Category Archives: Projects & DIY

Food for the Soil: Compost Update

A few years ago I blogged about compost…and the DIY project that went along with it. If you missed those posts, or if you never had the opportunity to read them the first go-round, here are the links:

DIY Compost Bins
Composting 101

After a few years of composting I wasn’t sure how enchanted I was with the dang thing. I got everything set up, and made sure to keep the balance of brown and green just right so as to avoid having my backyard smell like a landfill on a hot summer day. I turned the compost every so often to keep it all mixed up and jivin’ in the way that it does to break down into something delicious for my soil. And it just seemed to take forever. Some things didn’t break down all that well, there didn’t seem to be much in the end result and maybe it was my general lack of patience but this project felt like a whole lotta work for not a whole lotta reward.

This winter I resolved to re-purpose the barrels for growing potatoes and just be done with it…until something magical happened.

Okay, magical might be a stretch, but it was mind changing and turns out, I am enchanted with making my own compost. Who knew?

When J dumped the barrels this spring, for what I thought was the very last time, I spied something quite pleasing to the eye. I raced from the deck to the garden to get a better look…that compost was so rich and wonderful I was actually quite beside myself. I only regret that I didn’t get a picture snapped before he tilled it in. Rats!

And so, I’m back to composting.

Turns out, what seemed like not very much compost in those barrels once it had broken down is in reality more once it’s been dumped out. Funny how looks can be deceiving. I can get on board with that.

And here are some lessons learned — because why go through the pain of it yourself if you can just learn from someone else??

  • The plan I had for ‘turning’ the compost in my original “DIY Compost Bins” post didn’t work as efficiently as I had hoped. I found it was just as easy to turn the compost with a pitch fork right in the barrel.
  • I didn’t follow my own advice about keeping the compost wet. While you don’t want it sopping wet, moisture is part of the compost making equation. Mine was too dry, I’m sure, which is likely the reason it took eons to do its compost thing. I’m leaving the lids off the barrels going forward and will let Mother Nature have at it. As long as there’s ample drainage opportunity, which mine have, it should be fine.
  • A few foods didn’t seem to break down all that well for me so I’m no longer adding them to my compost as part of the ‘green’ mix. Those are: corn cobs, & avocado skins and pits. Even egg shells didn’t break down quite like I thought they would but I’m still adding them, I just crush them up before tossing them in the barrel. And in some instances, coffee filters, but because I know the benefits of coffee grounds in compost, I’ll continue to add them and those that don’t break all the way down are easy to pick out once the barrels are dumped and the compost is spread out with a rake.

For more information on what not to add, what to add and how much, etc. visit my Composting 101 link above. And if you have any other bits of wisdom about composting DIY, please share in the comments section below! I am clearly not the expert on this – heck, I just had to talk myself back in to continuing!

H

 

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Mother’s Day: May 14th

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. I hope you have already given thought to how you will honor the mother(s) in your life, but if not, now is the time to get those wheels turning.

 

Last year I put together the most awesome succulent potted arrangements for my mom. After finding these cool terracotta pots, shaped slightly different than your typical terracotta pot, at At Home store, I set off to score some succulents and cactus soil at HomeDepot.

 

Note: my internet research taught me that succulents will not thrive in regular potting soil – cactus soil is a must. Or you can read up on mixing your own soil that will help succulents live a long and happy life. I can’t speak a lot <or at all> to that as I used the easy route for that detail.

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I was so pleased with the final product. I even considered just keeping them for myself and picking up some PJ’s for mom (but, I didn’t, because I’m a good daughter like that). Oh! And the frog just casually hangin’ off the side? Every year for the last I don’t know how many years, I’ve bought my mom some sort of <sometimes obnoxious> “plant art”. All of her potted plants inside are adorned with something like this. I picked up the frog (which I think it quite cute, actually) from Hobby Lobby. 

I also made a little plant stake, not pictured, that said “Love U” and tucked it into the smaller pot – you can read about that, and see it too, in this post. 

 

This year I ordered something special for my mother that hasn’t arrived yet. I’m losing confidence that it will get here in time at this point, so will end up being a belated Mother’s Day gift. Ugh. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve got a card and have planned a visit back home so I’m hoping that will suffice until this treasure arrives – and even more hopeful that when it does, it was worth the wait (you know how that sometimes goes…you order something, are excited, wait forever and it finally shows up and is a total dud?).

 

Any special Mother’s Day plans or gifts you care to share with our blog family? Hit us up in the comments section below.

