A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: March 2015

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31 March 2015

The One Little Plant You Should Grow This Year

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If you were to walk around my gardens with my kids, you would notice them start to pick leaves and toss them into their mouths.  You might wonder why I am not afraid.  Well, those little kids know that there is one plant that they are allowed to eat whenever they want and they know where to find it.  It is sprinkled throughout the garden so that anytime a soul needs a quick munching pick-me-up, they can grab a leaf or two.  It explodes with freshness, a citrus-undertone that you might not expect from a leaf so green.  Have you guessed what our little plant is yet?

See that brilliant green there?


Do you know what it is?
That is lemon balm and it really does look that fresh and bright when it is growing.

Once plants flower and start to go to seed, they get a little tired and the green deepens...


...but lemon balm will bounce right back 
and reward you with bunches of brilliant green again if you simply give it a haircut.  


Those cuttings can be used in teas (like MY HERBAL TEA) or dried for later use:


You can chop it up into bits to use in SOAP MAKING, for bath salts or as a substitute for lemon in culinary dishes.



There is not much negative to say about Lemon Balm, save its desire to grow and take over the world.  It is a cousin of mint, you know, and it grows in a similar fashion.  Though mint grows wild and untamed, lemon balm sticks to more of a bushy habit.  Beware though, it can spread.  In my gardens, I am happy to give lemon balm a bit of free reign.  It works well as a hedging plant and as a fragrant deterrent to garden pests in the vegetable garden.

To grow lemon balm, buy just one plant and split it into 2-3 smaller divisions.  Allow them to grow all spring and summer, then harvest the leaves before they flower.  In fall, split those 2-3 plants into more if you want to multiply your plants.  Plant immediately and they will come back next spring in most zones.  Right now, my lemon balm still looks like this:


...but that green, green grass back there is a signal something is up and the new life of spring will be coming round the mountain before we even know it.  I can't wait to wander around the garden, grabbing leaves of lemon balm here and there for the explosion of citrus scent and chomp down on the wonder that is the new life of plants.

The One Little Plant You Should Grow This Year

Pin It

If you were to walk around my gardens with my kids, you would notice them start to pick leaves and toss them into their mouths.  You might wonder why I am not afraid.  Well, those little kids know that there is one plant that they are allowed to eat whenever they want and they know where to find it.  It is sprinkled throughout the garden so that anytime a soul needs a quick munching pick-me-up, they can grab a leaf or two.  It explodes with freshness, a citrus-undertone that you might not expect from a leaf so green.  Have you guessed what our little plant is yet?

See that brilliant green there?


Do you know what it is?
That is lemon balm and it really does look that fresh and bright when it is growing.

Once plants flower and start to go to seed, they get a little tired and the green deepens...


...but lemon balm will bounce right back 
and reward you with bunches of brilliant green again if you simply give it a haircut.  


Those cuttings can be used in teas (like MY HERBAL TEA) or dried for later use:


You can chop it up into bits to use in SOAP MAKING, for bath salts or as a substitute for lemon in culinary dishes.



There is not much negative to say about Lemon Balm, save its desire to grow and take over the world.  It is a cousin of mint, you know, and it grows in a similar fashion.  Though mint grows wild and untamed, lemon balm sticks to more of a bushy habit.  Beware though, it can spread.  In my gardens, I am happy to give lemon balm a bit of free reign.  It works well as a hedging plant and as a fragrant deterrent to garden pests in the vegetable garden.

To grow lemon balm, buy just one plant and split it into 2-3 smaller divisions.  Allow them to grow all spring and summer, then harvest the leaves before they flower.  In fall, split those 2-3 plants into more if you want to multiply your plants.  Plant immediately and they will come back next spring in most zones.  Right now, my lemon balm still looks like this:


...but that green, green grass back there is a signal something is up and the new life of spring will be coming round the mountain before we even know it.  I can't wait to wander around the garden, grabbing leaves of lemon balm here and there for the explosion of citrus scent and chomp down on the wonder that is the new life of plants.

25 March 2015

Paper Stars for Pennies

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Recently, my 8 year old son came home from art class with the most impressive paper star. 
 I made him share the details with me and today, we are sharing how to make paper stars with YOU!

How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-UnleashedSupplies:

    8.5 x 11" Cardstock (or printer paper in a pinch).
     
    Scissors (sharp, large scissors for precise cuts).
     
    Tape or Stapler/Staples or Brad Connectors.
     
    Yarn, String or Copper Wire to Hang.
      NOTE: This project can be done with cheap printer paper to practice on before using your nice crafting papers. 
       

