Nature Photography and Videos

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

In recent posts, I have been focusing on DIY crafts for around the home. In this post, I would like to share another fun hobby, nature photography.

From time to time, I am able to grab my camera or smartphone and catch wildlife in their natural habitat. Whitetail deer, shown here, are common where I live in Michigan. Recently, the weather has been very hot and humid, so I haven’t been able to make it outdoors to capture more photos. I hope to share more nature photography in future posts.

I have also included a short Youtube video of the same Whitetail deer. Please scroll down to the end of this post to watch the video. Feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel by clicking the link in the menu on the right.

Photos by Kathleen Quandt

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DIY Braided Sock Dog Toy

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

In an earlier blog post (July 12, 2020), I showed three simple ways to make dog toys out of old socks. The braided sock dog toy, shown above, takes only a few more steps to make. This toy is still uses old socks and is very easy to make.

One thing to keep in mind while making the braided sock dog toy is to use longer socks. You will need several extra inches to braid and tie the socks.


You Will Need:

  • 2 old socks
  • sharp scissors


Instructions:

  1. Begin by cutting the socks open so they lay flat.

2. Cut each sock into three strips, about 2 or 3 inches wide. You will need a total of 6 strips.

3. Gather all 6 strips and tie them together in a tight knot.

4. Pair 2 strips together each to make the 3 pieces needed to make a braid.

5. Begin to braid the sock strips. Pull the strips to tighten the braid as you go.


6. Braid several inches if the sock strips, making sure to leave enough length at the end to tie another knot.


7. Trim the strips to make both sides even. You’re done!


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DIY Pom Pom Cat Toys

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

These pom poms made of yarn may have many uses when it comes to making crafts, but they also make great cat toys. They are simple to make using yarn and a few household items. I have included three ways to make pom poms, each makes a different size.

There are just a couple of things to keep in mind while making your pom poms. First, when tying the pom poms with a separate piece of yarn, be sure to tie very tightly. This is what holds the pom pom together. Second, make sure you hold the pom pom securely in your hand or on a flat surface while cutting the pom pom. This is so pieces of yarn don’t fall out before your’re finished. Third, the more yarn you wrap, the bigger and fuller the pom pom.

What you need (for all three pom poms):

  • yarn
  • fork
  • cardboard
  • jar or can (for tracing)
  • quarter (for tracing)
  • scissors
  • two empty toilet paper rolls or one empty paper towel roll


Small Fork Pom Poms

What you need:

  • yarn
  • fork
  • scissors

Instructions:

  1. Start by wrapping yarn around the fork until the yarn is about an inch thick.
  2. Cut a separate piece of yarn about 12 inches long.
  3. Wrap the piece of yarn around the yarn on the fork through the middle tines. Tie the yarn very tight.
  4. Slide the yarn off the fork and tie the separate piece of yarn tightly again.
  5. Slide the scissors through the loops of the yarn and begin to cut them until they are all cut.
  6. Fluff the pom pom and trim any stray pieces.

Cardboard Circle Pom Poms

What you need:

  • yarn
  • cardboard
  • jar or can (for tracing)
  • quarter (for tracing)
  • pen or pencil
  • scissors

Instructions:

  1. First, trace a jar or can on the cardboard twice.
  2. Then, trace a quarter in the middle of each circle. (shown above)
  3. Cut out both circles with a small space in each one to make the letter “C”.
  4. Put both circles together to make one circle.
  5. Wrap the yarn around the circle until you have reached desired thickness (about 1 inch).
  6. Slide the scissors between the two circles to cut the yarn. Make sure to hold the yarn in place while cutting.
  7. Cut a separate piece of yarn, about 12 inches long.
  8. Place the piece of yarn between the two circles, wrapping the pom pom, and tie tightly. Repeat (optional).
  9. Remove the two cardboard circles.
  10. Fluff and trim the pom pom.

Large Cardboard Roll Pom Poms

What you need:

  • yarn
  • two empty toilet paper rolls or one empty paper towel roll (cut in half)
  • scissors


Instructions:

  1. Begin by wrapping the yarn around both cardboard rolls until you have reached desired thickness.
  2. Cut a separate piece of yarn, about 12 inches long.
  3. Slide the piece of yarn between the two cardboard rolls and tie tightly. Repeat (optional).
  4. Slide the yarn off of the cardboard rolls and tie the yarn tightly again.
  5. Cut the loops of yarn until all of the loops are cut.
  6. Fluff and trim the pom pom.

