Friday, May 30, 2008

Some Pictures of My Flowers

Took some pictures of my flowers yesterday, and cannot wait to show them off.

My baby columbine. I started them last year from seeds, didn't know what color they will be. Here it is, beautiful burgundy/wine color. I saw some other flower buds are very pale green color, it will be interesting to see their true color later, maybe this weekend.
These are my strawberry plants. I planted 6 last year, and they shot out so many babies, so I have lots of them this year. They are all loaded with flowers, so yummy yummy homegrown strawberries are on their way. Cannot wait. They tasted so good last year.
Here is two of my phalaenopsis in bloom. The one with the orange/red lip started shoting out flower spike a couple month ago, and it just opened the first flower. Very pretty! But unfortunately, it was windy on Monday, and the heavy curtain was blown its way and dragged off one of the petals. But it's ok, it still looks very nice. I will show you more of it when it's in full bloom. The other one I got it from AK last summer, with 3 flower spikes loaded with flowers. Then after those flowers faded, a couple of new branches came out, and gave me even more flowers. Amazing! It has been in bloom for at least 8 months.

Oh, this is what's waiting for me when I got home yesterday. This little guy and his family live somewhere in our neighborhood, and come visit us very often. Sorry about the quality of the picture, I forgot some setting on the camera. And I cannot get any closer without scaring him. He is just adorable, with that little cotton ball like tail. So far he hasn't destroyed any of my flower or vegetable, so he is still cute to me. We will see.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My 'New' Kitchen/Dining Room

Today's topic is my newly painted kitchen/dining room. It's one big south-facing room, and very sunny thanks to the big sliding door and a smaller window over the sink. We bought the dining set and the kitchen island right after we moved in. Originally, I wanted some darker color furniture, which looks more modern, but all the cabinets in the kitchen are honey pine color. And since it's one big room, it will be awkward to have two totally different styles. So, everything in light pine color. Do you know how hard to find the perfect color to match those furniture? Not easy at all. I went through tons of interior design magazine and websites, finally focused on green. Then which shade of green? I taped the paint cards on the wall for a whole year to see which one I like better in different light condition and different season. This is the end result. (View from our living room.)(View from our kitchen.)I LOVE IT! Cannot wait to show DH when he comes back this weekend. My dining room looks very different in summer and winter because I have to take all my indoor plants back inside for the winter. I have total about 60 indoor plants, some are huge, like my Norfolk Pine and Palm. And most of my jasmine, gardenia, and some of my orchids love full sun, so I bought a metal shelving unit for them. The unit can be assembled as two 3ft tall units, one with casters and one without. I put the portable one right in front of the sliding door and arrange my jasmines and orchids according to height. And I put the other half shelf in the small bedroom upstairs, which is empty now. I have all my succulents on that shelf. I don't want to damage the carpet, and I don't need to water the succulents very often. It's a perfect combination. I will look for some winter picture to show you tonight. Just realized that I posted some pictures before, click here to see them.

I did lots of work in the kitchen since we moved in. We tiled the backsplash, so it's easy to clean. You know, chinese cooking can get very greasy sometimes. And I installed the under-the-sink water filter system, with a small faucet at the corner of the sink. I didn't want to lose the spray head, so instead using that hole, I had to drill a new one in that stainless steel sink. Let me tell you, it's not easy. I am a strong girl, but it still took me forever to drill through. DH is more powerful, but he is not good with powertools at all. And whatelse? Oh, I installed the track lights about the island. I hated the original light the builder left there, I guess it was teh cheapest one they can find. And it's so close to the stove, leaving half of the kitchen very dark. DH and I did some research, looking for light that is good-looking and easy to install. I am not a licensed electrician after all. We loved this track light system, the track can go far away from the base, and can be bend to any shape, and it's so easy to hang the lights. There are several options for the lights, you can get the really long ones in 3 or 4 different color, or get some tiny ones which attach to the track closely. Original we wanted the blue shades to match the blue accent tiles above the stove, but Lowe's had only one blue light. Then we bought the white ones, but they were super bright, you cannot even open your eyes kind of bright. So, we went back to lowe's and got these orange ones instead. They were newer design and fancier than the solid color ones. The best part is they were on sale, so the cost was about the same. See, we sticked to our budget, firmly! To our surprise, the orange one looks better than all the others. The shades have those interesting mixture of colors, and it's very soft to the eye, and it looks so sophisticated shining above the island's granite countertop. Now the kitchen is done. But wait, who can cook without some great music? I installed a CD player/radio underneath the upper closet next to the stove. Now it's done.

OK, tomorrow we are going to talk about my 2 and a half bathrooms. They are not huge, but big enough for now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Finally,Clean House!

