Wood Mandala

I am really loving this mandala piece! I made this for my Reiki room, I needed a wood element on the walls and this is perfect!

I started with wood that had a rough, un-sanded finish. Found it at Hobby Lobby. I have several cans of stain already so I did not need to buy any…. But I should have. The color I wanted to do, well…it was gel stain. It worked but it was a challenge to get it into the wood really well. Lesson learned. Never use a thick, gel stain on a rough wood finish.

Looking at it you would never know how I struggled with it, it turned out really nice. But the struggle was real.

I found the mandala stencil on Amazon. I originally purchased the stencil to use on a coffee table I refinished (here). It worked really nice on this wood BUT, again with the rough wood!!! It took a little longer to pounce that white paint through the stencil onto the wood.

Will I use rough wood again on a project, absolutely! Just not with gel stain and a stencil with really small detail. Namaste!

Mimi’s Garden – Fall Gardening Chores, Part 1

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the colors, the fragrances, the cooler weather, football, everything apples and pumpkins!

I love spring too, when everything is sprouting and coming to life; poking through the dirt like little praying hands being raised up to the heavens.

But for the autumn months, everything beautiful is preparing for a long nap. To rejuvenate for another display of beautiful blooms next spring.

And for this to happen, there is a lot of work! Plants need to be cut back, or divided, and some just snipping off stems and keeping them rooted in water. The plants that I want to snip and place in water, will sit on a windowsill until early spring and then potted. Sometimes I’m lucky and they survive, and sometimes they do not. But nonetheless, I can still enjoy them for the winter months ahead.

     

Last year I put all of my potted geraniums and my hibiscus plant in my basement. I cut them back, placed them in the basement still in their pots and they did great! Around late March early April I started to lightly water them, then I brought them up from the basement and as soon as the days were warm enough, I put them outside.

Unfortunately, 2 of them started to grow but then died. The rest survived and have been beautiful all summer. A friend of mine told me that her Mother used to dig them up and hang them upside down by the root ball in the basement. Might have to give that a try this year, some of my pots are too big and heavy for me to try to move.

     

I’ve already cut back a few plants. We had a very hot, dry spell for a few weeks and it took its toll on the red veined dock and day lilies. The flowers of the day lilies were done blooming but the beautiful leaves became dry and then died so they got a haircut! New leaves have since sprouted new growth though. And the red veined dock is starting to come back too.

All of the cone flowers I’ll try to leave alone, the goldfinches LOVE sitting on them and nibbling at the seed.

     

The potted spider plants I will not bring back inside. I’ll trim off all the babies and root as many as I can but the momma plants are HUGE and in large pots that I have no place in the house. I try to find homes for them but my friends are in the same situation, no room. This is where a large gorgeous greenhouse in my yard would be great to have!

This is my first year for a Eucalyptus plant, I love cutting the stems and drying them to hang in the shower. This plant is due for a trim and then I’ll bring the pot inside. Hopefully it will do well as a potted plant inside for the winter months.

The purple plant on the left, I think, is a variety of a wandering “dude” but I no longer have the ID card. That entire pot is all from cuttings from last year. The coleus on the right, I’ll take cuttings from that and hopefully be able to pot it next spring.

My beautiful Limelight Hydrangeas, these are my favorite. And by March and I am impatiently watching them, waiting for the buds to pop on the branches. I try to dry lots of bouquets and then share them with friends. I also like to keep dried stems as well, using them for arrangements or wreaths. I like to get a bucket of water, and add some dish soap, then as I cut the stems from the plant, I dip the blooms in the water to kill any unwanted spiders or other bugs that I don’t want inside my house. For the most part this does work but on occasion I do find a survivor!

Another gardening chore is to finish cleaning my fence. I started in the spring and have about ¾ of it done but the heat got to me and I put off the remaining panels for cooler weather. I scrub it by hand using a solution of vinegar and dish soap and it works amazingly well!

