Little Birds.

I'm not compulsive.  At all.  In fact, some of the people in my life, one in particular, probably wishes I were at least bent that direction.  But, no.  Being visually inspired, I am pulled by what's in front of me.  I need to make lists to remember things.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Free spirited, that's me.  

Except for one thing.  I hate anything sticking to my hands.  

Since I'm a baker that's a good thing, right?  Well, mostly, but not always.  

Being an artist, I love daydreaming.  Looking out our kitchen windows is one of my favorite places.  That wasn't always so.  There was a time when I couldn't stand looking out the kitchen windows.

You see, we live very, and I mean very, close to our neighbors.  So we had curtains.  Full window, cover-as-much-as-we-possibly-could curtains.  I'd have to slide them apart to see much of anything beside them.  If they were dusty, which was likely since I washed them only about twice a year, I found them disgusting to touch.  It was immediately necessary to wash my hands.  Then there was the inevitable guilt because I didn't wash the curtains more often.  Oh, and there was the added joy of air born dust from curtain adjustment, accentuated by any sunlight that happened to be streaming in.  More disgust.  So I just avoided the whole scenario by not daydreaming out the kitchen windows. 

Then, hurrah!  We were gifted, at least I thought we were, with 2' thick ice dams on the roof in January 2011.  f you've never had this experience, don't.  Water running down the walls, windows and curtains, pooling on the floor.  So, we rid ourselves of the curtains in the kitchen.  Now we have blinds.  Beautiful 2" faux wood white blinds.

You're looking at the timeline.  Yes, it took over two years to get them. There's a story there, but I'll save that for another day.

While we were making the multi-faceted decision to get blinds, then what type of blinds, then waiting for those blinds to go on sale, we left the windows bare.  Everyone could see everything.  Inside and out.  Pajamas, bad hair days and painting projects.  This was an unwrapped gift to me because I realized that we have wildlife.  In our yard.  That I could watch.  

Several years ago we redid our backyard fence.  Due to the upheaval of earth, and the new posts installed, we had openings for some new foliage.  In one corner just outside these kitchen windows, I planted an evergreen vine.  Apparently, sparrows and chickadees and house wrens love this vine.  The curtains had hid their passion.  And squirrels sat atop our new fence posts and surveyed the area for friends and enemies and dined on our ever present pine cones.  And cardinals visited with everyone who passed by.  I was completely unwitting.  They were having parties, using our yard without our knowledge, or permission.  

Well, that just had to stop.

Now I can see them easily, feasting on tidbits, having a chat with relatives, scolding each other for unfinished chores, or just taking a rest, peering at me.  No more privacy, for them or me.  We can see eye to eye.

I'll bet you're asking now, if you have gotten this far, what in the world does this have to do with baking?  Well, these windows are now my inspiration place.  They are where I take a minute to think, wait, peruse the world from within the space where all these wonderful foodly creations get their start.  Nature watching leads to White Chocolate Toffee Cheesecake and Shark's Teeth and Almond Cardamom Shortbread Sandwich Cookies and Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Thins.  

And no more dusty curtains.  The only dusty fingers that live here come from flour. 

So next time I add something new to the menu you'll know how I got inspired.  You could say a little bird told you.