Bringing The Garden Indoors: Pyracanthas Have Amazing Fall Beauty

Pyracanthas (also known as Firethorns) have beautiful orange fruit that are perfect for fall décor. I love to bring in large bouquets of these berry laden branches. I also love the way they add color to my garden in the fall. The berries persist into the winter as well and provide food for birds. Cardinals especially love them. Harvesting from your garden for home décor is a way to make your house gorgeous without spending any money! Plus the seasons provide variety and change is good.

I recommend planting a pyracantha bush. This one in my yard is a Mohave Pyracantha (Pyracantha x ‘Mohave’).

Recycled Wool Coat Needle and Stitch Book

Using a salvaged wool coat, you too can make a really cute holder for storing sewing needles. I use this project as a learning tool for beginner sewers. It is a fun way to introduce students to three introductory stitches: the basic running stitch, the cast-over stitch, and the back stitch. In addition, students learn to sew on buttons.

Search second hand stores for a wool coat or blazer that is worn out or ripped. Take it apart at the seams and felt the fabric by washing in hot water.

Order a pattern from me or design your own pattern. If you want to save time and support this website, send an e-mail requesting this pattern (HesterJane@FunInTheMaking.net) The pattern is 2$ and you can pay by clicking on the donation button on the right-hand side of this website. You will also receive a smaller version of this coat intended for making Christmas ornaments.

How to:

1. Print out the coat needle book pattern. (See instructions directly above.)

2. Trace and cut out two coat shapes. Follow the blue dots for the front piece and the pink dots for the back piece. Note that the back is slightly different on the center top of the coat. *Follow the perimeter of the coat: don’t cut the dotted lines that separate the sleeves from the coat body (D to E on pattern) yet.

3. Cut down the center top of coat (front of the coat only) about 2 inches or desired distance.

4. Pin the front and back of coat together.

5. Fold down and pin the collar.

6. Fold up cuffs and pin in place.

7. Use the overcast stitch to sew up the side of the sleeve from A to G on pattern. Do the same to the other side of coat.

8. Cut your sleeves D to E. I find that it is better to cut the sleeves now when you have the front and back of the coat lined up on top of each other. This way the front and the back of your sleeves will be the same size.

9. Sew sleeve front and back together D to E. Do not sew the body of the coat from D to E because you want the coat to open up like a notebook.

10. Sew on button(S). Sew the buttons to the front of the coat only.

11. Use a backstitch to make a decorative line across the bottom edge of the coat on thefront of the coat only.

12. Use a backstitch to make a decorative line across the bottom edge of the sleeve cuffs.

13. Sew the collar down.

14. Cut out the pockets of your choice.

15. Sew on the pockets using an overcast stitch or a straight stitch. Front of coat only.

16. Use a backstitch to make a decorative line on pockets.

If you or your child is interest in taking a class on how to make these adorable coats, please follow the link “Classes” on the top of this website for more information.

Here are samples of student’s work.

This coat was made by a soon to be 4th grader. Isn’t Sara’s coat so sweet!

This cute coat was made by a soon to be 5th grader. Great job Katie!

Raise your own caterpillars For The Fun Of It: Fritillary Butterflies

Try this at home! Find and raise your own caterpillars. I found these lovely Variegated Fritillary caterpillars in my yard (southern MD) and didn’t know what kind they were. The best part of raising caterpillars is the thrill of discovery!

I found these caterpillars on our violet plants.

Here it is munching down on a violet leaf.

Find your own:

If you want to find fritillary caterpillars, you will want to look on the plants which they love to eat. In this case: violets, pansies, passion flowers, flax, stonecrop, moonseed, and plantain. I found these on violet plants.

Make a home:

metamorphosis observatory

See my post on making a metamorphosis observatory.

Feed:

Bring in some of the plant you found your caterpillar on. Give it new food as it eats up the old. The vase should have water in it to keep the plant yummy for the caterpillar but you don’t want the caterpillar to drown in the water, so use a vase with a narrow neck.

I allow plenty of violets to grow around my house. The larvae (the caterpillars) of the variegated fritillary as well as other fritillaries feed on violet plants.

