Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Nice Teaspoon

A week or two ago while working together to prepare dinner, my husband and I had a short conversation that made us laugh out loud then and continues to make me chuckle whenever I think about it. In fact, I believe the story of the nice teaspoon is destined to become one of my favorite family stories.

The story of the nice teaspoon is destined to become one of my favorite family stories. Here's what happened.

Setting: Our kitchen. Picture two silverware drawers, one on the side of our kitchen island near the stove (let's call it "drawer one") which holds what we call our two-dimensional silverware (a cheap set which gives literal meaning to the term "flatwear"), and the other on the opposite side of the island ("drawer two") which holds our nicer, heavier silverware.

The exchange went something like this:

Me: "I need an iced tea spoon."

He: "Okay," as he walked around the island from the drawer two side and opened drawer one.

Me: "No, I need an iced tea spoon."

He: "Oh-kay," as he grabbed a spoon from drawer one.

Me: "No, I need an iced tea spoon," as I impatiently headed towards drawer two to get it myself.

He: "You want a nicer teaspoon?" as he returned the spoon to drawer one and headed back to drawer two.

Me: "No, I want an iced tea spoon."

He: "What was wrong with the two-dimensional spoon?"

Me: "I need an iced tea spoon!"

He: "Just how nice of a spoon do you want?" sounding puzzled as he reached for a teaspoon from drawer two.

Me: "I told you, I need an iced tea spoon!" My voice got louder as I shook the iced tea spoon I  had grabbed from drawer two in front of his face.

He: "Oh, you wanted an iced tea spoon?"

Me: "That's what I've been telling you!"

He: "I thought you said you wanted a nice teaspoon!"

Me: "I just need a nice iced tea spoon."

About that time, we both realized the communication problem we were having and burst out laughing. He was positive I was asking for "a nice teaspoon." I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't just hand me "an iced tea spoon" since he had been standing next to drawer two in the first place. Why he chose a two-dimensional teaspoon from the opposite drawer I'm still not sure, but that's a confusing argument for another day.

I hope you're laughing, too, but maybe you had to be there. After it was over, we thought the conversation was hilarious and will surely tell and re-tell this family story until our memories fade. Hopefully our memories don't get any worse than our hearing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Time to Feed the Hummingbirds

Time to feed the hummingbirds. Here's what you need to know. | LifeInOut.com
It's only mid-March, but the weather here in the mid-South decided to warm up for spring break, so I decided to get ready for visitors. Hummingbird visitors, that is. Yes, it's time to feed the hummingbirds!

To make sure I wasn't rushing things, I turned to a very helpful online hummingbird migration map that shows sightings of the beloved and easily-recognized ruby-throated hummingbird. Sure enough, there are three sightings already mapped in our state this year with one not very far south of us. I would be so thrilled to have a dot on the map to represent a sighting that we make in our own yard! I fully believe that could happen over the coming week with the predicted calm weather pattern and high temperatures in the 80s and lows well above freezing. But first, I need to make a batch of hummingbird food and get a feeder filled.

This male ruby-throated hummingbird's bright red throat makes him easy to spot. | LifeInOut.com

Recipe for Hummingbird Food


I use a simple recipe of four parts water and one part sugar to offer to our birds. No color, no additives, just clean measuring cups and one of the pitchers that I dedicate to hummingbird food every summer.

Just boil the water, measure out 1/4 cup of sugar into the pitcher for each cup of water that you plan on using, then stir the hot water into the sugar until it's fully dissolved. During the summer when I make a large quantity at a time, I add just enough of the boiling water to dissolve the sugar then finish adding the proper amount of cool water so the mixture will cool down faster.

Fill your clean hummingbird feeders and put them out for the birds, then refrigerate the leftovers for up to a couple of weeks. If you have an active population of birds, you may need to refill the feeders daily.

Keeping Hummingbird Feeders Clean


When choosing a hummingbird feeder, consider what it will take to keep the feeder clean. My favorite feeders have wide openings and come apart and go back together easily. In the past I've chosen cute feeders with small openings that are almost too small to insert or maneuver a brush. I like to scrub my feeders really well so the birds will stay healthy, including scrubbing the inside, and that task is made nearly impossible with some designs.