I finally finished the DEEP DEEP spring cleaning! I mean I not only cleaned the living spaces, I decluttered most of the rooms, I also reorganized everything, including all closets, attic and basement. I finished painting the kitchen/dining room. Yes, after talking about for 2 years and staring at the paint cards on the wall for a whole year, I finally chose the color and painted it. Now the only unpainted room is the master bedroom, oh, and the second floor hallway. I can do it! I can finished all that in 2 days. The only place I cannot paint alone is the stairway. It's too high, and too dangerous for me to climb up there by myself. I need my strong DH to hold the ladder for me, and maybe collecting some paint drops on his head. HaHa! I am in such good mood, DH is coming back this weekend. I can show off my handy work to him soon. How exciting! There are such sayings in Chinese that matching my feelings right now. "Distance will generate new sparks in the relationship" or "Reunion after short term separation is better than honeymoon". I really miss him, I even smell his pillow sometimes. Silly, huh?

I didn't have time to take too many pictures on Monday, so, instead of a grant tour of my house, I will do a series on this, showing you one room a day. Here is my living room. I painted it about 6 months ago. It faces north, and kind of dark because of the porch and oak tree outside. So, I chose the very bright yellow to bring the sunshine in. I think it worked, it looks much brighter than before. I still have most of the winter stuffs on. The slipcover for the ottaman is the summer version. I will make a white slipcover for the sectional sofa, make some blue and green covers for the pillow, and change the curtain as well. Oh, I am also going to change the painting on the wall to some bright color modern arts, and bring out the summer area rug. Still lots of work need to be done here. And DH is researching for a great LCD TV, so we will get new TV stand and shelving unit for that corner. The door in the first picture is our front door, I installed the storm door for it right after we moved in. It has screen for summer and double pane glass for winter, and works great for us. The doorway in the second picture leads to the dining room. BTW, all the curtains were made by me, with the chinese curtain fabric my mom brought me two years ago. I only did it for the living room and dining room, still have to make more for the bedrooms.

That's all for today's living room tour. I will show you the newly painted kitchen/dining room tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Cleaning - Week3 summary

Finally, my house is clean and organized up and down, inside and out. Even my attic and basement are so neat now. I finished everything yesterday morning, right before my guests came in. Talk about good timing! Actually I invited them a while ago, and they are actually my motivation for this deep spring cleaning. Our friend's parents are visiting here, and they are my parents' neighbors back in China. This is their first time in my new house, (actually 3-year-old house, but new to them) and the aunty really into interior design stuffs, so I had to make my house very presentable and up to her standards. I was not really doing all that for her, I wanted to do these for the past 3 years, just never had the motivation like this. Anyway, she was very much impressed. Mission accomplished! I got to show off all my handy works, very happy about that. I will show you some pictures of my clean house later.

Now that my house is clean, I can mess it up again! ;) I have to! I have to finish 2 more sets of baby gifts, and a birthday gift. And I promised DH to make him some neat organizing stuffs for our cars. And I kind of abandoned my Etsy shop for a while, now will be a good time to work on it again. Still feels like so many things to do, but so little time. Oh, almost forgot this. I have to finish painting the master bedroom before DH comes back.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I lost my babies!

This morning I came downstairs and saw through the window that the robin nest on its side. I thought it was because of the strong wind last night. So, I went out to help and thinking about looking for the babies and put them back. I really thought they must be on my porch floor around the nest. What I saw was like a CSI scene. There were blood stains all around, and two tiny feet sadly lying there, maybe some other tiny pieces of my robin babies! I was totally not prepared for that, so I jumped backward and screamed. A cat or other animal must found the babies and ate them all during the night. I didn't even hear anything, otherwise, I would have came out and help the babies. Their mother trust me so much to build their nest on my porch, I feel like I let them down. I should have put the nest in a hanging basket and kept it off the floor. I feel somewhat responsible for their death. I know this is the reality, that I should let the nature take its own course. But I have been watching them from day 1, and they are my babies! I feel so sad, and so sorry for the mama#2. She must be so scared and angry and heartbroken. I cannot get that bloody scene out of my mind, every time I close my eyes, even just blinking, I can still see those tiny feet lying there, hopelessly in the dried blood pool. I did take some crime scene pictures, but they are just too brutal to show online, I am affraid they will give other bird lovers nightmares as well. Let's just remember them as they were in the pictures from yesterday's post. I couldn't believe that was their last day. Not only I cannot stop thinking about that scene, I have to go home to that, and I have to bury the tiny feet and wash off the blood stain. What am I supposed to do with my English Ivy? It still looks alive underneath the nest, I could carefully remove the nest and rescue the ivy, but it will be a very painful reminder to me. I guess I just have to throw the whole thing away, so I can at least try to forget it and move on. I need to mentally block the bad memories and cherish the good and happy ones, the ones when the babies were still alive and healthy, and they would lift their heads and open their mouths to beg for food everytime I whistle. At least their eyes were still closed, so they didn't see their predator, and hope they didn't suffer much either. Goodbye, my babies! I will stop eatting chicken for at least a week to honor your death. That's the least I can do.

