The Suburban Farmer

I love spring! The flowers are blooming, the grass is lush and green, and the leaves are popping out on the trees. The girls have been noticing all sorts of different birds that I didn’t even realize live here – robins, for one. They’re frantically looking for bird nests, but we haven’t seen one, yet.

We’ve started planting our vegetable garden and feeding all the plants in the yard, getting ready for warmer weather. I’ve given the girls their annual “bee” talk, about how we need to protect the bees and not hurt them because there aren’t as many as there should be anymore. We try to use products in the yard that are as natural as possible to help out our little pollinating friends.

With that in mind, I started a compost bin last fall. Compost bin, you ask?! Yes, I’m becoming a Suburban Farmer. I felt badly that I kept throwing away so many veggies and veggie by-products (like broccoli stems, kale stalks, carrot tops...) that I wanted to put to good use.

The soil in our backyard is virtually clay and doesn’t support life of any kind, even weeds. Every time we plant something there is a long process of mixing the clay with all sorts of additives like compost (from the store) and planting mix. And then we cross our fingers that we used enough! 

I’m hoping all the great nutrients in the compost we create will revitalize our drab soil and perk up the garden. At the very least, it won’t do it any harm. By the way, there are some pretty strict rules as to what you should and shouldn’t compost. Here’s a quick guide to follow. We kept kitchen scraps out of it (other than clean fruit and veggie waste) because the compost bin started smelling a bit funky. Not exactly what I had in mind for a nice backyard scent. Keeping bread, etc., out of there really fixed the smell.

After months of adding to the compost bin, churning it up and watering it, the time came to check out what we had created. Because we’re constantly adding to the pile, not all of it had decomposed to dirt, but the bottom third of the bin was definitely garden-ready. We put it on plants that were in need of help (two of our hydrangeas have seen better days and needed some extra nutrients) and added it to our raised vegetable bed. I thought we’d have so much more dirt, but we don’t live on a farm, so there’s a limit to how much compost we can create. Still, I am so excited about it! We’re reducing the amount of trash we send to the landfill and putting nutrients back into the soil, naturally. And the girls love finding worms after the rain to put into the bin. I love that they’re learning, in a very hand’s on way, what worms do for the earth and that we don’t need to throw everything away in the trash.

Here's a super easy tutorial that's more or less what we did. Compost bins can run into the hundreds of dollars, crazy. We bought a $10 trash bin at Lowes, drilled some holes, and secured the top with a strap so critters wouldn't pry it open. Quick and easy! Plus, once it gets too heavy, you can push it on its side and roll it around to mix up the contents.

I started a Compost Pinterest board so I would feel like I knew what I was doing. I’m ever the researcher/planner.

And, not surprisingly, there are a ton of counter-top bins to put your waste in before hauling it out to the yard. Now your compost can look pretty on the counter!

Here’s to creating compost bins and dirt of your very own!

Mid-Century Plant Stand DIY

I'm on a serious DIY kick. From birthday parties to artwork, and now plant stands. The number of Pins in my DIY projects Pinterest board is constantly growing. But I was recently able to check one more off the list - the Mid-Century Inspired Plant Stand.

While our living room is almost to the point where I'd call it complete, it's still lacking plants. A little greenery goes a long way to making a room feel more inviting. So says the woman who didn't have a single plant in her apartment forever! I decided that I wanted to make this room just a bit more plant-friendly. Enter the plant stand. 

Source: West Elm

I love the West Elm Modern Planter. And, with my recent state of mind of Super DIY, I felt like it was something my husband and I could tackle. He gets dragged into any project that involves wood-working. I'm convinced he loves it, especially the getting-new-tools part!

I found this tutorial ages ago and decided it was the one we'd follow. 

It was a little harder than expected. Key tip from my husband, turns out it works best if you actually have a drill press rather than a Forstner bit (don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about?!). But with a LOT of encouragement from me, my husband powered through and made it work.

A little jerry rigging, sanding and staining later, our plant stand is complete! All thanks to my sweet husband. I like it so much, we may have to make a larger one in the next few weeks, now that we know what we're doing.

