Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A DARK-EYED JUNCO WITH LEUCISM

When I shared photos of my other snow birds at this post, I mentioned that an interesting little bird had joined them.  At first I thought it may have been a White Warbler, but now I think I was wrong.


He visited again today with several other Dark-eyed Juncos.  I was able to take photographs this time, and when I studied them on a larger screen, the more I thought he actually looked like a Junco.


  His feathers were definitely different, but in the back of my mind I had heard of a condition, maybe some form of Albinism, but that wasn't quite right. I would be very interested in what other more experienced blogging friends know.  I found the following on this website describing Leucism.  If you would like to visit the previous link in red, you can scroll down to the second paragraph and perhaps you could let me know what you think?  There is a also a lot of other interesting information.


It says, "The outward appearance of leucistic individuals can vary considerably.  "Leucinos" may appear virtually pure white but still possess "normal-colored" eyes and skin; they may possess only a single white feather but otherwise appear normal; or may exhibit partially white plumage anywhere in between these two extremes.  Many older publications refer to this condition as "partial albinism" but the correct term is leucism."

There is another website here with super photos of other birds with this condition. Even if they are very different from their families, I think those differences make them unique and beautiful.  

There were a few other visitors today.  I was happy to see them.

A male Cardinal.  Cardinals seem to be here in every season, but it's lovely to see him in the colder months too, and I often see the female.


A Dark-eyed Junco who perched on top of the bird house..


There were at least half a dozen Junco's with him.


A Tufted Titmouse, another sweet little bird.
I know she is not everyone's favorite, but I do love our Grey Squirrels.  Always full of mischief and if you study them long enough, all with different personalities.
She looks a bit cold doesn't she?
More snow photos of the trees.  I am wondering if I will ever get tired of seeing snow covered branches.  Maybe, but not now.
Stay warm everyone, especially those who are caught up in the middle of this Polar Vortex.  It is 11 degrees fahrenheit where we are, and going to dip down to 4, a heat wave compared to other parts of the US I expect.  I just read that there will be a 75 degrees warm-up by this weekend for some.  How crazy is that?






MORE SNOW

At the end of Monday's recipe post here, I made an addition along with those extra recipes at the end, where I mentioned that it had started snowing again.  
It was the kind of snow that,  just like last time, covered all the trees making them look picture postcard perfect.  It was really beautiful but...
there's a spring out there somewhere.

            



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

BIRDIE HUMOR

I came across these photos again recently, old but fun ones and they always make me smile.  Hopefully even if you have seen these before, they will still give you a smile.  












Monday, January 28, 2019

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CHICKEN AND BISQUICK DUMPLINGS


Chicken and Bisquick Dumplings

I don't have a website for this one.  We've all got our own favorite of this recipe, and this is very similar to the one Gregg's mother used to make her family when they were kids. It's a bit of this, and a bit of that, and made to fit our own tastes.

1 sweet yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large chicken
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings:

2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix
2/3 cup of milk

Method:

Take chicken out of the refrigerator, remove plastic wrapping and the bag inside the cavity.  Put chicken into a large pot.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, minced garlic, basil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover with water and cook on stovetop starting at medium-high (I have an electric stove and put it on 7).  When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium (4 on my electric stove).  It will take 45 minutes to an hour.  Keep covered. 

At this point you can prepare the dumplings.  Put the Bisquick baking mix into a large bowl, add the milk and combine until a soft dough forms.  Don't over mix or your dumplings may turn out a bit tough.  Cover and refrigerate.

When chicken and veggies are cooked, take the chicken out of the pot, making sure no liquid is left in the cavity.  If you have a deep strainer insert inside your pot, it would make it a lot easier.  But if like me you don't, I hold it very carefully over the pot at a slight angle, using two very large strainer spoons to hold it securely.  I let the liquid drain back into the pot.  It is a little tricky but as you can guess, this liquid is boiling hot so you don't want it dropping back in, or have hot broth cascading out of the chicken when you transfer it from pot to plate.  You should be able to now lift the chicken from the pan and place on a plate large enough to hold the whole chicken.

Once cool enough to touch  take the meat off the bones and cut into bite-size pieces.  Put the meat back into the pot and discard the bones.  Turn the heat back up to a slow boil.  

Time to take the dumpling mixture out of the fridge.  Put large spoonfuls of dough onto the broth, repeating the process until you have used it all up.  Again, please do this carefully as you don't want to splash.  Cover tightly, turn down the heat to 4 and cook for 20 minutes.  Don't be tempted to lift the cover.  

