Personalized Gift Basket with Ornament

One of our handblown glass bee ornaments topping this gift basket. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of our handblown glass bee ornaments topping this gift basket. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Gift Basket with Ornament

My mother loved Christmas ornaments. She would pick them up at yard sales, thrift stores and Hallmark store sales after Christmas, storing them in a little hallway closet. Whenever someone would visit, or she had to thank someone, she would do it with a Christmas ornament.

My friend Margaret also started a nice tradition with ornaments. She gives one every year to a family member, writing the date on the bottom and selecting something that was memorable about that year.

The generosity of these two ladies inspired me to add one of our handmade, hand blown glass honey ornaments to the top of this gift basket.

The gift basket includes two jars of our Bluebird Gardens honey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The gift basket includes two jars of our Bluebird Gardens honey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The basket has two jars of honey, one as the bees made it, the second creamed honey. I added the graphic TEDXMissouriS&T is using to market their April 11, 2019 evening of ideas worth sharing since it gave the basket a nice back drop. And yes, I will be one of the speakers.

It takes bees visiting about 40,000 flowers to collect the nectar and dehydrate it into one teaspoon of honey. To make 20 ounces of honey, the number of flowers they have to visit is in the billions.

The basket is for a silent auction to benefit our local Extension Council.

Here’s the gift basket all together! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Here’s the gift basket all together! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I have to confess, one of my cats took a swipe or two at the dangling ornament before it made it safely out of the house but short of that, the flying bee over the basket seems quite appropriate.

Charlotte

Personalized Gardening Starter Kit

Donated personalized gardening starter kit to a spring conference. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Donated personalized gardening starter kit to a spring conference. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Gardening Starter Kit

This spring I was one of the speakers at a state beekeeping conference focused on planting natives for bees. It’s hard to cover the topic without discussing the fundamentals of gardening, especially the need for good healthy soil. Knowing the conference would have a silent auction, I quickly made up this personalized gardening starter kit with an excellent Fundamentals of Gardening book; handmade gardening soap; gardening claws and, for a special treat, a little jar of honey that took bees visiting 100,000 flowers to make.

In addition, I shared seeds from two of my favorite plants, Cushaw pumpkins, the native North American pumpkin that most likely was at the first Thanksgiving, as well as zinnias. The zinnias are not native but they are so easy to grow and provide wonderful pollen and nectar for a variety of pollinators. For a beginning gardener, zinnias are a guaranteed win.

Alice, the silent auction winner, came up to me at the end of the conference to tell me how delighted she was with her gardening starter kit. Her son had squirreled away her yard sale gardening book so she bid on the starter kit for the book. Her family, however, is excited about the gardening claws. Her husband wants to scratch the dog with the claws and another family member thinks they would be excellent for a Halloween costume. So glad to hear they have found many other handy uses for the gardening claws!

I warned Alice the soap will last a long time so not to be thrown off by the small size. She said she will be happy to have something handy as soon as she gets in from the garden and ,in terms of the honey, she has very specific plans for that and they don’t involve sharing.

Enjoy your gardening starter kit, Alice and let me know how the seeds do in your garden!

Charlotte

What's In a Name?

Pre-printed labels add a nice personalized touch to something handmade. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Pre-printed labels add a nice personalized touch to something handmade. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

What’s In a Name?

One of the easiest ways to personalize a gift is to add a name. In the case of Bluebird Gardens-made items, we add our signature patented logo label with a ladybug on the back of our items. The quilts are shipped with a care guide and certificate of authenticity, which gives our customers an extra assurance that they know the original source of their items.

Periodically someone asks us how to personalize a gift without them having a pre-printed label. That’s easy, have a local embroidery shop embroider a name and special date on fabric you can then make into a label.

You can make your own labels with personalized embroidery. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

You can make your own labels with personalized embroidery. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Last week, we helped a customer making her own first quilt personalize the gift for her granddaughter by suggesting she include the granddaughter’s name in the quilt, like we did in this custom reversible t-shirt quilt we make.

