Saturday, April 6, 2013

Contrast in Springs

This was one year ago this week-April 8-15, 2012.  It was a beautiful warm spring in Wisconsin.

Turtles sunning themselves

Korean Spice Viburnum

Construction almost complete on screen porch

Wood Violets

Jack in the Pulpit

This is the week of April 6, 2013.  Snow in the morning.  This is probably more typical, but we were spoiled last year. 

Strange dog on the trail camera in the morning snow

Plants barely showing

Bushes just starting to get green

Irises just starting to come up

There is nothing more to say.  Hopefully in a month or so we can catch up.  We are all so ready for

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cash Back Shopping

I love shopping online.  I love the way you can search for items and compare prices without having to drive all over.  I live far away from major stores so this is appealing to me.  You can also read reviews about the product to see how others rate it.  Even for those uncomfortable with actual online purchasing, the computer is a perfect place to do all the preliminary work.  Then when you go into the store, you will know if the price is comparable and know the model you want.  Some stores let you order online and then you can pick up or return to the store.  It is a free service and is a good option.  I am looking for a bedspread but that is something I am hesitant to order online.  I want to see and feel it.  There are some online stores that will pay for return shipping otherwise any money saved will be used up by paying for return shipping.  This is where picking up and returning to the store would be an option. There are also a lot of other things to be aware of.  There are usually shipping costs that are some times more than the product itself.  Because of this I never order without a deal and most of the time free or discounted shipping codes.  I do feel sorry for small business owners who have people come in, look at and try out the product and then go online to order.  However, most of us want to get the best deal we can. 

The place I use most for this is  Ebates has a website that you sign up with.  Then when you find something you want to order, log into ebates and see what deals are available for that particular store.  Almost always there will be a percentage off rebate and/or free shipping offers.  Once you are logged into ebates and order from there, you will automatically get the rebate credited to you.  Then every three months you will either get a check in the mail or the amount credited to your account.  Which ever you choose to do.

Another place I use is  It works much the same way as ebates but sometimes one or other have better deals.  I am always amazed at magazine offers.  Sometimes you can get 25% back on a magazine offer.  Just be careful you you aren't signing up for automatic renewal.  If you do, make a note to cancel before the time period is up.  Mrrebates only sends a check when the rebate amount is over $20 but then they will send a check or deposit it into your paypal account. 

 For those who don't use paypal, it is the best and safest way to buy online.  You set up a secure account with paypal and from there you can send money or receive money without having to write a check or enter any credit card information.  I will always pay with paypal if I can.

There are many other places to get deals such as or just search for free shipping for whatever store you are using.  Ebates and Mr rebates are my favorites and I have had good luck with them.

Bottom line is my motto:


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bedroom Remodel

Last December 29, 2012, I blogged about winter projects that we were doing (Getting Through the Winter).  We finished with the bedroom remodel a couple weeks ago.  I said I would post the final project, so here it is.   I still need curtains and that's about it.  I have purchased several and I have taken them back.  The window is such a strange size, I think I will have to look for fabric and make some.  I usually make them anyway because it's hard to find the right style and color for a particular situation.  When we did the kitchen I had to make the curtains also.  This is how they turned out.  I just measured how long I want the sides to be and the middle distance.  Then I just drew a line.  I hemmed the top and sewed bias tape on the bottom.  It cost a fraction of the premade curtains.

This is the before photo of the bedroom.  This room had a dropped ceiling and white paneling as I described in the previous post.  I didn't take an original photo.  This is the room after it was dry walled and taped.

Now it is finished.  Besides the curtains, I need to hang pictures and do some finishing. As you can see the window is small 27" by 45".  The only curtains that would fit are kitchen curtains and they usually have ruffles and patterns.  I will know when I find the right ones (hopefully). 

We got this bedroom set from my husband's mother.  It is beautiful walnut with marble tops.  It really doesn't match the style of our house now, but it is pretty.  It had twin beds, so we pushed them together, tied the legs together, put a foam connection in the seam and topped it with a king sized memory foam topper over everything.  It's actually pretty comfortable.  The photo doesn't show how big the bed actually is. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Granola Recipe

My Tuesday recipe is going to be Granola.  Back in the early 1970's I got this recipe from a long time family friend.  I have known Wendy for more than 50 years.  She was my sister's best friend when they were little.  Our children are nearly the same age and we went through the organic gardening and healthy eating phase together.  Actually we are still trying.  This is the original recipe.  It's in pretty bad shape but still readable.  Here is the translation.


