Friday, September 18, 2020

ROB'S COVID BIRTHDAY

 

Rob enjoying a Moscow Mule on his birthday.

Like everyone who's celebrated a birthday during the pandemic, you make the best of it. And that's what Rob and I did this past Tuesday on his 51st birthday.

We both booked the day off work, so it started off great! He started his day with a nice breakfast and presents. We weren't really sure what we were going to do for the day, but I lucked out, as I had seen a post on Facebook a few days earlier letting me know that Mountsberg Raptor Centre had started a new Raptor experience called Talons and Tailfeathers, perfect for these times. I quickly purchased tickets for his birthday. 

It was nice to get back there and see not only some feathered friends, but a human one as well. 

Jazz, a beautiful Barn Owl.

Lara holding Jazz who's saying, "Where's your glove Rob?"

The experience takes place in the "flyway", and the birds are flown, perch to perch. We saw a variety of species including a Kestrel, Barn Owl, Broad-winged Hawk and a Harris Hawk. I was also treated to a showing of  "Echo", an Eastern Screech Owl. 

I'm not going to lie, we missed not being able to hold the birds, but it was still a very enjoyable experience. I noticed different things about them, like their beautiful colouring, flying by so close. 

Echo, the Eastern Screech Owl.

Even during these tough times, we must take time to smell the flowers.

We have been doing Raptor Encounters at Mountsberg for over a decade, and this was the first time I did not get to hold Echo, but it was wonderful to see her.  

After a great afternoon out we went home for a couple hours and then went to one of our favorite local restaurants, Toast on Bloor for drinks and dinner. 

Celebrating at Toast on Bloor.

We were too full from dinner for more cake at home, but he made a wish.

All in all, I think he had a pretty great birthday! I always joke that I have a great time on his birthday because I always plan it! LOL!!! Here's to making the best of it!    
 

Friday, September 11, 2020

OUR LABOUR DAY WEEKEND

 

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Visit to Springridge Farm to start the weekend. 

Before Covid19 Rob and I enjoyed low key, relaxing weekends periodically, during Covid19 I find I need them. The numbers have started to spike again where we live. We can't change what other people decide to do during these times, but we can control what we do. We still plan to enjoy our lives as much as we can by doing what we can safely. Here's a recap of our labour Day weekend.  

On Saturday we enjoyed a trip to Springridge Farm to pick up a few yummy goodies, including a wild Ontario Blueberry Pie. That was our dessert for the weekend. And we also enjoyed a delicious lunch from their front porch take out stand.   

My yummy breakfast from Toast on Bloor.

On Sunday, after a delicious breakfast on the "Toast on Bloor" sidewalk patio we went for our regular Sunday nature walk. 

Great Blue Heron standing tall and proud.

Taking time to stop and smell the flowers.

One of four Praying Mantis's I saw on our walk.

As most weekends when the weather is good, we enjoy spending time in our backyard. 

Our backyard sanctuary in September.

We sometimes make the squirrels work for their supper. 

Food for them, entertainment for us!

The Baltimore Orioles left us this past week for their journey south. We will seem them again next May.  We haven't seen a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in a few days, but will keep the feeders up til Thanksgiving weekend for any stragglers that pass through, we usually get a few.

The Red-breasted Nuthatches have returned to the yard. They don't migrate but they disappear for the summer. 

They Red-breasted Nuthatches have been enjoying the fountain in the yard. 

The holiday Monday was quite rainy, but we enjoyed binge watching a show on Netflix, Cobra Kai   and getting a few things done inside. A quiet but enjoyable weekend, and I see many more of them in the coming months. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

SIGNS OF FALL

A skunk exploring our backyard.  
Covid19 has affected most areas of our lives, but I'm grateful that it has not affected our backyard, except in a positive way, I'm able to spend more time back there.

Four things happen in our backyard every August that let us know that summer is quickly coming to an end and the fall season is a mere few weeks away.

1. These beautiful yellow flowers bloom along the fence.

They are called Jerusalem Artichoke, a part of the sunflower family.
We hear the roots are edible, but we prefer the Goldfinches eating the seeds.
 2. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird population increases in our yard. We usually have a couple adults with us through-out the summer, but in August we start seeing juveniles as well.

A juvenile fueling up for his first trip south.

