Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Asian Inspired One-Block Wonder

I love One-Block Wonders! This is the pattern where you line up six identical layers of fabric and cut triangles through all six layers. The triangles are then joined and the result is lots of kaleidoscopic blocks.

This fabric started out as a piece of beautiful Asian fabric - rich colors on a black background. I'm pleased with the results!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrasher was back - sitting on the very top of the Live Oak - singing his heart out.

He's a beautiful, large bird with a wonderful song - so he is welcome here anytime.

We have more baby Sherman Fox Squirrels showing up at the feeders. I'll try to get some better pictures, but I don't want to scare them away - they are just too cute!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Bird

We have a nice Live Oak tree with two bird feeders in our front yard that attracts a variety of birds including Blue Jays, Cardinals, Finches and Titmice. Today we spotted a new bird - a Brown Thrasher.

Look how long his tail is! His wings are a rich red-brown with two black & white wing bars.

His chest is speckled and his bill curves gently downward. This is the first Brown Thrasher we've seen here in the yard - so we were quite excited. (It's a yucky rainy day here in Central Florida so we are easily amused.)

Spring is definitely in the air. The Goldfinches are back but don't have their bright yellow color yet. This Mockingbird was singing his little heart out and we're starting to see more vivid colors on the Bluebirds and House Finches.

Momma Dove was showing her baby the sights from the roof of our neighbors house.

And this adorable baby Sherman Fox Squirrel was using his tail as an umbrella to keep the rain off his head as he searched for sun flower seeds under the backyard feeders. Bill took this shot from the lanai - through the screens, which is why it is so blurry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trash Birds

The Citrus County Landfill may seem like a strange place to go birding - but we spent over two hours watching trash birds. The landfill is very public friendly - especially for birders - and gave us maps, bright orange vests and instructions to stay near our car and away from the heavy machinery.

There was lots of trash and the odor wasn't always pleasant, but we were rewarded with some fabulous birds. There were more Bald Eagles then I've ever seen in one place. Vultures, both Turkey and Black, were everywhere and there were huge flocks of Gulls, Grackles, Cowbirds and Blackbirds.

King of the hill.

I'm still working on action shots.

This is a juvenile Bald Eagle - and we must have seen a dozen.

Another juvenile. They don't get their white heads and tails for almost 5 years.

I love this shot. He was sparring with another juvenile.

He took off and landed a couple of times.

Three Wild Turkeys crossing the road in front of the porta-pottie. I usually like nicer background for my pictures - but this WAS the nicer background!

There are two varieties of vulture here in Florida - the more common Turkey Vultures and this one - a Black Vulture. They have white on their wing tips - and ugly black heads.

On our way home we stopped to check on our celebrity bird - little miss Whooping Crane #16-10 (one of only 500). She is still keeping company with several Sandhill Cranes just up the road from OTOW.

In the next month or so she should head north - probably to Wisconsin. I hope she meets up with more of her own kind along the way. I'll be keeping track of her via Operation Migration.

This Barred Owl isn't from today's trip - in fact, it isn't even from this year. It was on the camera disk and I thought it was worth posting.

Friday, February 17, 2012

While we were out and about...

We always have our eyes peeled for interesting birds. Bill spotted this hawk on his way home from the flying field one morning. After checking my various references, we've decided it's a young Red-tailed Hawk.

The stripes on the tail are seen in juvenile Red-tailed Hawks. The signature red appears in adults.

He was a handsome specimen.

Unlike this goat that looks like parts and pieces assembled from other animals. We found him on the farm where the Sandhill Cranes and the Whooping Crane are spending the winter. I had to edit the picture just a bit as he was unusually happy to see us.

After an unusually heavy rain, Ray went looking for snakes but found this cute little guy on the side of the house instead.

On our trip to Daytona, we saw this Peregrine Falcon on the side of a high-rise motel.

