Month: June 2019

How To Make A Cedar Window Box

How to make a cedar window box for under $10

I have had this project planned for year – I don’t know what took me so long. These cedar window boxes were so easy to make and cheap, too! Ultimately the wood cost me about $9 and I used screws, wood glue, and sand paper that I already had. Check out this tutorial on how to make a ceder window box.

Before this project, there were two plastic window boxes here. However, over the years they became faded and cracked. Needless to say, if I would have planted them this year they probably would have fallen down! So it was time for an upgrade. Luckily there are existing brackets on the windows that were used for the plastic window boxes, so I was able to reuse them for the cedar window box. You can find a similar version here. You can also mount it directly, but I do find it easier to take the window box on and off for planting flowers. As the window is tall and I am short.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step is to purchase the wood and gather the other materials. I purchased cedar fence post boards from Home Depot. They are 6″ wide by 6′ long, with the ends dog-eared. I got these 3 for under $3 a piece. With that being said, supplies and price can vary from store to store. Other supplies needed for this project are sand paper, wood glue, and screws, which were things that I already had. I used my electric saw to cut the boards, but since there aren’t many cuts, a hand saw would work well, too. I also needed a tape measure and a pencil. With the fencing boards, there are other varieties that are available at most home improvement stores. These should work just the same because they are rated for outside use.

How to make a cedar window box for under $10
Step Two

The second step is to measure the window and decide how long the window box should be. I made mine to be 5 feet long. I measured each of the boards from the flat side, not the dog-eared side. Next, I cut the boards to length and gave them a light sanding. Save the ends that are cut off because they can be purposed for the ends of the window box. I positioned them together in a U shape and measured for the ends. Grab the leftover boards and cut the ends of the window box to shape.

Step Three

Assemble the cedar window box using wood glue and screws. An extra pair of hands could really help during assembly, but clamps work well, too. Next, place wood glue along the edges that meet and place together. Then screw the boards together with your drill. To ensure the window box has proper drainage, use a drill bit to place holes in the bottom of the window box. Place holes every 2 to 3 inches.

Step Four

The final step is to plant the window box! I chose mostly leafy plants this year with some white flowers. I am excited to see how it grows in. I’ll have to post a new picture at the end of summer.

For the first time this year I was able to use some of the soil we created from our compost bin. It takes a while when using a home composting system to create dirt but it finally paid off for us. Hopefully it will help these plants really take off! Check out my post on how to make the most out of composting.

How to make a cedar window box for under $10

I loved how this project turned out. Have you tried making a cedar window box? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Felt Vegetable Garden

DIY Felt Vegetable Garden

When brainstorming for something to get Little One for Easter, I wanted something that was springy and educational. Obviously I didn’t want to give my 10 month old common Easter treats like candy. Then I stumbled upon a picture of a felt garden and I thought, “I could make that!”. It’s the cutest little felt vegetable garden and he loves harvesting the vegetables and munching on them!

For this project I got all my supplies at JOANN Fabrics. The felt is made from recycled materials, which is a great thing. I would have preferred natural materials, but recycled materials is way better than nothing. This project took me a couple of mornings and a lot less time to make than I originally projected. I would estimate that it took me about 3 hours total.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Check out my beginners sewing guide for terminology and some techniques.

  • Felt
    • 6 pieces of brown felt
    • 1 piece each of colors needed for the vegetables ( I got 1 purple, 3 different shades of green, 1 orange, 1 tan, and 1 burgundy) (Amazon does have big pack you can find them here.)
  • Poly-fill
  • Wooden create
  • Thread
  • Tools
    • Sewing machine
    • Hand sewing needle
    • Pins
    • Scissors
Making the Garden Bed

The first step of this project is to create the garden dirt for “planting” the vegetables. Use the brown felt for this. I used 4 of the pieces for the rows and one piece for the bottom. The last piece is to create the sides of the rows, cutting 8 shapes that are flat on one end and curved on the other. Sew each of these pieces to the ends of the rows, creating 4 tube like rows. Then sew them to the bottom piece, leaving opening to stuff with poly-fill. I finished this up by sewing up the holes.

making the garden bed

It took a bit of maneuvering to get it all lined up, but the end result turned out great!

Making the Vegetables

The felt vegetables were very easy to make. I cut out two pieces of felt in each shape I needed for the vegetables. In the end I made 1 eggplant, 2 potatoes, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 4 carrots, and 2 beets. Use your best judgement to create the vegetables shapes. Using the sewing machine, I stitched around each of the vegetables, leaving a hole for the vegetable to be turned right side out.

