Spring Is Here….

Last night was the kind of evening I daydreamed about for years since moving to San Francisco.  I went to the Joyus Viewer’s Choice Launch Party at HD Buttercup.  I along with 3 of the other bloggers who participated in the challenge drank, smoked and nibbled on delicious yummies thanks to local Bay Area food trucks.  I was lucky enough to have The Partner and one of my good friends join me for the evening.  It was surreal seeing my face plastered on multiple screens throughout the store……

I left the party walking on air and just overjoyed that I was able to be part of this fantastic group of people.

So I woke up this morning and was still riding the “serotonin wave”.  I went downstairs to grab a cup of coffee and as I was savoring the rush of caffeine as filtered into my system, I noticed that my little patio garden was coming alive once again.  Things are in bloom!  I grabbed my camera and took a few shots – much to the chagrin of my neighbors who saw me with my bed head mumbling to myself with a camera and a mug of coffee……

I am now inspired to spend a few  hours this weekend in the yard to hang the outdoor lights, replant a few dead plants and add a new layer of mulch.

Ahhh Spring, I am so glad you arrived!  So has the “Spring Bug” bit you?  Are you itching to do some outdoor projects?

On a side note, thank you to everyone who has voted for my room on Joyus.com. You can vote for my room multiple times and each time you vote, you are entered to win a $1500 shopping spree from Joyus, so it pays to click especially in light that none of us won the mega lotto…..

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Tree Stump Planter: Super Easy Tutorial

As I mentioned on Monday, the patio is moving along at a nice clip.  The only two things that were remaining was installation of lights and making a decorative planter.

Well yesterday I knocked one of those off the list….can you guess which one (for a hint look at the title….)?  So using a tree stump that Scruffy found (yes my dog has an uncanny eye for design if you also include the mirror he found) I was able to create this……

And this is how I did it……

As I mentioned, Scruffy found this great tree trunk on one of our afternoon walks that was marked “FREE – PLEASE TAKE”.

Immediately on seeing the piece, I knew it had potential as a table.  The organic form and interesting knot hole put me in the mind of burled wood.  However, I knew that I had no place for such a piece in my home, but outside it could make the perfect side table.  So I hightailed it home, got my truck and snagged the piece I had seen on the walk. SCORE!  Total Cost: $0

I inspected the piece when I got home and saw that it was pretty much dried out with a majority of the bark coming off easily.  Using a hammer, I simply knocked off the remaining bark and cleaned out the knot hole.  And then it sat for a week as I tried to figure out what to do with it. I tossed around some ideas and finally decided on a planter rather than a table. because I had an area on the patio that was barren.  It was initially going to hold a small sculpture but that plan was scrapped, so the planter was the perfect alternative.  It provided a place to house more plants plus added an organic form to what was becoming a rather grid heavy patio.

So set with a plan, I started to work.  From start to finish, this project took me about 30-45 minutes.  As I mentioned, I had previously cleaned the stump and the knot hole.  However, upon cleaning the knot hole, its bottom came out, so I needed to find a way to hold the soil in.  After a quick scan of the garage, I settled on using the plastic netting that previously packaged my decorative rocks.  The netting is strong, flexible, water can easily flow through it and non-biodegradeable.  So with a few staples, I attached the netting to the tree….

I wanted to elevate the stump from the ground not only for esthetic reasons, but also because I didn’t want the wood sitting on mulch creating a damp playground for who knows what.  So I turned to Ikea and their Besta legs – a pack of 2 plastic legs runs $5.  I had the option to go with the more sleek shiny metal legs, but at double the price and the fact that in my design, the legs weren’t going to be seen I opted to go the cheap route.

I used a Sharpie to draw on the stump where I wanted the legs,  With an 7/32 drill bit, I eyed the center of each leg and drilled a pilot hole for the screw.  I then followed with a 1/4 bit with a flared head which was the perfect size for the screw.  With a little pressure, the legs were screwed in….

Total cost of legs: $10 + tax.

Flipping the  stump over, I added a layer of moss over the netting to stop soil erosion since the netting holes are large.  The moss also helps regulate moisture, so it’s an added bonus.  Tally for netting and moss: $0 (already owned the moss from the terrarium project).

