland visitors we have in our backyard. The four of us really enjoy seeing the different birds and critters that come and visit our feeders as well as the backyard. We now have a pair of rabbits that often visit and today we had a groundhog wondering around the yard.

I wonder what will be next?

 

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family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

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food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

family · life

Cinco de Derby Day

Today was a busy and fun day for our family. We started the day by Richard taking Blake with him to Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Blake is going to write up a review on this as soon as I let him near my computer) and then get gas for the lawnmower.

After breakfast, Richard got the lawnmower going and mowed our lawn here for the first time…. ever! When we lived in Orlando, we mowed the lawn almost all year long. In the spring and fall you mow it once a week, in the summer you need to mow it every 5 days or so and in the winter you can get away with skipping a few weeks depending on the temperatures. Not so much here in Pittsburgh. We will see how often we have to mow as the seasons go on., but at least we know it won’t be all year long.

While Richard did this, I added the baffle to our bird feeder. We now have at least two squirrels fighting over climbing the shepard’s pole to get out our feeders. The boys gave me the baffle shown for my birthday. The nice thing about this baffle is you can attach it to an existing pole without having to take the pole out of the ground. The opening closes up and attaches with a joint closure. I had to adjust the location of our dish feeder. The recommend that when you have a baffle it is located 4-5 feet off the ground.

When I finished this I began fertilizing the yard. We try to fertilize our lawn about once a month. This helps the lawn’s growth and coloring. I need to pick up some more seed so we can add soil and seed to the balder spots in the lawn. But, at least it is coming along.

After that, Colby and I helped Richard install the wire shelves above his work bench. This was a big task, but so worth it because we were able to get more garage thing emptied out of the boxes and put up on these shelves.

After putting up the shelves we had lunch. I had the last of the Thanksgiving salad, I need to make a pasta salad or something next. I like having a simple go to healthy lunch to have around.

The boys took off on their bikes to find friends and Richard and I decided to work on the back of our property. We began by trying to cut back some of the thorn bushes and vines. After getting cut to shreds doing this we decided to change gears and work on cutting a path through the backyard to get to the path to the pond. We completed this task just before the boys returned home.

We then worked on cleaning up the garage and putting things on the shelves while the boys drove their Traxxas trucks. They love driving them on the lot next door and even created a ramp in the muck to jump the trucks. They won’t be able to drive it there much longer since they should start framing that house here soon.

Dinner tonight was chicken salsa over couscous with homemade pico de gallo. We watched the Kentucky Derby and then played a few rounds of Uno Hearts.

Wow that was a busy day, but productive and fun. Hope you enjoyed your Cinco de Derby day.

family · life · through my camera lens

Spring Weekend

This weekend found us with nicer weather, so that meant we were outside. The boys and I went out after they got home from school on Friday. They rode to the park and brought a basketball and soccer ball to play on the court and field down there. I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked about 1.5 miles.

We just realized that that bug protection we had been applying to Dixie didn’t cover ticks. Great!! We have already pulled 4 off her. It’s not easy to find them since she has very dense fur in some spots, plus most of her fur is black. We have given her the flea and tick stuff the vet told us to try at her last appointment. Hopefully this works, last thing we need is for her getting ticks on a regular basis.

The tick find on Dixie spurred me to get out and treat the backyard. We sprayed the area she has access to as well as the perimeter of the woods of our yard with the insecticide spray and then put granular over the rest of the yard. That was my task Saturday morning before we left for the gym.

This was the boys last week of little lifters. They really enjoyed this program. It would be nice to see my places provide this type of training to kids their age. The program was for kids 8-13. This is the prefect age to introduce correct use of gym equipment that they can use independently. They aren’t ready to get out and use the circuit training or free weights yet, but they can use a step bench, resistance bands, light weights, a medicine ball and many other equipment. Colby is very excited to create his own workout for next weekend and keep working on getting stronger.

