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

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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

Jewelry Personalizes Hats

 Some of my favorite pins I have used to personalized hats. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Some of my favorite pins I have used to personalized hats. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Jewelry Personalizes Hats

If you have a collection of vintage pins, they make a great wedding keepsake and bouquet, a nice way to brighten a suit jacket and now, they can personalize hats.

Choose one with a lot of character, or color, and match it to a hat appropriate for the occasion. 

Last year, a friend who loves ball caps had a lot of fun with a little set of vintage jewelry pins I gave her to add to her hats. It's a fun treasure hunt and an easy way to give someone a personal gift without spending a lot of money.

When they don't want to use the jewelry pins on hats, they can enjoy them on a sweater or a belt.

 One of my favorite combinations, this pearl pin with a summer straw hat. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of my favorite combinations, this pearl pin with a summer straw hat. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If they don't like to wear the pins, they can display the vintage collectible pins on a fabric background in a picture frame to preserve the memories. 

Jewelry pins are very versatile and don't have to just be on a coat lapel!

Charlotte

Personalized Gardener Gift Set

 Here's the personalized gardener gift set right before I added the ribbon and sticker.

Here's the personalized gardener gift set right before I added the ribbon and sticker.

Personalized Gardener Gift Set

It's one thing to talk about how people like our personalized gift sets, it's something else when I can show you one that was appreciated.

This was a personalized gardener gift set I made for a former professional colleague on her retirement. I knew she enjoyed being outside and had roses so I pulled together a few appropriate items: the wonderful gardening genie gloves that make digging through soil easier; local handmade gardener's soap; thread snips that work well for dead heading flowers; glass flower drink stirrers and a little beaded ladybug purse for those quick runs for ice cream with her grandchildren.

I was going to miss her retirement party so I personally dropped it off so I could wish her well on the new chapter in her life.

 All wrapped up and ready to be personally delivered to a dear office colleague.

All wrapped up and ready to be personally delivered to a dear office colleague.

We had a blast opening it together. I didn't take any pictures, I enjoyed every moment with her discovering each and every item.

I do have the next best thing, her thank you note:

 Charming thank you note from the gift recipient, looking forward to visiting her!

Charming thank you note from the gift recipient, looking forward to visiting her!

Personalized gift sets are easy to make and fun to pull together. They do take a little thought and time so let me know if you need a custom one made, I have several examples posted in our gift section.

Charlotte

Personalized On The Farm Baby Quilt Gift

 We personalized On the Farm Baby Quilt with custom embroidery on the bottom. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

We personalized On the Farm Baby Quilt with custom embroidery on the bottom. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized On the Farm Baby Quilt Gift

Personalizing a baby quilt can be more than adding custom embroidery. In the case of this  On The Farm Baby Quilt Gift set, we did add custom embroidery in the cream white fabric at the bottom, under the sheep.

It was simple, just the first and middle name in a complimentary gold-ish thread so that the name would easily blend into the overall baby crib quilt farm theme.

We like to go one step extra. All of our baby quilts are shipped with a free complimentary toy that delivers the free gift card. I smile when I think of these little toys because over the years, our customers have told us how much the kids have enjoyed having both the toy and the baby quilt.

 One more treat, we added a cute bunny rabbit gift toy in complimentary colors. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One more treat, we added a cute bunny rabbit gift toy in complimentary colors. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

In this case, I found a charming cream-colored rabbit toy to carry the gift tag. 

The moral of this story is if you don't have time to add custom embroidery to a baby quilt, personalize the gift by adding a complimentary toy:

 If the parents are sports fans, add a little toy that represents their favorite team. 

If the parents have a favorite hobby, add a little toy that reflects that hobby.

And if in doubt, find a toy that compliments the quilt, either in color or theme.

Charlotte

Personalized Baby Alphabet Quilt

 This personalized baby alphabet quilt gift-wrapped and boxed ready to ship. What is inside? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This personalized baby alphabet quilt gift-wrapped and boxed ready to ship. What is inside? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Personalized Baby Alphabet Quilt

Every time I get to gift-wrap and ship one of our personalized quilts, I imagine what the recipient goes through at the other end when they get first get the box.

Is it well gift-wrapped?

What will they think when they first read the free gift tag enclosed?

Since all of our baby quilts are shipped with a free toy carrying the gift tag, what kind of toy will I choose? And where will the toy pop up when the gift is unwrapped?

