Buds and Birds

comments: 55



































Grandma Paulson was visiting all last week, and Mimi had an absolutely wonderful time playing with her grandma pretty much non-stop. She also had her last day of her lovely, wonderful playschool, wrapping up two years of this perfect experience that fills me with emotion. She has grown and changed and thrived there in every way. For an only child (in our family at least; thankfully she has three birthsiblings that she knows and loves and sees often, but obviously they don't live with her), having friends to play with, talk to, learn with, walk with, fight with, make up with, laugh with, and share her days among is invaluable. I'm so grateful for our time there. I'm excited for next year (she's going to a pre-school in the neighborhood, and her friends, only one of which is a close neighbor, are going elsewhere), but I will miss these sweet days. (I will also miss the free eight hours a week they afforded me when I don't have them this summer, but that's another story.)

The weather has alternated cold and rainy with only mildly cold and rainy. I haven't spent too much time reading in my Adirondack chairs, but when I have been out there I've been nothing short of enchanted by all the little birds that are coming to our new bird feeder — a suet feeder that keeps squirrels and bigger birds out. Black-oil sunflower seed got spilled on the porch recently and not cleaned up; the squirrels went absolutely mental after they ate it all, and attacked the plastic milk jug we've used for years to fill the feeders, and destroyed the cap to the jug, and threw the jug across the yard and down the stairs to the sidewalk, and then threw the two empty feeders off of the trees, and completely destroyed the squirrel-proof one (I have two seed feeders — one is squirrel-proof, and one is just for the squirrels) by shredding the plastic tube inside and losing half of the parts. ANNOYING. Anyway, when I went to the store to get a new squirrel-proof seed feeder, I also got the new squirrel-proof suet feeder for the smaller birds. And now we have the sweetest little bushtits and chickadees. We've always had a lot of very friendly hummingbirds. Andy told me my red feeder (not squirrel-proof) was down on the sidewalk again this morning. Hrmmmm. Obnoxious. One squirrel sits on the fence and stares at me and thwacks his tail with fury the whole time I'm out there reading. He's quite annoyed that I'm in his yard, apparently.

My roses, good lord. Too bad I can't remember what they're called. I have two different bushes and they have been nothing short of fairy-tale quality this year, I do say.

I made a barbecue-chicken chopped salad like California Pizza Kitchen's from this recipe, but I used this chili-lime chicken that I've been making about once a week since I discovered the recipe. The salad tasted EXACTLY like CPK's. Exactly. It was awesome. Andy ate it (standing, still in scrubs, watching ESPN) when he came home from work.

Him, shouting from kitchen: "This is good!"
Me, shouting from living room: "I know, it's the jicama."
Him, mouth full: "The WHAT?!?!?"

Pfffft. I used the chicken on another night to make chicken tacos with this Mexican street corn salad, a vaguely unappetizing picture of which is up there, but I assure you, oh man, it was crazy good. So, chili-lime chicken, soft tortillas, corn salad, Spanish rice (from a box, I think it was Zatarain's). Boom.

Up there as well, Molly's Granola #5, the only one I'll eat anymore, originally gifted to me by the lovely Andrea for Christmas and which I've made several times since. I use cashews, sometimes almonds, and sweetened coconut. Very, very excellent granola. Simple and plain and toasty.

And then, magic custard cake. When I made this last summer, it occurred to me that it is exactly what I always want a clafoutis to be, but never is. So yesterday morning I pitted a bunch of cherries and added them to the bottom of the pan before I poured the batter in. It worked perfectly, though next time I would use more cherries, and actually more sugar. The cherries were seriously tart, and the cake just needs to be sweeter. Maybe a pinch of salt, too. This cake is really cool. It's a little bit of work, with beating the egg whites and all, but I've never seen anything like this before, and it is really delicate and delicious.

This week, ah . . . this week. I have a whole day — today — to myself. I'm sending the 'Night, Neighborhood cross stitch pattern off to the printer. Stacey's going to start pulling the floss tomorrow. The fabric should be arriving any day. This one has taken a while because I just have so many things going on at home right now. It's almost done, we just have to get it together around here. Things are a little rough around the edges. I could use a whole day to start smoothing them out. I'll be back soon.

***It's shaving-cream paint, to play with in the bath tub :).

***The upholstered dollhouse furniture was a long-ago sweet gift from Leigh. Thank you for that, Leigh. Meems set up this Calico Critter phalanx herself. Xox


Wendy Lister says: May 23, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Dear sweet Alicia - even the Calico Critter furniture is perfect! Are the upholstered pieces from CC? **Hoping you are going to say that some sweet lady makes them on Easy and they are still available. They are adorable!

I love that baking dish!

Squirrels--I do not like them at all. Once, we left a bag of seed out on the back porch and every squirrel in the neighborhood seemed to be on my deck at once. I called my young daughter over to look at them...then they started doing what young randy squirrels do...I broke it up quickly by scaring them all off the deck. I think squirrels are just fancier rats.

Sharon stanley says: May 23, 2016 at 12:06 PM

My mouth is watering!

I think it's a "Pierre de Ronsard" roses! ;-)

Who knew oiled sunflower seeds would have a "crack" effect on squirrels? Crazy squirrels! 😜
Yummy, recipes. Looking forward to trying the Magic Custard Cake. It's like having frosting on the bottom. 🍰
Shaving cream paint = genius!
Oh, sweet Clover Meadow, simply precious. I love seeing her lovely pup-dog face. 🐶

Beautiful as always! I love the bunny brigade best of all!

