Update To What’s That Lurking In My Barn

watermarked buzzard pair

Back on May 20th I posted an article, , about my experience of finding a baby buzzard in my old barn. As tempted as I was, I did not go back into the barn because I didn’t want to disturb him. I’m going to call this critter a him, although I don’t have the slightest idea if it’s male or female. It wasn’t long I started seeing what appeared to be a younger buzzard hanging around with an older one – maybe the mother buzzard? It’s been interesting to see that both of them will perch on top of my house, and will sit on the patio outside my bedroom window. The older one tends to be a little more cautious. The younger one, which I believe to be the hatching pictured in my earlier article isn’t all that shy – he seems pretty curious.

If you’re wondering why I think the one on the right is the younger, from what I’ve been able to find on the internet (Google is your friend) younger buzzards, or vultures have smoother skin on their faces and heads, and their beaks are darker.

I was able to snap several photos of both sitting on top of the barn before the older one flew off to land in a tree a little distance away. The younger one seemed to enjoy the photo shoot. Once I turned around and walked away he flew off and landed in the tree occupied by the other one. His flying seems a little shaky still.

On the day I took this picture, I had cut my grass earlier. I’ve cut it multiple times since I discovered the baby buzzard so the noise wasn’t something completely new to him. That day, however, something different happened. As I approached the barn, a dark shape came hurtling, literally out of the window and very clumsily landed on the ground not far in front of me. The time he hit the ground he took off running, not flying, running, and ran into the breezeway of the barn. Then he just sat there and watched me. I got a good laugh at his expense – I have to say, a buzzard running is quite a comical sight to see. Still you would have thought he would have run away from the sound, not towards it.

I’ve really enjoyed the little I’ve been able to see of this bird growing up. I’ve gotten to see the older one take the younger one to feast on a rabbit run over in the road – shooing him out of the road when a vehicle came by. I wish these were turkey vultures instread of the black ones, though. Turkey vultures have red heads and are more shy. Black headed buzzards are reputed to be much more aggressive and have been known to kill baby animals. As much as I hate to do it, once I’m sure this fellow is old enough to “run with the pack” I think I will put wire over the window to keep them out. A few aren’t likely to be a bad problem but they may have friends and relatives move in.

Save Money With Price Matching

pile of coins
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to save money. That said, when I shop at a store that price matches I check around online before making the purchase. I’m not really talking about five cents here and there, although that adds up – I’m talking about saving on things where one may save dollars instead of cents.

For example, this week I saved $10 on ONE item. Continue reading ‘Save Money With Price Matching’ »

Downloaders, Hijacked Browsers, Redirect Virus Nasties

Awhile back I downloaded a freeware program from a (once) reputable website I’d used for years. I trusted them, because I was so familiar with the site and they were very well-known. I downloaded a simple “freeware” program, didn’t think much about that unlike before you now needed their “downloader.” When I went to install the program and realized it was going to install crap I didn’t want as well as the software I did want, (one of those handy-dandy oh so helpful toolbars) I declined the entire installation. I didn’t want the freeware program that bad. Thing is, even though I hit don’t accept decline cancel and whatever else I could, the trash in the downloader installed anyway. The freeware program I wanted didn’t, but the malware did. This was nasty malware and it’s damage took hours to repair. Needless to say I no longer visit that site – and I don’t read any of their many articles, either. I no longer trust them. No, don’t accept, decline should mean just that. It should be illegal for them to go ahead and install anyway.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that yesterday, when I downloaded an open-source freeware program from another (once reputable) website that is supposed to be all about freeware and open source code it came with a nice little downloader, too. I was careless and let it install by mistake. Ouch. It hijacked all three browswer on my computer. I followed all the directions to disable and remove it from all three browswers and removed it through add and remove programs as well. Continue reading ‘Downloaders, Hijacked Browsers, Redirect Virus Nasties’ »

What’s That Lurking In My Barn?

Young Buzzard

Young Buzzard

While cutting grass by my old barn today, I noticed some things out of place from where there were several days ago. We have problems with trespassers at times, so I decided to check things out to make sure nobody had been up to no good. That involved, of course, going upstairs.

