Friday, October 31, 2008

The Parent Trap II

Gosh, I didn't realize that so many more questions regarding dealing with divorced parents would come in... so this might go on for a few more days. We've been flooded with questions, and we'd love to help, so keep them coming!

Today we'll talk about receiving lines.

Problem:: "Both of my fiance's parents and my parents have divorced and then have remarried - there are just so many people to keep track up it will make you dizzy! Help me with who stands in the receiving line to greet guests?"

Solution:: Well, first, you don't have to do a receiving line, it does take up a bit of time, and as long as you calculate that into your timeline, and know that this will take away from photography time with your new husband and families, then you'll be good to go. But if everyone wants to participate, here's a sample lineup:

  • Bride's Mother

  • Bride's Stepfather

  • Groom's Stepfather

  • Groom's Mother

  • Bride

  • Groom

  • Bride's

  • Bride's Stepmother

  • Bride's Father

  • Groom's Father

  • Groom's Stepmother

Phew! Is that too long for you? It's okay to simply include your biological parents, or to forgot the tradition all together. Many couples perfer to visit each guest at their table and make some schedule mingle time after they are done eating to make the rounds and welcome their friends and families. Its' a much more intimate and informal way to thank all of your friends and family for attending.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Parent Trap

Recently we've received many questions in regards to dealing with divorced parents, as if wedding planning and etiquette weren't tricky enough, right!

I know that you have some dilemmas, and I want to help you with your questions. Over the next few days I'll take your heated problems that seem to be causing you quite the drama, and give you some clever solutions to the sticky issues that you are facing.

Let's figure out how to handle things before the wedding, and discuss your decisions with your parents. We know every family's dynamics are different, so feel free to improvise and let us be your sounding board, comment away with suggestions as well!

Dancing Do's and Don'ts

Problem:: "My fiance wants to have a mother/son dance. Am I expected to have a father/daughter dance? Can I dance with my mom instead, since I am not on the best terms with my father since his divorce?"

Solution:: You're under no obligation to do a traditional father/daughter dance. Instead, you may want to consider including both your parents, or having a dance with all of the members of both families to take the edge off. You could have separate dances and songs for each of them in you wanted. Or (my favorite option) choose one tune for a "parent(s) dance" and start out with Dear Ole' Dad, and then half way through switch to your mom, or step dad... mix it up a bit.

Image: K-Gallery

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Raising The Bar

So often, as we get closer to the wedding the client starts to wonder just how much people will drink at their wedding. For a few reasons, either they are buying the Adult Libations and need to figure out how much, or their venue charges per drink, and they aren't sure how much it'll cost and how to budget.... or, or, or.

There are several books that explain this, and lots of Booze Calculators online, but here's a nice breakdown for 100 guests at a reception. Just a generalization to get you where you need to go, and the cost should be roughly, including soda's and mixer's about $800 - and remember you can return unopened bottles after the wedding!

Alcohol Breakdown:

100 Guests:

167 bottles of beer

24 bottles of wine

9 bottles of liquor

Margarita/Sour Mix

1 cases of White Wine

1 case of Red Wine

Beer: (Amstel Light like) 6 {24 cases}

Jack Daniels: 1.75 liters

Tanguaray: 1 liters

Dewer's: 1.75 liters

Light Bacardi: 1.75 liters

Schmirnoff: 5 Liters

Jose: 1 Liter

Dry Vermouth: 1 bottles {if at all, in my Extra Dry Martini, I don't}

Sweet Vermouth {only if you want to do Manhattan's}

Brut Rose/Champagne – 15 bottles

Plus Soda and Additional Mixers

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogging Brides!

More on Amy L.!

I am a pretty easy-going bride-to-be. I don't get stressed out too easily. I love every part of planning a wedding. I didn't think one second of the year engagement would be stressful for me.

But...a few weeks into my engagement, I discovered that I had no clue what to do as far as bridesmaids! As long as I've been planning my wedding in my head (since I was about 9), I imagined I would have somewhere between 4 and 6 bridesmaids. Isn't that perfect? Isn't that how many everyone has? Isn't that how it is in the movies?

Well, when I got engaged, and started realistically thinking about it, there was no way I could have between 4 and 6 bridesmaids. My fiancé was very comfortable with 6 groomsmen without leaving anyone out, so it was perfect if we could both have 6. However, I had 9 girls and I needed them ALL in my wedding. I lost sleep over it, and waited a few months before asking, thinking, "maybe I can just have 1 maid of honor and find other roles for the rest of them!" I couldn't imagine having 9 girls standing next to me. Isn't that crazy and overwhelming? My fiancé had 6. I hated to think that our sides would be uneven.

