June Project Planning

So many projects, so few days.  Here is my top 10 list for this summer.

  1. Finish whitewashed strawberry bed.  It’s assembled an sitting in the front yard.  Need to add the logo, line with burlap and weed cloth, and fill with dirt.  Pinterest mashup.
  2. Make a pallet screen for the AC unit in the back yard.  Pallets to cover the two sides that people see, rock around the bottom for a nice clean look.   Use leftover stain from project 3.  This one comes straight off Pinterest and is repinned under Repurposed Garden, but the original site is no longer valid so I can’t link to it.  Here is the closest example I could find on Google.

    From forget-me-notlandscapedesign.com

  3. Refinish an old telephone table that we found at a yard sale by making my own steel wool and vinegar stain.
  4. Cover up my wireless router with old books on my desk at home.

    From Sewingbarefoot.blogstpot.ca

  5. Whitewashed, logoed terra cotta pots for my herb garden.  Already have the whitewash and old pots, just need to get a new printer cartridge and Mod Podge for the image transfer.

    From Kristieshelton.com

  6. Burlap the bay pot in the front yard.  Got the pot really cheap at Costco, it just doesn’t match my garden theme so I’m going to wrap it in old coffee sacks.

    From udandi.com


  7. Burlap welcome mat made from old coffee sacks and tack cloth.  To go with my burlap wreath and burlap pot that I made out of old coffee sacks.  Another pinterest mashup.
  8. Rain chain out of copper wire and electrical insulators.  Pinterest mashup.
  9. Porch swing.  This is my pie-in-the sky idea.  I would love to have one for the front porch, but with everything else going on, it might not happen this year.
  10. Pressed flower pictures and wrapping paper butterflies for my cubical next year.

    From thecreativemuster.blogspot.de

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The Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookie

Last night we had friends over to dinner and they told me about a hilarious website called Pinterest Fail where people can post their experiences with trying things they see on Pinterest.  I hopped on the site this morning and was honestly laughing my head off at some of the experiences of the posters on Pinterest Fail.  The post where someone used melted anal suppositories in place of glycerin in a mason jar snow globe had me crying and unable to breathe.

I kept running across this microwave choco chip cookie made in a ramekin on Pinterest Fail.  After reading the ingredients my only concern was a lack of levening, and I figured that in less than 5 minutes I would be able to test this one for myself.  Here is a sample of one of the fails showing what the poster expected, and what actually occurred.

Photo from Pinterest Fail

So I gave it my best shot.  I thought this was pretty easy.  I think you need to worry if the melted butter is too hot when you add in your egg so you don’t cook the yolk.  I mixed it well after each step in a separate bowl, then put in my ramekin.

1 Tbsp melted butter, 1 Tbsp white sugar, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 egg yolk, 3 drops vanilla, pinch of salt, 1/4 cup flour, 2 Tbsp chocolate chips (I actually used mini choco chips as it was all I had.)  Here are my before and after shots.

Cookie batter in ramekin cookie

I microwaved mine for 40 seconds, until it was firm to the touch.  It was really tasty.  It didn’t look quite like the photo in the original Pinterest post, because it raised quite a bit more than what is shown and it didn’t brown the same.  But it was certainly edible and gave the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie.  The texture was more cake-like, however.

After a successful round 1, I tried to do it again with an egg white (which was sitting there looking lonely) and the batter was thinner and the resultant cookie was rubbery.

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The Office Supply Caddy

Now that I have a desk job, I have a new space to decorate, limited only by what my boss likes, as we share a double wide cubicle.  Ha!  That always seems like a trailer park phrase to me.

The time had come to create some repurposed decor that has a function.  Enter the Office Caddy.  You know, something that will hold my paperclips, pencil, pencils, calculator, straightedge, protractor and compass set that my friend Ann gave me.  (I know, you’re wondering who actually keeps those in their office caddy?  I do.)

I perused the web far and wide searching for repurposed stuff that matches my personality.  A little geek, a little homespun, a splash of color, and something just a bit unusual.  The following pictures were inspiration for the project.