      INSTRUCTIONS:

      Start with a basic 8.5 by 11" piece of paper or cardstock.
       Fold the top corner down to make a clean edge and cut off the bottom few inches.

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-1

      Fold over again to make a triangle.  Cut strips from the folded side, leaving an inch or so UNCUT on the opposite side. 
       Thick cuts like this will create a basic lantern while smaller cuts will make a more intricate lantern (see photos at the end of post).

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-2 How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-3

      When you unfold your triangle, it should look like this:

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-4

      Start at the center with the smallest cuts and tape, staple or brad the two pieces together.

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-5

      Take the next two pieces and roll in the opposite direction (backwards). Continue until all strips are attached.  Single pieces can be hung individually as "lanterns", but the real magic is combining six of these pieces together to make a full star.  Simply staple 6 pieces together by the tips as the center of the star and on the sides of each piece to it's adjacent piece.

      A few variations of how to make paper stars:

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-7
       
      To create more intricate lanterns, use smaller cuts and a very steady hand (see photo above)!

      To create stars with a bit more staying power,
      use metal brads to secure pieces together and super thick cardstock (below).

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-8

      If you follow this how to make paper stars tutorial with children,
       consider crayon marks/lines before cutting to keep them on track and successful with their cutting.
      (See residual crayon marks on the lantern below.)

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-9
       
      Whether you use this how to make paper stars idea as a simple time filler for kids or go whole hog with them as party decorations or home decor, they really are a bit of magic as they "appear" out of simple pieces of paper!

      Pin It

      Paper Stars for Pennies

      Pin It

      Recently, my 8 year old son came home from art class with the most impressive paper star. 
       I made him share the details with me and today, we are sharing how to make paper stars with YOU!

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-UnleashedSupplies:

      8.5 x 11" Cardstock (or printer paper in a pinch).
       
      Scissors (sharp, large scissors for precise cuts).
       
      Tape or Stapler/Staples or Brad Connectors.
       
      Yarn, String or Copper Wire to Hang.
      NOTE: This project can be done with cheap printer paper to practice on before using your nice crafting papers. 
       

      INSTRUCTIONS:

      Start with a basic 8.5 by 11" piece of paper or cardstock.
       Fold the top corner down to make a clean edge and cut off the bottom few inches.

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-1

      Fold over again to make a triangle.  Cut strips from the folded side, leaving an inch or so UNCUT on the opposite side. 
       Thick cuts like this will create a basic lantern while smaller cuts will make a more intricate lantern (see photos at the end of post).

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-2 How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-3

      When you unfold your triangle, it should look like this:

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-4

      Start at the center with the smallest cuts and tape, staple or brad the two pieces together.

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-5

      Take the next two pieces and roll in the opposite direction (backwards). Continue until all strips are attached.  Single pieces can be hung individually as "lanterns", but the real magic is combining six of these pieces together to make a full star.  Simply staple 6 pieces together by the tips as the center of the star and on the sides of each piece to it's adjacent piece.

      A few variations of how to make paper stars:

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-7
       
      To create more intricate lanterns, use smaller cuts and a very steady hand (see photo above)!

      To create stars with a bit more staying power,
      use metal brads to secure pieces together and super thick cardstock (below).

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-8

      If you follow this how to make paper stars tutorial with children,
       consider crayon marks/lines before cutting to keep them on track and successful with their cutting.
      (See residual crayon marks on the lantern below.)

      How-to-make-paper-stars-Crafts-Unleashed-9
       
      Whether you use this how to make paper stars idea as a simple time filler for kids or go whole hog with them as party decorations or home decor, they really are a bit of magic as they "appear" out of simple pieces of paper!

      Pin It

      19 March 2015

      FIRST DAY OF SPRING ::: AMES TOOLS GIVEAWAY

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      IT IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING.....and IT IS SNOWING!


      At least here in Pennsylvania, it was really starting to feel like spring this week.  We cracked 60 degrees last week!  Brilliant! Of course now....it is snowing...but no worries!  The forecast is looking up friends and the daffodils are pushing up and spring is COMING!  Can you tell I am excited?  To celebrate, today I am partnering with Ames Tools to bring you a fun giveaway.  Not 1 tool, not 2, not 3 nor 4.  No, today the giveaway is for an entire collection of tools from Ames.
      This collection is specifically created for new homeowners that might not know what they have gotten themselves into when they bought that little patch of backyard.  Gardening can be tough!   Before we dive right into the giveaway though, let's talk about the differences in these basic tools and why you will need each one as a first-time gardening home owner.

      AMES steel tools have a really cool logo stamped into the steel -- Solid, right?

