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

Autographed Star Trek Books on Ebay Auction

Two autographed Star Trek books are currently up for auction on Ebay.

Two autographed Star Trek books are currently up for auction on Ebay.

Autographed Star Trek Book Proceeds Benefit Missouri S&T's Leach Theatre

Two autographed Star Trek books are currently up for auction on Ebay. Proceeds of the books will benefit Missouri S&T's Leach Theatre, which is currently fund-raising to buy furniture for its public reception area.

The two previously-owned books were autographed by William Shatner when Shatner was in Rolla, Missouri October 29, 2017 for his one man show at Leach Theatre here in Rolla, Missouri. I can't think of a better way to personalize a gift than to have it autographed by the original author, and actor, can you?

These were the flyers associated with William Shatner's visit to Rolla October 29, 2019.

These were the flyers associated with William Shatner's visit to Rolla October 29, 2019.

The 1994 Star Trek movie book features interesting photos behind the scenes as well as stories about the iconic Star Trek movies.

This is 1975 First Edition Star Fleet Manual autographed by William Shatner up for auction.

This is 1975 First Edition Star Fleet Manual autographed by William Shatner up for auction.

The Star Fleet manual is a 1975 1st edition that will delight any Star Trek fan. It includes a lot of interesting details including to scale plans to make Star Fleet uniforms as well as William Shatner's autograph.

The Ebay auction ends Sunday, December 3, 2017 around 7 p.m. CST. Ebay fees will be covered by Bluebird Gardens LLC so all auction proceeds will be donated to Leach Theatre. They are buying new furniture for the public reception area so it will be a gift that keeps on giving, or at least helping!

Charlotte

 

 

Gardener's Honey Sampler Gift Set

Bluebird Gardens honey sampler joins favorite gardener gifts in this custom gift set.

Bluebird Gardens honey sampler joins favorite gardener gifts in this custom gift set.

Gardener's Honey Sampler Gift Set

Every year, we have some customers who seem surprised that Christmas rolls around mid-December so we have ready made custom gift sets ready to ship. This year, I made up some custom gift sets with honey samplers that include 2 oz. each of raw, strained honey, comb honey and creamed honey, products of the hard work by Bluebird Gardens honeybees.

The bees were working among the many flowers that grow in our 1-acre garden so this Gardener's Honey Sampler Gift Set also includes a pair of my favorite leather gardening gloves; metal plant snippers; handmade, long-lasting gardener's soap; one of my favorite books about how flowers got their names, a pack of wildflower seeds and a wooden honey dipper.

The book comes in handy at the end of a long day in the garden. I enjoy the stories about how the flowers were named, from their Latin beginnings to more recent history. It's interesting how many of them have roots in Greek mythology.

Wildflower seeds, plant snips, leather gardening gloves, gardener soap and a honey dipper.

Wildflower seeds, plant snips, leather gardening gloves, gardener soap and a honey dipper.

Gardener's Honey Sampler Gift Set is packed in a gift box with a ribbon with a free gift tag, all you need to do is tell us what you want on the gift tag. We can also gift-wrap if you want an added element of surprise. The box will be added to another shipping box for safe shipping.

This is a custom, one of a kind gift, we did the shopping for you.

If there is another theme gift you need, just let me know.

Please order no later than December 10 to ensure arrival by December 25.

Charlotte

Route 66 Handmade Lap Quilt

Route 66 Quilt.jpg

First place winner in the 2017 Piece and Plenty Quilt Guild Quilt Show in Rolla, Missouri.

Route 66 Handmade Lap Quilt

When I think of Thanksgiving, I can't help but think of driving, lots and lots of driving. There was a time when the long Thanksgiving weekend involved several thousands of miles getting to a variety of relatives homes, with a lot of "are we there yet," a tradition that came to mind when I saw this interesting Route 66 Handmade Lap Quilt at the 2017 Piece and Plenty Quilt Guild Show in Rolla, Mo.

