Make Over My Deck: Deck Reveal

Remember all the sneak peeks?

Despite the intermittent rain spells and work obligations, I was finally able to finish my deck!  Wanna see?

I don't have a total cost because many of these items were purchased over time and had been in storage until now, but I will say that everything was either free, or purchased a thrift store or discount closeout store (a.k.a. Big Lots).  Off season purchases are the best!

* The patio set was salvaged from my parents' back yard (free)
* Aquarium stand (free - gifted from a retired teacher)
* Umbrella (Big Lots - closeout store, off season purchase)
* Patio Chair cushions (Big Lots - closeout store, off season purchase)
* Mini Greenhouse (Big Lots - closeout store, off season purchase) [Reg price was $20 and I didn't pay that because it was off season]
* Spray paint ($1/can - Valspar Project Source) & ($5/can - Rustoleum Black Hammered) - used 4-5 cans of the Valspar paint and 3 cans of the Rustoleum
* 1 quart of Valspar's Duramax paint (for the door)

The future?
In the future, I'd like to replace some boards and the top railing.  Of course I'd also have to repaint or stain it.  I've seen some beautiful options, but without the repairs, it's pointless.

I also want a large patio plant to place in a colorful planter on the lava rocks.  Underneath the lava rocks are cemented places and that's also where some of my electrical work is, so there will be absolutely no planting there; hence the rocks instead.  I do have some solar lights that I purchased off season last year.  When I finish the lower level, I think they will make an excellent, lighted addition.

Just a couple more images...

Looking forward to sitting outside for a change.  Maybe those two carpenter bees will leave me alone.  :-)

Spring Garden 2014

This year I decided to start my garden a little earlier.  I didn't start as early as I had wanted, but it's so much earlier than last year's summer garden.

This year I wanted to try some different things:
  • Starting from seed for all my plants
  • Using peat pellets
  • Using a greenhouse
  • Planting less

So this year I started herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, dill) but I'm not sure which will actually make it.  So far, the basil is doing the best.  The verdict isn't out yet on the rest.

Then I planted sweetie tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes.

I started the seeds indoors and recently transplanted many of them into larger containers and putting them in a mini greenhouse outside.

It seems that last year I was able to get better sprouts when I used garden soil instead of the pellets.  I'm definitely not an expert on that, but I hope it works out.

When the plants mature I'll transplant them to a more permanent home, but for now they're in the mini greenhouse.

Oh yes, my mint started growing back.  Fresh tea anyone?

p.s.  Don't use colored craft sticks as plant markers ever.  The dye bleeds and it's crazy messy.

Happy Gardening,

Make Over My Deck: Upcycling an Aquarium Tank Stand into a Planter

When you first start teaching, oftentimes retiring teachers will start giving their classroom items to you.  I don't remember who gave me this stand or if they thought I'd want a classroom pet of fish, but at any rate, I've had this aquarium stand for about 15 years.  And trust me, in all that time, it has never actually held any fish.

While purging some items not too long ago, I pulled this stand out because I was sick of it not having a purpose.  I was going to let it go to someone else's home and let it find its new purpose there.  Somewhere between that thought, and being slothful, I realized that I could use this piece again in a new a planter on my deck!

  • aquarium stand (free)
  • coconut liners (from a discount store)
  • over-the-rail planter holder (had it so long that I don't remember where I got it)
  • tile (on clearance at Lowe's)
  • potting soil (leftover from a school project)
  • flowers (Walmart)


 Start with an aquarium stand
 and an over-the-rail planter holder (that's probably not the official name, but that's how you use it)
 Secure the planter holder inside the aquarium tank opening.
Because the sides were a little short, I tied them down with twine.  When I find my zip ties, I'll secure them with those (yep, got some cleaning up to do.  lol)
Cut two 24" coconut liners and sit them inside of each other to make them the length of the planter holder.
 Then fill with potting soil
 and plant flowers in them.  I chose marigolds because they are a natural bug repellant.
 Place tiles at the bottom of the stand.  Then the bottom can be used to hold gardening tools.

That is all.

Stay tuned to see how all these newly remade pieces have accentuated my deck makeover project.

Mother's Day 2014

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I wanted to wish all the mothers out there a really Happy Mother's Day!

I know on this blog I've usually spent a lot of time telling you about the relationship I had with my dad, but that is because of the love of working with our hands and that goes well with the theme of this blog.  However, I love my mom as well.  She and I just have a different relationship than I had with my dad.

