Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ducks, Geese and Environmental Rant


I've passed this pond several times recently and have been surprised at the number of ducks and geese here. I passed by again on Tuesday and decided to run back home to get my camera. It was a dreary rainy day so the pictures were a little dark.

Around here we have retention ponds everywhere, for the purpose of collecting stormwater runoff. While watching the geese and ducks, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the homeowners who live around this pond have used chemicals on their grass or plants. It honestly took away some of the pleasure of watching the ducks and geese, thinking about what all could be in that water.

I often think about the pond closest to me every summer when I see my neighbor spraying all of his trees and shrubs for the Japanese beetles and walking around with a spray bottle of round-up to kill his weeds. The storm drain is at the corner of his yard.


When we first moved here we had hundreds of little frogs coming from the ponds. I used to always see them hopping across the sidewalk while taking my evening walks and I had to carefully watch my steps, but I haven't seen a single one in two or three years now. I wonder sometimes if the runoff from the chemically manicured lawns have killed them.

I don't consider myself to be an "Environmentalist", but I do care about some environmental issues and I care about the health and safety of people and animals. I am also concerned about water quality issues and I believe that some of the chemicals used outside eventually end up in our water supply. I do wish people would think very carefully and consider the potential consequences before using toxins, especially those who live by water sources.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Indoor Blooms

yellow gerbera

I'm really enjoying the gerbera daisies that were brought inside. They have continued blooming non-stop. The yellow one just opened up and is like a little ray of sunshine in the house.

christmas catus

It had been a really long time since I've had a Christmas cactus so I picked this one up a few days ago. The delicate blooms are quite beautiful and of course I was drawn like a magnet to that hot pink.

christmas catus

Monday, November 26, 2007

The last of Autumn Colors

It is amazing to me how quickly the colors of autumn change from brilliant and gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows to the dreariest of browns. I took these pictures yesterday and as I look out the window now at the same tree, the colors have changed overnight. Within a day or two the tree will be bare of any leaves at all.

In the midst of decaying leaves is a promise of spring beauty.

All of the leaves have now fallen off of the Japanese maple, and underneath, sheltered from the cold, was this small volunteer hosta. It was still fresh and green, but not for long since it was covered with a heavy layer of frost.
I've seen pictures that other people have taken of frost and thought they look so cool. I went out to the car, got inside and took these pictures of the frost on the windshield. They didn't turn out that great, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to practice.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Figuring out Flickr


I'm still trying to get this picture thing figured out so please bear with me. Today I was determined to figure out how to download my pictures from Flickr to my blog, especially since I already have a pro account with them through my internet service, (AT&T Yahoo). The pro account, if I remember correctly, allows me unlimited storage. I had successfully posted a single picture to the blog once before but couldn't figure out how to do more than one. I think I got it, finally. For those who may not already know how to do it either, I thought I'd share what I'm learning. Also I want it posted for my own benefit, so I can refer back to it if needed. When it comes to technology I'm am an admitted moron, (albeit a determined student), so if anyone knows an easier way to do this please inform me.


Figuring how to upload pictures to Flicker is pretty easy. Figuring how to post a picture on the blog is a little more complicated.

Add noteSend to groupAdd to setBlog thisAll sizesOrder printsRotateDelete

This comes up when you click on your picture. You would think the logical thing to click on is the "BLOG THIS" button. That button just put a single picture on a brand new blog post, not the one I was working on. The button to click is the "ALL SIZES". There you select the size of picture you want, (square, thumbnail, small, medium or original).


Underneath the picture, are these instructions:

To link to this photo on other websites you can either:

1. Copy and paste this HTML into your webpage: (with a box including the picture's HTML)

2. Grab the photo's URL: (with a box including the pictures URL)

To use the Html, you have to copy everything in the box, go to the post you are working on and click on the Edit Html tab, find where you want the picture to be located and paste. Using the Html is very intimidating for me, but once you get the hang of it, it's very easy.



These pictures were taken today. We had snow and sleet yesterday and it snowed for a little while again this morning. The petunias are still blooming, but are beginning to turn yellow. They won't last much longer. The Bradford pears are just now showing off their stunning colors, while most of the other trees are already bare.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What a Pain! What a Pain!

I posted on November 11, about my Picasa account. I had reached approximately 70% of my storage space in seven months and had duplicates of many pictures on Picasa. Annie in Austin, graciously looked at my blog to try to figure out my problem. She saw that my pictures were about 80% larger in pixels than those on her blog.

