Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Guideposts - Week101

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.

 ~William Morris

Happiness is...spring break and a chance to combine spring cleaning, spring sewing and spring gardening!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

If a Bird Can Build a Nest, Then So Can I

Birds just have their beaks assisted by basic instinct to guide them when building a nest. I've got two hands, opposable thumbs and a lawn filled with birch branches blown down by the last windstorm--how hard can it be?
Since I had to gather up all the twigs anyway, I kept some to weave into a nest.

First I took all the wispiest pieces--some were already off the ends of larger branches, some I clipped off  if they were attached to pieces to thick to weave together.

Then I circled them all in my big soup pot, covered them with hot water and heated it to a boil before I turned off the burner and let them soak for thirty minutes.  The branches in springtime are usually alive and pliable anyway (as opposed to dead branches in the fall), but the heat makes them extra springy and less likely to break as I work with them.

Then I bent a few into a circle and spiraled both ends into a wreath shape.  Perfection isn't required--lots of ends stick out but we'll deal with them late.  Keep adding twigs until you have a nice hefty little wreath.  
Make one large wreath, one medium and one bitty.  My large was less than four inches in diameter and each smaller one was about an inch smaller.  The sizes aren't exact.  They just need to be graduated so that the next littlest one is smaller than the one above but still overlaps the inner diameter a bit.  You can see I made the littlest one nice and full--it'll be on the bottom and you don't want your eggs to fall through.  I had enough twigs for a second nest and my top was almost six inches, so you can make them as big or little as you'd like.

Then stack them up--can you see the spaces showing between the layers?

I saved some fine and very pliable twiglets to use as "thread" to sew the layers together.  I just wove them in and out, using areas that were open, until I had a more-or-less unified look.

Then I basically gave it a haircut--I clipped off the spikiest stems that stuck out before I glued on some moss.  When you hot glue a very thin layer of moss (Dollar Store or craft store) on top you camouflage any flaws as well as make it an softly inviting place to lay a few eggs.

I shaped a piece of wire about six inches long like a hairpin and stuck in through the bottom of the nest so I could easily attach it to my grapevine wreath and remove it as needed.  If you're displaying your wreath atop an old trophy or on a shelf, you obviously can just lay it in place without wiring it.

I'm an Offical Craft Hoarder so of course I've had a little bag of speckled eggs laying around for years just waiting for a project.  I squirted together a bit of light blue, ironically named Blue Jay, and added a dollop of a lime green acrylic paint to get just the exact shade of robins egg blue that my brain was visualizing, painted one side at a time and patiently waiting until it was dry before carefully painting the other side.

(And if you believe that I have some tropical acreage here in Northern Nevada that I'd like to sell you!)

Paint at here at Meadowsweet doesn't have much of a chance to dry before I'm ready to put on a second coat.  I have a system dedicated to my impatience now--an index card with thumb tacks pushed through that I use as a little drying rack.  It keeps the eggs from rolling around and the little points support the eggs but allow the paint to dry without needed a repaint to cover places where wet paint stuck to whatever I previously set them on.

A bit of hot glue--making sure that your eggs are attached to the twigs beneath the moss rather than the moss itself--and nestle your little robin's eggs in place.

Voila! You're ready to attach your nest to a wreath

or place it in an old trophy, 

or set it on a china plate.

  Nothing says springtime like a bird's nest filled with eggs!

More wonderful springtime lovelies at My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Friday!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Nest and the Scrub Jays

I didn't mean to create a "situation" but I think I was born to be the neighborhood trouble-maker.

I have a spring wreath on my front door. It's so cheery and springlike that it makes my heart happy every time I come up my front walk.

Winters are way too long and cold and spring is worth celebrating, wouldn't you agree?

Nestled among the silk flowers is a faux nest I created from little birch branches and inside are three little eggs painted robins egg blue.

The nest is cute, the eggs are colorful and everything seemed just fine until this year...when I noticed there were only two eggs in the nest.   

Darned hot glue just didn't hold or somebody shut the door extra hard, I figured.  I looked everywhere for that egg but couldn't find it.

