A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: February 2013

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28 February 2013

Create a DIY Cold Frame with Old Windows

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It might feel cold, rainy and let's-face-it -- HORRID outside, but surely you can feel that little bit of spring in the air.  That tiny bit of fresh air from the south that smells of tulips and peonies and fresh rain and sprouting grass.  Spring is coming and it will come faster than you can imagine.  Those boring days of winter will be past and the workloaded days of blissful spring will be upon us.

If you are anything like me, you want to rush things a bit.  Winter is so sad and depressing and spring is just...well...everything.  There can't be anything better than the brilliant new life we get to joy in every March, April and May.   So to push the season way into early March I get started with seed starting, bulb forcing, branch forcing and cold frames.  Today we are going to focus on those cold frames!


Cold frames are simply a planting area or box, with glass over top to warm up the soil and air around the baby plants.  When used in early apring or late fall, they can extend your planting period by quite a lot.  The problem?  Cold frames can be expensive!  THAT my friends is why I am into DIY gardening.  If any area of life were more suited to DIY solutions as opposed to costly installations -- the garden would be it.  So instead of spending my hard earned bucks on cold frames (that are typically too small anyway), I use windows!

Now, I happened to stumble upon these windows hidden away behind our shed and there were plenty for multiple cold frames, a giant food dehydrator and a glass trap when playing Capture the Flag (sorry Nick!).  If you don't have old windows lying around (aka - you are normal!) check out your neighbors on garbage day.  windows are a common site -- particularly old, useless windows.  You should be careful of very old windows with peeling paint.  These might contain lead and are not safe for use in your vegetable garden.  Anything vinyl or aluminum is perfect!

Once you have scored some old windows, it is time to pick a location for your cold frames and assemble the pieces.  I chose  to use them directly in my vegetable garden, hidden away from sight from the neighbors and with soil that was already prepped for planting.  I simply took four windows of the same size, leaned them against each other and secured the top.

 It is simply a matter of looping twine or wire through the top sections of the windows to secure them against wind.  These windows are fairly heavy, so their weight alone, leaning against each other provides a lot of stability.  You might notice that the upper portions of the windows are left open, as well as the sides.  Here in zone 6, the weather has warmed up quite a bit by March, so I don't need a fully enclosed frame.  The windows lock in enough warmth from sunlight, while the open area provide some air flow for the plants. 

Which plants??  Well, that is a good question!  Even though you are getting a jump on spring, you still will not be able to get the outdoor soil warmed up enough for summer plants with this system (corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers).  Instead, stick to spring favorites like sweet peas, swiss chard and spinach, mustard plant, leeks and onions, beets and radishes.  You will be harvesting before any of your friends and OH how jealous they will be!


This post is just one part of my series on DIY Gardening

 Click the photo below to find more posts in the series!







27 February 2013

Forget Green Tea! Let's Have Some DANDELION Tea!

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Spring is coming...soon soon soon!  Before long the grass will start greening and the leaves will start their slow open to the sun and those pesky little dandelions will be popping up all over the lawn.  What to do?  EAT THEM!  Actually, you are going to drink them....

So first things first, you are going to need some dandelions. Yes I reallu said dandelion. As in the little yellow pesky flowers that your neighbor is trying to eradicate with an arsenal of chemicals. They are edible and the bitter can kind of tame the sweet of some dishes. I like to use the blooms in a hibiscus tea. The tea is sugared and the hibiscus has kind of a naturally sweet taste, so the undercurrent of slightly bitter dandelion works well.

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Served hot or cold, I like this tea for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  
It is sweet and herbal, but the dandelion adds that depth of flavor with a little touch of bitter.

The trick to the dandelions is to pick them when the little yellow flowers first appear.  You want as much of the yellow flower, and as little of the white seed as possible.  Grab the flower at the base and pull the yellow petals out.  They will come apart as individual petals and separate completely when cooked.

Here's the story on the hibiscus.  I bought a giant bag of them when we were in Mexico (Click here to read more about the Mexican Market -- hanging chickens and all!)  without knowing exactly what they were.  They smelled amazing and the vendors at the market assured me they were great as tea.  Of course, this was all over a HUGE language barrier, so the first time I tried this tea, I was a little wary, but was happily surprised with the taste.  Of course, then someone mentioned that hibiscus doesn't have a scent, so I thought that they might be roses.  A bit more research later and I learned that they are in fact a Mexican hibiscus.  Of course, I didn't really care what they were - they were delicious!   You can find them at local natural food stores or on amazon in bulk.  The best price I found is this option from Davidson's.



