Since Spring refuses to show its face outdoors here in Iowa, I decided to start my own Spring indoors by growing seedlings!
This is the first time I have ever attempted to grow my own seedlings indoors. I have tried starting seeds outdoors unsuccessfully because I couldn't keep them moist enough. Normally, I buy everything I need for my gardens from a nursery or hardware store. The plants are hardy and ready to get in the ground. This year I want to see if I can create a "full circle" garden by starting the seeds, planting the seedlings, harvesting veggies from the plants, and preserving the veggie seeds for seedlings next year. My fingers are crossed really hard that this will work - but we'll see!
Because I didn't know how successful I'd be with seedlings, I didn't want to spend a lot of money to get started. That's why I went the eggshell route. So far, it has been a good option for me.
Here's what I am using for my seedlings:
Step 1: Gather & Rinse Eggshells
I started three long trays of seeds. This required 4 1/2 dozen eggs. I was able to fit 1 1/2 egg cartons in each tray, equaling 36 pods for seeds.
Be sure to rinse out the eggshells. After rinsing, I placed each eggshell half back into the egg carton to dry and prepare for the next step.
Step 2: Add Dirt & Seeds
I filled each eggshell half about 3/4 full of soil, planted the seeds as directed on the packet, and sprinkled a little more soil over each eggshell. I then soaked the soil and seeds with water.
To identify what I was growing, I wrote with a Sharpie on clothespins and clipped them to the sides of the cartons.
Step 3: Fill Trays & Find Some Sunshine
You can get creative with whatever you choose (or choose not) to hold your egg cartons in. I purchased seed starter trays from Menards with a clear, domed lid for my cartons, but I read online you could simply cover your cartons with plastic wrap. You'd probably just want to set your cartons on something because if you're using a non-Styrofoam carton, it will get soggy.
Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you have something to help create humidity so the seeds can germinate.
Once you have the eggshells situated, find some sun! Or at least some good natural light. We don't have a lot of places in our house for this, so I had to do some rearranging to make it work. My grandma gifted me with my great grandma's grow light plant stand and I positioned it in the front/east side of our house in front of a large window. In the evening, I turn on the grow light for a little extra exposure.
Step 4: Rotate Trays & Water Occasionally
The way I'm growing my seedlings is based a little on online research and a lot on my own instincts when checking in on my trays. I rotate trays every other day to make sure they're getting equal light both through the window and from the grow light at night. I also turn them around once in a while so different sides of the sprouting seedlings are getting the light they need.
I soak the soil good once a week. I check in between watering to make sure the top layer of soil is wet. If it seems dry, I spritz with a spray bottle. You don’t want the soil to be too wet for too long, otherwise you are at risk for mold and root rot.
Step 5: Whisper Kind Words & Enjoy
I truly believe that speaking kindly to plants helps them grow. So when I'm checking on the seedlings or feeling proud of how they're progressing, you better believe I'm giving them words of encouragement!
I've seen some really promising results in the first week, with a good 50% of my seeds starting to sprout! Here's what my cucumbers looked like at the end of week one. As promised, I'll share more progress photos as the weeks go by!
End of week two and I’ve already had to move the green beans into larger containers because they’re getting too tall for the humidity domes!
It’s week three and some seedlings are strong while others haven’t come through. The cucumbers are looking good, I’m seeing a new type of leaf sprouting from them. The tomatoes are also coming along. Other items, like the lettuce and herbs have good days, then bad days. Trying to figure out the balance of water, sun, and airing out the trays (when they smell like they may be on the brink of molding).
Week four has been a tough one. Some of the little guys I thought would pull through shriveled up...I still haven't mastered the water/sun/airing out ratio. BUT - I did replant some lavender seeds and they're showing their pretty green sprouts!
In the middle of week five I planted the green beans outside and they're doing great.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our kitchen is small. I’m always thinking about how I can use the space we have more efficiently.
We had an undercabinet range hood over our stove that was really serving no purpose. You had to plug it in each time you wanted to use it, which required an ugly cord draping down to our countertop outlet. It was large and dark, making the kitchen look even smaller. We're also not huge cooks, so having a hood really wasn't necessary for us.
