Growing Season

It’s the beginning of growing season and I couldn’t possibly be more excited!  I have some really big plans for my yard and garden this year – I’m going all in and I can’t wait to share it all with you in the coming months.  I’m in the planning stages at this point and soon I’ll share the plans and hopefully get some advice.

A few years ago if you asked me what my hobby was I would not be able to tell you anything.  I enjoy things like cooking and crafting and photography but I never considered anything to be my hobby.  The more I reflect on how much I love plants and gardening the more I am realizing that this is seriously my hobby.  It’s the one thing in my life I am really willing to invest in.  I look forward to visiting nurseries and plant stores.  I love doting on my plants daily, making sure they aren’t dried out and are growing OK.  My husband thinks I’m a little crazy but I literally can’t help myself.  If it came down to buying clothes vs buying plants or tools to help me grow plants I’ll always spend the money on plants.

I’ve been trying to think back on when this love of mine came about.  How did my love for growing things expand and when did it start?  I spent the first 10 or so years of my life on a farm surrounded by the culture of growing food both animals and plants.  My parents grew lots of things in the fields and we also had a huge garden that was planted each year and I was always part of the garden planting.  Then we moved off the farm but still we always had a garden, in my teens my only part of the gardening was picking the carrots and peas for a snack.  Regardless, those years at home being surrounded by that culture of growing your own food has obviously had an impact on me.  I have such fond memories of planting and weeding and harvesting I’m sure that’s where the love started.  Now that I have my own house and room to grow some of my own food that love is expanding.

I can’t wait to document and learn throughout the growing season this year and I can’t wait to share with you!

Here’s the progress so far:

  
 I have some more seed shopping to do but I needed to pick up some tomato and pepper seeds to get started last week.  I may be going overboard but I figure I can also gift some plants if I need to.  So far I’ve started 4 types of larger tomatoes: Red Brandywine, Italian San Marino, Mixed Stripe, and Black Krim.  I’m also planting a lot more peppers this year: Habanero (our most loved and used pepper in our house), jalapeno (probably will gift most of what we grow but I really wanted to try), and two types of sweet peppers for roasting and sauce making.  I couldn’t resist picking up a pack of snapdragons to start either.  I really want to try and grow mostly organic seeds this year.  They are pricey but will be worth it! 

  
The snap dragons and peppers have a much longer germination time then the tomatoes so I planted 4 of each kind in a seller are seed starting tray so that I didn’t have to try and figure out how to separate them like last year.  I ended up just using egg cartons to plant them because it’s what I had but I am noticing some weird growth that’s not the plants in the styrofoam cartons.  I suspect it’s from all the humidity but I hope it doesn’t interfere with the germination. 

  
I planted 36 tomato plants in total- 9 of each variety and I was much more careful at labelling this year.  I planted everything on February 25 and as of today all but 1 tomato has germinated.  

  
I used a regular potting soil instead of a soil free seed starting formula.  I did this for a couple reasons: it’s what I had and also I don’t have to transfer these so quickly into pots which gives me some more time to work out how the heck I’m going to grow all these until they are planted in the garden. 

Get ready for so many gardening posts to come! 

DIY Log Planters

Hi Friends! Sorry I’ve been quiet this week, came down with the stomach flu, worst 24 hours in a long time.  Good news is I’m feeling 100% better and I’m ready to get back at it!

Today I thought I’d show you a little project that my husband dreamt up and implemented.  Now I’m not sure if you realize how big of a deal that sentence is.  My husband is an amazing carpenter.  Years ago in his home country he was trained from a very young age in furniture carpentry.  He learned how to build beautifully ornate furniture, then he moved on to concrete forming and excels at that.  You’d think with having such a handy husband that I would be able to get lots of my hands on – power tools needed projects completed.  That is not the case.  While my husband is very good with his hands he really doesn’t like to do anything carpentry related at home – I can’t really blame him but sometimes that’s uber frustrating for me.  BUT this project was his baby and it turned out so lovely!

