Easy Terra Cotta Tray Bird Feeder

Terra Cotta Tray Bird Feeder

This easy to make bird feeder tray was a quick project incorporated last weekend near the Startle Garden.  I love this space because there’s an abundance of natural life that energizes.  You can view that garden here. 

This feeder occupies what was a broken tree trunk that we planned to cut down but every time the chain saw was out we forgot.  Since I’m pretty sure it’s an expired trunk I decided to get creative a make this hip level bird feeder.

Project Supplies for Bird Feeder

Supplies and Materials

This quick project includes some very basic tools that you probably already have, if not don’t worry because they’re not that expensive if you need to incorporate a few.

  • Drill + Glass Cutting Drill Bit – Got my bit at Home Depot
  • Hand Saw
  • One screw and washer
  • Terra Cotta Saucer – any size
  • Scissors, raffia and fabric (Optional but it adds character)
  • Fruit and bird seed
  • A tree trunk or post to connect the saucer

Cutting the tree stem straight across

First cut the Trunk

Begin with taking the saw and cut a smooth surface; try to get it as straight as possible so the tray sits flat.  Move the saw back and forth and if your arm gets tired just take a break and smile because guess what?  Your building muscles!

Set up Drilling the terra Cotta Tray

Drilling Terra Cotta

Next, we drill a hole in the center of the saucer by first adding water, then slowly drilling with the glass bit. The water keeps the bit from slipping and adds moisture to the saucer.  By adding water and drilling slow you detour the risk of breaking the saucer.

This tip can be applied to all types of ceramic and remember to always drill slow.

Drilling and Connecting the tray to the post

Attaching the Saucer to the Wood

  1. After the hole is made remove the water and wipe the dish clean.
  2. Get your screw and washer and insert through the hole connecting to the tree trunk.
  3. Drill very slow or use a hand screw driver and don’t secure it tight.  If you twist the screw tighter than necessary the saucer may crack.

Adding Feed the Birds Love

Add Bird Food

Then add a nice combo of feed just enough to fill the bottom of the dish, I may have added a bit much here… With the assortment of birds that visit I’m hoping it will disappear quickly.

Adding Bird Feeder Details

Finishing Up with Raffia and Fabric

With every bird project there seems to be a repeat of adding some kind of personal touch.  I can’t help it and this time it was natural raffia and fringed fabric.  I just tied these elements around the base underneath the feeder and it was done.

This project was fun; a hip level works here because I can add food while walking by dropping in place.  With my busy lifestyle this works perfectly.

We now have two active feeders that welcome the birds in addition to the food hunting they do while they visit.

Feeding the birds is a favorite pass time, I really do try to stop, relax and appreciate our surroundings because the simplicity of our lifestyle helps me stay grounded.

Easy to Make Terra Cotta Bird Feeder

Hometalk a Great Experience in NYC

Hometalk a Great Experience in New York City

This country girl decided to take off her work boots and head to New York City.  Can you believe it?  Robert came with and agreed an invite to Hometalk was a perfect fit, so I put on my nice boots and headed to the city.

Let me explain, back in December after a positive phone chat with a Hometalk representative I was asked afterwards to attend a full day meet up/brain storming session in NYC.

I had to read the email a couple times to make sure I was reading it right.  Surprised and excited I accepted the invite for January 17th.

If you’re not familiar with Hometalk they’re a DIY site sharing how to do more.  Similar to Pinterest but better because you can ask questions in their forum and search through thousands of instructional finished projects.   It’s what I call interactive DIY…

What I love most, our focus is similar and that’s Helping Others Do More.  It’s one of the only social sites out there where people are actually doing something, isn’t that exciting?  In addition to following Garden Up Green I’d like to invite you to think about signing up.

Hometalk does it all and I think you would all find it beneficial in addition to a positive experience.  I’m going to be a part of something new they’re launching for spring and every one of you will LOVE it.  So come on over find me here on Hometalk and new members sign up here.