      The 16-Tine Welded Bow Rake

      GOOD FOR: Prepping a vegetable garden!  Once your soil has dried out a bit, this is hands down the tool you want after digging your veggie garden.  Get the soil all flat with perfect lines ready for planting!  This tough rakes also does a great job of pulling ivy down from where it has wandered astray.

      NOT GOOD FOR:  Delicate weeding tasks!  This rake is strong and mighty.  It will eat little seedlings and small bulbs right along with those weeds you are trying to get rid of.  Save this tool for tough projects!

      The Steel Handled AWESOMELY HUGE Poly Leaf Rake

      GREAT FOR: Cleaning up those wet and nasty fall leaves that you never got around to cleaning up before the ice storms of 2015 hit.  Get them out of the way and compost them so the grass can start growing!  This rake is also FABULOUS for moving big bundles of ornamental grasses and other drystuffs for the chicken coop (YES!  Chicken are coming back to the Nest this spring...stay tuned to see the new baby chicks!)  This rake also did a great job of grabbing thorny ramblers to throw in a bonfire :)

      This rake is HUGE -- note the size next to the almost 7 year old :)
      This is the only tool requiring any assembly -- 2 bolts and DONE
      NOT SO GREAT FOR: Trying to move (larger than pea-sized) gravel.  Trust me -- you need a heavier duty tool for the job.  Though this rake is STRONG and moves a lot more than your average garden rake...it still isn't going to be moving rocks.

      The Trowel and The Transplanter

      Can YOU tell them apart?
      These two hand tools look similar, but they are used for totally different tasks.  The trowel is a fatter tool, perfect for getting down and dirty planting perennials and large bulbs.  When you need a deep hole, but do not want to disturb existing plants, the transplanter is exactly what you need.  As a new homeowner,  WAIT to plant and transplant for at least one spring-summer-fall cycle so you know what it in the garden.  You don't want to start digging holes for peonies and cut all the irises to shreds because you didn't know they were there.  JUST WAIT...and at the very least, use a transplanter, not a trowel.  Trowels are also great for hand weeding the veggie garden and working plants out of pots.



      The Shovel

      If you do not have a shovel and you want to garden, you might just be up a creek.  The shovel is one of the first tools created by mankind and it is essential to getting the Earth to produce.  Vegetable beds need to be turned, trees need to be planted, noxious weeds need to be upended and mulch has to be moved.  The shovel is the go-to tool for all the chores you really don't want to do.  You know what is worse than doing those chores?  Doing those chores with a dull shovel.  Get a nice solid shovel (from AMES!) and keep it sharp and free of rust.  Your back will thank you.


       (Shovel on the right, spade on the left)

      The Spade

      You are a new homeowner and you wonder why on Earth you would need TWO shovels.  Why not just one?  Well, let's call a spade a spade, shall we.

      SPADES ARE GOOD FOR: Lifting dirt.  I would say soil, but typically if you are reaching for a spade, you might have nasty old, infertile DIRT on your hands.  Shovels move nice, light, fertile soil.  If you need to dig a serious hole, edge a garden, remove sod, etc, etc.  The spade is your tool of choice.

      NOW that you are tired from thinking about all those chores to get to in the garden (don't worry!  The seeds and flowers are coming soon!) let's giveaway some TOOLS!  This collection is going to make one happy reader's life a lot easier and it COULD BE YOU!  Enter below and you can KEEP entering by tweeting once per day!


      https://giveawaytools2.com/giveaway.php?sk=90389937815

      Established in 1774, AMES® supplied the tools that built America. AMES continues to provide quality, innovative lawn and garden tools for gardening, landscaping, and lawn maintenance activities. AMES is a brand of The AMES Companies, Inc. The AMES Companies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Griffon Corporation (NYSE:GFF), is the leading, as well as the oldest, manufacturer of lawn and garden tools in the U.S. Headquartered in Camp Hill, Pa. (near Harrisburg). The company manufactures and markets a wide variety of long-handled tools, wheelbarrows, carts, hose reels, hoses, snow tools, cutting tools, hand tools, pruning tools, and striking tools as well as outdoor lifestyle product categories such as planters and outdoor accessories. To learn more, visit www.ames.com or find us on Facebook.
      Pin It

      FIRST DAY OF SPRING ::: AMES TOOLS GIVEAWAY

      Pin It

      IT IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING.....and IT IS SNOWING!


      At least here in Pennsylvania, it was really starting to feel like spring this week.  We cracked 60 degrees last week!  Brilliant! Of course now....it is snowing...but no worries!  The forecast is looking up friends and the daffodils are pushing up and spring is COMING!  Can you tell I am excited?  To celebrate, today I am partnering with Ames Tools to bring you a fun giveaway.  Not 1 tool, not 2, not 3 nor 4.  No, today the giveaway is for an entire collection of tools from Ames.
      This collection is specifically created for new homeowners that might not know what they have gotten themselves into when they bought that little patch of backyard.  Gardening can be tough!   Before we dive right into the giveaway though, let's talk about the differences in these basic tools and why you will need each one as a first-time gardening home owner.

