Look at what Royce made for me!

Royce is a neighbor from a few streets over in our RV park.  He is an avid gardener and loves to build birdhouses.  Well, let me tell you he did a much appreciated gift of kindness for me the other day.

Look what Royce did for me!

I know the photo is a little fuzzy and I am sorry about that.  Royce installed the beam between the two trees and hung up the georgious spider plant that he grew himself.  To top it off, at my suggestion, he also hung up the birdhouse next to the plant.  Royce has made many birdhouses and has several around his yard.  Fortunately for folks like me, he likes to share his birdhouses and plants with others.

More people than not have a favorite hobby.  You know, your grandmother that loves to crochet.  Your husband, brother or son that loves to build things.  Most of us take their talents for granted.  Wrong!  When you support their creativity, it makes them feel good.  And we all want to feel good about ourselves don’t we.

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening.  That’s why I appreciated Royce’s gift so much.  I could never have done what he did.  Could you?

Because the Monarch butterfly populations are declining, we need to step up to the plate to help them increase their numbers while they are in the United States.  I regularly plant and harvest the seeds from milkweed plants to share with others.  Did I do this five years ago?  No.  Now, I subscribe online to http://monarchjointventure.org and http://monarchwatch.org.  These are free subscriptions that I feel you may enjoy reading.  Believe me–once you start learning more about Monarchs, you will view your world differently.

Please send me your name and address and I will be glad to drop a packet of yellow/orange milkweed seeds to you.  You can reach me at ksbills21@gmail.com.

Wouldn’t you know it.  I simply cannot figure out how to upload a photo of a beautiful milkweed plant from my garden!

Thanks for dropping by.  Kathleen

 

First it’s Cold Outside — Then it’s Hot Outside

First the weather is cold — then it gets hot.  What is a girl to do?

The other morning, when I got up to go on a bird walk, it was in the 40s and by the time we finished it was in the high 70s.  No wonder people constantly catch colds and the flu.

I have to say our Audubon walk was very enjoyable because the cloudless sky was crystal blue and plenty of birds caught our eye.  Learning to recognize birds and their calls has been so interesting!  You may want to go to http://www.freshfromflorida.com and the search for Indian Lake State Forest, which is where we went.  Because of the drought we have experienced for the past few years, the lake was not as deep as it should have been.  But, Mr. Gator was right in the middle of the water!  We could see his dark nose, tip and all.  They say that if there is water in Florida, you can bet the gators are either in it or near by.

The plants in the yard are coming right along, though something has eaten my white, fragrant, climbing rose to the nub.  I rinsed it off with Dawn dish soap and water, but I doubt that it will make it.  My red, climbing, Don Juan rose has finally taken off.  It has a bud on it that I am excited to see and smell.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you catch something in full bloom, like the Spanish Bayonet on the corner of the house.  I could kick myself because I took the photo of it on my iPhone and did not send it over to my iPad, where I am typing this post!

Okay.  I checked out this book from the library, “My iPhone for Seniors”, by Brad Miser.  IBSN-13:  978-0-7897-5817-0 or ISBN-10:  0-7897-5817-2.

As you can guess, I need to read it from cover to cover.

Years ago, I bought a small note pad that had “Never tire of doing what is right”, printed in light blue letters across the top of each page.  It comes from 2 Thess 3:13 ISV.  That verse got drummed into my head and to this day, I think twice before doing something that is not right.  It catches me in big and small life choices too.

Thanks for dropping by.   Kathleen 

 

 

 

You can now subscribe to My Home Place

Look at the upper right corner of this post and note the sign up form.  It has taken a lot of research and failures to get to this point.

You are the reason for this publication.

It is important for people to have the ability to connect with others.  Blogs create a platform to do just that.  It is your own private space, where you can explore the world around you.

Before reading blogs, I turned to magazines for information and inspiration. Today, I don’t read magazines very often, rather I read them online.  It is the same for newspapers.

Pinterest is one of the most fascinating inventions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link provided http://www.pinterest.com.  Once there, you will have an opportunity to select topics of interest.  Once that is done, keep an eye out for Pinterest emails that are sent directly to your email address.  It is like being a kid in a candy store–with money in your pocket!

Those of you who have long since been using Pinterest know its value.  You probably chose your favorite recipes, learned how to build a deck, discovered the latest book by your favorite author and the list goes on and on.

I have just downloaded the app Shop Savvy http://www.shopsavvy.com that lets you scan barcodes while shopping.  For the immediate future, I will take my iPad with me, because I haven’t downloaded it to my iPhone.  You guessed it.  I forgot my iCloud password.

