Framing Flower Prints

Framed flower prints now in my basement hallway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Framed flower prints now in my basement hallway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Framing Flower Prints

A friend recently gave me these sweet US wildflower prints. No, they are not cut out of a book, the set was a reprint of flower plates found in US Wildflower books. Not wanting to spend the hundreds of dollars to have them professionally framed, I settled with five $2.99 per sheet of art paper a little darker than the actual prints.

A visit to area thrift shops turned up the ten 11x14 inch frames, seven matching and three with thinner frames.

Flower prints raspberry.jpg

They all had some wear along the frames so before adding the prints, I rubbed them with Howard RestorAFinish in Walnut. Counter-intuitive, I know, but over the years I have found using the walnut color on oak, for example, nicely covers nicks and keeps them covered.

After they were dry, I cleaned the glass on both sides, cut the art paper to size and added the flower prints.

I did think through which ones would look better in the different-sized picture frames. For example, I focused on the narrow edge frames at each corner to make sure the flowers were in the right direction.

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The frames were hung so that I can read the flower names as I walk by although I recognize some by sight. The calla lilies, for example, are easy to spot in the flower prints without reading the name on the bottom.

Flower print thick frame.jpg

I also placed the tiger lilies over the wall lamp, which nicely now illuminates the print.

The wall sconce now highlights the tiger lily print. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The wall sconce now highlights the tiger lily print. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Here are all ten prints now lining my basement hallway. Can you see where the third mismatched frame is?

Here’s a hint, take a look at the print under the wall sconce.

The ten flower prints in my basement hallway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The ten flower prints in my basement hallway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I didn’t have to polish or do anything else to the wooden frames, with Howard RestorA Finish they now look good as new.

Now to tackle that gold strip on the wall sconce, maybe I should paint that silver?

Charlotte

Reading Nook Disaster

This is reading nook central, where I do most of my writing, research reading and cat petting.

This is reading nook central, where I do most of my writing, research reading and cat petting.

Reading Nook Disaster

I have been featuring a number of reading nook ideas I have around my house to inspire you to set one - or half a dozen - up in your home. Studies show having a quiet space where we can go to relax, read, unplug from our electronic devices and spend time with a pet - is a good way to reduce blood pressure and help us be happier.

I know the traditional approach is to show perfectly appointed rooms but that's not reality so here's my quite real, and a bit of a disaster, reading nook in my den off my kitchen. This is also reading nook central, the spot in my house I use the most because it has the largest side tables where I can use my computer to write, and where I can pile the most books when I do my research.

I know I said unplug earlier, and I will show you how I learned to do that in a minute.

In addition, the two-seater sofa has a bunch of throw pillows. I use some for a head rest, the others to fill in the gaps until I can have the two separate seat cushions merged into one large one. These tiny love sofas are not designed with stereo cats in mind!

A breakfast tray works well as a computer stand when I don't want to use the side table.

A breakfast tray works well as a computer stand when I don't want to use the side table.

Even so, I still have some of the principles I showed you in other reading nooks, starting with the Four Season's Throw on the sofa back. I like to have quilts and throws close by so I can curl up at the first inclination of a cat nap. This sweet all cotton throw has four panels featuring each of the seasons so I can easily refold it to mark a different time of the year.

Right now I have it folded for the winter scene.

Four Seasons Throw has four different panels that can easily be featured on the back of the sofa.

Four Seasons Throw has four different panels that can easily be featured on the back of the sofa.

Instead of a basket to hold books, I use an old wood magazine rack I refinished. Magazines don't sit up well in these contraptions but books do so I keep some of the ones slated for further study close by. If they graduate to the magazine rack they are slated for reading soon.

An old wood magazine rack works better to hold books slated for closer study.

An old wood magazine rack works better to hold books slated for closer study.

I also have baskets, only in this reading nook I don't use some of them to hold books and magazines, I keep them on the side to hold items I need to repair. It's like having a little sewing area close by so I don't put off getting the things repaired because they are out of sight.

That poor little fabric turtle periodically disappears. I usually find it in another room in the middle of a pile of other cat toys, the victim of being purloined by my yellow cat Shirley Honey who has her own ideas of home decorating.

