Bird Seed Christmas Ornaments

Make these natural bird seed ornaments from small wood slabs for an outdoor christmas tree.


Bird seed ornaments

Did you enjoy the Bird Friendly Christmas Tree?  Well I took things a step further and created these wood slab ornaments and the birds love them.

This project also complements my Copper twist wood slab bird feeder.

I also realize Christmas is days away and who really has time to make another craft?

Well book mark this one, these ornaments can be made after Christmas because the birds will always be hungry this time of year and would enjoy a little treat like this.

Wood Slab bases for Ornaments

This post contains amazon affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.

Bird Seed Ornament Materials

Putting together the Bird Seed Ornament

Ornament Assembly is Easy!

Once the slabs are cut or purchased we reach the fun part of this project as it comes together rather quickly.

Follow each of the steps and then hang on a standing tree for the birds to enjoy.

  1. Drill holes in the top of each slab
  2. Thread with your favorite ribbon
  3. Smear the front of one side with peanut butter (or both sides)
  4. Cover PB with Bird Seed

Bird Seed Ornaments that are easy to make

Look at them, aren’t they cute?  This activity is so fun and comes together with little effort.

This is also a neat one to keep the kids busy and in the process, explain why feeding the birds during the cold months like winter is a great idea.

It goes like this, winter temperatures that welcome snow and ice cut off natural food supplies that can cause bird starvation in high volumes.

Backyard bird feeding contributes to their survival and helps them thrive during these months.  It also reminds them to come back when it’s warm to help eat the garden bugs from spring through fall.

Enjoy the Season and Merry Christmas Friends!

Bird seed ornaments



How Eggshells Benefit the Garden

Learn how to use eggshells in the garden to benefit the soil year round with these easy tips.


How eggsshells benefit the garden

Eggshells have this great way of benefiting the garden and how we feed the soil is where we begin to calculate our successes and failures.

When composting eggshells into the soil, we’re adding calcium, this is especially important for plants growing produce. Calcium can help build cell walls which allows a plant to grow faster.

Have you ever noticed rot at the bottom of tomatoes prior to harvesting?  This is due to lack of calcium in the soil.

This happened to me several years ago; it was a simple error that could have avoided.

I failed to pay attention to where I was adding shells, then went ahead and planted tomatoes in the same location as the previous year and every single piece of fruit had bottom rot.

When I figured out what was wrong, I started adding eggshells immediately and my fall harvest that same year was better.

Plants are always pulling nutrients from the ground and if the soil isn’t fed the right nutrition it will have an impact on your garden.

Eggshells offer additional perks and we’re going to take a look at those benefits and how to add this ingredient to any space.

Eggshells to Amend Soil

How to add Eggshells to the Garden

Free-range chickens lay eggs with thick shells, which means they hold a lot of nutrients and why our eggshells always end up in our raised beds.

You can add any kind of eggshells to your garden we just prefer farm raised becasue they taste amazing!


Over the Fall and Winter, add Shells via Direct Composting Like This:

  • I first rinse the eggshells then dig a hole in any raised bed.
  • Add the shells to the hole and crush with my shovel.
  • Finally, cover them up.

This takes just a few minutes and it works like a charm.

To learn more about direct composting and how I garden check out my book Startle Garden Now.


If you have resting beds and already have an idea where you’ll be planting peppers, squash and tomatoes the next season then add eggshells directly to those areas.

This step will detour bottom rot the next growing season.

With that being said you can also add eggshells where existing plants are growing year-round.  I even add them to my rose beds.

Adding directly to the soil allows nutrients to begin breaking down instantly and while they’re breaking down, nourishment is being released into the soil.

If you’re a compost bin gardener then it’s easy enough to just add eggshells directly to bins as you visit the garden. Make sure that compost is added to all planting areas prior to spring planting so your plants can benefit.

Adding eggshells to planters

Eggshells in Containers

Eggshells can also be combined into planters.  A good time to do this is when your establishing new containers or transplanting.

Shells can even be added to houseplants because guess what?  They need nutrients too and will benefit from calcium.

I’m no expert on houseplants so make sure to do your research ahead of time.


To Add Eggshells to Containers, Follow These Steps:

  • Add crushed eggshells to the bottom of the container.
  • Cover with soil.
  • Add new plants, seeds or bulbs
  • Finish securing plant with soil and water as needed.

Working eggshells into the soil like mulch

This post contains amazon affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.


Adding Eggshells to Detour Pests

The final way I like to add eggshells is to mix within mulch, I normally use a combination of mulch chips, leaves, small sticks and eggshells.

Some people use a food processer to break shells for this mixture, I’m a little more practical and just use my spade.

If I have garden gloves on, I just crush in my hands.  I found this to be faster and there’s no dishes to wash afterwards.