3. Skunks make our backyard their favorite hang out! (Good thing we don't mind them)

Checking out the flowers.
Three of the sometimes five that have been around.
Walking through the pollinator garden.
Our ground bird baths become the skunks local watering hole.
I posted this one because I think it's pretty.
They all seem quite happy in our backyard! 
4. The Baltimore Orioles who arrive in May disappear around the end of June or so and reappear in August with the families they have raised.

Papa (top middle) over seeing 3 feeding.
Two enjoying a bath while Papa watches. 
 We're pretty sure we had three families of Baltimore Orioles this year, as we had a dozen in the yard a few times including three adult males.

It's been a great summer in our backyard for the wildlife and for us. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

HELLO FRESH


I don't consider myself a great cook. I get by, simple ingredients, simple but tasty meals. Maybe that's why I love dining in restaurants so much, trying new foods that I wouldn't attempt at home. Having someone prepare it, serve and clean up is a big bonus too.

When we were in stage one of Covid19 lock down a neighbor offered me a code for 3 free meal kits from Hello Fresh. Since I was working from home four days a week, and cooking more, I thought I would try it out. I was hooked from that first box, and have ordered more since.

For me, it's kinda like a cooking class in a box! It comes with recipe cards, and most of the ingredients are pre-measured. You only need a couple pantry staples to whip up a restaurant quality meal. I've cooked with ingredients I never have before and have learned some tips and tricks I will continue to use. I don't get a box every week, it depends on what we have going on. I'm looking forward to trying some new recipes and reordering some favorites. They offer lots of variety every week to pick from and the high quality ingredients is noticeable. I  also love how all the packaging is recyclable.

Here are a few pics of some of the meals I have made.

The first meal I made from Hello Fresh, Southwestern Pork Tacos with Tomato Lime Salsa and Cheddar
Zucchini and Lemon Linguine with Peas and Pesto
Saucy Taiwanese Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy and Scallion Rice
BBQ Beef Meatballs with Smashed Potatoes and Broccoli
Moo Shu Pork Tacos with Stir-Fried Veggies and Sriracha Mayo
Steak with Montreal Spiced Shrimp with Grilled Zucchini and Heirloom Tomatoes
Chinese Almond Chicken with Garlicky Bok Choy and Rice - One of our favs!
All my recipe cards.
Who would of thought I'd be able to get Rob to eat all these new dishes, but we've both enjoyed everything we've had. Trying this meal kit service was one of the positives during this somewhat negative time.

Friday, August 14, 2020

BACKYARD SANCTUARY

Our private green space.
I have always loved our backyard. It is where we spend the majority of our spring and summer weekends, and as long as the fall weather holds, you will still find us out there. This year though, a different word comes to mind when I think of our backyard, grateful. 

When we went into lock-down back in March, spring was on it's way. For bird nerds like us, that means the arrival of the migrants, some who will visit our backyard on their way further north, and others that will remain with us for the spring/summer season. It also means a variety of other visitors, some furry and some of the other winged variety.

Our backyard not only provides shelter, food, and water for our wild friends, but it provides us with a place to unwind and de-stress. The antics of our wild friends also provides us with endless entertainment and a sense of joy. It's easy for us to spend hours back there, and we are grateful that we have this space to do so. I know having this private oasis of ours has helped us deal mentally with the pandemic. Our backyard truly is our sanctuary.

Please enjoy some photos of some of our spring and summer visitors.

The Baltimore Orioles are always pretty hungry when they arrive in the Spring. 
This Red Squirrel enjoyed our bird feeders for a month or so this past Spring. I named him "Timbit"!
Cedar Waxwings courting in the yard. 
We had a chipmunk around regularly for the first time in four years. 
I saw this guy nightly for months, he's my friend, and still around.
My favorite summertime visitor. 
I've taken over sugar water and feeder cleaning duty since I'm working from home.
I don't see the opossums much anymore, as I'm usually asleep when they come through. 
August means skunks in our yard!
The birds are not the only wildlife who enjoy the bird baths.
The skunks seem pretty happy in our backyard. 
Rob's pollinator garden is attracting some nice butterflies, like this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. 
Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm.
Baby raccoon.
Our Northern Cardinals are here year round, and "Papa" has a mate and raises a family yearly. 
In a few weeks we won't be seeing many of these species, we are enjoying them while we can.