I also like to clean out my shed, it’s FILTHY right now. Tons of grass clippings, potting soil, and spider webs. It needs to be reorganized too. And, go ahead and laugh but… I like to give my trash can a good cleaning too. That usually just involves some cleaner being poured inside and then powerwashed.

This year I have lots of spring bulbs to plant too. I’ve been in this house for 5 years now and the only spring bulbs I planted have been the Easter hyacinths my kids gave me.

I have a bunch of dahlias too, those bulbs should be dug up and put in the basement but I don’t, come back fine every year. They make beautiful cut flowers all summer, I’ll miss them!

  This is just one of the five butterfly bushes I have.

My butterfly bushes I try to keep going well into October if possible. We will still have some butterflies, especially the traveling Monarchs. So I keep them going as long as I can. Then they get cut back to ground level. I’ll those beautiful blooms too.

     

This purple plant, cannot find the ID card, I will take cutting of it as well and hope for the best for next spring.  The hanging plant is a creeping jenny, it comes back each year!  This is the third year in that planter.  And I was able to snag 2 sections of it to make 2 new hanging planters this year.

What plans for you have for your flower beds? Get out there in play in the dirt!

Homemade Soy Candles

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and candles were pretty popular at the time. There was a candle shop in state park that we used to visit, that was the start of my candle addiction. They had any candle color, fragrance or shape that you could imagine. Plus, candle rings and globes to go with them.

Even as a young teenager, I was always burning candles in my room. Then, lucky me, as a family project we would make our own candles. It was fun to show them off to my friends when they came over. I’ve had candles in my home ever since.

It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that I realized all of the harmful chemicals that were in candles.

So I’ve been making my own candles ever since. I use soy candle wax and low smoke, cotton candle wicks. Organic is even better.

Let’s talk a little bit about the wax. I use soy because it burns cleaner. About 4 cups of soy wax flakes equals about 2 cups of melted wax. I never measure though, I always have about 10 or more glass jars ready to go so I just melt what I need. I do make sure that I save some wax for topping off later. If the room that you are making the candles is cool, you can sometimes end up with a “sink hole”! When that happens, I use that extra wax to fill in the top.

The pouring temp of the soy wax should be around 120 degrees, once it reaches that temp, I let it sit for just a bit before pouring. If you are making one candle, you could melt the soy flakes in the microwave, I have only done this once for a very small candle that I wanted to give someone. You would only need to heat the wax for a little bit at a time so it doesn’t cause a mess. Then pour into your jar.

Okay, now the fun stuff, the fragrance or scent… CHEMICALS!!! The entire reason I started making my own candles was due to the chemicals so I buy unscented soy wax. Yes I’ll admit, I love the scent of candles in the stores but they are full of harmful chemicals. Like what you ask? Truck diesel fuel for one. Alcohols and acetone, carcinogens like benzene and toluene, the list is horrendous. Some of the chemicals are in paint, lacquer and varnish removers. Would you want those burning in your home?

Those chemical smells give me migraines, I can’t even shop in candle stores anymore. I might be able to sniff a few candles and then I am done! I can barely nose around a candle aisle at a box store.

Anyway, since I use the unscented soy wax I on a rare occasion add essential oils. But for the most part, my candles are scent free. When I do add the oils, I add it to the melted wax AFTER it is poured in the glass jar. I don’t put the oil in right away though, I add it just before it starts to set. However, it takes a lot of oil to be able to smell it when it burns so I prefer to just use unscented. I am in love with my essential oils so I have diffusers throughout the house, I use that for any scent that I want.

I have also chopped up fresh rosemary from my garden and put that in candles too, but beware! You must keep an eye on the candle when you burn it, it could easily catch fire if you are not careful.

Now the wicks. Ya know how black your jars get from the smoke? That’s in the air too, and on your walls and curtains. You and your family are breathing it in. Most wicks have metals like lead in them. A lead core wick can release 5 times the amount of lead consider hazardous for children, it also exceeds the EPA pollution standards.

