Sunday, October 25, 2009

This is what my ACD was born to do...

This is how my blind guy would be living his life had he not had his unfortunate accident which cost him his eyesight. The ACDs are an impressive breed and helps me to appreciate those certain qualities that are inherent in my boy.

See how they nip at the heels of the cattle? This is what my blind guy was doing to me when we first got him. He would also jump up very high and nip at the backs of my arms. We've had to work very hard with him on these behaviours so he's much better now, although he does tend to get a bit over-excited when we have outdoor play.

Suet Ball Instructions

You will need:

~ 1 med. size vine ball about a 5 in diameter.

~ 3 suet cakes (or make your own... less expensive and probably better)

~ Some extra seed, fruits, and/or oats

~ Peanut butter and/or Honey

~ Wired ribbon (Dollar Store)

~ Christmasy looking decorations (Dollar Store)

~ Twine

~ Glad Press N Seal plastic wrap


Throw your suet cakes into a pot on a medium burner. Break them up and stir occasionally until everything is well melted.


While the suet is melting, take your vine ball and find a spot on it that has a space big enough to fit a standard spoon. If you can't find one, break some vine pieces to make one. Wrap most of the vine ball up in Press n Seal wrap making sure you leave no holes except around the hole at the top.


When your suet cakes are melted, add in some extra seed (black sunflower seed is best for the winter months), some oats, honey, peanut butter, fruit or whatever you have on hand and take it off the burner. In the pic below I added blueberries (about 1 c.), peanut butter (about 1/2 c), honey (a few squirts) and granola (about 1 c). You can't really screw up the amounts you put in, it will all be appreciated by the birds and will stick together well once the suet hardens again.


Once you notice the suet starting to harden up again (it gets kind of like a crumbly playdoh), put your vine ball in a bowl to hold it up right or just hold it in your hand . Start spooning in the suet and packing it in. Once it's done, put it in the freezer (still standing in the bowl) for about 10 minutes (don't leave it too long, you want it to still be a bit mushy for step 7)


While you wait for the suet to harden, get your decorations ready. I got the little do-dad in the pic below (on the right) at the dollar store. I undid the flower tape, separated all the individual stems and trimmed off any excess wire (what you see on the left). I also made a bow out of the wired ribbon. I just made 6 loops and one small one in the middle and stapled it.


Take your ball out of the freezer and loop some twine through the vines. Make sure you go around thicker vines so that it will hold the weight, and then tie a knot.


I secured the bow to the middle of the twine that was going across the hole of the vine ball (where you shoved the suet through) by, again, just stapling it into place. Now take your decoration do-dads and place them around the bottom of the bow by just sticking them right into the hardened suet. If your suet froze too hard, just leave it out at room temperature for awhile checking periodically. Unwrap and discard the plastic wrap, and Voila! Bird feeder that everyone will ohh and ahh over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feed the Birds!

One of our favourite things about winter is feeding the birds and placing the feeders where we can watch them. Hubs modified a feeder by placing a shingled roof and mounting it to our front porch rails. Occasionally, we'll get special visitors like these beauties. It's such a treat!

Evening Grosbeaks. I was so fortunate to catch a shot of them as they are rather shy.

Pine Grosbeak. This makes me really, really want a better camera. My photography skills could use some help also. I suck at getting the right settings.

This year, I made my own suet. I'm fortunate to have a local butcher nearby that will give me as much fat as I want. It stinks up the house when you're rendering the fat but it's a worthy cause and the smells aren't permanent. This batch has dried apple, dried blueberry, chopped raisin, cornmeal, ground oats (from large flake oats), chopped peanuts, pumpkin seed and walnut. It was easy to make and I learned that the fat has to be melted a second time in order to set firmly. After slicing 2 inch thick pieces, I placed a couple in a suet cage and have them hung out amongst the trees in the back yard. I should add that there are many recipes to be found online.

While the fat was cooling, I occasionally stirred the mixture so that all the goodies would be evenly dispersed instead of just sinking to the bottom. At this stage, I just let it finish cooling. My stupid mistake was placing them in the freezer too long and then impatiently trying to slice them before they thawed out. Bad idea as they were too crumbly.

In a feeble effort to keep my posts from being too long, I will end here with a photo of the sweetest little suet feeder I found on a craft site.
I can't find the link but will try so I can give credit where credit is due. I copied the step-by-step directions so I could try my hand at making something like it. This was before I started blogging so I didn't think to bookmark the link, but these are too cute not to share so my next blog will have the instructions should anyone be interested.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Collector or Hoarder?

I've become an eclectic collector. I tend to be attracted to things that remind me of a gentler time, a time of wonder and innocence. My first antique pieces were a turn of the century love seat and chair, a mirror, a small table that I use as my TV stand and a vanity that I can't quite bring myself to refinish. I've had those pieces for over 30 years now which shocks me because I was quite the transient for several of those years but I somehow managed to drag them all over the country (and Canada is a big country!) I really started collecting vintage things about 15 or so years ago. It started with salt and pepper shakers, then it was lighting, then tablecloths and jewellery and lots of other odds and ends. I never buy pieces for their worth, I'm thrifty and LOVE a bargain. Recently hubs told me I was like one of those hoarders (you know, the kind who need professional help) and suggested that I don't clutter up the place too much. He's right and I must curb my urge to keep adding to my collections of things. Of course that doesn't mean I'll ever pass up something that is just too good to pass up. What is does mean is that I'll just not go in search of that special something as much as I'd like to. Fair enough, me thinks.

