6 Must-See Gardening Ideas to Transform Your Outdoor Space

Remember last month, when my friend Corey shared some of her projects and we did a blog swap? This month, I’m continuing that monthly feature (aiming for the last Friday each month), and happy to be swapping with my pal Beth! If you want to check out the post I wrote for her blog, head over to her site, Unskinny Boppy to see some of my favorite gardening ideas.

Hey guys! I am SO excited to be a guest on Sarah’s blog today.

First off, let me give you a little background on me — I’m Beth from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve been sharing my home, garden and DIY projects for over a decade at my blog, Unskinny Boppy. When one of our mutual friends (holla at Stacy!) suggested we kick it old-school style and join together for a blog swap, I was all in.

Sarah and I decided since summer is upon us here in the South, we would share our best gardening ideas for our blog swap today. Here are a few of my best garden projects to give you ideas for your yard this summer.

6 must-see gardening ideas to improve your yard this summer

One of the most popular garden projects we added to our backyard was this raised garden bed to hide the underside of our back deck. The beds are constructed with a lumber frame and cedar plank siding. It totally transformed my backyard and provides us with tons of fresh veggies and fruit all summer. Right now I’m growing tomatoes, cucumber, blueberries, blackberries, squash, zucchini and a few sunflowers for fun! I also love not having to bend over to tend to my garden.

Another popular outdoor tutorial is an oldie but a goodie. In 2011 I hung a vintage ladder over my back patio table with a Moravian star and mason jars to provide candlelight for ambiance. I loved this simple garden project so much. It added a ton of character to our back patio beside the swimming pool.

Freshening up porches for summertime entertaining is never a fun job, but it’s always worth it in the end. Here are some of my best tips for decorating a narrow front porch for welcoming guests in the spring and summer.

If you have a shady yard like me, it can be tough to find pretty plants that will grow in the shade. I started embracing the shade and realized there’s plenty of pretty plants that will grow in the darker areas of my yard.
Click here to read my list of Top Five Shade Loving Plants for a Summer Garden.

Speaking of shade, I just recently finished a screened-in back porch makeover so we can have a shady (and mosquito-free) spot to sit this summer. Between the bed swing and the Adirondack chairs, we have been chilling like villains out here all month. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the great outdoors without dealing with the rain or bugs.

Click here to read all about theback porch makeover.

My most recent garden tutorial is this watering can that is “pouring” fairy lights into the fern below. This was a super simple and fun project to add some whimsy to any outdoor space. If you need a quick gift idea for a gardener in your life, this one will be a huge hit!

I hope these posts that I’ve shared will give you guys a taste of my gardening style. If you like what you see, I’d be honored if you would stop by my blog and look through my archives to see if there are any other ideas you would like to pin. I’d also be super stoked if you wanted to be my friend on social media or join my e-mail list.

Here are some links to do that:

Or click here to join my email list.

Thanks for joining me today! Happy decorating and DIYing, y’all!


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6 Must-See Gardening Ideas to Transform Your Outdoor Space


We Asked Pro Movers for Their Top Moving Tips. Here’s What They Told Us

moving tips

Pro movers gave us their best moving tips for making your transition as easy as possible. Image:

Let’s face it: Moving days are never easy. After all, no one looks forward to lifting heavy boxes in and out of trucks, up and down stairs. However, moving day doesn’t have to be completely chaotic, either. All it takes is a little planning and forethought to make the day run smoothly.

With that in mind, we decided to go straight to the source. We asked pro movers to share their best advice on how to accomplish a painless move. Incorporate some of these moving tips into your packing plan to help this would-be-stressful process go off without a hitch.


If possible, schedule your move for early morning. Image:

Schedule your move strategically

“If you’re hoping to get a better rate on a moving company or rental truck, avoid scheduling your move on weekends or at the end of the month. These companies are usually slower during the week/mid-month and are willing to give deals,” says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha.