Now with the stump upright, I did a quick sand with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it down with damp rag.  I then rubbed the top of the trunk with tung oil to bring out the wood’s color and help protect it from the elements.  I initially thought about putting a coat of poly on it, but it didn’t look right when I tested it on the underside.  It looked too shiny and manufactured.  The tung oil turned the wood a deep dark brown and brought out a natural glow – perfect for a modern rustic planter in my book.

I applied three coats of the oil in rapid succession – the pic above is after one coat.  Total cost for tung oil – $0 (I use the oil on the patio furniture so I already owned it).

With the stump all oiled up (gosh – I never thought I would utter a phrase that could have such a double meaning…) I got to work on the plants.  I decided to stick with my beloved succulents for 3 reasons — (1) succulents come in a variety of sizes, textures and colors, that could look great against the color and form of the planter, (2) they don’t need alot of water which is perfect when dealing with a planter made of organic material and (3) I haven’t killed any yet so why ruin a good streak.  Oh there is a fourth reason too – since I wanted the planter to have impact year round, succulents were a perfect option since even in the winter, they are alive.  I chose two plants to fill the knot hole – Blushing Beauty and String of Pearls. 

The String of Pearls provides visual interest and a nice trailing factor while the Blushing Beauty provides texture and color since it will turn shades of cream, green and red as the season changes.  Total tally: $15 for the two plants at Home Depot.

And there you have it.  The actual execution was quite simple and easy.  The hard part is waiting for the wood to try out and cleaning it off.  Other than that, it was smooth sailing.  But here is the planter in its home on the patio…..

Now for the grand total for this project: $20 – Yup folks, I spent a grand total of $20 on this project thanks in large part that I already owned many of the items I needed and I found the tree stump for free.  However, if you had to purchase everything (including the stump) the project would run you about $45-$50. 

And then there was one — the final project for the patio is lighting.  I am hoping to finish that by the end of the month.  As usual, I will let you know how it all goes!

PS: You can see the stages of the patio renovation here, here and here.

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Succulent Planters…..

It’s no secret that I regularly kill plants of all shapes, sizes and varieties.  The only success I have had to date has been with succulents and even then I have come close to killing a few.  Thankfully, the succulent container garden I planted earlier this year is growing beautifully and with warmer weather approaching should explode with color as its flowers bloom.  However, the same can’t be said for my orchids who all bit the dust about the same time.  It was like  mass suicide….they all bit it within a span of 24 hours!

So for the moment, I am done with orchids but I still like having greenery in the house.  I knew I didn’t want ferns and replacing cut flowers on a weekly basis is a tad expensive, so I was at a loss as what to do.  Pondering my plight, my eyes fell upon this marble urn that sits on my bedside table….

Originally designed to hold bathroom sundries, I bought it at Home Goods for around $5 as a bit of “bling”.  Seeing the urn made me realize that it would make the perfect planter for a miniature succulent.  Carrying with the theme, I made a quick run to Home Goods and luckily for me, they had three different sized marble containers for which I paid a total of $20, about the price I would pay for a nice pot, or so how I justified this random shopping urge.

Fortunately, I had a credit at Home Depot and was able to purchase three very adorable mini succulents for $1.98 each.  Once home, the project took about 30 minutes to complete thanks to the addition of some extra potting soil.  I think they turned out really well…..

After filling in the sides of the containers with extra potting soil, I was left with the issue of having soil in all the nooks of the succulents which was not exactly the look I was going for.   Remembering a trick from my event planning days, I pulled out a small artist brush and gently brushed the dirt off the leaves — worked like a charm!

Right now, they will reside on my coffee table until I find a more suitable spot, but then, I just may leave them there.  They can’t fare any worse than their orchid brethren……

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the tops that came with the containers.  Suggestions for a nifty DIY project for the tops would be appreciated!  Leave your ideas in the comments section or shoot me an email.

I am off to attach trim to the curtains — it will either look awesome or like crap.  Isn’t it funny that the divide between these two extremes can be so small at times?