Then most of the second egg disappeared.   Hmmmm.

And the last remaining egg showed signs of...

 (dum, dum, da,da, DUM)

egg-stealing, nest-robbing, hungry hoodlum scrub jay attack!

I can just imagine the conversation around the Jay Family table that evening.

Fledglings:  "Mom, are you sure we're supposed to eat eggs?" as they show her the empty shell they carried home.
            Momma: "They just don't make eggs like they used. I don't know what robins are coming to these days."
            Grandpa Jay:  "You young whippersnappers complain about everything.  Why, I flew upwind to school both ways and had to eat moldy worms for lunch when I was your age."
           Dad:  "I'll show you how it's done tomorrow."

Famous last words--can't you just picture the glee of the young ones when Dad had to eat his words.  Literally!

But gets worse for them.  We've replaced the eggs and have taken to listening for commotion at the front door.  My sweetie and son thoroughly enjoy flinging the door open and scaring the jays right out of their tail feathers. It might be hard on the hungry jays but I suspect they'll think twice before attacking the songbird nests for a quick snack later this spring!

I shouldn't laugh but I can't help it.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a nest-making tute--so you can be the trouble-maker in your neighborhood too. 

Sharing the silliness at An Oregon Cottage,
My Romantic Home Show and Tell Friday
and Feathered Nest Friday (how appropriate!) at French Country Cottage

Sunday, March 09, 2014

My Guideposts -- Week101

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. 

~Margaret Atwood


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Top Ten Signs of Spring in the Garden

I'm so ready for springtime!  We had hopes for a normal winter back in December when we were shoveling snow.  But after months of waiting for something (anything) to fall from the skies, I've given up.  We in the western states are facing yet another drought year.  The little spring showers that have suddenly appeared are better than nothing but they are not the same as a healthy snowpack melting into our reservoirs.

Spring-like weather has arrived--a full month earlier than usual, courtesy of the weather gods.  Who am I to argue?

And how can I disagree with these springtime markers that have arrived in my yard:

10. Green grass. Suddenly you look out your kitchen window and realize that a color other than brownish-tan exists again.

9. Incipient rhubarb leaves.  They're curled up like plump sleepy green puppies but one day soon they'll unfurl and begin to stretch toward the sunlight.

8. Swelling buds. Teensy green points of hope on the cutleaf lilac by the pond.

7. Pond housekeeping.  The water just warm enough to gather up old leaves for the compost heap without freezing my fingers in thirty seconds.

6.  Blue violets.  Trusty bloomers come sunshine or snow.  Now I remember why I keep them around.

5.  White violets.  Time to declare war on these persistent varmints for yet another year.  You know it's really spring when you have an actual, gotta-do-it-right-now garden chore!

4.  Primroses.  Pink and yellow and red and blue--neighbors come and ask if they're real.  Yes, they are.

3.  Crocuses.  Yellows and whites and striped purples.  Ahhh, striped purples--does it get any better?

2.  Mini iris.  Such a vivid shade of color as they unsuccessfully hide amidst the daffodils.

1.  Daffodils.  A daily greeting from the minis as I walk up to our front porch.

Was it just a few weeks ago that I froze on my morning walks?  Now each morning brings new delights--our little corner of the Sierra is waking up to birdsong and sunshine!  (If I'm not mistaken, I get to add the first hyacinths of the season blooming tomorrow!)


Fresh Cut Friday and Show and Tell at My Romantic Home

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Frozen/Winter Music

Most music mash-ups leave me cold (frozen, even) but this cross between "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons with "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen is irresistible.  So far I've listened to it, then relistened, enjoyed each song separately, then watched the mash-up once more.  Today I ironed shirts while it played, then hummed it in Winco while buying frozen strawberries, silently played it in my brain while driving  home, then watched the Behind the Scenes version.  Then decided I just had to share it with you.

Love, love, love it!  It almost makes me love winter, cold and snow--who cares about springtime anyway?!  I love the Piano Guys (even if one of them plays cello).

Be (Inspire)d,