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Feeding the Winter Birds

Feeding our Winter Feathered Friends Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feathered Friends – added our homemade suet to pinecones
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the things I enjoy doing is feeding the birds that frequent our feeders. Today is one of those days that we knew the birds would be seeking extra food with the snowstorm making its way in. Plus, I had some pine cones I wanted to fill with the suet along with some old onion bags I wanted to fill and hang on the trees for them.

This morning, after spending time in the kitchen creating some suet filled pinecones, round suet balls and suet cakes – within minutes we had our first visitor ūüôā Many feathered friends took advantage of their new delicious treat before the storm!

Sometimes one can find suet on sale, but we have found it to be less expensive to make it on our own. Plus, we usually have plenty of the ingredients required already on hand.

Making  your own suet is easy:

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet – some ingredients we use
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Your basic recipe is 2:2:1 mix

  • 2 parts melted fat (bacon fat, suet, lard, and you can even use shortening)
  • 2 parts yellow cornmeal (you can also make it with half flour and half cornmeal, although cornmeal is the healthier option)
  • 1 part peanut butter (for some reason no one seems to get to the bottom of the jar of peanut butter prior to opening a new one, so with a rubber spatula, I have been putting the different ones together in one jar, just for this purpose – okay, as you can see, I really do not like to see things wasted.)

We melt the basic ingredients together, so that it can easily be mixed together, then once mixed through, we add berries and seeds. It should be thick enough where one can mold it together into containers such as old suet squares (of previously purchased or gifted suet cakes), tuna cans, made into round balls and hung in used onion bags, etc. Use your imagination.

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

We have even made wreaths with suet, but we found that the entertainment of squirrels swinging on them, resulted in it becoming more beneficial to the squirrels than the birds. Yes, it landed on the ground in pieces with the squirrels enjoying their party, while the birds were left with nothing.

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

NOTE: I found that the easiest way to make the round balls was to put the mix into a plastic sandwich bag, then mold it. This kept my hands from getting messy with seed and oils.

NOTE: A nice benefit of using cotton string is that the birds will use it for nesting in the spring.

I really enjoy making these treats for the birds. Today was very beneficial for us, because we were able to harden these suet items quickly in the garage, due to the extreme cold outside. Otherwise we would have put them in the refrigerator or freezer. Since we use them mostly in the winter months, we keep them stored in a sealed container (to keep the mice away) in the garage.

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Please NOTE some things one needs to understand is that there are some items that should NOT be included in your homemade suet.

  • Bread – it is fine to feed them small quantities of bread yet bread is not really full of the nutritional value they need. Yet, if you decide you want to feed them some bread, be sure it has healthy grains with peanut butter and seeds added – sure, create them a sandwich and cut into small pieces.
  • Junk Food – such as potato chips, cookies, cheese puffs, etc. They have very little nutritional value, and are certainly not designed for animal consumption. Plain popcorn strung with fruit is a much better option.
  • Honey – Although honey is a natural sweetener, it can still harbor bacteria, which makes it a home for mold growth.
  • Raw Meat – these foods can spoil very quickly and should not be given to our flying friends.
  • Old Nectar – again, if it is old, if showing signs of floating objects or is discolored, it is spoiled and now harbors bacteria – TOSS IT!! This is an easy item to make, so you do not even need to purchase it, saving you the concern of it going bad. Here is a recipe for making your own nectar for orioles and hummingbirds – Homemade Hummingbird & Oriole Nectar
  • Pesticides – Be very careful about the seeds and berries you feed your birds. Some are treated with pesticides, herbicides and potentially other toxic chemicals.
Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Feeding our Winter Feather Friends with Homemade Suet
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Taking Natural Birch and Lighting Things Up

 

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This is a set of three which I enjoyed displaying together as a unit. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This is a set of three which I enjoyed displaying together as a unit.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Other than Oak, one of my favorite trees, regardless of season is that of White Birch.  It has character that shares strength with delicate features. I love the white that is shadowed with black from wounds created by nature.

