March 30, 2010

DIY Fireplace Mantle

At the start of this year, I set some "New DIYear" resolutions for myself outlining the big home projects I wanted to accomplish this year.  Well as New Year's resolutions often go, I've had a slow start with most of these resolutions.  But, I am VERY happy to announce the major progress we've made with one of the resolutions...a new fireplace mantle!

To remind everyone, our house had a very basic builder's grade mantle when we moved in:


Not only was this mantle not very attractive, but it wasn't very practical either.  The mantle shelf was only about 2 inches deep so nothing could be placed on it.  We also needed a deeper mantle to protect our obnoxiously large TV from getting too hot when the fire was on and to hide its various electronic wires.  However, we weren't looking to spend a lot of money on the mantle since we know this isn't our "forever" home.  Luckily, I have a very handy Dad that built us a new fireplace mantle shelf!

My Dad cut and stained two pieces of oak to serve as a wider and deeper shelf on top of the existing mantle.  Between each of the oak pieces, he added decorative rope molding.  Total cost was about $40! 



Tada, our new oak fireplace mantle!  It's a very simple and subtle addition, but I think it dresses up the fireplace and adds some interest to it.  I haven't decided what to place on the mantle yet, but for now I have candles on it:


I'm not quite done with the fireplace yet though.  I'd like to paint the horrible brassy gold vents with black high-temperature spray paint.  I am also considering tiling over the black surround with mosaic tiles.  Painting the entire mantle white has also crossed my mind.  What do you think, should I leave the mantle oak colored (which matches the cabinets in my adjacent kitchen) or should I paint the mantle white?  Any suggestions for what I should place on top of the mantle?

Here's a side by side look at the fireplace before and after:


I am also planning on hiding or disguising the TV's power cords.  I tried to hide them in the above photo, but in reality they are still sticking out of the TV.  And as long as I'm being honest, I guess I should confess that I don't usually watch shows about flowers as pictured.  In reality, my fireplace usually looks a bit more like this: messy power cords, playing puppy dog, and the Golden Girls:

diy fireplace mantle

This project is shared on Beneath My Heart, Blue Cricket Design, We Are That Family, A Soft Place, and The Nester, stop by and check out some of the other great projects featured!

March 25, 2010

Spring Lawn Care Tips

Last weekend, my sister called me and asked if I wanted to borrow the lawn dethatcher she rented.  When I had no idea what she was talking about, I quickly realized I don't know squat about lawn care.  Seriously, how does everyone else know when and what to do to their lawn?  I must have missed that pamphlet and reliable information about lawn care is surprisingly hard to find online.  But I did some research, and came across some Spring lawn care tips. 

First, apparently lawn dethatching is the process of ripping up any decomposing grass, dead roots, and other junk that has accumulated in your grass.  If you have too much of this thatch (or lawn junk as I call it), necessary water and nutrients won't reach your soil. Dethatching should be done around the start of April and September.


We borrowed the dethatcher machine not really knowing why it should be done (hey, it was free what more do I need to know), but it turns out the machine dug up a lot of our old lawn junk and made our grass look much fresher!


 Here are some additional spring lawn care tips I've researched:
  • Mow your grass as soon as it needs it, don't wait.  If you allow the grass to get too tall, you risk encouraging diseases.
  • Wait until mid or late Spring before fertilizing your lawn.  Fertilizing your lawn too early, like in March, can make your grass look green, but in the long run it can damage the root growth and your grass will suffer in the hot days of summer.
  • Crabgrass begins stirring up once the soil temperature has been over 55 degrees for 7-10 consecutive days, so early Spring is a good time to apply crabgrass pre-emergence treatments.  Generally, one treatment should be give around the start of April with another treatment around Mother's Day.  When applying crabgrass treatment, make sure to only apply it to the parts of your grass that need it, don't apply to healthy grass.
  • If you're adding grass seed, do it already!  After April seeding can be hit or miss, so add grass seed by mid-April.  Once seed is added, make sure it has good contact with the soil and don't allow it to dry out even if this means watering once or twice a day. 
  • If you're adding fresh sod, it can be added anytime the ground isn't frozen.  Just make sure to water frequently until the roots are established.  Avoid heavy activity on fresh sod but don't be afraid to mow it, mow as needed.
  • Aeration is the process of increasing the soil's air content.  This should be done in the Fall and again at the start of April if needed.  Minimally, aeration should be done once every 3-5 years, but doing it yearly is recommended.  Aeration is typically done with big spikey thing you push that pokes air holes into your lawn, a smaller spikey thing you roll, or a spikey rake (those are the scientific explanations), but I've also seen spikes that you slip onto your shoes for sale.  I haven't tried any of these methods, so I can't attest for how well they'll work.  Has anyone tried these types of products?