You might not even think about it but when you landscape your yard and get rid of all the native plants, you are also getting rid of food for native insects. If there are no bugs (including caterpillars), then birds etc. don’t have anything to eat. Native insects need native plants!

This is the chrysalis of the variegated fritillary. It has beautiful gold spots.

Here is a variegated Fritillary butterfly that we raised.

Raising Tree Frog Tadpoles (MD, USA)

If you have kids, raising tadpoles into frogs is a must. With not much effort you can witness the fascinating metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog. Here is a tree frog we raised in the summer of 2004.

Gray tree frog found on my house (which is green) in southern Maryland 2008.

Green tree frog found outside my house. (Southern Maryland 2008)

Green tree frog outside my kitchen window 2009. It is not uncommon for tree frogs to hang out there eating the moths that are attracted to the light.

Mini Pond -2004

We have a galvanized container that I got at an antique store that doubles as a mini deck pond. When it rains we often hear one or more male tree frogs calling for a mate. They usually get together at night but we’ve seen them on really rainy days. In the morning we see eggs in our pond: lots of them. It doesn’t take long before you have all those little tadpoles swimming around. At this point, we get a few of the tadpoles to raise inside. I find that if the weather is really hot, the tadpoles all die. Hence, for better results, we bring some inside for raising. The tadpoles in our mini deck pond, if conditions are good, will eat mosquito larvae growing in the “pond”. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about creating a mosquito problem. The tadpoles will also eat algae- the green stuff growing on the sides of your pond. Your pond will stay cleaner looking. They will also resort to eating smaller tadpoles. This sounds pretty harsh but in doing so, at least some of the tadpoles will make it to adulthood.

Home for tadpoles

We kept our tadpoles in various large glass containers over the years. I like to limit the number of tadpoles because you don’t want to overcrowd them. The number you raise will depend on the size of the jar or tank you use

Change the water:

Freshen the water by dumping about half out and replacing it with fresh water. I have well water but if you have city water, you probably have chlorine to worry about. The chlorine will kill your tadpoles so set out a pitcher of water for a day or two in preparation to adding it to your jar of tadpoles.

Feed your tadpoles:

Your jar pond should have sunlight so the algae can grow. They love to eat the algae that grow naturally but there will not be enough in your little “pond” so you will need to feed them.

Don’t add so much food that the water gets all dirty looking. Feed as needed. I’ve successfully raised tadpoles on lettuce. I chopped it up then boiled it for a short time. (I’ve since read that boiling it first isn’t necessary.) After that I’d either pour off the water and freeze it or make portions in ice cube trays: the lettuce is frozen in the ice. Either break off bits of your frozen lettuce or drop in an ice cube when necessary. I’ve also feed them leftover fish food that I didn’t need any more. They loved that too.

I recently found the following link. It provides additional information about keeping tadpoles and is definitely worth checking out (no pictures though).

http://frogs.org.au/x/media/cs-lentic.pdf

When they start to grow front legs, you will need to cover your jar with cheese cloth or mesh of some kind so they don’t escape into your house. There needs to be something for the frog to climb onto- out of the water because you don’t want your new frog to drown. Release your tree frog back into the wild after metamorphosis takes place.

The whole process will take a little over two months if you are starting with eggs.

Check out the mouth on this guy!

This tadpole is clearly trying to go unnoticed.

Back legs at last!

Almost done!

How cute is that!

Tree frog we raised in the summer of 2008.

Making Flower Crowns For Your Little Pixie

Flower crowns are beautiful and your little pixie or princess will love it.

Make a bunch for a fairy party or just enjoy a little mother and daughter time.

How to:

Cut a vine and remove the leaves. I used a wisteria vine this time but you can use whatever you have on hand. Cut and bend it into a circle. Check the size of the hoop by putting it on the child’s head. Use a piece of wire or a string to hold the vine. Use flowers and leaves that are available in your garden. Use a wire or string to wrap around the hoop securing more flowers as you go around.

Pretty little pixie girl wearing a crown of fresh flowers.