Quick Dinner Cleanup Checklist

Keep the refrigerator clear. A crowded refrigerator is an invitation to spills from things knocked over as you rifle through it before dinner. Related: The Ultimate Refrigerator Makeover

Cover the counter. To limit the mess when preparing meat, chicken, or fish, consider lining countertops with butcher paper (buy it from your supermarket meat department), then fold it up with the scraps and toss it when you’re done.

Fill the sink with hot, soapy water. As you work, drop in the tools and dishes you’ve used and let soak. (Put knives in a tall glass or other container so you don’t risk cutting yourself later.) When it’s time to straighten up, a quick drain and rinse often does the trick.

Clean up in stages. Keep a bowl beside your cutting board to toss scraps into as you work, containing the mess instead of spreading it over the counter. When you’re done, empty it, clear away any dishes you’ve used for pre -prep, and put away ingredients you don’t need before you begin to cook. Do a similar deck clearing at each stage, if you can, to make working easier and buildup lighter. Related: 24 Smart Kitchen Organizing Ideas

Cook cleanly. Line baking and roasting pans with foil or parchment paper to save scrubbing later. Slip a piece of foil or parchment between a pot’s rim and the lid to keep the lid spotless. Coat measuring cups and spoons with nonstick spray so sticky ingredients, like peanut butter, molasses, and honey, slide right out and the cups and spoons clean up easily.

Wear your towel. Tuck a towel into the waistband of your apron to wipe up small spills, which in turn won’t sit around becoming sticky blobs that need scrubbing later. Related: 9 Adorable Dish Towels

Use your downtime. While the water is boiling, the oven is heating, or onions are softening in the pan, you can be doing small-dose cleaning: Load the dishwasher to clear the sink; wipe up that spill; sweep the kitchen floor.

Set and bus your table like a pro. Use a rolling cart—whether wicker, wood, or a little red wagon—to carry dishes and silverware to the table, then clear it of dirty dishes, in one trip each way.

Clear the clutter. After dinner, gather the odds and ends from the rest of the house that have found their way onto the kitchen counters, the top of the refrigerator, or the floor, then put them all in a basket and have a helper find their homes.

Run the dishwasher before bed. Placing similar items together in the machine means you’ll make fewer trips around the room to empty it.

Working for the Weekend: Invite Hummingbirds to Nest!

Good news, hummingbird lovers! JourneyNorth.org’s migration maps indicate that Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds have now been spotted throughout the Southeast and as far north as Canada. If you don’t have your feeders out, May is the time!
  More than that, though, why not make this the year you invite these little charmers to build a nest in your own yard? Here’s how:

Temperatures Count: Hummingbirds can only nest where the eggs can remain at temperatures below 96 degrees. Because of this, they’ll frequently choose shady areas. They often choose broad-leaved trees where the evaporative qualities of the leaves make the temperature up to 6 degrees cooler.

Takeaway Tip: Those in higher altitudes where temperatures remain cooler can expect to see more nesting hummingbirds. Those in Florida and the Deep South – I’m sorry to say that hummingbirds generally don’t nest in our area.

Hummers Need Shelter: Hummingbird eggs are so very small that they are easily blown around by the wind. For this reason, nests must be located where they’ll be protected from gusts.

Takeaway Tip: Plant broad-leaved trees like maples and oaks to provide the habitat hummingbirds need to nest.

Spiderwebs? Yes, Spiderwebs! The tiny hummingbird nests (often no more than an inch or two wide) are often built from a base of spiderwebs. Their sticky nature allows the birds to shape the bowl that they’ll cover with seeds, pieces of bark, and other materials to camouflage the nest among the branches.

Takeaway Tip: Leave the spiderwebs in your yard! Spiders are beneficial in a garden anyway, and once they’ve abandoned a web, you can leave it up during hummingbird nesting season to help the birds out.

Downy Soft: Hummingbirds line the insides of the their nests with soft materials like moss, leaves, and cotton. The small eggs are only half an inch in diameter and need all the protection they can get. It takes hummingbirds about a week to build a nest, and they will frequently steal from other hummingbirds nearby.

Takeaway Tip: Offer soft nesting materials like cotton and dryer lint to encourage hummingbirds to nest. An easy solution is the Hummer Helper Cage filled with nesting materials.

I’m sure it goes without saying that hummingbird parents will only build where they have a steady source of food, so be sure you’re offering a garden full of hummingbird nectar plants or hummingbird feeders that are cleaned and filled regularly. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see nesters your first year – the nests are tiny and very hard to spot, but they may be there all the same. Click here to read one Birds and Blooms reader’s experience with these elusive nests if you need some encouragement.

Do you have nesting hummingbirds in your yard? Tell us about your experiences and offer tips to others in the comments section below!

Every Thursday, the Working for the Weekend segment highlights a project or job for Southeastern gardeners to tackle in the weekend ahead. Know of a project you’d like to see featured here, or a garden chore you’d like some help with? Make your suggestions in the comments section below.

