5 Most Valuable Home Improvement Investments

A garden beautifies your home. Get a few key tools to make the most of time and energy, and ensure you have the right tools for the gardening job.

5 of the Most Valuable Home Improvement Investments

 

Working on the house and getting out in the garden is a great way to get some fresh air with a side of meditation. Plus, you get a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when a task is completed.

To help you make the most of the time and energy you spend on your home and garden projects, ensure you have the right tools for the job.

You don’t need to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of tools on the market, and you certainly don’t need to break the bank buying them all. Instead, get a few key tools and you’ll make your gardening easier and faster.

Here are five tools to start with:

  1. Work Gloves

There are many types, brands and price points when it comes to work gloves — the key is to get a pair. They won’t last forever and you’ll learn what style and size you like.

They protect your hands from thorns and thistles on plants, blisters from wear and tear, and they shield you from dangerous substances such as fertilizers and other chemicals.

If you injure your hands, you won’t be able to accomplish the tasks you set out to. So make sure to cover up your most useful tools — your hands! Then, you’ll be able to work harder and longer.

  1. Power Drill

No gardener and DIY-er should be without a power drill. These easy-to-use tools help make quick work of building a garden box, fixing a broken fence or hanging a trellis.

It’ll save your arms, wrists and hands from the laborious work of twisting in screws by hand, and can prevent wood from splitting when nails get hammered into place.

There are many options when buying a drill. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a pink drill — just find a good, reliable, user-friendly one and you’ll be set.

  1. Hand Rake

This small hand tool is great for garden preparation and maintenance. It’s one of many kinds of rakes, but is probably the smallest one you’ll find.

It usually comes with three prongs on it, which you use to break up soil when you prep it for planting or for the winter. It also comes in handy with weeding, as it allows you to loosen and pull unwanted vegetation from around your flowers and veggies.

  1. Air Compressor

This appliance is versatile in its uses around the home and yard. When hooked up to the right attachment, an air compressor can become a pesticide sprayer, nail gun, a power washer, a paint sprayer and a tire pump.

As there are various models and sizes of air compressors, so make sure you rent one first to figure out which one fits your needs and space. While smaller models can be easier to move, larger models can accommodate more tools and have varying levels of power. So, make sure to do your research on its uses before making a final investment.

  1. Shovel

Get a shovel to help with jobs involving lifting and moving different materials, including gravel and dirt.

A shovel is handy when you’re building new landscaping or changing up what you’ve already got in your yard. It’s also helpful when you’re prepping a garden space for planting or getting it ready for winter dormancy.

Before you buy, check out your options and make sure you pick it up and try it out — seriously! You want to make sure the various parts of the shovel are a good fit for you. Ensure the grip is comfortable in your hand and the handle is the right length.

Getting a project done is a heck of a lot easier when you have the right tools for the job. Invest in these five key versatile tools and they’ll help to get you started. Although they aren’t the only tools you can use in your next project, they’ll assist you in making quicker work of your to-do list.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Homestead – Get Tips To Start Homesteading

Are you looking to start a homestead? Does a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle seem appealing to you? Then check out these tips on how to get started from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

Tips on Starting a Homestead

Do you pass by quaint roadside stalls brimming with delectable fresh produce and wish you could live a peaceful, self-sufficient farm life? Do you already have a small vegetable or flower garden in your backyard because the idea of homegrown sustainability is one of your family’s goals? If so, you may be ready to start your own homestead!

Homesteading is a lifestyle that includes small-scale farming, animal husbandry, food preservation and textile or craft making. Don’t worry, you don’t have to dive right into all of those elements at once. It really is a lifestyle change that takes time and practice, but will ultimately result in the pride and satisfaction that you’re moving toward a life of self-reliance.

Here are some tips on how to transition into starting your own small homestead.

Get to Know Your Surroundings

Is your property able to support a homestead? You don’t need hundreds of acres, but you will need to do research to make sure you have enough sunlit space for your garden and a big enough pasture for any animals you wish to raise. It’s also extremely important to check with your local zoning board to ensure that everything will be up to code.

Get in touch with nature and learn what plants and natural structures surround your property. Are the local shrubs poisonous, or are they a natural medicine you can use at home? Is there a clean stream perfect for keeping cows watered as well as backup in case your well dries? What wild animals are native to your area, and are they a threat to your produce? These are just a few things to consider, and you will have to build your homesteading activities based on the land you have available.

Chickens and Goats and Cows, Oh My!

One of the biggest reasons people turn to homestead living is the growing concern over ethical animal treatment. By raising your own animals, you are in control over their happiness and the many uses they provide for you and your family.