But when I realized what a big role all of these girls had played in my life, how sad I would feel to leave any of them out, and how important it was to me to have them in my wedding, I had no choice but to ask all of them! And I'm just so happy that I did. I'm the luckiest girl to have such close friends!

It makes the planning process all the more exciting. And guess what? It's the new trend to not have the numbers match between bridesmaids and groomsmen. So although the bridesmaid decision was definitely the most stressful, I am so thankful with the outcome!

If you'd like to join our Blogging Bride's Series, please email me at melissa {at} masterpieceweddings {dot} net

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cake + Truffles = Heaven in my Mouth!!!

Okay, so most of you know that I love to cook and bake, and I love to cook and bake gourmet style, right?

Well, I do! And most of the things that I eat, I always think, aw shucks, I can do that! Or this would be so much better with a touch of this. Or why should I buy that when I can just make that...Basically, I am a food snob... I fully admit it.

But this time... I tried... and I tried, but I couldn't do it.

I've made delicious chocolate truffles, melt-in-your-mouth-amazing-truffles, and I've made some incredibly-moist-delicious-cakes, and I've even made Cake Truffles... and those were pretty darned good!

But when Kathy called me and told me she had a little something she wanted me to try and give her some feedback, of course I had to take her up on it... nothing she has ever made has been anything less than amazing.

I took a small golf ball sized piece of the most moist decadent cake enveloped in imported chocolates, and quite honestly didn’t know what to say. The bit of the first one I tried was chocolate cake with imported chocolate blanketing it. And I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

So then, the following week, she called and said she had made a coconut truffle and I had to try it. I waited this time until I got home. I sat down, very scientifically to try this creation (and then to look in the box and see 3 additional flavors… I thought that’s it… I am a in HEAVEN!)

I can’t even explain the deliciousness that hit my tongue – my tastebuds didn’t know what do to… there is no way to reinvent this, or remake this.

I called Kathy immediately and told her it was truly “Orgasmic” there was no other words, it was perfection.

Then, the Pumpkin Pie Kake Truffle… forget it, it was Pumpkin Pie Heaven in my mouth!

{there was also White Cake with Strawberry Filling, and Orange Dreamscile – all were amazing!!!}

Okay so now you are mad at me, because most of you aren't local and can't as easily get your hands on these... but the good news is that I am sure Kathy can ship them to you (right Kathy?) - and if you are local and you are dying to try them, get yourself to Dorn's Wine and Spirits next to my office.... and you can try them right then and there!

Gosh, I could go for a Coconut Kake Truffle right now.... Yummmmmmmmmmm!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gator Week!

Why not make a great end to the week with more Gator Boards for Brittany and Bryan's Wedding! This one was done by Sharilyn in our office - she was just featured on Be A Planner!
What do you think of her amazing Gator - Orange and Blue Board, so pretty and fun, right!?!? And believe it or not, there is still more to come!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Gators at their Best!

I've mentioned we are planning an Orange and Blue Wedding, and Albert and Alberta will be the Best Man and Maid of Honor... and then I saw this and thought, welllll we might need to get them more involved!

Who would have thunk it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Go Inspiration... Let's Go!

For a while now, I've been toying with creating an inspiration board for our boys... our boys being The Florida Football Team. The Florida Gators.

But Orange and Blue just haven't singed to me as wedding colors. Then we met Brittany and Bryan. They are having a small intimate wedding, with Albert and Alberta being the maid of honor and best man! How fun right!

That meant it was certainly time to play with the colors and the feel. We are all working on a board... this is Jeana's, what do you think?

We are all working on boards, so there are more to come....

Sources: The Knot, Style Me Pretty, The Knot, Caroline Johnson Photography, The Knot, Wikipedia, Caroline Johnson Photography, The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Style Me Pretty

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging Brides!

Name: Amy L.

Location: Southern California

Blog: Amy K Lynch

Wedding Date: June 27th, 2009

What do you do in real life? I am a student in a intensive Dental Hygiene Program!

Favorite Part about Planning your Wedding?

One of my favorite parts about planning my wedding is that it is for me! Every decision is made based on my specific taste. I get to pick my favorite colors, my favorite flowers, my favorite ideas, my favorite looks, etc. But my absolute favorite part about planning my wedding is knowing that in less than 10 months, I get to marry my best friend. I am looking forward to being married to Danny, more than I am looking forward to the wedding day itself. And that's saying a lot for someone who loves weddings so much!

Least Favorite Part about Planning your Wedding?

I think my least favorite part/the hardest part about planning my wedding is having so many opinions. Everyone has different takes on every little thing and it is truly impossible to make the wedding ideal for everyone. But it is also really hard to be selfish and just try to make the wedding ideal for Danny and me. It would be a lot easier if everyone had my same opinion on everything! ;)

What is the best piece of wedding advice you've ever received?