Mary Ann in Vermont, says: May 23, 2016 at 12:33 PM

So missed you last week. Love all of your captures. I could just melt away into all of your cozy and warm loveliness. I would also love to know about the Calico Critter furniture. And, please do share the name of your squirrel-proof suet feeder. Those squirrels!! They are the exact same way here in Vermont. I try to love them but.....some days! Everything you do is so sweet and heartfelt. xo

your garden looks absolutely dreamy!

Your description of the squirrels reign of terror had me cracking up! what pests they sound like. My pests are blackbirds...little ones with a white ring around their eyes...buggers! yelling at us and the cats wherever we go, eating the cat food, chicken food, pooping on everything. i have reminded them regularly about four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, but they continue lol!
my flowers are gang busters this spring too...the weather lately isnt so impressive, but it'll do. ;)
LOVE the hummingbird photos

Mary Ann in Vermont, says: May 23, 2016 at 01:11 PM

And who is upset with the Crackles?!!

This morning I posted a goat's picture to my FB wall as a perk-me-up... it did me good, but this post is doing me wonders! Always inspiring, always lovely. And a happy reminder of our own little girl's adoration and bliss with her collection of Calico Critters... *Bumbies* she called them, and carried them everywhere in a tiny cardboard suitcase. Thank you for this happy gift... your light and colors, reflections and happy moments are a simple joy.

Well who would have thought sunflower seeds could be so potent. We have less of a squirrel problem and more a fat pigeon problem - they do so very well from three little ones leaving more crumbs than they ate every time we have a meal outside that last summer we got to see what happens when a pigeon lands on a branch that can't support its weight!!

Love all of your garden and bird photos, reminds me of our time in the USA. And that magic custard cake is amazing and tastes delicious every time I make it.Enjoying your posts.Thanks!

Absolutely LOVE the pictures in this post!

cynthia says: May 23, 2016 at 04:10 PM

"nothing short of" magical photos. amelia's hair is so beautiful and long. the hummingbird photo was kinda like highlights for children's 'find the' puzzles. fork-pulled chicken salad with never-enough curry powder and raisins, celery, black olives, green onions is my go-to salad. squirrels!! and grackles!! i look like a crazy lady constantly going to the deck and clapping to scare them off. squirrels eat everything and then destroy everything. yes. annoying as heck. thank you, alicia, for a beautiful post. as always.

Shaving cream paint! You should tint whipping cream like that. ahhh
Your roses! My red one has died, and the pink rugosa has only the tiniest beginnings of buds. It is May 23rd, isn't it?

Those pink roses are heart-breakingly lovely! No rosies yet here at our new home, but I have plans! Mimi's hair is so long now and she is just growing like a weed...a pretty little weed. : )

One of those roses is the 'James Galway' variety by David Austin. Every year they delight me, and are the most reliable in this finicky Connecticut climate. I love your blog so much. I always save it for last- the best note of the symphony. Blessings to you, from one coast to another!

Those roses oh my. You should try flancocho. It's a Puerto Rican dessert and its flan and cake together with caramel. Yum. Your cake there reminded me of it.

marianne says: May 23, 2016 at 07:53 PM

I once had a regular deck squirrel who was a little aggressive. And then one day I was sitting inside by the window, looking out, and he came and squatted and stared Right At Me and peed. And peed and peed. It seemed to be a squirrel's weight of pee. So aggressive and pervvy. I hate squirrels.

marianne says: May 23, 2016 at 07:55 PM

Oh, you need a copy of Miss Suzy! One of my favorite childhood books. I guess I love Miss Suzy, but hate all other squirrels: http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Suzy-Miriam-Young/dp/1930900759/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464058441&sr=1-1&keywords=miss+suzy

Have you read The Portable Veblan? The main character has an interesting relationship with squirrels. Your story made me t think of it. Might be the perfect book to read while under squirrel surveillance.

Wow, those are feisty squirrels! It's all looking divine in your neighbourhood, despite the cold and the rain. It's been the same here, the coldest spring I can remember in fact. Surely that means that summer will be divine..? CJ xx

I didn't read all the comments, but if you haven't tried mixing cayenne pepper in the bird seed, give it a go. Birds do not have taste buds and it will not effect them except giving them a boost of vitamin C. Squirrels on the other hand do taste heat! I use it in my regular feeder. I only had to mix it in a few times before they just stayed away. Their first bite can be entertaining to say the least. Just wear gloves when mixing. I used a half cup in a normal sized feeder. Works with other rodents too since they also taste and bird seed is coveted by many small mammals. Good luck!

Jean Cogdill says: May 24, 2016 at 05:12 AM

Hello, lovely pictures... the roses are wonderful... of course your little one never ceases to amaze at how fast she is growing. Our youngest grandchild (oh, and mom and dad) just came for a quick visit; not the happy kind... (great grandma passed away) but it's always wonderful to see them. Anyway, they came down from Portland, we live in Utah. Our Kate is such a cutie, so good to see them all.
O.K., so could you (if you know) what the name of the flower is in the 6th picture from the top? Lovely, and so delicate. Thanks so much for sharing.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com