Posts tagged #home and garden

Beachy Backyard Cabana for Kids

I've been meaning to post these pictures for some time now. I'm lucky to get it in before the snow starts to fall. It's amazing how the time flies when you have a newborn! 

It took several weeks to complete this project as we were trying to beat the rain for 4 weekends in a row, but we finally finished our playhouse for the kiddies just in time for summer and the arrival of our baby!!

We wanted to go for a Key West theme with the colors, sort of like a beach cabana. The girls love it and picked out the colors themselves. Now we just need to cover the grass with sand and make it a beach! Right?

We found some plans online to help guide us. Here are the plans we referenced: The Handmade Home She has an amazing website! We did have to do some modifications to best suit the look and structure we were looking for.

Some structural differences to note are...

This baby is solid! When I mean solid, I mean it doesn't move an inch. We fit 8 adults and a couple of children up on the deck and it still didn't budge! We get a lot of rain and I wanted to make sure the wood pillars didn't rot while touching the ground so we used the cement support blocks.

   I really like how we used the white translucent corrugated fiberglass roofing. It lets in more light  than the metal roofing does and it gives it a softer touch to go along with the beachy theme.  We even added some plant hooks at the front of the structure to hang some planters for the extra girlie touch! Since my daughter loves to play teacher, we definitely needed to add this chalk board that we secured on the back wall. I used the back side of the leftover siding and chalk paint.

 

I really like how we used the white translucent corrugated fiberglass roofing. It lets in more light  than the metal roofing does and it gives it a softer touch to go along with the beachy theme.

We even added some plant hooks at the front of the structure to hang some planters for the extra girlie touch! Since my daughter loves to play teacher, we definitely needed to add this chalk board that we secured on the back wall. I used the back side of the leftover siding and chalk paint.

Posted on October 7, 2015 and filed under Create, Family, Home.

Container Gardening and free classes with Craftys!

I've always wanted to have my own farm with tons of gardening beds to grow enough fruits and vegetables to feed my family for the entire year! Living on a farm and having enough acreage to have a garden of that size is not very easy or financial realistic living in the suburbs of Chicago. Unless, you want to drive far outside the area to afford something like this.

We were blessed to purchase a home that has an amazing backyard. To be honest, the deciding factor in our home search was the yard. We're outdoorsy people and need a space where we could really do what we want. With that being said, I need to be methodically and inventive with how I plan my garden this year. While it would be amazing to fill the entire backyard with raised garden beds that wouldn't be fair to the kids or the hubby. So instead I am looking more into container gardening and utilizing our amazing and rather large deck as a place to layout my plans.

Craftsy offers this free PDF on container gardening.  This is a great resource to get started. Not only does it give you a crash course on container gardening, it also educates you on the best plants for this type of option. My favorite part was the recipe on how to make your own potting soil! Container gardening is a great option for anyone who is limited on space such as an urban garden.

Craftsy also offers free online gardening classes! Make sure to check out their website because it doesn't just stop at gardening! They offer a wide selection of online courses from embroidery to woodworking or paper crafts! 

Would you like to see more of the free resources that Craftsy has to offer? I would be happy to share some more with you! Please share the area you are most interested in!

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*This post contains my affiliate link that helps support my family.

Reasons You Should Start Gardening with Your Kids

As we are approaching the second year for our family garden my kids are giddy with excitement and looking forward to getting out and getting dirty! This past Easter their baskets were filled will all sorts of gardening goodies. The Easter bunny hit it spot on this year! They were filled with a watering can, mini garden gloves, seeds, and gardening tools.

Since

last year

was such a success and the kiddies were so interested, we decided that we are going to give the girls their very own garden bed to putts around in! Gardening is such a wonderful activity and hobby for young kids to take part in and here's why...

Educational

This is a

hands on experience

for the kids to learn where our food comes from and how it's made. Most kids who don't have a clue about gardening assume our food is made at the grocery store. Learning about seeds, plant needs, and how to grow their own food will make plant biology all the more fun!

Teach them about work and Responsibility

Not only do your kids learn about the educational aspects behind gardening but they learn about the hard work it takes to produce the food and the work it takes caring for the plants.

Physical activity

Kids should be out playing anyways but fun in the sun can be constructive as well and gets them moving the muscles they're not used to while sitting in class all day.