Several baskets grouped in my central reading nook help me get things repaired quicklyl

Several baskets grouped in my central reading nook help me get things repaired quicklyl

I also shopped for several flat baskets to keep my magazines nearby. Storing them flat prevents them from getting wonky when I tried to keep them standing up in a magazine rack and I can easily retrieve them when I need them. They have also been known to be used as cat napping spots.

Flat baskets add nice magazine storage space under my den coffee table.

Flat baskets add nice magazine storage space under my den coffee table.

Other simple home decor items have also been re-purposed. An old glass candle holder now holds TV remotes and hand cream. A sweet ladybug candleholder keeps my jump drives and multi-purpose knife handy.

Disaster Reading Nook ladybug candleholder.jpg

The greeting cards I use for book marks sit in this whimsical ceramic napkin holder. I also tucked an address book and some notepads to keep them where I can easily get to them.

Disaster Reading Nook napking holder.jpg

This ceramic flower vase now holds pens, emery boards and thread snips. Interesting flower vases can easily be repurposed so that you can enjoy seeing the actual vase.

This cute frog ceramic flower vase now serves as a pen, emery board and letter opener holder.

This cute frog ceramic flower vase now serves as a pen, emery board and letter opener holder.

And last but not least, I have greenery. Studies show having green plants around us helps reduce stress and relax.

During summer, I have vases full of cut flowers. In winter, I move blooming plants to the corner of the table, this orchid a dendrobium from Burma that started blooming for the first time for me. Love having fresh growing flowers close, especially when everything outside is gray and gloomy.

This dendrobium orchid from Burma is now blooming and sitting on my den coffee table. Greenery can be as simple as a small blooming orchid.

This dendrobium orchid from Burma is now blooming and sitting on my den coffee table. Greenery can be as simple as a small blooming orchid.

In winter, my larger plants are scattered through the house, this is an orange tree.

In winter, my larger plants are scattered through the house, this is an orange tree.

To keep my den reading nook green, I left my large orange tree hanging over the side of the sofa. This was an orange seed someone planted 25 years ago and the tree became too big for their space so they asked if I wanted it. After a little trimming, it's now part of my moving collection, sitting on casters so I can easily move it outside to my deck after the danger of frost is over. Many butterfly caterpillars have been known to munch onthe leaves mid-summer.

Do I relax in this space? Yes, the cats make sure I do, even when I try to work. Margaret the white cat is an expert at cat naps and she likes to have company. She has chewed on the computer cord a couple of times to let me know when she sits in my lap, I am to set the skinny gray box aside so that I give her my full attention.

She's right, we were not meant to spend all of our days attached to electronics, 10-20 minute naps are an excellent way to unplug and recharge our personal batteries. Reading a book to take a break is a close second but only if the cat approves!

Charlotte

Front Porch Reading Nook Idea

This is the reading nook on my front porch, a little sparse now but full of plants in summer.

This is the reading nook on my front porch, a little sparse now but full of plants in summer.

Front Porch Reading Nook

Reading nooks are wonderful ways to invite us to take a break and relax. I have been sharing some of the ones I have set up in my house to inspire you. Reading nooks can also be set up outside, like this one I have on my front porch. This is a very small space in a corner that started simply enough with an old deck chair.

Years later, the chair graduated to being a small, two-seater porch swing, the perfect spot to sit in and relax after a long day at work. Studies show that spending just a few minutes outside helps reduce stress and extend one's life over time, why not be comfortable while doing that?

This reading nook has a metal basket on the wall and side tables behind the porch swing.

This reading nook has a metal basket on the wall and side tables behind the porch swing.

As the weather turned cold, I started to drag the nearest throw outside to keep me warm. The beige throw now covers the porch swing and my throw of choice, the ladybug throw, is not heavy enough to keep me warm in single digit temperatures so I have it inside over winter. I like to have a quilt or throw nearby so I can toss it over my legs when I sit there for a few minutes to look over my garden. 

I found a delightful heavy strawberry-themed cotton throw at a local thrift shop for $4 that is now draped on the back of the porch swing for my winter protection. I love all of the strawberries on it; strawberries are part of our family history. My father's line goes back centuries to Hungary where my predecessors were farmers and, in particular. strawberry farmers.

Other basic reading nook concepts are still here, too. Take the idea of a basket.

Better than a basket, this metal basket is where I can leave magazines and other reading material.

Better than a basket, this metal basket is where I can leave magazines and other reading material.

