Tips For Making Your Home More Sustainable

On some level, most of us are still feeling the impact of the pandemic.  But it’s not all bad:  It seems that our dear Earth just might be getting a much-needed break from us.  I’m noticing that we still have fewer planes in the skies, fewer cars on the roads.  Some of us have been forced to find sustainable alternatives to the disposable items that we once took for granted.

For instance, when there were no paper towels on store shelves, I came up with a sustainable alternative that I still use now because it actually works better for me.  And, like many sustainable practices, it is also saving me money.

I would love to see the concept of sustainable living continue to gain momentum.  And today’s guest post, with a few tips and suggestions, is a good place to start.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Tips for Making Your Home More Sustainable

Having a more sustainable household is something that can really help our environment. In order to save our planet for generations to come, we need to be aware of how much of an impact we’re making when it comes to our carbon footprint.

Here are some tips to help you make your home more sustainable.

Consider Solar Panels

 

It was once very unusual to see solar panels used in either business or residential settings. They were a costly splurge that many people could not afford. But, with more people embracing them, they are becoming increasingly affordable.

Solar panels are a great way to help power your home while reducing the amount of electricity that your home pulls from your utility company on a daily basis. So, not only are you saving electricity, but you’ll likely also save a hefty amount on your utility bills.

If you’re considering solar panels, check out this local solar panel company to get started.

Grow Your Own Vegetables And Herbs

 

Have you ever thought about growing food right in your own back yard? Well, it’s easier than you think. Before the advent of the supermarket, generations before us used to do it out of necessity.

And growing your own food definitely has its advantages: Homegrown vegetables are usually more fresh and delicious than store-bought. And you can decide to go all-organic in your growing.  You have control of how your food is grown, and you know exactly what is (and isn’t) in it.

Learning to grow your own vegetables and herbs is something that you can take your time with.  Start with the basics, and expand from there. Attend a few seminars at your local nursery, find some good reading sources, and talk to friends and neighbors who already have successful vegetable gardens.

Be Conscious Of Utility Usage

 

It’s good practice to look at what you’re using in terms of your utilities like water, gas, and electricity. Strive to take tiny and simple measures like not leaving the water running while you brush your teeth – or taking short showers instead of baths.  Fix any plumbing leaks you might have.  Turn off the lights when you leave a room.  Put your heating system on a timer or programmable thermostat.  All these little things add up.

If everyone in your household commits to taking these painless steps, you can shrink your carbon footprint – and save money.

 

Aim To Use Less Plastic

 

And finally, try to be more plastic-free. It can be quite a challenge to have a completely plastic-free household, but the more you can do to reduce how much plastic you purchase, the better.

Buy items that are made of sustainable materials instead of plastic.  And, look at the way things are packaged.  Avoid plastic packaging where you can.

Small changes can make a huge impact.  Take for example one case of bottled water:  The water is packaged in 56 single-use plastic bottles.  That’s a lot of plastic.  If instead you invest in some good-quality reusable water bottles, and refill them using a large water dispenser, you’ll have kept 56 plastic bottles out of the landfill – and possibly the ocean.  And that is just for starters.

Making our homes more sustainable is the least that we can do for the environment to ensure that it’s healthy for future generations.

 

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

 

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

 

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5 Small Steps To Prepare For Living in a Tiny Home

Most of the time, I am very happy with my home.  But sometimes, I feel the weight of all my possessions:  So many things to take care of, to maintain.  So much “stuff.”  I am not the only one feeling this way, and I can see how the tiny house movement has gained so much traction.

But would a tiny house really work for me and my spouse?  I sometimes wonder.  So I appreciated this post, brought to me by a guest writer, which offers food for thought on determining if tiny house living is right for you.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

5 Small Steps To Prepare For Living In A Tiny Home

So you’re considering a move to a tiny home. The thought of a simpler and more efficient living space can be very appealing.  And there are many benefits to small space living, including saving money and having easier home maintenance.

But a move towards a more minimalist living situation can be very difficult, so you have to be prepared. If you’ve been playing around with the idea of moving into a tiny home, here are five things you can do to prepare yourself.

