Author Archives: jane

Making Fun Gourd Bird Houses

Attract birds to your yard with home-made environmentally friendly gourd bird houses. You can make several in an afternoon and have fun doing it. You can keep it simple or you can tap into your playful side.

How to:

Getting the gourd

Ask around at local farms and farmer’s markets. There is a good chance that you will find some already dried. If so, you can start making your birdhouse right away.

If you plan ahead, you can grow your own gourds. How cool would that be?!

Drying the gourd

The easiest way to dry your gourds is to spread them out in a box and place them in the garage for the winter. They are going to mold on the outside a bit no matter what you do: no worries. Check on your gourds: if a gourd is rotting (i.e. the shell is getting soft), you should discard it so it won’t spoil the others.

Cleaning your gourd

Some people soak their gourds in a bleach solution to remove the mold. I don’t like to use bleach more than necessary and I find it isn’t necessary here. Either way you will need to scrub and wash and even scrap your gourd clean. It takes a bit of elbow grease. Don’t you like the patterns left on its skin? 

Drilling the holes

Use a drill bit for the size you want your birdhouse hole to be. You can find suggested birdhouse hole size for specific birds online. I used a two inch (diameter) hole for the birdhouse seen here.

I also drilled small drainage holes in the bottom of the gourd just in case rain should get inside.

Finished birdhouse has linseed oil applied.

Finishing the birdhouse(s)

Find salvaged paint (your own or someone else’s leftover paint). I found a small container of exterior paint at the Restore and used that to paint one of my birdhouses. I also used the two hole pieces, from the door openings which I painted white, for the eyes of this amusing birdhouse. I used Gorilla glue to attach them.

For my other gourd, I applied linseed oil. Linseed oil is a natural oil used as a wood preservative and is made from flax seeds. Use a rag to rub on a thin layer of oil. If using multiple coats, allow to dry between applications. The linseed oil will give the gourd a polished look and will help repel the rain. Linseed oil doesn’t preserve your birdhouse for as long as other products but you can compost the old and make a new.

Hanging the gourd birdhouse

Use a piece of scrap rope/ string or even an old shoe lace to hang your finished birdhouse. If you want to be fancier, you can bend an old coat hanger into a hook. First drill two holes to slide the wire through.

This purchased birdhouse has an orange stain on it. Stain is nice because it gives the birdhouse a color but the natural look of the birdhouse shows through. The diameter hole for this birdhouse is 2 inches. I placed this orange gourd birdhouse outside my front door where it is sheltered by our house roof. It is hanging on the wall of our house. Despite the fact that wren birdhouse hole sizes are recommended to be much smaller, a pair of wrens moved into our gourd birdhouse and successfully raised six chicks last summer (2009).

 I hope they will be back, I do love wrens. On a side note, I’ve seen wrens go in/ out of our gourd birdhouse in the winter. I assumed that it or they were seeking shelter from the cold. This is one of the baby birds that left the nest that day. So cute!

This is a snapshot of the mother or father wren that worked tirelessly feeding all those babies!

Tree Coin Necklaces: Beautiful All Natural Jewelry

I rubbed mineral oil on this one. As you can see it darkens the wood.

Tree coin necklaces are so pretty yet are very easy to make. I call them tree coin necklaces because they are disk shaped pieces of wood cut from tree branches. Children will need to have parents do the prep work on this project but will enjoy putting the necklaces together and decorating them.

How to:

Coin shaped pieces are cut from tree branches. I use a miter saw to do this job. If you want to make many coin pieces of the same thickness, clamp a piece of wood onto the saw leaving the desired distance from the cut.

A hole is drilled into the “coins”. Place a scrap board underneath your coin while drilling to protect the surface you are working on or place the “coin” in a vice while drilling.

Use string, yarn or ribbon to tie around the neck.

They are lovely plain (I love the circular wood grain) or you can decorate with stamps or personalize with a “green” message.

Fun InThe Making Attending Earth Day Celebration In Leonardtown MD On April 18th 2010

Visit the Fun In the Making booth at the Earth Day celebration in Leonardtown Maryland (For more information call 301-475-9791) on April 18thanytime between 12:30 to 4:30pm. Have a nice afternoon enjoying the other fun activities like the free kayak rides but be sure to stop by and see us.

Our fee craft will be coin necklaces. I’d love for you to come and make yourself one. Lovely disks were cut from tree branches and a hole is pre-drilled. Pick out your favorite tree coin and add some yarn or string. They are lovely plain or you can decorate with stamps or personalize it with a “green” message in honor of earth day.

We will be located across the street from The Hair Company (on the grassy island).

Hope to see you there!

Hester Jane

Simple April Fool’s Joke Utilizing Non-working Pens

My girls get me with this gag over and over. They think it’ so funny!

All you need to do is save all the broken pens you come across. That includes the ones that run out of ink and can’t be refilled. You could take apart working pens but we like to make use of the already broken pens. Lay these prank pens around. Place some by the phone, computer etc.. Temporarily hide any functioning pens.

I have to laugh at myself whenever I fall for this prank because I keep falling for the same trick. That is what makes it so funny for my kids.

Have fun today – and every day!

Explore A Stream: You Might Find Salamander Larvae

My daughters found some salamander larvae in a stream in Southern Maryland in March. They are out there but how many of us ever see them. To find these little guys, you will need to look more closely and perhaps have a bit of luck.

Some salamanders have an aquatic larval stage. The larvae can swim and they have gills in order to breathe in water.

The photo shows the aquatic larval stage of a salamander in Southern Maryland. Note the feathery gills extending out of the neck area. Eventually the larvae will metamorphose into an adult salamander.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what kind of salamander these guys would grow up to be.

I did some research and of all the salamanders found in Maryland, the only salamanders that can be found in the Southern part of Maryland and have an aquatic larval stage are: Dusky salamanders, Two- lined salamanders (see: http://www.funinthemaking.net/2009/11/05/finding-salamanders-for-fun-and-study-where-to-look-and-how-to-handle-for-your-safety-and-theirs/), Mud salamanders, and Red salamanders. I’m not sure it is possible to identify them at this young stage. If you have any knowledge on the subject, please pass it on.

Here is the website I referenced to discover the Salamanders in Maryland:

http://wwwnew.towson.edu/herpetology/Amphibians.htm