Category: DIY Projects

Dresser Makeover

Dresser Before and After


I picked up a dresser a couple of weeks ago at an estate sale and couldn’t wait to get it painted and put into our master bedroom! We haven’t had a dresser in our room before and it has added much needed storage. Last year we put Micah’s crib and rocker in the master to keep him close, especially because he had acid reflux and would often wake up coughing or gagging. Keeping him close was a blessing, but now he is doing well in his own room and we have a bit of space back.

Crib in Master Bedroom


We currently have an antique white farmhouse bed and end tables. We also have a small fireplace and mantel. The room is a light lilac color (husband approved) with a darker purple accent behind the bed. The pine dresser definitely didn’t match the room, but it was a steal at $50. I already had paint to match the bed, so after $10 in primer and sanding pads, we were ready to go.

Dresser Before


Of course, I couldn’t have gotten the job done without my helpers. Harrison helped take the hardware off, sand the drawers, and even helped with paint. Micah helped me give the dresser a good cleaning after sanding. They might slow the job down a little, but they love to help and I would never turn that down!

Little Helpers


The key to a good coat of paint is a good primer, especially when you are trying to hide dark spots or knots. After a light sanding and coat of Zinnser 1, 2, 3 primer/sealer, I used dutch boy self priming paint in Antique White. This is my favorite shade of white and is currently the color of our kitchen, as well as several pieces of furniture. Dresser After


My original plan was to replace the hardware. The bronze hardware made the pine dresser look dated. I looked online and in stores for new hardware, but everything I liked was in the $5 range, which would double the investment in this dresser. I decided to try spray painting with some paint I had on hand.

Krylon Spray Paint Dresser Hardware

I actually love this hardware in this color more than any of the expensive options I looked at. It seems very elegant with a new coat of paint. This is also the first time I used this krylon spray paint, and it is love.

Dresser Hardware


To finish off the project, I made a little trip to Hobby Lobby. I haven’t had a place to put my Precious Moments and didn’t find much online for ideas. I know they aren’t as popular now as they once were, but each one has a special place in my heart and I want to display them. I found some nice grey crates that contrast nicely and they could actually be hung up on the wall if we decide to go that route.

Precious Moments Display


I really like how the master bedroom is coming together. We have slowly been adding to the room to make it our own and with 2 crazy boys, we look forward to bedtime now more than ever. I will be doing a little update on the rest of the room soon, so stay tuned!

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Little Blue Truck

Beep, beep, beep!

One of Harrison’s favorite books is “Little Blue Truck”. It is a really great children’s book with a good lesson. “Now I see a lot depends on a helping hand from a few good friends.” Harrison was pretty excited to take a trip with his dad to pick up a real life little blue truck.

Little Blue Truck

It has been a dream of mine for a while now to have a vintage truck. Ryan found this 1964 Ford F100 on Craigslist for a great deal. Of course, the truck was a great price, mostly because it isn’t currently running. Ryan is confident he can fix the engine issues (the previous owner says it was just an issue with the clutch). He really didn’t want to get a truck that needed body work, and this one is really great.

Little Blue Truck Long Bed

This F100 has a long bed and a custom cab, with chrome trim. It’s beautiful. It has an 8 cylinder 292 Y-block engine with a 4 speed manual transmission. <— I don’t know what most of that means, but I’ve been told it’s important. I hope to learn more about trucks and engines as Ryan and I tackle this project together.


It is going to be a bit of an adventure to get this thing running and put back together. Ryan joked that since we didn’t have enough going on we needed a project. For now, it is safely tucked away in the garage. Once Ryan gets it running I will have to learn to drive a manual. I’m also going to need a pig, sheep, cow, horse, goat, and big green toad to help me out when I get stuck in the mud.


We have a lot of half finished projects going on around here and not much time to do them. We are big believers in watching the market for quite some time, finding a deal, and setting it aside for a bit if we have to. We have gotten great deals on cars, our camper, boat, and houses by patiently waiting for the right thing to come along. I hope we will have an update on this beauty soon though, because I can’t wait to take it for a ride. Thanks for reading and check back soon!