All of the chemicals in candle wax and wicks have been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and many other health problems.

When buying your wicks, make sure you’re getting 100% cotton, you can buy organic too. I prefer buying the wicks that have the metal tab on the bottom, saves me time from doing that myself. I use my hot glue gun and put a dab of hot glue on the metal tab and press it down into the glass jar, using a popsicle stick to help center and press securely.

When buying wicks, you also want to think about the size of the glass jar you are using vs the diameter of the wick. I have not been able to find any wicks that are too thick so depending on the jar I am using, I may use two.

I buy my soy flakes at the craft store and the wicks I buy online. The glass jars I use are small canning jars or thick drinking glasses that I find on sale.

Remember, when burning your candles, only burn them until the wax melts up to the glass then blow them out. DO NOT burn them to the point of having a thick layer of melted wax on the surface. I really don’t know if that would catch fire but the wicks at that point get a little smokey and the glass jar could break. If you like to keep candles burning then have several on hand so you can burn one, blow it out and then have another one handy.

Also important is to trim the wicks. I have this cute little wick cutter that works wonderfully! If you let the wicks too long, even though you have low smoke wicks, it will eventually smoke a little. Plus, I don’t like it when a burned ball of wick falls down in the wax.

There are plenty of you tube videos on candle making, do your research to see what works best for you.

Happy candle making!!!

Vintage Sidetable Makeover

I am so happy with how this refurbish turned out, in fact; if I had the space, I would definitely be keeping it!!  It would be perfect to display my tabletop Christmas tree.

Each piece that I do, I learn something new. Some lessons are pretty hard, meaning that I have a lot of sanding to do so I can start over. But the end result is worth it.

I didn’t have any hard lessons with this, which surprises me since I used a gel stain for the first time and tried a little different technique for the staining process.

Next project are a pair of chairs, and it involves upholstery. Yikes!!

Make it a great day, make some quiet time for yourself, and above all…be kind.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook to catch my daily babbling.

Easy Placemat Craft Project

I haven’t posted anything crafty lately; in fact, since my last furniture refinishing job, I haven’t crafted anything!

Any thoughts on what I am going to do with these placemats?

 

Any idea’s at all?

Accent pillows!!!

It’s been about a year or more since I found placemats that I liked enough to make pillows. The last time was for Christmas about 2 years ago, and a year before that I made Thanksgiving and Christmas pillows. Yea I know, I love accent pillows.   It’s a girl thing, right ladies!! I could probably fill my car with all of my accent pillows!

Honestly, I have been wanting cute little Spring/Summer pillows. But with the COVID virus and not being able to shop for a longggggg time, other than online, I just had to be patient.

I found these placemats at Target. You all know that store right? It’s that big box store with a bullseye that draws you in and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a Starbuck’s that adds to the shopping comfort. Then most of us get lost browsing the aisles of clothes, shoes and home goods; shopping for hours for stuff we do NOT need!!

Except I did NEED these placemats, my living room needed a summer pick me up.

So here’s what you need: first find a place mat that you can basically grab on both sides and pull apart, it should have 2 pieces of fabric making a front and back. Look at the seams to make sure you can pull it apart to stuff it full of batting to make your pillow. There should be no other stitching through the center of the placemat either.

Then using a seam ripper, carefully loosen up about 5 inches of the stitches on one end of the placemat and remove them. Remember this, the more stitches you remove, the more hand stitching you will have to close up. Make sure you can get your hand in there to distribute the batting into the corners.

Next stuff it full of batting and stitch it back up! That’s it, instant pillow. Sew easy!

Vegetable Gardening

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I tried vegetable gardening. My tomatoes turned out great but the carrots, not so much. They looked like pencils. I cannot even remember what else I tried to grow but I did not have a clue what I was doing.

