I find myself on quite a birdhouse kick lately--and it is showing up in everything from my whimsical birdhouse cushion to this simple little painted cutie above.  I have a birdhouse wallhanging in the works at the moment, and there are  a couple of unfinished wooden birdhouses sitting in my workroom that are patiently awaiting embellishment.  Oh, the possiblities.
Apparently I am not alone in my love of these diminutive dwellings, and I was delighted to turn on CBS Sunday Morning this week and find a segment on the talented Thomas F Burke and his fabulous birdhouse replicas
According to his website biography, "Tom Burke spent 25 years building custom  homes with his  father in Delaware. He still builds houses but now his business  card reads: “Builder of Fine Bird Homes.”

Burke combines his craftsman’s  skills with  an artistic bent to create replicas of historic buildings or a client’s home. “These birdhouses are whimsical, not architectural  reproductions,” says Burke,  whose custom work can be spotted in yards all  around Wilmington."
His fanciful creations depict everything from Martha Stewart's Bedford, NY home to George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch and can take months to make--and can come with a price tag of upwards of  $20,000.  They truly are miniature works of art, and it is well worth watching the interview here on the CBS website.
It is when I see amazingly detailed and intricate woodworking projects that I regret never learning how to construct things with saws and nails...  I may just have to take a course of some sort, because I am quite intrigued at the possiblity of a project like this!

I hope you're all staying safe during this crazy weather we're having--I was horrified and saddened to see the breaking news of the Oklahoma tornadoes just this afternoon, as I have been through natural disasters (several times, in fact), and I am well acquainted with the sick feeling of resignation that comes when the evacuation siren starts up and you see danger advancing.  There is nothing to do but round up the things that mean most to you--usually people and pets--and head to a place of safety.

My heart is with any of you who have been affected. 
 
 
For the past week I've been seeing the most amazing pink flowers littering the sidewalk under a group of tall shade trees that Charlie Dog and I pass on our daily rambles.  Their spiky pink extensions are so unusual that I marvelled at how they can look so sharp and yet feel so soft to the touch.  I guess I had never looked up into the tall trees to see them hanging with these whimsical flowers and never noticed the 'bottle brushes' until they started falling to the sidewalk below in a carpet of pink fuzz.
A bit of research tells me that they are Callistemon citrinus and are more commonly known as 'bottle brush' flowers.  Nature really never ceases to amaze me!  Aren't they beautiful?

Is spring popping through in your corner of the world?
 
 
Lately I'm really loving flowers...  the beautiful bougainvillea are flourishing all around our neighborhood and their cheery shades of pink bring a big smile to my face as Charlie and I take our daily strolls.  He seems unimpressed by their tropical hues, but I find them enchanting.  My recent Happy Scrappy Flower endeavor sent me into fanciful imaginings of a garden of fabric scrap flowers, blooming happily indoors to be enjoyed year-round.

I've been coming up with new projects to create using my fabric scrap stash so that I can look at the pieces I so loved when I bought them, and enjoy them every day.  During the past week I've squeezed a bit of creation into my endless days spent in the digital realm, and I picked out my very favorite prints to be used.
While getting all the prints together, I ran across the remains of my husband's old shirt that I have torn up and used for everything from Sophie's Kitty Quilt to my favorite Framed Patchwork Memories.  It was still sporting its collar, which had lovely multi-colored stitches at its edge... perfect for a unique fabric flower!  It's amazing what you can make when you look ordinary things with just  a bit of imagination!
My stolen handwork moments added up to a whimsical  garden of fabric flowers, and I decided they would fit beautifully on the grapevine wreath I had kicking around crying out for embellishment.
Picture
I didn´t realize it when I posted this pic.... but can anyone spot the lizard?
I am so pleased with my 'breath of spring' wreath--it makes me happy to see so many of my favorite fabric prints all snuggled together where I can see them every day!

If anyone is interested in creating their own fabric flower wreath, you can take a look at my scrap flower tutorial and just let your imagination run wild--make a bunch of the flowers in different sizes and colors, and attach them to your own wreath.   A great weekend project to brighten the winter days.

Voila--instant spring!

Happy Crafting!
 
 
I was reminded today of one of my all-time favorite photos--and memories--from my old house back in Canada.  Those of you who have been with me for a while will remember that my hometown flooded last year, destroying pretty much all of the properties adjacent to the beautiful river flowing through the center of the village.  My mid--1800s home was one of them.