Here she is brewing!  I make a giant pot of tea, chill the batches in pitchers and then warm up individual cups for hot tea or just pour straight over ice for iced.  Want the recipe?  Here goes!

Dandelion & Hibiscus Tea
This recipe is based on personal taste.  Taste as you go to get the right amount of sugar!

1-2 Cups of fresh Dandelions  Start with 1 cup and then up it to two if you want more flavor. 
(or start with 2 T of dried dandelion leaves and up it to add more bitterness to the brew depending on your tastes)

2-3 cups dried Hibiscus
1 cup of sugar
Fill an 8 qt stock pot with water  Stop about 2-3 inches from the top
(I added 2 black tea bags as well for a bit of dark flavor, but omit them to skimp on caffeine)

Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring as you go a few times to keep ingredients from sticking to the pan.  Once the water boils, reduce the heat until it is just barely simmering.  Let it go until your house smells amazing (15 minutes or longer to brew a stronger tea).

Let the mixture cool, then strain all the solids out, squeezing the flowers to get all the flavor out.  When cooled, pour into pitchers and chill.


Now go pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and relax...ahhhhh...

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Hey yo!  You!
Remember that every time you buy anything (anything!) from Amazon, if you click through my site I get a kickback.
Anything from diapers to books to food and more!  [ ...and whomever bought the bridesmaid's dress last month - THANKS!]




Pin It

Forget Green Tea! Let's Have Some DANDELION Tea!

Pin It

Spring is coming...soon soon soon!  Before long the grass will start greening and the leaves will start their slow open to the sun and those pesky little dandelions will be popping up all over the lawn.  What to do?  EAT THEM!  Actually, you are going to drink them....

So first things first, you are going to need some dandelions. Yes I reallu said dandelion. As in the little yellow pesky flowers that your neighbor is trying to eradicate with an arsenal of chemicals. They are edible and the bitter can kind of tame the sweet of some dishes. I like to use the blooms in a hibiscus tea. The tea is sugared and the hibiscus has kind of a naturally sweet taste, so the undercurrent of slightly bitter dandelion works well.

Pin It

Served hot or cold, I like this tea for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  
It is sweet and herbal, but the dandelion adds that depth of flavor with a little touch of bitter.

The trick to the dandelions is to pick them when the little yellow flowers first appear.  You want as much of the yellow flower, and as little of the white seed as possible.  Grab the flower at the base and pull the yellow petals out.  They will come apart as individual petals and separate completely when cooked.

Here's the story on the hibiscus.  I bought a giant bag of them when we were in Mexico (Click here to read more about the Mexican Market -- hanging chickens and all!)  without knowing exactly what they were.  They smelled amazing and the vendors at the market assured me they were great as tea.  Of course, this was all over a HUGE language barrier, so the first time I tried this tea, I was a little wary, but was happily surprised with the taste.  Of course, then someone mentioned that hibiscus doesn't have a scent, so I thought that they might be roses.  A bit more research later and I learned that they are in fact a Mexican hibiscus.  Of course, I didn't really care what they were - they were delicious!   You can find them at local natural food stores or on amazon in bulk.  The best price I found is this option from Davidson's.



Here she is brewing!  I make a giant pot of tea, chill the batches in pitchers and then warm up individual cups for hot tea or just pour straight over ice for iced.  Want the recipe?  Here goes!

Dandelion & Hibiscus Tea
This recipe is based on personal taste.  Taste as you go to get the right amount of sugar!

1-2 Cups of fresh Dandelions  Start with 1 cup and then up it to two if you want more flavor. 
(or start with 2 T of dried dandelion leaves and up it to add more bitterness to the brew depending on your tastes)

2-3 cups dried Hibiscus
1 cup of sugar
Fill an 8 qt stock pot with water  Stop about 2-3 inches from the top
(I added 2 black tea bags as well for a bit of dark flavor, but omit them to skimp on caffeine)

Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring as you go a few times to keep ingredients from sticking to the pan.  Once the water boils, reduce the heat until it is just barely simmering.  Let it go until your house smells amazing (15 minutes or longer to brew a stronger tea).

Let the mixture cool, then strain all the solids out, squeezing the flowers to get all the flavor out.  When cooled, pour into pitchers and chill.


Now go pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and relax...ahhhhh...

Pin It


Hey yo!  You!
Remember that every time you buy anything (anything!) from Amazon, if you click through my site I get a kickback.
Anything from diapers to books to food and more!  [ ...and whomever bought the bridesmaid's dress last month - THANKS!]