This step is another way to benefit the soil and detour some pests including slugs.

This isn’t a pleasant detour as it can result in pest cuts where they bleed out.  I know that’s kind ugly, but it is natural…

You’ll notice I only add a few eggshells to my mixture and this is mainly for the nutritional value.

However, I think this actually helps keep the racoons and possums from messing in the garden more than it keeps bugs out.

Adding natural nutrition to improve the soil is the best way to help your plants grow their best.

This is a simple activity, easy to implement year-round by just visiting your garden, digging a hole, and emptying eggshells in the mix.



How eggsshells benefit the garden


Christmas Waffles in a Jar

Make Christmas special with homemade oat flour waffles in a jar. It's an easy gift that brings family together for breakfast.


Christmas is the time of year where giving and receiving goes hand in hand.

I enjoy sharing homemade gifts because they seem to bring out the good.

For years we’ve had a tradition in our home and it begins Christmas morning with a tasty farm breakfast revolving around waffles and whip cream.

I don’t really remember when this began I just know meal time at the table was something of importance we continue to keep alive.

Today I’m sharing how you can make waffles in a jar for Christmas giving, something family and friends will smile about.

Let’s first begin with the recipe.

This post contains amazon affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.


Christmas Morning Waffles

 Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Let stand for a couple minutes before placing batter onto a heated waffle iron.

This recipe makes about 4 small waffles using a small circular waffle iron.

Serve with your favorite syrup, berries and whip cream.  This is a tasty breakfast served by itself or with bacon and scrambled farm fresh eggs.


NOTE: Remember to grease your iron before placing the batter inside.

Waffles in a Jar

This project begins with quart size Mason jars, some red chevron ribbon and natural twine for details.
Take the first six ingredients and place them inside the jar one at a time, I like the layered look but if you prefer to mixing is fine.


Gift Presentation

Getting this gift ready for giving is the fun part.   I just used some ribbon and fresh greenery then typed up an instruction card.

Parents and grandparents can make this project with the kiddos in an afternoon; it’s just simple, fun and a good time to create memories.

Make a stylish card that includes the recipe and cooking instructions.

You might even want to mention these waffles would be perfect for Christmas morning breakfast.

Then finish by decorating the jar after you fill it with the dry ingredients.

You may already have craft supplies around the house that would be perfect for dressing up the jar. I like to use natural elements because I love the outdoors.

I simply attached ribbon using hot glue and tied the card around the top with twine then the top of the lid is covered with ribbon to match theme.

Waffles in a jar are now ready to pass on to that special someone. Once the jar is empty it can be used as a vase or candle holder at the dinner table.

Raising Quail Over Winter and Snow

Learn how to raise quail over winter and how to handle a flock when snow arrives. Discover a commen sense approach and simple solutions that work from someone who raises quail on the ground.


Recently a reader asked how to raise quail through the winter, she lives in Minnesota and it occurred to me this question would be a valuable resource for those interested in raising quail in colder climates.

Raising Quail in the snow is something I haven’t experienced because the winter temperatures in North Texas are pretty mild. However snow can hit our area and when it does this promps creative thinking to provide warm areas for the quail during those times.

The thing to remember all animals have amazing instincts and were blessed with proper insulation to help them survive year-round.

We’re going to first cover some quail facts and then I’ll offer solutions for raising quail in colder temperatures.

The following information can be applied to Coturnix and Bobwhite quail.


Quail Facts

  • Quail have a short life span/2 -4 years.
  • Quail tend to nest closer together during the off breeding season.
  • Quail nest in tall grass for protection.
  • Quail will use shelter boxes for additional warmth and protection.
  • Quail have resourceful instincts.


Let’s talk Lifespan and Egg Production

Quail have a short lifespan which means holding a large flock over winter is questionable.  If you’re considering establishing a flock for the purpose of eggs I would also encourage raising for meat.

Quail living on the ground will produce eggs from spring to late fall.  Normally after this time you would harvest the entire or majority of the flock for meat.

By shrinking or removing the flock allows the ground to replenish and detour feed expenses as the birds won’t be producing eggs for the next 4 – 5 months.


During This Time you Have 3 Options:

  • Keep the entire flock over winter.
  • Harvest the entire flock prior to winter.
  • Harvest part of the flock prior to winter.


If keeping a flock over winter is the goal then preparations will be necessary for those cold and snowy winters.  How to proceed will be based on the size of your flock, current quail housing and any exterior available buildings.



For Light and Strong Winters

This habitat is an example of a large outdoor quail run, it’s a favorite and works well for rotational housing.

With mild winters I use shelter boxes for additional protection and sometimes include hay bales to the interior for additional insulation.

