Garden 2013

It’s amazing how productive you can be when your son wakes you up at 6:30 a.m. We’d planned to spend the morning getting raised beds built for our backyard, and because we were up so early, they were done by 10 a.m. (and we even had pancakes for breakfast for getting our DIY on, too)! We planned to have two plots in the community garden this summer, but realized that even though the community garden is only four blocks away, we just weren’t making the effort to get over there every day and BAM the weeds have taken over our two plots. So instead of stressing about it all summer, I’ve given my plots up so someone on the waiting list who really wants them can have them, and we put in some raised beds in the backyard instead. Much easier to just dash out the door and tend to the plants in the backyard than have to pack up the Peanut, get toys for him, a blanket, etc. to go to the community garden (any other moms notice how getting ready to go anywhere with kids takes about four times as long?).

We decided to put the raised beds around the shed because the shed walls will continue to give off heat from the day even after the sun goes down, and in a place like Montana, we’ll take that season-extending radiant heat for sure.

Shed beforeI bought eight 2×8-foot untreated cedar boards to build the beds (cedar is somewhat rot resistant). We used frame anchors and galvanized nails to put the boards together; the boards we cut in 4-foot and 2-foot lengths to make 2×4-foot beds.

When you lack a sawhorse, improvise.

When you lack a sawhorse, improvise.

Peanut sat on a blanket in the grass playing with toys, newspaper, and tools (got to start those little DIYers young, you know).

Peanut in grass

He also reminded us to do things properly and use the level!

Peanut with level

So by 10 a.m. we had five raised beds (though a friend just surprised us with a bunch more plants — one of the tomatoes he gave us is already 4 feet tall! — so we may need to built another one or two). We put layers of wet newspaper down on top of the grass to kill it (and because newspaper is biodegradable while a lot of weed fabric is not). We filled them with locally made potting soil (organic mix of compost, vermaculite, and perlite) and got to planting seeds!

Raised beds 2I planted two kinds of basil, spinach, red chard, carrots, bush beans, peas, onion sets, and zucchini. We’ll plant tomatoes and garlic tomorrow, and noodle on building a couple more beds or just buying some planters for the other plants.

Raised beds 1After the raised beds were finished, my husband planted to raspberry canes another friend gave us along the fence, where they can keep our neighbor’s lovely lilac bushes company. We still need to mulch them and put some river rocks around the raspberry cane bed, but we’re looking forward to enjoying ripe red berries soon!

Raspberry canesAll in all, a very productive day. I don’t have anywhere near the space I had to garden last year when we lived out in the country (heavy sigh), but on the other hand, I am much more busy this summer with Peanut and the brewery, so I think in the end it’s actually a blessing. We are going to put river rocks around the raised beds as well for decoration (and for when we move… we’re definitely taking our raised beds with us, and since the grass will be dead beneath them, we want to ring the area in stones so it looks like a nice garden bed for whoever lives in this house next).

I am looking forward to enjoying the garden this summer, and am especially excited to involve the Peanut this year. What are you growing your garden? Is it a raised bed garden like mine, or do you have acres at your fingertips?

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Little houses

Recently I whipped up a cheap little decorating project. I found two kitschy wooden houses at a thrift store in town. Each cost $1.

Crafty houses

I bought some craft paint and brushes. I love the color combination of bright red and turquoise. I sanded the little houses so the paint would stick better and started painting. After a few coats I began to wish I’d primed with some white paint, but it was a bit late for that so I pressed on. I added coats over the course of the entire day, probably nine to 10 coats in all (each of which took just a minute or two… cleaning the paint brush took longer than that each time!).

Crafty houses 2As you can see in the above photo, the original paint showed through the craft paint I was applying for the first five or six coats.

Crafty houses 3And here’s the finished product! I think those silly little houses turned out nicely as modern pops of color in the living room. It was a fun, quick project for less than $10!

