Tag Archives: diy

DIY Garden Fence

This week, Cage Free Dad and I decided to get started on a garden fence.  We’ve known for awhile that we wanted to fence off the garden, but our struggle with birds and squirrels made us get started sooner than expected.  We don’t have a huge budget for these projects, having just moved in and having way too many projects to finish at once, so I wracked my brain for a simple, free idea.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

We constructed this fence from old wood pallets and recycled fence wood.  We didn’t spend a single penny on supplies, which is just great! I love the uneven, messy look.  Eventually, we’ll paint it, but it’s just not in the budget right now.

We designed the fence in a way that we’ll be able to expand it as our garden grows, without too much work.  Right now we just wanted something around our immediate garden so that we could drape the bird net right on the inside of it and fully protect the garden from those pesky birds.  An added bonus, our chickens can now roam the yard again!  They had a great time enjoying the yard after CFD mowed.  Hopefully, letting them out again will help with the bug problem we’ve been having.

I’m pretty proud of our little freebie project.  It sure did take a lot of labor time (we actually started 2 weeks ago pulling apart pallets and fences), but I think it’s worth it! We should have enough wood right now to fence our entire future plot, too.

The process was pretty simple, but I’ll break it down here.  First, we broke apart pallets.  Those were a PITA, though, so after a few, CFD moved on to fence wood, which was much easier.  He cut those boards in half, because we didn’t want a tall fence.  Then, I laid out all the pieces on the grass, staggering cross beams all the way across.  We didn’t measure a certain distance for the boards, just eyeballed it, since we weren’t looking for a perfect looking fence.

Fence posts that borders the garden previously, shown in photo.

Fence posts that borders the garden previously, shown in photo.

Once all of the cross beams were screwed in, we lifted the fence and screwed them to the round fence posts that were already bordering our garden for extra support.  (see photo above)

Once that was done, we secured the corners by making wooden L’s to screw in.  Once that was done, the fence was complete! We still need to build a gate, but I’m hoping that such a small opening won’t be noticeable to the chickens and other critters in our yard.

Side view

Side view

Don’t you just love projects that turn out to be free? I know I do!

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Filed under DIY, In the Garden, Self Sufficience

DIY Wind Chime for Kids

As a stay at home work at home mom, my days require a lot of creativity in order to keep Pistache busy while I keep busy.  I aim to do at least one cool thing a week that’s out of the ordinary, because she’s such a crafty kid.  Plus, I feel like since I run a business based on craftiness, it’s important to pass that on to my daughter. This week (honestly, a couple of weeks ago, but I had to work out the details), she requested that we recycle some of our grocery store cans into something fun and “rainbow colored.” I love this kid.  She’s awesome, if I haven’t mentioned that before.  Our result?

Tin Can Wind Chime

Ta Da! A tin-can wind chime!

Once I worked out the specifics on how to turn a collection of tin cans into a wind chime, it was really pretty simple.

Materials needed:

  • approximately 8 tin cans, cleaned of labels and glue
  • Paint in “rainbow colors”
  • Twine or string
  • 1 old embroidery hoop (or other circular item, preferably recycled)
  • hammer
  • nail
  • hot glue

Once the cans were cleaned, I just let Pistache go to town painting the cans.  It’s a kids’ craft, so I didn’t think it needed to come out pristine!  I wasn’t thinking, though, and let her use her usual paints, so a lot of it washed off in the rain.  I think a coating of clear spray paint will help in the future!

We let the cans dry for a few days, and then took a hammer to the tops, in order to create a hole.

DSC_1524

(Don’t worry, I was right there. No fingers got smashed during this project).

After all of the holes are punched, we carefully threaded the string-cut into differing lengths- through the hole and tied a good knot on the inside.

As an added precaution, I also put a dab of hot glue on the top to keep it extra secure.

DSC_1528

Finally, we attached each can to the embroidery hoop with another good knot and added two more strings across the top in an X pattern to hang the wind chime.  The final result really is pretty colorful and fun, and Pistache is incredibly proud of her newest project.