Mobile tablets and phones have pushed ones learning curve way out there.  At first, acquiring this new knowledge can be daunting.  Be patient with yourself while you build your new skill set.  I attended a free class at BestBuy on how to use an iPad.  The same thing applies to any computer– desk top or lap top.  Most libraries offer free classes once a week.

Thanks for dropping by.   Kathleen 

Finally, it is raining!

Here in north central Florida, we have been without rain for what seems like ages.  During the winter months, we do not get a lot of rain and had even less than usual this winter.  According to my weather map, this is just going to be a short shower–it has already stopped.

I have had to water the flower beds morning and evening.  If I miss a watering, the plants look very droopy.

Yesterday, I met Debbie after I put my groceries from Save a Lot in the car.  I try to park next to her mobile home, so I can check out her garden.  I saw legs moving and yelled, “Hello”.  Sure enough, she came out from the shadows of her patio.  Oh!  Her garden was lovely.  It was so nice to meet another true gardener.  During our visit, she gave me a Queen of the Night (pot included). It is not an attractive plant, kind of a like a cactus–dry and lanky, with long green spears or leaves.  The good news is that it has a wonderful fragrance emitting from large, white blooms that ONLY open at night.  The minute the sun hits the blossoms, they dry up and fall off.  Very much like a day lily.  I repotted it in a square, white planter this afternoon and put the white planter on a blue, upturned five gallon bucket.  To add a little zing, I put clear, pearlized marbles on the top of the soil.  Now, it is nestled in front of a wooden lattice, so it can get afternoon light.  This is the first time I have ever seen this plant, let alone grown one.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it grows, blooms and is loved by all in the neighborhood.

Those of you that live north of Florida should be seeing all your favorite birds now.  Our birding season is about gone.  I still see Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Yellow Finches, Carolina Chickadees at the feeder out on the patio.  I get my seed at WalMart in the trial size, so it fits in the refrigerator.  Because we have so many bugs and ants, I also keep the bird feeders in there too.  You got it–there’s not too much room for food, but I manage.

I am a member of National Audubon http://www.audubon.com.  You may already be a member or have an interest, so click on the above link should you want more information.  You pay to become a member of National Audubon and receive one free local Audubon chapter membership.  Mother’s Day is right around the corner and your mother may welcome a gift membership.  I have the eBird app on my iPad and have learned so much from using it.  I also downloaded the Audubon Birds app and it really is fantastic.  You may also want to check out the app iBird.  As you can see, Smart Phones and tablets bring a whole new picture to the hobby of birding.    Out of all the paperback birding books, I chose the, “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America”.  It is easy to find the bird you are interested in and fits inside a birding vest or jacket.  I ordered mine from http://www.abe.com.  They only sell used books.  I have ordered books of all types from them.  Another good place to check out inexpensive bird books is your local thrift store or a Friends of the Library shop.  Often, I will check out a book from the library and if I want a copy then I order it online.

Because I still do not have an email list, you are welcome to contact me at ksbills21@gmail.com.  It would be wonderful to hear from you!

Thanks for dropping by the home place.   Kathleen 

 

Cook Something Delicious in Your Kitchen

Go in the kitchen and cook something delicious for yourself, family or friends today.

I am new to using a slow cooker and chose to buy a Crock Pot 4 1/2 quart size because there is only myself to cook for.

Crock Pot

Crock Pot Slow Cooker

I found this vegetable soup recipe in my stash of magazine clippings that I have had for years.  The original recipe was in Family Circle, March 2012.  Because my Crock Pot is smaller, I had to adjust the recipe in the magazine.

Vegetable Soup

  • 4 medium carrots–peeled and chopped, 3 medium boiling potatoes–peeled and chopped, 1 medium onion–peeled and chopped, 1can diced tomatoes, 1 medium zucchini–chopped, 8 cups water (salt and pepper to taste), 1can cannelloni beans (drained and rinsed thoroughly), a couple of handfuls of elbow pasta.
  • Put the carrots, potatoes, onion, zucchini and water in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.  Add the pasta and cook for another 30 minutes.

Veteran cooks feel free to add your own take on this flavorful soup, that is great to have on hand year round.  It freezes well in small containers for one or two servings.

Pork Chops

Because I could not get a good photo of my friend Cay’s pork chop recipe, I decided to write it out for you.  My guess is that you already know many variations on this simply delicious, fail safe recipe.

  • 1 package pork chops, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix.
  • In Crock Pot layer pork chops, add the cream of chicken soup, then sprinkle dry ranch dressing all over.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
  • The gravy tastes great over potatoes or rice, plus there is enough to save for leftovers.

Blackberry Cobbler baked in the oven, not in slow cooker

This is from another magazine clipping.  This is an easy and delicious desert. The flavor of the blackberries simply explodes on your taste buds.