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Our New Garden

I have been busy, busy getting our garden put in this year and I am excited to share with you! Our first summer in this house (2015) I had a 4’x4′ raised bed garden and some tomato plants in pots on the deck. Last year, I doubled my garden bed space by adding 2 4’x2′ garden beds. Needless to say, we didn’t have all that much success with that small amount of space.

Old Garden

This year I decided to step it up and put in my “forever garden.” I added 2 large raised beds. One is 27’x3′ split into 4 sections. The other is 13’x4′ split into 2 sections. We went from a total of 32 square feet to 165 square feet! We also added an 8’x8′ green house and have several pots of tomatoes and herbs. It is still a work on progress, but I am happy with how far it has come.

Garden Greenhouse

We have planted green beans, zucchini, pumpkins, sweet peppers, green peppers, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, rhubarb, asparagus, tomatoes, chives, basil, oregano, dill, marjoram, and parsley.

Vegetable Garden

So what’s next? I bought a great metal arbor and a really cool bamboo gate that will be installed soon. I am also planning on laying down landscape fabric and mulch between the boxes. The greenhouse will eventually get a brick floor and some built in shelves. It may take a while to finish the project list, but everything is functional as it is and our plants are doing great so far.

Greenhouse and Lilacs

Over the last 48 hours we have received almost 5 inches of rain. We were lucky to not have any storm damage and the garden seems to be loving the extra water. I am excited to see what the garden will yield this year. I am definitely not a professional, but I learn a little more each year. If nothing else, it sure is pretty and Harrison loves it! He is becoming a little gardener and even has his own wildflower garden.

Harrison Greenhouse

We have a busy summer, but we love our little homestead so much. We love to see the apple trees and blackberry bushes blooming with flowers. We love collecting the eggs every day, especially the beautiful blue ones! The roses and wildflowers are blooming. We are really, really lucky to raise our boys here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Lumberjack Birthday Party

Lumberjack Brunch Birthday Party

First of all, I want to send a big thank you to everyone who attended our Lumberjack brunch! I love throwing birthday parties for my kids. Getting everyone together and celebrating the two best things that have ever happened to me sounds just about perfect. Besides, I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict and love to fill my evenings with projects when I have the time. While this party wasn’t exactly Pinterest worthy, I would love to share some of the fun things we had.

Lumberjack Birthday Party Decorations

Lucky for us, Hobby Lobby has a whole section of lumberjack party supplies. If you know Ryan and I, you will understand that we are kind of lumberjack people. I majored in Forestry, we live in the country, plaid is a staple in our wardrobes, and Ryan has the lumberjack beard. We pretty much didn’t have any choice but to have a big ol’ brunch with plaid on every surface. I still had some birch disks and lanterns from our wedding center pieces, and they fit right in.

I made some simple envelop pillow covers in some “Bearly Beaver” fabrics I found on Micah has some cloth diapers made in this fabric and it was too cute not to use it at the party. I have a bunch of mismatched pillows that I’ve been meaning to made seasonal covers for and I think these will look great in the fall/winter next year. You can see them in our family picture.

Lumberjack Party Family Picture

I made a progression banner of Micah’s monthly pictures, which hung above our drink station (complete with paper birch straws from Amazon).  All it took was a little bit of card stock, pictures, and some plaid ribbon.

Lumberjack Brunch Decorations

We had all of the good brunch foods, including pancakes, french toast, farm fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade maple syrup, fruit, juice, coffee, mimosas, and beer. What could be better? We bought some great red chaffing dishes from Party City that fit the theme perfectly and labeled the food with some plaid card stock.

Lumberjack Brunch Food

Oh, and several posts on Pinterest got me interested in s’more mix, a tasty treat of marshmallows, chocolate chips, and golden grahams. I highly recommend it.

S'More Mix Lumberjack Party

Like I mentioned before, Hobby Lobby had an assortment of lumberjack decorations and party supplies.