At this point, the best advice I've received is to make our wedding a reflection of who we are as a couple. I think it is important that our wedding day really does reflect us. I loved this advice because it actually made it easier to relax and not focus on making the wedding perfect or over-the-top!

More on Amy L. next Tuesday!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unique Contest!!!

One of our favorie Blogs, is having an awesome contest! I don't even know why I'm telling you about this, because frankly, I want to win!!! But they've extended the deadline!
But, everyone deserves a fair chance!
What are you waiting for.....
Go there.... now!

Posh Blog!

One of our favorite cake bakers has started a blog! You met her and saw her super fun work when she was part of Cake Week, and now you can keep an eye on Posh Pastry all on your own!

Check out Posh Pastry's, Posh Blog!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's Eat Cake Update!

4 months!

4 months to go!

Holy Cow! Times flies!! Let's Eat Cake! is only 4 months away!!! We are currently offering a super duper fantastical deal, if you donate $1, that's less than that coffee you got at Starbucks this morning... to Let's Eat Cake! (which will in turn go right to St. Jude Children's Reseach Hospital) we'll send you a Christmas Card... (for every $1, you get a Christmas Card...)

Please help these kids, they need your help!

We need your help to reach our goal!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pink and Mango!

We are working on the funnest wedding EVER! Lindsay and Steve are getting married on November 1st, and their colors are Pink and Mango, so we've been playing with inspiration boards for them for a while, and the more we learn about them, the more we play...

What do you think of New Intern Jana's board for their fun wedding?

I love it, but I am thinking it's not quite them...

Hmmmm... maybe we should play some more?

And don't worry, there are more Lindsay and Steve boards to come!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Budget Bride's Ideas!

Things are tight all round right now, money is getting tighter, and if you watch the stock market ticker, you are probably dizzy by now!

I've noticed that brides are starting to cut back on things - and there are smart ways to cut back, and not so smart ways to cut back...

How difficult is it to make cuts to your budget?

That depends on how much you need to cut - and what you are willing to cut back on. The obvious choice is to cut back on the number of guests, because if you are paying $60 per person and cut 50 people from your guest list, that's $3000.

But what if cutting guests isn't an option.

Scale back, more affordable linens, more affordable china, a different menu, signature drink bar, instead of full open bar, only serve beer and wine instead of a full bar.

Scale back on your flowers, do some additional DIY projects, cut out the program, use a lesser paper on your invitations, don't do thermography printing, don't use cotton paper.

There are lots of ways to cut back...

These are just a few options on ways to cut back, but one thing to never skimp on is photography, I wouldn't recommend having Aunt Jane do your photography, unless Aunt Jane is a pro... the only you have in the end are those photographs... so better to higher a great photographer's cheapest package then risking not having any photographs at all.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blogging Brides!

So far in Blogging Brides, this has to be my favorite story! I think some of the best stories are always the ones that you can fully relate to, and are true... so with out further ado, Amy F. and her story of the bewbies!
first of all, i am so excited to be a part of the blogger brides series for melissa at "adventures in wedding planning." thank you for having me and creating a social network for all of us overzealous brides!

{keeping the girls happy}

soon after i bought my strapless wedding dress, i knew i needed a bewbie-lifter and a tummy tucker. i hoped to accomplish this by purchasing a corset. so, i saw one posted online and bought it! i know. so stupid. but my girls have been the same for a long time..and i've been wearing the same size over-the-shoulder..well, you get the idea. needless to say, it did not do what i wanted it to do. it did not lift. it did not tuck. back to the drawing board...

last weekend i ran out of the house to do some errands. i had planned only to go to the local drug store to grab some shampoo and conditioner and a few other quick buys, so of course, i did not shower. instead, i threw on a hat, slapped on a little deodorant to cover the sleepy sweat smell, and made a bee line for the store.

on the way home, i passed by a beautiful little lingerie store. i had always drooled over the lacy things posed so elegantly in the window. i thought, "i'll just peep my little head in and ask if they carry corsets, or something similar for my big day."

holy cow, these women were crazy. two of them who were eating lunch behind a big velvet curtain, dropped their forks and came to the front of the store to whisk me in...the third one was showing me this control top panty-shorts thing and was telling me how great it was. she promised it would suck in my 30-year-old tummy, and lift my saggy bottom without flattening it down like other brands do.

"but what about the girls?" i asked.

it didn't take them 30 seconds to have me in a dressing room. one girl was removing my tank top, while the other unleashed my bra. i thought for a second i had wandered into some secret underground "love shop" if you know what i mean, and was ready to break out the mace. fortunately i was too distracted by my mortification of un-showered bewbies and semi-stubbly armpits to make a move for my purse..

as i stood there, bewbs in hands, one of the girls approached me with what looked like shoulder pads. she motioned that she wanted to put them on me...