First, I fell in love with this one, because of the color and the unified theme.  Containers on a board seemed better than loose containers.  This is all sleek, shiny, bright and happy. It appeals to me on many levels.  I figured PVC pipe would work well for this, maybe with Fusion paint.  I was fresh outta PVC scraps and I have one color of Fusion paint in my stash.  It’s kelly green.  I definitely liked that little flat tuna-ish can for rubber bands.

I decided tin cans are a cylinder that I have easy access to.  I saved tin cans for a week or two, even encouraging The Gardening Stud to buy some smoked oysters which come in a great rectangular tin.  And Spam.  Do you see the depths to which I’m willing to fall for the sake of recycled crafts?  I liked this idea with scrapbooking paper or cardstock and figured I could come up with some.  Wasn’t sure what they used on the rim, looks like electrical tape or some plastic trimming.  This covered the ridges in the can, but wasn’t quite as sleek as the teal option.

Then I found this one, where the crafter wasn’t concerned about the ridges in the cans, just decoupaged into them and I think it works wonderfully.  See my progression…from sleek and stylized to homespun.  Try as I might to be sophisticated, I always return back home.

The question was:  Could I somehow meld all three of these ideas into something that is uniquely me?   So with nary a plan in mind, just random visions floating around in my head I set to work. And by “set to work” I mean “spent a month or two gathering supplies, working on it in the evenings, and redoing all the stuff I tried that failed.”   I don’t want to mislead you into thinking I actually know what I’m doing.

Here is the final Office Caddy.  Cost out of pocket: 0 dollars.  YES!  Redeeming myself from the whitewashed strawberry bed that cost me over 20 bucks.  That post is coming soon.  office caddy 1

Materials used:

  • 1 big can
  • 2 small cans
  • 1 tin from smoked oysters
  • 1 spam can
  • 1 small spice can
  • Wrapping paper scrap
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue (would have used ModPodge but was out, so used Elmer’s School glue)
  • Scrap board
  • Acrylic paints
  • Used burlap from coffee bag for decorations
  • Felt to line the bottoms of the cans
  • Used ribbon (it’s not in the picture above, I put it on the leftmost can after photographing)
  • Spray on Varathane
  • Assorted screws to mount cans to board
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The used marker project

Got Kids?  Got dried up markers?  Yeah, me too.  My kids have so many markers that we keep them in a tacklebox.  I think they breed in there.


The time had come to cull out the old nasty dried up markers and I thought, “Surely there is something I can make with dried up markers!”  Enter my friend, Google, who helps me solve all the problems of my life and learn new stuff at the same time.

The first idea, which is quite cool, is a mini science project on tornadoes.

Photo from Instructables

The second idea was to then use the barrels of the markers to make a jump rope.  I think I have some paracord that will come in handy for that project.  Next time I know a girl who is having a birthday, guess what she is getting?  “Ohai little girl, have an old-fashioned clackity clack jump rope, it’s da bomb!”

Photo from mommyonashoestring

But the pièce de résistance was to make alcohol ink out of them.  Handy stuff, alcohol ink.  Stay tuned because it will make a starring role in a project coming soon.  Maybe two projects!  Maybe three!

Photo from Crafting in a green world

I sorted my dead markers into piles of red, yellow, green, blue, purple and brown.  As it turns out, taking markers apart is pretty easy.  I came prepared with some serious weaponry but only pliers were needed.  For the thin markers you can grab the marker tip and pull straight out.  For the fat Crayola-type markers, you have to take out the tip with the pliers, then use the pliers on the back end to remove the ink barrel.  I washed my pliers in between colors, which is a first here at Breaking Urban Ground headquarters.  Washing pliers isn’t something we normally do.

Preparing to decapitate markers.

Preparing to decapitate markers.

I saved the plastic pen bodies to make jump ropes another day.

Here are the jars of alcohol inks.  I’ll let them sit for a day and leach the ink from the marker cores.  But I think they are beautiful already!


