Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Providing Food For Winter Birds

As winter approaches, you may need to change some of the foods you offer to birds. Providing high calorie and high fat foods can be important to the birds. The birds visiting winter feeders may be arriving in flocks or may come to the feeders as individuals, so you will need to provide different options for the birds. Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content and its relatively thin shell. Oil sunflower has twice the calories per pound than striped sunflower and its smaller shells make less mess when discarded by the birds. Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. Peanuts & peanut butter are another great food to offer birds in the wintertime. Peanuts have high protein and fat levels and are often an ingredient in suet products. Offering peanuts in a peanut feeder can provide a good source of protein for birds. Other good winter options are niger seed and white millet seed. Providing Cover for Birds Roosting boxes or natural plant covers can also aid birds seeking protection from cold weather. Shelter is also needed for protection against natural predators, such as birds of prey. Cats are unnatural predators and birds also need shelter to escape from them. Be sure to clean out old nests from houses to help reduce the possibility of parasitic bugs surviving the winter. It also allows birds the opportunity to roost in a clean house.
1. Eastern Phoebe 2. Baltimore Oriole 3. Chimney Swifts 4. European 5. House Wren 6. House Finches 7. Song Sparrow 8. Carolina Wren 9. Ruby-throated Hummingbird 10. Chipping Sparrow 11. Gray Catbird 12 American Robins 13. Common Grackle 14. Blue Jay 15. American Crow 16. Sharp-shinned Hawk 17. Downy Woodpecker 18. American Goldfinches 19. Evening Grosbeaks 20. Cedar Waxwings 21. Northern Mockingbird 22. Northern Cardinal 23. Tufted Titmouse 24. Dark-eyed Juncos 25. Mourning Dove 26. White-throated Sparrow 27. White-breasted Nuthatch 28. American Tree Sparrow 29. Black-capped Chickadee

Keeping Rodents Out of Your House

As the weather turns, small critters often look for refuge from the cold in your nice, warm home. What can you do to deter them from becoming uninvited guests in your humble abode? Here are a few suggestions that are easy to apply. Moth balls! Throw them under the house, just enough that they don't smell inside the house and redo about once a month. Also throw them around the footing of the outside of the house. Moth balls also deters snakes, bugs, ants and such. You can also put a little of the spray foam in the holes around our pipes, then put in steel wool and spray more foam on it as well. Mice will not chew through the steel wool. An unusual tactic for controlling the rodent population is to give them Exlax... super strength if you can. Rodents love Exlax! Place it outside & inside. If you think a cat or dog could get at it, cover it so that only a rodent could get in and eat it. Even if a bigger animal does get it, it isn't deadly. Rodents are smaller, their digestive systems are smaller. A little Exlax goes a long way! Rodents live in communities or families. If one gets sick in "home space". They learn fast and leave for a safer environment. A mouse/ any rodent loves the chocolate wax like bar of Exlax! Add peanut butter to the bars if you like. It is "Dairy Queen Deluxe" for rodents. Once the word is out among fellow rodents about the "after effects" of the food supplied, they leave the area for healthier food, as well as, communicate and smell the "Gastric Distress and Results" of the afflicted Exlax filled rodent to the community! Mice do not like the smell of peppermint. Put some on cottonballs and place in the drawers, basement, or anywhere you think or see mouse evidence. Peppermint oil is a natural mouse repellant.

Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

INGREDIENTS 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon fine salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature 2 cups granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 large eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, shaken and at room temperature 3 cups shredded Gala or other baking apples (about 4 medium apples), shredded on the large holes of a box grater INSTRUCTIONS Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. Alternatively, coat the wells with butter; set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is airy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well combined, about 1 minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl. Set the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the buttermilk, and mix until combined, about 15 seconds (the batter will look curdled, but it’s fine). Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the shredded apples and any accumulated liquid until just combined, about 1 minute. Fill the muffin wells about three-quarters full (about 1/4 cup per well). Place the muffin pans side by side on the rack and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, rotating the pans front to back and side to side halfway through the baking time, about 20 to 25 minutes total. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting. CINNAMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING 1 cup butter, softened 3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar 3-4 TBS milk 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon cinnamon Directions: Combine butter and sugar and beat till well combined. Add milk, vanilla & cinnamon and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minute or until creamy.