The hay loft door was unlatched, so I believe someone had been in there. I latched it, was getting ready to look around when I was told to not make any sudden moves, that something was growling at us and moving around in the hay. Our first thought was a fox, coyote or possibly a feral cat. It wasn’t making much effort to get away from us, which in itself was a little disconcerting. It was fairly dark inside and we had no flashlight so we decided to ease away until we were better prepared.

Not knowing what might be in there, we went back armed with flashlights and gun. We had no intentions of shooting anything unless we had no choice – like it trying to attack or being sick or rabid. From a distance and from the angle we were at and the fact it seemed to have it’s back towards us, at first it looked like a hunched over monkey of some kind. We looked closer and were surprised to find a young buzzard, still with down on it. I have no idea how old he is, but he’s a whopper – I’d say already the size of a chicken. The sounds he made were quite interesting. Although the photo looks as though it was taken close up it wasn’t – I used a zoom in order to not upset him.

Although I was born and raised in the country, I’d never seen a baby buzzard (some people call them vultures) before so it was a treat. For now we’ll avoid the area he’s in and hopefully he’ll be flying around in a few weeks.

Poison Ivy / Oak and Virginia Creeper

poison ivyvirginiacreeper

If you’re like me – highly allergic to poison ivy/oak, you may cringe at the thought of being exposed to it. As a result of much misery suffered from reactions to urushiol – the oil in the plant which causes the allergic reaction – I’ve tended to steer clear of anything that slightly resembles poison oak/ivy.

As a result of my phobia, for a very long time I avoided virginia creeper. Then, one day I saw my aunt grabbing and pulling vines bare handed. When I told her “watch out, that’s poison ivy!” she laughed and said “no, honey, this is virginia creeper.” She was old school and although I knew she knew what she was talking about, I researched it – just to be sure – just in case…. (Embarrasing, I was born and raised in the country so I ought to just KNOW this stuff.)

First of all, poison oak and ivy has THREE leaves. Virginia creeper has five. The coloration is so close, however, that it is easy to confuse the two plants. I’ve seen both growing together in my yard so look closely. Will I be using the brush trimmer there? Um, no. As much as I hate weed killers, weed killer it is.

Poison oak/ivy has a nasty relative called poison sumac. Fortunately it’s not as common as it’s relatives – poison sumac prefers wetlands. Unlike ivy and oak, poison sumac has seven to nine leaves per stem.

Don’t think you can’t get this stuff if you never go off your deck or patio. Pets can get urushiol on their fur – which you come into contact with when you pet them. If
you handle clothing or shoes of someone who has been through it and has the urushiol on them, you come into contact. It’s a year round thing. Even “dead” vines can give you the itches. Urushiol can remain active for years!

CAUTION. Do not burn poison oak or ivy. Urushiol carries in the smoke, and yes, there have been cases of people inhaling it as well.

If you know you’ve been exposed, wash well as soon as possible. My guess is it’s best to shower, not take a tub bath – urushiol is an oil, it may float and expose even more of your skin. Use lots of soap but use cool or tepid water to avoid opening your pores.

You can’t “catch” poison ivy / oak from someone’s blisters. The blisters don’t spread it – but if there is any urushiol left on the skin that certainly can be spread. I
won’t suggest any specific treatment because I’ve yet to find one that is all that great. Last time I had “the rash” I made a paste of bentonite clay and just left it on. I
can’t say it worked miracles but I’d say it worked as well for me as calamine lotion. The next time I plan to add a few drops of oregano oil to the paste and give that a try.

Know The Difference Between Honeysuckle and Yellow Jasmine

As a young child I would sometimes pick honeysuckle flowers, pinch off the stem end and suck out the sweet nectar. My parents showed me that trick – BUT they also made a big production of teaching me the difference between harmless honeysuckle and potentially deadly yellow jasmine.

Both flowers smell wonderful, although the scents are different. Both may be yellow (honeysuckle can be white, too). An adult should be able to tell the difference at a glance (although with some many “city people” moving to rural areas these days I wouldn’t bet on it). But how about a young child? People need to know the difference. If you aren’t sure leave it alone.

ALL parts of yellow jasmine are poisonous. Ingesting any part of it can make you extremely ill or even kill you. Even deer don’t eat it. Allergic reactions have been reported from simply handling it. Since the entire plant is poisonous, if you do handle it I suggest you wasn your hands well after.