Chickens are often the first animal homesteaders start with as they’re easy to maintain and don’t require large pastures. Not only do many people tout the taste of free-range eggs over commercial eggs, but studies show that free-range eggs are healthier for you overall. Watching chicks hatch, or looking for fresh eggs, are fun activities everyone in the family can participate in watching and doing. For chickens that no longer lay, you then have a cruelty-free source of poultry and feathers to be used whenever.

When it comes to meat and milk, cattle and goats are great for both. Just make sure you’re completely read up on the proper care and handling of any livestock you choose to own before you buy any. Once you have their pasture and housing situated, you can start going to auctions. Even if you don’t buy the first time, this is a great way to get a feel for what other experienced farmers do and the types of cattle you could buy. Don’t be afraid to speak to the sales manager at the auction, as they will help acquaint you with how things are run.

After your animals are settled in their new home, make sure you continue to look after their care. Get in touch with your local veterinarian before and after making any purchases. They can tell you what vaccinations are necessary and which warning signs you should watch for.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Growing a vegetable garden is not so different from a flower garden. With careful planning, you can have both to utilize throughout the growing season. Tomatoes, squashes, peppers and beans are all easy starter vegetables. You don’t have to sacrifice the beauty of a regular floral garden — consider switching to colorful herbs such as lavender or chamomile or even rose varieties that produce large hips, which are great for brewing in tea. Let your children participate in the digging and planting when you first get started. It’ll make hunting for hidden vegetable bounty under the leaves all that much more rewarding.

You want to make sure you benefit from your garden year round, so dry or can your produce properly when you’re not eating it fresh. This will help you cut back on wasted veggies that aren’t eaten in time when your crop really booms. You’ll also stock your shelves for the winter.

Attitude Is Everything

Finally — and most importantly — remember that it takes patience and an open mind to change into this new lifestyle. You may make mistakes, and you may fall on hard times. However, the benefits truly outweigh the costs when you earn your self-sufficiency.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find homestead life to be extremely rewarding and you’ll thank yourself for all the hard work you put into it.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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3 Creative Ways To Boost Curb Appeal

If you’re selling your house, you know the value of curb appeal. Learn 3 Creative Ways To Boost Curb Appeal.

3 Creative Ways To Boost

Curb Appeal

The average weekend warrior can find lots of creative ways to give their house more curb appeal without spending a lot of money. Some great ways to achieve curb appeal include landscaping and making your front door stand out. Your mailbox can also help to give your house lots of attention for all the right reasons.

 

Make your entrance speak

Give your door a voice that shouts “look at me.” Natural wood doors are generally attractive. If you want to step up your door appeal, give the door a bright color that complements the rest of the house. The door knobs also play a role in how attractive the door looks from outside. Replace your ordinary door knobs with attractive ones in a metallic color. If you have nice locks, you can spray paint them to liven things up and make them look like new again.

via Flickr (Etch67)

Create a nice symmetry by placing plants at either side of your door. Make sure the plants are similar in look and size. Wreaths and other hanging decorations on the door can also add to the flair. Make your front door show some of your personal touches by adding a feature that shows your taste. This may be outdoor lighting fixtures on the walls by the door.

Liven up your front yard

You do not always need a lot of space to put plants in your front yard. Colorful flowers can instantly make your yard more attractive. If you do not have space for a garden, make use of containers to plant and display greenery. Whether you are good with plants or not, you can find plants that you can take care of without too much fuss. When it comes to landscaping, you do not have to do it alone. There is help at your gardening store to help you find the right type of plants and advice on how to care for them.

Replace your hardware

Jazzing up the front yard can easily be done in a day if you change your door number, the number on your mailbox, and your outdoor light fixtures. If you have a gate, painting it can give it new life. Make sure to keep the design of your house in mind when making changes to these elements. For the best aesthetic appeal use silver and brushed nickel for more modern designs. Bronze generally goes well with older, more traditional style houses.

Personalizing your mailbox can turn this simple item into a conversation piece. You can change the house number on your mailbox to bold or metallic colors. Place your house number on a pumpkin positioned on or by your mailbox for Halloween. You can even buy mailbox covers and wraps to make your mailbox stand out from the rest. Some wraps are festive and are great for holidays such as Christmas.  You can even make your own decorative mailbox design in just one weekend by following these tips.

via Flickr (Olga Caprotti)

 

You don’t need to be selling your house to implement small changes for curb appeal. Making your home attractive not only increases its value, but also make you feel good.

