Easy Tips for Keeping Your Home Fresh This Summer

Like many old houses, our 1920s cottage can smell a bit sour in the summer heat – especially when we’re on vacation and it sits closed up for days or even weeks on end.  Opening the windows is usually a quick fix, and I also use low-tech methods of dehumidifying to keep rooms smelling fresh.

Seems I’m always striving to keep our house as fresh as that elusive summer breeze.

So when a guest writer brought me this piece, with a few simple tips on freshening up around the home, I thought it was worth a share.  If you have your own tips for keeping a home fresh in summer, I would love for you to share them in the comments!

The following is a contributed post.

Stress-Free Home Hacks for Summer

Summer can be such a fun time with great weather and lots of exciting things to look forward to. But with so much going on, from vacations to the kids being off school, summer can fly by so fast. So it can sometimes be tricky to really be able to savor the season and enjoy the days of summer fun.

Plus, there are regular things like chores and housework to be getting on with, even if all you want to do is to head to the local swimming pool. So with that in mind, here are some of the ways that you can keep on top of your household chores and cleaning over summer. 

 

Keeping your home fresh in summer

 

  • Deodorize Trash

When the weather is warmer, it can make your trash smell more, as bugs and mold love the warmer temperatures. So for your large trash can outside, or the one in your kitchen, think about using some baking soda to help clean it. Sprinkling baking soda at the bottom is something that really helps to keep the bad smells at bay.

 

  • Bathroom Freshness with Essential Oils

If you have children, they will be home much more in the summer.  Friends and family might come calling more often during the summer.  And this means your bathrooms will get a lot more use than normal. So in order to keep smells at bay, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of your toilet paper roll.

 

  • Keep Bugs at Bay

Bugs are much more likely to creep into your home in summer, because doors and windows are open more, and they want to cool off from the heat. Plus, drips from ice lollies and other food can be really attractive, especially for things like ants.

General household cleaning can help to keep pests and bugs at bay, but if you want to save yourself some time, call an exterminator. You might need a specific one, like a bed bug exterminator, for example. It all depends where the problems are in your home. Just keep an eye on things over the summer and call for help when you need it.

 

  • Microwave Cleaning with Lemon

With the kids being home over summer, especially with teens, the microwave is something that is much more likely to get used. And is there anything worse than coming downstairs in the morning to find that your teenager has used the microwave to heat pizza, leaving it smelling and dirty. So a quick hack that you can try is slicing a lemon and putting it into a microwavable bowl, and filling the bowl with water. Then pop it in the microwave for three minutes and see what happens. You can remove the bowl and it will make wiping down the sides much easier.

Using a bowl of white vinegar in the microwave and leaving it in there for an hour, with the door shut, can help to get rid of bad smells.

Hopefully these tips will leave you with more time to enjoy your summer fun!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Dan’s Garage Rebuild

Today I have two exciting announcements.  The first is that I’m introducing my new Summer Guest Writer series.  This summer, from time to time, I’ll be handing over the keyboard to some talented voices who will be giving us fresh home and garden inspiration.

Secondly, my dear brother Dan (aka “The Mad Scientist”) is our first guest writer!  I cannot think of a better way to kick off my new series.  Besides always having a DIY project or two going on at his own house (including his amazing dining room remodel), Dan did the window trim in Mom’s sunroom, built my beautiful vintage-inspired greenhouse lights and, more recently, built the perfect corner cabinet for our laundry room remodel.

But right now he is sharing the DIY rebuild of his vintage garage – which he did on a budget with reclaimed materials.  Don’t miss the before and after at the end!

So without further delay, here’s Dan:

My Garage Rebuild

My sister thinks of me as somewhat of a mad scientist, but I’m also a homeowner and occasionally I find myself mired in the tedium that all homeowners face from time to time.

So one day I saw what looked like a little dry rot at the left corner of my garage door frame. Upon closer inspection, I realized the whole front facade was rotting and had to be replaced.

I was looking at two months of nights and weekends working on this. I could have just hired someone but, knowing I was handy enough to do this myself, my frugality won out.

Also I thought it would be fun to give the garage a facelift rather than just replace the rotted lumber.

Garage before rehab.
What I had to start with.

I began searching the web for images of late Victorian and early Craftsman style houses and garages looking for designs or specific design elements I liked.

Once I had several ideas in my head, I started sketching them up. After several re-designs, here’s the plan I came up with:

The Plan
The Plan.

 

Once I had a plan I liked, it was time to develop a shopping list and see what building materials I might already have left over from previous projects.

