Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Forcing Spring

Hello all! Well if you are anything like me then you just can't wait for spring to arrive. I asked my Mister this morning if he remembered when we planted potatoes in the garden last winter. I remember getting the last bag of potato sprouts last year because I almost waited too late so this year I intend to be on my wise.

Back to the subject of spring. I wanted to share a little trick that I tried last year of forcing spring blooms indoors. Yesterday, here at work, I noticed about a three foot branch on a forsythia bush had gotten broken by someone opening the fence. I snagged it on my way in from my walk to the mail box, trimmed off the small twigs from the bottom and stuck it in an old soda bottle with water in it. Hopefully I will have blooms in about ten days. I can already see a little green from the buds.

Last year I read about this trick and wound up trying twigs from several different trees and bushes that I know flower in the spring. I remember specifically the forsythia, dog wood and Bradford pear working well. Try it out for yourself! Bring a little spring indoors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Simple Yummy Syrup

Good Tuesday afternoon all! I have been such a blog ignorer! Not that I haven't been thinking about blogging for you, I've just been slammed and haven't had the time. I will tell you that my bloggy thoughts are jamming up in my head like traffic! I do hate to report that this will be a quickie but none the less a goodie!

So this past Sunday, while indulging in sweet chocolate thoughts I whipped up a batch of my Mother's famous chocolate syrup that goes so well over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and thought I would blog the yummy recipe for you! So here goes:

Mom's Chocolate Syrup

5 1/2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
4 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons white Caro syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1cup sugar

In a saucepan on the stove top, melt the butter and mix in cocoa. Add milk and let boil until a little thick... about 6 or 8 minutes stirring constantly. Add sugar, syrup and vanilla and boil for one minute. Pour into a container that can be kept in the refrigerator. This makes about a cup or a little more (I've never actually measured) and can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks. Pop it into the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds before pouring over ice cream. Maybe even ice cream on top of a brownie.

I can remember as a child when my Mother would make this recipe I would sneak into the fridge, spoon in hand, just for a taste. It's very rich and very yummy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lip Loving Fun

Hiya everyone! Guess what... I think it's going to snow some more tonight! Aren't we having a fun 2010 weather wise so far? I think so! Well for my next trick... it's all about your kissers! I find that I need lip moisturizer all year but in the winter months especially. I've always got a tube of something in my purse but most of the time it doesn't do the trick for long. I am a firm believer in petroleum jelly...a.k.a. Vaseline. I use it every evening on my lips and hands and every morning in my ears. Yes in my ears. During the winter the inside of my ears get extremely dry so I dab a little PJ in them, rub it around and go about my day. I also use it during the summer months on my heels before bedtime.

Here's a little recipe that I have for homemade lip gloss that literally takes a very few minutes and ingredients to make. And let me tell you.. it really does the trick.

Homemade Lip Gloss

Petroleum Jelly
Powdery, Glittery, Shiny Blush or Eye Shadow
Olive Oil
Essential Oil Any Flavor (optional only if you have it already)
1 Small Container With a Lid

In a small bowl dab about a tablespoon of petroleum jelly. Next add about 1/4 teaspoon powdered make up. The make up is for color and/or shine. I used some pink shimmer, eye shadow powder. You can crush the make up a little to make a powder. I wouldn't use more than 2 colors together if at all. Add 3 drops of olive oil using a straw with the tip of your finger at one end to get just a drop. Add 3 drops of any flavor oil. I used lemon in mine this time. Stir ingredients together and place in you lip gloss container. Use a clean fingertip to dab a little onto your lips as needed.

I really had a lot of fun making this and it was such an easy craft that I will use for the rest of the winter. Using this lip gloss throughout the day has made my lips feel great and not dry at all. I love it!!

News From The Feeder

I woke Saturday morning to find only a few visitors at my suet and bird feeders as I had not filled their plates the evening before like I usually do. Santa had brought my Mr. tickets to the Grand Ole Opry to see his favorite country music star Hank Williams Jr. so in the midst of getting ready for dinner and a show the feeding of the birds had slipped my mind.

At this point there was only a small corner of the suet cake left and no sunflower seeds at all, plenty of snowflakes fluttering about but few feathered friends. As I watched the early risers finishing off yesterday's left overs I noticed a bird that I hadn't seen before which almost sends me in to instant panic mode. Where are my binoculars? Where's the bird book? Quick before he flies away!! Luckily when I got back to my perch he was still chowing down on his morning breakfast. I glared at this bird through my binoculars and indeed it was a newbie to my eyes.

