Old stairs – New garden box

I love having a vegetable in my yard.  Partially I love having fresh food – especially cucumbers – free from the wax and other preservation methods you find on store bought produce.  Partially because I grew up watching my grandparents garden.  It allows me to feel close to my grandfather again and it gives me something to talk about and show off to my grandma and I like to think I am helping make those memories for my own kids now.

There are a few things I plant every year – cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries.  And every year I add some new things – this year we are adding blueberries and rhubarb to our yard and I went a little overboard with the onions so I ran out of room in the garden for my lettuce and my new strawberry plants needed a suitable home (I somehow mange to kill all of mine off every winter).

Enter my in-laws recently replaced deck.

My husband decided to take all of the material from their and put it in our garage – I thought he was crazy until we decided to use the stairs flipped on their side for a strawberry planter.

The stairs had these little legs on the back that made a perfect support – my husband cut them down to be the right height and I got to work.

Here are the materials I used:

The stairs (obviously)
This Stanley Sharpshooter staple gun
Chicken wire
Weed fabric
A wire cutter

I stapled the chicken wire to the back of the stairs as a support for the weed fabric.  This holds the dirts to make each stair it’s own little planter.

I then lined these newly formed ‘cubbies’ with the weed fabric and stapled those into place too.  I suggest over doing it on the staples because more support is better in the long run right?

Once I finished those steps it was just a matter of flipping the structure back ‘up right’ and filling the newly formed plant boxes with soil and plants.  I finished it just as it was starting to rain so the plants have perked up a bit.

One thing I both like and am a bit worried about it the drainage from the boxes.  It is going to be nearly impossible to over water these plants but I worry that it will be easy to deprive them a bit.  I also am a little less than happy that the plants are less protected than in my fenced in raised garden bed … but if others can grow strawberries in unprotected rain gutters this should be fine!

In this new planter I have managed to reclaim 20+ year old deck stairs, planted 5 romaine lettuce plants, 3 already fruit bearing strawberry plants and about a dozen strawberry plant bulbs – those have been hanging around for a year so I am not sure they will work but it can’t hurt.

Share your favorite gardening and reclaimed projects below.

Until next time,

Posts on At Home With Momma B may contain affiliate links which result in a very small amount of revenue earned when a purchase is made using the link. Unless otherwise noted all opinions provided about a product are my own and I have not received compensation for them.

What holds you back?

You guys, you know that question ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail’?  Well a version of this has been on my mind for a few days.  My friends and family who know me well would tell you I have a serious amount of anxiety and I am really obsessive.  I am often told I over think things too.

I mean I guess for someone not in my head those are probably very real observations – for me, it is just my everyday life.  But I have been thinking about it more lately and the context in which it affects my life.

You see, the biggest issue I think I have is that it limits the authenticity with which I am able to live my life.  I have learned that my thought process, my fears, and my worries are more than other people can comprehend – that for some people the mere thought of the tip of the iceberg that is my Alice in Wonder Land style tunnel of thought is sheer exhaustion.

So I stay guarded.

Partially for myself – how many times can you be recommend to yet another disappointing therapy session, or told that you need to change the way you think?

Partially for my friends and family – everyone has enough worries, I don’t need to add to it and I would feel terrible if I caused any one of them a new worry that they didn’t have before.

The truth is I think in a way that is different from those around me and different is scary, and beautiful, and lonely.

The question for me isn’t about failure any more – it is about fear.  I am afraid of so many things.  First and foremost I am afraid my kids will pick up on my thought habits and will be negatively impacted (I am not oblivious to the less than wonderful pieces of my mind), I am afraid of the judgement from friends, family, and strangers, I am afraid of disappointing those who have expectations of me – seriously, the worst punishment my parents could ever give me growing up was telling me how disappointed they were in my behavior – I am afraid of not meeting my potential, of making poor choices, of an untimely death.  Basically, you name it, I probably fear it.

And it is dumb.

So, so, so dumb.