“If you’re hiring a moving company, try to book the earliest morning time slot available. The moving crew will be fresh, so they’ll typically get the job done more efficiently.”


Gather your materials first. Image:

Have the right materials on hand

“Most people know that they’ll need plenty of boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap for the move. However, shrink wrap can be your best friend when it comes to moving,” advises Tieece Gordon of Affordable Removals. “Take furniture, for example – it may be expensive, but it’s also fragile. Drawers and doors on wardrobes, dressers, etc. can also be securely fastened shut using this cost-effective material. Plus, it never hurts to buy more of everything than you think you’ll need.”


Packing non-essentials like décor first saves you effort later. Image: Breather

Pack non-essential items first

“Don’t just start boxing up everything in sight,” says Kelly Tenny, Content and Social Media Manager with Zippboxx. “Pack up your belongings in a strategic manner. Go room-by-room and begin by packing up items that you do not use very often, like décor and accessories. Leave the things that you use frequently for last. This will save you time scouring boxes you already packed for that one item you need!”


Put heavy items like books in smaller boxes. Image: Daria Nepriakhina

Watch the weight of your boxes

“Be careful not to pack boxes that are too heavy,” suggests Emil Perushanov, owner of Top Removals. “Not only will they be a literal pain for your movers on moving day, but they’ll be difficult for you to move around while packing.”

As for a general rule? “Try to stick to a 30-pound limit for each box and, when packing heavier items like books, use smaller boxes. This will keep you from overloading.”


Make sure your appliances are turned off, defrosted and cleaned. Image: Naomi Hébert

Prep your appliances in advance

Kate Windleton, Relocations Manager at Strong Move, recommends planning ahead when it comes to appliances. “Your fridge needs to be defrosted at least a day earlier. Your washing machine, your oven, etc. should be turned off, cleaned and, if possible, put in their original boxes. Secure their cords and seal their doors so they don’t open accidentally while inside of the truck.”

Have you moved recently? What moving tips can you share from your experience? Tell us in the comments.

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Scrap Wood Kitchen Decor – DIY Herb Signs

Hi guys! While I’m busy outside this weekend working on the new deck, I want to introduce you to my newest contributor! If you aren’t yet familiar with these types of projects, then basically, I decided about a year ago to bring on a few new bloggers just starting out. These are just my way to “pay it forward” and give talented new bloggers a warm welcome as they begin their own blogging journeys. Each contributor will contribute once a month, and may switch out from time to time. They’re people I’ve found via social media and personally enjoy following, and I think you’ll enjoy them too! This time, I want you to meet a gal who is as obsessed with scrap wood as I am: Tylynn of Bitterroot DIY.

Hey all, I’m Tylynn from Bitterroot DIY and I’m happy to introduce myself today as a new contributor to  Ugly Duckling House! The Ugly Duckling House was one of the first blogs I followed before starting my own blog. The projects are great, the tutorials are easy to understand, and I always love connecting with other people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and pick up a power tool! I “met” Sarah on Instagram and was seriously so surprised when she asked me to contribute. I’m excited to connect with her readers and hope you enjoy my posts!

To start things off, I’d like to share a scrap wood project from my Bitterroot Scrap Series!

The what series?

Let me explain:

My husband and I recently moved and didn’t want to haul all my scrap wood along. I figured that was as good an opportunity as ever to use up as much as possible! So last month I completed 15 small scrap wood projects and am sharing a new one every-other-day of May over at Bitterroot DIY.

And today, I’m here with some DIY Kitchen Herb signs!

They’re simple.

They’re quick.

They’re adorable.

All the best qualities.

Tools & Supplies:

  • 2 x 4 |   2’ (if you want to make all six signs, otherwise just whatever you have lying around)
  • Wax Paper
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Krylon Acrylic Spray
  • Rust Oleum Semi-Gloss White Paint
  • Minwax Classic Gray

Step 1

Cut six 2 x 4s @ 3.5”. You should end up with six squares (or however many you’d like to make).

