Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Far from the madding raccoon

raccoon


As noted from the title of this post, I wish I were far from that madding raccoon! 

I’ve been a bit preoccupied of late, dealing with a very annoying raccoon.  He has been my nemesis for two years now, and doesn’t show any signs of moving on. 

He tore up our trash until we used bungee cords to keep him out.  He has raided the bird feeders of their seeds nightly, and drank all the hummingbird nectar.  So we take the feeders in at dusk (sometimes he comes even earlier) but when we get home a little late…we’ve already had a visit and empty feeders.  And please don’t think me a wuss but I am honestly afraid to go out on my back deck at night fearing that I will run into the little devil.

The worse thing he has done is when he climbed a tree and reached in a birdhouse and (eek) ate the baby birds.

He ambles across my deck at dusk like he owns the place and isn’t afraid of anyone.  I can open the door and yell and he just stares and gives me the stink eye.  If I yell loud enough to look like a fool to anyone who is watching, he dives off the deck but is back in 2 minutes daring me to do it again.  One night I chased him no less than ten times before I gave up and just went to bed.  Why didn’t I just go out and take in those feeders?  See above. (Afraid to go on my back deck at night)

I’ve scoured the Internet to figure out ways to deter this very tenacious creature.  One site said that raccoons dislike mint.  So I set out pots of mint all over the deck.  He just knocked some over and basically ignored the stuff—epic fail.

It is illegal to relocate animals so that is not an option.  It is perfectly legal to trap and kill raccoons, but since I can’t even squash a bug, that is also not a viable option for me.

So as my last resort I heard about predator urine.  Yes, I did say urine.  I bet you didn’t know that they sell everything from coyote to mountain lion urine. Predator urine gives the illusion that there is a predator in the area. Supposedly the animal or animals you are trying to deter will move on if they fear a predator. 

I never thought I would buy water, but I did.  And I really never thought I would buy urine, but, I, did!  I didn’t buy the liquid but the pelleted version of coyote urine.  Actually instead of pellets it looks like the contents of litter box.  It’s a container of foul smelling dirt.  Resist the temptation to smell it or you will never be able to forget that odor.  I swear it burns the sinuses.

Anyway I sprinkled the stuff liberally all around the hummingbird feeder and left it out for the night.  Come morning (after lots of raccoon nightmares) I looked out and the feeder was empty of the nectar.  This raccoon stepped all in the predator urine soaked dirt without a care in the world. (Probably dancing in the moonlight) So what do I do from here?  Stop feeding the birds?  Never go out on my deck at night?  Take down birdhouses?  Or…I can still keep spreading the urine stuff all around and hope he takes a hint.  The bottle says sometimes it takes 2-3 weeks to take effect so I’ll keep it up for a couple weeks and we’ll see how it goes.  I’ll continue to update this post till I’m far from the madding raccoon or raise the white flag.  Has anyone used predator urine successfully? If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear your comments. 

raccoon

raccoon
Raccoon giving me the eye







Thursday, March 24, 2016

Icelandic Candy



At the end of February my husband and I visited Iceland for our vacation.  It's always an adventure and so much fun to visit other places and cultures.

 In Iceland there were many things that were a bit of a culture shock to an American.  We enjoyed the delicious foods like lamb and lamb soup.  We marveled at the beautiful Icelandic hand knitted sweaters and blankets.  One of the most interesting things I came across, however, was the Icelandic candy called Lakkris!

While in Iceland, I had the opportunity to visit a grocery store. No giant grocery store with a pharmacy and everything in between like one sees in Virginia. A grocery store Iceland is much smaller and more akin to a convenience store in the U. S. 

As I wandered through the aisles I saw a bag of popular Icelandic candy.  This particular candy goes by the name of Lakkris and is pretty much licorice and chocolate. 



Now many of you may think that licorice and chocolate don't really go together, but you are wrong.  This candy has a licorice center covered with milk chocolate.  It was yummy and my husband pretty much finished off the entire bag.  

I’ve always made candy with molds so I figured why not try and make some licorice chocolates!  Very soon I will post my experiment in my version of Icelandic candy along with the recipe. 


Till then, happy travels…


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Trip to Iceland and the northern lights

Northern lights


I recently made a trip to Iceland.  Iceland is the land of glaciers, hot springs, Vikings, and most of all, the Aurora borealis better known as the northern lights.  