Fast forward to this year, this is my second year of veggie gardening since moving into this house and it “almost” didn’t start out well. Let me back up to last summer though.

I bought a raised bed, a cedar garden box. Assembled it myself, filled it with garden soil and then filled it with tomato and pepper plants, and a few onions.

My plants were huge and were producing tomatoes and peppers. Then a bad storm blew through town and tore my plants up. I managed to save about half of each plant. I was so blasted mad but there was nothing I could do.

Everything was continuing to grow quite nicely but then the next garden drama arrived. Bottom rot hit my tomatoes. AGH!  A sweet volunteer at work told me he had a spray he could give me, a spray he mixed. Just spray all the veggies I had, that was my instruction. He said it won’t hurt anything.

Well, it killed EVERYTHING. Even my new flowers that were near the veggies that caught some mist of the spray.  I was devastated. I worked so hard to get this garden going and now it was gone. Completely dead.

This year I bought another raised bed garden box and knew that I would not be accepting any homemade spray or solutions. I am however, grinding up egg shells and using coffee grounds in the garden soil. I did my research and have read that these provide nutrients for the plants. Fingers and toes are crossed…

    

Using eggshells is easy.  Collect your shells, wash them off and let them dry completely.  Then using a coffee grinder or food processor and go to work.  Store them in an airtight container.  Add them to your garden soil, and work them down into the soil.

So far, everything is fine. But again, it didn’t start that way. We had an early spring this year with amazing warm temps in April so I anxiously planted my veggies. I looked at the forecast online and listened to the weather guys on TV (I know, I know LOL) and I truly thought it was safe.

And then winter returned, with a vengeance. I swear I heard Old Man Winter laughing at me and telling Mother Nature to hold his beer. And she graciously helped him out.

I covered my plants and prayed. Old Man Winter sent cold temps and horrible winds that shredded the heavy plastic I used to protect my plants. I kept going outside and readjusting everything but when the plastic was beyond usefulness, I gave up. I thought I must be nuts to put that much time, money and energy into gardening when clearly I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

So, I left the plants alone knowing I was not going to plant anything for a few more weeks. I did go and buy 2 more tomato plants and a few more pepper plants. And the next thing I knew, the plants that I gave up on, the plants that I swear had died, sprang to life.

I also wanted to try broccoli this year. It was a whim. And I did not research. The plants got huge! I bought 4 baby plants, and I ended up giving 2 to my niece. The battle I have with these are the cute little white cabbage butterflies lay eggs on them, and then they eat the plant when they hatch from their eggs.

Thankfully, the cardinals know the little boogers are there and are helping me to get rid of them. I love my little red helpers, and I really love when they sing their little songs while they visit.

 

    

 

I love spending time outside, connect with nature and tending to my gardens, but this heat. WOW. I usually have to cut my grass every 3 to 4 days, and I section off my yard so I can do a little each day. So I haven’t had much time to post any food recipes but I have been having tummy problems so I’m not really cooking.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the BRAT diet. If you haven’t; it’s just bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. I’m slowly introducing some foods back into my system, sort of a test to see what I can and can’t eat. Basically I’m making myself sick, WTH!! Then on top of the tummy issues, I have RA and Fibro pain so I mow and rest, garden and rest.

So while I am working on improving my gut health and tending to my gardens and yard, I’ll be writing about those things. And crafting. And furniture refinishing. I’ll get back to my recipes as soon as I can!

Refinished Coffee Table with a Gold Mandala

I bought this coffee table at a yard sale a few years ago, with the intention of using it for the grandkids. I wanted to convert a little room in the basement into a game room for the grandkids but that didn’t work out. So the table has been sitting in my basement gathering dust.

Then I thought I would give it a new look. And I loved the new look so much that I almost kept it, but I just didn’t have the room for it.

It was a black table, I painted it white using a paint to block “bleeding”. Put 2 coats of a creamy white paint and then added a gold mandala in the center.

