Saturday, March 28, 2009

Martha & McGyver -- Tips for Winos #384

Picture this: Martha Stewart is doing last minute preparations for a huge dinner party. Everything is perfect-- the handmade cloth napkins have been embroidered with each guest's name; and neatly tucked into the laquered walnut shell napkin rings. The centerpiece of a mini replica of Alderson Federal Prison, is perfectly placed on the dinner table, between the array of hand thrown ceramic plates, fresh from the kiln. The only thing left to do is open the bottle of 1984 Marsonnay that she had been saving for just the right occasion.

Can you imagine the look of horror that comes over her face when she realizes that her wine opener/corkscrew is missing?!?!

Fortunately for her, one of the dinner guests is Richard Dean Anderson-- the extremely resourceful secret agent, MacGyver, from late eighties prime time television. And he happens to be the first guest to arrive! MacGyver makes a quick assessment of the situation and immediately whips a plain old ordinary screw from his pocket. He screws the screw into the cork of the seemingly unopenable bottle, and instructs Martha to fetch her tool box, which is conveniently located underneath the kitchen sink. He uses another ordinary tool-- the handy hammer, claw side hooked on the screw, to ease the cork out of the bottle. Voila! The party is saved!

While the above story may be fictional, the act of using a screw and hammer to open a bottle of wine, should a corkscrew not be handy, has been employed as a successful technique on more than one occasion in my lifetime.

This story was inspired by actual events involving a couple of underage thieves who came to my bar recently and asked if we could open their bottle of wine, as they did not have a corkscrew. My first instinct was to help a neighbor in need, so I took the bottle from the young-looking lad, (who seriously needed to pull up his pants). But then the skeptical, responsible bartender in me took over, and for fear this may be a trick by the ever-lurking liquor control board, I insisted that they show me their IDs before proceeding. Since neither boy was able to provide proof of legal age (or any proof of identity at all), I refused to give them back the bottle of wine. And it was concluded that most likely the bottle of wine had been stolen.
Relaying this little tale to friends has sparked many other resourceful, McGyver-esque ideas for opening a bottle of wine, sans corkscrew. In addition to the "Screw & Hammer" technique, here are a couple of others that were presented:

--Pushing the Cork:
This involves pushing the cork down, inside the bottle. Not ideal, but a good solution in a pinch.
--Tapping the Bottle:
This one is a little trickier, potentially more dangerous, and requires some patience-- Lightly tap the bottom of the bottle against a tree just right, and the cork will eventually work its way out of the bottle through some magical law of physics.

I have not tried either of these other 2 methods, but would love to hear any success stories you might have with these or any other techniques.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bird Day Thursday--Favorite Bird

The end of the week is always the busiest part for me at work, so I don't have much time to devote to my devoted readers. So Bird Day Thursdays are a way for me to share just a quick tidbit of bird business to help you make it to the weekend.... It may be an interesting bird fact, a song, a photo, a video, or a "Secret Bird Sighting".

This Bird Day Thursday, I am actually taking the night off from work to go see a band called "Bird Show of North America". I have never seen them before, but the band booker at the Blue Moon insisted that I come to the show. It appears that all of their songs are bird-named, and they have an artist on stage painting birds while the musicians play their tunes. At the end of the show, the painting are up for sale. Sounds like a show this bird nerd should not miss!

So I leave you with this photo (not one of mine; although I wish it were!)

I think this is my new favorite bird: The Blue-footed Booby. Have you ever seen a funnier-looking, or happier-looking bird? I have not. And they live in the Galapagos Islands. I wish I were there right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chicken Victory!

Today truly is a Happy Bird Day, with the news that BOCA, manufacturer of many faux meat products, has just announced that they will be eliminating eggs from ALL of their products! This is great news for vegans, giving us lots more options to choose from their extensive selection, which was previously limited due to their use of eggs. But more importantly, it's great news for the many hens that suffer every day in cramped, filthy cages to produce the massive numbers of eggs used in our over-consumptive society.

This change came about as a result of a campaign by Compassion Over Killing, in collaboration with Mercy for Animals, the Animal Protection & Rescue League, and the phone calls and letters of lots of caring consumers. After less 2 months of campaigning, COK received this statement from Boca:

"I am pleased to let you know the BOCA brand will be eliminating eggs in all of its products by the end of this year. We anticipate all BOCA products will be egg free in 2010."

Combining this with the recent campaign successes with Morningstar Farms and Lightlife, who both agreed to REDUCE the number of eggs used in their products, it has been a great few weeks for hens and for veganism.