The hood was easy to remove, I just had to take out four screws from the top where the hood connected to our cabinets.
I luckily had just enough kitchen backsplash tile left to patch in the area where the hood was. In my opinion, it’s always smart to buy a little extra tile than you think you’ll need because they will come in really handy in situations like this one. I’ve found that tile styles change fast and it’s hard to find the same tile months down the road if you’re looking to purchase more. Click Here for a step-by-step tutorial I posted about tiling. Applying and grouting tile is one of my favorite projects!
As I was tiling, waiting for the adhesive to dry and then for the grout to dry, I was working on the shelf I planned to put in place of the hood. This is where things get exciting (to me anyway). I discovered “Value Wood” at Menards!
This wood is basically scrap wood - cut, dinged, imperfect – just my style. And best of all – it’s cheap! I ran across a piece of wood for $1.75 that had the best character. It had a sunken knot and was splitting. It was perfect. I applied three coats of stain and satin polyurethane to it, and ended up falling in love with it even more.
Once the stain and poly dried, I attached two shelf brackets to the bottom using short screws. I attached them in a non-traditional way because I wanted the arches of the brackets to show under the shelf and I knew I wouldn’t be putting anything heavy on it. I really just needed something to hold the shelf in place. I then secured the brackets to the cabinets by predrilling holes and inserting medium length screws.
Installing a shelf is a really small thing, so I feel kind of dumb for being so extremely excited about how it turned out. But I’m obsessed. It changed the look of the kitchen completely and gives me a functional shelf that I can use in a variety of different ways.
What is one small thing can you change up that has the potential to make a big difference in the way your home looks and/or functions?
From the moment I bought an old baby crib last year at an estate sale, I’ve been dreaming about the light fixture I’d make out of the mattress spring frame.
I used the sides of the crib right away as a cucumber trellis, I’ve now got the mattress spring frame hung, and still have a couple of pieces left to use for some home décor signs. One item, three different types of projects! Always consider the possibilities for what may appear to be “junk.”
Here’s what you need for this project:
First, I sanded down any bubbling rust spots and other imperfections on the mattress spring frame. I then wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it air dry. Once it was dry, I spray painted two coats over the entire frame. I didn’t hang the frame for a few days after I painted it, so it had more than enough time to dry.
While I thought through the ideas I had for the full light fixture, I installed the light pendant. Unfortunately, the existing light fixture was placed in a poor spot that is very off center in the dining room, but this light fixture idea ended up working out well for where it was placed.
Once I had a final plan in mind for where and how I’d hang the mattress frame, I measured out and marked where the swag light ceiling hooks would go. I determined where the marks would go by measuring the frame corner to corner. I didn’t have fancy tools like a laser level to guide me, so I did my best to eyeball my lines. My husband was there as a second set of eyes and we did pretty well!
When my lines were marked, I placed the ceiling hooks by simply twisting them into our ceiling panels.
From there I attached loops of wire to the corners of the mattress frame and placed each corner loop over the ceiling hooks. You could also use small link decorative chain in place of the wire for a different look. I was in a hurry to do this (because I was excited) and strong wire was the only thing our small town hardware store had. I may replace it down the road.
When the mattress frame was securely in place, I “styled” the light bulbs by stringing them through the frame.
The last step was to add Edison bulbs. I used three different styles of bulbs because I love Edison bulbs and couldn’t choose just one style when I had eight lights to fill!
I love how this light fixture looks industrial and rustic at the same time. I plan to completely redo the seating in the dining room which will make the space come together even more.
When you live in a small house, every nook, cranny, and surface is valuable. If you don't want to build on an addition to increase your living space, maximizing the space you have is a must!
Our kitchen is tiny. We have one short strip of cabinets and countertop, most of which is taken up by our sink and stove. We've found it challenging to pull meals together with the limited space, and we certainly can't both be working in the kitchen at the same time.
One day it occurred to me that our stove top area had potential to be a work surface. So I made it into one! Here's how.
What you'll need:
I'll start by offering this disclaimer: This is NOT a cutting board! If you're interested in making this a cutting board work surface, research the correct wood types for that type of work.