H 

 

PS – I don’t get any sort of kickback from Hobby Lobby, At Home or HomeDepot for name dropping them on my blog. They are just all stores that are my ‘go to’ when I’ve got projects in the works. And I added links to their websites on here so you can quick search if this post sparked any ideas that require investigating if these store have what you need.


May Day, A Forgotten Tradition?

As a child growing up in a small’ish rural community in Nebraska, I remember with fondness the fun and excitement that was “May Day”. I am astonished how many people have no idea what I’m talking about when I’ve brought this up in my adult years and I have to wonder, is this a lost tradition? Was it a tradition only known in certain areas of the nation? Both?

For those of you who don’t know, or who have forgotten after all these years, May Day presented an opportunity to share treats with the ones we love AND add a whole lotta fun in the mix. In the days leading up to May 1st we would spend time putting together May Day Baskets with little treats in them. They weren’t fancy or complex, usually a disposable cup of some sort filled with sweets or other inexpensive treasures. Then, when May Day arrived (on May 1st) the fun really began!

I always remember May Day landing during the week, which is obviously impossible, but that’s how the memory is stamped in my head. So, anyway, school would let out and we would race home to get the festivities started. Mom and Dad would load us up in the car and drive us around to the homes of our friends and family (unless they lived in our neighborhood, in which case, we set out on foot). They would drop us off and park just down the street. We would set the basket on the doorstep, ring the bell, and dash off. The recipient of the May Day Basket (if they were home) would race after us, and if caught, we were met with kisses, hugs or pinches — depending on who caught us. My grandmother handed out the sweetest hugs and kisses. I’m certain my cousins (who were all boys with exception of one) relished in pinching!

This would continue, one house after another, until all the baskets were delivered and then we would return home…usually to a wonderful pile of treats others had left for us on our doorstep while we were out. But, maybe the best part was when my grandmother brought one to me and I got to chase HER!

Every year when May 1st rolls around I remember this tradition and wish I had thought of it sooner so I could give life to it once again (or bring it to the area in which I now live, where people look at me as though I’m speaking a foreign language when I talk about “May Day”). I will have to set a reminder on my calendar for next year, so I can remind us all well in advance and we can get our ducks in a row and make May Day a ‘thing’ once again!

I promise if you have younger children, and you make this a tradition in the years to come, it will be one they won’t forget! Honestly, it’s right up there with Trick or Treating…maybe even better!

In honor of May Day, here is a treat for you from my garden. Spring bulbs make their appearance and warm my heart — I hope they will do the same for you.

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Happy May Day!
H


DIY: Plant Stakes

It’s no secret that the weather in Colorado can be a bit hit or miss…or a lot hit or miss. It’s not uncommon to see several seasons whip through the state in the span 24 <or fewer> hours .

Once Spring rolls around, I pay particular attention to the forecast. It’s important to be up to date on the highs and lows (for planting, of course)…and also helps to plan projects that may occupy an otherwise dull weekend when you’d hoped to be out in the sunshine, hands in the dirt, but instead are sidelined inside the house due to wet and cold weather.

A couple weekends ago were no exception, and the wet/cold blew in. Luckily, I had a fun project lined up to pass the time.

Plant Stakes!

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Always admiring the options on Etsy, and studying the tutorials on Pinterest; a weekend forecast promising time indoors seemed the perfect opportunity to exercise my crafty side!

What you will need:
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-Polymer clay (I used Sculpey – it was on sale at Hobby Lobby and I’m familiar with it as my aunt -the artist – works in this medium)
-Block of small alphabet rubber stamps
-Glass juice glass (or something to roll out the clay)
-Exact-o knife
-Stamp pad (optional)
-Oven

What you will do:
1. cut the clay apart at the grooves in each block
IMG_2376
2. roll clay flat (you can decide the thickness, but remember that you don’t want them too flimsy or they may easily break)
3. cut one end into a point so stake will easily push through soil.
4. stamp word with rubber stamps
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5. <optional> if you want color – add ink to the rubber stamps and go back over your original stamped word

6. bake in oven per suggested guidelines on the clay package

I made mine in a variety of shapes and sizes — and made a special ‘love u’ stake for a project I put together as a gift for my mama for Mother’s Day (which I will share with you in another post).

These are the perfect little addition to any garden – or sweet potted plant gift!


DIY Compost Bins

Another project, that we happened to knock out over the weekend, and one I’ve been dreaming about for over a year, is the completion of two DIY compost bins.

