Posts Tagged ‘being crafty’

Homes for Toads

Today we (ok, *I* actually!) decided to make toad houses from old pots I had lying about. I had read about them ages ago, but wasn’t 100% sure how to do it. Because Google is awesome (lol!), I just searched for “how to make a toad house from a pot” and found more hits than I could shake a stick at. Most of them call for using terra cotta pots, but the plastic ones are used far more frequently here in Costa Rica (due to the weather, I suppose?), and those were what we had on hand, so we went with that.

Basically, it was a project in making something useful out of what you have on hand:

Step 1: Gather materials. We used three old plastic pots and rocks from our yard. For the roofs, we used different materials, like coconut fiber, old tiles, dried palm fronds, twigs and leaves. Besides that, all you really need is a glue gun (and several glue sticks if you plan to make several pots!). Wash the pots and rocks very well; I let the rocks dry for a few hours in the sun, otherwise the glue wouldn’t stick. If gathering rocks from your yard, collect about three times as many as you think you need, and then some more! I was surprised at how many rocks it actually took to cover one small pot.

Step 2: Cut a hole for the toad and start gluing down the rocks. The hole shouldn’t be too big or too small. I ended up cutting mine a little too big, so I tried to place the stones hanging over the cut edge to make it a little smaller.

Here is my son working on his toad house. Since we’re homeschooling, we turned this into a whole learning experience about toads — what they like to eat, where they live, why they need moist, dark homes, etc. Lots of fun! He added a bell to the side of his toad house (it used to be part of an old wind chime) and put marbles in some of the holes to make “stained glass windows.”

Step 3: Add the roof and put the toad house in the garden. Wait for toads to move in! I didn’t take a picture of us putting on the roofs, but it’s basically the same idea. This is my house, covered in volcanic stones with an old bathroom tile for a roof that I covered in leaves and coconut fiber. I put mine in the shade of the false vervain plants in our butterfly garden. Toads don’t eat butterflies, do they? 😉

This is my son’s toad house. We call it the hippie house! He used lots of old bathroom tiles, and then covered the top with twigs and palm fronds sticking out of the hole in the bottom of the pot (now top of the house). We located this one by the side fence under some bougainvilla.

My husband’s toad house. His is so chic! He used river rocks and put an old roof tile that moss had grown in for the roof. I told him that’s a very hip toad to have a house with a living roof! This one is under a banana tree next to a water spout from the roof. Toads really need to stay moist, so it’s good to have a water source or a dish of water nearby. Dengue can be a problem where we live, so we have to make sure any standing water is changed frequently (although we do keep a birdbath).

It was great fun for the whole family to make these toad houses, and I really love being able to make something not only useful but beautiful out of what would otherwise be junk. Here in Costa Rica, we have a lot of cane toads, which are poisonous to dogs if they grab them. My lovable, sweet black Lab Numi is, let’s say, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so we have to keep her away from toads. Therefore, we put all of the toad houses in the front yard, as she spends most of her time either in the backyard or in the house (the 75-pound goof thinks she’s a lapdog, but we love her!).

If you have made a toad house, please leave a comment and let me know how it went, or if you have any tips to share!

Getting Ready for Harry Potter

The new Harry Potter movie just opened here last week (as it did most of the world, I believe!), and we’re planning on going today. On a Tuesday afternoon. Because I hate crowds! Yes, it’s true! We have a great theater we like, with big comfy chairs and full-service waitstaff, but it’s nice to go in the daytime mid-week because you often have the place to yourself. I doubt that will be the case with Harry Potter, since it’s so incredibly popular and schools are closed for the swine flu scare, but we’ll see.

Anyhoo, I came across a fantastic craft for making Harry Potter wands, so I thought, why not make one for each of us to take to the movie? They were so incredibly easy, and came out so dang cool that I want to make more. I probably will, since the craft girls all have kids, and most of them love Harry Potter.

Just follow the directions, and you’ll end up with your own version of these:

From top: son's wand, dad's wand, mom's wand.

From top: son's wand, dad's wand, mom's wand.

A couple of suggestions:

  • When rolling the paper, leave about 1/3 of the sheet to glue down with white glue. This will make the whole wand stronger when it dries. If you leave too little paper to glue down, the wand can be a little flimsy.
  • Make sure each layer of paint is completely dry before putting on another layer. Otherwise it smears and makes a big mess! Ask me how I know… 😀
  • The more layers of paint you build up, the more realistic it looks. One layer just isn’t going to cut it!
  • I read a tip to use glow-in-the-dark paint on the tip, and that came out great! Definitely try it if you have glow-in-the-dark paint.

These are really incredibly easy to make, and fun — even my husband enjoyed painting his! Well, sort of. I may have threatened to turn him into one of these if he hadn’t.

Garden Toad!

Garden Toad!

Stuff of the earth

Sometimes I think I ought to change the title of this blog, as its focus seems to be going away from strictly quilting and more toward crafty, fun things I like to do that also include quilting. But then again, I love the title, so I’ll probably keep it just as it is. 🙂

Yesterday I saw a post on Craft Magazine’s blog about making terrariums out of jars. I have a bunch of Ball jars from canning various things over the years, and I’m always looking for something fun to do with my son (who’s back to homeschooling, by the way!), so this was yet another perfect project. You can get the specific directions over there at Craft; otherwise, this is our photo diary of a really fun morning.

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Pouring dirt into the jars...

We probably could have used more stones in the bottoms!

We probably could have used more stones in the bottoms!

Three jars are better than one. A balance thing, I guess!

Three jars are better than one. A balance thing, I guess!

Here we are adding little plants to the jars.

Here we are adding little plants to the jars.

Ooh, someone needs a manicure!

Ooh, someone needs a manicure!

Adding more plants...

Adding more plants...

There! Just right!

There! Just right!

Ok, a little too much dirt, probably, but they're done!

Ok, a little too much dirt, probably, but they're done!

Proud of his creation.

Proud of his creation.

The little animals that didn't go inside get to play on top of the terrariums.

The little animals that didn't go inside get to play on top of the terrariums.