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Spring Nature Fun

June 14th, 2022 Comments off

We’ve been trying to maximize our free time the past month by getting out and doing as much in nature as possible before the extreme heat hits (which it did yesterday).

Sunday 05/22 we hit up Armstrong Park & Fountain View Park because it was such a beautiful day out. I neglected to bring my camera to the first park, so I didn’t make the same mistake when we went out later that afternoon.

We went back to Armstrong Park the following Sunday (05/29) with my camera and spotted some cute baby ducks.

Saturday 06/04 we ventured a little further from home to check out a new to us nature center in St. Charles called Hickory Knolls. It was pretty crowded between the native plant sale and all the kid soccer games nearby. We’d love to go back at a quieter time to explore more.

Instead we headed over to Peck Farm Park to walk around and bird watch.

I got a photo of a common yellowthroat, which was exciting since I never knew this bird even existed!

We decided against checking out the butterfly tent this visit since it was overcast and they weren’t terribly active.

After snapping plenty of photos, we drove over to Fabyan Forest Preserve since it had been years since our last visit. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t get any photos of the barn swallows that call this preserve home. They move too much and are too far away for even my longest telephoto lens to capture.

By this point it was threatening to rain, so we decided to get over the Windy Acres Farm to check out the strawberry festival I heard about. The place was a madhouse and there was a huge line to get into the festival grounds so we noped right out of there. I’m glad we did because I later emailed them to ask if you had to pay the $12 fee just to get access to the festival food and was told yes. WTF?!? I understand having to pay to go on rides, but not just to get to the food booths. Sorry, but no. It’s too bad as I wanted to try the strawberry donuts.

Sunday (06/05) we visited Northside Park in Wheaton.

We visit this park often because it has so much wildlife to watch. I was able to get a close-up picture of a killdeer on this particular visit!

They are more prevalent in the area than I originally thought. They are just very good at going about their business undetected because they blend in with the landscape. If you do spot one, they usually run off if you get too close. This one was standing its ground, so I suspect it was a female protecting her camouflaged eggs.

On our way back to the car I captured a few shots of this cute fox squirrel.

This past Saturday (06/11) we took a picnic lunch over to Ray Franzen Bird Sanctuary in Itasca.

We didn’t see any good birds (mostly just red-winged blackbirds which are a dime a dozen), but we did spot this cute baby bunny hiding along the trail.

We also saw a dead squirrel. He looked like he had climbed on a tree branch, laid down, and passed. Poor little thing. I want to go back either early morning or closer to dusk when birds tend to be more active.

I really want to buy a new camera and lens to up my photography game. More on that in my next post…

Categories: Animals, Excursions, Photos Tags: , ,

Flowers & Books

April 26th, 2022 Comments off

It turns out our five days off together wasn’t completely devoid of fun.

Thursday (04/21) morning we went to Wilder Park Conservatory to look at the flowers in their spring flower show.

On the way back we stopped at a place called Fry the Coop to pick up an order of their chicken & waffles which were pretty good.

Saturday (04/23) we went to Northside Park in Wheaton to walk around. The entire day was so warm that we opened the windows and got some beautiful fresh air in the house. In fact, when we got home from grocery shopping on Sunday morning, the house smelled just like my grandparents house always did, mostly likely because they always kept their windows open too instead of using the A/C. I miss them so much.

Sunday (04/24) a friend posted on Facebook about a book she had just read – Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – and something prompted me to check it out. Libby had a digital copy available, and I immediately got sucked into the story and was unable to put it down all day. I literally spent 7 hours on the couch reading this book on my phone (I really need to get bifocals so I can read properly). By the time I went to bed Sunday night I was 80% through the book and finished it on Monday. It took me just under 9 hours total to read.

I looked up the author and he wrote The Martian. I never read the book, but I did see the movie starring Matt Damon. I hear they are making this latest book into a movie too, starring Ryan Gosling. It will be interesting to see how much the movie reflects how I pictured things. Although they’re already off to a poor start if Ryan is the lead because in my head he doesn’t fit at all.

Needless to say, I will be checking out this author’s other works since I enjoy his style of writing. I cannot tell you the last time I even got into a book. I tend to abandon them a few chapters in due to boredom.

Categories: Books & Reading, Food, Photos Tags:

Hummingbirds

August 14th, 2021 Comments off

I am positively obsessed with the hummingbirds that have decided to visit our patio this year.

Hummingbird

Once our zinnias bloomed they started appearing occasionally. Then yesterday we had multiple visits. At that point I decided it was imperative we get out the old feeder.

