April 25, 2011

D.I.Y Suitcase Dog Bed

For the last five months or so I have been on the hunt for a large vinyl suitcase large enough to make a dog bed out of.  I haven't had any luck until a few weekends ago when I was in Portland with Amy.  She spotted a large blue suitcase while we were at an antique store.  I snatched it up right away because it was the perfect size and I didn't know if I would be able to find another.  I finished the dog bed about a week ago but now that Charlotte has entered the house I haven't had very much time to myself in order to finish posting this blog. 

This large blue suitcase is perfect for the frame of my doggie bed

I really liked the shade of blue but its going to stay in the bedroom and blue didn't match anything else in the room so I bought a can of Behr High Drama red paint to paint the suitcase a color to coordinate with the existing red in the room.  I also bought four legs 4" high to hold up the suitcase. 

4" legs found at the local hardware store

The first step was to remove the top piece of the suitcase.  If you are going to do this, I suggest finding a suitcase that is assembled with screws.  Mine, I found out used a type of heavy duty brad that were very difficult to remove.  I damaged the suitcase a little bit trying to remove them.  So for appearance and time management, I would strongly suggest picking a suitcase that is easy to disassemble. 

A little bit of damage from removing the hardware from the top of suitcase

After semi-successfully removing the top lid of the suitcase I measured where the legs would go on the bottom.  Using a marker I placed dots at each corner where my legs would attach and then used the screw driver to drill my holes for the screws.  The legs I chose already had screws attached to them so after drilling my holes I tightened the legs onto the bottom and then used nuts to keep them in place on the inside of the suitcase.  I also added a little bit of gorilla glue onto the legs so I knew they wouldn't go anywhere.

Pre drilled leg holes

Next came the fun part of painting the suitcase.  The Behr paint I chose already had a built in primer so I did not prime my suitcase.  Being careful not to paint the hardware I slowly applied my first coat of paint.  Because it is a vinyl covering the first coat of paint went on very thin.  Also because I was using red paint the first coat looked more pink than anything.  I let the paint dry for 24 hours and then painted the second coat.  Total it took 3 coats to cover the suitcase completely as well as get a nice deep red.

I used a semi-gloss to achieve a slightly shiny finish

After the 3rd coat of paint was dry I used a small amount of metallic silver paint to go over the metal hardware and give it a clean, new look.
Repainting the hardware updated the look of the suitcase

The  final step consisted of finding a fluffy material to fill the suitcase.  I had some chair foam and an extra pillow that I stuffed inside and than added a matching, soft fabric over the top so puppy will have a nice place to rest her head.

Sock monkey fabric was used as the puppy comforter
I added a new little puppy to complete the dog bed.  She's still a little small to jump in the bed for now.  In a few weeks I know she will be able to get inside but until then she will keep sleeping with mom at night.

Charlotte in her suitcase bed

She loves her sock monkey blanket

Its so comfy she's ready for a nap already

April 22, 2011

C is for Charlotte

Well the Easter bunny came a few days early at my house this week and delivered a beautiful Boston terrier puppy last night.  I didn't think I would get a puppy until June but I found the perfect little girl and brought her home to join our family.  When I went to look at puppies I didn't know how I would decide which one to take home but she made it very easy to pick her.  She came and sat right in my lap and cuddled up next to me.  It melted my heart right away.  She had a great first night and was much easier to care for than I had thought.  I am so excited to have her with us.  She loves the outdoors and is a total goofball.  I will take more photos and update everyone on how she is adjusting soon.  Gotta get back to work!

April 18, 2011

So little time...

I started my weekend with big plans of working in the yard and traveling to Portland to visit my soon to be Boston Terrier puppy.  Unfortunately the weekend had different plans for me.  On Wednesday I hurt my back some how while I was cleaning the house. It probably happened while I was assembling my new IKEA shelf (photos will be posted soon).  So my plans to finish the patio corner didn't happen because I was afraid I would agrivate my back more if I did any heavy lifting.  Instead, I planted a few starts and spread my poppy seeds in the side beds.  I also trimmed some of the plants in the courtyard/patio area outside our livingroom.  I was surprised because more plants are coming back than I thought. 