Step 2

Sand and finish. I started with a coat of Minwax Classic Gray stain on each block, let it dry, and then followed up with a coat of Rust Oleum Semi-Gloss White. I thinned the white paint with a little water to tone it down. I found that it worked really to dip my brush in the paint and then swirl it with some water on a plate – that way I didn’t have to commit to mixing a specific ratio. I just played it by ear … as every good DIY goes 😉

Let the blocks dry.

Step 3

The Wax Paper Transfer.

Print your mirrored images onto the shiny side of a sheet of wax paper. I simply taped a piece of wax paper to a normal piece of paper so that it would run through the printer nicely.

Make sure all the edges are secure before printing. I mirrored the PDFs for these herbs already, but if you make any new ones, make sure to mirror them so they transfer correctly.

Take care when dealing with the printed wax paper. The ink sits on top of the wax and is easily smeared, as you can see in the photo.

Cut each image out carefully.

Place the image face down on the block, hold securely in place to avoid any smears, and rub the back with a spoon. Apply a fair amount of pressure in order to transfer the ink.

Step 4.

Spray each block with Krylon Acrylic Spray to set the ink.

There you have it – simple, quick, adorable.

Head on over to Bitterroot DIY to snag the free prints and enjoy your new kitchen décor!

The post Scrap Wood Kitchen Decor – DIY Herb Signs appeared first on Ugly Duckling House.


Scrap Wood Kitchen Decor – DIY Herb Signs


No Tools Required: 20 Modern Flat-Pack Furniture Pieces for Your Next Move

Having to disassemble, pack and move heavy furniture is tough. These flat-pack furniture pieces are modern, stylish and eco-friendly. No tools required!

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On Creating a Brand Booth for a Conference, aka the Whole-House Takeover of 2018

In February, I created a booth for Rust-Oleum at the first-ever Workbench Con. And in true UDH fashion, it became a crazy story all its own.

For more than eight years (April 1st was my blogiversary, actually), I have spent time regularly updating this blog, (mostly) all about my ups and downs of DIY home remodeling. It’s been about individual projects aplenty, but most of all, it’s been about the journey. It has taken years to build a home I love, and there’s more yet to do. Through that, I created a business I’m passionate about. And even more astonishing to me, I created a brand that is recognized by companies I admire.

And? That’s all super, super surreal. Frequently. Because things come at ya fast, and you wind up saying yes to things you can still fail at because you’ve never really done them before. That’s how I wound up building a brand booth at a conference that took over my kitchen and living room and made my new roommate wonder what the hell he’s gotten himself into.

Booth & conference backstory

Over the winter, I was asked by Rust-Oleum — a brand that I’ve used so. many. times. and even featured as some of my first projects — to build their booth at the first-ever Workbench Con in Atlanta, GA. You guys have heard me talk about Haven before, and this conference is sort of like its rough-around-the-edges cousin. More focused on woodworking, set up in a warehouse instead of hotel ballrooms, and more influencers of all kinds (Haven is mostly blog-focused, while this also drew YouTubers and Instagrammers and such, who collectively refer to themselves as “makers”).

For a new conference, I didn’t really know what to expect or what other brands might be bringing to the table. I mostly had Haven as reference, which meant I needed to bring my A-game! I knew Rust-Oleum had previously asked bloggers to create booths for other conferences in the past, such as when Bower Power did it for Haven in 2016. I never thought I’d ever get an opportunity like that.

They asked me to help with the event since I was local, and sent me a few of their ideas to work with. I came back with my design concept, and they agreed! Part of what I was commissioned to do was to showcase some specific new products. One of these is a product designed to chemically mimic the look of aged wood (I nerded out a little with some of the Rust-Oleum reps while setting up, and they have some real smarties in product development). Neat.

Rising above self-doubt

As you might expect, when faced with a totally new challenge and completely unanticipated circumstances, I had a lot of self-sabotaging thoughts leading up to the conference.

