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 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

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

Honey Seed Saver Samplers

honey seed saving packs.jpg

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

December Birth Stone: Turquoise

My physical therapist Kellys' beautiful Persian turquoise gold ring.

My physical therapist Kellys' beautiful Persian turquoise gold ring.

December Birth Stone Turquoise

My Outpatient Therapist Kelly wears the most beautiful Persian turquoise gold ring. Persian turquoise, she tells me, doesn't have the striation lines that we normally associate with this stone.

Turquoise has been mined in Iran, formerly known as Persia, for more than 5,000 years.  Although Iranian production accounts for just a small proportion of the world's total output, Iranian turquoise still sets the standard for quality.

In Iran, turquoise is called “Ferozah," which translated means "victory."  It is Iran's national gemstone. 

It is believed that the first specimens of turquoise to which the Europeans were exposed probably came from Iran via trading posts in Turkey.  

The best of Iranian turquoise is rich blue, with less matrix than most turquoise mined elsewhere.  It is also distinguished by white patches.  Turquoise is never a hard mineral, but Iranian turquoise is usually harder than turquoise mined in other locations. 

Today, only the turquoise coming from the Southwest U.S. comes close to Iranian turquoise in color richness and beauty.

Not sure what to wrap it in? Add a little jewelry box with a surprise inside.

Charlotte

100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names Book

One of my favorite reads before going to bed, hard to beat drifting off thinking about flowers!

One of my favorite reads before going to bed, hard to beat drifting off thinking about flowers!

100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names

I collect gardening books and this is one of my favorites. 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names is part history, part horticulture, part interesting tidbits. It's the perfect book to read before going to sleep, short chapters one can read individually or move through several in one sitting.

Each flower is illustrated so if you don't know what the flower is called, you can easily identify it.

Written by Diana Wells and illustrated by Ippy Patterson, this is a charming flower gift book any gardener, and flower lover, will enjoy.

Here's a tiny bit of the introduction:

"We do not read of flowers in the Garden of Eden, but of trees-trees that (except for one) were given to us as food. Nevertheless, those of us who plant flowers have, perhaps, a sneaking longing for Eden, made for our delight, a garden in which Adam was allowed to give names to everything. To name is to possess, as conquerors know. Or so we might wish."

Each flower description includes a lovely illustration.

Each flower description includes a lovely illustration.

The book was published in 1997 and includes some interesting tidbits. The back cover has some examples.

A sneak peek at some of the flowers featured in this small book.

A sneak peek at some of the flowers featured in this small book.

You can pair this book with one of our quilts or throws for a nice gift set.This also makes a sweet gift book for a variety of occasions including birthdays, holidays and house warming.

How do I know?

Someone gave me my copy for my birthday!

Charlotte

October Gift Flower: Calendula

Dried calendula at a Turin, Italy market September 2016.

Dried calendula at a Turin, Italy market September 2016.

October Gift Flower: Calendula or Pot Marigolds

I had to go to Italy, it seems, to find actual Calendulas. They were dried ones but Calendulas nevertheless. What struck me was how bright the colors were even in dried form.

Commonly called pot marigolds, Calendula officinalis has long been a staple in British cottage gardens. Like traditional marigolds, petals of the calendula flower are used in cooking and were used as yellow coloring in cheeses and butters in centuries past.

When used in stews, broths and salads, petals of the calendula flower add a spicy taste similar to saffron to many dishes.

Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use.

In the vegetable garden, calendula draws aphids away from valuable plants.

While uses of calendula plants are diverse, growing calendula in the flower or herb garden is an optimum use of this attractive plant. Calendula plants are frost tolerant and somewhat cold hardy and add long-lasting color and beauty in a flower bed or container. 

Charlotte

 

 

A Gift of a Sewing Room You Can Close Off

Bluebird Gardens fabric stash and sewing room is in a deep closet with folding doors.

Bluebird Gardens fabric stash and sewing room is in a deep closet with folding doors.

A Gift of a Sewing Room You Can Close Off

One of the vivid memories I have growing up is of my mother having to tear down her sewing machine every night. She sometimes used the kitchen table to sew, which meant her time in the space was limited to a few hours, not counting the time it took to set up and take down.

If you ask any quilter, or crafter, one of their dreams is having a place where they can set up their machines, and associated sundries, and not have to take them down. So if you are wanting to give a quilter a wonderful thoughtful gift, think about the gift of a sewing room that doesn't have to be constantly torn down and set up. 

Closet Area

The space doesn't have to be generous. Mine is set up in a closet where I added shelving so I can have my fabric stashes close by. I also added a light under the shelving closest to the butcher block table, a hand-me-down from my mother's sewing room, where my sewing machines sit. A needlepointed piano stool provides seating, and plastic containers on nearby shelves keep my bobbins, scissors and other accessories handy.

When I am through, all I have to do is turn off the lights and close the door. There is no need to take everything down, no loss of time setting things back up and loosing one's place in a project. I can do that a lot if I don't have a place to keep track of everything.

Spare Bedroom

Another option is to make a spare bedroom into a sewing and craft room. You can still keep the bedroom available for guests by changing the bed into a sofa bed. Adding a good working table along one wall, and another table with good lighting for sewing machines, and you have a good start.

Leave the details to the recipient so they can set it up to their preferences.

If you want to add something special, hang a throw or quilt on a wall for decoration, such as a  sewing spools quilt as a quilted wall hanging. Using dowel rods to hang the quilt, they will be handy when the quilter finishes making their first quilt and wants to display it. The first quilt is always very special.

What do you think, know someone who would love to have this kind of room as a gift?

Charlotte

Jewelry Christmas Tree Idea

It's fun to run across creative ways to repurpose things and this little Christmas tree is one of my favorite discoveries.

I saw it at one of our local thrift stores sitting next to the check out counter. At first I thought this was a print of jewelry pieces. Getting up close, they are actually earrings, pins and pendants on red velvet fabric suggesting a decorated Christmas tree.

Handmade Christmas tree made out of jewelry pieces. It was for sale for $5.

Handmade Christmas tree made out of jewelry pieces. It was for sale for $5.

Wouldn't this be a great way to use those lonely earrings that have lost a mate or pins that are out of style but you still want to keep?

I can imagine making one with vintage jewelry from family members for a new couple's first Christmas and including best wishes for many more to come. Not so sure about those chains at the bottom, I think those are asking for trouble with cats around!

Charlotte

Pearls, June Birth Stone

I thought I had lost one of these favorite earrings. I was wearing them when I was checking my bee hives, a wide hat with veil attached to a white jacket covering me in case my honeybees were cranky as I checked in on them.

At one point, a bee flitted across my face inside the jacket. It's my first beekeeping jacket, always springing holes and apparently I had another one. I slowly stepped back from the hives up the path towards the house, carefully removing my jacket so I didn't scare the bee.

Once I had my hat off, the bee flew off and I realized I had an earring missing.

Hours later as I was doing laundry, I heard a clanking in the washer barrel. There at the bottom was the second earring, under the newly-washed beekeeping jacket. 

I love pearls. I have worn them ever since I can remember, each one a gift. The Japanese believe that's the way to get pearls, as a gift, not as something you purchase yourself. Although it's a traditional jewel gift for June, I think pearls are a wonderful gift all year around.

I don't recommend washing them in a washer.

Charlotte

May Gift Flower: Lilies of the Valley

The May gift flower is Lilies of the Valley, a small, sweet-looking but poisonous plant that likes part-sun and moisture.
A friend of mine refers to Lilies of the Valley as grandma's flowers because she always came across them when she visited her father's Mother's farm. 
In my garden, these small plants can get lost among the other plants in a flower bed so I plant them in their own separate spot between beds. That gives them room to expand, are protected from trampling and, when it's time to bloom mid-spring, they can stand out on their own.
In the Victorian era's "language of flowers," when messages were snuck into flower bouquets, Lilies of the Valley symbolized the return of happiness. I'm certainly happy when I see them because they mean the growing season has finally arrived!
  

Charlotte