Category Archives: Home Improvement

Shakespeare and King Alfred the Great Have Kept Me Busy

I know that I haven’t posted any new content as of late, but I really do have a good reason! I’ve been neck-deep in a project for my History of English class and reading the “Henriad” (Shakespeare’s Henry plays). In my spare time–when I’m not reading, doing homework, or hanging out with family–I am working on the first installment of my Berlin trip posts. The first one will be The Berlin Wall (East Side Gallery) and Checkpoint Charlie.

I’m also going to be busy this  weekend with making changes to the living room and finishing the office space. But in the meantime, please take a look at King Alfred’s Blog that I created as my final project for the History of English class. I enjoyed it so much, that I just might start a regular blog roll about historical figures and writers.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Pinterest Musings: Pallet Garden and Fence

It’s spring and that means that it is time to plant our vegetable garden.  Last year we were partially successful at growing our veggies in pots.  The salad garden was amazing! However, we started the garden a tad too soon and lost half of our tomato plants and all of the bell pepper plants.  Aside from the early planting failure, we also learned that ceramic pots burst when you leave them out over the winter months.

Here’s how our corner patio garden looked last year

Salad Garden 2014
Salad Garden 2014

Here are my Herb pots that burst.

Burst Herb pots
Burst Herb pots

This is how the patio looks today.

Patio April 10, 2015
Patio April 10, 2015

What I want the patio to look like:

I think that something like this will looks a lot better than those cheap window box planters that bulge out in the center.

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For the Salad Garden

Though I don’t really need anything this large, I think the depth will work well for the tomatoes and bell peppers.  Perhaps adding some sort of lattice to the back would work for growing cucumbers and fall squash.

For the Tomatoes & Peppers
For the Tomatoes & Peppers

When a patio is as small as ours, using vertical space is important.  This year I want to try growing our herbs in something like this.

For Herbs
For Herbs

As for the fence…our ghetto fabulous fence needs to go. We had some high winds earlier this spring and the fence kept blowing over.  I’m looking at Pallet fence ideas.

I really love this one. The post at The Nest by Raul Avenir has DIY instructions–wich is hard to find.

Pallet Fence with DIY Instructions
Pallet Fence with DIY Instructions

This one is very practical and beautiful, but does not include instructions.  I’ve seen this image several times, but I just can’t seem to find the original source. But the page does have several pallet use ideas.

Garden Pallet Fence
Garden Pallet Fence

Here are a couple of ideas that I quickly sketched out.

Pallet Garden Sketches
Pallet Garden Sketches

Building this depends on 1) Whether or not we are staying in Germany for another year (Hubby might get a new assignment), and 2) whether or not I have time.  But a girl can dream 🙂

Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home: The Coffee (and tea) Station!

As promised, here is the long-awaited article on my Coffee Station!

Welcome to the second post in the series: Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home! As noted in the series introduction and the first posting of this series, I am a coffee fanatic and am lucky to have the perfect area for a Coffee Station. Here is my first general draft drawn up on my Galaxy Note.

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As much as I would love to hide or move the water cooler, it must stay for two reasons: 1) There is nowhere else to move it that makes sense. 2) We use this water for making coffee and tea and for hydration.  I am looking into some creative ways to at least “hide” the ugliness.  You can read more about my ideas for the water cooler here.

Notice that my Idea drawing said “Wallpaper?” WELL…I couldn’t find any of that removable wall paper that was either cheap affordable or in my style.  I am seriously trying to avoid painting, but after taking over 60 photos of this area, I realize that it NEEDS more panache. Therefore, I will consider this space almost finished.

Organizing the Coffee Station:

I used Ikea’s Grundtal Kitchen shelving system instead of a separate shelf and hook system because it offers more versatility.

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Grundtal Wall Shelf

 

 

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The hooks are Fintorp hooks. I used these because they will not come off without unscrewing the Grundtal rails and the hooks have a sort of knob at the tip–which prevents the cups from falling off easily.

Fintorp Hook
Fintorp Hook

 

Grundtal Also has great storage add-ons for the shelf system

Grundtal Hanging Containers
Grundtal Hanging Containers

 

One of the things I love most about this area is the storage!