1. Experience The Lifestyle 

Even if you feel you’re ready to move into a tiny home now, it would be very wise to test the waters first – to experience what tiny home living really looks and feels like. Sites like Airbnb have listings for tiny homes, so you can start small by spending a couple of days or weeks in homes like these.

That way, you’ll know whether this is truly the lifestyle choice for you. It is much better to get a taste of tiny home living and decide that it’s not for you than to make a permanent move to a tiny home and find out later that this form of living doesn’t work for you.

2.  Declutter Your Home

Another thing you can do to prepare yourself for living in a tiny house is to tidy up your current home, from the kitchen to the attic. This process basically involves getting rid of anything in your home that isn’t an absolute necessity, or any items that no longer serve you.

You can start by going through your closet and removing every article of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore or that you haven’t worn in a long time.

This might empower you to go through the entire decluttering process in the rest of your home. As much as letting go of things can be difficult, it can also be very freeing, and it is a good way to prepare yourself for living in a home with a limited amount of space.

3.  Find A Community

When it comes to tiny home living, a community is everything. And as the tiny home movement continues to grow, finding a supportive tiny home community should not be much of a challenge.

Friends and family might not understand your reasons for wanting to transition to tiny home living.  They might give you advice based on their own limited knowledge.  But a good community of people who already understand the challenges and rewards of making such a decision can encourage you and guide you throughout the process. Good places to start in finding a tiny home community include Facebook, online forums, and blogs.

4.  Define Your Space

Defining your space is another way to test whether tiny home living is really right for you – because, in tiny homes, every square inch is crucial. It’s very important to have an efficient floorplan.  Start by defining the spaces in your current home that you use the most. Which spaces could you absolutely not do without? And which spaces could you consolidate? Do as much research as you can on space-saving floor plans and innovations.  By having a clear vision of the types of spaces you will actually use, you can design a tiny home that will accommodate your specific lifestyle.

5.  Plan Your Move

If you’ve done your research and are now confident that this is what you want, it may be time to start planning plan your move: Find a suitable property to build on, interview contractors about the development and building of your new home, arrange a moving service – such as  the North American Van Lines, and donate unnecessary items to charity.

And then get ready for a change in lifestyle.

 

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

 

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

 

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Exploring

Rustic Torn-Edge Americana Napkins

In my previous post about my adventures in visible mending, I shared a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that, when combined, had a fun “old Americana” look.

 

With a few tears of the fabric and some basic running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.  In this post, I share how I made them. (Spoiler alert:  It took hardly any time at all!)

 

Materials And Tools

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

 

Tearing the Fabric

Before we get started, I have to mention that these napkins only measure about 7 inches square.  If you know your napkin etiquette, you know that this is not a standard size.  It’s very small – even for a cocktail napkin.  But I was working with what I had.  So if you try this project, feel free to make your napkins the proper size.

I wanted a rustic look for these napkins – which meant frayed edges.  Of course the easiest way to achieve this is to tear the fabric instead of cutting it.

I started by measuring the length I wanted the napkin to be and making a 1-1/2 inch cut into the fabric at that point.

 

Then I simply tore the fabric where I had cut it.  (Sorry the photo below is of the second fabric I used.  But I used the same method for both fabrics.)  I was halfway through tearing it when I took this photo.  After I took the photo, I just kept tearing.  I tore quickly and purposefully, end to end.

Then I measured the width I wanted the napkins to be and used the same cut-and-tear method.  I trimmed away any fabric threads that had unraveled as a result of the tearing.

Not only did I have charming frayed edges now, but tearing the fabric made for nice straight lines – perhaps more so than if I’d cut them with scissors.  And, unless something goes wrong, tearing fabric is so much faster than cutting.

Important Note

Here I must mention that not every fabric is conducive to tearing like this – especially along the horizontal grain line.  This is why it’s important to use fabric that is soft enough to tear both horizontally and vertically.  I laundered my fabrics before tearing to make them even softer.

Anyway, now I had a lovely little stack of torn-edge fabric squares.

 

Stitching and Sewing

Time for the fun to start.  With the leftover bits of star fabric, I tore some two-inch squares.  I used the fabric glue stick to temporarily adhere one of the little squares to each red bandana napkin.