The plan changed a bit when I realized the old garage door was a custom size. Rather than spending extra on a custom door, I decided to adjust the size of the opening. Losing only 6 inches on each side saved me about $350. I can live with that.

 

 

With all my building materials and a new garage door ready for installation, it was time to start the demolition. Some people love demolition, but I find it irritating and hazardous. But the dry rot hadn’t evolved into toxic mold yet, so…yay!

After relieving the tension on the old garage door counterbalance spring (those suckers could take your hand off if you’re not careful) and relocating a light switch, it was time to put on a dust mask and go at it with a sledge and crow bar.

Sometimes you find interesting things while doing demo. I discovered that the original door spanned the full width of the garage. The previous owner probably had to replace the door, and in doing so made the opening more narrow. It was this previous remodel that was rotting away.

The original lumber that the garage was built with was still in pretty good shape after 110 years. Only the old door trim was beginning to rot. It was pretty easy to replace.

Originally it was probably a double sliding door or a pair of bifolds, maybe something like one of these:

Old garages
What the old door may have looked like.

 

I also found copper framing nails in some places. I never knew such a thing existed.

Wood with a copper nail
A copper nail!

 

After doing a little research, I found out that, decades ago, copper nails were recommended for use in pressure treated lumber, although none of the lumber I had to tear out was pressure treated (which was why I had to tear it out).

Old garage door
Broken, rotting garage door

 

I kept the garbage pile neatly stacked so as not to annoy the neighbors.

 

Assembling the new door sections, tracks and tension springs turned out to be a two-day project. The assembly instructions said I should expect it to take 5 hours.

The amount of hardware that comes with a new garage door is incredible.

 

Garage door hardware
Box 1 of 3!

 

 

With Fall rapidly approaching, I decided to turn my attention to getting the siding and windows installed.

I needed two different kinds of siding, two windows, a little bit of tongue & groove beadboard, and some trim. I decided to go with PVC for the beadboard and trim. That stuff never rots. But I wanted the windows and siding to look like they were original to the garage.

Time to start poking around the salvage shops.  I wanted traditional lap siding for the sections on either side of the door, and cedar shingles for the gable section. I found both for less than half the price of the big box stores.

The shingles were unused, unpainted leftovers from a job someone over-estimated. The lap siding had nail holes and peeling paint but, for the price, I was willing to do a little sanding and scraping.

I bought about 25% more than I needed but, due to splitting and other flaws I didn’t see when I bought it, it was just barely enough.

reclaimed lumber
Needs work, but you can’t beat the price.

 

reclaimed lumber
Here you can see where there was ivy growing.

 

I also bought two windows at the salvage shop. They needed to be trimmed down a bit to fit between the existing studs, but they were in fine shape and required far less work than the siding.

Even the old paint color worked for me.

Reclaimed windows
Just a good cleaning and trimming down to size was all these windows needed.

 

It’s starting to take shape!

 

DIY garage rebuild
It really comes together with the trim in place.

 

DIY garage rebuild
I used a straight edge to keep everything level.

 

Now I had to do the beadboard at the gable above the windows. I made a template out of scrap wood to make sure the fitment was spot on. Then I glued the sections of beadboard together.

Once the glue set, I marked it with the template and cut it down to size. It fit perfectly!

Gable template

 

Gable template

 

DIY garage rebuild
Success!

 

The weather took a turn, so I had to put off the spackling and touch-up painting, and instead work on installing the garage door opener.

I was blown away by the features available on openers these days. I didn’t need WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth, or alerts sent to my iTelphone, but they still make good old fashioned “push a button and it opens and closes” garage door openers.

They just make them better now.

I got one with a DC motor so it can open slowly at first and then speed up instead of just jerking the door open.  That’s easier on the mechanical components of the opener and the door. It’s tiny but powerful.

 

garage door openers - old vs. new
Garage door openers: Old vs. new.

 

garage door opener hardware
Great. More hardware.

 

My original design called for a lantern on either side of the door, but those lanterns would have been right at eye level and kind of blinding instead of shining the light down onto the driveway where I needed it.

So I decided instead to look for something like this:

 

The price for one of these new would  break the budget so, once again, my frugality is getting the best of me.  I’ve decided to make my own.  In a previous post, I made a rustic pendant barn light out of a $14 heat lamp, so maybe you’ll see this build in a future blog post.

But right now, summer is starting to roll around again and I have other projects needing my attention. A homeowner’s work is never done.

In Summary

I wasn’t really looking for a late-summer remodel project, but all in all it went pretty well and there weren’t too many unpleasant surprises. Plus I learned a few things along the way, which is always fun.