Yellow jasmine is the state flower of South Carolina. It’s beautiful and has a wonderful smell but it’s best to enjoy it without touching. Enjoy it but stay safe.


tabbykittyYou should never, EVER declaw a cat. I suppose there could be a rare medical reason – if a toe is crushed, has some kind of growth or cancer, that type of thing, but it is wrong to declaw a cat because they scratch your furniture, you or your kids. If you’re that worried about your furniture, might I suggest that a cat is not the pet for you. Get a fish.

When a cat is declawed, they don’t simply remove the nail as a doctor would a human’s ingrown toenail. The entire last joint of the cat’s toe is removed. It is the same as removing the tips of a human’s fingers at the joint below the nail. It’s painful, dangerous and has the potential to cause physical and behavior problems for the cat. For example, common sense says if a cat has no claws to defend itself with it may turn to biting instead. I’m not posting a picture but you can Google it and see how horrific the process really is. Those who say it’s not a big deal are full of crap.

Get or make a scratching post for kitty. They are commercially available and there are plenty of instruction online for making your own. If nothing else, a piece of firewood will do. While I’ve never used them or done serious research about them, you can also buy vinyl nail covers for kitty’s claws. Do some research. Find alternatives to declawing. Or accept the fact a cat may not be the right pet for you. Just don’t even consider declawing.

Would it ever cross your mind to cut off the tips of Juniors fingers because he picks his nose and eats it? Or because he scratches bug bites? If Junior bites other children, would you pull all his teeth so he can’t? Of course not! Pets are part of your family. Don’t abuse them, and in my opinion declawing a cat is animal abuse. What if kitty sneaks outside? How can he/she defend themselves? How can they climb a tree to get away from a dog or other animal?

Sorry if what I have to say offends anyone. On second thought, no I’m not sorry, not at all. I’m using extreme examples here to make a point – and if any readers are unable to comprehend that is what I’m doing, well, I feel bad for them. Yes, comparing declawing a cat to pulling a kids teeth or cutting off the end of their fingers may not be realistic but it makes the point.

Clean Baked On Grease From Stove

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. The top of my stove – the flat part above the knobs and stuff – tends to serve as a holder for salt, pepper, spices, etc. As a result it doesn’t get wiped down very often so turns into a grease pit. (Come to think of it, I’m usually the only one around here capable of wiping anything on the stove but that’s another story.)

This morning I decided to clean it and boy oh boy was it nasty. I first tried using rubbing alcohol on a paper towel, which didn’t even smear the mess. I thought the stuff used for removing stickers and such from things might work but of course I couldn’t find it – that would make life too easy. So, rummaging through cabinets I came across a very old bottle of Orange Glo Wood Cleaner and Polish. Now, I wasn’t about to just spray that stuff everywhere, so I poured a small amount in an old jar lid, grabbed an old toothbrush and tried a spot and quickly saw it had great potential. So, I kept putting small amounts on the toothbrush, covered the mess, waited a few minutes and woot! Just light rubbing with the toothbrush worked! After that I wiped it down good with rubbing alcohol. Sometimes one just has to improvise.

Disclaimer: I’m not sure this is an acceptable use or if it’s safe. Try it at your own risk, I’m not responsible if anything bad happens as a result. Just because it worked well and safely for me doesn’t mean everyone will have the same experience. The bottle does say keep away from heat and flame, so I’d definitely NOT use it on a gas stove or range. 🙂

How I Remove Cat Fur From Clothing

My cats love crawling into my bed and are paricularly fond of curling up to sleep on my pillows. My favorite fleece jacket is also their favorite – anytime I forget to put it out of their reach they hop right on it. As a result things around here are sometimes get a little hairy (pun intended.) If you’re like me, you’ve found cat hair isn’t the easiest thing to get rid of – that stuff can really cling. I’ve tried a lot of things – and while a lot of them do help, there is no surefire solution. I’ve found one thing that does a pretty good job, though – provided the item needing fur removal can be run through a clothes dryer.