This past spring I started to look for fallen white birch along my path, yet when I spotted any, it was rotted to the core. My husband and father’n law knew that I wanted this for some project, not quite sure what, but set in hopes to locate some in their travels as well.

Upon a visit my husband made to his dad’s house, he was gifted with some beautiful pieces of birch that had fallen along the paths that my father’n law frequented. He was not sure whether it would work for what I had envisioned, but felt it was worth picking up and carrying home. My husband told his dad that although he did not know what my plans were, he was pretty confident it included some of his help.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This piece fits nicely on a bookcase as one enters into our living room.  Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This piece fits nicely on a bookcase as one enters into our living room.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

He was correct. There are two gifts that he is working on for me, one which is completed, while the other gift item we are waiting a spell to see how the birch dries. After he completed these two gift items, there was plenty for him to  use his own creative mind to make some projects he felt I would enjoy during this season of holiday decorating.

So, with a little time to set-up, cut, and drill, these candle holders were made. I am thrilled to no end, appreciating his thoughtfulness in making me something out of nature he was sure I would enjoy. He chose to use the battery operated candles, so that I did not have to worry about making sure the candle did not burn too low, plus one would not want to put an actual burning candle in a piece of wood.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This log piece has five candles and my preference was to have it in my window sharing a more natural, flickering display. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This log piece has five candles and my preference was to have it in my window sharing a more natural, flickering display.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Using nature with added love, time and talent, a warm and inviting decor has been added to our home.  The only cost was the battery candle lights, that were purchased at a reduced price.

One can purchased fallen, cut birch at Michaels now.  My husband and I were surprised, yet we are grateful that we were able to do this with natural resources that we already have available to us. The battery tea lights can be found at a multiple of craft stores, but use your resources wisely, and take advantage of sales and coupons that your store might offer.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. Here I have the set sitting in our kitchen window. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
Here I have the set sitting in our kitchen window.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Outdoor Christmas Swag

Using greens from our backyard pine trees and other items already on hand to create a beautiful Holiday door decoration Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle

Using greens from our backyard pine trees and other items already on hand to create a beautiful Holiday door decoration
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle

Part of our Christmas decorating allowed me the luxury of making my own side door decoration. In the past I have used a wreath that I previously decorated and re-used each year, maybe changing the trims a little. This year I wanted something with live greens, yet still wanting to keep our expenses low, meaning that I was not planning on purchasing a wreath or new trims.

  • Holiday Frugality 101a: I never throw away trims that are in great condition from prior year decorations and gifts. I remove them and safely put them away for future decorating use.
  • Holiday Frugality 101b: I never buy new trims at full price, or even at 50% off sales. ¬†Sometimes one can acquire them at 75% off close to the holiday, but better deals can be found when they stores want to seriously make room and sell off items from 75% – 90% off the SRP.
  • Holiday Frugality 101c: If it is something I can do on my own, then why would I pay someone else to do the job? Plus, I love being creative.

As I was placing holiday potpourri, that I let soak in holiday scented oils throughout the year, both my husband and I thought a little greenery would set these little scented containers off quite nicely. Immediately i thought about our side door.

As we continued the decorating, I decided to go through my collection of wreath ornaments and trim. In that stash were blue and silver wreath ornaments, pine cones with bells from a prior year wreath, along with some blue and silver ribbon just waiting for a purpose to be used.

So, taking some of the greenery from our yard along with wreath ornaments and ribbon I already had on hand I made a decorative holiday sway for our side door. With a few minutes of my husbands time in cutting the pieces I used, some twine and time, I had a decorative piece that I was pleased and excited to place on our side door welcoming guests to our home.

This years decoration was minimal in price as the items came from nature, reused from prior year decorations, yet in pricing out what I did spend on the ornaments and ribbon in a prior year, the cost was just under $3.00.