Lumberjack Birthday Supplies from Hobby Lobby

We finished the day with a lumberjack cake and some cupcakes with ax toppers, also from Hobby Lobby.

Lumberjack Cupcake Cake

Lumberjack High Chair Banner

The boys had a great time and I hope our guests did too! Ryan and I enjoyed having everyone here. Now we have to think up a theme for next year! As any parent knows, the months go by fast and it will be here before we know it. As always, thanks for reading and check back soon for more fun!

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Making Maple Syrup

How to Make Homemade Maple Syrup

This spring we decided to venture into making homemade maple syrup. The good news is, as long as you have access to a maple tree, it is a really simple process! The boiling can be quite time consuming (more on that later), but the final product is worth every minute of it. We started by getting a starter kit from Tap My Trees with a great book with all of the information you need. I’ll give you a little summary.

Maple Syrup Buckets

First, you need some basic equipment to get started. This part is actually very simple and affordable. For collection you will need:

  1. A Tap: We purchased our taps from Tap My Trees. Most taps are created about the same, but I have only used these. We loved them.
  2. A Hammer: To tap in your taps
  3. A Drill: Taps can come in different sizes, so make sure you have a drill bit that matches the proper size for the tap.
  4. A Collection Bucket: You can buy buckets made specifically for maple sap or you can make your own from a milk jug or other food safe container. We used both plastic and metal buckets from Tap My Trees. We loved the classic sound of the metal buckets, but we liked the cheaper price of the plastic buckets. You really can’t go wrong!
  5. A Lid: Debris will get into your collection buckets if you don’t have some kind of lid.
  6. A 5 Gallon Bucket for Storage: When you collect your sap you will need a large, food safe bucket for storage. You can keep sap in these buckets refrigerated or packed with snow for up to a week. This is great news if you only have a few taps and want to wait until you have a substantial amount to boil. Remember, it take 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
  7. Cheesecloth: It is best to run your sap through cheesecloth before putting it in your storage bucket to remove any large pieces of debris that may change the flavor of your sap.

Once you have these few simple pieces of equipment, you are ready to get started.

Maple Syrup Equipment Sled

This can definitely be a family event. We took the boys out in the sled and tapped our trees. It doesn’t take long (unless you have a lot of taps). We only had 6 taps this year.

Kids and Maple Syrup

Putting out your taps is as simple as drilling a hole about 2 inches into a maple tree at chest height at a slight upward angle. Insert the tap with a few gentle taps of a hammer, not too hard. Hang your bucket and you are good to go. If the temperature is right, you may see sap flow immediately. The sap flows the best when it is in the 40’s (F) during the day and freezing at night. The freeze-thaw pattern is what causes a pressure change in the tree. This can mean that syrup season can last a week or 6 weeks. It all depends on the weather.

Maple Syrup Trees

Once we had about 6-8 gallons we started the boiling process. This is the long and slightly more difficult process. Assuming you do not have an evaporator you will need:

  1. A Candy Thermometer: Water boils at 212 Degrees F at most elevations. You can test your boiling point with a candy thermometer. Maple syrup boils at 7 degrees above water.
  2. A Stainless Steal Pan: We used 2 different pans for each stage. We used a large buffet pan on our gas grill and a stock pot in our kitchen to finish the syrup.
  3. A Fuel or Fire Source: You can find all sorts of DIY evaporator plans online, many of which use the buffet pans. We did not have the time or firewood to make our own evaporator. Instead, we just used our gas grill.
  4. Filter Paper: Once you are done boiling your sap you will need to filter it before it is put into the final container.
  5. Canning Jars: Boil your jars and put the syrup in hot to properly can them.

Making Maple Syrup on a Gas Grill

We started boiling sap on the grill. This process took a lot of propane and I would not recommend it for a large amount of sap, but for 8 gallons or so a day on the grill will work just fine. Keep the lid cracked so the steam can escape. Remember, your goal is to get rid of as much water as quickly as possible. When you add more sap to the already boiling pan, you need to preheat the sap first. This will help you maintain the boil.