My Zen crafting moment shines in all it’s glory.  Do you see the beauty of this project?  It cost me nothing in materials, and used up every part of something I would have thrown away, and saved me the cost of a future birthday party gift, and provided paint for my upcoming office project, AND a free science experiment for Youngest Son.  I’m milkin’ this 6 ways from Sunday, I tell ya!

Updated 5/26/13:  The alcohol ink didn’t work as expected.  I had used 40% isopropyl alcohol.  If I were to do it again, I would get the 90% stuff from The Gardening Stud’s goodie supply when he was making an alcohol burning stove out of an aluminum can.  It simply doesn’t evaporate fast enough to work on metal and ceramic.  It does however, make lovely water colors.

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Projects in progress

Beautiful weekend here at Morning Wood Acres.  Here is a double rainbow from Friday, which was stormy.  Taken right at twilight from our front porch.   Image

The mommy duck that has taken up residence in the side yard now has 10 eggs.  The Gardening Stud, Youngest Son and I paid a visit to Bird House and Habitat and got her some seed.  She’s spending more time on the nest so 10 eggs might be all we get.  If she’s incubating we have about a month to find a kiddie pool for when they hatch.  The goal is that once they hatch we give them a week or so, then relocate them to a place closer to water.


I’ve got a few projects in varying states of completion:

  • Bean Beds-Oldest Son built and hung the bean trellises this week all along the back fence.  Need to clear away some sod then the beans get direct sown to ground.


  • Strawberry bed- I have cut the pallets and whitewashed them, need to screw them together and put my logo on one of the slats.  Have more sod to clear away from the area around the peach tree where the raised strawberry bed will go, then mulch in the whole bed.

Pallets after 1 coat of whitewash

  • Shelves for front porch-still in the design process.
  • Rain chain for front yard-designed in my head, need to procure some materials.
  • New Deck Project-The Gardening Stud  tore the deck apart last week.  It was one of those moments when I come home from work and the kids say, “Wait until you see what dad did!”  We had one rotting support under the deck that needed to be replaced so he tore into it to replace the support.  But while we’ve got it apart to fix that, we might as well improve it, right?  So this falls into the half-done-until-we-figure-out-what-the-heck-we’re-going-to-do catagory.

Not much going on with indoor projects this weekend:

  • The Garden Stud and Oldest Child made feta cheese.  It needs 4 or 5 days to age but preliminary test results had smile factor-maximum.  I see gyros in my future…maybe Friday.
  • Burlap wreath-have wreath form and coffee sacks from TV Coffee.  I think I’m going to turn this into an indoor/outdoor project so I can sit in the sun, cut up the sacks, and try to make something beautiful for my front porch.  Then I need to find some cool embellishments.

I’ll make complete posts of projects as I finish them.  One last happy picture for you.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend!


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Repurposed Wire Mesh Shelves into a Hanging Garden Trellis

This project was born last summer when we went to the local consignment auction.  At about 2:00 am they auctioned off a wire mesh cube shelf set that was in a box.  No idea how many pieces were there or what we would do with it, but no one was bidding for a dollar…so we jumped in and bid.  Seemed like we could find a use for it somewhere.  Originally it probably looked like this:

Wire mesh shelving unit.

When we bought it, it looked like this:

Wire mesh cube shelf that we bought at auction last summer for a dollar.

Wire mesh cube shelf that we bought at auction last summer for a dollar. There were 25 pieces in the box.

Fast forward to last weekend.  My father-in-law and I were talking about a trellis for the front yard vegetable garden.  We like to have veggies in the front yard because our kitchen window overlooks it and it makes it really easy to pick side dishes to go with dinner.  Just look outside and see what’s ripe.  Last year we had three different trellises and it looked a bit junky.  Given that this is our front yard, I wanted something that was sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, and cheap.  Cheap being the word that makes me smile with glee.

Tiny little trellis from last year couldn't keep up with our cucies.  This is the wall we need to cover.