"you want to see my ..?" i asked.

she explained that she'd seen it all before...and i reluctantly let them free. she complimented me on my girls.. (smile)..and placed stuck the "shoulder pads" on them...clasped them together...and spun me around to face the mirror.

my jaw dropped. it was perfect! lift, cleavage, no straps. "i'll take it!"

walking home, i thought back on the whole situation. i cringed at the thought that i might have just been taken for a ride.

i tried on the ensemble as soon as i got home...the bra, the shorts...and of course, my dress. ladies..i can not tell you enough how happy i am that i stopped in that lingerie store on the way home. it all works together like a blissful, bridal dream.

curious about the bra and shorts?

bra: nubra

control top shorts: falke shaping shorts

If you are interested in being a Blogging Bride, please email me at melissa {at} masterpieceweddings {dot} net

Monday, October 13, 2008

Letterpress Love!

As I am sure you already know, MasterPiece Weddings, loves Letterpress, we actually love all things paper, but Letterpress is something that we literally drool over.

So when a care package came from our friends at Erickson Designs, informing us that they have started a new division Lambert Letterpress, I literally jumped up and down!

The stock is unbelievable! {Their business cards are seriously thick, are made of lettra, so they are tree free!!!} The designs are like nothing I've ever seen before, the details... well, let's just say we are swooning over them!

I'll take some pictures of the samples that they sent me, and show you, they are truly amazing!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Man Flower

Here at MasterPiece Weddings, we are always looking for ways to make the men more schnazzy, and when I saw this photograph posted from EAD, I thought I was in love!

What a beautiful boutineer, so fun and classy, and unique!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get Certified!

MasterPiece Certified is now enrolling for our November course! We are so excited about our next class coming up! This class will run Monday through Friday at our offices, and we'd love to include you!

This the most inclusive Certification course approved through the DOE! You'll learn everything you need to know about being a wedding planner, starting a business, and much, more! We'll have guest speakers, learn to start a business, work with brides, how to network, and much much more!

Please send me an email to melissa {at} masterpieceweddings {dot} net for more information, and to see if you qualify for a discounted tuition.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bake a Cake! III

Okay, so know you know my inspiration, and what the client wanted. You know I am not a professional cake baker, never promised to be, it's just something I do for Harrison, cuz he's so darned cute! And you know how many tools I've used to make this cake.... now for the decorations!

Sunflowers, Purple Flowers and Rocks:

The rest of the bugs- just waiting to get involved:
Proof I actually worked on this cake:
One of the cute Marzipan Catepillers:
More proof I actually made this cake:
Now it's time to start decorating: (that's a pile of royal icing ants on the counter)
I think we did okay.... we'll put the rest on at Harrison's Party....
Harrison's 4 candle in the cake:
Birthday Boy:
Happy Birthday Harrison!!!! I hope you loved your Bug Party, and your cake :)


I was tagged, again... I was tagged by Stary-Eyed Bride and Bespoke. This one's kind of fun! (sorry for not being able to do this right away, things have been crazy buzy!)

4 Things I Did Today:

1. Put together a contract for a bride.

2. Called a ceremony venue and used my Jedi mind trick to convince them to have a ceremony there.

3. Prayed.

4. Met with a bride who still has lots to do for her March Wedding.

4 Things On My To-Do list:

1. Make a bazillion phone calls.

2. Call back prospective interns.

3. Go see Nights in Roadanthe.

4. Finish Harrison’s Birthday Cake

(Bonus #5 – I have to get the mailing list together for Let’s Eat Cake! Potential sponsors)

4 of My Guiltiest Pleasures:

1. Drinking really good red wine.

2. I love reading in the bathtub. (with a glass of wine)

3. Watching television with my husband. With my head on his lap lying there with his hand on my side. (while drinking a glass of wine)

4. Reality Television…. Yeah, it’s stupid, yeah, it has no redeeming qualities… but I like some of it… I know – I’m a moron… but I enjoy it when I am drinking a glass of wine!

4 Random Facts About Me:

1. I used to swim competitively…. And Greg Louganis and I met at the pool at 5:30 to practice, then he went to the dive pool and I went to the lanes to swim. We shared many a McDonald's Breakfast Sammich together.

2. I work constantly, like I don’t stop, I am thinking ways to improve my business, to work with vendors to make my client’s life easier, to make my husband's business better (I sleep, eat, and live to work) …. I just don’t’ stop working.

3. I do what I do because I really I truly believe it to be my calling in life. I love it and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

4. I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer 3 Years and 6 months ago, Stage 1, Non-HPV. I am now a cancer survivor. I worked through my cancer, I never missed a wedding, an appointment, and my clients never knew. It’s just what I did. Why should some cancer stop me…. And this is the reason for Let’s Eat Cake.

