Saturday, October 5, 2013

Of Birdhouses and Mycological Specimens ...

Today's post is for Linnea-Maria of Linnea på landet who requested pictures of the spouse's birdhouse creations, and Tilda of Tea with the Squirrels who requested pictures of mushrooms.

The spouse originally started making his birdhouses with the intent of having one on every single fencepost surrounding the Gothic Mansion. His first houses were rustic in style, made from hollowed out stumps and scraps of wood, of which there was plenty to choose from - leftovers over from past projects, neatly **cough** stacked in the garage. The Scrap Wood Collection was so vast, back in January when we started downsizing, the spouse spent a solid three months burning stuff to avoid having to pack and move it. Although we did save the really good pieces and they are coming with us.

If a person didn't know better, they'd swear the insomniac  and her spouse grew up in the Great Depression - that's how loathe they are to throw anything away that might prove useful at some point.

Rustic Birdhouse I

Rustic Birdhouse II

Rustic Birdhouse III

Once he grew bored of making rustic houses, the spouse started adding small bits such as cabinet knobs, taken from his Collection of Useful Stuff he stores in the garage. The insomniac  seldom sets foot in the garage - she doesn't even have a key. If she requires something, she simply remarks, “Need a hammer.” or “Need a screwdriver.” and waits for it to magically appear in her hand. She worries if she were to attempt to look for an item in there herself, there's a very good chance she'd become disoriented and lose her way - never to be seen again. The spouse, on the other hand, knows exactly where everything is and also how to find his way out.

A drawer on the bottom for cleaning out old nests ...

Because there's a waiting list in the spring for the birdhouses, they will remain behind. Only two of the spouse's more recent and much larger creations have been relocated to the Spooky Forest. The Squirrel Jungle Gym/Birdhouse is a compilation of old door knobs and plates, cast iron statuary, pine cones, empty wicker suet holders, and pretty much anything else the spouse deemed Collection-worthy.

Front

Back

It was dismantled for the move and is now displayed separately. The Jungle Gym portion is awaiting repair to the verandas damaged by over-exuberant squirrel acrobatics before finding its permanent home.



This is the insomniac's  most favorite piece to date, having a sort of Bavarian Steampunk vibe. Pieces of old lamps, what appears to be a foot pedal from an old piano (the candelabra off that piano will probably turn up on something eventually) - many items from the Collection have found their way onto this birdhouse; although the chipmunks seem to have already laid claim to it. 


And while the spouse has been finding just the right spot for his creations (with only a few helpful suggestions from the insomniac), she herself has been attempting to gain some expertise on the local mushroom population in the Spooky Forest, using as her guide “Mushrooms of the Boreal Forest” by Eugene F. Bossenmaier. To summarize what she's learned thus far in this single, but extremely important, sentence:

“There are mushrooms in the boreal forest that, if eaten, can cause sickness and others that can cause death. Some safe mushrooms have deadly look-alikes; an error in identification can be fatal.”

The spouse has already indicated he will not be relying on the insomniac's  sound judgement as to whether a mushroom is edible or not. Who can blame him, really.

Following is a small **coughs again** sampling of mushroom photos - there were literally hundreds to weed through. One has tried to showcase only the more unusual, eliminating any resembling those commonly available at the grocery store - even if it was the size of a dinner plate and looked to be the perfect spot for a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Eat me. I look Toxic.

So do I.

Me too.









We originally thought the squirrel joined us every day at 3:00 p.m. for Happy Hour because he enjoyed our company so much - it now seems more likely he simply passed out from too many 'shrooms ...

2:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

You've heard the expression, “Can't see the forest for the trees.”? In the insomniac's  case, she couldn't see the maggoty insect for the mushrooms, until she started sorting through the photos for this post. Probably a good thing, too.









Hopefully you've enjoyed today's rather hastily thrown-together post. Although the insomniac  felt she'd done an admirable job of downsizing, after receiving the storage estimate last week for the remaining items in the Gothic Mansion, has now decided a lot more work in that department is definitely needed - by the end of next week. Although she prefers to blame the spouse for the astronomically high quote. It doesn't seem as though any of his Collections in the garage have been reduced in the slightest; hence the delivery of a twenty-foot sea can to the Spooky Forest on Thursday.

