Washing Benches at O’Dark:30, Birdie Nesting, Hat Storage and Garden Updates

I awoke this morning long before daylight. The numbers on the ceiling showed 4:00. Apparently my body is still on Morocco time which is 5 hours later. Ugh. After laying there for about an hour, I gave up on sleep and got on up.

So what do you do at 5:00 AM? I gave both the benches on the front porch (and the porch itself) a good wash, they were seriously covered in pollen.


I took this photo later in the morning. Hope my neighbors didn’t see me out washing benches at 5:00 in the morning. After vacuuming acorns, I guess nothing would really surprise them. lol


Much better!


Help a Birdie Out

Next I ordered some nesting material for the birds. Yesterday, as I was headed up the front staircase, I stopped and looked outΒ one of the sidelights. An adorable little wren was hopping around on the front porch with her beak stuffed full of what looked like little pieces of straw. In her search for nesting material, she was taking little pieces of fibers from my door mat. So, so cute! In the short video below, it’s hard to see, but her beak is filled to the brim with little short pieces of straw/fibers.


During the wee hours of the morning, I went online and ordered two types of nesting material. I paid a little extra for shipping so they would be delivered today. Clearly we are in need of some good nesting materials around here pronto! πŸ˜‰

The first one is natural coconut fiber, the same thing that’s used in my door mat. It had very good reviews and is available here: Coconut Fiber. I thought my little wren might enjoy it since she likes my coconut fiber door mat.

The other one I ordered was this: Nesting Material.


I plan to stuff some of both materials into one of my suet feeders with the large openings and hang it where the birds can find it. I have two of THESEΒ suet feeders and I’m only using one to hold suet right now, so the other one should work well for nesting material. You’ll find find the suet feeder I’m using for the nesting materials,Β HERE.


Update: Here’s a photo showing how it looks with the nesting materials inside. I hung it outside near my feeders and the birds are using it. I’ve noticed pieces of the nesting material sticking out where they’ve been pulling it out for their nests. πŸ™‚


Yesterday I ran a bunch of errands including stopping by my local Wild Birds Unlimited. In addition to seed, I purchased some live meal worms since my bluebirds (and other birds) love the extra help with feeding their babies this time of year.


I didn’t have any apples in the house, so I cut up some blueberries and added a bit of oatmeal for them to munch on. You can see the bluebirds feeding in this previous video: Bluebirds Eating Mealworms.


Tulips are Blooming!

I noticed this morning when I was outside cleaning the porch benches at O’dark:30, the tulips I purchased from Keukenhof gardens in South Holland last spring…


…came up while I was in Morocco.


Here’s a couple of photos I took once it was light out. They look a bit bedraggled from all the rain we’ve been having.


Glad they came up! I need to dig them up after the foliage dies back since they won’t come back next year without some help in the refrigerator.


A few of the ones around the mailbox were just beginning to bloom when I left. They are gone and it appears a few more are coming up.


I haven’t been too impressed with them so far. I’ll share another photo when more are up and blooming.


Remember when the violas looked like this right after I planted them?


Then this happened. Someone (you guys thought it might be a deer based on the footprints) ate them right down to the ground…


…even pulling some completely out of the ground.


It was recommended in the comments on that post that I try this product below. It worked–no more deer damage! I sprayed it on twice, about 10 days apart. It’s a natural product and won’t hurt animals. It’s available here: Repellent. I think I may reapply it sometime soon, just for extra protection.


So far, it seems to be working!


This arrived while I was gone, a vintage/antique hat rack. You may remember I purchased it on Etsy a while back. It had to come all the way from Bulgaria, so it took a while.


I plan to lower my travel list bucket map and hang it above the map for my sunhat storage. (Map is available here: Map.) I think I’ll take down my little deer and find a new spot for it. Will share how this area looks soon, probably for Metamorphosis Monday.

Bose Wave Radio Sound System for Home Office


I wore the sunhat shown below every single day I was in Morocco. It was perfect for the trip and I couldn’t have done without it! It packed really well. I placed a bunch of socks and a t-shirt inside the top part and placed it inside the suitcase, right side up. Then I packed around it, placing items atop the brim which kept it in place inside the suitcase. That worked perfectly, both coming and going. (Sunhat is available here: Sunhat.)