The hand-embroidery lured me in, so unusual these days to see in a handmade quilt. Then I saw the first place ribbon in the quilt corner, someone else also appreciated all of the embroidery work.

The first place ribbon in the shape of a flower is also a unique way to recognize these quilts.

The first place ribbon in the shape of a flower is also a unique way to recognize these quilts.

This next Route 66 Handmade Lap Quilt block shows the detail of not only the embroidered block but how the machine quilting adds a nice three-dimensional effect to the overall quilt.

A close up of the traditional Route 66 sign in the embroidered design.

A close up of the traditional Route 66 sign in the embroidered design.

The old Route 66 highways were dotted with old gas stations like this one. There still are some still working but most have been memorialized in photos or designs like these.

The details of this gas station are impressive down to the glass window panes.

The details of this gas station are impressive down to the glass window panes.

The top of the Route 66 Handmade Lap Quilt has some more personalized details including license plates and old oil cans. I have one that looks like the oil cans on the right.

Close up of the old oil cans in the top banner of the winning handmade quilt.

Close up of the old oil cans in the top banner of the winning handmade quilt.

This is a very personalized quilt and gift, the quilter took the original design and personalized it for her husband:

Every quilt has a story and this is the story behind this Route 66 Handmade Quilt.

Every quilt has a story and this is the story behind this Route 66 Handmade Quilt.

It's a lovely handmade quilt, with an even nicer story behind it.

Charlotte

Fun with Pink!

These are the last two hand woven kitchen towels I have from a lovely handmade collection.

These are the last two hand woven kitchen towels I have from a lovely handmade collection.

Fun with Pink!

One of our customers wanted some custom gift sets so I made several that include honey samples.

This Pink Kitchen Towels Honey Sampler Gift Set came together as if it was meant to be. The two lovely hand-woven kitchen towels are the last ones I have from a collection I purchased several years ago from a local weaver. As I was boxing up the towels I found another box full of handmade flower pins and one was the exact same pink color, how could I not add it to the towel?

Lucky that the handmade flower pin happens to match the pink kitchen towels!

Lucky that the handmade flower pin happens to match the pink kitchen towels!

Since the one of a kind gift set includes a sample of honey from my industrious bees, I added my favorite tea infuser so the lucky recipient can get a start enjoying their tea with a dab of the sweet stuff. The choices are raw, strained honey, comb honey or creamed honey. Decisions, decisions!

If you need some custom gift sets, let me know, I will be glad to make some for you, too.

Packed together, the hand towels and pin are ready to serve up some tea and honey!

Packed together, the hand towels and pin are ready to serve up some tea and honey!

Whoever gets this unique gift set will definitely be "in the pink!"

Charlotte

A Honey of a Personalized Gift

Here's a sneak peek at how we personalize some of our custom baby crib quilts.

Here's a sneak peek at how we personalize some of our custom baby crib quilts.

A Honey of a Personalized Gift

A beekeeping friend's daughter was having a baby but due to complications, the baby wasn't going home from the hospital.

Daily updates were heart-breaking as the family shared their fears, joys, hopes - that the little new life would pull through and finally get to go home and start life as a normal addition to the family.

I wasn't a family member nor did I live close enough to share in the hospital watches but I wanted my friend to know I had hope that she would have a new beekeeper in her family. 

One of the advantages of running my own business is that I can shop from my own inventory and I picked this vintage printed honey-themed baby quilt Honey Bears Baby Quilt to ship, along with a little bee toy, to deliver my best wishes.

The little Gund honeybee is delivering the free gift tag with the handmade baby crib quilt.

The little Gund honeybee is delivering the free gift tag with the handmade baby crib quilt.

Isn't that little bear cute peeking out from the corner of the gift box? One of my favorite parts of this business is gift-wrapping, as if you can't tell. 

This was a fun baby quilt because the panel was hand quilted, giving the quilt an extra dimension. If they didn't want to use it in a crib, it could easily have been made into a nursery wall hanging.

The baby quilts and baby crib quilts are one of a kind so we don't have any more of these but I still consider this one of my favorite baby gifts. 