Morningstar Farms has committed to reducing its egg usage by an estimated 500,000 eggs in 2009, which is in addition to the already 1 million fewer eggs in 2008.

Egg whites are being removed from two more Lightlife products. Both our Veggie Burgers and Mushroom Burgers are being converted to vegan products with a completion date of June 1, 2009.

Please take the time to contact Boca to thank the company for making this great leap forward for the animals, and setting a huge precedent for other large food producers. You can find out more about COK's Boca Campaign at the Boca Egg Facts website.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lucky Bird-- Winner & Highlights!

There were a lot of great entries in the latest Name that Bird contest. Lots of hummingbirds, but also some other interesting ones. The most original entry was for the Peeps. Although I do not endorse these, as they are not vegan (they contain gelatin, which is derived from animal collagen), they did technically qualify as a "green bird" :)

Here are a few of my favorite entries:
(You can find them all in the comments of the original post)

The winner of the Lucky Green Bird Contest was Heather, of 3 am Art, whose favorite green bird is the Green Budgie. I was so happy that her name was picked! Although I don't know her in person, she is a hoot on email/forums and VERY supportive of all her veggie teammates. Congratulations, Heather! Check out her Etsy shop for some great nature inspired photos. You can also stop by her Blog to congratulate her for being the lucky bird!

Her name was picked randomly from a bag that I had just purchased from Vegancraftastic. It's the cutest little squirrel bag you've ever seen, and really well-made. I bought it for a friend, but it arrived just in time to use as a "hat" for picking the winner of this contest. (My friend LOVED it, btw.) Please check out Vegancraftastic's Etsy shop for more awesome handmade items. She is also hosting a giveaway on her blog for a similar bag, but with a really cool skull & knitting stick cross bones pattern. Perfect for your favorite knitting pirate!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bird Day Thursday--Secret Bird Sightings

The end of the week is always the busiest part for me at work, so I don't have much time to devote to my devoted readers. So Bird Day Thursdays are a way for me to share just a quick tidbit of bird business to help you make it to the weekend.... It may be an interesting bird fact, a song, a photo, a video, or a "Secret Bird Sighting".

This week you get a Secret Bird Sighting! Whenever I am out at an event, I am always on the lookout for "birds" -- on clothing, accessories, or in any other form other than the real live thing-- a new type of birdwatching! Then I surreptitiously take a picture to add to my "life list". Almost as fun as real bird watching, and a way to spot some species that you normally might not see in your area... For example, while at a show at the Blue Moon one night last week, I came across these two Secret Bird Sightings:

Roadrunner Shirt

Songbird (wren?) Earrings


If you live in the Seattle area, the Blue Star Cafe and Pub in Wallingford hosts "Bird Day Thursday" every week, featuring drink specials on all "bird" beverages (ie: Blue Heron Pale Ale, Grey Goose Vodka, Wild Turkey Whiskey). So come on in for a drink, and save a buck or two on your favorite bird drink!

Blue Star Cafe & Pub
4512 Stone Way N.
Seattle, WA 98103

Happy Hour
4-6 pm Mon - Fri

Daily Drink Specials
4 pm - Close All Week

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bird's Eye Review

I don't know if it's the weather, or what, but this winter I have been spending money like it's going out of style (and maybe it IS going out of style, but I'm definitely doing my part to stimulate the economy!) It's ok though, since our trip to Mexico didn't happen this year, I've been doing nothing but work, work, work. So with my extra little stash o' cash, I have made some great Etsy purchases-- no buyer's remorse on these delightful handmade items:

Martin's Chair Collection
Limited Edition Print by ZukZuk
"This is a picture of Martin the rooster's beloved chair collection. He's the kind of guy who can't drive past a chair on the side of the road without taking it home and fixing it up; well, sometimes fixing it up, a lot of the time they just get added to the ever growing brokeny tree forest in the garage. Miriam the hen finds this all very vexing."

I fell in love with this drawing the moment I saw it! It was the perfect Xmas gift for the BF because 1) We have chickens, and 2) He is always complaining that I bring too many chairs into the house! Plus I found a perfectly fitting frame for it at the thrift store, complete with matting.

Vivid colors and whimsical characters with endearing stories are a constant theme in ZukZuk's work of digitally colored pen and ink drawings. She currently lives in Canada, but her upbringing in New Zealand is a definite influence in her work, especially with the types of birds she features. My second favorite piece is "Birdland". Having visited the famous jazz club in NYC last fall, it was a close second choice...maybe a future purchase.... I highly recommend ZukZuk's shop--not only is she a very talented artist, she is also super friendly and a proud member of Etsy Veg. Unfortunately (for buyers) she is on vacation right now, so she is not taking any orders. But you can check out her work in the "sold" section, and please bookmark her shop for the future!

