Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Bird Feeding

I am not particularly fond of winter. I am from Alabama where winter lasts about a month and I didn't even own a winter coat!  Indiana winters have been difficult for this southern gal to adjust to. I am like a bear and hibernate, getting out only if I absolutely have to!

One of the things that I learned early on that has helped me get through the winter months without symptoms of S.A.D, (Seasonal Affective Disorder), is bird watching! Most winter mornings you will find me at the kitchen table, in front of the sliding glass doors, with my coffee, Bible study materials, camera and the cats. I sometimes sit there for hours reading and watching the birds and trying to get a good picture of them. I think since I am at the window so much, the light and the enjoyment of watching the birds lifts the winter blues that I used to experience when I first moved here.

 This picture was taken in 2011. I had so much fun making the wreaths and watching the birds eat from them all winter.

With the cost of groceries, I had made up my mind that that I would not be feeding the birds this year. It was just too expensive. I was really sad about it. Since I had fed the birds for the last several winters they were already gathering, waiting for their winter sustenance.

While I was outside a few days ago cleaning the clay birdbaths and putting them away for the winter, I got a great idea!

The Lowe's Creative Ideas project for this month is about bringing the garden inside. It is all about how we continue our hobby of gardening throughout the winter months. While I love gardening, I also love nature and more specifically I enjoy photographing nature. I garden primarily for that end, to attract the butterflies and birds, (especially hummingbirds), to my yard.With that in mind, part of gardening to me is providing food and water for the birds throughout the winter months and if I can get a few good pictures in the process that is a great bonus!

I have several posts lined up for winter gardening but this is by far my favorite. While it isn't technically inside the house, it's close; it's on the patio! It is bringing the garden in closer, but not inside the house.

For several years I have wanted to do an evergreen tree for the birds during the winter. I can't tell you how many times I have been tempted to grab a used Christmas tree from the curb! By January it is already too cold and usually too snowy to seriously think about that project and I am too much of a penny pincher to buy one myself! I am absolutely thrilled to be able to do this project for my birds this winter! Thank you Lowe's for the tree, bird seed and feeders!

I attached the clay pot to the clothespin with Loctite all purpose indoor/outdoor caulk from Lowe's.
Hot glue would not hold up to the snow and cold weather. They are so cute on the tree!

I always pick up small baskets at Goodwill when I find them! They are perfect for holding seeds, peanuts or suet.

I could have taken the suet out of the cookie cutters, but I like them this way. It will also help the birds eat them by giving a little more stability and support.

I love Christmas trees in galvanized containers!

I purchased two new feeders at Lowe's. I have found that there is less waste with the cylinder feeders. That is especially important to me this year.

It didn't take long for the sweet little chickadees to find the tree! I was preparing lunch when I saw it go to the tree! I grabbed the camera and captured a shot before it quickly flew away. I get all giddy when I think of the photo opportunities this cute tree will provide this winter!

The birds will be well fed and this will bring me and my cats so much pleasure during the winter months! 

I don't know if the bird population is an indicator of the winter climate, but last year I had very few birds and no snowbirds, (dark-eyed juncos); it was an extremely mild winter. (Yea for me!) In the last three days the snowbirds have arrived and I have seen a Northern Flicker, (a first), Mockingbird, (second time) and three Eastern Bluebirds, (I haven't seen a bluebird in several years). While that is incredibly exciting, I am just a little concerned that we might be in for a harsh winter. It might mean that fewer people are feeding the birds and providing water for them. As much as I dislike winter, I actually would prefer the former.

As you prepare for Christmas and winter, please don't forget our feathered friends!If you have someone in your family on a tight budget and they enjoy bird watching you may want to consider a gift of a new feeder and seed!

Thank you for reading!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Cleaning Tip That Will Change Your Life, Really!

I am a huge fan of  Pinterest!I check it every morning and evening and often in between. I am always concerned that I will miss something great if I don't check it! I have a variety of hobbies and interests so I always find something that challenges me or gets my creative juices flowing.