I then stuffed the vegetable with poly-fill and used a hand sewing needle to stitch up the hole that was left. Using varying shades of greens to create leaves, I cut out basic leaf shapes and hand stitched them to the tops of the vegetables. Little One likes to munch on the tops…and they have held so far!

This is where you can get really creative with the types of vegetables or fruit. I plan on creating more when I get some free time (yeah, I know, like that will happen!).

Plant the Vegetables

Finally, plant the vegetables in the garden bed. I paired the felt vegetable garden with this TY bunny named Hopper, because every garden needs a bunny, right?

I’m happy to report it has been a little over a month since we gave this to Little One and he is still enjoying playing with it!

What do you think of this project? I thought it would take much more time so I was surprised at how easy and quick it turned out to be. Let me know your thoughts and/or results about the felt vegetable garden in the comments below!

Smash Cake for Baby’s First Birthday

Banana Smash Cake for First Birthday

I can’t believe Little One is a year old! The time has gone by so fast and Little One has grown up so much in that time. I am constantly amazed at his development and seeing the world through his eyes. Every day he wakes up with a simile on his face and lights up the whole world. Check out the recipe below on how to make a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Little One’s birthday landed on a Thursday this year. My husband and I both took the day off work and had a fun day. It started with a special birthday shirt and a trip to the aquarium, but I wasn’t sure how Little One was going to do at the aquarium. However, he loved watching all the fish and playing in the water tables. After a nap we went swimming and then went for a walk. We ended the day with a smash cupcake. This was good practice for when he had a smash cake for the family birthday party!

We had our family birthday party two weekends after Little One’s birthday (it was how the timing worked out with everyone’s schedules.) Of course we had food, presents and a smash cake. This was a simple banana cake with whipped cream frosting, made with a 6 inch layer and berries for decoration.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Smash Cake

I honestly didn’t think much about this cake because it was pretty simple, but then a friend messaged me and asked for the recipe. I had posted it on Facebook and she wanted to use it for her son’s first birthday, too. Normally I don’t post recipes on Little Family on the Big Lake, but this cake was so easy and turned out so cute I thought I would share it.

What makes this recipe unique is that I have modified the recipe so that it makes two 6-inch round cakes. (You can find 6-inch cake pans here.) This is the perfect size for a smash cake. It can easily fit on a high chair and isn’t too wasteful for the clean up. I will note here that your child shouldn’t eat the whole cake – that would result in a very upset belly! My son smashed it a bit, but before he did he gently removed all of the berries and ate them first.

The other unique thing about this recipe is that I tried to modify the sweetness. It still has sugar but not too much. Let get to making a smash cake for baby’s first birthday.

Smash Cake for 1st Birthday
Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Time needed: 50 minutes.

The Perfect Banana Smash Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

  1. Ingredients for the cake
    *1/2 cup milk
    *2 teaspoons lemon juice
    * 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
    *2/3 cup sugar
    *1 egg
    *1 teaspoon vanilla
    *1/4 teaspoon salt
    *1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    *1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    *1 cup whole wheat flour
    *1 ripe banana

  2. Ingredients for the frosting

    *16 oz heavy whipping cream
    *3-5 tablespoons sugar
    *1 teaspoon vanilla

  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 6-inch cake tins using cooking spray or butter along the bottoms or sides. (Note: for some reason I only have one 6-inch cake tin, so I baked it twice in the same pan.) Prepare parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Then grease the parchment paper.

  4. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until it’s together and creamy.

  5. Add the lemon juice, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix it until it’s together and smooth, scraping as necessary.

  6. Using the low setting on the mixer, add the flour and milk slowly and in alternating amounts. This will hopefully prevent the flour from getting everywhere.

  7. Smash a banana and mix it into the cake batter until it becomes smooth.

  8. Pour half of the batter into each of the pans and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check the cake at 25 minutes using a tooth pick. Once the tooth pick comes out clean the cakes are done. Allow them to cool on a drying rack before adding frosting.

  1. To make the frosting, pour the heavy whipping cream into a mixer and start low to high. Add vanilla and sugar when medium peaks form. Add as much sugar as you would like for sweetness. I generally add 4 tablespoons. Then continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  2. Place the cake on a cake stand and peel off the parchment paper on the bottom. Place a generous amount of frosting on the top of the cake and spread it evenly. Next, flip the other cake upside down and place it on top of the first cake. Peel off the parchment paper. Add a good amount of frosting to the top and spread it evenly with a spatula. Then add frosting to the sides and make it smooth with a spatula
  3. It’s finally time to decorate! I used blueberries and strawberries because they are among my Little One’s favorite foods, but anything can be used. Store the cake in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be eaten. Take the cake out 10-15 minutes before use so it can warm up just a bit.