For stronger weather like snow I would cover the walls and roof with tarps or plywood to keep the snow from invading their space.

You don’t have to cover the entire run, simply mark off a section and keep the snow from invading their living space.

To make your own shelter boxes read here.


If you live in areas further north where snow is active for months at a time I would recommend harvesting the entire flock in the late fall after they stop laying eggs.

However, if that’s not an option for you then I would shrink the size of your flock because it is possible several will not survive the winter.  This is unfortunate and it happens even in nature.

Harvesting for meat is a personal choice and if that’s not an option then think about selling your flock on craigslist or if raising a native breed release to nature in the fall before winter sets in.

These are possible solutions if you choose to hold over a small or large flock. The following tips will involve more labor, time and funds to implement.

The Most Sensible Solutions

  • Shrink the flock to one male and 5 or 6 females.
  • Bring the flock indoors – to a shed or barn space.
  • House in a smaller setting – similar to a rabbit cage that is off the ground.
  • Depending on your interior space you could also use a  set up like this.
  • Remember to add additional hay into their interior home to help keep them calm and warm.


How you choose to raise quail through the winter is a personal choice but the goal is to keep them warm.  Hay bales are my favorite resource for insulation and understand that saving a smaller flock over winter makes more sense than a larger one.

My favorite option for where I live would be to downsize the flock for winter and harvest the rest for meat.

This way you have a starter flock for next spring and can begin increasing quail by incubating eggs in the early spring.  Simply repeat incubating until you have the flock size you desire.

With all that being said, sometimes I like to have a break over the winter and if I’m raising bobwhites which are native to our area then I’ll release my flock in the fall and purchase a new batch of chicks in following spring.

The quail I have shared in today’s post are coturnix; they’re the hardiest of all quail breeds and have amazing instincts when given the opportunity to use them.

If you have additional questions referring to raising quail in the snow and winter please leave a comment or email me at


Make a Seasonal Centerpiece Box

Holiday Centerpiece boxes are the perfect addition to your Christmas centerpiece decorating. Get these fun stencil tips to make your own.


Seasonal Centerpiece BoxEver since we decided to live tiny holiday decorating seems challenging.  My claim is there’s no room but what I failed to realize Christmas can be just as pretty when it’s simple.

So, I decided this year to make this seasonal centerpiece box and use it for my own inspiration to decorate.

First, I made one for my desk and then another with trees.  I found these boxes to be perfect for all sorts of things and it’s possible I may create another.

What I like most is they’re word free so when finished they look more like art.

Creating a Color Palette

This post contains affiliate links for Dixie Belle Paint and Cutting Edge Stencils Click here to read site terms.


The tree box begins with pine wood and has a Christmas theme to match a serving tray we made at one of my recent workshops.

Establishing the color palette was pretty easy because I used the same hues as the tray.  Get Paint Here!

Dixie Belle Paint Colors

  • Buttercream
  • Barn Red
  • Midnight Sky
  • Palmetto


Wood Staining with Paint

Paint Techniques

Midnight sky was added to the bottom board using a thin paint layer application. This was done by cutting an old brush to offer short bristles.  Cover the entire board with just one coat and let it dry.

The red and green boards were finished using paint staining.

This is one of my favorite tips and we use it in my workshops a lot, learn how to paint stain here.

These panting techniques are a breeze with Dixie Belle because the paint dries fast, especially if you begin with a thin layer first.  If you want a darker look then apply a second after the first dries.

The purpose of this technique is to add color but still get that touch of wood grain shining through.  It’s a winner tip and really adds natural beauty to any wood-base craft project.


Make & Take Workshops

If you have a special talent and love the idea of teaching others, well you’re in luck because I wrote a book about how to teach workshops.

This is a gem and includes everything you need to know about establishing your own class.  You don’t need your own brick  and mortor location to teach these classes.

I show you how to turn your craft into cash without all the additional overhead.

To learn more about Make & Take Workshops click here.

Stenciling trees

Stenciling With StudioR12

The stencils for these projects came from Studio R12 and Farm Fresh came from Cutting Edge Stencils.

With the red box I just wanted to transfer trees so they almost overlap using the Palmetto green.

Stencil tips can be found here and if you’re looking for amazing brushes check out Cutting Edge, I love their stencil brushes.

Serving Tray with Centerpiece Box

Since the trees kind of appeared dark I decided to add buttercream as if snow had fallen.  I did this by reapplying the stencil and lightly going over the green.

It was the perfect solution and the trees were transferred on both sides of the box.

Finishing touches included adding handles that matched the tray and who doesn’t love jars filled with natural greens?

Centerpiece Box for the holidays


This blue box is my favorite and currently sits on my desk with a variety of jars inside.  The beauty of going with an everyday color pattern for this project is you can keep using it when the holiday season has passed.