 

 

 

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Humane Ways To Keep Animals Out Of Your Yard

Believe it or not, even living in a highly populated area in Southern California, keeping wildlife out of our yard can be difficult. Luke and the squirrels have an on going battle to see who can get the ripened fruits and vegetables from the garden first. When the squirrels win, they like to sit on the fence and eat their ill-gotten gains where Luke can see them. LOL Well, regular contributor, Megan Wild, has some ideas that may help Luke’s dilemma. Check out her great tips on humane ways to keep unwanted animals out of your yard.

Humane Ways to Keep Animals Out of Your Yard

One of the best parts about summer is being able to go out and tend to your yard and garden. However, many stray animals also enjoy using your yard during these warm months, especially if you have lots of tasty plants for them to snack on. It’s pretty aggravating trying to get rid of these animals to keep your yard in good condition, but if you’re an animal lover like me, you also don’t want to harm these animals.

You have plenty of humane and effective choices for getting rid of backyard pests. By using one of these options (or a few), you should be able to decrease the number of stray animals that decide to visit your yard this summer.

  1. Remove Food Sources and Shelter

Many stray animals wander into your yard because it provides shelter from rain and has a steady food source. Normal places that animals seek for shelter are inside window wells and under porches. Feral cats are especially known for making their homes in these areas. Blocking off these entrances with chicken wire is an affordable option. Just be sure there aren’t any animals hiding before you patch up the holes.

It’s also possible that animals are digging through your garbage cans because they know they can get food from them. Make sure you have lids that can be locked down or tightened to keep animals out of them. By removing the food source, the animals should be less motivated to keep coming.

  1. Use Human Hair

Some animals, such as deer, prefer going through your garden to get food. Perhaps you have a vegetable garden or a flower patch. Either way, you don’t want to stop growing these plants simply because the deer have the same taste in vegetation as you.

A deer’s natural reaction when they see or smell a human is to run away. You can use this to your advantage by placing human hair around your garden. Another option is putting some hair in a sock and hanging that in your garden. You’ll need to add new hair every couple of days, but you should be able to drop by a barber shop and ask for some of the hair clippings.

  1. Use an Animal Repellent

Many gardening stores offer animal repellents that you can use in your garden. Animal urine, specifically fox or wolf urine, is a natural enemy to garden pests. If you have a large dog, let him or her mark the area around your garden as that can also help keep animals away.

You can also make your own hot-pepper repellent and spray that on your plants. The animals don’t like the irritation the peppers cause and will be less inclined to munch on your yard. Remember that you’ll need to reapply these repellents every few days or after a rainstorm.

  1. Use Loud Noises or Lights

You can use motion-sensing lights to help scare away stray animals, especially those who scavenge in your yard at night. Some electronic repellents use motion sensors to spray water at pests that try to eat your plants. The best part with motion sensors is that they go off after a certain time period and will only go back on if movement triggers them. Another option is to simply set a radio play at random intervals to scare off any potential pests.

However, if you also have shy or elderly pets or animals at your home, this might not be the best option for you. Shy pets may become increasingly skittish around these new sources of light and sound. If you have an elderly pet, they may start to eventually exhibit cognitive problems similar to what those with Alzheimer’s experience. These new lights and sounds could potentially be confusing and lead to disorientation.

  1. Add Fencing

While fencing is the most expensive option, it’s also one of the most effective. It keeps the animals out and your yard in an enclosed area. You’ll want to have a fence that is at least eight feet high to prevent animals from climbing or jumping over it. You don’t want to have a lot of space between each slat, since smaller animals can squirm through the spaces.

If fencing off your whole yard is too expensive you can also confine small areas, such as your vegetable garden, with fencing.

Keep the Animals Out, and Your Yard in One Piece.

Stray animals love scavenging through residential backyards because they have many choices for food and shelter. Eliminating these options and using humane repellents will help protect your yard from these animals for the rest of the warm season.

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

Please leave any other humane ideas you have for keeping animals out of your yard in the comments.

 

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Aquaponic Gardening – Create A Self-Sustaining Garden

Have you ever wondered about aquaponic gardening? If not, perhaps you should; it is fascinating. Explore the possibilities and learn more about aquaponics from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

What Is Aquaponic Gardening

and How to Get Started

 

Living sustainably is a trend that has continued to gain popularity over time. Aquaponics is a method of gardening that combines fish farming and growing plants to create a system that is (hopefully) self-sustaining. Sounds pretty interesting, right? Check out the information below to learn more about this method and get started on your own aquaponic garden.

 

How Does It Work?

 

With an aquaponic system, waste from the fish become fertilizer for the plants, and the plants absorb it to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish. Fish waste creates ammonia and nitrate which can be harmful for the fish if it builds up. In an aquaponics system, however, the plants absorb the ammonia and nitrate and cycle the water to keep the fish safe. Once your system is established and self-sustaining, you’ll only need to add small amounts of water to replace what evaporates.

