Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yard Sale Chickens

I had the pleasure of going to yard sales this weekend with a friend.  I'm not sure what sort of vibes I was giving off that day, but as my friend gets offered free stuff ("Oh, I see you looking at that lovely [fill in anything here] so you may just have it for free!!!") I am haggling left and right for cheap junk. 
At one sale, we are told that everything on the picnic bench can be ours for $15 OR we can pay $1 a piece.  I pick up three items and say, "How about $2 for all these?"  The elderly gentleman running the sale barks back, "FOUR DOLLARS for that!"
What kind of crazy math is that?
At the next sale, my friend picks up a brand new Pottery Barn vase (price tag still on, $20 value!) and the grandmother running this sale chimes, "You can have that! It's free."  I pick up the blue chicken seen in the photo and offer fifty cents (generous, IMO) and the lady grimaces and shakes her head.  She explains that a few dollars is more like what she had in mind.

--Back up and read that sentence about Pottery Barn again.-- 

I pick up the orange tchotchky in the picture (I don't even know what it is, but it looks chickeny enough for me) and offer a dollar for both of them.  She begrudgingly takes the money and then makes it pretty clear I better leave. 
At the next yard sale, my friend gets free curtains and a matching switch plate thrown in as a bonus.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A House for Frog and Toad

Picture this: the kids are playing nicely, too nicely almost, when your suspicions that this is 'too good to be true' are confirmed and -- crash! -- your lovely potted parsley lands on the floor from its perch on the kitchen counter.
I hate to throw out pottery.  Chips of a broken pot can be used in the bottom of another pot for drainage. I usually smash up broken pots and store them in the shed.  But the gap left in this pot looked so much like a doorway, that we turned the pot into a toad home.  I don't know if any toads or frogs will find their way to it, but since it kept my boys quiet for a few minutes while they painted it, I don't really care.  : )

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Fairy

My littlest guy has been on a fuse bead kick for a few weeks now, ever since we made plant row markers for the vegetable garden.  Usually when my children figure out that some sort of fun activity has a purpose, they no longer want to do it, but not this time.  "N" has made a fairy for the chickens, using a pattern that came with some of our fuse beads.  I hung the Red Faced Chicken Fairy on a pole in the chicken yard.  And I thought that pole had no purpose.  It was just waiting for the day when the Red Faced Chicken Fairy would arrive.

This chicken was not impressed at the turn of events.  When asked her opinion, she said, "Er...shut the door, would ya?" (That chicken is named Teriyaki.  Such a cruel name. No wonder she's so paranoid all the time.)
Here you can see the pole formerly known as Useless now holding the tiny Red Faced Chicken Fairy to overlook our Empire of Dirt.  No wonder I get the Nine Inch Nails song in my head whenever I visit the chickens. It all makes sense now.  (And if you haven't heard Empire of Dirt covered by Johnny Cash, check it out.)

Boo can't figure out why the chickens would need a Red Faced Chicken Fairy.  Hmmmm....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fairy Garden

One of the first things we noticed about our home when we moved here is that the yard has an oddly placed circle of pine trees in the corner.  I have no idea what the original garden-planner was intending for these trees, but I was immediately drawn to the room created by the branches.  We started calling it the fairy garden, based partly on the 'fairy circle' lore, but also based on a delightful memory I have from my babysitting years (long, long ago) when I had the honor of working for a family who had tiny houses placed throughout their home...for the fairies.
Now we keep our eyes peeled for tiny things that the fairies can use as homes.  Birdhouses work well, like the yard sale finds above and in the branches below, and each year the kids try to make houses from sticks and other natural materials.
The home-made houses usually don't last more than a few months, but the act of building them is the best part. 
We also add things to the garden for our own amusement, such as the old elf statue, stepping stones and toadstool seats.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Garden Wish List

We visited Ladew Topiary Gardens today.  The historic property is a great place for children because it has lawns that beg to be run across, whimsical topiaries, and secret rooms hidden among the gardens. 
Walking along the pathways, I formulated my Garden Wish List.  I'll likely never own a property like Ladew (*likely* never) but I would still like to try to encorporate some of the elements I saw there today.
1.  Windowboxes  -  I don't know how I'll get these, but these top my list.  Those tulips are great, too, but I feed the wildlife in my neighborhood enough as it is.
2.  More places to sit  -  This little nook is the perfect place for tea or a game of cards.  The odds of me or anyone in my family ever playing cards or taking tea outside are really low, but I'd like to have the option. We found this stone set hidden in a sweet 'room' at the beginning of our tour, which leads me to my next wish list item...
3.  Hidden places  -  What fun it is to walk down a garden path and find an unexpected place to play or sit!