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This is my new upright planter on my front step that is made from a hollowed out log and I adore it!  In case you didn’t notice we love to use things found in the outdoors to repurpose and decorate our surroundings – outside included.  We also LOVE flowers and plants.  I have no idea how Carlos came up with this idea but once it entered his mind he was obsessed with finishing it.

We started by sourcing out the stump.  We actually found one when we were camping in June but my parents also found two really great stumps and brought them for us to use so that’s what we ended up using.

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Carlos was so obsessed with finding these stumps that while we were camping we drove off to the middle of nowhere and he got out and walked forever by the road farther into the forest to find trees that had already been cut down.  This is him after finding what we thought was a perfect stump – he’s obviously excited.

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The next part was the most time consuming – hollowing out the log.  I don’t really know if there’s a better way to do this because this took a long time and was super hard on our power tools.  Carlos bought a large spade style wood bit and just drilled holes all around.  He did shallow drilling all the way around and then drilled deeper until he reached the depth he wanted.

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He also drilled diagonal holes from the inside to the outside to let water drain through.  Then we simply planted the flowers!

IMG_8833He also made two of the long planters for either side of our steps and I’m so in love with those as well.  They make great conversation pieces for people walking by our house. The only problem I see with these is that eventually the wood will rot out.  The large stumps will last longer than the long ones for sure but I’m trying to brainstorm how I can make them last.  I may use some sort of epoxy on them next year.  Definitely we’ll have to store them somewhere dry over the winter but I’m not convinced they’ll last very long at all.

What do you guys think? Is this a project you’d be willing to invest your time in? It really cost us nothing but time.

Patio Lovin

When my husband and I bought our house there were so many things that made us fall in love with it but one aspect in particular that I’ve been dreaming about since we moved in is the patio just off our master bedroom.  I’ve been dreaming about morning coffees and evening conversations sitting on the patio.  I’ve been dreaming of comfy furniture and pretty flowers to decorate with.  Sadly up until this point we just hadn’t done anything with it, we could never justify the cost of the furniture.  I’m happy to tell you that we have remedied that!

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More and more we are realizing that our decor style is “natural” lots of white, lots of plants and lots of reclaimed wood. For this space what we really wanted was a place to relax at the end of the day.  This was the easiest thing to do and it is unbelievably comfortable!  We got 4-4×4 pallets and stacked them two high and two long.  Then while I was shopping for groceries at our Super Store I noticed that all the outdoor and patio stuff was on sale so I searched for the cushions.  These are actually lounger cushions and are the perfect size to keep some pallet exposed on either side to act as a side table for drinks etc.  The best part is that they were all 50% off.  We did put an egg carton mattress topper underneath to add some extra comfort and now this pallet couch is more comfortable than my bed!  Next year this will be full of flowers as well.  Unfortunately it’s been raining since we did this and the patio is not protected from the rain so we haven’t been able to enjoy it.  Today is looking like it will finally be sunny and warm so you’ll find me laying on my new couch after work.

Slowly but surely we are checking things off of our “house to-do list,” but we’ve still got a long way to go.

Table Center Piece DIY

Today I’m going to show you a super simple, super budget friendly DIY.

I think I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I enjoy natural decor – lots of plants and wood, and white.  We have so many visions of what we want to do with our house and our decor and slowly but surely we are getting there!

In June we took a trip with some friends to Cypress Hills in Alberta, Canada for a weekend get away.  While there we did some scavenger hunting for some cut down trees and luckily for me I found a fantastic piece of driftwood.  I was actually looking for it for some baby shower decor for a shower I was throwing later in the month.  After the shower was over I brought the piece home and brainstormed what I could do with it now.  I got the idea to use it as a centre piece and put some succulents in it. I’m so happy with how it turned out!IMG_8829

First my husband used an electric planer to plane both sides so it sits evenly (for the baby shower I used it to place mini cupcakes on).  Then while my parents were visiting he used a large drill bit to hollow out 5 holes – three larger ones and two smaller ones.  At that point we needed to brainstorm how to now plant the plants.  You can’t just plant right into the holes – first it would rot, and second there are some holes in the side where the dirt would fall out.  My dad – being the mr.fixit and problem solver that he is, searched the house high and low to find appropriate sized containers.  Eventually he found pop cans that fit perfectly! Brilliant!

