Category Archives: use for natural stuff: vines, sticks…

Fun To Make Autumn Leaf Mobile

Fall is such a pleasant time for me. I really enjoy the cooler temperatures and the changing colors of the foliage. When a gust of wind comes along and the leaves rain down, I smile. I guess that is why I like these mobiles so much. It is like being outside even when I have to be inside.

Try using the leaf stem called the petiole (if long enough) to tie the leaf to the branch.

Salvaged copper wire can be used to hang your mobile or use whatever you have on hand.
How to: Spend a pleasant afternoon collecting your favorite leaves. Take a walk perhaps with your son or daughter and search for the best specimens. Your theme could be one kind of tree or a variety of trees and colors. Also, find a small branch from which you will hang your leaves.
During your walk you could introduce a few vocabulary words and a bit of science. Mention deciduous plants are the plants that drop their leaves in preparation of the coming winter. Evergreen plants like pine trees and hollies stay green throughout the winter: they lose leaves too but not all at once. Abscission is the process by which leaves are shed.
When you get home, and if the leaf isn’t completely dried out, you can use the leaf’s petiole (the stem part) to tie the leaf to the branch. Alternatively, glue the leaves directly onto the branch. Clamp with a cloths pin until the glue dries.

These ginkgo leaves are so beautiful. On that day the ground was painted yellow from fallen ginkgo leaves. The shadows are beautiful too.
Another option is to hang the leaves from pieces of string, thread or fishing line.  You might be able to salvage some fishing line. I’ve found some in the past near fishing spots and saved it for projects. Plus, I feel good about picking up litter.

I wish I had made this ginkgo leaf mobile with thread instead of this string because the thread would be almost invisible.

Home-made Sweet Bird’s Nest

You will have fun making your own sweet bird’s nest. They are lovely as centerpieces in a garden wedding or for spring decorating. Nests look amazing displayed under a glass cloche. These nests have all the charm of natural bird’s nests so you can leave the real ones for the birds. (There are laws in the US and Canada prohibiting the collecting of eggs and nests.)

They also make a beautiful gift for an expectant mother. They adorn the nursery with a natural reminder of the new life and the comfort and protection she will surround it.

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How-to:
Step 1. Gather some vines. I made these examples from the vines of the fragrant honeysuckle flower but you could try other vines as well. While the vines are still fresh, twist them around your hand; making tight circles then gradually spiraling bigger until you form the desired nest shape and size. Tuck in the ends to prevent unraveling. No glue is needed.

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Step 2. Add a layer of dried grass and/or dried fall leaves. Look on the side of the road in the fall or early spring for different dried grasses. You might want to put a pouch of rice or sand into the center of the nest to weight it down while your nest dries a bit. Keep it there until it holds its shape on its own -usually the next day. This gives the nest its great cozy feel; like a mommy bird has been sitting in it getting it ready for her little ones.

Step 3. Looking for things to decorate your nest is half the fun. Go for a hike.
Adorn your nest with a variety of native and locally grown ornamental plants including dogwood blossoms, hydrangea flowers, grasses, and herbs. In addition, you could add moss, bark, leaves, and feathers. Don’t overlook the tiny dried seedpods of last summer’s flowers.

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You may try lining your nest with downy feathers like in this nest or use a striking feather as an accent.

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Moss looks very natural in a nest. Moss can be found in shady areas which tend to be damp.

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Flowers like the dogwood blossoms on this nest can be dried in silica (a desiccant). There isn’t much to it really. Just place the fresh flowers in a container of silica and then gently pour more on top until the flower is completely covered. Check it after a few days, if it is dry, shake off the excess powder and you are ready to use them on your nest.

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Try adding fresh herbs to make it smell good. Thyme was used in this nest but I also like Sage.

I think these adorable ceramic speckled quail eggs make a nice addition.

I encourage you to make your own but if you would prefer to buy, you can special order the nests for garden weddings or otherwise from Fun In The Making (contact).

Easy To Make Natural Bird Feeders

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These pine-cone bird feeders are a classic. My family enjoys making them year after year.

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Although it has a bean-like fruit, the Trumpet-Creeper is a member of the Bignonia family.

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The Sweetgum tree is found predominantly in the South-Eastern United States.

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When it is cold outside, my family likes to make these beautiful bird feeders. We make many different types and “decorate” a tree for the birds. We picked an evergreen tree that we can see from inside our cozy house. It is fun to watch and see what birds find our treats. This is a good time to learn the names of the visiting birds. They especially appreciate it when there is snow covering the ground. Sometimes when we are done with our Christmas tree (real not artificial), we place it on our porch to decorate for a second time around.

How-2: Gather your pine cones and seedpods. I like to use a variety of sizes. Spread shortening, lard, suet, or peanut butter all over the pine cones, around the Sweetgum pods and inside the Trumpet-Creeper pod. Next sprinkle with one or more of the following: oatmeal, cornmeal, birdseeds, sunflower seeds, and millet. Mix and match to please a variety of taste buds. If you really want to treat your feathered visitors, add small pieces of dried fruit.