The red feeder in the pictures here is the feeder that I use and prefer. It holds a good amount of food (32 ounces) and the bottom screws off and comes apart easily for easy cleaning access. It's not expensive and not fancy, but it gets the job done and keeps the birds well fed and happy. I see that this year's version of the feeder comes with a squared-off container that looks like it will be very easy to grip and still easy to clean. Likely I'll be ordering yet another feeder soon.

Keep hummingbird feeders clean by using hot water and a brush when it's time to refill the feeder. | LifeInOut.com
I'm going to start with just a small amount of food today to see what happens. If we don't see results in a few days, I'll put out more. Perhaps hanging the hummingbird feeder close to the seed feeder that has stayed active all winter might make it harder for the hummers to find, but we'll see. (I've never put both types of feeders out at the same time before, but I read on an online forum that it's perfectly fine to hang the two near each other.)

I'm really looking forward to our ruby-throated winged visitors. I'll be back, hopefully soon, to let you know they've arrived.

So tell me, is it time to feed the hummingbirds where you live? Do you enjoy watching and feeding birds? I'd love to read your comments, below.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Best Homemade Tub and Shower Cleaner Recipe

Best Bathroom Cleaning Tip Ever!


Here's the recipe for my favorite homemade tub and shower cleaner ever. Just 2 ingredients and it really works!
Everyone loves easy solutions when it comes to common house cleaning problems, right? That's why I'm so excited that I finally found the best homemade bathroom tub and shower cleaner, one that's easy to make and really does work. For me, this is the best bathroom cleaning tip ever!

While I've tried other combinations, most homemade cleaning solutions have been cumbersome (lots of measuring), tricky (baking soda and vinegar in the same spray bottle? uh, no), or called for ingredients that required more than just grabbing a bottle off the grocery store shelf. This solution really does work well to clean our tub, shower, and fixtures and likely it will work for you.

A Spray Bottle and Two Ingredients You Probably Already Have


To try it in your bathtub, you'll need a bottle of blue Dawn dish soap (any variety as long as it's blue Dawn), a bottle of ordinary white vinegar, and an empty spray bottle (see my tip on choosing a bottle below).

Combine the Dawn and the vinegar in the empty spray bottle using 1 cup of Dawn and 3 cups of vinegar (enough to fill a 32-ounce bottle) or 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of Dawn and 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) vinegar (to fill a 16-ounce bottle). Replace the spray top, shake gently to combine the ingredients, then spray the walls, floor, fixtures, and even the shower door track with the cleaner. Let the cleaner soak off the grime then run the shower or use a sprayer to rinse the surfaces.

If the tub is especially dirty, let the surfaces soak for a half-hour or more before rinsing. If the surfaces are super-grimy you might need to wipe things down with a sponge. But for maintenance and everyday cleaning, I just spray things down a few minutes before getting in the shower then let the cleaner work as I shower, making sure I've rinsed it all down before I get out. Caution: Be careful as the floor may be slippery!

Really, that's all there is to it to keeping your tub or shower nice and clean. The solution is inexpensive and the ingredients are readily available, easy to pick up while you're doing your grocery shopping. Add this simple spray-down to your daily or weekly chore list to help cut down on the time you spend on housework.

Don't waste your money on cheap spray bottles. Expect to pay around $3 for a good one.
*Tip: Buy a good spray bottle! I can't tell you how many cheap bottles I've had to throw away because they simply don't work. Look in the hardware section of Wal-Mart for a heavy-duty bottle. Expect to pay about $3 which isn't much more than you'll pay for the el-cheapo ones in the household cleaner department.

*Disclaimer and Cautions: Always use cleaning materials in a well-ventilated area. This homemade cleaner works beautifully and safely for me, but your mileage may vary. While vinegar and dish soap are generally safe on most surfaces, always test cleaning solutions in an inconspicious spot or check with the manufacturer of your tub, shower, or fixtures before use.