  • I’m not really “into” farmhouse/rustic style, and didn’t know if I could take my own style and still give Rust-Oleum something that would showcase well. After all, this was about them making their product look good, and I really wanted to do that job well. (I later changed my mind about the product once I started using it, and may even like it better than regular stain now.)
  • I was intimidated by the fact that the conference was targeting woodworking experts; would my beginner-level skills hold up to their discerning eyes?
  • I’d never built furniture meant to be transported before; what if the whole darn thing fell apart before I even got there? Exactly how crazy am I to agree to this?

Still, with a whole lot of ambition — and perhaps naive enthusiasm — I said yes. I gratefully said yes, because it sounded like something that would be too cool to pass up. I knew I would always regret turning it down… and would challenging myself be so bad? As long as I put in the work, I would gain new experience and possibly the chance to shout “Look at what I made!! It’s so cool!!!” from the rooftops.

Battling fear with research

As I do with my house renovation projects, I went into research mode. I asked the event organizer for a breakdown of what was to be expected, and to physically see the warehouse before the event to get a better minds-eye for what I needed to do. I even called Katie from Bower Power to get her behind-the-scenes take at Haven; I furiously took down notes and came up with my game plan.

Getting to work

Rust-Oleum sent a huge shipment of products to my door to help me create the booth. The overall plan involved living elements, lighting, and lots of texture. From Rust-Oleum’s product line, I used stain, the wood accelerator product, and lots of spray paint.

Here’s where the first part of my plan goes awry, though: it was a few weeks before the conference, and the weather predicted nothing but RAIN until the day of. For weeks!! And I really needed to work outside with stain and spray paint. My kitchen had just undergone a mini-makeover with new appliances, and the garage was full of the old ones until I could sell them off. My boyfriend was right in the middle of moving all of his stuff into the house, and we’d just cleared out the guest bedroom for renovation. I had basically no workshop, and without the weather cooperating, no option to work outside. Womp-womp.

I waited as long as I thought possible (in vain), hoping the weather would allow me to stain and paint outside. Short of that, I started building in the living room.

The living room takeover

Starting with the back of the booth, I built frames out of 2x4s and ripped down large sheets of 1/4″ oak plywood into strips. I matched them all up to form a chevron pattern on each wall segment.

The general idea was to build in sections. This way, I could lift and move them into the warehouse myself. About a day before the conference, the sky gave me a short reprieve so I could cut down the plywood overhanging each segment and stain them all. I know this will sound like a cheesy product plug to say it, but part of the reason why I like Rust-Oleum/Varathane stains is because of the short dry time. This was probably not the exact reason for engineering them that way, but it made the difference between finishing and not finishing on time.

The kitchen takeover

With the panels for the back wall taking up all available space in the living room, I created the booth table and storage in the kitchen.

Creating the chevron pattern for the wall meant cutting off excess along the sides of each panel. These leftover cutoffs didn’t go to waste. Instead, I tacked them onto the front of the booth to create a layered wood effect. This was partly inspired by the West Elm store in Ponce City Market, one of my favorite local spots with that same industrial-chic vibe (lots of shops and really unique eateries).

For the top and front of the booth table, I used pre-painted MDF for the trim and stained the plywood with the new aged wood accelerator. This is where I was pleasantly surprised: I loved the look! It’s water-based and went on beautifully, no matter how sloppy I had to get to fit my brush into all the little nooks and crannies of the layered wood. Unlike stain where you would wipe on/off, with this you just put it on and let it work its magic. Truly fun to see it work into the wood grain and the rich color it creates.

The hallway takeover

For the back wall, I was tasked to show off some of Rust-Oleum’s spray paint line. I was eager to use my new scroll saw that I received for Christmas, so I cut out each letter of Rust-Oleum’s logo and mounted it to a wooden sign. The letters were spray painted white, while the back was metallic. I thought it fun to make the square grid of their logo carry the living element theme, so I placed succulents inside (to be mounted when installed).