Big Bus New York

Prior to the meeting we had the day before to explore; it was a quick trip because we have lots going on here.  Since this was my first time in New York City I wanted to walk the streets, do a little shopping and eat some really good pizza.

I’m what you’d call a simple tourist who gets inspired by real life experiences and believe it or not being around people.

It was cold so we didn’t ride on that bus, but look at that street, I was standing in the sidewalk and there were cars, people on bikes and foot everywhere.  There was an energy, something that I remembered when I lived downtown Seattle before Robert and I met.

Robert in NYC

We made it to Times Square and that was awesome.  After seeing it on TV and online for years I was finally standing there and Robert was having the best time watching me take pictures and talking nonstop.

He’s been here before and said it was a lot more fun experiencing it through my eyes.  I took a lot of pictures, but seeing the city wasn’t why I was here, it was all about the 17th.

Hometalk Meeting In New York City

Robert spent this day exploring the city and I headed to 25th street first thing in the morning.

We were welcomed by Hometalk, founders, CEO, staff and titles I can’t even remember. Everyone was friendly, professional and positive, I knew at that moment the day was going to be good.

Me and 13 other DIY Creators were there via invitation.  Some were bloggers, others were not and everyone had something important to bring to the table.

This was a full day of learning more about Hometalk, a new launch, and brain storming.  It was a day where vision became real.

Creating at Hometalk

In our last session we got to play with paper, I was getting a little tired at this point, then out of nowhere Robert appeared. When he smiled at me I recharged; timing is everything because I handed him my camera hoping he would get some good pictures.

Supportive husbands are the best!

Paper Project that was inspiring

We were creating a profile web page design by cutting and pasting onto a white board.  I loved this because this is similar to how I created my blog design using Publisher so my web gal could turn it into a reality.  Pretty neat Huh?

After looking at a blank piece of paper for a few minutes, inspiration sparked and off I went to pasting.  After we finished, the final task was to explain our page to everyone.

This exercise was brilliant!

Sharing my Project with Everyone

When the day came to an end I looked around the room and felt really blessed for this opportunity and my future with Hometalk.  To say this was a great experience would be an understatement and my experience in NYC even though it was short was one I will never forget.

When we got home late Wednesday night, I looked up at the stars and thanked God for all these blessings.

Hometalk A Great Experience in NYC

New Quail Sanctuary – Post Install

The New Quail Sanctuary - Post Install

It’s finally time to begin the new quail sanctuary.  There are no words to express my excitement so I’ll dive in with step one, post install.

We’re doing things different this time by starting from scratch.  To begin we had to first clean this area by clearing trees, underbrush and rubble.  This took a while and with a little determination we reached our goals which brings us to post installation.

Choosing a Quail sanctuary location isn’t difficult but there are key things to look for.  Read here for details.

Digging tools for Quail Sanctuary Post Install

Post Install Tools & Materials

With any stationary quail project there’s going to be a list of necessary tools and materials.  If you have access to a handy man I recommend teaming up especially if digging requires going through clay soil.  You can bet Robert helped which made things move faster.

  • Post hole digger
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer – we refer to ours as the “Thor hammer”
  • 8 natural tree posts at 8 ft. each – supplement with landscaping timbers or 4 x 4’s if necessary.

Robert begins with measuring and digging holes.

Measuring the Sanctuary

Our goal is to install three 8 ft. x 24 ft. quail sanctuaries in this fenced area.  These habitats will connect through tunnels so the quail can be moved every 2 weeks.  This will allow me to raise chicks in stages and focus on smaller flocks.  I will cover this process at a later time.

  1. Measure and mark off the sanctuary corners, 8 ft. distance at the ends.
  2.  Locate each digging point for the width, ours is 24 ft. and measure 8 ft. for post walls.
  3. Dig eight 2 ft. deep holes for each post.

