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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Wren nest

The wrens are at it again. Such persistent nesters. Motivated. Creative. Some of you might remember a few wren posts that I did a while back. You can read about there here and here.

I don’t know that I can call this a problem, maybe it is more like a situation. Brought on be me.

We leave the back screen porch doors propped open for the cats to come and go. See what I mean, all brought on my me. Wren NestThis time they have abandoned the idea of nesting in potted plants out on the screen porch. They really put some thought into this one. They know I will kick them out of the potted plants. The funny thing is that would not have been a big deal at this time. All the plants that are left on the porch are all dead and since I still haven’t moved many of them outside that would have been a safe place to nest.

No, this time they picked a baseball hat that is hanging on a hat/coat rack on the screen porch. I use it for things like my headlamp for grilling, a visor I wear outside when it is sunny, the ear muffs that I wear for hearing protection when I mow the lawn or use the chain saw, a rain jacket to use when I go outside to manage the rainwater tanks when it is raining, a huge bundle of drying cilantro including coriander seeds, and a nice camouflage baseball hat that clearly didn’t get worn enough or there would be no nest built in it. Wren Nest 1

It really is a perfect spot.  She and her mate have built an impressive little nest there using the inside of the ball hat and the arm of the hat rack that comes right up under it. The nesting female has a clear view to both outside doors to see who is coming and going. Ingenuity and good construction all that way.

I was telling a friend about the unique nesting spot and she requested a photo. I wasn’t sure if the nest was in use, so I inched my way closer to it, got the camera up there for a good shot and out shoots mama-wren. Man, she was really hidden in there. Now that she was off the nest, I turned on the flash and could clearly see the eggs. Yup. She is staying, I told it was alright.

The next interesting phase of this plan will be when the chicks are starting to fall out of the nest, how they will get outside! I guess I need to clear the way below, after all, I think the coriander seeds are dry by now! Another thing I need to think about is the cats.

Our cats are real wimps. One of them won’t even go out on the screen porch right now because she has been watching the wren activity (“oh no, there is something moving around out there and I don’t know what it is.”) One of the cats goes in and out all day, but he doesn’t seem to pay attention (well, that is what I am calling it – he is old and really can’t see or hear that much anymore.)

These wrens are really motivated.

Have you have any nesting birds in unique places?

UPDATE: This morning (14 July) when I headed out the back door I head tiny baby birds talking. The wren eggs have hatched. Without getting too close, I can see 4 tiny heads sticking up and screaming for food.

Sincerely, Emily

 

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It was time to cut my hair and send it off to Locks of Love.

Time to cut my hair

Time to cut my hair

One of my nieces cut it two years ago, so I asked her if she wanted to cut it again. She made a scrunched up face and said, “No, I don’t like the sound it makes when I cut through the thick ponytail!”

A week later, when I friend came up to help us pack at my parents house, I asked her if she would do the honors…. and off we went outside to get it done.

I put my hair in two pony tails, we got out the tape measure to make sure we would get the 10″ or more they needed and it was done in less than a minute. This time it was over 13″ cut off to send away. The last time it was cut was back in September of 2011 (I thought it had only been 2 years…. time flies, and hair grows I guess!)

All that was left was a little trimming to even it up and we were back inside packing boxes again.

Hair cut for Locks of Love

Hair cut for Locks of Love

Each of the five times (this might have been the 6th time, I have lost count) that I have cut my hair for Locks of Love I go through a thought process of “should I cut it now, or wait” then a day later I am tired of brushing through the length of the hair and also tired of finding long hair on everything that I know it is time. I used to cut it every 18 months, but I cut it in the beginning of summer and will be much cooler for me.

My hair tends to grow fast and I wish I would have started cutting in many years ago for Locks of Love. I can’t turn back the clock on the cutting part, or even the gray in my hair, but I know as long as my hair keeps growing, I will cut it and send it off. Even though my hair has gray in it, they will still take it. They will sell it and use the money to help keep their organization going.

GUIDELINES FOR ACCEPTABLE DONATIONS

  • Hair that is colored or permed is acceptable.
  • Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid.
  • Hair that has been bleached (usually this refers to highlighted hair) is not usable.  If unsure, ask your stylist. We are not able to accept bleached hair due to a chemical reaction that occurs during the manufacturing process. **If the hair was bleached years ago and has completely grown out it is fine to donate.
  • Hair that is swept off of the floor is not usable because it is not bundled in a ponytail or braid.
  • Hair that is shaved off and not in a ponytail or braid is not usable. If shaving your head, first divide hair into multiple ponytails to cut off.
  • We cannot accept dreadlocks. Our manufacturer is not able to use them in our children’s hairpieces. We also cannot accept wigs, falls, hair extensions or synthetic hair.
  • Layered hair is acceptable if the longest layer is 10 inches.
  • Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails.
  • Curly hair may be pulled straight to measure the minimum 10 inches.
  • 10 inches measured tip to tip is the minimum length needed for a hairpiece.
  • Printable Guidelines (PDF)Please Note:
  • Shorter hair will be separated from the ponytails and sold to offset the manufacturing costs. Although the shorter hair cannot be used in the hairpieces, it still greatly helps to reduce costs.
  • Gray hair will be accepted and sold to offset the manufacturing costs.
  • Colored hair is not usable if it is colored over bleached hair.
  • Because Locks of Love creates custom hairpieces for each child, we are unable to accept donations of wigs, falls, hair extensions or synthetic hair.

