Sunday, May 6, 2012

Backyard planters

I have been thinking about planting some annuals for the past several weeks, but just got around to it this weekend. There were actually four projects:

We have 5 hangers in the back on the fence around the pool where we generally hang baskets of flowers. I decided to do something a bit different this year. I bought galvanized steel buckets at Rural King and drilled drainage holes in them. Then planted them with Gerbera Daisies in red and yellow (I love Gerbera Daisies!).

They turned out pretty cute. The only problem is that the handles aren't very long, so this may not work for everyone. (Truthfully, I was originally going to paint the pails to match my next project, but got lazy.)

Next, I decided I wanted to grow herbs this year...namely basil and cilantro. While I was perusing the Save-On-Crafts site, I came across a cute galvanized steel planter set and tray. I liked the steel look but really wanted to paint them and decided on black and white. 

The fact that the planter had THREE containers made me stop and think about which herb I would like (besides basil and cilantro). And then it came to me...summertime...mojitos...MINT!! :-)

The third project was turning a birdbath we had on the side of our house into a succulent planter. Actually, this just involved drilling a drainage hole in the birdbath and then finding the right plants. Of course, I used potting soil made especially for cacti and succulents. I still want to add some decorative rock on top (both for looks and to keep the soil from washing away when it rains), but here it is (sorry for the blurry pics, I will try to get better ones tomorrow):

Truthfully, when I bought my succulents, I overestimated the size of the birdbath so I have several left over and will be making more succulent containers for indoors, so stay tuned!

The last project is one for which I got the idea from Pinterest. It was originally posted on Salt Tree. It is a planter that goes around your umbrella on the patio table. And, it is simple and extremely cheap to make!! All you need is a large round plastic bowl and a plastic cup. Yep, that's it. I found the bowl and a set of 4 cups for $1 each at Wal-Mart. So, yes, I bought extra bowls to make some of these planters for others!

You simply cut a whole in the bowl that is slightly smaller in diameter than the base of the cup (making sure it is large enough to go around your umbrella). You also may need to cut the cup so that it is no taller than the bowl. Then you just glue them together.

(What you don't see is that I also put some drainage holes in the bowl before gluing them.) Here is how it turned out:

Okay. That's it for now. (Of course, I still need to get pots of flowers out on the front porch as well!) By the way, I did try a trick I saw on Pinterest when planting all of these: I used a coffee maker filter to cover the drainage hole so the dirt stays in while the water can run out. We will see how that works.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Great Room Cornices

When we built the house, we installed wood blinds. Don't get me wrong, I still love my blinds. But I just thought that the great room windows needed something more. Here, you can see what I mean...

The blinds have these little wooden valances and they were fine, just a little plain. But, the windows are narrow enough that I really didn't want to add draperies or curtains to them. So, I started considering other options, and I decided that I wanted cornices (also called box valances).

I did a little internet search and found several different options. They all basically use the same wooden (MDF) frame, but the outside all vary from fabric to wood molding to painted, textured wallpaper.

I decided that I wanted to go the fabric route so I started looking for a nice fabric that had taupe, dark brown, and light blue. I found the material at Hobby Lobby. I only needed 1 yard of fabric! (And the fabric ended up costing only $14.)

Here is the fabric:

Gorgeous, isn't it?? (Side note: I found some dusty blue throw pillows at Meijer that match the blue in this pattern perfectly!!)

I also purchased a couple of yards of bunting at Hobby Lobby. (It cost somewhere around $3.)

Then, we went to Menard's and I purchased a 2' X 4' sheet of 1/2" MDF (only a little over $8).

I decided I wanted the cornices to be 12" high, so that made things very easy. We just cut the MDF panel in half lengthwise. Then, I needed the cornices to be at least 41" wide, so we just the remainder piece in half and that ended up giving me my depth.

Glued and used a brad nailer to attach the sides to the front:

(Those are my hubby's hands - I do not have "man hands"!) After everything was set, I cut the fabric making sure there was enough to pull around to staple. Again, my husband used his power tools - cool stapler this time! - and so the job was much easier.

The top and bottom were easy, but the ends took some effort. Basically, you should treat it like wrapping a present; staple the top and bottom first and then fold in the ends.

Then came the tricky part...hanging them. They are not much wider than the windows and not too far from the wall, so we used these corner braces. But, we had to use a small drill to be able to get behind them to attach them.

So, here are the windows now:

I love them!! The total cost for both windows? Less than $30! And they really were easier than I thought they would be!

What do you think?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Terrarium for the Great Room (and update on projects)

While I have been dealing with some unexpected medical issues, I have tried to keep busy off and on with some projects that I found on Pinterest. Some of these I will share with you over the next day or so, but a couple are going to have to wait because they are gifts. (I don't know if their recipients read this blog, but I don't want to take any chances!)

First of all, tonight I put together a terrarium for our great room (which has been completely rearranged and painted - more on that later!). I have been drooling over all of the terraria projects I have seen on Pinterest so I decided to try to make one myself. It is pretty easy to do, provided you can find the plants for one. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find small houseplants? I mean tiny houseplants? It is very difficult, especially in the small town where I live.

Most of the information I used to build this came from

Let's start with the container. I decided I wanted a closed terrarium - so I knew I was going to end up with an apothecary jar or something like it. I found this large glass jar at Hobby Lobby (my home away from home!) and was able to buy it for 50% (so it was $25).

I like the height and size a lot. It was the only relatively large container I found that had a lid.

On the bottom of the container, I used two small bags of pebbles (brown, black, tan) that I bought at Dollar Tree.  Because the container has no holes, you need rocks for drainage. Then, on top of the rocks I placed a small layer of activated charcoal (found in aquarium supplies). This step  is only necessary if you are building a closed terrarium as the charcoal will help control both moisture and odors in the closed environment.

On top of the charcoal, I placed 1-2 inches of sphagnum moss. This moss keeps the soil from filtering down through the rocks over time. (You can also use some sort of garden weed fabric here, but I think the moss is much prettier.)

Then comes the potting soil and plants. I used a potting soil from Miracle Grow that has moisture control. When planting the plants, I got as much of the potted soil off the roots as possible to make them easier to plant.

What plants did I use and where did I get them? I was actually looking for some succulents online for an outdoor project and discovered this place: Black Jungle Terrarium Supply. The plants I bought were:
  • Peperonia sp. Ecuador
  • Pearcea hypocrytiflora
  • Triolena pustulata
  • B. imperialis
  • Jewel orchid
Yes, I actually followed the rule of odds and planted 5 small plants, several of which will bloom flowers over time. Truthfully, I am not sure that any more plants would have fit...but I would like to add either a type of moss or fern. (Maybe I will just have to build a second terrarium...)

Truthfully, the plants weren't cheap, but they all arrived in great shape and the store was having free shipping on live plants. I also ordered 8 succulents that looked healthy upon arrival.

Here is the finished product:

You can see the different layers (rocks, moss, and potting soil) in this picture. Here are the five plants:

Let me know what you think!

By the way, I hardly used any of the package of moss or potting soil I purchased. This seems like it would be a great project for a group to do together with the major cost coming from the plants and container chosen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I wanna be rich! :-)

Okay, I am just now recovering from the shock of not winning the Mega Millions lottery. And before you wonder why in the world I would play, just consider the possibility that the expected value actually crept up above $1! The odds of winning were 1 in 175 million and the jackpot reached $640 million!!

On a brighter note, I decided if I couldn't win hundreds of millions of dollars, I could at least try Million Dollar Spaghetti that I found on the blog Being Grown Up.

Truthfully, I was going to make this dish last night. But as my (bad) luck would have it, I was missing some key ingredients. So, I went to the store today to stock up.

I did change the recipe only a bit by using low-fat cream cheese, fat-free sour cream, low-fat cottage cheese, and reduced fat cheddar. It was still delicious. I think the next time I make it, I will skip the butter on the bottom layer and just use non-fat cooking spray.

Here is a picture of the finished product:

The verdict? The name says it all!! It was hubby even had two (large) helpings! This will definitely be made again.

Maybe my luck has now turned for the better! Of course, since I likely won't be playing the lottery again anytime soon (it usually is just a tax on people who are bad at math!) , I guess I will just keep on working...