OK, now back to business. After measuring your stove top and deciding how much you want the work surface to overlap your countertop, use your tape measurer and pencil to mark where you need to make your cuts on the edge glued board. I chose to have my work surface run the full depth of the stove top and overlap my countertop two inches on each side.
When marking your cuts, make two marks. One for the actual cut and another one inch in from the cut mark (or whatever the width is of the inner piece of your circular saw to the left of the blade). You'll be using the saw guide, so you need to account for the inner piece of your circular saw since the saw blade is not flush to the guide.
Once you have your marks in place, snap your saw guide onto the edge glued board, lined up with the mark to the left of your cut mark. I used a framing square to ensure my saw guide was straight, which I encourage you to do as well.
After the guide was in place, I made my cuts! I included a picture of the saw blade I used. It was pure magic. Cut through the wood like butter! I had been using two other blades that kept binding, but this one pulled through.
When I had the edge glued board cut, I moved on to the pieces that would act as "feet" for the bottom of the work surface. I added these because I didn't want the work surface to slide back and forth across the stove top. I wanted the bottom boards to catch against the edges of my countertop.
I placed the feet around 2 1/4 inches in from the outer edges of the work surface. I secured them to the bottom with wood glue and brad nails.
The final steps were to sand and stain! I lightly sanded the entire edge glued board and feet before staining. I also like to wipe down the wood with a damp cloth. I once heard this helps the stain soak in more effectively.
After applying two coats of stain and letting it dry for a few days, the work surface was ready for duty!
Now that I have this, I can't imagine what life was like before! It is so nice to have 34 more inches of usable space in our kitchen. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it has been a game changer.
I’m a big picture person. When it comes to envisioning a space, pulling everything together, and setting the wheels in motion, I’m your girl. But when it comes to the finishing work, the small steps needed to complete a project, I’m the biggest procrastinator! I want to see the big parts of a project DONE. I don’t have patience for the little things.
Case in point – our bathroom. Our beautiful bathroom that we completely gutted and redid just a little over a year and a half ago. Although at first glance it was wonderful and shiny and new, there were still things to do. Like trimming the tub/shower tile out with bullnose tile. And finding a solution to disguise the water marks that were appearing on our deep blue paint under our hanging bath towels and around the sink. Oh, and fixing the vanity drawer knob that fell off months ago.
I finally decided that I was not allowed to start another project until I finished the little things still looming over me in our house. Such a painful decision, but I didn’t want to be the girl who had a hundred partially finished projects to her name. I want to be the girl that gets it DONE!
We got moving on all of the lingering projects in the bathroom. Bullnose tile is ordered. Vanity drawer knob is fixed. And we found a solution to make visible water marks on our walls a thing of the past. In this post, I’ll show you how we installed wood planks in our bathroom to act as a rustic feature on the wall underneath our hanging bath towels and a backsplash for our sink.
What you’ll need:
You’ll start by measuring the surface area you want to cover to purchase the amount of wood planks you need. We bought over because we knew there would be a boo-boo here and there!
We had floor molding that needed to be removed from the area before we could start, so Joel took care of that with a screwdriver and hammer.
Next, you’ll plan how you want your planks to look. We started with a full plank in the bottom left corner of the wall, measured the gap left between the full plank and the tub, and cut a piece to fit that area. We used the rest of the plank we cut to start the next row, continuing to rotate full planks with cut planks to create a non-uniform look.
If we experienced any issues fitting the boards flush with the wall or each other, we either sanded them down just a tad or tapped them in with a hammer.
To secure the boards, we used an air brad nailer with 1 ¼ inch nails. This nail size worked well because the planks were less than 1/2 inch thick.
The circular saw blade we used worked perfectly, because again, the planks were pretty thin.
We chose to do the wall first because we could usually use at least one full plank in each row, which made it easier, and we didn’t exactly know what we were getting ourselves into! It was good practice for us. Around the sink was a little more intricate. Every piece needed cut, measuring had to be precise, and we had both a corner AND an outlet to figure in.