Protect Your Patio Furniture From the Elements

It is time to prepare your furniture for the winter months ahead. With outdoor living spaces becoming more popular than ever, most people have at least a few pieces that need to be stored. Even furniture that is treated to be weather-resistant or is under a patio cover needs to be cared for and maintained. Clean it up The most important step in preparing furniture for storage is to get it clean. Moisture and dirt left on outdoor items can cause mold or mildew to grow in the winter months. Pieces made from wicker, wrought iron, mesh or plastic can be cleaned with a simple dish soap and water solution. For wood furniture you can use Murphy Oil Soap and water, then rinse and let dry. For stains that are difficult to remove, make a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 gallon water. Use a soft brush to work on the stains, then rinse and let dry completely. Cushions also need to be clean and dry before you put them away for the winter. If you have cushions covered in fabric or canvas, prepare a solution of 1/2 cup Lysol and 1 gallon hot water and use a soft brush to scrub them clean. Rinse cushions thoroughly and let dry. Give it a coat After your furniture is clean, a protective coating will help keep it looking good for next spring. Aluminum or plastic pieces can be covered with a thin coat of car wax to protect them and use a coat of paste wax for wicker furniture. Check metal furniture for any signs of rust and remove with a wire brush, then spray metal furniture with a silicone sealant. Under cover Furniture covers are great for additional protection from the elements, even if you are storing your pieces in a shed or garage. Covers come in a wide range of sizes and weights, depending on whether you will be storing items outside or under cover. Brush off all of the snow collecting on the furniture throughout the winter months. As the snow melts, water has a knack of finding its way to the furniture, causing damage when it freezes again. Visit our website at:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Household Hints Vinegar is useful for many cleaning projects, but do not use on hardwood floors – it will damage them. The more soap, the better – not true! Too much soap residue on carpets makes the dirt stick to them more. Pour Coca-Cola into your blackened or rusted pots & pans, let soak and then wash. Wash your car with a hair conditioner containing lanolin. You'll become a believer when you see the freshly waxed look, and when you find that the surface will repel rain. If your windshield wiper blades get dirty, they'll streak the glass instead of keeping it clean and clear. Make a solution of 1/4 cup household ammonia to 1 quart cold water. Gently lift the blades, and wipe both sides with a soft cloth or paper towel soaked in the solution. Then wipe the blades with a dry cloth before lowering them into place. Pour 1/4 cup baking soda into a gallon-sized jug, then add 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and enough water to fill the jug almost to the top. Screw on the cap, shake well, and store the concentrate for later use. When it comes time to wash the car, shake the jug vigorously and then pour 1 cup of cleaner base into a 2-gallon water pail. Fill the pail with warm water, stir to mix, and your homemade cleaning solution is ready to use. The quickest way to clean a microwave oven is to place a handful of wet paper towels inside and run it on High for 3-5 minutes. You don't need a science lesson to know that the steam from the towels will soften the grime. Once the paper towels cool down, use them to wipe the oven's interior. The glass jug that comes with a coffeemaker can quickly develop a brown, blotchy haze – especially when you leave it on for long periods of time. For the quickest cure, you will need some ice, salt and a lemon. Fill the empty jug a quarter full of ice. Cut the lemon into quarters and squeeze two of the quarters into the jug. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Swirl the mixture in the jug for 2 minutes and the inside surface will quickly come clean. Rinse under the tap. Deep clean and deodorize a waste disposal unit by grinding ice cubes made with half vinegar, half water. If you hate picking the silk off freshly husked ears of corn, then you'll love this paper towel trick. Dampen one and run it across the ear. The towel picks up the silk, and the corn is ready for the boiling pot or the grill. Make your produce last long enough so you can eat it by lining your vegetable bins with paper towels. They absorb the moisture that causes your fruits and vegetables to rot. Makes cleaning up the bin easier too. Here's how to freeze—and thaw—your bread so it tastes just like fresh. Place a paper towel in the bag of bread before you freeze it. When you’re ready to eat that frozen loaf, the paper towel absorbs the moisture as the bread thaws. A haze of soap residue and hard water spots accumulates quickly in showers and on shower doors. To remove, use a sponge or clean cloth to wipe room-temperature white vinegar onto your shower walls and door. The acid in the vinegar will help dissolve the residue. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel. To prevent buildup, use a squeegee on the surfaces after each shower. Tip: Use a nylon brush to scrub out the shower door's tracks.
Homeowners Insurance Homeowners Insurance rates have risen 69% over the last decade and at the same time basic coverage has been shrinking and restrictions have been growing. Homeowners Insurance is one of the least profitable types of insurance; combine that with the recent unpredictable weather events plus low interest rates & poor investment opportunities for the investments of premiums and you have the insurance companies scrambling to make money. Therefore companies have stopped writing policies in disaster prone areas, pushed for higher premiums and scaled back coverage. Coverage varies widely among carriers now, making it even more difficult to compare. Water damage has become extremely difficult to collect on. Repairs may not be fully covered due to increased prices after a major disaster or specific mandates on when the repairs need to be completed. Rebuilding may not be covered due to the extra expenses of meeting modern building codes. Private insurers do not even offer flood insurance anymore. You need to turn to the National Flood Insurance Program for that which has its own restrictions in maximum allowance and coverage areas. Your best bets for getting the coverage you need are: • Shop around – get at least 3-5 quotes • Compare, some state insurance departments offer comparison tools • Ask about replacement coverage, riders and discounts • Request a sample policy and make sure you read your policy. Money Magazine April 2013

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Decorating Easter Eggs

Silk-Tie Easter Eggs
Materials and Tools Small- to medium-size raw eggs Glass or enamel pot Silk ties, blouses, or boxers, cut into pieces large enough to cover an egg White sheets (or pillowcases or old tablecloths), cut into pieces to cover silk-wrapped eggs Twist ties 3 tablespoons of white vinegar Warm water Vegetable oil Paper towels Tongs or spoon Silk Tie Easter Eggs How-To 1. Cut silk into a square (or a piece) large enough to wrap around a raw egg. 2. Wrap a raw egg with a piece of silk, making sure the printed side of the material is facing the egg. Silk can still be used if it doesn't fit perfectly around egg. 3. Place the silk-wrapped egg in a piece of white sheet, pillowcase, or old tablecloth and secure tightly with a twist-tie. 4. Place the egg(s) in an enamel or glass pot. Fill pot with water to cover eggs completely. Then, add three tablespoons of white vinegar. 5. Bring water to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes (longer if you plan on eating the eggs). 6. Remove eggs from water with tongs or spoon and let cool. 7. Remove silk from cooled egg. 8. For shiny eggs, wipe with vegetable oil after completing step 7. Resources Silk goods such as ties, blouses, and boxers can be purchased at rummage sales or thrift stores. Silk can be reused on eggs.