Garage Renovation Phase I


Our next big project is our garage renovation! We are tearing it down to studs and starting over. We have to replace a beam above the garage so this project has an extra tough component.


So this is how it started. Packed with crap and very little storage or room for Dale’s tools. BeforeReno3

So we set about tearing it apart. 


We sectioned off the back with tarps and moved a lot of stuff into the driveway and then started tearing into the drywall. Demo2

Dale picked up a Bagster from Home Depot, assuming it would hold everything. It didn’t! We ended up needing two of them. Incidentally, the Bagster service worked like a charm for us despite the mixed reviews we’d seen for it around the internet. Demo3

Dale had to tear out some wood. The pipe you see running along the top created a problem. The 2x4s were doubled up every four feet. Dale wanted to ensure that when the drywall went back up, the 2x4s were doubled up everywhere so we’d be able to put nails in anywhere.


You can see here where Dale has started doubling up the 2x4s, Surprisingly, this wasn’t a time-consuming process. We tore out one day and the next day we put all the new wood in place in an assembly line process. I got to use a mitre saw, band saw and a drill press to make this happen. I was in charge of the drill press to pre-drill holes. It made the whole process move a little faster, according to Dale. Rebuild2

All was going swimmingly until we discovered that some of the wood at the back of the house had rotted! And it really needed to be replaced! So we had to buy a special jack (the black pipe you see in the photo) to ensure the house was secure while replacing these boards. Rebuild3

You can see here where Dale took the boards out!
Rebuild4jpgCheck out the rotted boards! Ugh. Dale used a sawzall to get them out. He replaced them with new boards.

The next phase is fixing the beam and putting in insulation. Dale is gunning for spray foam insulation so that will be a big project all on its own. Then we’ll put up new drywall and much-need storage elements.

How to Make a Desktop Fairy Garden

Miniature or fairy gardens are super popular in the Midwest right now. I decided to make a desktop fairy garden for my work office.
Desktop Fairy Garden

Sadly, I’m a black thumb–that’s someone who kills everything they touch despite all of their best efforts to keep flora and fauna alive! But, I do have a few plants flourishing right now on the front porch because I have made a point of letting nature take its course and leaving them largely alone. So I wanted to make something to spruce up the office at work (as opposed to the office at home). I work for a small publishing company and my office is a cube with no direct light. So I hung some fabric and framed a cute art card but it still needs something else.

If you’d like to make one, too, here’s what I used:


  • decorative box
  • bubble wrap (or newspaper)
  • champagne cork and wire
  • 1-inch terra cotta pot
  • plant clippings (I used succulents, known for being hardy and easy to grow in anything)
  • appropriate soil for your plant clippings
  • root powder (optional)
  • glue (optional)
  • glass pebbles (from the floral department of your craft store)

Fairy Garden Supplies My bevy of supplies–I used very few of them, actually. Less is more (or so I’m trying to tell myself). Fairy Garden Box First the prep work: I put large bubble wrap in the bottom of a mini decorative box. I put some glue on the bubble wrap (pretty pointlessly, I’d bet) and then took some dried moss and spread it out over the bubble wrap: Dried Moss as base for fairy garden.  Wheee! It looked pretty cool. Better than I expected, to be honest. I’d never even touched dried moss before. Rooting Mini PlantsI dabbed some rooting powder onto my clippings. I have no faith they will do anything but die so I didn’t sweat it too much. I’d say this is an optional step. 1 inch potted plantI got a few one-inch pots at Michael’s and put one to use here. I filled it with soil and then placed my clippings in. It looked pretty great, which came as a total surprise to me. Fairy garden componentsSo I had my little decorative box and a champagne chair I’d made previously as well as the cork from the same bottle of Cinzano. Making a chair out of a champagne cap is crazy easy and instructions are widely available. I think Design Sponge has a quick and easy one if you want to make your own. I opted to use the cork as a little table for the chair. Desktop Fairy Garden And here is how I put it together. There’s a lovely real plant, a little fairy chair and a little fairy table. In addition, I put glass pebbles along the edge in a haphazard pattern to form a little pathway. I also glued the pebbles (which, in retrospect seems fairly pointless). Cat eating fairy garden Sadly, immediately after the fairy arrived, my cat Bela came up and ate it. Better luck next time, fairy!

Kidding! Though Bela loves to eat bugs. Anyway, it was a quick and easy project that will be very charming on my desk at work.

Office Chandelier and Rewiring Project

Office chandelier.

So this might be a bit technical. If you’re just in it for the pretty, check out this image of the finished product: My new office chandelier!

Office chandelier.


Those are flowers Dale gave me for my birthday that I LOVED. And the print was a Christmas present from etsy! Dale added the hooks for me and I use them for my laptop bags and other stuff.

How we got it to work with the light switch was a bit of a challenge.

