Guess Who?

They’re baaaccckkk!

…and making themselves right at home. Poor Jake, if it wasn’t for that 90lb lab bouncing around, he’d own this house. Instead he hides on the top of the couch while the lab tries to figure out how he got up there.

The beagles are visiting for a few weeks so it’s a full house over here. Baxter is being a very kind host…so far.

It seems fitting that this weekend will be dedicated to working outside since the puppies will be around. With the the 100+ degree heat lately, the grass in my yard hasn’t done well. Even with watering twice a day, it burned. After a few weeks of trying to keep everything alive, I decided to let it go and find another option.

Lowes carries an impressive artificial grass by SynLawn and they recently started carrying pre-cut rolls that you can install yourself. This is perfect as I don’t want to pay for installation since my grass set up is a little different. If you remember, I have a yard covered with concrete so I’m working with DIY grass planters. I’ve done some research and it should be fairly easy to replace the real (dead) grass with the artificial grass over the weekend. It is a little expensive, but it doesn’t have to be replaced every couple months and doesn’t require water. It should end up saving me money in the long run and look nice year round. I’ll share more next week once it’s done.

[the small grass planter when it was first built]

2011-04-02 17.00.18

I’ve also recently purchased a new toy, a Cuisinart Immersion Hand Blender in Raspberry for a secret little project I’ve been working on lately. I launched the interest list a few days ago, so I guess the secret’s out. I’m currently writing a recipe eBook that will be available in October, I’ll do a separate post to share more. For now, I’ll just say, if you like this apple butter, then you’re going to LOVE what I’m working on.

image

Oh, and this happened…

image

They are just too cute (and on sale/clearance).

 

What are your weekend plans? Anything fun?

 

*some links contained within this post are affiliate.

CSA Box #7 & Weekend Wrap Up

Where is this month going? I can’t believe June is almost over and I’ve barely had a chance to get any blog posts up. When not working, this month has really been dedicated to getting all those ‘homeowner’/adult chores out of the way, and I wouldn’t want to bore you with them anyway. I’ll spare you the numerous screens I repaired this weekend or the outlet covers I’ve swapped out. Oh, and not to mention all those little springy things behind the doors (my technical jargon for a door stop), yeah…I’ve been busy changing those out too. Turns out the previous owners were a little tough on their doors and busted most of the bumpers, and the ones that aren’t broken are missing altogether. For some reason they never ranked high enough on the ‘To Do’ list until now.

 

Not to worry, I’ve been making progress on a few other very important things too. I finally organized all my nail polish. ::sigh:: That’s actually not a joke, I built boxes to organize my nail polish which I’ll show you in another post. I also did some gardening and the Spare Bedroom moulding has finally been primed and painted. I hope to have the headboard up this week. Then I can move to the very fun task of ceiling fan shopping (why are they all SO ugly?).

So at the moment, I’m covered in paint (and hives, although that is unrelated to the paint) and I’m getting ready to put my shoes on for a run, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the weekend.

 

My local Farmer’s Market

Temecula Farmer's Market

The cute little Old Town that I visit every 2 weeks to pick up my CSA box.

Old Town Temecula

 

Speaking of CSA…lots of green this week.

CSA Box_5

CSA Box_4

I think it’s time to turn some zucchini into Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread…Yum!

CSA Box_3

…and some delicious berries

CSA Box_2

CSA Box_1

Baxter and I both dig into the CSA box like it’s Christmas morning. I go straight for the strawberries and he likes to split his time between sniffing the box itself and begging for carrots.

He’s just too cute.

 Dark Chocolate Lab

I don’t want to give too much away right now, but the Spare Bedroom is making some serious progress. The brown wall color is going to change and new bedding/window coverings are in the works, but I LOVE it so far. That’s huge, since I’ve painted this room 4 times so far. Finally a design success for this room.

Spare Bedroom Primer_1

I also thought I’d give you a little update on the garden since a few of the plants are doing really well.

I’ve been eating tomatoes out of my own backyard this week, they are amazing. Sweet & delicious, and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like tomatoes. I have an Early Grey 50 plant in harvest right now, and a Brandywine Pink that’s flowering.