I have no more control over your thoughts than you do mine – although to be fair I try so desperately to fit everyone’s expectations that you probably have more control over who I am as a person than you could imagine – but is it really any of my business what anyone else thinks of me?  (Even as I type that I wonder what you are thinking of that statement – is it too harsh, does it make me seem uncaring, shouldn’t I care about how my behavior and actions are seen by others?)

So here is the thing –

If I wasn’t being held back by fear (not fearless because my fear isn’t going to just pack it’s bags and hope a plane, it is staying by my side for the long haul) I would stay home with my kids and operate a work at home business – until such time that our finances allowed and my children’s needs lessened, then I would pursue an exciting career of my choosing.  I would also be working my ass off to get all of our debt (including our house) off in the next 10 years (house paid off by 40 sounds pretty accomplished to me).  And I would get back to healthy (and brutally honest with myself).

Tomorrow I will share with you the first step on this journey – which was starting the work from home business.

Until then, share what holds you back – we all have something!

School year wrap up – free printable

In two short weeks I am about to have a parenthood first – the end of my daughter’s first school year.  Yes, it is only preschool and it was only part time but it feels like a pretty big milestone … and with it we have all the new territory of end of year teacher gift giving.
I am sure a manual exists about these things – what to gift, who to gift it to, when to do it … all the etiquette.  But it all seems so impersonal. 
I will admit I don’t know my daughter’s teachers as well as they know my daughter and I most certainly don’t know them as well as some of the other parents.  Honestly, how did that mom learn not only the number of kids but ages and names of the teacher’s kids?!?!?! Am I just that socially inept?  Was I really supposed to pick up all that information casually at pick up?  Was I supposed to ask her if she had kids of her own?  In my defense the assistant teacher is fairly new to the class – but the head teacher has been there from day one.
So the question of what to get the teacher comes up at Christmas, teacher appreciation week (was I supposed to participate in this week in some meaningful way???) , and now – the end of the year.  But I always come up with the same basic thought – don’t teachers get enough of those cutesy little gifts in a jar, water bottles, and cheesy quote items in their careers?  
Of course they do – but what is left?  Especially as a parent who really doesn’t know the teacher on a personal level.  Enter the generic but ever useful gift card.  I don’t know about you but I always feel like I am taking the easy way out with this gift – so I decided to hand paint this 4 card series.  
I am hoping it gives a homemade, well thought, caring feeling to what I feel is such a cold and impersonal – but practical – gift.  I love the way these turned out.  I hand painted and lettered these in water color.  They aren’t perfect but they are super cute.  I am making all 4 available for you here.  They are designed to be printed as 6×4’s.  There is a cover page, a ‘Thanks a Whole Latte’ page for a coffee shop gift card, a ‘Poppin classroom’ card for a redbox code or movie theater gift card, and an ‘on Target’ gift card for the ever popular Target gift card.
I plan to print a set on card stock for each teacher, affix the gift card, and ‘bind them’ together with a hole punch in the corner and a binder ring.  I also really love the idea of using a gift card or redbox code for the movie card.
I figured I couldn’t be the only mom needing a little boost to her child’s end of year gift.  So I am making them free just below for you!  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.
Now just to figure out gift card amounts! 

Baby’s First Library – Free Printable

I love giving gifts that are just a little unusual.

One of my favorite baby shower gifts is a cute little baby’s first library.  It is simple and sweet and a bit unique.  In my baskets I like to put:

  • a blanket – usually handmade
  • board books 
  • a toy or stuffed lovey 
It is so easy to put together this little basket!  I have a few showers coming up this year and they will each be getting one of these boxes.  This one has a hand made blanket that I made for around $3-4, 5 excellent board books (that you can find uber cheap on amazon or with a little time you can find brand new ones at the thrift store under $2 and most places give you every x number books free), a cute stuffed animal, and a little lovey.  The basket was 3 bucks at my local savers.  If you are keeping track in your head I have probably spent around $15 on this gift so far.  That gives me the opportunity to put together a portable nursing station for a breast feeding mom, a pamper kit, and/or a small basket for dad too.  Or in the case of one of these showers, it leaves a little budget for a custom made rag quilt and a diaper cake complete with diapering accessories for the other.
Attach a tag, arrange the items, and head to the shower.  Mom and dad will love that ‘baby’s first library’ is self contained and you’ll love giving a unique gift.  
Because I love to save some money and time – here is a free printable for the cute little ‘baby’s first library’ tag or you can buy the set of all five here.

