Good Gully

seagull-in-toronto-ring-billed

Gulls are among the most commonly seen birds on the planet, breeding on every continent. If you’ve ever had a picnic or day at the beach bothered by them, you might be thinking I’m pushing things by featuring what could rightfully be thought of as a nuisance, but apparently they are helpful and desirable to have in a city, because they eat lots of things that would otherwise be a health risk to people.

They evolved over 15 million years ago and there are many different kinds. The ones we have most of here in Toronto are ‘Ring Billed Gulls’. This species was almost extinct in the early 20th century because they were hunted for their feathers that were widely prized to decorate women’s hats.

Ha, I just got so into reading about Seagulls that it just me an hour to write those 5 sentences!

They’re actually pretty interesting animals, that can drink both fresh water and salt water, having special glands to get rid of the salt. They also have a little claw partway up their leg that allows them to remain stable ledges and not get blown off. After reading that I checked my photos closely and see I got one showing that claw.

And now enough with the facts and on with the photos …

flying-gull

gull-on-a-lamp-post

gull-on-a-baseball-diamond

gull-on-a-pole

gull-on-a-light-post

ring-billed-seagull-toronto-head

seagull

seagull-in-toronto-ring-billed-gull

city-seagull

seagull-claw-so-it-can-sit-on-ledges-without-being-blown-off

Thanks for taking a look and I hope you have a good Monday. It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada so today is a holiday for us. As is usual for us, Thanksgiving is a low-key affair for Nick and me. We’re going to cook a nice dinner though and have a bottle of bubbly chilling.

ps – Eddie the cat last year at Thanksgiving : Here. And the year before : Here

xo loulou

Posted in Birds, Photo Scavenger Hunt | 4 Comments

Bringing Some Fall Colours Inside : Making a Garland with Maple Leaves

simple-garland-made-from-real-maple-leaves-and-twine-autumn fall thanksgiving decoration

After I saw that the brightly coloured leaves of one of the maple trees in our neighbourhood had begun to fall, I went out and gathered up a bunch and stuck them between the pages of a magazine. I actually did this more than once, because every time I passed the spot I noticed just one more leaf that was so pretty that I had to have it. And then there was another, and another and so on.

It was only when I opened the magazine on the weekend and took the leaves out, that I realized that I had collected over 85 leaves. Here is how I made a garland with them. You certainly don’t need as many leaves to make one too!

leaves-and-twine-garland-decoration-for-fall-coloured-maple-leaves

handmade-maple-leaf-and-twine-fall Halloween Party-garland-decoration

diy-maple-leaf-garland-fall-decoration

Supplies : Twine, a crochet hook – size 5 (optional … the chain is easy enough to make by hand), some maple leaves.

Steps :

(1) To prepare the leaves, gather when they are very fresh and pliable. Make sure to select leaves that have the entire stem still attached, including the bit at the end where the stem is wider where it was attached to the tree. This part should be intact if the leaves fell off the tree naturally, but if it has been broken off it won’t work for this particular project.

Place them between the pages of a magazine or newspaper, and then put a weight on top such as a pile of books. Leave them to dry out completely; it takes at least a week.

Alternatively : if you want a decoration for a party, that you don’t need to last, you could make this with fresh leaves a few hours before your event. The leaves will eventually curl up but it would look good long enough for your gathering. This would be great for a Halloween party decoration.

pressed-maple-leaf-with-part-that-attaches-to-branch-intact

(2) To prepare the the cord onto which the leaves will be attached, you have to make a chain, either by using a crochet hook, or by hand as described in this post. You want the stitches to be fairly loose because you’ll be hanging the leaves by passing that wider end part of the stem through the holes, but if the stitches are too loose the leaves won’t stay. Make it as long as you’d like with the understanding that it will stretch a bit, and that a more lovely garland will dip down in the centre. My chain was 350 links long, for a garland that will hang on a wall that is 7 1/2 feet wide.

crocheted-twine-chain-cord-to-make-garland-decoration

(3) Hang the cord. I have two small nails in the walls but you can use hooks or tape. The garland will be relatively fragile, so consider this when you choose your location. Also, as dried leaves will burn, make sure it won’t be hanging near candles.

twine-chain-cord-to-make-leaf-garland-crocheted-or-created-by-hand

maybelle-crocheted-flower-garland-ready-to-put-away-for-fall-and-winter

^ Mine was going in the same place that I had hung my crocheted flower garland (this one) for spring and summertime. ^

(4) Begin attaching your dried leaves, by passing the wide end of the stem through the holes in the chain. They stay in there very well. I started by sticking in the largest leaves and filled in the garland with smaller ones, spacing out the various colours and natural patterns.

making-a-leaf-garland-with-real-leaves

how-to-attach-leaves-to-twine-chain-to-make-fall-garland

(5) The number of leaves you use is up to you. I wanted mine to be very full so I used 85 leaves, but it also looked cute at the beginning after I’d only put in about 10.

(6) Optional : find the best helper in all the land to assist …

eddie-helping

eddie-helping-02

Note : The leaves will probably curl up a little, as you can see in these pictures, no matter how long they have stayed within the pages of the magazine. That is unavoidable for most kinds of maple leaves, (although there is one around here that will drop bright crimson leaves sometime in November, that I used to make this display last year … those leaves stayed completely flat after drying).

There is a way of avoiding having them curl, by soaking them in a glycerin and water solution but that adds what seems like a lot of extra work for what is meant to be a temporary decoration, and I don’t mind the natural look of some curling. I would advise that you leave them between the pages right until you’re ready to put them in the garland. I found that they curled up within a few of hours after I’d removed them and made the garland, but then they settled … what you see in these pictures is what they look like a few days later. I expect the leaves to look like this until I take the garland down after Canadian Thanksgiving, which is this weekend.

That said, if you do plan to display your garland for longer than a couple of days you do want to go through the process of pressing them while they dry as described, otherwise they will become unattractively curled as they dry out, as shown in the photo below. Both these leaves are from the same tree and were brought inside at the same time.

pressed-leaf-versus-unpressed-leaf

As this is a temporary decoration I’ll be throwing the leaves into the compost after taking it down and saving the cord to use for another purpose or to make a leaf garland again next fall. Or, since it’s only a chain, you can unravel easily and reuse the twine.

close-up-of-handmade-maple-leaf-garland

fall-decorative-garland-made-with-crocheted-twine-chain-and-maple-leaves

diy-fall-maple-leaf-garland-using-real-leaves-and-twine

handmade-fall-maple-leaf-garland-using-real-leaves-and-twine

handmade-garland-with-colored-fall-maple-leaves-and-twine-diy

Thanks a lot for taking a look. Please let me know if you make a leaf garland too!
xo loulou

Posted in Holidays : Thanksgiving, Making Things DIYs, Plants and Garden | 15 Comments