An owl to scare away the woodpecker

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My parents have a woodpecker problem.  A HUGE woodpecker problem.  They have clusters of holes in every corner of their siding.  They’ve tried hanging shiny things from the roof to scare them to no avail.  My dad has even hinting at getting a BB gun.  Here are a couple of photos that I cropped from our recent reunion (I wasn’t even aiming at the holes, but they came through in the pictures loud and clear):

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So, when I saw this adorable Upcycled woodpecker on the Old School Garden blog (http://audaxdesign.co.uk/) I knew I had to give it a try.  I followed the post pack to this neat blog:  http://aristonorganic.com/2013/02/19/upcycle-make-an-owl.  You’ll have to check out the blog itself, because I couldn’t copy the original photo but, trust me, it’s adorable.

I went through my considerable CD collection and ended up with a compilation CD I made when I was teaching middle school theater.  It was definitely time to close that chapter.  My only second thought about this one is that it was kind of blue, instead of the typical hologram-y silver you get with store-bought CDs.  I think I’ll try one of those next if I can find one I’m willing to part with.  I picked up a bag of knives at the local thrift store and I raided my button stash for the beak and pupils.  I had the rest of the lids and bottle-caps lying around for just such a project.

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It looks like the elements are bolted together on the original version but the glue seems to be holding pretty well.  I put a used cap center from a canning jar on the back for another layer to hold the knives together.  (Those suckers are heavy.)  I have no idea how they found such short knives, but this will be the samurai edition.

My version is nowhere near as cute as the original, but it’s a first try (and there are 5 corners at my parents’ house, so I have four left to make).  I’ve since found a ton of other cute owls made out of upcycled materials, so I have a lot of others to try.  I’ll be sure to add any subsequent ones to this post.

I hope that if the shininess of the silverware and CD don’t scare off the woodpeckers, the knives will.  (My boy was very excited to think that they might be “decapitated”, which disturbed me just a little.)

Building a little garden and an upcycled planter

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We’re hosting the family reunion this year, so on Labor Day weekend about 25 people will all descend on my parents’ house.  My mom is getting a little worried, though, because they’d planned on having landscaping done this summer but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be even started by then.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents have a beautiful, big yard, but it’s just not everything my mom wishes it would be.  So, today I went over and helped brighten up a little corner of it, by the front of the house, as a little eye candy when people were coming in.

This little area off the driveway used to be a little flower bed but has long-since been filled with weeds, grass, and 3 black-eyed susans.  I, of course, forgot to take a “before”, but trust me when I say that it was not pretty.  We dug it up with the help of my handy-dandy Fiskars weeder and a little old fashioned elbow grease.  My mom and I went shopping at the local garden center (I love it there, especially when I’m not spending my own money) and picked up some mums to put in 3 pots my mom had (since they’ll be in full bloom right around the time of the reunion) and some pretty ornamental cabbage as accents.  Here is is before the mulch:ImageMy folks had the sandstone in the backyard and it made a perfect border. My mom’s going to see if there’s any more at the garden center to replace the random rocks we put along the driveway.  They were kind of an afterthought but made a nice addition.  Image

And these were the finishing touches:

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The petrified tree chunk was hidden behind a bunch of bushes in another garden bed.  It had originally come from a huge tree in our church lawn that was cut down a few years ago, much to may people in the congregation’s dismay.  And I discovered the little frog when I was putting the gardening tools away in the shed.  He was my grandma’s and fit in perfectly.  It’s almost like we had unknowingly saved a spot just for him.  Maybe she had some part in that, looking down on us.

And here’s my latest upcycled gardening planter, compliments of Heather at Whipperberry.  http://whipperberry.com/2013/07/hanging-succulent-garden.html#_a5y_p=767637Image

She used International Delights creamer containers, which I certainly have plenty of, but I wanted to go with something a little more natural looking (as natural as plastic can be) by not painting them.  So, I used a couple different sized Powerade bottles (my wife loves that stuff) because they’re clear.  (Little Rufus wanted in on the action.)