The only other sighting of a Peregrine Falcon I've ever had (Fort Myers Beach) - he was also on the side of a motel.

I love ducks so I was pleased when we spotted these beautiful Hooded Mergansers in a local pond. These are the males.

And this is the female swimming close by.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Paynes Prairie

Bill, Terri, Ray and I visited Paynes Prairie during their visit to Florida. The day was chilly and there was fog and smoke in the air - so pictures were a challenge.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are plentiful - but this one was showing his colors, so I had to snap his picture.

There were several varieties of Sparrows; this one is a Song Sparrow,

...and this one is a Savannah Sparrow. I would never have seen this little fellow with his natural camouflage - but there was another birder with a spotting scope aimed at the prairie grasses by the walkway.

There were two very large bison who came too near to the trail so this cowboy came to the rescue and tried to herd them away.

They weren't too sure they wanted to leave.

But our hero prevailed.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are nasty birds - loud and dirty - but this one was almost pretty sitting in the grass by my open car window.

We spotted this Catbird by the entrance to the La Chua Trail. These birds usually stay hidden in the bushes - so it is rare that I can get a decent picture.

This is a Red-winged Blackbird. It's either a female or a young male.

Another female Red-winged Blackbird.

And still another.

Today we are Fort Jackson in South Carolina for grandson Nathan's graduation from boot camp. Nate - we are very proud of you!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gull Girl at Daytona Beach

Bill's sister, Terri and her hubby Ray have been visiting us from wintry Colorado for the last 10 days and we've had lots of adventures. Neither of them had ever seen the Atlantic Ocean, so we took a road trip across Route #40 to Ormond and Daytona Beaches. The day was chilly, so we drove our car up the beach.

I've named her "Gull Girl." She decided it was a good idea to feed the lovely birds. She had a large bag of bread and cookies to share with her feathered friends. Aren't they wonderful?

One giant toss of crumbs in the air and they were everywhere! They landed in her hair, pecked the bag and screamed in her ear.

Make them go away!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Still Sewing

I don't want you all to think I haven't been quilting lately!

My Log Cabin Star quilt came back from the long arm quilter and I'm working to finish the binding. Vicki Cooley did the quilting and it's beautiful! The quilt is large enough for a queen-sized bed but I haven't decided which of our beds it will live on - or if it will stay in Florida or head to Colorado.

Vicki works on an older long arm machine - so everything is manual. It's obvious she knows what she is doing! She is the guest speaker at our next quilt meeting and I'm excited to learn from her.

My sister, Beth, helped me sandwich and pin baste this Stack-N-Whack while she was here visiting. I did some simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting - per her directions - and I'm pretty happy with the results.

It's not perfect, but it's sure better than I've done in the past! The colors are all me - but the quilt will be Bill's lap quilt until I get his Bargello made. He selected all the fabric and picked the Bargello pattern - I just have to learn how to do it! I'm going to practice on place-mats first.

This is my completed frog quilt that I machine quilted BEFORE my sister's lessons and I'm not happy with the results. I started in the middle, but tried to quilt around each block separately instead of sewing across the quilt to stabilize it first. I also did not sandwich it correctly and did not put any where near enough pins in. But the quilt is nice and comfy and warm.

Beth showed me how to clamp the sandwiched quilt to my cutting table and pin the three layers in rows from the center out placing the special safety pins about 3 inches apart (or the width of your hand). It sure made machine quilting easier - and no more puckers!

You all remember my "quilt from hell." I had it long arm quilted with darker thread to try and blend in the bright yellow - and I'm fairly pleased with the results. The colors are still outside my comfort zone - but it's not terrible - unless you ask Bill. He doesn't like it at all.

The quilting is a circle design which I think compliments the stars.

Our little local quilt group issued a challenge to make a bowl and this is my project. Kinda fun!

Bill needed arm covers and a head rest for his chair - so I've been busy designing and sewing them. If anyone EVER tries to sell you white chairs - run away quickly!