New Planning in the New Year of 2013

Oh, …. ! I am so excited!! As you know, the hubbs and I have been “moving day in and day out”, because the hubbs has a funky schedule, he can’t do it for just a few days straight. So when we do get an entire day to move, we borrow my dad, his truck & trailer, and get as many loads as humanly possible, that day allows for.
  Well, this Wednesday, we are renting a 26′ box truck, and getting the rest of our belongings OUT! I am sick and tired of moving all of this stuff!! We are selling our micro suede couch, because we just don’t have room for it. Its a 3 piece sectional, sage green, with lots of options. I kinda hate to get rid of the thing, but what else can we do? I would hate to see it seriously squished in storage, (if, that is, we could squeeze it in, somewhere…?) We both would rather see it get used, by someone who really needs it. (I have a special someone, who wants it… >.   Ahem…. I have decided, I want a Garden, and an Inground Fire Pit! I have been thinking on both topics, for a few days, now. Trying to decide locations for both, what I want to plant in the gardens, what size and how many functionalitys I want with the fire pit. So, this Thursday, my mom is coming over, to our new house, to talk garden. {Both my dad & My hubbs are going to want to kill me, but that is the fun of it! Right?}





   When my grandmother was alive, she was THE green thumb around here. My grandfather was the cattle herder, and horse breeder. Over the years, because of all of the livestock, and steady gardening, de-weeding, pruning, and everything else that they did here, at their home, {Our new home} has not only seriously helped keep the grounds here in exceptional shape, but it has also helped give me multiple ideas of how to keep the grounds up to par, where to put what, and will help me keep the grounds looking similar to the way my grandmother would have had it. She is with me,in my mind and in my actions, every single day. I miss her so much, I guess gardening here, is a way for me to “keep her alive”.  When it is all said & done, I don’t have a doubt in my mind, that my grandmother will be smiling down from heaven. {I will have to post pics of my progress!!}





  I know I want a veggie garden, or better said, a very extensive veggie garden. However, I will have to add to it as I go, because we don’t have a lot of $ right now. I am planning on asking my father to till the garden with his tractor, when I decide where exactly I want it. 





I have also been thinking, I want a Lavender garden, and that got me thinking, “Why not just have the Lavender up my the end of the house, with the already existing White Lilly’s and Daffodills are, and put a beautiful, hearty flower garden, in the field, where the Miscanthsus is, and {Around the corner from where I want to put the veggie garden.} I have always wanted a Rock Garden, too. I don’t know if this has something to do with my love for succulent plants, or what, but I have an entire kitchen window full of them, and it is about time they have their own garden. These are some of the 40+ $1 – $3 clearance items, that I found at Lowes, a few weeks back. I managed to get some exceptional plants, from that buy. This particular succulent mix, in my kitchen window, has been multiplying so fast, that I can’t get them all rooted in time! I can happily say, that  when I do get a Rock & Succulent Garden going, I won’t have a problem with dying plants!! ^.^ 










 

In Between…

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  The hubbs and I have had a very rough end of the year of 2012. My hubbys birthday was the 13th of December, and just that day alone was rough. That was the day all of this poop hit the fan… That is this months news, gently put, the past days, since his birthday, have consisted of us packing like ‘ frantically mad people ‘, & borrowing my Dad to help with the major appliances, moving, packing, moving, packing…

   Yep. You get the idea. Its been pretty depressing, to say the least. We have had a LOT of support from our neighbors, the Cochran’s & Tutten’s {Mucho appreciated}! My parents have been a huge help, too! We both tell my Dad, ever time we see him, that if it wasn’t for giving is a hand, from the very beginning, we couldn’t have done it with out him.

   This Christmas is going to a rather tough one, not only are we looking our house, our HOME, but we are making a LOT of changes that will continue long after the holidays.

  Sigh… Ok, enough of that.  The captures in this post are updates of My Father’s & My Uncle’s Estate, that we are moving into. It may not seem like much to some, but It means the world to me, because I spent a large percentage of my childhood here, with my Grandparents, when they were alive. TO ME, IT IS MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME. It will always be home. This whole month has made me so incredibly emotional, and I am not usually the emotional type. I am trying to remember my Aunt L’s advice, “Treat it as a new adventure!” Believe me; I am trying my best to think of it like that. It can be so overwhelming & challenging at times! whew!

   My hubbs also tried encouraging me, the other day, by saying, “Think of it in such a way, as your Grandparents are still here for you, still helping you, or helping us, and they are still here for us.” I know he was just trying to help, but I cried even more. I miss them both so much!! My Grandmother passed in ’99, due to Cancer, and My Grandfather passed just a few years back. My grandmother was my BEST friend when I was a kid, we did a LOT together, & when she passed away, I rebelled against everyone & everything in my life. {was 13 at the time, and that just made things worse.} I hated the world, I hated my life. I just lost it that year. I remember, every day, I asked God, WHY???? WHY DID YOU TAKE HER FROM ME??? I was so selfish, then. I see it now because I have grown up, and matured, But that will never change how much I miss her & Grandpa!

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^^ WHAT THE HECK IS THIS THING??

IT REMINDS ME OF A PINEAPPLE TOP WITH A SERIOUS GROWTH SPURT!! ^^

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Ah, yes. The many assorted plant pictures,… The hubbs & I went to Lowes, the other evening, after we moved several truck & trailer loads from our HOME, to The Estate. We originally went for plastic storage boxes, which we were able to get a few, but, like normal,  I got sidetracked, looking for heaters, then I wandered over an isle where I found a LOT of overly priced Christmas stuff, and then I looked up,  just as I was just about to go find the hubbs, and squeeled “Ohhhhh!! Garden plants on CLEARANCE??!!” Good luck getting me outta there, now! I ended up getting 33 potted plants, for $8!!! No! I am NOT JOKING!! I even got this funky looking, all green, growing straight up, plant, for $2… if you know what it is, PLEASE fill me in! Cause I have NO CLUE! {Its Marked!! look UP!!}