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21 February 2013

How to Make Paper Lanterns Work for You!

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Paper lanterns are cheap beautiful -- a win-win in my book! In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a decorative element that can make as much of an impact for as cheap a price.  Oops paint maybe?  New curtains out of tablecloths?  Maybe.  ...but I am on the paper lantern train and it would take a lot to get me off!  Join me today as I show you how to utilize these inexpensive design tools as a magical wall treatment!

Paper Lanterns Wall Installation

My bedroom is painted a deep green/teal kind of color and for the longest time, I was stumped by the giant expanse of green along our headboard.  I wanted to fill the space with art or photos, but it would be prohibitively expensive to do so.  I made fern canvases which helped, but there was still too much empty space.  So the fern canvases got a new home, and I had an idea to use inexpensive paper lanterns for a fun and whimsical wall installation.  This craft would work perfectly for any home, but with the addition of candles could be the perfect wedding or event display!  Join me today as I show you how to create this look with a few simple supplies and cheap paper lanterns!

Paper Lanterns Wall
The white pops perfectly against the green and the lanterns were the perfect cheap, quick and pretty solution.  If you are working with white walls, you might try the colored lanterns for the same look in the opposite manner.

Supplies needed to make your own paper lantern wall installation:
Installation is simple and only requires a few knots.

1.  Very carefully and gently open the paper lanterns and stretch with the included metal insert.  Be careful!  I broke several.  The eyelet lanterns are particularly fragile.

2.  Work with a partner to determine heights and groupings of the lanterns before hanging.  Odd number groupings work best.

3.  Tie fishing line to the top metal hook of the lantern.

lanterns fishing wire on top 

4.  Wrap the top of the fishing wire around the metal pushpin 5-6 times and secure with a knot.  Test to make sure the height is exactly where you want it.

5.  Insert the clear pushpin directly into the ceiling.  These lanterns are so light that a pushpin in the drywall is plenty to hold them secure (even with candles inside!)

lantern pushpins 

Once the lanterns are hung, take a rest on the bed and look up.  Aren't these fun?

lanterns from below

I wanted to take the whimsy a step further though and make these lanterns twinkle at night.  Real candles would have produced the biggest fire hazard you've ever seen, but flickering LED tea lights?  Perfect.
lanterns glowing long line white

Simply slide a single tea light into the bottom of the lantern and let it rest on the metal framework.
lanterns with led candles 

Once they are all lit and flickering in a pitch black room, the effect is absolutely magical!  They are the perfect solution to my big blank expanse of green!  Now THAT is a way to make paper lanterns work for YOU!

(Thanks to Crafts Unleashed and Consumer Crafts for the Supplies!)
 


Pin It

How to Make Paper Lanterns Work for You!

Pin It

Paper lanterns are cheap beautiful -- a win-win in my book! In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a decorative element that can make as much of an impact for as cheap a price.  Oops paint maybe?  New curtains out of tablecloths?  Maybe.  ...but I am on the paper lantern train and it would take a lot to get me off!  Join me today as I show you how to utilize these inexpensive design tools as a magical wall treatment!

Paper Lanterns Wall Installation

My bedroom is painted a deep green/teal kind of color and for the longest time, I was stumped by the giant expanse of green along our headboard.  I wanted to fill the space with art or photos, but it would be prohibitively expensive to do so.  I made fern canvases which helped, but there was still too much empty space.  So the fern canvases got a new home, and I had an idea to use inexpensive paper lanterns for a fun and whimsical wall installation.  This craft would work perfectly for any home, but with the addition of candles could be the perfect wedding or event display!  Join me today as I show you how to create this look with a few simple supplies and cheap paper lanterns!

Paper Lanterns Wall
The white pops perfectly against the green and the lanterns were the perfect cheap, quick and pretty solution.  If you are working with white walls, you might try the colored lanterns for the same look in the opposite manner.

Supplies needed to make your own paper lantern wall installation:
Installation is simple and only requires a few knots.

1.  Very carefully and gently open the paper lanterns and stretch with the included metal insert.  Be careful!  I broke several.  The eyelet lanterns are particularly fragile.

2.  Work with a partner to determine heights and groupings of the lanterns before hanging.  Odd number groupings work best.

3.  Tie fishing line to the top metal hook of the lantern.

lanterns fishing wire on top 

4.  Wrap the top of the fishing wire around the metal pushpin 5-6 times and secure with a knot.  Test to make sure the height is exactly where you want it.