Here is the Coffee Station Cabinet–I hope it stays this organized!

Top Shelf in the Cabinet

 

 

Bottom Shelf
Bottom Shelf

 

Loving the Organization
Loving the Organization

I purchased these Krus storage containers at Ikea as well, but they are only available (as far as I can tell) at the Ikeas in Europe. They feature removable dividers and come in 3 sizes.  As you know from my Family Command Center post, I LOVE organization!

Which brings me back to my Grundtal storage containers–which by the way feature an airtight seal…

Coffee Beans & Tea
Coffee Beans & Tea

 

Adding Style:

These lovely airtight containers store our loose leaf teas.

Pretty Storage for Loose Leaf Tea
Pretty Storage for Loose Leaf Tea

 

And these lovely ladies are for brewing that perfect pot of tea.

Blue Ceramic and Brown Betty Tea Pots
Blue Ceramic and Brown Betty Tea Pots

 

It took me a few days to figure out where to put the sweeteners for tea and the coffee filters…but then I remembered that I had this cute little basket in my bedroom.

Storage Basket
Storage Basket

 

It was important that the cups we use every day were readily accessible–Hence the hook system.

Hooked on Coffee
Hooked on Coffee

Yup, those are Ikea cups…50 Cent Euro each 🙂

Magical Machines:

And now for the magical machinery that makes my addiction possible.

The Magical Machines
The Magical Machines

 

Because the only outlet in this area is a 220, we had to buy a new coffee machine, water boiler, and coffee grinder.  I prefer a mill, but can’t spend the 89 Euro just now. So, the tiny  grinder that you see peeking behind the coffee maker is our temporary solution.

I LOVE this coffee maker! If you a photographic memory, you noticed that the coffee maker in the first photo of this post was black and red. So what happened? A teenage boy, a ball, and a dog. Yup. The boy somehow managed to shove my coffee maker off of the counter and it slammed against the Command Center wall. After that…it didn’t work. So, we bought this one. And the bonus is that we now have two carafes! For some unknown reason the carafe was not inside the coffee maker when the boy had his little spaz moment.

So there you have it, my Coffee (& tea) Station! Simple, practical, and down right awesome*!

*Not tooting my horn–I am just so excited to have this in my kitchen!

 Coffee Station Reveal

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Coffee and Tea Station Main

 

Cost Analysis

cost analysis

Now come on over and enjoy a hot cup of java or a lovely pot of tea with me in my little sitting room.

The sitting room will be next week’s project 😉

 

 

Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home: Organizing Our Lives

As promised, here is the article on our Family Command Center.

Welcome to the first post in the series: Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home! As noted in the series introduction, one of my priority tasks was to turn a blank hallway wall into a practical and usable space that will keep my family organized and on task.

As you may know if you’ve been following my blog, I have two teenagers, two dogs, and a very busy husband and I have ADHD (also know as forgetful).  I will be attending intense 5 week courses through the University of Maryland soon and I’ve just picked up a part-time job on post. Life is about to become chaotic again–Yay! No, really–I’m happy about that!

As it is now, the kids bicker about chores–who did what and when (so does the hubby), so I spent hours cataloging the various chores that need to be done around here and created an amazing (at least I think so) spreadsheet. Here is what my first rough draft and testing center looked like for about a month.  It worked out very well, so I decided to forge ahead and finish the project.

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I spent several more hours pondering what the space would like, what I needed to buy, and how I wanted the space to function.

I printed out my pages and slipped them into plastic page protectors and then taped them to the wall.  It worked out well for a test run.

Because I live in Germany now, and am not familiar with the best places to shop, I ordered almost everything that I needed online.  Some of the following images are links to the items that I purchased online (photos that are links are noted).

I printed out my final spreadsheets and framed them. I use a wet erase marker to write on the glass.  Each Sunday, they get erased and I change the dates, notes, and menus.

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8.5″ by 11″ Frames Opens Link in new tab To Product information at Target.com

We are a family of “fairsies” so this requires alternating kitchen duty. I know that I have kids and most people with teens assign kitchen duty strictly to the kiddos, but we are all very busy (well maybe not me right now) and feel that taking turns lessens the burden. So, I came up with this chart.