She is also going to have a label made out of custom embroidery with her name and date to add to the back of the custom quilt.

Add a name with custom embroidery in a custom quilt center. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add a name with custom embroidery in a custom quilt center. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Even if you are making the quilt for yourself, make sure to add a label with your name and date on it. The information adds value to the quilt and will make it even more special to your family and friends if you give it as a personalized gift.

Charlotte

Personalized Pastel ABC Baby Quilt Gift Card

Pastel ABC gift card.jpg

Personalized Pastel ABC Baby Quilt Gift Card

There are many ways to personalize a gift baby quilt. We can add custom embroidery, print off a photo to add and add embroidery to the back side.

Another way to personalize this Pastel ABC Baby Quilt is to make a custom gift card. One of our customers took a photo of the baby recipient and made a gift card. This example is a photo of the custom embroidery. Between the two ideas, I like the one about taking a photo of the baby and having the gift card made out of the photo. It would be a lovely way to personalize the the baby quilt, don’t you think?

Charlotte

Personalized Ornaments

A sweet ballerina mouse ornament personalized for the receiver. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A sweet ballerina mouse ornament personalized for the receiver. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Ornaments

The month after Christmas is a good time to shop for ornaments you want to personalize as gifts. Whether you are buying new ornaments or pre-loved ornaments from thrift shops, look for ornaments that mean something to the recipient that you can easily customize.

One of the easiest ways to personalize an ornament is to date it and note why you are giving it with the story on a little added tag. A friend gives her nieces and nephews a dated ornament with a story every year so by the time they are leaving home they have a nice set of Christmas ornaments for their own tree with childhood memories attached. Literally.

This particular Christmas ornament was picked up because it was for a fellow ballerina who had a family member dancing in a “Nutcracker” production.

This charming ornament is holding a nutcracker. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This charming ornament is holding a nutcracker. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Since the recipient is also a beekeeper, it was pretty easy to personalize this charming Christmas ornament. Do you see it?

No one had to date this one to know who was getting it!

Add a little bee to personalize this ornament for a beekeeper. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add a little bee to personalize this ornament for a beekeeper. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Another way to easily personalize an ornament is to add a date and the location of where something happened. The location is a good trigger for the memory attached to the ornament.

If the ornament like this pink ballerina needs a defining addition, head to your local hobby shop and see if there is a miniature you can add to the ornament.

Since three is the charm I added another bee on the foot. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Since three is the charm I added another bee on the foot. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If the ornament marks a special event such as a wedding or anniversary, considering picking up an ornament display hangar so that it can be enjoyed all year around.

One last bee on the back of the ornament. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One last bee on the back of the ornament. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If giving ornaments every year to family members, it is helpful to keep a list of what ornaments you have given so that you don’t duplicate the memory.

Have you ever given Christmas ornaments as personalized gifts?

Charlotte

Personalized Photo Book Marks

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Personalized Photo Book Marks

Here’s another way to use the magnetic book mark idea for personalized gifts, especially if you need a last minute gift idea. Print off favorite photos and make them into a magnetic book mark the size of a card that can also be personalized inside.

I’m giving family members books this year and printed these photos off their Facebook page. I really like the one of the Beagles fighting over the purple food bowl, it well represents them!

I tested the size and these could also make nice Christmas cards. I would add a line on the back explaining what they are and cut them to fit envelopes if you plan to mail them.

Attaching magnet pieces inside turn these cards into book marks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Attaching magnet pieces inside turn these cards into book marks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I also made one for myself from one of my favorite photos of my cat sitting in her window basket. Wouldn’t a whole set of cards that can be used as book marks come in handy? I’m thinking I need of set of cats in different poses.

Every time I see this photo it reminds me I need to print off more of the snow scenes to make book mark cards. I have a lovely set of photos from an early snow storm that would be nice to enjoy again and again.

