An Egret Dropped in for Lunch


I looked out the window and saw an egret in our yard. While we have had egrets in the yard before, they are always a treat to watch. This particular egret was especially interesting.

The egret started out near a brick pile and was hunting around for something. It seemed to catch something but I could not make out what it caught. He then, slowly made his way around our potting table. I know for a fact that lizards hang out up there and the egret seemed to sense it as well. I saw the lizard run for cover under some potting items. The egret slowly moved on.

I went out front to get the mail and then saw the egret by our hedge. I decided to go back in the house to get my camera. I quietly took a few photos and then started a video. Amazingly, the video caught the egret catching and devouring a lizard. Amazing, but actually a bit gross as well. He then headed back past the potting table and this time was lucky enough to snatch the lizard from the table. (Photo above)

I learned a lot from watching this egret. I never even knew that egrets ate lizards. They are very quiet and sneaky predators. Lizards are, after all, pretty fast and hard to catch. Remember the post I shared when one got into my house? Maybe next time a lizard gets into the house I should find an egret to help me out….

From a little research, I found out that egrets eat a lot more than I thought. I assumed they ate fish, which is correct. However, they also eat other small animals. Egrets are carnivorous birds. They eat fish, aquatic animals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, and small animals. The list of small animals on the menu can include mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, meerkats, etc. The egret swallows its food whole. That long, elegant neck can surely stretch out a bit! I saw the egret swallow the lizard, but a larger animal, oh my!

As always, Happy Nature Watching!

My Take on Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

movie review

Frank Capra’s 1936 movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, featuring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur is quite the hit. It has it all, drama, comedy and romance. An oldie but a goodie.

Longfellow Deeds (played by Gary Cooper) lives a simple life in Mandrake Falls until he is informed by attorney John Cedar that he has inherited 20 million dollars from his late uncle, Martin Semple. Cedar brings Deeds back to New York and tries to get him to sign over his power of attorney to him. Deeds is quite the news in New York. In order to gain a paid vacation from the newspaper by landing the story on Deeds, reporter Louise Bennett (played by Jean Arthur) pretends to faint in front of Deeds in order to get aquainted with him. She has photographers from the newspaper follow them around town. She is posing as Mary Dawson, a poor working girl. Deeds falls for Mary not knowing she is writing about him. When Deeds starts giving away his money to the unemployed, (there is a depression after all) Cedar tries to have him committed. To find out what happens, watch the movie.

I loved Gary Cooper in this picture. Jean Arthur was the perfect leading lady as well. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town had me interested from start to finish. Enough drama to keep me guessing, enough comedy to keep me laughing, and just the right amount of romance. I also really liked the message that the film told. So pop some corn and enjoy the movie!

Wonder Clips are Wonderful


I ordered a package of Wonder Clips by Clover. I have used these clips on a few occassions now and I must say they are wonderful. Are they a total replacement for pins? Not in my oppinion, but they are quite useful. Let me share what I have learned by using these clips.

First off, pins have a few problems, if you ask me. Pins can obviously stick a person if not careful. They can also bend if trying to push through too thick of fabric, multiple seams, or elastic. When trying on clothing, pins can be downright dangerous. Of course, some fabrics are very delicate and pins can even run the risk of a snag to the fabric.

Wonder Clips are very strong little clips that do not put holes in or harm the fabric. I found them extremely useful in holding elastic in place in the shoulder of a dress I made recently. I tried on the dress without fear of being stabbed by pins and they stayed put perfectly. They are very quick to put on and take off. The only drawback, I have found, is that when sewing by machine, they need to be taken off sooner then pins. This is because of the bulk of the clip. On the upside, one can not run over a clip with the presser foot as one can with a pin.

Wonder Clips come in a package of 10 for around $7. This is pricey compared to pins. I would suggest two packages as a good amount to have on hand. I do not use these as replacements for pins, but rather enhancements. In some cases, clips are just more convenient to use. In other cases, pins are the way to go. I am glad I made this purchase and have use for both in my sewing.

As always, Happy Sewing!