I will put a couple hanging baskets up for the mama#2 to build her second nest, and have more babies. Hope she is not injuried, and not too scared to come back to my yard. I am so sorry for you, mama#2!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eyes Still Closed

Here are the baby robins at 8am. Can you see that their tiny wings are forming quite fast. I think the one in the middle is the oldest, and the one at the lower right corner is the youngest, judging by their size. Just hope mama can bring home enough food for everyone, so even the smallest one can grow up. Here they are at 7pm. They start to look like their parents. The other thing I read online about robins is dad helps out with feeding, but he will never sit in the nest. That's good to know. Maybe that is why these babies are growing so fast.
Here are some seedings I bought yesterday for the hanging baskets and the window boxes. I also started some marigold and nasturtium from seed. I want to try something different this year, so I am going to use marigold, sweet potato vine, and spider plants in the hanging baskets, and hope that I don't have to fight pests in summer. I will pot them up this weekend. The other flower seedlings are for my yard. I will show you some pictures when I am done with them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Grow, Baby Grow!

Do you see what I am seeing? They are so big now! And look at their wings! They actually started growing real feather already, only short 4-5 days after hatching. WOW! I read more about robins online today, and learned that the baby robins grow really fast, and they can fully grown and leave the nest in 14-16 days! Just 2 weeks! I couldn't believe it! Just hope DH will be back by then, otherwise, he will miss all of it. As I was taking this picture, I really wanted to touch them, their little heads, their hairy backs, and pet them a little. But I knew that is exactly what I shouldn't do, I can not get involved in their life, I am just an audience. So, I touched the ivy pot underneath the nest and left quietly. Mama#2 actually tried to come back a couple of times while I was standing there, and she was making that angry sound again. Sorry, but I didn't do anything, just watching.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where is mama#1?

After the excitement of watching the nest#2 hatching, I am checking more often on nest#1. Ever since we lost one egg, missing for who knows what reason, mama#1 hasn't been sitting in the nest as before. She left the eggs unattended for hours at a time, and I haven't really seen her sitting there at all for the past two days. Maybe that missing egg was taken by some animal, and mama is just scared, or like Mary said, the eggs could be unfertilized and mama realized that and giving up. Since these 3 were a couple of days earlier than the 4 already hatched in nest#2, who were hatched about 2-4 days ago, I think the chance for these 3 are very slim. I hope they are still alive, and have all my fingers crossed now. Checked on nest#2 this morning. Look at mama#2, isn't she a beauty? She is very responsible and dedicated to her babies, never stay away for long. All 4 baby robins are looking very healthy. Some of them actually changing color now. There are some very dark, almost black color started to appear on their back, like 3 black lines from head to tail. And the tips of their wings are turning black as well. They are growing bigger very fast. So far, I can still tell which one is the youngest, since it's a little bit smaller than his siblings, but I am hoping that he can pick up some speed and catch up. Otherwise, he stands little chance competing with the others. I might need to help him later. So, I am keeping close eye on him.
Update at 10pm. Here is a picture of the babies. Looks like they are growing bigger by the hour. Try to compare them to the size of the nest, you will notice it too. Wow! How many earthworms mama has to catch to feed them? Their eyes are still closed, and sleep a lot. Sweet dreams, my babies!

And M. just bought a set of my baby gifts! A nursing cover, 2 burp clothes, and a tag blanket, all inside the matching bag. I am so excited. And I washed all the newly purchased squares, and ironed them, so now they are ready to be sewed into more baby stuffs. Cannot wait to get them ready for my store. And I have to make more for the craft show in my hospital later this year. That will be my first craft show, and hope people will love my stuffs. But, that's months later, I am not too worried, just enjoying myself now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring Cleaning -- Week2 Summary