Love this photo of my cat in her window basket. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Love this photo of my cat in her window basket. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

For avid readers on your gift list, a box of 8 or 10 different magnet book marks with a favorite saying written or printed inside would make a lovely gift for any occasion. Since making some of these for my own use, I find that I use them quickly and could use more!

Charlotte



Give the Gift of Classes

A gift certificate to basic beekeeping classes by  Rolla Bee Club.  (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A gift certificate to basic beekeeping classes by Rolla Bee Club. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Give the Gift of Classes

Of all of the personalized gift suggestions over the years, this is one that continues to surprise people once they give it: the gift of classes.

It may not seem like the fanciest present to place under the tree but it can be if you place it inside a fancy box with a big bow. You can also give an item associated with the class and attach the gift certificate that says you are getting this class with the specific date so you need this item.

The one caveat is make sure the person getting the class wanted to learn about the particular topic, whether it be photography,, skiing or beekeeping. As the Rolla Bee Club signs up students for the 2019 basic beekeeping classes, we are asking the gift giver if the person has expressed an interest in beekeeping and all have confirmed that has been on their bucket list.

If you are not sure where to find classes, check with your local University extension office, many offer a variety of classes during the year.

Local vocational technical schools also have adult winter classes for the general public, that is where I have found the photography classes.

Recent studies show that learning something new is a confirmed way to keep our brains healthy and growing, which leads to a longer, more fulfilling life. Now that’s a gift everyone should appreciate!

Charlotte

Personalized Quilt Gift Tag

A fun touch with this gift quilt, the gift tag matches! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A fun touch with this gift quilt, the gift tag matches! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Quilt Gift Tag

There are a number of ways to personalize a gift quilt. The most popular way is to custom embroider a variety of things including someone’s name, special date, a quote or add a photo printed onto fabric.

When it is a quilt purchased by someone as a gift, we try to make the gift tag special and in this case, we managed to match the gift tag to the quilt itself. Our gift tag featured red trillium flowers, one of several wildflowers featured in our Cottage Wildflowers quilt.

The quilt is being given as a gift to a sister with a lovely dedication in the matching gift tag.

And the buyer?

They also get a special treat, do you see it packed in with the quilt?

Another surprise added for the buyer, do you see it? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Another surprise added for the buyer, do you see it? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

We included one of our honey seed saver packs, wrapped in plastic, as a holiday gift for the buyer.

Our honey see saver packs include Bluebird Gardens honey in a plastic container and small wood honey dipper; the blue mesh bag can be used to dry seeds, which then can be stored in the empty plastic container to plant next year. The more plants we have blooming, the healthier our bees will be.

We hope both buyer and gift recipient enjoy their gifts!

Charlotte

Gift Idea Framed Newspaper Article

framed newspaper.jpg

Gift Idea Framed Newspaper Article

If you’ve look around at your local businesses, and been in business yourself, you know that starting up any business takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, so much so that something as simple as your ribbon-cutting can end up as a torn page out of the newspaper with your full intention of getting it framed to hang on your store wall.

That’s why getting the ribbon cutting photo of one of your favorite local businesses is a simple but thoughtful personalized gift.

We know how special people think our custom scrapbook quilts are with photos so anything that has someone’s photo can be made into a personalized gift.

In this case, it’s a local winery where I get to spend an evening every month or so with friends, enjoying a wonderful meal and learning what wine to pear with different dishes.

I added a white piece of paper to the back so we can all write a short personal dedication.

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Once we all get to sign it, we will personally deliver the photo to the business with our collective thanks for all of the work the owners and staff put into their mostly monthly wine-pairings.

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Sure it’s what they do as part of their business but having the ribbon-cutting article framed is something they probably haven’t had time to do yet.

Other new business owners have shared how much this meant to them so trust me, it’s a great gift idea that will be much appreciated!

