Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Painted Ladder

This morning the birdbaths were frozen and there was frost on the ground. According to the extended forecast, there are warmer days and nights ahead, so hopefully that will be the last frost.

I saw a painted step-ladder on a blog recently and it was just the inspiration I needed! (I wish I could remember where I saw it, I'd love to give credit for the idea.) I bought this weather worn, paint chipped ladder at a garage sale for $1.00 last year. I loved it but didn't know what to do with it. I thought about using it for a trellis, but that is as far as I got with my plans. This past weekend I found the smaller galvanized container at a garage sale. I have had the larger one for several years, using it for herbs. I plan to use the ladder for a trellis and plant a climbing rose or clematis.

The stump in the middle was a diseased maple tree that we cut down. I had been using it for a birdbath base. It is so windy here that I decided to place the ladder over the stump to keep it from blowing over. Once a climbing plant is established hopefully it will be less noticeable. Any ideas on what climber to plant? What color will go with this crazy bright aqua?

Speaking of climbers, the clematis around our front yard light post is full of blooms and gorgeous.

My one lone azalea is in bloom. I was hesitant to try more until I knew they would survive here. So far this is the third year for this one. Azaleas remind me of spring in Alabama.

I wanted to show you more of my garage sale finds. I love this table! I got it at a sale on Saturday for $10.00. Right now I am loving it inside, but I can also see using this as a serving tray on the front porch, maybe. The cloche was a steal for .10, yep, ten cents! The candle sticks were $2.00. The candles were .50 each. The large white pitcher was .50, even the little magnolia egg and the moss were purchased this past weekend.

I got this picture a few years ago at a garage sale too. The lady I bought it from said that it had hung in a museum in Texas. My daughter saw the same picture in the old movie, Father of the Bride, with Spencer Tracy. The painting isn't visibly signed so I don't know anything about it. I'd love to know the history behind the painting.

I love decorating and sprucing up, both inside and out, for so little money!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thrifty Treasures for the Home and Garden

This weekend was the start of neighborhood garage sale season in my area. There were quite a few of them so I went Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, I was one of the first people at a home decorator's sale. She stages homes that are on the market. Her prices were wonderful so I snatched up several items. I got three bags of eggs for $1.00 each, a Pottery Barn lamp for $2.00 with a spiral compact fluorescent light bulb still in it. The shutters were $2.00, the painted tray was $2.00, the mercury glass candle stick was $1.00, the old wood finials were $1.00 and the heavy mirror was $5.00. I spent about $16.00 at her house and got a lot of really nice things!

I went to a barn sale and got the old boat oar.

I also picked up three clay fireplace flue tiles at the barn sale, I got all three of them for $10.00. I wanted to use them as planters in the garden. I think I'll use one of them for a bird bath stand if I can find a saucer or bird bath top to fit, mine are too small. I can't wait until I have flowers blooming in this butterfly garden filling in the area around my new planters!

One thing that I have wanted for a long time, but couldn't justify the expense, was a heated bird bath. We stopped at one sale and the sweet elderly lady was moving to Texas to live near her son. She had the heated bird bath for two dollars!

We ended up back in the same neighborhood on Saturday and stopped by her home again. We struck up a conversation with her. She loves gardening and bird watching. She let us in the house to see go through her huge assortment of books and magazines and to see her lovely garden. I now have a a very large stack of Birds and Bloom and other gardening magazines to enjoy along with a wonderful book on attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

I was also excited to find the green glass drawer pulls and at a different sale I got glass door knobs!

We went to one garage sale and they were packing up early. It had been raining off and on all day Saturday. We were shocked when they told us we could have whatever we wanted. Two red and green cabbage plates were free along with several nice antique china pieces.

I got so many things there's no way to mention them all. I'll try to post about them as I begin to repurpose and decorate using them in my home and garden.

I'm linking today to Southern Hospitality, Thrifty Treasures.

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Weeks Miscellany

My fur babies and I thoroughly enjoyed the warm sunny weather earlier this week. I cleaned up in the yard and did a lot of weeding and some mulching. Lilly stayed close by rolling around on the grass and keeping the birds at a safe distance. She loves to chase them away from the feeders. Libby is an indoor cat and she always tries to find a warm sunny spot to lay in.

It rained a little today and I was so glad to see it. The ground was already dry and starting to crack and the grass was turning brown. We should have more rain over the next few days, so hopefully that will green the grass back up and perk up the garden.

When I did a walk around the yard yesterday, I saw little feathers in the flowerbed, (center picture). I think they are chickadee feathers. I was so sad thinking that my little chickadee that had been working so hard building a nest had met its demise. I still see chickadee activity in the bird house so hopefully it wasn't one of the ones nesting.

I have enjoyed the tulips this year! I am surprised at how long they have lasted, although with the rain today, I'm pretty sure they are finished for the season.

I cut several tulips a few days ago and tried to artistically photograph them. It was too windy and I spent the time fighting the trifold display board that I was using for my background. It won the fight.

