Repurposed Bin Planters

Today I’m sharing another couple of planters I mentioned in my recap post.  These cuties were made from old conveyor belt scoops that I got from Alaska Picker.  The first I snagged at the AK Picker Day sale – right after finding the garage sale milk can.  I hunted high and low for more of them but someone else had beat me to them.  So when I spotted another at the Alaska Chicks Vintage sale I immediately claimed one.

The first still had a section of conveyor belt attached, but the second was mounted to a piece of old barn wood.  I wanted them both to match so I had the Hubs remove both the belt and board so I could mount them on new boards.

The Hubs cut me two pieces of wood from some scrap we had from another project and I dug out my outdoor teal paint to give them a couple coats.  A little distressing around the edges gave them the perfect rustic look.  The Hubs attached the bins to the new boards and I had this cuteness!

I wasn’t sure where I was going to use them at first but when I came out and saw the big open area on the chicken coop expansion I knew they’d look great there.  After I painted the coop the Hubs drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of the bins and put them up with a couple of screws. I filled them with purple alyssum to finish them off.

I absolutely adore how they turned out.  The combo of teal, rusty metal and purple flowers makes my heart do a happy dance.  And it’s perfect for decorating a chicken coop – not to fussy but not to messy either.

I still have a little painting to do on the lower part of coop and the Hubs plans to finish off the storage area door with siding to match the rest of the coop.  I’ll share more about the expansion and new set up once it’s all done.  We also plan to fill the area in front of the coop with pavers and pea gravel to finish everything off.

Of course neither the chickens nor the dogs – or the cats for that matter – care about any of that.  They just like having a window where they can see each other face to face.  But this doggie/chicken/kitty momma is happy to have a pretty space for them all.

Upcycled Milk Can Planter

One of the projects I mentioned in my recap was an upcycled milk can planter.  This was a fairly simple project that came together quickly.  I spotted this old milk can at a garage sale on my way to Alaska Picker day back in the spring.  When I heard it was just $20 I claimed it right away.  It was pretty rough, but I knew I could at least do something with the shape since it was pretty sturdy and solid.

I tried scrubbing the discoloration off thinking it was dirt, but while I got lots of dirt off the piece the lines remained, so I had to decide the best option to cover them.  After a quick Pinterest search I went with basic black because it would hide all of the flaws and cover the odd pattern.

A couple coats later it was looking pretty good.  I picked up a black pot to match it and shoved it into the opening as far as I could fit it.  And when summer finally arrived it found a spot out on the deck and got a couple of plants to brighten it up.

It’s a perfect fit next to the hot tub stairs and helps hide the plumbing a bit when looking out from the bedroom.  Plus it coordinates well with the lounge chairs nearby.

I filled it with marigolds to help ward off bugs near the hot tub, purple alyssum and some creeping Jenny that trails over the front of the can.  A little birdhouse tucked up next to it brings in the teal I’ve used elsewhere in the yard.

Not bad for a $20 garage sale find and a can of spray paint!  I look forward to using it for many years to come with other trailing plants in a variety of colors.

My New Garden Bell

With all the other yard projects we’ve been working on the Hubs finally got my upcycled propane tank garden bell installed!  This was my first purchase at the Junk Bonanza show in Portland 2 years ago and it had to stay at my Mother-In-Law’s house until we made a trip with the trailer because it was so heavy.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d hang it but when we ended up with an ‘extra’ footer while constructing the new deck the Hubs suggested we make it into an arbor for the bell.  I was totally game and knew it would look great there.

He worked out the footings for the other side and put in a cross bar at the top last season before winter arrived.  We picked up from there this season, hanging the bell with the chain it came with and building a box around the base to act as a planter for a clematis I needed a trellis for.

Once the planter box was constructed I filled it with dirt and transplanted the clematis, then covered the dirt with wood chip mulch to reduce weeds.  I’ve been slowly training the clematis branches up the two posts.  Eventually it will cover the entire structure and frame the bell beautifully.

I also had the Hubs install the coordinating bird bath on a hook off to the side.  That way I can fill it when I water on dry days.  Now I just have to let it grow and enjoy the pretty rusty patina as I  wait for the blooms to show!  And work on incorporating the planter box into the rock landscape I have planned for around the deck. 😉

Expanding the Egg Table

The Hubs picked up a fancy new smoker a few months back and has been using it pretty regularly, so he decided to incorporate it into his existing egg table.  He had originally sealed the whole table with Thompsons water seal but that didn’t seem to be holding up too well to Alaska’s winters so he knew he was going to have to sand it down and refinish it this season anyway.