BEFORE I wash a furry item, I toss it into the dryer with a fabric softener sheet. If you don’t have any, no problem, dampen a paper towel or washcloth and pour on a little liquid fabric softener. If you don’t have that either I suppose just something slightly damp will help. To be honest, I’m not sure the damp and or fabric softener is even necessary but it seems to me to work better. I run the dryer on timed setting for an average of ten minutes then check the filter. It should show quite a bit of fur/lint. Depending on how much cat hair is on the items, you may need to repeat that several times. If something is really nasty beyond cat fur, though, I’d go ahead and wash it, then do the multiple runs through the dryer part. Be sure to check your labels. If an item says do not machine dry it may still be possible to use this process only with no heat.

The sticky rollers you wash and reuse help, too, but I usually reserve that for quick emergency situations. In a pinch, take some sticky tape and pull fur off with that. Both of these are a lot
more time consuming that using the dryer but if you’re on your way out the door and notice a few cat hairs here and there it will help.

I hope this will help. Just remember it takes a little patience.

Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground Mustard – A Review

I never though a lot about mustard, being more of a ketchup fan – until I tried Inglehoffer’s Original Stone Ground Mustard. This stuff is GREAT. It’s a spicy mustard, but not too hot and the flavor is excellent. Instead of finely ground mustard seeds like some brown or spicy mustards have, Inglehoffer’s has whole seeds, which compliment anything you put it on. It’s thick, not runny at all like some mustards tend to be.

In my opinion this mustard compliments everything from corndogs, to burgers, roast beef to bologna. It does cost more than regular mustard but the delight it adds to foods is worth the difference. I haven’t tried it in things like potato salad yet, but I suspect it would be really good. The only “complaint” I have about it – and it’s not a complaint at all, really, is that I wish it came in bigger sizes. The largest I’ve found is a ten ounce squeeze bottle and around my house that goes in a hurry!

They do have other types of mustard and sauces as well but I haven’t tried them yet. Based on my experience with the Original Stone Ground Mustard I would expect them to be very good as well. Give it a try and I think you’ll have a hard time going back to plain old mustard!

Make Sure Your Chimney Is Safe To Use


I wanted to toss out a reminder to everyone about chimney care. Early 2014 and the visit to the US of the Polar Vortex left many people looking for ways to supplement their heating systems. If
you’re in the South as I am and have a heat pump, you know the auxilliary heat kicks in during extreme cold and that makes your power bill hurt more than it already does.

Before using my woodstove I wanted to have the chimney cleaned. The chimney is old – so some years back I had a stainless steel liner put in it for safety reasons. At the time, the liner was
put in, the space around it- between the liner and the bricks- was filled with insulation material. Today there are better ways to do it but at the time that was how it was done. Consider how
an old chimney is made – bricks with morter/cement between them. Over time that morter may become brittle and or crack, leaving crevices for heat, smoke and fire to potentially get outside of
the chimney and into your attic or walls. Continue reading ‘Make Sure Your Chimney Is Safe To Use’ »

212-575-7998 Is A Telemarketer

I’ve been on the do-not-call list for a long time and have an unpublished number as well. Without thinking, I went to the fcc website to report a call I just received – but of course they are unavailable because of the government shut down. That’s fine, one of these days they’ll be operational again and I will report it – all my incoming calls are logged. But for now, I’ll share the info with anyone searching the number.

The call came from, according to my caller id, Theatre, Develop 212-575-7998. It was a recorded call – also illegal in SC. The “person” introduced themselves as Heather and said there was nothing wrong with my credit card account but it was important I call them as soon as possible to lower my interest rates, rofl. Yeah, right. Who says I even have a credit card? How did they get my number? If I find that someone I do legit business with is selling my information I will be raising all kinds of hell. First telemarketing call I’ve gotten in a very long time, convenient it happened during the government shutdown. I see it like this, don’t tell me later it’s too late to report it. After all, if government employees will get back pay, taxpayers should get grace periods.


Debt At Pets Inc Could Force Shelter To Close Doors
Pets Inc Needs Help To Stay Open (has video)
I’m sharing these links in hopes that it will be seen and more people made aware of this wonderful animal non-profit group that is in danger of having to shut down. This place is amazing and would make a good model for animal rescue groups. Please consider helping them if you can.

Pets Inc was voted ‘best activist group’ and came in second place for ‘best charity’ in the area. Check out their web page. If you can’t shop with them locally they do have an online store.

Thanks to anyone who can pass the word about this around.