I am now tagging, Blissful Bride and Unique Designs.

Image Souce

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Birding and Business

It never occurred to me that there might be skills or strategies employed by top birders that could be adapted by successful business executives to improve the success of their businesses, but the Harvard Business Review claims there are. In 2002, the HBR published an articled entitled Spotting Patterns on the Fly: A Conversation with Birders David Sibley and Julia Yoshida which is still available for purchase. More recently, John Michl of the Thinking Analytically blog has published a series of short posts examining these skill sets, with pattern recognition and randomness being just two of them. I don’t suppose there would be something in here that would help bail out Wall Street?

Birds May Pick Up Chemical Cues from Insect-Damaged Trees

New research out of Finland suggests, not surprisingly, that insectivorous birds are attracted to herbivorous insect-damaged trees. What is surprising is that the birds may be attracted to insect-infested trees not so much by the presence of the insects themselves, as they are by the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by the trees as a protection against insect herbivory.

Bake a Cake! II

WOW! Was this a process, but it's so nice to have friends in the business, Kathy from KB, helped me so much, with advice and teaching me to make the bugs, loaning me supplies... her time... really a God Send!!! So I documented the process. A Month long Process....

Supplies - rods to make sure the top layer doesn't collapse into the bottom layer:

Beating the Oreo's for the Frosting:

Oreo Cookies and Cream Frosting:
Harrison had requested, Chocolate Cake on the Bottom and Vanilla Cake on the Top - So I made Chocolate Fudge Butter Cake, and Bourbon Vanilla Butter Cake with Oreo Cookies and Cream Filling.
My husband handling the manual labor, aka using the big boy tools!
The cakes with the crumb coat - now they rest in the fridge...
More on my Crazy Cake Adventures tomorrow!

2008 Blogger BioBlitz—My Results

Damn! I missed the Blogger BioBlitz—for the second year in a row! Either it wasn’t well publicized or I’ve not been keeping up on things, but most likely it was the latter. Luckily, not all is lost. The official dates for the 2008 Blogger BioBlitz were September 20-28. As it happened, I conducted standardized bird counts on seven days during that period, September 20-26, using a protocol defined by eBird as an “area count.” The area that I surveyed included my yard, adjoining Crescent Lake, adjacent scrubby areas, and a hardwoods forest on the opposite side of the lake. Between 1 and 2 hours were devoted to the daily counts.

Rather than submitting my results in the form of a “datasheet download,” I chose to provide a written summary here. I recorded a total of 55 species (min/day: 14, med: 26, max: 42) and a minimum of 1,874 individuals, or 268/day (min: 69, med: 205, max: 595); 17 species were observed just once during the 7 days, while 21 species were observed on 4 or more days. A detailed species list follows:
  • Canada Goose – 7 days, min. of 152 birds* (30.4/day); max: 65 on 24th

  • Mute Swan – 6 days, 12 birds (2/day, a resident pair)

  • Wood Duck – 6 days, 31 birds (5.2/day); min: 1, med: 5, max: 11 on 21st

  • Mallard – 3 days, 16 birds (5.3/day); max: 7 on 24th

  • Pied-billed Grebe – 1 bird on 25th

  • Double-crested Cormorant – 1 bird on 26th (I watched as this bird flew into and landed on Crescent Lake and then began feeding immediately)

  • Great Blue Heron – 1 bird on each of 4 days (1/day)

  • Great Egret – 1 bird on each of 2 days (25th & 26th)

  • Turkey Vulture – 3 days, 6 birds (2/day); max: 3 on 22nd

  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 3 days, 5 birds (1.7/day); max: 3 on 25th

  • American Coot – 1 bird on 26th

  • Ring-billed Gull – 6 days, 453 birds (75.5/day); min: 1, med: 39.5, max 313 on 25th

  • Mourning Dove – 6 days, 19 birds (3.2/day); min: 2, med: 3.5, max 4 (4 different days)

  • Eastern Screech-Owl – 2 days, 2 birds (1/day, heard calling)

  • Great Horned Owl – 1 bird heard calling on 21st

  • Chimney Swift – 4 days, 35 birds (8.8/day); max: 17 on 24th

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1 bird on 24th

  • Belted Kingfisher – 1 bird on 26th

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 5 days, 11 birds (2.2/day); min: 1, med: 1, max: 6 on 26th

  • Downy Woodpecker – 6 days, 11 birds (2.2/day); min: 1, med: 2, max: 3 on 26th

  • Northern Flicker – 3 days, 16 birds (5.3/day); max: 10 on 26th

  • Olive-sided Flycatcher – 1 bird on 24th

  • Alder Flycatcher – 1 bird on 24th (heard calling)