When I looked closer at the individual pictures on Picasa I saw what the problem was. Annie was exactly right, I had never resized my pictures for posting, I thought this was done automatically. Most of my pictures were 1600 x 1200 pixels when they should have been 400 x 300. No wonder my storage space was almost gone!

Now, I am in the tedious process of going back through my blog posts, deleting the old pictures from Picasa, searching through the hundreds of My Pictures files and attempting to locate those pictures used on my blog, getting them back on Adobe to duplicate and resize, deleting the old pictures from blog posts and them adding the resized pictures and attempting to get them all in the right places. As I said in the title, what a pain!

Now that this has been brought to my attention, I've noticed that there are other bloggers who are not resizing their pictures, (if you click on the blog picture and it fills the computer screen, you are eating up Picasa storage). Please heed the warning and learn from my mistake. I've tried using Flickr and PhotoBucket, and I found that Blogger's Picasa system is the most simple and practical way for me to upload pictures. That is why I'm going through all of this trouble to salvage some of that valuable space.

Here is the link to the Beta Blogger for Dummies post on Picasa, which has the Picasa link where I found my album.

Happy Thanksgiving

My mom, (in the picture) and dad, who live in Alabama, surprised me with a visit last week. Since we usually plan trips home to Alabama around Christmas we aren't able to share Thanksgiving with extended family. I thought it would be a great opportunity to have Thanksgiving with my parents while they were here, so we had our meal on Saturday. We'll have a smaller version of the meal today.

I always cook the same things for our traditional Thanksgiving meal:
Southern cornbread chicken and dressing served with gravy and jellied cranberries
Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and pecan topping
Green bean casserole
Sweet potato pie

My dad has a strong aversion to any kind of poultry including turkey, so my mom made her pork chop dressing and I made the chicken dressing for us.

Because I get so many hits on my blog for recipes, (like 69 out of 100 hits today were for squash casserole), I thought I'd share my favorite Thanksgiving family recipes. I've used these same recipes for over 20 years, they are so delicious.

Southern Cornbread (for dressing)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. yellow corn meal
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil

Preheat oven to 425. Stir together flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, milk, and oil. Beat just until smooth, (do not over beat). Put a small amount of shortening in an iron skillet and place it on stove top burner, when shortening is hot, pour the cornbread mixture into the hot skillet. Let it cook for just a few seconds until it starts to bubble, (this is the the secret to crispy southern cornbread), then put the skillet into the oven. Cook on 425 for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Chicken and Dressing


1 large chicken, (breasts can be used but dark meat makes a richer broth)
1 c. diced celery, (more or less according to taste)
1/2 of small onion
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Pour salt on and inside the chicken to scrub and clean it well, rinse off salt. Place chicken in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add celery, onion, salt and pepper. Add enough water as it cooks so that you end up with at least 1 quart of broth. Cook until chicken falls off of the bone. Cool and pull apart and cut into small pieces.


1 pan of cooked cornbread
2 slices of bread, cubed or 1 c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 stick of butter
2 raw eggs
chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of sage, (more or less according to taste)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
cooked and chopped chicken

Cook a pan of cornbread. Cool and crumble bread into a large bowl. Cut sliced bread into small cubes or add bread crumbs. Beat together eggs and milk pour into bread mixture. Pour broth over bread. Add melted butter. Add chopped eggs and sage. Mix well. At this point I usually get a little taste to see if the sage taste is coming through if not I add more. Make the dressing thin and wet so it will be moist when done, (moist dressing taste far better than dry and mine has never been too moist no matter how wet it was because the bread soaks it up). Pour half of the dressing into a greased 10 x 13 pan. Place a layer of chicken over the dressing. Cover chicken with remaining dressing. Bake at 350 until set and golden brown on top. Do not over bake. I usually double this recipe, freeze it and serve the other one at Christmas.


1 can of Campbell's cream of chicken soup
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. milk or half&half
2 boiled eggs, chopped
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of salt

Pour ingredients into a small saucepan, cook until hot, stirring often. More milk may be needed to get the desired consistency. Serve over the dressing, along with cranberry sauce if desired.

Sweet Potato Casserole
(my mother-in-law's recipe)

3 c. sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar, (less can be used without affecting the taste of this delicious casserole)
1 t. vanilla flavoring
1/3 c. milk

Add ingredients together and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 casserole dish.


