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Oct 19, 2018

Autumn Projects Roundup

We had our first snowfall yesterday morning, which I think means we are cruising right past autumn and moving on to winter here. But for those of you lucky enough to still have fall-like weather, here are some seasonal crafts and recipes you may have missed. (Click on an image to go to the original post.)

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Mason Jar (Flameless) Candles

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Acorn & Pinecone "Tree" Centerpiece

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Autumn Burlap Wreath

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Reversible Scarecrow/Snowman Sign

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Porch & Mantel Decor

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Dryer Vent Turkey and Pumpkin Centerpieces

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle (No need to bake!)

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Beef and Vegetable Soup

Oct 15, 2018

Adding a Wooden Fence to your Property

So, the journey continues to add more curb appeal to our property. I've always felt that the front of our house, including the yard, was too plain. The plans I carry around in my head include more trees, shutters on the windows, and possibly a stone fa├žade. And the house itself is fairly close to the road so it really needed something to provide a visual break.

Adding a wooden fence to your property

After mapping out the fence with stakes and string, we rented a mini skid-steer with an auger attachment and dug the post holes. The first few were easy, but we did hit rocks in most of them after that. It only took a couple of hours to do all fourteen holes. I can't imagine how long it would have taken if we'd had to dig them by hand.

mini skid-steer with auger

Once all of the holes were dug and the loose dirt cleaned out - that part was done by hand while lying on the ground, scooping, scooping, scooping - we positioned the 6x6 posts and filled the holes with rapid-set concrete. We started by putting some gravel down to provide drainage, then the post, which we leveled with two temporary crosspieces facing different directions. That corner post level was a God-send!

installing fence posts

installing fence posts

We then alternated adding concrete, gravel, and water until the hole was slightly overfilled (to allow for settling). The concrete hardened fast enough that in 20 minutes we could remove the crosspieces, to be used on the next post.

Adding a wooden fence to your property

Once the posts were in, we hung the 2x6 horizontal rails with concealed-flange joist hangers that I spray painted a glossy black. These are joist hangers that you would use when building a house or deck. We wanted the rails to be centered on the posts, but didn't want to have to drill through every post to hang them. These were perfect, and the black colour makes them look like high-end hardware.

concealed flange joist hangers

The screws attaching the joist hangers to the posts are hidden behind the rail ends, and then low-profile cabinet screws connect the hangers and rails. We built a simple jig from scrap wood to ensure that each hanger was centered on the post. The cabinet screws have a washer head that gives an upgraded look.

Adding a wooden fence to your property
Adding a wooden fence to your property

Our lot slopes to one side, so we had to eyeball the rail placement so that they look level, even though they aren't. I spent a lot of time standing out on the road, squinting and calling out for adjustments. However, we did use a spacer between rails so that they remain the same distance apart from section to section.


Adding a wooden fence to your property
Adding a wooden fence to your property

The final step was to cut off the tops of the posts. We cut them a little at a time so that they didn't end up too short. I think we're going to keep the look streamlined and leave the tops squared off, but I also think I'd like them to be about an inch shorter than they are right now.

Before cutting:
Adding a wooden fence to your property

After:
Adding a wooden fence to your property

One thing I do know is that the fence looks fantastic with the trees behind, especially now that the leaves are changing colour. The natural wood fence warms up the look of the front yard and gives a solid framework to the whole property.

Adding a wooden fence to your property
Adding a wooden fence to your property
Adding a wooden fence to your property

Sep 17, 2018

Birthday Milestone

No new projects this weekend - it was our Chloe's birthday and we spent the whole weekend celebrating her.

Happy 13th birthday to my beautiful girl!

mastweiler
mastweiler rottweiler potcake
mastweiler

Sep 6, 2018

Cheese and Chile Pepper Biscuits

I was noodling around in the kitchen this weekend, making batches of soup and chili. Don't ask me why chili in this sweltering heat - I'd just had a mad craving for it all week. And what goes better with chili (or soup for that matter) than soft, flaky biscuits? I started out following a recipe online, but found I didn't have some of the ingredients so I had to keep making substitutions. The results were so good that I had to share the recipe.

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
3 cups grated cheese
1 cup yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup chopped pickled peperoncini peppers (aka friggitelli)
1/2 cup milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour until well-combined, so that it's like coarse meal. Add in the cheese, yogurt, and peppers, stirring until you have a sticky dough. If your mixture is still too dry, add milk a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.

Roll out your dough onto a floured surface and cut into circles with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until the tops are a nice golden brown.

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits

The sweet peppers add just enough heat without being overpowering, and the yogurt makes the biscuits so perfectly moist. I stored them in a plastic container on the counter, and after 4 days they're still as soft and flaky as on the first day.

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits

Cheese & Chile Pepper Biscuits



Aug 13, 2018

Stenciled Mailbox (using Silhouette Cutter)


We've been in our current house for about 2.5 years. This past weekend I finally - finally - got around to putting our name on the mailbox.

Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

I've been thinking about it for months, but week by week the time slipped away, until I eventually just got up off my butt, took down the vinyl cutter, and did it.


Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

I cut out the letters with my Silhouette cutting machine. I love the Silhouette. I'm not a "stencil all the things" kind of person, but when I do need one, this machine makes it so easy.
Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

You design your image on the computer screen with the Silhouette software, feed in your stencil material (it works with more than just vinyl), and let the machine cut the pattern for you. Bing, bang, boom, done. **This is not sponsored, I just think it's a great machine.**

Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

It took two tries to get the letters on as the paint I chose the first time didn't stick. The second time I changed to spray paint and also used a spray primer for extra security.

Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

Besides our name, I also added dog paws because, well, it's no surprise how much we love our dogs. They are family and deserve to be represented.

Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)

I'm sure that at some point it will need to be repainted as our road is heavily traveled, so dust, dirt, and gravel are constantly being thrown around. But the great thing about having the cutter is that I can whip up another copy at any time.

Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)
Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)
Stenciled Mailbox (Silhouette cutter)



Jul 17, 2018

DIY Angled Plant Stand

We've been through a bit of a heat wave these last couple of weeks (I'm not complaining - honest!) that put a halt to any outdoor projects. We've spent most of our off time lounging on the couch just trying to stay cool. We've also been ridiculously busy getting the new pups settled and into a routine we can all live with. Check out my Instagram feed for more - it's supposed to be DIY/travel/crafts, but it ends up being mostly dog pics.

Now that it's easier to breathe outside, we've turned our focus to the back deck. We have a huge deck that runs the entire width of the house - just a gorgeous amount of space to work with. But we spend so much of our free time working on other projects, that we don't get to enjoy it often enough. And it shows. I've vowed that this year we'd make it a place we'd wanted to hang out. The first step was to add more greenery.

Angled Plant Stand

This plant stand idea comes from Overalls and Power Saws, and Brittany has very detailed instructions if mine aren't clear enough. Our planter is taller than hers so the measurements will be different, but the idea is the same. We also changed the top support to a 4x4 and added a board on top to cap it off.

Materials:

4 - 2x4x47" (uprights)
2 - 2x4x22" (base)
2 - 2x4x12" (base)
1 - 4x4x10" (top support)
1 - 1x4x9" (top)

Start by building the base. The four base pieces are attached to each other in a rectangle using pocket screws on the underside. The 22" pieces go along the front and back with the 12" pieces on the sides.

Angled Plant Stand

To make the uprights, you'll cut the ends of your long 2x4s with a miter saw. The upright boards slope inwards side to side and front to back, so you'll need to cut the board at two angles at the same time. Set the bed angle at 7 degrees and the blade angle at 12 degrees. This is a complicated cut that you might want to practice on a scrap board first to make sure it's right. 

The four upright boards are anchored to the base with screws attached from underneath. Once the boards have been screwed in place, stand the frame upright and lean the boards against each other while the top support is put in place.


Angled Plant Stand

For the top support piece, take the 4x4 and run it through the table saw with the blade set at a 7 degree angle. Flip the wood around and do the same to the other side to get a trapezoid shape.


Angled Plant Stand

Next you'll attach the 4x4 support to the tops of the upright boards. Line up the bottom of the support with the outer edges of the boards. The ends at the top of the support will stick out on either side as the uprights slope inwards. Make sure the tops of the boards slightly overhang the top edge of the support. Keep in mind that all of the overhanging edges will be cut off later. If you have an air nailer, you might want to put a couple of finishing nails in each board to hold it in place while you screw them in. Attach two screws straight through each board into the support piece, maintaining your angles.

Angled Plant Stand

Now that your frame is built, you'll need to cut off the extra "bits". Take a reciprocating saw or a handsaw and cut off the upper corners of the support piece so that the angle matches the upright boards. Cut off the tips of the upright boards so that they're level with the top of the support piece. Finish with a palm sander to smooth out any rough or uneven spots.

Angled Plant Stand

Angled Plant Stand
Angled Plant Stand

The final piece to attach is the "crown" on top. This piece isn't on the original plan, but we added it just to give the planter a more finished look, and to provide a level spot if we ever wanted to set something on it. Attach it with finishing nails for a cleaner look or screws if you don't mind filling them.

Angled Plant Stand

You can now finish your planter in whatever way you desire - paint, stain, lacquer - or leave it bare if that's the look you like. I puttied and sanded the screw/nail holes that were visible, and then I did a multi-step process - first a coat of stain in Minwax's Jacobean, then a coat of stain in Minwax's Classic Grey, and then finally some light brush strokes of white paint to give a weathered look. After applying the white paint I went over some areas with more grey stain if they needed to be blended.

Angled Plant Stand

Once dry, you'll add your chain and plant hook. We used the combination of an eye hook, carabiner, chain, and then one more carabiner at the bottom, as the chain loops weren't wide enough for the plant hook.

Angled Plant Stand

And there you have it. A plant stand that's also a bit of an art piece. There's a mix of texture with the rough wood, smooth chain, and nearby glass and metal, yet the neutral colours let the green in the plants's leaves just pop.

Angled Plant Stand

Angled Plant Stand

Angled Plant Stand

Angled Plant Stand




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