Other Pages of Interest

Friday, December 17, 2010

Little Chicks

While I write this, my Mom, Dad and brother Robbie are preparing for landing in Buenos Aires, could anything be more exciting?! As I anxiously await the arrival of our first wave of Christmas guests, let me recap my almost-as-exciting yesterday.

A little back story, we have a newly renovated apartment in a very old building, and to the renovator's credit, they did a fantastic job. One of the key components that is missing is that none of the "exhaust" pipes to the outside of the building (bathroom fans, dryer vent, stove exhaust, etc) were capped off with a grate or cap of some kind. Thus, birds have taken up residence with us for the last year.

I thought it was kind of cute, these birds would dive bomb into these little pipes and then sit outside and sing and chirp and whatever all day. They were kind of like my little pets that required no maintenance whatsoever. That, and apparently I have a lot of time on my hands. Moving on -
This became a problem when the nests they build started to overflow into our apartment, specifically, two of our bathrooms had bugs and twigs and crap falling all over the place on a daily basis. And the bathroom fans stopped working. And the birds were LOUD starting super early in the morning. And I think I've mentioned we're having company. These roommates needed to move out.

Cut to yesterday, the maintenance men came to evict my bird-friends only to find 5 baby chicks living in one of our bathroom pipes. It was dramatic. Being pregnant, emotional and an animal lover I was flipping out that the babies were going to die. That and the mama bird was spazzing out crying and squawking because her chicks have mysteriously disappeared. I called Jon. I called my mom. I may have cried a little. Maybe this is why the maintenance guys brought the nest (complete with 5 chicks) inside and asked where I wanted them to relocate the home. The answer: On the window ledge.
Right next to my beloved basil. Actually, they are kind of guarded by the basil since we live on the fourth floor and there is nothing stopping them from walking right off the ledge.

So the rest of my day was luring the mama bird to her chick's new home and praying that she doesn't abandon them because they now have human smell. (Speaking of which, is that true? People have talked about birds instantly abandoning their young due to a human picking them up one time. True or False??) I lured her with crackers and cereal - neither of which she wanted anything to do with. She just kept trying to fly into the caged off bathroom fan tube. I am pleased to report that she has found her babies, as has the papa bird, and they have been feeding their hungry chicks dragon flies and bugs all day. Thank goodness.

One more shot of my adopted chicks. They're pretty freakin' cute.
And that, my friends, is how I spent my Thursday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finicky Ficus

We gladly inherited some trees from a friend that moved back to the US despite having no knowledge or experience with trees of any sort.  They warm up our house, reduce echos and generally make it a more comfortable space.  Aside from that, they are a pain. 

We are now the proud owners of two ficus trees and two palms of some sort.  The palms are a piece of cake, it's the ficus trees that are making me mental.  When we first brought the trees home, both ficus trees lost about half of their leaves.  After some internet research and moving them elsewhere in the house, we finally found a home for each tree. 

All was well until we put up the Christmas tree and had to move one of the ficus trees 20 feet from his home.  Wouldn't you know it, that tree has now resorted to weeping in the corner.  Everyday there is another pile of dead leaves waiting for me underneath the tree.  I don't know which one is worse, keeping the tree where it is and hoping to ride out the storm, or moving it again and risk the finicky fallout. 

At this rate, it's going to make Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look like a redwood.  Any thoughts on how to help our ailing ficus?  We will reunite him with his favorite spot after Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Pavita

This weekend I will conquer: The Pavita.

In all my years of celebrating holidays and eating turkey, I have never actually cooked a turkey. Actually, let's be real - I have never made a Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner at all. There was this one time in college when my roommates and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner - Julie and Sarah took care of the turkey (leading to much hilarity...) and I'm pretty sure we were all tipsy on wine as we made everything else. Point being, the only actual holiday dinner I hosted is such a blur I can't pull any helpful tips from the experience. Although from what I remember, the dinner was amazing.

So, in preparation for this Christmas, when we joyfully have the vast majority of both my and Jon's family joining us from the US - I need to practice. I mean really, they're all coming all the way to Argentina for the holidays - the least I can do is give them a proper holiday dinner, right? It's already 85 degrees and humid outside, with long summer nights and outdoor markets, basically the opposite of every Christmastime I've ever thought of, so a little taste of American-traditional Christmas is what I'm going for. And herein lies the complication.

For numerous reasons, "traditional" holiday dinners are just not the same here. First off, turkey is just not all that common. Grocery stores generally have turkey cold cuts and some places have turkey breasts in the meat department, but ham (or pork in general), beef and chicken are much more popular, so finding a whole turkey is a bit of a challenge. Also, when is the last time you decided in the middle of August to cook anything that takes hours in the oven? It's a bit of a dilemma, air conditioning vs. oven heat. And then to sit down to a huge, heavy meal when it's 90 degrees outside....you get my drift.

So, after feeling entirely too proud of myself for finding a turkey, borrowing a roasting pan, printing recipes, shopping for ingredients and looking up substitutions for the ingredients I couldn't find, all I really need to do now is practice my skills. This Saturday, some of our bravest friends are going to be my holiday dinner guinea pigs, while I try my hand at making a pavita.

That is, assuming, a pavita is actually a turkey.