Tag Archives: DIY

Spring has Sprung! Garden Progress and a New Wreath

This Winter/Spring has been the weirdest.  I mean, really, we used our snow blower only twice this year- and even then it wasn’t entirely necessary.  With unusually warm temperatures in Minnesota, my perennial gardens were blooming…with weeds!  In early March!

The dandelions have begun to take over!   Last year when everything in the backyard was weeded properly, I mulched everything really well.  Before mulching, I didn’t lay down any sort of weed barrier.  Big mistake.  I battled the tenacious (and quite vicious, if you ask me!) Canadian Thistle all summer long.  I felt like I was fighting this losing battle, and gardening just wasn’t fun anymore.  I had to be outside every single day (sometimes two or three times a day) attacking this stupid weed.  I tried everything (nearly), and even asked the local garden center what to do.  Their recommendation:  Total Vegetation Killer.   Yikes!  I didn’t want to go that route, so this year I decided to rake up all the mulch I laid down last year and put down some landscaping fabric.  It was a lot of work, but my super awesome friend, Megan, came over to help:

Megan helping lay the fabric

We managed to finish two of the biggest areas—in a little over 2 hours!  We were rockin’ it!  It was actually kind of fun, and I hope it really does keep the weeds from taking over this year.

When we purchased our house, nearly two years ago, both the front yard and the backyard looked like hell.  I mean, it really looked like a wild jungle.  A single, 80 year old lady owned our place and I think all the gardens became too much for her to handle.  Heck!  I’m not even 30 and they were too much for me to handle!!!

Here’s a few photos of the backyard from last year—after everything was pretty much cleaned up.

This looks small, I know. It's not though. It is probably at least 6' wide. The raised bed that's in there is a 4'x4' if that gives any idea to the actual size of this garden.

This was the worst. I'm not real sure why they decided to build the fence like they did and leave that portion of the yard unfenced, but it is a HUGE area...and the weeds love it there. I'm thinking of planting a pine tree in that empty space (which is bigger than it looks).

This area still looks a little wild. I'm going to get rid of all that green stuff in the front part. It's invasive and I hate it. I don't know what it is...

I've tackled this area already this spring....fabric laid down, just need to mulch. And possibly divide that hydrangea?

I laid fabric on the backside of this garden last year...and the thistles were no longer a problem. I'm hoping that's true for everything else this year.

I was excited that my new home had all these beautiful flowers and plants, and I had all these big ideas about how pretty it was going to look when I was done with everything.  I knew nothing about gardening, couldn’t tell the difference between some of the flowers and the weeds, and very quickly became discouraged.  I didn’t know where to start and the further I got into the project, the bigger the project seemed.  We had a landscaper come out and tell me what things were (and they did that for free!), then we decided to hire him to clean everything up in the backyard so that I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed.  We were so happy with his work that we hired him again this year to do our front yard (which still looks like a jungle!).  Now I just have to keep up with everything…

Do any of you have giant perennial gardens?  How do you keep them (semi)weed-free?  How about veggie gardens?  Our gardens in the front yard are so full of stuff that laying landscape fabric down is not really an option….and it kind of makes me crazy thinking about how I’m going to keep up with it all.

I’m excited though…hopefully my veggie garden will do good this year and I can make salads, like this:

with things I grew myself.

I was so happy last year when my first tomato grew!  Unfortunately my garden struggled…but I got a few things out of it.

On a totally different topic, with the arrival of spring, comes a new wreath for the door!

I bought the wreath, itself, at a garage sale last year.  For a dollar, I believe.  It’s a brown, straw form.  Although I bought this pre-made, it looks easy enough to make on your own.  Basically all that grass looking stuff is just hot-glued into/onto the form.  I then added the sprig of purple beads and the butterflies.  I thought it needed a little somethin’ extra.

Before I added the embellishments to it, the wreath had been sitting on my counter…taking up space.  My cat, Penny, decided she liked it:

Penny, nesting.

She thinks she owns everything…


Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Wreath

I like pretty things.

I like pretty things even more if they’re inexpensive!  I mean, really?  Who doesn’t love a deal?  With the holidays upon us, I wanted a wreath for our front door.  I didn’t want just a plain evergreen wreath though, I wanted something with some pizazz!

I found a bunch of ideas online…and planned on making a marshmallow holiday wreath.  I went to both Hobby Lobby and Michaels but had no luck finding a wreath form.  Sure, I did find one at Michaels…but they wanted like 11 bucks for a piece of styrofoam.  Call me cheap.  I don’t care.  I’m not spending 11 bucks for a piece of styrofoam.  No way. If I did that, by the time the wreath was done it would end up costing me a fortune…and it would probably just be cheaper to buy a pre-made one in the first place (can you believe the prices of holiday wreaths? INSANE!).  So, feeling a little defeated, I decided to check Goodwill.  I mean, what can’t you find at Goodwill?!

As soon as I walked in the door I promptly headed towards all the fake, plastic flowers.  Hiding behind a bunch of dusty daisies and a straw garland I found a perfect styrofoam wreath form.  It was covered with junk, LOTS of junk…but I saw potential.  I also spotted a giant bag of “holiday” pine cones with some leaves and small flowers added in for good measure.  Since everything holiday was 50% off, I scored the wreath and the pine cones for 5 bucks. Awesome!

