head diy Design Fanatic: August 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baskets Made From Cardboard Boxes

diy, diy Design Fanatic, make a basket from a cardboard box

Our youngest daughter seems to be outgrowing the size of her room and is desperately in need of additional storage. The little table under her bulletin board and stenciled jewelry organizer has a couple of shelves that she can use to store things on, but she needed a big basket on the bottom and a smaller basket on the top shelf.

As you may recall I looked for baskets that would fit on the shelves for awhile, but to no avail. I finally found a wine box that was just the right size, glued on some 4 ply jute string and lined it with a drop cloth. I used a 
boot box (shoebox) that my daughter had to make the smaller box.
You can see how I made it HERE.

 Shown here is the space that needed more covered storage.

The before:

The after:
diy, diy Design Fanatic, make a basket from a cardboard box

diy, diy Design Fanatic, make a basket from a cardboard box
So, if you can't find a  basket that's just the right size, you might consider making a faux basket from a wine, shoebox or some other cardboard box.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Things I've Learned About Gardening

  I've always loved digging in the dirt for as long as I can remember. When I lived in Southern California I used to go out in the evening  and dig in the dirt.
I can remember the warm brown dirt in my hands and thinking how I love the feel of it!
I don't quite have a love affair with the dirt I currently have. The thick red clay dirt  we have has a lot of rocks and is hard to garden in.

The first thing I've learned about gardening is that having good dirt is so important, otherwise, nothing is going to grow. One of the first things you MUST do when you start a garden is to assess your soil and amend it as needed. What you need to amend the soil with will depend on what type of soil you have.

The second thing I've learned about gardening is that you need a good book or two to help you along. You can't do this yourself.
Get a great book for your area. When I was in SoCal, Sunset had the best books. Here in the South, it's The Southern Living Garden Book.

I studied Southern Living's gardening book when I was planning my flower garden more than 10 years ago.
For vegetable gardening, I recommend The Self Sufficient gardener. There are a bunch more, and it's helpful to have more than one book.

The third thing I've learned about gardening is to make a plan for your whole garden even if you aren't going to plant your garden all at once. If you're doing it yourself, start small. Take a small section of your yard and fill it in with plants that will do well in that location. That's how we did our yard. First we did the front beds closest to the house, then the side yard, etc. It took several years to do our whole landscaped garden, but it was an enjoyable process.
I made this landscape plan myself when we first moved in.

The fourth thing I've learned about gardening is to plant shrubs and flowers that grow well in your part of the country. Also, if a plant calls for full sun, then don't plant it in the shade and if it likes shade, don't plant it in the sun. Sounds simple enough! Following this rule will make your life so much easier.

The fifth thing I've learned about gardening is no matter how well you plan, amend and water, some plants just won't make it. Or, you'll plant two plants that are exactly the same, and plant them at the same time, and one will do well and the other will be tiny. I've  planted 5 of the exact same shrub, prepared the soil the exact same way and watered them the same amount, only to have one of them keel over after a year. Don't blame yourself if this happens, just go get another plant to fill in. That's just the way it is.
Two zucchini plants, planted the same way, the same day, with the same soil prep. The one on the left is large and the one on the right is so small you can barely see it.

There are so many other lessons I've learned about gardening in my more than two decades of digging in the dirt, but I still consider myself a novice. There is so much more to learn!

Fall is the best time to plant a landscape in our area because plants and shrubs don't have enough time for roots to establish before Summer if planted in the Spring. So if you live in an area with a hot summer, now's the time to quickly plan out what you want to plant in the Fall. It will be here before you know it!

Don't know about you, but I'm glad that the HOT weather has passed and is a little bit cooler. I've started planting some things for our Fall veggie garden. So far I've planted snap peas, lettuce, radishes and carrots. Everything has popped up and started to grow. I will also plant some broccoli and try some potatoes. This will be my first Fall garden and I'm excited that my seeds have already started to sprout!
Anyone else planting a Fall veggie garden?
Any tips?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Keep Your Pantry Organized!

An organized pantry can save you time and money; two very good reasons why you should keep it neat and tidy.

Awhile back Mr. Fanatic made me a couple of shelf stackers and lined a few of the wire shelves with some 1/4" backer board.  It was a no cost project...ya gotta love those! 
Here's how the pantry looked after it was organized back then.

Our pantry has been really unorganized lately and was in need of some help. 

That's an understatement

 It was in need of a lot of help!
What I'm about to show you is BAD. 
I mean Horribly bad
Prepare yourself...

There were so many things that weren't on the right shelf I couldn't find a thing. Recently I had to go out and purchase and item I needed. It was very frustrating because I knew the item  was in my pantry. (in fact there were 2 of these items I needed in my messy pantry, but couldn't find them)

Thought I'd be REALLY real and show it to you up close and personal. 
Don't judge.
I spent nearly 4 hours on Saturday clearing the pantry out and organizing it.

 Here's the pantry after being organized...
Much better, don't ya think?

The first thing you need to do when organizing a space is to clear the whole thing out, but the  space was too overwhelming, so I did one shelf at a time.

