Expensive Items You Can Make at Home

Expensive Items to Make at Home - the simple hive

We do what we can to be frugal in our home, much to the chagrin of the teen-aged girl who resides here.  If it were up to her, everything we own would be expensive, shiny and modern.  Our home is nothing like that.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  We live in an old house filled with antique furniture and simple, mostly handmade furnishings. Hubby and I love the fact our home has a unique look and feel.  It’s groovy.

I just said groovy.  I’m a hippie at heart.  It drives the teen girl crazy that I don’t like to shop, except at thrift stores and flea markets.  Shopping malls deflate me.  Even when I can find a restaurant that can accommodate our food allergies, they are too noisy and rushed.  I would much rather make something at home and enjoy it at my leisure with my family and a good movie.

Also, in yoga pants.  Don’t forget the yoga pants.

Many expensive foods are easy to make at home.  Many home décor items are simple to make with a few basics skills.  With a little practice and patience, you can save money and not have to get dressed up, fight traffic or wait in long lines.

Continue reading

DIY Chalk Painted Dresser

diy chalk paint

My world has been rocked. It has occurred to me that I need to change the names of all my kids.

Originally, I started this blog with College Bee, Teen Bee, Tween Bee and Baby Honeybee. Now it all must change. You see, College Bee graduated and landed a great job in a fun city and moved out. I don’t what to call him anymore.

Teen Bee is now a in his final year of homeschool and it taking dual-credit classed at our local community college. Should his name be College Bee now?

Tween Bee is the one that is most rocking my world right now. She just turned thirteen. Since she is my oldest daughter, this is the first time to cohabit with a teen-aged girl. I’m not sure how we can both survive this.

Finally, Baby Honeybee isn’t really a baby anymore. She wasn’t even when I started this blog, but she’s my baby and always will be, so Baby Honeybee remains Baby Honeybee and that’s final.

Now that I’ve muddied the waters in regards to my growing children and the names by which they are known, let’s move along to the real reason for this post.

Chalk paint.

Specifically, a DIY recipe for chalk paint.

With all these kids wrecking my house on a daily basis (homeschooling is hard on a house, folks!), I needed an easy way to revitalize my home without spending much money. In perfect timing, my awesome sister-in-law passed along her childhood furniture to my girls.

Enter this dresser.

1017

 

It really isn’t missing a drawer.  I just forgot to get a BEFORE photo.  I’m a dork.

After seeing on Pinterest all the colorful ways people have revamped this style of dresser, I opted for a more classic approach. After all, we know from the intro of this post, these kids aren’t staying the same age, no matter how hard I try to keep them small.  Sure the aqua dresser would be cool now, but what about in five years when their tastes change, or in five minutes when they change their favorite color. It happens.

So, I went with white. But, with a twist. The top is stained dark brown and slightly distressed. I figured I would get a head start on the wear so when they girls scratched and dinged the furniture it might look intentional and I might not let it bother me as much as if it were perfect.  That was a very long sentence and probably grammatically incorrect, but I don’t care.  What I’m trying to say is, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Onto the extremely easy chalk paint recipe:

1/4 cup Plaster of Paris
1/4 cup water
1 cup latex paint

I used a fine mesh sieve to make sure the plaster of Paris was free from any lumps. This made a big difference in the end result, so I would recommend it.

plaster of paris

Add the water to the plaster of Paris and stir thoroughly to combine.

Add this mixture to 1 cup of latex paint. Stir to combine. The paint will begin to thicken. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more paint.

This recipe is very forgiving and the amounts don’t have to be exact, but this is the recipe I found I liked best.

Before I began painting, I had already stripped and sanded the top and applied 2 coats of Minwax gel stain in Hickory.  I forgot to take a picture of the stained top, so let’s pretend this beautifully sanded dresser top has a dark hickory stain.  Thank you .

sanded dresser top

To work the chalk paint into the details and crevices, I used a 1.5″ sash brush then I rolled over the whole area with a foam roller for a smooth finish. The beauty of chalk paint is that it dries quickly if applied thinly, so after I completed one coat I was able to begin the next within a few minutes. Overall the dresser took 4 coats of paint.

