Creative Ideas, DIY, Garden/ Food, Uncategorized

DIY- Make and Grow Your Own Vertical Garden

DIY grow vertical gardenSo, we have a beautiful little piece of property with mature trees and a good bit of shade. This makes for a lousy potential space for a garden without sacrificing several trees. However, there is a little square plot of land we have right next to our front porch that gets uninterrupted sunlight all day long. This got me thinking…how can I use this little piece of land to grown a garden. And then I had the idea of “growing up” instead of spreading it out. A vertical garden can be a great way to get a lot of garden veggies with a little bit of space. So whether you’re in the same boat we are (not much sunny space) or you live in a high rise with very little green space at all, this could be the answer to growing your own salad!

Get your stuff together

It was much harder than I thought it would be to find pallets! With all the Pinterest ideas floating around out there, you’d think it would be easy but there’s such a huge market for bulk buy-back that larger companies will not give these things away, nor would they sell them. Fortunately, we found some at our local wholesale garden center (of all places!) for $2 each. They even gave us rope to tie them to the roof of our Jeep! (Yeah, we didn’t bring rope…)

So, supplies:

  • 2 pallets
  • Thick landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun and long, heavy duty staples 
  • Potting soil
  • Plants (or seeds…your call on how long you want to wait
  • Plastic painters tarp (the clear plastic cheap kind works fine)
  • 4 2×4 boards
  • 4 hinges with screws

Put your stuff together

Lay the pallets face down (I consider the face to be the vertical boards and the back to be the basic cross boards that attach it all together). Take the landscaping fabric and cover the back entirely. Go nuts stapling the fabric to the pallet. Seriously…you can’t have too many staples here. 

Next, attach the 2×4 boards to the back of the pallets as seen below, using the hinges. You want the hinge to attach to the underside of the board and to the pallet so that the board will act as legs. 

Stand up your garden

Take your now-empty pallets and position them in their new space. Be sure the space is level. Once your satisfied with the position, adjust the legs to give the pallets a bit of a lean. Not too much and not too little. You don’t want all the dirt to slip out the rungs of the pallet but at the same time, you don’t want all the weight of the dirt pushing directly back on the landscaping fabric.

Fill her up!

Slowly fill up the rungs of the pallets with the potting soil. This process is a bit tedious as you’ll find more success hand-filling it rather than pouring the soil from the top (you’ll lose less dirt in the process). You’ll want to gently but firmly pack the dirt so that it doesn’t move freely and can better support the plants. 

Next, start adding your plants. It’s ok to plant them at an angle or completely sideways…the Sun will pull them upward very quickly! 

Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of the plastic covering we used to keep the baby garden safe during a heavy downpour but what we basically did is use thumbtacks to attach the plastic cover to the tops of the pallets. We kept the coverings behind the garden unless we needed them. Then it was easy to just pull the covers over the garden and make a tight, slanted cover that gently rolled the rain down the covers and safely onto the ground.

Pretty it up!

Once you get everything planted, gently water your garden. Use mist if you can and gently pack the dirt a little more to reiterate the strength of the plantings. Your plants may look a little wilty and sad, but they will perk up in no time at all! We also added wood chips so that we weren’t standing in a muddy puddle when we tended the garden during the season.

We used marigolds between the veggie plants to help keep our friendly, rude deer from stealing our salad!








Soon enough our garden took off and we had the beginnings of a wonderful salad!








Our garden about a month later!

Some harvest!


Kind of an accident, but having the squash at the top, we could direct the vines downward so they were off the ground but free to creep around. The veggies had less insect damage this way!


Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Creative Ideas, Family, Uncategorized

You’re invited to a tea party!

tea party invitationEarlier this year, Girl Child had a birthday party. And it nearly got away from me. She had asked for a tea party…a fancy one. With pretty things. And real tea. And tea cups.

My imagination started running wild with possibilities and ideas. Can you even imagine how adorable a little girl’s tea party would be?? Of course I started with the invitation- you can buy this template from Etsy here.

Tea Party decorations

With some brain-storming and lots of lists, here’s what I came up with. And mind you, saving money was the name of the game here.

So, how do you organize a little girl’s tea party without breaking the bank? Dollar Store, my friend. I was able to get a bunch of things that translated into fancy for very little money here. Things like “silver” plates, paper doilies, pink artificial flowers, pink crinkle paper, glass vases, toy pink bead jewelry, pink feathery boas, pink polka dot paper party plates, party favors…I picked up everything that looked delicate, fancy and formal. And I walked out spending $23. Thank you very much!