It was obviously in the woodpecker family and somewhat larger and darker than the downy woodpecker beside him patiently waiting for his turn. He had some spots, almost hairy on the back of his head and just a tad of red feathers speckled the top of his head. I left my post and frantically searched the rooms of my house for my bird identification book. Why I can't put things back where they go I'll never figure out! I finally located my book to find the name of the newbie at the feeder to be a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker... of the juvenile variety due to the light red markings on his head. The adults have much more red than this guy did. They are a "winter only" resident in Tennessee.

After all the feed was gone I ventured out in my cozy sweatpants and green cowgirls boots (hot stuff.. I know) and refilled the suet cage and sunflower feeders. In no time at all I had drawn a crowd which must have scared the teenage Sapsucker away for now. I tried to sneak out to take a picture but he was also a bit camera shy. I did manage a few from the my bathtub perch which aren't too clear.

On Sunday I bundled up and went walking through the woods in search of what may be out and did see an adult version of the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. The younger one visited my feeder for the remainder of the weekend which I am very pleased about. I also was able to locate one of the Pileated Woodpeckers that live near the creek. Unfortunately he located me too and flew away. Maybe one day I'll be able to catch him on camera!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This'll Warm You Up

Is This'll even a word?? I say yes! Good Tuesday to you all! We are five days into 2010 and it is frigid outside! I don't mind it much. I always say "if it's going to be winter bring on the cold!" I think we may just be on a record breaking streak for the number of days with below freezing temperatures here in Tennessee. As for me.. I have turned into a sweater girl. I am a hot natured person meaning I get hot easily but I have broken through that by way of comfy sweaters that aren't too confining. This past weekend, my sister and I went to two thrift stores in Nashville and I scored seven sweaters, two t-shirts and a cool new purse all totalling about forty dollars. Man, what a thrifty shopper and I am in love with my new sweaters. Just judging by the brand names I purchased I would have easily spent two or three hundred bucks on them retail... maybe more than that.

Today I would like to pass on a recipe that I've had for a long time. You may have it or have had it at some point in time. It's a hot tea sipper made with Tang orange drink and instant tea. When I cleaned out my pantry before New Year's, I found a jar of it that I had made last winter. This past Sunday I drank a warm mug of it after bird watching outside and it was sooo good. So here's the recipe for you:

Hot Tang Tea

1 - small jar of Tang or orange flavor, powdered breakfast drink
1 - small jar of instant tea
1 - Tablespoon cinnamon
1 - Tablespoon ground cloves

OK... my recipe says it like this... Mix whole jar of Tang and half of small jar of instant tea. If you already have the ingredients on hand or can't find small jars of Tang or tea, mix half as much tea to Tang. Meaning if you use 1 cup of Tang, use 1/2 cup of tea... got it? Mix in cinnamon and ground cloves - adjust according to how much you make. Store in jars. When you are ready to mix up a mug just stir in a couple of spoonfuls of mix to a mug of hot water.

I have also seen raspberry cool ade added to this recipe for an even fruitier taste. I stores for a long time in jars with lids on them. It is sure to warm you bellies during cold winter days!

P.S. This recipe can also easily be given as gifts. Just tie on directions with a strip of cut fabric for a homemade look.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Backyard Bird Count

Happy New Year everyone! First things first... here's what I am excited about today. I am taking part and encouraging you to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count! The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are asking people to keep their eye out for birds and keep a count of how many you see from February 12, 2010 through February 15, 2010. You don't have to watch out for birds the whole time. If you have a feeder in your yard you can just write down what you see on which day and log on to to report what you have seen.

I am so tickled about this. I am an avid bird watcher. I have always loved to see different species and especially since moving to the country last year. I have enjoyed seeing different birds, some that I haven't seen in a long time and some that I have never seen.

In December I recommended a bird book called Birds of Tennessee - Field Guide. It has great pictures and descriptions to help you identify what you've seen. You can purchase it on Amazon's used books for five or six dollars plus shipping. Or hey... you can just ask me and I'll look it up for you!

Back to the Great Bird Count. I was just fishing around on the sight and I found it very interesting. They have what has been reported in your area over the last several years. As for me I plan on being outside at least on February 13th and 14th no matter how cold it is! Heck I was out bird watching yesterday and the temperature didn't get over 27 here. I do recommend proper bundling if you plan on bird watching from anywhere other than your windows!

If you want to set out feeders to attract birds to your yard here's my tip. I feed birds in my yard black oil sunflower seeds and also have homemade suet out for them which I thoroughly enjoy making. Since that post I have tried the recipe using leftover bacon grease and grease from meat that I have cooked and it also works well.

Please ask me any questions about the bird count and I'll try to help.

**Hey just to let you know... there are no reports from anyone in White House, TN** I found that interesting. So to my readers in White House it's your time to stand out!! I hope you enjoy your hunt!