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 26th is National Dog Day

You can be sure these best friends will be celebrating National Dog Day today, August 26th, doing what they love best. Have you walked your dog today?


This is one of my favorite pictures. I see it every day, in person, when "Dad and Dog" take their evening walk. These two best friends can't get enough of each other. You can be sure they'll be celebrating National Dog Day today, August 26th, doing what they love best.

Have you walked your dog today?

#NationalDogDay

Photo © Susan Deppner/LifeInOut.com All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 21, 2016

New Nail Polish for Fall

To celebrate the change of season, I've selected a new nail polish for Fall. It's a dark red shade called "Haze of Love." Here's my review.
There's a different feeling in the air today and I like it. Despite the calendar still pointing to August, it feels much less like summer outside and far more like autumn. To celebrate, I decided to pick up a new bottle of nail polish for fall. In honor of the change of seasons, I removed the bright pink color from my toes and selected this gorgeous dark red for my fingernails. I love it!

The color is called "Haze of Love" and the brand is wet n wild's MegaLast®. It set me back a whole two dollars at Dollar General. Reason I got it, the bright pink polish that has adorned my toes for the last several weeks is the same brand, from the same place and I couldn't be happier with it.

Who says you have to spend a ton of money to get nice nail polish?

The pink polish ("My Little Peony" - cute, huh?) went on easily and stayed on my toenails really well, no chipping or peeling. I'm hoping the same will be true with the dark red. So far I've applied it to the fingernails of my left hand, and shortly I'll do the other hand and complete the look by painting my toenails, too.

Even when the weather warms up and feels like summer has returned (and it will; it always does) I'll probably stick with this shade for awhile. Or, if I get bored with it or simply decide to try something different around Halloween, or even Labor Day, I won't feel guilty at all about choosing an additional shade. At two bucks a pop, I can afford to change nail color frequently.

I'm no expert on nail polish or other beauty products, but I do know what I like. My friend Bonnie, aka Queen of the Girl Geeks, knows what she likes, too. In fact, she's been writing reviews of beauty products recently and, if you enjoy the topic, you really must check out her blog. It's fun to read and, even if you're not into nail polish, lip color, and bath bombs (I had no idea what that was until recently), you'll get a kick out of reading her beauty product reviews. If you're a geek, too, and especially if you're over 40, you'll probably end up reading every post.

Ready to invest in a new nail polish for fall? Let me know if you like "Haze of Love," too, or what other color you might choose.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's New to Me: Chicken Sweaters

Is a chicken sweater a novelty item for pet chickens or something savvy chicken owners crow about? Read on to find out!

I was perusing Etsy this morning and found the craziest product that I'll probably never need. Chicken sweaters!

Mind you, just because I'll probably never need a sweater for my chicken (because I don't own a chicken) doesn't make chicken sweaters weird. I mean, this could be the absolute best, most perfect, cutest, totally practical invention for chickens ever, something that any well-dressed clucker would rather go to the soup kettle than live without. It's just new to me because "dressing a chicken" is a phrase I thought belonged exclusively in the kitchen. Now I know better.

So, is this a novelty item for pet chickens or is it something that savvy chicken owners crow about? (Sorry.) I didn't really know, so I did some research.

Made to Order Crocheted Chicken Sweaters from CrochetItQuickAndSew on Etsy.
Jessica, one the artisans who crochets the chicken sweaters featured here (they're available in three sizes and your choice of a whole bunch of colors) says in her product description, "I love pictures of my chickens in their sweaters, it's fun!" I love the pictures, too, and had a lot of fun browsing through them again and again. (I think I'm getting addicted.) Based on the positive feedback from her customers, she sells a lot of these and people truly love them.

But, again, are they practical? Are they necessary? Do chickens really need sweaters? To find out for sure, I googled it (of course I did) and you know what I found? Dozens of pictures of chickens in sweaters! It was a virtual peep show! (Sorry again.) I also found Mother Nature Network and her answer to the burning question, "Does your chicken need a sweater?"

