Pet Bird Toys

We have two wonderful pet birds – or they have us. Willy is a Quaker Parrot, opinionated and fussy and egotistical and very smart. Zini is a Sun Conure, the baby of the family (though she’ll be five this year) and the most adorable (charming, spoiled, and did I mention egotistical?) person in the house. Here they are after a bath:

Zini and Willy and their bath

So my question / problem is… toys. They are both smart and active and when I’m nearby, their cage is open so they can wander around at will (on top of the cage, not through the house!) And we need more toys for them. Toys they can interact with, puzzles to solve, things to take apart – Zini especially thinks the very best toys are ones she can destroy. This is fine with me, but it’s so hard to know what’s safe.

Many commercial bird toys are too big for them – or uninteresting. (A series of alphabet blocks in safe finishes? Fun to look at but they don’t DO anything.) Leather strips? Fun to chew on – but potentially dangerous.

P.S. I should add, the very best toy we’ve found so far, is a peanut (with shell) wrapped in a square of plain white paper. Wrap the peanut in the paper, twist the ends, and they have to work to extract the peanut from the paper. They both love these. Willy likes to eat the peanuts, and Zini could care less about eating them – she just wants to destroy them. And they make a very satisfying CRUNCH while she’s at it.

I’m always on the search for fun safe toys. If anybody has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

Gemstone Turquoise – Real or Fake?

Turquoise is one of my favorite gemstones and I’ll bet money (Monopoly money anyway!) that it’s one of yours too. It’s gorgeous, it’s flattering, it’s not hard to find, it looks good all year round and with all skin tones…. you know what I mean!

And sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re looking at the real deal, or a pretty fake. Of course if it’s pretty enough you might not care – unless you paid for Sleeping Beauty Turquoise and got assembled crap instead. (And if you paid for Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, believe me, you’ll care).

This post just gives a few examples of the good and the (not as) good. Take a look below – here’s a couple examples of real versus not:

Turquoise Magnesite Genuine Arizona Turquoise Teardrops
Turquoise Howlite Beads Turquoise Howlite

Only one of these examples is real turquoise – the teardrops at upper right. I know they’re genuine because (1) I bought them in Arizona in person, and (2) I do this for a living and after a while you can tell.

The other pics show very attractive beads – they’re just not real turquoise. Upper left is ‘turquoise magnesite’, a much easier to find stone and it fools a lot of people. Lower left is dyed howlite. Once again, easy to find, and it’s pretty – but not turquoise. The lower right is what I think of as “felt” in the stone world – it’s stone dust (probably howlite again), dye, and glue, and all pressed together. Pretty. Not turquoise.

Tricky, ain’t it?

Cool Tee – Organic and Eco Friendly

Gotta love this. I was peeking around and found this majorly good-looking tee…. it’s casual but with a little extra spiff 🙂 That’s my kind of style…

Then I read a little about it and saw it’s made with organic cotton and water-based inks (solvent free) which is very high on my list of “this is how clothes should be made”.

Eco Friendly Tee - Yummy Colors

It’s from Harrilu and no she didn’t bribe me to mention it – I just think her work is cool 🙂

Clone a Dress Form

Make yourself a super-it-really-fits-you dress form from duct tape! This isn’t a new idea, but I recently ran across some pretty clear instructions:
Clone Yourself a Fitting Assistant.

The instructions are from a Threads Magazine story.
DIY Make Yourself a Duct Tape Dress Form

The article also tells you how to make one out of brown mailing tape. You can’t get much cheaper than that. And anybody who sews knows how handy a dress form is – when it works. This one is modeled on YOU.

Organic Gardening – at the White House!

I was so tickled to learn that the Obamas (or somebody on their team, I guess) have decided that it’s a good idea to do some organic gardening at their new house 🙂 This is the kind of thing that’s only a symbol, I suppose, but it’s a pretty terrific symbol.

Together with a bunch of school kids (I know, I know, what a photo op) Mrs. Obama’s going to start an organic garden at the White House. Read more about it here and here.
Humor is always of the good - Obama, gardening at the White House
And somebody’s got a sense of humor about it (photo mock-up courtesy of Eat The View).

Touching your tomatoes

I saw a very interesting post today about growing tomatoes from seeds – I’m going to include a link below. The author is Margaret Roach. Among her many interesting comments, she noted:

“Brush the tops of the seedlings daily with your hand to provide the “mechanical conditioning” that creates sturdy, not spindly seedlings. Not just once, but gently for a half-minute or minute. (Yes, go ahead, talk to them while you do it. I probably do without even realizing it.)”

Talk about “hands on” gardening! But she said a lot of things that make sense. Here’s the link to the full article:

Makes me want to get started myself – it’s past time to start the seeds in flats I can bring inside.

It’s Always Personal

The thing is, whether it’s a pendant or earrings with “Your Name in Japanese” or a specially made Initial Pendant just for you – it’s always personal. I think every business person knows this – or learns it. I’m making a product just for you. It matters.

It’s special, it’s individual, it’s very personal. Here’s just one example:

kanji necklace with your name in Japanese...this pendant says Sandra

The pendant on this brass, glass, and paper necklace says Sandra. And yes one can be made just for you or a gift you want to give.

It’s always personal.

Coffee Grounds

In a word – coffee grounds. Most plants love them – I’ll do some checking to find out what *doesn’t* like the acid in coffee. But most do.

Scatter the grounds as mulch. Dig them into your soil to both lighten and enrich it.

add coffee grounds to your garden - as mulch, as food, as compose - its all good

add coffee grounds to your garden - as mulch, as food, as compost - it's all good

And definitely add them to your tomatoes. Yum yum. Happy tomatoes.