Once I had a lot of pink things for the tea party, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to spread to look like. The center-piece of the party, if you will. From there, I started rummaging throughout my house to find anything that looked like it belonged in a tea party. I found my grandmother’s old linens, small tea cups and tea pots, little teddy bears with lacy dresses and high tea hats, jewelry boxes, several unique tea pots, ceramic floral serving plates…all sorts of things.

Tea party spread

The idea here was to make a long table that would have all the food and tea spread out and have it nestled among all the pretty things so it would be a treat for the eyes to find the little treasures that gently say “yes this is a fancy tea party!”

Next up is the goodie bags. I didn’t want to use plastic bags because plastic bags do not say “fancy”! Instead, I used brown paper lunch bags and I folded a small doily evenly over the top. I then punched two holes in the top and tied the bag with brown twine. A simple and sweet way to deliver magical bubbles, a glow-in-the-dark wand, some bracelets and candies to attendees of the party.

tea party table decorationsEventually, I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to get some other items but I really tried to keep my purchase small because Hobby Lobby has the ability to make me see and buy things I didn’t know I needed!

So I bought a pink cupcake holder with sweet pink toile accents, tissue poofs for the wall decorations, floral paper napkins, and little bows to tie around the napkins with pink, plastic forks and spoons. My mother-in-law had small tea cups that were perfect for the girls and each one was beautiful and unique!

tea party spreadThe food: A friend graciously baked the cupcakes for us and they were amazing, of course! We went with ham and cheese tea sandwiches and used princess cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into little castles, high heel shoes and crowns. My mother-in-law and I made an assembly line to cut up 48 sandwiches! We had strawberries that I dipped in melted white chocolate and then dipped in sprinkles. I served carrots, cookies, apples and grapes along with our main event of hot tea.

I had different flavors of tea available for the attendees to choose from. And we had little sugar cubes, which the girls just loved!

tea party activitiesWe had some crafts, coloring and a game of balance the sugar cube on the spoon relay race, which the girls all loved. And thanks to my sweet mother-in-law, each girl got to take home her tea cup as a special keepsake!

All in all, the tea party was a success and I managed to keep the cost down to just under $125 for everything!



Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Under the Big Top!

So, you get approached to volunteer your trunk for the church Trunk or Treat event and you say ‘Sure!’, thinking that’ll be easy…just throw some decorations in the trunk and pass out candy.

But in the mind of a creative person, something starts gurgling around in the idea closet of the brain. Soon that gurgling becomes some actual thoughts and those thoughts turn into mental images and eventually those images get sketched into the idea book. Once the sketches are in the idea book and are visual…there’s no turning back.

And that’s how our Under the Big Top trunk was born:




It turned out great…but to be honest, it may have gotten away from me a little bit. Trouble is, I didn’t realize it had gotten away from me until I was neck-deep in supplies and tasks. Obviously, there’s no turning back now so I hunkered down and plowed through.

The trouble with a creative mind is that the final product has to look pretty darn close to the imagined result. Less than that simply will not do. And that’s where being a creative-minded person becomes exhausting. But, this is my reality so I am used to it.

In the design and preparation, not only did I have to create this imagined scene, I had to design it in a way that made it portable and “easy” to assemble in the church parking lot.

So, without further ado, here’s the break-down of our Under the Big Top design (keep in mind this was for a SUV so we had a nice hatch to utilize):

Items to be created:

  1. Tent for top of the hatch
  2. Audience inside car
  3. Tiger jumping through fiery hoop (i know, right?!)
  4. Lolli-pop ring toss
  5. Feed the tigers bean bag toss (this game was a HUGE hit…huge!)


  • 2 Red & 3 White poster board
  • Gluesticks
  • Duct tape (a ton of it!)
  • Tiger posters (we found a long poster that had three tiger faces on it and also a tiger running through flames poster)
  • Scissors, twine
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Cardboard/ 3 project display boards
  • Wire hangers
  • Floral foam
  • Straws
  • Carnival/ circus accent designs bought at Hobby Lobby


Tent: 2 red posters cut into tent sides (cut diagonal and taped together to make a solid triangle-shaped tent). 1 White poster cut exactly the same way as the red posters (use the red ones as a guide) and then angles cut to make stripes on the tent (you’ll want to make the angle with a second angle to mimic the part of the tent that hangs down). Glue the white cut pieces to the red poster. Attach some pieces of cardboard to the back to stiffen up the tent so it can stand up without bending. Free-hand cut a flag and use some cardboard to make a flag pole and attach it to the top.