What have I done besides watching the baby robins during last week? First of all, I painted half of the kitchen/dining room before I ran out of painter's tape. Let me tell you, it was not easy at all. I am talking about moving that huge china cabinet by myself! I took everything out of there to lighted the load, but still, that thing must weight a ton. I have those moving pad things, but I couldn't even lift the legs to put it under. In the advertisements, they showed you how easy it is to move a armoire or a huge bookshelf with all the books in it, but they forgot to tell you that you need 2 more people to help you to put these pads in place. They were useless in my case. So, I ended up pushing it away from the wall, and hoping I didn't scratch the floor. Now I bought more painter's tape, I can resume tonight. It should be much easier, since half of the remaining space is kitchen cabinets.
Oh, I bought some over the door hangers for the closets, so now all my closets are well organized. Everything is in its own space, and neatly folded or hanging behind the door. I bought some plastic baskets before, so the small items won't fall through the wire shelves. They look so nice, I just kept opening the closet doors to admire my work. Silly, huh?
I made more baby gifts, you know, those matching bibs, burp clothes, nursing cover, ... I am so into it now, and actually already choose the fabrics for more.
Oh, almost forgot, one of my phalaenopsis started blooming. I have been waiting for a couple of month, and the first flower finally opened up last week. Let me tell you it's just beautiful! It's the warm white color, with purple/dark pink lip. It looks very much like this one I found online. I will post my own pictures later. (Update: here is mine, with only one flower opened)
Update on China earthquake from CNN.
- "The death toll in worst-hit Sichuan province, southwestern China, rose to at least 34,073 with another 245,109 people hurt, Chinese government officials said Monday. Authorities have estimated that the final death toll could reach 50,000, while millions more people have been left homeless by the disaster."
- "Traffic halted, work stopped and people bowed their heads across the country to observe three minutes of silence as air raid sirens, car, truck and train horns sounded a "wail of grief" at 2:28 p.m. (0628 GMT), exactly one week since the earthquake struck. Even rescue workers paused from the job of clearing debris and searching for survivors to mark the moment."
- "Meanwhile, at least 200 rescue workers have been buried by mud slides during the past three days, a transport ministry official told the official Xinhua state news agency."
- "On Sunday a 53-year-old man, was pulled out of the rubble in Yingxiu town in Sichuan's Wenchuan county -- near the epicenter -- 148 hours after the quake. The effort took 8 hours."
- "The landslide blocked the valley's Qingzhu river and a lake rising behind the wall of debris threatened Saturday to break its banks and send torrents cascading into villages downstream."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Full House

As this morning, we officially have a full house/nest of baby robins! Great job, mama#2! You can see the 3 older ones clearly in this picture, and the last baby is actually buried underneath the middle one (with his little mouth open) and the one on the right. This picture was taken 11am, and judge by the broken shells still in the nest, I think this last little guy just came out. Welcome to this world, my robin babies!Do you see what I see? The last baby looks much smaller than his brothers! Either he developed slower and is indeed smaller, or the other 3 grew bigger overnight. I guess it could be, mama#2 must have been feeding them good worms. Their skin is not as pink as before, and I think their necks are a little bit thicker. But I could be hallucinating. Anyway, I am so glad all 4 of them hatched, and look healthy so far. Mama#2 is going to be very busy from now on. I put some earthworms in the pot next to them, trying to help. They are so adorable! They breath pretty fast, just like human babies. We can say they sleep 24/7, since their eyes are still closed. Really wish I have a good way to label and measure them.
Nest#1 still has no sign of hatching. I am pretty sure mama#1 is not as experienced as mama#2. She spends lots of time away from the nest, so I guess the eggs have not been warmed, so they developed slower. Wish they are ok in there.

Went thrifting and shopping this weekend, and scored a lot of goodies. I went to Fabric Place again for some small things, ended up coming out with about 20 remnant squares, all cute cute prints, perfect for baby stuffs. If I keep making those baby gifts, I will have to put them up for sale in my store. Not a bad idea! OK, I also bought a beautiful pot for my plants, a wooden bar stool for the kitchen, and some other small items from yard sales, and some brand new fabrics, still in original wrapping, from Sal. Army. I didn't plan it, they were on my way home. I will show you the pictures later.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two More