In his defense, it is a large  forest and there's always a need for more  birdhouses ... and realistically, there's no such thing as too much scrap wood. You just never know when it may come in handy.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.

IA

60 comments:

  1. What magical pictures!!! I wish I could jump right in and visit!!!

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    1. The insomniac  had absolutely no idea there would be that many kinds of mushrooms in our little patch of forest, Undergroundfortea! The spouse has been told to leave all those dead and rotting trees on the forest floor alone - it's kind of exciting (well, what passes for exciting when you're pushing 60) to discover all these little beauties! :D

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  2. Oh, the birdhouses are lovely. You know, when I saw them I said to myself that Insomniacs spous is actually The old man Pettson. It's a storybook caracter that lives with his rascal cat. He is surrounded by all knick knacks and is very inventive when having an idea. There is a small people that only his cat sees that lives in small houses like the one your spouse build. Try to picture google "Gubben Pettson" or "Pettson och Findus". I had to show Alfons my youngest who loves to read the books about Pettson and look at all the details in the pictures :). O I bet you have lots of edible mushrooms in your forest. Have you seen a chantarelle yet, these are easy to pick and are the best mushroom. I would have picked the one on the fourth picture, it looks like the ones that are edible here :)

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    1. LOL, googled Gubben Pettson, Linnea-Maria - the spouse does look a little like him with the beard and all. He just needs the hat! He's kind of excited to have a shop where he'll be able to build more little houses once we move in next spring - he quite enjoys it. He keeps talking about troll bridges across the creek and little fairy doors in the side of the hill. It'll be a magical place once he's finished with it. We'll take pictures for Alfons! :D

      One is actually thinking about getting the Mycological Society of Alberta to come out next August and explain which mushrooms are edible and which ones aren't. Because honestly, we really shouldn't rely on my judgement. No chantarelle's as yet! That fourth one is so pretty, isn't it - only ever saw just this one though. :o)

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  3. OMG, I saw a squirrel doing that just a few weeks ago - in the middle of the road! I came pulling in to our gravel road and saw something lying there, flat and still. My heart stopped, thinking it might be one of the kitties, but then I realized it was smaller and redder than them. I drove up to it slowly, sure the squirrel was dead, and was only a few feet away when it finally stirred, sat up and looked at the car, then slowly hopped away. What is with these squirrels, a death wish? One is passed out in the middle of the road, one on a chopping block. Crazies...

    Regarding bird houses, I love the idea and I LOVE your Jungle Gym. But those would be impossible with the cats. They bring me enough dead birds as is.

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    1. Oh, that must have just about made you ill when you first thought it was one of the kitties, Ms. Misantropia! The cedar waxwings around here eat the fermented Rowan berries in the fall and get all loopy. Maybe the squirrels do, too? Although one still suspects those just might be Magic Mushrooms. ;o)

      Oh yeah, the Jungle Gym would just be a death trap for the birds and squirrels with the cats around, wouldn't they? The cats would probably thank you for it, though! :D

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  4. What a great time to be a bird in there!! Gougers bird houses ^-^

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    1. LOL, never thought of it from the bird's point of view before, Magda! :D

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  5. The photos are wonderful. Your hubs is really gifted in the woodworking department I must say. Never saw birdhouses quite like those. Does he sell them/make them to order? Re the shrooms, there's a variety around here that looks like its been done over with silver gilt. I know its a posh neighbourhood but silver mushrooms? I wonder if your book says what they are? How's Dave coming along? And since your moving to the sticks, literally, why on earth are you hauling a sea can full of it to the sticks? You two have been partaking of that squirrel's happy hour cocktail or what?

    Squirrely in the U.K. aka Ali

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    1. Thanks, Ali! Finally getting the hang of the new camera ... :P

      The spouse started making the birdhouses about two years after he retired - needed something to keep himself occupied in the winter when there was no garden to take care of. I keep telling him he should sell them, but he likes to make them just for our enjoyment. He's got a whole forest to fill up now - they'll be no time to make any for anyone else! LOL

      Silver gilt? Wow, you should take a picture of those ones! I just borrowed the book from a friend who's a reclamation specialist - I need to order one for myself and then I'll check for silver mushrooms. Bet they're only in England, eh. :o)

      Dave is coming along well - the windows have been ordered, the walls will be going up this weekend; things are looking good, Ali. Not so much in the Gothic Mansion though - up to my eyeballs in bubble wrap, boxes and packing tape. And still downsizing. Pffft.

