Friday, March 25, 2011

Food Friday - Beer Bread

Beer Bread - MI00160

C'mon. Admit it. You actually missed seeing Food Friday here.

If you don't drink beer, and bought some to serve for company. You may wonder what to do with the remaining bottle or too left behind. Well, you could hold onto it and invite them over again, or try to force them to take the beer with them. Another solution? Make beer bread. I used an old (sacrilege) bottle of beer for this recipe. It was easy to make. I've only tried making bread a few times, and each was an utter failure. I was pleased with this one.

You need:
3 and 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces of beer
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the egg and keep separate for now. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl. Then mix in the beer. Put dough on floured surface and knead for a bit, then form it into a ball. Place this unto a baking sheet. Carve an "X" into the top and then brush the beaten egg over the top of this. Place in oven for about 45 minutes and then remove and let it cool on a wire rack. Warm bread. Yum.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Morse Pond

Decided to explore the Claire Birtz Wildlife Sanctuary in Southbridge, MA. I first tried to find the trailhead and parking area located just north of Morse Pond. From route 169 I took Tipton Rock Road heading west.. I saw some trail markings on some trees, and a housing for pamphlets off the road some, but did not see the parking area. So I turned around to at least find another spot mentioned that offered parking. This was a launch site for non-motorized boats and had no access to the trails.

The launch area was near the south end of Morse Pond. The wind was fierce and blew continuously from the north while I was there. It left me feeling chilly. The terrain climbed upwards looking to the west and to the east, but was comparatively level in the north-south direction where the pond was spread out at its widest. This was most likely the reason for such a constant wind at the time. Snow and ice was still visible on top of much of the pond, but was not present closer to the shore.

The water at the south side of the pond exits out becoming the Saw Mill Brook. There is a bit of stone work there on both sides of the brook, and evidence that a footbridge or something crossed the top of the brook there at sometime. The were two rusted circular rings each standing upright, next to each other, perhaps more than a foot apart. They were each about 3 feet in diameter. I imagine they might have been wheels for a cart in days gone by, left for trash. Closer to the road, I spotted a broken piece of tile, thinking that it also was left as trash.

From there I drove one last time to try to find the trailhead. I pulled the car to the side of the road just after the area where I spotted the pamphlet dispenser. Apparently, the dispenser was in the parking area and I missed seeing it the first time. The parking area was rather small, so I left my car where it was and began the hike.

I started along the blue trail. It heads south, and for the most part is just west of Morse Pond. The trail was easy to walk and clearly marked. There were views of the pond among the trees. I heard geese and saw them in flight just over the water, and later heard some other water bird.

I later left the blue trail and headed onto the silver trail (on the park map as black). The silver trail continued further south, but brought you closer to the west shore of Morse Pond. At one point I was right at the pond, at an inlet. This gave a wonderful view of the pond. There was also a large beaver dam nearby.

I follow the silver trail to its end, and from there it met at the end of the blue trail and also the end of the yellow trail. I decided to take the yellow trail back.

The yellow trail started off with some steepness. It was the only real degree of steepness that I encountered through the entire hike. From up there, I could spot a large nest that was up high in a tree. I saw a similar one earlier when I was closer to the water, at least I think they were not the same one. I heard some crows and later heard (what I would guess was) a bird making a noise I had never heard before. The noise was kind of a squeaky screech, and high pitched. A blue jay flew quickly through the trees at about the height of my shoulder. I continued the slow decent and came back onto the blue trail, following it back the way I came and calling it a day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moon Perigee

Perigee Moon - SK00068

The full moon of Saturday night got an awful lot of attention in the media. It was nicknamed a super moon. The moon has an elliptical orbit around the earth, so the distances between them does vary constantly. At this particular time, this was the closest that the moon has been to us since 1993.

The effects of this astronomical event may have passed most people by unnoticed. The moon did in fact appear to be slightly larger in the sky, and slightly brighter. Tides might have varied up to an inch from their norm. Some people may have noticed some of these effects, many probably did not. Personally, the full moon last night did appear rather bright to me. That's what caught my eye at least.