I haven't had time to try to photograph them again and after the rain today, I doubt there will be any left to photograph.

So, I thought I would go ahead and share my blurry tulip pictures. I'm still holding out hope that I can have another, less windy, photo session with the tulips.

Today is my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. I spent the day going to garage sales with a friend and then my sweet hubby and I went out to dinner.

I can't wait to show you my weekend garage sale treasures! I got something that has been on my wish list for several years!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gorgeous Cherry Tree Blooms-Mosaic Monday

The cherry trees at the nursing home are in bloom. This has to be my favorite tree. I know I said that about the crabapple tree down the street, but I forgot all about this beauty. Besides, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

I actually took pictures of it two times this week. The first time was Wednesday evening. They took Mom to the shower and I had a few minutes to walk around outside. Thankfully I carry a small Panasonic Lumix camera with me in my purse so I spent several minutes standing under this tree soaking in this magnificent beauty and taking pictures.

I was back again on Saturday to feed her breakfast and brought my Canon EOS 50D SLR.

All of the pictures above were taken with the Canon.

These were taken with the Panasonic.

I want to tell you about that sweet visit to the nursing home on Saturday. Alzheimer's is a tragic disease. My Mother-in-law was diagnosed with it about 14 years ago. Weighing only 76.8 pounds, she is now in the end stages and hasn't known who we are for several years. She can no longer speak understandable words. Her language ability is like infant gibberish before they learn to speak. She still smiles and tries to talk, but most of the time she sits with a vacant stare. While I was feeding her breakfast Saturday morning, she began to stroke my hair, then she patted and rubbed my face and patted my arm. It has been a very long time since she has shown any affection. I had to fight the tears that were streaming down my face. It was so special to have that affection from her. It totally made my day and the beautiful cherry tree was the icing on the cake.

I'm linking this post to Mosaic Monday Hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden Blogger Bloom Day

Today is Garden Blogger Bloom Day, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Garden. It is 82° here today and the record breaking highs have caused us to have earlier than normal spring blooms.

I'm not sure what the plant is in the bottom middle, I think it is a weed. I was hesitant to pull it up until I saw the flower. It has gotten huge in a short period of time. My poor lone surviving lilac shrub has very few blooms, but I could still smell it as I was weeding in the yard today. I am really hoping that the two new lilacs will do better. My flowering crabapple tree is blooming, but my paltry flowers are hardly worth mentioning after posting about the tree down the street.

Funny how plants differ. I have two red twig dogwoods planted together. One is covered in blooms and I've yet to see a bloom on the other.

I am still enjoying the tulips. Most of mine are pink or purple but there are a few red ones scattered about. The peonies have buds! I can't wait for them to bloom again. Lilacs and peonies, both make my heart sing with delight!

The clematis are full of buds. I look forward to seeing them again too!

I was surprised to see the May Night Salvia beginning to bloom already. Oops, I just realized that I put that dogwood in two collages.

I have phlox in several places, it has spread and is blooming like crazy! I think I need to do some transplanting.

I have some things that I have to get done today, so I better get off of the computer and get busy. I hope everyone is having a great day!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Favorite Spring Tree

Every spring I look forward to seeing one particular tree in bloom. It is a flowering crabapple tree that is on a street in our neighborhood. For some reason this tree blooms like none of the other crabapple trees I've ever seen.

I'm sure the neighbors must think I'm crazy because I stand there with my camera every spring , day after day, trying to capture the beauty of this tree in full bloom.

It is on the street of our entrance so there is a good bit of traffic. I do feel a little silly standing there with my camera in front of my neighbor's house trying to catch the light just right. Or especially if there are bees, I walk all around the tree trying to capture them in action. I'm kind of shy and don't really like drawing attention to myself...

but I'll risk a little embarrassment to get pictures of this gorgeous tree.

Have you ever seen so many blooms before? It is just covered with these gorgeous pink blooms. I love it!

A couple of years ago I purchased four lilac shrubs and all but one died. Today I found some for $5.97 and I bought two of them.

One of them had a few blooms and I cut them off to enjoy them inside the house. I love lilac blooms!

They smell wonderful!

I hope these will survive. I'd love to have large lilac shrubs full of blooms so that I could have lilac arrangements all over the house each spring, (not to mention all of the photo ops I could have).

A few days ago I mentioned that we were having Internet trouble. Every night, for nine straight nights, right about eight o'clock our Internet would go out. It would stay off until about eight o'clock the next morning. I called AT&T and they checked some things on their end but it still didn't correct our problem. They sent out a technician. I had been trying to figure out what the problem could be, and right before he arrived I remembered that my husband had added a new sensor to our outside light. Feeling rather silly I thought I'd mention this fact to him. At first he didn't think that was the problem and checked some other things. It was cold that day and he decided to put his stocking cap over the light post just to see what would happen. Sure enough, the Internet went down. He took the cap off and it came back on. We had dusk to dawn Internet service! We took the new sensor off and now our problem is solved. The outside light never turns off, (which is why we replaced the sensor), but at least we have Internet at night now.