I let the final coat dry overnight before sanding. I used a fine grit sanding block to lightly sand the whole dresser. I first sanded the dark top and hit the high spots to reveal bare wood to bring out the details. Then I flipped over the sanding block to a clean side and sanded the body and drawers.

After sanding, I thoroughly wiped down the entire dresser and drawers with a damp cloth.

For the finish, I used a paste wax. for the top, I mixed a small amount of gel stain into the clear wax. I wanted to lessen the contrast between the stain and the areas I sanded to reveal bare wood. For the white areas, I used the clear wax straight from the can.

Minwax gell stain and finishing pastedark wax

I applied the dark wax with a piece of cotton t-shirt material. After the wax began to look hazy, I used a clean rag to buff to a shine.

Since the body of the dresser has several recessed areas, I applied the wax using an angled, round fitch brush. I found mine at Home Depot for about 8 bucks near the Ralph Lauren paint display with their faux finish paint tools.

wax brush and buffer

After the first coat of wax was applied, I used a mushroom buffer by Ryobi that I attached to a drill. You can buff by hand, but this attachment made quick work of getting into the crevices.

Finally, because I wanted a slightly warmer tone to the dresser, I took the same dark wax I made for the top and wiped it all over the dresser, concentrating on the recessed areas. I worked quickly, not letting the wax dry. I buffed the dark wax into the paint, wiping off as much as possible. I didn’t want the dresser to look dirty or too old, as the teen-aged girl child would have definitely given me grief about that. She’s a little opinionated.

So that’s how this:

1017

Became this:

after

chalk painted dresser with dark top

after

And now I need a nap.

 

 

before and after

Build a Keyhole Garden

build your own drought-tolerant keyhole garden

These are all facts:

  • We live in Central Texas
  • Summers here are brutally hot.
  • We are in the midst of a drought.
  • My garden dies in the heat of the summer.
  • Poodles trimmed to resemble bonsai trees are funny.

The first four facts relate to this post.  The last one makes me laugh.  Poor poodles.  I would say I’m laughing with them, but I’ve never seen a dog laugh.  Maybe they aren’t big on laughing out loud.  Come to think of it, I’ve never received a text from a dog saying “lol” or more likely, “rotfl”.

I’m easily distracted.

This post is about gardening, not dogs. Specifically, this post is about keyhole gardening.

What is a keyhole garden you ask? Well, you came to the right place.  Nevermind all the dog nonsense.

A keyhole garden is a method of gardening adapted to hot, dry climates. They were first made popular in Africa, but are rapidly catching on here in Texas.  It is a six-foot wide raised bed about waist-high.  It has a wedge-shaped cut-out to allow access to a center composting basket that provides moisture and nourishment to the soil.  Because of the composting basket, it requires less water than a traditional garden bed.

Here is a peek at my keyhole garden.

keyhole garden prior to planting

keyhole garden prior to planting

The garden is 6 feet in diameter and is made of cinder blocks, three courses high.  The compost basket in the center is hardware cloth that forms a tube that is 12 inches in diameter and extends through the bed all the way to the ground.  The wedge shape allows easy access to the basket.  I suddenly have the urge to play Pac-Man.

Although this is a raised bed, it requires very little soil to build up the bed to the top course of cinder blocks.  Before any soil goes in,  the garden is lined with cardboard.  Then a variety of organic matter goes into the bed.  Filling it up as much as possible.  From our recycling bin, we used cardboard, paper and old phone books.  From the open compost pit, we added sunflowers stalks, tree branches and all sorts of garden waste.  Anything can be composted can be added to the garden.  Occasionally, as you fill, you want to jump in and compact the material to avoid too much sinking over the growing season.  I had a willing kid to toss over and do the job for me.

When you have exhausted your supply of organic filler, add a mixture of soil and compost to the top about 6-8″ deep.  This is the soil that will be for planting.

Important:  Because of the raw, organic materials added to the bottom of the garden, this will be a hot-composting garden for about the first year, robbing the soil of nitrogen.  Organic fertilizer, high in nitrogen, will need to be added often to replace the loss.  Some of my favorite organic fertilizers include chicken manure, fish emulsion and blood meal.

When the bed is not in use, I allow the chicken to roam freely to till in their free organic fertilizer.