The answer in an eggshell nutshell: Yes! Well, maybe. Mother Nature says that many chicken owners claim that chicken sweaters actually do help keep their fowl warm during molting season, especially those chickens who lose most of their feathers at one time. The sweaters also help protect those chickens who are being severely pecked and injured by their barnyard bully companions. I was happy to learn that sweaters are often used for rescued battery hens, those birds that no longer lay enough eggs to earn their keep, often have scant feathers, and so are destined for slaughter. That was a very interesting fact that was also new to me.

Of course, the "just say no to chicken sweaters" crowd (they make some good points) declare that chickens have survived for centuries without sweaters and that most do just fine by ruffling what feathers they have and snuggling up in bunches to keep warm.

Chicken Sweater Crochet Pattern to download instantly from JasmineArtWorks on Etsy.
If you're a chicken owner then it will be up to you to decide whether any of your birds actually need a sweater. But if you're into fads, and taking pictures of chickens wearing sweaters certainly is one, then click this link for a huge selection of the most adorable crocheted and knitted chicken sweaters you'll ever see. Prefer to make your own? Here's an easy crocheted chicken sweater pattern with an instant download so you can get busy right away making sweaters yourself to properly dress your own flock.

So tell me, are chicken sweaters new to you? Does your chicken wear a sweater? Would it if you had a chicken? I'd really like to know!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Patriotic Printables for the 4th of July

4th of July Banner from thelovelyapple on Etsy, from LifeInOut.com
4th of July Banner from Thelovelyapple on Etsy
I've become enamored with printable greeting cards from Etsy. I love these, especially when I need a card at the last minute (I tend to procrastinate). Well, there's more than just greeting cards available to help when a holiday or special occasion sneaks up on you. For instance, check out these patriotic printables and cute decor, instant downloads, perfect DIY for the 4th of July!

If you're in need of party decor, consider this gorgeous red, white, and blue printable banner, pictured above. It's easy to print, cut, and display using card stock (pick up a pack at Walmart) and twine or ribbon. What drew me to this banner were the stripes, plaids, and dots that make up the designs for each letter and the stars that go in between the words. This will go together quickly and make a beautiful way to greet your guests no matter where you hang it.

4th of July Photo Booth Props Printable by TheQuirkyQuail on Etsy, from LifeInOut.com
4th of July Photo Booth Props Printable
 by TheQuirkyQuail on Etsy
Having a photo booth at your party? Everyone loves photo booths, especially when the host provides fun props. Take a look at these 4th of July Photo Booth Props, printables designed by TheQuirkyQuail on Etsy. With this very inexpensive set of printable files, a few sheets of card stock, a pair of scissors, tape, and straws or skewers, you'll have the perfect activity for your Independence Day party guests. So, who wants to be Uncle Sam? How about the Statue of Liberty (my personal favorite)? These red, white, and blue designs are fabulous!

4th of July Cupcake Toppers by PaperPlaceRD on Etsy | LifeInOut.com
4th of July Cupcake Toppers
by PaperPlaceRD on Etsy
Cupcakes, anyone? Turn a simple white on white cupcake into a special occasion dessert with these cute, printable, patriotic cupcake toppers. Last minute? No problem! Print out this set of six different designs as many times as you need to, cut out each topper, tape or hot glue them to sucker sticks, and let everyone choose their favorite designer cupcake for dessert. (I like the gold cupcake liners used in this picture; remember to pick those up, too, when you buy your cake mix.)

"I'm on a budget. How much do these printable files cost?"


Another thing I like is that the downloadable, printable files that I've shown you here won't break your holiday party budget. They range in price from about $3 to less than $7 so they're very affordable. What you actually buy on Etsy is the downloadable file (usually PDF or JPG) which you can re-use (for personal use only) as often as you like. Save them on your computer to use again next year or whenever the next patriotic occasion sneaks up on you!

"I love these patriotic printables! Give me more!"


Happy to oblige! There are hundreds more patriotic printables to choose for your party or special holiday event, including party invitations for those of you who are organized enough to plan ahead, (I hope you don't procrastinate like I do.) Use this link to browse, and have fun!  

P.S. Like what you've learned? Please pin it! 

Patriotic Printables for the 4th of July from LifeInOut.com