Charlotte

Catnip Butterfly Cat Toys

Bob testing a pile of butterfly catnip toys. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bob testing a pile of butterfly catnip toys. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Catnip Butterfly Cat Toys

When you live in a family that has dogs and cats, pet toys are on the gift list. For many years, I have made our family catnip toys with freshly-dried catnip from my garden and inspiration for the design from the garden as well.

Last year, my handmade felt catnip toy gifts were butterflies. I was inspired by working on Missouri’s Master Pollinator Steward program, a six-week course designed to help people interested in helping pollinators such as butterflies.

To make butterfly catnip toys, the design is simple. The toy needs the wings and a place to add the catnip.

Basic buttterfly catnip toy pattern made out of felt. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Basic buttterfly catnip toy pattern made out of felt. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Different-colored butterfly pieces ready to sew. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Different-colored butterfly pieces ready to sew. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Stitch the black portion on three sides and leave one side open to easily stuff the dried catnip.

Add catnip to the center piece once it’s stitched on three sides. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add catnip to the center piece once it’s stitched on three sides. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These are so easy to make. Once stuffed, stitch the last side shut. Don’t stuff them too full, you just need enough to give the black center a little pouf or rise.

Butterfly catnip toys with catnip.jpg

Here they are all finished and ready for a test.

Store finished catnip toys in plastic away from inquisitive paws. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Store finished catnip toys in plastic away from inquisitive paws. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My family gift catnip toys are thoroughly tested by my cats. Actually I have to store them in plastic and place them on the top shelf of a cabinet to keep my cats from volunteering to test them.

Uh-oh, Bob looks like he wants ALL of them! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Uh-oh, Bob looks like he wants ALL of them! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Fun to see the handmade catnip butterfly cat toys unpacked but Bob was not supposed to get all of them!

Charlotte

Shipping First Granddaughter Gift

Personalized pink rag quilt gift set ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized pink rag quilt gift set ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Shipping First Granddaughter Gift Baby Quilt

There are few things more exciting than hearing a grandfather describe the arrival of his first grandson or, in this case, granddaughter. The excitement, joy, awe - yes, awe, is all in the voice as they describe the child’s name, when she was born, how much she weighed…

Over the years, we have been honored to ship baby crib quilt gift sets to many granddaughters and grandsons, some who we know still have their quilts because we have also spruced a few up over the years.

Although most of our baby crib quilts are custom and unique, we also personalize in a custom unique way. Some people will have us custom embroider just the first name, or the first and middle name. This grandfather chose the later along with the details of the grand arrival: date of birth, weight and height.

Wrapped in bubble wrap only for the journey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Wrapped in bubble wrap only for the journey. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A pink bear toy delivers the special messages. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A pink bear toy delivers the special messages. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

And to celebrate the grand occasion, I included a little note to proud grandpa.

Shipping pink baby quilt gift.jpg

These rag baby crib quilts were made in USA. We still have another pink rag baby crib quilt in stock with green accents. Grandpa wanted one that was all pink so that’s what we selected for him.

What wonderful adventures are ahead for both of them!

Charlotte

Handmade Book Marks

A traditional metal heart book mark can be handmade as well as card book marks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A traditional metal heart book mark can be handmade as well as card book marks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Handmade Book Marks

There is a current retail report showing there has been a shift away from E-books back to traditional books. I am not surprised. Even though I love my portable electronic book for traveling, I prefer a book in hand when I’m home, especially ones with lovely illustrations and photographs. Yes, that means gardening books although there are other topics that have similar appeal such as recipe books.

If you give books as gifts like the American Encyclopaedia of Cooking, or if you just need a simple thoughtful gift idea, try making handmade book marks. I have made and given them over the years and regardless of what books include them, the thank you notes I have received have been all about the simple handmade book marks that were included.

There are a couple of basic handmade book mark designs: the pop up book mark and the one that lies flat on the page. Regardless of the kind you make, you will need one basic ingredient: magnets. You can recycle some of those on your refrigerator as long as you have two that attach to each other or buy a roll of magnet strips that can be easily cut into pieces available at most craft stores.