But first we needed an ant moat. Amazon had one for $7 but then I thought to check Menards and they only wanted $2.50 so we picked one up this morning. The last time we had the feeder out it was positively covered with ants, inside and out, and I was so grossed out. Hopefully the moat will prevent that from happening. I only put a small amount of food (1/4 cup sugar & 1 cup water) in the feeder since it’s supposed to be changed every other day to prevent mold.

Hummingbird Feeder

It wasn’t even a half hour after I put the feeder out that a bird came to check it out. I was sitting at the patio table eating pancakes when I caught its shadow on the ground. Confused at first, I finally realized it was coming from the feeder. After that a bird was coming by every ten minutes or so. Interestingly enough, none came by when Joe was outside, but appeared almost immediately once he went inside. His chair is closer to the feeder, though, so it might not be personal. Later on I was dead-heading some flowers when one came by even though I was pretty close to the feeder. A couple of times the bird came closer toward me like it was checking me out.

I mistakenly thought we only had a single bird visiting until two came by together!

So of course I had to tell my friend!

Hummingbird Convo

So far I think we’re only getting female visitors, or possibly juveniles, since they are lacking the tell-tale red throat indicative of a male ruby throated hummingbird, the most common species of hummingbird in Illinois.

Categories: Animals, Photos Tags:

Chicago Botanic Garden

August 7th, 2021 Comments off

On Wednesday (8/4/21) we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden where the most beautiful sunflowers greeted us outside the entrance.

Sunflower

Apparently it’s been 6 years since we lasted visited. Color me surprised – I could have sworn we visited at least once since then, but based on my blog and Flickr photos I guess that’s not the case. And that explains why there was a whole new section there that we didn’t remember – the Plant Science Center which has an outdoor roof garden.

Inside the Plant Science Center

We snagged a pass from the library so we’d get in for half price, which would be $12.50, but the woman at the gate said it was going to be $10, but had a hard time getting her computer to access the right screen and ended up letting us in for free. Joe joked it was because he’s so cute.

We arrived not too long after they opened at 8 am so the weather was very pleasant and it wasn’t at crowded at all. The same can’t be said for when we left at 10:30 am – it was very hot and crowded.

As always, the hummingbirds were hanging out in the purple flowers near the entrance, but I couldn’t get a photo quickly enough, not just because they never stay in the same spot for more than a few seconds, but also because I opted not to bring a camera and only had my phone with me. It takes pretty decent photos but doesn’t handle mixed lighting well.

 Japanese Gardens

It was really nice walking around all the gardens and stopping to pick up Thai food on the way home.

Categories: Excursions, Photos Tags:

May Wrap-Up

May 31st, 2021 Comments off

Happy Memorial Day? I dunno, does that sound weird considering what it represents?

Abandoned Golf Course

In any case, we started our day with a bike ride at an abandoned golf course and I once again was reminded that I’m not in that great of shape even though I walk on my treadmill multiple times a week (more days than not lately). I always think biking is going to be fun until I hit that first incline and then I’m guessing whose bright idea that was. Needless to say, we made it around one lap (approximately 15 minutes) and came back home. Definitely need to stick to flatter terrain like the park we sometimes take Wookie to for walks.

Memorial Day Lunch

I wish it was just a little warmer out today. It’s overcast (but not rainy) and in the 60’s which would be fine if we had some sunshine. But it wasn’t meant to be. We made some hot dogs for lunch and watched Sofi Tukker on their last scheduled live DJ set. They won’t be able to commit to a schedule now that they’re vaccinated and doing shows in real life. I’m sad that I won’t be able to count on seeing them weekly, or in person since they play either clubs (too loud indoors for my ears) or festivals (very expensive and unappealing). Oh well. I am looking forward to their new album which I suspect is being released very soon. Plus I’ve discovered a lot of other DJs on Twitch to listen to, some of which seem to have similar tastes to SF.

Oh, speaking of DJs, Moby did a live set right after Sofi Tukker the other night and I was so excited, but then let down. It was rather boring. Plus I’ve read some not so nice things about Moby so while I like some of his music he isn’t as appealing as he used to be.

In other music news, I don’t think I wrote about the Cure t-shirt I bought (online) back in March!

New Cure T-Shirt

A fan made it to commemorate the weekly Cure watch parties we’ve gathered to watch on Twitch. It’s my official 2020 concert t-shirt and not only is the design awesome (anything Wish-inspired always is), but it’s very soft and fits nicely, unlike pretty much all of my Cure shirts. Most of them were made with thick stiff cotton shirts that do not fit well (either too small or too large). I’m wearing the shirt today, in fact, since the colors seem fitting. I painted my nails red, white, blue (with a glitter overlay) too. I’m so fashionable!