Tree Update:

Remember the three little Leyland Cypress trees I planted in October 2014? (See that post here: Leyland Cypress Trees Offer Screening and Privacy.)


Look at how much they have grown! Good ‘ol generic Triple 13 fertilizer (13-13-13) helps, nothing seems to make my plants grow better.

Another year and the Leyland Cypress trees will be providing screening again for the screened porch that’s a full story up. They are just starting to stick up above the second level now. Love how fast they grow!


Happy Weekend, dear Friends! I’ll be sharing some photos from the Morocco trip soon. I need a bit of time to organize my thoughts. I had a lot of mixed feelings on this trip. Parts I absolutely loved and some parts were difficult for me. So much to tell, I have no idea where to start!

Any weekend plans? It’s gorgeous here! Hope it’s pretty where you live, too!

Oh, and if you have plans to visit Atlanta, stay far, far away from I-85. Part of it is non-existent right now and it’s going to be that way for quite a while, they are saying several months. Just Google to read more. I was headed into Atlanta last night to shop at Lenox Square. I turned on the radio to check traffic and turned right around and came home. Definitely pays to listen to the traffic report before getting on any roads around here!

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  1. I certainly can relate to your early morning rising. Last summer when I returned from Italy and Greece I was getting up at 4:30 AM and got my husband up too to make my cappuccino. It took several weeks to get back to CA time.

    Also, thank you for taking care of the birds. Nature needs all the help she can get from us humans.

  2. Love your black benches. Do you remember where you purchased them? Sherri

  3. I was wondering if the burned highway would impact you in anyway.

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip. I want to hear about the good part, but really want to hear about the negative because I want to know how to handle these issues. Rick Steves said he purposely put difficulties in travelers way to teach them how to cope. I did not like that a guide/company would do that. I thought they were there to make it a pleasant experience.

    Glad you are home.

    • Yuck, that doesn’t make me want to travel on any of his trips. Overall, it was an awesome trip and I’m definitely traveling with Overseas Adventure Travel again. But there are some places I have no desire to visit again. With each trip, I learn more and more about what I want to see when I travel, how I want to spend my time.

  4. It’s so nice to see flowers coming up! How delightful! We still have snow, but, Spring is around the corner! Hope you get back on “normal” time Susan!

  5. Good thing you got nesting materials for the birds or your mat would be bare! You sure are a busy one!

  6. I have an Easter wreath with two bunnies in a basket on my door. There is fussy grass in the basket with the bunnies. Every day I go out to the front porch and there is a long stream of the fussy Easter grass pulled from the basket. There will be some comfy babies with very soft nests it seems.

    Our pollen is just starting…I wear contacs. I am not looking forward to the next couple of weeks. I may have to observe my gardens out the window.

    • Awww, that is so cute Nancy! They don’t want very much, just want to borrow a few pieces. πŸ™‚ I remember when I wore contacts full-time, pollen time was brutal!

  7. Claire Bacchi says

    I love those cypress trees! What a difference they make. Just seeing all that green and not the neighbors house is alright by me. I do think taking the deer head down in the office is a good idea. How a wonderful day.

    • Yeah, I’m ready for it to come down. I’ll still use it to decorate with at Christmas, but I’m ready for change here in the office.

  8. Looks like your yard is fast becoming “one-stop shopping” for the birds, lol. Sorry to hear about mixed feelings for the trip; all your IG and blog posts seemed totally upbeat. Have you ruled out hanging the hat rack below the map? I can more easily picture it that way, so just sending out the thought. Welcome home. Pollen, fading tulips, burning/collapsing highway, and all!

    • It was an awesome trip, just a couple of stops along the way that I would never want to go again. I’ll definitely travel with Overseas Adventure Travel again, though. The guide was excellent, too!
      Oh, hadn’t thought of that. Ummm, that would probably work, too…although it would be tricky scratching off the places I’m traveling to if it were higher up. Now I’m wondering how that would look. πŸ™‚

  9. Welcome back! Well you may as well be constructive if you can’t sleep! The benches cleaned up very nicely. How nice of you to get nesting materials for the birds. They’ll use it that’s for sure. I like the new wood rack you just got- it’s a nice one! I can’t believe how fast those Leland Cypress grew and your little flowers look just adorable! Rest up and collect your thoughts- have a great weekend!

