When you're a 40 something single mother of a teen with lots of ambition, you find yourself in all kinds of interesting adventures and situations. Come back to laugh at us any time you feel the need, heaven knows where we'll be doing what next. Here you can expect a few words, a lot of images and hopefully ideas on what you can do for your next adventure.

If you're looking for something specific that we've done or a place that we've been, use the Search Box feature to search our blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our fall trek on the Eastern Trail - Scarborough Marsh section

After being couped up all day Saturday with torrential downpours, the monkey and I decided we would need to do something cool on Sunday. The weather was slated to turn sunny and in the mid 50's so we packed up the back pack and set out on the road.

For this trip I was armed with binoculars, my big camera, my Smithsonian handbook of Northern Birds, a field checklist and a pencil. Of course I was also loaded down with enough food and water to last us if we were stranded in the wilderness for a month - it's just how I am. I've been on a gazillion hikes with the boy, but spent most of it making two trips chasing him around making sure he didn't roll around in the poison ivy or ate some wild berries (yes, he is a boy). This time it was going to be different, I'm birding too. I felt compelled to watch for, photograph and collect information on birds we saw on the trail. Call it my re-kindled love for our feathered friends or you can just tell me I'm going to the birds. Either way, I came prepared to have a good time doing whatever it was that I was going to do.

I chose the Eastern Trail because it's an easy walking trail and the monkey could bring his bike if he wanted to. It's been awhile since we've been near the coast and I had a need to smell saltwater. It's not far from the house - takes about 20 minutes to get there from home. Lastely, it's a hotspot for birds. Those are my reasons for the choice. The Scarborough Marsh Trail runs from Pine Point Road and crosses Rt 207 (Black Point Road) and comes to an end just shy of Pleasant Hill Road, with future construction considered to connect the trail to Pleasant Hill and on through to Portland. Monkey and I have only been through the marsh area by Pine Point, mostly because I didn't know who far the road went until I finally found the attached map online. Now I know for a fact it's 3 miles round trip (just about a mile and a half one way). Or at least my feet can tell you.

It was a gorgeous day for a walk; sunny, warm and just breezy enough to keep from overheating. We saw a Great Blue Heron, a handful of Herring Gulls, some Cormorants and a few varieties of sparrows in the marshy areas then Blue Jays, Chickadees, Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers and a few chipmunks along the wooded trail. We were also suprised by a Sharp-Shinned Hawk that swooped out of an Oak tree and flew straight at us! The colors were fantastic, the yellow, orange, brown and red hues were gorgeous! With all the beauty and beast came a small toll - there were literally at least a hundred people on that trail with bikes, dogs, baby carriages and kids in tow. We even met a very large, very wet, very friendly chocolate lab who decided to walk with us for a few minutes - I have no idea where he came from or where he went. I think that I would have faired better in the birding department if there hadn't been so many people. Regardless, a great time was had by both of us and we'll definitely have to do that again. Enjoy the photographs!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is for the birds



Sharing my birding photo album with anyone who might be interested. I'm becoming an active birder in my old age, or just crazier as time goes on. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A splash of fall color and a little poem for your viewing pleasure.......



Leaves



by Elsie N. Brady



How silently they tumble down


And come to rest upon the ground


To lay a carpet, rich and rare,


Beneath the trees without a care,


Content to sleep, their work well done,


Colors gleaming in the sun.



At other times, they wildly fly


Until they nearly reach the sky.


Twisting, turning through the air


Till all the trees stand stark and bare.


Exhausted, drop to earth below


To wait, like children, for the snow.

























Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beef Stew for two..... nights at least!

There's nothing outrageously difficult about making a heart-warming beef stew. All you need is a pot, some stewing beef , some vegetables and some time to let it all come together. I've been known to pick up stewing beef and clean all the canned and frozen vegetables I can find in the house - but I call that junk stew.





1 lb of stewing beef
Tenderizer
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
4 medium potatoes
Any other desired vegetables, like peas, green beans, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, etc
32 oz beef broth
1/2 cup Barley
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Obviously, I'm a Hannaford brand kinda girl.



Start by adding tenderizer to the stewing beef and cutting and larger sized chunks up. Let meat stand for at least 15 minutes.




Heat oil in stock pot or large vessel. Chop onions coarsely and add to pot and allow to simmer until translucent.



Add beef and garlic and allow beef to brown, stirring occasionally to get all sides of beef.



Cut vegetables into uniform pieces (so they cook evenly). Set aside.




Once beef begins to emit juices (see below) it's time to add the vegetables. Add all to pot, stirring after each addition, then level out ingredients. This allows you to easily see how much liquid you need to add.




Add beef broth, then refill container (or cans) with water and add until vegetables are covered by about 1/2 inch. If needed, use additional water (but be careful not to add too much and loose flavor).



Add the barley, salt and pepper and stir well.



Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat down to simmer. Stir occasionally, scraping bottom to ensure that barly isn't sticking, for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are done. Taste broth half way through cooking for additional seasoning needs, add salt and pepper to taste.



Mmmmmmm, good!