      Ahhh, but it's good trim, doors and flooring we're taking with us to use in the new house. Because yeah, it wouldn't make much sense to pack up our scraps. **cough** ;o)

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    2. Pic of the silver shroom is on the blog. www.aaharriman.blogspot.com Lemme know if you recognize it.

      Ali

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  6. I'm a pretty experienced naturalist, and I don't screw with mushrooms. They're very pretty, I take lots of pictures, but I will never trust my ID abilities enough to eat one from the wild.

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    1. Not to worry, Tante. Practically every mushroom described in the book had an extremely toxic look-alike, and I don't like mushrooms THAT much that I'd be willing to take a chance. I'd rather take pictures of them than eat them, anyway. Still, it would be cool to have the Mycological Society come and identify them - just so I know what they are. I always like to know this stuff. :o)

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  7. All I can say is wow! The resident birds of the Spooky Forest are sure going to love having you two living nearby. Your husband is a real craftsman.

    As for mushrooms, I love looking at them but only eat what I can buy in a store. As someone else noted above, there are too many near look a likes and one mistake can be deadly. I do occasionally eat the morels that grow here early in the spring if somebody picks them. They're quite unique looking.

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    1. There's some really big birds in the Spooky Forest, Nightwind. He's going to have to make some really big houses for those whiskey jacks and ravens! Although he is talking about doing a roost for the owls. That should be cool. Maybe we'll get a videocam. :D

      Yeah, I'm gonna stick with the stuff I can buy at the store, too. I probably wouldn't even trust somebody's judgement about that even if they really did know what they were talking about! I'm not THAT much of a mushroom fan. ;o)

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  8. How lovely. Your pics are gorgeous, what do you use to take them?

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    1. Thanks, Marie! I bought myself a Nikon Coolpix P7100 last fall and have finally figured out (an entire year later) what settings are going to take the best pictures. But I like it because it's mostly automatic and I don't have to think too much. Because that hurts my little brain. ;o)

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  9. Thanks for posting such great mushroom pics! And that squirrel is hilarious :) I pick Chanterelles occasionally, but that's the only mushroom I feel comfortable with. Some years ago in my area, some people picked some mushrooms and had a dinner party. What was for dessert? Liver failure. They had mis-identifed the mushrooms. So yes, mushrooms are nothing to screw around with! But I love looking at them. And eating the ones I buy at the store :)

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    1. You're very welcome, Tilda! But you still win with the bleeding tooth mushroom photo! I only hope I can see one of those some day. In the book I was using as a reference, it said you sometimes run across just the red gooey bits on dead trees without the mushroom. That would be something, wouldn't it?

      OMG, liver failure - how horrible! It just doesn't seem worth the risk, does it? I did read that some mushrooms make great dyes so I might attempt that. As long as it doesn't produce toxic fumes - I should probably look into that before I give it a try, shouldn't I? :D

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    2. I has to scoot to Tildas blog. Those bleeding tooth mushrooms are unbelievable!

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    3. Aren't they amazing, lightning x? I hope one day I'll be lucky enough to see one! :D

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  10. Love those oh so creative birdhouses and I can identify the garage situation. Same here, I stay out but I keep my own set of tools in the house so I will know where my hammer and screw drivers are when I need them.

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    1. Thanks, Francie! It's funny you mention having your own set of tools - the lady we're renting from for the next six months until our new house is ready showed me where she keeps her personal toolbox. It made me wonder why I never thought of that myself! I keep my painting and staining supplies in the basement so I know where they are, but I'm definitely going to have my own toolbox in the new place. Although the spouse is very good - when I say I need a tool, he goes and looks for it straight away. ;o)

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  11. Awesome birdhouses! Does your spouse sell them? Could be a good sideline to offset the costs of the storage unit! And as for wild mushrooms, the safest thing to do is just assume they're all deadly and rely on the grocery store. That's my philosophy.

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    1. Thank you! No, he doesn't sell them, but perhaps one should suggest he should to help pay for the storage unit! But then he'd probably point out all the insomniac's  “unfinished furniture projects” that are also taking up space in there, so it's probably best to just keep one's mouth shut. ;o)

      Wise words, Debra She Who Seeks. Sticking to the mushrooms in the grocery aisle seems to be the best plan. :o)

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  12. I absolutely fell in love with those birdhouses! beautiful stuff! :) you should be proud of your handyman!
    I spotted a brown cap boletus - a mushroom known here too, and it is edible...the one which comes under the picture with Me Too caption. :) hehe. though I'd still recommend to checkout from locals what they eat from the forest safely.