Interested in the vintage honey bear quilt panel? I found another one on Etsy if you are looking for one.

Charlotte

September Gift Flower: Asters

September gift flowers are New England asters, which are a favorite fall garden flowers.

September gift flowers are New England asters, which are a favorite fall garden flowers.

September Gift Flower: Asters

There is such a lovely variety of colors in this family of flowers, asters. Some of my favorite fall blooming plants belong to this group: White Boneset, White Heath Asters and one of my top favorites, New England Asters.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, "Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, commonly called New England aster, is a Missouri native perennial which occurs in moist prairies, meadows, thickets, low valleys and stream banks (Steyermark) throughout the State. It is a stout, leafy plant typically growing 3-6' tall with a robust, upright habit.

New England Asters feature a profuse bloom of daisy-like asters (to 1.5" diameter) with purple rays and yellow centers from late summer to early fall. Rough, hairy, lance-shaped leaves (to 4" long) clasp stiff, hairy stems. Flowers are attractive to butterflies" and I will add bees, too.

How to Grow New England Asters

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun, prefers moist, rich soils. Good air circulation helps reduce incidence of foliar diseases. Pinching back stems several times before mid-July will help control plant height, promote bushiness and perhaps obviate the need for staking. Pinching back will also delay flowering.

Most New England Asters are sold early fall when they are in bloom. I buy the plants after bloom, remove the spent flower heads and make sure they are well watered and mulched when I plant them. Any dead branches get left on to help protect the new growth that will start at the plant base. I also give them some water for a couple of months to make sure their roots get established.

Since this is a native Missouri wildflower, it's also easily seen growing on road sides, my garden and a friend's garden.

These are wild Missouri asters growing in a beekeeping friend's side garden.

These are wild Missouri asters growing in a beekeeping friend's side garden.

According to the Language of Flowers, the Victorian Era practice of giving every growing thing meaning. The Victorians used this vocabulary to send secret messages in flower bouquets. In this flowery world of meaning, asters represent "variety" and "spontaneous impulse."

Charlotte

 

Butterfly Throw Personalized Gift

Different fabrics form the applique butterflies in this personalized gift.

Different fabrics form the applique butterflies in this personalized gift.

Butterfly Throw Personalized Gift

An office colleague made this lovely butterfly throw as a gift and the simplicity of the design, and intricacy of the execution, is a good reminder that a quilt gift does not need to be - well, complicated.

The throw - a standard one is 50x60 inches - is a good size for a gift quilt. Throws can be used to curl up in and can easily be tossed over the back of a chair or used as a wall hanging.

Secondly, the theme was a universally-liked one, butterflies.

This butterfly is a cut out butterfly giving the insect more dimension.

This butterfly is a cut out butterfly giving the insect more dimension.

The design could have stopped there but this quilter decided to add some interest in her butterflies by having them in different shapes. Some are solid fabric, others are cut-outs. The variety adds to the overall design.

This is one of the solid fabric butterflies up close in the custom-made butterfly throw.

This is one of the solid fabric butterflies up close in the custom-made butterfly throw.

When joined together, the butterflies make a wonderful visual message of beauty to a parting colleague and friend.

The butterflies were quilted in outline to finish their design.

The butterflies were quilted in outline to finish their design.

The machine quilting was done on a home sewing machine so this was truly a custom, handmade gift!

Charlotte

Bridal Veil Wedding Gift Idea

This sprig of bridal veil was cut when most of the flowers were closed.

This sprig of bridal veil was cut when most of the flowers were closed.

Bridal Veil Bush Wedding Gift Idea

One of our customers wanted to add a living plant to a country double wedding ring quilt she purchased as a wedding gift and bridal veil bush was one of the recommendations I gave her.

This long-lived perennial bush is lovely as is, even prettier when it is in bloom. The delicate white flowers give the bush its name.

Bridal veil bush has delicate leaves and makes a nice focal point in a garden corner.