Let’s take another look at what I started with.  This was the garage before:

Garage before rehab
Before

 

And here it is now:

After

My design also called for a trellis over the door, but I’ve gotten so many compliments on this from neighbors and passers-by already that I’m going to leave it as-is. Maybe at a later time, if I feel the design is getting stale, I’ll add a trellis and a wisteria to grow on it.  But for now I think this is fine.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 


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Releasing My Air Plants into the Wild – And a Spring Garden Tour

A while back, I briefly mentioned my current plant crush:  The air plant called Tillandsia usneoides (or live Spanish moss).  I’d been admiring these plants for some time, and recently I broke down and bought a few.

They are very versatile.  I even used one as the outer ring for my elevated tulips arrangement.

Elevated Tulips

Spanish moss is the mystical-looking stuff that hangs from live oak in the South.

At my house, it just hangs from a tall vase and resembles a beautiful sorceress.

Live Spanish moss
Fun trivia: Spanish moss is not really a moss, nor does it come from Spain.

 

Caring for My Spanish Moss

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Every couple of weeks, I soak the plants in water for six to eight hours.

Live Spanish moss soaking in water

Sometimes I toss a couple of small drops of plant fertilizer into the water.

After their long bath, I hang them to dry.

Live Spanish moss drip drying after soaking in water 6-8 hours
Live Spanish moss turns a beautiful shade of green when it’s wet.

Alternatively, I could mist the plants every 3 or 4 days.

This plant loves filtered sunlight and good air circulation.  In my climate, it yearns for the outdoors in spring and summer.

So recently, I decided to give the sorceress what she wanted.  I would release her into the wild.

 

Releasing My Air Plants Into the Wild

Of course it’s safety first for my beloved Spanish moss.  So the sorceress went only as far as my front porch, but at least she’s outdoors.

Live Spanish moss

 

She hangs from a potted corkscrew willow branch where soft breezes and morning sun can caress her.  My thought is that this closely resembles what she would be doing in her natural habitat.  And here, I can make sure she gets enough mist to (hopefully) stay happy and healthy.

Live Spanish moss

Kidding aside, I’m hoping to see this plant grow and multiply this summer.  With more of it, the decor possibilities are endless.

Will the birds try to use the Spanish moss for nesting material?  We will find out.  I’m whisking the sorceress indoors at the first sign of trouble.

But right now I think the lion likes her.

Front porch decor

 

porch

 

A Spring Garden Tour

These photos might have you thinking that I have some tiny modicum of  control over the garden, but don’t be fooled.  As always, chaos is winning.

So I have decided to just go with it.  If something wants to form drifts and take over, maybe that actually means less work for me?  I can kid myself anyway.

Urn in garden drifts

 

After all, it’s hard to get mad at the adorable sweet woodruff that has taken over my patio garden.

Sweet woodruff

 

Patio

 

Patio

 

Or the poppies that are everywhere.

Poppies

 

This time of year, everything is so fresh and green.

Birdbath

 

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of months can make.  Here is our front birdbath now.

Birdbath and peonies

 

And this is what it looked like during “The Big Snow” in February.

Birdbath in snow

 

And now in the shade garden, where the snow had flattened the undergrowth, the tiki is being taken over by hardy geranium.

Tiki
This Easter Island-inspired tiki was carved by Chris’s brother.

 

Over on the fence line, the bees are crazy about the blooming hebe.

fence

 

I am a pushover for topiaries because they can help bring a little structure and order to the chaos.  Recently I pruned this succulent (which spent the winter in the greenhouse) into an orderly shape.

Succulent

 

The peonies I planted last year are still scrawny, but I did get a beautiful blossom from one of them.

peony
The packaging for the peony tubers simply said “pink.” Imagine my surprise at this beauty.

This time of year, there is always plenty to do in the garden.  You could probably tell that I still have a lot of work left.  Gardening (or “taming the beast,” as I think of it) is the main reason that my blog posts are so few and far between in spring.

Thanks for visiting today and coming along on my spring garden tour.  If you get a chance, check out my Summer Gear page – one of the new “rooms” in my updated Shop.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

Sources

Live Spanish moss  can be found in better plant nurseries or on Amazon.

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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An Easy DIY Hanging Garden Sphere

The Inspiration

This past February, while Mom and I were strolling the marketplace at the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, we came across a booth that had these hanging garden spheres by Rustybirds.com.

Hanging garden spheres by Rustybirds.com

 

They really appealed to me.  What a unique alternative to a hanging basket!  And they were so simple and classic that they would look great in almost any garden setting.

Unfortunately I had already spent my limit at the marketplace, so I took the photo hoping that I could find a budget-friendly way to reproduce the sphere.

