My First Garden

Happy spring!! Having spent four years living in a part of the state that enjoys a kind of perma-spring — sunny and 70 degrees pretty much year round — I think I lost the joy that comes in March and April every year. But up here in Northern California, spring is the magical (and fleeting) season of sunshine  and happiness before temperatures hit the triple digits.

With the passing of another season, we are getting closer to the wedding date. This means our garage is full of vases and glasses and ribbons and all sorts of other little details that are falling into place. I’ve been working on projects almost every weekend I’m planning to share those DIYs this summer, once all the madness is over.

In the midst of all that, I took advantage of the first glorious, sunny day of spring two weeks ago to plant my very first garden! I should say “our” first garden because technically my almost-husband built it for me and did a lot of the heavy lifting. Casey made me an 8′ by 4′ bed using two Douglas Fir boards. I had every intention of laying down newspaper to deter weeds from popping up through the bark that was already there, but in all our excitement to put in the soil, we forgot. We dumped a total of 8 cubic feet of soil and 2 cubic feet of compost into the bed and mixed it all together.

I read some articles about square foot gardening prior to building the garden and thought it was the best option for a rookie gardener like myself. I measured and screwed a nail every 12″ all around the bed. Then I used yarn to make the grid, marking off each square foot. The square foot markers also helped when it came time to plant the seeds, as each type of seed has certain spacing requirements.


In the raised bed I planted watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. I used 6 paint stirrers from Lowe’s as markers so I could keep track of where I planted each crop. In a large wooden pot, I planted 3 separate sweet cherry tomato plants. In two raised planter boxes that Casey hung from the fence, I planted a total of 12 strawberry plants (6 in each box).




Fast forward two weeks and this is what I have to report: one cat decided to use my garden as a personal bathroom — I had hoped the string would make it difficult for this to happen but apparently not. I found that citrus juice works as an all-natural repellant for cats so I will be picking up some oranges so I can spray the garden with juice. I’ll report back if this method is successful. In more positive news, as of this morning there are two cilantro sprouts, three green onion sprouts, and plenty of strawberries on their way!

IMG_0768Green onion sprouts! I might have squealed when I came out to find these yesterday morning. And again when I found two more sprouts this morning.


Next on the list is a young lemon tree that I will pot in the backyard where it can get plenty of sunlight. I’m so excited for the fruits and veggies we will have this summer! I actually look forward to watering my garden when I get home every day, and I must admit I’m a little bummed when Mother Nature waters the garden on her own. That’s my job!


Here is the garden, with the wisteria that’s slowly taking over above it. Part of me wants to rip out a big portion of the wisteria because its does block the bed from getting full sunlight for at least a couple hours a day, but there are TONS of bumblebees that love the wisteria. This makes it difficult to remove because the last thing we want to do is piss off a thousand bumblebees, but I think that it will also allow the plants to be pollenated once they grow bigger. I know you will all be on pins and needles waiting to hear what we do with the wisteria so I”ll keep you posted!


That Time Martha Stewart Failed Me…

I realize that I’m a little late to board the chalkboard train. I have been wanting a chalkboard frame for a while now, dreaming of finding the perfect chunky beautiful frame at a thrift store and giving it new life. It turns out that those big gorgeous frames are much harder to find than I originally thought…I spent months trying to find the right one before giving up and just getting a frame from Ikea.

Once I had the frame, I was excited to transform it. I bought Martha Stewart’s “multi-surface” chalkboard paint and painted the glass with 3 coats, waiting a few hours between each coat.


I then conditioned the chalkboard by shading chalk across the whole piece of glass. It was a very unpleasant sound, literally like nails on a chalkboard. The paint didn’t feel even and my brush strokes were visible. Even though it didn’t feel right, I decided to press on and hope that the chalkboard surface would improve.


Yeaaaaaah it’s safe to say it only got worse from there. The chalk squeaked against the glass and scratched the surface, leaving marks that I could not brush off, even with water. It was an ugly mess. I was so discouraged that Martha could let me down like this with her crappy paint, and the frame stayed locked in the guest room for months.

With our housewarming party coming up, I decided to give the chalkboard frame another shot. Especially after we took down the “Christmas Countdown” frame, that wall in the kitchen looked blank and in need of some love. I’ve used Valspar spray paint on a few projects lately and I’m loving the way the paint goes on so smoothly.