    • Thanks, Liz! I’m still waking up every day really early, today I awoke at 3 AM. Hopefully my body will sort itself out soon. lol
      Those Leyland Cypress are amazing with how fast they grow! Love that about them!

  10. Bonnie Short says

    Hi Susan… we use Liquid Fence and it’s really the only thing that keeps those critters from destroying everything in sight! Heck, they come up on the deck and feast! But you need to be diligent about reapplying it when needed.
    I really enjoyed your postings from Morocco. Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. Cynthia Lambert says

    You are spoiling your little avian friends, but they are so cute; they deserve it. Kudos to you.

  12. Charlotte says

    Your neighbors are going to really start worrying about you – LOL! The benches do look much better without all of the pollen on them. I am glad your Tulips came up, they are so pretty. I never have any luck with Tulips, but they are my favorite.

    • lol Yes, they are probably wondering what the devil I’m up to over here!

      In Georgia, tulips won’t come back unless you dig them up and expose them to cold for several weeks, like in a refrigerator. I’m going to try it, not sure it will work though. Hope it does!

  13. When I saw the news this morning, I wondered if you were affected by that road collapse. Unbelievable! So glad there were no injuries. I LOVE this posts about all your birds. They are so lucky to have you there to make their nesting time easier. I look forward to your travel stories. Where will you be heading next? Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope the hours find an even keel for you soon! Rosie

    • Thanks, Rosie! Not sure right now. Will have to see what awesome travel deals Overseas Adventure Travel has coming up. I have an itch to see some place here in the U.S. Would love to visit Martha’s Vineyard this summer, have heard so much about it over the years!

  14. bobbi duncan says

    You’re such a good birdie mom! We used to have so many different birds at our last house, and a few got so used to us that they’d come right up for hand-outs…..them, one chipmunk , several squirrels, and bunnies. I miss all the activity now that we don’t have much of a yard. We had one squirrel, named fat Marvin, that loved to lay flat on our railing and peer into our French door. Think he liked watching our TV through the glass. Hugs!

  15. cheryl Major says

    Your flowers are beautiful. We are in Northern Ontario, Canada, and still have a ton of snow . Hopefully by the end of April, the snow should be gone.
    I can not wait to read about your thoughts on your trip.

    • Hope it melts soon, Cheryl! Think of this as your pre-spring, a warm up to the spring that’s headed your way very soon. πŸ™‚

  16. Susan, it will likely take you a few days to readjust your body clock. Looks like you are using the time productively. ‘-)
    Thanks for the tips on the 13-13-13. I’m going to get a bottle. Your tulip story reminds me of my own. I planted 200 bulbs the year we first moved into our current home. They bloomed while we were on a trip to Paris. Didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I haven’t done that again. ‘-)

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’m not sure if it comes in liquid form. I’ve always bought it in a large bag at HomeDepot or Lowes, places like that. It’s very inexpensive and in the past I’ve just sprinkled it around trees to help them grow as fast as they are capable of growing. I always wear gloves when doing that, a mask is probably a good idea too since it’s granular.
      How dare those tulips bloom while you were in Paris! lol I was afraid that was going to be the case for me! πŸ™‚

  17. Hi Susan,to bad I live in Illinois,we could have had coffee at 5 lol. I’ve found the first year for tulips is not their best,each year gets better.Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.Enjoy the weekend.

  18. Could you tell me what type of tree is planted in your square planter? Thanks ! I love it !

  19. Margie Cameron says

    I’ve always thought that Blue Willow dishes make food look particularly tasty. I was admiring your lovely bowl of cereal–until I spied the meal worms!

    • lol The soup bowl in that pattern is the perfect size to fit in the deck feeder I use for offering the meal worms to the birds.

  20. Thanks for info on nesting materials…put it in my basket. We have various feeders and suet feeders etc. but I did not think of nesting materials…live and learn. Ha…waking early…I drove my kids to school all those years until they could drive and always said “I will be sleeping late when you go to college” and now that I am older I cannot sleep, often up at five. The irony! Oh pretty flowers, still early here in Colorado.

