Category: Home & Garden (page 1 of 2)

5 Useful resources to organize, clean, and decorate to help you rekindle your love for your home

It’s darn hard to find the perfect home.

Finding a home to rent or buy is challenging and compromises are often required.  Once we finally settle on a home, it’s easy to fall out of love.  I do love the location of my home.  We live in the small downtown area close to shops, restaurants, beautiful parks, and we are fortunate to have great neighbors.  The area is filled with interesting homes and we live in an historic Victorian home (circa 1876).  Old homes tend to have lots of rooms vs. large open spaces.  While I am traditional and do love formal living and dining rooms, it can make it difficult for everyday living and entertaining.  On several occasions we considered moving, but it just didn’t make sense.

How we use our space and love our home can be especially challenging as our family needs change (babies, mobile toddlers, teenagers, no children, grown children or parents).  With a little creativity and elbow grease you can reinvent your home over and over again.  Additions or remodels are costly solutions.  Here are resources and tips to get you started without having to spend a lot of money.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

Workbook

Gabby at Mom Makes Joy

Gabby has created a Love Your Space Action Steps Workbook.  This has to be one of my favorite resources to organize, clean, declutter, and decorate my home on a budget .   Mess = Stress.  This workbook breaks down the process into manageable steps to help you create a functional space you can be be proud of and enjoy.  Gabby describes the psychology around some of our actions and feelings regarding cleaning and decluttering.  Now I understand why I procrastinate!

Getting my cleaning strategy down on paper has allowed me to maintain a realistic level of cleanliness that doesn’t get in the way of other responsibilities.  It’ easy to browse the internet and magazines for pictures of beautiful, organized homes and rooms, but at some point you have to put those things away and live in your space.  By purchasing this workbook and making a small investment, you will feel like you need to take action.  It’s time to focus on the home and space you have versus what you think is missing.  You can do this!

 

Love your home again

Ideas and Inpiration

Erica Van Slyke at Designing Vibes

Erica provides great tips to help you claim wasted space, declutter, and organize.  Decor really sets the mood.  Fresh flowers, pillows, and area rugs allow for simple changes  You can also rethink furniture  to make a space more functional or storage friendly.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

Yvonne Pratt at StoneGable

Stop comparing your home to others.  Search catalogs and Pinterest to find what you like and create similar settings in your home to recreate the feeling. Enjoy what you have, your personal belongings are a reflection of what you like and maybe even your family history.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

 

One Crazy House

This resource provides some great tips for storage solutions that can help you declutter your home.  It also has ideas for maximizing square footage in small spaces.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home

A Challenge

Creating Mary’s Home

Homes should be our sanctuary.  Here’s a challenge to help you declutter, clean, organize, and decorate.  Implement the challenge to get your home ready for holiday guests or use the challenge as part of your home organization New Year’s resolution.  Either way, you and your family win.

Useful resources to help you rekindle your love for your home


Resources to help you love your home

DIY Spooky Halloween Wreath Tutorial

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

I love decorating for Halloween.  I try to limit my Halloween shopping splurges, but this year I really wanted a nice wreath for my front porch.  It’s easy to find beautiful wreaths on-line and in catalogs.  However, I couldn’t justify spending $50-100 on a wreath I would only display for a few weeks.

I gave myself a budget of $20 and decided to see what I could create with my own imagination and a little effort.  I stopped at the Dollar Store on my way home from work to see if I could find any unusual, spooky items to inspire a Halloween wreath of my own.  They always have interesting, low cost items for all of the holidays.  I had barely stepped into the store when I discovered these fantastic glitter tarantulas in perfect Halloween colors.  I even found matching glitter ribbon.  The ‘crow’ feather boas were over the top.  I had to have them.  I had a plan!  I couldn’t find anything at the Dollar Store to use for the base, so I did order the straw wreath on-line.

