Friday, July 29, 2016

Destination: Getaway

Totally enchanting, right?  We spent last weekend (the first overnight without the twins since their NICU stay) at Jefferson Island in the Rip Van Winkle Gardens.  It's been a good 20+ years since I toured the gardens.  And when I started planning to re-visit (it's only a 2 hours drive from my home), I was surprised to find that they rent cottages overnight - only 3 to be exact.  I'd figured none would be available and when I saw that they were free I jumped on it!  (Who doesn't want to come to South Louisiana in July - crazy, right?!).  Well, despite the heat, the location and amenities made up for it.  Our cottage was literally in the backyard of the historic mansion on the property.  They included a house tour for us and allowed us free access of the 20 acre gardens after hours.  Inside the gardens were beautiful tropical plants, free roaming peacocks, hummingbirds and many other wild birds; also, a bunch of mischievous raccoons - cute but we kept our distance.  It was just the pause I needed!

I'm generous, so here's the details on the best kept secret outside of Lafayette, LA

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hummingbird 101

It's getting busy in our garden and it must in yours too, because I've sold a hummingbird feeder almost everyday for about a week. 
With every feeder I sell (whether someone welcomes it or not) I'm going to encourage how to use and care for it properly and in turn care for our exquisite hummingbirds!  Last week, a friend of mine popped in and flirted with the idea of adding a feeder to her yard.  "I've heard its kind of hard; that you need to clean them often."  This is true, the hotter it gets the faster the nectar temps are in the mid 90's, I am changing feeders almost everyday.  And with that, she did not buy one...but I'd honestly prefer someone to leave it for another person that will maintain their feeder properly. 

So here's some tips to make feeding hummingbirds more enjoyable and less of a chore:
  • 1st things 1st; plant nectar friendly plants...hummingbirds can not exist on feeders alone; they need the sugar that comes from flowers naturally and also, they will eat tiny spiders and gnats (be on the lookout for that behavior one summer evening; its a hoot!)
  • Place feeders in a shady spot in a location that is visible for you to enjoy from your home or seated location in your garden.  As I alluded to in the 1st tip; feeders aren't completely necessary as a food source - it's for our enjoyment.
  • make your own nectar; don't buy the red stuff.  This is super easy and important.  All you need is regular granulated sugar and water.  One part sugar to four parts water (1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups water is what I use); apply heat in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved.  I place it in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.  And why not red?  The food coloring additive has only been tested for human consumption, not a creature weighing less than a dime.  Trust me they will come even if it isn't red.
  • Ok, here comes the hardest part...change feeders frequently and in high heat, everyday.  
    Here's how I do it; with a full time business and 18 month old twins (i.e. you can do it, nudge, nudge).  I buy a lot of hummingbird feeders; in the fall many go on sale and they are perfect for the picking.  Each day, I put a dirty one in a washbin and once a week I wash them all.  It takes me maybe 5 minutes out of my whole week; 10 minutes if its the week I'm making nectar too.
  • So, you've decided this is still more than you can commit; that's ok.  Here's some further tips on enjoying hummingbirds without making them sick:  Only provide a small amount of nectar in the feeder (if you've forgotten to change it, it's likely to have run out in a day or two.  Plant hummingbird friendly plants and either forgo feeders or place them out only when you are home to watch.  The plants will keep them nearby and the feeder will be a treat for you both!
  • And some people tell me they have trouble with bees; I've never really noticed a problem unless the nectar spoils and ferments.  So keeping them fresh should eliminate that problem.  Ants can be a concern and ant moats are especially designed to block their path; we have some arriving at the shop today!
I hope these tips keep your hummies happy through the rest of a busy and hot summer.  I will be a vendor at the Pollinator Celebration this fall and will be there to answer any hummingbird questions (and help people in our area set up for winter hummingbird feeding...yes, it's possible to have hummingbirds year round in the Southeast!!)

We sell and recommend Parasol Hummingbird Feeders:
  • mini blossom garden stakes - great to enhance a planter and on sale right now! 
  • droplets - our favorite feeder; its tiny - you can't really over fill it and let the nectar spoil
  • pixie - similar to a droplet but whimsical with glass wings!
  • ant moats - as mentioned above, this helpful tool keeps your feeder ant free; I also use this with suspended bird houses as ants can irritate babies and cause an early fledge
  • brushes - tiny parts need tiny brushes and this one was designed to get in small holes 
  • replacement tube - for parasol feeders; accidents happen and we can send you a replacement tube to keep your feeder in tip top shape!
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Vintage Vibe: July Finds

For a slow summer month, we've had some amazing vintage items pop up in the shop from our travels.
Check out this letterpress tray; it's been fitted with a wire hanger to make it into a wall mounted work of art or shadow box.  I delivered this to our pop up at Rustic Treasures this morning.
This vintage screen-printed fabric is exclusive to our Etsy shop; I think it's a perfect choice for a man cave or boy's room.  A very retro print with an owl, books and nautical instruments.  It's also a heavy weight cotton too.
And here's a rare find...Vintage bridge napkins with wine slippers or cozies.  A perfect set of six; they are gorgeous in a robin's egg blue with white embroidered trim.