I’ve done a lot of research on composting, the different methods and the ‘how to’, and have wanted to start some DIY compost of my own. The timing hasn’t always been right. The materials weren’t always available. There were always reasons to not get started…until NOW!

Barrel

Compost can be done in outside piles, or in containers. I have a large enough garden space to do an outside pile, but I want to wait and see how things all come together before going that route. Therefore, I decided on container compost for getting started. Maybe I’ll expand to the outside pile later…we shall see.

So…for this project, J was able to round up a couple of old barrels that previously had non-toxic materials in them so the barrels themselves are essentially recycled too…cool huh?

We cut the top of the barrels off using a sawzall. Then, I rinsed them out real good and let them dry. Next came the drilling of holes. If you want to compost using barrels, they need LOTS of holes so there’s adequate drainage and flow of oxygen. I drilled lots of holes up and down the sides, and the bottom, and a few on the lid.

Then, J ran some rubber around the cut edge, just so the cut edges would come together a tad better, and he added a hinge to one side and a clasp to the other.

ClaspHinge

That’s it! It’s a simple enough project to get started. If you have a couple of old yard waste trash cans with lids lying around you could have one of these put together in a snap!

The important thing is that the lid attaches well. The reason being is that the compost needs to be ‘turned’ every few weeks or so and the easiest way I can figure to accomplish this with the set-up I have is to kick the thing over and roll it around the yard a bit.

It’s amazing how the small things in life, like a DIY compost bin, totally excite me! I will blog another time about the ‘how to’ for composting – not that I’m the expert, I’ll just be sharing what I’ve learned in my research.

Do you compost? Why or why not?


A Space to Create

Yesterday I shared with you 2 fun pieces of art that I made utilizing coiled paper, and I also mentioned that I would share with you today what reminded me of my intention to share these pieces of art with you, prior to my forgetting.

Before we even moved into our home, we began discussions of the changes we would like to make (over time), allowing the house to evolve into something that is truly ours – our preferences, our style, etc. The prior owner’s wife liked to sew, or that’s the only conclusion I can come up with for the not so attractive homemade curtains that hang in the family room (we found a bolt of the fabric in the home, so we know they were a DIY). The other reason I come to this conclusion is because of the wonderful built-in desk/work station they had set up in a room in the basement.

We have different plans for this room. We intend to change it back to a bedroom so our guests have some space of their own when they come to visit. Soooo, what to do about this wonderful built in desk? Why, move it upstairs to the office, of course!

Poor J had to have my help with this ‘moving the desk’ project, and I moaned and groaned, and whined about how heavy things were and how my hands hurt…BUT in the end the desk has been re-located!!

desk

desk2

I have yet to unpack this room, but I’ve been strategizing how all artsy, crafty, function of the right brain supplies will fit into the space – allowing me a place to pull out all the necessary supplies to scrapbook, or sew, or whatever strikes my fancy WITHOUT the need to pack it all up and shove it back into a closet with I am finished.

My aunt calls a space like this a ‘studio’, because she is an artist. I am not an artist, so I feel awkward about labeling this space ‘studio’ – but whatever it is – I am VERY excited to get it all set up (on the agenda for this weekend as the weather isn’t forecast to be anything other than dull) and start crankin’ out some projects.

Now…if only I had a cricut…


Another Work of Art

Shortly after Christmas I mentioned in a post that the homemade gifts I gave for Christmas were my favorite. I shared with you the counted cross-stitch ornaments that I worked on through the summer and had one other project I wanted to share with you. I am finally getting around to doing that today. Part of the hold-up was I wasn’t able to connect with my dear friend to give her this gift until February, the other part of the hold-up was that it slipped my mind…until late last week (I’ll tell you why it sprung back to mind late last week in tomorrow’s post).

Backing up even further, last spring I shared with you this project that I worked on while visiting my aunt:
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A girlfriend of mine raved over this piece of art, going so far as to request that if I were to die, she called dibs. She literally talks about it every time she lays eye on the thing so it only made sense that I make her one of her very own.

Knowing the time involved in rolling these coils of paper, I began the project in early summer and worked on rolling paper, a little at a time, as often as opportunity presented itself. Finally, as the holiday season drew near, I had enough and piece this together:

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She was elated when she opened the gift to reveal her very own piece of art and immediately started talking about how she would incorporate it into her décor…or maybe use it as inspiration to re-decorate a room in her home.