Tomatoes_1

Tomatoes_2

Garden_1

This plant stumps everyone that visits. They always want to know what I’m growing in the trash can.

It’s Potatoes!!

I never did a how to on the potatoes since I didn’t expect them to survive. However, they have done incredibly well in the trash can (although I haven’t harvested yet, so we’ll see what they produce). They still have a month or two until they’re ready.

Potatoes_1

That’s it for the edibles right now, although I do have some herbs growing and I’m planting onions and zucchini next weekend. I also have some thriving succulents outside right now. This is my favorite.

Succulents_1

 

Hope everyone has had a great weekend!

DIY – Easy Potting Bench Organization

I’m all about easy updates. I always want to be making some type of progress on the house, but I am one person and last I checked I don’t have any clones wandering around. So sometimes all I have time to do is add some hooks to a bench. Such a little thing can bring me such joy. One more thing crossed off the endless to do list. 

The potting bench I built in March is holding up well to the elements, but it needed a little organization. As an easy, and inexpensive fix, I picked up a few small hooks from Lowes for about $2 each. I ended up using 4, so this project cost under $10.

Potting Bench Hooks_1

Oh man…so much better!

Potting Bench Hooks_2

To hold a towel, I’m thinking of adding a small towel rack to the other side, and maybe another hook or two. Otherwise, I’m closing the door on this project for now…DONE!

 

Short and Sweet…just like I like my Thursdays! How’s your week going?

Eco Challenge – Solar Light Lanterns

This ended up being one of the simplest projects, but it has had such a great effect. Over Christmas last year, I picked up a few boxes of Solar Christmas Lights from Target. (You can still buy them online, in stores they also had a smaller string of 25 bulbs). They were more expensive, but worth it since I wasn’t using any additional electricity in the home thus, not increasing my electric bill. Plus they have a built in timer, meaning they only go on at dusk.

I tucked them away because I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I knew that I wanted to use them in the yard since I only have one outlet outside anyway, but I wasn’t sure how. That is…until I saw HomeGoods had restocked their garden section.

I found these lanterns for a great deal, and the finish is black rust so even when it rains, they won’t be damaged. The lights will be fine in rain as well, but the sensor should not be kept in a place where it will be submerged or in standing water.

Solar Light Lanterns_6

Here comes the seriously easy part…shove the lights in the lantern.

Yep, that’s it.

I kept the solar sensor outside the lantern and wedged it between the wall and the potting bench. It’s able to absorb plenty of light, but I’m able to block it from view with some plants. Once dusk hits, they automatically turn on.

Solar Light Lanterns_5

There are beautiful! I seriously LOVE these. I wish I could show you how great they look at night, but I wasn’t able to get a good picture. The greatest thing is that you can tuck them all over the yard and not worry about extension cords, outlets, timers, wasted electricity, etc.

I even wrapped a strand around the potted cypress trees I have on either side of the French doors.

Solar Light Lanterns_4

Such amazing ambiance for the cost of the lights and some sunshine!

DIY: Vertical Gardening

I cannot tell you how great it felt to wake up this morning and know I didn’t have to work. I woke up without an alarm clock, took my mom’s beagles out for a short walk then took Baxter out for a really long walk. I think he’s feeling a little jealous lately since I’ve been paying so much attention to the beagles. Nothing a little walk couldn’t fix. In fact the relaxation continued right up until work exploded and I was sucked back in. Ugh. All I wanted was one little day, but whatever.

While out walking the dogs, I toyed around with the idea of starting a dog walking business. Can I make a living doing that?

I’m avoiding my work computer for a moment and finally wanted to share a very cool outdoor project with you. When I moved in to this house, the entire backyard was paved with exception of a little space next to the side fences.  I planted a few things that require little attention, but it just looked so…blah!

Vertical Gardening_1

I wanted to bring some height to this side of the yard, but didn’t have enough space to plant any trees. I was also hoping to find a solution that would give me space for herbs/veggies. So I bought some rebar and a few pots…

I purchased a 6 foot piece of 1/2” rebar for about $8. I pushed it into the ground about a foot so the end piece would stand about 5 feet tall.