It's fun!

Most kids enjoy gardening and getting their hands a little dirty. Why not give them a productive activity that you can join in on as well.

Boosts their self-esteem

My little one felt so proud when the tomatoes and cucumbers started to grow. It's like she accomplished something big, which she did!

Healthy for the family

Growing your own food gives you the reassurance of where it comes from and the chemicals that are used. It also gets kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables because they grew it themselves. My daughter would go out to the garden and pick the green beans and eat them raw. I was shocked!

Spending time with your kids

My favorite reason is I get to spend quality time with my kids. Those early years of wonder are perfect for gardening. It's a hobby that both mommy and my girls enjoy together.

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It's that time of year for starting your seeds!

I have been crazy busy lately, thinking about girls scouts and meeting planning, new baby planning, that I almost forgot about a very exciting time of year.  What I really mean to talk about is garden planning!!!!!!

Can you tell how much I love to garden?

Really, it gets me so energized just thinking about this season. For me gardening is like an addiction. I would spend hours a week just watching my plants and fantasizing about the overfilled bowls of juicy cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes.

The thing about having a garden, or a garden that grows produce, is that you need to plan ahead. Sometimes months ahead. For example, hot peppers needs to be started indoors 12-10 weeks ahead of time. So while all of you are only dreaming of the warm summer months and the ground has not quite unfroze from the winter, these babies need to start taking action.

Last year was my first year and I felt pretty successful considering I was a beginner. We had tons of cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes and assorted peppers. This year I really hope to expand and try out some new vegetables as well.

What I am continuing from last year
Red and Green Bell peppers
Mini yellow bell peppers
Jalapeno
Serrano
Cayenne
Santa Fe peppers
Cucumbers
Green beans
Carrots
Cherry tomato

What I will attempt to introduce this year
Leafy greens
Roma tomato
Strawberries
Watermelon
Herbs of all kinds
Squash
Zucchini

With these new additions I've had to come up with a better plan as to how I am going to lay this all out in my back yard. While I would love to have a full blown homestead, I also don't want the entire back yard to be garden boxes. Plus, the girls really need their play house this year :).

Space-saving garden ideas...
Grow tomato plants in containers-I plan on have three large containers, really they are decorative terracotta pots, that will sit on my deck and not only grow tomatoes for the family but act as landscaping and greenery for the deck! The deck gets the most sun so this concept will be ideal for saving yard space.

Trellis cucumbers on deck or an arbor-I plan on trellising my cucumbers this year on my back fence. This will provide some additional privacy and space saving by not having to trellis them in the middle of the yard.

Border the entire yard-I plan on mixing some beautiful flowers and produce along the border of the yard about two feet off of the fencing. I will add in some edible favorites to the mix as well. This will also compliment and aid in the pollination of the plants. Remember to use organic and safe fertilizers when you are planting edibles near flowers.

What are your gardening plans for this year?


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Why You Should Prep... I Mean Homestead

Not very many people would know that I'm a "Prepper" or "survivalist". I actually refer to call it homesteading. That has a nicer ring to it. I have written in the past about homesteading but I think the previous two terms have more of a stigma attached to them that I don't necessarily like to associate myself with. Nonetheless, I do prep for survival. I'm no pro and my pantry is no where near stocked but this type of thing is always a work in progress.

The words Prepper or survivalist are often associated with "crazy" and "Domesday Preppers" or "conspiracy theories". These are not ways to describe me. Although, I've been interested in a good conspiracy theory every now and then.

There is not one reason for homesteading. Its a list of reasons and scenarios that are endless really. Here are my top 4 reasons why I prep.

1) Economic Reassurance and a Peace of Mind
In the case where either my husband or I lost our jobs, the financial situation would be extremely tight. Cut backs would need to be made. It wouldn't be the first time the economy has crashed and thousands have been unemployed so the little reassurance I have by building up to a year supply of food would at least guarantee my family would get fed.

2)Self Sufficiency
I am a proud person and I do believe that at the end of the day, you are responsible for yourself and not the government. Not having to rely on something that may take weeks or months to come through is also a reassurance. In the case of an economical collapse in this country, which I don't think should be considered as far fetched, there won't be government assistance like we expect.