Then I hand stitched the little square to the bandana napkin with simple running stitches using the embroidery floss and needle.

Soon I had a cute little hand-sewn accent on those napkins.

But what about the frayed edges on my napkins?  Cute as they were, would they start to unravel and cause problems?  Probably.  I would need to stitch or sew around all four edges of each napkin to stabilize them.

And why not make the stitching part of the charm?

For the star fabric napkins, I used the same hand-stitched method – running stitches using the embroidery floss and needle.  I stitched along all four sides  – about a quarter inch in from the edge.

In theory, this project could have been done entirely by hand.  But, when I tried hand stitching on the red bandana napkins, I found that I didn’t have the right color of embroidery floss to make them look good.  So, for those napkins, I did a simple machine stitch along each side – again about a quarter inch in.

Because the fabric was soft, it was difficult to get the tension right on my machine.  I just made sure I pulled the fabric tight while I ran it through.

Anyway, all done!

The Result

I doubt Betsy Ross would be very impressed with these, but I like to think of them as my humble nod to the beautiful work she did centuries ago.

 

 

How will they hold up?  As a test, I ran them through the washing machine.  But to be safe, I let them air dry instead of going through the dryer.

A few errant threads came from the torn edges but it wasn’t that bad.  I will just trim them away.

I’m looking forward to using these little cuties soon.

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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Adventures With Visible Mending

I’ve never been much for embroidery or mending.  For a long time, I’d been putting off Chris’s request that I mend a torn glove that he likes to use.  But then I came across a beautiful post by Better Homes on the basics of visible mending.  Since we are still largely in stay-home-stay-safe mode here in my area, I had time to give it a try.

But first I would need embroidery floss.  I found a fun collection of vintage embroidery floss at The Swagman’s Daughter on Etsy.  I ordered six colors, and I love the cards they came on – so cute that I almost didn’t want to use the floss.

Vintage embroidery floss
Vintage embroidery floss from The Swagman’s Daughter.

The shop owner included a note with the package saying that she had recently cleared out an old haberdashery warehouse, and now she has a huge variety of vintage sewing items.  I will definitely be visiting that shop again!

Getting Started

I practiced on the glove (which I still haven’t finished) before tackling some other mending projects.  And, if you are new to visible mending and want to try it, I highly recommend that you practice first before taking a needle to any precious antique textiles you might have.

What I love about visible mending is that it doesn’t attempt to be perfect – or to hide the fact that something was mended:  On the contrary, it highlights it.  The mending becomes a sort of folk art – and a way to make a piece look unique and loved.

Here are few of my simple mending projects.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

Edwardian Tablecloth With Holes

Some time ago, I inherited a beautiful Edwardian-era tablecloth.  The fabric is very fragile, and it has a few holes.

 

I loved that I could use fabric scraps from my sewing room to create patches.

The patch was secured to the underside of the tablecloth using a fabric glue stick.  And then it was pinned.

Then came the fun part:  Choosing the floss colors.

Using an embroidery needle, I created running stitches in a circular motion with a few straight lines added for interest.

 

For a larger hole near the edge, I used a semi-circle patch of fabric.

 

There is not as much of the fabric patch showing through as I had hoped, but I think the subtle look works well for this sweet old tablecloth.

 

 

Torn Jeans

I went on the prowl for other things to mend.  Both knees were torn on my favorite pair of Levis, so they were fair game.

This time I wanted lots of color, so I used a bright batik fabric and blue and red floss.

 

 

I mostly used simple running stitches in vertical lines.  I drew lines first with tailor’s chalk since I didn’t trust myself (and rightly so) to stitch a straight line freehand.  And, although it’s better to do the stitching right-side-out, I discovered that it is impossible (at least for me) when working on knee tears because the inside of the fabric is so hard to reach.

So I worked on this project inside-out, and it turned out okay.

“Ah, there you are, human. Why aren’t you in the kitchen feeding me?” – Eddie.

 

I do wish I’d used a different color fabric.  The red looks a bit like I scraped my knees.

 

A Boring Sail Gets An Edge

I was enjoying visible mending so much that I began to look for other things to mend.  But I couldn’t find anything.

However, the sail on the little toy boat that I’d built with my niece was very plain and boring.