That’s it, that’s how you can make a wonderful little smash cake for baby’s first birthday . Have you tried this? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Want to see what we made our Little One for his birthday, check it out here.

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 3

Welcome back to Little Family on the Big Lake. Please check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this makeover if you haven’t done so already! Lets get going on small bathroom makeover part 3.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Time for Paint

So far we have planned out our to do list for our bathroom makeover and started on the demo. Now it is time for paint. I wanted the bathroom to feel light and airy so I chose a light green/blue color. I also purchased this flooring paint for the linoleum floor. Even though I wanted a light gray, the flooring paint I got is in white. They only had a white and a dark gray available in this type of paint. I also have white paint for the trim and ceiling. We have a bunch of this paint already, so I didn’t need to purchase any more. Yay Reusing!

small bathroom makeover
Goodbye ugly walls!
Painting Flooring
The first coat on the floor left some patches, so it will need a second coat.

After painting the floor and living with it for a while, I decided I really didn’t like the white. It just showed too much dirt. So I mixed the white floor paint and some dark gray floor paint that I had from another project to create a light gray. I am so happy with the results!

Fresh paint small bathroom makeover

Wow, the magic of paint! It is already looking so much better. In total, there are two coats of paint on the walls and trim. The floor ended up with four coats, two of the white and two of the gray. For consistency’s sake, I applied the paint with a brush around the edges and with a roller in the middle. Even though the floor paint dries in a couple of hours to the touch, I would recommend letting it sit for a couple of days before using the bathroom.

Check out the progress we have made so far…

Small Bathroom Makeover part 3
Building Projects

A decor (and practical) element I wanted in the bathroom was some type of shelving above the toilet. There are many options, from over the toilet units to brackets and shelves. In the end I decided to make something more custom. I came up with this basic box design as shown below (my goal was to have it look a bit like wooden crates.) Also, I liked adding a natural element to the bathroom design. To make these shelves I purchased 1*6*6 pine boards from Home Depot and used stain and lacquer that I already had to finish them.

Using a saw, I cut 4 pieces to 18 inches, 4 pieces to 5.75 inches and 2 pieces to 16.5 inches. The longest pieces are for the top and bottom, the shortest for the sides and the other 2 for the back. This will make two shelving units. I used glue and clamps to assemble the shelves and nailed them together once they dried.

To finish the shelves I sanded them with small grit sandpaper. Next, I stained the wood with the dark walnut stain that I typically prefer. I gave it a couple of days to fully dry before applying two coats of lacquer (but can be more depending on the level of protection you want.) I will be installing these into the wall above the toilet using screws and drywall anchors.

Check out Part 4 of our Small Bathroom Makeover to see the finishing touches and to see if we stayed on budget!

Secret Weapon To Getting Things Done!

Secret Weapon to Getting Things Done.

Trying to do it all is exhausting…and if I am being honest, impossible. But I do have a secret weapon that helps me get things done. And now I am sharing it with you!

The Secret – Lists! Yep, that’s it. Write things down! It will help you stay organized and on top of things.

The Secret Weapon – Google Keep. Google Keep is an Android app, although I am sure iPhone has something similar, I just have no idea what it is..

Why do I love Google Keep so much? It keeps all my notes and lists together in one spot. It is basically like post-its for my phone. Anytime something comes to mind, I can jot it down in my phone so I remember to take care of it.

Below are some Google Keep tips for keeping on top of things.

Working Together

One of the best functions of Google Keep is the collaboration ability and the person I collaborate with the most is my husband. We work together on reaching our goals. It gives us the ability to both add things to the list and cross things off. Being on the same page and in communication together is also a secret weapon we use to get things done.

Shopping Lists

I have a running shopping list, and each store has its own list. As I am going about my week, whenever I think I need something I put it on the list. I don’t know how many times I have found myself in a store, wandering aimlessly, knowing that I need something but can’t remember what. This has solved that problem – whenever I know I need something it goes on the list. It is also a shared list, so if my husband thinks of something he needs, onto the list it goes.

