Today I’m thankful for buffleheads, goldeneyes, tundra swans, mallards, Canada geese and ring-billed gulls—and for figuring out what’s wrong with my camera

clear photo of crescent moon

I saw so many birds today, but almost all of my photos of them ended up blurry. This has been a recurring issue. But I finally figured out the problem! Read on for the solution, plus not-atrocious photos of buffleheads. Read more …

Extreme thrift and a nice blanket

quilt with tan and white stripes

Sorry about the silence over the last week, but it’s Hippie Christmas here in Madison and I’ve been a tad busy with the festivities. For the uninitiated, Hippie Christmas happens every mid-August around the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. That’s when most of the student rental contracts turn over, and kids who didn’t have the time or foresight to empty their apartments ahead of time dump their unwanted belongings on the curb for the garbage collectors—or whoever gets there first. Read more …

Plant of the Day: Poinsettia

Poinsettias (the shrub with the bright red leaves—shaped like flower rosettes—at the center of the photo above) are native to the Americas, but plenty are to be found in Madagascar. They were brought here as a decorative plant and, as often happens with garden introductions, got loose with the help of birds. Because it never freezes in Madagascar, poinsettias here … Read more

Entropy Alway Wins has a lovely Metro Tote Tutorial

I am not much of a purse person, and besides Lilo would eat anything made of wool felt. But still, the bags over at Entropy Always Wins Blog today make me wish I liked to use purses. Well, I have friends who do! If I can keep the felt away from Lilo, I could make some for them. Entropy says: … Read more

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip muffins (no sugar, high protein)

If a little peanut butter is good, a lot is even better, right? Well, maybe. These muffins taste amazing if you’re a peanut butter lover, but they’re denser and moister than what I usually prefer. Next time, I’ll probably cut the peanut butter to 3/4 cups and add another egg. Supplies measuring cups and spoons 1 mixing bowl blender muffin … Read more

Making Pear Vinegar, Part 2

This post is a continuation of Pear Scrap Vinegar in Progress. After sitting near the window for a couple weeks, my jars of pear scraps was making good progress toward vinegar. The liquid was bubbling and a layer of yeast and starches produced by vinegar bacteria was forming on the surface. It was time for the next step in the vinegar-making … Read more

Adventures in Spray Painting #1

I’ve recently been going through a bit of a spray painting phase, urged on by the approach of winter and the fact that it will soon be too cold to spray paint. It also helped that my friend Dekalb was cleaning out his basement and found eight cans of spray paint left there by previous residents. Old spray paint isn’t … Read more

Putting Away the Pear Harvest

This is a bad year for apples in our neighborhood. The Golden Delicious tree I usually pick from only produced a handful of apples at the highest branches (ten pounds at the most), and the tree with the red Jonagold-type fruit produced only about 100 apples, most of which the bees and worms got to first. I’ve picked maybe a dozen … Read more

Cute birds!

These awesome birds are building nests on the park shelter I walk by most days, and it looks like someone’s trying to help them out by putting perches for them. That, or they’re barbs that are totally failing to keep them away. These aren’t in my Wisconsin bird book, so the only thing I can tell you is that they … Read more