May 31, 2013

Organic Gardening Tip - Simple Weed Control

We just finished planting our veggie garden for this year.  We try to be as organic as possible in growing our own fruits and vegetables.  Our town has a small nursery that has been here for over 50 years and they always give me great advice!  

I was talking to them about organic gardening and how last year I had a problem with weeds.  Their expert advice was this, "DO NOT buy expensive organic weed control products, but rather shred a regular old newspaper (luckily we have a paper shredder)!   Spread a few inches of the shredded paper over the top of the soil, turn it into the soil and water it well.  Then just plant the veggies as normal.  He said that something in the newspaper and it's print doesn't allow weeds to germinate/grow.  He said if we did this at the beginning of each season, we would have very few weeds the entire year. 


After turning a few inches of shredded paper into the soil, we planted tomatoes, cucumbers, green bunching onions (chives), cilantro, basil, zucchini, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe and kale.


We watered everything well and now I can't wait to have fresh home grown fruits and veggies!  

The strawberries on the lower level we had already planted prior to the newspaper trick... so now I'll be comparing the amount of weeds in the bottom, around the strawberries) to the top.  I am hopeful that the newpaper trick will control the weeds.  Assuming it will, I will be sure to put the shredded paper into all of our garden areas next time :)


In a few weeks I will update you on how our fruit and veggie garden is doing/producing and how our weed control is going.

Happy decorating and happy gardening!

Blessings,
Diana

May 24, 2013

$10 DIY Organizer & Bulletin Board

I made this multi purpose organizer board for just $10.  The solid wood shutter I found at a thrift store for only five dollars.  It was still raw wood.  When I first found it I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but for five bucks, I just had to get it!  A little paint (that I already had) and $5 worth of hooks (from Target Stores) and now it works as a garage entry board to hang our keys, hats, purses, backpacks, and whatever else we want to pop on a hook.  That door at the end of the hall is to our garage.  This is where we enter and exit the house, since our cars are parked inside... so the board is in a perfect location!

Since I found this shutter piece in raw wood, I started by painting it a creamy off white (heirloom white).


Next I used a dry brush technique to add a multitude of blue and aqua craft paints.


I lightly sanded the edges of the shutter and then used a touch of dark wax on the edges and in the crevices to give it some vintage aged character.


I love the finished look of the distressed paint!!!  This next picture shows you a close up of the finish.


I added four hooks across the bottom.  I measured and marked where they needed to go before attaching them.


My husband hung my masterpiece onto the wall for me (he's such a sweetie).  He secured it into a stud... and then I used Command Picture Hanging Strips on the back at the bottom to keep it from shifting on the wall.  Since they are velcro they worked great!

The shutter slots are awesome because they have many uses.  They easily hold outgoing mail, menus or flyers to my favorite stores.


I added a few clothes pins and now the board doubles as a bulletin board too.  It's a great place to put fun pictures and notes.  


I am loving my new piece and I love even more that I made it for only $10.

Until next time,
Happy decorating,

Diana



May 20, 2013

Pottery Barn Love and SO Much Inspiration

Need a Pottery Barn fix???  I did... so I got one yesterday :)  

Pottery Barn is about an hour away so I don't get to visit their store very often.  But when I do I always get so inspired.  They have great accessories, beautiful furnishings and much of it looks vintage, even though it's new.  I thought I'd share my visit to their store with you.  Here are some pictures of things that inspired me.

Let me first start off by saying, I have the most amazing husband ever!!!  In this next picture, that is him, my hubby Jim sitting on the couch.  He is so patient.  He allows me to spend as much time as I want browsing and he never ever complains.  Women in stores constantly tell me how lucky I am... and I completely agree!



Aqua is my absolute favorite color!  So seeing so much of it around the store definitely got my decorating juices flowing.  I was thinking... I want that, I want that and I want that.  I know that makes me sound like a brat.  But, seriously anything aqua or sea glass inspired makes me feel super calm, peaceful and relaxed and I can't help but want it!