Next was to make the look acceptable.  He cut them down and then snipped all around the top and folded the metal in to make the edge dull instead of sharp – sorry I don’t have any process photos of that, hopefully that’s a good enough explanation!  In the photo below you can see the inside edge folded over


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This weekend I spray painted two coats of white Rustoleum to make them look a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  I went to a small local plant shop that I absolutely adore and picked out some tiny succulents and airplants.  I repotted the succulents into the cans and placed them in the driftwood.  In the smaller holes I put a bit of preserved moss I had left over from a Terrarium I had made and put the airplants on top.
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IMG_9077 IMG_9078 IMG_9079 IMG_9080I’m seriously so in love with the results! It’s taken a little bit of attention to make sure my toddler doesn’t touch, thankfully he’s used to momma saying “plants are to look at not to touch” and he’s fairly good at listening!  All in all this cost $20 for the plants and that’s it, the rest of the supplies I had on hand.  You could even recreate a smaller version, and I definitely plan too.  It’s amazing the beauty you find in nature that can accent your home decor! 

Must Have Baby List for the Minimalist

We are coming up on Ezekiel’s first birthday so I thought it would be a great time to make a must have baby list for minimalists.  When I found out we were expecting, I knew that I wasn’t going to find out the sex for a few different reasons.

  1. I knew I would be having a scheduled c-section so I wanted something to be a surprise (little did I know Ezekiel surprised us anyways 4 weeks early).
  2. I knew that if I knew the sex that I would spend a lot of money on unnecessary things simply because I would be so excited.

So we bought very few things before Ezekiel arrived other than the essentials, and we didn’t add much after he was born.  I have always vowed that my house would not be overtaken by a baby.  I didn’t want toys and “things” cluttering up our living space and I’m still adamant about that.  The things we did buy we loved and I would do the same all over again.  Did I want lots of pretty, and expensive things? Yep.  Thankfully our budget was so small that I couldn’t get any of those expensive things and so our house remains baby clutter free.

So if you’re expecting or planning on starting your family and want to keep things simple this list is for you.