 

What Type of Fish Do I Need?

 

Tilapia is one of the most commonly used fish because they mature quickly, like warm water and do not require high levels of oxygen. In some places, however, tilapia is difficult to get or illegal to grow, so people will use catfish instead. If you don’t plan to eat the fish, goldfish can be another great option. Blue gill and koi have also successfully been used for aquaponics.

 

What Kind of Plants Can I Grow?

 

 

Aquaponic gardens can grow all kinds of things, but aquaponic systems function at a pH level that’s pretty neutral. Plants that require a very acidic pH won’t make it here, so if you had dreams of blueberries or azaleas, aquaponics isn’t for you. Here’s a partial list of some plants that will do well in your aquaponic garden:

 

  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Lemongrass
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant

 

Getting Started

 

Aquaponic systems are pretty customizable, but every system needs to have these components:

 

  • A tank for fish. You can reuse containers you already have around the home, but always clean it thoroughly and don’t use anything that had harmful chemicals in it. You don’t want to put your fish or your food at risk.
  • A grow bed. This is where all your plants will be. Your bed should contain a growing medium like lava rock, gravel or hydroton.
  • Pumps and pipes. These will move water to and from your grow bed. Setting up the system for the pumps and pipes can be the trickiest part of creating your own aquaponics system.
  • An aerator. Having an aerator helps to provide oxygen for your fish.
  • Live red worms. Many people use live red worms in their growing medium. The worms help remove any solid fish waste, and worm castings are great for your plants. You can shine a flashlight on your worms to get them to dig themselves into your grow bed.

 

Once you have your supplies, you should establish your fish and your grow bed. The medium you choose will help clean the water even if there’s no plants in it.

 

Why Aquaponics?

 

There’s several reasons why more people are choosing to do less traditional forms of gardening, such as aquaponics. So, why should you start an aquaponic farm?

 

  • Aquaponic systems use far less water than traditional gardens. The water you use gets cleansed and recycled by the plants so you only add a small amount of water over time to replace what evaporates.
  • This method is perfect for people who have soil that isn’t good for growing. Rather than spending time and money trying to amend your soil, you can skip it altogether.
  • Aquaponic systems are organic.
  • Aquaponics reduce back strain from bending since most systems are built at waist level.
  • Only a small amount of energy is required to run the pump and aeration for the fish. This means you could potentially supply this through a sustainable source, such as solar panels, which would reduce your overall energy bill.

 

Building an aquaponic system is a giant step toward living more sustainably. You get the satisfaction of fresh vegetables and fresh fish that come from your own home — what could be better than that?

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

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Carpet Cleaner – BISSELL vs. Rug Doctor

 

Hat’s were thrown in the ring! It was announced that the BISSELL Big Green Rental machine would take on the Rug Doctor Rental in a bout to see who will win the heavyweight carpet cleaner rental championship. The ring is a room of wall-to-wall carpet that will provide an immense challenge to both fighters. Which competitor will have the design, the strength, the power, and the stamina to walk away as the champ?

 

Carpet Cleaner Main Event

BISSELL Big Green vs. Rug Doctor

 

Are you entertaining this summer and want to spruce up the house? Trying to make that budget stretch and not replace your carpet? Need to get that cleaning deposit back on your apartment or rental home, but don’t want to pay the high cost of a professional? Rent a carpet cleaner and do-it-yourself. It really is not hard to do, and the results will make you smile. Now, you have to choose your rental machine — let me help.

Let’s size up the carpet cleaning boxers:

Rug Doctor

  • Is over 40-years-old.
  • It’s heavy, stocky design is hard to move having only the two wheels at the back making the machine unbalanced and more difficult to bob-and-weave.
  • Handle height is shorter than its competitor, and has a few locked-in adjustable positions.
  • Cleaner trigger distance is far from handle.
  • Needs help filling up for the fight (bucket and measuring cup required).
  • Clean water tank in the base of the machine.
  • One removable tank for dirty water.

 

BISSELL Big Green

  • Is in its 30’s, but hales from an impressive carpet cleaning lineage of 140 years.
  • Has a sleek, lower-slung design with front and rear wheels giving the machine better balance and quick and easy footwork.
  • Taller handle height and fully pivoting handle positions – no adjustments needed.
  • Rotating DirtLifter® PowerBrushes that clean in both the forward and backward pass.
  • Cleaner trigger is located on the handle.
  • Removable clean water tank with attached measuring cup / lid make filling easy and requires no extras (such as bucket or measuring cup).
  • Two removable tanks — one for clean water, one for dirty water.