This box would be cute for winter filled with pine cones and candles.

Seasonal Box Workshop

These ladies created their own boxes at one of our workshops and each one turned out fantastic.

For additional centerpiece box  ideas check out the copper cedar box and you may also like these multi-purpose gift boxes. 


Easy How to Propagate Rosemary

Get these easy to follow steps for propagating rosemary right from your garden space.


How to Propagate Rosemary

Propagating is one of my all-time favorite gardening activities and I love to begin during the late fall through about April.

Reason being is that our weather cooperates beautifully.

For those of you who live in much colder climates this DIY would be best to begin towards early fall or late spring.

I tend to steer away from propagating in the summer because with higher temperatures it’s difficult to keep the soil moist in container planting.

Begin propagation with amazing soil

Begin Propagation with Amazing Soil

Always begin propagating with amazing soil that’s loaded with nutrition.  This base can come straight from the garden.

I’m pulling dirt from my blackberry beds; this was established a couple years ago using natural material and today it’s incredible.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record but I’m telling you, good soil is everything and a garden is absolutely nothing without a strong foundation.

Knowing how to maintain that base is even more important.

To learn about soil prep check out my book, Startle Garden Now.


Begin propagation with amazing soil

Choosing and Establishing the Container

Next, we want to choose a container.

Size will depend on how many clippings you plan to propagate.

I went with this fun metal container Robert got me a few years ago and began with drilling holes in the bottom for drainage.


Terracotta pots, wood planters or just 6 inch plastic containers would all work perfectly.

Then we want to begin filling with natural material, like leaves, a little direct compost and that amazing soil.


NOTE: If you don’t have amazing soil remember you can use an organic mixed purchased from nurseries.


Begin propagation with amazing soil

This post contains affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.



Clip Rosemary Cuttings for Propagation

Now here’s the fun part, this is where the project comes together.

Once the container is set up take it over to the main plant you’ll be cutting from.

My Rosemary bush was propagated from our farm and I have to say it’s done amazing here and exploded with new growth over the summer.

  1. Remove stems about an inch from the base of the main plant using clippers.  I love my ezkut hand shears.
  2. Remove the greenery from the bottom of those cuttings and take note that rosemary has a woody stem.
  3. Grab a sharp knife, strip the woody layer two or three inches from the bottom and insert into the soil.
  4. You can use root hormone but it’s not necessary.  (I never use it)
  5. Now you wait and see which stems take root.

The waiting period can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days without using root hormone.  Soil needs to remain moist and keep in mind that some of these stems will dry out.  If that happens just remove and compost, it happens.

I love to propagate this time of year because the soil remains moist with little effort and the majority of these stems will stay fresh while new root growth is forming.

It’s so exciting!

How to Propagate Rosemary

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial for propagating new rosemary plants.  It’s really easy and something you can implement with a variety of herb plants.

Gardening is all about the soil friends, remember a strong foundation is everything.  Discover Startle Garden Now Here.



Make your Own Gift Boxes

DIY your own gift boxes by taking the same pattern and designing 4 different ways. This is an easy project you will enjoy making.


Gift boxes are one of my favorite things to make and receive because they bring back memories when my grandma use to cover cardboard boxes with fancy paper and fill with homemade canned goods for family and friends.

When I was younger we put these boxes together on rainy days and when I got my driver’s license I had the pleasure of delivering them through town.

Giving is a wonderful thing and this holiday season I thought it would be fun to share how to make your own gift box using wood.

Stacks of Gift Box Kits

The Gift Box

I enjoy building these boxes and this time around I took as  basic design and made a few different styles.

For builder, follow the instructions from either link I’ve listed below.

These projects are a similar style and measure each board to fit your needs.

Measurements can be adjusted to your liking and remember the box ends are attached to the bottom piece first and then you add the handles and sides to complete.  This project is so simple friend…

Staining Gift Box with Dixie Belle Stain

This post contains affiliate links for Dixie Belle Paint and Cutting Edge Stencils Click here to read site terms.


Finishing the Gift Box with Stain and Stencils

Adding those finishing touches is always the fun part and this time stain was first before building.  I used Dixie Belle Chalk paint and stain which is easy to apply and dries fast.  Colors included their Up in Smoke Voo Doo Gel Stain and Fluff paint.

I love how that wood grain shines through when using the gel stain, it offers a little rustic texture that’s irresistible.

Application Steps:

  1. Apply paint or stain using a rag, use something that can be tossed afterwards. Get my paint stain technique here.
  2. This paint/stain dries fast so you should be able to build immediately.