5.  Insert the clear pushpin directly into the ceiling.  These lanterns are so light that a pushpin in the drywall is plenty to hold them secure (even with candles inside!)

lantern pushpins 

Once the lanterns are hung, take a rest on the bed and look up.  Aren't these fun?

lanterns from below

I wanted to take the whimsy a step further though and make these lanterns twinkle at night.  Real candles would have produced the biggest fire hazard you've ever seen, but flickering LED tea lights?  Perfect.
lanterns glowing long line white

Simply slide a single tea light into the bottom of the lantern and let it rest on the metal framework.
lanterns with led candles 

Once they are all lit and flickering in a pitch black room, the effect is absolutely magical!  They are the perfect solution to my big blank expanse of green!  Now THAT is a way to make paper lanterns work for YOU!

(Thanks to Crafts Unleashed and Consumer Crafts for the Supplies!)
 


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19 February 2013

How to Grow Moss like a Boss

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Today begins a new series here at the nest focusing on basic DIY gardening techniques that even beginners can master!  You might see some posts from the past that have been helpful for others (like this one!) and you will also see brand new posts thrown in the mix as we move along!  I would love to get your opinions and hear what you struggle with in the garden - I am here to help!  So grab your trowel and gardening gloves and let's dive right into some DIY Gardening that you CAN master!

Ready?  We are going to start with growing and transplanting moss.  It is much simpler than yuo might think!  Moss is tough! 

1. Find a patch of moss. (If you don't have easy access to moss in your yard, you CAN buy moss and transplant it into a terrarium once it arrives.  HERE is a great little collection of various types to experiment with.)   I have these random patches of moss growing everywhere shady in my yard in all different varieties. Look around lawns and other shady areas to find a chunk. Just take a little...leave some there and it will replenish itself.  If you want to feel really good about yourself, find a chunk of moss that has a bunch of weeds in it like this:

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

Dig up the moss and you can then easily pull the weeds out...a win-win...transplanting AND weeding at the same time!  You want to target patches that have tough weeds like queen anne's lace, dandelions and quackgrass.  My moss had all of those and more - lucky me!  By the way, now is the time of year to start the fight against weeds when they are little and have not even thought about reproducing yet.  (I am working on a beginner's guide to identifying weeds...stay tuned!)

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden
 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

2. Dig up a chunk of moss by slicing sideways under the moss, as opposed to digging down.  Moss does not have roots, so you are just going to slice off a layer of moss from the surface.   You don't need a bunch of dirt from underneath the moss.

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden
 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden
 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden
 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

3.  Once you have a thin slice of moss, you should make sure you pull out the weeds if there are any.  Mine had plenty.  This is what it should look like once it is clean.  (Yes, I realize I missed a couple tiny ones...)

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

4.  Now you need a surface with bare dirt to "plant" it on.  The moss need to have access to the soil and a bunch of water to establish itself.  Thus, I planted on a very rainy day.  Alternatively, you could just water your moss in, making sure it stayed moist for at least a week.  Moss prefers to be damp, so it is one plant you can go a little overboard as opposed to "underboard" on the watering.

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

5.  Give the moss a little pat to make sure the plant is in direct contact with the soil and you are finished! 

 How to Grow Moss  #DIY_Garden

Too wordy for you?   Basically...

1.  Find Moss.
2.  Dig it up (sideways!)
3. Get rid of weeds.
4.  Lay it on bare dirt and water.
5. Watch moss be pretty!

Don't have any moss?  Amazon sells LIVE moss (make sure you get the live kind!) right HERE, HERE or HERE.  
The last one listed there is a cool assortment of a bunch of different kinds of moss -- fun!


Happy planting!

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 If you liked this tutorial, then you might enjoy the BOOK!

Make your own coconut oil.
Gather your own sea salt.
Grow your own grapevines for wreaths.
Give gifts naturally grown and crafted from your backyard garden.

Each chapter focuses on a plant or groups of plants and how to grow them in your home garden.  Then, gather up those natural ingredients and get crafting! From lavender wreaths and hypertufa planters to lambsear angels and pickled tomatoes, there are projects for beginners on up!

Crafting with Nature is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a MillionPOWELL's! (!!!!)  Booktopia (Australia!), IndieBoundAlibrisGlose.comThe Book Depository and Walmart.com.  Books are also rolling out to retailers and libraries, so check for them there. 
 If your library does NOT have it yet, this is why you should talk to your librarian!

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