 

It’s almost time for the main event, so let’s check out the ring.

We’ve found the toughest high traffic, heavy wear-and-tear, carpet that’s had years of hard use for this fierce battle. Even with regular vacuuming, this carpet has deep ground-in dirt and many hard to get out stains (including grease).

 

All right guys, let’s have a good clean fight…

 

Time to go Toe-to-Toe

First up — BISSELL Big Green:

The removable tanks and attached measuring cup / lid make the Bissell Big Green easy to set up for use. Snap on the dirty water tank and the vacuum cap, and you are ready to roll.

 

See how easily it handles that gross heavy traffic area? The Bissell Big Green cleans the carpet as it moves in both directions (backwards and forwards) to clean carpets faster and use less energy. The vacuum does a great job of pulling the water back out of the carpet leaving it a little damp, but not wet.

 

The long pivoting handle is an amazing feature. Not only is it taller making leverage and use easier, but the pivoting handle extends the reach of the machine, so you don’t have to take as many steps over your freshly cleaned carpeting.

The Bissell Big Green and the Bissell Multi-Purpose Professional Strength Formula with Oxy Stain Fighting Power easily handled the stains without pre-treating.

 

Rug Doctor takes a Jab:

Grab your bucket and measuring cup — you will need them to ready the Rug Doctor for use. Your clean water pours directly into the base of the machine.  Snap on the dirty water tank and the vacuum cap, and you are ready to get cleaning.

 

Rug Doctor cleans only in ONE direction, when being pulled backward. You have to expend a lot more physical labor to tip the heavy machine and push it forward, just so you can drag it backwards to clean again. Even with extra vacuuming, the carpet was left very wet. The Rug Doctor and the Rug Doctor Oxy-Steam Carpet Cleaner with Oxygen Cleaning Boosters did not handle the traffic areas or stains.

 

Let’s Clean the Machines:

BISSELL Big Green

Rug Doctor

WOW! Each machine cleaned its own area of the room, each with equal heavy traffic and stains. There is no doubt which machine pulls out more dirt and grime from your carpet — the Bissell Big Green. And of course, that is exactly what you are looking for when doing carpet cleaning.

The Bissell Big Green is also easier to clean. Notice the rectangular boxy shape of the dirty water tank and the very large opening. These features make it easy to get your hand inside and gives no difficult angles or spaces for cleaning.

The Rug Doctor on the other hand, has a small opening and an irregular shaped dirty water tank — not easy for cleaning.

 

Readying the Carpet Cleaner Rental for Return:

Before you pack the carpet cleaning machine in your car or truck, you need to be sure all the excess fluids are drained. You certainly don’t want spillage in your vehicle. So, here’s how that works for these two machines.

BISSELL Big Green

The removable clean water tank makes it super easy to drain. You can even use a funnel and store the remaining cleaning solution for later use.

 

Rug Doctor:

The Rug Doctor does not make it easy. You have to lift the entire heavy machine to empty the clean water tank. Remember, it is part of the base of the machine. Not fun.

 

Recap the Boxing Match:

Here is the up-close and ugly truth! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is so true.

 

We finished the room with the BISSELL Big Green, and just look at how nice that carpet looks now.  We have a very clear winner…

 

Introducing the Heavyweight Carpet Cleaning Champion:

 

The Bissell Big Green wins the bout in every category. It’s superior design makes this machine easy to use from start to finish. It’s excellent cleaning power not only cleans your carpet better, but does not leave it soaking wet. The BISSELL cleaning formula has a fresh scent and leaves no residue behind. Congratulations, Champ!

 

 

 

Now, you’ve seen how awesome the Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner Rental is. Want to get a FREE RENTAL? It’s easy, just ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! All you have to do is leave me a comment, and tell me:

Why would you choose the BISSELL Big Green Rental?

The GIVEAWAY will close Sunday, June 12, 2016. All who leave a comment answering the above question will be automatically entered.

 

Even if you don’t win the giveaway, you can still get a screaming deal on your next BISSELL Big Green Rental and Machine Formula with this $10 OFF COUPON!

CLICK here for COUPON

I can’t wait to hear how much you love your experience with the
BISSELL Big Green Carpet Cleaner Rental.
Get #BISSELclean

 

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How To Create A Kids’ Playhouse

Summer and kids go hand-in-hand, and your kids are going to love these ideas from regular contributor, Megan Wild. Build a Playhouse in your Backyard!

 

How to Create a Kids’ Playhouse

Building Memories Your Family Will Cherish

 

As the weather warms, dreams of kids playing outside until dusk, chasing lightning bugs and feeling the grass between your toes begin to dance in your head.