Use what you have while adding a little love and creativity while you enjoy your holiday.  Christmas is not about how much you spend, but rather the joy and love you spread.

Merry Christmas, from my backdoor to you ūüôā

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Feeding the Hummingbirds

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds in flight - Photo by Laura D. Field

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds in flight – Photo by Laura D. Field

One of our favorite past-times that both my husband and I enjoy, is that of feeding the birds that frequent our home.  Over the last couple of years, we have discovered that the hummingbirds have found comfort in our backyard.

A variety of things that we have done in our yard has created a safe haven for these tiniest of birds.  We have planted plenty of flowers in areas that provide shade, shelter, water, food and security (a safe place to escape if needed).   In addition, we have varying trees that include honeysuckle, lilacs, low bush plants such as holly and a variety of plant height.

Plenty of space is provided so that they can hover and navigate the different flowers.  Among the flowers we have hummingbird feeders at different levels as well.  In addition, we have different height bird baths as well as a running water within a small pond.

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds in flight - Photo by Laura D. Field

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds in flight – Photo by Laura D. Field

Today as I was out taking pictures, they often came close in flight, allowing me to take some great photo’s of them. ¬†This was unusual, but then I realized that my fushia blouse might have been the cause of this attraction. ¬†Bright colors attract these amazing birds with them being mostly attracted to red, which is why you will see red on most hummingbird feeders. ¬†These bright colors help them find their food, as they do not have a good sense of smell.

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds enjoying the natural nectar of Bee Balm - Photo by Laura D. Field

Capturing one of our visiting hummingbirds enjoying the natural nectar of Bee Balm – Photo by Laura D. Field

Flowers that we have in our gardens include bee balm, columbine, daylilies, and lumpine.  We also observed that they were attracted to our red roses that I keep pruned, which was exciting to see.  Additional flowers that they are attracted to are foxgloves, hollyhocks and many other annuals with bright colored flowers such as petunias, impatiens and cleomes.

I do enjoy having the feeders available for the hummingbirds, but one must replace the feed every two weeks, in order to keep it from going bad.  There are products available that one can purchase with the red color, but we have found that it is much more affordable to make our own sugar water feed.

FrugalValueLifestyleHummingbirdFeed2

Ingredients: ¬†Water and sugar – that’s it!! ¬†It is not recommended to add red food coloring as it is not a healthy product for the hummingbirds or orioles. ¬†Yes, orioles are also attracted to this sugar water.

  • Hummingbirds: ¬†4:1 – water:sugar
  • Orioles: ¬†6:1 – water:sugar

NOTE:  Do NOT use honey!!!  Honey attracts bees and can grow black fungus that will cause a fatal liver and tongue disease in hummingbirds.

2 cups water: 1/2 cup sugar. Boil water then add and stir in sugar until clear. Cool before filling Hummingbird feeders.

2 cups water: 1/2 cup sugar.
Boil water then add and stir in sugar until clear.
Cool before filling Hummingbird feeders.

  • Boil 2 cups of water (we use the microwave)
  • Add 1/2 cup of regular sugar to the hot water, stir and mix until it is no longer cloudy.
  • While mix is cooling, throughly clean the feeders, removing all dirt and any mold.
  • After it has cooled to room temperature, stir again.
  • Pour into the feeders.
  • This mix fills two feeders. ¬†We do not fill the feeders to the top, but 1 cup provides plenty for each feeder.
  • Watch over the course of a month, changing every 1-2 weeks, to see how much is consumed. ¬†If you find that more than half is left in your container, consider reducing the amount you put in your feeder to save the cost of sugar.
  • Unused feed can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Frugal Value Lifestyle Hummingbird Nectar 4

We have been at our current home for 27 years, and one of the things we have enjoyed as the plants, trees and shrubs have filled in, is the comfortable space for our own enjoyment, but also that of the birds.  It is rewarding to hear the sounds of nature, abundantly making music as we step out into our backyard.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor