Posts tagged ‘project’

Homes that are truly for the birds: how to

So the daily blogging thing comes and goes on here, as you may have noticed. Work has been crazy, life has been crazy, the house is a mess, the computer was under repair …. and to be honest, what I really needed for awhile was to disconnect from the world a bit. I love being connected. I love people. But sometimes, between Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, news feeds, Google Reader, work emails … the amount of information is overwhelming. Sometimes, I just need to disconnect for a bit and recharge.

What better timing and chance than this beautiful Easter weekend? Two full days of sun, warm temperatures, warm soil and a relatively free schedule. I buried myself in the garden, and enjoyed alfresco lunch with my long lost husband who has been overwhelmed with work and grad school. Weeding, pruning, planting herb seeds (slow bolt cilantro, three kinds of basil, dill, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lavander), green onion bulbs and wildflowers. Building a partial fence around our back garden so the dogs can’t destroy it now that our backyard is fenced in. Where they previously ran rampant and destroyed, is now a beautiful black iron fence and even better, green things are returning to the garden! (Still much work is needed, so please only look at the fence :))

One dog was particularly glad to accompany me with so much time spent outside:

Back to the main theme, though: birdhouses. I was inspired when reading the April 2010 edition of Country Living and looking at the stunning gardens that were featured. One included four birdhouses, of different shapes, painted the same color and installed on stilts amidst the garden. It was beautiful. I decided I had to have birdhouses, and then about fell over when I saw the price (especially as I was wanting 5 of them).

So, I was determined to semi-make my own. Sure, you could make your own entirely from scratch, but this is much easier.

What you will need:

4 unfinished wooden birdhouses, similar sizes, with different shapes. I found mine at Michaels, where there were about 8 designs to choose from, and all sold for $4.99 regular price. (Though they were on sale for $3.99 when we bought them)

1 can Rustoleum (or similar brand) primer

1 can Rustoleum paint (I used 2 cans because I wanted 2 different colors)

1 can Rustoleum clear gloss sealer paint

1 tube water resistant epoxy glue

2 packages 72-120 inch adjustable closet rods (we found some at Home Depot. For $13, you get 2 6-foot-long poles that can be easily driven into the ground. This was much cheaper than the $15 birdhouse poles we found at WalMart, and saved us about $19 per birdhouse)

Large black trashbags

Layout large black trash bags, forming a safe place to spray paint. Put birdhouses on top of trashbag. Spray first with 1-2 coats of primer paint, thoroughly covering bare wood. Let dry for 45 minutes. Then, spray 2 coats of desired paint color, with 2 minutes of drying time between coats. Then, let houses dry an additional 30 minutes, and spray 2 coats of clear coat, with 2 minutes in between each coat. Let dry for an additional 1-2 hours.

Position poles where you would like your birdhouses to be, with the open end driven into the ground, and the plastic-capped top facing the sky. Your soil and location will depend on how far you want to push down your poles. Mine are implanted 1 foot into the ground, leaving 5 feet of pole out of the ground. With bird houses, the structures measure about 5-feet 8-inches.

After you have your poles positioned where you want them, mix water-resistant epoxy and apply to the plastic capped end of the closet rod, and to the underneath of your birdhouse where it will be attached to the pole. Attach to the pole. It can take up to 5 minutes to set, so stay near the pole for 5 minutes to make sure the house affixes. Repeat with all houses, and voila! You are finished!

(Pardon the terrible lighting in these photos)

April 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm 1 comment

An owl for Luke

I brought in an owl I sewed for my cousin’s first birthday (to be posted this weekend after she has received it) to work today, and my coworker Kim requested one for her son. I realized I didn’t have many boy friendly fabrics. So, I broke my long streak of not buying fabrics happily, and went to the cute sewing store in downtown Maryville to pick out some beautiful woolen, brushed flannels in gender-neutral and boy-friendly prints.

When I finished the owl cut outs as I traditionally do, something seemed missing. I decided to add eyelashes and it made him perfect.

The only downside to this beautifully soft fabric (perfect for a baby boy’s hugs) is that it was much stretchier than the quilting cotton I was used to working with, which meant when it came time to stuff him, the stuffing stretched his shape a bit. However, I think it can be a worthy tradeoff for a snuggly baby toy.

I wish I had a better place to take photos after dark – the colors are terrible in this photo. Look at the eyelashes, though!

And on that note, back to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Yes. I don’t know which is better – the adorable dogs or the hysterical commentary.

Also, the Purina shelter ads are making me cry.

February 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm 4 comments

Another gift for Riley

I mentioned my cousin’s upcoming fourth birthday and the first part of his present here. The other half, I completed Sunday night.

Riley is the quintessential boy’s boy – he loves trucks, cars, anything with wheels. And recently, he’s fallen in love with fire trucks.

When trying to decide what to get him to go with the aforementioned monster mittens, I wanted to get something fireman/fire truck related but didn’t want to accidentally get him something he already had/would get for his birthday. So, after much deliberation, I decided to try my hand at creating a fireman puppet.

To the rescue

If I were to do it again, I might make a few changes. The hat isn’t quite right, and I would have sewn a separate jacket and sewed it on top of a puppet base. Nevertheless, I think it turned out pretty cute and I think a 4-year-old’s imagination might overcome my pattern’s shortcomings.

One of our dogs was certainly fascinated with the creation, though:

Mmm ... firefighter puppet ...

February 15, 2010 at 6:21 am Leave a comment

Whoo-too: How to owl softie

I would make some changes to this softie the second time around, but this is a really simple, quick, simple softie project that requires only a few items that you probably already have.

1 fat quarter

random scraps of felt

thread

sewing machine or handsewn

Ignore the top - yours won't have the same mistake 🙂

Take your fat quarter and fold in half. This should create fabric that’s 18 X 10.5 inches. Cut a shape similar to a gummy drop with the folded part uncut at the bottom. Pick one side of the folded piece of fabric to be the front of your owl. Cut two wings out of felt and sew onto the edge of the body. Then cut a giant  triangle to serve as a beak, sew on. Then, cut two large white  circles for eyes, and sew so they slightly overlap onto the beak. Sew on two smaller black circles to create the pupils for the eyes. Then, sew two little feather-shaped felt cutouts to the top of the face.

Now that your face and wings are done, fold fabric the other way so that right sides are facing in. Sew around the open edges of your shape (be careful to keep the top feathers sticking out), leaving about 1.5 inches to turn the fabric right side out, then fill with polyfill, sew the remaining hole closed, and you’re done!

The mistake I made in this that I would not make again is choosing to have the hole to flip the owl inside out at the top of his head. This made for an awkward seam. It would have been much better to the hole along the bottom edge. Next time I will do it this way.

For variations, add glasses or even little felt feet.

February 12, 2010 at 6:58 am 7 comments


About me

My name is Mallory Murray and I have a love of all things oldfashioned. I'm a modern day feminist who also adores Martha Stewart. Read on for my sewing, crochet, cooking, gardening, quilting and crafting projects. I am the chief officer of marketing and design at Northwest Missouri State University, so expect the occasional random post about marketing/universities/design. I dream of a hobby farm with baby doll sheep, a sheep dog, a small flock of chickens, and other animals to be announced. I'm also a Pitt State grad, football lover, HGTV addict and obsessed with the color aqua.

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