Handmade Card Book Marks

The easiest ones to make are the ones out of existing cards. Pick a card with a lovey sentiment you want to re-read, it’s a great way to repurpose thank you notes.

A roll of magnets that can be cut are easy to use. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A roll of magnets that can be cut are easy to use. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cut two pieces of magnets. Mine are about half an inch wide. You can cut them larger if you want more attaching power but be careful, if the magnets are too big they will tear the book page.

Once cut, remove the paper backing and attach to one side of the card. Add the second magnet piece to the first one; remove the paper backing and fold the card, that will ensure that the magnet pieces meet.

I leave the attached magnets in a book as a book mark to allow the glue to dry on the magnets.

Attach magnets to opposite sides inside the card. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Attach magnets to opposite sides inside the card. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

That’s it. Once the magnets are dry, the card can nicely be used to mark the last page you read or a favorite page you want to read again.

You can also make your own cards, then attach the magnets for personalized gifts. As an avid reader, I would love to have a set of these I can easily tuck into my reading pile.

The thank you card now can easily be used as a book mark. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The thank you card now can easily be used as a book mark. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Handmade Pop Up Book Marks

These are a great Thanksgiving weekend project for kids of all ages. Kids can cut photos out of magazines, attach printed photos onto card stock and cut out designs from last year’s Christmas cards to make into handmade pop up book marks.

The one on the right was made out of a favorite little frog prince magnet.

See how handmade pop up book marks work as well as metal ones. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

See how handmade pop up book marks work as well as metal ones. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once the designs are cut, glue the design to folded cardboard card stock so that the card stock fold will wrap around a book page.

For the frog prince, I glued the frog so that the tip of his crown sticks up over where the cardboard cart stock folds over. I also left some card stock at the bottom to demonstrate that would be a good place to add someone’s name; there is room inside for writing as well.

Cut the card stock to compliment the design. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cut the card stock to compliment the design. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once the card stock was cut, I added once piece of the magnet under the top side. After leaving it to dry for a few minutes, I added the second magnet piece to the first one.

Add second magnet piece to the attached first one. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add second magnet piece to the attached first one. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Remove the protective paper and fold the card back to the original shape so that the magnet strip will glue to the bottom piece.

Attached magnet pieces hold the book mark in place. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Attached magnet pieces hold the book mark in place. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

After allowing the magnet glue to dry, here it is, finished and ready for duty. If I wanted less card stock at the bottom, I could have applied the magnet strips to the bottom of the frog. I left the extra white card stock to demonstrate leaving space for adding a favorite saying or dedication.

My finished frog prince book mark where his crown will stick up over the book rim. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My finished frog prince book mark where his crown will stick up over the book rim. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Can you see the possibilities now? Imagine what you can do after printing family photos. Fun to make and even better to give away!

Charlotte

Garden Flags

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Garden Flags

Over the years, one of my favorite housewarming and thank you gifts is to give 12x18 inch small garden flags. It’s something people don’t usually think of buying but once they have them, they tell me they enjoy displaying them in their gardens.

A typical garden flag display at local big box store. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A typical garden flag display at local big box store. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

You can find garden flags and the metal garden flag posts at most garden centers near the arbor displays. The flags themselves may be in another section of the big box garden center and usually are offered by season. The previous season flags may be marked down while the current garden flags are regular-priced.

For a first set, pick a garden flag for each of the four main seasons. Garden flags out of season can be purchased online.

Garden flags with some humor. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Garden flags with some humor. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

In terms of options, there are the basic “welcome” and “happy holiday” generic sayings. The garden flags with more unique sayings may be harder to find but I enjoy looking for ones that mean something to me, especially funny and whimsical ones.

For gifts, I like to pick ones that have kind and happy thoughts.

Garden flags with funny and uplifting messages. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Garden flags with funny and uplifting messages. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Garden flags are like lap quilts, they quickly can change the look of garden corner by bringing a touch of the season to that spot.

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One quick note, the metal garden flag post can be awkward to wrap so find a box to fit them in.