I have been checking on the baby robins the entire day. It's just amazing! Two more babies hatched! Remember yesterday I said that one egg had cracks, that was baby#2, came out during the night. Here are some very cute pictures of the baby robins from today.This one was taken before 8am. See the baby on the left? That's the baby #1, it's hairy feathers are almost dry now. The one on the right is baby#2 with very wet feather. They are so tiny, but they do have big head compare to their neck. As you can see, they are sitting there with their heads touching the nest and their necks stretched really long. Their skin is almost transparent, and so pink. How did they fit in those egg shells? They look much larger than the eggs. Here they are at noon time. They actually moved around and switched position. And look at their huge eyeballs, totally black. That's my guess, since their eyes are not open yet. And check out the tiny foot, how cute is that? And did you see that tiny hole on the third egg? Another baby is ready to come out. As I was taping them, I started talking and you can see what happened next. They must thought mommy's home, and it was lunch time. Look at them begging for food with their eyes closed. And man, do they have a big mouth or what! I could see all the way down into their throat. Wow! I taped them for several minutes, and noticed mama robin was standing nearby. So, I guess it must be the little guys' lunch coming, so I left and snapped one more picture from inside. So, sorry about the picture quality. Here they are at 7pm. Baby #3 is out! Look at how sweet they are, have their little heads lined up together, and resting on their last brother, the 4th egg. I bet it will come out too tomorrow morning. I am so glad this is happening on the weekend, so I can spend time tape the process. What a wonderful experience!
And I also checked on nest#1 on the deck. There are still 3 eggs! Good news to me. I thought some animal took the 4th egg, and was worrying about losing more of them. But apparently they are ok. But then when I was painting the kitchen/dining room, I got really worried. Mama #1 was not sitting in the nest, for hours the eggs were alone! My mind went a little bit crazy, wondering where is the mama? Is she safe? Did she abandon the nest? Are those baby robins going to die in the eggs without their mother? What should I do to help? ... Finally mama came back around 6pm. I felt so relieved. Still no baby in nest#1. Maybe mama#1 is not as experienced as mama#2, and didn't spend enough time hatching her eggs. Who knows. I will check on them again tomorrow.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh Baby

I know that I am not supposed to post twice on one day, but look at what just happened. My first baby robin! Am I lucky or what? This morning when I left for work, all four egg in nest#2 were still the same, and I thought there will be 3 or 4 more days. But when I got home around 7pm, baby #1 was half way out! I ran into the house and grabbed the camera, but by then, it's already came out! Man, this baby got awesome power! I really wanted to watch this little guy for a while, but I was afraid it might catch a cold without mommy's protection in such a cool and rainy evening. So, I came back in for dinner, and of course mama robin flew back immediately. This is another picture took at 8pm. The little guy was very active, his mouth was wide open, just like those nature shows. but it was still very weak, so, when I took this picture, it fell back into the nest. So adorable! And take a look at the egg to the right, do you see those cracks? Baby #2 is coming out! I will check it again before going to bed. I read some articles about robins, and knew they lay one egg per day, and only start hatching them after there are 3 or 4 eggs in the nest, so the little ones will come out around the same time. This is absolutely amazing! Great timing skill! There might be 4 hungry baby robins next morning. But these eggs were later than the ones on the deck, but those are still quietly sitting there? Maybe the mama#2 is more experienced and sat on the eggs longer than mama#1. Who knows.This is how the nest #1 looks like. A couple of days ago, I finally figured out a way to help mama #1 with the rain situation. I have a plastic shelving unit, which can be taken apart. So, I put one section right over the nest, and put a heavy pot on top, so it won't be blow away that easy. Oh, I also put all my plants out there again. Mama #1 was very curious when I did that, and carefully checking out her newly renovated home, and finally accepted it. Now she has a roof, and beautiful front yard! I will check out her eggs later too.

Missing One Egg

I have been watching the two robin nests very carefully, and tried my best not to disturb the mama robins too often. Yesterday, when I did my routine evening check, I saw only 3 eggs in the nest#1, which is on the sunny deck. Since the mama robin was not there, I walked up closer to check, and found that missing egg outside the nest close to the rim of the pot. (The pot is much bigger than the nest) I didn't know what happened, mama accidentally kicked it out or something or somebody moved it. I moved it back into the nest, of course not with my hand, if mama smell human on the egg, she might abandon the nest. I was hoping that mama robin won't mind and keep hatching all 4 of them. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. This morning, I checked the nest again while mama was out there eating breakfast. There was only 3 little eggs left, and the 4th one was nowhere to be found. I checked on the deck, around the deck, around the house, just could not find it. So now, my guess is some other animal or bird attack this nest and took away one egg! How horrible! I don't know what this means to the rest of the eggs. If the "attacker" liked the taste of that egg, it might come back for more. I wish there is something I can do to protect them. So sad! And I am really worrying about their future now. Oh, I checked the nest#2 on the porch, still 4 eggs. Guess I can only cross my fingers now. One more week before the babies come out. Good luck to all of them!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Stories on China Earthquake