I bought six plastic baskets at Walmart awhile back and was going to use them to organize another cabinet, but they didn't work out. I'm so glad I never took them back. I found the large woven baskets at HomeGoods.
pantry organization, diy Design Fanatic, diy, organized pantry

The baskets should keep things a little more contained.
Baskets has sure helped me keep our linen closet neat and organized. 
The large baskets hold snacks, lunch boxes and disposable items.
pantry organization, diy Design Fanatic, diy, organized pantry

pantry organization, diy Design Fanatic, diy, organized pantry

I used my large punch with contact paper to make the labels for the white plastic baskets.
pantry organization, diy Design Fanatic, diy, organized pantry


pantry organization, diy Design Fanatic, diy, organized pantry

What one space do you need to clean and organize?


Friday, August 17, 2012

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love to DIY, in just about all areas of my life because
 1. I'm a control freak I like getting making something that's really expensive for a lot less or cheap and 
2. For the enjoyment of it.

A few months ago, I didn't even know you could make vanilla extract at home...until I stumbled on someone's photo on Pinterest. 
Yep, Pinterest is a source of great inspiration for me and sometimes I even make a few things from that inspiration!

I ordered some Madagascar vanilla beans on Amazon for $15.95 for 27 beans. A little expensive to make a single bottle of vanilla extract, but I plan to make more than one bottle to give away as gifts come Christmastime.

Here's what you need. Vodka or Bourbon, Vanilla Beans and a bottle. I found my bottle at Marshall's for $2.00, but you could use something you already have.

You need 1 vanilla bean per 1/3 cup vodka or bourbon. (That's 3 beans for each cup for those of you who have a difficult time with math.) (lol)
 Slice the beans lengthwise with a knife.

Make sure your container is clean and pour boiling water in it and over it.  Put the beans in the empty bottle and pour the vodka in to the top.
That's it.

Let the bottle sit for 6 weeks. When your bottle gets low, just fill it back up to the top with whatever alcohol you used and let it sit again. 
I guess I'm  Mr. Fanatic is going to be making lots of cookies this Christmas with all the Vanilla in that bottle!
The vintage cookie cutters were given to us from Mr. Fanatic's mom, but my mom had the same set!

I found the pretty label over at Lemons and Lima Beans. I altered the label in Paint, so it's a little different than the one on the website.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend! What fun things do you have planned?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dried Hydrangeas

I LOVE hydrangeas... I love them fresh when they first bloom and are brilliantly colorful and I like them dried with softer colors.

My neighbor has 3 glorious hydrangea shrubs that produce the most gorgeous blooms. Here's a bouquet from a few months ago.

Hydrangea blooms don't just shrivel up an fall off the plant like many other flowers in the garden do. They fade to a soft color on the shrub...the purple/blue flowers fade to a soft green and some retain a soft blue.

 If you let fresh bright blooms dry out in a vase with a little water in them, they don't turn out as well. These hydrangeas were dried as fresh blooms.

Some petals are a little crinkled up. I still love them, though.

If you want a better result, then leave them on the shrub until the blooms fade. Once they've faded, cut a bunch and put them in a vase with a little water.

They will continue to dry out slowly with a little water in the vase.

I discovered accidentally how to turn some of the blooms gold.

After cutting a some faded blooms from one of the shrubs, I put them in a little pitcher with some water and them covered it with a cloche.

I noticed at the end of the day that some of the petals had turned a lovely shade of gold.

The cloche held in moisture and created a beautiful result.
I am blessed to have such a wonderful neighbor who shares her lovely hydrangeas with me. 



Monday, August 13, 2012

Getaway Weekend

Happy Monday everyone! 
Hope you all had a terrific weekend' we sure did!
I had a doctor's appointment in Hendersonville, North Carolina, which is 2 1/2 hours away, on Thursday. I was going to drive up and back by myself the same day, but Mr. Fanatic thought it would be fun to take an early weekend. Hendersonville is just south of Asheville, North Carolina, which is one of our favorite cities for a weekend visit, so I wasn't going to say no to that!

I also wasn't going to miss the chance to meet up with Anita from Far Above Rubies since she lives in western North Carolina and only a short drive from Asheville. 
We met for lunch on Friday with our husbands and had a really great time. When you finally meet another blogger whom you've been following for a long time, it seems like you've been friends forever. We could have spent all day talking, especially with our husbands along.

 Anita  brought me a linen made from a vintage grain sack and some handmade soap from a friend's shop.  How sweet was that?

After lunch, Mr. Fanatic and I walked around Waynesville.  This photo was taken in a parking lot above the town. It was such a gorgeous view even though it was a cloudy day.

Downtown Waynesville is a great place for an afternoon stroll.

Of course, we couldn't help stopping in a few stores.

 Mr. Fanatic really liked the coffee table.

I had to take a photo of this tablescape in the front window. I love all the warm wood tones in this shop. It has the same warm feeling as the photos of Anita's home, although her tablescapes are far more beautiful!

Before going home on Saturday, we stopped off at Screen Door in Asheville. Last time we went to the Tobacco Barn Antiques, but I wanted to get home before midnight (lol, you could spend all day in Tobacco Barn).

 The first thing you notice at Screen Door is that everything is artfully displayed.

This lamp made from some kind of pump was just many of the upcycled items in the warehouse.

I have another appointment with the same doctor in Hendersonville next month...I hope we get to make another short getaway out of it.

Hope you did something as fun as we did this past weekend!