1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. nuts
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. butter, melted

Mix ingredients for topping and crumble on top of casserole. Bake 25 to 25 minutes at 350. Can be made ahead and frozen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Eight Random Things Meme

On November 15, I was invited by Mr. McGregor's Daughter, to participate in the 8 Random Things meme. My mom and dad were here visiting for several days and just left out this morning, so I'm just now getting around to it.

I'm not usually one to participate in a meme about myself, in fact I've been tagged twice before for this same one and chose not to participate. I've enjoyed the anonymity on my garden blog and have been hesitant to relinquish it. I decided, however, that I would do it this time because I enjoy getting to know others better and felt that it was only fair to allow others who might be interested to know a little about me too.

So, here is how the Eight Random Things meme works:
When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you, then post the rules before your list, and list eight random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to eight other people.

I'm a pretty boring person and have had a difficult time time thinking of eight things about me that anyone would find interesting. I am also not a creative writer but I'll give it a try anyway.

First of all, this is me, Robin, of Robin's Nesting Place.

And here are the 8 very random things about me.

1. I've been a stay-at-home mom for over 20 years. While growing up, I never desired to have a career, I only wanted to be a wife and mom. I'm very thankful that I've been able to live out that dream. I became a wife, right after my 20th birthday, to the love of my life and my "soul mate". The mom part didn't come quite so easily for me because I struggled for years with infertility, had several miscarriages and a full-term baby boy who was stillborn. For about 10 years I was obsessed with having children and my life was an emotional roller coaster.

2. I have been abundantly blessed with two wonderful children, a daughter who is now 20 and a son 15. I have had the privilege and joy of homeschooling for 12 years with only three more to go until my son graduates.

3. I love to read, (all four of us do). We have bookshelves in nearly every room and have a massive collection of books. My collection is all non-fiction and includes a variety of topics: religious, homeschooling/educational, diet and nutrition, health, cooking, home/family, gardening, and photography. When I become interested in a topic I tend to collect and read numerous books on the subject, (if only I could remember what I read).

4. A perfect example for number 3, is my interest in diet and nutrition. I am fascinated with the subject and personally have over one hundred books just on this topic alone. I've probably also checked out that many or more books from the local library. I am a "health nut" wannabe, I just lack the discipline to follow through most of the time. I even own a very expensive juicer and a grain mill, both of which are used sporadically when I am on a health kick.

5. I asked my husband and son for a random fact about me and both said immediately that I am a good cook. I do enjoy cooking and I love to eat, which is another reason why I have a hard time eating healthy. Thankfully, no one in my family is a picky eater so I enjoy cooking a variety of things and trying new recipes.

6. I have always been terrified of heights. My worst nightmares have to do with falling.

7. My husband had a job for 15 years that included a reward trip once a year. I was expected to go on those trips. Did I mention that I am terrified of heights? This especially includes flying. I wish I could say that I overcame my fear of flying during that time, but I didn't. It took every ounce of courage in me to go on the trips. Once there, I enjoyed them immensely and I'm very thankful for those wonderful opportunities that I would have never experienced on my own.

I've traveled to:
The Big Island of Hawaii,
Vienna, Austria
Sydney, Australia
Alaska for an Inside Passage cruise,
Sedona, Arizona, (twice),
Disneyland in Orlando, Florida.
Atlantis in the Bahamas

I'm sad to say that there were a few trips where I couldn't muster up the courage to fly, (of course I made up other excuses too), and my husband had to go without me. Can you believe that I missed seeing London, Rome, Ireland, The Boulders in Scottsdale, Arizona and Montreal, Canada? He did take our daughter on two of the trips. She went with him to Rome and London, which was a great educational experience for her.

8. My husband and I share the same birthday, March 4, 1962. This usually causes a brief moment of confusion for those who are collecting information on us, (banks, insurance and mortgage companies).

I don't really want to tag others for the meme, but I hope others who haven't already, will join in and tell us "8 Random Things" about yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November Garden Blogger Bloom Day

The mums and pansies are the highlights in my garden for the November Garden Blogger Bloom Day hosted by Carol, from May Dreams Gardens .

There are a few surprise blooms here at Robin's Nesting Place. Like Carol, my garden is in zone 5, where we have already had some pretty cold temperatures and frost. It warmed up for a few days and the Verbena has started to bloom again.

I still have miniature roses blooming.