My Take on Portrait of a Murder

Book Reviews

Art, murder, mystery, romance, are all combined in Portrait of a Murder by Kerry J. Charles. This is the first book in the Dulcie Chambers Mystery series. After finishing Portait of a Murder, I can not wait to start on the other books in the series.

Kerry J. Charles has quite an impressive resume. She has worked as a researcher, writer, and editor for National Geographic Magazine, the Smithsonian Institution, and Harvard University. She has also worked for major textbook publishers. All of this experience has surely come in handy at penning her own works.

The mystery is set on the coast of Maine. Dulcie Chambers is a curator for the Maine Museum of Art. She wants to acquire a watercolor by Winslow Homer to complete her exhibit. The museum’s director, Joshua Harriman, volunteers to go to Christie’s auction house in New York to bid on and hopefully obtain the watercolor. But before Dulcie can lay her sights on the watercolor, she instead comes across a body. She is now in a sticky situation, but police detective Nick Black is on the case.

I enjoyed Portrait of a Murder very much. At 137 pages, it was not a super long read, however, it was a page turner. There were just enough suspects to confuse things and keep one guessing. I would recommend this book and I am planning to continue reading the series. The next book is titled, From the Murky Deep. Sounds interesting already! As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on Rules for Visiting

Book Reviews

My latest read was a book I asked for and received for Christmas, Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. Rules for Visiting was an easy read. This book will make one think of the way in which they live their life and the role friendship plays.

The novel is about May, a botanist, and how she decides to catch up with old friends, and perhaps find herself, during bonus time off from her work. May is a gardener at the local university. Being granted a months vacation from her job, May decides to take four seperate vacations to visit friends from her childhood through her college days. While May does have friends of her own, she is often intrigued by other peoples relationships with their frineds. Why does her life seem lacking? Will she find what she is looking for?

Kane’s novel is a wonderful read. A book about life that could easily be made into a movie. It also has plant and tree facts sprinkled throughout the book. This helps define the character and may also teach the reader a thing or two about plants. As always, Happy Reading!

Making English Muffins


My husband and I decided to make English muffins. Could these compare to those bought in the store? We had to find out.

To make the English muffins, we started the day before as they needed time to rise and rest. The dough was made using a stand mixer with dough hook. No kneading involved. Gotta love that! The dough was set to rise and then divided into twelve balls and placed on a sheet with cornmeal and covered with plastic wrap. The next step was interesting. Another cookie sheet was placed on top of this, to weigh down the muffins. All this was set in the refrigerator to rest overnight.

In the morning, my husband and I browned batches in cast iron pans on the stove top, flipping to cook both sides. The muffins were then put into the oven to finish cooking until they reached around 205 degrees when poked with a thermometer.

So, how did the English muffins turn out? I really enjoyed them. They were delicious. Mine was cut in half and toasted in the toaster. I then smeared margarine on top. This is my muffin topping of choice. In my opinion, these were much better than any brand of English muffin I have purchased before. The texture was good, they toasted well, and they were fresh. A keeper, I would say.

The recipe (which includes helpful pictures) can be found in the cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen – Bread Illustrated.

My English Muffin

As always, Happy Baking!

Homemade Sushi


My daughter likes sushi and decided to make her own sushi at home. This was new to our kitchen, so she found a recipe on-line and we watched a video on how to accomplish this dish. But first she needed supplies.

From the video, we could see that a sushi mat (small pieces of bamboo tied together into a bendable mat) would be an essential tool in the making of the sushi. So, we ordered a set to pick-up curb side. The set was very nice. It also came with a flat, fat wooden spoon to smooth the rice onto the mat and a pair of cute chop sticks. All for under four dollars.

Next, for the food items. She would be using sushi rice (rice especially made for sushi because it turns out nice and sticky), fresh alvacado, cucumber, wasabi, lemon juice, sheets of dried seaweed, and instead of the traditional imitation crab legs, canned salmon. These are the basic indredients for the California Sushi Roll. No raw fish for us.