Excluding glue sticks, I spent about $12.50 on the wreath and it took about 30-minutes to collect all of the supplies and assemble the wreath.  Ok!  Maybe a little longer if you count my bow preparation practice runs.  Well worth the small cost and effort.  Now I won’t feel bad if I want new decor and come up with even better ideas for next year.  I had fun in the collection and preparation phase.  Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?  In the end, I’m pretty proud of my work.  Hope the trick or treaters like it!

Supplies:

DIY Wreath Supplies

Preparation Steps (It really is this easy friends):

Step 1:  Spread hot glue on the surface of straw wreath and secure the end of feather boa to the wreath.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 2:  Continue to spread glue.  Wind the boa around the wreath as you go.  Adjust spacing to ensure you have enough material to cover the entire surface of the straw wreath.  I recommend a quick practice wrap before gluing, to get a feel for the spacing required.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 3:  Spread hot glue on top of feathers and secure tarantulas or other ‘spooky’ items.  For example, you could use mini skulls (with or without a coat of glitter).

Step 4:  Wrap ribbon around the wreath 3-4 times and secure with hot glue.  This will provide a nice background for the bow.

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Step 5:  Tie bow and hot glue to ribbon on wreath base.  Here is a great loopy bow tutorial for tying this kind of bow.  Be patient.  It takes a little practice to get the ribbon twist down.  You see my third attempt below.  My kitchen counter still has purple glitter evidence.  Maybe feathers too!  Enjoy!

DIY spooky wreath tutorial

Safety tip: 

Hot glue is HOT!   Be careful not to burn your fingers when you are pressing items into the melted glue.

 

DIY Spooky Halloween

A Beginner’s Guide to Canning: Preserve Your Food in Jars

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

Canning is a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables for later use.  When I was growing up my mom made delicious plum jam, but she did not can or pickle any vegetables.  No canning mentor for me.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Several years back, my husband and I decided to rent a community garden space to grow vegetables (check out one of my early posts on our farm plot).  We paid ‘rent’ for a 30’X30′ plot and got to work.  We started planting in late April-early May and by the time late July rolled around we had a bumper crop of vegetables and the bounty continued through early October.  We shared much of the harvest with friends and family, but we still had tons of veggies left-over.

In an effort to save our harvest for later use (think dark, cold winter days; I knew we would want to mentally escape), I scoured the internet and book stores for good canning references, magazines, and guidelines.  I had heard about the dangers of canning (exploding jars and food poisoning) and was honestly quite intimidated.  After reading the basics, it seemed manageable and I decided to give it a try.  I loved the process and the reward.  I hope you will follow the steps I have outlined below to get started on your own canning journey.

Step 1:  Collect recipes and tips

I recommend purchasing a good canning/preserving reference book.  Food safety is extremely important when canning and good quality resources outline critical procedures for produce preparation, processing, and storage.  Books, magazines, and Pinterest are great places for inspiration.  If you are interested in a particular fuit/vegetable, search the internet for recipes.  I highly recommend that you read the reviews.  Many recipes do not follow proper, safe canning procedures (for example, my beloved Blue Ribbon Pickle recipe) and usually this comes up in the comment thread.  If you are not sure, follow recipes in a canning reference book.  The book I got started with is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I do not recommend modifying or tweaking recipes.  They are designed to ensure appropriate conditions for canning and the quality and safety of your final product.

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Planning a Furniture Flip – Dresser to Bar Cabinet

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the seller’s profit at no additional cost to you.  Please see my Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for additional information.

I recently ‘inherited’ a dresser from a friend.  When I opened the front doors on the cabinet, I knew it would make a perfect bar.  A wonderful storage spot for bottles of liquor, drawers for all the bar gadgets and linens, and a perfect spot towards the bottom for hanging wine glass storage.  Can you picture it?

I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas.  Here are a few examples I am using for inspiration.

Links to sources of inspriation: top lefttop right; bottom left; bottom right.