Pegboard Upcycle

I sew – or I at least like to have a sewing room and make it look as though I sew.  With two kids and a house to manage sometimes things like sewing take a backseat.  Regardless of the frequency I get to sit down at one of my beautiful machines (yes I have several – vintage machines are so nice and usually really cheap to pick up) my sewing space is fully of tools, supplies and fabric to organize.

About a year ago my grandmother was moving out of the home her and my grandfather retired to.  They lived on this peaceful hobby farm that was part of the land my grandpa grew up on.  I always found being up there to be peaceful and centering – my grandma grew up in the same small town so there were strong family ties all around.  Anyway in addition to keeping cows and chickens, my grandpa did a fair amount of wood working.  I have several beautiful pieces of furniture that he lovingly created just for me.

As my grandma was cleaning out the garage there was this large piece of pegboard taken down.  It was dirty and crooked but with a little clean up it looked like the perfect place to hand my scissors, rulers and other sewing tools that I want to keep in easy arms reach.

I washed it, painted it with a ‘metalic’ spray paint and had my dad hang it on the wall.  We used 4 square pieced of reclaimed decking boards in order to keep it a little off the wall so there was space to use hooks and the like.

While the paint helped clean it up it still was crooked and looked just really unfinished.  I was basically left with this large ‘silver’ 46″ X 44″ board in the middle of my wall.  I had this vision in my head that this peg
board would be a utilitarian piece of art not a large imposing blob of metalic in the middle of my wall so this weekend I popped into my local hardware store and grabbed these pretty inexpensive foam boards.

I have never cut these 45 degree angles before but I know the rule measure twice cut once … suffice to say my husband had to make a second trip for me because I cut the right length but in the wrong direction.  Thankfully my husband is amazing and went with only the slightest eye roll.

The next struggle has been figuring out how to adhere them to the peg board.  Obviously they are light and will not be weight bearing so glue seems like a great option … if you have more than one clamp.  I have slowly made my way with my 1 clamp and a make shift clamp out of a pliers and rubber band.  But of course the board slipped with the glue – I tried (at my dad’s suggestion) to staple them in place – until I figured out I can just do 1 piece at a time and ‘make’ a clamp.  Unfortunately the holes from the staples are there and the gorilla glue I was using has ‘foamed’ up where it slipped.  I managed to peel most of it off but it isn’t perfect.  I am actually pretty impressed by the finished product considering I had 1 whole clamp and each side really could have used at least two.

If I embrace the imperfection, the finished product is actually pretty stunning.  I can’t wait to add a few cute baskets and shelves just to get a little more utility out of this nicely framed piece.   At some point I want to change all the hooks, baskets, and shelves to all be white or black to further finish the look – but for now, even when I am just pretending to be a sewer, I love to see the beauty and organization in this space optimizing interesting organization solution.  And when I can finally carve out the time to sew again I know this organization in arms reach of my machines will be a time saver.