Having a clear list for shopping also has the added benefit of keeping me on budget. It also saves time, with no more aimless wandering, so I can get in and out of a store relativity quickly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have all day to be shopping. Usually I have more than one stop to make and I have found if I want to get through everything before Little One starts to get tired, it’s best to go quickly!

Secret Weapon to Getting Things Done.
Packing Lists

Gone are the days when my husband and I jump in the car for a spontaneous adventure. It takes much more planning these days. To help with this I keep a packing list of everything we need to bring. I don’t know about you but our baby needs a lot of stuff!

In the week before a trip I uncheck all the items from the last trip, taking note of what is on there and what I may need to take off or add. I also include things that we need to make sure we grab for ourselves. Also any stray items, like that dish I have been meaning to return or Christmas presents.

When getting ready to leave we both have our Keep list open and we check things off the list. Before we leave we go through it one more time…just in case we have missed something.

This has saved us so many headaches over forgotten items. It has also helped the bank account by being prepared instead of having to stop and buy something we forgot.

To Do Lists

This is hands down the list that I utilize the most – my running to-do list. I have two separate lists: the things that can get done in 5 minutes or less and a list of things that take longer. As always, this is a shared list with my husband so we can both work on stuff.

The 5 minute list is great for quick things that I’m meaning to do but don’t seem to get around to doing, like making phone calls.

The other list has mostly our house projects on it. A pro tip is to separate each task into smaller segments. This will help the task feel less overwhelming and give an added satisfaction of crossing something off the list. An example would be my bathroom makeover (See part 1 here). My to-do list is really long because each task is separated down to something like needing extra coats of paint.

Gift Lists

Gift lists have been one of my most helpful lists. I have lists for each family member. Whenever I hear them say I want such and such, or I could really use this or that, it goes on the list. This has come in handy more times than I can count, especially when someone asks for gift ideas or I need ideas for myself.

If I also run into something I think someone would like, I add it to the list. I have felt the frustration before when trying to shop for someone, and I ask them what they would like and they have no idea. This has helped us answer those questions for others.

I know my husband has a running list of ideas for gifts for me too. 😉

Bucket List

This is probably the funnest ongoing list: the bucket list! Any time we come up with a place we want to go we jot it down here, both near and far. Any time we get that itch to travel we take a look at this list and pick a place.

Important Things to Remember

Getting things done is a journey – there is no way to get everything done in one day. There are always things that pop up. Try to do a little each day and you will make progress on your goals. Hopefully these tips can help you stay organized when things do pop up.

Don’t forget to have fun. It’s important to get things done and take care of your family, home and self, but it is important to have fun, too!

Did you find my secret weapon to getting things done helpful? Let me know your how your organization is going in the comments below!

Secret Weapon to Getting Things Done.

Check out my latest post here… Getting Started with a Eco Friendly Life Style.

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 2

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 2

This is Part 2 of our Small Bathroom Makeover: the demo! Check out Part 1, where we planned out this makeover. In this post we will be covering removing the wall paper, preparing the walls, and painting. We will also be painting the floor!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate, I earn money from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my reader’s best interest at heart.

Step 1

The first step in the small bathroom makeover part 2 was to peal of the painted wall paper, which was on two of the walls. Luckily, once I got a corner off with my putty knife it came up pretty easy. I used an old putty knife that I have had forever, but you can find a new one here on Amazon or in most hardware stores.

Personally, I love discovering the layers of colors underneath. During the whole project I found this orange (pictured above), a sky blue, and an olive green. Overall, the wallpaper removal took me less then 30 minutes! The next step was to remove the wallpaper residue from the walls. This took a little more time and both my husband and I worked on it. It took us around an hour to get the wall clean by our standards. Using hot water, dish soap, and rags, we wet the walls and simply rubbed off the glue.

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 2
Step 2

Second, I needed to take off the grout tape (I’m actually not sure what it’s called, but that’s what I’m calling it). I eventually got it off using a putty knife and utility knife. Honestly, it put up quite the battle and took pieces of the wall with it.

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 2
Step 3

The final step of the demo process was to sand the walls and trim. Normally when painting wall I wouldn’t do a lot of sanding, but in this case, there were too many drip marks all over the walls. They had to go! I used a palm sander like this one. The bag on the back of the sander helped control the dust.

Next, I cleaned off the walls and patched any holes with spackle. In particular, I needed to fill in some larger holes where the grout tape was taken off. It took a couple of layers of spackle to get it level with the wall. I then sanded the dried spackle and checked that the walls were ready for paint.

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 2

Check out my Bathroom Makeover Part 3 to see the paint color and the newly painted floors!