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    1. Thank you, Hindustanka! I've passed on your compliment to the spouse - he can't believe everybody likes his birdhouses so much! ;o)

      The fourth picture seems to be the one everyone feels is safe to eat. But as you say, probably best to check with the locals. Or just eat from the grocery store shelves. ;o)

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    1. Thank you, Shopaholic - and thanks so much for commenting! :D

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  14. Your hubby is quite the craftsman! All of them are so quaint and cute! Why they look more like fairy houses than bird houses-- love 'em to death =)

    I find mushrooms quite repulsive... but that shouldn't mean I don't respect their authority in nature, hehe!

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    1. They do look like fairy houses don't they, Madame MM! There's one spot in the Spooky Forest where it's very flat, and all the trees have fallen down and are laying about with gazillions of mushrooms growing on them. I'd like the spouse to make a little bench and a tiny fairy village there, so we can sit and wait for the forest fairies to move in. Good Lord, they'll be hauling us away in a padded truck after we've lived out there for a few years, won't they? ;o)

      I hope all your issues down there get resolved soon, and your spouse gets called back to work before things get too desperate! :o(

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  15. Oh my goodness! The Steampunk Birdhouse is fabulous abode! How wonderful. For a Professor Woodpecker, maybe? And I love the fungi!

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    1. Thank you, Rhissanna! There's no lack of woodpeckers in the Spooky Forest - although one imagines they'd rather hammer the thing to pieces than move into it! The fungi really are amazing, aren't they? Never in a million years would have imagined there'd have been that much variety in one little section of the forest. :o)

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  16. Haha, how big is that garage? xD
    The bird houses are really pretty! The birds dont know how lucky they are. ^^ Keep building, you have a whole forest to fill with more tiny houses, hehe :D
    Aaw, that squirrel is so cute. He might aswell eat too much since he's just going to chill there, on that warm rock, with nice company... I would'nt mind a life like that. :P

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    1. Probably not big enough, Sandra! Although that was kind of the point - if we build it too big, then we'll just fill it up again - and have to downsize in another fifteen years when we move into the Old Folk's Home. Of course by that time, we'll probably just let the offspring take care of it. LOL

      That squirrel is adorable - we think it was the same one that would lay there every day, but who can really tell - they all look alike! It would be an excellent life, wouldn't it? ;o)

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  17. Oh, those birdhouses and the jungle gym are amazing, really! Once you're done decorating, your new home is gonna be a real fairy garden! :)

    I like mushrooms. I knownothing about them, only the most common types, but I find them interesting. And cute. Yes, cute, but I can't really explain why...:)

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    1. Thank you, Lynoire - I'll tell the spouse you really like them! It'll totally be a fairy garden - it's gonna be fun! LOL

      There's so many different varieties of mushrooms, and they really are cute! Maybe we read too many fairy tales when we were little, and that's why we like them so much? They always bring to mind enchanted lands and such, don't they?

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  18. Bird houses are awesome but I must say I'm diggin' on the Bavarian Steampunk design! Now then, "Bavarian steampunk" is that a copyrighted name... :)

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    1. LOL, nope Mark, I just made it up on the spur of the moment - maybe I should copyright it? Seems like it would be a useful term, right? ;o)

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  19. What a gorgeous woodland spooky forest post! The spouse is so creative and talented! I love the jungle gym! And now I realize who's been knocking the fairy windows off my tree, those naughty little squirrels! You have an unbelievable diversity of mushrooms. Sometimes my spouse harvests chantrelles and sometimes those ones that look like brains (morels, I think) and they are yummy and easy to distinguish from their toxic doppelgangers. And I just love mushrooms in all their various forms - they are so fanciful. And I love that you love them, too. Keep posting them!

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    1. Thank you, lightning x! I keep telling the spouse everyone likes his birdhouses and he just keeps poo-pooing me. :o)

      Isn't amazing there are that many different species in such a small area? And I probably missed a boatload, because I'm rather new to this mushroom-hunting business and don't know where to look yet. But I hope to be really proficient at finding them by next August! Maybe I'll even be able to tell the difference between a morel and a chantrelle by then!! :P

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    2. Yes, the diversity in the spooky woods is absolutely mind-boggling!