Charlotte

Personalized Ducky Baby Quilt Saga

Ducky baby quilt gift set personalized as a gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Ducky baby quilt gift set personalized as a gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Ducky Baby Quilt Almost Didn’t Make It!

If you have purchased an item from us, you know we ask you to let me know that it has arrived safely. That’s because one never knows what problems might arise when making a shipment.

In the case of this personalized duck baby quilt gift set, the gift-wrapped quilt left Rolla, Missouri safely only to arrive at its destination with an address that did not exist. Luckily the local post office called me to tell me of the issue and I called the customer who purchased the gift set.

Gift-wrapped and ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Gift-wrapped and ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

After checking the address the customer gave us, turns out the address was incorrect but we had a phone number for the gift recipient.

I called the postal carrier back, gave her both the new corrected address and phone number and waited.

And waited.

The customer emailed me asking if I had heard anything.

Sorry, no, still waiting.

Then a wonderful email from the customer saying the baby quilt gift set ended up delivered at the gift recipient’s business office. We figured the postal carrier found her through the phone number because it wasn’t the corrected address I had given her.

Regardless, this postal carrier is my new heroine, thank you!

Charlotte

Homemade Cat Furniture

One minute cat bed, the next a cat perch. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One minute cat bed, the next a cat perch. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Homemade Cat Furniture

Usually this time of year local big box stores will feature something special for pets and I have yet to see something my cats would enjoy more than this piece of homemade cat furniture.

If you have furry friends you want to spoil over the holidays, take a look at this piece of homemade cat furniture one of my brothers made. He said he made his first one for his Beagle dogs and figured my cats would enjoy having their very own.

At first I didn’t know what it was because he forgot to include instructions in the box. However, after a quick phone call and some quick twisting, the pieces were fitted and the cats had a new perch and napping spot to try.

The piece is made out of white PVC pipe with three-way fittings for the corners. Each “floor” is made out of a stitched canvas fabric that slips over the pipes. That’s it. I could glue the pieces together but I didn’t in case I wanted to make new fabric floors.

To make the levels comfy, I use old white quilted pillow shams that are easy to wash and replace.

In winter, Shirley Honey likes to be surrounded by outdoor pillows that help keep the bottom level warm. This unit sits at a window next to a heat vent.

Bottom level stays warm thanks to nearby heat vent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bottom level stays warm thanks to nearby heat vent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The critical piece to make this is a safe way to cut the plastic pvc pipe. The rest is all about building to size.

Here is a closer look at the corner pieces. This one is for the top “shelf.

Three-corner pvc elbow is the basis for this cat furniture. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Three-corner pvc elbow is the basis for this cat furniture. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The next or bottom “shelf” is a different joint, it has 4 connectors.

This bottom corner piece has 4 connectors. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This bottom corner piece has 4 connectors. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Last but not least, the canvas shelf is a simple foldover with stitching in the center.

Sewn canvas shelf is folded over and stitched in center. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Sewn canvas shelf is folded over and stitched in center. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

You could make different-colored fabric “shelves” to fit in with your home decor and the seasons.
Think you can make one of these for your cats?

Charlotte

Honey Seed Saver Samplers

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Honey Seed Saver Samplers

Looking for a little something to give that office worker, volunteer, mailman to show your appreciation for what they do for you but limited in how much you can spend? Our office Secret Santa used to limit gift values to $10 or less.

To offer a sweet gift that can keep on giving, I developed these Honey Seed Saver Samplers that have been very popular with friends who have received them this past year for a variety of occasions. Now you can get some to give as gifts, stuff in stockings and share “just because.”

Our Honey Seed Saver Samplers include four of these blue mesh bags each with Bluebird Gardens wildflowers honey, a small wooden honey dipper and gift tag with instructions for $24.95.