Digging More Holes

Working Together

While Robert was digging holes I was gathering the tree posts and carrying to our work area. For those really heavy ones I couldn’t carry by myself, Robert helped…

Working together isn’t always full of joy because we do things very different, but it’s teaching both of us to recognize our strength and weaknesses.

Filling in the holes to secure the poles

Filling in the Holes

  • The next step is to secure those posts by filling the gaps with soil and using the hammer to pound it back into the ground.  This pounding is really important because it stabilizes the post.
  • After I finished filling in the holes we were done.  They’ll settle for about a week, then I go back and check if they need additional securing.
  • Cementing the posts is place is another option if the sanctuary is going to be a forever permanent structure.

Post frame is installed and the quail sanctuary is ready for next step.

Step one wasn’t difficult and it establishes the frame work for the sanctuary; this part of the project is instrumental towards the end result.

We’re incorporating raising quail naturally and gardening together, I’ve been planning this since the farm and I’m finally getting to implement all this inspiration which is exciting.

It will take several work days to accomplish, for that reason this project will be spread out over the next two or three months. In Step Two we’ll add raised beds and how to fill in the protection gaps between each post.

If you’re thinking about raising quail or getting started with these sweet little birds check out my book Quail Getting Started.

New Quail Sanctuary Step One Post install

How to Make a Red Cardinal Birdhouse

Build your own Red Cardinal Birdhouse

This post contains affiliate links for Cutting Edge Stencils, Click here to read site terms.


If red cardinals swarm your property this project is for you.  Cardinals are territorial birds and particular when it comes to nesting so it made sense to dedicate a birdhouse enhancing their instincts.

Use bird feeders to attract and keep in mind they only nest in the same place once; This got me thinking their finicky.

Their nests are composed of dry leaves, grass and twigs.  They also tend to build nests lower to the ground, near fence lines, interior brush and close to water such as a creek.

They seek open homes verses closed birdhouses and will only occupy if it meets their approval. These birds are a real kick and I was thrilled to learn we have the perfect environment to match their instincts. Which explains why we have such a large volume taking residence.

This birdhouse was designed for Red Cardinals and I’ll be offering this kit for February workshops. This fun project will keep you busy from start to finish and it’s perfect for adults and kiddos with a good attention span.  Workshop details here.

Cut Birdhouse Wood pieces using a Chop saw

Wood, Measurements and Inspiration

These small projects are inspired by spending time outdoors; I create in a quite space by myself without interruption using leftover wood.  This means it’s easy to change out materials and make something similar if you don’t have access to the wood listed below.

Many times, wood can be acquired from the scrap bin at any hardware store.  When I prepare kits for workshops new wood is purchased and the materials list reflects that.

Wood and Building Materials

  • 6 ft. cedar fence board – Cut 3 at 7 in. and 1 at 9 in.
  • 8 ft. 2 x 6 Pine board – Cut 1 at 8 in.
  • 8 ft. 1 x 2 Pine board – Cut 2 at 7 in.
  • Electric Saw
  • Hammer + Finishing nails + Hanging Screw
  • Sand paper

Finishing Materials

  • Rustic Red Dixie Belle Paint – Get Here
  • Paint Rag
  • Staple gun and Scissors
  • Ribbon and Raffia – optional but it sure is cute!
  • Stencils of your choice – Mine came from Old Sign Stencils here

Staining wood with Dixie Belle Paint

Step One

  1. Begin with Cutting the boards to their appropriate measurements.
  2. Sand wood until smooth.
  3. Paint Stain the three pine boards with a rag and my favorite Dixie Belle paint,  Paint Stain Technique here

Connect the birdhouse exterior walls to the base

Step Two

  1. Use finishing nails and attach three same size cedar boards to the 2 x 6 stained board beginning with the back wall first.
  2. Add the side walls connecting from the bottom and back wall.
  3. Little note I drilled pilot holes first and used two nails per gathering point.

