Monday, May 11, 2015

DIY Bird Bath

When we moved into our house there was a random patch of overgrown grass and weeds in the front yard. For a while we ignored it, figuring there was some sort of rabbit den there. Finally we actually looked at the darn thing and found that the original owners had left a broken bird bath there and just mowed around.

When we moved the bath and mowed down the weeds we had this ugly patch in the lawn that screamed for some fixing up. Looking around on Pinterest I found many folks who turned a couple of large clay planting pots into a bird bath. I really liked how they came out and thought it would be perfect for the "spot" in the yard.

This project was pretty fun and can easily be completed in an afternoon. I went to the Home Depot and picked up two 16" terra cotta planting pots, a 16" terra cotta saucer, 3 cans of Rust-Oleum Universal spray paint in matte Robins Egg blue, a Sharpie oil-based marker in black, and Gorilla Glue all-purpose.

I started by stacking my pots. Place one upside-down, put a thin line of glue in a circle around the bottom and stack the second pot right-side up on top of that. It takes about an hour for the glue to set. 

Check on it a couple of times while you wait. Gorilla glue actually expands to fill in cracks and holes to bond the two pots. Some of my glue ran down the sides. I just used a plastic bag wrapped around my finger to smooth it out and avoid bumps of glue.

Once the glue dried it was time to put my saucer in. This acts as the bath portion that holds the water. I saw in most DIY's that folks bought a really huge saucer to simply place on top of the pots. This is great to make for easy changing of dirty and clean water. You just pick it up and place it on the pots. The end. However, I had plans to put plants around my bird bath and didn't want to worry about the saucer falling off and squashing everything or the whole bath getting caught in the wind and blowing over (we've had some really strong gusts take down huge tree limbs). I opted for a saucer that fit snuggly inside the top of my pot to create a very sleek bath.

It was a little tricky lowering the saucer in. I actually had to use some plastic I had from a box I had delivered and used it to try to lower it into the pot as flat as possible. It would have been super smart of me to use a level with this part, but I was to excited about getting to the spray painting potion. So my saucer is slightly tilted. I look at it like a swimming pool for birds with a shallow end that slopes to the deep end (1 point to me for looking on the bright side).

Once the saucer was snuggly fitted, I went around the edge with glue.

When the project was completed I found that there were some open spots that drained my water. If this happens to you just pick up a can of caulk to fill in the crack. I just bought some DAP clear all-purpose caulk so I wouldn't have to spray paint it again. If you can only use white be sure it is the kind that is ok to paint over.

Now the fun part! PAINT! The brand that I bought is nice because it is safe for outdoor use on any surface and it sprays in a fine mist. This kept from having running paint streaks or weird bubbles form after drying. Added bonus of the fine mist, it dries super quick! It took about 2 1/2 cans to cover everything fully.

Tim to decorate! I used a pencil to outline some stencils I had printed of the fox and bear silhouettes I use in my banner. I then used the oil-based sharpie to "paint" them in. Make sure you are only using the oil Sharpies and not the regular ones. They are water proof so you don't have to follow up with any clear spray paint to seal them.

Finally, after digging out some large weed roots from the "spot", I had my husband move the bath over (because that sucker was heavy) and put down some soil.

We had decided to plant some berries around the bird bath. Since we already have a raspberry bush we really wanted some strawberries. At the Home Depot I found these berries called Hula Berries that are like inverse strawberries (they are white with red seeds) and are supposed to taste like pineapple! They came in a 4 pack of 3 hula berry plants and 1 strawberry plant (it acts as the pollinator).

The only thing left is to pick up some bricks to create a border around the patch. 

Total cost of this project was about $85 with tax and left me with leftover materials for future projects. Baths at the Home Depot of a similar weight and quality run at least $10 more. Granted, that isn't a whole heck of a lot, but you get a personalized piece for your home. Plus, how super cute would this be with your kids hand prints in all sorts of colors all over it? Or an American flag one?!

I love how everything turned out and can't wait to see what types of visitors our new bath brings to our home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Paging Dr. Mom: Milk & Honey

I'm really excited about this new series I'm going to share with you guys! I'm very big into natural remedies and medicines. I'm not opposed to modern medicine, I just prefer to use it as a last resort. So "Paging Dr. Mom" will show you all the tried and true things I use for my family when they aren't feeling their best.

I think Arlette is having some allergy issues as the weather beings to warm up here in Connecticut. The poor girl started coughing and sneezing last night. So at dinner yesterday I gave her a milk and honey drink to help sooth her throat.

Honey is, seriously, magical. It is antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and an anti-inflammatory for some respiratory issues (like a sore throat). Milk is a soporific. Science-y talk for something that induces drowsiness. So mixing the two makes for a fantastic night time remedy for a sore throat and cough.

Reminder: Children under 12 months of age should not have honey.

I filled up her cup with milk (we use whole) and warmed it in a small pot on medium-high heat. You can heat the milk in the microwave if you are in a rush, but I personally don't. Heating breastmilk in the microwave is a big no-no because of how it denatures the nutrients. And, though cows milk is already heated for pasteurization, I just feel like it's best to heat it on the stove-top. But that's just me.

To help with the overall flavor and make it taste more like a special treat, I added 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla. Since this was made up in a child's sippy cup, I would suggest using a full teaspoon if you are making it up for a mug.

Keep your eye on the milk! Don't walk away from it. Milk heats pretty quickly and if you heat it for too long you get a protein film on the top and cause a burnt taste. Yuck.

Once the milk was warm I added a heaping scoop of honey with my honey comb. It probably measured to about a teaspoon. If you are making it in a mug, I would use a 1/2 to full tablespoon.

If you can, always try to buy local honey. The benefit of buying local is that bee's are using the local pollen. This can help strengthen your immune system to allergies or colds that are local to your area. If you have ever moved from one state to another (or even just across state) you may notice that you get a cold or feel less than perky. Drinking tea with the local honey can help with those moving symptoms.

The warm milk will dissolve the honey. Give it a good stir and then serve.

Arlette loved it. The major bonus, she went right to sleep when bed time rolled around 2 hours later.

This drink is so soothing you can even enjoy it sans-nasty cough.

Good job Dr. Mom.