 The daffodils are in full bloom right now

 Purple and white tulips mixed with daffodils

 The pansies lasted the whole winter and are still blooming

 Lamium is growing and blooming already

My trunk filled with spring flowers

Also this weekend I planned to visit CeCe the mamma dog that hopefully will give birth to my new puppy this spring.  As life goes, not everything goes as planned and we had to reschedule for another day.  I wasn't sure how to spend the rest of my day so I went to the hardware store and bought supplies to make my new dog bed out of the trunk I bought at the Antique Store last weekend with Amy.  I also finished some doggie bandanas I have been working on for a while and posted them on my etsy site.  Here are some of them below:

 Amy's pup Porter is sporting the All American Bandana

 I made them to slip over a dog's collar to avoid the extra weight of tying them around the neck

 Porter was a good sport and sat very still.  Good job Amy on training this cutie.

 You might remember Joey.  He was wearing this bandana in one of the Schmidt's emails a few weeks ago.  (If you don't know what I am referring to you can go to schmidtsgardencenter.com and view previous emails and sign up for great gardening advice)

Of course I had to make a OSU bandana

I have a lot more designs that I need to post online.  I plan to get to it soon.  My photos didn't turn out as nice as I wanted so I am going to reshoot them this week.

April 12, 2011

Misadventures of Tri Met

This past Sunday I was in Portland hanging out with my friend Amy.  Normally when we get together we are either crafting or buying new items to make crafts in the future.  This trip was no exception.  After I got to her apartment we headed to IKEA where we both went on a shopping spree.  I bought tons of stuff to help me declutter my room.  We just barely fit everything into the car.  The hardest part was fitting a 6 foot shelf into my not so spacious trunk and back seat.  I don't think I could have figured it out without my girl.  She shoved that shelf into the car like she does this all the time.  She had to give up the front seat in order to get it in but we did it! We stuffed the trunk, the back seat and the front passenger seat.  If that wasn't impressive enough we also found more goodies at a second hand store that we had to wedge into the front seat.

My trunk was too full after visiting IKEA

The last box for the shelf had to be positioned above the front seat and the back window.  It looks dangerous but it was so well wedged in there it didn't move an inch.

I had to chauffeur Amy around after IKEA because she didn't fit up front.

Amy peeking out from the back seat in between boxes

Also at the antique stores we found some really interesting items like this old TV with dinosaurs in it

We found this framed Lord of the Rings Legolas poster

I also found this nifty horned dragon hat thing

After our shopping expedition we went down to Powell street to find this cider brewery.  Since the car was stuffed to the brim we decided to take the bus through town since it was a straight shot from Amy's house to the brewery.  What should have been a 20 minute bus ride turned out to be a bus ride plus a 45 minute walk because we accidentally got off at the wrong stop and thought it would only be a few more blocks to where we were going.  It turned out we were a lot farther than we expected and ended up walking down Milwaukee street for 3.5 miles.  We both earned a few blisters and some sore muscles but it was a nice day and we found some interesting sites along the way.

We passed this neat little coffee shop on the way

I spotted a garden gnome in some one's front yard

This was a candy shop that looked like a life size ginger bread house

A welcome sign to this shop

It was a winter wonderland

At this point we were about half way to our destination and were contemplating paying this little boy to push us in his wagon the rest of the way

We finally made it to Bushwhackers!

We didn't know the cider place didn't serve food so after our hard cider we walked farther down 12th street and found these awesome food carts.  We had some burritos and delicious crepes for dessert.

After we ate it started to rain so we hopped back on the bus and rode it successfully all the way back to Amy's house.

April 08, 2011

Shades of Spring

Cover of Fine Gardening Magazine

 I've done it again.  I've gone over board with planting and designing the backyard.  I intended on only doing the bare minimum to keep the garden looking cared for and low maintenance but instead I started envisioning how the yard can look its best.  Once I clean up one area and make it look ready for spring, I think to myself, it really would make this section look better if I clean up and plant flowers over in this area across from where I am....and so on....and so on.  So what started to be "I will only plant a few flowers on the porch to attract hummingbirds" has turned into a corner patio table area, planting wildflowers across the fence, get a larger trellis for honeysuckle vine, a window box display, veggie garden, porch flowers, etc. 