So I made a new sail, and I added a few interesting scraps of fabric.  For this project, I used crossed straight-stitches.

Our innocuous little sailboat is becoming a pirate ship.  With a few more tweaks, we’ll be ready to christen it the “Skeleton Crew.”

My method here was not exactly as recommended in the Better Homes post on visible mending.  I was just experimenting.  But I do highly recommend reading the post (and watching the accompanying video) if you are interested in learning some simple techniques.

 

Rustic Americana Napkins

I found a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that I thought had a fun “old Americana” look when combined.

With a few simple running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.

 

 

More on how I made these napkins can be found in this post.

 

It’s A Gateway Craft

I have been warned that visible mending is a gateway craft.  It can lead to doing things like intricate embroidery.  But I really don’t see myself going down that path.  I’m happy with my basic running stitches and crossed straight-stitches.

And that’s the beauty of it:  Visible mending is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

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
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Backyard Chicken 101 – Your Guide to Raising Chickens

I love that raising chickens is catching on as a hobby.  Hens are allowed in my city and, when I see a chicken coop in someone’s backyard, I am always tempted to try it myself.  A friend of mine with a healthy little flock of chickens has told me, more than once, that raising them does take research and preparation.  If the coop isn’t secure enough, chickens can easily be lost to predators – which of course would break my heart.

So I thought that this post, brought to me by a guest writer, would be a good starting point in learning all about raising backyard chickens.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Backyard Chicken 101 – Your Guide to Raising Chickens

There’s nothing better than getting back in touch with nature.  And, during the lockdown, many people have been doing just that – by focusing on their gardens.

As a result, raising backyard chickens has become a popular new interest.  With a properly built coop, chickens can be fairly low maintenance. It’s a fun project for the whole family, and you’ll certainly notice the difference between home-raised and store-bought eggs.

 

Where Can I Keep Chickens?

A chicken coop can be built in any private outdoor space. Chickens are very resilient animals and in many cases can cope with both hot and cold seasons. The coop size and shape can vary, depending on your backyard and the number of chickens you will have. Use a little common sense when choosing the position in your yard. You’ll want to provide some shelter to protect them from the elements. Face the front, windows, and outside run to the south to make the most of the sunlight.

Building Your Coop

You can choose whether to build your own chicken coop or buy one. For a little inspiration, here is a selection of poultry homes and accessories. But if you want to tackle a DIY project this summer, you can build a home for your chickens yourself. It’s a good idea to build a one- or two-brick foundation under the edges of the coop to prevent predators from digging. Make sure all walls are sealed with good quality chicken wire. Here is the ultimate guide to building a DIY chicken coop.

What Do Chickens Need?

Chickens need a well-ventilated coop that won’t be prone to moisture. In the winter especially they will need extra dry bedding, hay bales, and a heat source. They are pretty tough in cold weather, but keeping them dry is key. Make sure they have plenty of shade and drinking water in the summer.

Chickens are omnivorous animals and can eat a mixture of ingredients, but it’s better to give them chicken feed to be on the safe side. Here is a guide to supplementing chicken feed.

Safety

It’s recommended that hens be kept on your own property, and in a suitable outdoor space. If you’re renting, it’s very important you speak to your landlord first. If you’re looking for a new place to live, remember to check on which animals are allowed, and are a good fit, for any property you are interested in.  It’s also a good idea to check with previous owners or your realtor. For more advice on plans for your future home, contact https://altrua.ca.

Chickens are not cuddly pets, so be careful when handling them. Many people tame their birds to be very comfortable with human contact, but always wash your hands after handling them, and be especially careful with toddlers. Here is a health and safety guide about the risks involved.

 

 

Commitment

Like any animal, chickens are a commitment.  After lockdowns are lifted, life will become busier again.  So, before you commit to raising chickens, be sure to have an honest conversation with yourself about whether you will have the time to care for them in the future.  It’s also good to have a plan for who will care for your flock when you and your family are away on vacation.

But, if you do your research and take the proper steps, there’s no reason that you and your new feathered friends can’t coexist in harmony. Take good care of them, and they will provide you with delicious eggs all year round.