These pom poms are instant fun for you feline friend! Kitty (a.k.a Ginger, shown above) is curious about her new toys!

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DIY Sock Dog Toys

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

Give those old worn out socks a new life by upcycling them to make dog toys. All it takes is a few old pairs of socks and some other common household items.

These sock toys take very little time and your dog will love them! You will need to tie a knot in the sock to make the toys, so, make sure you choose socks that are long enough.

You will need:

  1. An empty water bottle
  2. A tennis ball
  3. Old socks

Basic Knotted Sock Toy

  1. Hold the sock in both hands and stretch the sock while tying a knot in the middle. Make sure to tie the knot tight so it doesn’t come undone.

Water Bottle Sock Toy

  1. Rinse out an old water bottle and remove the label.
  2. Fit the water bottle into the sock until it reaches the toe.
  3. Tie a tight knot at the top of the bottle.

Tennis Ball Sock Toy

  1. Fit the tennis ball into the sock until it reaches the toe.
  2. Tie a tight knot just above the tennis ball.

You’re done! These DIY sock toys will give your dog endless hours of fun!

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4th of July Fairy Lights

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

Whether you’re throwing a party or just want fun decorations, fairy lights can liven up any decor. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Fairy lights use batteries, and because of this they can be used many different and creative ways.

Because it’s the 4th of July, I decided to use red, white and blue striped ribbon. The same idea could be used for other holidays and festivities by changing the color of the ribbon. For example, use red and green for Christmas, or orange and black for Halloween. How many ribbons you tie on the lights is up to you. Be creative!

What you need:

  • 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon
  • string of fairy lights
  • scissors

Instructions:

  1. Begin by measuring and cutting several lengths of ribbon. For the photo above, I cut 4 inch pieces of ribbon.

2. To make the ties, start by folding the ribbon in half underneath the fairy lights.

3. Fold the two loose ends down over the fairy lights and through the loop made my folding the ribbon in half.

4. Hold the fairy lights taught while pulling the ribbon into a knot.

5. Repeat this as many times as you want, until you have reached the end of the strand. For the fairy lights pictured above, there is one ribbon tied between each light on the strand.

Another option is to ties bows instead of knots with the ribbon. I used 8 inch pieces of ribbon to make the bows. The trick is to tie the bow directly onto the fairy lights. After the bow is tied tight, then position the ribbon to make the bow look the way you want.

Photo by Kathleen Quandt

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Bug Spray with Citronella Essential Oil

Everyone loves spending time outdoors in the summer. It’s a great time for picnics, gardening, ball games and going to the park. It’s also a great time for pesky mosquitoes.

While store bought bug sprays can be costly and harsh smelling, you can make your own bug spray by using two simple ingredients and citronella essential oil. Citronella essential oil is a natural mosquito repellent. There are many other essential oils are good for using in bug sprays. For this recipe, I have used citronella as my main essential oil, and smaller amounts of lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oils. Adding other essential oils makes a more pleasant smell, and to adds to the strength of the repellent.

Other essential oils for bug sprays:

  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup witch hazel
  • 15 – 20 drops citronella essential oil
  • 3 – 6 drops your choice of other essential oils (listed above)

Instructions:

  1. Add 1/4 cup distilled water and 1/4 cup witch hazel to the spray bottle.
  2. Next, add 15 – 20 drops citronella essential oil.
  3. Add 3 – 6 drops of other essential oils (listed above).
  4. Replace cap and label the bottle (optional). Your’re done!

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Essential Oils: Storage, Safety and Other Uses

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Essential oils are oils derived from plants through steam distillation. I use essential oils in many things I make for several reasons. Not only do they have a wonderful all-natural smell, but they are known for their medicinal and therapeutic properties.

How to Store Essential Oils

Essential Oils are considered volatile, meaning they will quickly lose their scent and therapeutic properties if they are exposed to air, sunlight, or extreme temperatures. There are a few things you can do to keep your essential oils stored correctly.

  1. Store essential oils in dark glass bottles. Sunlight can cause essential oils to deteriorate and lose their smell. Dark glass such as amber and cobalt keep out harmful light and keep the oils safe.
  2. Store essential oils in a cool dark place. Essential oils need to be stored where the temperature is stable. A shelf or drawer is a good place to keep them cool and away from sunlight. Also, consider buying a wooden essential oil storage box.
  3. Avoid bottles with a rubber stopper or cap. Essential oils can cause the rubber to deteriorate and ruin the essential oils. Instead look for a bottle with a built-in dropper.