The lantana on two plants are still blooming. The other three lantana plants gave up after the first frost.
A few inside plants are blooming. The kalanchoe has just a few blooms left; I so glad they hung around for November GBBD.
The peace lily is also blooming.
The other surprise for November GBBD is that I still have purple wave petunias blooming and they still look pretty! This planter is on the patio up against the house, but still exposed to the elements, I can't believe the frost hasn't killed it.
I have pansies in an assortment of colors blooming in the front porch flower bed.

I brought five of the gerbera daisies inside so I could enjoy these gorgeous blooms longer. Three of them are blooming now, and another is just beginning to bud. They seem to be doing just as well inside as they were out.

I also brought in an African daisy and it has tiny buds on it. It hasn't bloomed in a couple of months so I'm surprised to see the buds. I was mainly curious to see if it would overwinter inside.

I still have salvia, and lavender in bloom too. I was concerned that I'd have nothing blooming this month, so I'm very glad that a few things hung in there so I could at least have a few blooms to share.

My parents called me yesterday and surprised me with the news that they were coming up from Alabama to visit TODAY. Since they are here I'll be a little more preoccupied than usual, so it may take me a few days to get around to see all of the GBBD posts. I look forward to seeing if others have surprise blooms for November.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lavender in Bloom

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This was just a test to see how uploading a picture from Photobucket works. Vanillalotus commented that she uploaded her pictures from Photobucket; I have a photobucket account but have never used it to upload pictures on my blog. I like the way it works better than uploading from Flicker. This probably will be my new uploading method. Now I need to go back and see if I'm still accumulating storage space on Picasa. Thanks so much, ladies, for your help.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Catnip Kitty

My son needed something from our medicine/miscellaneous box that we keep stored in the linen closet. He left it sitting out and before too long, Libby had discovered a hidden bag of catnip that was tucked inside. She ripped a hole in the bag and was in kitty heaven for quite some time. Notice her tongue hanging out in the first picture and if you look closely in the second picture you can see the bag of catnip is barely visible. She had catnip all over her and the floor, if I remember correctly, that is exactly why the bag was tucked away in the closet in the first place. I need to make her another kitty toy or buy one where you can put the catnip inside.

Cleaning Up Picasa

I am still very much in the learning stages regarding Blogger and the whole blogging process. Until this past spring, I had never even considered having a blog of my own, and to be honest, I knew very little about how the blogging process worked. After spending the winter months browsing garden blogs for the first time and enjoying them immensely, I decided to start Robin's Nesting Place. It has been seven months since I began the blog and I have taken thousands of pictures and shared quite a few of them on my blog, as a result, I am reaching my limit on picture storage space.

Starting the blog with Blogger was so easy for this novice and learning to upload my pictures was easy too, albeit quite frustrating at times when not working properly, but as a whole, the basic process is very simple to understand. Since I was interested in simplicity, I didn't concern myself with all of the little Blogger details. It wasn't until my picture storage space reached the seventy percent mark that I actually began to wonder what I would do once the storage space ran out. I didn't really even know how or where my pictures were stored until I did some researching and found the information I was looking for on Beta Blogger for Dummies site:

There I discovered that my Blogger pictures are being stored in a Picasa web album. I recently logged on Picasa for the first time and actually looked at my albums. What I found surprised me, so I thought I would inform those of you who also may not have checked out your Picasa album, (I hope I’m not the only one who’s been living in ignorant Blogger bliss). The problem that I discovered was that I have many duplicate photos being stored in Picasa, some were copied as much as three times. I didn't count but there are probably hundreds of duplicates and triplicates. This is using up valuable storage space when my space is at a premium right now.

I started the process of cleaning out my Picasa album, but am a little concerned that I’ll delete those pictures that were actually used on the blog. I have a few questions about this and would greatly appreciate insight if anyone else has had this problem. If there are two pictures of the same thing and I delete one of them will it matter which one is deleted? How does this duplication happen and can I do something to prevent it?

Also, I’d love to know how other Blogger users store their photos and upload them to their blogs. Do most use Picasa or is there another simple way to upload pictures using another host?

Edited to say: It sometimes takes Picasa up to 24 hours to delete pictures so it took a while to see what happened with the duplicates I deleted. Know I know, it does matter which picture you delete. I am missing some from my blog, so now begins the unpleasant task of putting them back. I'm so glad I only did about ten of them until I figured out for sure how it worked.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Photo Editing and Photography

Now that the weather is cooler and some days downright freezing cold, I'm focusing my attention on a few new hobby projects. I am so inept when it comes to technology and most instructions are way over my head, not only that, I am the type of person who has to learn these kinds of things hands on. In regards to technology, I sometimes feel like Rip Van Winkle, like I've been asleep for twenty years and woke up to a brand new world, where everything is so different, so complicated. Some of these things though are definitely worth taking the to time to learn.