I can tell you right now that I didn’t – not entirely anyway.  But I did come up with something very fun, affordable, and simple to put together.

 

The Materials

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

I was hoping to use bare metal wire cages and apply the same rust technique that I used on these soup cans to get the a similar patina.

But the bargain hunter in me could not resist the $5 apiece metal baskets that I found at a local discount store.  They even came with their own coconut liners.  But they had a black vinyl coating, so the rust technique would not work on them.  Black they would stay!

Hanging baskets with coconut liners.

I took the coconut lining out of one basket – the basket that would serve as the “top half” of the sphere.

I left the lining in the other basket – the basket that would serve as the “bottom half.”  (I did trim the lining down a bit as it seemed too large).  This “bottom half” would contain soil and plants.

Then, just to help with water retention for the plants, I fitted the inside of the coconut lining with a layer of landscape fabric.

I covered the outside of the coconut lining with sheet moss.

Prepping the hanging basket.
Prepping the bottom half.

I didn’t have one large piece of sheet moss to use, so I just layered a few of the sheet moss scraps that I had onhand.

Then I added potting soil and, because the sphere would be hanging in part shade,  I planted it with New Guinea impatiens and baby tears.

Bottom half completed

 

 

Building the Sphere

So how would I fasten the two halves together?  And preferably with something that I could easily reopen?  I pondered this for some time before realizing that the chains on the baskets already had clips that would work perfectly.

I removed the chain from the “top half” basket.  That chain would not be needed.

I kept the chain on the “bottom half” basket.

Then I just attached the “top half” to the “bottom half” with the fastening clips from that chain.

This photo explains it better than I can.

The two sphere halves clipped together with the chain fasteners from the bottom half.

 

Voila!  I had my sphere.

DIY hanging garden sphere.

I’d lined up the two halves so that the wire patterns of each mirrored one another.

Now I have a strange and unique “globe” hanging on my front porch.

DIY hanging garden sphere.

It hangs at eye level from a large S-hook.

DIY hanging garden sphere

It’s early in the season, and the plants I used are still small.  So right now, the shape of the sphere is the main attraction.

Later in the summer, I’ll add a photo update to this post.

I’ll be using this sphere for another purpose when the holidays roll around.  So stay tuned!

And as long as you’re here, hop over and check out my brother’s beautiful budget DIY garage rebuild using reclaimed materials.  I’m so proud of him!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

 

My shop is where I share my current decor obsessions, seasonal must-haves, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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A Tour of Erika’s Sunroom

Every now and then, I take my readers over to visit my mom Erika’s beautiful garden.  But today we’re headed inside her house to tour her charming sunroom.  

It’s my favorite room in her house and the one I always gravitate toward.  But it was not always like that. 

In fact, it was not always a sunroom.

A Porch Conversion

When Mom first moved into her mid century rambler, the sunroom was actually just a covered porch.

The original covered back porch.

Even though the porch was in dire need of a facelift (as was the rest of the house), it was a nice place to relax on a warm day.  But it wasn’t living up to its full potential.  Mom could almost hear the porch begging to be enclosed and converted to a sunroom that could be enjoyed year round. 

So that is exactly what she did.  She hired out some of the work, and she had some help from my brother Dan.  But she did much of the work herself – including installing the ceramic tile floor.

A door in the media room gives us access the sunroom.  Let’s go back in time to right after Mom got the house.  This was the media room then – and the door to what was then the covered porch.

Before improvements: The media room and the door to the covered porch.

 

The media room was probably the ugliest room in the house  – and if this photo isn’t proof that Mom is fearless, I don’t know what is.  (Actually, at the time I think we were all pretty excited about the potential of Mom’s cosmetic fixer.)

The Tour Begins

Of course, Mom immediately made improvements to the media room.  This is the entrance to the sunroom now.

media room after
The media room, after improvements, with the sunroom beyond.

 

The sunroom is long and narrow, so Mom divided it into three zones.

The Tea Room

Coming through the media room door, this is the first area we see.  

Sunroom

A corner of windows gives it abundant natural light.  When I visit Mom, especially on a rainy day, there is nothing I love more than to sip a cup of tea with her here.

 

Porch converted to a sunroom.

For a rustic contrast, Mom kept the original  pine ceiling.

If we turn toward the bank of windows, we have access to the outdoors.

Exit door of the sunroom.

And here I must mention that my brother Dan did the interior finish work on all the windows and doors.

Sunroom bank of windows.

He did a beautiful job of trimming them, and it was good practice for the stunning dining room conversion he undertook at his own house a few years later.