There are also many great cleaning and organizing tips. One of the cleaning tips I discovered several months ago was vinegar and original blue Dawn dish detergent, (mixed in equal proportions). I kick it up a notch by using the Magic Erasers as my sponge! This trio is a powerful cleaning combination!

I am very sensitive to smells and I don't like to use harsh household chemicals, so this was a great discovery for me!  It has become my favorite bathroom cleaner. Spray it on, wipe it off with the eraser! No scrubbing! Another method is to mix a solution and dip the eraser in it and wipe over your surface. I do it this way when I am cleaning the stair banister and the walls.

This is also what I used to clean my front porch! We had so many spiders this summer and the sticky webs had left a huge ugly mess all over the vinyl. It also had dry black spots that were difficult to remove. A solution of warm vinegar and Dawn along with the eraser took care of both problems and left it looking like new!

I've never gotten excited about a cleaning solution before, but this stuff makes me very happy! I thought I'd pass along this little tip just in case you didn't know about it! It may not change your life, but it will make it so much easier, I promise!

Happy cleaning!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Front Porch Makeover


The Lowe's Creative Ideas project for October/November was "COMBINING OLD and NEW". 

I wanted to focus on the front porch since it needed a bit of a makeover. Everything was removed and the porch was scrubbed  from ceiling to floor! The door and shutters were cleaned and wiped down with Armor All. The dilapidated white rocking chairs were taken to Goodwill and  replaced with the black wrought iron chairs from the patio. They are smaller and look neater than the rockers! It is amazing how much difference just a few simple changes make!
Our home was a new builder spec home that we purchased almost twelve years ago. There are many things now that need to be replaced, like these builder grade light fixtures on the front of our house. UGLY!

So much better! These were on clearance at Lowe's! Two in a box for $24.99! At that great price I was able to get two boxes! Now four of our old light fixtures have been replaced! This is my something new! Thank you Lowe's and thank you to my sweet hubby for helping me get this project completed!

I've already shown you my front door arrangement! I painted an old cabinet door with chalkboard paint! It makes me very happy!

Here is the front porch again, all clean and decorated for Thanksgiving!

I just found these Wednesday at Goodwill! I can remove the glass and use it as a cloche! I thought the small white pumpkins were cute in them.

My pumpkin planter is looking a little tired, but the pansies and mums are still hanging in there in spite of several hard frosts and early snow! Hopefully we won't be seeing any more of that for a while yet!

Thank you so much for stopping by the nest and checking out my simple, tight budget, front porch makeover!

I'm honored to be a member of the Lowes Creative Ideas Garden Club Bloggers!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giving Back

This month Lowe's is giving $100.00 to my charity of choice. I chose the Trinity Free Clinic, Carmel, IN to be the recipient of this donation. It is a faith based, nonprofit, organization dedicated to serving the health care needs of the uninsured and under insured low income residents of Hamilton County, IN.

 Trinity Free Clinic is near and dear to my heart for a personal reason; I have been in need of their services. 

Two years ago I had my annual checkup and mammogram. The mammogram was abnormal. There were two masses. They were pretty certain one was benign, but the other one was deep and irregular, it was difficult to tell. We scheduled a biopsy for a few days later, just to make sure. The day before the surgery my husband lost his job and we were left with no insurance. I cancelled the appointment. 

A year later, I heard about the Trinity Clinic and went in for a checkup. A wonderful OB doctor from a group that I used to see was there donating her time. 

They scheduled a mammogram, this one also showed irregularity. They compared the new mammogram to the previous mammogram. Thankfully the two prior masses were gone but there was another spot that was questionable. They sent me to St. Vincent's Hospital for another mammogram and ultrasound. All of this was at no charge to me.

I never thought that I would be in a position to need the charity services of the Trinity Clinic. Not me. My husband and I used to have excellent insurance benefits and a great income. We went to the doctor whenever we needed to go. But things change, jobs are lost due to the economic crisis. Being underemployed or unemployed and not able to afford expensive insurance policies. Yes me.