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A Day of Handmade Beauty

As most of you know by now, I am a big advocate for green beauty products.  Because your skin is the largest organ, it’s not only important to watch what you put in your body.  It’s just as important to watch what you put on your body. So, basically, you can eat organic produce and grass fed beef all you want, but unless you change your skin care routine, you’ll still be putting all sorts of unwanted carcinogens in your body daily.

Sunscreen, whipped body butters, lip balm, and chapstick with sunscreen.

Sunscreen, whipped body butters, lip balm, and chapstick with sunscreen.

On that note, this weekend, I biked (5 miles, whoot!) over to my cousin’s house and made all sorts of goodies for us to share.  The sunscreen and chapsticks are a new experiment for both of us this time, but I have been using her whipped body butter for a few months now.

In fact, until I switched my skin care routine a few months ago, I had horrible, horrible acne.  Like, the deep, painful, ones all over my face that left scars.  Now, I use an organic face cleanser from a local store called Down to Earth, a gentle astringent, and some of this whipped body butter twice a day.  Poof! No more cystic acne! Don’t get me wrong, I still get tiny white-heads due to hormonal changes, but it’s nothing like before.

The best part about all of these are, I know what every single ingredient is.  There isn’t a single ingredient hidden in my new skin care products that I didn’t put in there.

If you’re interested in making your own products, trust me, it’s not hard.  If you can cook by following a simple recipe, you can do this, too.  In fact, we followed the recipes over at Wellness Mamma to the “T.” We just added our own scent combos to make them more enticing.

So, this weekend, I encourage you to go out and try some recipes of your own.  You may surprise yourself by how much more you like the stuff you make! I mean, isn’t that how it always goes?

 

 

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DIY Laundry Stain Remover

{I’m going to go ahead and put a disclaimer at the beginning of my post, because let’s face it.  Yes, Cage Free Dad is awesome and helps with laundry.  Don’t hate me!}

Now, on to the topic at hand today.  Last week, Cage Free Dad was helping with laundry (see? I said don’t hate me!) and accidentally left a tube of Chapstick in one of his pants pockets.  Ooops! If you’ve ever done that yourself, you know the stains it can leave.  Unfortunately, he chose this cycle to add Pistache’s brand new t-shirts, so everything that is new to this season now has these nice grease stains all over them.

In a panic, I went to my mom friends for help, and got a few different suggestions, ranging from chalk to Blue Dawn.  Since I already had some Blue Dawn dish soap, I decided to look up how to remove stains using it.  After reading several posts about different ways it can help, I concocted a stain remover that I am really pleased with, so I thought I’d share it with you now.

DIY Stain Remover

Please note, this is not something you can mix up and keep on hand.  You’ll have to make it every time you have stains to remove, because otherwise the magical properties the Hydrogen Peroxide with dissipate.

What You’ll Need:

  • Blue Dawn dish soap
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Baking solda
  • teaspoon sized measuring spoon
  • small bowl for mixing

The Recipe

To make your stain remover simply follow this recipe:

Use 1 teaspoon of Dawn and mix it with 2 teaspoons of Hydrogen Peroxide.  If you want to make more or less of this stain remover, simply use the 2:1 ratio.  Once you’ve mixed those 2 ingredients in your bowl, add some baking soda to form a paste.

Let it Sit

For best results, use your stain remover immediately by rubbing it into the stains on your clothes.  For Pistache’s t-shirts, I let them sit about an hour (I tested this on one of my older shirts first to make sure I wasn’t further ruining her clothes, you should do the same).  After the hour is up, I washed the clothes on a normal cycle and then laid them flat to dry.  This is important since putting clothes in the dryer can set the stain even further.