With come creative thinking and teamwork we figured it out and I’m so proud of Joel for his work around the outlet!
To finish everything off, I coated all planks with three layers of polyurethane to prevent any water damage. I chose a satin finish because I’m not a huge fan of high gloss and I wanted the planks to maintain their rustic look. I may eventually use some clear caulk around the edges to further protect the wood.
Here it is, in all its glory! Very proud of us because this is the first woodworking project we’ve attempted together and it went so well. It really was an easy project that made a huge difference in our bathroom. We both absolutely love how it turned out. Once the bullnose tile is installed (I won’t do a tutorial on that because I already did one on tiling here) the bathroom will be DONE and then I can pick something new to work on!
I've been obsessing over kraft paper scroll signs for a year or two now. I don't know why it never occurred to me to make one until this year...I continue to see them in the homes of some of my favorite home décor bloggers and just had to at least give it a try. I'm really glad I did.
Here's what you'll need:
First you'll want to measure the wall space where the scroll will hang. Figure for an extra two inches on both the top and the bottom where the paper will be rolled. I had 30 inches of wall space to work with: two inches for the top roll, 26 inches for the hand lettering area and two inches for the bottom roll.
Unroll a section of your paper, allowing the free end to roll up as desired. Measure and mark the area you will do hand lettering on.
Secure the free end of the paper with clothespins.
Determine how much rolled paper you want at the other end of the scroll and cut free from the whole roll of kraft paper. Secure this end with clothespins as well.
Once I had everything measured and the ends secured, I started hand lettering! I used my pencil to trace out the saying I chose. For the angled lettering, I used my tape measurer as a guide.
I'm really cheap, so I just used paint I already had. I wanted to do black lettering, so chose to use some leftover chalk board paint that seems to be a bottomless can!
I used a small paint brush to trace over my pencil lines. I mixed fonts and strokes to give it a playful look (and to disguise any mistakes I made!).
After the paint dried, I placed some glue under the rolled up paper to secure. I also added some staples later on to add extra reinforcement, because - gravity.
Next came the wrapping paper roll to hang the scroll from.
I tied my string to a pencil and looped it through the paper roll. I then inserted the paper roll into the top roll of the scroll.
Once the paper roll was through, I pulled the string to my desired length and tied/knotted the ends.
Here she is, in all of her glory! For being a beginner in hand lettering, I have to say I was pretty proud of myself. And just to give you an idea of what I was working from, here's the image that inspired me!
I went all out this year when it came to Christmas décor. I decked our halls inside and out in a day. I couldn't stop myself. I was that pumped to transition into the most wonderful time of the year! I felt a little silly though, because it was an abnormal 60 degree November day here in Iowa!
I splurged a little bit this season and purchased a few new items to add to the decorations we've had for years. Much of what we have we 1) bought when we got married, 2) inherited when we bought our first home, or 3) inherited when we bought our second home! A lot of really great pieces, but many had seen better days...
Although I bought some new items, some assembly was required. I rarely buy a completely ready-to-use piece. I normally buy the elements to make a ready-to-use piece.
Here are just a few of the items I made or curated to make our home feel magical this holiday season!
DIY Christmas Wreath
I forgot how expensive pre-made wreaths are - $50-$100 plus! I was not willing to pay that much because I wanted a wreath for both our front and back door. I ran across some plain wreaths that were in the $10-$20 range, and they were 50% off. More my style. I then browsed a Christmas accessory isle that had small, festive items that could easily be clipped into or twisted into a wreath. Three small accessories was all I needed to create a simple yet elegant wreath. After discounts, this wreath cost me under $10 to make! I plan to carry this wreath into other seasons by simply swapping out the accessories.
I don't want to be misleading - I did not make these stockings, I just added the letters! Stockings are another item that can be pretty pricey. I found these stockings at the dollar store. I picked up a single piece of gold, glittery scrapbook paper for the lettering. Using a Sharpie, I drew out the letters on the back of the scrapbook paper. I'm getting better at hand lettering, you could certainly use stencils if needed. I then cut out the letters and glued them to the stockings! Easy as that. And by the way, we don't have kids...these stockings are for...OUR DOGS - Homer and Madison!! You could say we love them a little bit.