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When I went under the weather

It started with a few days of feeling grumpy and tired. I figured I was getting burnt out at work and it would pass with a peacefull weekend. It didn't, as a matter of fact immediately following our game on Saturday I felt woozy and sweaty. I curled up in the big frumpy chair and fell asleep - that was my first sign. I took my temperature and it read 99.6, so I slugged down some nighttime cold medicine and went to bed. I woke up on Sunday feeling groggy and ill and lay low for the day, doing just enough to keep the house clean and the laundry washed. My temp maintained itself around 99+, so I made sure I went to bed early that night.

Monday morning I woke up and went through my routine - get breakfast for the monkey, coffee for myself, took a shower, got dressed and ready and was waiting for the bus with the boys right on time. I was in my car and it hit me - I didn't feel good at all. I came in and took my temp - right back up to 99.8. I logged into work from home and made it through half a day then slept the rest of the afternoon. I battled the temperature, malaise feeling, chills to sweats, body aches and pains, headache and nausea, a stuffy nose and a sore throat from Saturday until Friday when I finally started to come around. Sunday I woke up still not 100% but much better than the previous week. Miraculously, the monkey never did get sick - we normally share every bug that comes around.

Ironically, my flu shot is scheduled for next week. Hopefully I'm done for the next year.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bird feeder blues

I moved my flat feeder closer to the house in preparation of winter last weekend (easier to fill, easier to watch birdies, easier to take pictures of birdies, easier to spook the squirrels and makes for great entertainment watching the cat freak out) and I wish I hadn't now, all my cute little feathered friends are now timid to get that close to the house. It happens every year and I know they'll return, but I miss the cute little birds. Right now all I have are Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. The Tufted Titmouse did finally make an appearance today, so I'm sure the rest will be right behind him. It's almost cool enough to put out the suet, I think I might do that next weekend. Anyway, here's some pictures of Sunday's events.



Blue Jays are hoarding all the food they can get, must be a sign...




Darn varmits, this one looks so cute and innocent but I scared him away







The first appearance this close to the house by the Tufted Titmouse.







Mourning Doves aren't afraid of the Jays, or the camera.




Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making Shrimp Fried Rice ain't all that hard....

Making fried rice at home isn't as bad as it sounds, and it's a heck of alot cheaper than going out. I have a hankering for this on a regular basis and use a ton of variety each time - deviating from the original recipe (after the first 4 ingredients) isn't really a bad thing. The whole trick to making fried rice is being prepared, having everything lined up and working fast.




Vegetable oil
2-3 cups cooked white rice, completely cooled and preferably refridgerated for a few days
2 eggs
1 Medium onion, or 3-4 white onions with greens
1 lb of:
     Medium or Small uncooked shrimp, peeled
     Stewing beef thinly sliced and tossed with tenderizer
     Chicken, thinly sliced

your imagination, which may include a cup of:
     Bean Sprouts
     Bamboo Shoots
     Water Chestnuts
     Pea Pods or Peas
     Mushrooms, sliced
     Carrots, thinly sliced or julienned

Soy Sauce - completely optional, unless you're using beef.


For today, it's Shrimp Fried Rice that this kid is craving. Let's start by preparing the kitchen. If using canned vegetables, dump them all in a strainer so they can fully drain.



Peel the shrimp, make sure they are deveined, then set aside. Beat the eggs with a little water and set those aside too, then gather up your vegetable oil, salt and pepper.



I prefer to use white onions in my fried rice and cut them up chunky, we'll cook them down so they soft to the bite. Cut up any other vegetables you might need to and if using beef or chicken, make sure you slice them last so you don't contaminate your cutting board! If using beef, slice it thin and add some unseasoned tenderizer to it before setting aside.



Break apart the rice to remove any clumps that may be stuck together. Clumpy rice isn't yummy rice.



Ok, you ready? You need a 'big honkin pan' to make this in, I have a huge frying pan that I use but a wok or your basic stock pot will work too. Sometimes I use two spatulas or even two scrapers, but today I'm using my rice spatula and a regular one. You'll want a medium to large sized bowl to place cooked items in.

Turn the heat up to high, place the pan on the burner and add the oil. When the oil sizzles, turn down to medium heat and add the eggs. Let them cook a little, then start scrambling until coooked. Cut the egg into small pieces, see pictures below.






Move egg to bowl you set aside earlier. Add a little more oil to the pan, turn back up to high heat and when oil sizzles, add the meat. If using shrimp, cook until just pink. If using beef, add some soy sauce to the pan for additional flavor. Turn heat down to medium if needed.



Transfer the meat to the bowl (with juices) with the egg in it and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan and turn heat back to high if you turned it down while cooking meat. Add onion and cook until just translucent. Add other vegetables and cook until crisp - tender. If using canned vegetables, turn down to medium heat and allow any remaining liquids to cook off.



After vegetables are cooked, push to the sides to create a 'well'. Add fried rice to center and continue to fold rice from bottom of pan to top for about 2 minutes to warm through. Start folding the vegetables into the rice.




Once rice and vegetables are well mixed, add a liberal pinch of salt, pepper to taste, the egg and meat that was set aside in the bowl and fold in gently. Be sure to add juices that have collected in the bowl, if any.



Viola! You survived and it wasn't as bad as you think, right? Now dig in, no chopsticks required!


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