Because it is outside, the metal basket is a better choice for holding reading material. Not only will it keep the papers dry but with the basket secured to the wall, it won't blow away. Or get stolen by Cousin George, the raccoon.

I also have two little plant stands behind the porch swing that serve as handy tables. I found the little wooden tray specifically for carrying my tea out to the front porch. My local glass company cut the piece of plastic that provides a continual surface over the two tables.

Behind the porch swing I have two tables I can use to hold my warm tea and tray.

Behind the porch swing I have two tables I can use to hold my warm tea and tray.

The black metal stand in the corner is new so I will be working with that later this year. My thought was I could leave some paperbacks there but visiting wildlife may want to read them, too, or take them. Maybe I will keep some plants there, or better yet leave some basic gardening tools so I don't have to go looking for them when I spot something I need to get done in the garden.

That's the one challenge of sitting outside, there tends to be something I spot that I just can't wait to do later. This is supposed to be a stress-free zone, I know. Well, have to work on that this year, too!

Charlotte

Bedside Reading Nook Clean Up

BEFORE: One of my most-used reading nooks is beside my bed and a bit of a mess!

BEFORE: One of my most-used reading nooks is beside my bed and a bit of a mess!

Bedside Reading Nook Clean Up

So here's my most used reading nook at bedside, a bit of a mess thanks in part to cats that walk over, knock books down and I have to place them back on the table as I walk into the bathroom. Yes, it's a daily occurrence so the book pile just kept growing.

Re-Think Old Furniture

The bedside table is an old walnut cabinet from my mother that didn't have its original doors. I love having that open space to store books and magazines so re-think furniture pieces for book storage. The open space allows me to keep some basics handy. I keep a dictionary, phone books as well as other material I want to read before sleeping.

I may add a little shelf at the top this year to add storage space for the electronics.

This old doorless cabinet is perfect as a reading nook side table, offers space for holding books.

This old doorless cabinet is perfect as a reading nook side table, offers space for holding books.

After some re-organizing, here is the same bedside reading nook cleaned up and ready to welcome the new year.

AFTER: Reading nook cleaned up and ready for the new year and new books. 

AFTER: Reading nook cleaned up and ready for the new year and new books. 

Other Tips for Bedside Reading Nooks

I still have a basket only this one is hanging from the wall and holds hand cream, notepads and pens, remote controls and other electronics.

I moved the wall hangings around so the books standing up don't cover the wall art. The smaller photo is one of Margaret, my 19-year old cat on the right of the photo, napping with her buddy Bob on the bed.

Two metal bookends hold the books I am currently reading. I will be looking for something prettier to cover the metal book ends but these work well enough for now. This makes it harder for Margaret to knock the books over as she walks across the bedside table.

Reading glasses, a card for a book mark and "Bun Bun" the cat toy that often gets moves.

Reading glasses, a card for a book mark and "Bun Bun" the cat toy that often gets moves.

Must Haves for Bedside Reading Nooks

A thank you note serves as an extra book mark for a new book I may start that doesn't already have a card in it to mark where I left off reading. I will add a few more cards to have them handy.

Reading glasses are a must especially for late night reading when my eyes are tired.

The tiny fabric rabbit is a favorite cat toy that often gets moved around the house. Shirley Honey is my girly girl cat, she enjoys her own form of decorating by leaving cat toys in different rooms and one doesn't move them without her supervising.

I found "Bun bun" in the basket with the hand creams and remote controls and I know I didn't leave it there.

Shirley Honey will find it soon enough and move it to a new resting place.

I have my Kindle here, only I keep it with the books instead of taking up space on the table top.

I have my Kindle here, only I keep it with the books instead of taking up space on the table top.

When it's warmer, the cabinet will get a little hydration with Howard Feed 'n Wax furniture polish and the clean up will be complete.

Well, except for Bun Bun, the toy rabbit. I will still be finding that cat toy making the rounds!

Charlotte

Framed Gift Bird Card

I received this lovely hand-painted bird card from a friend over Christmas.

I received this lovely hand-painted bird card from a friend over Christmas.

Framed Gift Bird Card

I know sending cards is not in style any more but I am lucky to still receive them every once in awhile. And when they are handmade, who needs to buy art, here it is delivered to your mailbox.

This past Christmas, a friend sent me this lovely hand-painted bird card, a combination of bluebird and hummingbird on an old printed book page in french with a solid blue paper background.

