a morning stroll

I like to go for walks on my days off. I find that this lets me unwind and just relax for a bit before I settle in to study/write/worry about something else. My neighborhood is not in the nicest area, but sometimes you can see some neat things–fish jumping out of the water to catch their breakfast, iguanas sunning themselves on the bank of the canal, and all sorts of birds and cats. Today, I got a glimpse of a butterfly that had just emerged from its cocoon before it flew off.

I managed to grab a very low quality camera picture šŸ™‚

newborn butterfly

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a lovely day for a garden party

IMG_8341 I finally visited the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens today. I’ve been meaning to visit for years and was sorely disappointed when I didn’t get to go during the Chihuly exhibit a couple of years ago. It was definitely worth the wait. The August heat was dreadful, but the bright day was wonderful for a picnic and photographic excursion. My b-chan learned that the steep entry fee was being waived during Sundays in August, so today was our last chance to visit for free. I hate to admit it, but the $20 entry fee per person has deterred me in the past.

IMG_8322We were able to have a lovely picnic under the shade of a banana tree on the edge of a bubbling rock fall. I prepared all sorts of little finger sandwiches (cucumber cream cheese, avocado and chicken with swiss, and savory meatball with mozarrella) with a side of Sun Chips, fuji apple slices, and strawberry tea with a splash of ginger ale. It was a surprise for the b-chan who expected plain old ham sandwiches and water šŸ™‚ . There was a threat of rain for a few moments, but other than a bit of distant thunder we were able to stay dry… and hot. Oh, was it ever so hot. And steamy.

Some of the plants were not in bloom because of the late season, but we still managed to see some gorgeous flowers and I got a chance to snap some shots. I even chased some butterflies, though I still think they are creepy little bugs that lure you in with their colors.

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And I finally got to see some of the Chihuly sculptures! I love colored glass and Chihuly’s has such a wonderfully organic feel to it.

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It’s been a lovely weekend, back to the old drudgery tomorrow… or at least back to studying.

random pictures and surprise cat-blogging

After months of telling myself I would, I finally went up to the special collections to visit my thesis. As I work there now, it seemed like the perfect opportunity… plus, I was suckered into a field trip to the fourth floor by one of the other girls šŸ™‚

I wish I had my camera on hand at the time, I was only able to get two very badly blurred shots with my phone (I recently cracked my phone and had to downgrade back to my old Razr, sucks for pictures).

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thesis1

One day, I will bind a copy of my own.

Meanwhile, Didymus has learned the joy of bubbles and having them land on one’s nose.

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didy_bubbles3Yes, he is a large, silly creature šŸ™‚

old-fashioned charm

Yesterday, my adventurous b-chan took me to the Cauley Square Historic Village in the Redlands for a lovely afternoon tea šŸ™‚ . I heard about the tea room at Cauley Sq. a few years ago but had never had the opportunity to visit, and the Redlands always seem so far away, though it’s only about a half hour drive. I think I have this impression because this area is mostly farmland, so it seems very isolated and distant.

Cauley Square was charming. It’s really an old railroad village that has been preserved and most of the shops are curious little antique stores. There are a couple of little restaurants, including the tea room, which looks like a fussy little old lady’s parlor full of doilies and old lace. The day was dark and rainy, but it made it seem as if we were visiting a little town up north, not in the middle of South Florida.

The Tea Room

Fussy charm

High Tea

We had finger sandwiches and a savory clam chowder for lunch, and I had their very tasty blend of spiced tea. It would have been nice to order a pot of tea, but I don’t think the b-chan would have had much tea, so I enjoyed my cup of iced spice tea.

Nibbles

Rose teapot

The antique shops were very neat and had a lot of unexpected surprises. I’ve always wanted to go antiquing, and I finally had my chance! One of the shops had a bunch of transistor covers – these heavy glass domes were part of old power lines – and I got a green one for myself (I saw them on Antiques Roadshow one time and thought they were interesting. Plus, I love colored glass and these have such a unique shape).

Antiquing

The village also has a very nice aquarium shop that sells tropical fish and they have a large koi pond near the entrance.

The golden fish

Seahorse

And if you notice that I used the word “little” over a dozen times when describing this place… well, there really is no other word for it. It is little.

puricute

I found a link to Puricute on Kao-ani and had to play with it šŸ™‚

Here’s Didymus the Cat done up Japanese sticker booth style…

http://s3.amazonaws.com/S3widget/widget.swf?puriXML=http://www.puricute.com/xml/image/1535562&puriURL=http://www.puricute.com/image/1535562&puriJPG=http://s3.amazonaws.com/puricute_thumb0/2009/06/27/s3fd8f21f52257eef6ce02c4bb1c34879e.jpg

Cute Purikura Online cute and dangerous

Pink Domo says Happy Valentine’s

It’s going to be a very rushed Valentine indeed as we prepare for the Canadian invasion… an unplanned for visit from some of the Cuban ex-pat relatives fleeing the arctic chill for a week.

The new job is going well, but it seems I’m never home long enough to get anything done, so prepping for this visit has been somewhat er… haphazard. I just barely managed to get all the supplies I needed for yesterday’s pre-Valentine’s baking experiment, so the “made from the heart” part of my gift for Bunny is covered, with the surplus going to the fam as “sorry, can’t afford proper gifts right now” offerings.

I need a nap. A proper one. My free Friday was not the least bit restful and I’m in for a long week.

And now I’m off to go hide things in my car’s trunk to make our place seem neat and tidy. But not before posting some gratuitous baking pictures…

baking experiments

I decided to make holiday treats for friends and family, so I started searching for recipes that would a) be interesting and different, b) meet the dietary restrictions of certain individuals.

I found the answer to part b (a treat that would be low cal, low sugar/carb, and low fat) in these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Macadamia) Cookies. I bought all organic ingredients, replaced the refined with raw sugar, and substituted the walnuts that the recipe calls for with macadamias. They’re a bit crisp, I suspect this is because of the low fat factor, but they are very flavorful.

My other inspiration came from Annie’s Eats. Though not low anything, these eggnog cupcakes are certainly different and full of holiday cheer (re: eggnog and rum).

The eggnog buttercream frosting was a bit too sweet for my taste, but anyone with a sweet tooth would love it. I would like to try these with a coating of powdered sugar instead, they have a very nice spongy texture with a delicate flavor that would be great as a sort of tea cake.

chicken run

So Fay has gone and rained itself through SoFla, and is now doing the oddest thing ever–strengthening while on land.

Nothing much happened, it was like the nice little Tropical Storms of yore (of yore being when I was a wee lass… er… a kid in elementary school). Just some wind, some rain, and a nice soaking for the plants.

However, we did have a Dorothy-in-Kansas type moment this morning when my mom looked out and saw that there were chickens outside our apartment. I thought, “Chickens? She’s got to be joking.” But, no, there really were chickens. A cute little hen and a rooster. Poor things were soaked and lost. I think they came from one of the homes on the other side of the street, probably tossed about on the wind and too confused to find their way home. We fed them some rice and they seemed pleased.

Here they come…
Here they come

Lola looks on in wonder… those birds are too big for her to tease.
Lola observes...