Crafty Cathy

Mug suet feeder

by cathym on November 3, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

1½ cups cornmeal
¼ cup flour
2 cups bird food mix
½ cup lard 
½ cup chunky peanut butter
2-3 mugs
2-3 sturdy sticks 8 inches long
Twine (optional)

Large bowl 
Wooden spoon
Nonstick saucepan


  1. In large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, and birdseed together. 
  2. Melt lard and peanut butter in saucepan.
  3. Pour melted lard and peanut butter over birdseed mixture. Stir until mixed thoroughly. 
  4. Spoon suet mixture into mugs and press down to remove air pockets. 
  5. Push sticks into suet mixture all the way to bottom of mug. Press mixture around sticks.
  6. Refrigerate overnight until hardened.
  7. Hang mug from tree branch or shepard’s hook, or use a piece of twine to tie handle to branch. 

Project Notes
–  Great way to reuse chipped mugs—just make sure there are no cracks.
–  Refrigerate until ready to use and place feeder out of direct sunlight to avoid spoilage; homemade suet is recommended for use when oudoor temperature is below 40 degrees F. 

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Bleached botanical stencils

by cathym on September 15, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

Create a one-of-a-kind fashion statement using some bleach, water, and plant material. A new shirt, old dress, or thrift store find can be transformed within a few minutes. A few notes before beginning:

  • Good ventilation is key; making this project outside is best.
  • Choose a day with no wind to avoid bleach splatter and prevent foliage from moving.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes, and old clothes in case a breeze pops up.
  • If children want to help, they can safely lay plant material onto clothing, but I recommend adults perform the bleach spraying step.

Materials & Tools
– Clean shirt or other garment; if new, wash before starting project
– 3–4 pieces of cardboard; 1–2 to place inside garment and 2 for flattening foliage
– Clean, empty spray bottle with adjustable nozzle
– Bleach
– Water
– Foliage of your choice (I used rose of Sharon cuttings; foliage with large leaves work best)
– A few small rocks to use as weights
– Safety glasses 

  1. Arrange foliage on one piece of cardboard with leaves and/or flowers. Place second piece of cardboard over foliage. Lay heavy items such as books or bricks on top to flatten plant material for a couple of hours.
  2. Mix a 50/50 ratio of bleach and water in spray bottle.
  3. Place remaining cardboard inside garment.
  4. Place flattened foliage in desired collage pattern on garment. Weight any leaves or flowers down with small rocks as needed.
  5. From about 3-4 feet above your project, slowly and lightly spray bleach mixture onto garment—oversaturating the fabric will cause bleach mixture to seep under the foliage. The bleach mixture will begin to change the fabric color within 30 seconds. Wait a full 5 minutes to determine if you need to respray an area. 
  6. Once you’ve achieved the desired look, carefully remove the rocks and foliage from the garment. 
  7. Let fabric dry completely. Remove cardboard from the inside and rinse garment thoroughly with cold water before washing per manufacturer’s instructions.
Foliage laid out on shirt
Rocks placed stategically to hold down leaves; bleach mixture sprayed lightly over shirt is just beginning to change fabric color
Rocks and foliage removed after desired look achieved

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.


Toad house

by cathym on July 4, 2020

by Cathy Monrad

A toad can eat massive amounts of insects in a single summer—up to 10,000, according to Toads help naturally keep garden pest population under control; this voracious amphibian’s diet includes beetles, snails, slugs, spiders, flies, grubs, crickets, etc.

A source of water and shelter will attract toads. A toad house can be as simple as a placing a flowerpot upside down over a semi-circle of rocks, or by partially burying a pot horizontally in the dirt.

This “abode” made from items found around the house will make a cute addition to a shady spot in your garden—prime real estate any toad would love to call home.

Large empty yogurt container or plastic flower pot
River rocks in various sizes
Tongue depressor or large popsicle stick (optional)
Spray paint for use on plastic in desired color (optional)
Pre-mixed tile grout (optional)
Twigs or bark (optional)

Thin marker
Utility knife
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Sponge and water (optional)

1. With marker, draw a “door” on the plastic container as in Figure 1.

Figure 1

2. Use utility knife to cut out door shape. Optional: If you do not wish to use grout to fill in spaces between the rocks, paint the container at this time. Let dry completely.

3. Using hot glue, attach rocks around door as seen in Figure 2. Leave a bit of space between the rocks.

Figure 2

4. Cover entire container with rocks. Note: you can choose to glue rocks on top of container, or create a roof with sticks or bark in Step 6.

5. Optional: To grout the gaps, use your finger to press pre-mixed grout between stones as shown in Figure 3. After all gaps are filled, use damp sponge to wipe excess grout off rocks. You will need to rinse sponge multiple times until rocks are clean.

Figure 3

6. Optional: To create a thatch-style roof, affix a larger rock in the center of the top with hot glue. Break twigs or bark to span from center rock to just past edge of container as shown in Figure 4. Glue roof pieces in a circular pattern until roof is covered.

Figure 4

7. Optional: Create a sign to hang above the door. Write message on popsicle stick with marker. Cut sign to desired length with utility knife. Attach above door with hot glue.

Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and garden crafter for Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.