Category Archives: Gardening

DIY window boxes.

Last month I mentioned in my curb appeal post that if I only crossed *one* item off my curb appeal to-do/wish list, it would be to install window boxes. I am happy to report that the boxes are now built, installed and boasting pretty red blooms!

diy window box

You might remember I debated buying vs DIYing. I ultimately decided to make my own for the sake of saving some major cash, plus you simply can’t beat the satisfaction of being able to say, “Hey, I made that!” when it comes to the completion of any successful DIY project.

The materials (wood, primer + paint, screws & four L-brackets) ended up coming in at just around $60, as opposed to $150/each for the pre-made ones I had been eyeing at the home improvement store. You can probably do the math but that means I saved a total of $240 by making them myself — score!

diy window box suuplies

First I got all of my wood cut to size, followed by priming it all with an oil-based primer. From there I attached all of the pieces using a nail gun. Once assembled, I filled in the nail holes with spackle and caulked along the inner corners. I then gave the boxes two coats of glossy white paint made for indoor/outdoor use. Lastly, I drilled six drainage holes into the bottom of each box and lined the boxes with burlap so that water can get through the holes but the dirt can’t. The final step was to secure the boxes to the house which I did by using two 8″x8″ L-brackets per box and the help of this tutorial. Oh yeah, and the hubs helped out a lot, too.

DIY window box

To make the boxes look less plain and more “custom,” I added lattice strips to the front. I also figure that if I ever want to take the “custom” look a step further, there is always the option of attaching decorative corbels to the bottom as well.

DIY window box

As much as I wanted to do something bold and really eye-catching to fill the boxes, I kept it simple this time around by going with red impatients to complement our red front door. Next year I plan to get more creative and opt for a mix of plants like this, aka the “filler, thriller, spiller” method.

So there you have it — my DIY window boxes! I’m so glad to be able to check this project off my home improvement list. But of course there are many more boxes to be checked…

Until next time!

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DIY garden sign.

Two posts in the same week from me? Crazy, I know. I’m trying to get back to regular blogging here people, “trying” being the keyword.

So I posted this photo on Instagram a few weeks back of a new garden sign I picked up on clearance for $8 at Hobby Lobby. I had been wanting to make one myself, but a mix of laziness and a tempting red clearance sign got the best of me so a store-bought sign it was. Despite this sign being located in the outdoor garden decor section, it only took 20 minutes of the sprinkler hitting it before all the letters just melted right off the day I hung it up. Wah, wah, wah. So I was left with a blank (yet pleasantly distressed-looking) piece of $8 wood. It was clear this was meant to be DIY from the start…

I decided to keep it simple by using my bold Arial font stencils and black paint. It doesn’t look as pretty as the store-bought one, but sometimes basic is best. This ended up being my easiest DIY sign, yet ironically the most expensive. Without further ado, my simple garden sign:

DIY garden sign

DIY garden sign

DIY garden sign

Click the links to check out my four other DIY signs — Dream | Fresh Eggs | Garden Tour | Market

And on the subject of gardens, I am about due for an updated “how does your garden grow” post to show you guys what we have sprouting up this year.

Until next time…



Filed under DIY, Gardening

a call for curb appeal.

Hey, guys! Long time no post, eh? With the warm weather we’ve been having here in Minnesota, I have been outside every chance I get. It’s finally raining today so I decided I’d finally sit down and reunite myself with the blog. On the subject of being outside, today’s post is all about curb appeal!

I’ve put a lot of effort into updating the interior of our house the past [almost] two years and now I’m looking to do the same outside. Last year you saw how I updated the facade of our house by painting the door red and the shutters black in place of the pine green color they were previously sporting… But that was about all I did in terms of boosting our curb appeal.

This summer I’m determined to step it up! So far I’ve replaced our house numbers for more modern ones, mulched the front garden (I went bold by using red mulch instead of traditional Cypress, see below), and added a few new plants. (As for the backyard, you can check out the mini flower garden I made and the vegetable garden we built HERE).

curb appeal

But there is still a lot I want to do yet this summer in the front…

curb appeal wish list1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 }

1 – First up is window boxes. If I only accomplish one more “curb appeal” item this summer, I want it to be window boxes. I love how such a simple feature can add so much charm to a house, like this, for example. Now it’s just a matter of deciding to DIY or buy… Keeping more $$$ in my wallet sounds appealing, but I’m drawn to the idea of saving my sanity time by skipping the DIY and going with a store-bought version that will more than likely last longer than my handmade one… What do you think?

2 & 3 – While #2 isn’t huge on the priority list, I’d really like to replace our front light with a more modern version that better fits our style. (For reference, this one is comparable to what we have now). We might not get around to tackling that this year, but we’re definitely planning to add pathway lighting which is an easy and relatively cost-effective way to spruce up the front of a house.

4 – Rain chains! Not only do they serve a practical purpose (help divert rainwater runoff and reduce soil erosion outside the home), they also look cool! Getting one of these isn’t a must-have by any means but if I come across one for a good price it will definitely be coming home with me!

5 – Last but not least, a new door mat. We bought a standard “Welcome” one when we first moved in which is now at the end of its life. This time around I’d like to go with one that is more fun & colorful like shown in the pic above.

So there you have it — my plans for boosting our curb appeal this summer. What things have you done (or plan to do) to make the outside of your house more appealing?


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rock bed turned flower garden.