We headed to DiBella’s and Lowes. We needed an extension rod for the new fan we purchased at Costco for the morning room. We also picked up rollers so we could paint the garage. Over the last few trips we have been picking up their discounted paints. We were getting gallons of paint for $9. It is a great way to get paint if you don’t really care about the color.

So Saturday we painted the garage. We mixed together a quart of navy blue, a gallon of purple, a gallon of sage and a gallon of a light blue. The color ended up sort of a cornflower blue. It works. Richard also took the cans of white and painted the ceiling in the back section of the garage. We still have 3 cans of different shades of green and may mix them together to paint the basement since we were already talking about painting it green. That is still in the lets think about this stage.

Today we got up and headed to North Park. All three guys took their bikes. I’m’ still nursing my hip and knee so I decided to just walk. The boys rode the paved path to the pump park where I caught up with them. I ended up walking about 1.5 miles again. I was glad to see the distance here because soon the boys will be taking mountain biking lessons here and I’ll walk while they are at their lesson  Richard rode his bike on the actual bike trails.

When we were leaving, we ended up stopping to watch an auto cross in the pool parking lot. There were just regular cars, or regular-ish cars, racing around a cone course. The boys enjoyed this. I liked that I captured a few good photos of them up close. 

What a great way to get out and enjoy the fact that we are finally seeing spring temperatures and the sun!

Hope it is nice in your part of the world and that you had a great weekend.

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy Spring Saturday

Spring! Spring! Yeah… it’s spring! And we have been doing a lot outside… that is where you should be when it’s spring!

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04_13_c_01After having a steak dinner yesterday, we headed back into the woods. I wanted to show Richard and the boys some of the paths I traveled. We decided to cut down through our own property and see if we could clear out a safe path to use on a regular basis to get down into the woods behind our house. I think there are a few good choices. We just need to clear out a04_13_b_02 bunch of thorn bushes, all of us ended up with cuts from the thorn bushes. One crazy thing… all four of us put tick spray on. Only one person came home with ticks… ME! I pulled at least 6 ticks off and then spent the night thinking there were more on me. Why me? Gesh!

Today, we got up and had a slow morning. We headed to the gym so the boys could go to their “little lifters”. They have really enjoyed this, too bad there is only one more week. plantersBut, the good thing is they have learned a lot of things that they will be able to do on their own. This will be good going forward especially in the summer when I plan to have them workout on the days we head there to use the pool.

After the gym, we went to DiBellas for subs and then to Lowes (if you follow my blog regularly you probably have noticed this is our regular Saturday pattern). While we were at Lowes, we picked up plants, new planters, potting soil, fertilizer and a few other things. Colby helped me pick out the plants to go in the planter and the hanging plant we purchased.  When we got home we set to work. Richard and I worked on getting the new planters set up. Dixie decided she needed to do some digging too.

We then went into the backyard and Richard began digging holes. This is not an easy task. Digging holes should not require more work with the pick ax than the shovel. He planted the Christmas tress that we purchased to use on the front porch for part of the04_14_c_03 Christmas decoration with the intent on planting them in the backyard. Even though it was a lot of work we will probably keep with this tradition next year.

While Richard was working on the holes, I spread out the butterfly/humming bird seed mix that we picked up at Lowes on sale a few weeks ago. I then went and fertilized the front yard. We need to do something to get the grass a bit greener. Since there is rain in our forecast for tonight and most of tomorrow we wanted to get some of these tasks done so the rain can do it’s job too.

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For dinner we decided to head to Red Robin (YUMMM!) Richard needed to go to the hobby shop to get a new motor for his Traxxas truck, so why not go out to eat too? We all splurged and got milkshakes which is a great treat (Richard: Oreo, Blake: chocolate, Colby: Vanilla, Me: Caramel). We figured we had burned a few extra calories today.