 

 

What I’ve been up to and adventures in upcycling

Does anybody else feel super guilty when they don’t blog for a while? Yes? OK, me too. Alack and alas, I’ve been too busy. I know that’s not a great excuse and I should find the time to blog, but, well, I’ve been too busy. My husband and I opened our brewery March 6, had a grand opening March 8, and have been getting into the rhythm of running our own business ever since. For those of you out there with small business experience, you know what it’s like to wake up, bound out of bed, try to get as much done as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time possible, realize it’s 3 p.m. and you still haven’t eaten anything, try to spend quality time with your child (because that’s more important than anything, and that includes blogging), work, work, work, finally eat something at 9 p.m., and collapse into bed. Welcome to my past few weeks. Whew!

Luckily I found some time today while the Peanut was sleeping to do something just for me. I’ve been missing having creative outlet nearly every day. Before March I was turning out crochet projects right and left. Since the beginning of March I’ve added about three rows to the ripple blanket I’m working on. So it was high time for a little crafty time.

I had an old purple knit sweater I bought from Eddie Bauer years ago. It has been very loved, but the shoulders were starting to fray from so much use. So instead of getting rid of it, I cut the back out of it to use as backing for a pillow case. Here’s the raw materials for my project:

Raw matieralsThe church my mother-in-law attends has been clearing out a lot of the yarn and material it has accumulated for projects over the years. It’s a sad thing, really, that so few people still attend services there that there’s no one to make blankets and scarves for people who need them. So Terry has given a lot of the fabric to me. It’s lovely stuff, too. I can’t wait to make all sorts of things with it. The two fabrics in the photo above both came out of the box she brought me when she and my father-in-law came to visit a few weeks ago.

The actual cutting of fabric and sewing it together took me about an hour while Peanut slept. It was nice to use my sewing machine again after not touching it for months!

Upcycled pillow frontHere’s the front of my upcycled pillow on our bed (the quilt is also something I made).

Upcycled pillow backAnd here’s the back of the pillow, using the sweater. Turned out pretty nicely, huh? Advice for anyone else sewing on knitwear: It’s stretchy, so let the sewing machine pull the knit material through instead of tugging it through yourself. It gets all bunchy and weird if you tug it.

Upcycled pillowI’m delighted by how my quick little project turned out! It feels nice to make something after several weeks of working all the time. It’s also nice to have something new (made from something old) to spruce up our bed!

Upcycled pillow  and room

 

 

 

 

Bentwood cane chair

When I was at my favorite antique/consignment store last weekend picking up chairs for the brewery, there was a deliciously retro rocking chair for sale that was definitely in my price range at $15. It had lovely curvy lines. Cane back and seat. And even though the cane seat is ripped and needs replacing, I knew the chair was something awesome. But I left without it. And kicked myself for that all week, especially after I saw  the same one in this design post. I couldn’t get the picture to embed, but if you want to take a look, it’s the 21st picture in the post (I counted two vertical pictures side-by-side as one photo for my counting purposes).

I thought surely at that price the lovely rocker would be gone in no time flat. So imagine my great joy when I went back this weekend and there was my rocker! I snatched it up at once.

Cane chair 2

Isn’t it awesome? I think it’s pretty spectacular. And for $15? Steal. Most of the chairs like it I found with a quick Google search turned up chairs selling for $70-$150.

WEB 2-2-13 cane chair 3

As you can see the cane seat is in rough shape. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to try to reinforce it from underneath or if I’ll remove the cane seat and build a cushion instead.

WEB 2-2-13 cane chair 4

Initially I thought I would paint it a bright color like red. I think it would make a great accent piece for our living room. But my husband said he thinks it should remain stained wood. If we keep it stained wood I will sand the current stain down and re-stain it to get rid of the dings and scratches that are most visible. I think we’ll wait to do anything with it for a month or two to give it time to percolate in our brains so we make the right decision.

WEB 2-2-13 cane chair 5

And if we can’t save the cane seat, well, the rest of the chair has great bones. I am sure it will look beautiful no matter what we do with it!

P.S. Yep, you got it, my bookshelves are not styled. We have so many books (and I like it that way), there’s no room for styling!