Gift Box Styles

Gift Box Styles

I mentioned earlier you can style this box several different ways which wasn’t my plan but I started playing with the wood like blocks and realized this kit has a lot of possibilities.

  1. Top left style would be great for wine bottles or fancy olive oil bottles.
  2. Top right style is excellent for mason jars filled with anything or bagged goodies like fudge, cookies and so on.
  3. The bottom left I imagine for garden seeds, anything would be awesome.
  4. The bottom right I imagined using for a coffee, tea or cocoa bar, sit on a shelf or drill to the wall.

Cutting Edge Stencils for Gift Box

Fun with Cutting Edge Stencils

With the gray box I used Cutting Edge Stencils, this one is called Chrysanthemum Twist.   By using small sections of the stencil from the front, back, side and handle the design turned out less uniformed, something you don’t see very often.

Adding Ribbon to Gift Box to soften the mood

Adding Ribbon or Fabric

I love ribbon and shades of fabric but here’s the thing, I don’t sew!

The gray box welcomed this soft plaid ribbon that I added for detail.  This addition isn’t necessary but if you’re using this box for gift giving it definitely dresses it up.

Fabric was used for the white box by cutting in strips and over time the edges will fringe if you don’t have the patience to do that by hand.

These details can also be changed through the seasons if the box isn’t holiday themed.


GIft Boxes at Garden Up Green

If you enjoyed this craft and think it might be a good fit for your gift giving then go ahead and give it a try.  These boxes would also make a great workshop project, gather some friends together to create fun!

I’ve used this example several times in my own workshop classes and everybody loves it.  You can even sell additional kits at the end so they can make more at home.

Theses boxes are perfect for teachers, neighbors, hostess gifts, or just use as a centerpiece filled with potted plants or festive greenery. Have some fun and make your own gift boxes.

Supplies For Project and Workshop Include:

Dixie Belle Paint Here

Cutting Edge Stencils Here

You can also find a neat selection of Christmas Stencils at Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils Here

Don’t forget Make and Take Workshops for your guide to creating a great workshop environment.


How Rotational Quail Runs Work

Learn how to raise quail on the ground with connecting runs.


Learn How a Rotational Quail Run WorksRaising Coturnix quail on the ground began with a journey of experimentation.  Finding the right way to house this breed was a little tricky because I wasn’t sure how they would adapt to the ground.

Each set up I created offered a variety of perks and the quail thrived in all of them which was really exciting.

I wasn’t expecting such great results but what I knew for sure, Coturnix quail had no problem adapting because they have strong instincts.

My Two Favorites:

  • The Sanctuary Large set up offered so many perks, if you have the space go for it.
  •  Mobile coop.  Another favorite because it’s perfect for small flocks and urban lifestyles.

Between these two examples I also built the Quail Run that could work as a fence.  My original plan was to extend this structure to the end of our pasture but changed that concept after we decided we would eventually sell our farm.

This run was established in two sections that allowed implementing a rotational concept.

What is a Rotational Quail Coop?

A Rotational quail coop is much like rotational grazing.  This is when the land is allowed to rest and repair while the birds or animals are living and eating in another paddock.  This is the ideal situation for farming as it allows you to work the land naturally.

I believe this is why I’m always seeking mobile options or extremely large spaces for raising quail because it’s healthier for the birds and land.

This particular coop is where I raised coturnix quail, consisting of two 8 x 16 ft. runs covered in chicken wire with a door dividing each section.



Incase you didn’t know, I’ve also written a beginners guide book, Quail Getting Started.  This is for folks ready to take the plunge raising quail on the ground.

When do you Rotate?

Rotation occurs about every two weeks, this may vary depending on flock and run size; don’t forget coturnix quail require 1 square foot per bird.

Once the interior door is opened the quail travel to the new space, my job is to move their food and water ahead of time because it allows for a quick transfer.

The birds enjoy discovering their clean space and once they transfer the door is closed shut.

During those two weeks, the grass has the opportunity to repair and any sign of parasites from feces die off as their host is no longer available.

Many times, it will rain during this period which washes waste back into the soil working as fertilizer, the process is really neat and there’s no chemicals involved because you’re allowing nature to work for you.


What to do if There’s no Rainfall?

If rain doesn’t occur during the resting period then you can water down the grass with a garden hose.

A rotational system allows you to manage the land and raise healthier animals without chemicals.

In the wild animals and birds naturally rotate their living spaces.  When farmland becomes over crowded there is little space for animals to rotate; this can cause a number of health issues due to unclean living conditions.

Placing the quail on clean grass also helps deplete the concern for parasites because coturnix quail do have a tendency to mess where they nest and they’ll stay put if there’s no desire to move.

For that reason, it’s also necessary to move their shelter boxes about every two days forcing them to explore the rest of the run.