We're off on another adventure this weekend for our wedding anniversary and you can be sure I've planned some junking stops.  Until then here's an article I just loved this week...
Game of Thrones fan?  Embroidery fan?  I'm both!  And this article (with gorgeous pics) highlights the stunning collection of hand embroidered costumes created for the show.  Read it here.

Featured in this post:

  • vintage letterpress tray - available at Rustic Treasures
  • owl nautical screen-printed cotton fabric - exclusively on Etsy
  • embroidered bridge napkins and wine slippers set - find it at Nest Interiors or Etsy

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happynest Bird Sanctuary

I've hinted for weeks that we'd hatched a new direction under our Nest family and now I can reveal what is truly in the works.  We are creating a non-profit bird sanctuary called Happynest; still very early in it's infancy, we anticipate opening to the public in some capacity in five years.  It is a largely untouched 7 acres bordering a small river in Southeast Louisiana; the property has a long history of wildlife as Native American arrowheads have been found throughout the land leaving us to believe it was a popular hunting ground.  Currently its home to bobcats, coyotes, bunnies, turtles, and yes, many, many birds.
For now, we plan on creating a website that not only charts our progress but informs and educates people on creating a bird friendly environment, protecting and creating habitats for birds and supportive wildlife, and providing access to quality bird and garden products. 
None of our existing businesses will go away - the brick and mortar, Nest Interiors or online business and blog Cottage Nest; they will now begin to work in concert to grow Happynest as a portion of everything we sell will now go to this non-profit.
I'll keep you posted as once our website is live and when fundraising efforts kick off!  Until then may all your birds be happy!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Christmas in July

It's that time of year when the heat indexes reach over a 100 degrees and we reminisce about the chill of winter and the arrival of festive holiday gatherings.  Also, it's time for our annual sale!
This year, we're in multiple locations, which gives us even more to celebrate, right?!  The following are our sales and events:
Cottage Nest, our Etsy shop, featuring our vintage collection, high end craft items and my exclusive line of handmade goods is offering 15% off your total purchase with coupon code HOHOHOT now through Sunday.  I should mention that Etsy direct checkout is malfunctioning - all credit card orders will be eventually processed, but if you need something right now, please select Paypal.
Our pop up at Rustic Treasures is ready for the festivities beginning tomorrow through Saturday.  All items in our space will be 10% off (including sale items).  Other vendors are decorating with a nod to Christmas and this Friday will be a Sip & Shop beginning at 6pm.  (I can't wait - I heard there will be brownies)
And at our flagship in Ponchatoula, LA please come to the one day annual sale - 15% OFF your entire purchase of regular priced merchandise.  We'll have new merchandise, summery refreshments, and a patriotic peek of seasonal items on the way!  Our event coincides with other merchant celebrations in town so you'll definitely want to stay and make a day of it!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Destination: Independence Day

I really wanted to get away for the fourth - and I mean, get a-w-a-y from it all: the shop, the small town we're in (and the small minds).  We got the kids up early, fed, dressed them and tossed them in the car pointed north.  2 hours later we stopped at the friendly and small scale Jackson Zoo in Jackson, MS.
The zoo was built in 1919 and a few of the original buildings remain like the monkey castle and elephant house, now a cafe (with the best lemonade ever!).  It felt more fairy tale than zoo in certain spots.
And as expected, it was incredibly hot; lemonade can only help so much.  We were delighted to take advantage of their splash pad - a first for the twins, too!
Nothing cuter!  And one added surprise, they have a petite aviary.  I love walking through free flight cages and though only three species in the collection, they had a Blue Bellied Roller that I was not familiar with; a total treat to see this bird in flight!
We'll definitely have to visit again!  Now it's back to the shop and we have a busy weekend ahead with Christmas in July events planned at both the flagship and pop-up; also, beginning today our Etsy shop is running a special: 15% off total purchase with coupon code HOHOHOT.  More details to follow this week!

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