So I’d call today a success. We will see how much rain we get tonight and tomorrow, we need it! The big thing on my agenda for tomorrow is making pizza dough for Stromboli. The last few times I’ve tried to make pizza dough it didn’t workout… keep your fingers crossed I figure it out this time.

life · through my camera lens

Spring hike to the pond

Image may contain: flower, plant, outdoor and natureSpring has sprung! Finally I have the windows open and the sun is shining. I was able to get out and do a bit of yard work and then went for a 2 mile hike around the neighborhood. I actually went exploring the wooded area behind the house. There is a pond back there that I had checked out yet and I wanted for a few reasons. I walked to the pond one way and home a different way. It was nice to get out and see what I could find literally right in my backyard.

This weekend we will continue to have temperatures in the 70s, but the rain is coming. We are forecast for a huge storm starting on Saturday afternoon and raining through Monday. Oh well… I’ll enjoy the sun today. I think I’ll make some lunch and then read for a bit. Having the windows open is nice and there is a beautiful breeze.

Here are a few of the pictures I took on my walk in the woods.

 

I did see a few woodland creatures too. The rabbit was out in our backyard this morning. I took this picture while having my coffee. The butterfly was on one of the trails I was following. This was an actual trail, opposed to some of the deer trails I ended up on what may or may not have been made by humans at one point, but were not kept up at all. (lots of thorns were found in this section) The goose is on the pond I went searching out. The robin was on the backside of the hill in our yard that I was checking out while I was out in nature.

Hope you enjoy your Friday and weekend!

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Snow brings out smiles

So as I mentioned on Wednesday, we got a snow storm to start off the season of spring. Yesterday, Richard decided to work from home. After the boys finished their homework, and Richard finished up his last work meeting they all decided to go outside while I was making dinner.

 

It was in the high 30s, but there was little to no wind. This means that the snow is starting to melt. This didn’t stop the boys from going out on their sleds and snow scooters. Richard went out with Dixie and was tossing snowballs with her. It is too funny to watch this as she doesn’t understand why the ball disappears when she catches it.

 

Richard and Colby decided to make a snowman, but it turned into more of a snow mound. I said it looked like a stalagmite instead of a snowman. They got the shovels out and where shoveling all the snow around the back door and using it to make it huge. This mound was almost as tall as Richard.

There were snowballs, laughter and smiles for everyone. It may have been cold and snowy the last few days. Too many of us may have head colds and be blowing our nose more than we’d want. But, the moments when we can do things together. To have fun and smile… that is what makes family moments worth it all.

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Snow Day Today

The forecast this week was for us to get a wintry mix yesterday and then they said 3-6″ of snow before 8pm last night. That my friends did not happen! We had a wintry mix on and off and did see some snow from time to time, but there was little to no snow when we went to bed last night. This morning we woke up to a white world.

At 5am we got the call saying there would be a 2 hour delay. Some how we actually missed this phone call and were up and moving with the thought we’d have to have Richard and the boys out the door before 7:20. Then I noticed the phone message saying it was a 2 hour delay. (I got my replacement phone yesterday so now I feel better again!). About an hour later we got the call saying that school is cancelled for the day.

Richard decided to stay home as well. He has been fighting a head cold for the last few days. There was already about 1.5″ of snow out there and it was snowing harder and harder as the hours past.

So we had a slow morning. Then Richard and I headed out to shovel. It wasn’t bad until the plow came along and plowed about a foot of snow onto the bottom of our driveway, oh and it also took out a huge swath of the grass off the edge of our property. (What do you call that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street?? I have no idea what it’s called). After we got it shoveled, all 5 of us (4 humans and the dog) piled into the truck to go to the vet.

When we got home the boys headed outside to play in the snow. Me, I should go out and shovel again, but I’m not in the mood to do that just yet. I know it is a necessary evil of the season… oh wait it’s not winter anymore, but it is snowing. So instead I’m making dried strawberries and trying a new roll recipe to have with cheese steaks for dinner tonight.

Are you seeing spring in your area or are you seeing a winter wonderland like us?