  • 1 small bag of frozen blackberries, 1 cup Florida Organic sugar, 1 cup organic flour, 1 cup whole milk, 2 tsp Rumford Aluminum-Free Baking Powder, 1/2 tsp Real Salt Sea Salt (Fine Salt), 2 sticks unsalted butter (melted), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Do not grease baking pan.
  • Stir together blackberries and sugar (let stand for 25 minutes).
  • Mix flour, milk and melted butter in a medium size bowl until very well blended.
  • Spread batter in 8-inch square pan.  Spoon blackberry mixture over the batter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Take a few minutes to thumb through your old magazine and newspaper recipe clippings.  Recall the fond memories of those handwritten ones too.  We have to eat to live and it is always a delight for everyone when they sit down to a good home cooked meal.

Thanks for dropping by.  Kathleen 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at these beautiful orchids!

Take a look at these beautiful orchids!  These beauties are sure to make you want to go out and buy one.  I know you will find a spot for it in your home.

Fushia orchid

Fushia orchid

Orchids can be a challenge to grow, but my sister seems to have it down pat.  She explained that no fuss is given to them.  Notice that they are planted in different types and sizes of pots and bark is her potting medium of choice.

Neither of us really know the names of the varieties–we just enjoy them.

Would you believe that every orchid was either given to her or found in the laundry room in the building?  The Keys are swamped with tourists every winter and of course some orchids have to be left somewhere and the laundry seems to be a perfect drop off site.

She has a great variety don’t you agree?  I feel looking at these lovely plants lifts ones spirits after a long, hard winter.  Folks in the northeast sure had their share of snow lately.

Sis seems to have a great camera eye.  These were all taken with her iPhone 6.  She says it’s easy.  I am not quit so good with my iPhone, but maybe there is hope for me.

These two shots are of the same plant.

If you are ever in Sarasota, Florida, be sure to visit Shelby Gardens.  They only grow and sell orchids.  I can well remember my visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in London, England.  While there, I looked up and to my right and saw the most fantastic display of a solid wall of nothing but orchids.  It was breathtaking!

I don’t know how she does it.  I dearly love it when she sends me a shot of one of her latest blooms.

If you want more info on orchids, do a search on orchids in your browser.  I feel sure that the Orchid Society will appear.  Go ahead and join!  I know you will learn a great deal about these beautiful plants, plus you will make new friends along the way.

Thanks for dropping by.   Kathleen 

My Emergency Fund Saved the Day for me at the Dentist

My emergency fund saved the day when I was at the dentist the other day. Their bill was due before I could get my teeth cleaned.

Emergency fund jar

Emergency Jar

See that Atlas E – Z Seal antique, glass canning jar?  It is the foundation of my emergency fund.  The money goes from there into my savings account.

I realized I never seemed to save any money.  One day I removed my coin purse from my handbag and emptied all the coins into the jar.  Then I started putting any change into the right pocket of either my jacket, skirt, slacks, or shorts.  I don’t know when or where I got the jar, but I decided to put it on the coffee table.  Everything changed for the better from that moment on!

I loved the clear glass and that I could see the money at the bottom of the jar.  I deliberately placed it on the coffee table where, I would be forced to look at it every day.  The jar got heavier and heavier with the sound of ching, ching as I plunked in coins.  Most piggy banks are solid and you can’t see the money inside.  Not this one.

My bank, has a plan where you can open a savings account for $5 and they will pay you $25 for opening the savings account.  Plus, when you refer a friend and they open a savings account with a $5 deposit, they get $25 for opening the account and you do too, because you referred them.  Talk with your bank and see if they offer a similar plan.  This savings account, which began with just $25, was the beginning of my TRUE emergency fund.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to open a savings account and start depositing all of your change in it.  Don’t forget the Mason jar.

Most people do not have $2000 or even $1000 extra in the bank.  That includes under a mattress.  How do some people always seem to have money while the rest of us don’t?  If you looked closely, you would realize they have a low debt ratio to their income.  Money is a finite resource.  Yes, there is gold and silver and the Treasury seems to print out money every day.  But really, money is a limited resource.  You only bring in so much in your pay check and you have to make it cover the mortgage or rent, food, car payments, clothing, medical expenses etc.

One  of the best things you can do for yourself besides creating an emergency fund is to ask yourself, “Do I really need it?”  We know that you want it, but can you live without it?  If you can–you just saved yourself some cold cash.  When you are out and about and you see a volume discount for an item, before you buy it, remind yourself to ONLY buy what you need.  Sure you need toilet paper, but how many rolls do you actually need?  Then too, where would you store 30 rolls of toilet tissue?