It is even crazier, because my husband's work computer was never affected by this. Just our three home computers.

I'm linking this to Mosaic Monday at Little Red House.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Water Features

I love water features and hope to one day add one to the garden for the birds and for personal enjoyment. The sound of water in the garden is so relaxing and it would help to drown out some of the noise from the common area and playground that is next to our property.

Here is a collection of photos that I've taken the last several years at the Indy Flower and Patio Show:

Which is your favorite?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Suet Recipe

A couple of people asked me for the recipe for homemade suet. I don't measure my ingredients and I add different things depending on what I have on hand at the time. Usually when the corn meal, flour, raisins or oats get close to expiring I save them for suet.

For this batch I used:

One small tub of lard
2 jars of natural peanut butter, (I poured off some of the oil)
corn meal
9 grain bread flour, (you can use any kind of flour)
about 2 tablespoons of sugar
sunflower seeds
crushed egg shells, ( I save the shells from boiled eggs and put them in the freezer for spring suet)

I melt the lard and peanut butter on the stove on low heat. Once it is blended, I add the dry ingredients mixing and pouring until it is the texture I want. I spread it into a large cookie sheet and let it cool in the refrigerator. Once it has cooled and is firm, I cut it into squares that will fit the suet cages.

Here is the basic recipe that I started with from Julie Zickefoose:

Peanut Butter Suet Dough from Julie Zickefoose

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard
Combine and melt these two in the microwave, in the oven, or over very low heat on the stovetop. Remove from heat and stir in:

2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
2 cups quick oats
1 cup flour

Allow to cool and harden, then chop into chunks and store at room temperature in jars. Serve crumbled in a shallow dish.
Julie recommends that you only feed the birds this suet during the winter months. I still feed them suet in the spring and include the crushed egg shells for added calcium.

Here is another great resource for suet recipes. As the website shows, you can add all kinds of ingredients to make suet. I have yet to make any that the birds didn't devour.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easy Suet Feeder Project and Diet Update

We have had record breaking warm weather for three days this week. The temperature right now is 83° . The trees are blooming and the leaves are shooting out so fast you can almost see them growing.

Who would ever believe that such delicate sweet flowers could smell so bad? Our neighborhood has quite a few Bradford pear trees lining the streets and I smell them as I walk. I also have a few in my own yard. The blooms only last for a few days and then they fall like a spring snow shower.

Gail, from Clay and Limestone asked me about the wood in the picture of the woodpecker that I posted about on Saturday.

It is a suet feeder that I made from a portion of a small diseased maple tree that we cut down last year. I drilled a 1 inch whole that is about an inch deep and attached a screw eye into the wood and I hang it with a large S hook. I stuff it with homemade peanut butter suet. The birds love it and even though I have two suet cages nearby they fight over the suet in this homemade feeder. I'll be making a couple more of these so there won't be as much competition for this one.

For some crazy reason our Internet has gone done every night for the last week right at 8:00 and is down until 8:00 the next morning. I've called AT&T and they are trying to figure out what is happening. It is frustrating because night time is when I usually browse blogs. I've been using this down time to try and organize my pictures. It is amazing how quickly they pile up.

Thank you to all of you who have encouraged me on my diet changes. I am thrilled to say that I have lost 25 pounds since January 1! The best thing is that the diet changes have made a huge difference in my blood pressure and blood sugar. Both of those are staying in the normal range by eating a healthy diet and removing all sweets and simple carbs from the diet. That is a huge relief because the budget right now is tight enough without adding insulin, ($80.00), and blood pressure medication.

Now that it has warmed up I'm walking and finally getting some exercise. The weight loss has slowed so hopefully with exercise, I'll drop the rest of the weight.

Surprisingly, the diet changes really have not been that difficult. I am very, very addicted to sugar, so I never cheat. I just can not allow it. There was a time recently that I just about sat in the floor and cried like a two year old for chocolate, temper tantrum and all! I know better than to go to the grocery store hungry but I had been running errands and forgot to pack my snacks, (usually a small apple, baby carrots and a few raw nuts). The Easter chocolate was everywhere and I wanted, no, I needed some chocolate in the worst kind of way. You ladies know how that is, right? I felt the tears stinging my eyes and felt very deprived and sorry for myself. After firmly telling myself that I was not going to cheat, and reminding myself that being healthy and being thin is so much better than the fleeting taste of chocolate, I wiped the tears and moved on. I try really hard to remember to pack my snacks and my iced green tea or lemon water before leaving the house now.

It feels so nice to be able to bend over and garden without the excess belly fat. I have recently packed away my largest sized clothes and hope to never wear them again!

I hope that you all are enjoying this gorgeous spring weather! I'm about to head outside and do some much needed weeding,

it is amazing how quickly the dandelions have popped up!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

It rained for a while today, when the clouds cleared the sun came out and there was a glorious glow outside. I was in the midst of cooking stir-fry and couldn't go outside to take pictures.

I grabbed my camera and snapped these two pictures from the window.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter/Resurrection Sunday!