The Reading Area

If we turn from the tea room, we face a teak bench.  It serves as a reading area, but more importantly it helps to separate the potting area behind it from the tea room.  

teak bench

The bench divides and defines the spaces, yet it is low enough to allow ample light and a spacious feel.

Plus, no matter who you are, it is a nice place to relax.

Teak bench and our loyal buddy,

The Potting Area

The newest addition to Mom’s greenhouse is the bench that my father built years ago.  In my childhood home, this bench sat in the entry hall.

Mid century shoe bench before its facelift.

 

Mom replaced the cushioned seat with a laminate, added a little paint, and now the bench is part of her potting area.  It stores potting supplies, and the top can be used as a work surface.

Sunroom

And from the tea room, we don’t see the potting soil, empty pots, or hand trowels.

Sunroom potting area

But this is where plants are overwintered and tubers are started in Spring. 

Mom saves money by buying annuals in small six-packs (aka pony packs) and then separating them into 4-inch pots.  There they have room to grow and are protected in her sunroom until it’s warm enough to plant them outdoors.

 

A shelf in the corner holds decor and plants.

Asia-inspired shelf

 

It is still bright enough in this corner for the plants to thrive.

Plants on red shelf

 

Sun-loving plants are placed near the windows.

Sunroom

This concludes our little tour of Mom’s sunroom.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunroom

Now it’s time for Mom to relax a bit with her loyal companion before starting her next project.  But knowing Mom, she won’t be sitting for long.

Sunroom

Here are my previous posts about Mom’s home and garden:

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Did You Know

Mom is also a writer.  She currently has two books available on AmazonYear of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her real-life experiences during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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My Shop
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Our New Coffee Station

Last fall, a cousin invited us to her party and made me cup of coffee with her little Nespresso machine.  Specifically, she made me a lungo – which, to me, is a cross between a shot of espresso and an Americano.  It was a strong and delicious cup of coffee, with the water steamed to a light froth.

It reminded me of Europe:  The hotels where we stayed all had these nifty coffee machines in their breakfast rooms that, with the push of a button, could produce lungos, espressos, cappuccinos, and more – on demand.  These were small cups of coffee – six ounces at most – not the grande-sized drinks we are used to here in the States.

So when Chris found a barely-used Nespresso Lattissima Plus on eBay, he surprised me with it on Christmas.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

It was one of the nicer Nespresso models and could make both milk- and water-based coffee drinks.  (This model is also currently available, new and used, through Amazon.)

Worrying – It’s What I Do Best

I was excited about my gift but also hesitant.

First of all, even though it was a small machine, it was still something that would take up countertop space (and an electrical outlet) in our kitchen.  And since this little machine would only make single cups of coffee, and short ones at that, it would not take the place of our existing coffee maker.  So we’d have to keep that one as well.

Secondly, Nespresso machines use coffee capsules, and the used capsules cannot be sent out in our curbside recycling.

Lastly, cleaning the machine, specifically the milk spout, looked like a lot of work.

 

No Worries

Chris immediately dispelled my concern about cleaning the milk spout.  He showed me the button to push to automatically clean the spout with steamed water.

“Now just try it,” he said.   “We don’t have to keep it.”

Moments later, while sipping a delicious lungo, I said “Oh we’re keeping it.”

So I pushed aside some of the serveware on the hutch countertop and plugged the Nespresso in there.

The clutter was not ideal, but it was wonderful to be able to make espresso drinks so easily.

A demitasse filled with espresso and cream.

 

And I learned there are several options for recycling Nespresso capules.

 

The Coffee Station

The hutch countertop remained cluttered until recently when we added this vintage cabinet to our kitchen.  It now holds most of our casual serveware.

This freed up space on the hutch countertop for a prettier coffee station.

Coincidentally, my mom Erika had been organizing recently too – in her craft/sunroom.  (We’re going there, by the way, in a future post.  Her sunroom is so pretty that I have to show you.)  She offered me one of the beautiful landscapes she paints.

When I got it home, I set it on the hutch until I found a place for it – and then I realized that the hutch is the perfect place.  (Lately I’ve been loving the casual look of simply propping art against walls on tables and countertops.  It makes it so easy to “layer” the pieces with more art or move pieces around.)

I found a new tray with colors that complement the painting.

And we finally had the perfect place for our cute vintage Dienes coffee grinder.

We don’t do syrups in our coffee, so I kept the coffee station simple.  The Frango tin holds a bag of powdered cocoa for the occasional mocha or hot chocolate.

 

As far as the machine itself goes, my only small issue is that sometimes the steamed milk could be a bit warmer.  (And I keep forgetting to put the detachable milk carafe back in the fridge after making a milk-based drink.  But I can’t blame the machine for that!)