My Mother-in-law told me years ago that interrupting during cooking would make the dumplings tough.  

To serve up, place a dumpling in the middle of your bowl, pour chicken, veggies and brother over the top.  Leave it about 20 minutes to cool before you sit down, and enjoy!




Gregg made most of this meal.  I read the directions and coached him when he had a question.  It is the first time he has made his mother's Chicken and Dumplings.  I told him once again this is another reason his mother would be proud of him.  We are still enjoying her recipe after all these years, and now her son is making it.  He said I am a good coach, but I told him he is a great chef, and we have a lot of fun making our meals together these days.

Added note: 1-29-19

After reading a couple of your comments, I should have realized that Bisquick is not a staple overseas.  I found it in Germany once in a section with other American products and was delighted to be able to make family some pancakes, but not sure if that was a one time thing.  It's basically flour with three other additions.  I found this copycat recipe here.

Homemade Bisquick Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the cold, cubed butter and using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients together on low, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Alternatively, you can combine the ingredients using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingers.

Store the baking mix in the fridge or the freezer for up to 3 months.


Using the above homemade mixture, you can also make the recipes below.  I would like to thank Tiffany, host of Don't Waste The Crumbs, for these great recipes.  I will be revisiting to see what other recipes I can make.

Classic Biscuits Made with Homemade Bisquick:

1-1/2 cups homemade Bisquick
1/2 cup milk

Combine the ingredients together until a soft dough forms.  Knead 10 times.  Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into circles using whatever cutter you have handy.  (A cup turned upside down could be used also.)  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes at 450 degrees F.  

Classic Pancakes made with homemade Bisquick

2 cups homemade Bisquick
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Stir together milk and eggs until well blended.  Add the homemade Bisquick mix and stir until just combined.  Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto a hot griddle or large frying pan.  Cook until the pancakes start to bubble and edges are slightly dry.  Flip and cook until golden.

Classic Waffles made with homemade Bisquick

2 cups homemade Bisquick
1-1/3 cups milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons of melted butter (optional)