And now for my story. I probably would not have posted anything at all about this moon occurrence, but was rather amused at what happened to me. I've already taken some full moon pictures in the past, but wanted to go and take a super moon shot in case it offered a chance for a high detail shot that I wouldn't get otherwise.

First, I knew my camera settings had to be changed. I had tinkered around with taking some mineral pictures back in February (I haven't posted them yet). I had a great deal of difficulty taking these up close shots of tiny pieces, so tried to change the camera settings. The pictures still lacked good focus and quality. Typically, I never change any settings at all, but knew I'd have to try if I wanted pictures of these small pieces to be even worth looking at. I haphazardly made several setting changes. Some of them were clear to me and with others I had no idea what I was doing. A date stamp starting appearing on all of my pictures. This was not something that I had intended to do. Before I went outside, I wanted to change the setting and remove the date stamp.

Would this have been simple using the manual? Probably. Rather than do that I wanted to rush out, not knowing if cloud cover would occur if I waited too long. So I click, and click. Totally lost, no idea how to change the date stamp. The battery indicator is now saying 'low' too. I finally hit a button that says restore to factory settings. Was this the brightest thing to do? Probably not. Right now the brightest thing around was the moon.

With the date stamp issue now resolved I head out to take pictures. I aim skyward and the camera rebels, refusing to take pictures with dead batteries. I go back into the house and swap out for fresh batteries and then head back outside. The camera just didn't seem the same with all its settings reset, but I took the picture you see above. The moon visually seemed very bright to me, but this new picture seems darker, and quite frankly seemed to show less detail and with less brightness than the previous shots.

I was so intent on taking the shot that next thing I know, I've lost my balance and tumble onto the driveway. My right knee and a finger take the brunt of the force. The finger goes numb. I finally get back into the house, and hit the camera's review button, only to see a message flash that the memory card can not be read. I open up the camera, to remove and reinsert the card, but with my injured finger being uncooperative, the card and batteries all wind up up on the floor. I painfully get down on the floor to gather the items and put them back where they belong. Everything finally works, bringing to you the picture that you see here. Hope it was worth all the effort.

If time and weather permit, I may try again tonight to see if I can get some shots that are comparable to my others. If not I hope you at least enjoy this one!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Future Of This Blog

My blogging started out as an experiment to see what blogging was like, more than anything else. I'd have a difficult time saying exactly why I still do it, as even sporadic blogging can soak up a lot of time. Part of why I do it may be for the camaraderie. Some of my friends read this and it's an easy way to share some details of part of my life. Sometimes it's to share information or thoughts. I always appreciate the comments.

Lately, I've been thinking about how I blog. You see, I've been blogging not only here, but over a few different places, basically mirroring the blog that you're reading here. Some of these set ups make it very convenient for the reader where they can simply sign in to their own personal set up and then easily read the blog(s) of their choice that their provider has to choose from. I've had people personally request that I host my blog at certain particular places, so that the reader could easily keep up with my writings.

The dilemma here is posting in all these places can become quite time consuming. And then the issue comes up of other providers for more new ones in the future. There's got to be a huge number of blogging sites out there. I wouldn't even have the time have to work off of every one of them, or even many of them.

As a reader, there are indeed ways to set yourself up with a system that can display blogs from different sources besides just the one that you might be accustomed to. Gee, that might make make a good "how to" topic for a future blog.

In the meantime, My plans are to ween my blog over to one provider in the near future. If you have a particular desire to keep my blog HERE please feel free to let me know, but if I could also please ask you to mention why. Actually, any thoughts that you could share about this blog's future home would be helpful.

If I do stop the blog here, don't worry, I will provide information on the new location. It will be easy to spot as it will be on the last blog(s)....And I'd appreciate any comments on how you feel about the new location too.

..'till the next blog.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

State of Confusion

Today in geography trivia:
East Hampton, Connecticut is located about 30 miles southwest of Hampton, Connecticut.