June 30, 2011

Hiding TV Cables

Some DIY projects require complicated fixes.  Some DIY projects only need easy fixes.  Some DIY projects require complicated fixes, but I do an easy fix anyway.  This is such a time.

You might remember that we have a honking big TV hanging over our fireplace.  I know that having a TV over the fireplace isn’t the most design friendly element, but I can’t watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey in a beautiful painting or pretty mirror, so TV wins every time.  But with so much focus on the TV, I was tired of my cables and cords being visible.  I tried disguising them behind vases and other decorative items on the mantle to make them less visible, but we all know they’re still there.


I would have tried to run the TV cables into the wall myself, but I was afraid it would get too tricky being that it was over my fireplace.  I also didn’t want to shell out the dough to have a professional do it for me.  So that left me with a harebrained idea to try to cover up the cords.


First, I taped the cables to the side to hide them under my curtains.


Then I took some paper (the thick paper you get at places like HomeGoods when they wrap up your breakables at checkout), and painted it with some leftover wall paint.


Once it was dry (I used a blow-dryer to speed up the process since I can get a bit impatient), I cut the paper into strips that were wide enough and long enough to cover the TV cables.  Then I taped the paper on top of the cords, hiding the painter’s tape behind the TV and curtains.  I also used a tiny bit of glue to secure the paper to the wall along the entire strip.


nd guess what?  Since the paper color matches the walls exactly, everything blends in together and you can’t even see the TV cords or even the paper strips anymore!


If you really examine it up close you’ll see that I have something going on there, but from the couch no one will be the wiser!  Sure, this might not be the correct way to hide flat screen TV cables, but it’s free, it’s better than having the TV cables exposed, and it works for me!

June 27, 2011

Creepy Crawlers

Gardening has become one of my favorite summertime hobbies and I even have the sun-burned shoulders to prove it.  This weekend, I noticed that my pepper plants were in bad shape.  Terrible shape actually as all of their leaves had disappeared.  One of the plants was even growing a pepper, but the leaves on the rest of the plant were gone.


I looked around and found the culprits hiding in my tomato plant.  WARNING: Shield your eyes if you are grossed out by alien looking bugs.

It was a caterpillar!


A really weird, alien looking caterpillar!  This guy was a far cry from the cute fuzzy caterpillars I used to play with as a kid.  This one was huge and has a pattern that looks like little eyes down its body.  I did some Googling and through this cool caterpillar identifying website, found out that this is a Carolina Sphinx Caterpillar.  Also known as a tobacco hornworm (similar to the tomato hornworm).


Sure enough, these guys love to munch on tomato and pepper plants.  Since they're so big, they can be sneaky and eat an entire plant pretty quickly before anyone notices.  I found three of them hiding in my tomato plants.  I had no idea caterpillars could get so big, and weird looking.  Have you ever come across one of these?

June 20, 2011

Hosting a Garage Sale

This weekend I learned that hosting a garage sale is much more exhausting than shopping at a garage sale!  Luckily, it's also more profitable.  I got together with my sister and dad to host a garage sale at my parent's house.  My parents live in a popular neighborhood so their house was the perfect place to host a yard sale.

We posted ads on Craigslist and hung up signs throughout the neighborhood (I blurred out their address in the photo below).  I liked using one color of paper for all of the signs so people could follow the arrows as they made turns, but I wish we would have made the signs a little bigger because I think the 8"x10" size was a little on the small side.

Between myself, my sister, my parents, and my aunt and cousin that dropped off some items, we had a TON of stuff!  Having so much stuff displayed drew a nice crowd, but it was a little confusing to keep track of each person's sales so we could divvy up the money later.


We didn't bother pricing each item beforehand, but we set up one table where everything was 50 cents, a $1 table, and a $2+ table. This worked well so people didn't have to ask us the price of smaller items.  

The larger stuff we left unlabeled so we could adjust the price as we wanted to (towards the end of the day we were more anxious to get rid of stuff and lowered prices).


The garage sale was a nice success for all of us.  I sold our old kitchen sink, clothes, and small household items.  But we still had lots and lots of stuff leftover.  This stuff got loaded straight into my sister's van and hauled off to Goodwill.  Since we took the time to drag all of this stuff out of our houses no one wanted to bring it back in.  We had a huge car load of donations!

The garage sale was a success but it was exhausting!  I came home, collapsed and took a nap afterwards.