Preheat the waffle iron and coat with melted butter if using.  Stir milk and eggs together until well blended.  Add homemade Bisquick and stir until just combined.  Pour a small amount of batter onto the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer directions.

~~~~~~~


At 4.35 p.m. (1-29-19)  it is snowing again, a lovely fluffy type of snow coming down quite heavily. I don't think it will be as much as the last time, maybe.  Those snow flakes are huge!  It is supposed to stop at 7.00 p.m. tonight.  I saw the junco's visiting and as there were slim pickings, I rushed out before it got too bad and filled the bird feeders up, and sprinkled some on the rails.  I haven't seen them since but the squirrel is out there.





Happy cooking everyone, stay warm if you are in the cooler climes, and cool if you are in the more tropical ones.




Saturday, January 26, 2019

A LOVELY POEM

Looking Back
by Edgar A. Guest 
1881 to 1959

I might have been rich if I'd wanted the gold
Instead of the friendships I've made.
I might have had fame if I'd sought for renown
In the hours when I purposely played.
Now I'm standing today on the far side of life,
And I'm just looking backward to see
What I've done with the years and the days that were mine,
And all that has happened to me.

I haven't built much of a fortune to leave
To those who shall carry my name,
And nothing I've done shall entitle me now
To a place on the tablets of fame.
But I've loved the great sky and its spaces of blue;

I've lived with the birds and the trees; I've turned from the splendor of silver and gold
To share in such pleasures as these.
I've given my time to the children who came;
Together we've romped and we've played,
And I wouldn't exchange the glad hours spent
With them for the money that I might have made.

I chose to be known and to be loved by the few,
And was deaf to the plaudits of men;
And I'd make the same choice should the chance
Come to me to live my life over again.
I've lived with my friends and 
I've shared in their joys,
Known sorrow with all of its tears;

I have harvested much from my acres of life,
Though some say I've squandered my years.
For much that is fine has been mine to enjoy,
And I think I have lived to my best,
And I have no regret, as I'm nearing the end,
For the gold that I might have possessed

Edgar A. Guest was born in Birmingham, England, brought to America when he was ten years old, and died in Detroit, Michigan, at the age of 77.  You can read about him here.

(I am also sharing a few old photos from my archives)

Happy Sunday Everyone!



Friday, January 25, 2019

THE DANCING LAMP

When we had company staying with us recently, we went to one of the local restaurants, and our son joined us.  Not one of us thought to take photos.  Ah well!  We had a lovely meal and a fun couple of hours.  It was one of those days when we were all bundled up for the bitter cold, and glad to get inside.  

As we got ready to leave the restaurant, in the foyer I saw movement on a shelf behind where the staff greet their customers.  I had to look twice and on a ledge I saw a touch of the Islands.  It was a lamp with a dancing hula girl, a bit of kitsch and a little out of place for the theme of this restaurant but I don't know, somehow she seemed to belong there.  The electric motor inside really made that girl shake her hips.  I loved it and as I was studying and chuckling and smiling at it with great interest, one of the young ladies said she had a postcard showing where I could buy the lamp if I would like one.  I wasn't sure whether I would be, but you just never know and I accepted the postcard gratefully.  There is a room upstairs I will be redecorating this spring.  Yes I know, in my dreams!
I was already picturing in my mind the perfect spot where she would light up a dark corner of a room, and amuse anyone who sat down beside her. And then I went on line and saw the price, oh boy.  Too much for me sad to say.  Maybe if I was a good girl you think Santa would pop it in his sack for me for next Christmas?  Yes, I am smiling again because I can hear him say ho, ho, ho, no, no, no, ho, ho, all the way from the North Pole.  Here is the website if you want to take a look.

Happy Weekend to you all, and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

IT ARRIVED


Just over two weeks ago I told you about a story at this post.  A lady whose aunt bought an ornament at a garage sale 28 years ago, came across the ornament with the name of our son on the back, in her aunt's collection of Christmas ornaments.  She saw this particular one had a name,  a date of birth and other info painted on the back (I removed these in Paint Shop Pro just for this post for privacy purposes).  It was an ornament I had painted about 30 years ago, when I first started painting and taking part in craft shows, and wanted to commemorate our son's birth.  

Her niece came across it recently in her aunt's box of Christmas ornaments, was curious and did a search on line.  She found our son's name and sent him a message, asking if he was the one whose name was on the back of the ornament.  He confirmed that it was, and that his mother had painted it.  This lovely lady popped it in the mail and sent it to him.  It arrived and our son in turn brought it over the other day, and now I have this little family treasure back where it belongs.  I wrote about Gregg's theory of how it was lost at my post (link above)  

I am so thankful to this lady and also to her aunt, and will be writing a thank you letter asap.  

To this lady, if you read my post, I do want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  There really are not enough words to tell you how grateful I am for your kindness.  But I do for returning this ornament to our family, and please thank your Aunt for keeping it safe all those years.  It will be hanging up on our tree next Christmas.  I will find a box for its storage, and inside the box will be written the history of its return.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

THE SNOW BIRDS

Most of the snow has gone now.  These were taken the first day we had it.
We have been getting a lot of Dark-eyed Juncos.  They always arrive in the winter and leave in the spring.
I am surprised to see a Mourning Dove as they usually disappear in the winter.  This one has been visiting every day for a long time.
The snow had been four or five inches high on the rail, but I watched the little juncos, and other birds, slowly shuffle the snow away with their feet to expose the seed.  It was like they were dancing and it was a sight to behold. 
The Blue Jay arrived too late for the show.
The birds started arriving soon after I put the seed out.  The latest bag I bought contained mostly sunflower seeds, and it gets eaten quickly.
We also had an interesting visitor, one bird I had never seen in our garden before.  I didn't get a photo but the closest I came to identifying it was when I looked at a Black and White Warbler here.  It also looked like a junco and at first I was a little confused, thinking maybe its pigmentation had gone awry. I do wish I had my camera ready but the battery had died and I couldn't find my other one.  Hopefully it will come back again.  Otherwise the memory of it will have to do.
The dove looks like it is resting after a good feast, but with the snow coming down I wished it would get some shelter under the eaves.
Slowly these industrious little birds cleared the rail, and all that was left was this 'igloo' of sorts.  One little junco was burrowing into it, I daresay to find another cache of seed.

By the time they had finished, they had built their own igloo.
And after a while they had fashioned a very nice home for themselves.  Okay, so my imagination flew away with the feathers, but a Rembrandt I am not (the two birds on the left were borrowed from Pixabay).
My little friend here looked up and approved.
The sunflower feeder is silent, the birds finally left.
Squirrels have not been seen and must be staying warm in their nests.  If I was a squirrel I would be there too.
I have to say I did enjoy this snow, but then I didn't have to drive anywhere.  I wished all those who had to be out on the road a safe journey back home to their families.  
In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees.
~Mary Oliver~
There is hardly any of this left now, two days of rain cleared most of it away, and there is more rain on the way.

Thanks for stopping by my friends and safe travels.