Vertical Gardening_2

Using a rubber mallet, I pounded a small upside down pot into the ground to help stabilize the bar. Packing the dirt around that bottom pot made the whole piece very sturdy.

Vertical Gardening_3

Then it was just the matter of threading and filling the pots up the bar. I used a few azalea pots on the bottom and smaller pots on top.

Vertical Gardening_4

Vertical Gardening_5

I found out quickly that you need to fill the pots as you go, if you stack them empty, they will collapse into each other as you add more.

Vertical Gardening_6

Once I built the entire tower, I started adding plants. I figure some of these will die simply because it takes a little practice to figure out the right watering for the placement/sun/pot type. So far, they’re doing pretty well, but I’ll be swapping a few out shortly.

Vertical Gardening_7 

Vertical Gardening_14

In fact, I was so pleased with the outcome, I built a second tower along the same wall. The rebar shows on the first one at the top, so I hope to find a plant that will grow over it, but I was able to push the second bar further into the ground, so it is hidden in the top pot.

Vertical Gardening_11

Vertical Gardening_12

Now I just need to wrangle those wandering rosemary plants and clean things up a little. Oh, and buy some more pots, because I have one more spot that could use a pot tower as well. This area will be eventually blocked by the outdoor seating so the tower will be great for adding some height behind the chairs.

Vertical Gardening_13

Project Cost Breakdown (per tower):

6 foot piece of 1/2” rebar (Lowes) = $8

4 Azalea Pots (Lowes) = $9 

5 Small Pots (Lowes) = $8

1 Bag of Potting Soil (Lowes) = $5

Total Project Cost: $30

DIY: Chalkboard Plant Markers

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the yard lately, working on the garden and adding some vertical planters. I’ve finally gotten to a point where I have lots of different plants and I needed some way to distinguish between them. For the plants I bought at a nursery, I try to keep the tags with the plant. But I’ve been doing a lot of planting from seed and I needed a way to mark those as well.

…and I have this can of chalkboard paint lying around…

So I stopped past Michaels the other day and picked up some simple, wide style popsicle sticks. With the 40% coupon I scored a package of 75 for less than $2.

Chalkboard Plant Markers

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Chalkboard Paint
  • Painters Tape
  • Wide Style Popsicle Sticks
  • Foam Paint Brushes (don’t use the type shown in the picture)
  • A large piece of cardboard
  • Chalk

Chalkboard Plant Markers

Step 2:

Roll a small piece of painters tape and stick it to the back of each popsicle stick.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

Adhere the sticks to the cardboard. Taping the popsicle sticks to the board make it easier to paint them and keeps your hands clean. Less mess overall.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

Step 3:

Paint one side of the sticks with two coats of chalkboard paint.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

Step 4:

Once the first side is dry, flip them over and repeat the process.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

The thin, cheap wood absorbs the paint quickly meaning your new chalkboard plant makers were done in no time.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

Step 5:

Use chalk to add the plant names and you’re set to go.

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

DIY Chalkboard Plant Markers

Project Cost Breakdown:

Popsicle Sticks (Michael’s) = $2

Chalkboard Paint/Foam Brush/Painters Tape (already owned) = $0

Cardboard (already owned) = $0

Chalk (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $2

Chalkboard Plant Markers

Eco Challenge – Reuse Newspaper

I recently found a great deal on the Sunday paper ($10 for the year!) so I have it delivered to my home each week. This is my primary way to get a hold of coupons so it’s worth the $.20 per week. Just one coupon makes up for the cost of the paper. I’ve always recycled the paper at the end of the day, but I often wonder what else I could do to use the paper. These are 2 of my favorite ways to use it around the house.

 

Use newspaper instead of paper towels to clean glass.

It seems completely wrong to clean a window/mirror using newspaper, but it works. It leaves your fingers a mess, but the mirror will be spotless.

 Newspaper for Paper Towels

Turn your paper into seedling pots.

Newspaper Seedlings

First up, cut your newspaper into strips, about 3.5” by 10”.

