Friday, April 27, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Front Porch Projects--Part 2

In my last post, I gave you the 4-1-1 on why we waited 6 years to add some curb appeal to our home.  You can read that here.  That post also talks about the sweet little bench we made using an old headboard.  We love us some re-purposing around here!
Our front porch is odd.  You can't even really call it a front porch but it's bigger that a stoop so by default it's a porch.  The odd thing about it is that the concrete pad ends just past the front door.  We also have a storm door (that we'll soon replace with an old-fashioned screen door) so with that open you can't put arrangements or plants on either side of the door.  I'm a symmetry kind of gal, I've had to learn to let it go.  It's just not going to work and I know this because I've tried to make it work for 6 years.  There is a huge space between the door and the front window where the bench lives now so we've decided that any plant/arrangement/vignette would have to go there.  I'll show you what I mean:
The light in the top left hand side of the picture is our front porch light and just a bit further over is the door.  I like the idea of being able to change this one area to fit the seasons or holidays because it's not terribly taxing or expensive to do so.  I saw a project over on Pinterest (you know I love me some Pinterest) and unlike the bench photos that sat on my "Making a House Into a Home" board for nearly a year, I had full intentions of doing this as soon as possible.  You can see the inspiration project here.  Seriously, I looked at it and thought "How hard could it be?"  Famous last words?  Possibly.
First of all, I started off with plastic pots.  They were a pretty spring green, but I wanted them to be black to match the bench so I sprayed them with a a couple of coats of Fusion spray paint.  It's specifically made for plastic but you can also use it on wood, etc.  Then I just went into the program I use to edit photos and printed out "Welcome" in a font I liked.  I taped a sheet of graphite paper to the largest pot, positioned the letters over it, and then outlined the letters with a pencil.  I then traced right over it with a paint pen.  Easy peasy.  Since it was likely that water would be getting on the pot (I mean they hold flowers after all) I sprayed a couple of coats of sealer over "Welcome" to make it a bit more durable.
The inspiration project calls for terracotta pots.  I don't have good luck with terracotta pots at all and I wanted them black to go with the bench and terracotta is a pain to paint because it soaks the paint in like a sponge. Do yourself a huge favor and either use terracotta pots or find pots that have a drainage hole in the bottom like terracotta pots have.  I didn't think about it when I bought them but they are necessary because you'll use a dowel rod through the pots to give it some stability.  No holes in the pots means I spent nearly an hour yesterday cutting holes in the bottom of the pots.  How awesome am I?  Pretty awesome.
In addition to the three or four pots you'll use for your tower, you also need three additional pots to use as lifts.  So in other words, if the pots you'll see are 14", 12", 10" and 8", you'll also need additional 12", 10", and 8" pots to use as lifts (and I'll refer to these as lift pots).  You'll also need a 3 foot dowel rod in addition to the potting soil and plants.  Let me just say that these are the sizes we used and that the smaller pot sizes worked for us.  You may want to give it a try in the store in case you have to move down to smaller diameter pots.
I'm going to describe this using the sizes we used.  As with any project, if you have a question just shoot me an email or ask in the comments and I'll try to help you out!  We placed the 14" pot on the ground and then flipped one of the12" pots upside down and put it into the 14" pot.  Then we placed a 12" pot right side up on top of the that.  We placed a 10" pot upside down in that pot and then placed a 10" pot right side up on top of that.  Then the 8" goes upside down and another 8" on top right side up.  We slid the dowel rod through the middle and marked where to cut it and Barry just cut it to size very quickly with the circular saw.
Now, disassemble the tower.  Trust me--DISASSEMBLE but leave the lift pots inside the pots you've put them in.  Every tutorial I saw online for this kind of project had you filling the pots while the tower was assembled and it makes the biggest mess ever.  I was COVERED in potting soil after attempting to fill just the first one.
So, take the 14" pot with the 12" lift pot upside down in it and slide the dowel rod through the hole.  Fill the pot with potting soil leaving the bottom of the 12" lift pot uncovered.  Slide the other 12" pot with the 10" lift pot upside down inside of it down on top of it so that the bottoms are touching.  You may have to add a handful or two of potting soil to cover up that line.  Fill the 12" pot with soil, leaving the bottom the 10" lift pot uncovered.  Follow the same steps for the other two pots.
You should now have an assembled tower with a dowel rod through the middle for stability.  We cut the dowel rod about two inches longer than the bottom of the top pot so that it didn't poke out of the top of the flower pots and still gave room for the plants in the top pot to grow.
Now, for the plants.  You'll notice that there isn't a whole lot of room to plant something with a big root system so you'll want to choose plants that will work for the amount of sun the area gets but will also be small enough to plant.  I correctly assumed that plants you can buy in the small 6 packs would work best.  I used impatiens and vinca in the bottom three pots and I used pentas and mint in the top pot.  I think it will look great when it's all filled in.  And if it doesn't, well, they're annuals so I can try to do better next year.  Here's the finished project just after planting.