DSC_0199

They especially love the compost basket.  Or they are playing an ongoing game of I Spy.

“I spy with my beady little eye…something ORANGE!”

(It’s an orange.)

DSC_0200

“Hmm…maybe if we put our heads together we can figure this out.”

Chickens are so smart.  And delicious!

DSC_0197

Uh oh.  I think she heard what I said.

This step is optional, but I drove re-bar into the holes of the cinder blocks and into the ground to add support to the structure.  This also allowed me to bend 1-inch PVC pipe and slip it over the re-bar.  With the PVC canopy in place, I can attach bird netting to keep the chickens out.  If birds aren’t your worry, you could also drape shade cloth for sun protection or row cover to extend the growing season.

DSC_0206

 

Because I’m an airhead, I didn’t take any picture of the keyhole garden when it was lush and beautiful, so you will have to use your imagination.

While you are using that beautiful imagination of yours, look around and see what you have readily available to build your own keyhole garden.  It doesn’t have to be made of stone or cinder blocks.  Anything roughly six feet in diameter will work. Old, hole-y water troughs would work well.  Even an old bathtub would do the trick.

Last year, the keyhole was our most prolific garden.  Build one and see for yourself!

simple homemade cleaning concentrate and fabric softener

homemade cleaning concentrate

You do know what time of year it is, don’t you?  It’s time to begin Spring cleaning!  Spring-like weather is just around the corner! Although, depending on which part of the country or world you live in, you might be laughing at me right now.  That’s ok.  I don’t mind.  But, here in central Texas, we have been flirting with temps in the upper 70’s this past week!  I’m torn between pure and utter joy for this warmer weather and the far-away doom of blazing summer heat that damages my garden and my spirit.

But for now, I’ll push away the summer dread and just full-on flip over Spring!  Maybe, I’m not normal, but I actually love Spring cleaning.  I do.  Crazy sauce, I know.  Over the years, I have pared down my cleaning arsenal to what works well.  Today, because the world should be a cleaner, greener place, I’m sharing with you my favorite cleaning concentrate!

Usually I stick with baking soda, vinegar, a liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s and a few essential oils.  Peppermint, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, orange, and grapefruit essential oils can be found in my cabinet at any given time.  I use them sparingly.  Sometimes I just go the vinegar, baking soda, water route in my cleaning routine, but for the cold and flu season, I add germ-busting essential oils to the mix.  For Spring cleaning, they are my secret weapon to a clean, fresh and healthy home.

So, what’s in this cleaning concentrate of which I speak?  I’m glad you asked!

the usual suspects

the usual suspects

Vinegar

isopropyl alcohol

essential oils: tea tree, lavender, grapefruit (or whatever essential oils float your love boat.)

Here’s what you do.  Grab a glass jar (plastic and essential oils don’t get along) and add 4 cups of vinegar.

DSC_0022

Add 1/2 cup of alcohol and 20-30 drop of your favorite essential oils.

DSC_0025

Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine.  That’s it!  Now your ready to use this crazy concoction!

For use as a fabric softener, add 1/4 or less to the rinse cycle.  I add it to my washing machine’s fabric softener dispenser with no ill effects.  Go with your heart on this.

As an all-purpose cleaner, put 1/2 cup of the mixture in a spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with water.  Shake and spray on counter-tops, windows, etc.

I also use this same mixture to mop my wood, ceramic tile and vinyl floors.  In a bucket. combine 2 gallons of water and 1/2 cup of the cleaning concentrate.  The alcohol helps it to dry quickly, so the wood doesn’t stay wet for an extended period.

Because I like pretty things, I made some labels to share.  Just follow this link and print!

DSC_0116

Once printed, I cut out the labels and placed them face down on the sticky side of clear contact paper.

DSC_0118

I trimmed around the label, leaving a border of sticky to apply to my glass jar and  spray bottle.  If you don’t have clear contact paper, use strips of clear packing tape in the same way.  Or, you can just grab a Sharpie marker and scrawl the contents across the jar.  Either way.

all-purpose spray and cleaning concentrate

all-purpose spray and cleaning concentrate

If you have any tips or ideas to streamline cleaning tasks or any do-it-yourself cleaners, I’d love to hear about it!  By simplifying the cleaning routine, there is more time for play!