 

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
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Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

Upcycling An Ugly Plastic Box

A few days ago, I was looking for somewhere, anywhere, in my crowded garden to plant a couple of squash seedlings that I’d started in my greenhouse.   But my planting beds were already so crowded that the only space left for the seedlings was along the driveway fence line.

A Place In The Sun – But With A Problem

A while ago, Chris had cut back most of the bamboo growing along the fence line.  But the roots remain – in a dense mat that makes it impossible to plant anything.  And adding a soil mount for the seedlings, so close to the driveway, would have been messy.

So they would need to be in a container – preferably something wide, but not too high, so they could safely spill over the sides and creep along the ground.

I didn’t have a container like that, so I started looking for a box – something cute since we would be seeing it every day.  But the only thing I could find was a plastic garbage box – an old, extra box that our trash collectors didn’t want to take back.

It would work, but I would have to dress it up!

 

Putting Lipstick On A Pig

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First of all, the box needed drainage.  Chris drilled five drain holes in the bottom.

 

Now I just needed to find a way to conceal its ugliness.  I remembered the used burlap coffee sacks that my Mom had purchased at a local plant nursery.  She’d given me a few of them.

 

Yes, one of these sacks would do nicely.

 

 

Wanting to save the more attractive sacks for other projects, I chose one with simple bold lettering.

Burlap coffee sack

 

The bag had some interesting woven seams.

Burlap coffee sack

 

Sadly, I would need to remove most of the seams to make the fabric fit around the box.  But I did keep one nice woven seam intact.

I cut the fabric to roughly the size I needed, leaving a generous amount of excess fabric so that I could position the graphic lettering exactly where I wanted it to go.  (A few leftover coffee beans fell out when I did this.)

Projects using burlap

 

Then, I just wrapped the burlap around the box and pinned everything for sewing.  I pinned the burlap so that it would wrap very snugly around the top of the box, but I wanted the bottom to look a bit slouchy – like a burlap sack.

 

 

On the bottom, I gathered and stitched the fabric at each corner.

Burlap coffee sack

 

The fabric would wrap around the bottom of the box by a couple of inches on each side.

Why didn’t I just cover the entire bottom with burlap?  Because dirty water draining from the box would soil the burlap.

I hemmed the top edge of the burlap wrap just to keep it from unraveling, and then I folded the burlap over at the top of the box.  Since I had sewn the top to fit snugly, this fold-over is all that is needed to keep the fabric from sliding down.

projects using burlap

 

To make the look more interesting, I positioned the lettering to read vertically instead of horizontally.

The lettering is running in a straight line vertically, but I must confess that I was not very careful about making sure that the cuts and seams were straight.  This is no doubt the most slapped-together, slipshod sewing project ever to emerge from my sewing room.  But since it’s supposed to look like a slouchy burlap sack, that doesn’t even matter.

 

The Result

The squash seedlings look happy in their new home.

Burlap coffee sack

 

And the burlap doesn’t just sit there looking pretty:  It will also help to shield the black plastic from the hot summer sun – hopefully keeping the soil and plant roots from overheating.

The one woven seam that I saved helps to carry off the “slouchy sack” look.

Burlap coffee sack

 

But how will the burlap look once it’s been hit by weather?  I found out almost immediately.  The very night after I put the container in the garden, rain and wind kicked up.

The next morning, the rain had stopped and the burlap was drying quickly.

Projects using burlap

 

Later that day, when the sun came out, the plants and the burlap had made a complete recovery.

Burlap coffee sack

 

But I’m not kidding myself:  I’m sure that, by the end of the season, the burlap wrap will be looking very rustic.

More Burlap Projects to Come

If you saw my recent post, where I transformed a burlap coffee sack into a cushion cover, you probably think I’ve become a one-trick pony.

It’s just that burlap can serve so many purposes – and even solve problems like the one I had with these squash seedlings – or when I needed inexpensive light-duty window shades for my greenhouse.

projects using burlap

 

So you’ll probably be seeing more burlap projects from me as I work through those wonderful bags that Mom gave me.

Burlap Coffee Sacks

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.