(I promise I actually do have fingers, but my nails were not looking too cute so…)


After 2 coats of the Valspar chalkboard spray paint, I could immediately tell the paint was thicker and more even. Also, say hi to our brown grass. What up, California drought?!


Ahhh doesn’t it look about 800 million times better than before?! I’ve thought about maybe painting the white frame part to be a fun color that pops against our “greige” walls, but that’s another project for another day. As for now, me and Martha are fighting (even if she doesn’t know it) and I’ll be sure to read some reviews before buying her products if I haven’t used them before. Fool me once, Martha…

Spice Rack Revamp

Happy 2014! Now that the holiday season is over, we are going full force trying to finish up odds and ends around the house before our housewarming party in a few weeks. I’m planning to accomplish many lingering tasks, so the blog will (hopefully) be in a flurry of activity as well.

A few years ago, my grandfather gave me a spice rack that belonged to my grandmother who had recently passed away. Although I couldn’t use it at the time due to communal living, I knew that in the future I would love to have a piece of my grandmother’s kitchen in our home. Fast forward to moving into our own home two months ago, and the spice rack resurfaced out of the depths of my storage unit.

IMG_0700The spice rack was in perfect working order (it has a lazy susan on the bottom) but was a little outdated. Nothing a little spray paint can’t fix! Because ultimately, I’d like to paint the kitchen a light blue color, I thought I’d start small and paint the spice rack a robin’s egg blue. I got Valspar Paint + Primer in one, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular spray paint again! It goes on evenly and smoothly and it’s only $1 more than regular spray paint at Lowe’s. Totally worth the extra dollar!



IMG_0705Our backyard gets almost zero sunlight so the color looks weird here…


I added some washi tape to the lids and labeled the spices I had on hand. I like the washi tape because I can always change the labels if I decide to mix up my spice repertoire.



The finished product in it’s new home! Right next to the sadddd knives that can’t even cut a bell pepper. Let’s just say a new knife block will be first on the wedding registry list, even though I’m fairly sure we won’t last 5.5 months using butter knives to cut things.

I’m off to go work on the “lady cave!” The whole point of that room is for me to work on projects and write blog posts in there; let’s cross our fingers that I’ll be writing the next post from my pretty new ghost chair!

Christmas Countdown

IMG_0715It has been sheer insanity the last 2 months. We made an offer on a house, closed escrow exactly 30 days later, and then filled the house with necessary items like a couch, washer, and dryer. It’s been expensive, fun, rewarding, and sometimes overwhelming, but we couldn’t be happier and are so happy to finally have a place to call our own! That being said, I have a handful of half-finished blog projects (blojects?) that are in disarray in what will eventually be my craft room/office. I’m currently accepting name suggestions for what to call this room, which for now is lovingly titled the “Lady Cave.”

imageNow on to your regularly scheduled blogging…

It’s officially Christmas-time! Although my Christmas tree was up and fully decorated before the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie had even settled, last week’s 5 inches of snow was just the extra push I needed to go Christmas crazy. Let’s see how many times I can say “Christmas” in this post. Ready, go.

I enjoy a good Christmas countdown, but something about those red-and-grean paper chain countdowns doesn’t scream “I’m a functional adult in the real world!” And since I’m not a huge fan of advent calendars, I thought I’d make something a a little different.

Materials needed:

White frame with a mat

Scrapbook paper – any color or theme that strikes your fancy

Vinyl letters- I found this one for $0.70 at a craft store after Christmas last year, you could probably make this with a Cricut or similar machine

Chalkboard paint, chalk


IMG_0708Frame the piece of scrapbook paper

IMG_0710Adhere the vinyl letters to the glass frame

IMG_0712Add chalkboard paint (mine was another piece of vinyl)

IMG_0714Use those math skills and figure out how many days are left until Christmas…

Now ideally, you would update this number daily but I’ll be honest, I took these pictures on Sunday and it’s yet to change from “17.” Oops. I’ll try to be better, as this is the first Christmas tradition for our little family of 2 and I’m excited to continue every year.

Hope you enjoy this quick and easy Christmas art!