Crochet key keeper

Found a nifty little tutorial about how to make crochet baskets. So I made one, with a few tweaks. Mine’s shorter than the tutorial, but I didn’t need a tall basket to begin. I wanted to make a basket to set on the shelf we have by the front door. It’s so people can put their keys and phones in the little basket while they’re visiting so they don’t get lost. OK, so most people actually just put their keys and phone in their pockets or purse but you know what? I made the basket anyway. And it’s pretty awesome.

Crochet basket 1

I find it deeply amusing that despite my photography skillz I can’t get the color of the yarn to come out on camera as it truly looks in real life. The red yarn in this picture looks really red. Like fire engine red. It’s not! More of a muted deeper red. Ah, well. So it goes. The yarn I used is made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. (and do you know how hard it can be to find U.S.-made yarn?) in Mitchell, Nebraska, which is 9 miles from where my grandparents live. The yarn is Brown Sheep Co., Inc.’s Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky. The colors I used are Red Wing and Grey Heather. It’s a very nice, thick yarn. Not super soft, but not scratchy either. Made a nice tight weave for the basket! (So tight that with this particular yarn my hands were beginning to ache when I wrapped this project up!)

WEB crochet basket 2

And here’s my keys demonstrating the purpose of the basket. I realize now that this also looks like a Maranda Lee advertisement, which it isn’t, but hey, if you’re looking for nifty Montana-made purses, diaper bags, and accessories, you could check out Maranda Lee’s stuff too. She’s got some pretty cute things!

If you’re looking for more crochet patterns and projects, might I suggest you browse over my crochet Pinterest board? Good ideas there, I promise!

Project DIY: Dresser

This week, after trolling Craigslist for a while, I found a $50 antique dresser for sale. I snapped up the dresser and THE SAME DAY sold my old armoire for $75, which was a nice piece of furniture but was also a hand-me-down and just wasn’t my style. So here’s some photos of the dresser. Consider these the “before” shots. I’m planning to sand the dresser, re-stain it a different color, and also line the drawers with some nice paper (using Mod Podge like the last post). My goal is to make it something I will like for a while, but also something I can pass on to my kiddo once my husband and I can actually shell out the clams to buy a matching bedroom set (oh, some day!). So it has to be something I like, but also something not too feminine. The only thing I dislike about the dresser is the diamond accents on the sides. Unfortunately them suckers are GLUED on like that sort of thing is never going out of style. So I need to figure out how to pop them off without ruining the veneer. Any suggestions anybody?

But enough yakking. Here’s the “before” dresser. Stayed tuned for the “after”!

My favorite part of the dresser so far is being able to put by jewelry box and some nice decorative things on top. Couldn’t do that very easily with my armoire because it was so tall.

Brightening my morning, or, fancy labeling of coffee canisters so I don’t drink caffeinated coffee on accident and consequently our son is awake for hours

That might be the world’s longest blog title. Breastfeeding moms out there, I’m sure you understand.

Anyway, this was a quick little project I did to make sure my husband and I don’t confuse our different coffees since the beans are kept in identical canisters. I drink decaf, both because I’m breastfeeding and also because caffeine does weird things to me that don’t bear mentioning on this blog. My husband, the lucky b@stard, drinks caffeinated like a normal person. I suppose the perk for me is that when I absolutely need some caffeine, it actually works!

First I chose two fun papers I had in my stash for the lid tops. I meant for the purple one to go on my canister and the yellow on my husband’s so we could associate the sunny yellow lid with caffeine and the moody, purple lid with decaf, but it turns out the canister lids are not interchangeable between the jars. So until we both run out of coffee and can swap the jars, it’s the opposite for now: my decaf has the yellow lid and Shawn’s the purple.

I traced the circles with a coffee mug. Then I used Mod Podge, which is glorious stuff, to affix the paper circles to the jars. I painted the Mod Podge on the lid, not the paper, with a foam brush (which I quickly rinsed well so I can use it again) After affixing the paper to the lids, I painted over the top of the paper, too, so that if the lids get splashed (they reside near the sink), it won’t ruin the paper. I won’t be scrubbing the lids in the sink any time soon, but at least I can wipe them down and not worry about ruining the paper.

And here’s the finished product!

This was a five-minute project, but it was worth it! It’s the little things in life, you know.