Newspaper Strips

Using a PotMaker, wrap the paper around the press.

Creating Newspaper Pots

Creating Newspaper Pots

Place the press into the base and spin. It helps if you bend the bottom in before pressing into the base, fold it like the you would wrap the end of a box with gift wrap. The base will do the rest of the work.

Creating Newspaper Pots

Creating Newspaper Pots

Remove from the press and admire your little newspaper pot.

Creating Newspaper Pots

I use a baking pan that I picked up on clearance at HomeGoods to hold all the pots. It makes it easy to keep them all in one place, they are easy to move around, and I don’t have to worry about making a mess when I water them. I use a spray bottle to water the plants as I don’t need a lot of water to keep them alive. 

Creating Newspaper Pots

Creating Newspaper Pots

Fill with dirt and seeds. A few weeks later you’ll have little seedlings and you can then transplant the entire newspaper pot into your garden.

Newspaper Seedlings

Newspaper Seedlings

Eco Challenge – Start A Garden

It’s that time of year again. The weather is starting to warm up and I find myself spending more time out in the backyard. Combine that with the fact that I’ve been slowly trying to adjust my diet to incorporate less processed foods and I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. So if I’m honest, cutting the food bill wasn’t only to tighten the financial belt, it was also to tighten my actual belt (if I wore one). The next step in this plan is to start growing some of my own produce to supplement my grocery bill and ensure I am eating locally/’organic’.

Last year I successfully grew a few things; spaghetti squash, spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and a few herbs. Aside from two full size spaghetti squash, I didn’t bring much in from the garden. A handful of berries and spinach leaves here and there, but nothing substantial. I hope to change that this year.

2011 garden

Strawberries, Leeks, Brussel Sprouts. I grew the leeks and Brussel Sprouts from seed, but the hot summer ended up killing them before they were edible.

Garden

Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes, Bush Beans (on far right). I also grew the bush beans from seed, but I only harvested 3 little pods.

Garden

So this year I did a lot more research and have started the garden again. I hope to keep it going year round, as much as the weather allows. Even though I have a backyard, it’s mostly cement so I’m basically container gardening.

I have a decent home library on the subject and I found a few websites that helped figure things out. Right now, the most helpful website is Let’s Grow Veggies. I honestly don’t know how accurate it is, but it’s the only place where I’ve found the info about the last/first frost date for my area. With that information all the other books make much more sense. If you live in the western US, Sunset magazine is also a great resource both in print and online.

*A little tip for the Let’s Grow Veggies site. I had trouble getting it to change state and zip code. If you have the same problem, try changing the state/zip directly in the web address bar. It seems to default to California but I found info throughout the country when testing various different states/zips.

Gardening Library

2012 Garden

So far I have Spinach, Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, Strawberries, Blueberries, and Garlic planted outside.

Grass Veggie Planter

Butternut Squash

Tomato - Early

Spinach

Spinach

Inside I’ve started some herbs, more spinach (I use A LOT), flowers, and Brussel Sprouts.

Seedlings

Seedlings

I use a Jiffy kit as a mini greenhouse when starting things indoors. Just add dirt, seeds and water. I’m even able to reuse the ‘greenhouse’ over and over again. They’re cheap and found near the seeds at the home improvement store. I think they even sell something similar at Target. 

Seedling Greenhouse

I have hopes of building a potting bench over the next few weeks, and adding a few more veggies/fruits to the garden. I saw a broccoli plant at my local nursery, I’m intrigued.

What about you guys? What are you growing at home?

DIY – Upcycled Herb Cans

They’re alive! The succulents have survived 2 weeks and I’m feeling somewhat confident with my green thumb right now, so I took on another plant project. Herbs are my safety plant. They are fairly easy to grow and fun to add to homemade meals. Just wait until you can tell people that you made that fancy pesto dinner with basil from your garden.

For a fun change of pace, I stopped asking my mom to save me toilet paper rolls, and had her reserve a few empty soup cans instead. (I really have to stop asking people for their trash…It causes a lot of awkward pauses on the phone).

