Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alert: cute guinea pig Christmas ornament!

Alerting all of my guinea pig friends - Ty (the beanie baby company) has the cutest guinea pig Christmas ornament!

What's really cool about this ornament is that it looks like our guinea pig Ruby, who passed away earlier this year.

I have a tradition where each year I buy an ornament or two for the tree that represents

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Oh THERE they are!

Husband was complaining that he hasn't seen very many deer this season while hunting near our house.  Although we've spotted some nice ones on the game cam, there haven't been many in our yard

Friday, December 11, 2015

A beautiful sunset?

A beautiful sunset?

Earlier this week I was driving into work, around 7:30am, thinking about how busy I was -- 5 meetings today, back to back appointments and a huge list of "to-do's". Starting to feel a little stressed, I looked out and saw the beautiful sunrise!

Stopping my thoughts to admire God's handiwork and the awe of nature.  Ahhhh!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chickens! Get Outa There!

My posts sometimes are sporadic.  You see, I'm going to law school - and I'm starting to study for the bar exam which is in July 2016.  Thankfully, it's still 2015... so I've got lots of time (errrr....).

I love taking a break to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.  Whether it's walking around in the woods, looking for nature (like this owl), or letting the chickens out to free range, I love nature!

Our chickens free range for an hour or two a day.  Sometimes they go straight for the woods.
Naughty chickens like to peck around the leaves looking for worms and bugs.  Problem is, we have

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heating our Home for the Winter a/k/a The Little Splitter that Could

A face cord of cut and split wood

My parents had a huge cherry tree cut down a few weeks ago.  A small part of the tree was rotting, so it was time to cut the tree down, or else risk that big limbs would come crashing down on their roof.
Mark and I partially heat our home with wood in a fireplace insert.  We love it.  We love the crackling, the warmth and of course the lower energy bills.  We also have an open loop geothermal system (that's for

Friday, November 27, 2015

What's Good at Trader Joe's?

If you are out and about this Black Friday looking for deals or getting into the gift-buying spirit, check out Trader Joe's.  We recently had one open in West Michigan and it's fun to go in there and see what treats are

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we gather with families, friends and loved ones and Give Thanks!

I am thankful for the many blessings in my life.

Picked this cartoon up from a blog I follow:

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Paul Henry Trail with my Fitbit

Last weekend my sister and I met on a section of The Paul Henry Trail next to the Wood Plant.  Most of the trees are now bare :( but the sun was out and the day was grand!  a nice time to chat and get some steps in.
This section of the trail has a powerline that dips down low.  You can almost grab it!
The Paul Henry rail trail is 42 miles long, from Kentwood down to Middleville.  Much of it is paved.  Check it out!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What's on the Game Cam?

My husband is a deer hunter.  I would call him a 'part-time' deer hunter, because he doesn't spend tons of hours outside, waiting for a deer to come along.  Opening day is tomorrow!

We have several game cameras - these are cameras that are made to use outside and are motion activated.  Game cams take photos day or night of animals walking by it.

Some game cams take photos in black and white, and some have flash or infrared for nightime photos.
 We've had some fun with these cameras.  Here's a collection of some great shots caught on camera!

In some ways, deer hunting is a lot like fishing.  You wait and wait, eyes open, waiting for the fish to bite, or a buck to walk across your path.  Both sports

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fall Colors in West Michigan

I was out running to the grocery store (Meijer. never a quick trip, is it). It was a beautiful day. Sun shining, blue sky.

I stopped at Dutton Shadyside Park.

Dutton Shadyside is a small county park in Kent County, hidden away just outside Grand Rapids.  There's a creek, some walking trails and ball fields. The fall colors are stunning this time of year! I took some pics of the variations in colors.

In a few weeks the leaves will have fallen. The trees will be grey and bare.  It's nature's way of renewing for winter and the upcoming spring.

I hope you have a great fall weekend and can get outside and

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A pet bed for Snickers a/k/a princess guinea pig

I bought my guinea pig a fluffy, overstuffed pet bed. I think she saw Pepper in his bed nearly 24/7 and got jealous (he's 16, so he has an excuse to lounge around all day, don't ya think?)
A quick order online, and a few days later THIS shows up.

So now she has her own bed too. She LOVES that thing! Can you blame her? This morning when I got up it was 26 degrees. Burr..... a good time to snuggle in. 

We taught Snickers to ring a bell for a treat (lettuce? carrots? YES PLEASE!) so she'll stay in her bed and try and ring her bell without leaving it. And she's mastered getting a drink of water from the comfort of her bed, too. 

Spoiled little thing!
So here ya go snickers. Enjoy your new bed! 

To Order the small animal pet bed (It comes in 2 sizes and I chose size large):

Petsmart is offering 20% off selected small pet habitats.  Click here: Save up to 20% select small animal habitats

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How to Grow Basil Indoors and make a Caprese Salad

I have an old, scraggly basil plant that I've been growing indoors for several years.  She may not look pretty, but sure sure makes a great caprese salad, LOL!  Sometimes I forget to water her, but she lets me know by dropping her leaves in a sad way.

If you've never made a caprese salad, it's so easy:  get some fresh mozzarella balls and cut them up, add basil leaves in small bite-size pieces, then slice up some fresh tomatoes (you know, the ones your garden has been overflowing with all summer) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Top 5 Things to Love at Ludington State Park

If you like to camp and have never been to Ludington State Park - this is a must - you need to get out there!