There were other little extras, like converting some square planters into wall mounted ones, getting each piece ready to assemble and hang day of, etc. I just barely finished in time. Even though I’m proud of what I accomplished, I will always wish I could have done more.

The booth!

The day of installation, it was a mad rush to load everything onto a rental truck (K had helped me load a few items the night before, but there were still lots of big pieces to load next day on my own — and unload, of course!), wheel it all into my designated booth spot, and set up. And here it is!

I also want to say a special thank you to my friends, Charlotte (yes, my Dueling DIY nemesis!), Erin Spain, and Yuni from Love Your Abode for helping me finish! They came by for some words of encouragement and to say hello, and got roped into helping (knowing full well I’d put ’em to work). Thank you, ladies!

I took a few clips while I was at the conference, so while this video really won’t make much sense, you can see more of the “real” look at the conference and everything around us.

Here’s the crazy part

The rest of the conference went by in a flash, and it was just as most conferences tend to go: lots of meeting new people, lots of seeing familiar faces, and lots of learning. It was a great conference, and I’m planning on coming back in 2019!

As part of building the booth for Rust-Oleum, they also wanted me to disassemble after the conference and drop it off to one of their local buildings for future use (part of the reason I tried to build things in separate parts, so it could be shipped later). Right after the conference closing ceremonies ended and all the giveaway prizes were handed out, I grabbed my rental truck and returned back to the booth to take it apart. Only part of it had mysteriously been done for me. It cracks me up now, but in the moment, I was panicked.

Somehow, in the chaos of the other brands taking apart their booths, there had been a miscommunication that Rust-Oleum had left their booth behind for the conference crew to take apart. Who, in turn, encouraged attendees to take as much as they would like home with them (makes sense, since it’s less work to haul away). Since I had made everything deliberately to be taken apart in pieces for shipping, I suppose I made that extra easy. So the plants, planters, and all the smaller decorative items, including the lights on the back wall, had all disappeared.

I called the Rust-Oleum team to let them know of what happened, and later even learned of where some of the items wound up (one of the conference attendees even sweetly offered to ship me back what they had taken after seeing my post on Instagram, wishing a new happy life to the objects that had walked away ).

I swear, this is the kind of thing that would only happen to me. I am forever grateful for this experience — even the nutty story.

Two inspired pieces

But, the story doesn’t quite end there. Remember how I thought my wood carving project for the Wood Art Challenge might crash and  burn? I still had a bunch of scrap plywood left over, so I thought it would be perfect for a backup art piece, just in case the carving failed and I needed something else in time for the challenge.

Originally, I was planning on making that inspired art piece and a short recap of the conference as one post. But as you can see, the story got… a little long. So, I’m splitting the two, but will share that second art piece today as a tandem post to this one! You can find that project right here.

I actually have a third related post in store that is also inspired by my booth. The white planters you see hanging on the wall of the booth is an Ikea hack, so that will be shared soon too. After making them the first time, I really wanted some for the house. That’s a little further down on the priority list until I get more of the shed done, though. So go click over to the air plant wall art post. I hope you enjoy!

The post On Creating a Brand Booth for a Conference, aka the Whole-House Takeover of 2018 appeared first on Ugly Duckling House.


On Creating a Brand Booth for a Conference, aka the Whole-House Takeover of 2018


The Nasty 9: What Are the Germiest Places in Your Home?

Some germs are beneficial, but not when they put you and your loved ones at risk for viruses and diseases. Your home, with all of its nooks and crannies, is a breeding ground for mold, staph germs, yeast and coliform bacteria.

Some places in your home are germier than others, so cleaning takes a little extra effort in these areas. We spoke with Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona who is better known as “Dr. Germ,” and consulted a study by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a public health and safety organization. With their help, we discovered the nine germiest places in your home – and how to clean and disinfect them.

Collect this idea

Even items used for cleaning can play host to germs. Image: Michael Norpell

1. Dish sponges

“Number one is the household sponge – almost all have E. coli growing in them, and in our studies, 15% had Salmonella,” Dr. Gerba tells Freshome. “That sponge stays wet and moist with plenty of food for bacteria to eat.” In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained coliform bacteria and 18% were filled with staph bacteria.