Pistache’s clothes had already been through the dryer with the stain once, so I didn’t want to do it again.  Most of the stains came out on the first try, but a few pieces still had visible stains.  For those, I simply mixed up another stain remover and repeated the process again.  Depending on how important this article of clothing is to you, you can repeat this process as many times as needed. Unfortunately, one of the new t-shirts did end up in the play clothes drawer after the second attempt at removing the stain, but all others look brand new again.

While I’ve only used this stain remover on grease stains so far, the reading I did online showed that other bloggers have used their Blue Dawn stain removers on a variety of different stains with success, so it is certainly worth a shot.  I know I’ll be trying this concoction first from now on on any stains that come my way.

 

 

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DIY Cucumber Trellis

In my last post, I discussed the benefits of using bamboo in the garden.  The cut and dried stalks make great garden stakes for your plants that require a little extra support.  Plus, if you know someone that grows bamboo, it’s a much more cost effective way of staking your garden without buying commercial cages and stakes, that often don’t offer enough support as your plants continue growing.

Today, I thought you’d like to see another way I’ve used bamboo in the garden, because it solved another common garden problem.

Cucumber trellis made from bamboo

Cucumber trellis made from bamboo

{Disclaimer: please ignore that awful, awful fence.  It’s our neighbors, and the house is currently in contract to sell, so we’re patiently waiting!}

I personally don’t like growing my cucumbers on the ground.  They get dirty, the cucumbers remain hidden, and they are more susceptible to different plant illnesses.  Growing cucumbers on a trellis also takes a lot less room, so it’s a great alternative for gardeners without much space.

The photo above shows my DIY cucumber trellis, that Cage Free Dad and I made using 5 bamboo stakes and some baling wire. The total cost for the project was about half the cost of a spool of baling wire, so it was very budget friendly.

When we planted our cucumbers, we didn’t actually have this trellis design in mind, but it really worked out.  We have 2 rows of 4 plants each, so when it came time to make a trellis, we simply constructed this triangle shaped trellis right in between the 2 rows of plants, so that they’ll climb along the outside of the trellis (if you have the plants grow on the inside it’ll be harder to reach the cucumbers when the plants are fully grown).

How We Did It

First, we cut our bamboo stakes to about 3′ long (I didn’t measure, just eye-balled it).  Then, we pushed the stakes into the ground a couple of inches to make them more sturdy.  Our soil always stays a bit moist, so it was easy to push the stakes in where they needed to go.  We put them right on the outside of the last plants in the rows.  If you have longer rows, you may want to consider having another stake to go in the middle of the row to support the wires, but this design worked well for us.

Once we had all 4 stakes where we wanted them, we used some baling wire to connect the tops of the stakes, so it makes a sort of tent design.  Then we added the 5th stake across the top and secured it with more baling wire.  This made the construction really sturdy.  In fact, it withstood a pretty good thunderstorm last night with no signs of wear and tear.

After we had the skeleton of the frame put together, we simply strung several lengths of wire across the stakes, making sure to pull them tight.  This is the first part that really needed 2 people, so that we could get the wire tight and secure.  The rest of it I was able to construct myself while Cage Free Dad worked on the chicken coop.

Finally, we were done and just had to gently start training our plants to grow along the wire instead of the ground.  As you can see in the photo, a few of the plants have grown considerably, and are already able to trellis to the second wire!  If you’re really on top of your game, I suggest having the trellis in place before planting your plants, because they grow fast, and it’s easier to train them from the beginning.

There are plenty of other options for trellising your cucumber plants (and other vining plants), but for us, creating our own was the best option.  We were able to use materials we had on hand and saved a bunch of money.  If you decide to use this trellis idea for your own garden, please feel free to add a photo of it to my Facebook page!