 

Overall, we’ve really upped our coffee game around here, and I’m feeling better about keeping the machine.  Coffee anyone?

Resources:

There are many varieties of Nespresso machines out there, some of them smaller and simpler than mine.  But I would advise visiting a Nespresso boutique for a taste test before making a purchase.

 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
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Our Laundry Room Remodel
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Elevated Tulips

I recently visited a thrift store where I spied a simple and classy silver footed cake stand.  As I was deciding if I really needed it, an announcement came over the PA that all pink-tagged items were on sale.  Since the cake stand had a pink tag, I took that as a sign that I was meant to have it.

I’ve always been a pushover for pedestals or any kind of elevated or footed container. 

And just the way a cake looks so much more impressive on an elevated stand, if I take a common, garden-variety plant, and place it in an elevated container, that somehow makes the plant look more important.

Here, elevated milk glass containers lend class to baby tears and the mystery bulb that I dug up from my garden.

So today, I am sharing the simple way that I used my silver cake stand to display a bunch of grocery store tulips.

 

The Goal

For this project, the goal was to take a small bunch of cut tulips (cost:  $1.69) and make them look like they were growing out of a moss-covered chunk of earth.  This chunk of earth would be elevated on the stand to contrast natural materials with polished elegance.

The Materials

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I used five tulips, some sheet moss (my favorite go-to for floral and decor projects), a little reindeer moss, a shallow water-tight saucer (in this case, a plastic faux clay saucer), spike flower frogs, and my newly found silver cake stand. 

And I used one more surprise material that I will show you later.

The Method

It was easy.  I cut the sheet moss to size to wrap it over the top of, and around the sides of, the shallow saucer.  I tucked the ends of the sheet moss underneath the saucer.

I cut a large hole in the middle of the sheet moss so that I could place flower frogs inside the saucer. 

And then I cut the tulips to the desired height and secured them onto the flower frogs, spacing them somewhat evenly.

I placed the saucer on the cake plate and filled it with water for the tulips.

Then, using reindeer moss, I covered the hole I’d cut in the sheet moss.  This was to conceal the flower frogs.

It looked a little like a “tulip cake,” if there is such a thing.  I thought it was kind of cute, and I was tempted to leave it at that.

But I added one more thing – an outer ring of Tillandsia Usneoides

Tillandsia Usneoides (live Spanish moss) is a beautiful and amazing air plant.  It is my current obsession, and I will be writing more about it soon.  For now, let’s just say it was the icing on the cake (okay, more like the icing around the cake).

I can simply replace these tulips with new ones once they get tired – or try a different type of flower or even a combination.

And maybe one day I will use the stand for a real cake.

Resources:

Sheet Moss and Reindeer Moss can be found in craft stores and on Amazon.

Tillandsia Usneoides can be found at better nurseries and on Amazon.

Spike flower frogs can also be found in craft stores.  Vintage spike frogs are fun and collectible.  Check out this selection on Etsy.

I was lucky to happen upon that silver cake stand, so simple and elegant.  Cake stands like it probably turn up every now and then on Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

 

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Kitchen Storage with a Vintage Twist

Today  I’m sharing a fun little organizing project that I’m very happy with.  I always love it when wasted space finally gets put to good use.  And this time, it was . . . 

An Underutilized Kitchen Corner

Although we remodeled our kitchen several years ago, there is one space that we could have done a better job of thinking through:  The bland, empty corner where the cabinetry ends on the north wall.

The heat register, the light switch, and the traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway all made this corner a bit challenging to plan.  At the time of our remodel, we had so many other decisions to make that we didn’t give it proper attention.

It became a feeding station for our cats – which actually was great since, for the most part, it kept our little darlings away from the food prep area.  But now our only cat is the lovely Priscilla, and she prefers to eat her meals upstairs.

 

 

I was thrilled at her choice because I could finally do something more with this underappreciated corner.  But what? Since shelving wouldn’t block the heat register, I was considering attaching shelves, or maybe a floating bookcase, to the pantry cabinet on the left.

I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

But Wait – A Better Idea?

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Around the same time, Chris started asking me when I was going to do something, anything, with the vintage cabinets that I’d had in our garage for the past couple of years.

Salvaged fir built-ins.

We’d picked these two cabinets up at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  Since each cabinet only has two “good,” finished sides (the front and one side), my assumption is that they were actually built-ins that had been pulled out of an old house.

The flush-mount cabinet doors, the glass knobs, and the leaded glass fronts, are all similar to the original dining room cabinetry in our house – which was built in the 1920s.