In this example, the personalized baby quilt was our very popular Alphabet in Clouds Baby Quilt with a white cloud at the top where the custom embroidery can easily be added.

 The white cloud at the top of the quilt is a perfect place for custom embroidery. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The white cloud at the top of the quilt is a perfect place for custom embroidery. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Where to place the custom embroidery is easy but what about the free gift toy? When one has 26 letters in the alphabet, which one am I going to match?

As I go through my choices, I try to compliment the quilt colors with the colors in the toy. I also try to select a toy that is represented in the baby quilt. In this case, it was easy, C is for Cat!

 This cat toy was tucked inside the baby quilt for a surprise as it is unwrapped. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This cat toy was tucked inside the baby quilt for a surprise as it is unwrapped. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

To make the personalized gift even more special, I tuck the toy inside the baby quilt so that when it is unwrapped, the toy is a special surprise. Like the soft center inside a chocolate. I must have the letter C on my mind!

Charlotte

Flower Pens

 These silk flower bouquets greet visitors to our local post office, aren't they welcoming?

These silk flower bouquets greet visitors to our local post office, aren't they welcoming?

Flower Pens

The first time I saw one was from a child's classroom project. Then they popped up recently at our local post office, little bouquets of silk flowers at every work station. It's a way to keep people from taking the pens, the clerk told me as she was weighing one of my boxes.

But what a lovely way to brighten up the office, too, I said. We are all lady clerks now, she offered, except for one senior man. And he likes the pens, too.

Who wouldn't. Usually I see people taping plastic spoons on their pens to keep people from walking off with them, silk flowers are so much more attractive.

How to make them? I took a closer look:

 Silk flowers, floral tape and a pen are all it takes to make these charming floral pens.

Silk flowers, floral tape and a pen are all it takes to make these charming floral pens.

The clerk confirmed they are easy to make. You can add one silk flower or more, it's up to you. I prefer my pens not to be top heavy so I would start with one, no more than two and try that out at first.

She said they tried three flowers and didn't like more than two so most of their pens have either one large flower or two smaller silk flowers.

I can see making a little bouquet of someone's favorite flower pens for a pick me up or personalized birthday gift. When not using the pen, the flowers still keep the space bright and cheery!

Charlotte

Personalized Baby Gift Idea

 One of the ways to personalize a baby gift is to have a baby quilt custom embroidered.

One of the ways to personalize a baby gift is to have a baby quilt custom embroidered.

Personalized Baby Gift Idea

There are several ways you can personalize a baby gift. The most popular way is to add custom embroidery to a baby quilt, such as the baby's name on this custom one of a kind Zoo Baby Quilt Gift Set  we personalized for a customer.

There were several locations where the custom embroidery could have been added but the customer decided to place it at the bottom in the solid navy blue section in white letters. Some customers also add the baby's birth date.

 Another way to personalize a gift is to add a custom gift tag with a hand-written message.

Another way to personalize a gift is to add a custom gift tag with a hand-written message.

If you don't have time to get custom embroidery, adding a nice handwritten note is a nice touch, especially if you have nice handwriting. 

My favorite way to personalize a baby gift, however, is not necessarily the easiest way but it can be the most fun for both the receiver, and the giver, and that's to accessorize the quilt with a complimentary toy. In the case of the Zoo baby quilt, we added a panda toy to keep the baby quilt company on it's way to its new home.

Pick either a theme off the baby quilt or something in similar colors if you can't find something that matches the quilt theme. Make sure the toy is child safe and soft, and watch that toy become a favorite companion!

 My favorite way to personalize a baby gift, to add a complimentary toy tucked inside a quilt!

My favorite way to personalize a baby gift, to add a complimentary toy tucked inside a quilt!

Now I may be just a little partial to Panda bears since one of my first stuffed toys was a little black and white Panda bear. It didn't have a baby quilt attached to it but after all those years, I still have that little bear!

Charlotte

Personalized Book Marks

 One of my favorite magnet book marks was made out of this little "bee happy" thank you card.

One of my favorite magnet book marks was made out of this little "bee happy" thank you card.

Personalized Book Marks

A friend recently said the best gift I gave him for Christmas was a little magnet book mark I made out of a photo of his dogs. Since we now have a full year ahead of us of special days, here is how to make these very easy personalized book marks. In this example, I am using several favorite cards so that I can easily re-read them later tucked into favorite books, such as recipe books.

You can also make them from printed photos on cardboard, or by adding photos onto cardboard. Regular paper is too thin so select something with a heavier weight to hold the attached magnets.