There is perhaps no outdoor activity more quintessentially youthful than playing in a backyard playhouse. Thanks to kids’ imagination and ingenuity, the outdoor abode doesn’t have to resemble the Swiss Family Robinson’s intricate, multi-room treehouse. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be in a tree.

At the moment, however, you are staring at a bare backyard. So how can you win parent of the year and take your backyard from boring to the neighborhood kids’ favorite hangout? Creating your child’s dream playhouse is within reach, even if you don’t have the acumen for complicated DIY projects. Here are four easy steps to creating the perfect playhouse for your children.

 

Check Local Ordinances

Start by checking with your local municipality to ensure you are following any existing regulations. Some communities have rules about how large these structures can be, how close to the property line they should sit, and whether they need to be built on the ground. Some municipalities may ban treehouses altogether, and only allow playhouses in the yard.

This is also the time to check with your homeowners insurance. Some insurance carriers do have regulations about structures like playhouses, and you’ll want to be sure you’re covered before moving forward.

 

 

Select a Design

Now that the paperwork is out of the way, you can get started with the fun stuff, like picking a design. Be honest with yourself about your do-it-yourself abilities. Sure, an insulated playhouse with lighting and Wi-Fi might be your child’s dream, but is it within your budget and ability? Thankfully, there are a variety of designs and options available online that can be matched with your time commitment and level of ability.

This playhouse design, created by a loving grandfather, has something for everyone, including a mini climbing wall, slide and plenty of roofed-in play space. It’s grandkid approved, no surprise there!

A rustic fort design is perfect for families who want something other than a traditional-looking playhouse.

Some of you might balk at the idea of building your own playhouse from scratch, or you might be anxious about the amount of time and skill it takes to get this project right. If so, look for inspiration from parents who took the ubiquitous Little Tykes plastic playhouse and gave it a remodel you have to see to believe. This is also a great option for families on a tight budget, since these playhouses can often be found at yard sales or resale websites.

 

 

Tools, Supplies and Building

Now that you’ve got a design selected, it’s time to get your hands dirty! Building a playhouse is a great opportunity to teach basic handyman skills to older kids, like hammering a nail and sanding wood. You may want to do the more dangerous sawing and cutting at a time when the kids aren’t underfoot.

For a project this size, logistics are important. For example, once you purchase the lumber at your local hardware store, there’s the matter of transportation. All the lumber and additional supplies are heavy, and since this is a temporary project, you may want to consider renting equipment to help you move it. Or stock up on aspirin or ibuprofen and invite several friends to help with loading and unloading.

As for the building, follow the old adage to measure twice, cut once and follow basic safety guidelines while the backyard is a mini-construction site. This should be a fun project, not a stressful one. Finally, remember to finish the wood in a way that will protect it from the elements and is also safe for kids.

 

 

Finishing Touches

You’ll be looking out your back window at this house every day, so finish strong with a few final touches. If you want to be able to see your kids, leave the doors and windows off, but older kids might get a kick out of being able to have a more private place to call their own.

A coat of paint on the door, a flower planter or pot, or some LED lights strung across the roof could turn the playhouse into a mini-home. Pinterest is a good place to look for ideas to give your basic tree house some curb appeal.

 

Pee-Wee Herman shouldn’t be the only person who gets to have an awesome playhouse.  Creating a playhouse for your children or grandchildren is a large project, but the rewards are even bigger. Sure, there are the moments of peace and quiet you’ll gain while the kids are out playing. More importantly, you’ll give your family countless memories of a happy childhood spent in the perfect backyard playhouse.
~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

Have you you built a playhouse?

What creative ideas for a playhouse do you have?

 

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You Can’t Organize Clutter!

Say hello to, Calvalyn, the third of our Regular Contributors! Calvalyn shares a little about herself, and some great thoughts on organization and clutter with her introduction and confession. See her brief bio at the end of the post.

 

You Can’t Organize Clutter!

An Intro and a Confession

 

As I get older, I realize how often things really do happen for a reason.

When I signed up to be a regular contributor for Life with Lorelai, I didn’t exactly know what I was signing myself up for. I knew that I wanted to do more blogging, sharing the musings of a mommy/counselor on my site, The Indy Parent Coach, but also I wanted to exchange information with a broader base of people. Low and behold, just as I was finishing my last project, I get the notice in my email about being selected for this fun new challenge.

So, as my intro, I thought I would share a little about me, and where I am in life. I am a wife, mother of four (All GIRLS!), Mimi to one precious grandSON, and a counselor turned parent coach who is as passionate about helping teachers and parents connect with their kids, as I am about connecting with my own. This is a picture of all of them at Malachi’s first birthday party this summer.