Bridal veil bush has delicate leaves and makes a nice focal point in a garden corner.

In addition to being easy to care for, the cut branches are long lived as cut flowers for inside vases. I like the delicacy of the white flower clusters and how they fall on the long branches.

A cut branch from bridal veil bush in a vase on my mantle.

A cut branch from bridal veil bush in a vase on my mantle.

Other growing wedding gift ideas I passed on was to select the plant for the month of the wedding. Not all of the traditional flowers are perennials but they can inspire similar plants that come back every year. The following are the flowers for each month:

January: Carnation

February: Violet

March: Daffodil

April: Daisy

May: Lily of the Valley

June: Rose

July: Larkspur

August: Gladiolus

September: Aster

October: Calendula or Marigold

November: Chrysanthemum

December: Narcissus

Not one there you like? Then Bridal Veil bush it is!

Charlotte

Personalized Blue Blocks Quilt Throw

One way to personalize a handmade quilt is to add names in each of the blocks.

One way to personalize a handmade quilt is to add names in each of the blocks.

Personalized Blue Blocks Quilt Throw

It is one thing to talk about a custom personalized quilt but I know it is more helpful to see examples. This is a custom personalized quilt throw we made as a gift that included the names of all family members along with military insignias and a pink breast cancer ribbon.

This is one of the reason why we offer a variety of handmade quilts and throws with blocks, it gives you several options to add custom embroidery, such as ribbon flower garden throw.

In this example, not all blocks were filled but they were centered through the available blocks to keep a pattern to the throw.

Blue Blocks handmade quilt throw custom embroidered blocks.

Blue Blocks handmade quilt throw custom embroidered blocks.

Names and dates hold very special memories, as do military service. One way to mark that contribution is to add the seal of the particular service in custom embroidery:

Custom embroidered Navy emblem to mark military service on this special quilt throw.

Custom embroidered Navy emblem to mark military service on this special quilt throw.

One more special touch to this handmade quilt, a tribute to surviving breast cancer:

Custom embroidered breast cancer ribbon as part of this personalized handmade quilt throw.

Custom embroidered breast cancer ribbon as part of this personalized handmade quilt throw.

There are many other things that could have been added to this handmade quilt throw but these were the final ones included.

Names and military symbols could have been included in the same quilt block, and several names could have been included in one quilt block to represent one family.

I though this one turned out well as designed.

Charlotte

June Gift Flower: Rose

Pink climbing roses growing across the street from Bluebird Gardens.

Pink climbing roses growing across the street from Bluebird Gardens.

June Gift Flower: Rose

Roses are by far one of the most popular flowers in the Victorians "Language of Flowers," each type and color having a unique meaning.

Some meanings have evolved. According to Cindy Brick, yellow roses meant 'untrustworthy' to the Victorian, but by the mid-20th Century had come to symbolize friendship.

As June's gift flower, roses in general stand for beauty and love. 

There is a distinction between a full rose in bloom and a rosebud. One red rosebud represents "purity and loveliness; youth and beauty." A white rosebud represents girlhood.

A rose in full bloom represents adult love and devotion, or true love.

Luckily these days, people appreciate any rose, and I most appreciate those growing in my garden. Or in the case of these photos, the climbing roses growing literally across the street!

Cluster of pink climbing roses growing across the street from Bluebird Gardens.

Cluster of pink climbing roses growing across the street from Bluebird Gardens.

Although clusters of climbing roses are hard to cut for flower vases, they are not impossible. I recommend cutting them when they are still in bud form, which gives them extra time to unfold and show their loveliness.

The pink climbing rose shrub that has formed over the years across the street.

The pink climbing rose shrub that has formed over the years across the street.

Cut roses are wonderful but I recommend if you want to give roses, give a rose bush. That way the plant can be added to a flower bed and keep giving roses for many years to come!

Charlotte

Father's Day Gift for Mom

Mom's father's day gift included the prettiest handmade flower card in our collection.

Mom's father's day gift included the prettiest handmade flower card in our collection.