Amazing Grass Repair

When you allow the ground to repair you can expect amazing results.

This bermuda grass is an example of a resting paddock thats had time to revive and now ready for birds.  Isn’t that great?

This is what you want the ground to be like when it’s time to move your quail to a clean run.


Once the quail are settled into the new rotation they begin hunting for bugs while searching for new nest areas, corners and spaces close to walls are always a hit first.

Before long their back into a routine and enjoying their new surroundings.

This set up was a very simple build; we assembled with 2 x 4’s, pine fence boards and chicken wire.  The style is very similar to a traditional chicken run with a few changes to provide safety.

With rotational quail runs there is an increased opportunity to enhance the life of your flock while they live naturally on the ground and the best part, it’s easy to implement with basic building skills.


Learn How a Rotational Quail Run Works

Simple Outdoor Christmas Lighting

DIY Christmas outdoor ligihting accents that are easy to make and fun to enjoy.


Creating Simple Outdoor Christmas LightingWe often think of holiday decorating as a show, but sometimes it can have a practical side.  I was struggling last Saturday for decorating ideas because the fact is there’s no room in the RV to dress up for Christmas without feeling claustrophobic.

Since we spend most of our time outside I decided a few outdoor Christmas elements would be a better idea.  This took me to lighting, tree trunks, and red cardinal ribbon.

Prepping for Outdoor Christmas lighting

Digging Holes

When I say struggling, I really was because when you step into a minimal lifestyle, decorations can make a small environment feel even smaller.

During that Saturday, Robert was moving gravel and there sat a couple tree trunks that I thought would be perfect holders for outdoor lighting.  An idea sparked and he quickly dug the holes, Dixie tried to help and for a change of pace, I watched and just took pictures.

It’s been great having Robert’s help, working together can be a challenge but most of the time it’s fantastic.  Thank goodness for a sense of humor!

At this point in the project the decorating involved, digging holes and placing the tree stumps.


Home For Christmas Sign

Adding a Sign

I’m not going to bore you with how I made this sign because it was a basic design, very similar to many of the other signs I’ve made in the past.  This one included reclaimed wood and those cute little wood slices came from a tree branch.

Life here is about enjoying our surroundings, watching deer and smiling when the red cardinals visit.

This sign reminds me there’s nothing wrong with practical decorating.

Turning Logs into outside solar lights

This post contains amazon affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.

Light Supplies and Adding Details

When the sun goes down it’s dark at Quail Grove, we use an atomic beam flashlight when traveling outdoors and for additional brightness solar lights.  Who doesn’t love solar lights?

Let’s start with what I used to install and put this lighting together.

I took these two light fixtures and removed the stems, then used a 3/4-inch drill bit to make one hole in each stump.  This was a perfect fit securing the lights allowing me to move on with some Christmas details.


Lighting for an outdoor Christmas

Practical Finishing Touches

These finishing touches included ribbon, cord and berry sprigs, some of which I had left over from previous seasons.  The cedar came from our continuous clearing and within minutes everything starting coming together.

I stepped back and smiled thinking this is our life and I like it…

Home Decor lighting for Christmas

This simple outdoor lighting is perfect for our Christmas because it’s dual purpose.

When the holiday season comes to an end we can remove the extras and still have lighting that works year-round.  In a world where decorating is a big show we find peace by keeping it simple.

We’re continuing the bird theme next week on the deck with more cedar.

You may also enjoy, A Bird Friendly Christmas Tree and Handmade Bird Seed Ornaments



Creating Simple Outdoor Christmas Lighting

Leafy Greens to Grow in Cool Seasons

Get which greens to grow in the cool season for easy gardening tips and planting.


Growing Fresh Greens in the Cooler Months

Are you a gardener who enjoys growing leafy greens?  I sure do, the color selections capture my attention right away.

Gardening for me goes beyond fresh produce, it’s about texture, color and putting it all together.

Which means I may not be your typical gardener… In my free time, I enjoy watercolor painting because it’s calming.

When I bring that sense of calm to the garden, it’s my way of bringing creativity to life in a positive environment.

So, for me growing leafy greens is a little deeper than nutritional value.  It’s the sense of appreciating the coloration these plants offer during the cooler seasons.

Growing Leafy Greens Down South

Here down south, Fall is the perfect time to add lettuce and greens to the garden. They simply can’t handle our sunlight from June – September so when October arrives, I get really excited.

My garden almost always has leafy greens available from October – May.  They’re easy to grow and harvest, offering southern gardeners about a 9- month growing season which is fabulous.

For everyone else, I’ve got great news…  You can still grow lettuce during this period.

My grandmother did and I remember her praising the fresh lettuce she grew over winter while everybody else was buying greens from the store.