  • Bassinet
    • Ezekiel had reflux bad enough that he was choking at night so he slept in our room in his bassinet until he was 4 months old.  My parents bought our bassinet as a baby gift and so we got the one I had my heart set on from Restoration Hardware.  If we were buying it ourselves we probably would have bought something a lot cheaper but I really really love the one we have.  Anyways, I guess if you are co-sleeping you wouldn’t need one (although I’m not a fan of co-sleeping) but the bassinet was essential for us.
  •  Crib
    • Of course you will need a crib – unless you are planning on co-sleeping then disregard this.  I had my heart set on expensive cribs but I knew we couldn’t afford it so I searched Kijiji for weeks waiting for a great deal on a great crib.  I found one I loved for $75 (new it would have been $600) and I painted it to match the crib I actually wanted.
  • Change Table
    • This is something a lot of people will tell you that you don’t need.  I disagree.  To go along with my house being overtaken by baby things, I didn’t want diaper stations all over my house.  I wanted one station, and given that we did cloth diapers it made sense to have one station.  I have never changed Ezekiel anywhere in our house but his room and I love it that way.  I love that the change table is organized and has everything we need.  Our change table also doubles as a dresser, which I think is a smart use of space.  We keep anything that doesn’t hang in the dresser including linens.  Again I bought this on Kijiji for $50 and painted it the same color as the crib.
  • Rocker/Glider
    • Some people will tell you not to waste your money.  Ours was given to us as a gift and it is possibly the most used piece of furniture in our house.  Since we have roommates I have nursed Ezekiel in his room since February and now he resists nursing anywhere but that chair. For me it’s comfortable and convenient, especially in the middle of the night.  I can’t imagine not having our glider.
  • Nursing Pillow
    • If you are planning on nursing, this is a must have.  I still use mine every time Ezekiel nurses and it makes it so much more comfortable for both of us.  I never got the hang of nursing without it.
  • Noise maker/Fan
    • We got a Sleep Sheep as a gift and have used it since day one.  For Ezekiel it’s a cue that it’s time to sleep and it works for him! We also use a fan in his room as white noise to distract from other noise in the house.  Before we had the fan he had a difficult time after moving into his own room to sleep beyond his first sleep cycle.  I’m guessing that it was because I’m really quiet during the day, there’s not a lot of noise in our house so when he was trying to transition between sleep cycles a little noise would wake him up fully.  With the fan it’s a familiar noise for him and it drowns out other noises.  You don’t actually need to buy a noise maker, you could use a radio with light white noise or just a fan.  The downside to the sleep sheep is that it turns off after 45 minutes but we still use it as a cue for him.
  • Swaddle Blankets
    • I am a huge believer in swaddling and for Ezekiel it was essential.  He was so jerky with his movements and it took a long time for him to grow out of it.  We bought 8 swaddle blankets, 4 small ones and 4 larger ones all Summer brand (the cheapest ones we could find) and they served us well.  As he moved on from needing to be swaddled we used them as spit up blanket.  We did have burp cloths but I don’t think we needed them – Ezekiel was a puker not a spitter upper (pretend those are words haha) so we needed more than just a cloth.  I know people rave about the more expensive swaddle blankets but honestly, you use them for a few months and then put them away, I say just buy the cheapest ones and save yourself some cash.
  • Sleep Bag
    • I always planned on using a sleep bag and we have been using them since he stopped being swaddled. Ezekiel is now to the point that when I put him in the bag he knows exactly what’s going on, sometimes he’ll protest but more often he’ll be excited to nurse haha.
  • Bounce Seat
    • Ezekiel spent a lot of time in his seat – when I was showering, when I was making dinner, and anytime I needed to put him down.  He loved it and I loved the convenience of it.  Again we bought the bare minimum and cheapest one we could find (Summer brand again) and it worked so well that I couldn’t imagine spending any more than we did.  I refused to get a swing because they are so bulky and take up an entire room and I didn’t miss it at all!  So I suggest bounce chair over swing for sure!
  • Play Mat
    • We got a play mat as a gift and it was super simple and pretty small and Ezekiel loved playing under it.  Along with the bounce seat, once Ezekiel was about 3 months old we started alternating putting him down in the seat and on the mat.
  • Jolly Jumper
    • I wasn’t sure about getting a jolly jumper but we tried one out at a friends house and Ezekiel loved it so much that we decided to go ahead and get one.  It provided hours of entertainment for Ezekiel! The best part was that it easily folds together and can be stored out of sight when not in use.
  • Baby Walker
    • I was determined to get a baby walker so my parents brought us one from the states.  We got it in April and Ezekiel has been using it daily since then.  At first he was too small to move it but still enjoyed sitting and playing in it.  Once we got the walker we gradually stopped using the bounce seat.  This is one of the bulkier items in our house but we have a perfect parking spot for it in the living room and it doesn’t stick out too much.  Ezekiel LOVES this walker and now that he can move it around he cruises everywhere on our main floor.  He can spend up to an hour in it without ever needing anything from me.  It’s brilliant! He goes from the front entrance to the back entrance, watches the laundry, looks out the kitchen windows, and every so often he’ll do a circle in the kitchen just to come say hello.  Other times he’ll follow me every where and run over my toes, the days that he needs to be around me more the walker is great too! He can be right at my feet and visit while I am cooking or doing dishes or whatever.  This item is an ESSENTIAL for us! Although I must say if you have open stairways it’s not safe in your house, in our case our basement has a door on it so there’s no way for him to fall down them.
  • Good Quality Stroller
    • I wanted a good quality stroller and needed a bassinet with it (we bought a convertible car seat because of my c-section I wasn’t going to be able to take a bucket car seat in and out of the car) but I wasn’t willing or able to pay $500+ dollars.  So of course I took to Kijiji for weeks waiting for the best deal.  I had my mind set on the Bumbleride Indy and did find one second hand for a great price.  I’m not sure if I would go with this brand again, but it has served us well and we do really like it.  I have taken many many walks, and even jogged with this stroller.
  • Baby Monitor
    • We bought the cheapest one we could find and it’s worked for us just fine.  Really, you don’t need to see your child every moment they are asleep, just need to make sure you hear them when they wake up!