Honey containers can be re-used to save dried herbs and seeds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Honey containers can be re-used to save dried herbs and seeds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Each sampler includes 2.2 oz to 2.3 oz of Bluebird Gardens raw strained honey, just the way bees made it. Bees had to visit more than 250,000 flowers to collect and dehydrate the honey in each of these containers.

The 2.2 oz - 2.3 oz is enough for a teaspoon of honey for 6-7 days.

Once the honey sampler is empty, it can be washed out and used to store flower seeds dried in the mesh bag for planting next year.

I also store dried herbs in some of these versatile plastic containers.

The blue mesh gift bag doubles nicely to dry flower seeds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The blue mesh gift bag doubles nicely to dry flower seeds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Since bees need to visit literally millions of flowers to collect pollen and nectar, these Honey Seed Saver Samplers remind us to keep planting flowers so bees can continue to make honey. Honey is what bees eat while they are wintering over inside their hives and it is a sweetener people enjoy.

Each honey seed saver sampler makes a nice little gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Each honey seed saver sampler makes a nice little gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If you need larger quantities of honey seed saver samplers, just let me know and we can make larger orders.

Charlotte

Gift Zinnia Seeds

A bouquet of zinnias keeping me company in my kitchen are a beautiful summer bounty. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A bouquet of zinnias keeping me company in my kitchen are a beautiful summer bounty. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Gift Zinnia Seeds

Years ago, when I was focusing on what I would grow in my garden, I decided I would concentrate only on perennials because, once planted, they come back year after year. The one exception is zinnias, an annual originally from Mexico that needs to be planted every year. Frankly, if I could only grow one flower it would be zinnias. I know, so much for planning what I am going to plant in my garden…

These hardy, colorful and butterfly and pollinator-friendly flowers are also long lasting cut flowers, bringing a delightful pop of color into any room.

History of Zinnias

According to Diana Wells, zinnias were named after Dr. Johann Gottfied Zinn, a Gottingen University professor who in 1753 wrote a book on the eye anatomy as well as a book on the Gottingen area flora.

In Mexico, the original flowers were called mal de ojos, translated as “ugly to the eyes” because the original flowers were small and considered ugly.

Burpee Seed Co. decided to experiment with the flowers and “Old 66,” one plant in the sixty-sixth row of the experimental gardens, is the basis for most of the current zinnia hybrids.

Gift of Zinnia Seeds

So as I was sharing with friends on a social media platform, a friend from my local television days shared a beautiful photo of a Monarch butterfly on a zinnia taken that morning. That does it, I posted, I am covering my garden in zinnias next year.

A couple of days later, Diane texted she was in town and had something for me:

A gift of zinnia seeds in an ice cream bucket with a sweet identification label. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A gift of zinnia seeds in an ice cream bucket with a sweet identification label. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Not only were there zinnia seeds but she had dried and separated the seeds so they are ready to plant.

Beautifully-dried and sorted zinnia seeds, ready for planting. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Beautifully-dried and sorted zinnia seeds, ready for planting. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Garden Gift Ideas

Her thoughtful gift was a good reminder how seeds make wonderful garden gifts. Pick or cut off the flower heads and allow to fully dry. Separate the seeds from the flowers and allow to dry again for a couple of days. Package in small envelopes with the flower variety and planting instructions.

If you have kids, have them draw flowers on the gift seed packages before filing.

I picked my last zinnias of the season and have them on my den coffee table, a reminder of the thoughtful gift and the promise of next year’s flowers.

My last zinnia bouquet keeping me company on my den coffee table. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My last zinnia bouquet keeping me company on my den coffee table. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

By the way, Diane and I had a lovely visit, another wonderful benefit of sharing seeds. In the language of flowers, zinnias represent “thoughts of absent friends,” which is only too appropriate. Thanks, Diane!

Charlotte

White Rose Gift Bouquet

white rose bouquet close.jpg

White Rose Gift Bouquet

A friend's wife and daughter were under the weather so I picked a small bouquet to cheer them up. John F. Kennedy fragrant white hybrid tea roses, purple forget-me-nots and white garlic chives all in a porcelain watering can I picked up at a local thrift shop.

