Friday, February 26, 2016

I bought a new top-whorl spindle...

I just recently purchased a pretty new top whorl spindle at The Woolery in Franklin, Kentucky.  Two weeks ago I learned to use one, and just "had" to have a prettier one.  Here it is with some yarn on it and my wrist distaff that one of our daughters made for me years ago.  It is a sunny day, and I've been sitting inside a sunny window having a wonderful, relaxing afternoon. In my opinion, top whorl spindles are much easier to use than the spindles that have the whorl on the bottom. If you would like to learn to use one, I recommend THIS book.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10, 2016... musings on a cold winter day...

Several days ago, we went to a home improvement store to pick up some needed items, and they had a fairly large display of orchids for $5.00 each!  I have longed for an orchid for a number of years, but was simply too stingy to pay the price.  Now I have one!  I hope it survives.  My Garden Fairy has always had success with orchids, and perhaps with her coaching me....

As you can see, we've had a bit of snow and today, right now, it is 17 degrees F. here.  I have seen it much colder than this (-28 degrees F one time), but this is cold enough!

Have you seen on the internet how people regrow celery and such by saving the bottom part of the plant?  I've done that, and actually planted the celery in my vegetable garden with some success.  Right now, I have 4 different vegetables growing that way on our kitchen windowsill.

Here is some Red Leaf Lettuce:

And a "red" cabbage:

Bok Choy:

And lastly, iceberg lettuce!

They add a cheery sight to the wintry landscape for me.  We will eat the little nibbles they are growing.

So far, this winter, I've had 10 different varieties of wild birds visit my bird-feeding station.  Here is the list: 

Black Capped Chickadee
Nut Hatch
Tufted Titmouse
House Finch
House Wren
Brown Thrush

The Flicker just showed up this morning and he seems to really favor the new suet crumbles that I made, so I'm glad I made them, even though I only saved 88 cents.  :)

I have two loaves of my Every Day natural yeast bread rising in the pans.  If you come over in maybe 3 hours, I can give you a warm slice with butter.

How does that sound?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I saved 88 cents feeding the birds...

I have finally gotten back to feeding the wild birds.  What with the move into our trailer, I had let that go pretty much all last winter.  We have a nice Redbud tree right outside our kitchen window, and it is a perfect place to hang bird feeders, and then I can watch the birds as I cook.  My mother was an avid bird watcher. I know many of the local species, but want to learn more about it.

A couple of days ago, I bought a wire suet basket and put it out there and bought 2 suet cakes.  Here is one:

With the tax, it only cost $1.16.  I went to YouTube and found THIS tutorial on how to make suet dough (crumbles) to feed to the birds. I decided to make some and see if it would save me any money to make my own.

Here are all of the ingredients I purchased, except the flour, which I already had on hand.

I carefully weighed out the various components of this mix.

Then I mixed all of the dry ingredients together in a huge bowl.

Next, the crunchy peanut butter and the lard were melted together...

and added to the dry ingredients and I stirred it all until it was well mixed.

By the way, it was much easier doing this than they indicated in the video.  I think having it in a large bowl instead of a bucket helped.

Here is what I ended up with.  There are two containers like this.  It made 13# of crumbles.  Yes, 13#.

Now, here is the recipe for one smaller batch.  I multiplied this amount by 5 when I did it.

Suet Dough for the Wild Birds

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup lard
2 cups quick oats
1 cup corn meal
2 cups unmedicated chick starter
1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Melt the crunchy peanut butter and the lard together.  Stir the melted ingredients into the dry mix.  Store in a lidded container at room temperature.

I calculated the price of the ingredients, added it all up, weighed the resulting mixture and figured that in comparison, by weight, the large batch of crumbles saved me a whopping 88 cents!

However, I will watch and see how this works out.  Since I will not be putting this in a suet feeder, there will probably be significantly less waste, because when the birds eat the suet, they get pretty enthusiastic and spill some on the ground.  Also, I think this mix is more nourishing and healthy for the birds.  The suet cake only has beef suet and some mixed bird seed in it.

As you can see in the following pictures, I was desperate for some way to feed the crumbles, so I made a feeder from an empty milk jug and hung it on our tree.

Here is our bird-feeding station:

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