Swallow in Flight Necklace
by SilentLotus Creations

"A beautifully-detailed brass swallow in flight is suspended from elegant brass chain interspersed with smooth and faceted aqua-green Amazonite. All pieces have a vintaged, honey-toned patina for an aged look. The brass has been purchased from wonderful Etsy sellers and is solid, unplated, and nickel-free.
Necklace clasps with a handfabricated hook clasp "

I'm not a huge jewelry wearer or purchaser, but decided it was time to accessorize when I saw how beautiful and well-crafted this necklace is! Kylie, the gal behind SilentLotus has a wonderfully artistic eye for combining naturally beautiful gems and minerals with sterling silver and pure brass to create a unique selection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. If you're looking for a little pizazz for yourself, or for a gift, I'm sure you'll find something you love from SilentLotus. But wait... that's not all!! She is also a talented painter, and offers several of her Chinese Brush Paintings in her shop as well.

Although SilentLotus is an Etsy seller, I actually purchased this necklace through 1000 Markets, a newer online shopping site for handmade items. (So I justified this purchase as "market research" to test out the shopping cart & procedure of the new site, to make sure it is user friendly for buyers....It is!) Kylie is also super friendly, and a member/leader of Etsy Veg (I'm starting to see a pattern here), so please check out her shop(s)!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lucky Green Bird Contest

With St. Patrick's Day quickly approaching, this month's challenge comes a little earlier, and will be a little shorter than usual...

The prize at stake: A Lucky Irish Green Gift Package! And what, exactly is a Lucky Irish Green Gift Package?? It is a collection of handmade goods and thrift store treasures, guaranteed to make this year's St. Patrick's Day the best one ever!! The winner will receive:

1) One Green Energy CD-- the newly released album by The Irish Experience, which features clogging tracks by yours truly :)

2) One Clover-Adorned Mug, one of my latest thrift store finds

3) One set of wacky Clover Leaf Antennas! (You can't properly celebrate the holiday without them)

[special thank you to Noah for being such a good sport]

4) One "Good Luck Wood Duck" handmade photo greeting card
(This one is doubly GREEN-- made with recycled green card stock and secondhand thread, and comes with a 100% post consumer recycled envelope)

I would also include my Irish Drinking Socks in the package, but they are too dear to my heart to part with. Plus I don't think I would get very many entries for a pair of old stinky socks...
(Irish Drinking Sock--NOT included!)

To win this collection of fabulous green prizes, all you have to do is tell me what your favorite GREEN BIRD is and why you like the bird. A link to an online photo of the bird must also be included with your entry. The winner will be selected randomly out of all the entries.

Entries can either be emailed directly to me ( with the subject "Green Bird", or you can post your entry in a comment here on the good old blog. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you're the lucky bird!

***DOUBLE YOUR LUCK*** Become a "Follower" of this blog, or subscribe to my mailing list to get a double entry to the contest! (that means I put your name into the hat twice)

This contest ends @ noon PST on (lucky) Friday the 13th!


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Knitting Challenge

According to the National Craft Association, March is National Craft Month! Hooray for crafters!

One of my fellow Etsy-ers from Team Veg, Jennifer of Pretty Haute, brought this to the team's attention, along with a creative challenge. is a project of the Soweto Comfort Club, which collects 8"x8" knitted or crocheted squares from all over the world and assembles them into blankets for thousands of African babies and children living in poverty. Many of these children are orphaned because of HIV AIDS or are themselves infected with it.

Jennifer's challenge is to make 4 squares to send this month, to celebrate National Craft Month. That's only one square per week. (or if you can make more, even better!).

Complete instructions are on the Knit-a-Square website, including types of yarn, gauges, knitting tutorials, patterns, etc. They prefer wool but for those of us of the vegan persuasion, who do not wish to support the wool industry, they will also accept acrylic, bamboo, etc. Just be sure to follow the instructions on their website.

Jennifer put the challenge out to the Etsy Veg team, but I am passing it along to ALL crafty types (especially those that know how to knit and/or crochet). It's a great way to use up those scraps of yarn that are just sitting around in your yarn bin. I've also gotten lots of yarn for FREE or CHEAP through Craig's list, garage sales, garage sale leftovers, and thrift stores.

