29 November 2011


These are too good not to share...srsly what could be better than Ryan Gosling and some beautiful interiors?  Not a whole lot.

Images compiled by Alison Brislin of Apartment Therapy

22 November 2011

how to catch a mouse

Humanely, that is.

I have a friend who just bought a house which is apparently inhabited by a few critters in the basement.  We had this same problem when we first moved into our century-old house a few years ago, but have since solved this by sealing up the foundation and insulating with spray foam.  I absolutely couldn't stand the sight of any more mouse traps in my crawlspace, so I used this little technique a few times to say the least!

What you need:

  • toilet paper roll
  • peanut butter
  • large garbage can

The rest is pretty much self-explanatory.

Spread some peanut butter into one end of a toilet paper roll.

Carefully balance on a ledge with the garbage can underneath.

When the mouse crawls through to get the peanut butter, the roll will fall into the garbage can.

Sometimes his friends will even join him-- a couple times I had 3 or 4 at one time.

Seriously how can anyone hate these critters?  So cute.  Rats?  Different story...

Then all you have to do is relocate them.  I walked them down into our forest and across the creek.  Not to say I wasn't repeatedly catching the same three mice every day, but at least I could sleep at night.  You can spray paint their tails if you're worried about this and want to see if you are in fact providing little pinky and the brain a free meal every day.  Or if you just have way too much time on your hands.

21 November 2011

red velvet cake

This was so good, I didn't even have time to take a photo of the inside because it disappeared so quickly.   True story.

So here is someone else's pic of the inside, which is spot on with what my own looked like before it was frantically devoured.

Recipe: Red Velvet Cake (adapted from here)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons red food coloring
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour two 8'' cake pans
  • Lightly whisk the eggs together, then add remaining liquid ingredients and whisk until blended
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix on on medium-high for until completely combined
  • Pour into prepared cake pans and drop on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • After about ten minutes, remove from pans and transfer onto wire racks until cooled completely

Now for the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups icing sugar
  • Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.
  • Add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.
Then, ice your little heart out!

 I think the buttermilk truly makes this cake.  The red color of the cake originally was from a reaction of the cocoa powder with the vinegar and buttermilk, but extra food coloring is added here to really enhance the pigment. 

This is foolproof and amazingly moist, I highly recommend it the next time you need to impress important dinner guests.

Second and third photos here and here

12 November 2011

hardy hummers

Amidst this terrible rainstorm, the hummingbirds are still going strong and ferociously guarding their feeders.  Try to imagine what a raindrop feels like to a little hummingbird-- the equivalent of a gallon of water being poured on a human's head.  That doesn't really sound fun to me.

Here are a couple shots that really illustrate the iridescent quality of the male Anna's.  Same hummingbird, only a different angle makes his head look jet black instead of fluorescent pink.

Then he got mad at the resident photog and flew to a nearby branch.

This is a female Anna's at different feeder, who let me get much closer.

Of course I already want a lens upgrade, although looking back at older photos (like the one below), it is nice to see a difference in quality even with my lower-end current zoom lens.

So for our trip to Maui in a couple of months I decided to try out this company and rent myself a nice expensive telephoto to take with me- a EF 100-400mm L-Series IS.

I looked at a ton of reviews and this is one of the top choices among professionals for wildlife photography, before getting into the 10K+ supertelephoto lenses.  The cost is about $170 (insured) for two weeks.  Also a good option if you are in the market for a new lens but wish to try one out for a little longer than the camera shop is willing to let you!

9 November 2011

bulb bonanza

I meant to write this post a few weeks back but just haven't found the time.  Let's call it 'end-of-summer-garden-refresher'.  I planted about a hundred tulip bulbs in the back garden in front of the newly-transplanted Japanese Maple.  I bought these guys after the bulbs course I took last month.  Key word here is foolproof.  If you're a little unsure of color combos (as am I), it helps to just cheat and buy the pre-packaged combinations sometimes.  Also new to me this year is bonemeal.  I have used it a little in the past, but learned at this course that it helps the bulb's root system immensely and makes for a stronger and healthier flower.  Just sprinkle a little in the ground before you place your bulbs. 