I enjoy seeing all of the red, white and blue patriotic decor.  Independence Day isn't too far away and they have so many items that I'd love to own.  I hope to do my porch up cute for the 4th of July!  I don't have the budget to just buy what I like, so I will definitely have to come up with some budget friendly DIY's!


If only a creamy white sofa would stay clean.  I would own one in a heartbeat if I thought our family could handle it.  Since it would likely be dirty in a week, I stick with darker furniture.  I admit that I'm basically a chicken! 


I noticed that much of the patriotic decor was also nautically inspired.  If only we could all have a beach house :)  I can dream, right?



I didn't look to see how much these flag pillows are.  I assume they are pillow slip covers since that is what Pottery Barn usually sells.  I think I might need to go back and get a couple... because I am absolutely Loving them.  So fun!!!


Are you feeling inspired yet???

Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Diana


May 13, 2013

Murphy's Law and Our First DIY Tile Job

Last month we decided it was finally time to put up a real back-splash in our kitchen.  When we moved into our new house the back splash was just a painted wall.  Then last year I had painted it with chalkboard paint which was pretty fun for awhile, but grease splatters from cooking and chalkboard paint don't exactly go together very well!  So, it was time to figure out what to put up as a real back-splash.  We spent a few weekends looking at every type of stone, tile, marble, etc... and in the end we chose a simple antique white ceramic subway tile.  It's classic, it's neutral and goes with everything.  Plus it wasn't too expensive which I liked!


We had watched a DIY video on how to lay a tile backsplash and were comfortable with it.  So I planned to have all of the needed materials in advance of the weekend... hoping we could complete the entire job in one weekend.  I had plenty of tile, thin set (the gunk that holds the tile to the wall), a tile trowel, a rubber float, a 5 gallon bucket, a mixing paddle, tape, plastic to protect the counters... etc....  We were fully prepared.   

We had bought this handy dandy tile cutter that we had seen at a swap meet last year that was supposed to be awesome!  The guy at the swap meet was like an infomercial showing us how easy it was to use the contraption.   And he made it look super easy!  With that little contraption cutting tile was going to be a breeze.  (INSERT Murphy's Law HERE)... Anything that can go wrong will... And if it looks to good to be true, it probably IS!!!

Saturday morning all excited and ready to tile we decided we better cut a tile to see how it looks.  UHG!  What the heck.... it looked horrible.  We followed the directions, did it just like the guy showed us.  Needless to say, the thing was a piece of CRAP (excuse my language) but i can't think of a better word!

We would not be defeated, this was just a temporary set-back.  I looked online at both Lowe's and the Home Depot to see what kind of tile cutters they sold in store.  We didn't want to spend a few hundred dollars on a fancy wet saw, we simply wanted something that would cut a straight line clean.  Okay, so Home Depot had a non electric sort of like vice that held the tile where you would score the tile and then snap it.  It was about $30 and the box directions made it look easy enough so we bought it.  We took the saw home and cut one tile....  AHHH, no.  The tile was ugly, chipped and looked horrible.  

Time for a break... we got some lunch and now our morning job wouldn't start until afternoon.

After lunch it was back to the store.  Now it was time to get serious.  We needed to buy something electric, something that would actually cut the tile, not just score it.  So we returned the "mistake" purchase and wanted to buy something a bit more industrial... Yay, power tools!  Nothing at the first store in our budget.

So off to another store where I found a small (personal size for small projects) electric wet saw.  It was slightly larger than my laptop and a bit thicker.  It held a little water and it said it would cut tiles up to 12".  It was under $100 and came with the cutting blade.  Finally this should do it.  Since we were only using small subway tile, this would work... or at least it should work.  Right???

We live in a somewhat rural area so going to the home improvement store is a 16 mile round trip... and having to go to the competitors store is about a 40 mile round trip in the opposite direction.  So by the time we found the saw, our day was pretty much shot.  We decided to hang it up for the day.  The next day (Sunday) we would start again in the morning.  Okay, so our tile job might take two weekends, but we could deal with that!  Since my hubby works all week, weekends are the only time for this kind of job.