There is a small space next to our deck that I always thought would make the perfect landing spot for a little flower garden. The only problem? It had a bed of landscaping rocks covering the space. I figured it would be as simple as skimming the rocks off the top. Little did I know…

removing rock

Four hours worth of digging and sifting later, I had a whole wheel barrel full, yet the rocks just wouldn’t stop coming as I dug deeper. I finally decided to call it quits once I figured that I had created enough depth to be able to plant.

removing landscaping rockLandscaping rocks = a gardener’s worst nightmare.

mini garden

Next, I mixed a bag of top soil with chicken manure from our compost (one of the ‘pros’ of keeping chickens!) and tilled it into the existing soil. I picked a few full-sun perennials (including two of my favorites: salvia and sedum) to fit the space and arranged them on top of the soil prior to planting to make sure I knew right where I wanted them to go.

mini garden

From there I planted, watered and added a small amount of organic plant food.

mini flower garden

Lastly I added some mulch and a few large rocks to fill in the gaps between the plants.

mini flower garden

Such a nice change from the boring and unsightly old bed of rocks that was there before! Now if only I can manage to keep it alive looking that way… #rookiegardener

Have you planted any fall blooms lately or ever had a run-in with landscaping rock?

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how does your garden grow?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.” — Does anybody else get that infamous nursery rhyme stuck in their head when the talk of gardening arises, or is it just me? Oh, just me? Hm, I thought so…

Anyway, I thought I’d follow up my “the making of a garden” post with what I actually have growing inside it. Being new to the world of gardening, I am far from that of an expert, as I am sure you will pick up on in my side comments… (To any connoisseurs out there: feel free to give me your advice!)


These seem to be doing very well! My only concern is that I might not have thinned them out enough and they are too close together to actually produce a sizeable beet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…!

bell peppers

We started these inside and they’ve been doing well since the start, however, next year I think I will place them on the side of the garden that gets more sun. I am also thinking if these continue to grow any taller, they will need cages or stakes.


We also started these inside (both cherry and beefsteak) and they’ve been thriving since the move to the great outdoors. (Measuring at about 6 feet tall, they look like they are on steroids!). I’m definitely not complaining though because if I had to pick only one item in my garden to do well, it would be these guys. What’s summer without fresh tomatoes, right?!


From the whole row of cucumbers we planted, only this one guy made it. I didn’t realize that cucumbers grew on vines (rookie mistake), and therefore didn’t think to plant them accordingly. I am hoping this wire cage + wooden stake I put in place will work out…


Our rows of lettuce (we have a ‘gourmet blend’ kind) have been doing awesome and we’ve enjoyed a few fresh summer salads thanks to it! One thing I really dislike about lettuce is the amount of dirt the leaves acquire and the amount of time it takes to clean it off and let the leaves dry. Also, I’ve been a little hesitant to make a salad after finding a spider in my last one (eek!). I think next year we will plant just half a row’s worth because we are not going through it nearly as quick as I thought we would.


I planted these in the garden not realizing that they are perennials and that they spread (yet another rookie mistake) so I will be transplanting them to another location within the next month. Out of the four strawberry plants we have in the garden, we only get about five  ripe strawberries a week, and they are quite small mind you. I am not sure if this is the norm and we just need more plants, or if it’s because they just aren’t thriving in their current location.


Last but not least are our bountiful raspberry plants! They were already in our yard when we moved in last summer and we were told by the previous homeowners that one year they harvested 60 lbs worth and used it to make country wine. We’ve been picking them regularly while they’re ripe and freezing them so that we’ll have a reserve of berries when they’re no longer in season. (I’ve also been using them to make this chocolate chip raspberry muffin recipe that I am hooked on!)

So that’s a little tour of what’s growing in our garden! I should also note that I attempted to start a few herbs from seed (mint, cilantro and basil) and none of them made it, even after two tries. Fail. I think I will stick to starter plants when it comes to those guys from now on…



Filed under Gardening, Urban Homesteading

the making of a vegetable garden.

then and now

When we first moved into our house last summer, I was pretty excited about the garden boxes that had been left behind (reference top pic). I figure it’d be the perfect spot for starting our first little vegetable/herb garden the following summer. Over the course of the winter months, I started creating a list of all the things I wanted to plant come spring. As my list continued to grow, it quickly became clear that those boxes weren’t going to be able to host all of the veggies I had my heart set on growing. So fast forward to this May when we decided to get rid of the boxes in favor of building our own fenced-in garden, allowing us to plant multiple rows worth of goodies. (Go big or go home, right?) In a nutshell, here’s how it went down:



We got rid of the boxes but were thankfully able to salvage a few of them that my parents are now using. We then reused the dirt that had filled the boxes. (Two instances of reduce, reuse, recycle! Woo-hoo!)


Then we built the frame of the garden and tilled the soil prior to planting. Above is how it looked before the chicken wire was stapled onto the frame (a necessity to keep our chickens, dog and other pesky animals out!) I’m thinking the gate could totally use a fun little sign like this, or maybe a DIY version more like this!

Next (and not pictured) we planted what we had started indoors (bell peppers, cherry tomatoes & beefsteak tomatoes) followed by the organic seed packets we had purchased which included beets, lettuce, spinach, green beans, cucumbers, watermelon, & strawberries.


And here is what it’s looking like now! As you can see, the middle row is vacant, along with a few other spots. With the late start of spring/summer and us being rookies at gardening, we knew there was a good chance that not everything was going to make it (or anything for that matter!). So unfortunately the green beans, spinach, and watermelon never made it to the germination process, but we’re not complaining since we still have a whole slew of other items that did make it!

We’re considering this a “learning year” and hope to only improve the garden as time goes on!

What did you plant this year?


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