I am thankful for the Trinity Free Clinic and the services they provide. It can be frightening to be without health insurance. I am so thankful for the doctors and dentist who donate their time to see those who can't afford medical and dental care.

 Thank you, Lowe's,  for donating to this wonderful compassionate ministry.

If you are in Hamilton County, Indiana and are without insurance I encourage you to check into the compassionate services of the Trinity Free Clinic.

Here is a link to the services they provide:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chalkboard Instead of a Fall Wreath

 On Wednesday I showed a picture of the old cabinet door that I had made into a chalkboard. Here she is all finished and hanging on the front door! I love it! I can see all kinds of potential for this throughout the year and especially at Christmas!

 I found the Southern Living planter at a garage sale a few years ago for $1.00. It was brand new and still wrapped in the packaging. The flowers I purchased on clearance for 90% off. The cupboard door was around $2.00. Cheep yet very cute!

Here it is without the container. This is probably the way it will stay most of the year! A nice change from my usual wreaths!

Our home is twelve years old and starting to show some wear. There are many projects that need to be done so I am thrilled to be partnering with Lowe's Creative Ideas to get some of these projects done. On my to do list in the spring is paint this ugly burgundy door!

I didn't use Lowe's funds for this simple project, (chalkboard paint was left over from another project), so I used the Lowe's cash for other items to spruce up the front porch. I'm hoping my hubby will get those done while I'm at work and I'll share the completed project later!

Thank you for stopping by the nest!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nature Shots Coasters

It is hard to believe that we are nearing the Christmas season! I work in retail and I've been seeing Christmas decorations for a few weeks already! I'm not ready for that quite yet! But ready or not, here it comes!

 If you are looking for inexpensive teacher gifts or hostess favors, I have a quick and easy project that you may like!

I enjoy nature photography and I have so many pictures of flowers and birds! I had seen the tile coaster tutorials on blogs and Pinterest and thought I'd make a few with some of my favorite bird pictures.

I bought the 4x4 tiles at Lowe's. You cover the tile with Mod Podge, place your picture on the tile and coat several times with Mod Podge, (drying in between coats)! I used peel and stick cork for the backs but you can also use felt.

I had these in a friend's vendor space last year and they sold pretty well through the holidays.

I've been collecting wool sweaters from Goodwill for a few fun winter projects. (Maybe if I say that out loud I'll actually get to them!)

We are supposed to have unseasonably warm weather this weekend in Indy. I have to work, but I hope to have some time outside to finish up a few things before winter sets in.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chalkboard Project

Welcome friends! In my last post I said that I had finished my Lowe's Creative Ideas projects but I didn't realize that we had one more for before the season was over. I have also been asked to continue for another phase! I hope that I will be able to do that. It has been fun and has also challenged me to get a few projects done around my home.

This month's challenge is: COMBINING OLD & NEW
"Look to Lowe’s for new materials and to your own garden for any items that can be recycled and revived to make unique outdoor decorations – We’re looking for those “conversation starter” pieces that people will take notice of when walking up your front steps or walkway."

Nothing like a little pressure, huh? Thankfully there is Pinterest and I am also very blessed to work in a wonderful atmosphere where there are many creative people and some really wonderful deals! One of those deals is this sweet little cabinet door that I painted with chalkboard paint!

I love chalkboards but sadly I am penmanship challenged! As you can plainly see, I am not an artist either! I won't let that stop me from making them!

One thing that helped me was using a pencil, (or lip/eyeliner), sharpener to sharpen the chalk! That was an idea from The Creativity Exchange on Pinterest!

I sometimes make my own chalk paint with non-sanded grout; I had heard that you could also use ground chalk so I started a jar of chalk shavings to give that a try!

Come back later and see what I do with my cute little cupboard door!

Did you know that you can join Lowe's Creative Ideas on Facebook and Pinterest With the holiday season ahead it is also a great place to get ideas!

P.S. If you are really observant you might already know how I'm going to use it!