Connecting the Roof of the birdhouse

Step Three

  1. Add the roof by placing one red piece onto of the final cedar cut and connect with finishing nails from the inside.  This step adds color, detail to the house and a place to add a hanging screw.
  2. Take two finishing nails per each side and begin attaching the roof.
  3. Finish by using at least 4 nails to connect the roof to the back wall.
  4. Add the last red board to the front opening of the birdhouse, this will keep the nest from falling out and add a little protection from bad weather.

Finished Red Cardinal Birdhouse

At this point in the project I add a few stencil details to dress up the house.  This is optional and you can get my how to stencil instructions here. These details personalize the end result making it your own.

Adding Final details that make this birdhouse unique

Step Four

Step four is also optional but I must admit it’s one of my favorites because it’s so simple.  Take less than a yard of ribbon and attach directly to the wood using a staple gun. Then add the raffia around the hanger in strips to attacks attention.

This house can hang from a tree branch using wire or screw into a fence post from the interior back wall.  I would recommend placing this birdhouse near a feeder to inspires nesting.  Wouldn’t it be neat to watch a new generation hatch and leave the nest?


How to Make a Red Cardinal Birdhouse

Transplant Berry Cuttings in New Beds

Transplant Berries in New Beds

Transplanting berries in January?  Am I absolutely Crazy?

Let me explain a Texas winter first, one day it could be 20 degrees and the next 60.  With temperatures all over the place I implement my projects to complement our weather patterns and when those temperatures rise I get outside and tend to the garden.

This year I’m starting from scratch and the big question is, “Can I get it all done before Spring?” I want to accomplish a lot and my berry cuttings from the farm are first on the list because they need to get in the ground now.  90% took root and they’re ready to bust free from their containers.

In all honesty they should have been transplanted in November.

Thankfully blackberry plants are very forgiving and can handle a healthy transplant this time of year.  The first step was to come up with a new raised bed design that incorporates a trellis.  This was fun!

Begin Transplant with a New Easy to Build Raised Bed

The New Blackberry Raised Bed and Trellis

These 2 x 8 ft. raised beds are the best ever and they’re so easy to build.  I went with all wood because it works fantastic with everything else I’m doing.  Since I need to make 4 more beds by the end of February I’ll share the “How to” tutorial in a few more weeks.

Stay tuned berry growers this is your new go to raised bed design.

The trellis is made from simple 2 x 4’s attached to the interior of the bed and another center bar will be included once the vines begin to grow. We’ll revisit this set up in the late spring so you can see the process and how it works, I’m telling you it’s going to be amazing because I took what I learned from the farm and made improvements.  In the meantime, enjoy my berry success from the farm here. 

Once the temperatures rise I’ll stain the berry beds the same color as my Startle Garden.

It’s possible I may just end up with a u – pick berry garden because these beds will eventually go down the length of the fence line.   That’s right I have big plans and they require my complete focus.  But you know what?  I absolutely love it all.

Materials to establish the raised bed

Establishing the Beds is Easy

Once the beds are built the next step is to prepare this space with all-natural materials.  This my friends are my favorite part of gardening and if you missed it before then let me share what I did.

Take note -blackberries are the easiest of all berries to grow and they just don’t need much to be successful.  Bright sunlight, fertilized soil with good drainage is really all that’s required.

This is what I used to establish this bed and everything was incorporated in layers.  This was so much fun!

  • Lots of Dried leaves from the land.
  • Sticks came from the land.
  • Clay soil – that’s right!  Amend Clay Soil Here… 
  • Soil from the pot which came from the farm
  • Llama droppings from Gypsy… I miss her…  Details here

Blackberry Root System from a cutting

Amazing Root System

Propagating is such fun and these berry plants were cut from the farm last summer from July – August.  This root is 4 months of growth isn’t it fantastic?  Get my rooting tips here or purchase my blackberry printable here.  You will enjoy – promise!