 

 

I am a lover of all things frugal–from coupons to yard sales–and always have been. Literally, I preferred Goodwill WAY before it was chic. I binge watch home improvement shows, and I’ve got my kids hooked on Shark Tank. I am an entrepreneur with a heart of service and enjoy carbs way more than I should.

But, there’s this other side of me that comes out more and more lately, which up until recently, I would have denied even existed. I am a creative. The process of writing and crafting has become so pleasurable that you would have thought I was always this way. But alas, there is something about the 30’s that allow you to truly explore and come alive, if you allow them to. And I am.

But with all this creativity, I have discovered something else. I’m going to blame this on my mother, as the youngest of her five children, I’m sure she can handle it. I have discovered, I have a nasty little habit of attracting and maintaining clutter. I have baskets, yes, baskets of mail, most of it junk, some that is a duplicate version of the electronic version I have already addressed, and others things that I should get to with some expediency. I’m sure some of this is due to my hectic schedule, and I can admit that some of this is due to my creative genius side, since I can get quite carried away in the middle of a project. I’m sure I can blame at least a little on my kids and husband, but the cold hard truth is most of it can be attributed to me. And, I’ve decided in an effort to make more time for the things that I love, I have got to get this clutter under control.

 

 

Now, you remember me saying that things happen for a reason? So, about this time I was offered a sample of a great book that struck me as soon as I scrolled through the first few pages. It’s called, Freed From Clutter (affiliate link). Author, Becky Mansfield had me at hello, literally. I am longing to be freed from the endless stacks of mail, lidless storage containers, and never ending streams of kid papers that seem to drain me of my energy. As an entrepreneur, I spend a good deal of time locating resources that end up as newspaper clippings and unfinished tasks. I needed some accountability to make me get my butt in gear.

One thing you will learn about me, as I blog here with Lorelai, is that I am as honest as I can be; because, I find that hiding is an enormous waste of energy. So, in full disclosure, here is a few photos of my most notorious clutter spots. Thanks in advance for not judging me.

 

 

You’ll see a hodge-podge of various items (gloves my sister picked up for me on the clearance rack a few weeks ago, a purse I was going to change into and never did, and the markers from my last workshop presentation) have all made their way into a basket next to my bed.

 

 

This lid container, yea this is a complete travesty, not only are half of the containers no longer in existence, I hate most of these and they don’t serve a good purpose. I know I should get rid of this stuff but I can usually convince myself of more important things to do.

Then, I picked up Becky’s book, here is the bold faced line that jumped out at me.
“You can’t organize clutter!”

 

 

I think I had what Oprah would call an aha moment! I am routinely moving and stacking, shifting and sorting. I sometimes feel that my house is reasonable for guests, but I rarely feel that it is what I want it to be. And here’s why this is so important. I don’t have time to waste. I don’t have energy to waste. And, the mental space taken up by the feeling of overwhelm that the clutter brings up in my life would be so much better spent elsewhere. So, here’s what I have decided to do.

Over the next few weeks, I will be working my way through my clutter and documenting it along the way. I’ll share the “after” of these sad spaces and a few more I was too embarrassed to share. I’d love to hear about your roughest spaces, it will make me feel better, AND maybe we can help each other! Keep in touch with me every couple weeks, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or my other guilty pleasure Pinterest. So glad to meet you, and the best is yet to come.

Until next time, here’s to clean spaces and a clear head!
-Calvalyn

 

Visit Calvalyn at her blog, Indy Parent Coach!

Where are your secret clutter stashes?

 

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~Lorelai

 

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Kitchen Cabinets – DIY Upscale

Kitchen Cabinets – DIY Upscale

A Great Tip for Kitchen Improvement!

 

Do your kitchen cabinets need help? Don’t have the money to redo them? Here is a fabulous tip to improve your cabinets — make them more functional and more spacious!

You know that old cabinet design with the 90 degree angles and the closed wall shelving. Well, that’s what we have in both corners of our kitchen. It is such a waste of space. One side of the cabinet is long, going all the way back behind the wall of its partner cabinet. When you place something back there…you’d best forget about, because it is near impossible to get it out again. You cannot even see what you have stored back in the darkness–certainly NOT a place for anything you use often, or plan on using ever.

As I tried to combine two kitchens worth of stuff into one, these cabinets became a real issue. Thank goodness for Luke, his trusty tools, his ingenious mind, and his willingness to make me happy.

Luke and his Oscillating Dremel went to work cutting out the cabinet walls. If you choose to remove the walls, be sure a border of the wall remains for structural support. With this in mind, Luke cut out the walls on the top and bottom shelves.