  • Eastern Phoebe – 6 days, 16 birds (2.7/day); min: 1, med: 1.5, max: 6 on 24th

  • Great Crested Flycatcher – 1 bird on 24th

  • Red-eyed Vireo – 2 days, 3 birds (1.5/day); max: 2 on 26th

  • Blue Jay – 7 days, min. of 109 birds* (21.8/day); min: 15, med: 19, max: 30 on 20th & 24th

  • American Crow – 6 days, minimum of 16 birds^ (4/day); max: 5 on 20th & 24th

  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – 30 birds on each of 2 days, 21st & 22nd

  • swallow sp. – 2 days, 25 birds (12.5/day); max: 15 on 26th
  • Black-capped Chickadee – 4 days, 4 birds (1/day)

  • Tufted Titmouse – 6 days, 8 birds (1.3/day); min: 1, med: 1, max: 2 on 24th & 26th

  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 7 days, 17 birds (2.4/day); min: 1, med: 2, max: 6 on 24th

  • House Wren – 1 bird on 20th

  • American Robin – 7 days, 240 birds (34.3/day); min: 1, med: 18, max: 110 on 24th

  • Gray Catbird – 6 days, 84 birds (14/day); min: 1, med: 13.5, max: 26 on 26th

  • Brown Thrasher – 4 birds on 26th

  • European Starling – 6 days, 40 birds (6.7/day); min: 1, med: 2, max: 31 on 25th

  • Cedar Waxwing – 3 days, 75 birds (25/day); max: 30 on 20th

  • Magnolia Warbler – 1 bird on 26th

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 2 days, 8 birds (4/day); max: 7 on 26th

  • American Redstart – 2 days, 6 birds (3/day); max: 5 on 20th

  • Ovenbird – 2 birds on 24th

  • Common Yellowthroat – 1 bird on 20th

  • Wilson’s Warbler – 1 bird on 26th

  • Eastern Towhee – 2 days, 6 birds (3/day); max: 5 on 24th

  • Chipping Sparrow – 5 days, 78 birds (15.6/day); min: 5, med: 15, max: 23 on 24th

  • White-throated Sparrow – 1 bird on 26th (first of the fall)

  • Northern Cardinal – 7 days, min. of 30 birds** (5/day); min: 2, med: 5, max: 10 on 20th

  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 13 birds on 20th

  • Red-winged Blackbird – 3 days, 19 birds (6.3/day); max: 15 on 25th

  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 1 bird on 24th

  • Baltimore Oriole – 3 days, 6 birds (2/day); max: 4 on 24th

  • House Finch – 7 days, min. of 31 birds* (6.2/day); min: 5, med: 7, max: 7 on 3 different days

  • American Goldfinch – 7 days, min. of 180 birds** (30/day); min: 20, med: 30, max: 50 on 26th

  • House Finch – 4 days, 14 birds (3.5/day); max: 10 on 20th

    ^ Numerical estimates were made on only 4 days for this species

    * Numerical estimates were made on only 5 days for this species

    ** Numerical estimates were made on only 6 days for this species

  • Blogging Brides!

    Name: Amy F.

    Location: Live/Work: San Francisco, CA - Wedding Location: Nashville, TN

    Blog: with the pixie grin

    Wedding Date: May 30, 2009

    What do you do in real life?

    I am a Webmaster for a popular search engine. But what I really want to be is a Registered Nurse...shhh!

    Favorite Part about Planning your Wedding?

    My personal style has always been a private thing for me...planning our wedding has allowed me to share concepts & ideas with friends and family without feeling self-conscious about it. It has helped me to embrace this woman I have become. I really like that.

    Least Favorite Part about Planning your Wedding?

    With everything I do, I really try to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. I've found that to be true in planning our wedding while weighing in the idea that this is "our day." The struggle with finding a balance between the two has definitely added a few gray hairs.

    What is the best piece of wedding advice you've ever received?

    To enjoy every minute of the planning process and the engagement phase. They say it's over before you know it...


    We'll have some more on Amy F. next week, on Blogging Brides!

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Project FeederWatch: Database Integrity

    I signed up for Project FeederWatch today. I’ve never been a FeederWatch participant, but have always been under the assumption that it was a worthwhile citizen-science project that yielded useful information on winter bird populations.

    After signing up, I went to the “Explore Data” section of the FeederWatch web site, as suggested in their press release. Once there, I pulled up a summary for the State of Michigan for 2007-2008. Imagine my surprise upon finding records of Common Ground-Dove (showing an “average group size when seen” of 14.1) and Black-billed Magpie (with an “average group size” of 11.0)! Both of these species are on the Michigan Bird Records Committee’s “Review List.” Their searchable database shows three records of Common Ground-Dove (most recently in 2000) and eight records of Black-billed Magpie (most recently in December 2006-January 2007), with no more than a single individual of each species reported during each sighting.