A couple of weeks ago Mark and I spent a few nights at Ludington State Park camping.  Although some of our friends have upgraded to campers, we actually enjoy tenting.  I've upgraded our equipment, with a giant tent and nice air mattresses.  And in the cool evenings, we have a small heater inside our tent.  No roughing it for us!

Ludington State Park is one of the largest state parks in Michigan.  I've been visiting the park ever since I was a kid. My grandpa used to salmon fish there, back when snagging salmon was legal.  Today the salmon still run in the park, although not in the numbers they used to.
My grandpa doing what he loved - Fishing at Ludington State Park!
But I can't say enough how much I love Ludington State Park!  So here's the top 5 things to love about it:

1.  Hiking - I understand there are 18 miles of varied and well-marked trails within the state park.

Ludington State Park Trail Guide Map

 2.  Biking - Ludington State Park has miles of biking trails.  There are paved bike trails between

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Planting milkweed seeds

Fall Planting Milkweed Seeds- 8 Simple Steps!

Asclepias viridis for fall planting milkweed seeds
Spider Milkweed Flowers | © Marion Doss

Why is fall planting milkweed a good idea? Exposing seeds to cool temperatures before the warmer temps of spring will cause them to break their dormancy coaxing out your new spring seedlings. It also saves you the hassle of in-home stratification.
8 Simple Steps for Fall Planting Milkweed
1. Put your seeds into a small bowl and bring out to planting area. Find seeds here if you still need to buy some.
2. Clear away any mulch or rocks from the area which could potentially block the growth of a small seedling.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pileated Woodpecker and the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker Photo

I was walking around our street and saw a pileated woodpecker up in a tree.  Didn't get great pics, but am sharing them with you.  We have several types of woodpeckers in our woods and fields:
1.  downy woodpecker (small)
Image result for downy woodpecker
2.  hairy woodpecker (slightly bigger)
Image result for hairy woodpecker woodpecker  
3.  red-headed woodpecker (the head is completely red.  very distinctive!)
Image result for red headed woodpecker
4.  pileated woodpecker (head in the shape of a triangle)

"The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens."
Image: Gerrit Vyn, available at:


Pileated Woodpeckers are forest birds that require large, standing dead trees and downed wood. Forests can be evergreen, deciduous, or mixed and are often old, particularly in the West. In the East they live in young forests as well and may even be seen in partially wooded suburbs and backyards.
Adult male with young
Who doesn't love a good mystery.  My bird book lists the Ivory-billed woodpecker as being extinct.  It hasn't been clearly photographed since the 1940s.  Yet, there's been several reports of ivory-billed woodpecker sightings. Pileated woodpeckers and ivory-billed woodpeckers look similar.  Photos of both are below:
Pileated Woodpecker (left)                 Ivory-billed Woodpecker (right)

"The ivory-bill’s precipitous decline began in the latter half of the 19th century as forests were cut to support a growing demand for wood products and cleared for settlement and agriculture. Technology and the resource demands of two world wars increased the logging rate in the 20th century, further decimating essential habitat. In addition, excessive collection of birds for commercial, recreational, scientific, and educational purposes also contributed to declines as the range became restricted. By 1939, James Tanner estimated that 22–24 birds remained in the United States."

Some good websites regarding the ivory-billed woodpecker:

What you can do: 

Federal Land Acquisition and the Duck Stamp 
"As part of the recovery strategy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may also acquire additional lands from willing sellers using funds from a number of programs. One key acquisition program is the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp program, commonly known as “Duck Stamp.” This $15 stamp is one of the most successful conservation programs in the country, investing 98% of funds generated into land conservation. While all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry Duck Stamps, anyone can purchase one to invest in conservation. Since its inception in 1934, the sale of Federal Duck Stamps has generated more than $670 million, resulting in the purchase or lease of over 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the U.S. In fact, more than 44,000 acres at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge were purchased using Federal Duck Stamp funding."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Butterfly Release

                       This butterfly is about ready to break out of its chrysalis.  

Time for a butterfly release!

It takes about 10 days for the butterfly to fully form in the chrysalis.  The chrysalis will appear translucent and

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tiny Woolly Bear Caterpillar - Fall is coming

Today I spotted a tiny woolly bear caterpillar.
This is the smallest one I've ever seen. A sign of fall I guess.  : - (

It's not that I don't like Fall, it's just that in Michigan, summer is really only 3 months long: June, July and

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Baby Barn Swallow

We have both barn swallows and tree swallows that come to nest each spring.  The barn swallows build a mud nest under our raised deck.  The tree swallows nest in hanging plastic "gourds" we have.  See them here:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Caledonia Farmer's Market

Last weekend I visited the Caledonia Farmer's Market.
It's a small market - about 15 vendors.  I picked up some beef raised on a farm on 100th Street.
Also bought some delicious peaches and blueberries.
SECaledoniafarmersmarket2.jpgFarmers markets are the best place to get

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Monarch Butterflies - Ted Talk

Most of you know I'm raising monarch butterflies in my living room this summer.
Right now I have 6 chrysalises and about 15 caterpillars.
Image result for monarch caterpillar

Monarchs are amazing.  But monarchs are in trouble.  They have declined by 90%.
Monarch butterflies congregating in Senguio, Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico (Photo by  Pablo Leautaud)
Causes are climate change and drought, deforestation in Mexico, disease, car strikes during the fall migration, lack of milkweed habitat.

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