How to Rewire a Room

Rewire1We had wire where the ceiling fan used to be. So, for those who would like to know how to rewire a room, instruction are as follows:


Above is a simple explanation of what we started with. Our house did not come with lights connected to a light switch when it comes to the bedrooms so we will have to do this in each of the bedrooms as we remodel.

Here’s Dale’s explanation of the illustration:

The inverted triangle represents “ground” in an electrical circuit. In reality ground is a white wire that runs back to the fuse box, completing the circuit. For visual simplicity it is represented as an inverted triangle.

The hot (black) wire runs from the fuse box to a junction in the closet, from there it’s split four ways:

  • Closet light
  • Ceiling fan (soon to be chandelier!)
  • Light switch (which sends power via an orange wire to 1/2 of outlet 1
  • second half of of Outlet 1, then outlets 2 & 3

This all worked fine if we wanted a ceiling fan operating from a pull string and a lamp plugged into a wall outlet. We didn’t want that. We wanted to have a chandelier controlled by the wall switch.

This illustration shows you what we did:


  • The wire feeding the fan was disconnected from the “hot” wire at the junction box.
  • The orange wire between the switch and 1/2 of outlet 1 was disconnected at both ends and capped.
  • A new wire (yellow) was fed from the junction box to the switch.
  • The yellow wire connects to the switch and is tied to the wire feeding the ceiling light.
  • Outlet 1 has been replaced and now functions like outlets 2 & 3.

Here’s a quick rundown of how we did it:

WE TURNED THE ELECTRICITY OFF. Just to make that clear! And we hooked up the new wires in exactly the same places and in the same ways as the old wires. We were not reinventing anything.

Tools Used:

  • cable snake
  • wire pulling lubricant
  • yellow electrical wire
  • chandelier from Ikea


We pulled the closet light down to access the wires since it serves as the junction box for the room. We then pulled the wires out at the switch itself: rewire4We tried a couple of methods for feeding the wire but ended up using a cable snake to pull the new wiring.


The cable snake worked well and we also used lubricant for the wire (it really helped).


We pushed the cable snake into the switch box end and it came out in the closet, at the junction box. We hooked the new yellow wire onto the cable snake and pulled it through the ceiling to the light switch:

Rewire7And there it is! We felt quite triumphant when it came through. Ha! You can also see in this photo that the orange wire was still attached to the light switch.


Next we had to open up outlet 1.


And the orange wire was also attached to outlet 1.


We capped the orange wire. We could have pulled it out entirely but we figured if, for whatever reason, we wanted to reconfigure in the future we might as well make it easier on ourselves. Rewire12

We capped the orange wire at the light switch and tucked it in the wall. Then we screwed the yellow wire where the orange wire had been. And we also attached the yellow wire to the appropriate spot in the junction box. Voila! Rewire14

Then Dale followed the directions for installing the little chandelier as you would any light fixture.


And carefully disentangled the cardboard and plastic once it was reasonably in place. Rewire16

And that’s how adorable it looks! Can you stand it? Because I can’t! I LOVE IT.

How to Make Mason Jar Lights

How to make mason jar lights

I wanted to learn how to make mason jar lights so I set about keeping pretty jars and snagging a few at garage and estate sales (at about 50 cents each).

I read a few instructions online and found that some were better than others and ended up using a mishmash of the instructions I found online and my own experiences in bending wire when developing the little hangers that go on these cards I used to make.


The tools I used:


Start by getting cutting off enough wire to wrap around your jar lip at least two times (I like to have extra to play with). At the halfway point of the wire, bend it and wrap it twice around a pencil. My wire was rustic and made my hands dirty so I used gloves.

2-JarWrappingFrom there you press the little circle up to against the jar (under the lip, obviously) and wrap the long ends of the wire around the jar, shaping it as you go. Now grab your pencil again!

4-JarWrapping2Using the pencil as a form, wrap the wire around it twice. I wrapped each side once but it could work any number of ways. This part was tricky, I must say, because my wire was rather stiff. It didn’t make for the tidiest finished circles but it will be hanging in the dark so I let myself off the hook in this case. Remember: Part of the charm is that it’s not manufactured!


Once your second loop is formed, snip the wire as close to the jar as you can and tuck in the sharp edge. My cutting pliers were bulky but if you use lighter wire/smaller cutters you might get a more delicate result.

6-hookThe easiest part is the handle. Just take your wire, cut a piece to a length as long as you’d like for hanging, and hook each end up under the loops you created. I tried several variations including making the whole thing one long piece of wire, and I did  not like how that turned out. Two pieces was simplest and allows you to make the hooks as long or as short as you’d like (and swap the hooks out accordingly if you decide to hang them somewhere else later).

8-JarsI made an assortment, with a variety of hook styles and wires. As you can see, I also made a tiny one with dainty wire and a decorative one with seed beads placed on the wire to put it on an outdoor table. They looked pretty cute lit up!