 

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 Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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A Spring Garden Update – And My Favorite Ornamental Tomato

Like many of us, I’ve had more time than usual lately for spring garden clean up.  So, even though my garden is still far from perfect (and probably always will be), today I’d like to take you on a little tour.  Then, once we’re done, I’ll introduce you to my favorite ornamental tomato.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and let’s get started.  I have a ridiculous number of photos here!

First we head to . . .

The Greenhouse

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Until recently, our little Sunglo Greenhouse was packed with plants.  Some were brought in from the garden last fall to overwinter.  Some I bought in pony packs and moved into larger pots until the weather warms.  And I started a few seedlings.

Sunglo lean to greenhouse
The greenhouse was a crowded, chaotic mess – but in a good way!

This place is my little sanctuary, and I love any excuse to be in here.  We’ve made some fun additions to the greenhouse over the past few years:  The vintage-inspired trouble lights that my brother made, the burlap shades that I made, the simple potting sink that we installed – and the brick pony wall  and bed spring trellis that we added to the exterior.

The succulents that I propagated from cuttings last fall have taken root nicely.

Succulents
Succulents overwintered in the greenhouse.

 

Succulents

 

And now that the weather has warmed a bit, some plants are finally ready to go back outside.

Some of the succulents didn’t go far.  Now they are just outside the greenhouse.

 

Sunglo lean to greenhouse

 

Succulent garden
Succulent container.

 

But it will be at least another month before I trust the weather enough to put the tomatoes outside.  I’m still using my Tomato Tips from Mr. B and having success with that.

 

Our Orchard Mason Bees

We enjoy doing our part to help native bees, and this is the time of year when our orchard mason bees are out and about.  Their active season is only a couple of months long, and they have a lot of work to do in that time.

Orchard mason bee
An orchard mason bee on a flower.

Since they don’t have a hive or a queen, these little guys and gals are very docile as bees go.

They wait patiently in their little bee “apartment house” (actually a nesting block) for the weather to warm enough so they can fly.

Orchard mason bees
Wake up little bees, it’s time to fly!

They have been pollinating our fruit trees for us.

The Back Patio

The back patio is our favorite place in warm weather.  A patio heater helps us extend our enjoyment of the space.

 

Bluestone patio

Around the corner from the patio, a barberry shrub is in bloom.

Barberry

 

On the other end of the patio, a Corsican hellebore is spilling down from the raised bed.

Corsican hellebore

 

Nearby is this little beauty:  A geranium called Brocade Fire.  I just brought it out from the greenhouse.  So cute even before it blooms!

Brocade Fire geranium
A fresh Brocade Fire geranium in a lion pot that’s seen better days.

 

 

Near that is our most-used birdbath:  A cast concrete base (made and given to us by my Mom) with a pot saucer on top.

birdbath

 

It stands near our little green shed.

garden shed

Time to move on to . . .

The Shade Garden

green garden bench

The shade garden is always a mix of things I planted and things that planted themselves.

birdbath

 

Sometimes it leads to chaos and sometimes to a surprising color tapestry.  I try not to be too controlling here.

birdbath

 

The Front Porch

On the porch, we are still enjoying the new burlap coffee sack seat cover that I made for the bench.

burlap coffee sack repurpose

 

Next to the bench, a jasmine vine is blooming and giving us some wonderful fragrance.

Jasmine vine

 

The little myrtle, which I’ve spent years training into a topiary, also came out of the greenhouse recently – with a ride-along lobelia that grew longer all winter.

Myrtle topiary

 

I made a hanging garden sphere last spring and planted it with New Guinea impatiens.  This year, I wanted a simple and woodsy look.  So now the sphere is home to an exotic fern.

DIY garden sphere

 

Oh dear, I’m being told it’s time to wrap up the tour.  Eddie has been watching us from the window, and all this activity has interrupted his beauty sleep.

“This tour has gone on long enough. Get in here and feed me!” – Eddie.

 

I’ll feed you in a minute, Eddie.  First, let’s quickly talk about . . .

My Favorite Ornamental Tomato

Last spring, I bought a little Indigo Rose tomato seedling.  I had never grown one before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It grew into a large and hardy plant, and it bore shiny and intriguing plum-sized black fruit on dark foliage.

They didn’t really look like tomatoes, and visitors kept asking what they were.