As I've mentioned before, I love to go to Barnes and Noble to read, study, look at home and garden magazines and have a Starbucks drink. I went one day this week and the topic of interest for me was photo editing. I looked through several books on Photoshop Elements 5, which is my editing software, and I found a couple of books that I really liked. Sometimes, when something is totally new to me, like photography or photo editing, I have to read the same things over and over, sometimes worded in different ways, and slowly they start to make sense to me. I sometimes have to immerse myself in the topic for this to understanding to take place. Anyway, that is one reason for fewer blog post this week, I've been preoccupied with reading, studying and playing with PE5, I've also babysat most of the week and my spare time was limited.

One thing I finally learned how to do was create a collage and post it using PE5. This won't be my favorite method for posting most pictures, since the individual pictures can't be enlarged. Although it sure saves me time on blogger by only having to download, (or is that upload), one item, especially as in the case of the bird pictures that were taken from either inside the house or from a long distance away and weren't that great to begin with.

My new project now is to learn more about photo restoration. I picked up the book Photoshop Elements Restoration & Retouching Book by Matt Kloskowski, which has clear step-by-step instructions that I think I can follow. Last year as a Christmas present to my extended family, I scanned all of the old pictures of the family, (I've always been the holiday family photographer), and put them on a CD with music. It was very sweet and sad too, in fact the Butterfly Kisses song with the pictures of granddaughters as they were growing up was a tearjerker. Some of the pictures were old though and could have used some retouching. I also have all of my mom's pictures and my mother-in-law's and would love to restore those that are in bad shape and put them on a CD for the family members who might want a copy. This, I know will be a time consuming project and now is the perfect time to take it on.

I've also joined a local photography club and look forward to learning new things there too. The next class is on shooting photos in and with candle light.

Maybe I'll actually use my new craft room and do some scrapbooking or sewing this winter. I also have stacks of new religious and gardening books waiting to be read and other books I've already read that I'd love to review again. I do miss the warm sunshine and being outside this time of year, but I also enjoy cuddling up with a book on those cold gray days. Being from the south, I'm kind of like a bear and I hibernate in the winter, so I have my projects ready to begin, and my books and favorite quilt in my den just waiting for those cozy winter days.

I'm not sure how much blog posting I'll be able to do over the winter, I'm not sure I'll have anything to take pictures of or much to say. I'll be very interested to see what other garden bloggers do during the winter months. I guess that is one great benefit to those who enjoy writing, they are so creative and probably never run out of things to blog about. They, along with the southern gardeners, hopefully will keep us entertained, informed and connected through the winter months.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What Kind of Bird is This?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is really bugging me. I have several bird books and have looked through them all and can't identify this bird. I've never seen it before and have no clue what it is. As I mentioned in the previous post, I didn't even realize that I had taken this picture of it until I was doing the photo editing and saw it. I wish I had picked up that Indiana bird book I looked at yesterday at Barnes and Noble. Can anyone identify this one for me?

Bird Watching

(Click to enlarge the collage)

Today was a great day for backyard birdwatching here at Robin's Nesting Place. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day and the birds flocked to my feeders. I've had birds this week that I've never seen before here. We live in a fairly new subdivision that was once a corn field, and there were very few mature trees in the area. When we first moved here from Alabama, I didn't think Indiana had any pretty birds because all I ever saw were geese, sparrows and blackbirds.

Anyway, I was delighted to finally see a chickadee, dark-eyed junco and a wren in the last two days. Today I saw the largest variety I've ever seen in one day here. There were blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, wren, dark-eyed junco, chickadee, Canada geese, robin, sparrows by the hundreds, and one bird that I didn't even notice until I was photo editing. I have looked through several bird books and I can't figure out what it is.

My back neighbor is actually the one responsible for the wonderful bird population here today, he planted so many trees and shrubs when he first moved in that he barely has a lawn. I feed the birds and provide water but they take refuge in his yard. I've also planted a lot in my yard in the last two or three years, but things are still so small that they don't provide shelter for the birds yet. His plants grew pretty fast, hopefully mine will too.