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.
My green beans ended up being the sole survivors from my first year dabbling in seedlings. Find out more in this blog post. I'm humbled by the experience and will try again next year! I am still proud of the green beans - they've produced their first few bean pods!
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!
Playing with electricity, especially in an old house, can be a little nerve wracking. But that didn't stop us from swapping out the light fixture in our kitchen!
Expert details on how to install a light fixture can be found here. Who better than Bob Vila to walk you through this? We're definitely not experts, but I'll show you some visuals and a life hack we learned from our installation below.
The first and most important step is SHUTTING OFF THE BREAKER TO THE AREA YOU'LL BE WORKING ON!
Next, start to carefully remove the existing light fixture.
We chose to take out the plate that extended across the electrical box and utilize the new one. We did recycle the old screws because the depth of the electrical box was more than the length of the screws that came with the new fixture.
Before we began to install the fixture, we needed to trim and strip the wires at the top of the fixture where it would hang. We did not have wire strippers, so here's a life hack: You can use scissors (as long as you use them gently). I applied light and consistent pressure with the scissors on the casing of the wires until I was able to slide it off. The goal is to remove the casing without severing any of the wire.
Once that was complete, we cut the chain to the desired length and wove the wire through it.
Following the instructions in the box, we connected the electrical box and fixture wires accordingly, securing them with wire nuts. The final step included fitting the fixture's base over the electrical box and securing it.
We love the warm glow of this fixture's Edison bulbs and its farmhouse style. We got this one from Menards if you're interested!