Attach the assembled tent to on of the small flaps of the project display board. Lay the board on the table and open a flap…the tent will go on the outside of this flap. Use some extra cardboard pieces to make two triangle support pieces and attach them to the back of the tent on either side of the back. Only tape one side of each triangle piece so they can still fold.

Audience: I went online and found an image of cartoon people sitting in a row…I think I Googled “circus audience” and found a great picture. Print 12 copies landscape oriented and glue them side by side to 2 white poster boards that are portrait oriented. So you should end up with 3 rows of two on each poster board.

Tiger jumping through hoop: I took a pencil and tied a string to it so I could draw a circle around the tiger running through fire poster. It’s like a make-shift compass…hold the string down in the middle of the picture and pull the pencil tight and draw all the way around the picture. You’ll end up with a perfect circle. Cut out the circle and then cut the tiger out of the center. Don’t discard the scrap and be very careful to cut without extra cutting so the fire part stays intact. Cut a hoop out of the scrap part.

On the back of the hoop, attach unfolded and shaped wire hangers to the back of the hoop so it can stand on it’s own. Make sure the unfolded hanger handle sticks down so you can use that to poke into the floral foam.

For the tiger, on the back, add cardboard (or other) support so the tiger can stand upright without banding. Add a bamboo skewer so you can poke the tiger into the floral foam.

Feed the tiger game: Using the other 3-tiger faces poster, cut out each tiger face. Arrange them on a display board so that all three fit. Using a round object, cut out holes in the tiger faces and display board. Add decorations and signage.

Lolli-pop ring toss game: Measure out rows to place the lolli-pops on a display board. Using a blade of the scissors, poke holes, alternating 3 and 4 holes by row. So 4 on the top row, then 3 on the next and so on. Cut straws into small pieces and stick those small straws into the holes. On the back of the display board, bend the bit of straw sticking through downward (this will make the straw on the front stand upward rather than downward) and duct tape it down. You’ll add a lolli-pop in each straw when it’s time to play the game. Add decorations and signage.

So that covers the basic assembly. All of this is portable, folding down for easy transport. You’ll want things like workhorses to lean the games on. You’ll need things like bean bags and rings for the ring toss. Assembly is tying the tent to the roof with the twine. I poked holes into the edge of the display board and fed the twine through so that it stayed put.

I duct taped the bunting and curtains (found at Hobby Lobby) to glass parts of the SUV or to the display board on the rooftop. Don’t duct tape anything to the paint on your car!!!

For the audience inside, I curved the poster board a bit and duct taped it to the back cover bar in our SUV. I added stuffed animals doing tricks and I hung a “carnival” sign I found at Hobby Lobby.

So, like I said…it may have gotten away from me a bit but it worked out and we had a great time. We even won the trunk decorating contest, too!

Now…I need a nap and a visit to the chiropractor to fix my back from all that bending over and lifting stuff!

Happy trunk or treating!


Children, Creative Ideas, Poetry, Printables!

I’m quite the little zoo!

zebra-470305_960_720A few years back, boy child and girl child were enrolled in a preschool and as the school year was coming to a close, we wanted to do something special for the teachers from the kids. So I found a free zoo print background and printed the below poem I wrote on top of it to create a greeting card. Then I had the kids place zoo critter stickers all over the paper as they saw fit.

The teachers loved the card the kids had made and they so enjoyed giving their own sticker creations to their teachers. These ladies who cared for our children were so loving and kind every single day and we love and miss them dearly.


I’m Quite the Little Zoo

Like the lion and the Tiger,
I am getting big and strong.
I am also growing taller
Like Giraffe with neck so long.

Like the stripes upon the Zebra’s back,
There’s no one else like me.
I can play and climb and run around
Like a Monkey in a tree.

As a wise and wrinkly Elephant,
I am smarter every day.
I’m tough like Mr. Alligator
When I go out to play.

I’ve grown so much in this whole year
Thanks so much to you.
I’m many things as you can see
I’m quite the little Zoo!

Here’s a free printable version of the poem so you can use it with your child to make a handmade gift for your child’s teacher! Enjoy!!

I’m Quite the Little Zoo!