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.

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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! 🙂

Our Patriotic Porch

Back before Memorial Day I switched out the decorations on the porch from spring to patriotic for the summer holidays.  I usually decorate with simple red, white and blue items for the whole season to celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.  That takes me from May all the way through early September without having to update anything, which is perfect for those already busy summer months.

I added faux ferns to the little vintage cart I got at the Junk Bonanza show, so I don’t even have to water anything.  A cute little patriotic bunting from JoAnn’s makes it festive.  I plan to add some birch logs to the crock, but if I don’t get around to it before the end of the summer that’s ok.  Our little moose statue rounds out the display with that sweet wooden face.

The metal star I already had on the porch works well with this set-up so I left it up.  I’ve traded my various holiday door mats for a classic welcome that will work throughout the year.  It was one of my best finds at Home Goods on our trip to Portland back in April.

The vintage bells I got at the Alaska Chicks’ Spring Market were added to a wreath I already had.  It’s my simple nod to “let freedom ring” and the blooms on the wreath tie in with the door color.  I also added a couple small flags to the potted plants on the steps, but forgot to get a picture of them.

And since I didn’t get a chance to share the spring set up back when it was in use here it is for comparison. J  A few faux bouquets from the clearance bin at Michaels that can double as photo shoot props and my cute new Mr. Bun Bun from Pier One thanks to a gift card and coupon I won during their Enchanted Spring Open House event. A bird house from my ever-growing collection tied it all together.

Do you decorate your porch for summer or for the patriotic holidays?  I’d love to see!  Leave me a comment with a link so I can check out your decorations!

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!

New DIY Shelves for Crafting Storage

This project had been bouncing around in my head for quite some time, so when the Hubs was in the mood for a project I decided it was the perfect opportunity to direct his motivation to this update.  I’d previously had a ladder shelf in this spot holding all my crafting projects, but it wasn’t super sturdy and it didn’t really fit my style so I wanted to replace it with an industrial style rolling bookcase.  I showed the Hubs this and this style to give him an idea of what I wanted and we talked through the pros and cons of the two.  He took a few measurements and within two days I had this beauty.

I forgot to get a picture of it as bare wood, but I’m sure you can imagine it.  This is what it looked like with two coats of the same grey stain I used on the barn wood frames he made me. He spray painted the metal corner brackets he’d picked up for the project and added those to complete the look.  And here it is all filled and in use!

With the new shelves done I was finally ready to hang the “create” art I got forever ago.  It looks great with the shelves and coordinates with the dark bed frame and baskets.  Now that it’s up I’ll have to share the story behind it soon.

My often used paints and stains found a home on the top shelf for easy access.  I reused the baskets I already had and filled in the extra spot with a gym basket I already had as well.

I’m still debating painting the screw  heads on the corner brackets, so I’ll live with it for a while and if it bothers me in a few weeks I’ll make them match.  The Hubs also got wooden dowels to make faux steel rods along the back of the shelves like the inspiration pieces had, but we haven’t added them yet.  I really liked that detail, but because I’m using baskets rather than styling it with decor they wouldn’t be super noticeable, so it may not be worth doing.  I’ll decide on that eventually. 🙂

This whole area has seen several updates since we moved in 4 years ago including revamping the shelvespainting the cart knobs, adding the craft paper rollmoving the day bed out to this space and adding the DIY frame.  I’m loving how it’s all looking together.  And how it compliments the wall-to-wall desk on the other side of the room, which has also seen several updates since this post.  I’ll have to share that soon!

If you’re looking for more tutorials for these style of shelves, check here, here, here, here and here.  It’s a popular style so there are many variations available out there.  I hope yours turns out great!

DIY Faux Barnwood Frames

I recently picked up two great prints from one of my fave Alaskan artists thanks to a promotional sale she was running.  But I wanted rustic frames for them.  I tried a few from the local stores, but they either didn’t fit the prints the way I wanted or weren’t rustic enough.  So I turned to Etsy, where I found several options but again wasn’t sure on the sizing.  The Hubs overheard my frustration trying to confirm size and shipping costs, looked at the styles I was considering and then proclaimed, “I can make that.”  I quickly said OK! and searched Pinterest for a tutorial.  I found this one and made adjustments for the size of our prints.

I somehow forgot to get a picture of the frames before I stained them but I’m sure you can imagine it.  Here’s how they looked after the first coat of stain.

I used stain I had on hand from a previous project.  While it was pretty it wasn’t quite barnwood enough for me so I decided to add some grey I also had on hand.

And here’s the result!  We both love how it turned out.  I had a few spots still to touch up, but this was pretty darn close to what I’d been looking at on Etsy.  It wasn’t true barn wood, but at an investment of around $13/frame it gave me the look I wanted without extra shipping costs.  Plus it was the perfect custom size for what I needed.

And here it is with the print attached.  I just taped it to the back using the backing board that came with the print so I didn’t damage the print itself.

It’s the perfect piece to complete this area which I’ve been slowly revamping for quite a while now.  And there’s a sneak peek at the other project the Hubs did for me recently!  I’ll be sharing that very soon.

The second print is much more colorful and really pops with the rustic tones of the wood.  I hung this one in my cubicle at work and have gotten so many compliments on it.  It makes me smile every day, both because I love the art and knowing the love that went into the frame surrounding it. 🙂

So if you’re looking for a rustic frame I highly recommend this one.  It was simple and easy to do – just 1×2’s, L brackets and some stain.  I’d love to see what you come up with if you give it a try!