I’m going for a more elegant feel that I think black paint will provide.  To take it up another notch, I will paint the interior gold or I will try to find really unique wall paper with a gold tint and unexpected pattern.  I’m hoping the drawer hardware will work, but I will have to replace the cabinet lock.  I’ll just have to see how all the hardware matches up.  I have used chalk paint for other projects, but I am planning to use latex paint for this project.  I am going for elegant on this project vs. shabby chic.  A coat of polyurethane will also be essential to ensure the bar can stand up to endless parties and cocktails.

I’ll toast with a classic for my first round….The Manhattan

2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 dashes bitters (so many to choose from; a fun opportunity to experiment and develop your own signature Manhattan cocktail)
cherries

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and stir in whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.  Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

The examples definitely look more fun with accessories, so I plan to stock up on bar essentials before I share the after pictures.   I have other projects scheduled for July, so stay tuned for an update in August. ‘The devil is in the details ‘ and ‘A project without planning is just a wish’.  I look forward to your feedback.

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Restoration of a northwoods boathouse – when not to DIY

Renovation of a northwoods boathouse located in Oneida County, WI

When we purchased our vacation home we knew the first project we had to tackle was stabilizing the boathouse.   The cabin was build in the mid-1950’s and the boathouse was constructed not long after that.  The boathouse was definitely a major bonus on our list of desired cabin features and certainly something we weren’t expecting.  The state of Wisconsin no longer allows the construction of over-the-water boathouses.  Even renovation of the existing structure was tricky.  Super clubs and boat houses….you know you are in Wisconsin.

Sometimes you can DIY, but sometimes professional help and skill is required.  Our boathouse renovation definitely required expert help to manage the permitting with the city, county, and Department of Natural Resources.  It is nearly impossible to tackle or coordinate these efforts when you work full-time and live in a different state.  Money well spent, as our contractor did a fantastic job negotiating to get the permits required for the project to commence.  We had no idea of how to tackle this structural project and clearly special skills and tools were going to be required to prevent this delicate structure from ending up at the bottom of the lake.

Freeze-thaw cycles had really done a number on the poor old boathouse.  It was so off-level and looked so unstable, we were afraid to let anyone walk on the roof deck.  The contractor had to basically detach the back wall, which was anchored on-shore while everything else was in the lake bed.  Once this was completed, the sand around the pilings was jetted to sink the boathouse until everything was level.  During the process, the boathouse was tied off to trees for support.  After leveling, braces were installed to minimize movement and shifting of the structure.

The scary before. This was a great time to be in another state. I would have held my breath for hours on end.

 

Strengthened back wall and braces and side wall.,

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3 critical points to consider when purchasing a second home

Shortly after Pat and I married, we purchased our first home.  Once we settled in, we began to travel and developed our dream of owning a vacation home.  We knew we wanted a waterfront home and since we live nowhere close to an ocean, we focused our search on lakefront property and implemented a serious savings plan .  In the process, we enjoyed many mini-vacations and viewed countless cabins in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  With each viewing we learned more about what we liked and wanted.  We made several offers.  Some were not accepted based on price;  one could not be formalized due to zoning restrictions that prevented the lot from being subdivided; and another we had to walk away from due to severe mold issues uncovered during the inspection and sellers who were not willing to negotiate.

In the process of our search, we developed a very specific wishlist.  The overall goal was a cabin that we could enjoy now, when we started a family, and in the future when we retired.  Our desire was a lakefront cabin with a price tag that would not require us to rent it out to help cover expenses.   Another requirement was a home located on a lake large enough for a boat to enjoy cocktail cruises and tubing or water-skiing.  A home that required serious elbow grease, renovation, and imagination was no problem.  The cabin had to be large enough to enjoy time with family and friends, but small enough to minimize cleaning time.  It is vacation after all!