I'd like to say that this is where the story ends and that we lived happily ever after.... But, unfortunately I can't.  Because Saturday night something was bugging me about the little wet saw we had just purchased.  It just didn't "feel right".  I guess you could call it intuition, but I just knew this was not the way to go.  I decided I better look online for reviews on the little saw.  And guess what???  Yep, the reviews were horrendous!   Although the saw might cut a few tiles, it will rust as soon as you use it.  Imagine that, a wet saw that rusts.  Not only will the cutting blade rust immediately, but also the saw tables metal surface rusts on day one of use.   So for $100 you have purchased a throw away tool.  

Our kitchen back-splash has 8 electrical outlets and one phone jack in the backsplash area.  All of which need to have the tile cut around them.  At this point I had no idea how many days of cutting work this would take, but I knew I was not going to keep a saw that would rust.

Okay, so maybe we could rent a tile saw for a day, but at this rate and most likely we would need it for several days and that gets pretty expensive.  So buying one was still our desire.

On Sunday morning we decided to bite the bullet and go buy a proper wet saw.  The place we decided to buy it was a 50 mile round trip.  We purchased the wet saw, the cutting blade and a two year warranty (just in case).  This thing is going to last us one way or another!!!  

With breakfast in route combined with our time at the store and then returning home, it was after noon by the time we got home.  Yay, we got a real tile saw... like the pros use.  Some assembly required.  That's okay, we can do this.  I joked that it would be 4:00 before we could cut tile (I was joking, I swear!).

But, here comes Murphy again!!!  Tile saw set up, turn it on, loud POP...  NO... Seriously, what just happened???  We open up where the blade is attached and the piece that holds the blade in place was broke in half.  I thought my husband was joking... then he showed me.  It was broken!  Okay, I finally lost it and started crying!!!  After all, a girl can only take so much...  

My husband was still cool as a cucumber.  He noticed that the hole size in the center of the blade was too large for the mount that it sat on.  This is what caused the break to happen.  He suggested we go back to the place we bought the saw (another 50 mile round trip) and take the broken piece and the blade that they sold us.  Tell them what happened and ask them to open another saw and give us a new piece to replace the broken piece... and also give us the correct size saw blade.  

I wanted to tile and I wanted it done in one weekend.  And that was so not happening!!!   

I finally stopped having a pitty party hopped into the car and off we went for what felt like the millionth time... to get a saw that worked.  I know that's a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously this was getting ridiculous!!!

The good news is that the store fixed our problem, they gave us the piece we needed off of another saw, also gave us the proper blade and apologized.  All was well... And it was going to work this time.  It had to...

It was just before 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon that we finally cut our first tile.   



Here is a sneak peek at our tile... The first wall is done... and so far so good.  We have only just begun!  I pray that Murphy and his Law will stay away for the rest of this project...  We only have weekends to work on it, so hopefully before long, I will be able to share our completed back splash with you :)


Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Diana




May 6, 2013

$5 Wall Art - Decorating with Letters

I recently decorated the base of our stairwell with some thrift and flea market finds that I had painted and given new life.  The wall at the right of the stairwell was begging for some sort of wall art.  While shopping at Michaels Craft Store I found large letters made from a paper mache type cardboard on sale for $5 each.  I decided to to get a large "W" for our last name, which is Walker.  With some leftover Black Chalkboard Paint that I had on hand, I brushed on a quick coat and let it dry... There you have it. This was seriously the easiest ever DIY wall art!!!

Below is a picture of what it looked like before I painted it.  I always say it's amazing what a little paint can do!


I waited about 15 minutes for the paint to dry and then I put Command Picture Hanging Strips on the back to make for easy hanging.  Command Strips are awesome for hanging lightweight items and they don't damage the walls (which I love)!!!


I've always like the look of decorating with letters, but this is the first time I've actually done it.  I like it so much that I think I'll do another somewhere else in our home :)

Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Diana