 

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Make Natural Garden Stakes Using Bamboo

Today I wanted to tell you about our “new” idea for staking the plants in our garden.  Last year, we opted to use traditional tomato cages in our garden for all of our plants that needed to be supported.  Even with only a few plants needing this done, the cost still added up. And my tomato and okra plants? They got so huge that the commercial cages were totally worthless.  We still had to do all sorts of extra tricks to keep them from falling over towards the end.  So, this year when it was time for commercial cages, we decided we would only buy a few for the plants we knew would stay smaller, such as the pepper plants.  For our tomato and okra, we decided to use a more functional (and free) approach by using bamboo stalks from my grandmothers backyard.

Bamboo Tomato Stakes

You can see a commercial cage in the corner of this picture and compare the height difference.   I’m much more confident that these stakes will support my plants as they get taller.  Even better? They are natural, renewable, and free. Every year, my grandmother’s bamboo has to be thinned so it doesn’t overrule her backyard.  So, instead of wasting the stalks that get cut down, we just decided to bring them to our house, let them dry out for a couple of weeks, and then trimmed them to size.  We chose to trim ours to about 3′ tall, and tied them with some spare twine from the garage.  So far, we just have the tomatoes done in the garden. We’ll be planting okra in the next few weeks and we’ll stake those the same way-although I may leave the stakes a little taller.  My okra plants last year almost got tall enough to reach the lowest branches on our pecan tree!

Some of the spare stalks I decided to use for extra support for my orange tree.  It was getting much wider than it was tall, and there isn’t yet enough strength in those tiny branches to support that weight.  Plus, there are tons of tiny oranges where all of the flowers were a few weeks ago, so I figured I may as well stake it now before the fruit gets heavier!

Bamboo Tree Stakes

If you have access to bamboo, I highly suggest you use it for your garden!  it grows a lot faster than a tree when it’s cut down, and it’s strong and sturdy as a stake.  If you want to change the shape of it (perhaps an arch? Or weave a few together?) my friend tells me that if you get it wet you can shape it any way you want.  It’s a truly versatile, renewable, natural resource for homesteading.  In fact, I’m even toying with the idea of using one of these stalks of bamboo to root my own along my fence line! It will offer privacy, dim the road noise, and I’ll always have my own bamboo for my garden when I need it.

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Building Fairy Houses the Natural Way

If you’ve got a little girl like I do, you are probably familiar with this new fascination with building fairy houses.  Ever since Pistache watched Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, she’s been obsessed with the idea of building her own fairy houses. While I allowed her to make her first house out of an old milk carton, I quickly realized how much I didn’t like it.  First off, it required a lot of guidance and help from me.  Secondly, I realized once she wanted to put it outside that it was going to quickly turn into litter in my yard that I’d have to clean up.

I did some research online and found out that natural fairy houses are a big past-time, especially in Maine.  There are books, folk-lores, and stories surrounding the practice.  It just seemed perfect!  So, we bought the book “Fairy Houses” by Tracy Kane and it’s become a night time favorite.  The book includes a story as well as instructions, the rules of building fairy houses, and ideas for each season.

fairy house

The sign says “Fairies Welcome”

This weekend, Pistache finally had a chance to try her hand at her own natural fairy houses.  She did them almost entirely by herself and it kept her busy for hours! I think we’ve found a new favorite outdoor activity. She wanted to invite all sorts of fairies to the yard, so we have this one set up under the bushes, along with a snack of acorns, as well as another house set up where our gutter drops off, creating a pond, or stream.

For the water fairies

For the water fairies

The rules of building fairy houses are clear.  You can’t use any artificial materials (such as plastic, glass, or metal) and you can’t harm anything living.  This is a big bonus for me because it keeps Pistache from picking my flowers and tearing leaves and bark off the trees to do her crafting.  She now knows that actions like these makes the fairies sad and they won’t visit.

So, instead, we walk the yard and look for materials such as dry leaves and grass, bark that has fallen off the trees, or a few of our fire logs such as the one pictured above.  You could also use rocks, shells, feathers, moss, and fallen nuts or berries.

I have a feeling this will become a new favorite activity in the Cage Free household.  Pistache has already taught her cousin the art of building fairy houses as well.  Try it out with your kids!

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