And my plant is thriving in its new home! I should have moved it ages ago.

Here are a few more planter options from West Elm that are also Mid Century inspired and really attractive. Maybe we'll get into wire-working, or maybe not.

Stripes, Check!

I can't believe it happened, but the stripes are done!

My goal of painting this past weekend was more of a pipe dream, or so I thought. But my husband was actually on board and we got it done over Sat/Sun during M's naps. What do you think?! I'm really loving it. Much to my husbands dismay, I'm now thinking of wrapping it around onto the next wall. We'll see if I can convince him.

I used Benjamin Moore Whitestone to get a true gray. I didn't want brown/taupe undertones coming through since the drapes and area rug on the opposite side of the room are gray. TIP: It's always a great idea to look at the color fan-deck in order to see the lightest and darkest colors in a series so you can clearly see what the underlying tones are. Then you won't get stuck with a color that isn't exactly what you had in mind.

I'm completely OCD when it comes to painting stripes. My thought is, if they're not perfect, why even do it? So every time we paint stripes (this is the second room), I measure and mark, my husband breaks out the laser level, I use the yard stick and remeasure again before penciling them up and taping. Sometimes it feels like it takes a bit longer than necessary, but stripes are so prominent I would be kicking myself if it wasn't done right. If you haven't guessed, I'm a total perfectionist most of the time.

Now that the stripes are done, I'm planning on DIY-ing a gallery wall from some artwork I saw in the William Sonoma Home catalog. If I can fit it above the couch, I'll go 3 across 2 down. I don't think I could handle a randomly organized gallery wall in my house, no matter how cool it looks in a magazine. There's something so calming about a grid of art or photography. Check out my Pinterest board to see all of my DIY Art ideas.

I'm so excited to get this phase going. It won't be done this weekend, but hopefully soon! Wish me luck.

Happy Belated New Year Trends

January is already half over and here I am with a New Year, New Trends post. Better late than never!

The first half of the month has been such a blur with both girls having their birthday, the Frozen-themed party to end all Frozen parties that I threw, and then the party recovery (for me!). I'll share more on that in the next week or so as I polish up my photos, etc. Needless to say, 2016 hasn't felt much different than 2015. There hasn't been a chance to breathe since Christmas!

Nonetheless, I've been trying to catch up on some of my design reading and have seen so many wonderful things to start off the new year. Everyone always has a myriad of predictions and trends that will take hold, so I've filtered through them and am giving you the ones I'm seeing/loving/hoping will stick.

Color of the Year

Each year Pantone comes out with a fabulous color that they see taking the world by storm. But this year is even better, they have TWO: Rose Quartz and Serenity

So calm and peaceful. A nod to how the year will play out, hopefully.  I found some fabulous interiors that are already incorporating this color trend.

Benjamin Moore even has a Color of the Year, Simply White. I love white and have been dreaming of a white kitchen forever. I guess B.M. figured you can't go wrong with a neutral that can be used any time anywhere.

Colored Stainless Steel Appliances

I remember first seeing an ad for black stainless KitchenAid appliances back in June. Not only is stainless steel now black, but its also in a lighter Sunset Bronze finish. Apparently its trending and will be in even more kitchens in the year to come. No matter what your thoughts on stainless, the new shades add a sleekness that has been missing from appliances for a while. For me, I like the crispness of stainless, but feel that it's in absolutely every kitchen and there's little to be excited about, until now! 

Statement Bathroom-Mirrors

Ever since my mom ditched her builder-basic clip mirror in the bathroom for an over-sized framed Ikea mirror this summer, I've wanted to do it in every bathroom in my house! Flip it on the horizontal and voila, you've got a great statement piece to dress up the bathroom. You can even DIY your plain old mirror into something fabulous here.

Patterned Kitchen Tile

The days of neutral kitchen tile are over. Its time to spice up the kitchen, permanently!

World-Wide Treasures

You can't flip through a magazine or catalog without seeing wonderful handcrafted objects from around the globe. From Guatemalan fabrics, to Indian boxes, linework shoulder vases made in the Phillipines, it's all about the one-of-a-kind look to make your home stand out of the crowd.


Enjoy your start to 2016. I have a feeling it's going to be a great year full of fun and creative things!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I wanted to share some beautiful tablescapes to inspire you and some helpful tips to make Turkey Day entertaining that much easier.

Tablescapes

Let the Thanksgiving beauty wash over you ;-)

Easy Decorating Tips

These are so easy you could do them yourself. Really! There are still 5 days to pull these little DIYs together...

Be inspired by the season! Enjoy your Thanksgiving with lots of family and friends.

We're heading out to visit family for the holiday. Wish me luck with an almost 2 and almost 4 year old crammed into two flights! I know (hope) we'll survive, its just a question of how many times I have to run up and down the aisle after Baby M, the child never sits still!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

To DIY or Not to DIY

Ever since I started the blog I've discovered that I love making things, all sorts of things, all by myself. But every once in a while I wonder if its more expensive doing it myself, or would I end up saving money just buying something already-done. 

For today's project, a Paint-Dipped Cutting Board and Spoon, it is definitely cheaper to Do-It-Yourself. Not only did it cost me less than $8 to finish one cutting board and spoon, but I saw an almost identical set (including a wooden fork) on Etsy for $40. Wait, what?!! There wasn't a question, I had to try this one out myself.

The project ended up being so easy. Here's what to do:

  1. Pick up an Ikea Proppmaatt cutting board ($2.99) and Rort wooden spoon ($1.79)
  2. Tape off the handles of both the cutting board and spoon with painters tape (I already had a ton of this at home)
  3. Paint 2-3 coats on the handles with acrylic paint from the craft store in a variety of colors (I used Martha Stewart Crafts Acrylic paint $2.49 each). The Pearl and Satin finishes needed 3 coats while the High Gloss only needed two. 
  4. Wait for the paint to dry, peel off the painters tape and enjoy!

Really, it was that easy! The hardest part of the whole project was removing the label from the spoons before I even got started.

These are so happy, I just love them! They'd also make great gifts, now that its the holiday season.

I hope you try out this super easy DIY. Have fun!

Decorating for Fall

It's October, the temperature is finally dipping below 80 degrees, we actually got rain (wait, what?!) and my Fall decorating is done. I did a fair amount of DIY this time around, and I'm really excited about the results.

The first project I tackled was my Pompom tree. I was able to cut branches off a tree in the backyard and then hot glued pompoms from Beverly's in fall colors. I love it! So does Baby M, she keeps pulling off one particular pompom for some reason, no clue why. I've given up re-gluing it.

My inspiration for a fall pitcher of cotton and wheat is from here. I actually saw this last year but hadn't gotten around to putting something together. But, this year I was on my game. I added pheasant feathers and feel like it exudes the feeling of fall, yeah!

I spray painted for the first time ever - super exciting! I was inspired by this, and was able to snag a bunch of Dollar Store pumpkins to make it an incredibly cheap project. I mixed the white and gold with some Dollar Store paper stuffing. I have a handful of Dollar Store pears that still need to be painted, but I think I'll make those for Xmas.

I've been on a tassel kick (more to come in a future post) and my first practice in tassel making turned into this fall-color-inspired garland. I hope its not too boho looking, but I had fun making it and practicing my tassel skills.

A few small projects were crafts that I did with Toddler G and changing out the scrapbook paper in my kitchen frames. You've gotta love Target's Spritz Crafts. It's so fun to mark the progress that Toddler G has made from last year - she was able to do one all by herself! She knew she could do it, I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised.

And finally, the biggest project I undertook was the Apple Wreath. I cleared out the red apple supply of 3 different Dollar Stores. And thank goodness I did, because it would have been a fortune if I had purchased them all at Michael's. It took almost 40 apples and two bags of miniature apples, which I did have to get at Michael's, along with the straw wreath. But the burlap ribbons wrapped around the wreath and used for hanging all came from the Dollar Store. I am constantly amazed with the variety of products they sell. Crazy awesome for my wallet! I also opted against the moss between the apples, I felt like it just didn't need it.

Since all of these projects have been completed I've been baking up a storm. My family, along with all of the West Coast cousins, made the trip to Gizdich Ranch for a fun-filled apple picking trip. And, as usual, we totally over-picked and ended up with 20-some pounds of apples. It's been my goal this week to bake/make something apple every day. I've made an apple crispapple butter, and apple strudel muffins so far. I somewhat botched the muffin recipe by adding way too much butter to the crumble on top, but I have a feeling they tasted even better because of it. Today, it may be a pie (if Baby M naps long enough).

What are you all doing for fall decorating? Baking? I'd love to hear.

Falling into the Season

Since my last post I've been thinking about all things Fall non-stop, despite the 100+ degree weather we've had. I'm trying not to be caught with blinders on this month!

And to top it off, I'm feeling super crafty again, thank goodness. I don't know what it was about summer, but I wasn't terribly inspired to make anything. Perhaps it was the fact that I had both girls at home and didn't have much time to even think. Anyhow, I've got a whole list of things I want to do around the house for fall. Here are some of my inspirations:

Over the weekend I dragged the whole family to my forgotten favorite store, The Dollar Store. I swear, every time I go there I come out with a treasure trove of goodies that cost, well, a buck. It's an amazing feeling to get so much for so little, especially when I had priced out very similar things at Michael's and it was going to cost an arm and a leg.

Going to the park is yet another great thing about having kids! A few of the leaves are starting to fall and I picked up some beautiful yellow ones to start my Fall Tablescape decorating. The girls got a little annoyed when I started piling up leaves and things that they couldn't play with. Sacrifices for decorating!

Do It Yourself - Plastic Spoon Laurel Wreath

To get my craft-inspiration on the right track, I tackled a wreath that I saw a year ago - the Plastic Spoon Laurel Wreath

  1. It was cheap to buy - two Dollar Store bags of spoons,
  2. Easy to make - put dabs of hot glue on the front of the neck and bottom of the spoon and press another one on top,
  3. And relatively quick to put together, a little over an hour.

I ended up putting my spoons much closer together than my inspiration, which I think is the reason it started to warp a bit. Hopefully you can't really tell. To top things off, it was fairly heavy with all those spoons and started splitting by the next morning. I ended up getting an extra bag of spoons, so I may attempt to make it again with fewer spoons. But all in all, its not too shabby for a plastic spoon wreath!

Enjoy the beginning of fall, wherever you are and however hot it may still be.

Back in the Game (with Marble)

Since spending the last few months crafting, I've been feeling like I'm out of the design game. I've spent so much time Pinning and looking for fun projects that I can take on myself that I haven't spent the time to see what's been going on in the bigger design world outside my home. 

That being said, I've now assigned myself "homework" - catching up on reading my design magazines to see what I've been missing. It's quite a daunting task when there's a stack of magazines a mile high and two little girls constantly pulling at my attention. Either I have the two neediest children in the world, or they're just normal 1 and 3 year old's - but by the end of the day all I want to do lately is lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling. They're taking it all out of me! Gotta dread when a 3 year old will no longer nap and a 1 year old is trying to drop her second nap by napping only 45 minutes a day, yikes!

But as I carve out some time to myself - thank you, Sesame Street - I've been finding an endless source of marble and marble-patterned decorative items. From fabric, to lighting, to the typical furniture, marble is making a HUGE splash right now.

When I think of marble I always remember my grandmother. She loved all things fabulous and marble was one of them. She was such a stylish woman, that it may be misleading when I say marble reminds me of her - its actually a really good thing for marble!

But as I look around my home there is a remarkable lack of marble. I guess I'll have to stock up on some of the great products I've found, or undertake the two DIY projects I had to throw in (can't get crafting out of my system no matter how hard I try):

Do you have marble in your home? I'd love to hear how you're taking on this trend!

Happy marble-ing!