This is just one of the reasons that homemade gifts are often times the best – to give or receive. I know there is nothing that I could have purchased for her at a store that would have sparked this much excitement.

Plus, I might mention, that often times there’s nothing as therapeutic as an artsy project. Do you find this is true for you?


We Did It! We Did It!

I hope this Monday morning finds you all coming off a wonderful weekend.

My weekend was wonderful, for several reasons:
1) I got to hang out with one of my favorite little dudes while his mommy worked – and we were VERY busy
Owen
2)My man and I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon lounging around and relaxing….and napping…because I LOVE napping, always have.
3) A girlfriend and I enjoyed a very nice brunch on Sunday, followed by a refreshing hike through Red Rock Canyon
4) more napping Sunday afternoon…then I had to buck up and get my chores for the weekend done: sheets washed, bathroom cleaned, weekday breakfasts made, dinner on the table (well, couch, we don’t have a table right now because there isn’t room in the teeny tiny apartment. But, it sounds weird to say “Dinner on the couch”).

Another reason my weekend was wonderful is WE DID IT!!! Over the weekend my followers count hit 76!!!

As promised, a random drawing has occurred and we have a winner for the Santa ornament!

Moon Santa

Moon Santa

Here’s how it happened: I logged on first thing this morning to Random.Org and asked it to draw me a number between 1 and 76. The resulting number: 3. Then, I went back through my followers, based on date they signed up to follow. And the winner is……APieceOfLisa!!

A special thank you to each and every one of you who follow the blog, and give me a ‘like’ or a comment when you come across something that tickles your fancy. I love knowing you are out there. I love your feedback. I love your support. You are all the greatest!!

There are many more adventures coming soon – we are closing on a house in just under 2 short weeks and there will be projects (I got butterflies in my stomach just typing that!). Stay tuned…more adventures and more giveaways in the future!!

-H

PS: if you wondered what’s on the menu for this week, here it is:
Pork Chops, Rice, Veggies
Lasagna Soup, Garlic Bread
Stuffed Chicken Breast, Pasta, Veggie
Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad
Smoked Sausage & Cheesy Potato Casserole
AND – I have a recipe or two coming your way this week – depending on how many recipes I remembered to snap pictures of before we gobbled them down!!


Getting SOOOO Close!

Over the summer months I announced a giveaway on my blog, as soon as I had 75 followers.

I just checked and am at 72!! We are getting SOOOO close!!

So, here is the deal: those of you who read the blog on a regular basis, but haven’t signed up to ‘follow’, how about you do the group a solid and sign up? It’s really not a big deal, and definitely not a hassle…it takes a matter of seconds, and you will always be informed of new posts (and nothing more as it relates to my blog or wordpress) via email. What if I stopped linking my blog posts to my FB page? Would you fall completely out of the loop?? We wouldn’t want that to happen!

I’ve mentioned how easy it is to sign up to follow, several times, but in case you need a refresher here it is: once you are on my blog there is a box where you enter your email address (toward the top, on the right). Enter your address, and click the button, and that’s it!!

I’m really counting on rounding up 3 more followers so that I can get this guy on his way:

Moon Santa

Moon Santa

This is a handmade (by ME!) Christmas ornament. Yes, it’s January so Christmas is LONG gone but you can add it to your collection and enjoy it at the end of this year – or reserve it as a gift for someone and say that you’ve started your ‘Holiday Shopping’.

As soon as I hit the 75 mark I will draw a name at random and that’s the winner! I’ll have the winner email me their address and drop this dude in the mail.

AND – just in case you needed further incentive to join the following, winning means getting something in the mail other than bills or junk AND it costs you nothing!!

Happy Thursday!
H


Tea Wreath

To celebrate this most recent snap of cold weather, I decided to come down with the cold that’s being passed around my office (thanks co-workers!).

This baby came in mighty handy as I’ve been fighting the crud:

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My beautiful friend made me a tea wreath for Christmas. Isn’t it cool?!?!

Not only is it very pretty but it’s been nice having an assortment of hot tea to soothe my sore throat the past couple of days.

I think she got the idea from Pinterest. She is one of those people who pins DIY and craft ideas and then ACTUALLY goes out and tries some of them! I am guilty of pinning tons of stuff that I think I’d like to try…and get no further than that.

Maybe that should have been a New Years Resolution – work on some projects from my Pinterest board. Maybe next year…

Are you guilty of this as well? Lots of good intentions for tapping into your creative juices but never actually getting there?