Have you cut and donated your hair in the past? Are you inspired to do it now?

Sincerely, Emily

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Last October I finally stopped and took several photos of things growing on the branches of some of the trees in our yard.

aerial with lichen

Tillandsia recurvata (small ball moss) and lichen

Lichen? Fungi? No idea, I only got as far as the taking the photos.

Actually, I know a bit about some of it, just not all of is. The photo above is Tillandsia recurvata (or small ball moss). It is found a lot in the trees in our area.  The other “thing” growing with it is Crustose lichens. These are super thin symbiont, each a collaborative effort before a photosynthetic alge and a fungus. Cool huh!? (I didn’t know all that part, I had to look it up! The most I know was that it was a lichen!)

more lichen and possibly usnea

lichen, lichen and lichen?

The photo above has more crustose lichen and the more spiky one might be Pseudevernia furfuracea (lichen) or maybe a Evernia prunastri. I have no idea what the lacy orange-ish one is. Could be in the usnea group, just not sure. Just plain beautiful.

The colors are amazing. Nature is amazing.

Do you ever stop and take time to look at your trees? I mean really LOOK and see what is growing there?

Sincerely, Emily

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I have been storing my organic ground pepper in a jar and for some reason haven’t gotten around to refilling the shakers.

Now I wish I had!opps!Opps! That’s a little too much pepper with my morning eggs. I made the mistake of shaking it from the open jar instead of just taking a pinch or two.

Clean-up when fairly well. The egg was edible, a bit peppery, but edible. I sneezed quite a bit too.

What type of mishaps have you had lately?

Sincerely, Emily

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Since Christmas day, our house has been a mini-infirmity. All sick and not much fun to speak of. We did get one good laugh out of it. I took care of my husband with the flu for about five days before it got to me. At that point I couldn’t help him at all and he could barely help me. Yes, I found that funny and got a good laugh out of it (after I was in bed for 5 straight days!)

As we emerged from the haze, I was able to start to open up the house to air out the germy-germs and let the cedar (actually juniper) pollen in I am starting to see things a bit more clearly now.

We have wonderful neighbors that would call and get the grocery list and drop supplies off on the front porch. I do have a memory of that, but I have more evidence piled on the counter of fast mindless meals (plain pasta, rice) and piles of dishes that needed to be addressed. Also piles of laundry.

I went outside to hang out the blankets and quilts. As I was hanging them out I looked across the field and it looked foggy. It couldn’t be fog, the sun was shining and it was noon. It was a haze of pollen that made me stop in my tracks and wonder if I should even be hanging out the blankets at all. I decided it was better to exchange the flu-infested germs for pollen.

When I made up the bed later that evening I noticed something on the blanket. As I took a closer look this is what I found…044Something was busy out there that day… busy laying eggs. I went to get a rag to wipe the eggs off, wondering what type of eggs they were, and should I spend some time trying to figure out if they were from a “good” bug or a “bad” bug. I decided I was too exhausted and ready for bed that I just wiped them away. They were more resilient than I thought they would be. They had a hard shell and took a bit of effort to un-stick them from the fibers of the blanket. Amazing!

Nature is amazing.

I have no idea how I even noticed these eggs, they were so small. I still wonder what they were from. All the others were draped open over two lines. This was the only blanket that was hung on one line, which gave a nice dark, private spot for this critter.

Sincerely, Emily

 

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I am not sure what I was thinking. It is freezing up here in North part of the US! I arrived to rain, that turned to freezing rain, that turned to ice covered roads, that turned to snow! their first big storm of the season.

Rain turning to freezing rain

Rain turning to freezing rain

I don’t seem to mind all that, but the temperature really dropped and it hasn’t been above 10F in 2 days.

The rain turned to snow throughout the night.

The rain turned to snow throughout the night.

So, F is for Freezing and Frigid temps. It is also for Family (I am visiting family right now)

How is the weather where you are right now?

Sincerely, Emily

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C is for…

centurea macrocephalia

centurea macrocephalia

and

Armenian Cucumber

Armenian Cucumber (it’s really in the melon family)

Sincerely, Emily

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This past Sunday we focused our Sunday Photos post on “rivers.” South Texas has been getting some spotty showers. Don’t get me wrong, every drop helps, but I have nothing to contribute about rivers at this point. In the beginning, I had even titled this post “This has nothing to do with rivers.”

Oh, sure, I can show you what the neighborhood dry creek beds looked like on Memorial Day weekend this year. That was great! It is just frustrating to not get much rain at all. Heat, Hot, Humid. Yuck. That is summer here (for me at least) and come this time of year I am more than ready for it to me over over OVER. This is also the time of year I talk about giving up trying to start a garden in the spring. I know it will start to cool off at some point. Hopefully I will feel better when that happens and I will get excited about starting the fall garden (at my own pace!)

scented geranium ready for selling at the jubilee this weekend.

scented geranium ready to selling at the jubilee this weekend.