She was so proud and I believe deep down, that encourages me to plant every fall.

I figure if she could grow it in the PNW through dreary long winters well I could do it down here. Especially since we have beautiful sparks of sunlight even when the temperatures drop.


Begin Planting Leafy Greens

I like to begin planting with spinach because cooked greens with melted butter is heavenly.

Adding chopped spinach with herbs to an omelet is also good and who doesn’t love spinach with grilled fresh water fish?

Okay, that last suggestion may be a personal favorite?

If you like spinach, I have great news…  It’s available in nurseries now.  There may not be a huge selection but most locations will have a variety of greens to pick from.

Note: Choose nurseries dedicated to offering all types of plants beyond bloomers.

Now, let’s see what else we can plant…

Growing Cabbage Greens

Cool Season Cabbage

Some folks don’t refer to cabbage as a leafy green, but I do because it blends beautifully with the others I grow.

If you transplant mature starters now, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the early spring.  Of course, if you have a mild fall and winter, they may mature earlier than spring.

Take note that growing cabbage is very easy and will also need covering when the temperatures freeze.  Get my Cabbage growing tips here.

Growing Lettuce in Raised Boxes

Planting Lettuce in Starter Boxes

Lettuce is probably my favorite green because I love it fresh with oil and vinegar.

I grow a couple varieties in direct sunlight using our Seed Starter Boxes. When the freeze arrives,  I place the lid on top.  It’s so easy!

This particular crop was from last winter, I planted in the fall and it grew through February.  I wanted you to see what they looked like after surviving winter because lettuce can be tricky and sometimes it will expire early.

Last winter for us was horribly wet, on the days when it felt like it would never stop raining, I covered the box to keep these plants from rot and the soil from getting water logged.  This worked like a charm…

To offset expired lettuce, begin new seeds indoors and transplant when seedlings mature.

Note: This tip may not be possible in areas where winters are severe.

These seed boxes are one of my favorite gardening projects because I can use them for smaller plants in addition to starting seeds.


Growing Kale in raised beds

Love my Kale

Finally, my last favorite green to grow is Kale.  Robert kind of laughs at me when I grow Kale and says, “You know, at one time that grew wild.”

Reminding me that it’s basically a weed that’s now a trendy green.

Regardless I love this one and it’s easy to grow; you can almost skip covering with light freezes because it’s extremely hardy.

Get my Kale growing tips here.

As you can see my favorite leafy greens include, spinach, cabbage, a variety of lettuce and kale.  Growing these greens in the cool seasons can be one of the least difficult gardening activities if you remember these tips:

  • Begin with fertilized soil.
  • Plant in direct sunlight and keep the soil from getting water logged.
  • Harvest leafy greens regularly so they continue growing for future harvesting.
  • Cover when temperatures freeze.
  • If lettuce plants rot, begin new seeds indoors and transplant on a warm afternoon.
  • Enjoy your harvest and smile.
  • What doesn’t mature in the fall will in the Spring.

You may also enjoy growing a variety of collards, they have a mild flavor many gardeners prefer.

So, what are you waiting for?  if you haven’t planted leafy greens just yet then visit your local nursery and select a few for your garden space.

I found that winter is just better with fresh greens from the garden and you’ll probably find yourself smiling as grandma did.


Additional articles you may enjoy, Direct Compost at Grandma’s and Use Burlap to Protect Plants from Freeze.

Growing Fresh Greens in the Cooler Months


How to Grow Garlic in Raised Beds


How to Plant Garlic in Raised beds


I’ve been enjoying garlic since I was a kid. My grandmother couldn’t resist adding it to everything as it offered fantastic health perks.  A bit of garlic also made her Friday night dinners taste amazing.

My favorite way to enjoy garlic would be with homemade bread and warm melted butter. Serve it with pasta and all is right in my world.

Course these days I’ve pushed carbs aside and now prefer fresh grated garlic over protein foods like fish, beef, and pork.

So, needless to say we go through quite a bit of garlic which has led me to plant some in my garden.


This post contains affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.


Begin Planting Garlic in the Fall

Garlic is pretty easy to grow if you begin at the right time of the year, which is fall.  Specifically, mid-October through mid-November.

You can also plant later but you risk a smaller harvest.  So, let’s keep this simple and break things down into zones to remove any confusion.

Garlic Planting Zone Break Down

  • Zones 3 – 5  Late September to Early October
  • Zones 5 -7 Mid October
  • Zones 7 -9 Mid October – Mid November
  • Zones 9 -10 Late October into December

Now that we have that out of the way you need to first acquire some healthy garlic bulbs.  Shop at your favorite nursery or shop online like I did because it was much easier.