Tiny little trellis from last year couldn’t keep up with our cucies. This is the wall we need to cover.

My father-in-law saw the shelving and we started hashing out a plan.  The plan went from a stake-in-the-ground trellis to a hanging trellis.  We perused the garage and found a piece of conduit about 8 feet long for the top bar that we could suspend under the eave.

It took my husband and me a few tries laying it out in a pattern that we liked.  We were confined to the garage as stormy weather was on the way.   I come from a family of quilters so I loved how the squares took on a geometric design, like a big quilted wall hanging.  We also made sure the gaps were big enough we could reach between the squares to pick our produce.

Laying out the shelving pieces to get the pattern we wanted.

Laying out the shelving pieces to get the pattern we wanted.

We decided to connect it with hog rings since they are cheap, sturdy, and we could probably find uses for the extras.  We made a trip to the local farm and garden store for supplies.

Purchased supplies.  Cost was 2.59 for the hog rings, and 1.29 each for the hooks.  I bought three of them.

Purchased supplies. Cost was 2.59 for the hog rings, and 1.29 each for the hooks. I bought three of them.

We gathered up tools:

Tools for the project.  Drill with drill bit slightly smaller than the hooks, tiny drill bit for metal screws at the end of the conduit.  Pliers or hog pliers, wire cutters in case you need to remove one, screwdriver.

Tools for the project. Drill with drill bit slightly smaller than the hooks, tiny drill bit for metal screws at the end of the conduit. Pliers or hog pliers, wire cutters in case you need to remove one, screwdriver.

Hog ringing without the proper pliers is easiest as a two person job.  I got the hog ring held in the pliers, then the gardening stud held the wires squares so I could fasten them.  Real hog pliers have little dimples on the sides to hold the rounded ends.  Our farm store sold them for about $14.  We figured we could make do with regular pliers.

In the absence of hog ring pliers, we used regular pliers and  put the hog ring in sideways.

In the absence of hog ring pliers, we used regular pliers and put the hog ring in sideways.

How we held the screens together to hog ring them.

How we held the screens together to hog ring them.

Hog ringing is a two handed job.

The span of the pliers was too big for me to do one handed. Joe’s help holding the shelving saved me tons of frustration.

Hog ring in place.  Makes a nice triangle.

Hog ring in place. Makes a nice triangle.

We did 4 vertical rows point to point, and one set of horizontal squares between them.  Then we decided it would be easiest to hang what we had so far, and hog ring the rest of the squares in place.

I drilled three holes into studs under the eave and screwed in our hooks.  We had them alternate direction so there is no way it can come out of the hooks.  We slid it in place from the end.  We found 4 cheap carabiners in the kids rooms to use to hold the wire mesh on the conduit.  Sorry, didn’t get a picture of that.

Conduit hanging under the eave.

Conduit hanging under the eave.

We also drilled holes in the end of the conduit and put some metal screws in the end so the carabiners can’t slide off.  Because we used a scrap piece of conduit, the carabiners are right at the edge of the conduit.  If we had conduit a few inches longer than the span of the hanging trellis, we could have skipped this step.

Drilling screws in the end of the conduit

Drilling screws in the end of the conduit as a stop.

The finished project doesn’t quite touch the ground.  Our plan is to use some temporary stakes when we put our plants in with string so they can climb to the first part of the trellis.  This will also limit the amount of sway that the trellis might have in the wind.  We don’t want our wee plants getting ripped out of the ground in a harsh wind.

Side view to show how far it is from the wall.

Side view to show how far it is from the wall.

Angle view so you can see the pattern.  From the road it's not very visible.

Angle view so you can see the pattern. From the road it’s not very visible. It has gaps big enough for us to reach behind the mesh grid pieces and pick our produce. This view shows the diagonal grid pieces best

Another view, still hard to see against the grey wall.

Another view, still hard to see against the grey wall. This angle shows the horizontal grids better. Impending storm didn’t allow for very good lighting.

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