I was in the kitchen the other day leaning on the counter looking out one of the windows when a male & female Purple Finch landed on the feeder. I quick called over baby Aaron and picked him up to watch them. We were actually only about seven feet away so the view was quite charming. Aaron got big eyed of course and started pointing and oohing over them. The birds were quite relaxed due to the 'usual' noise coming out of the house- this was no big deal and continued to eat and enjoy the sunny day. Soon another pair settled in and things were even more splendid. As I have mentioned in several of my entries, we are big bird watchers and we enjoy feeding them very much. Although all the bird feed can get a bit expensive I do believe it is well worth the efforts and the rewards of being able to see one of Gods most intricate & beautiful creatures so closely. I have large climbing Sweet Autumn Clematis' growing on both my front arbor and my pergola and the birds just love them. They gather for shelter as well as nesting! Last week I put a bird house in the inside corner of my front arbor well in the vines and I am pleased to say I already have a pair of sparrows nesting in there!
If you enjoy feeding the birds, here is a really easy bird feeder recipe that you and the children can make to stretch the seed out a 'little' bit longer .
*Nifty Bird Feeders~ General Recipe: Mix about a tablespoon of white corn syrup with approximately 1 cup of bird seed~ Make as much as you want and then using a rolling pin, roll out onto counter or table until about 1/2 inch think or so. Using cookie cutters have the children cut out shapes; re-roll any remaining seed mix until you have used it all. Using a thin dowel, no larger than a pencil make a hole about 3/4 of an inch below the top edge of the bird treat; using yarn, thin wire or twine make a loop about 12 inches or so long to hang it out with. You can also form into suet size to put into your suet holders.
*To make suet cakes use smooth Peanut Butter mixed with a couple tablespoons flour and mix in bird seed of choice, form into cakes and fill your holders. Keep these in shady areas because they will melt in the heat of August. You can store these in the freezer for up to 3 months, so have fun and make ahead when the peanut butter is on sale and you have time!
*If you do purchase pre-made suet cakes, save a few of the plastic holders they come in so you have a form handy and they will be the right size.
*Hummingbird nectar is super easy to make without buying the expensive mixes. Simply add to four cups hot water 1 cup of sugar; stir until sugar is completely dissolved then add 2 drops of red food coloring if you want to, but it is not necessary. Put in fridge to cool down and then fill your feeders- hang out and enjoy the flock that will come.
*Be sure to plant a row of Mammoth or Giant Grey Striped Sunflowers in your veggie garden or some in your gardens, you will be entertained in the fall by many birds looking for food!
*If you don't have room for a large bird bath somewhere, you can use large Terra cotta or plastic plant saucers for them. Put down on the ground next to a large shrub so they have somewhere to fly and be sure to keep clean water in it.
*A Pretty Cobblestone Walk ~ see photo at our website One of the first things I did when we purchased our home was plan all the 'future' gardens and then some. There was nothing here when we came except on overgrown apple tree, an ugly shrub next to the front porch steps, two lilac bushes, a hydrangea bush and one big beautiful Maple in the back yard. Some might be saying, "Well that's not too bad." Well maybe it's not to some and the ease of that would be just fine & dandy~ not so for me. I want gardens that surround and abound, both veggie and flower. In my opinion they go hand in hand~ you can't not have flowers in your veggie garden anymore than you can't have herbs and a few pretty chard or potato plants mixed in the flower beds. So the planning started. One thing I had to have was a cobble stone walk. A good friend of mine, also a gardener, had a form, soooo I put Neil to work, of course I helped, after all someone had to tell him what to do :-) ! He is my muscles when I need certain hard scapeing done, so we got the neighbors cement mixer, bought several bags of concrete and went to work. First I dug up the sod from the planned walkway; next I put down black plastic ground cover to hold back the nasty grass that would surly want to rear it's ugly head up into my path; next we put down about four inches of sand. Now we have a gravel/sand pit right across the road from us, so this is free for the taking for township residents. If you don't have access to free, then you need to buy enough to lay at least 4 to 6 inches of sand down for the stones to mold into. Now I needed my 'muscles' and as usual he came through beautifully. He mixed the concrete and filled the form on and on until the walk was complete. I wanted it to be more special though so I had each of our children press their little patties (hands) gently into a stone, then I carefully printed their name and the date in another stone beside it. I added marbles and made smiley faces with them in neighboring stones as well. I also had Neil & I do the same and put our wedding date and a heart made with marbles in ours (see photo attached). I wanted a bit more so I took some maple, fern and hosta leaves and pressed them into several of the other stones. Now after several years they are all still perfectly visible and are a happy reminder of a hard days work.
Pancakes can have so many variations, it's simply to the cooks imagination as what to add or not. Here is a yummy variation that goes over well at our house!
Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes
1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe 'Buttermilk Pancake Mix'~ follow package directions and then add to one batch recipe:
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup more buttermilk
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
Fry as you would and serve hot with Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage patties or links and a jug of Kapnick Orchards yummy Apple Cider!