Once the sap is down to about a gallon, transfer the remaining “almost syrup” to a stock pot and finish indoors. This will give you better control over the temperature. Some people use a hydrometer to measure the sugar content, but for a small operation a candy thermometer works just as well and can clip right onto a pot of sap.

Finishing Maple Syrup on the Stovetop

As the sap cooks down it will take on an amber color. Sap collected early in the year will remain an amber color and sap from later in the spring will appear darker. As long as the thickness and taste is to your liking, can it and enjoy it!

Maple Syrup Variation

Everyone should try making maple syrups at least once. At the very least, it will make you appreciate what really goes into making it and you will appreciate your local syrup so much more. We made a gallon of it and will definitely have a larger operation going next year. Maybe I can even talk Ryan into a $2000 evaporator…? Anyways, stay tuned for more homesteading adventures. Thanks for reading!

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Camper Design Update

About 1 year ago Ryan and I bought a camper. It has already taken us on many adventures and we are very excited for more to come. We bought a 2005 Jayco 25RKS, which is code for a 25 foot camper with a rear kitchen and a slide out living area. Camper Exterior


One of my favorite bloggers, Bower Power, recently wrote a post about the vintage camper they bought and the remodel they are going to take on. I love the idea! Our camper isn’t vintage, but I decided that if we are going to spend so much of our summers in it, why not make it our style? I have found that campers generally don’t fit our style, but I also don’t want to do any major renovations, mostly just fabric and wallpaper changes.

Camper Dinette

After discussing it a bit, I did some searching for patterns and designs we love. We have decided that we want to cover the wallpaper border (1), add some throw pillows and recover the valances (2,3,4), put a peel and stick back splash in the kitchen (5), get a new quilt (6), and recover the dinette cushions (7). We have narrowed it down to 2 options.

Camper Design Board 1


  1. Sweet JoJo Designs Wallpaper Border – Diamond Grey
  2. Michael Miller Backyard Baby Birch Forest
  3. Let’s Go Camping Jargon
  4. Premier Prints Feather Silhouette
  5. NuWallpaper Shiplap Peel and Stick
  6. Lush Decor Shelly Stripe Quilt
  7. Art Gallery Hello Bear Buck Forest

Camper Design Board 2


  1. Sweet JoJo Designs Earth and Sky Wallpaper Border
  2. Michael Miller Backyard Baby Birch Forest
  3. Quilt Camp Bias Check Blue
  4. Kaufman On the Road
  5. Pearl Hexagon StickTiles
  6. Room Essentials Arrow Print Duvet
  7. Premier Prints Arrow

We are excited to get started on this new project, but it is a big one and will take a bit of time! To be honest, I’ll be happy if we have a good hold on it by the end of summer. Which is your favorite? We’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks for reading!

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Desk Makeover

I love, love, love updating furniture. I recently acquired a desk from my Grandma that has seen better days. It started out like this:


It also had a piece on the back to hold envelopes and stationary but I had already removed it when I took that picture. I recently got some gold paint that I have wanted to use as an accent on a piece and this was perfect! I had leftover paint from our guest room that I love and would match the gold, so that was the winning color.


The inlays, drawer pulls, and legs all got gold accents.

Desk Makeover

I’m not entirely sure where this desk will end up, but it is currently in my craft room. I hope to find it a good home soon. 🙂

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Boys Shared Nursery

I’m playing a bit of catch up when it comes to blogging, but I would like to start with the boys shared nursery. As soon as we found out we were having another boy we decided to put both kids in the same room. The nursery needed a bit of an update to accommodate 2 kids. First, we had to transition Harrison out of the crib. We decided to put a twin mattress on the floor and he actually adjusted to it really well. Now he loves his big boy bed.

Shared Boys Nursery

We also needed more storage. I picked up an ugly yellow dresser for $10 at a garage sale last year. I had some leftover blue paint from our office makeover and decided to do an ombre look. I started with a dark blue paint and added a bit of white each time I started a new drawer. As long as you stir it in really well and save a sample for touchups, it’s a really easy process. Not bad for $10!

