Reclaimed Fences, Birdhouse Charm

My friend, Michele and her family get together every year and make birdhouses. They reclaim wood from broken fences and other old materials, then craft them into unique designs. I’m the lucky recipient of this charming model, below.

reclaimed fencing birdhouse

Reclaimed fencing

I love their family tradition of gathering and creating together. I’m also a huge fan of reclaiming materials and giving them a new life.

back of birdhouse

Back of birdhouse

They attached the back of the birdhouse  with screws for easy removal and cleaning. Weathered wood blends beautifully into the landscape.

Ceramic "chimney"

Ceramic or porcelain “chimney”

The birdhouse “chimney” is a vintage ceramic or porcelain insulator. Once used as old telephone wire insulation, the markings  indicate manufacturing by WP or Wisconsin Porcelain. The top of the insulator reminds me of a peppermint Lifesaver. I’m never far from my sugar-loving roots. Ha!


Even the rusty nail is re-purposed, artfully bent into a perch.**

Do you have gift-making family traditions?

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**I plan to display this lovely birdhouse as a piece of art. If you want to attract nesting birds to your yard, here are a few safety tips.

Watering Cans: A Sprinkle a Day, Keeps the Dead Plants at Bay

One can never have too many watering cans. Sure, you can get by with one, but like scissors or reading glasses, variety and proximity equal efficiency.

Drip irrigation is the most water-efficient way to quench a garden, but it’s not always practical.  Suspended fairy gardens and potted plants need watering the old-fashioned way. Watering cans are useful for filling a bird bath or for topping off a garden fountain. Occasionally they double as a water carafe for thirsty cats or squirrels.

I’ve always loved watering cans. I’m not sure why they hold such appeal. I used to visit the upscale Smith & Hawken stores to ogle their copper and brass cans. My practical streak, however, landed me back at the hardware store where the hard-working watering cans could be found on the cheap.

My favorite watering can was a gift from Nichole.  It was so pretty that I kept it indoors in my office like a piece of art. She convinced me that watering cans belong in the garden so I put it to work. It’s faded from the sun, but otherwise in good working order.

Purple Watering Can

I have a small copper watering can once used for my indoor plants. As that collection grew, it was far too small to remain practical. I love the shape and patina, though, so I keep it around.

Copper Watering Can

Small Copper Watering Can

The remaining two cans are high-density plastic. They are easy to keep clean, light in weight and durable. I keep one near the fountain and the other up front near the hose.

Light Green Watering Can

Haws Watering Can

The attachments are long gone, but this watering can lives on

If someone gave me a few hundred dollars with the caveat that I could only spend it on watering cans, these would be on my short list:

Achla watering can

Achla Dainty Copper Watering Can

green leaf watering can

Esschert Design

mouse watering can

Mouse Watering Can

kitty watering can

Kitty Watering Can

What would you choose?

Friday Already?

Progress?  It’s my middle name.  But…still much to do.


The swing needed a good cleaning so I scrubbed it twice to remove the winter muck.  It looks and smells better, but now it’s wet and drying in the sun.

Swing Cover:

In between scrubbing, I took measurements and cut the fabric for the swing cover.  Instead of re-upholstering the entire swing, I’m making a slip cover that will fit snugly but remove easily for cleaning and off-season storage.  Imagine my delight when I found wide elastic in the two colors I need, green for the front and tan for the back.  The plan is to secure the cover by crossing straps over the back and around the middle, like a belt.  I’m going to experiment with a few scraps of elastic to give it a more upholstered look by stitching it to the back side of the seat cover to emulate tucks.

Fabric and Trim

Garden Bench/Buffet:

My former garden bench now serves as a buffet or side bar, sitting next to our outdoor table. I’ve considered sanding and repainting it, but I’ve grown fond of the bench’s slightly battered charm. The earthquake kit resides inside the bench, but the top is the perfect surface to set up drinks. I found three inexpensive place-mats at Target, that when placed side by side, make a perfect surface cover. They can be wiped clean and stored off-season as well.

Side Board with New Place Mats

Close Up: I like the matching chevron

Fairy Garden Redux:

Back in April when we planted the back garden, my son wanted to add a small fountain nestled in the rocks near the fairy garden. He was gracious about it, suggesting we relocate the fairy garden to the other side of the yard. The big rocks were the ideal location for a fountain, he reasoned, and I agreed. Since the wee garden was more about creative expression than any thing else, I let him go ahead and experiment with his own creativity.   He used the small water pump from one of his building kits, an old Tupperware bowl and a trash bag, creating a trickling waterfall and a fountain.  Just as quickly, he lost interest.

Earlier this week I removed the sheet of black plastic used for the fountain, unearthing an ant colony. Hundreds of ants scattered everywhere. I waited for the nest activity to settle down  Then I pulled a small clay pot and a plant saucer from the side yard, added a few Impatiens and created a portable fairy garden in its place. I reused the hydroponic clay and the “stepping-stones” from the earlier fairy garden to create a mini patio.The table stand is a peat pod draped with a fern table-cloth, accessorized with a pair of magnets. The chairs are part of a stacking game.

Portable Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden Close-up


Mike brought home a bouquet of mixed flowers yesterday, and to my delight and surprise, there are exactly two, long-stemmed yellow blooms! They’ll look great in the cobalt blue beer bottles I set aside, along with the pink flowers tucked into one of my soy candle jars.

My sewing machine awaits!

Garden Jewels: Dress to Impress

The well dressed garden always looks smart.  Unpretentious, she boasts the latest colors and styles.  Last season’s fuchsias look timeless tucked neatly in front of hydrangeas.  Lacy ferns appeal to her feminine side, always graceful and light.

Her classic beauty lends itself to the yellow of a rose, evoking the earthy scent of lemon wafting through the air.  Grassy skirts compliment her regal stature, with a showy crown of alyssum just for fun.

The well dressed garden knows how important it is to accessorize.  Accessories take the garden from now to wow.

She’s agreed to share some of her favorites here, gifts from cherished friends.

Even a robin would buy a home from this lovely gift-giver

A ruby-red heart from a grammatical guru

The Happily Ever After Woods

Soleada de un viejo amigo, querido

It's True