You know all those bills piled up on the table or desk that make you literally sick at the sight of them?  Call the companies, one at a time, and try to arrange for a smaller monthly payment.  They want to work with you and are waiting to hear from you.  That goes for credit cards too.  I honestly don’t know which of your bills you should pay off first.  I am hard at work trying to clear up my bills too!  One thing that I try not to do is use my VISA credit card.  Another thing I have done, is when I pay off one small bill, I take that extra money and increase the monthly payments on another bill.  Also, with some of the extra cash, I increase the amount of my second emergency fund’s monthly deposits by ONLY a couple of dollars.  That way I don’t miss the money, while adding to my other savings account.

It always feels wonderful to see a monthly bill vanish!  Poof gone!

Thanks for dropping by.  Kathleen 

 

 

 

 

 

Inserting a Picture

Red whit blue heart

Heart

The above graphic was chosen and inserted from the media file.

Beach pilings birds

Beach w pilings birds

This photo is one I took with my iPad last year.  I read about how to insert photos into a blog and at least have come this far.  Now, all I have to do is learn how to move the photos on my iPhone over to my iPad, so I can insert recent photos into my latest posts.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.     Kathleen 

Beach Day! Yahoo!

Yesterday morning, I didn’t leave the house for the beach until about 10ish, but that did not slow me down.  That is until I hit the traffic log of all those attending the Strawberry Festival in Barberville!  At first I thought perhaps there had been an accident, but then I noticed that sometimes no traffic was coming down the opposite side of the road.  Hmm.  Not only that–bikers were everywhere!  I got it.  It was also biker week in Florida.  So, I decided to simply enjoy a slow drive east–to the beach.  It literally took me a couple of hours to get there, where as on most days it takes less than an hour.

At Ormond Beach, it was a sunny, cloudless day, with temps in the mid 70s and a nice sea breeze.  Though the bikers were out in force with all their loud vroom, vrooms, sudden stops and starts, everbody seemed to be in a good mood.  Why not?  It was a perfect spring day to be enjoyed by all.

A group of us made a mad dash across A1A and we all hit the beach.  Ah, the view was fantastic, invigorating salty air, and the bleached white sands were warm and squishy under foot.  The tide was on its way out, so shells were literally at my feet.  The ocean was dressed in a georgious array of blues and greens with just enough soft, foamy waves for an breathtaking view.  There were no swimmers in the water (still too cold), nor did I see a life guard stationed on his orange perch nearby.  We had the beach mostly to ourselves, with very few shore birds on the uncrowned beach.  My main haul for the afternoon was small, white scallop shells.  I dropped the gathered shells into a plastic bag I had brought along for that purpose.  I do not bleach shells that I take home, rather simply let nature’s rains wash them off.

By late afternoon, I headed west towards home.  I realized that I was starving and needed something to eat–fast.  Ah, yes!  I stopped off at the Strawberry Festival for my favorite strawberry shortcake.  Whew!  I got the last one too and it was absolutely delicious.  Those Plant City strawberrys can’t be beat.

Thanks for dropping by.  Kathleen 

 

 

Start the day right

A coworker and I were discussing how easy it was to start the day right by making the bed every morning. I was not a believer until we broke it down to the process and time necessary to do it.  A five minute investment would change my day.

I forced myself to start making up the bed.  It simply would not do, according to her instructions, to just pull the covers up over the pillow.  The spread was to be tucked in under the pillows, corners squared, and no dirty socks lurking out from under the bed.

The sheets needed to be changed once a week.  I had long since had that under control.  But, then arose the topic of cotton versus cotton blends for the sheets.  Admittedly, I have always preferred 100 percent cotton for bed linens and clothing.  I just did not realize how important it was to improving comfort to sleep on cotton sheets.  The mattress cover came next.  I simply could not remember ever sleeping on a mattress cover as a child.  I bought a plastic mattress cover for the mattress itself (to ward off bed bugs and dust mites) with a cotton cover going over it (to help keep the mattress cool).  Did I mention pillow covers?  Yes, they were needed too.

You choose the type of fabric, pricing, and colors for your special space.  After all, it is your bed.

Recently, after years of dutifully making my bed, I decided to buy a memory foam mattress.  What?  I ordered it online.  The large, heavy box was plopped on the floor upon its arrival.  I struggled to open it and then the magic began.  Once laid out, the mattress began to take shape.  Hmm.  “This different”, I thought to myself. That purchase was one of the wisest I have ever made!

Linda Littlefield, thank for helping me improve the quality of a good nights rest and for showing me how to start the day right!

Thanks for dropping by.      Kathleen