He built a new section to wrap around the smoker that matched the style of the original table and attached it with his Kreg tool.  I was working on other projects while he was doing this stage so I didn’t get any pictures of it but you can figure out the setup from the finished images in this post. He cut a small hole in the side to access the wood chip drawer on the smoker.

We decided to go with outdoor deck paint for the refinish and chose a dark grey that should hide dirt and any minor damage it might get outside.  The Hubs said it went on like tar so it should provide a pretty good barrier to the elements.

The new extended size is a perfect fit for the smaller rug we had from last season and makes stepping out from the house to grill a bit comfier.  The new expanded top gives him plenty of room to prep things before they go into either the grill or the smoker and is the perfect spot for my big cast iron lantern and piggy planter.

Once it was all painted, he added the bottle opener we picked up forever ago to the side, which is conveniently located right next to our new dining set.   And with the herbs growing nearby he can pluck some to add to his culinary masterpieces.

I’ve also found that it works well as an impromptu potting bench when I’m prepping pots for the deck.  Good thing he’s ok with sharing every now and then! 🙂

Catching Up

My lady slipper orchids are blooming in the rain garden!

It’s been a while since my last post because we’ve been pretty darn busy around here the past several weeks.  So here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going on.

The yard is in bloom finally, after a long wet spring.

At the beginning of the year I moved into a new position at work, which requires learning several new software platforms and skills.  It took a while for my old position to be filled so for a while I was basically doing both jobs.  The gal who filled my previous position has been with the company for a few years and worked in our department, but she too had a lot of learning to do in her new role.  When she needed to be out for a bit due to emergency surgery over the spring, I had to help out by stepping back into that role while also continuing to do my new job.  It was a bit chaotic and didn’t leave much time or energy for other things.  Luckily it was only for a few weeks and now she’s recovered and back without restriction so we can both settle into our usual duties.

The new pillows we picked up on our trip look great around the fire pit!

We took a quick trip to visit my Mother-In-Law in Portland, where we did some shopping for the house, attended a beekeeping class (something we’re planning to try next year) and I organized a styled photo shoot.  The Hubs and I also took care of a couple small projects around Mom’s house while we were there.  Since we still had snow on the ground when we left and returned to a snow storm – it was a nice break to enjoy some spring weather and blooms!

The new chicks have traded fluff for feathers and recently moved out to the big yard with the older chickens.  It seems like everyone is adjusting well.

When we returned from our trip we added to our chicken flock with two batches of baby chicks!  These little fluff balls have been living in the garage in a large brooder we made from a stock tank planter I had.  In addition to multiple feedings a day we worked hard to make sure they were handled often as well so they will be friendly when they are adults.  To make room for them outside, the Hubs made a massive addition to the coop, doubling their indoor space and tripling the number of nest boxes.  We’re still putting the finishing touches on that project but I’ll share it soon.

Still buried in snow, this is how the green house looked when we got back from our trip.

I spent many hours getting the green house cleared out and prepped for the season after our trip.  I attended the annual VIP plant sale at my favorite nursery toward the end of April, but the blooms had to hide out in the green house for a few more weeks before it was safe for them to be outside.  While I waited on the weather, the edible crops were all started in the green house and the Hubs revamped the hydroponic system for the tomatoes with bigger tubing so it’s more efficient.  Now everything is growing and we’re already enjoying some of the bounty from our lettuce, spinach and dill plants!

And here’s how it looked after the plant sale – at least until I could plant everything in the yard.
The yard is coming together – here’s a sneak peek at the updates the Hubs made to the egg table and another project I’ll share soon.

We did several projects around the yard as we prepared for the summer season.  I revamped a serving cart for the deck, upcycled an old milk can into a planter and created planters out of old conveyor belt scoops for the new chicken coop expansion.  The Hubs extended his egg table with a spot to store his new smoker and built me potato crates which will double our crop this year.  We sold the old patio furniture to make way for a new dining table and a set of loungers for the deck we installed last summer.  We also started installing a gazebo style covering over the hot tub on that deck.  We hope to have that completed soon – but need to arrange some extra helpers to get the roof on.  Out front, I styled the vintage cart on the front porch for spring and then for summer with patriotic colors.