I found 9 oz. California soft neck garlic bulbs for planting and eating from amazon.  I’m pretty impressed with the quality and have plenty for planting and several for dinner prep.

How to Plant Garlic

To Begin Planting In Raised Beds

  • First Choose a raised bed with well- drained soil and a lot of newly added organic matter, need ideas read here
  • If you really need help with your soil you may also enjoy, How to Amend Soil Naturally here. 
  • Keep in mind too much moisture from winter rains can harm your crop so raised beds like these here would be a great option.
  • Set unpeeled cloves root side down 4 – 6 inches in rows of 1.5 to 2 inches apart.
  • Then cover with 1-2 inches of soil.
  • In colder climates cover with mulch for winter protection.

Mulch options can include wood chips, leaves or even hay/straw.  Smaller leaves would be perfect because they tend to settle over the soil without continuing to fly with the wind.

Caring for Garlic Over Winter

Here in Texas it can get pretty cold from January and part of February so I will also be covering my crop opting to use leaves because we have plenty.

When we approach the end of winter and temperatures begin to increase then I can remove the excess so there’s a thin layer covering the soil.

The mulch will help to control any weeds that may surface and maintain an even moisture ratio.  Remember to keep weeds down because they don’t compete well with garlic.

Late winter and early spring will be when they start to grow really well, this is also when you don’t want to over water.  I like to let the rain work for me during this period and fill in when necessary.

Harvesting will begin around late June – August when green stalks begin to turn brown, this will vary based on your planting zone and the weather.

I find that growing in raised beds is always much easier and what a joy it will be to have this healthy herb developing close to home.

Happy Garlic planting and if you haven’t ordered bulbs yet, remember you can get California Soft Neck Garlic right here.


How to Plant Garlic in Raised beds

How to Grow Lantana in Raised Beds

Grow lantana in raised beds

I was originally introduced to Lantana on a sales rack at Lowes about 9 years ago.  I wasn’t very fond of the plant but when I read it attracted butterflies my curiosity got the best of me.

I’m so glad my interest was focused that day because Lantana has become one of my favorite perennials. Where it does welcome the butterflies, the bees and hummingbirds also enjoy this wonderful plant.

At our farm I always grew lantana in flower beds, I had the perfect spot in the backyard where they flourished.  When we moved I purchased two more 6 inch starters; planted planted in smaller raised beds for my startle garden.

These particular beds were 3 ft. wide instead of my preferred 2 ft. because I was recycling some wood.  Transplanting begins in the spring so make sure you take note for next season in your garden journal as this is one plant you’ll want to include for those in zone 8 -11.

Transplanting these starters turned out to be a good thing because I wasn’t really sure how growing Lantana in raised beds was going to work.  It’s more of a bush reaching around 3 ft. tall and spreading out anywhere from 1 to 3 ft.

To my surprise it was a great idea and after two seasons both plants are growing better than expected and I love how they drape over the edge.

One thing to remember when planting in beds is to choose a location near the edge if you want that draping appeal.  For the long stems reaching towards the center fo the bed I like to prop them up with mulch from the base of the plant to they stand tall.


Grow Beautiful Lantana in Raised Beds

This post contains affiliate links that means if you make a purchase after clicking, there’s no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission.  Click here to read site terms.

Lantana Planting Tips

Lantana grows in zones 8 – 11 and absolutely loves direct sunlight.  In fact, if you want your plants to grow fast and large make sure you don’t skimp on hours of light, they can handle it.

This perennial is also hardy and drought resistant.

If they begin to look a little tired when fall arrives offer a trim by removing dead heads, I do this using my ezkut hand shears.  New blooms will produce weeks later and you’ll be able to enjoy until the first freeze.

For our location in northeast Texas our frost will be sometime in November.

Caring for New Plants

With new plants transplanted in the spring or summer you’ll have to water frequently until they’re established.  I remember offering a good soaking about once a week their first season. Funny thing is that’s pretty much how I water them now but I don’t soak quite as much.

Their soil does need to offer good drainage and I fertilize in the spring when they begin to wake up after winter has passed.

Lantana growing in raised beds

Remember when the freeze arrives there’s no need to cover.  Their greenery will turn dark brown and that’s when I clip back the expires stems so it can rest over winter.  In the spring new life will grow again and sometimes new blooms may even change color.

Growing beautiful lantana in raised beds is just as easy if you were to grow in a flower bed.  I actually like it better because it offers a wonderful splash of color in my startle garden and it’s the perfect invite for natures favorite gardening friends.

If you’re looking for an efficient and simplified way to garden check out my book Startle Garden. This system is a game changer  and there’s no time like now then to begin planning and prepping during the slow seasons.


How to grow beautiful lantana in raised beds from spring through fall. #Lantana, #Butterflyplants