Indigo rose tomato

 

The fruit started out green, but the side exposed to the sun turned black as it matured.  The back, shaded side of the fruit remained green, and then it turned red as the fruit ripened.  So I knew (after I looked it up) that if a tomato was black and red, it was ready to pick.

They took a while to ripen.  We harvested our first tomatoes in August.

 

Indigo rose tomato

 

 

The flavor was just average.  But we had very little, if any, split or rotted fruit on the vine.  And they were such gorgeous little tomatoes.

I loved the little flower-like pattern left where the stems had shielded the fruit from the sun.

 

Indigo rose tomato

 

I wondered if the inside would be black as well – or maybe a crazy mix of black and red.  But it was just a pinkish red.

Indigo rose tomato

 

They added interest to salads and appetizers.

Caprese appetizer
A simple caprese appetizer with cherry tomatoes and Indigo Rose tomatoes.

 

Sadly, with many local stores currently closed, I haven’t been able to find any Indigo Rose seedlings or seed packets this year.  But vendors, like this one on Etsy, are offering seeds.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  Thanks for coming along today!

 

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 Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

A Burlap Coffee Sack Repurpose

My previous post, called “Survival Sewing,” featured DIY cloth face masks and a DIY paper towel alternative.  But in today’s feature, I’m sharing a survival sewing project of a different kind:  One that lifted my spirits during these strange times.

On a recent sunny day, I took a socially-distanced walk around the neighborhood, and I noticed something:  People sitting in their front yards, on their front porches or stoops, in their driveways, or even on parking curbs.  Instead of enjoying the privacy of their back yards, they were sitting anywhere they could see other people – and be seen by them.

I’ve never appreciated my front porch more than I do right now.  But the cushion cover on our bench needed to be replaced.  So, I decided to sew a new cushion cover using something that would remind me of travel – specifically Hawaii:  A burlap coffee sack that we’d purchased at a coffee plantation on The Big Island.

Burlap coffee sack

 

 

 

Transforming a Burlap Coffee Sack Into a Bench Seat Cushion Cover

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  More information can be found on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Here it’s important to mention that the sack was brand new and had never been used to store coffee beans.  Had it been a used sack, I would have needed to wash it first.

I would like to say that the burlap sack measured at exactly the right dimensions and I could just slip the cushion into it and be done.  But of course that was not the case.

I needed a plan.

Fitting the Coffee Sack to the Bench Cushion

I ripped out the seams of the sack until it was one flat piece of fabric.

burlap coffee sack repurpose

I love the graphic on this piece, and I cut the fabric so that the portion with the graphic could center perfectly on the cushion.

Then I cut another piece measuring the same size for the bottom of the cushion.

These pieces would, when sewn together, be wide enough to wrap around the cushion.  But they were too short to cover the entire length.

A Simple Solution

For me, simple is always best.  So I decided to sew a new cushion cover with a nice outdoor fabric.  Then I would sew the sides of the burlap sack together, leaving the ends unsewn, and just slip it over the new cushion cover like a sleeve.

I could leave the ends of the burlap sack unsewn because it had lovely selvaged edges that were showing no signs of wanting to unravel.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap sack selvage edge

 

For the cushion cover, I would use this beautiful Sunbrella fabric that would coordinate nicely, both in color and in texture, with the burlap sack.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap coffee sack with Sunbrella outdoor fabric

Off to the sewing room this all went.  I made a cushion cover with the Sunbrella fabric and then a simple slip cover with the coffee sack.

 

The Result

It worked!

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I paired it with a throw pillow that I’d found at an outdoor market in Hawaii.

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I was going for a look that said “staycation” rather than “shelter in place.”  For a different look, perhaps during the holidays, I can use the red Sunbrella cushion cover without the coffee sack.

But for now, I’m enjoying this little bit of Hawaii on our front porch.

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

 

We also hung a string of chili pepper lights as a little socially-distanced “hello” to neighbors.

 

For some added entertainment while sitting on the porch, we hung a little house that contains nesting material to attract birds.

Nesting material house

 

And next to our front door, a Himalayan maidenhair fern is thriving.  It was so tiny when I bought it last summer.

Himalayan maidenhair fern with cyclamen and primrose.

 

We humans might be experiencing a pandemic, but nature still goes on.