When we moved to Southern California, we had to take a break from our vacation home dreams.  However, we couldn’t escape our longing for open space, forest, and a lakefront paradise.  When the opportunity to move back to the mid-west arose, we jumped on it and rekindled our search effort to finally make our cabin dream a reality. Because of our efforts in identifying the type of vacation home situation that would work for us, we have had absolutely no regrets and love every minute we spend in our peaceful oasis.  If  you are considering the purchase of a second home, here are some critical points you must consider before taking the plunge .  We have watched others rush at the opportunity to purchase vacation homes, only to create unnecessary stress and financial uncertainty into their lives.  I hope this information helps you fulfill your vacation dreams.  Owning a second home is not for everyone.  It can limit the opportunity to visit new destinations.

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Patio Life – Building an outdoor fireplace into the side of our garage (Part 1)

Outdoor fireplace built into the side of a garage.

 

Outdoor patio paradise!  Isn’t it magical?!?!  There was a lot going on with this project, so I will tell the story in a series of posts.  The project started last July and the fireplace and exterior garage renovation were completed the day of our first snow in early December.  I sat in front of the fire on this snowy eve with a gloved hand, glass of wine, and umbrella to prevent snow from accumulating on my glasses and in my wine.

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I LOVE Dansk Kobenstyle Cookware

My Kobenstyle Casserole filled with Gumbo.

Brilliant! The casserole lid doubles as a trivet.

I have ‘known’ Kobenstyle Enamel casserole cookware my entire life.  My mom received a set as a shower gift when she married 50-years ago.

Growing up, this cookware meant special events and celebration food.  My mom stored her most beloved Christmas cookies in her Kobenstyle.  This isn’t her Linzer recipe, but close enough and good reviews!

My mom used her Kobenstyle to entertain company and I remember many appearances in the dining room, which was reserved for special occasions with family and friends.   Some of my favorite Kobenstyle memories are Gumbo and Mushroom Soup.

Growing up, I didn’t understand how much I associated the Kobenstyle casserole cookware with great food and good times.  Unfortunately, my parents divorced and the Kobenstyle cookware was lost!!!!  I went off to college, married, and started cooking for a family of my own.  I had some great enamelware from Crate and Barrel, which I also received as shower gifts.  I loved the light weight and versatility, but cleaning caked on food left the bottoms scratched and eventually I had to retire these dutch ovens.  About 2-years years ago, I opened a catalog I received in the mail and was delighted to find Kobenstyle cookware.  What a flood of great memories!  I had to have it!  The fabulous stock pot is available in 6-Quart4-Quart; and 2-Quart sizes.

Italian Wedding Meatball Soup.

One pot mac-and-cheese Easy, creamy, andso delicious!

My mom had the teal version.  Very mid-century modern color, I think.  It seams teal items are still available, but the black works better for me.  I love cooking with my Kobenstyle casseroles.  Le Creuset dutch ovens are also nice, but they are so heavy.   They are difficult to manage manage with food, they are difficult to clean, and they are EXPENSIVE.  Kobenstyle is a good fit for my lifestyle….affordable, super easy to clean, lightweight so you can easily manage the transfer from oven to table, and how cool is it that the lid doubles as a trivet.  So practical and stylish.

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase your Kobenstyle cookware using the links I have provided, I will receive a portion of the seller’s profits.  Thank you for your support.

Bird Feeder Pulley System

It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I have been busy with many projects.  Now I have lots of blogging to catch up on.

We are fortunate to have a little cabin up in the north woods.  We enjoy relaxing at our little place in the woods and watching all of the wildlife.  Patrick decided to hang bird feeders not long after we purchased the cabin.  We started with basic bird seed and were delighted with visits from squirrels (gray, red, black, small and large), chipmunks, raccoons,  a variety of birds (chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays,  and a variety of woodpeckers).  So fun to watch all the action.