    Other questionable species listed for the 2007-2008 count from Michigan include Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Black-crested Titmouse, Pygmy Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Cactus Wren, and Pyrrhuloxia. Needless to say, there are no confirmed records of any of those species in Michigan.

    While I still believe that Project FeederWatch provides useful information on winter populations of common winter birds, internal controls (such as those instituted for eBird and the Great Backyard Bird Count) need to be put into place before such dubious records as those noted above make it into their online database.

    Bake a Cake!

    There is a new trend, brides attempting to make, design, bake their own wedding cakes. To me this is would be met with disasterous results!

    However, I have always made a birthday cake for our bestest friends son, Harrison, you've seen his picture on this blog before. Well this weekend was Harrison's 4th birthday, and I took my task very seriously. It was the first time Harrison could really have some say in his cake. He wanted Bugs. Specific Bugs.

    Harrison's Demands:

    • Rocks

    • Dirt

    • Ants

    • Dragonflies

    • Bee's

    • Lady Bugs

    • Sunflowers

    • Purple Flowers

    • Grass

    • Leaves

    • Worms

    Phew! Was I in for it, or what!!! So I started a sketch, a 2 layer cake, and let him tell me what he wanted. And I drew it. This is my sketch.
    I am not an artist.... promise!!!

    Project FeederWatch Benefits Birds and People

    Yeah, I know it seems like fall just rolled around. After all, the college football season is less than half over, and I haven’t even raked the leaves in my yard yet. Heck, most of the leaves haven’t even fallen yet. And fall migration is still in full swing.

    Be that as it may, the start of the 2008-2009 season for Project FeederWatch is barely more than month away. That’s right, mark your calendars for November 8th and get ready for the all fun and excitement of being a FeederWatcher, while also making a useful contribution to our knowledge of winter bird populations. For information on how to participate, please read this news release from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
    Ithaca, NY-¬More than 100 studies have shown that getting closer to nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of well-being in children and adults. So, filling feeders and counting the birds that visit may be just what the doctor ordered! For more than 20 years, that’s what participants in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch have been doing-¬benefiting themselves and the birds.

    "It is a great winter time activity for the whole family," says Alaska FeederWatcher Nancy Darnell. "If you have children, they will come to love watching the birds. All of this is fun and a chance to contribute to scientific studies, too!"

    The 2008-09 season of Project FeederWatch gets underway November 8 and runs through April 3. Participants count the numbers and kinds of birds at their feeders each week and send the information to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 FeederWatch season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges-¬a treasure-trove of information that scientists use to monitor the health of the birds and of the environment.

    "Being a FeederWatcher is easy and fun, and at the same time helps generate the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations," says project leader David Bonter. "We are grateful for the contributions our participants have made for the birds and are proud of the joy they say it brings to their busy lives. Since we started in 1987, more than 40,000 people have submitted observations, engaging with the wildlife beyond their windows."

    "Project FeederWatch opened up a whole new world for me," says participant Cheri Ryan of Lockport, Kentucky. "It’s so interesting to watch the activities of the birds. I learn something new each time I participate."

    Scientists learn something new from the data each year, too, whether it’s about the movements of common backyard birds or unusual sightings of rarely-seen species. Highlights of the most recent season include the largest southward movement of Red-breasted Nuthatches in the history of the project¬-part of an expected influx of northern birds that fly farther south when their food supplies run short. Other northern species showing up in record numbers included Common Repolls and Pine Siskins. Among the rare birds reported was a Streak-backed Oriole in Loveland, Colorado-¬the state’s first report of this bird, native to Mexico. A December nor’easter deposited a Dovekie in Newton, Massachusetts, the first time this North Atlantic seabird has ever been reported to Project FeederWatch.

    Long-term data show some species increasing in number, such as the Lesser Goldfinch in the Southwest. Other populations continue a downward trend, such as the Evening Grosbeak throughout their range. Once one of the most common species seen at feeders in the northern half of the continent, the grosbeaks are declining for unknown reasons.

    Beyond the benefits to birds and science, however, is the benefit to participants. "Nature is not merely an amenity; it is critical to healthy human development and functioning," says Nancy Wells, Cornell University assistant professor of design and environmental analysis. Her studies find that a view of nature through the window or access to the environment in any way improves a child’s cognitive functioning and reduces the negative effects of stress on the child’s psychological well-being. Wells also notes that when children spent time with nature early in life it carries over to their adult attitudes and behavior toward the environment.

    Project FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels, from scout troops and retirees to classrooms and nature center visitors. To learn more and to sign up, visit or call the Lab toll-free at (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds in their area, a calendar, complete instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights.