Burlap Coffee Sacks As Art and Textile

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  My Mom gave me some used coffee sacks that she bought at a nursery, and I can’t wait to wash them and start using them for crafts.

A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.

 

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 Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

Replace, Repurpose Or Repair? Tips For Homeowners

I think we are all going to learn something from our time of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the things I’m learning is that I can make do with less – and I can work with what I already have.

Especially now, with many shops closed and me reluctant to go out, I find myself carefully evaluating whether I really need to throw something away or whether I can find another use for it around the home or garden.  It’s what generations before me did, and it actually feels very satisfying.

So I thought this post, brought to me by a guest writer, would be a fun one to share today.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Replace, Repurpose Or Repair? Tips For Homeowners

If you’re a homeowner, chances are that you will, at some point, find yourself in a situation where you need to decide what to do with household items, furniture and appliances that have seen better days.

Most of the things we buy today won’t last a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that tossing them in the trash pile is always the best course of action. In many cases, it is possible make repairs or to repurpose your possessions to extend their lifespan. If you’re a creative crafter, a DIY enthusiast, or a savvy saver, here are some tips to help you make the most of the items you buy or inherit.

Furniture

Furniture is functional, but it also has a hand in making our homes look fabulous. If you’ve inherited or purchased pieces of furniture in the past, you might find yourself wondering what to do with a chair, chest or table that is past its best. If you’ve fallen out of love with an armchair, your tastes have changed, or your table has got a wonky or missing leg, there are options you can explore.

If the piece is in good working order, you could consider donating it to charity or selling it online. Another option is altering the aesthetic so that it complements your style and the look of the room. Painting kitchen units is an excellent example of a simple way of revamping and freshening up something that might not be to your taste to create a brand new look, for example.

If you have pieces that are tired, worn or damaged, explore the possibility of breathing new life into your furniture before throwing it in the trash pile. You could exercise your creative skills and talents and take on an upcycling project.

Upcycling is increasingly popular and it involves restoring and potentially repurposing items to use or display in your home. You could turn an old coffee table into a cool, retro games table for the kids or grandchildren, for example. If you’re new to upcycling, you’ll find a host of guides and video tutorials online.

 

Image by courtesy of Pixabay

Appliances

Buying appliances for your home can be expensive, so it’s natural to feel a little anxious if your refrigerator has started making funny noises or your washing machine isn’t working properly. When thinking about repairing or replacing kitchen appliances and electronics, it’s always wise to weigh the pros and cons before you decide what to do. If it’s going to cost you a huge amount of money to call an expert to repair your freezer or refrigerator, and the work won’t extend its lifespan significantly, it’s worth considering buying a replacement.

On the other hand, if you can arrange quick, affordable freezer repair, and you won’t need to worry about buying a new freezer for a few years, this option is likely to appeal. Get some quotes for repairs and research the cost of buying new. If you purchased your appliances a long time ago, replacing them might save you money in the long-term, as new technology is greener and more energy-efficient.

 

Image courtesy of Pexels.com

Home Accessories

Many of us like to use decorative accessories and finishing touches to make our homes aesthetically pleasing and unique. Buying accessories is a great way to channel new trends and change the look of a room without spending a fortune.  But you don’t have to get rid of the accessories that have fallen off of the interior design magazine seasonal must-have lists or chuck broken items out. If you have plant pots or frames that are damaged or dated, for example, it may be possible to either repair or revamp them. You can reframe pictures and photographs or restore existing frames, and you can often fix broken storage pots and ornaments that have taken a tumble or spent too long in a box in the attic.

The choices you make will depend on how much you want to keep the item in question and the extent of the damage, but it’s always worth exploring all the options on the table. It’s worth seeking advice if you do want to restore a vase, a clock, a mirror or a frame, but the job requires specialist skills and expertise.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

As a homeowner, you might find that your taste changes or you find yourself trying to decide whether to replace or repair a kitchen appliance or a treasured piece of furniture. Sometimes, it’s possible to restore and revamp furniture and accessories and to extend the lifespan of washing machines, freezers and ovens. Before you decide whether to replace, repurpose or repair, weigh up your options, consider costs and don’t be afraid to get creative.

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