The new table is a perfect fit for our deck and it expands if we have a big group over.
The firepit is cleaned out and ready for use.
The new lounge chairs (with a hiding kitty) and partially installed gazebo on the big deck.  I’ll be landscaping around this deck later this summer and plan to mirror the rock bed around the other deck.
I updated the wood storage for the fire pit with some cinder blocks that we took out when the Hubs expanded the chicken coop. It was an easy, and free upgrade that also hides the electrical conduit for the hot tub.
I white washed terra-cotta pots to decorate the whiskey barrel tables and filled them with marigolds to ward off the bugs. I also placed small tiki torches on each table as a backup.
I’ve had this thermometer since last summer and we finally found a spot for it right next to the door.

Inside, I changed up a few things, including curtains in all the bedrooms, the rugs in our master bath, swapping Brinley’s kennel for a new entry bench.  Last weekend we took advantage of the neighborhood traffic for a neighbor’s estate sale and had a yard sale to clear out some extra clutter that accumulated around the house over the winter.  We were mildly successful in that goal, but there’s still lots to purge, which is why I only picked up a few small décor items when I attended the spring Alaska Chicks Vintage Market.

I picked up these vintage bells at the market and think they pair well with my wreath on the front door.

Whew – seeing it all written out makes me realize just how much we crammed into a few weeks!  As my Mother-in-Law says “No grass grows under our feet!”  And now that summer is in full swing we’ve got a whole new round of projects and activities planned.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see the projects I mentioned plus others that are still in the works!  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you updated more regularly now.  In the meantime I’ll leave you with more pictures of those silly chicks, who just moved out to the big yard.  🙂

Snack time at the feeder with the fluffy butt club.
We have several Novogens in this batch that will be great egg layers.
And there are a couple Dominiques for some variety.
My favorites are the Easter eggers who will lay greenish blue eggs and have fun little feather beards!
The dogs act as constant security for the cluckers.
They are quite used to us and often come running to meet us at the gate, or investigate our feet to see if they are edible. 🙂
Our flock is now up to 20 chickens so it’s a good thing the Hubs got that expansion completed!

The Shed Bed

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write for the blog, but I found a few minutes today to share one of the last projects of the season before the snow started to fly.  I added a whole new flower bed along the side of the shed!  This space used to be a dumping ground for pallets and scrap wood we were saving for future projects, but its one of the first things you see as you pull up to the house and now that the green house was over her I wanted the area to have a more structured look.  So the Hubs helped clear out all the wood at the beginning of the season and I started planning out the layout once I confirmed the exposure this space gets is mostly shade.

Here’s how it was looking as fall started to arrive.  I’d used left over edging stones to create a border and placed a few pieces of garden art to start establishing the structure of the layout.  I stopped at an end of season plant sale near my office and got several options that should do well in the shade.  I planned to fill in with other plants from another bed that will be eliminated next summer.  Since this whole area is rocky back fill I put down a layer of top soil to create the base of the bed.

Once the top soil was in and the plants were in the ground I covered the areas around each plant with newspaper to prevent weed growth next season. It was an interesting process since the wind decided to kick up about the same time so I had to quickly put mulch down over the paper to hold it in place.

While I alternated between piecing newspaper sections around plants and chasing them across the yard as they blew in the wind, my assistant was quite busy catching up on her dirt baths…

I used wood chip mulch because it was inexpensive and I had several large areas to cover between this bed and some other projects.  The Hubs got me a full truck load of wood chips for around $20 the same day he got me the load of top soil and gravel to go around the green house.

Since I’m using perennials, I left plenty of room for things to spread over the coming years.  I used lambs ear around the rusty metal tank to create a batch of low visual interest along the front of the center of the bed.

These two hostas were transplants from the shade bed at the corner of the fenced yard which will be eliminated next season when we build a new outbuilding.  I call it “The Barn” but the Hubs thinks it’s a garage.  We’ll see who wins that debate. 🙂

Another transplant is this little astible.   This is the third placement it’s had since coming to our house.  He started in the gifted garden but was getting too much sun so I moved him to the shade bed where he did much better.  Hopefully the third time is a charm holds true for him and he continues to grow even fuller in this spot.

I also used a few new catmint plants since Luna loves the ones we have in other beds already and it’s an easy keeper that fills in areas nicely.  These will give her a couple to choose from so she alternates which she rolls in each day so they all get a break to recuperate!

