Bird tips, how to tell if your garden is ready for planting, some more low-budget decorating tips and more.


 


Backyard Buddies

Suet – a high-energy food made mostly of animal fat – can be used to attract certain birds to your yard. Among the birds known to enjoy suet are woodpeckers, chickadees, bluebirds, mockingbirds, warblers, kinglets, titmice, nuthatches, jays, robins, wrens and starlings. You can get packaged suet at most pet stores or at birding stores, and a cage to hold the suet generally can be found in the same place (and they’re usually not very expensive). Since most of the birds that will eat suet are insect-eaters and can be found scouring tree bark for food, hang the suet feeder near a tree trunk about 5 feet from the ground (if possible).

How to Redecorate in Tough Economic Times, Part II

The Bathroom

If walking into your bathroom feels like walking into a bad thrift store - nothing matches and toiletries everywhere - it may be time to spend a few dollars and take control. It's easy and not costly to replace mismatched accessories such as toothbrush holders, cups and lotion dispensers with ones in the same design. Major retailers and home specialty stores carry a wide array of patterns to appeal to virtually every taste. A full set can easily be bought for less than $100. If you're willing to be a "big spender," you can also pick up shower curtains and window treatments to complement your new all-matching accessories.

Plants

Nothing says "home" like plants, and you don't need a green thumb to green up your living space. Opt for low-maintenance varieties like a philodendron or pothos. Or, if you just can't keep plants alive, consider artificial. Many modern artificial plants duplicate the look of life so well only the aphids who try to eat them can tell the difference. Place tall palms next to chairs and windows to bring the outdoors inside. Smaller plants are marvelous accents for tables, shelves and windowsills. And a hanging basket with cascading leaves will add drama to large entryways. (ARA)

Home Improvements

Some tips from American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning about your cooling system:

- "Right-size" your HVAC system. Home renovations are the perfect time to assess your home-comfort needs and your HVAC system. For example, adding square footage to your home may strain your existing system.

- If your home is more than eight years old and still has the original cooling system, you may be missing opportunities to decrease your home's energy bills while increasing your family's comfort.

- Today's homes are better sealed and insulated. This is great news from an energy standpoint. But it also means pollutants and allergens are being sealed inside your home. Installing a whole-home air cleaner as part of your heating and cooling system can help clean the filtered air in every room of your home. (ARA)

Did You Know …

You can get skunk smell out of your clothes or off your walls (or wherever the disaster is) using a simple mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. Mix one pint of hydrogen peroxide, several squirts of dish soap, one box of baking soda and a gallon of water, and wash the affected area. This can also be used on pet fur, but be careful to not get the mixture in your pet’s eyes. One word of caution: The mixture should not be stored, as it not only quickly loses its effectiveness, it can explode if placed in a sealed container.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

For most of the country, this past winter and now spring has been unusually wet, which means your garden might not be ready for planting. To test your garden’s readiness, pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it. “If the soil doesn’t crumble, it’s still too wet. It has to crumble to be workable,” said Jennifer Fishburn, horticulture educator for the University of Illinois Sangamon-Menard Extension Unit. (State Journal-Register)

GateHouse News Service