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4″ by 6″ Frames Links to Product information at Walmart.com

The kids only argue when they together, so they have been paired with a parent. It’s working out very well.

And because I am a control freak by nature, I also create a task list for kitchen duties and a monthly task list.

Organization to the Extreme
Organization to the Extreme

After most of my products arrived and a trip to Ikea, I laid everything out on the floor along the Command Center wall.

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I purchased the dry erase calendar and wet/erase markers (which I prefer) at my local PX (it’s like a target).

After taking care of sick kids and getting over the bug, I finally started mounting everything to the wall.

I’m going to share the OOPS moment with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes!

I mounted all of the frames to the wall using a level to make sure the frames were all very straight.  I wanted a unified look, so I installed them flush against one another.

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It was going to look fabulous! Except that I forgot that the only way to insert the glass is to flex the frame corners! I could not get the glass in there if my life depended on it! So, back to the drawing board I went.

I needed a spacer so that each frame was lined up as exact as possible–because I’m a perfectionist.

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The solution was a dvd case.

*Hubby and I were NOT born in the 80’s–we were born in the 70’s, and this dvd has some cool highlights that we both sort of remember and remember well.

Anyway, here is how I used my “spacer”

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All that was left to do was fill in the frames, mount the calendar, and add a hanging file system and my Ikea finds.

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Only one thing remains: A large hook for my purse that will be mounted under the files.

One project down, several more to go. Stay tuned for the finished Coffee Station project!

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Turning Drab Army Housing into Our Home: Blog Series Introduction

Home vs Residence

Home isn’t simply where you sleep or live–it’s the space in which you do your living, and as such it should reflect your personality and express your lifestyle.  It should be a place that makes YOU feel welcome and comfortable.  It should function in a way that makes your life just a tad bit easier.  In all, it should be YOURS and not “theirs” (aka the manager/owner).

The Renter’s Dilemma

Because every rental comes with its own special set of rules, renters often feel that they must live with those white, off-white, or other bland colored walls.  Though we are allowed to paint our space, I am going to try my best to avoid it simply because I don’t want the hassle of repainting them when we leave in 3-4 years (which is inevitable in the Army).  We are however, allowed to mount pictures and shelves with no repercussions or special repairs before we move out.

In this blog series–which I will complete over the next year–I will share the process of making any drab rental into your home.

Drafting Ideas

I have several ideas brewing already and can’t wait to share all of the finished projects and rooms with you.

Here are some of my plans for our new space.

The Entry Nook

After entering the house, there is a longish hallway with an opening to the immediate left that leads to the sitting room/dining area followed by a strange alcove that sort of looks like it could be a closet, and then another opening to the left that leads into the kitchen.

I call this weird space the Entry Nook.  I want to use this space pragmatically, but make it stylish at the same time.  The idea is to have a dresser with four drawers (even though I drew it with three)–one for each family member.  Hats, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, purses–or whatever can be stored here. It is a dropping zone right now, and I hate it.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

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 The Dining Room

This is our dining room. In this picture it is pretty empty because I took it the week after we moved in (2.5 months before our furniture arrived).  This is still the basic plan, but we are planning on buying Ikea’s Ingatorp table and Ingolf chairs in white.

The door in the picture leads into the kitchen. The bookcase corner is positioned between the dining room and living room, but the hubby wants to put a large fish tank there. It is still under debate.

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Blank “Hallway”: AKA the Family Command Center

As I mentioned before, there are two openings to the left of the entry hall. This area is almost like a small hallway. There is a good sized blank wall and an otherwise useless space.  Here, I have a temporary “command” center.  I should have all of my supplies for this space in the next week or so.  This will probably be the topic of my second or third posting in this blog series.

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The Coffee Zone

We are coffee LOVERS in this house. As soon as I saw this kitchen, I knew exactly how this space would be used.  After a recent trip to Ikea, I now have pretty much everything I need for this space and will be posting about it soon.

To help make more sense of the layout of the house, I’ll tell you what is behind this wall: It’s the Entry Nook!  And behind the wall of the command center is the guest bath.

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I am very excited about the upcoming projects and hope you will enjoy this blog series.

Tschüß!