Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Intriguing Owl

Owls have fascinated man from time immemorial - to some cultures they are symbols of wisdom, while to others they are harbingers of doom and death.

Barred Owl
Forest Glen, Nova Scotia

And to crafters, they are just too darned cute!
There are owl cakes, owl quilts, owl jewelry pieces,
owl die-cuts for scrapbookers, and owl just-about-anything-else!
Because owls have stormed the craft world this past year,
I thought it might be fun to post a few owl facts. 
Christmas 2011 gifts for all the kiddos!

Most owls are nocturnal birds of prey with some exceptions:
Several types of owl, however, are crepuscular — active during
the twilight hours of dawn and dusk; one example is the Pygmy owl
Because of the nocturnal habits of owls,
they are a coveted check mark on any birder's life list.
"Their habits, and cryptic plumage,
make it easy for us to walk straight past them."


Worldwide, there are 223 species
In North America, 37
My life list:  only 3 visual, 1 audio

Barred Owl,
Somewhere in Maine

Though owls are typically solitary,
the literary collective noun for a group of owls is a parliament. 
Interestingly, if you look up parliament in the dictionary,
there is no mention of owls.

Sunflower Baking
The smallest owl — weighing as little as 31 g (1.1 oz)
and measuring some 13.5 cm (5.3 inches) — is the Elf Owl . 
The largest owl by length is the the Great Grey Owl,
which measures around 70 cm (28 in) on average
 and can attain a length of 84 cm (33 in).

Scientists studying the diets of owls are helped by
their habit of regurgitating the indigestible parts of their prey
(such as bones, scales and fur) in the form of pellets.
These "owl pellets" are plentiful and easy to interpret,
and are often sold by companies to schools for
dissection by students as a lesson in biology and ecoloogy.

Instead of moving their eyes, owls swivel their head
to visualize their surroundings.
The swiveling radius of the owl’s head is around 270˚,
easily enabling them to see behind them without relocating the torso.

Barred Owl,
San Antonio, TX

I jumped on the owl bandwagon, too, when I saw this adorable quilt kit

For the backing, I used a flannel sheet from a sheet set
that I had purchased at half price after Christmas.   

I appliqued my little friend's name to the accompanying pillowcase!
Now she has a little matching 'set'.

The CROSSLEY ID Guide advises that if you want to see an owl,
"you will have most joy looking on the first calm evening after a storm."
Good Luck!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Creative Attempts and Yummy Give-away

As if I wasn't busy enough birding and sewing,
sewing and birding,
I thought it might be fun to try my hand at
cake decorating.

Yeah, I know, pretty funny.

Not only did I blow through my
monthly allowance in less than 2 weeks,
it really wasn't my thing.

But I learned a few fun tricks, and I'll be able to play
cake, cookies, and cupcakes for special occasions.,
as long as no one looks too closely.

So here's cake #1, made during lesson two.
The owl pattern was taken from a Connecting Threads quilt.

Here's cake #3, after the fourth and final lesson,
inspired by a

for Colourque or Stitchery
© Helen Stubbings, Hugs ‘n Kisses.

(Notice there aren't any roses. Not my thing!
I'll have to practice more.
That is if I can put the binoculars down
and unplug the sewing machine for a little while.)

If you like to play with your food
before you serve it,
I found a most delightful site and a new book.

As a matter of fact, there is a give-away for this
newly released book at Bake at 350,
another fun-to-eat site!!

Cake for breakfast?  You bet!  And now I'm going to
ride the sugar high
and get busy at the sewing machine
take a walk.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Enchanted Outing

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Fredicksburg, TX

I never pass up an opportunity to go birding
and when my daughter signed us up for a bird walk  at
I was very excited.

Nestled in the Hill Country, I'd never explored this area before,
on foot, anyway.
Open oak woodland, mesquite grassland,
floodplain, and granite rock formations
sounded like good birding to me!

Having driven two hours before the day dawned
and braving the cold,
here is what was waiting for us upon our arrival:

It was on this day that my camera ceased to function.
My daughter came to my rescue and whipped out her phone.
Technology is amazing!

Cold and dreary did not dominate the day.
The sun came out for a quick visit just as our little troop
approached the massive granite boulders,
and the air filled with birdsong,

lead vocalizations compliments of
the Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus).

It was our good fortune to be in the company of
Dr. Kent Rylander, birding-by-ear extraordinaire,

And my personal good fortune that one of the geeky birders present,
Dr. John Wilbur,
graciously agreed to share some of his pictures with me,
because, you see, I saw FOUR life birds!

(Amphispiza bilineata)

(Spinus psaltria)

(Salpinctes obsoletus)

And last, but not least,

(Melozone fusca)

I have to explain that my daughter claims not to be a birder.
But I raised her to enjoy the out of doors
and to be a good daughter,
and she is always considerate and makes sure I find fulfillment
when I am visiting with her.

Claiming 98 Life Birds, now,
my non-birding daughter made this proclaimation,
"Half-way through, I wanted to go curl up in the car
and wait for you to finish,
but if I had, I wouldn't have seen the Lesser Goldfinches."
Hmmm, sounds like a birder to me!!

I leave you with just one question.
Which path is the right path?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where's Cupid When You Need Him?

With Valentine's Day just around the corner,
this guy needs a little assistance!

He never did get the girl!!


There's still time to make a special
Valentine's Day project.

I found this pretty wallhanging at


Last evening, I turned on the news, an activity I
usually go out of my way to avoid.
I generally find the news to be disturbing.
Last night was no exception.

I learned that for every dollar already spent on the primaries,
one person in the US is living below the poverty level.
The astounding total is approximately...

...are you ready for this?

47 million.

Is it just me?  Or is this an astounding number?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dragons and Damsels

Yes, indeed, the Nature Gods are smiling down upon us,
with yet another long anticipated field guide
that bridges a gap.

by Dennis Paulson
And the good news doesn't stop there,
because Dennis and the Princeton University Press
have also published the companion volume
(drum roll, please)

Up until now, I cross-referenced between two excellent guide books
and a couple of internet sites.

Now I can have it all in one!  AND damselflies, too!
Imagine my delight!

I am particularly pleased with the fully-illustrated text,
explicit, yet easy to comprehend.
And truly fascinating.

Dennis Paulson does an amazing job
covering description, identification (no easy task),
natural history (so much is still unknown!), habitat,
flight season and range maps. 
Each family is represented with general information
before introducing the 336 stars of the show
with a beautiful array of full-color photographs!

Blue-striped Spreadwing
Cherry Bluet

To learn more, go to  this Princeton University Press page.

Dragonflies are a favorite among crafts persons,
from stained glass

to jewelry

needle work


and even soap!

Everyone loves dragonflies.

Order your copy today!