This friend is going through a very difficult time so I kept the card on my kitchen counter for weeks to keep her in my thoughts and prayers. One morning, I realized I wanted this bird with me every day and found a perfect spot for it on a wall right off my kitchen. 

Taking it with me to a local thrift shop, I found a frame I thought would work to set off the card's blue background. The recycled frame was $2.

I don't always find something that quickly, nor does a frame easily come apart but it was a good start.

This framed print at a local thrift shop was $2 and nicely set off the bird card.

This framed print at a local thrift shop was $2 and nicely set off the bird card.

Carefully removing the backing, I removed the frame, used it for the backing to the card and put it back in the frame. I thought about taking the solid blue card off but on second thought, left it on. I wanted to remember the story my friend had written, and the blue card reminded me.

The print in the frame served as the backing for the bird card.

The print in the frame served as the backing for the bird card.

This way I get to enjoy the card every day I see it without spilling anything on it. 

It's now part of a collection of three similar handmade birds, all cards friends have given me over the years. Love the memories they hold.

Turned out quite nicely, don't you think?

Charlotte

How to Mend Favorite Birdhouses

Friends have given me wonderful birdhouses over the years.
As they wear down, I've found plant markers are handy to make repairs.  I slip plant markers into broken bottoms, in open sides and to shore up roofs.

Markers can withstand weather conditions and still keep songbirds dry, giving the birdhouses a few more years of use!

Charlotte

How to Draw Ladybugs

Ladybugs are a favorite garden friend and can easily be hand drawn, we add them to our cards and tags all the time.

  1. Draw slightly oval red circles with a red marking pen. Start with a size you're comfortable with to practice, then make them smaller or larger, depending on how you want to use them. Regular marking pens are better than thin ones because they more quickly fill in the oval. Allow to dry.
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Your Lucky Day!

Who doesn't remember spending a warm spring day looking for four leaf clovers? Those memories came flooding back when I found this pressed four leaf clover among pages of a wildflower book a friend recently gave me. At first I thought it was something she forgot she had pressed in the book. When I saw her next, she asked if I had found the four leaf clover book mark she had found in her back yard. Inspired by the thought, I made a four leaf clover out of felt, glued a matching green ribbon and gave it to her in a cookbook gift set for her birthday.

Great way to give back, don't you think?

Charlotte

Use Favorite Birdhouses as Table Decoration

This little birdhouse was a gift so it had special memories.

Last year part of the roof rotted, so I removed the piece, sanded down the edges and treated the cleaned birdhouse with a couple coats of polyurethane. I then found an old glass bottle that would fit through the opening.

Filled with flowers, the renovated birdhouse works well as an outdoor table decoration under a deck umbrella, or anywhere inside the house where you want some whimsy.

Charlotte

Embroider Stains Away

A friend of mine recently asked who was the designer of one of my favorite sweaters and pointed at flowers I had embroidered on it. Not that I don't appreciate good sweaters, but I had to chuckle - the reason I had the flowers on the sweater was to cover a stain! So if you do any kind of embroidery, don't throw that favorite shirt or sweater out.

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Welcome

Welcome to Made Just For You.

I started Bluebird Gardens in 1998 on the premise that everyone can make
something; they just don’t always think of it as being special.
In my world, it is the thought that counts.
I’ll let you in on a little secret; making something for someone is
sometimes more fun than giving it away.
I’ll be featuring those wonderful homemade handmade things,
and the people who are special enough to get them.

What are you making?

Charlotte

Spring Flowers Make Great Cut Flowers

Welcome spring by giving someone a bouquet of daffodils straight out of your garden.

One of my favorite spring flowers are early daffodils. They are small; they need flower vases that are no more than 6" tall and look good tucked into any nearby corner.

Mid-flowering and late flowering daffodils and tulips will easily fit into standard, taller vases. You can also cut them to fit smaller containers.

Anemones, snow drops, glories of the snow and other small spring flowers will best fit in 2-4" containers.

If you plan to mix daffodils with other spring flowers, let them sit bythemselves in water for a few hours before mixing them. Daffodils have a toxin that will kill other flowers if you mix them immediately. I leave cut daffodils sitting in a vase by themselves overnight, then mix the flowers in the same vase in the morning.

There's nothing like a bouquet of home grown flowers to brighten someone's day, including mine!

Charlotte