There are many types of coliform bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, which can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. In more serious cases, E. coli can also cause pneumonia and respiratory problems.

You can reduce germs by microwaving that wet sponge. “Bacteria grow to large numbers in the sponge and [the sponge] needs to be washed – microwave for 30 seconds every five to six days. But be careful, because they get hot,” Gerba says. “You can toss your dish rags in the dishwasher.” He also warns against using the same sponge or cloth for cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom.

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kitchen sink

Food residue and dirt – it’s not surprising that the kitchen sink is one of the germiest places in your home. Image: Top Drawer Luxury Home Builder

2. Kitchen sink

Gerba says the kitchen contains more germs than the bathroom, and the kitchen sink places second in the germiest places in your home. That’s not hard to believe when you consider that this is the place where you wash dirt and germs off of raw food. It’s also the spot where you rinse your plates and utensils before placing them in the dishwasher. In the NSF study, 45% of the sinks contained coliform bacteria and 27% contained mold.

At least once a week, preferably twice, disinfect the sink (including the sides). Drains and disposals should be disinfected at least once a month. If you use a bleach solution, be sure to rinse afterward.

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toothbrush holder

The areas around a bathroom sink are no less germy than those in the kitchen. Image: Signature Hardware

3. Toothbrush holder

No, the toilet is not the germiest place in your bathroom – that distinction goes to your toothbrush holder. In fact, Gerba believes the toilet seat might be the least germy place in your bathroom, because it gets cleaned more regularly than other places. However, if your toothbrush holder is located close to the toilet, it may be subject to particles that are sprayed through the air when you flush. An alarming 64% of toothbrush holders contained mold and yeast, 27% contained coliform and 14% contained staph.

Close the toilet when you flush and try to keep your toothbrush holder as far away from the toilet as possible. On a weekly basis, put the holder in the dishwasher’s sanitizing cycle (assuming it’s dishwasher safe), and consider replacing toothbrushes on a quarterly basis.

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pet bowls

Furry friends, perhaps unsurprisingly, contribute to a germy household. Image: Sander & Sons Kitchen and Bath

4. Pet bowl and pet toys

Many of your pet’s favorite objects are also bastions of germs. In fact, 45% of bowls contained mold and yeast and 18% contained coliform bacteria. Among pet toys, 55% contained yeast and mold and 23% contained staph bacteria.

Clean your pet’s bowls daily. The NSF recommends either washing them on the dishwasher’s disinfecting cycle or washing by hand using soapy water. If you choose to wash them by hand, soak the bowls in a bleach solution for 10 minutes once a week. Clean hard toys with soapy water, then rinse, disinfect and air-dry. Soft toys can be cleaned on your washing machine’s sanitizing cycle. The NSF also recommends that everyone in the home wash their hands after making contact with pets.

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coffee maker

Clean your coffee maker regularly to ensure you’re not drinking bacteria with your daily caffeine. Image: Mauricio Nava Design LLC

5. Coffee reservoir

That coffee maker could be giving you more than just a jolt of caffeine. The coffee reservoir is not only damp, but also dark, making it an ideal place for germs to thrive. In the NSF study, half of the reservoirs contained yeast and mold and 9% contained coliform bacteria.

To clean the coffee reservoir, pour four cups of vinegar into the reservoir, wait 30 minutes, then brew the vinegar as you would brew coffee. Afterward, brew at least two cycles of water to rinse the vinegar out.

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bathroom faucets

Bathroom faucet handles require daily maintenance to stay bacteria-free. Image: Artsaics Studios

6. Bathroom faucet handles

Unless you have a touchless faucet in your bathroom, faucet handles are some of the germiest places in your home. It makes sense: Turning on the faucet is the step between using the bathroom and washing your hands. The NSF study found that 27% of faucet handles contained staph and 9% contained coliform bacteria.