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  20. I love those bird boxes; I must get off this computer and start doing things in my shed again!

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    1. Ain't it the truth, Alastair? If I spent half the amount of time I spend on the computer actually doing things, I could accomplish so much! And it's probably only going to get worse in the winter when I don't want to go outside anymore. LOL

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  21. Your pictures of your husband's bird houses and nature's fungal handiwork are magical. I sincerely recommend going out with an expert to identify the safe, yummy mushrooms. I learned and (since forgotten) how to pick mushrooms at least in Illinois and Michigan. Mushroom love/hunting as sport (ie, Poland) and phobia/aversion (ie, England) seem to be cultural. I remember a TV show with very young, handsome Clint Eastwood dying by mushroom poisoning (at the hands of a family whose daughter was rejected by him???, I dunno). Also, I want to mention the film,"Symphony of the Soil" as a beautiful documentary. The mushroom photos reminded me of some of the imagery.

    Good to be a careful student of any wild-sourced plants. My aunt said that some people in sonaoma county poisoned themselves and their guests by throwing toxic oleander branches on the grill (hickory or applewood would've been a better choice.)

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    1. Thanks, Tess! I've definitely decided I'm going to stick to taking photos, and leave the plant and mushroom culinary adventures to other people. My judgement is questionable at the best of times ... ;o)

      I didn't realize that the English had a phobia about mushrooms - seems sensible enough! Probably Symphony of the Soil won't make it here. Did you see it in a theatre or did you buy the DVD?

      Wow, they poisoned themselves from using the wrong kind of wood on the grill - now that's scary!

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    2. Saw it in the theater, was directed by Jerry Garcia's 3rd? ex-wife, very sensitive, beautiful film about preserving the integrity of living soil,biodynamic farming, futility of corn ethanol production, etc. A review I read said it was monotonous, heavy on the talking heads, but that was cracked, the reviewer must not have been listening to the content of what was being said or looking athe the gorgously photographed visual. It's one of the best films, documentary or not,that I've seen this year. Would highly recommend seeing when DVD is available.

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    3. LOL, anything that makes people think about things they don't want to think about is usually given a bad review, isn't it, Tess? I'll definitely purchase the DVD - but after the move, so it doesn't get lost! :D

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  22. How cute they are! Lucky birds :P I especially like Rustic Birdhouse II! Looks so cozy, like a little beach house or something, haha!
    The steampunky one was really cool as well.

    Haha, your squirrel comment really made me happy. And the pictures are so adorable <3 I love the way he is holding that mushroom.

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    1. Thank you, Lesthi - I'll tell the spouse you like them!! I noticed yesterday one of the ones in the Spooky Forest looks like the woodpecker's been at it already - the trim is already pecked off! ;D

      What's your opinion on the squirrel - he likes us or he's just stoned and none too fussy about who he chills with ... ;o)

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    2. Haha! I guess those birds have their own ideas on how house decor should look like ;)

      Oh, I definitly would say that he likes you! I always choose that option when it comes to animals. My cat for example often makes herself comfortable on my bag just before I have to leave for my job. Of course I take that action like a sign of love, she wants me to stay at home. It can't be the bag she wants to stay at home, right? ;P

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    3. I agree - how could you interpret your cat's action as anything but her wanting you to stay home with her! As far as I know, cats just aren't into handbags all that much. ;o)

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  23. Oh. My. God. The birdhouses and squirrel balconies are soooooooooo cute! And mushrooms are always magical! So much eye candy in this post! :D

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  24. I am so happy to have found your blog. It´s just magickal. I think we have so much in common- I love to create little worlds too. And your bird houses truly are little alternative fairy tale worlds. XX from Sara in Sweden

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    1. Thank you, Sara! You have a magical blog, too! I believe you're right - we do like a lot of the same things, including little fairy tale worlds and pre-Raphaelite artists! You make the most wonderful things. :o)

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  25. The Birdhouse Creations are absolutely Enchanting! Makes me want to move into one!

    Happy Halloween from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. Thank you, Dawn! And a Happy Hallowe'en to you, as well! Bet you don't get snow for Hallowe'en night!! :D

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