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I cut holes in them with my X-acto knife, making a little flap for the plant to rest on, and cut small triangles in the bottoms for drainage.  I filled the bottle about half full with a loose dirt mix and not-very-delicately shoved the roots into the hole.  I had picked up these little Hens and Chicks from my favorite farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this project.  To hang them, I used some LAN wire that I saved from taking apart a computer keyboard about a year ago.  It totally went with the upcycle theme and it was green.  What could be better?  I just tied it onto the ring left over from the top and hung them from our gazebo.

At the garden center today, I got this cute, tiny little succulent and I’m planning to put it in a third bottle (the smallest size).  Three is a very good number in feng shui, representing creativity, family, and self-expression.  You can also see the threes in the plot at my folks’.  I know that at least family will be in abundance in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to it!

Upcycled chair planter going away gift

A close friend of mine is moving away, from where I live in Massachusetts (where she’d been for the past few years for grad school) back to Mississippi (where she was from). I’ve already got all the travel web sites set to e-mail me when there is a good fare from here to there, but, in the meantime, I had to make something as a going away present. She rented a truck to drive everything down herself, so what better, then, than a new piece of furniture to throw on board.

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But, seriously, this was really fun to make and it’s not too big- just made out of a kid’s sized chair. I’d actually been eyeing the chair for a long time and had finally decided that my boy had officially grown out of it. I started off by drawing around the top of the pot I wanted to use and cutting a hole through the seat about 1/4″ in from the circle I’d drawn with my handy jigsaw. Of course, the boards in the center that I cut all the way through then got a little wobbly because they were only being held on by a staple. So, I used the scrap pieces from the hole I cut and some wood glue to shore them up.

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This was my second attempt ever at using crackle, and I went with Martha Stewart’s (mostly because that was the one that came in the biggest bottle at Michaels). I started off with a nice, soft green acrylic, then did the crackle, then went over it with a deep blue outdoor acrylic. I applied them all with sponge brushes and a thin bristled brush to get into the cracks. It actually worked really well and I only had to learn once not to try to touch up the top coat after it had started drying (because the crackle effect only works on the first coat over it). I also had to learn that when you use crackle when it’s humid in a room without air conditioning it takes a REALLY long time to dry.

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I used my new white Pitt pen to do some doodling on it and write the phrase “Keep out of the Weeds”. It was kind of a cross between “Keep off the grass” and being “in the weeds”- an expression she uses when she’s overwhelmed with work (which was pretty frequent during grad school).

I lacquered the heck out of it with both brush on and spray on polyurethane. I’m hoping it will stand up to the elements outside. Part of why I made this is because she’s moving from the apartment she’s been renting back to the home she owns, so she’ll have some more room for outdoor decor.

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I did a crackle finish on the pot I put in it, too. The sad flower in the photo is actually just a seed I started not too long ago. I didn’t give it to her with a plant in it (I figured that would add insult to injury in terms of her packing responsibilities).

The finishing touch was the bottlecaps I attached with little brad nails I had pulled out of the dresser drawer I made into a shelf. We might have spent one or two nights drinking Mike’s hard lemonade in the past few years. Just sayin’…

Anyway, I’m really happy with it but really sad about the occasion for the gift. I heard Mississippi has a great St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Glass bottle edger

ImageWe got married in our backyard last September and had a ton of wine, beer, root beer, and Mexi-Coke bottles (my favorites).  I couldn’t bear to recycle them and knew I’d find something to do with them if I kept them for a while.  Now that it’s Spring and the snow’s finally melted and the ground unfrozen, I decided to “plant them” and use them as edgers.

I made circle of them, buried upside down, around our peach tree.  It was really easy.  I picked a distance from the tree, just outside the mulch and weed barrier I currently had down and used my “tools” to measure out the radius from the tree trunk.  I loosened the ground with a sharp spade, pushed them in as far as I could with my hands, and then used a rubber mallet to pound them in the rest of the way.  Believe it or not, none of them broke in the process!  Unfortunately, there was one casualty:Image

My spade broke soon after I started in on the wine bottle edger for around the fire pit.  I was starting to get a blister on my palm, so I guess it was a good time to take a break, anyway.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised when the pattern matched up perfectly at the end.  Sheer luck!

Now, we have a pretty and inexpensive edger (about 15 cents a foot) that reminds us of our special day.

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