Chirped by Tina and Cass
February has left us with some crazy weather patterns here in PA (though nothing compared to what friends and relatives in the “polar vortex” experienced last month!). Temperatures have bounced from the 60s one day to below 30 the next, bringing alternating snow, sun, ice, wind and lots of rain. As a result, our favorite things are a mix of indoor and outdoor gems, and what a selection we have!
Why We (mostly) Love Winter in PA!
It’s so much shorter and milder than in New England, while still having a smattering of snowstorms (or even the occasional blizzard) to mix things up. On the left, above, the daffodils are starting to come up in our yards in February, while in the north country, my sister sends this picture of my mom’s front porch, also from this past week… Of course, we hear the daffodils are actually blooming in North Carolina, but they don’t get as much of the pretty white stuff. We can still think of it as pretty when we aren’t having to go outside through an alternate door all the time in order to shovel a path through the porch to the storm door so that we can actually open it!
Birds of Winter
From our cozy perch in the kitchen, we’ve welcomed a lot of visitors to the new bird feeder the kids got me for Christmas. Took a while for our feathered friends to warm up to it. I blame the shiny glass sides flashing in the sunlight. A week sitting directly on the deck next to a plate of inviting birdseed eventually clued the juncos in to what they could expect if they ventured to land on its little pull-out footholds. Then the other birds followed suit: cardinals, red-breasted woodpeckers, blue-jays, and a host of little brown birds that I’m just going to call sparrows. (I’ll wait for the more serious birders among our readers to identify them more specifically!) The larger birds have to get a bit creative to make it work… I’ve been keeping my camera at the ready. Can’t take credit for the barred owl shot, however. That’s from a good friend up in New England’s yard, and I’m sooo jealous!!
From Birds to Reptiles
We were surprised to see this little garter snake sunbathing on the front walk during a warm spell. I moved him into the leaves so he wouldn’t be such easy pickings for a predator in his sluggish state. Meanwhile, the weather has Cass’s son’s bearded dragon being totally lazy, falling asleep in his food bowl! You never know what position you will find him in on any given day…
“Galentine’s Tea & Craft” Party
We’re always happy to support fellow crafters when they put their creative party hats on! Tina attended a “Galentines Tea & Craft” event and learned how to make some parchment paper conversation hearts inspired by Martha Stewart and filled with candy for Valentine’s Day. (Photo credit to our hostess, “J”, with content credited to another talented attendee.)
Valentine’s Day Care Packages
Once the crafty juices were flowing, Tina went home to add to the Valentine’s care packages we were already packing for our college boys… Plain cardboard heart-shaped boxes were soon transformed into decorative artsy goody-holders…
…and peanut butter crisscross cookies were adapted for the occasion!
Just about any holiday is a good excuse to bake for a care package, particularly since baking in an empty nest produces an awful lot of calories that mama and/or papa bird don’t really need lying around! We don’t need any excuses to craft – that’s just a bonus little ray of sunshine for the fledglings. (-;
Pro-Tip #1: While Tina is loving her new paint markers for decorating anything from rocks, to wooden eggs, to craft boxes, she did learn a little about the anatomy of some of these pens the hard way. Once you shake them to get the paint mixed up, be careful how hastily you pull off the cap – maybe give it a twist to make sure you don’t also pull off the whole top of the pen…
Pro-Tip #2: If you DO pull the whole top off, do NOT stop to take pictures of the mess for your blog! This stuff dries *very* fast! Goo-gone doesn’t help, nor does lemon oil once it dries on your unprotected (really? what was I thinking?!) table, floor, and hair, though a Magic Eraser and serious elbow grease got most of it off the wood, along with some of the finish – Ugh!! (Hair and hands had a pink tint for days…)Just a little FYI!
Favorite Recipe – Chocolate Lava Cake
Favorite recipe of the month comes from a friend who enlisted me to be her sous chef for dessert after her “Special Gentleman Friend” (who happens to be a first class chef) prepared a fantastic meal for us. This delicious chocolate lava cake was not as difficult to assemble as I would have guessed. We whipped it up after we ate, then baked it for 45 minutes while our dinner settled. And the secret ingredient of the chocolate gooeyness? Two Klondike bars baked inside!!! The recipe doesn’t call for it, but we just happened to have some homemade raspberry coulis that we drizzled over the top – yeah, the “SGF” brought it along, just in case it might go with whatever surprise dessert our mutual friend had planned! We also added a scoop of vanilla ice cream, because the calorie count just wasn’t high enough without it! Lol…
Favorite Restaurant – Mizu Sushi
If you find yourself traveling through Wilkes Barre, PA, you have to check out Mizu Sushi. We suspect they are part of a restaurant chain, but this was our first time eating at one. They have several hibachi tables you can dine at, but they also have general seating and a full sushi menu that was to die for. Of course we had to sample everything! But the plate was almost too beautiful to disturb!
Crocheted Crowns and a Knitted Hat!
Two craft groups that we’re involved with are starting to churn out “Crowns for Kids” to cheer up patients in local children’s hospitals. They’re coming out really cute, and are even manageable for newbies like us!* (MOTS) Kids’ sizes are way too small for our over-sized noggins, but the blog dog makes for a somewhat reluctant model. And while we’re on the topic of headwear – look at the beautiful hat that Tina’s very talented aunt knit for her! The Craft Force is strong with her family!
* MOTS = More On This Soon!
Favorite Night Out: Scent & Sip
We were recently invited to a fundraising event for a friend’s daughter at Scent and Sip in nearby Lansdale, PA. Neither of us had ever been, but frankly, they had us at “Sip”! A BYOB with a creative twist, Scent and Sip lets you concoct your own signature fragrances by mixing favorite essential oils, then infuse them into “scentable” products of your choosing. Such a fun concept, and so cute with personalized labels! Our group made hand creams, candles, argan hair shine sprays, hand sanitizers, lotions and more!* (MOTS)
Ladies’ Craft Weekend
In the gray days of February, what better way to spend a free weekend than a designated crafting getaway?! When all other responsibilities are swept away, a determined group can get a lot done on all sorts of clever projects… * (MOTS)
We actually had so many things that made us happy in February that it was hard to choose our favorite ten! Hope your year is off to a similarly positive start. Check out next week’s post for more details about some of the group activities mentioned here that might brighten your winter blues!