(I am not affiliated with this organization in any way other than as a customer and a person who tries to help what little I am able to.)

O-Cedar Fast ‘n Easy Roller Mop Review

I’ve used O-Cedar products over the years and until now I’ve been satisfied with them. No so with this mop. It will be going back to the store.

The first issue I had with it is that it doesn’t squeeze enough water out of the sponge. The “easy pump wringer WAS easy to operate – until it decided to not work at all, which ended my opportunity to try it a little longer in order to give a more informed review. One of the rubber rollers jumped out of the plastic holder, and although I slipped it back in, it would no longer wring at all. That ought not happen within ten minutes of starting to use the product.

I do not believe this is a case of someone messing with it in the store, either. It was well-packaged in plastic and impossible to try to wringer until that plastic was removed.

I will say that after using the wringer multiple times, I was still able to squeeze more water out with my hands than the wringer did in the first place. Even then, due to it being difficult to wring out this type of mop by hand, it was extremely wet. It might could be considered functional if one used no pressure at all when mopping, but that rather defeats the purpose of mopping, in my opinion.

On a scale of 1-5 I have to give this mop a 1. Would I recommend it to anyone? No.

My Zazzle and Cafepress Stores – Check Them Out!

Haunted House Mugs / Cups

Many of you know from my posts that several months ago I opened Zazzle and Cafepress stores. I really enjoy working with graphics and decided to put some of them out there instead of just leaving them sitting in computer folders never to be seen by anyone but myself. Honestly, I think some of the merchandise is a little pricey, especially in light of how little the designers make, but there is the unique factor and the ability to personalize items.

I’d love for you to visit my stores, check out my artwork, give me feedback and pass the word around. If you are looking for something specific, contact me and I’ll try to come up with a design for you. Cafepress gives the ability to design window and shower curtains, duvet covers, blankets, pillowcases and more! Both print on demand services are great for coming up with one of a kind personalized gift ideas.

I’ve also set up a Facebook page – please consider “liking” it. The hardest part of having these stores isn’t the design work – it’s getting the word out that you’re there! My Facebook Page

My Zazzle Store
My Cafepress Store

Please forgive the mess my Cafepress store is in. I still have a lot of organizing to do.


How To Maximize Your Zazzle Royalty Profits

Recently Zazzle made changes which will potentially lower the amount of money some designers, the people who actually create the graphics for them to print on their products, can earn. Until this change, designers who sold a lot of items were rewarded with a volume bonus in addition to their basic royalty. That has ended. You can read my earlier thoughts on this HERE

So how can the people who create the designs maximize the money they can still make? Play around with the royalty amounts before posting the item for sale. I’m not talking about huge profits here, but those extra cents can go into the designers pockets instead of to Zazzle if the designer pays attention. The goal would be to maximize the royalty amount earned while keeping the price lower for the customers. Below is a chart I made to show exactly what I mean. This chart is based of the product pictured above.


At a 10% royalty rate, an item selling for $52.45 gives the designer $5.25. At 11% royalty, the price to the customer remains the same but the designer makes $5.77. Sure, there is ‘only’ a 52 cent difference, but that is 52 cents for the designers pocket instead of for Zazzle while keeping the price for the customer the same.

As you can see from the chart, at 11.1%, the cost to the customer jumps up by $1.00 but the royalty earned by the designer only increases by 16 cent. In my opinion, it’s better to look out for the customer by not increasing the product price by $1.00 to earn that extra 16 cents.

It’s business. In business everyone wants to make money, but in light of the fact that high volume sellers have lost part of theirs with the removal of the volme bonus it seems only fair they get a bigger share of the pie on regards to their royalty earnings, at least in my opinion.

Part 2
Currently Zazzle charges designers a 5% “transaction fee” if you set your royalty rate at 15% or above. Below is another chart of the same product shown above in that royalty rate range.

Another Zazzle Royalty Chart

Note that at 14.8% the cost to customer jumps by $1.00 but puts an extra 20 cents in your pocket. NOW look at what happens at 15%. That’s right, you make less profit due to the 5% “transaction fee” Zazzle charges you than you would at a lower royalty rate of 14.6% PLUS your customer is charged an extra dollar.

Speaking for myself, in this position I would set my royalty at 14.7%. It keeps the cost to my customer from going up by $1.00 and I would still make more profit than I would at 15% because of the “transaction fee.”