You can buy small starter herbs from your local hardware store or nursery for about a $2 each,or grow them from seed. With a little puffy paint and spray paint, you can even dress them up a bit.

Can Herb Garden

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Empty, clean can, label removed
  • Puffy Paint or Hot Glue
  • Spray Paint
  • Nail/Hammer
  • Small Plant
  • Extra Potting Soil

Can Herb Garden

Step 2:

Using the puffy paint or hot glue, add some designs to the cans. I prefer puffy paint over hot glue only because the hot glue strings can be a pain, but I believe in using what you have. No need to pay for puffy paint if you have already have something that will work.

Step 3:

After the designs have dried, spray paint the cans. I went with white, but a mix of colors would be really pretty too.

Step 4:

Using a nail and hammer, add a few drainage holes to the bottom of the cans. With a little bit of added potting soil plant your herbs. 

Can Herb Garden

In a lucky turn of events, the cans happen to fit the standard candle holder. I was able to set a can in the lantern and it added some fun and height to the vignette.

Can Herb Garden

Eventually these plants will outgrow the cans, but when that happens I can move them to a larger pot and rotate in some new herbs to the cans.

Project Cost Breakdown:

Empty Soup Cans (Already Owned) = $0

3 Small Herbs (Lowes) = $6

Potting Soil (Already Owned) = $0

Puffy Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Spray Paint (Already Owned) = $0

Nail/Hammer (Already Owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $6

DIY: Succulent Terrarium

I feel like I should point out early on, that this is DIY for a succulent terrarium that I made recently. However, this is not a tutorial on how to keep them alive. My gardening skills are a little hit or miss and I usually learn how to grow something by following the method of watching something die, then thinking… “Ok, next time water the plant!” Doh!

DIY Succulent Terrarium

Step 1:

Collect your supplies.

  • Cactus Soil (although I have succulents growing in the dirt in my backyard, so I’m not entirely sure this was necessary)
  • Pebbles/Small Rocks
  • Small Succulents
  • Large Glass Vase

DIY Succulent Terrarium

I found the glass vase at (surprise surprise) Homegoods a few months back. I’ve mentioned before that they own my soul, right? I’ve been using it to hold my K-Cups, but this is a far prettier vase filler. Another great option would be a Apothecary Jar. If these survive, I plan on making a few more for around the house.

Step 2:

Pour in a layer of small pebbles to help with drainage.

DIY Succulent Terrarium

Step 3:

Fill the vase with some Cactus Dirt then start adding your succulents. After they are in place, add some more dirt to ensure the roots are covered. I recommend picking small plants so they have room to grown. However, if you’re like me, you’ll expect them to die soon and want to enjoy them at a larger size. What? I’m preparing for the future!

DIY Succulent Terrarium

Ok, in all seriousness, I really do care if these plants live and I will take care of them.

I promise.

DIY Succulent Terrarium

DIY Succulent Terrarium

I’m actually kind of loving them right now…so I decided to use a few more to make a little succulent vignette in my kitchen.

DIY Succulent Terrarium

DIY Succulent Terrarium

DIY Succulent Terrarium

It is surprisingly difficult to get a good photograph of all three since they are next to 2 windows. Sorry for the glare.

Project Cost Breakdown (for the Terrarium):

Glass Vase (Already Owned) = $0

Small Bag of Cactus Soil (Lowes)  = $4

Bag of Small Pebbles (Home Depot) = $3

1 Small Succulent (Home Depot) = $2

2 Medium Succulents (Home Depot) = $6

Total Project Cost: $15

DIY Succulent Terrarium

Linking To: Between Naps On The Porch, Craft-O-Maniac, The Girl Creative, Making the World Cuter, Everything Under the MoonToday’s CreativeGinger Snap Crafts, Very Merry Vintage Style, Savvy Southern Style, The Shabby Creek CottageBeyond The Picket FenceThe Artsy Girl ConnectionBetween U & MeAddicted 2 Decorating, Funky Junk Interiors, The Craft Nest, The Shabby Nest, Dear Creatives, Ohh Baby Designs, 5 Minutes Just For Me, The Not So Functional Housewife, Positively Splendid