DIY hanging baskets (that will never die)

Every summer, I buy hanging baskets for the hooks on our front porch. I usually get yellow flowers because they’re my favourite, but I’ll do pink or purple sometimes — and yes, I refer to most flowers by colour because I can’t identify any varieties except roses, daisies and sunflowers. This is admittedly embarrassing for a woman who is named after a literal flower.

Every summer, the hanging baskets wither and die. No amount of watering seemed to keep them around for very long. We also live on top of a very windy hill, and I learned last summer that wind dries out plants as badly as not watering them.

As you may have guessed, I have a black thumb. I want hanging baskets because they’re pretty, but I have zero interest in making an effort to keep flowers alive. I’m just not a gardener, and I’m OK with that. (I’d rather be a decent cook, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be that, either.)

This summer, I thought I’d try something new. Instead of shelling out $40-ish on two hanging baskets that would soon kick the bucket (their literal plastic basket), what if I made more permanent options?

Artificial vines (affiliate link)

I started with the plants themselves. Artificial flowers are not cheap! I browsed many options on Amazon and eventually found a 12-pack of artificial leafy vines, each vine measuring about 2m. They were well-rated and each 12-pack was only about $13, so I ordered three.

And then …

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home …

Success with stain — finally!

The long, weary chapter about redoing our front porch is just about over, and we couldn’t be more thankful … or sore and stain-splattered.

It takes a lot of time and effort to sand painted wood down to a bare state, and that’s what we were tasked with doing. We were sick of dealing with a chipping, flaking porch every single summer, and it was all our own fault for doing it wrong the first time around.

As I mentioned last time, we had accidentally chosen a very thick, non-sheer stain formula that was basically a paint (Sico’s Autumn Brown in exterior semi-transparent). Even though you would think “semi-transparent” would mean semi-transparent, it was truly like we’d chosen a dark purple-y brown paint … that chipped SO. MUCH.

We spent several grueling weeks removing all those years of dark stain using an orbital sander, a belt sander and a rented power-washer.

Once the boards were fully bare — just like brand-new wood, except drippy with our frustrated tears — it was time to correct our mistake and choose a stain that would stain, not paint.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home …

Front door colour: “Coral” by Fusion Mineral Paint
Door hardware: Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt + handleset
New porch stain: Olympic Maximum Stain + Sealant in One in “Russet”

Battle of the (school) band

We recently hit a new parenting milestone, but it had nothing to do with the first time our children ate a new food, slept through the night or used the potty.

It was the first time we forced one of our children into a particular after-school activity.

Normally, the kids’ extracurriculars haven’t been an issue. They’ve decided they wanted to do something and they’ve stuck to it for the full session, whether it was a term or a year. After that, they’ve either decided to enroll again or decided they were ready to try something new.

Between the two of them, they’ve tried and enjoyed lots of different activities, like gymnastics, soccer, T-ball, swimming, taekwondo, dance, cheerleading, Beavers, band and hiking club. My husband and I have always liked that they try new things, and as long as they fulfill their commitment for the set length of time – no quitting – then we’ve been happy.

This past year, our son has been enrolled in the school’s beginner band program. He plays percussion and loves it. His music teachers have always says he has a “talent” for music, something that’s shocked and delighted me, as neither my husband nor I have any sort of music talent whatsoever.

The big end-of-year concert rolled around, and he was awesome. He moved swiftly between the snare drum, bass drum, symbol and bells, and professionally packed up the gear at the end, returning each piece carefully into its spot in the music room.

I was filled with visions of him being a drummer in a cool garage band in high school. Lots of teens play the guitar, but they’re always looking for drummers. It felt so right. He’s even growing his hair long, in the cutest floppy style!

But when it was time to sign up for junior band, he said he wasn’t doing band in Grade 4.

UM, WHAT???

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …