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.

Living Room Update

My living/dining room refresh is taking me so much longer than I expected! But I guess it always does, doesn't it? I've have to fit projects in around the girls and their schedules, which doesn't leave a heck of a lot of time for me to search for lamps, rugs, drapes, paint...

But I feel like I've finally hit the halfway mark and am rounding the corner toward the finish line - yippee!! The furniture has been completely rearranged, I've hung new drapes, added an area rug to the sitting area, bought a tripod lamp and two decorative lamps... It's been so much fun (and time consuming) searching for the perfect fits for the room. I've spent countless hour after the girls have gone to bed "researching", as I like to call it.

And it's also been a great lesson in restraint, if you can believe it. There are so many fun, beautiful, colorful accessories that I'd love to lose myself in, but wouldn't necessarily be good for my space. I have to keep reminding myself of the steps I need to take before accessorizing - dress the room with the right furniture pieces and drapes, THEN focus on the fun little things. Oh, and keeping my focus on just one room. It's amazing how searching through countless images of furniture, etc, makes me want to start adding/changing things in every other room in the house (I'm already planning out fixes for my bedroom!). Focus. Focus. Focus. I feel like I have adult A.D.D.

Luckily, I've gotten my furniture squared away, it's organized the way I want it, the drapes and big mirror/art pieces are hung on the wall. But over the Memorial Day weekend, I realized that my room is still just a big rectangular box, no architectural interest at all. I've been thinking of painting one of the walls an accent color, but after playing with the girls in their room the other day, I realized the living room needs STRIPES! I bought a gallon of Benjamin Moore's Whitestone for a very subtle gray. I'm planning on thick stripes, maybe  18" high with 10" stripes of the existing wall color, changing the width for more visual interest. Check out some of my stripe-inspiration images: 

Now onto my room...

BEFORE - a quick reminder of where I started

And ALMOST- AFTER

Before I started, I created a Pinterest board with all of the images and rooms that I loved. I'm going for a more Mid Century Modern look. I don't want to create a time capsule, just a hint of a time-warp (kidding!). The stripes will go on the wreath wall. And, of course, I need to add in decorative accessories. I'm imagining a big plant in the center of the wall with the ocean photograph, recovering the dining chairs with a printed fabric, creating a gallery wall in place of the wreath...the list goes on. 

As soon as the stripes go up, I'll let you all take a look. Cross your fingers for this coming weekend to get it done! Wishful thinking???