Punishing summer weather this year gave way to a couple of weeks of cool temperatures, prompting my garden to produce flowers again.  Most plants go into survival mode when temperatures go over 90F for any length of time. 

I pick up these small containers when I find them so I have them handy to make gift flowers.

Pick up small containers you can use as flower vases for gift flowers from your garden.

Pick up small containers you can use as flower vases for gift flowers from your garden.

I did explain to the husband/Dad that the roses will smell wonderful but there will also be a garlic whiff from the garlic chives. Garlic chives are wonderful bee plants and one of the few plants that bloom profusely in August and September in hot weather conditions.

If you have to choose between a small and large container, choose a smaller one. Small flower containers are more versatile than large ones. Most people can make a spot for a small flower vase versus something larger and it takes less flowers to make a bouquet.

Pick roses early morning still in bud form so they can have a longer vase life.

Pick roses early morning still in bud form so they can have a longer vase life.

Pick roses and the other flowers early morning. Use sharp scissors to cut them at a 45 degree angle and get them into water immediately. I sometimes take a jar with water into the garden when I am cutting flowers so I can get the cut ones immediately hydrated.

Also make sure the flowers are compatible. Daffodils, for example, don't get along with other flowers unless they are kept in a vase with water to drain toxins first.

Another benefit of making gift flower bouquets, it gives me a chance to see my garden from a different perspective. Garden dreams are a delightful way to enjoy a garden, too!

Charlotte

 

Personalized Mug Rug Gift

Inspired by these custom -made mug rugs, I added a variety of items for a calming break. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Inspired by these custom -made mug rugs, I added a variety of items for a calming break. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Mug Rug Gift Set

Have you seen those quilted mug rugs that are still popular for beginning quilters to make? They are easy to make and give beginning quilters encouragement to try something bigger, like a table runner. Or place mats.

The concept of mug rugs inspired me to make a set for a couple I was working with on an annual conference as a thank you for reaching a planning milestone. Instead of just making the placemat-like quilted piece to hold a mug, I extended the pattern and made a pocket where a napkin could be tucked in.

Mirrowing the reason for the gift, I then added a variety of treats to be enjoyed with a mug; stress-reducing tea, calming coffee, hot chocolate, a variety of sweeteners and yes, even a little bottle of whiskey.

The long white boxes hold glass stirrers for ice tea. 

This is the finished personalized mug rug gift set ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This is the finished personalized mug rug gift set ready to ship. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This was an easy way to thank someone for their help and still make it personalized. Check out other personalized gift set ideas for your holiday gift-giving.

Charlotte

Personalized Furniture Refinishing Gift

Our red and blue quilted bags are lined in plastic and come with a free gift tag.

Our red and blue quilted bags are lined in plastic and come with a free gift tag.

Personalized Furniture Refinishing Gift

There are several ways customers can personalize our furniture refinishing gift kits:

1. They can choose from a quilted, plastic lined gift bag or a vintage lunch box.

2. They can choose what color of Howard Furniture Refinishing color is included.

3. They can write their own special message on the enclosed gift tag.

The inside of one of our personalized furniture refinishing gifts, do you see the extra item?

The inside of one of our personalized furniture refinishing gifts, do you see the extra item?

This last order included another little surprise. We added a little 2 oz. container of Bluebird Gardens honey with a small wood honey dipper. Seemed only appropriate since Howard furniture care and refinishing products are made with bees wax and carnauba oil.

Our little surprise in this furniture refinishing gift, a little honey and honey dipper!

Our little surprise in this furniture refinishing gift, a little honey and honey dipper!

If you want to add something personal to your furniture refinishing gift, there's room for a little something. In the past we've added a little wooden toy set, a small tin of fresh catnip and even a box of homemade chocolates.

This particular furniture refinishing gift was ordered as a housewarming gift. What other special occasions would you think of giving a furniture refinishing gift?

Charlotte