My daughter made the sushi by first covering the sushi mat with saran wrap. Do not skip this step if deciding to try this at home. This keeps the rice from sticking to the mat. The mat is basically a turning/rolling device that helps to form the rolled sushi. Next, she used the wooden spoon to pat down rice onto the mat. Then she put a sheet of seaweed on top. On top of this, she added the alvacado mixed with lemon juice, cucumber, and salmon. Now it was time to roll it all up. This step required a bit of patience. I think watching a video of the process helped out a lot. After rolling it into a log, my daughter put it in the refrigerator overnight.

My daughter, the sushi chef, hard at work.

The next day for lunch, I was offered some sushi to try for myself. Not a big fan of seaweed, I opted for a small bite. My daughter sliced the log into bite sized portions and squeezed a bit of wasabi onto the plate. I was told only a small bit of this was needed as it was very hot. She also put soy sauce into a dipping bowl to dip the pieces of sushi into before eating.

I sat down, ready to wrinkle my nose up a bit. I tried using the chop sticks, however, I think I need to practice with those a bit more. A spoon ended up being my utensil. With a bit of wasabi on top, into the soy sauce it went, and then into my mouth. My daughter was right, only a bit of wasabi is needed. It was hot but tasted good. To my surprise, the seaweed did not taste like the ocean (maybe the wasabi covered the taste) and I actually enjoyed the sushi. Job well done daughter dear!

As always, Happy Cooking!

My Take on…Bomb Girls

Book Reviews

I just finished reading Bomb Girls by Jacky Hyams. This book is about the women who worked in Britain’s munitions during WWII. The book is a rare treat, especially for those interested in history.

Bomb Girls starts out by introducing the reader to munitions factories and what it was like to work in one of these factories. But what is even better are the following chapters, the memoirs of the actual workers, the stories they tell of their life experiences. The chapters read as though the women are right there, telling their stories in person. Each woman tells a little about her life before working at the factory and then details of her experience at the factory and what she did after the war was over. The last chapter gives more details about each of the munitions factories that the women in the book worked at and what happened to the facility after the war.

This book was an easy read and kept me interested the entire time. I had no idea that once a girl turned 18 they were called up to work in factories of this kind during the war years. It was very dangerous work. Accidents happened and some were deadly. So what got these women through this stressful time? Friendship, doing what they thought was right to help their country, and the hopes of helping the men they knew and loved.

I highly recommend Bomb Girls. If you love history, have an interest in WWII, or want to learn more about women and their efforts during the war, this book is a must read. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on Swing Shift

movie review

My husband and I recently watched the movie Swing Shift starring a young Goldie Hawn (Kay) and Kurt Russell (Lucky). It is a period movie about women taking on factory jobs during WWII. This movie focused on the airplane industry in Santa Monica, California. It also hit on the comaraderie between the workers and how important that was to the women in getting on with life while a war was taking place and lives were being taken.

In the movie, Kay’s husband Jack sets out to join the Navy and Kay (against her husband’s wishes) sets out to build airplanes. She meets Lucky who is a line foreman and he has his sights on her. Will the husband or the foreman get the girl? Watch the movie to find out…

I love period films. This film was of interest to catch a glimpse of what it was like for women entering the workforce during the war. Try to picture your grandmother or great-grandmother helping the war effort. Although it is Hollywood, it is interesting all the same.

I enjoyed Swing Shift, as I do most of the film that feature Hawn. It was interesting to see Hawn and Russell work together as well, being they are a couple in real life. As always, Happy Viewing!

I Have to Read What!

Book Reviews

Back in high school, my teacher assigned the class to read Dracula by Bram Stoker. What! I was none too thrilled to say the least. Of all the books, why on earth did she have to choose that! I had NO interest in reading a book about vampires, or so I thought…

I should have known that this particular teacher (who was one of the best) would not let me down. Shortly into the book, I was hooked. Dracula, of course, is a classic. This is with good reason.

Since high school, I have read Dracula a few more times. I just recently finished reading it again. It is one of the few books that I have read more than a couple of times. It is a great read around Halloween. I am also a fan of reading this book at night; helps to set the scene.

So the moral of my story is… it is hard to judge a book by its subject matter alone. It is a good idea to try reading books one would not normally choose. One never knows what they may be missing.

As always, Happy Reading!