inspired by my recent wren sighting, i woke up at 5:30 this morning to get my birding on. late last night i'd already prepared what i was going to bring (binoculars, dSLR). little did i know it was raining. birds tend to be less active when it rains. i then checked the local sightings listserv (1,2) and realized it was still too early in the birdwatching season that a lot of birds haven't arrived yet (most importantly the warblers). so with those 2 excuses, i decided to postpone my visit to the mt.auburn cemetery. it seemed i wasn't the only person who was up so early: i saw paul leaving the house dressed up in a suit.

i wasn't sleepy but forced myself to go to bed, listening to a downton abbey podcast. it was still dark when i woke up, but by the time i crawled back into bed, it was already sunrise and the sky was getting lighter. i did eventually fall back to sleep, and woke up 5 hours later around 11:00.

i finally turned off my heat today. it would've killed me on the inside if i went into may with the furnace still on. i don't know much more it costs to leave the furnace on (but not running) versus shutting it down completely, but all i know is i'm saving some money. there's also the symbolic gesture, like it's not officially the end of winter and start of spring until i can turn off my heat completely. deactivating winter mode requires the following steps: 1) open the furnace, 2) blow out the flame, 3) turn the gas intake valve to the off position, 4) close the gas main (with a wrench, sold separately), 5) switch the power to off, and finally 6) close the furnace until late fall.

since i was down in the basement anyway, i took the opportunity to take out my bike. i also bought out the GMC denali, which i'm going to replace the inner tubes and then sell the bike. i've never sold a bike before but i feel like i have a pretty good feel for the market. there's actually a few more old bikes i'd like to get rid of, maybe use the money to buy a better bike, but more importantly clear out some space in my crowded basement. with my collarbone healed to about 75-80%, i was also able to bring down the 2 television sets i had sitting in my kitchen (the old from my bedroom, the one from the guest bedroom).

i was going to go with my parents after they got off from work to the assembly square mall so i didn't have time to revisit the community garden and clean out my plot. instead i just walked around my block, armed with my camera, taking some photos of the flowering trees. when i got back home, mail had already arrived, including a check from client R. getting paid by 2 clients in the same week! must be a record.

we went to ac moore so my mother could stock up on some yarn. with the weather warming up now, there's less of a need for wool yarn, and more about simply quantity and colors. afterwards we made a quick stop at home depot so i could get some more potting soil (miracle-gro 2.5 cu. ft. potting mix $13.97) for some additional seeds i'll be starting indoors (korean melons, cucamelons).

coming back, we swung by broadway street to pick up some fried chicken for dinner. alas, the KFC that used to be there is no more, replaced by some new asian fusion restaurant called lotus xpress. now the closest KFC i know is the one in allston-brighton.

i finally got around to trying out a rice and bean recipe. i soaked a cup of red mill 13 bean soup mix last night. something about all the different colors and sizes attracted me at the store. the 13 different beans are: navy beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, baby lima beans,large lima beans, garbanzo beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow and green split peas, and lentils.

once i got back home around 5:00, it was time to cook the beans, which i heard could take anywhere from 1-2 hours. maybe because i left the beans soaking overnight and all of today, but it took just around 30 minutes to cook them. they weren't as color when cooked, and they looked a little crumbly, most likely because i presoaked them for too long (couldn't have been the cooking since it was only half an hour).

i set the cooked beans aside while i cooked a cup of brown rice using a can of low sodium chicken broth. i added an additional half cup of hot water because i thought brown rice needed more water to cook. that turned out to be not the case: brown rice doesn't need more water, it just needs more time that's all. the finished rice was a little soggy, but at least it was cooked throughout.

when the brown rice was about to finish cooking, i started on the additional ingredients: i cooked a chopped onion, followed by an entire package of hot italian sausages that i squeezed out from their casings to form little meatballs. once the sausages were properly cooked (5-6 minutes), i added the chopped celery and chopped garlic. i then mixed in the brown rice followed by the cooked beans. i made enough for 4 servings, i ate a serving myself.

the final rice & beans with hot italian sausages was okay but nothing a recipe i'd repeat, at least not without some chances. i don't particularly like brown rice. i used it just because i had it and felt it'd make the recipe even healthier. maybe some wild rice next time, or something long-grained. adding the sausages was something extra, since with all those beans any additional proteins is just extra. however, the sausage meatballs were big enough that it was hard to get some sausages with every spoonful of rice & beans. next time i might try some chopped bacon or chopped ham, something with better meat distribution. the celery was okay, gave everything a bit of a crunch to an otherwise squishy meal. i wonder if the flavor could be improved with a cup of white wine? i ended up adding some shredded cheese to boost the flavor.

rice & beans is really filling. i didn't have a lot, but afterwards i felt satiated. not like in a stuffed "i've eaten too much" feeling, but just this calming feeling of not being hungry anymore. normally i'm tempted to do some light snacking after dinner, but tonight i had no such cravings.

i checked online and saw that my new electric toothbrush had already arrived at the harvard square fedex store, except i didn't receive a pick-up e-mail yet. since it was only 7:00 and the fedex store is opened 24/7, i decided to walk down to harvard square and see if i could pick up my package. there was these billboards in harvard's newly renovated science plaza where students could write their "boston strong" messages.

i tried using the new toothbrush right away, but it wouldn't run so i plugged it into the charging station. that brought the toothbrush to life. the 1000 definitely has a stronger vibration, but it could just be because my old vitality brush is 6 years old. the 1000 has a charging indicator light, but after 4 hours of charging, it was still blinking, so i don't know how long it takes to fully charge up the battery.

i finally got to try out the 1000 before going to bed. besides oscillating - which my old vitality could do as well - the 1000 also has a pulsing action, which i couldn't really tell (unless the stronger vibrations come from the pulsing). my teeth definitely felt cleaner afterwards, like that dentist's office feeling. the 1000 also has a pressure sensor which stops the pulsations if i brush too hard, but no matter how hard i tried, i couldn't get it to stop. my old vitality had a timer feature that would pulse after 2 minutes to let me know when to stop brushing; the 1000 has the same thing, but it also has interval pulsing, which pulses the brush head every 30 seconds to remind me to switch quadrants.