Monogram Towels


I’ve already made it clear that I have an unhealthy obsession with monograms. I’ve been lusting after the West Elm Hammam towels but $17 for a monogrammed towel is a hard to justify for someone who doesn’t currently have a kitchen…


Aren’t they pretty though?

Anyway, I picked up these 79¢ Tekla dishcloths on a recent Ikea trip and used a 40% off coupon at Michael’s to buy the paint (I think $2.99 full price). It was so simple, I look forward to making more of these once we have a house and know what color scheme we will use in the kitchen.


1. Wash, dry, and iron your dishcloths so you have a clean flat space to work with


2. Lay out a stencil where you want your monogram (or other design). I used a Cricut and cardstock to make my stencil. You could also use large stamps or a regular stencil.


3. Paint over the stencil using bristle brush or foam brush


4. Immediately remove the stencil and let paint dry


This super quick, cheap, and easy project took me less than 20 minutes for all three and each towel cost about $1. These would be a great addition to a wedding, housewarming, Christmas or birthday gift for your monogram-loving friends.

DIY Mercury Glass Lamps

Hello! I’ve been dreaming of this post for a while now so I’m super excited to share this DIY. A couple months ago I found these lamps for $4 each at a local thrift store:


Ignore the beer in the background :) I can honestly say it’s for a craft project, you’ll see!

The shape is wonderful but the gold-bronze color is not in the color scheme for any room that I’ve designed in my head. And of course, all my favorite bloggers have taught me that literally anything can be totally altered with a little spray paint and some love. I was inspired by these lamps I found at Marshall’s:


The best part is that my lamps work, so all the changes would be cosmetic, which is great because I’m certainly not an electrician. Here’s where this project got a little tricky though: I wanted to try mercury-glassing (yes, that’s a verb) the lamps, a la this tutorial, but I could not find the specific paint they used! It’s Krylon “Looking Glass,” and I searched Michael’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and finally found it at a Super WalMart, which just goes to show how desperate I was for these lamps!


Spray paint has never smiled the way I did when I found these beauties!

First, I covered the electrical (?) pieces of the lamp with a Zip-Loc bag and some tape because I’m pretty sure paint, water, and vinegar do not mix well with electricity. I also covered the lamp cord with tape where it met the base of the lamp because I wasn’t sure if I should paint the cord itself. Now that I see the “finished” product, I’m planning on painting the cord silver as well.


In order to get the mercury effect, I used the spray paint along with a small spray bottle of a mixture of half water and half white vinegar. I started with misting one lamp in the water/vinegar mixture, then a light coat of spray paint:



After one coat.


You can see the vinegar eats away at the paint, which creates the mercury effect.


After a few light coats, misting in between each coat.

I let the lamps dry for the day, and began my hunt for shades. It took a few tries but I ended up with two big, white shades for $15 each from my favorite place, Marshall’s!


Finished product! I couldn’t resist the “&” I got at Marshall’s too!

I kept the plastic shade covers on because I’ll be moving in a couple months and I don’t trust myself not to destroy them. Plus, they don’t exactly have a spot in my current house so they are resigned to my desk for now.


Close ups.


**Important Note** My lamps are not made of glass, so they did have the exact mercury glass effect that I saw on other lamps. I knew that going into it though so I was not disappointed at all. Obviously if you are looking for something like what you’ve seen at a high-end store, try to find a glass lamp. I was perfectly happy with my two lamps for $36! I can’t wait to find a home for them when I move into our new place….which I am still working on obtaining. More on that to come.

And since it’s been a little while since I had a whole project to post about, so here are some of the other fun things that have been happening in my life:


Birthday hike with Casey at Bishop’s Peak

My mom and Casey both came for a few days so you can blame them for my lack of posting in April. As for photographic evidence of my mom’s visit, that would entail confidential wedding information that cannot be leaked at this time.


Feeding my new Chia seed obsession


Renewed my passport and booked my trip to Europe this July!!


Planted my succulents


Most exciting of all, as you can probably see by my new banner above, we got our engagement pictures!!! Done by the wonderful Heather Armstrong. She’s a super genius and I want to print these pictures and make wallpaper out of them. Just kidding. But really.