My eyes have been swollen since Monday, when the devastating earthquake happened. I cannot control myself. Reading the stories online, looking at those pictures, and watching it on TV, I cried every single time! Sad news came one after another, but there were some good news too. At one school site, 89 children were pulled from the rubble alive so far, while at least 201 students were killed when the building collapsed while many napped. Two pregnant women were rescued from their collapsed apartment building with only minor injuries after 50 hrs burried under the debris. And my parents told me another heartbreaking story when I called them this morning. A young couple went to work, and left their baby home with the grandma. And when the earthquake happened or afterwards, I don't know the exact timing, the injuried grandma gathered her last strength and pushed the baby out through some cracks. When the couple finally came back, their baby was safe and sound, but the grandma died. That was soooo sad!
In other news, some of the rescuers and nurses were talking about their own stories. When they found some burried children alive and still concious, the kids will beg for help, "Uncle/aunt, save me! Save me!". They were all saved. And this is the exact word from one of the rescuers, "If anything (bad) had happened to her, the voice could haunt me for the rest of my life." And another very important aspect is most families have ONLY ONE child! "Not only must thousands of parents suddenly cope with the loss of a child, but many must cope with the loss of their only child." You can clearly see the pain in some of the pictures, mothers screaming and crying on the ground, while fathers sat next to their children's bodies looking lost and tears quietly running down their face. I cannot even imagine how much pain they are experiencing.
Many Chinese people here will attend the Chinese Rally at Harvard Square/Cambridge Common Park to have a candle-lights prayer for the victims this weekend. If any of you are in Boston area, please attend it. It's from 2pm to 6pm, on both Saturday and Sunday (17-18th), at Cambridge Common. And those of you who cannot make it, please find other ways to help out. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Here is some news from from this morning.

"Earlier it reported that the death toll had risen to 14,866. An unofficial tally of deaths in individual communities -- as reported by the news agency over several days -- puts the toll at 19,565. Xinhua also said nearly 26,000 people were still buried under debris and another 14,000 missing. More than 64,000 people sustained injuries." Some towns lost over 75% of their population!
"At one three-story school in Sichuan's Qingchuan county 178 students were confirmed dead after the building collapsed."

Good news is the rain is finally over, so the outside helps can get in. "in Sichuan province, where 20,000 Chinese soldiers have been mobilized for rescue and recovery, state media reported. Another 30,000 were en route to the region. Thousands of troops are traveling by train -- on rail lines that are also transporting supplies."

I heard from some friends here in US that their companies are matching their donations. That is very generous of them! DH is in China now, and people are donating money at where he's at too. The most touching thing is the survivors in those areas were lining up to donate blood! Lots of injuried people suffer from broken bones, bruises, and scrapes, and medical supplies are running low. The fact those survivors can give the only thing they can, their own blood, to help out other unfortunated before outside helps get in is the most amazing and unselfish thing to me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


A deadly 7.9-magnitude quake happened at about 2:28 p.m. Monday (6:28 a.m. GMT), May 12th, it was the largest the region has seen since 1976. And a string of nearly 30 seismic jolts hit the province in the first 24 hours following major quake. All of those quakes were magnitude 4.0 and above. The death toll is over 12,000 now, and still growing. Millions of homes destroyed, thousands of people still burried under the rubbles. Like that's not enough, the weather was just not cooperating, heavy rain slowed down the rescue teams, mud slide and destroyed road blocked outside relief, derailed and burning train cut the railway, strong wind grounded the helicopters and military paratroopers. This quake was so massive, the effects could be felt across the country and beyond. In Beijing, 1,500 km away from the epicenter, buildings swayed and office workers poured out onto the streets. Tremors were also reported in Bangkok, Hanoi and Taipei.

I have been following the news on TV and online, and let me tell you, I cannot stop my tears. Dead bodies lined up on the ground, kids burried in their school and discovered dead next to their teachers, people crying and searching for their family members, thousands of people injuried and covered in blood slept on the street without tent or any covering, ... It's just bloody everywhere. Yet in such chaos, you still can see hope. People are helping each other, holding strangers by hand, taking care of the injuried. In a hospital yard, women held their hands and stood in circle, trying to give the woman in labor a little bit privacy.

My family has been through this before. I lost several family members in 1976 TangShan quake, including my grandfather and a cousin. My sister was there with our family, me and my parents were in another city where the damages were not as bad. My dad got so worried, and since there were no train or bus available, he biked there on the debris covered roads. That was 4 HOUR train ride away! I don't know how he did it, but I can totally understand why he did it. So, to everyone here in US, even if you are not chinese, or you are a chinese but your family not from that area, please find a way to help out. Those poor people desperately need food, clean water, clothes, tents, and medical attention. Please find a way to donate something! THANK YOU!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Late Spring Cleaning -- Week 1 summary

OK, what have I done so far? Let's see.
- Inside the house:
1). Finished organizing the master bedroom and our tiny "walk-in" closet.
2). Finally finished my closet office.
3). Re-organized the attic.
4). Organized all my fabric (I messed it up again already. I will talk about it later.)
- Outside the house:
1). Mowed and overseeded the lawn.
2). Edged around 3 tree, and some flower beds, and put down new mulch.
3). Removed the chicken wire fence around the cutting flower bed (used to be a vegetable bed).
4). Planted some perennials, and divided some hostas.
5). Put down soak hose in the vegetable bed.
6). Planted snow pea, green bean, purple bean seeds in the garden.