It's also empowering knowing that I can take care of myself and my family!

3) Natural Disasters and War
Have you seen the news reports lately. Extreme weather is a norm and it's unpredictable. Extreme weather can also affect our power grids and in the event of a massive solar flare rocking our grid system, I would like to not rely on someone else... again. By the way, EMP attacks are not just a threat from the sun... our grid is constantly being tested by hackers daily who would just love to inject chaos to our society for the fun of it. Have you seen American Blackout?

In the event that we were pushed back to prehistoric ages, knowing how to survive off the land would be essential. Knowing how to survive off of nature period is something everyone should know. Think about how vulnerable someone is when they don't know how to grow their own food or survive in the wild.

4)It's Cost Effective
Growing my own produce from seed is a small fraction of the price of food in the market and my food is Organic. Growing extra and freezing or canning the excess is great over the winter months and helps me cut back on the grocery bill. This past summer I didn't have to buy one cucumber. One organic cucumber can get up to $3 a piece and we were picking 10 a week. The seed pack I bought was $2.50 and I still have some left over for next year. I'd rather be gardening then cutting coupons and strategically couponing. I've tried the extreme coupon thing and I hated it.

My Tomato Canning Recipe



1) First, you need to prep your tomatoes. Slightly slice an X at the bottom of each tomato, just to puncture the skin but not cut it. I boiled the tomatoes for about 60 seconds and them put them in an ice bath to cool. Then to my amazement, the skin pealed off so easy.

2) De-seed and chop your tomatoes.

3) Start preparing your hot water bath. In a large pot start boiling your water. You will need enough water to cover the tops of your jars.

4)Put your chopped tomatoes in a stock pot or sauce pan. Fill with just enough water to level off the tomatoes. Bring to boil and boil for 8 minutes.

5) While your tomatoes are boiling you can prepare your jars by boiling them in the hot water bath for 5 minutes. Do the same with the lids but don't boil until you are ready to put the lids on. The lids will need to be hot.

6) Once you are done boiling your tomatoes, pour them into the sterilized mason jars using a wide mouth funnel. I left about a quarter of an inch from each rim. Then take your hot lids and close your jars.

7) Boil your jars in a hot water bath for 45 minutes. Make sure the water covers the whole jar. Once you have boiled the jars, set them out to cool completely and then you can store.

*note: You can purchase a canning set from the store for under $10 bucks. It has the wide mouth funnel and rubber tongs. These two tools are extremely helpful and prevent burns!!




I hope this encourages you to empower yourself and become a little Prepper like myself. Just preparing a little extra food in the cabinet can make a big difference down the line because you can never really be sure of what can or can't happen.

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Fireplace Alternatives and Mantel Decor

When we were house hunting a year ago, it was one of the things "on the list".

When we found our home, it sadly lacked this feature.

So we improvised!

For Christmas last year, my parents bought us one of those portable fireplaces that you put the gel cans in. It actually generates a nice amount of heat. I love this feature for our living room. It was really boring and bare and this gives it a sort of sophistication and style.

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the current decor before it changes for the fall. I'm one of those people that like to change it up seasonally.

I believe this fireplace was purchased from 

Real Flame

 outlet store in Wisconsin.

Now we just need to put some hardwood flooring in and paint the trim white and I'll really get the design style I'm looking for! These are all plans down the line....

"Change your thoughts and you will change the world" is what is printed on the butterfly plaque.

I really love this camera and it expresses one of my true passions. The shiny silver goes along with the design and color palette and matches the frame of the mirror and the mercury glass hurricane vase.

Dollar store finds!!! The Marble vase and the angel statue were only a buck!

My little photo bomber!

Items featured above

White candle holder and Mercury Hurricane vases are from Kirkland

Alice in Wonderland Teapots from Tren-D in Downtown Disney

Camera from Ross

Butterfly plaque from Home goods store

Marble vase from Dollar Tree

Angel from Dollar Tree

Mirror from Home goods store

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Favorite Things Friday: Floral and Coffee

Hey Friends!! Today I wanted to share with a little bit of my personal style and some of the things I'm loving this week! I caught a theme here... Floral and Coffee.

 Hawaiian Coffee

This Thermos from Target! I want to be Glamping right now!