Preheat oven to 225 degrees

3 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 1/2 cups dry unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ or soy grits
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup slivered almonds

In a large mixing bowl combine oats, coconut, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.  Toss ingredients together. I left out the wheat germ.
Combine honey, oil and water and add to dry ingredients.  Mix until crumbly and spread in a large shallow baking pan.  Place in oven for 1 1/2 hours, stir often (it says every 15 min. but I don't do it that often)  Add the almonds and continue to bake for another half hour or until the granola is light brown.  Turn the oven off and allow the cereal to cool in the oven.  You can add raisins or craisins if you like them.  Store in a cool dry place.

Apparently you can make Granola Bars by mixing two cups of the cereal and two well beaten eggs. Then spread on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, pressing firmly.  Bake for 20 minutes, cut into bars but allow to cool before breaking apart.  I have never done this but I may try some day.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Wisconsin Wildlife Phenology Calendar

A few days ago I called a friend of ours who lives in Stoughton, WI.  My sister's brother in law had passed away and I called to tell my friends details of the funeral arrangements that had been made.  We attended that funeral today and it was very sad and so hard to see the family struggling with losing such an important person to them.  He was only sixty years old and left behind five children age 21 and under and also two brothers and two sisters.  We only hope they heal and are left with only good memories.

During the conversation with our friends we began to discuss nature and the return of different birds, ducks and animals after a long Winter.  I have blogged about many of these, but I never knew of a calendar that was available from the University of Wisconsin Extension office.  It is so interesting.  The calendar is called Wisconsin Wildlife Phenology.  "Phenology is the study of periodic life-cycle events in nature that are influenced by climate and seasonal change: wildlife emerging from hibernation, birds nesting or migrating, flowers blooming."  Many of the facts are based on data collected by Aldo Leopold and his daughter Nina.  Even though the information is based on Southern Wisconsin, they give a formula to determine when an event will occur in different areas.  We will see how accurate it is.  Today it says that the Belted Kingfisher is due to arrive and that trees are susceptible to Oak Wilt until it freezes hard again.  By the way, we have lost many many oak trees to the wilt.  Hopefully we won't lose anymore.  The calendar also has beautiful photos and a lot of very interesting information.  I am so grateful that I learned about it.  This calendar has been published every year for the last ten years, but this is new to me.

Any one interested in nature, this would be a perfect calendar.  I ordered it online from

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Keeping Humidifiers Fresh Smelling

 Our $5 garage sale purchase.

Winter is almost over and I forgot to write about one of the most important helpful hints of Winter.  It is a humidifier for those of us who heat our homes from October until April.  We have pellet and wood stoves which I blogged about earlier (Pellets or Wood - Another Source of Heat) posted on 1-11-13.    By using this type of heat or any furnace for that matter, the household air becomes very dry.  The dry air causes a lot of static electricity so everything you touch gives a person a small shock.  It also dries out the nasal passages and causes nosebleeds and coughs.  People in our climate should run humidifiers to maintain some moisture in the air.  The strange part about that is when Spring and Summer arrive, then we need dehumidifiers to remove the excess moisture.  If we don't the carpets, bedding and even our pets tend to smell a bit musty.  It is a constant struggle to maintain the proper humidity in Wisconsin.

The biggest problem with humidifiers is to keep the water fresh so the humidified air smells fresh and doesn't distribute spores which can cause allergies and even more problems than dry air.  A couple years ago we bought a larger sized humidifier at a garage sale.  We only paid $5 but it didn't have a filter.  Luckily the filters were still available and we pick up a few when our local Menards home improvement center has their 11% rebate sale.  That reminds me, I have to send that rebate in today.  Anyway, we learned the hard way that if you don't clean the reservoir completely and add something to the water, your air smells as if you have many cats even if you have none.  There are bottles of freshener that you can buy but that gets costly and there is no reason to buy it.  I have found that if you put two Tablespoons of baking soda into every gallon of water, the air smells fresh.  I also put in 1/4 cup of lemon juice which adds a lemony smell.  The lemon juice and baking soda serve another purpose.  It keeps the lime deposits under control and not as much cleaning is required.  Another little helpful hint is that I place the humidifier on one of those plastic or rubber trays for putting wet boots on.  In case of overfilling or leakage, the water doesn't get on the floor.