What else? Oh, I finally went thrifting on Sat. I hit a jackpot! On my way back from the doctor's office, I stopped by a huge yard sale in a high school. I got 5 frames, 3 of which are huge, for 25c each! And I got a couple of very cute earrings and a necklace for total $1! I was there really late, close to their closing time. Think about what I probably missed. But hey, I got a great deal, and they were marked much more expensive originally.

And I went to Fabric Place on Sat., and bought some materials I needed to make those baby gifts. People in that store are so nice, both their employees and customers. They answered lots of my questions, and even helped me picking out the coupons that I missed. How nice! I saved about 30% at the end. So, last night, after a whole day of hard work in the yard, I set up my sewing machine and ironing board, and took out all my fabric. This is how I messed it up. I kept pulling pieces out to match the color, and ended up with 50% of my fabric on the sofa. I have to clean up again. I finished 2 sets of baby gifts, each contains matching appliqued onesie, bib, burp cloth and tag blanket, plus a nursing cover. They were not very hard to make, but since it was my first time using any fabric fusing/adhesive stuff, I had to practice several times. I followed the tutorial from Angry Chicken, and it was fun and easy. I still have one more set to make, but that one is not urgent. I have to show you guys the pictures later. I love them! And I bet my friends will love them too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Late Spring Cleaning -- Week 1, Day 1, rotating seasonal clothes

I know it's not summer yet, but I can still wish for it. Last night I acted on my first target, moving the winter coats on the chairs to attic. It started very simple, but quickly grew into a huge job. I worked very hard for 3 hours, and still went to bed with a messy closet. I put all those winter coats, which I washed already, into those big luggage in the attic, and took all summer clothes down to the bedroom closets. Quite a workout! I knew I have lots of clothes, but still got surprised every year. I probably have enough summer clothes to fill two 70lb capacity luggage, if not more. When I grew up, everyone was poor in China, so we wore those pass-down clothes, and we took care of our clothes carefully so they can last 'forever'. The time has changed, but I still has that habit. Some of my clothes are more than 15 years old, I got them from my sister back in high school. I don't wear them any more, but still want to hold on to them for the sentimental values. And some of the clothes don't fit any more, but I hope to lose some weight and squeeze back in someday. I know, I am quite a packrat! But I am changing, slowly. For the past 3 years, I have been donating my old clothes to Sal. Army, several bags every year. I thought I should have much less clothes now, but apparently, I cannot stop myself from buying new ones. At least, I bought the new ones myself, and wear them often. DH buys my favorite Chinese fashion magazine, Rayli, everytime he goes back, I am trying my best to follow the style, and learning more about makeups and hairstyles. I just LOVE LOVE that magazine. Rayli is THE MOST POPULAR magazine in China, almost all chinese girls read it. I have to remember to take some pictures of it and show you. OK, back to my summer clothes. I only went through half last night, so I have several big piles on my bedroom floor waiting to be sort through, and organized.
The floor in my bedroom and closet. There is actually another bigger pile right behind, those are all the winter clothes I am going to put into the attic, and a smaller pile of donations.
My side of the closet, halfway done. There is actually one more shelf on top, and currently holding some of my bags. May need to get some of those canvas boxes to protect them. My jeans and shorts on the shelf in the picture, long dresses at left most section. Shirts and tops hanging on top, skirts and dress pants hanging on bottom. I am running out of hangers, so I doubled every single one of them. So, double the amount what you are seeing in this picture.
DH side of the closet. I installed that sets of tiny shelves right after we moved in. The clothes on the 3 shelves are DH's T shirts, mine will be on the bottom two. I just bought that white wooden shelf from Target. It's on my way home, I just love to shop there.
Anyway, see that small box on top of that white shelf, it is our escape ladder. Everyone should have one of these in their bedroom, doesn't matter they are renting or owning the house. A fire is a fire, you have to be able to get out if the bedroom door is blocked, and with this, you don't have to jump out of the window and break your legs. So, if you don't have this, go get one, FIRST THING TOMORROW! (It's midnight here now. I am editing this post.) I am going to figure out a way to use the rest of the wall space for my jewelry, esp. my earrings, I like to see all of them when I make my choice in the morning. Back to my clothes on the floor situation. Oh, forgot to mention that I try everything on before making any decision. That's why it took so long. It's messy now, but I can see the finished picture, my well organized closet and dresser, and empty floor! Maybe I can steal some space from DH side. I bet he will never notice.

Now some updates on the robin nests. Nest #2 on the porch, remember? The one in my English Ivy pot.
I am happy to report that both nests have 4 tiny blue eggs now, and the mama robins are sitting on them all the time. So, pretty soon, we should have some cute, but noisy, baby robins. Cannot wait. The only side effect of this is we have to use the side door more often now. And we may not be able to use our deck or porch often this summer, because we don't want to scare the robins all the time. The problem is they nested in my pots, and I do have other plants around them and I have to water them everyday. Guess the robins just have to ignore us. Here is a shot of the nest #1 (on the deck) among all my plants.I know it's kind of confusing, the plants' positions keep changing. It's just we had some pretty cold night last week, and I had to take almost all my tender plants back inside, because orchids and jasmines don't stand a chance against temperature below 32. Hope the baby robins won't attack my flowers later. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Home Alone

DH left very early this morning. I am still kind of sad. I should got used to his leaving already since he had many of these business trips last year. What can I say? Don't really like the house to be empty. I always say that I hate to argue with DH on those tiny things everyday, I should be happy when he is not around, but who is going to be my "punch bag" now?

Now, here are my many many happy thoughts. I made a very very long to-do list last week, and it's still growing. Without DH at home, I can go shopping after work, and yard saling on weekends. Don't need to worry about rushing home and cooking meals. And I told him already, I will start painting the rest of the house. I know, we moved in 3 years ago, and I am still not done with it? Like I said, sometimes I was just lazy, other times, I was having hard time deciding the color or style. And since DH hates the smell of fresh paint, I can only paint when he's on business trip. This time I can paint the master bedroom, second floor hallway, and the dining room and kitchen. I won't paint the staircase walls alone. The ceiling is too high there, I need him to hold the ladder and catch me if I fell. But how am I supposed to move the china cabinet by myself? Well, I will figure it out.

Here is part of my to-do list.
1). paint those white rooms
2). waterproof basement concrete wall, and paint the floor, and install drop ceiling (this sounds like too much, but it's on the list)
3). build a shelf to hold all home fitness equipment and finish organizing basement exercising area
4). buy some white canvas and sew a slipcover for the big sectional sofa
5). make some summer curtains and pillows
6). make 3 sets of baby gifts (matching nursing cover, bibs, burpclothes, onesies...)
7). tidy up the yard, and finish spring planting (both vegetable and flowers)
8). repaint the deck and porch
The list goes on for two more pages. Now you have an idea. I won't be able to finish all of these this time, but can pick some higher priority ones to do first. Thinking of all these exciting projects helps me get over the loneliness feeling. Besides, I am not really home alone, I still have our little blue fish to take care, and two mama birds to spy on. And hopefully very soon, there will be 7 or 8 more baby birds too. OMG, we actually have a very big household. Too bad they cannot be counted as dependents for the tax return. OK, my break is over, got to go back to work.

Updates (May 7th, midnight): I read some old blogs today, and found some really interesting things. People are doing all kinds of games with total strangers, scrap swapping among quilters, small vintage items swapping among collectors, some thrift shopping challenges, and a detailed spring cleaning record. She posted every single day talking about what she accomplished during the day, I think she was following some spring cleaning schedule, and target one spot of the house per day. And she and her friends posted some really inspiring before and after pictures. Since I am going to do a lot of things while DH is away, I probably should keep a record on my blog as well. OK, let's start our late spring cleaning. Who's with me?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mama Birds

I was way too busy this past weekend, didn't even have time to sit down in front of the computer. So, here is the update on the birds. The nest on my sunny deck has 4 eggs now, and the Mama Bird #1 started sitting on them. So, we should be able to see some baby birds in two weeks. The nest on my covered porch has 2 eggs as the last check this morning. Mama Robin A, the one on the deck.Mama Robin B, the one on the porch. Both Mama Birds are very alert, they always sit in their nests, and facing our door. At begining, they flew away as soon as they saw us. But now, I think they are getting use to having us hanging around. But I did closed the sheer curtains at the door or windows near their nests, so they won't be bothered very often by us walking around the house. Sometimes I can see them flying away for a meal, but they won't stay away for long. And when they do return, they are always very careful. They always land on the railings further away, then check the surroundings. They only get closer when they feel safe. And during the rain, they actually open their wings to cover the entire nest, so the babies won't get wet. They are very good mothers. I tried to help by moving the nest to underneath the coffee table's glass top, but the mother just won't come back to her nest. So, after 30 minutes I gave up, and moved the nest back up, into the rain. And you guessed it, the mother came back almost immediately. She must have been watching my every single move. Apparently she was quite angry at me. Do you see the rage in her eyes?
Yesterday, I noticed some broken egg shells on my norfolk pine tree, about 4 yards away from nest two. Some other bird or animal must ate it. But I doubt it's from one of my nests, since I have been checking on them very often, and didn't notice any egg disappearing. Hope my neighbors' cats won't come over. That will be a total disaster.