So to me, buying the cabinets was a no-brainer.

I just had no idea what we were going to do with them.  There didn’t seem to be any good place to put them if we were going to keep them together.

 

 

With Chris wanting his garage space back, and with the cat bowls gone, it finally clicked.  I took measurements and, sure enough, one of those vintage cabinets (the one with its “good side” on the right) would fit in that blank kitchen corner without obstructing the light switch – if we put legs on it so that it would clear the heat register.

But that old cabinet would need a lot more than just legs.

Paint or Finish?

I originally wanted to paint the cabinet the same white as our kitchen cabinets.  But then I noticed that it had been painted – and someone had gone through the painstaking work of stripping the paint and sanding it.

And the wood was fir – like our floors.  Since someone else had already done all the hard work, I decided to apply a finish to the exterior and paint only the interior.

(I went ahead and worked on both cabinets at once – even though my plans for the second cabinet are still in flux.)

 

A Danish Oil Finish

For the exterior, I used Watco Danish Oil in Natural.  It can be applied with a rag, which I find so much easier than using a paint brush – at least on non-ornate surfaces.

Danish oil is not like Polyurethane, and I found this post that explains the differences.  And this post has helpful tips on the proper method of application – which I followed – as well as the proper way to handle application rags since – yikes! –  a wadded-up oil-soaked rag could possibly combust!

Applying the oil with a rag was easy, but the wood was very thirsty.  I probably applied 10 layers of the oil over the course of several days.

Cabinet doors prepped for finish.

Prime and Paint

I painted the interior with three coats of primer and two coats of white paint.

Cabinets after three coats of primer.

For smaller flat surfaces like this, I prefer to use a Shur-Line paint edger instead of a roller because it gives me a smooth, even finish.  Then I use a small paint brush for the hard-to-reach areas.

The white paint is a custom blend that matches our kitchen cabinets and is the same paint I used on the walls for our laundry room remodel.

Stencil!

Finally the fun part:  A stencil!  I just wanted a simple accent and, since I couldn’t find a stencil I liked, I used one I’ve had on hand for years.

I practiced a little and experimented with color combinations.

But in the end I kept it simple with a Navy Blue by FolkArt and a little dot of Tuscan Red by Americana.

Legs

Now the cabinet needed legs.  Chris and I looked online.  We visited big box stores and specialty lumber stores.  But we wound up buying these legs on Amazon.

Legs with the first coat of Danish oil drying.

They were unfinished, so I applied countless coats of Danish oil on them as well.

Now it was time for Chris to get to work.

He attached the legs to the cabinet.

To give the piece character, Chris made sure the knot in one of the legs was placed so that it would be visible.

And then, because we live in earthquake country, he secured the cabinet to our built-in pantry.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

The Result

I moved the Fiestaware that my Mom gave me for Christmas, and many of our other blue-and-white serving pieces, into the cabinet.  This is where our fun, casual, and colorful pieces live now.

Refurbished fir cabinet with vintage serving pieces.

The cabinet is recessed enough so that it doesn’t impede traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway.

Refurbished fir cabinet.

And it adds charm.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

I’m glad I kept the wood exterior.  It works well with the floor and the built-in hutch’s wooden countertop.

Refurbished fir cabinet as kitchen storage.

 

 

Vintage serving pieces in a refurbished fir cabinet.

Adding this little fir cabinet has caused a happy chain reaction:  There is now more space in all of our overhead kitchen cabinets.

And I even reclaimed some countertop space on the hutch – enough for a snazzy new coffee station.

As for that second vintage cabinet, I haven’t completely decided how I’m going to use it.  But I have a few ideas.  So stay tuned!

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Thanks for stopping by and, while you’re here, hop over and check out my brother’s fun DIY garage rebuild.  I’m so proud of his work!

In Other News

I love to support artists, and I buy vintage instead of new whenever I can.  That’s why I’ve always been proud to be an Etsy affiliate.

But now I have another reason to love Etsy:  It has become the first online retailer to offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping. That’s amazing.  Let the guilt-free shopping begin!

I hope other online retailers follow suit, but right now Etsy is leading the way.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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A Birthday Party and a Cake Experiment

The big snow that I talked about in my previous post has finally melted, and I can almost hear Mother Nature saying, “Now where was I? Ah yes, spring!”  

Tiny flowers in the shade garden are no worse for the wear after being buried for days under a heavy white blanket.  

Amazing.  And such a cheerful sight. 

I decided to bring some of that spring cheer indoors for a small family birthday party that I was hosting.

An Easy Spring Container Garden

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As part of the party decor, I set up this little indoor container garden.

