Bzzzz November 6th, 2012

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people’s garages aren’t all that attractive. Unless you’re one of the 1% who has a warehouse garage with sparkling stainless steel cabinets and shiny painted floors or are one of those weirdly disciplined people who don’t ever let clutter get out of hand, you probably have a garage corner or two that wouldn’t qualify for an Architectural Digest spread.

Our garage is no exception. We have a two-car garage where we actually do park two cars. We don’t have a shed because my family has a very bad track record with sheds. In my family, once you get a shed, you soon must have a shed for your shed. Then your shed’s shed needs a shed.  I figure I have that crazy shed-junk-hoarding-gene that would kick in if we had a shed. So, no shed.

I tell you this so you will understand that our garage must also serve as storage for all my garden paraphernalia, chicken supplies, bird food bins, recycling bins, lawn mower, power washer—well, you get the idea. It’s not even a roomy two-car garage. But we just can’t go down that shed path.

As part of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas “Address the Mess” challenge, I decided to give one of those corners a makeover. Just like on TV!

So, here’s the before.

Not pretty. We do a lot of outdoor exercise, so there is always an impressive collection of running shoes by the garage door. The towels are for washing cars or drying off wet dogs and husbands. All that mess on top of the frig is for the chickens. I buy canned corn from Walmart at $.67 a can, which goes a long way toward explaining why they follow me around like puppies and come when I call. And, as you can see, I save egg shells. They get crushed up and added to the garden once that bucket is full. (Yes, I know it’s full.)

I decided to paint this section of the garage wall as a chalkboard and do a bit of moving around. Using supplies from Lowe’s, here’s what I came up with.

With a new shelf I was able to relocate other frequently-used items near the door. The open-wire shelving means less mess collects on the shelves from our running shoes. Bulletin board squares provide a handy place to post my Good Bugs/Bad Bugs cheat sheet and also any other lists or magazine articles I want to keep handy.

But the coolest part, in my opinion, is the chalkboard wall. I can use it to write seasonal messages, to-do lists, welcome messages or just to draw new artwork as the mood strikes.

This was my first experience using chalkboard paint. I found that it went on amazingly well, requiring only a single coat with a roller. I had to be careful not to go over the painted areas too much because once the paint was down it was easy to pick it back up by rolling over it too much. This wall took just a little more than a quart.

Once you paint your wall, wait at least three days before writing on it. If you cover the whole chalkboard area with chalk and erase it, it will have more of that chalkboard look and less of a black wall look.

What did all this cost? Here are the numbers:

Black wire shelving – $79.97

2 quarts chalkboard black paint – $25.96

5-piece paint roller kit – $12.98

Bulletin board squares – $8.99

Decorative wood molding – $25.17

White trim paint – mine

SUBTOTAL – $153.07

Lowe’s 10% military discount – $15.31


I think it’s a great investment! Of course, now the other three corners of the garage are crying out for their own makeover. What do you think? Isn’t this a great way to address the mess?


Posted In: DIY, Lifestyle

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Bzzzz July 22nd, 2012

I love my pet chickens. I don’t always love what they do to my garden.

If you have visited here before, you may know that I’m in the habit of letting the chickens go on walkabout for a few hours in the late afternoon and early evening. This is the time of day they have finished their egg laying chores and are ready for a little bit of exercise and fresh air. Generally, I’m either outside nearby or have the windows open so that I can hear the distinctive alarm that means “Warning! Warning!”

But I can’t always keep an eye on all the hens. They amble here, run there and generally take in the whole front and back yard scampering after bugs, worms, snakes and salamanders. Rarely do they travel in  one large pack. They usually amble around in twosies and threesies. Tina Turner is usually off in her own la-la land.

The fence around the potager keeps them out of trouble there. But they can play heck with the rest of the place with their determined scratching, scratching, scratching for bugs. And the Number One Rule of Chicken Foraging is:  Dig up anything Robin just planted.

The last straw was when they absolutely destroyed a beautiful new Heuchera ‘Mysteria’ . It was a gorgeous burgundy and pink in full bloom. They scratched it out of existence. Baaaaad chickens!

So, for one of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas projects I decided to build some cloches to protect the newly planted. Lowe’s provided a $100 gift card and let me loose to make something under the heading of “Furniture Fun.”

Now, let me state right up front that I have exactly ZERO experience doing woodworking projects. I have no woodworking power tools except for a drill. I had no pattern to follow. I just had an idea. So, here’s what I came up with.

Don’t laugh too hard. And don’t send me links of your own gorgeous woodworking projects to make me feel even more inept. I don’t think it’s bad at all for someone who never did her own woodworking project in her life. And it works!

For the project, I used the following materials and tools:

– Strips of craft wood – Chicken wire – L-brackets of two different sizes—big and less big (I think those are the technical terms) – Power stapler – Wire cutters – Screws – Screwdriver – Metal joint tacks – Hand saw – Hammer – White outdoor deck stain – Paint brush – Sanding pad

I cut strips of the wood and assembled them into squares. I used joint tacks to hold them together and then stapled squares of the chicken wire. I topped that assemblage with another assembled wood square. I attached the squares together using L-brackets and then painted the whole contraption—I mean cloche.

I will be making more cloches of different sizes. For the next cloche I will paint the wood strips before assembling the squares so that the naked wood isn’t showing between the sandwiched-together squares. It will also help to protect the cloche out in the rain. I think I’ll also investigate some of the classes that Lowe’s offers from time to time to see if I can get some real help learning more woodworking skills.

My first Lowe’s Creative Ideas project—a concrete planter—is here.

Check back here throughout the next few months, because there are more projects, giveaways and other bloggers’ projects to explore.

Lowe’s has some pretty cool Pinterest boards too. Go check them out.


Posted In: Chickens, DIY, Gardening



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