      AMES steel tools have a really cool logo stamped into the steel -- Solid, right?

      The 16-Tine Welded Bow Rake

      GOOD FOR: Prepping a vegetable garden!  Once your soil has dried out a bit, this is hands down the tool you want after digging your veggie garden.  Get the soil all flat with perfect lines ready for planting!  This tough rakes also does a great job of pulling ivy down from where it has wandered astray.

      NOT GOOD FOR:  Delicate weeding tasks!  This rake is strong and mighty.  It will eat little seedlings and small bulbs right along with those weeds you are trying to get rid of.  Save this tool for tough projects!

      The Steel Handled AWESOMELY HUGE Poly Leaf Rake

      GREAT FOR: Cleaning up those wet and nasty fall leaves that you never got around to cleaning up before the ice storms of 2015 hit.  Get them out of the way and compost them so the grass can start growing!  This rake is also FABULOUS for moving big bundles of ornamental grasses and other drystuffs for the chicken coop (YES!  Chicken are coming back to the Nest this spring...stay tuned to see the new baby chicks!)  This rake also did a great job of grabbing thorny ramblers to throw in a bonfire :)

      This rake is HUGE -- note the size next to the almost 7 year old :)
      This is the only tool requiring any assembly -- 2 bolts and DONE
      NOT SO GREAT FOR: Trying to move (larger than pea-sized) gravel.  Trust me -- you need a heavier duty tool for the job.  Though this rake is STRONG and moves a lot more than your average garden rake...it still isn't going to be moving rocks.

      The Trowel and The Transplanter

      Can YOU tell them apart?
      These two hand tools look similar, but they are used for totally different tasks.  The trowel is a fatter tool, perfect for getting down and dirty planting perennials and large bulbs.  When you need a deep hole, but do not want to disturb existing plants, the transplanter is exactly what you need.  As a new homeowner,  WAIT to plant and transplant for at least one spring-summer-fall cycle so you know what it in the garden.  You don't want to start digging holes for peonies and cut all the irises to shreds because you didn't know they were there.  JUST WAIT...and at the very least, use a transplanter, not a trowel.  Trowels are also great for hand weeding the veggie garden and working plants out of pots.



      The Shovel

      If you do not have a shovel and you want to garden, you might just be up a creek.  The shovel is one of the first tools created by mankind and it is essential to getting the Earth to produce.  Vegetable beds need to be turned, trees need to be planted, noxious weeds need to be upended and mulch has to be moved.  The shovel is the go-to tool for all the chores you really don't want to do.  You know what is worse than doing those chores?  Doing those chores with a dull shovel.  Get a nice solid shovel (from AMES!) and keep it sharp and free of rust.  Your back will thank you.


       (Shovel on the right, spade on the left)

      The Spade

      You are a new homeowner and you wonder why on Earth you would need TWO shovels.  Why not just one?  Well, let's call a spade a spade, shall we.

      SPADES ARE GOOD FOR: Lifting dirt.  I would say soil, but typically if you are reaching for a spade, you might have nasty old, infertile DIRT on your hands.  Shovels move nice, light, fertile soil.  If you need to dig a serious hole, edge a garden, remove sod, etc, etc.  The spade is your tool of choice.

      NOW that you are tired from thinking about all those chores to get to in the garden (don't worry!  The seeds and flowers are coming soon!) let's giveaway some TOOLS!  This collection is going to make one happy reader's life a lot easier and it COULD BE YOU!  Enter below and you can KEEP entering by tweeting once per day!


      https://giveawaytools2.com/giveaway.php?sk=90389937815

      Established in 1774, AMES® supplied the tools that built America. AMES continues to provide quality, innovative lawn and garden tools for gardening, landscaping, and lawn maintenance activities. AMES is a brand of The AMES Companies, Inc. The AMES Companies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Griffon Corporation (NYSE:GFF), is the leading, as well as the oldest, manufacturer of lawn and garden tools in the U.S. Headquartered in Camp Hill, Pa. (near Harrisburg). The company manufactures and markets a wide variety of long-handled tools, wheelbarrows, carts, hose reels, hoses, snow tools, cutting tools, hand tools, pruning tools, and striking tools as well as outdoor lifestyle product categories such as planters and outdoor accessories. To learn more, visit www.ames.com or find us on Facebook.
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