Hosting a garage sale taught me a few things about shopping at them:

-Negotiate: Some people asked for lower prices, but most didn't.  In most cases, we gave them the lower price they asked for.  Negotiating is worth it if you ask for a slightly lower price.  One guy showed up wearing a "Garage Sale Connesouir" t-shirt and offered us only 20% of our asking price for a couple of items.  This was totally uncool and we didn't budge on our prices.  But most people asked for $1 off here and there or a discount off of multiple items and this worked.

-Shop Early: If you're shopping with certain items in mind, shop as soon as the garage sale starts for the best selection (but don't be an early bird and show up when people are still setting up, that can be annoying).  My parents sold their barbecue grill first thing in the morning and later multiple people asked about it, but it was already marked as sold.

-Shop Late: If you're not looking for anything in particular (like a barbecue grill) shop late for the best prices.  Towards the end of the day we were just looking to get rid of stuff, instead of having to haul it away, so we dropped our prices on most items.

-Don't Buy Frivolously: Hosting a garage sale made me rethink the kinds of stuff I buy.  Next time I'm at a yard sale and want to buy a knick-knack I don't really need, I'll think twice.  Do I really want to keep this item in my house and have to sell it at a garage sale someday or drag it to Goodwill?

I was happy to get rid of so much stuff and make a little moolah (which went straight to our piggy bank for our next vacation!) but it was hard work to haul all of the stuff to my parents house, set everything up, sit in the hot sun all day, and haul the unsold stuff to Goodwill.  The "big ticket" items we had, like my old kitchen sink or my parent's barbecue grill, made the sale most worthwhile.  I may host another garage sale someday, but I don't see myself doing it for several more years until I have some more big items to sell.

Have you ever hosted a garage sale?  Did you think it was worth all of the work?

June 16, 2011

Water Without Elephants

Since we added trees and a garden to the very back of our yard we needed a way to water them.  The problem was that we only had one outdoor faucet in our yard, at the very front of it.  So to reach our new garden bed we would either need a 75+ feet hose or another way to water.

As someone who personally hates dealing with a hot mess of tangled garden hose, the first option was a no-go.  I suggested getting an elephant, but Rob worried that might get messy.

So my very clever Dad suggested creating a second faucet half-way through our yard.

To our existing faucet, he added a splitter and on one end attached our regular garden hose (that is the perfect length for watering plants around our patio).  On the other end, he added a PVC pipe.  He had to work some of his magic to connect the pvc pipe to the hose by buying some special parts (I wish I could detail this further but, like I said, he used magic).

The PVC pipe then ran down to our patio and along our fence behind our patio garden area.

I've since move the pipe closer to the fence so it's not very noticeable.

And halfway through our yard, the PVC pipe ends at another water spigot.

garden spigot

There we attached another garden hose that's the perfect length for man and dog to water our new garden bed.  No elephants required.

June 14, 2011

Backyard Gardening

I've shared this photo a dozen of times already, but I never get tired of a good before and after.  When we moved into our house two and a half years ago, our backyard looked like this:


Empty, with just one sad lone tree in the distance.  Since then, we've added a fence, patio, a crape myrtle tree, and a couple of evergreens.  But the back of yard was still looking lonely and empty.  Not to mention not very private, with neighbors' windows in view of our yard.  We've wanted to get tree for they very back of our yard for quite some time, but kept missing the fall and spring planting windows.  This year we finally got on the ball and planted trees a few weeks ago in early May.

We looked around several local nurseries (and even a certain home improvement store) but all of the trees had pretty hefty price tags of $175 - $250.  As much as we wanted trees for our yard, there are a lot of other things I'd rather spend $500 on!  But luckily Lowes had some smaller trees for a much more reasonable price tag of about $20 each.  Granted these aren't as large as the ones we had seen the nurseries, but the other ones weren't very big either and these are only 1/10 of the price!


Since privacy is one of our main concerns we chose the fastest growing trees for our area.  On the left is a semi-dwarf peach tree.  It's a fast growing tree and will actually grow little peaches!  Everyone told me to avoid the mess of fruit bearing trees, but I couldn't resist the thought of eating freshly picked peaches and had to give it a try.  In the spring, it will also bloom with pink flowers.  On the right is a Cleveland flowering pear tree.  They are one of they fastest growing trees and get pretty white flowers in the spring, but don't actually bear fruit.