Are there any other lawn care tips I should know?  I'd also like to research some natural lawn care methods, as opposed to all of the chemical treatments that are sold.  Do you have any diy tips to share?

For more info, I found this lawn care guide from the University of Illinois and this article from Iowa State University. The University of Illinois article even included this handy guide:

March 22, 2010

DIY Spring Easter Wreath

The weather in my neck of the woods has been pretty crazy this year.  We had record snowfall this winter and then seemingly out of no where spring arrived and suddenly it was beautifully sunny and 75 degrees!  Warm weather came on so early this year that it seems like just yesterday I was packing up my Christmas decorations (who am I kidding, I still have snowman towels in my powder room), but suddenly it’s Easter time.

Believe it or not, Easter is only two weeks away.  I don’t decorate too much for the holidays outside of Halloween and Christmas, but I do put out a few small decorations for Easter.  This year, I decided to get a little crafty and make my own Easter wreath.  I didn’t have a chance to make a wreath at Christmas, so when I saw some cute wreath supplies last weekend I decided to make a Spring wreath.  In fact, this is the first wreath I’ve ever made!

I found some great (and cheap!) wreath supplies at the Christmas Tree Shops: a $1 wreath ring, $2 set of glittery styrofoam Easter eggs, and $0.40 of faux Easter Lilly flowers.  So my total cost was just $3.40!


I began by pulling off the flower portion of the faux Easter Lilies and hot gluing it onto the top of the wreath form along with two of the colorful eggs.  Next, I laid out the remaining Easter eggs and fake flowers along the perimeter of the wreath so I could decide where they should be glued.


Next, I simply attached the Easter eggs and Lilies to the wreath using hot glue.  I also glued some of the faux flower leaves, trimmed to size, next to the flowers and eggs.

Tada!  Very quickly and cheaply, I have my own colorful, cheery DIY Spring Easter Egg Wreath!



What do you think of my first ever wreath?  Do you decorate for Easter or Spring time?  Anyone else make any Easter wreaths this year?

The project is shared on Between Naps on the Porch, Cottage InstinctsPersimmon Perch, Making the World Cuter, A Soft Place, Today's Creative Blog. Stop by and check out some of the other featured projects on these great sites!

March 21, 2010

Springtime Puppy : Weekend Snapshots

So I haven’t done well keeping up with my weekend photo snapshot posts, or posting at all recently, but with this weekend’s beautiful springtime weather I had no excuse not to get outside and work on my photography.  The Northeast has experienced uncharacteristically warm Spring-like weather the past week and I spent some wonderful time playing with my puppy outdoors. 

Okay, so truthfully this post is more about posting shameless photos of my adorable puppy rather than working on my photography skills.  But hey, it’s my blog so if I want to be biased and post the cutest puppy photos ever taken, I will! 

March 04, 2010

Glass Bottle House

Talk about being resourceful, a man in Argentina has built a house for himself using 6 MILLION recycled glass bottles. For the past 19 years, Tito Ingenieri has been adding to his house and building it from glass bottles he’s collected in his town.

He has been able to take what some consider trash and create a home for himself, saying it’s the only way he was able to build his own house. While we obviously all aren’t going to start building our house from bottles, I think this is a very inspiring story showing how a man was able to build a home using the resources he had available for himself.



This story also inspires me to think about other uses for all of the glass and plastic bottles I put in the recycling each week. I try to re-use food bottles and containers for storing leftovers and other things as much as possible, but most of it still goes into the recycling. Of course recycling is better than trashing the items, but if this man can build a house from bottles, surely there are ways I can re-use all of the soda bottles, pasta sauce jars, milk bottles, yogurt containers, and all the other food containers we typically buy. Any suggestions?

Watch more about this super cool house below or read about this glass house on Fast Company.