Year of First Wine Basket Wedding Gift

It seems this past year everyone I know has been getting married or having babies.  It is an exciting time and it requires gift giving.  I don’t know about you but I HATE being at a wedding shower and giving the bride exactly what was on her registry just to discover that either the registry didn’t update or someone forgot to give the cashier the registry to update it – and everyone sees the gift duplication.  Equally I hate when the gift I have given is so non-personal and generic that she won’t remember it was from me by the time she gets home.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE wedding and baby registries.  I don’t want to give unwanted gifts and it’s a great way to get what the couple wants most.  On the other hand, where is the surprise and delight of a well thought out gift? 
The solution for a wedding or bridal shower for a couple who enjoy a good class of wine?  The year of firsts wine basket!  I made two of these this past year and they are about as much fun to make and give as it is to stock up your wine fridge.  
These cute poems are a great way to celebrate the entire year with the new couple and to ‘toast’ each of the milestones they experience in the early years of their marriage.  
When I made my baskets I hand wrote all my tags.  Not as cute as they could have been but I am a bit of a last minute person and I had no idea how to work any sort of graphic design software on the most basic of levels.  So I headed to the thrift store for an inexpensive and sturdy basket (more money to spend on wine – duh!) and the craft store to buy some tags.  
I loved customizing my wine picks to the couple and the ‘events’ anticipated in their early years together like a bottle of ‘kitchen sink’ wine to toast their new home and a bottle of local ‘hot dish red’ wine for a Minnesota to serve in recognition of their first dinner party.  
Today I finally got around to making digitals of the wine tags.  You can see the first anniversary tag above – if you have a wedding coming up and want to give a unique and creative gift you can purchase these tags here.
Happy wine hunting!

Vintage Side Table Revamp

Yesterday I told you about my bird feeder project – today we are going to look at the side table I worked on yesterday too.

Okay we have all seen these tables – either in their original (read dated) condition or in pretty pinterest photos where people have painstakingly and lovingly repurposed or refurbished them.  When I saw these for $5 each at my local Goodwill I could not help myself … I NEEDED to try it for myself.

These things are genius – set your lamp on the top and still preserve all the table top space you could need.  Anyway, clearly finishes and styles have changed and evolved over the year like they always have.  I had big ambitions to get these tables sanded and refinished before the snow flew – but the snow has flown and melted.  It was time to get moving on this project.

I grabbed some foam brushes, mineral spirits, paint tape, and polyurethane to add to my chalk paint, sand paper, and stain and got to work.  I learned a few things during this project – rather affirmed somethings I already new.  I am not a very patient person and tedious things bore me.

You see the row of spindles on each side of this little table?  They are not easy to paint – and of course as I was working on this table my son got white chalk paint on the stain twice … once before I managed to polyurethane.

But the end result is so wonderful – before we get there, let’s talk about how I did this project.

Tools and supplies:

  • sander and sand paper
  • mineral spirits
  • old rag
  • stain – I used a dark cherry 
  • polyurethane
  • chalk paint – I used an off-white
  • clear wax
  • foam brushes
  • painters tape 
  • putty knife or similar
  • tarp or other protective covering for your working surface – I just cut up a few paper bags
  • And of course patience  

You need to start by sanding down your table.  The goal is to get the finish and stain off of the table before you add the new stain and to get out any imperfections that may have popped up over the years like water stains.  I knew I was going to go for a slightly distressed look so I only sanded the area I intended to stain.

Once you are satisfied with your sanding you’ll want to clean away the dust and debris.  I used an old rag and mineral spirits to do the job.

Then you better lay out that protective covering and pop open that stain.  Using a foam brush or stain pad is ideal to ensure an even coat.  I wish I had not been quite so heavy handed on the stain since the wood grain doesn’t really show through and the table was a beautiful knotty pine but live and learn.

Now is where your patience comes in – you have to let the stain fully dry.  Once it has dried you will want to use a clean foam brush to poly the stained surfaces.  I chose a quick drying semi mate polyurethane to go with the ‘less than perfect’ feel of farmhouse furniture.

And once again you need to wait until the poly dries and then you’ll want to tape anywhere your chalk paint will meet the stained surface.  I didn’t tape off for the staining coat because I felt like any slip of the stain onto the area designated to paint would just add a little more dimension and ‘imperfect’ feel to the piece … and I hate taping.  But when you do tape, use your putty knife to make sure you really got the tape down and will get clean, crisp lines.

Now paint your first coat of chalk paint.  Use a foam brush to limit brush strokes.  What I love about chalk pain is how quickly it dries.  Once I finished the first coat I was able to go back to where I started and add a second (and third) coat.

Once dried I used sand paper to introduce a little distressing into the painted areas of the table.

All that is left for me to do is add the clear wax layer – and just like that I have a beautiful ‘new’ table.

Make sure to share your DIY table in the comments!