This week I have a lot going on. The local garden club, that I am a part of, participates in the annual jubilee in our town. We sell plants that each member donates, and I donate a lot of plants that I have nursed a long throughout the summer. This year I also have made up 2 of the planters that are for the raffle. The deer, possums, and racoons have been less than helpful over the past month and a half. I go out and find the majority of the pots nibbled down to nothing or plain old dug up. I’ll tell ya, it is hard to get a nice pot of succulents or greenery looking at its best in order to sell raffle tickets with those kinds of set-backs.

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh... that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

You know when you really want to cry but all you can do is laugh… that was me. Finally decided to bring the raffle planters inside each night. What a pain!

During all this, I took the plunge and bought a brand new laptop, complete with Windows 8. I was working my way through the Windows 8 part but the laptop started acting up. Looping on start-up, getting stuck. After days and days and hours each day talking to technical support the laptop just up and died. DIED! (this is #1 in this chain of technological events!)

You would think that would be enough. Nope. Then my cell phone died. Died! Dang it, that is #2 in this string of events.

My brother helped to calm me down and get me set up with a new phone. Oh, let’s make that a challenge too! I now am the proud new owner of an iPhone 4 (I don’t feel smart yet!) right in the middle of the week with so much going on. I am working through figuring out some stuff. Just working through why I couldn’t hear any calls on the phone or head set was downright frustrating… until I figured out I just needed to take off the plastic protect bit on the front of the phone. Oh, that is so much better. The fun part about the phone is that it has a Wisconsin area code, so I am just telling people that I moved to Wisconsin and got a new phone. Maybe I will get some peace and quiet for a while. haWhatI’d like to say it has just been one of those weeks, but in reality it has been 2+ of those weeks. To top it off, my brand new iPhone slid off the car seat and into my nice tall tumbler of water yesterday. YUP! Can you believe that? The next call was to my brother to ask if I had insurance on the phone (no, I don’t!) but it is still working. and Yes, I did put in a bag of rice.

After writing this all out I figured out a better title to this post, so I changed it. No tears have been shed, but things sure have been frustrating. I will tell you that it was nice and quiet around here for a few days without a computer or cell phone. Technology is sure nice when it works, just super frustrating when it doesn’t!

Somebody must be trying to tell me something…. I am a bit slow sometimes and I haven’t figured out what it is yet.

How has your week been turning out?

Sincerely, Emily

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I have vivid memories of the different sets of salt and pepper shakers that our family used when I was growing up. I have a few of them at our home and it is fun to use them, but there are a few that go unused because I haven’t been able to find a cork or rubber stopper the right size to fit the opening at the bottom.

The Danish salt shaker I used growing up

The Danish salt shaker I used growing up

Pepper shaker - cork won't fitA few months ago, I had another one of those “ah-ha” moments.

I went into my dresser drawer and pulled out a fresh set of expandable foam earplugs. It was the perfect solution!!!

I didn’t use the whole foam earplug. I cut it in half, lengthwise and was able to make two stoppers out of it and use half in another shaker. Use a clean ear plugWhat a deal!

One of the great things about using the expandable foam is that it will fit any size opening, unless you have an opening that is rather large.

If you head over to Sincerely, Emily you can see another cute salt and pepper shaker set that I used as a child.

Have you found a source for the plastic stoppers or perfect size cork to replace the ones that break on your salt and pepper shakers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I have invited and openly welcomed quite a few weeds into our yard over the past 5 years. A few of my friends shake their heads and can’t quite figure out why I would get so excited about weeds. You know, things like dandelions (taraxacum officinale) and lambsquarter (chenopodium album), or plantain (Plantago major) and purslane (Portulaca oleracea), and those are just a few of the edible and useable weeds I get excited about growing on purpose.

lambsquarter

lambsquarter

Then there is straggler daisy (calyptocarpus vialis). I did a post on it over on my personal blog this past week. There are a lot of mixed reviews on it in my area. Some LOVE it, others absolutely HATE it. That is one weed I wasn’t sure about when we moved here, but then again, it was spreading all through every garden and choking out other things. Once I got it out of the garden areas and started planting the herbs and natives I wanted I was much happier. It took a lot of work to get it out of the places I didn’t want it, but I do like it in my yard. It is a great ground cover.

Straggler Daisy

Straggler Daisy

One weed we struggle with is the Coastal Sandspur (Cenchrus spinifex Cav.) That is one weed I could do without completely.

Sandspur 1Some of the other “weeds” that make up our yard I have spent some time identifying… others, I have not taken the time to figure out yet.

An assortment of "weeds"

An assortment of “weeds” – lambsquarter, henbit, larkspur, thistle and poppy

It is always interesting to see what pops up each year. It is amazing how much it can vary. One year we may have a particularly pesky weed and some very pretty flowering ones and the year after there are new things out there.

Some years I have to pick my battles with things I really don’t want out there. I haven’t come up with a great way to get rid of the coastal sandspurs, other than hand digging them.

Where do you draw the line? What weeds do you embrace?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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