Just something to think about when you are setting your royalty rates. Hope you found this article helpful!

Visit My Zazzle Store.

How to Get Rid of Gnats

How to Get Rid of Gnats

How to Get Rid of Gnats


As the weather gets warmer gnat problems increase. The battle continues.

I just tried a “green” type of spray, which contains lemongrass and citronella oils. It seems to kill – but only if you spray it directly on them. While the smell is pleasant, it’s a little overpowering to me. I’m thinking a mixture of water, witch hazel or alcohol and essential oils in a spray may work in a similar way and much cheaper – that’s on my “to try” list.

Of course the nasty gnats love my kitchen trash can. I’ve tried spraying the inside of the lid with bug spray, and I’ve also coated it with cooking sprays, thinking the oil might discourage them. No such luck.

I’m trying something else which seems to be working. I’m going to share this with you, BUT LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR: I am not suggesting or encouraging you to try it. If you try it, you are doing so at your own risk. The product clearly says it’s for places like attics, vacation homes, places you don’t spend time in. Continue reading ‘How to Get Rid of Gnats’ »



Recently I purchased a package of ‘forever fragrant freshSTICKS.” I’d looked at them in the store several times, thinking they sounded to good to be true. But, after one review I read where the person said they could only use a few sticks instead of the entire bag because they were so strong, I decided to give them a try and purchased the vanilla scent. I have multiple pets, smokers in the house and the room I bought them for is pretty big – probably 15×15 with 8 foot high ceilings. There is a ceiling fan kept on low to circulate the air in the room.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the bag the sticks were in was that while they smelled nice, they didn’t smell strongly at all. Coming from a sealed bag I expected a much stronger scent. The little vase that comes with them is cute and the sticks are by no means ugly. I set everything up as directed. Thinking they may need time to work, I allowed several days before writing this review.

Maybe they are absorbing some odors, I cannot tell. They are not, however, giving off enough scent to count. Even putting my nose almost to them, the smell is very faint. I’m pretty disappointed in the product. Maybe I got a bad batch . Maybe my room is too big – although they still should smell stronger up close, in my opinion if that were the case. Maybe they would work well in a tiny enclosed area. They are stamped with The Good Housekeeping Seal which says refund or replacement if defective. I wouldn’t say they are exactly defective – they simply don’t work as I expected.

This review is based entirely on my own experience with the product. Experiences of other customers may be entirely different. They did not work well for me.

If a friend asked me what I thought of them and should they buy them, I’d have to tell them I wasn’t impressed with them, but that their experience may be better.

My Post In Zazzle Forums About Upcoming Changes Has Disappeared !

Earlier today, after the Town Hall Meeting held about upcoming changes to Zazzle, I made the post below in the Feedback and Suggestions section of their forums. There were only two comments in the thread prior to me posting, neither sounding happy about the changes. Guess what? I don’t know if anyone else posted or not BECAUSE THE ENTIRE THREAD HAS DISAPPEARED! So, I’ll just repost my part of the thread here – it’s my blog, I can do that, and I think what I had to say is important. ***

“I just left the Town Hall Meeting about upcoming changes to Zazzle. I’d planned to spend the weekend hustling to get more items in my fairly new store, and work harder on getting traffic. Right now I’m not very encouraged to do it. The meeting seemed to include a lot of unhappy sounding sellers asking questions and from what I saw, no real answers about much of anything. They did say that the decisions had already been made and would be taking effect, so I’m not sure what the point of the meeting was for. Nothing sellers said was going to make any difference. Hopefully more clear answers will be made available really soon. Continue reading ‘My Post In Zazzle Forums About Upcoming Changes Has Disappeared !’ »

Original Graphics and Photos In My New Zazzle Store

I really enjoy photography and making graphics. I decided to open a Zazzle store instead of leaving all the different things I create stashed away in folders on my computer. I’d love to have my readers visit my store and pass the word around.

Here is one of my latest creations. Click the photo or link for more information.

This photo is also currently available as a mousepad, 14″x11″ poster, iPad Mini case, and a case for the Amazon Kindle. The neoprene laptop sleeve pictured is available in several sizes.

It costs nothing to window shop, so check it out! Thanks!