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A few years ago during a Thanksgiving weekend visit, Patrick splurged on bird food with dried fruit and nuts.  I thought it was overkill as it looked like trail mix I would eat myself and the price was pretty steep.  Later that evening we couldn’t figure out what was eating the nut-fruit mix  at the feeder.  Definitely something we had not seen before.  It looked like squirrels, but they were moving too fast.  Could it be some kind of bird?  It looked like they were flying to the feeder from another tree.  After some seriously patient watching, we finally figured out it was a bit of both…..flying squirrels.  I never knew these were native to the north woods.  So fun to watch!  So cute!  They are nocturnal, so they have very large eyes relative to rest of their body.  Needless to say, we always buy the fruit-nut mix now for our furry, flying friends.

This fall, we decided to add another feeder.  We had to get it higher into the tree, but still needed access for filling.  We developed a pretty simple pulley system.  The supply list is pretty simple and can be seen below.  I used a planter hook, rope, a pulley, two carabiners, an eye hook, a pulley, a screwdriver and drill.  My feeder is heavy when filled, so I might need to replace the planter hook with a stronger hook that has a cross bar for added support.  It is already starting to bend with the weight.

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We drilled holes into the tree and screwed the hardware in for the planter hook.  These screws came with the planter hook.  I hung the pulley from the hook and passed the rope through.  I tied a carabiner to the end of the rope for easy connection and release to the rope on the feeder.  I made sure the rope was long enough to lower the feeder to ground and tied the other carabiner to this end of the rope.   Getting the rope right is definitely the trickiest part of this project.  The carabiner at the end of the rope reaches to the pulley when the feeder is lowered.  It doesn’t lower all the way to the ground, so the quick release on the feeder is helpful to detach the feeder for filling.   I screwed an eye hook into the tree and use this to secure the carabiner on the rope so the feeder is secure in its elevated position.  A quick weekend project and our feathered and furry friends enjoy their new feeding station.

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Hope you are having a great fall.  I look forward to your comments.  Please find the link at the top of this post.

Laura

 

Bathroom Remodel…….Almost there!

Bathroom looks amazing and this project is very close to completion.

I love the fixtures I found on Signature Hardware.    They have some pretty cool stuff for every style.  Check out the granite and marble sink basins!  Too cool!  Great selection, packaging, and customer service.  Prices are fair for the quality.  Definitely better than what you find at the big box stores.  I’m reminded of this everyday when I use my kitchen sink.  Needed something quick for an emergency replacement.  I’m thinking a kitchen remodel is in my not too distant future.  Already scheming and dreaming!!!!

The oil rubbed bronze finish on the new fixtures blends nicely with the antique brass shower curtain surround.  The hand shower will be very handy for dog showers.  I am so happy we chose the marble.  It looks perfect in our Victorian home.  I love the marble ‘slab’ on top of the cabinet.  I like the smooth surface vs the square tiles that were there prior to the renovation.  Very elegant.  The light shining through the leaded glass window creates a beautiful light show during the evening hours.

 

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What’s left?  I removed the drawers in favor of open shelving.  I will paint the interior and buy some baskets, but I hope this doesn’t end up looking too cluttered.  I do need to touch up some of the wainscoting and trim paint.  Wall paint needs to be touched up as well.  Thinking I might repaint in a different color.  I’m feeling like the blue is too casual for the new tile and overall style of the bathroom.  Stay tuned!  I am certainly open to recommendations.  After that, it’s just new towels and maybe new switch plates and outlet covers.  I came across brass aging solution on-line.  I do like to experiment, so I might give that a try before outright replacement.  This approach could come in handy for some of the other non-antique brass fixtures in my home.

I’ll post the final before and after pictures as soon as I wrap this project up.  I do have a couple of distractions: a dresser I need to paint this weekend and I probably need to get another batch of canning in before everything starts to die off at the farm.  Hoping for another big batch of tomatoes.  The last batch of Bloody Mary mix turned out amazing.  More on my Bloody Mary mix experiments soon.

take care!

Laura

Please leave comments using the ‘comment’ link at the top of this post, just below the title.  Thank you.

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