I absolutely LOVE to shop my house. I shop my house before stepping a foot out the door to go to a store. I believe that if you can take a moment to look at what you have with fresh eyes, there are so many possibilities!
The space above and the vignettes below are mostly pulled together from items I had. The only new items are the Poinsettia floral bouquets and the red/gold ornaments.
I upcycled this sled last Christmas. See how here.
I also tried incorporating natural items from our property, like the branches and sticks in this planter.
I have been seeing cute little pumpkins made from cloth everywhere this season. I decided not to purchase any because I knew there had to be a DIY option. After some planning on my own and Pinterest searching, I compiled my ideas and created my own version of a no sew cloth pumpkin!
What you'll need:
Start by cutting the sleeve off your chosen sweater or t-shirt.
Flip the sleeve inside out and secure a rubber band at one end.
Flip the sleeve right side out and pour rice into the open end of the sleeve. Keep adding rice until you reach the desired shape of your pumpkin. (Good luck not spilling!)
Once you're pleased with how your pumpkin is shaping up, twist the cloth at the top of the pumpkin and secure with another rubber band.
Next, you'll start creating the stem. Starting at the bottom of the rubber band you just put on, start winding twine around the rubber band and fabric, twisting the cloth as you wrap the twine tightly around it.
Once you get to the top of the stem, wind the twine back down to the bottom and secure the end with all purpose glue.
The last thing you'll do is trim the extra fabric from the top of the stem.
I used a men's sweater, a women's sweater and a men's t-shirt (all pulled from our closets) for my pumpkins. The different sizes and fabrics of the clothing pieces created three unique shapes that I liked equally!
The rice gives these pumpkins nice weight and allows you to shift their shapes so you can style these a little easier than if you were to use Fiberfill for stuffing (which is a technique I ran across a lot for these).
It literally took me minutes to pull these together and I loved that this project allowed me to repurpose a few pieces of old clothing!
I'm preparing myself for the day frost kills off my flowers and garden, which will be sooner than I think, and a sad day...So to fill the space my outdoor plants took up in my heart this year, I'm attempting to hoard a few house plants to hold me over until next Spring.
I've always wanted to start a terrarium, so gave it a shot. It was super simple and turned out so pretty. I now understand why they're such a popular way to grow and display plants.
Here's what you'll need:
Start by cleaning the inside of your terrarium.
Next you need to establish your drainage layer, filling the bottom with small rocks. I laid down a little over an inch of rock.
I then put in a thin layer of activated charcoal. This helps ensure excess water doesn't stay in the soil and cause root rot.
Once I had the drainage layer in place, I started adding potting soil. I put a think layer in, a little over 3 inches, expecting it to settle as I began to water the plants. I also wanted enough dirt to place the plants into!
The final step was adding the plants! I selected four small plants of different varieties from Treasures on Main in Westby, Wisconsin. Three will be a little taller, one is more of a ground cover.
There are so many things you can do with terrariums. A quick search on Pinterest will reveal image after image of cool ideas! Get creative! I plan to add some colored rocks and small figurines to mine once I see how the plants grow in.
Over the summer months we completed a really fun project at our family cabin - a fishing pole photo display showcasing the Miller side (my mom's side) of our family.
Here's what you'll need:
We started by marking out where we wanted to secure the pole on the wall. We used one screw between the handle and reel, and one screw at the tip of the pole after determining how far we wanted the pole to bend above the doorway.
From there, we added fishing line by tying it to the loops located on the pole itself. We cut the lines to various lengths depending on where we wanted the fishing lures and photo frames to fall.
Once the line was in place, we started attaching the fishing lures and photo frames. The fishing lures have small hooks that pop out of the top, so we were able to easily secure them to the lines. To make sure the photo frames stayed on the line, we placed one thin poster mounting square on the back of each photo - pinching the fishing line between the mounting square and the back of the frame - so they dangle freely vs. being stuck to the wall.
Here are some close ups of this project:
And here's my cute grandma with the finished project. We have her to thank for so many good memories at the cabin!