I love that you get a little whiff of mint every time you walk up to the door!  (The metal piece in the first photo was purchased at Hobby Lobby several years ago and used to live in A's nursery.) 

Peace and Love, Jen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pinterest Inspired Front Porch Projects--Part 1

Okay, so here's a true confession for you--we've lived in our home for 6 years and have not added one iota of curb appeal.  Zilch.  Nada.  Nothing.  We'd planned to, but we have a lot of kids and I've spent a lot of that 6 years pregnant or taking care of a little one and it just wasn't a priority.  We haven't even parked in the carport in several years because you couldn't fully open the doors of even our smallest vehicle, which is a huge pain when you are trying to put kids in carseats.  It should have been way up there on the ol' "To Do" list because EVERYONE that comes to our house uses the front door, including us.
Last year, Barry and I decided that this was our forever home.  This means that projects that we would have put off in a starter home have to be tackled to make this the home we want to still be in when our grandkids visit (which will be many, many, many moons from now).  So my "you know what I'd love to do to the house" has turned into "we must do this to the house."  We've made lists and have them on a phase plan.  We've been in Phase One of Curb Appeal for a couple of weeks now, mostly because we can only work on things when Barry is off work.  I've always wanted a bench in front of our living room window but never got around to actually purchasing one.  Months ago on Pinterest, I pinned these little gems that repurposes a headboard to make a bench. You can see them here and here.  I'm sure there are a ton of others on the net as well.
Like most things on Pinterest, I pinned them and forgot about it.  Yeah, that's how I roll.  But several days ago, I was browsing through my "Making a House Into a Home" board and found them again.  Hootie Hoo!
Did anyone else love Carla on "Top Chef"?  She's so cute!  Love her on "The Chew" too!
I just so happened to have a headboard lying around the house.  No joke.  It belonged to my grandfather who passed several years ago.  I waffled back and forth about using it, but it's really not doing us any favors by sitting in our shed collecting dust.  This way I can get some use out of it and I think he'd like that.  Barry and I challenged ourselves to repurpose everything we could and spend less than $20 on the bench. 
I'm not going to go into how we did it with pics and whatnot because these ladies cover it pretty well, but we basically built a rectangle the length and depth we wanted the seat to be out of 2 x 4s and added a few braces in the middle for extra support.  Then we attached it to the headboard and covered the 2 x 4 base with 1 x10s.  The headboard legs act as the back legs so we only needed to purchase two front legs and two top plates for the front legs to screw into.  And here she is!

I'm not crazy about the legs but there was a very limited selection at our Home Depot, so I'll get different legs at some point and re-purpose these for another project that I'm planning.  We came in at around $17 for the bench.  And please excuse the mess of boards on the right side of the shot--cleaning up the mess from all of this is next on the list.  :-)
You may also notice the flower pots on the left side of the shot.  You can read more about those in Part 2.

Peace and Love, Jen

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pregnant Belly baby shower cake

Stephanie is just about as sweet as you can get.  She's expecting baby Brody in a few weeks and her best girlfriends threw her a baby shower.   The cake was chocolate and was covered and decorated in marshmallow fondant.  I don't know if you can see it well in the pick but there is a tiny baby foot poking out of the belly.  I love it when people send me a picture of the cake in it's setting! 

Peace and Love,

Yo Gabba Gabba cake

Jacob's mom and dad serve our church as youth ministers but their own little youth is only two years old.  And he loves Yo Gabba Gabba.  I have to admit that it's one of the shows that my little ones watch that doesn't make me want to pull my hair out.  HA HA!  The top two tiers were yellow cake and the bottom tier was chocolate.  It was covered and decorated in marshmallow fondant with gumpaste stars.  The characters were all cut by hand.

Peace and Love,

Bayou birthday cake

 This cake was for 16 year old girl's birthday party.  She's the oldest of 7 kids and her mother described her to me as "family-oriented".  She wanted to celebrate her big day with family who live on a bayou in Louisiana and that made for an easy theme.  The cake was a strawberry sandwich cake (strawberry cake sandwiched in between two layers of white cake) and covered in marshmallow fondant.  The tree stump, alligator, sign, cattails, and rocks were made of gumpaste.  The water was piping gel and the grass was icing.

Peace and Love,

Teen Titan's Birthday Cake

It's rare to get to do a cake for a superhero loving little girl and this little girl loves the Teen Titans!   It's one of my favorite shows too!  Her birthday cake was chocolate and covered and decorated in marshmallow fondant.  Titans Tower and the character plaques were made of gumpaste.  It was also my first foray into piping gel, which I've discovered I'm not terribly fond of.  But it makes pretty water!

Peace and Love,