A few of my shaker collection. The single duck was a gift... he's quite old. So were the Indian shakers with wooden bodies a gift to me. They look to be quite old as well but there are no marks to indicate the maker. The headdress of the 'man' says 'Winnipeg, Manitoba' and he's marked at the top of the wooden part "S". Funny, I thought he'd be pepper and she'd be salt.

That milk glass jug in the back was only 50 cents! Now if only I could find the lid for it. One with a handle and pour spout would make for a great juice or milk jug.

I purchased this set of four cannisters in Vancouver. The fifth cannister was given to me by my sister-in-law. I'm not sure if she ever took note of them in detail. She just knew I would like it.

I love this old bakelite radio. It's a portable but the batteries for it are next to impossible to find. I had thoughts of getting hubs to make it electric but not sure if that's even do-able. It was a steal. A trendy jeans store was selling off several of their props and I was in the right place at the right time.

Little LuLu Belle butterdish back there was diligently hunted down and when I saw her, I had to have her. The price tag didn't impress me much but I was determined to take her home with me. I think she cost $35 or thereabouts but she was a rare find and purchased in a very popular antique mall in Vancouver. So it goes...

I'm in LOVE with my salt & pepper bird shakers. The ones in front aren't Lefton but still very adorable. After looking online for Lefton bluebird shakers, I think my $3 flea market purchase was a good one indeed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home Reno Updates & Touches of Fall

Hubs built a shed. And it's a fine shed. Our old shed, well, it's just falling apart, it's half torn down and we fear it won't make it through another winter. So despite mind-numbing pain that never goes away, hubs got busy and did what he had to do. Our budget doesn't allow us the luxury of paying others what we can do ourselves (I personally feel hubs does a better job anyway). As hubs puts it, he's in pain whether sitting still or moving around and it's got to be done. So it was and even though it's intended for practical use, it really has some cute country curb appeal. There are still some finishing touches to be added and I hope they actually get done in... oh, let's say the next year. In fairness, pressure treated lumber should be out in the elements for a year before being painted. We want to put a loft in and maybe insulate but that's not important for this year.

Our screened 'house' is still waiting for paint on the 'window' frames even though they've been a good year in the elements. OK... not really windows but heavy vinyl coverings so that we can still enjoy our lovely space and view in most any season. On cool sunny days it can be a comfy 20ยบ C in there so it's very pleasant inside. Even though there's still some painting left to do (the shed took priority) and we're still not sure what to do about the floor, I love that little getaway space. I'm fine with the unfinished floor since it's prone to all sorts of abuse with muddy boots and doggie paws/claws. Overall, the most important thing is that our outdoor structures are built solid and made to last. With a perfectionist hubs, I tend to feel those structures are built like Fort Knox so little unfinished detail work is no biggie. Those chairs are on their way out. Some cedar adirondack chairs are on my wish list. Hubs can build them. (note to self: add chairs to hub's honeydo list)

The swing behind the screened room (house) overlooks the river. Fall is the best time to sit and enjoy the going-ons with the return of Canada geese, osprey, bald eagles and other birds, but I keep the cushioned seats stored away from elements and don't always feel like dragging them out to sit for a spell. Then, I kick my self for not taking more time to enjoy the view before winter comes. Pooey on me.

This is Mikey waiting for his 'papa' to come home.

Sweetest Boy! Such a gentle lovable dog, our little guy.

My sad attempt at a fall wreath. I ran out of patience.

I never thought I'd like potted Moms but the right colour and a healthy plant is alright with me. This one bloomed late so the flowers never got as full as the other one on the porch. It's still very pretty.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Limping Along...

I'm so seriously trying to maintain an 'attitude of gratitude'. I'd be getting a failing grade at present, me fears.

I have this little (unbeknownst to me up till most recently) issue with an under-active thyroid. hmmm... not a big deal I'm told and on a positive note I have really, really good cholesterol... my doctor kept stressing the words REALLY GOOD... so the bad stuff which would have concerned him was otherwise not a concern. Thankful!

I (we... me and hubs) are debt free, mortgage free! Like - HELLO! Really thankful!

I work... part-time from home and another little job as a caregiver to a couple school-age kids. All timing of 'things' worked together for good... for me.... so far. Hubs was forced into early retirement... so monthly pension but not exactly great compensation for what he's been through... long story but we're thankful. VERY thankful!

Another pending job on the shelf... fingers crossed cause this would be the BEST thing for me and I have the skills to fulfill this job and from home (oh joy!)... hopefully overwhelmingly thankful!

The limp in my gait comes from an existing, very debilitating 'job' that I've been enduring due to my complicated work/living situation. No details to explain regarding my 'job''s so old and so worn and so negative that I'll not get into the nitty-gritty. I'm undervalued, under appreciated and under paid not to mention over-qualified. I endure a huge amount of verbal, manipulative abuse, so much so that it's almost comical, yet I fail at not allowing the 'offender' to have the last word. This is my failing... my downfall. I am at a loss and horribly guilty of losing at the fine art of 'shut up'.

I am making a public vow (even if only ONE person reads this) to NOT respond to the snarky, snide and negative comments that come from nowhere and end up in some crazy, uncontrolled kind of pissing match that hits me like a 'bitch-slap'. I'm really at wit's end because my most sincere attempts to smooth over the misconceptions have been met with hostility and all done via gmail. ....sigh. I'm so done.