 More favorite cards turned into magnet book marks with the simple application of the magnets.

More favorite cards turned into magnet book marks with the simple application of the magnets.

How to Make Magnet Book Marks

You will find the strip of magnets at any craft store. The magnets are easily cut with scissors. I use a 3/4-inch size to securely hold the card on the pages. 

 The other bonus of these magnet book marks is you get to re-read the lovely cards.

The other bonus of these magnet book marks is you get to re-read the lovely cards.

The magnets I use already have a glue strip but I add reinforcing glue to make sure the magnets don't fall off.

To secure the glued magnets, place the final bookmark in a book and let the weight of the book ensure the glue dries correctly. If it still doesn't hold, use regular glue to secure the magnets to the two opposite sides of the card.

To make sure you are gluing the right side of the magnets, glue the first one and allow to dry. Then fit the second one on the glued first one. Add glue to the back side of the second magnet, attach the opposite side of the cardboard to the second magnet with glue. The easiest way to do that is make sure there is no extra glue around the magnet before closing a book around the book mark to set the glue.

These could be made with initials printed onto cardboard for a simple personalized gift, too!

Charlotte

February Gift Flowers: Primroses or Violets

 A lovely variety of English primroses for sale for 99 cents at one of our local grocery stores.

A lovely variety of English primroses for sale for 99 cents at one of our local grocery stores.

February Gift Flowers: Primroses or Violets

Depending on which calendar you check, the February gift flower is either the English primrose or violets. The only violets available this time of year in Missouri are the tender, inside African violets.

Both these flowers are non-natives and grow in shade in their native habitat. English primroses are blooming now in France, where although it's also winter the weather is a little more forgiving.

I have a little purple English primrose in my living room, a purchase at a local grocery store.

 This was the only purple English primrose in the bunch of flowers on sale. 

This was the only purple English primrose in the bunch of flowers on sale. 

I bought the purple English primrose because it reminded me of the wild violets that will be  blooming in my one-acre hillside garden later this year.

What I noticed about caring for English primroses is that they don't tolerate their roots going dry. That makes sense since in their native environment, they live in the moist leaf litter under trees. When the soil is dry, their leaves drop and the plant can easily die.

The same thing with African violets, only African violets prefer their soil more on the dry side. This is a hybrid purple African violet I've had for many years:

 This little purple African violet has been with me for many years and almost blooms continuously.

This little purple African violet has been with me for many years and almost blooms continuously.

I keep both English primroses and African violets in indirect light on the southwest side of the house in a window and check daily that the soil has not dried out. 

 This is one of the older African violets, considered original. It's hardier and blooms continuously.

This is one of the older African violets, considered original. It's hardier and blooms continuously.

Besides a few African violets purchased on sale, the rest of my African violets are a non-hybrid variety so they are hardier, and bloom almost constantly. Their color is more of a pink purple and the color changes as the flowers unfold.

In the "Language of Flowers," violets stand for faithfulness. In a month celebrating Valentine's day, it seems appropriate, don't you think?

Which ones have you tried to grow or have you grown both?

Charlotte

 

Gift-Boxed Thread Snips

Thread Snips Gift Box close.jpg

Gift-Boxed Thread Snips

If you are a quilter or do much embroidery, you already know about this wonderful tool for easily and quickly cutting threads. Thread Snips have a metal ring that helps secure the metal scissors so you can easily remove hanging threads without getting a cramp in your fingers.

The larger, 4-inch thread snips in this Thread Snips Gift Box were made in China by Acme United and have a limited lifetime warranty. The brand new thread snips are heavy duty and have been popular gifts among my quilters for many years.

The second, lighter also 4-inch metal thread snips can also be used in a sewing room but I discovered they are perfect for cleaning up dead leaves on plants. Ever since I started to use them in my inside garden, I love how quickly I can remove leaves with precision cuts as opposed to fumbling with scissors or even gardening shears.

Combining the two, I have this sweet gift box that has both thread snips included so you can give them as a birthday gift, Valentine's Day gift, Mother's Day gift or just because.

Free gift card included, just tell us what you would like on the card!

Box size: 4 inches by 5.5 inches.

 Thread snips are traditionally used to easily and quickly cut sewing and embroidery threads.

Thread snips are traditionally used to easily and quickly cut sewing and embroidery threads.

 Use a separate set of thread snips to easily trim leaves and dead flowers off plants.