 

The photo on the left is the top shelf. As you can see, Luke was able to cut the wall flush with the two shelves. I can see what I have on the shelf all the way to the back corner! I can also slide and maneuver things around with ease.

On the right, is the bottom shelf. More of a window cut was made in this wall to not weaken the cabinet. I can still see to the back corner, and I can reach things easily. Having this opening, even though it is smaller, allows me to store larger things (like my bowls) in the cabinet that would not fit there before. The opening gives the bowls space to hang over into the other cabinet.

I was able to get about 2 1/2 times the stuff stored on these shelves. The items are stored neatly and efficiently. I can see what I have, and I can reach everything for easy use. I am thrilled!

Thank you, Luke!!!

How do you like this Kitchen Cabinet Tip?

Do you have any suggestions to share?

 

 

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12 Tips On Choosing The Right Paint Colors

12 Tips On Choosing The Right Paint Colors

What should you take into consideration?

You may have read previously that we are turning a room in Luke’s house into a Guest Room / Rory Room. You can read about some of our Bedding Ideas, here. A major part of re-doing any room is painting, but what color do you choose? Choosing the right Paint Colors is always one of the most difficult decisions to make.

Painting a house or just a room is a large investment — in time, hard work, and money. Add to this the absolute plethora of color choices, and a decision is not easy. So, how do you choose just the right paint colors for your wants, wishes, and needs?  Luckily, I have a dozen tips to aid you in making this decision, and lead you to a color that you will love.

 

Sample Chips, get your Tips here…

  1. What mood do you want to create and inspire?
    Different rooms in your home are used for different types of living. Think about how you live in the room you are planning to paint, and what feeling you want the room to express. Our guest room for example, we want to bright and cheery, yet cozy and relaxing.
  1. Look for color scheme inspiration.
    Find color inspiration from your other home decor, fabrics, magazines, Pinterest Pins, Color Scheme swatches, or Open Houses. The Design Seeds website is an awesome resource for color inspiration.
  1. Gather paint brochures.
    Not only will paint brochures give you ideas for color schemes, but you can see the actual paint colors that are available from the brands of paint you are interested in using.
  1. Consider the furniture style and color.
    Think about your furniture style. If you have shabby chic furniture, you are probably not going to want something ultra modern and cold.

 

  1. Think about transition and flow.
    This is important. You want your home to feel cohesive and inviting, and not just a bunch of chopped up rooms stuck together. Pay attention to what you see of the room you are painting from the other rooms and hallways on your house, as well as what of the rest of the house you see from the room you are painting.
  1. Choose a basic 5-color palette for the house.
    Color adds warmth, and depth, and provides a pop. It touches the soul and makes you feel. So, in conjunction with the previous item, transition and flow, decide on a color scheme for the entire house. Now, this does not mean precise colors, but rather just a basic scheme. Pick three to five colors — 1. A White; 2. A Neutral; 3. An Accent Color; 4. A Coordinating Color; and 5. Another Coordinating Color.
  1. Get sample paint cards or strips, and place them on the wall you will be painting.
    You are re-paingintg anyway, so go ahead and tape those sample cards right to the wall. Tape from the back so you leave the color fully showing. Leave them up for days, a week, or more.
  1. Make note of lighting (both natural and electric), and understand undertones.
    Light plays on colors in different ways, and differing light can bring out or mute the undertones in the paint colors. What are the undertones in the colors you like versus the colors you are not liking? Yellow, Red, Blue, Green? The easiest way to determine undertone is by holding the paint chip next to a white piece of paper. It is easier to find a color you like once you know what color group you favor.

 

  1. Narrow your choices to 2 – 5 colors, and buy sample jars of paint.
    You can purchase small sample jars of paint. They are not that expensive, and it is by far the best way to help you truly decide on a color. Sample cans cost a lot less than a gallon or two of the wrong color.
  1. Paint samples onto Poster Board to make large color swatches and hang on the wall.
    This is one of my favorite tips. Hang poster boards on the wall and paint them with your selected paint colors. You have just made a large paint swatch. This gives you a much better idea of what the true paint color is, and how it will look on your wall.
  1. Check paint swatches at varying times of day and lighting.
    Look at your painted swatches at all times of the day and night, and with various lighting, so you know how your color will look under every circumstance.
  1. DO NOT RUSH into a decision.
    This is probably the most important of all the tips. Paint is something you live with day in and day out for years on end. In the long run, waiting a few weeks or a month to choose the right paint colors is really no time at all.

 

I hope you find these tips helpful in choosing the right paint colors for your project. If you have any other tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Do you have any painting projects planned?

Where do you like to find your inspiration?

 

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