I also transplanted a Seal of Solomon that surprised me in the gifted garden.  I’d brought him back from my Mother-In-Law’s garden in Washington and hadn’t seen him in the spring so I thought he hadn’t survived the winter.  This spot should be a much better exposure for him and he looks quite cozy behind the little quail family who are now safer from my active four-legged children!

Here’s how things looked once everything was in.  I’m excited to see how it all comes back next spring and watch it fill in the space.

There’s still some finishing touches needed, but this is a much better first impression as you come up the driveway.  It will look even better when I get that gravel the Hubs got me spread in front of it! Fingers crossed the weather will cooperate to let me do that next week when I have some time available so we don’t have piles of material at the corner of the driveway all winter!  And while I’m doing that the Hubs can get the last of the shed’s gutter completed so we have a ready supply of water when spring returns. 🙂

Picker Day Finds!

This past weekend I went to the fall Alaska Picker Day and as always had a great time.  The crowd that attends these events is always so courteous and there’s great finds that we can’t usually get here in Alaska at reasonable prices.

This was the first time they’ve held the event at their new location in downtown Palmer.  I love that they sit directly below the historic water tower which just adds to the charm.  I arrived 15 minutes before the sale opened and there was already a good sized crowd on-site, but everyone was respectful of the “gate” which was just an extension cord pulled across the driveway.  I ran into our friends Larry & Anne, who run Anne-Tiques and chatted with them about some projects I’m brainstorming while we waited for the sale to open.

Once the bell rang everyone flooded in to the shop through the large bay door, right to this massive back bar piece they brought back from the midwest.  A local brewing company had samples available for a donation, but since I was driving solo I didn’t partake, but heard them receive good feedback from several patrons.

This was the scene inside behind the makeshift bar.  Oodles of awesome junk.  I wasn’t on the hunt for anything in particular so I decided to step back outside and look at things there now that the crowd had migrated inside.  I spotted these awesome metal headboards and knew they’d make great trellises for the garden but didn’t have an exact spot for them so I hesitated.  I was most interested in the larger more ornate piece, since they were just $30 each.

I decided to ponder them some more and browse for other items so I headed back inside to look around.  I spotted these cool carriage wheels, one set wood and the other metal.  The wooden ones were already spoken (tag pulled) for so I don’t know how much they were priced at.

Near the wheels was this line of milk cans.  Priced at $58 each they were a good buy but I’d had the luck of finding one at a garage sale I stumbled upon that morning for just $20!  It doesn’t have the patina these ones do, but a coat of paint will have it ready for a new home on my deck or porch next year.

I’m always drawn to these wash tub stands because they make great raised planters, but I don’t have a spot for one right now and their $225+ price tag wasn’t really in the budget right now.  I’m sure they will find happy homes quickly.

These fun apothecary jars caught my eye as well.  At $12 each they were a little pricey, but still a good buy.  I didn’t have a specific use for them so I left them for someone else to enjoy.

There were also several displays of vintage cameras.  As a photographer I love seeing them and the history the document, but I’m trying to simplify our spaces and reduce things that just collect dust so I passed on these, even though were well priced from $25-50 each.

This old photo viewer was another interesting photography find.  I didn’t get to ask about the history of the piece but it just looked cool – and the photo in the holder made me giggle thinking it was likely considered very risque when it was taken.

So here’s my final haul from the sale.  I ultimately decided to get one of the headboards, but when I went back out to grab the tag on the biggest one it was already gone, so I opted for the smallest one thinking it will give me more options on spots to put it.  I’ll store it in the green house for the winter and find it a home in the gardens next spring.  I also picked up a couple of wooden berry baskets for just $1.50 each.  I plan to use them in my seasonal decorating, starting with fall.  I’ve got a couple of pumpkins that are going to look adorable in them!  I also found this fun conveyor belt bin for $10 that I think will make a fun wall planter on the back deck next year.  I wanted to find a few more, but my friend Anne and the friends she brought beat me to them.  I told them if they don’t find a use for them I’d be happy to take them off their hands.  And lastly here’s the milk can I found at the garage sale.  Like I said, it needs some TLC, but it’s solid. 🙂

It wasn’t a big haul, but I’m pretty happy with the items and projects they will fuel – all for just under $65!  I’d love to hear what you think about my finds and ways you think I could use them in a comment!