Excursions & Food Stuff

Earlier this month we went to Lilacia Park in Lombard to check out the lilacs and tulips. I’m not going to bother posting any photos from that little trip because we missed peak bloom thanks to the rainy weather the week before so nothing was looking it’s best. It was nice walking around outside, however. Plus afterwards we stopped at the new The Original Rainbow Cone location for a treat.

Rainbow Cone

(This is what was left of my cone by the time I realized I should get a picture)

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about five flavors (orange sherbet, pistachio, palmer house, strawberry, and chocolate) of ice cream in one cone but I was pleasantly surprised – it was delicious! One thing I would change, though, is the size of the cone I got. I tried the baby one but for just $1.12 more you get a lot more ice cream in the small size. I’d definitely skip the baby size and go straight to the small. Or even better, I’d be tempted to buy a quart (currently priced at $12.49) and get some cones from the grocery store.

After earning TWO free drink coupons from Dunkin, I decided to try their new peach lemonade refresher yesterday and I won’t be getting that again.

DD Peach Lemonade

It smelled weird, like a tomato plant. I later realized that was the green tea which I forgot was in it. I’m bummed; I wanted to find a more affordable replacement for Starbucks’ shaken tea lemonade but unfortunately that was not it. So far other than the regular iced coffee, I do not like Dunkin’s drinks. Probably for the best since there is 320 calories in the large lemonade (32 oz). Interestingly enough, Starbuck’s trenta (large) is only 170 calories. I might have to treat myself to one at least once this summer. I have yet to try the peach.

Since Culver’s was across the street from Dunkin I snagged an order of their pretzel bites (a now permanent addition to their menu) and then we headed to the food truck near Walmart to snag a couple of corn dogs. We brought everything home and ate out on the patio. Those pretzel bites are sooo good! I’m glad they are $4.19 because otherwise I’d be ordering them far more often than I should.

I’m back up to 138 lbs btw. Shocking with all the eating I’ve been doing, right? I think I tend to top off at 140 lbs, or at least I hope so! I’ve actually been cutting back a bit. For instance, after all that food at lunch I had a very light dinner several hours later.

Retail Therapy & Shopping

We recently went to At Home to look for new folding patio chairs but didn’t have any luck. We also stopped at Bath & Body Works since I have a $5 gift card to spend but I didn’t see anything I wanted. Then a few days ago we went to Target for a few groceries and I had zero desire to even look at their Bullseye Playground section. I think this pandemic has soured me on shopping for the fun of it. It’s completely lost it’s appeal. I’ve moved into get what you need and get out territory.

That being said, we did go to Savers last Monday so I could look for a plain black t-shirt. I didn’t find one, but I did find two tank tops that cost under $4 total. Luckily they fit perfectly since the dressing rooms are still closed and they don’t offer refunds, only exchanges. The next day at Walmart I found a pair of capri leggings that would go perfectly with a grey tank top I had gotten at Savers a year or two ago. I love when that happens! I also snagged a vibrant pair of bike shorts that will be perfect for when I walk on the treadmill.

New Clothes

As I was photographing my new finds I realized the bike shorts have a pocket in them that is actually large enough for my iPhone. Not that I need it, but I’m sure it would come in handy for a lot of people. Oh, and when I was trying on my Savers tank tops at home Joe pointed out the black one still had the original Old Navy tag on it. Sweet! I got a brand new tank for $2.25.

So I guess you could say while I’m not about shopping much, I am not going to pass up getting a few new clothing pieces occasionally.

Misc Stuff

The other day my computer started installing updates and then stopped because I had ran out of space. You see, my computer has a solid state drive with a small capacity (250 GB). I have all my actual files on a regular hard drive, but unfortunately Apple is a bitch about installing iTunes anywhere but the main drive. While the actual MP3s are on that secondary drive, when iTunes backs up my phone it puts the backup on the main drive. My phone has a 256 GB capacity, and while it’s not full, it’s just a little under half full. You see where this is going, right? If I could just easily direct the backup elsewhere I would be ok, but it doesn’t seem to be that easy. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it requires messing with settings I’m not comfortable with. Plus these days my brain just doesn’t seem to be at the level it was pre-2019 sickness. Seriously, I have trouble with words sometimes and in general I feel like my processor is slow. Oh well. So Joe installed a new SSD today with twice the amount of space. All is right again with the world.