Adding the important ingredients and berry plants to raised bed

Correct Spacing is a Struggle

4 to 5 ft. spacing is really best for blackberries because they have this tendency to explode with growth.  In the past I’ve gone 2 ft. and this time I went between 2 and 3 ft.

Since I’m on a time crunch my plan is to plant 5 per each raised bed and let them settle.  When Fall arrives, I’ll spread out some of those canes into additional beds and any that don’t make it will be removed and used for compost.

So far, the root systems are pretty amazing but some were wimpy so it’s possible those will just dry up.  Let’s hope I’m wrong!

Finished and successful Berry Transplant

Covering with Mulch

Remember that beautiful mulch we made last month?  I incorporated a nice layer on top and once all this natural matter settles I’ll probably need to add additional soil and natural matter.  Not probably I will and that’s a great thing because it means the soil is amending.

The correct garden set up is the key to your success and if you’re struggling then make sure you check out my book Startle Garden.  Get it here!  This book will get you started correctly from the ground up. 

If transplanting berries is in your future but the weather isn’t cooperating then first check out where you want to plant and in the meantime, get that space cleaned up so you’re ready to move forward when temperatures rise.

Letting nature work for you is always the best way to garden and its less work long term.  My focus now is to get the rest of those berry buckets in new raised beds before the end of February.  Do you think I can get it done?

Don’t forget in a couple weeks the tutorial for this set up will be posted on the blog.

How to Transplant Berries in Brand New Raised Beds

Box Lunch at Big Jon’s Burgers

Box Lunch at Big John's Burgers

After moving to Cooper last fall we made an effort to visit every local business, most were restaurants and some became our favorites like Big Jon’s Burgers.  The food is real, like if you were making a burger for family when you had plenty of time. It tastes like home and it’s served with a lot of heart.

You can show up in mud covered work clothes and you’ll always get greeted with a smile followed by “What can I get you today?”  Wait, many times they’ll ask, “How’s your day going?”

From our first visit we’ve always felt welcome but it was the food that keeps us coming back.

Big Jon's Burgers Cooper TX

Big Jon’s is a small setting, which I like because the building reminded me of a Tiny House.  Open Monday – Friday it’s a business that serves the working class, folks from all walks of life are welcome and keep coming back for more.

As a new resident to Cooper it was one of the first places that felt like they appreciated us beyond our business.

Staff at Big John's Burgers

It’s a family owned business which grabbed my attention right away. Three generations working together, what a great example.  I’m reminded this is what makes America great, small business.

Having been raised by parents who were both self-employed I understand the highs and lows of business ownership and the attention to detail that’s required to be successful.

It’s rare to see families working together to maintain a business but this one does it in a manner that sets a positive example for others.

While I was taking this photo; the mom scooted back to prepare our lunch because much like me, she’s not much for pictures, I really get that.

My Favorite burger

But here it is that famous Big Jon’s Burger with all the trimmings, this is what keeps us coming back.  It’s just so good and they have a huge menu but I can’t seem to get past this burger and their amazing BLT. (They even break up the bacon on the BLT so you can eat it without tearing it apart.)

So why am I sharing this restaurant with you?  Well they’ve witnessed Robert and I at our highs and lows, full of energy and drop dead tired and it was those visits to their restaurant that many times lifted us back up and reminded us that Cooper was a place we really do want to call home.

This led me to wanting to do something nice for them….

Condiment Boxes for my favorite restaurant

Over the Christmas break I made condiment boxes for each table.  This simple box was a fun project and because they only have 4 tables it was quick to put them together.  Quick, fun and a real pleasure to show our appreciation.

When we begin selling our Tiny House properties you can bet every new home owner will receive a gift certificate to Big Jon’s Burgers.

In the meantime, if you drive by Cooper, TX turn into town and right before the Square you’ll find Big Jon’s Burgers at 251 W Dallas Ave.


Box Lunch at Big Jon's Burgers