So those are the big items that are on my must have list other little things that are needed:

  • Towels – we do fine with 4
  • 1 pack of face cloths – you don’t need any more than that
  • Cloth diapers (go here to read about our experience)
  • Blankets – we bought one before Ezekiel was born and had many gifted to us, so I wouldn’t suggest buying many or any at all.

I think that’s it! Other than clothes (admittedly we like to buy good quality clothes but we make sure to only buy during sales) you really don’t need much else to get by with a baby.  We only have a small basket of toys for Ezekiel and have never actually bought any of them.  He enjoys all his toys, but most of the time would rather play with the kitchen towel, an empty water bottle or plastic container, so don’t waste your money on all those cute toys out there.  Especially for the first year, your baby is going to learn more from your interactions than from playing with the toys.  We do have books and Ezekiel LOVES story time. When I sit down on the floor and take down a book he automatically sits or lays on his belly in front of me all smiles and giggles waiting for the story to start.  It’s probably my favorite thing ever, so if I was going to spend money on entertainment for Ezekiel I would buy him books at this age.

Do you have anything to add to this must have minimalist baby list?

 

Dreaming of Coffee

Guys.

I’m so excited right now.

For a long time I’ve dreamed (side note: I always feel like “dreamed” is an awkward word and try to use “dreamt” which isn’t a word, am I alone in this?!?) about having a separate space in our kitchen for a “coffee bar.”  I want all things coffee and tea to be off of my counter in it’s own cute little space.  Lately, it’s all I’ve been thinking about. I’ve literally been fixated on this idea.  I have it mostly planned out in my head and I’ve been on the hunt for good deals. The first step was finding a suitable piece of furniture to actually inhabit the coffee bar.

I’ve been checking Kijiji incessantly, several times a day – usually once every couple hours and of course in the middle of the night while I’m feeding Ezekiel.  My vision involves a french provincial buffet that I will refurbish myself in a shabby chic distressed white.  My budget is $75.  Do you know how hard it is to find an antique piece of furniture for $75? Nearly impossible! Most of what comes up is pieces of furniture that have already been refurbished – it’s a trend right now.  Everyone and their dog is searching for antiques to refurbish and sell.  The best I could find was an already refurbished buffet for $250-$500, definitely not in the budget!

Until…

A few days ago I found the perfect piece.  It’s not French Provincial but is antique, and has the long legs with no shelving on the bottom.  The best part? It comes with a large mirror, 2 chairs and a china cabinet that all match, for a measly $125!!

Are you jumping up and down in excitement for me?

Because I actually want to stop writing and jump up and down in excitement.

$50 over budget, but with 4 extra antique items, there was no way I could turn it down.

Also I just have to say I have the best friends ever, who also search Kijiji for me and then offer to pick up the items for me.

Seriously.

So.Blessed.

So to celebrate I’ve been on Pinterest finding inspirational photos.  It’ll be a while before it all comes together, but I thought I’d share some of my inspiration with you.

A Beautiful Mess - DIY PEG shelf

This Peg Shelf from A Beautiful Mess is a must! I’m thinking two shelves, the bottom pegged for cups.  The best part is it’s simple to build and budget friendly! But lets be honest, I’ll only start the building project before my husband gets nervous that I’ll cut off my hand and then finishes it for me.

Junk Chic Cottage - Coffee Bar

I almost died when I saw this.  This is coffee bar perfection! The white, the buffet, the shelves, the chalkboard.  I can’t handle it. You guys need to go check out Junk Chic Cottage for the full tour of this bar, it’s so great.

Natalie Creates Coffee Bar

Finally, this cute little space from Natalie Creates! I love that this space was created for under $150.  I love the decor on the shelves and that everything doesn’t perfectly match, but goes perfectly together! I actually already purchased two prints to be placed on our coffee bar shelves and I cannot wait to get them up!