Use a separate set of thread snips to easily trim leaves and dead flowers off plants.

I am painting my garden thread snips a blue color so I don't confuse them with my sewing and embroidery ones, love using them for quickly and easily dead-heading flowers.

Charlotte

Custom New Dog Gift

 You can personalize a quilted bag for a custom dog or cat gift with something other than a name.

You can personalize a quilted bag for a custom dog or cat gift with something other than a name.

Custom New Dog Gift Idea

Making a personalized custom gift is easy by adding someone's name to an item - a shirt, a quilt or, in this case, a quilted travel bag for a new addition to the family, a rescued dog.

The special gift was for a former neighbor who had adopted a survivor of a hurricane. I didn't know how to spell the dog's name so I did the next best thing, had a dog nose and whiskers embroidered on the quilted travel bag.

No doubt now whose bag this belongs to but, just in case, inside the bag I added a number of dog gifts including a squeaky ladybug dog toy, a guide book, a whistle, a lightweight leash, a toy. The new addition to the family is now ready to travel wherever life's journey takes her.

 Dog toys and useful items fill the personalized travel bag as a gift for a new family addition.

Dog toys and useful items fill the personalized travel bag as a gift for a new family addition.

The personalized bag is lined in plastic for easy care. I use some of these bags for gift bags with our Howard Furniture Refinishing products, without the whiskers.

Can you think of other opportunities to use these personalized bags?

Charlotte

 

January Gift Flowers: Carnations

 Red carnations from a gift bouquet keep a little sprig of pink geraniums company in kitchen vase.

Red carnations from a gift bouquet keep a little sprig of pink geraniums company in kitchen vase.

January Gift Flowers: Carnations

January is a special month in my home because both my cat Margaret and I celebrate our birthdays. Margaret turned 19 years old this year, human years equivalent of 98 years old. She has always had selective hearing and now she's a little challenged with her eyesight so I keep tabs on her so that when she cries because she's lost, I can quickly find her.

She was sitting next to the little vase with leftover gift flowers from a friend over Christmas when I remembered carnations are January's gift flowers. The red carnations had lasted almost a month already, one of the longest cut flowers one can buy among the many choices.

Florists like to add long-lasting flowers in their arrangements so the flowers can be enjoyed as they wilt. Chrysanthemums, in all of their forms, is another long-lasting choice, as are Peruvian lilies, which can last as cut flowers for a good 6 weeks.

I try to remember how well a plant will work as a cut flower as I add them to my garden. 

What Carnations Represent in Language of Flowers

In the Victorian era, flowers held special meaning so they were carefully selected when sending to someone. Today the "Language of Flowers" still holds, with the color of carnations having a different meaning, much as roses do.

White carnations suggest pure love and good luck, light red symbolizes admiration, while dark red represents deep love and affection.

Here are some other meanings for carnations in various different colors:

Pink Carnations: Mother's Love

Light red Carnations: Admiration

Dark red Carnations: Deep Love and a Woman's Affection

Striped Carnations: Regret, Refusal

Green Carnations: St. Patrick's Day

Purple Carnations: Capriciousness

Yellow Carnation: Disappointment, Dejection

 These hot pink carnations blended in beautifully with my long-lasting Peruvian lilies.

These hot pink carnations blended in beautifully with my long-lasting Peruvian lilies.

I almost picked up some yellow carnations on sale to keep my flower vase company earlier today. I settled instead for a bouquet of hot pink ones to keep my still-blooming Peruvian lilies company. The yellow ones were so tempting because they were bright and cheery, a welcome spot of color in an otherwise cold and gloomy month.

When I looked up the meaning of yellow carnations in one of my Language of Flowers book, it said yellow carnations represent disdain. Regardless of the meaning, I think fresh flowers are welcome in any color, for any celebration, any time of the year!

Charlotte

Happy Birthday, Margaret Cat!

 Margaret enjoyed a serving of fresh dried catnip for her 19th birthday, thats' 98 in human years.

Margaret enjoyed a serving of fresh dried catnip for her 19th birthday, thats' 98 in human years.

Fake Fur Throw Cat Birthday Gift

It was a wild and crazy birthday for Margaret, my 19-year old Rolla Animal Shelter alumni cat. Margaret and I share a birthday January 2, the best guestimate the vet and I came up with on her birthday.

Margaret is part-Siamese and has the unique voice to prove it. She's also a very fun-loving cat, even as she marks the equivalent of 98 years in human years. She still has selective hearing but her eyesight is not as good as it was so I try not to move furniture out of her well-worn paths so she doesn't bump into things unless she wants to do so.