After working in the yard last weekend, this week I have been itching to get back out there.  I've been looking through magazine and Internet photos for inspiration for flower combinations.  After looking at countless photos of flowers I came to the conclusion that I am most attracted to pink and orange together in the garden.  I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier because looking back I usually choose pink, orange or peach flowers.  It finally came together when I saw this Fine Gardening Magazine cover (photo above) and decided I wanted to duplicate it.  I started choosing other plants that were either pink, orange or the combination of the two and realized that most of the plants I was picking were flowers I have bought in previous years.  So there you go, pink and orange are my favorite colors in the garden.  Below are some of the flowers I intend to plant this Spring.
 I just bought a packet of these neon poppy seeds from One Stop Poppy Shoppe, an online shop that has tons of poppies to choose from.  I thought these looked very similar to the ones on the magazine cover.

Peach Melba Nasturtiums.  I bought seeds from Schmidt's that I will use as a filler along the fence because they mound up and cover a pretty large area.

Next to the porch and the container I am creating a hummingbird station I planted Goldflame honeysuckle.  Not only does it attract hummingbirds but it has a delicious aroma.  These vines grow up to 20 ft.  The trellis I had wasn't very wide so I just bought a larger one today (another expense I wasn't counting on this year).

Agastache.  I bough this last year as a start because it smelled like lemon.  It is a perennial so it should come back.  If not, I just found out our store carries the starts and the seeds.  I bought a packet of seeds today to spread along the house with the poppies and nasturtiums.

Penstemon, another hummingbird favorite.  I tried planting these last year but I didn't have luck. It was probably because I weeded that area thinking nothing had come up.  I think I took out some good plants when I did that.  Hopefully this year they will sprout. 

Lantana.  Another one of my favorites.  I had this in a container one year and it was beautiful all summer long.  The flowers change colors from the time they first open to the time they are ready to seed so the container was a nice mix of pinks, yellows and oranges everyday.

Normally I don't really like begonias but I absolutely love dragon wing begonias.  Ever since I discovered them 3 years ago I plant at least one ever year.  In my patio area I usually have them in 2 matching containers flanking another large container full of other plants and flowers.

As much as I want to get down and dirty in the garden this weekend I heard the weather was turning fowl on Sunday and Monday (my days off), so instead of battling the last of my weeds in the rain, I think I will take a break from the yard and head up to Portland and visit Amy, another former Schmidt's girl.  This will give me a change to hangout with a good friend as well as give me time to plot out just how I want to arrange plants and seeds in the rest of the backyard.  I still haven't even thought of the veggie garden or the patio yet...that will have to wait for another month I think. 

April 04, 2011

April Showers Can't Keep Me Indoors

After returning home from Germany a week ago I have been very busy at work.  People are ready to garden and shop for gardening supplies.  I've been so exhausted after work that I haven't had energy to blog lately.  But I was determined to garden this weekend no matter if it was sunny or not.  I was prepared to have my rain jacket and boots on just so I could get my garden Spring ready.  Luckily yesterday and today have been clear so far and I worked 5 1/2 hours total in the yard.  I removed the leftover garbage and litter from the fall, mowed the lawn, ripped out two shrubs that I hated, weeded, created a pole for one of my bird feeders, made the backyard puppy proof for when I get a puppy and planted veggies, hanging baskets and pots.  I still have a lot of weeding left.  I am fighting a never ending battle against blackberries and vinca vine that keep creeping over the neighbor's fence.  I wanted to share this blog with everyone so that you could get a glimpse of what I've been up to as well as remind myself when I planted and fertilized now so that in early June I will remember to fertilize again.

Planting Potatoes:

 I planted 3 tubs full of potatoes.  Here are the products I used to do so.  Planting mix, Bumper crop and Potato tubs (you get two in a package).  All supplies can be found at Schmidt's.  I also had a leftover potato bin from last year.  I thought I would compare which container works the best.

 Planting potatoes is simple.  Chose a sunny location and just fill your container 6 inches high with a mixture of planting mix and bumper crop.  Place your potatoes in the container.  3 seemed to fit in mine.  I chose small potatoes, I you grab large potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and spread them out in the container.  Then place a few more inches of soil and compost above the potatoes.  And that's it.  When the potato vines stick out a few inches from the top of the soil cover them completely with more soil and bumper crop.  Repeat as necessary until the soil fills the entire container.  Then watch them grow for the rest of summer.
You'll know when its time to dig them up when the vines die back completely in the fall.

