DIY Tiki Torches

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As we continue to spruce up the yard and prepare to enjoy it all summer, keeping the bugs at bay was a top priority.   If you’ve ever visited Alaska you know that our mosquitos are massive and excessively numerous.  We did some DIY tiki torches last year using wine bottles based on this Pinterest idea, but since we wanted them near the deck and didn’t have a spot to hang them from we created some simple stands with a closet rod and tuna cans like this tutorial.

The wine bottles fit perfectly in the tuna can and were certainly pretty, but I was constantly worried that the dogs would break the glass and as the temps cooled in the fall the fluid started to freeze overnight.  We took them down when we closed up the deck for the season, but left a few of the stands out over the winter.  The stands didn’t fair well with the weather and were looking pretty beat up by the time spring rolled around so I knew we needed a better option.

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That’s when I spotted this idea on Pinterest.  I showed it to the Hubs and he liked it so we picked up the supplies we needed on our next trip to the hardware store and used the handy cutter from our recent Insulator Garden Art project to cut the pipe as needed.  Everything went together very quickly and soon we were ready to add the wicks and fuel.

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The Hubs did swap out the clamps we’d used to secure them to the deck since the copper pipe was a much smaller diameter than the closet rods had been.  But we were able to reuse the wood blocks he’d attached to the deck to keep them flush with the deck boards.

Clamps

We both like that the slimmer profile of these torches help keep the view open and there’s no glass to worry about.  We have found that the design doesn’t hold much fuel so they do run out every few days, but we keep the tiki fuel on hand in the BBQ table so it’s easy to refill.

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We placed several around the perimeter of the deck to create a “no-fly” zone for bugs, which seems to work fairly well.  Hint – there’s a sneak peek at two of the projects I’ll be working on finishing up this weekend in the photo below! 🙂

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What do you think of our new and improved tiki torch design?  They will certainly get plenty of use this weekend!

DIY Bird Feeders

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While I had a few days off around Christmas I finally tackled a little project I’d been wanting to do for a while, creating a few more bird feeders for the yard.  I had seen spiral copper feeders online and loved the simple design, so I did a quick search on Pinterest to find a tutorial and gave it a try.  I used small copper tubing, which is typically used for the water line on newer refrigerators.  It’s a soft metal so it bends very easily.  The tutorials I found suggested using a rolling pin to get the circular shape, but we don’t have one so I used a soda can instead.

I wasn’t able to get pictures during the process due to needing both hands and the hubs being busy with another project, but it’s really as simple as placing the beginning of the tubing against the can and pressing gently as you turn the can toward the tubing.  Once I had a spiral tall enough I snipped the tubing with wire cutters to make a clean end and wrapped that around the can as well to complete the final loop.  After I removed the can from the spiral I pulled the top loop up so it was perpendicular to the rest of the spirals so I’d have somewhere to hang the feeder from.  I stretched the spiral out a bit to make spaces between the loops and once I was happy with how that was looking, I curled the bottom loop a bit tighter so it could act as a stopper at the end.  I had enough tubing left over to make a second as well.  Here’s they arebefore I filled them.

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I filled them with apples and hung them outside on the hooks where my hanging baskets go during the summer.  I haven’t seen any of the wildlife visit them yet, but it might take them a while to investigate and learn this new food source.  I’m considering making more of these for my Etsy shop, but am not sure if they would be big sellers or I they would ship well so I might post them on a few of the local buy/sell pages and see if they get any traction there first.

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I continued my DIY feeder making roll with this simple S hook orange feeder. The hubs drilled a hole in a piece of drift wood from my stash and I positioned it where I thought it would work best as a perch then added a bit of hot glue to keep it in place. We could have just made the hole smaller to begin with so the perch would fit snuggly but I didn’t want to risk breaking it when maneuvering it on the hook.  I cut an orange in half and just stabbed it onto the end of the hook.  The hubs enjoyed cleaning up the other half of the orange so it didn’t go to waste.

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This one hasn’t had any visitors either from what I’ve seen, but I’ll leave it up for a while to see if the birds and squirrels find it just like it did for the peanut ring feeder which I filled while I was at it.  This continues to be a huge draw for both squirrels and birds so I might just let it run empty to encourage them to explore the other new feeders.  If I still don’t see any traffic at them in a few weeks I might switch to using homemade suet balls or blocks instead of fruit and see if that’s more appealing to our neighborhood’s critters.

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I picked up this store bought feeder several weeks ago and placed it farther down the fence from the peanut feeder so the smaller birds would have somewhere to eat when the squirrel is devouring the peanuts. The perch is on a spring that can be adjusted to different tensions for different sized birds and pulls down over the openings if there is too much weight, such as a squirrel, which was the main selling point for me.  Plus I like the bright red, barn style too!  I’m still playing with the different spring settings to see which works best for our area’s flock since it didn’t come with instructions or info other than the price tag, but I have seen groups of chickadees sitting on the ledge and pecking at seeds so it must be appropriately set for them.  And because it has such a large reservoir, it hasn’t needed filling since I put it up so it’s perfect for the far area of the yard where we don’t often go.

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Hopefully all of these options will make the birds stick around come spring, so they can keep the mosquito population in check allowing us to enjoy the deck more.  If you have any tips on how to attract birds to new feeders or suggestions for feeder styles that work best I’d love to hear them!

Copper Topped Posts

When we installed the fence last year we debated cutting the extra length on the posts down, but ultimately decided to leave them so I had a spot to hang bird feeders and other cutesy garden stuff.  It worked out pretty well, but I was never really keen on how the posts looked even with the decorative hooks.  It just felt unfinished.

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Although I wasn’t 100% happy with the look it wasn’t a high priority, so I ignored it – until recently when I spotted these copper fence post caps.  I’d considered them last season, but when I researched them online they were much too pricey.  For some reason our local store had them for $4.95/each, so I snagged a few to test out.  I was pretty pleased with the result.

PostCap

And installation was so simple.  You just set the cap on top of the post.  They recommend you use adhesive to permanently attach it, but I’m holding off on that until I decide if I want to leave them up all year or take them down for the winter so they don’t oxidize and patina as quickly.  (Notice the peanut feeder is half empty?  I moved it over a few posts to help the squirrels find it and now that they have, they are emptying it almost daily!)

The local store also had coordinating solar post cap lights, which I thought would look nice on either side of the back gate.  Although they were quite a bit more expensive than the basic caps, I think they were worth it and the hubs agreed.

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They are definitely more decorative than functional as far as light output, but here in the land of midnight sun, that’s not really an issue during the seasons we’d be out using the gate anyway.  The hubs picked up enough caps and lights to finish the rest of the posts during a second trip to a different store, where the caps were on sale for $3.95/each!  Pretty and on sale.  Can’t beat that!