    Many FeederWatchers echo this comment from Mary Strasser of Wisconsin: "The greatest reward for me as a participant in Project FeederWatch these many years has been observing birds and behavior that I might have missed had I not been part of this project."
    Visit the "Explore Data" section of the FeederWatch Web site to find the top 25 birds reported in your region, rare bird sightings, and bird summaries by State or Province.

    MasterPiece Weddings, did it!

    So, I've been listening... and listening... and we finally took the plunge. MasterPiece Wedding is finally on Facebook!

    So if you'd like to be my friend, let me know! I'm having a blast, so many people have told me about Facebook, and I don't think I got it - but it's seriously, like crack!

    Come on over and say hi!

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Licenses to Bird

    This "collection" of 212 birding-inspired vanity plates in 18 galleries was gathered over a period of 29 years by Rich Ditch. These are all more or less self-explanatory, but I’m still puzzled by the meaning of KUMUL. Can somebody help me out?

    ADDENDUM (10/6/08): See Rich Ditch's very interesting comment below about the meaning of KUMUL. Thank you, Ritch!

    2008 Water Year Summary Report

    Station Number: MI-BN-3
    Station Name: Buchanan 1.4 ESE

    Station Location and History: This station is located 1.4 miles ESE of Buchanan, Michigan. Buchanan is located in the southeast portion of Berrien County, Michigan’s southwestern-most county. The rain gauge is located at 4776 Erie Drive (lat. 41.8 N, long. 86.3 W) at an elevation of 759 feet. It is maintained as part of the CoCoRaHS (the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network). Michigan officially joined the CoCoRaHS Network on July 1, 2008. Therefore, this report covers only the 4th quarter of the 2008 Water Year, July-September 2008.

    The Data: Precipitation is recorded at 7:00 AM each morning, in accordance with CoCoRaHS protocol, using a standard 4-inch rain gauge. That measurement represents precipitation that has fallen during the previous 24 hours. Thus, a measurement taken at 7:00 AM on September 15th is an indicator of total precipitation that has fallen between 7:00 AM on September 14th and 7:00 AM on September 15th.

    Precipitation Summary: July saw measurable amounts of rain (i.e., ≥ 0.01 inches) fall on 10 (32 percent) of 31 days, with a total accumulation of 2.35 inches (0.08 inches/day).

    August produced measurable rainfall on 8 (26 percent) of 31 days, with a total accumulation of 2.33 inches (0.08 inches/day).

    September was by far the wettest month of the quarter, with measurable rainfall on 13 (43 percent) of 30 days yielding a total accumulation of 13.00 inches (0.43 inches/day).

    For the entire 4th quarter, measurable precipitation, all in the form of rain, fell on 31 (34 percent) of 92 days, producing a whopping 17.68 inches of rain; 74 percent of that total occurred in September, with 53 percent (9.38 inches) falling on just 3 days (September 13-15).

  • Longest span of days with measurable rainfall: 7 (September 4-10).
  • Longest span of days without measurable rainfall: 13 (September 17-29).
  • Greatest rainfall in 24 hours: 3.83 inches (September 14).
  • Wettest month: September (13.00 inches)
  • Comparisons: No comparative data from previous years is available for this site. Therefore, to gauge the relative wetness of this quarter, I offer some comparative data from the nearest locality, South Bend, Indiana (located 12 miles SE of this station). July rainfall for South Bend (2.38 inches) was 36 percent below the norm (1970-2000), August rainfall (1.90 inches) was 52 percent below the norm, and September rainfall (13.96 inches) was 267 percent above the norm. The quarterly total of 18.24 inches at South Bend (which was very close to the 17.68 inches recorded in Buchanan) exceeded the norm at that locality by 59 percent. Thus, the fourth quarter of 2008 can be categorized as abnormally dry in July and August and exceedingly wet (i.e., record-setting) in September.

    Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Dew Point: Purely for my own edification, I recorded these statistics on 90 of the 92 days during the quarter. All were recorded at about 7:00 AM, so can be considered to represent lows for each day. Figures for temperature and dew point are in degrees F., relative humidity is in percent. The results follow:
  • Temperature: High 74 (July 19), Median 60, Low 44 (September 10)
  • Relative Humidity: High 90 (July 5 & August 9), Median 84, Low 73 (August 22 & September 11)
  • Dew Point Temperature: High 68 (July 12 & 19), Median 54.5, Low 38 (September 10)
  • Friday, October 3, 2008

    Feast your eyes-appeal and style

    If you don't visit Michael Sporn's blog (or "Splog") regularly, you miss not only his great reports on animation life on the east coast, but also many things like these stunning boards from the Disney short "Melody: Adventures in Music". The artwork is loaned to Mike from his good friend and a man who needs no introduction to readers here, John Canemaker, whose collection is something else again.

    Lots more where this came from--and again, it comes via John Canemaker and Michael Sporn.

    Go there now!