DIY Jewelry Stand

A few weekends ago, my roommate and I made a quick trip to Cambria, CA to scope out their antique stores. Cambria is an adorable little beach town with a ton of antiquey-thrift stores about 30 minutes from our house. I was looking for some cool plates to make a 3-tiered jewelry stand and was so pleased to have found these three adorable plates.


I picked them because of the cute details on the outer edge of the plate, knowing I would be painting over the floral design and the landmarks of Long Beach (upper left plate). I think the edge details complement each other without being too matchy. I used Krylon’s White Gloss spray paint and started with quick, light coats:



Bye bye flowers!


Because the plates had some very small details, I used a toothpick to poke where the spray paint started to pool in the holes. I did this after each coat, mainly because I struggle with the term “quick light coats” and I’m also extremely impatient for each coat to dry, whether it be nail polish or spray paint. Moving on!




LOVE the way they turned out, they look so crisp and white! I was worried that they would actually look painted, but I think they just look like white plates. The next step was creating the tiers, using votive holders from Michael’s. The votive holders from the Dollar Store were way too tall for my purpose, but they would be perfect if you were making a cupcake holder and needed more space between each tier.



I placed glue around the bottom of the votive holder and pressed firmly, careful not to let it slide around on the plate. I put some books on top to keep weight on it until the glue completely dried. I waited 24 hours for the glue to dry, just to be safe. Then I repeated these steps until all three tiers were done.



Isn’t it cute?!


The view from this angle makes it look off-center and unbalanced, but it is actually level in person. My new jewelry stand sits on my dresser and holds bobby pins, hair ties, contact case, and other items that don’t quite have a home.


And because I just can’t resist taking pictures of it, I’ll show you that it also holds my beautiful ring when I’m doing housewifey things like washing dishes and kneading homemade dough. Because I totally do those things all the time.

To recap, I used the following for this project:

  • Three dishes
  • Krylon Gloss White spray paint (if you find plates that match, you don’t need paint)
  • Toothpicks (if your plates have any cut-outs)
  • Two votive holders
  • Household glue


This is where it sits on my dresser, which was one of my very first DIY projects (pre-blog, so I have very little documentation of the transformation). It was my first furniture refinish and I learned a LOT, so I’m getting very antsy to do more big projects like this one.

What projects, big or small, have you been looking to tackle lately? Any good thrift store finds?

DIY Sunburst Mirror

I’ve recently been looking for ways to spice up the boring white walls in my bedroom (oh, the joys of renting!). I used to have a hand-painted canvas above my bed and the birds matched my sheets, but then I changed my sheets to tan and the whole look was off.


Canvas from Michaels + silver paint + black paint + paper birds cut from a Cricut

Then I found this DIY Starburst Mirror on Pinterest and fell in love! I had been looking at similar wall art that was much pricier so I was super excited to see a DIY version. I highly recommend taking a visit to her blog too, it’s inspiring on a creative level and  on a personal one.

I had some of the supplies already on hand (spray paint, hot glue) but I made my weekly trip to Michaels to get the rest: 75 wooden dowels8-inch round mirror, and picture hanging hooks. I was surprised how many dowels it took to finish. I thought I would have extra, but I had barely enough.


Here it is about 3/4 of the way done. I drew lines with a ruler but it looked a little too exact so I just eye-balled it.

I started hot gluing, trying to mix up the lengths to keep it interesting. After all of the dowels were glued on securely, I covered the mirror with tin foil and spray-painted it Krylon Chrome. Once dry, I attached the wall hook to the back of the mirror with a magical mixture of super glue and hot glue. I tested the hook about a million times because I knew this was going above my bed and I prefer not to be impaled by a mixture of glass and wood in the middle of the night.


And here it is, fully installed! Oh, and say hi to Muffin, my early Valentine’s Day gift.

I really love how it turned out, especially for such an inexpensive DIY. I could have gone with a color that popped more against the white wall but I did consider that someday soon (hopefully) we will have our own home that we can paint a dramatic color and the silver will really stand out.

I hope everyone has a great Super Bowl weekend! I have a lot of food ideas swirling around in my head for Game Day, and almost of them involve a hearty serving of Buffalo sauce. Can’t wait to show you what I come up with!