Dresser Makeover

We had put Harrison’s name above the crib when we moved into this house, but we needed to add a new name to the wall. Instead of putting names above their beds (because they wouldn’t be centered on the wall), we put them in the gallery wall we already had. We rearranged and added some new details to the wall. We weren’t 100% sure of Micah’s name, but we thought putting it on the wall might be a good way to try it out, and it stuck!

Nursery Reveal

I made a mobile, recovered a chair, made a crib skirt, curtains, etc in preparation for Harrison and it just didn’t feel right not to make something extra special for Micah. I decided to make him a mobile that matched our northwoods theme.

Feather Mobile Supplies

I bought some gold rings at a garage sale a few years ago and a mobile seemed like the perfect way to use one. With some feathers I collected when the chickens were molting and a bit of fabric I made a simple but fun mobile for Micah and it hangs above his crib.

Nursery Feather Mobile

Along with the furniture and finishes we already had, I think the nursery turned out to be a pretty nice room they can grow together in.

Boys Nursery

Micah currently sleeps in a bassinet in our room but will be joining Harrison before too long. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

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Antique Dresser Makeover

Antique Dresser Makeover
A couple years ago I scored this awesome antique dresser at a garage sale.  I paid a bit much for it, but I knew it would look great once I stripped the old paint off of it.  It started out a beige color with a crackle finish.

Antique Dresser Before

This project took me 2 years to finish, but it is finally done!  It needed to be completely stripped.  My original plan was to stain the whole thing, but it had some rough spots on it that paint would cover.  With a coat of Dutch Boy paint (Rockets) and a Brazillian Rosewood gel stain on the top surface, it turned out better than I could have expected!

Antique Dresser After

The wood grain on the top is gorgeous and I just couldn’t paint it.  I put on new crystal knobs and replaced one keyhole hardware that was missing.  The little details are what makes this dresser perfect.

Antiqe Dresser Details

For more details on how to strip furniture see my fireplace makeover.  For more pictures and updates check out our Facebook page and Instagram page.

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Adding Vinyl Railing to a Deck

Installing Vinyl Railing

Our new house has great vinyl railing on the front porch.  Unfortunately, the back deck didn’t have railing and it was a bit of a hazard, especially for Harrison.

Back Deck Before Back Deck Before Railing

We decided we wanted the railing to match the front of the house, even though it is pricey.  We waited until it was on sale and then about $600 later had a great looking back deck too.  The installation was incredibly quick and easy (much better than installing a wood railing with all of those spindles).

We started with a corner post and screwed it right into the deck.  We had to beef up the support under the deck so that we had wood to screw into, but that was as simple as adding a block of 4×4 to the support that was already in place.

Vinyl Railing Installation

The railing went together really easy but needed to be cut to length in a few sections.  It was as easy as using a hacksaw, even for the steel inserts.

Cutting Vinyl Railing to Size

The most difficult part was climbing into these thorny bushes to screw in the extra support.  (Guess who was lucky enough to get that job?)

Railing Installation in Landscaping

We had the option of putting an extra post next to the house or using a pre-cut plate to fit the vinyl siding.  We chose the plate and saved an extra $60 in posts.  What can I say?  We’re cheap and it looks good.  They are not completely centered because they are already fitted to the siding, but the color matches out trim and it is barely noticeable.

Vinyl Railing Attached to Vinyl Siding

It took us 2 evenings after work to complete the job for a fairly large deck and we love the results!

Deck with Vinyl Railing' Deck with Vinyl Railing Vinyl Railing Finished

I would definitely recommend the vinyl railing if it is in your budget.  It looks great and is so easy to install.  Here is the before and after from the backyard:

Back Deck Before and After

The after picture was taken later in the evening, hence the color differences.  The deck actually feels bigger now that the space is defined, and it is safe for Harrison too!  We are also working on several other outdoor projects at the moment.  Thanks for reading and check back soon for more updates!

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