In this picture, notice that the wall has an alcove with a bench, through the arched walkway.
4.  A walled garden -  Just like in The Secret Garden, a mysterious walled garden could have anything hiding within.  I would need a lot of bricks, but this is a project I'd love to try.

5.  A greenhouse  -  I'd call mine the Orangerie, and I'd pronounce it with the most annoying nasal twang I could muster.  It would be fantastic.  My cat would love it.
6.  Nooks  -  Lots and lots of places for the cat to hide and the children to go find it.  What would be better than that? (Oh, and the statues and brick pathways just add to the charm, so I wish for them to accompany the nooks.)
7.  A potager  -  The one at the end of this path is actually a cutting garden.  Cutting gardens are cool, but I'd rather have an English potager, a kitchen garden.  Every year I imagine that  have one, but in reality it just looks like a bunch of plants in a huge cage.  I have got to work on that!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Plant Markers for the Garden

I searched for a while for plant markers to use in the garden.  I had high expectations for plant markers, so high that my search dragged on for over a year.  Ideal plant markers, for me, need to be inexpensive and decorative, last for a long time, involve the kids in some way, and hopefully use some materials I already have around the house. 
I spent a lot of time searching my sheds and garage for materials, but finally found my inspiration elsewhere.  In my kids' office (if you can call a room full of crayons and legos an 'office') we have a thousand or so fuse beads.  What could be better for making weather-proof, colorful markers in the garden?

My nine- and four-year-old boys really enjoyed making markers for the plants we plan to grow this year.  I was surprised how patient my little one was, even using tweezers to make the words I spelled for him. (He's wearing a Christmas elf hat; the soldier hat in the foreground just doesn't suit a crafter.)
To make a plant marker like ours, you'll need fuse beads, an iron, the ironing paper that comes with the fuse beads (to protect your iron), a small drill, bamboo stakes, and nylon cord.

Make a fuse bead design and heat it with the iron it to make it permanent.  Leave two holes near the top of the design for the cord.  String the cord through the fuse bead design once the design has cooled.
Drill a small hole in each side of the bamboo stake. Run the cord through each hole and tie.  Now your plant marker is ready for the garden!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Korean Spice Viburnum

Everything around here is blooming early this year, due to some very nice temperatures in March and early April.  One of our favorite flowering plants is this Korean Spice Viburnum.  This shrub gets large white flowers that smell great.  Even before blooming, the pink buds fill the yard with a delightful scent. We have them near our patio so we can enjoy them when we are outside, but the bonus is that they are along the driveway; we are greeted with their frangrance each time we get out of our car.  What a pleasant welcome!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blueberry Blossoms

Spring has sprung here at our home.  If all of these blossoms get berries, we're going to be making a lot of pies this summer!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Black Tie and Blue Jeans

We went to a fundraising gala called "Black Tie and Blue Jeans" last night.  Since my husband did not want to wear jeans with his tuxedo, I decided to make him a denim boutonniere.  I used fabric from an old pair of my son's jeans; kids' jeans often are a thinner and softer denim than adult jeans tend to be.  I used the fabric from the knee area so it was well-worn.

For the leaves, I used Modge-Podge to glue together two pieces of green fabric with some floral wire sandwiched between.  Once dry, I cut out the leaf shapes. 

For the flower bud, I glued floral wire inside one edge of the denim rectangle with Modge-Podge.

Once dry, I folded down the top so the edge wouldn't show and then wrapped the rectangle around until it formed the bud shape. 

I then arranged the leaves and bud together, securing the wires with electrical tape.  I would have used floral tape, but after an hour of searching for mine, I settled.  Finally, I wrapped a thin ribbon of denim (which I ripped, not cut, from the jeans) around them and used the Modge-Podge to hold it all in place. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nothing Better to Do

As if we have nothing better to do, we've decided to embark on a journey into Blogging. Why not??