with temperature this morning in the single digits and the highs today no higher than the teens, my father came by place to give me a ride to belmont.

i was excited to see my new double cage squirrel resistant suet feeder. i bought it used from amazon but it looked completely brand new, even had the labels still attached. it takes two suet cakes at a time; one reviewer said if using just one cake the feeder will hang lopsided; so i loaded a used cake and added a new one.

everything was frozen solid outside. condensation on the inside wall of the row cover had turned to ice. the radishes growing inside looked a bit ragged but still seemed alive, although any leaves touching the walls have all wilted.

i made my special egg-ham-avocado bagel sandwiches for my parents. my father helped me grill all the leftover christmas ham i brought over from my house. each bagel sandwich required 4 thick layers of ham. a single large avocado was enough for 3 bagels. everyone seemed to like it although my mother couldn't find her sandwich and left a few bites.

almost as soon as i put out the new suet feeder, we already had a visitor: a male downy woodpecker. i didn't see it fly into the feeder but it seemed to be feeding on the suet cake without an problems. i did see it leave, it easily slipped through the outer cage like it wasn't even there. it's definitely a feeder for smaller suet feeding birds like downy woodpeckers and carolina wrens. time will tell if larger suet feeding birds can get to it as well.

it didn't take long for a squirrel to come and investigate the new feeder. up until now, our old suet feeder - the classic square cage model - was essentially a squirrel feeder. it fed from that old feeder at will, despite my many attempts to mount the feeder so it'd be harder for the squirrel to get to. this new feeder though - with it's double cage design - i could already tell the squirrels would not be able to get to the suet cakes. it was fun to watch, as the squirrel kept on trying, biting the metal lid and the cage. at one point i even saw it stick its squirrel arm into the feeder, trying to claw off of a piece of suet, but it was all in vain.

i almost felt bad for the squirrel, made me want to set up a feeder just for them. i don't mind squirrels in the backyard, even if they do occasionally dig up plants. i just don't like them eating from the bird feeders. the problem with setting up a squirrel feeder is the squirrels will destroy it over time because they will chew on pretty much everything.

in the afternoon i made nachos for the very first time. i used simply market basket store brand corn chips, baked them a few minutes in the oven on a large aluminum-foil-covered tray before adding the toppings. the first layer was fresh shredded colby pepper jack cheese. i then added chopped tomatoes (3), chopped onions (half), chopped avocado (half), cilantro, and chopped serrano peppers (3). i then scooped chipotle-flavored refried beans from a can with a spoon and used my hands to roll them into balls before dropping them onto the nachos. into the oven it went, 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melted.

it wasn't bad for my first attempt, you really can't go wrong as long as you have corn chips and melted cheese. i could've used a bit more cheese, and sometimes the nachos stacked on top of each other so the bottom nachos had no toppings. the serrano peppers turned out to be very hot, and my mother picked off most of them otherwise my father couldn't eat them. i also didn't need to add the cilantro, they just wilted in the oven. i also had sour cream and olives, but i didn't use them. i think the refried beans are essential, otherwise the nachos can be a little bland, the only flavors coming from the slightly salted chips and the melted cheese. the three of us ended up finishing the whole pan. i have more leftover ingredients to make more nachos tomorrow.

my mother bought a 12 oz. zojirushi insulated mug for my 2nd aunt's birthday, which is chinese new year. it's in rose gold, which looks more like bronze, compared to my mother's lavender pink. they're both nearly identical, except the one for my 2nd aunt came in a box that only had japanese writing on it, so it's obviously a japanese import.

we had some ham bone stew mixed with cabbage, tofu, and clear noodles. my father gave me a ride back to cambridge afterwards.

tonight was the patriots-bills game. earlier raiders played the bengals: cincinnati won, their first playoff victory since 1990 (and might also be their first playoff game since then as well). the patriots-bills became a lopsided defeat, even worse when buffalo played new england a few weeks back. at least pats scored in the first half, a field goal, with the score 27-3 going into halftime. new england scored 2 additional touchdowns in the second half, but buffalo added 20 more points, with the final score 47-17. after the first quarter - when the bills were up 14-0 - i was already resigned to losing. like a masochist, i watched the entire game, even though i wanted to turn it off. because you never know with the patriots, they could mount an incredible comeback, but not this time. we probably got farther this season than most people could've imagined. mac jones seem like a solid quarterback, and looks like he'll have a promising career here in new england. it's actually kind of good that the pats are out of the playoffs, gives me a chance to enjoy the rest of the games without stressing over if new england is going to advance or not.