Build a Bird feeder Station:

I have this very cute log cabin bird house that my boyfriend's family gave me this Christmas.  The juncos seem to love it (there is one in the picture above).  I didn't just want to hang this one from the tree so I decided to make it a post to sit on and create a feeder station with other types of feeders such as a suet feeder, platform feeder and a squirrel log feeder.

 First, I bought an 8' post from Home Depot for $3.  I only wanted my pole to stand 4' high so I borrowed a circular saw and cut it down to 5' so that I could dig it 12" down for stability.  I dug a hole and place the pole inside and stomped the dirt back around while making sure it was straight.  If you want to cement it in the ground for added stability you can.  I chose not to because it seemed sturdy enough and the birds that land on it don't really weigh much to knock it down.

 I then found a scrap piece of fence board and cut it down so it fit underneath the lip of the feeder.  I nailed it tight on the pole and checked again to make sure it was level.

 Finally I set the feeder on the pole.  Eventually I will add the other feeders I mentioned onto the pole.  For now this was all I had time for but I will keep you updated on the other steps in the future.

 My new shaded gnome and bird feeder station.  There used to be a forsythia bush here but it was much smaller than the other two next to it so I dug it up and placed some log stumps here that were left in the yard, set some glazed pots filled with plants on top and added some gnomes and shady loving plants at the base. 

 I planted two hosta plants and hellebore in another part of the yard last year.  I moved them to this location to add a woodland feel to the setup.  It also saved me money because I used what I already had instead of buying new plants.

 I just saw a chickadee land on the feed while I am typing this post.

 This gnome looked really cut swinging in the tree.  Unfortunately the wind knocked him down already so I will have to find a way to permanently stick him up here so he can connect with the birds.
Bee and Bird Garden:

Last year I went a little overboard planting flowers and veggies.  This year I want to keep it simple and only plant a few things that way I am not spending all my mornings and evenings watering for hours.  This year I also want to plant flowers that attract bees and birds to the yard.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the birds.  I also love bees, without bees our world would be quite a bit different.  And since bee population have been declining, I thought I would help them out and plant flowers to aid their survival.  I purchased two packs of seeds, Save the Bees Mix and a Song Bird mix and scattered the seed along the fence line.  Whatever chooses to sprout will be the only flowers I plant.  It will be survival of the fittest.  I'm hoping most of the seed comes up, if not, oh well, I will try again next year.

I am also working on ways to attract hummingbirds to my yard.  Currently I have only seen them in the winter.  I put two feeders out all winter and saw three different hummers almost daily. But once the weather starts to warm up they leave my yard.  I am hoping by planting lots of flowers that have nectar than they will stick around.  So far I have penstamon, black and blue salvia, foxglove, fuchsia, cape fuchsia, and columbine, all of which should attract them to the yard.  Last year with all of these plants I still didn't see any hummingbirds during the summer.  So this year I am adding red petunias, more fuchsias, red nasturtiums, coral honeysuckle and whatever else I can think of that will be a beacon to visit my backyard.  

Other Backyard Projects:
 I made my own hanging basket with the starts from the Schmidt's sale last week.  I have creeping charlie, three fuchsias and nemesia in this shade loving basket.

 For all of my plantings and transplants I used the Gardner and Bloom Starter fertilizer mixed with Bumper Crop to make my plants really bloom this Spring and Summer.

 I replanted my strawberry basket.  I chose to use this type of container hanging by the back porch because we have been having trouble keeping rats out of the yard.  I put it up high so that they couldn't eat the strawberries.  Last summer the rats ate all of our corn and tomatoes before they were just about to ripen.  We might have to take serious measures against the vermin this year.

 I planted a white bleeding heart bush underneath this tree.

 Here is Aberforth lending a hand in the garden by taking weeds out with his wheelbarrow.

  My flower bed is looking full this month.  Most of the daffodils are blooming and a few of the pink tulips are up.  There are more flowers growing than I thought.  The squirrels (Bret and David Bowie) left me lots of holes from digging up bulbs and replanting them elsewhere in the yard.
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