 

I used a primrose, a fragrant hyacinth, and spike moss to fill this cute footed pot that I found at Goodwill.

After the party, the birthday girl took it home with her (which is why I included the plant tags in the container).

A Whimsical Table Setting

For the table, I used a mix of newer and vintage blue-themed Villeroy & Boch pieces.  

We’ve collected, inherited, and been given these pieces over the years.  What I love about Villeroy & Boch is that many of their patterns, even the vintage ones, are a bit playful.  They put a whimsical spin on classic china.

Repurposed Valentine’s Day Flowers 

For the centerpiece, I just used some of my Valentine’s Day roses in a vintage fan vase.

It didn’t take up much table space, and it added a little visual tension to the blue-and-white theme.

So the dinner went well, and by now my family was lulled into a false sense of security – because they had not yet seen The Cake.

 

An Experimental Orange Rum Cake 

Here I should mention that this is not a cooking blog.  And I would never, ever, claim to have expertise in baking. 

You’ll see why when I show you the birthday cake that I baked.

Syrup-infused orange rum cake.

What is that brown stuff on top?  We’ll come to that.  

I knew the birthday girl would enjoy a fruit-flavored cake with little or no frosting.  The words “orange cake” popped into my head.  So I googled it.

I found this recipe for a syrup-infused orange cake.  But instead of following the recipe for the cake, I just used a boxed yellow cake mix and substituted orange juice for the water.

Then I followed the recipe for the orange syrup portion, but I decided to make it an orange rum cake.  So I substituted some of the orange juice that the recipe called for with spiced rum.

 

 

It was all going really well.  The syrup was infusing into the cake.

It was time for the final step:  Making the glaze.  I’m not sure what I did wrong, but my glaze cooled into rock-hard clumps the minute I spread it onto the cake.  It stuck to the spatula. It stuck to my teeth.  I knew then that if I finished spreading it on the cake, I’d need a chain saw to cut into it.  So I stopped.  All done!

Next time I’ll skip that part.  I served the cake with whipped cream, and it was actually pretty tasty – for an experiment.

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A Little Greenhouse in a Big Snow

Here in the Puget Sound region, we are just beginning to thaw out from the deepest February snow accumulation since 1916!  All around the area, schools and businesses were closed.  Kids rejoiced.  But most adults had mixed feelings – because, with all our steep hills, getting around in the snow can be pretty darn tricky.  

But this snow storm was nothing like the incredible cold that folks in the Midwest recently suffered through so, out of respect for those hardy souls, no sniveling words of self pity will appear in this post.

No, I just want to show you our greenhouse

Doesn’t it look cute in the snow?

Sunglo lean-to greenhouse in the snow.

Even though I kind of knew that our little Sunglo greenhouse was designed to withstand heavy snow, I never realized how well it would actually shed snow. 

Was it the curved roof line, the fact that we never let the interior temperature dip below 50 degrees, or a little of both?  I don’t really know.  But that greenhouse was the only thing in our garden that wasn’t covered in six to twelve inches of show.

It shrugged off the snow that fell on it.  

Sunglo lean-to greenhouse in snow.

 

 

Inside the greenhouse, things were cozy.  The plants were happy.

Inside a Sunglo greenhouse.

 

Inside a Sunglo Greenhouse.

 

The burlap shades we made for the greenhouse a few years ago are still holding up.

 

Burlap shades

And the vintage-inspired lights that my brother made for the greenhouse are still going strong.

Vintage-inspired lighting

It’s hard to believe that soon it will be time to start tomatoes and summer annuals in here.

A Snow Garden Mini Tour

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All the little garden chores that I hadn’t gotten around to were hidden under a thick blanket of white.  I took lots of photos.  So this is the perfect time to take you on a mini-tour of our garden. 

Snow makes everything beautiful.  Whether it’s a birdbath, 

winter garden

 

winter garden

 

A hedge,

winter garden

 

An old weeping cherry tree,

winter garden

 

A rustic bench,

winter garden

 

The back patio,

winter garden

 

 

Or just seed heads from the garlic chives, 

winter garden

Huge gobs of snow make it all look better.

 

 

Garden chores weren’t the only thing we’d been procrastinating on.  We’d left town soon after the holidays, so Chris never had a chance to take down our outdoor Christmas lights. 

But once the snow started falling, we just switched them back on.

Shed with Christmas lights

Christmas in February!  

But not everything was beautiful.  The hummingbird feeders were freezing over so quickly that it was a pain to keep them thawed.  I needed a quick solution.

So I insulated them with old socks.

And yes, the sock in the photo is inside out.  But this little guy is getting his food, so he doesn’t care.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
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