Sunny days and Thrift Store Finds

You Guys – the weather today!  It is 63 and beautiful here in the midwest and it is the middle of April – a true windows open, play outside kind of day.

Despite the mountain of work to do in my house and the projects I seem to keep stacking up for myself, today has been so much fun.  The laundry can wait while I make memories.  We started the morning by going on ‘family vacation’ with my parents.  In our family that quite literally is a shopping trip as a whole family to Walmart.  My kids are young enough to love the novelty of shopping with grandma, grandpa, aunite and uncle(s) and they may get a little spoiled – my son was holding onto an oversized box of fruit snacks when we all managed to meet back together at checkout.

Being a Minnesota girl, I grew up shopping at Target and old habits die hard so trips to Walmart aren’t frequent occurrences in my house but every single time we go I am reminded just how much stuff they carry!

That being said I was able to pick up a few things that I needed to complete some upcycle projects I had brought home from the thrift store.  I had two projects on deck – a bird feeder and a side table.  Today we are talking about the bird feeder, tomorrow will be the side table.

I usually don’t gravitate towards these dainty little cups and saucers as they serve no purpose in my house but recently I have been seeing these adorable pins using tableware outdoors to make bird feeders, decorations, and fairy gardens.  I thought this particular cup and saucer would make the most cheery little bird feeder.

I picked up the E6000 and the plant hanging kit from Walmart (while on family vacation of course) for less than $10 and the cup and saucer were about $5.  For about $15 in supplies this is what I ended up with today.

It is just so adorable – it makes me wish we had a few more trees in our backyard, I can just picture a smattering of bright and unexpected teacup bird feeders hanging from the trees.


At Home With Momma B: Homemade Summer Time Lemonade

You guys – The warmer weather we have been having has been getting me SO excited for all the fun summer things we do in my family.

Last year on a particularly hot day my daughter and I made a bunch of lemonade varieties.  We loved the strawberry lemonade the best.  And the adorable fruit cubes were so fun!  In the spirt of warmer weather being just around the corner – I thought I would share this post again.

Enjoying the warmer sunnier days

This summer we are going to attempt some more fruit waters to decrease our sugar intake … but as a treat on a 90+ degree day – this tried and true recipe hits the spot!

This summer is going to be especially special as my daughter will be on her first ‘summer break’ from school following her first year of preschool.  I am looking forward to making some ‘summer break’ memories with her and maybe start a tradition or two for the kids to look forward to each year.  Click the link  below to get the BEST lemonade recipe you will try all Summer!



At Home With Momma B: Homemade Summer Time Lemonade: This past week my lovely home state saw temps in the 90s.  While the hubs was at work the kids and I made a day of it.  We started with a f…

Kid’s picnic table revamp

You guys!  It’s garage sale season!  Possibly one of my favorite times of the year.  I love finding little treasures for my home, to reclaim, or to just resell and make a little profit.  As a bonus my daughter loves estate sales, the thrift store, and garage sales.

My thrifting really got underway when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was working a really cushy corporate job but had a hard time justifying the full price of infant clothes that she would wear for a month at most.  And then her first summer rolled around and it pained me to think about buying any outdoor items even though I still wanted her to have fun things to do outside.  After a few seasons the outdoor things are always faded and ‘worn’.  And living in the midwest, our changing seasons are HARD on outdoor toys.

Any way I picked up a picnic table for my daughter a few years back.  It was faded yellow and orange.  Other than the very weathered color the table was in great shape … but it was ugly.  I wish I had a ‘before’ picture to share because it was bad, but I didn’t plan ahead.

After painting a free patio set my in-laws picked up for us last fall, I decided it was time to make this little set match.

I am constantly amazed by what a little time and 2 cans of spray paint can do.  This project isn’t done just yet though.  I am currently searching for an appropriate sized table umbrella.  If I can find one, I am going to drill a hole in the center and make a nice little picnic spot for the kids.  
I still have a full size picnic table to redo – likely in the same colors.  It is old, very faded, and a bit rusty but some time and paint we will have a bright cheery theme with our coordinating lawn furniture.