The kitty in the photo is my girl Bella... aka 'Bingy'.  I rescued her when she was a 6 week-old kitten living rough behind someone's woodpile with her Mum, Aunt, and three siblings.  Sadly, one of the kittens died before the rescue, but the rest of her furry family all went to good, loving homes.  Miss Bella is one of the nicest kitties I've ever met--always loving and playful, never a scratch or hiss... an absolute sweetheart.  She was always a household favorite, and every time my Mum came over, she would call her 'Bella Wella Bing Bang'.  With time her nickname became 'Bingy', and the name stuck--somehow it suits her.

Each year a groundhog family used to take up residence underneath the porch of my house.  Groundhogs are rather curious creatures I always found, and they would come up onto the big brick porch steps for a spot of sun and a nose around.  At some point they came to realize that there were other furry creatures inside the house...  and they were as intrigued by the cats as the kitties were by them.

This particularly handsome little fellow was a young one, and after he and Bingy caught sight of each-other, it was fascination at first sight.  Each day, Bingy would roam the porch and spend long periods of time staring out the glass door, waiting for her furry little friend to appear.  A few times I was fortunate enough to capture their  'through the glass' interaction, and every time I see this shot, I can't help but smile all day long! 

The groundhog came to be called 'Edward'',  and I wonder what has become of that family of subterranean dwellers...  My beautiful house was contaminated with fuel in last March's flood and sadly it had to be demolished last August as it was no longer safe.  So many wonderful memories were made in that house, and so much of myself went into renovating it.  I swear, I touched every square inch of it during the years I called it mine, and it's loss was a terrible blow.  The basement was filled in, along with their burrows.  I hope they managed to rebuild their underground empire...

I am so thankful to be able to look at photos like this one and remember the happy days spent by the river.

Happy memories and definitely one of my favorite things  :-)
 
 
It was a mild and sunny weekend here in Miami--the perfect time to start thinking of spring planting and adding a bit of color to our back garden.  For ages now I've been wanting to figure out some sort of 'window box' contraptions to hang on the backyard fence, and the other day when we were at IKEA the solution jumped out at me:  BYGEL containers and the BYGEL rail.  My own interpretation... I love the Swedes!
Technically they're 'wall storage solutions', but what a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to create vertical plant holders!  I picked out some happy, vibrant geraniums and with less than half an hour's work, I have a couple of lovely, inventive, and visually interesting fence planters.
The containers cost an extravagant $0.99 each and came complete with little holes in the bottom which are perfect for plant pot drainage!  The rail retails at $2.99, and appears to have a coating of some sort, so I am really hoping that it won't rust in its new outdoor home.  When I started working with the rails I realized that they would also make great mid-century style towel rails (I used to have original mid-century rails in my old house that looked very similar to these).  IKEA--this is why I love you!
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My lovely new Touch of Class Grandiflora Rose
I was quite taken with the selection of rose bushes during my Saturday morning session at Home Depot (am I the only person who can spend HOURS there when I'm not even involved in any big project?  Surely not!?) and came home with two beautiful ladies--a 'Sonia' Grandiflora and a 'Touch of Class' Grandiflora.  I suspect they'll both be a similar coral-pink color, which is a lovely addition to a formerly-drab corner of the garden. 

My DIY weekend continued with repairing two sections of drywall in the upstairs guest bathroom in preparation for a fresh coat of the most gorgeous grayish-blue paint (post to follow) which seems to be an extremely popular color this season--it's everywhere, and I love it!  It reminds me of stormy days by the beach back in coastal Scotland...  wonderful memories of cold salty air and warming my hands around a steaming cup of coffee while seeking shelter from the relentless Baltic winds. 

Unfortunately my DIY adventures have ground to a screeching halt today as I managed to grab onto a red-hot oven rack this morning and burn my dominant hand in no less than EIGHT places.  Impressive, non?

Aloe leaf is applied... now I wait :-)
 
 
Mr Oliver Puss
Dear Mr Oliver Puss,
The carnage has to stop.  Five lizards in one day--I cannot  be silent any
longer.  The bell on your collar obviously isn't working (are lizards deaf?),
and I am tired of rescuing partly mangled creatures--or worse, disposing of dead
ones.  Please take pity on my squeamish sensitivity and take your aggression out
on your wide variety of toys instead of our backyard wildlife.
 
Regards,
The Human

The Cat Teaser aka Mr Blue Jay





The best place to seek God is in a garden.
You can dig for him there.
~ George Bernard Shaw ~

There is no more intrepid
explorer than a kitten.
~ Jules Champfleury ~

Kittens believe that all nature
is occupied with their diversion.
~ F. A. Paradis de Moncrif ~