I love the look and will definitely be using mandala’s on tables again. What do you think?

Refurbished Vintage Wooden Ironing Board

I have had this lovely wooden ironing board in my basement, it belonged to my Gramma. She gave it to me probably about 25 years ago, she’s passed now and I miss her so much.

There is one little corner that has some penciled artwork, I am pretty sure that was from me!

Anyway, as much as I have treasured this piece, I never quite figured out what I wanted to do with it. I thought about taking the legs off and placing wood shelves on it to hang it vertically. But I felt like I would be destroying it.

I lived in a very small condo unit for a little and had no room to set it up as a side table. I moved to a small one story home and again, didn’t really have the space to set it up as a table.

So my next thought was to put some poly on it and set on my patio to use as a plant table. As I started putting the poly on, I was totally falling in love with the finish and knew I could NOT set this piece out in the elements of rain and sun and have it destroyed.

I knew I had to find a place for this beautiful piece. And I did. I rearranged the last cabinet I finished (post is here) and I unpacked my small bookcase and moved that piece and…. Put the ironing board in front of the large picture window.

I love it! I am so happy how it turned out and I’m sure I’ll have it filled with plants and family photo’s soon!

I need more flowers!

For anyone that knows me and knows me well, knows that I love plants! Not only house plants, but I am equally in love with annuals and perennials. There are a ton of flowers I want for my yard and just do not have the place to put them. Whether it be due to the sun they need to the space they require for full growth.

I have been in my house for 5 years now, there were absolutely NO flower beds on the property when I moved in.

This flower bed was the last one that I added at the end of the summer last year. I desperately wanted bearded iris and roses but I didn’t have a good place so….

When I found these 3 iris plants reduced to half price at the end of the summer, I bought them and went to work to put in a new bed. Now I am looking for a raspberry colored rose bush as well as a beige colored rose. Then I will fill in the rest of the bed with perennials and pots of annuals.

Seriously, I go nuts with flowers over the summer. I am still filling in the other beds with perennials. Last year I found a gorgeous orange cone flower and some pretty asters.

Last year I also struggled with all the bunnies in my neighborhood eating my coneflowers! Thus the large concrete bricks you see along the fence. My yard is incredibly uneven so when the fence was installed, I ended up with gaps where rabbits, squirrels, and my dog, could get in and out.

Like a lot of you, we are having an early spring so my plants are coming along quite well BUT we still have some occasional chilly days and nights. I am so anxious to get out and play in the dirt and not have to worry about the temps.

Anyway, this particular bed is looking a little sad and lost right now and as soon as I can flower shop I will be filling it up for gorgeous blooms that warm my heart and make me happy to be home.

Be well my friends!

Refurbished Chest of Drawers

I was hesitant to post this furniture makeover. I still haven’t finished it, there is one little detail left to do that will make this chest of drawers amazing, at least to me.

I found this vintage chest at an antique shop and brought it home to refinish. I had been looking for something to store some of my craft supplies, even though it is not as big as I had hoped for, it still works. And it has eliminated some plastic storage tubs that were under my craft table.

I discovered this primer that is supposed to cover furniture with a shiny finish, so I gave it a shot. It also is good for covering paint and stain from bleeding through, which it absolutely did for the red cabinet that I posted earlier. This primer did cover the shine and the color well BUT, I did not seal the piece and the very first thing I set on the top as décor pulled the paint and primer right off. AGH!!!

I still have a lot to learn about furniture refinishing. Maybe next time I should still give it a little sanding just to play it safe.

So anyway, the one little detail that I wanted to do was to stencil or decoupage a floral design on the front. THEN I was going to put a poly over the entire chest.

But now, I am unsure if I want to waste my time and the materials to stencil if this isn’t going to seal well. Regardless, I do still love how the chest turned out.

If I decide to add the detail later, I will be sure to share it with you.