Mexican bottle gourd bird house craft projects

On a family visit to a local apple orchard and pumpkin patch, I discovered a great 'green' nature craft: a gourd bird house made from a Mexican bottle gourd. Gourd bird houses are easy, inexpensive, eco-friendly crafts, perfect for classroom or homeschool. Gourd bird houses make excellent crafts to make with senior citizens, also. Especially crafty folks may want to consider making an assortment of gourd bird houses and selling them at local craft fairs or online at etsy.com.

 You will need a green bottle gourd or any other large gourd, available in many produce stands, farmer's markets and pumpkin patches. The bottle gourd is sometimes referred as a birdhouse gourd and Mexican bottle gourd. It has smooth green skin and a 'goose neck' crook at the top. You can use other gourds as well. Why not make a collection of bird houses and see what feathered friends you can attract.

Before you can make your gourd bird house, the bottle gourd needs to dry thoroughly. Store the gourd in a dry area. As the gourd dries, it turns from green to tan. You'll know when it's thoroughly dry inside and out when you can hear the seeds rattling inside. If the surface gets a little mold or mildew, don't worry. It will wash off. When the gourd is dried, gently scrub the exterior with warm, soapy water. Dry off the moisture. Allow the gourd to thoroughly dry or dry with a hair dryer on set on low. Drill a hole in the lower part of the gourd as an opening for the birds. The larger the hole, the larger the bird it will allow. If you are trying to attract smaller song birds, like finch try drilling a smaller hole. Small birds seek out small nest areas.

You can decorate the gourd with craft paint. If the paint doesn't stick well, try roughing up the surface with a fine sand paper. You can simply shellac the surface also. Shellac is non-toxic and used on cooking surfaces. Try to keep the birdhouse free from any toxins that will be harmful to the birds. If you wish to decorate, try staining the birdhouse with natural dyes or food coloring. You can also decorate with marker. As for the seeds and dried membrane inside the gourd, you can clean them or leave them as a house-warming present for the birds.

Drill a small hole near the top of the gourd that goes all the way through. Tie the gourd birdhouse to the tree by passing a rope through the hole and tying it to the tree.
For more fall craft projects visit green crafts and Halloween Harvest October


Patriotic floral flag garden, RWB flower decorations for gardens, Veterans Day, Memorial Day grave decorating

My mother-in-law lives in a retirement community. She's an avid gardener with an unusually green thumb. For Memorial Day she volunteered to plant a patriotic floral flag garden. She shared how to make a floral flag garden. You can also use these ideas to make mini indoor patriotic gardens for fall and winter. Or they can be used to decorate graves of loved ones. 

Best red flowers: geraniums, carnations, roses, mums, impatiens. White flowers could be gardenia, lily, carnation, impatiens and mums. Blue flowers include hydrangeas, forget-me-nots, cornflowers, petunias.

Flag centerpiece. There are several ways to make a patriotic garden. My mother-in-law arranged hers as floral tribute around her community's flag. Use this option if you have a flag pole. Or place a flag in the center. Make sure that it is in a solid holder, does not touch the ground and is either lit at night or taken down at dusk. You can create a patriotic garden around a lamp post. Place small flags in and around the perimeter and leave the light on at night.

Floral flag flower options. The easiest way is to use same kind of flowers for even spacing and growth. Impatiens and petunias are ideal.They come in solid red, white, dark purple and striped. Petunias have the best shade of blue. Use them for the blue field of stars.
Floral flag. For this option, you need 5.5 foot by 7.5 foot flower bed. Plant 13 rows of flowers 4-5 inches apart. Each row should have about 15 blossoms planted 5-6 inches apart. Stagger plant spacing row to row so that they don't look like a pegboard. For the field of blue, start rows 1-6 with 6 alternating blue and white flowers. Begin and end with blue. Continue rows 1, 3 and 5 with 9 red flowers and rows 2,4 and 6 with 9 white flowered plants. Plant rows 7, 9, 11 and 13 with 15 red flowers. Plant rows 8,10 and 12 with 15 white flowers.

Amount and cost of flowers: You will need 22-24 blue flowered plants, 87-90 red plants, 88 to 90 white plants. This is a total of 197 to 204 plants. You get 32 plants from a large flat with 8 trays in it. Each tray has four plants. Buy about 6-7 flats for this sized garden: 3 red, 3 white and 1 with 24 blue flowers and the rest mixed.

Lenten decorations, Catholic Christian Easter Egg crafts, object lessons

For many a Catholic Christian, the Lenten season, which begins after Ash Wednesday is a journey with Jesus. A Catholic follows the Lord through the desert. The Catholic Church prays the Stations of the Cross Lenten devotions and goes with Jesus on his way of sorrows to the cross. During Lent, a Catholic tries to imitate Christ in humility, prayer and sacrifice. Lent culminates at Palm Sunday and Catholic Holy Week which ends in the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ at Easter. To teach kids about the significance of a Catholic Holy Week and the importance of Lenten devotions, here are Bible object lessons using Easter eggs. In these Easter egg crafts, children explore the Easter story in hands-on Bible object lessons.

Label each egg as follows and place these items inside:
Palm Sunday--a piece of palm, dry grass or a plastic donkey (to remember Palm Sunday, when Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem)
Monday of Catholic Holy Week--a piece of cracker or crouton (to remember Christ's institution of Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper)
Tuesday of Catholic Holy Week--a dime (the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray his friend Jesus)
Wednesday of Holy Week--a tiny piece of branch with thorns (Crown of thorns)
Holy Thursday--a nail (to symbolize that His hands and feet were nailed to a cross)
Good Friday--a cocktail sword or toothpick (to remember that Jesus was pierced with a sword in his side, from which poured water and blood)
Holy Saturday--a stone (the stone that was placed in front of the tomb of Christ and later miraculously removed)
Easter Sunday--Nothing! This reminds us of the empty tomb on Easter morning.
Open one egg each day from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Light a candle for this special time. Ask a young child to explain to the family or group what this item could mean. The family can share their ideas, experiences or scripture references to the item. You might all sing a hymn or chant to remember this part of the story. Sing Crown Him with Many Crowns, All Hail the Power of Jesus's Name or Te Deum. Extend Easter egg crafts, by having children to illustrate Bible object lessons they've learned. Combine illustrations in a family memory book and use for Lenten devotions in years to come.