As always I’ll be doing this slow and steady as our budget allows a few extra dollars here and there to finish the space but with the main item purchased I’m finding myself eager to get at it!  It’s not like I needed anything more on my to do list and I’m not going to pressure myself into getting this space finished in the next couple months, but I do want to get the buffet refurbished while the weather is still nice.  I figure two days of nap times should do it and I already have paint that was left in the house when we bought it, so all I have to purchase is some sandpaper!

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my dream coffee bar.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe Success!

Alright, I’m so happy and relieved to say my fall capsule wardrobe is complete!

I’m not going to show everything right now because occasionally I’m going to post my outfits and you’ll see it all there.  I thought I’d go through a bit more detailed process of how I decided what I was going to buy and how I went about shopping.

I get daily emails from stores that I have had success with clothing in the past.  I’ve mentioned before that I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing so the stores I shop at are definitely not high end, but make fairly good quality clothing and often have great deals.  On Tuesday I noticed that there was a great deal going on at the Gap Factory store and I had an extra coupon for 15% off if I bought five items! So I quickly did a good search of my closet and nailed down what I wanted to buy.  Here’s how I figured it out:

  • For pants: I had five pairs of pants in my closet, 4 jeans and 1 pair of linen pants.  One pair of jeans I bought because they were $10 and fit pretty great but I’ve since realized I actually don’t like them, so they are going into my garage sale pile for next year.  The linen pants I’ll put away for next summer.  That leaves me with 3 pairs of pants, ideally I’d like 5 so I needed to buy 2.
  • For shirts: I had 13 shirts in my wardrobe in the summer.  I basically got rid of the really bright colored ones, the sleeveless ones and a couple that I had bought that I ended up not really liking.  Sales kill me, I’m learning to be far more intentional with my purchases and thinking through it a little more wisely.  So I got rid of 6 and kept 7 and I want 10 so I needed to buy 3.
  • For sweaters: I had 1 cardigan in my wardrobe already and I want 2 so I needed to buy one.
  • For shoes: this subject is a disaster for me.  I’m a tall girl with really large feet and there is nothing worse for me than shoe shopping. I hate it so much that when I do find a pair of shoes that fit me I’ll buy them and wear them out completely.  The last time I bought a pair of shoes was 3 years ago! My husband started threatening that he wouldn’t go out in public with me unless I bought new shoes because mine were so worn out.  So basically I was starting from scratch, although I had one pair of wedges I liked and a pair of boots that will do me another season.

So there’s the break down of how I decided what I needed. I had bought one shirt last week from Mexx for the fall wardrobe.

My budget for the wardrobe was $150 and that includes the shoes. So off I went to Banana Republic and Gap, they are free standing stores right beside each other and are both outlets.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy something simply because it was a shirt on sale! In both stores I tried on about 10 items.  I was proud when I walked away from really great deals at Banana Republic because they weren’t items I “loved.”  Then I took my time walking through Gap and picked out a lot of stuff that were neutral and that I thought would make great editions to my wardrobe, in the end I had 1 pair of jeans, 2 long sleeve shirts and a cardigan that I really loved, I also picked up a onesie for my son to complete my 5 items to get an extra 15% off.  After all was said and done I paid $90 and saved $120! I was pretty impressed with myself!

Next stop Payless Shoe Store, I didn’t have much hope of finding anything but was VERY pleasantly surprised to discover a brand of shoe that makes cute shoes in my size that aren’t extra wide.  I’m not sure why, but I think shoe companies think that women with big feet must also be large people because most shoes that are 11 or 12’s are also super super wide, so even if they are long enough they don’t fit.  On top of being wide they are never cute. But I actually had a hard time walking away with just 4 pairs! I spent a long time debating which 4 I was going to buy, the sale was buy one get one half off and 3/4 of the shoes I bought were already on a wicked sale.  In the end I bought 2 wedges and 2 flats for $75 and saved $81!

Guys, it was a GREAT day. I was over budget $15 and still missing one pair of pants but I’m counting it a success.  I do have another coupon for $25 off a $50 purchase at Gap Factory in October and there was another pair of jeans I really liked so I may go back and pick them up in October.

I’m so excited about my wardrobe and to challenge myself to create outfits out of the little that I have.  I’m also excited to share that here!