Like me. At 7 a.m. Make that 7:30 a.m. and I'm trying to sleep in. Not so fast, Margaret seems to say as she head bumps me to get me out of bed for her breakfast.

This birthday morning, I surprised her by being up early and having a special breakfast ready. Breakfast included a serving of fresh dried catnip out of my garden served in a basket where she could roll in it and Margaret jumped right in. She didn't have to see where the catnip was, she could smell it and didn't wait to wallow in it until she was tired and ready for a morning nap.

What does one give a cat who has everything? Since temperatures are in the single digits, I gave her a fake fur throw the same color as her real fur so she could curl up and stay warm. Can you tell the cat from the fur throw?

 Margaret curled up in her fake fur throw birthday gift after a roll in fresh dried catnip.

Margaret curled up in her fake fur throw birthday gift after a roll in fresh dried catnip.

Celebrating a birthday can be exhausting, apparently. Well, maybe not the birthday itself so much but that fresh dried catnip....

 Margaret yawning as she settles in to enjoy her birthday gift.

Margaret yawning as she settles in to enjoy her birthday gift.

Before the dried catnip got scattered all over the house by her feline friends, I tucked Margaret into her birthday gift and left her to settle in. Sometimes she takes exception to being placed in a throw so I wasn't sure what she would think of this gift. No doubt my other cats will enjoy it but with Margaret, one never knows.

Margaret in throw sleeping.jpg

When I got back, it was obvious she was still celebrating - Margaret style. I could hear her purring loud and clear as I rounded the sofa so I would say the gift was a hit.

Happy 19th birthday, Margarita!

Charlotte

Enid Collins Les Fleurs Wood Purse

 Enid Collins "signed" Les Fleurs Wood Purse is an easy gift to quickly personalize.

Enid Collins "signed" Les Fleurs Wood Purse is an easy gift to quickly personalize.

Enid Collins "Les Fleurs" Wood Purse

There are a number of unconventional ways to give someone flowers and this should definitely be on that list.

I didn't know anything about Enid Collins and her career in the 1970s of making eclectic purses out of wood, I just knew I liked this little gem of a purse. The bee on the side was the first thing to catch my attention.

As a beekeeper, anything with a bee tends to catch my eye. Flowers will also get my attention so this one had both, a gold-toned bee and white, daisy-like flowers, one of my all-time favorites.

The designer's initials are on the side and the bottom, which helps to date the purse to the earlier days of her designing these interesting purses.

 Bottom of the wooden purse identifies the artist.

Bottom of the wooden purse identifies the artist.

The vintage wooden purse is in pristine condition inside with a mirror spanning the entire lid inside.

 Inside of this wooden purse from the 1970s is in pristine condition.

Inside of this wooden purse from the 1970s is in pristine condition.

This wooden purse is wide enough to fit a cell phone, a glass case, a bill fold and still have room without being too big, and cute to boot.

What I like about the concept of this purse is that it will not easily be banged into or damaged so the contents won't be damaged, either.

Charlotte

Making a Custom Gift Set

 Fun to pull the coordinating pieces of a custom gift set together.

Fun to pull the coordinating pieces of a custom gift set together.

Making a Custom Gift Set

Over the years, I have made a number of custom gift sets for customers for their clients and family members based on their interests. Sometimes there were several with similar interests, which made the process a little easier if I found several items of interest but for the most part, I would collect gift items that would make gift sets unique.

I applied the same idea to making these custom gift sets for Bluebird Gardens customers this year, focusing on quilters, beekeepers and gardeners. This little Love Gardening custom gift set is a good example of the thought process, starting with a charming book that includes recipes, gardening tips and bright colors.

Taking a cue from the book, I added a pair of my favorite leather gardening gloves, locally-made gardener's soap and a package of wildflower seeds as a promise of getting in the garden in spring. The little pink metal snips are wonderful to quickly dead head plants and so much easier to use than plant snippers.

And to top it all off, three of my honey samplers for that lovely cup of tea at the end of a day in the garden along with a made in US honey dipper, with four fabric coasters to slip under the tea cup.

 Packed and finished, all it now needs is a ribbon, gift tag and where to ship!

Packed and finished, all it now needs is a ribbon, gift tag and where to ship!

Finding the right sized boxes to fit everything in, and then another box to ship took a little time but we're all set now!

Charlotte