My floral camera charm necklace also from Target.

My floral Tinkerbell Coffee mug.

Jamberry Nails Orchid Garden - I can't wait to put mine on!

My favorite scented candle from Bath and Body Works.

What are some of your favorite things? Post in the comments and share with me!

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Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Happy Mama.

My little nook: Make Your Own Coffee Bar

I'm so excited to share with you all a little bit of my home today! One of the greatest joys about buying our very first house is being able to scan pinterest for some amazing design ideas! One of the ideas that immediately caught my attention was the little coffee nooks! It took me about 6 months to put this baby together. I hope you like my rendition!

The candle at the center of the sideboard is from Bath and Body Works. The scent is Pineapple Mango and it's my favorite! You will be obsessed with the scent too!

My Mom bought me this coffee wall plaque after I was telling her how excited I was to finally get my coffee bar.

I stored my mini wine rack on the bottom shelf along with a bottle of tequila. That's about all the alcohol we keep in the house. We are such party animals! I also used the bottom shelf to store some of my most used cookbooks. I plan on getting some wicker drawers from Ikea to fill in the middle shelf.

So the reason I wanted to post this picture was to show off that beautiful picture frame to the left of the coffee bar. My sister-in-law got it for me as a house warming gift. It's my favorite frame in the entire house and I really like how the photos compliment the canisters on the top shelf.

 The white platter I got from my bridal shower. It's discontinued from Crate and Barrell but I wish they would bring it back. I also have the matching cake pedestal and dessert plates. I'm also in love with this Stainless steel water pitcher that I also got as a shower gift!

I was really happy to finally get my dream of a coffee bar! Now

I

can go and pin this on Pinterest! This ides works great with a wine bar.

Items featured

Norden Sideboard in black 

+IKEA USA

Stenstorp Wall Shelf in black 

+IKEA USA

Socker vase (set of 2) 

+IKEA USA

Chelsea large platter by 

+Crate and Barrel

Black Chalk Art Coffee Shop Plaque  

+Kirkland's

Vinito 8 bottle wine rack 

+Bed Bath & Beyond

Keurig single cup brewer and Kcup carousel

Picture frame is from Hobby Lobby

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below or email me:)

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My first garden update

Summer is already half way gone. I knew having my a veggie garden was work. I knew there would be things I would learn along the way and this would be a process for the next several years. We are almost half way through the growing season here in zone 5 and I can already think of a couple things I've learned so far.

1. Space

I didn't anticipate how much space each plant would need and take up, therefore there are some plants that are drowning underneath others... my carrots for one. Allow for enough space for the plants to mature so it doesn't look like a jungle and you allow room for other ones to grow.

2. Trellis

Cucumbers need a trellis or something to grow up otherwise it will attach itself to anything else including the plants next to it, the ground, or the side of the garden.

3. Cucumbers come from their flowers. I must have spent a week staring at this plant and wondering, while I watched the rest of my plants spring fruit and veggies, where the heck are the cucumbers. Only did I realize, after looking online, they were coming from their flowers.

4. You don't need 5 of everything.

I started out planting entire rows of different varieties of peppers realizing I don't need 6 cayenne pepper bushes. Next year we will be cutting back on some and adding on others.

 Green Beans

Cherry Tomatoes

So that's what I got for ya so far, folks! I will be posting more pictures shortly as it looks like we are to have some pickable veggies soon! How is your garden coming along?

Our Deck Renovation

Since my hand is out of commission and I don't enjoy the chicken pecking, I figured I would post a picture gallery of the before and after of our latest deck renovation project.

The deck was one of the selling features in our home but definitely needed a face lift. Some of the top boards were rotted and ready to put a foot through. We started by replacing those boards and were relieved to find a perfectly nice deck foundation.

I do have a funny story about when we power washed our deck

,

both a flood and a fire in one day! I will leave that for next time:)

 This was a weekend in itself!

 Sand off the peeling paint.

 Switched out our flood lights for these babies! The motion sensor was so off and would drive me nuts. Yes, it lacks a bit of security but I'm not a fan of flood lights.

 Two coats of a chocolate solid stain and a pinto white solid stain.

It took us a total of 3 weekends... including the weekend of flood and fire, which was kind of a wash.

What do ya think?

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