I planted these Fritillaria bulbs in a front garden border in front of a row of Hellebores.  They are very expensive and very small but i'm hoping the look will be worth it come Spring!

Then I ripped out some tired looking summer annuals from their pots and replaced them with some pansies and grasses for a little fall colour.

Also tried to fill in a few tired looking spots on the back lawn.  This was a few weeks ago and all the rain we've been having has helped new grass to almost completely grow back over the compost mix. 

That's all for now.  Gotta get back to raking thousands of maple leaves from the driveway.  Doesn't it feel like just yesterday that we were doing fall cleanup?  Still trying to grasp the fact that summer has ended, not to mention that Christmas is in full force in the stores already. 

7 November 2011

real estate stalking

Get a load of this beaut, designed by Leith Anderson and built by Coastal Construction.  I love this look; being enveloped in a west coast rainforest with amazing rockwork and panoramic ocean views.  Not to mention the amazing combination of Japanese-inspired rain chains paired with Native-inspired wood carvings.

4 November 2011

an apple a day

I was watching Steve Jobs' speech for the 2005 grads of Stanford the other day, and since I'm feeling extra chatty today thought I would share some of my own reflections on his philosophical suggestions!  Reviewing the remaining credit requirements for my accounting degree includes such terms as Management Cost Accounting, Quantitative Methods, Auditing, Income Tax, Applied Professional Practice.  Not terrible for a girl who loves organizing numbers, but still a little dry to say the least.  So Mr. Jobs' speech got me thinking; if I was to wake up every morning and be excited about the day ahead, what would it look like?  Well at this stage of my life, it would undoubtedly include school.  So what would this dreamland timetable look like if I was to register for classes solely based on personal interest?

Financial Accounting 5
Philosophy of Mind
Management Accounting 2
Landscape Design & Maintenance
Auditing 1
Plant Propagation 2
Accounting Theory
Physical Anthropology
Management Accounting 3
Winter Birds of Southwest B.C.
Income Tax 1
Atmospheric & Ocean Sciences
Income Tax 2
History of Architecture
Applied Professional Practice
Beyond Beginning Birding
Ethics in Business
Financial Planning 1
Corporate Finance 2
Introduction to Graphic Design
Intermediate Macroeconomics
Social Psychology
Investments 2
Kitchen & Bath Design 2
Advanced Operations Management
Introduction to Cantonese 1
Tax Planning for Succession
Landscape and Wildlife Photography
Organizational Behavior
AutoCAD Level 1
International Trade & Finance

Birds on the Move: Flight & Migration

That little exercise was kinda fun. I suppose there's no reason why I couldn't take any of these classes, but there's not really a guaranteed career opportunity after this random basket of classes.  (Although no career after a degree is guaranteed, I suppose, but an accounting degree might be a little more reliable for this purpose.)

I would by no means be an expert in any one area, but I would be a little educated in each of my favorite subjects!  In this dreamland I would graduate with a Bachelor's degree of Ornithology, with a minor in Interior Design and a major in Anthropological Psycho-Philosophical Horticulture and Photography. Wow What a combo.  I'm sure I would be a great candidate for a high-profile career with those letters behind my name.

But realistically, unless you are a brilliant innovator and visionary like Steve Jobs, it can be tough to find a career that you can wake up and truly be excited about every morning, while trying to live on a sustainable income so that you can enjoy life outside life outside of work as well.  There is no easy answer, but Steve put it well when he stated, "...the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking."  I am inspired by this quote, although I do think it's fairly misleading.  There is no guarantee of financial success by simply doing what you love to do.  Unless, of course, your passions in life are computer programming and advanced mathematics.  (Not sure how many folks have gotten rich by studying birds.)  And what I mean is that although financial success is obviously not required to feel content in your career, it certainly can make life a little easier.  Ideally one would have the best of both worlds!

Anyways, check out Mr. Jobs' speech in the link above.  He was a brilliant guy with a really neat story to share.

These photos have nothing to do with my ramblings above in case you were wondering; just camera practice.  It's nice to have such a patient male model.


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