I found this picture of mom and me in grandma's photo album last year.

My mom has given of herself my entire life.  When she decided to go back to college and pursue a Master's Degree when I was in elementary school, that caused her to live on the college campus during 4 summers of my childhood.  Oh, how I missed her.  But she wrote me letters all the time and recently I discovered that she kept my letters to her as well.  One day she gave me back one of my letters and it made my day.

Although my mom and I don't share many of the same interests, she's always paying attention to all of the things that I like to do, and she looks for books (remember she was a librarian) that match my current interests.  When I was a kid, she would leave books as presents on my bed or in my chair at the kitchen table.  I have not figured out to this day how she could sneak those presents without being caught.  Now, since we live in separate places, she still finds ways to surprise me on the oddest occasions.  This year she even sent me a St. Patrick's Day card with goodies inside.  (I mean, we never celebrated that day before, but that was her way to sneak in a surprise gift.)

On this Mother's Day I won't be able to spend it with my mom since she decided to spend it with hers, but trust me, we will celebrate when she returns.  It's funny how I already miss her though, even though we see each other almost every day and talk on the phone daily.  But, I'm glad to hear the joy in her voice as she spends time with grandma.

So, to all you wonderful women who have children, I want to wish you a wonderful Mother's Day.  I'm sure your own kids have many wonderful things to say about the things you have done over the years.  I know we generally set aside one day to celebrate Mothers, but as with many other holidays, Mother's Day is everyday.

Happy Mother's Day!


My Latest Vending Experience and My Epiphany (of sorts)

If you recall, I mentioned not too long ago that I was preparing to teach a beginner's crochet workshop and to vend outside of a community concert.  That event was a couple of Saturdays ago.

Here is my vending booth area.

Remember this purchase from the thrift store?
I framed one of my cards.  Easy way to have art.  :-)

This time I wanted to focus on natural handmade products and wanting to begin creating a vending area that reflected that, along with my current interests.  This time for my table decor I used thrifted items and burlap.  I wanted something a little simple as well.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  But I also have this thing about not investing so much in your table space, but rather, making one or two updates at each vending occasion.

The quick rundown of what happened.
No one showed up for my workshop.  I was okay with that at first, but then as the day went on, I started questioning every.single.thing related to my crafts of choice, my ability to be successful at vending, and whether or not my items were worthy of being purchased.  Yeah,  I was going into the hole fast.  Then I sucked it up, put on my game face, and went in to vend for the rest of the evening.  At the end of the evening, I sold one container of lip balm.  Yep, one.  So I felt myself spiraling down within myself.  Even though no one at the event may have noticed, behind the smile, I was feeling pretty pitiful.

In case you want to check out a video version of some of this.

My Epiphany (of sorts).
My accountant has already given me the heads up that if this "business" doesn't turn around this year, that I need to consider calling it quits.  Try something else.  *sigh*  Secretly, although I don't like admitting defeat, I think he may be right.  I'm not sure exactly what I will do, but what I am doing will not work.  I cannot say that I won't vend again, but I will take a sabbatical.  I definitely am not saying I won't craft again either, because that's not realistic.  It may just be that I end up where I started off...with bins and bins full of my creations with no home to go to other than my own.  If that makes me feel better than I do now, then I'll accept that.  I'm making no promises, but just letting you know what's going on.  #tonopressure

Happy Crafting,

Make Over My Deck: Revamping the Patio Set

A couple of years ago, I really wanted a patio set so I went to my dad, who of course had 2 or 3 sets in the backyard!  (Don't ask.)  I picked out one that would need a makeover, but I was just glad to have a free set.  It was green and rusted in places, but overall a great set.  Finally, I decided to make it over.


Used a wire brush to knock off chipped pieces and scrape the rust.

I used this cheaper paint made by Valspar ($1/can) as a primer so I could use less of the more expensive paint.
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This is the paint used for the top coat.

Then I de-legged the table and sprayed that too.  This time I did cover the glass top to avoid overspray on the glass.  The little that did get on the glass, I promptly used the Goo Gone Paint Cleanup to get it off.  This time it worked because I used it soon after.


p.s.  Believe it or not, I have cushions already...and an umbrella.  I bought them on sale a few years ago.  Time to break them out!

Stay tuned,