The trees looked good, but we decided to add some more dimension to our backyard by creating a small garden around them (and get rid of the terrible "grass" we had back there).  Luckily, since we recently landscaped our front yard, we had the scalloped concrete border that we removed left over.  I probably wouldn't have chosen this look myself, but since we already had the border pavers (read: they were free), we went with it.


We created a small garden bed in the back of our yard and filled it with lots and lots of dirt (probably 25-30 bags) and then topped it with some mulch.  In addition to looking nice, it also created a nice garden area where I planted 3 different kinds of peppers:


And another strawberry plant:


I'm planning on adding some more plants and flowers, but I'm already liking how our garden looks.  Now, if only those trees would hurry up and grow to be 25 feet tall!


June 07, 2011

Strawberries Gone Wild

Since buying a house, gardening has become one of my favorite new hobbies (along with decorating, blogging, and generally spray painting everything in sight).  Last year I planted a strawberry plant in a container, but later decided to give it more room to spread and planted it in the ground.  But I thought my strawberry plants were duds though since last year I only grew two tiny strawberries and they were half eaten by birds when I found them.

Turns out, strawberry plants just don't bear fruit until year two because this year it's strawberries gone wild in my garden.  My little plant has spread into this pretty bush.  Plus I transferred some off-shoots of this plant into another part of my garden and I still have another small strawberry plant in my original container.


And guess what? This year it's actually producing fruit!


The strawberries are smaller than store bought berries and have a more tart, but still delicious flavor.  Some of them even have funny little faces:


Here's what my first crop of strawberries looked like:


Since taking this photo, I've been picking a handful of strawberries per day.  My dog has been doing a pretty good job of keeping watch over the garden and keeping birds and other small critters out of my strawberries (by chasing basically anything that comes into the yard), but over the last couple of days I've started to find some half eaten strawberries in the garden so birds must be nibbling on them when my pup is off-duty.

So I guess it's time to put some chicken wire or other netting around my strawberry plant.  I know Marigold flowers can keep small critters away too (I used to get a packet of marigold seeds every summer in elementary school and plant them), but I'm not sure if they work to keep birds away?  Any other suggestions to keep strawberry theifs away?

June 06, 2011

Spray Painted Candle Holder

A couple of summers ago, I received a cute outdoor candle holder for my birthday.  But as you can see, two years later it wasn't looking so hot anymore:


What's a girl to do? Why, spray paint of course!  I picked up a can of Valspar spray paint in "Exotic Sea" turquoise.

Since this candle holder is for the outdoors I wasn't afraid to be a little playful and paint it a bright, fun color.


And I'm glad I picked a punchy color because it looks nice and cheery now.


The candle holder is really made to go around a patio table umbrella, but since I have an offset umbrella, I'm using it as a centerpiece on my gazebo coffee table (that I spray painted too).


I'm still decorating my outdoor gazebo, but this candle holder is a nice fun addition.

June 03, 2011

Picture Perfect Peonies

You might have noticed in my stenciled quatrefoil tray post, that I had a pretty little flower displayed on the tray.

You might also remember that I planted a peony plant in my new front yard landscaping.

And now you might see where I'm going with this post.  My peonies are in bloom!!!


Aren't they breathtaking?!  They're also very fragrant and smell beautiful.



And you guessed it, I snipped one to display in my family room.


This is my first time growing peonies and I've already learned a few things.  Peonies need support and will quickly drop all of their petals if you don't clip the flowers.  I need some advice though.  After the initial blooms, none of the other flowers have bloomed yet.  Any idea why or tips to encourage them to bloom?

June 02, 2011

My Favorite Projects: May 2011

Happy June!  June is probably my favorite month of the year.  It's the start of summer, I like the warm weather and long days, and is also my birthday month! Woohoo!  But before we get too far into June, here's a look at what happened in May with a breakdown of my favorite projects that I came across- yours and mine.

In May, I...

...got an outdoor gazebo

I came across lots of great projects in other blogs too.  Reading other blogs is my favorite form of inspiration!

Painted Candle Holders by Mark Montano

Bedroom Makeover by Studio Ten 25 (found via House of Turquoise)

Outdoor Cabana by You Are Talking Too Much

Bedroom Makeover by Home Decor Budgetista (found via Better After)

Kitchen Remodel by This & That (found via DIY Showoff)

I never cease to be amazed by all of the wonderful makeovers and projects I come across in other blogs.  How was your May?  Did you finish any fun projects or discover a great project on another blog?  Feel free to link them up in the comments section!

P.S. If you've been featured this month (or last month), feel free to grab a button to display on your site!