When my husband gave me some luggage for Christmas this year, I was delighted.  I’d hinted that I wanted some red hard shell luggage.  That wasn’t all he gave me this year though.  The envelope inserted inside the suitcase held the itinerary for a trip to Iceland!  Never in million years would I have asked for that!  It included a northern lights tour, which is no guarantee that I would see the Aurora, but it was a better chance than I’ve ever had.

The trip to Iceland was pretty awful with layovers and packed planes and of course TSA!  We’d lost 6 hours of our life with time change in addition to the 5-hour layover, and 6-hour flight.  Needless to say we were Exhausted with a capital E!

The next night we would embark on our northern lights search.  We rested all day and when the time came we got on a bus with 50 more people with the same thought in mind.  The guide was informative and explained in detail all the criteria that needed to be present for the lights to appear.  Sounded pretty iffy to me.

We drove into the night and as the hours went by the guide started to lose faith.  She said although the sky was clear, there was no apparent activity.  My heart sunk.  Could it be I’d come all this way only to be disappointed?  The bus took a detour to a hot sulfur spring, which was in my estimation a consolation prize.

Then the guide announced that we had been traveling for hours and apparently the Aurora wasn’t in a good mood so we were heading back.  She told us to take a nap and she would wake us when we got to town.

So we settled in and I tried to chuck it up to fate.  If fate determined that I wouldn’t see the lights, then I wouldn’t.

All of a sudden the bus veered off the road to a side road and the guide started screaming, “Wake up, wake up, it’s starting.”

I looked out the window and saw the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life and I swear I started to cry!  We all poured out of the bus and in the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced, with my hands freezing and nearly frost bit, I started to take some photos. 

The Northern Lights was totally worth it.  It was worth the hell trip there and the hell trip back and the flu I got the day I returned that has kept me in bed for a week afterwards. 

My husband made a lifelong dream come true and continues to do so every day of my life.

I will be putting more photos and travel tips in the ensuing days.  Hope you enjoy my experiences in Iceland.

Northern lights

Northern lights


Monday, February 15, 2016

President's Day facts and history



On Monday February 15, 2016 we celebrate Presidents day and I thought it would be nice to list a few interesting President's Day facts and history about the holiday, so here goes:
  1. President’s Day originally commemorated George Washington’s Birthday on February 22.
  1. Due to the uniform Monday holiday act, President’s Day (As it is now known) falls on the third Monday in February.
  1. Since the New Date fell between Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays, many felt that it honored both statesmen; President’s day was born.
  1. Since Presidents Day now fell on a three-day weekend, marketers used this day to clear out old winter stock and “President’s Day sales” began.
  1. Some states use President’s Day to celebrate others on that day. Arkansas celebrates Washington and Daisy Gatson Bates a civil rights activist, while Alabama also celebrates Thomas Jefferson who was born in April.
  1. Today President’s Day celebrates all presidents, past and present.
  1. Traditionally cherries are the order of the day. Whether it is cherry pie, cherry cobbler or just plain cherries many consume cherries on this day. This is in reference to the story, whether it be truth or myth of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree.
  1. George Washington was born in Virginia. (Can you tell I’m proud of my home state?) He was born in Westmorland County in 1732. He lived his boyhood years in Fredericksburg at Ferry farms and his later years at Mount Vernon. If you are ever in Virginia be sure to visit some of these historical sites.
I hope you enjoyed these President's Day facts and brief history.  If you would like to learn more about George Washington the following links will give you more information.




Thursday, January 28, 2016

Upcycled zipper charm bracelet tutorial



Use an old zipper to make a new charm bracelet.  This is a great teen or tween crafting idea.  This is such a simple project that is terrific to make during those snow days when there is nothing to do.  I’ve used word charms but you can use any sort of charms you like. For a super upcycle, you can remove a zipper from an old piece of clothing or just purchase a new zipper.

Supplies:

7-inch metal zipper
Oval jump rings
Large crimp bead for clasp
Lobster claw clasp
Medium jump rings
Charms of choice
Lighter or stop fray fabric glue
Scissors
Needle nosed pliers

Instructions:

1.     Cut the fabric close to the zipper with scissors.  Use the lighter to run over the edges to keep it from fraying, or you can use stop fray fabric glue and let it dry.



2.     Using the needle nosed pliers attach the crimp bead fro the clasp to the non-opening end of the zipper.  Squeeze it tightly.



3.     Open a large round jump ring twisting to open rather than pulling apart.  Add to the crimp bead and then add the lobster claw clasp.  Close the jump ring, twist to close.


4.     Add a second jump ring to the zipper pull.


5.     Using oval jump rings twist to open and add the desired charm.  Attach to the zipper and twist back to close.  Continue adding charms down the length of the zipper. 







Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Black eyed peas recipe



Every New Year's Day we eat black eye peas for luck in the upcoming Year.  I know this post is a tad late for New Year's Day but better late than never right?  

In the south black eyed peas are considered to be very lucky indeed.  During Sherman's march in December of 1864 the union army destroyed just about everything on the way leaving only the lowly black eye or field peas that they considered inedible. The southerners were lucky to survive and not starve to death with the help of this simple legume.  

The black eyed pea is full of protein, and does not contain fat or cholesterol.  They are also a good source of fiber.  These delicious peas fit the bill for any day even after New Years Day!

Black eyed peas, rice and tomatoes

Ingredients

Tablespoon dried onion
1 lb. bag of dried black eyed peas
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked white rice
One clove garlic diced well
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Soak the peas overnight or use the quick method of putting the peas in large pot, filling with water two inches over the peas and boil for two minutes.  Let the peas sit for an hour.

Meanwhile cook 2 cups of white rice as per package directions. Drain any excess water from the peas and add the two cans of diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. 

Simmer on low heat till the peas are done and the flavors have all blended.  Eat with freshly made cornbread.




Monday, December 7, 2015

Minion hair bow tutorial

Minion hair bow


Check out my newest tutorial for a Minion hair bows.  It's quick, easy and you even use recycled denim to create them.  These little minions make great gifts for your favorite little girl.  You can also attach the minion on gift packages for a fun little addition.

Since the supplies are so inexpensive to make these little guys they would be fantastic for a church group, girl scout troop school craft and more.

Hop on over to Bowdabra blog for the full tutorial!

Minion hair bow

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Frustrated with El Capitan!--a warning



I admit it.  I was stupid.  I just kept getting emails that there was a new update to the OS for my Mac. I didn't have a problem the last time I updated so I figured what the hay!

Big mistake.  As you all know, I'm an artist, craft designer and more and I use photo editing programs a lot.  Unfortunately when I upgraded to El Capitan I can no longer save any edited photos.  Cmon now! I've had several Macs, quite a few iPads and an iPhone.  I guess you could say I love-d apple products for their reliability and functionality.  Now I'm rethinking it all.

When I had a PC (Way back when) they worked ok for a while and then they sometimes crashed.  They'd just stare at you and not do anything until you made the three finger salute of ctrl+alt+del. They were slower.  The virus protection was wonky.

Then I went to Mac and it was heaven.  They never, ever crashed.  They were faster and just a joy.  No more three fingers salutes.  All that changed when El Capitan sailed into my life.

Now everything is a mess and I'm wishing I was still saluting with the 3 fingers on a PC.
Everything works when I edit until I go to save my work.  Yes after all the work...you click save and everything freezes!!!!  Not just one editing program but all of them.

And the best part it that none of the support for the editors can say anything but to use Chrome (which I hate) or Firefox, until Apple gets on the ball and fixes the bug.  I mean it's no longer a beta version, but was released at the end of Septembers.  Seriously I don't have time for all of this.

I know, I shouldn't complain, I should have researched a bit better, but even if I did the reviews are all over the place. Some think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Other's like me are contemplating throwing the Mac against the wall and watching all it's little pieces hit the floor.

And don't even try to send a message to apple.  It's impossible.  They've gone underground or are in hiding.  I can't for the life of me find a way to at least send them all the crash reports I've experienced.

So now I wait, for whatever update they feel like tossing my way.

My fault.  I was naive.  I just want to warn you all of the pitfalls of El Capitan.  Don't update.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all


Crystal

Monday, October 5, 2015

Free Halloween printable coloring page



So sorry I haven't been keeping up with the blog of late but I've had a lot of stuff on my plate.  Last month my beautiful cat Olivia suddenly passed away. Then my daughter's pony from when she was little (Miss patsy lived a good long life and we well over 30) passed on as well.  That was a sad time for me.  I had another birthday (presents are nice but getting older isn't) and then it rained for an entire week.  We are talking torrential rains here where you can't go from you house to your car without getting drenched.
I'm getting ready for a craft show so I've been busy.  In addition I am working on two other blogs, Make it easy crafts and Bowdabra blog.

So they say that coloring for adults are very relaxing and relieves stress so although I'm not really into coloring...I am into creating coloring pages.  Check out Make it easy crafts for new coloring pages.  I am attaching a link (Just click on the photo) to the latest Halloween coloring page titled pumpkin party right here for you download and print out for free.

Till next time...

wishing you a wonderful fall day--with no rain!
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