Father's Day Gift Card for Mom

Every holiday we seem to have a customer who stands out with their thoughtfulness, creativity and ingenuity with their custom gift idea and this Father's Day was no exception.

This customer wanted to send his mother a special gift for Father's Day. She enjoys quilting so he selected one of our custom, one of a kind vintage sewing baskets with hard to find quilting and sewing "goodies," then asked that we add a special card.

And not just any card.

He wanted to make sure the inside had a very special message so he sent me the exact wording he wanted included, and asked if we could print it off and include.

After seeing the message, I looked for the prettiest of our handmade flower cards to carry this very special message inside:

Inside, I added the custom message sent to me to include. Now that's a personal gift card!

Inside, I added the custom message sent to me to include. Now that's a personal gift card!

Now isn't that a thoughtful card and gift to send Mom on Father's Day?

Charlotte

Cat Gourd Gift

This little cat gourd birdhouse was missing an ear so I added one. Can you tell which one?

This little cat gourd birdhouse was missing an ear so I added one. Can you tell which one?

Cat Gourd Personalized Gift

My bee buddy David has this cat. Well, actually, the cat has adopted this family that includes my bee buddy.

Smokey, a black and white cat, had been hanging around David's house for a good 2 years before they were able to coax him close enough to pet him. Then one winter, Smokey moved inside and has since comfortably settled in, especially whenever he can find David's lap. The other two cats are also rescues but Smokey has made it clear now that he's inside, he has no plans to go back outside.

I enjoy hearing the adventures of Smokey as we head off on a swarm call or, better yet, wait for a bee colony to march into a hive box after we've coaxed the queen bee inside. So when I found this black and white cat gourd on sale at a local thrift store, I didn't have to think twice about picking it up for Smokey's family. The only problem was the little gourd cat was missing an ear.

I'm not a big woodworker so it took a little time to find a wood scrap to make a new ear and to check the real model out to see if his ears were all black or had any dabs of white on them. Smokey is not shy but I can't say he's very excited to have me coming around him trying to take a close peek at his ears, either. Luckily I had several pictures of him to check closely to determine that both ears were all black as I finished making the necessary adjustments.

Once completed, I left the finished cat gourd on the same deck chair where I first saw Smokey sitting. Seemed an appropriate way to mark spring's arrival, and Smokey's decision to permanently settle in. Welcome home, Smokey!

Charlotte

 

March Gift Flower: Daffodil

Miniature daffodils "Tete a Tete" were a gift from an east coast friend last fall.

Miniature daffodils "Tete a Tete" were a gift from an east coast friend last fall.

March Gift Flower: Daffodil

March gift flowers have to be either borrowed from someone who grows them or given as bulbs the fall before. That's how I received mine last year, two bags in a small box from a friend I had not heard from in some time. We had worked together a few years back and enjoyed comparing notes about our gardens.

His was a more formal design, with clipped topiary Boxwoods, old Weeping Willows and lovely Drooping Cherries - I used to tell him his garden sounded a little sad based on his description.

By comparison, my hillside garden is a combination of native redbuds and compact fruit trees sprinkled with anything that blooms. No grass to mow, ponds, lots of birdhouses, bird baths and bees. And frogs, lots of frogs. 

Frogs, he would say. 

One of my spring peepers makes a cameo appearance on a deck shepherd's hook.

One of my spring peepers makes a cameo appearance on a deck shepherd's hook.

Spring peepers, I would say, nodding. Little frogs with a big sound, they make a lot of noise on the first warm spring-like day, everyone knows just when that is. It's special.

We would go on with our business, no more garden talk until later, when we would be sharing a meal or waiting for something to start. The conversation would inevitably come back around to these little frogs and what they did.

Well, I would say, giving it due consideration. I find them swimming in the water in my empty flower pots. They sit under plants. They suction cup themselves to my windows. 

And peep?

They peep. Usually in spring, when the daffodils are blooming.

I didn't say it was scintillating conversation, now, did I. 