  21. Boy ! You sure have a lot of energy !

  22. Hey Susan, glad you made it home okay. Funny I’m not recovering from a trip but I was up at 4:00 this morning too. I did make myself go back to bed until 6:00 but then I got up for good. I however did nothing as productive as you did. I sat in my chair and worked on my embroidery. I am a half panel away from completing the snow people that go down the middle of my table runner. It was nice here today too. Only in the 50’s but at least it was sunny. We have had record breaking rain this month. Look forward to seeing your hat rack on the wall. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  23. DELAYNE HULST says

    ARe you planning on pruning your cypress trees? They will fill in fuller if you do that the first few years. Also spray your tulip bulb foliage with More Bloom for better blooms next year.

    • No, I’ve never pruned Cypress trees. Are you sure that’s okay? The reason I ask is that when a branch dies or section dies, it won’t put out again in that area. So I’m afraid if I prune them, they won’t grow back in those places. You’ll sometimes see Leyland Cypress where a section died and that that section stays dead and brown forever. Thanks for that tip on the tulip bulbs, I’ll look for that! I’ll have to dig them up once the foliage dies back since they won’t bloom again here unless I put them in a refrigerator for a set amount of time. You have to REALLY want tulips here to go through the hassle. lol

  24. Cynthia Raines says

    Hey there! I’m sure you will keep working around the house and get good and tired and it will be no time at all before your body clock is back on track. The Bluebirds are so beautiful. I have only seen one in my side yard years ago, maybe I should consider the meal worms. The wren video is just darling. I love them and their loud, cheerful song. I have read where you can put out the lint from your dyer or pieces of yarn as well, but your nesting material sounds even better. Behind our garden shed we had 2 tarps, a green and a blue one covering our long wood pile. After a few years, the one end of each started to fray and split so there were strings of it hanging. When winter came and the trees were bare I found a nest in our cherry tree and it had strings of blue and green in it from the tarp. I guess that little bird wanted a little color on the walls of her nest! he he. I keep all abandon nests I find on a shelf in my garden shed. All the work and the many trips back and forth to gather the material just melts my heart, I just can’t bare to throw them away. Happy Spring Susan! So glad you are home safe and sound!

    • That is sooo cute about the nest Cynthia…I love that! I know, I feel the same way…their nests really are little works of art. I love the idea of helping them a little if we can, then they can put their energy into taking care of those babies when they hatch. Thanks, it’s great to be home. Love traveling but there truly is no place like home!

  25. I have never thought about buying nesting materials for the birds. How thoughtful of you! Although I don’t think I could force myself to buy mealworms even though they look so appetizing in your Blue Willow bowl!

    • lol At first I was a bit squeamish, but now it doesn’t bother me at all. You can buy them in a “dried” state, but the birds never seemed to like those as much.

  26. I love how considerate you are of the birds, and I’m sure they are too!

    Travel is always an adventure. Sometimes we hit the jackpot and other times, not so much. But either way we come back with stories and memories.

    Few shrubs beat Cypress for growing quickly.

    • Thanks, Doreen! They give back so much with their beautiful song, happy to help them in any way that I can. It was a great trip, would definitely travel with OAT again.

  27. Juanita in OH says

    Hi Susan; I am so sorry you are having sleep issues, may they pass quickly. Maybe you could try some warm milk or decaffeinated tea to help rest. The porch benches look marvelous, I am amazed at the difference. You are so thoughtful of nature, I admire that. I hope the violas really surprise you soon as well as the tulips. I kept thinking about your trip and the credit card commercial-Price of trip X amount of dollars, Price of clothing for trip X amount of dollars and the cost for really knowing how to perfectly pack a hat PRICELESS!!! TFS such wonderful information. Have a great weekend.

    • lol Is there really a commercial like that? I need to see that…too funny! Thanks, Juanita! I’m sure getting a lot done during the early morning hours each day, though I’m done by mid day and ready for a nap. πŸ™‚

  28. Lots going on at your house starting at 4:00 AM! Ha!

    Sorry your tulips weren’t too impressive. From what I can see they are pretty in color! The only place I’ve ever seen that has good tulips year after year is the mountains of Virginia and PA. That’s not to say others aren’t getting good results, this has been my experience. I think tulips need that really cold air!

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip. I’m sorry some of it was difficult for you! That makes me sad.

    Glad you are back!

  29. If I come back as a bird in my next life, I will be hanging at your house! Have a great week!

  30. Lynn Case says

    Something I have started doing for nesting – if I have a old coco liner, I shred it into smaller pieces and put it in a suet cage to hang as nesting material. πŸ™‚

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