Essential Oil Safety Precautions

Essential oils are essentially safe to use, although there are a few simple safety precautions to take when using them.

  1. Do not use essential oils undiluted on skin. This can cause skin irritation. Instead add a few drops of essential oil to a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil.
  2. Some essential oils may cause sensitivity, irritation, or and allergic reaction in some individuals. Try a small patch test on a small area of skin before using.
  3. Watch out for essential oils that are phototoxic, or sun sensitive.

Carrier Oils and Other Uses

Carrier oils are often used to dilute essential oils especially when applied to skin. There are many different types of carrier oils. Although carrier oils have different properties, which carrier oil you choose is up to you.

Some Carrier Oils:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Apricot Kernel Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Rosehip Oil

Essential oils have many uses, such as making household products, health and beauty products, and aromatherapy. They work great in a diffuser because their wonderful scent and for other therapeutic properties.

Zipper Pulls

If you’ve ever broken the pull tab on a zipper you have probably been faced with finding a way to replace it. Although paperclips and safety pins work for a little while, they are not a permanent fix. That is why I came up with a better solution.

These zipper pulls are easy to make in just a few minutes. All you need is grosgrain ribbon and a lobster claw clasp with a ring attached. I chose grosgrain ribbon because it is known to be durable, and it is available in many colors. The size of the ribbon I used is 3/8 inch. There are different sizes of ribbon. Just keep in mind that you will need to thread the ribbon through the ring in the clasp.

The lobster claw clasp is easy to use and comes with a ring already attached for the ribbon. There are many sizes of lobster claw clasps. This one measures just over 1 inch and is sturdy enough to use for a zipper. Larger clasps can be too bulky, and smaller clasps are too dainty and could break. I have included three different ways to make a zipper pull using the same methods.

What you need:

  • grosgrain ribbon
  • lobster claw clasp with ring attached
  • scissors
  • measuring tape or ruler

Instructions:

  1. First, measure and cut 5 inches or more of ribbon. Keep in mind that shorter ribbon is harder to work with.
  2. Fold the ribbon in half equally and thread it through the ring.

3. Pull the ends of the ribbon through the loop made by folding the ribbon in half.

4. Continue to pull the ends through until it forms a tight knot.

You’re done!

One other way to tie the ribbon is to make a simple loop. Start by measuring about 8 inches or more of ribbon. Pull the ribbon through the loop. While keeping the ends together, tie them in a loose knot. Gently slide the knot towards the end of the ribbon and tighten the knot.

Lastly, and probably the easiest way to make a zipper pull is to use either of the two methods I have mentioned above and tie the ribbon directly to the zipper.

Flower Pens

Flower pens add a decorative accent to your desktop and are fun and easy to make. For this project, you can choose any kind of artificial flower that you like. You will also need ballpoint pens. I chose Bic Cristal Xtra Bold because they are bright and colorful, although any ballpoint pen will do.

You will need:

  • artificial flowers
  • ballpoint pens
  • green masking tape or floral tape
  • sturdy scissors

Instructions:

  1. Start by measuring the length of the pen.
  2. Cut the stem of the flower about half the length of the pen. If you can’t cut all the way through the stem, bend the stem several times until it snaps.

3. Next, cut several inches of tape. Wrap the tape around the top of the pen one time.

4. Then place the stem against the pen and begin to wrap the tape downward. Make sure to wrap it tightly and spiral down the pen as you go.

5. Continue to wrap the tape down the pen. When you run out of tape, cut several inches again and start where you left off.

6. Wrap the tape to the end of the pen, leaving some room for the cap.

You’re done!

DIY baking soda air fresheners with essential oils

These DIY baking soda and essential oil air fresheners are an easy way to freshen the air without using a spray. Baking soda absorbs odors while the essential oils give off a pleasant scent.

You can use any essential oils you like. I used a combination of lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus essential oils for a deodorizing effect.

Deodorizing Essential Oil Blend

  • 8 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 16 drops lemon essential oil
  • 12 drops eucalyptus essential oil

For this recipe, you will need a 4 oz. mason jar and mason jar inserts. I found these decorative galvanized metal inserts on Amazon.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. mason jar
  • mason jar inserts
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • essential oils

Instructions:

  1. Measure 1/2 cup baking soda into a bowl.
  2. Add 30 – 40 drops of your choice of essential oils.
  3. Mix well.
  • 4. Scoop the baking soda mixture into the mason jar.
  • 5. Place the lid back on the jar with the insert. You’re done!