So when I opened the box of miniature daffodils, I knew exactly why he sent them. They were for the spring peepers, tiny flowers for the frogs.

Happy garden, happy frogs!

Charlotte

 

 

Follow That Butterfly

I caught this cute embellished and hand-applique butterfly out of the corner of my eye.

I caught this cute embellished and hand-applique butterfly out of the corner of my eye.

Follow That Butterfly

We had stopped by this fabric store because - well, it's a fabric store. In between the various specialty rooms, some with bolts of fabrics, others with crafts supplies, there were a number of items hanging on a wall.

As I slowly moved around the wall, a little butterfly caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't claim a bad winter as the reason; actually spring is arriving a good 3 weeks earlier than usual this year. But even warmer than usual days doesn't mean my garden is fully engaged. My honeybees are out foraging; birds are checking out the available birdhouse real estate but I have yet to see any butterflies.

Moving closer to this little pink and blue species, I wondered how soon my garden would be full of swallowtail butterflies again. Last year, two of the potted orange trees served as butterfly nurseries for caterpillars to consume the fruit tree leaves as they moved through their various growth stages.

A pile of bolts of fabric had hidden the cute applique flower garden underneath the fabric butterfly so I moved them.

Below the butterfly, a very sweet blooming garden of applique fabric flowers.

Below the butterfly, a very sweet blooming garden of applique fabric flowers.

The applique flowers were a combination of cotton fabrics and felt, giving the flowers a three-dimensional feel. 

When pulled together, the flowers and butterfly were a lovely excuse to have a jacket on when walking through a spring garden.

The garden was on the front of a charming green jacket, perfect for a spring garden walk!

The garden was on the front of a charming green jacket, perfect for a spring garden walk!

The jacket wasn't for sale, it was a class project that still needed a few details before it was finished but I knew the maker would enjoy it when it was finished.

And considering that spring was still a couple of weeks away, I think she will have this ready just in time for spring!

Charlotte

Rose Pen Gift

This handmade rose pen is a cherished gift I found on my office desk many years ago.

This handmade rose pen is a cherished gift I found on my office desk many years ago.

Rose Pen Gift

If you are a fan of one of those pin your favorite "I can make this" ideas on an online board, it is easy to be seduced into thinking handmade flower gifts have to be complicated, intricate and expensive.

I submit exhibit A, a handmade rose pen gift. I found it a good 6, maybe 7 years ago lying on papers on my work desk.

I used to bring fresh flowers from my garden in for the office coffee room. It was during the craze to decorate pens with silk flowers. I had admired a number of them but not had the time to make one for myself. My first thought was that one of my colleagues may have made this one for me.

As I asked around about who had made it, a colleague friend said several days later that her young daughter had suggested she should make one for me. Her daughter at the time was not very old but she liked to pop into my office when she came by the office after school.

My friend said they had meant to make it at home but time had caught up with the looming holiday so they brought the leftover supplies from another project to the office when she had to work late. She had forgot to check for floral tape. Doesn't this have "not going to come together" written all over it?

I said who was it that said improvisation is the mother of invention, or was it masking tape will do when duct tape is nowhere to be found. Either way, it was not a problem.

This gift was quickly made by wrapping tape around a silk flower and writing pen.

This gift was quickly made by wrapping tape around a silk flower and writing pen.

Green floral tape would have finished it nicely but frankly when I look at this tape now, I have fond memories of the little girl who used to visit me on her way to her mother's office. I can also still imagine her carefully wrapping the masking tape around the flower and pen for me.

And look, no need for duct tape, it's still holding up after all of these years!

No floral tape? No problem, any tape will work. No one will see it once it's in a floral vase.

No floral tape? No problem, any tape will work. No one will see it once it's in a floral vase.

This very simple, inexpensive but thoughtful gift has literally lasted years, keeping me company in two offices and now decorating my little office corner in my kitchen.

So looking for a simple, quick, last minute Valentine's Day gift idea the kids can make and not sure this will work?

Trust me, it will be just fine.

Charlotte