Since knitting is already a 'challenge' for me, I'm not sure if I will be taking on this one myself, or not. For example, it took me about a year and a half to complete this blanket for my "new" nephew. I started it before he was born, and finally gave it to him this past xmas. (He'll be 2 in April!) I would like to say that it took me so long because I am a perfectionist, and it is the best blanket ever made, but as you can see from the photo, it is far from perfect! Although, it was made using all recycled, secondhand yarn, which I knitted into squares, and stitched together. I finished it off with a crocheted border (also a newly acquired skill for me) and sewed on a Sesame Street back with a secondhand sheet from a thrift store.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Name that (Cartoon) Bird Answers & Winner

Here are the answers to last month's Name that Bird contest:

1) Chilly Willy -- Penguin
2) Heckle & Jeckle -- Magpies
3) Foghorn Leghorn -- Rooster
4) Tweety Bird -- Canary
5) The Roadrunner -- Roadrunner (duh!)

We got a lot of entries for this one, and nearly every one had all the correct answers! But, alas, there could be only one winner. And that is....... Kylie of Silent Lotus Creations, and also the fearless, tireless leader of the fabulous Etsy Veg Team! She wins a 4 pack of my handmade Photo Greeting Cards--any 4 selected from my Snail Mail Gallery. Congratulations, Kylie!!

As a side note and bit of trivia, I was very sad that I was not able to include my favorite cartoon bird of them all: Woodstock. Apparently there is no definitive answer on what type of bird he is supposed to be! Some people surmise that he may be a dove because the Woodstock music festival used a dove in its logo. Although Charles Schultz, the creator of The Peanuts, did acknowledge in some interviews that the name "Woodstock" came from the music festival, the (nameless) character first appeared in 1967, two years prior to the festival. This, and the fact that he looks NOTHING like a dove, make me think he was not a dove. I always thought he was a canary because of his color, but I guess we will never know for sure what type of bird he was fashioned after, since Schultz never told us. Maybe it doesn't matter, and we should all take a lesson from Snoopy:


Snoopy has often wondered what type of bird Woodstock is. Snoopy attempts to identify him using his "Guide to Birds." The birds which Snoopy suggests and Woodstock attempt to imitate are: crow, American bittern, Caroline [sic] wren, rufous-sided towhee, yellow-billed cuckoo, Canada goose, warbler, and a mourning warbler. Snoopy finally gives up trying to figure it out, and hurts Woodstock's feelings by saying, "For all I know, you're a duck". Snoopy takes it back with a quick hug, at which point it becomes clear that it doesn't matter what type of bird Woodstock is; the only important fact is that he's Snoopy's best friend.

Check back soon for the next "Name that Bird" contest, and also a product review for a Silent Lotus bird necklace!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Bird Day

Today I would like to wish a very Happy Bird Day to two special people: First to my boyfriend's mom, Phyllis. This past Friday, Feb. 27th she turned 83! She is still an active little woman, and a huge fan of the birds! And today, March 2nd is the birthday of one of my best birding buddies, Sally Anne.

What better way to celebrate a Bird Day than to go on a little birding excursion? Well, that's exactly what Sally Anne and I did on Saturday. The main goal of the trip was to see the Bald Eagles that winter along the Skagit River near Marblemount, WA, to take advantage of the chum and coho salmon spawning. In the peak of the season, the river is lined with a spectacular congregation of hundreds of eagles. We knew it was the tail end of the season, and chances were pretty good that there wouldn't be very many eagles left, but we decided to take our chances. We saw two. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but not many more than that.

Still, it was a highly successful trip-- We got to see lots of other exciting birds, including the other large migrating birds-- the Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans that congregate by the thousands in the open fields of the lower Skagit Valley. Plus, two of the eagles we did see were totally doing it in the top of the tallest tree! Eagle whoopie! Not a sight you get to see every day....

Highlights from the trip:

Erotic Eagles

Thousands of white Trumpeter Swans in green fields with gorgeous mountain backdrops (it was only partly cloudy all day, and no rain!)

Snow Geese as far as the eye could see...

The "Wizards of Ooze"

Juvenile Bald Eagle: Apparently, while Mama and Papa Eagle are gettin' it on in the tree, they send (not so) little Eggbert out into the field to catch some rodents....

If you'd like to wish someone a "Happy Bird Day", check out my selection of photo greeting cards made especially for that occasion in my Snail Mail Gallery, and my latest snail mail creation: SNOOKLETS!

What's a Snooklet?? You'll have to click on the link to find out....