I took my finds home and got to work.  I tore all the junk off the wreath and trashed it, it wasn’t worth saving.  Then, I grabbed the hot glue gun and got to gluing!   I covered the whole wreath as good as I could with the pine cones and then stuck a few random twigs and leaves (notice the bay leaves?!)  in just to add a little depth—or something like that!  Once everything was how I liked it, I sprayed it very, very quickly with some white spray paint…to mimic snow!  Which is sort of ironic, actually.  It’s the end of December in Minnesota, and this is what it looks like out our back window:

Snowless December

We have no snow!!! I kind of think we deserve a nice, mild winter though for having to put up with the hellish one last year!

Beginning of November last year

Anyway, back to the wreath, when the spray paint was still wet and sticky I sprinkled it with some epsom salts so that you’d really get the “snow effect”.  Once it was dried, I used some ribbon that we had leftover from decorating our Christmas tree and tied a bow to hang the it on the door.  I added a Christmas ornament that said “Peace.”  I’ve had the ornament since I was in college…so it didn’t cost me a dime at the present.

I thought it needed a little something else though, so I ran to Hobby Lobby quick.  They didn’t have much to choose from…at all!  So I ended up purchasing a little, red, beaded cardinal and some piece of fake evergreen with red glitter on it.  Total cost?  $1.50.

I hung it on the door using a 3M hanger dealy that I already had lounging around my “junk” drawer.

All in all I spent $6.50 out of pocket.  That’s like 1/2 the cost of a new styrofoam wreath!!!  Crazy!  Plus I feel even better about it because I used something that was someone else’s trash—I’m upcycling, baby!  Apparently, upcycling—turning trash into treasure—is all the rage right now.  So not only do I have a new, totally awesome holiday wreath…I’m also incredibly trendy!  That’s right. Trendy!

(I’ve linked this up @ Addicted to Decorating)

From Drab to Fab! Dresser Re-do

I’ve been looking for a dresser to put in our entry way since we purchased our home a year ago.  I wanted something cute but functional, and most importantly, I did not want to spend a crazy amount of money.  Every time I would find the perfect piece, the price tag would leave me stunned.  Seriously?!  $400 dollars for a small dresser…and it’s not even real wood?!  I don’t think so!  That’s when I decided that my budget for the dresser/table would be $25 dollars.  It was going to be a challenge but I didn’t think it was unreasonable.  I started going to garage sales, scouring Craigslist, and frequenting the thrift shops in the area.  Every once in awhile I’d find exactly what I wanted but either it was already sold or it was priced higher than I thought it should be.  Maybe I’m crazy, but most of the time I think people expect too much money for their stuff they’re trying to sell on Craigslist or at garage sales.  Am I cheap?  I don’t think so.  I’m just practical.

I knew exactly what I wanted and I was willing to wait for it (which is very unlike me.  I’m usually very impulsive!).  A couple weeks ago I decided to take a trip to The Salvation Army.  It’s kind of a dirty thrift store that has a ton of furniture…most of it junk.  I made my usual rounds, checking out the dishes and the cookbooks.  Finally I made my way to the furniture and there, surrounded by giant, damaged (but oh so expensive) buffets and broken tv stands, was my dresser!  There was no sold sign on it but I expected that the price tag would read $40.  That’s about how much they usually sell these things for, and I actually would have paid it; but it must have been my lucky day!  It was only $12.  $12!!!  Sold!

Isn't she a beauty?

I was so excited about this find that as soon as I got home I tore the hardware off and started sanding.  I primed everything but was having a hard time deciding what color to paint it.  The photo doesn’t really show, but the top of the dresser is a really nice cream colored laminate.  I knew I wanted to keep this for now (maybe eventually I’ll ask my dad to make me a new wooden top), so I had to find something that would go well with it.  I thought maybe I would paint it white and do maroon accents.  I tried this, but all the curves on the top drawer really started to annoy me.  I ended up spray painting my entire hand maroon by accident.  It was not pretty.  Nothing I had at home would get it off either…not even fingernail polish remover.  So I walked around looking like a freak for a couple days…oh well.

I decided I’d just hand paint the accents and that would work good enough for me.  So I primed back over the maroon.  Then, I thought that maybe the dresser would look nice in a light almond color with pretty metallic hardware.  So I gave it a try.  It was perfect!  Then I took some sandpaper and roughed up parts of the dresser to make it look a little less perfect and give it some character.  I was happy, and so was the dresser.

Who said dressers don't have feelings?

I love how a small hint of the maroon peeks through

I still want to hand paint that little decal on the bottom and legs too.  Then I’ll paint over them with the cream and distress it a little.  Hopefully this will make it look a little more like the top drawer and make it “pop” a little more.  For now though, I’m incredibly happy with my $12 dollar steal.  I probably only have $20 stuck into this thing.

This is how it looks in my entry way (a work in progress). Everything you see in the photo has been repurposed from Goodwill.

Do any of you hunt for deals or enjoy thrifting?  what are some of your favorite finds?

P.S.  Do you see that giant pot behind the dresser in the above photo?  It’s super heavy and still has the plastic on it (I didn’t get to it this summer).  This $130 dollar pot from the local nursery was mine for only $5 at a garage sale!  Some doctor was selling it and I asked, “how much?”  He told me he just bought it but didn’t think he’d really use it so I could have it for $5.  He also gave me a neat looking side table for free too!  It’s in the garage still waiting for it’s makeover.  Sometimes living in Rochester has it’s perks…