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 have to 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.

Bet­ter, huh? 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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