On a daily basis, clean your faucet handles with a disinfectant spray or disinfecting wipes.

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kitchen countertop

A kitchen countertop often becomes home to bacteria carried in from outdoors. Image: Pickell Architecture

8. Countertop

If the kitchen is the home’s hub, the countertop is the kitchen’s hub. Packages and bags of groceries (which were previously on the floor of your car) are placed on it, in addition to handbags and backpacks. And yet, this is also where you prepare food – some of it raw. It comes as no surprise that 32% of countertops contained coliform bacteria and 18% contained mold.

Keep non-food items off of the countertop, and disinfect it before and after preparing food. (Note: Since countertops are made of a variety of materials, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you don’t damage it.)

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modern kitchen

Stove knobs fall victim to food spatter and germy hands. Image: JACKBILT

9. Stove knobs

How often do you clean your stove knobs? Probably not often enough: In the NSF study, 27% knobs contained mold and yeast, while 14% contained coliform bacteria.

On a weekly basis, take the stove knobs off and wash them in soapy water.

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modern bathroom

Bathrooms, kitchens and handheld devices are all prime locations for germs. Image: Enviable Designs

Additional germ hotspots

The Nasty 9 are far from being the only germ-ridden places in your home. “The cutting board usually has 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat,” says Gerba. He recommends using two cutting boards: one for meats and one for veggies. “Also, your refrigerator door is quite germy because of handling raw foods without washing your hands.”

Other germy places in your home include:

  • Toilet handle
  • Toilet seat
  • Bathroom door knob
  • Bathroom light switch
  • Cellphone
  • Keyboard
  • Remote control
  • Hand towels

However, Gerba warns against panicking. “You don’t need to clean more; just take care of your cleaning tools and use disinfecting wipes or a kitchen cleaner with a disinfectant in the kitchen,” he says. “You do not have to keep your home germ-free – just keep the numbers down.”

Do you have any additional tips for keeping your home clean and manageable? Tell us in the comments.



Simple DIY Tricks for Covered Porch Plants

I’ve learned the hard way what not to do when it comes to container gardening. Today, I’m sharing a few simple tips on picking the right shade-loving plants for thriving covered porch planters.

Happy Saturday! While I’m praying that the weather cooperates so I can get more done on the shed this weekend, I thought I’d give you a fun little update for what’s going on with the front porch.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you that, although I’ve done a lot of repair and basic updating to the front porch area, I haven’t really taken things to the next level in terms of style. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a far cry from where things began:

But with more of the house in later renovation stages and my increasing desire to entertain after years of repair, it’s time to really put some oomph into the entry! Most recently, I began this process with two new planters and some seasonal color. As I finished up, it occurred to me that I should pass on a few of these tips to you guys!

1. Know thyself… and thy porch

It’s taken me years to get the hang of gardening in and around the house. In that time, I’ve learned the kind of light/water/general care the area is going to get. As it turns out, finding answers to those questions are pretty important for making sure plants stay healthy:

  • what kind of sunlight does the area get naturally?
  • will the spot be exposed directly to the weather or require more deliberate upkeep?
  • will it need to be moved around regularly?

Considering that a covered porch is shaded most of the day, any light it gets is generally indirect. As far as watering, the rain won’t reach this area, so I would have to do most of the watering myself (which also means a plant would need to be tolerant of my limited upkeep).

I’ve found that as well-intentioned as I might be, it’s best to ignore my impulse to buy a plant just because it’s beautiful. No amount of beauty in a plant has ever caused me to put in more effort in the garden, so I’ve learned to seek out plants that suit my needs and my house’s most natural conditions rather than tell myself that I’ll change my ways. Phrases like “shade” and “drought/heat tolerant” are factors for success. Don’t buy the plant that needs watering every day if you barely have time to shower. Resist the urge to buy a plant and get overly ambitious with your normal habits for care; it’s a recipe for a brown, dead plant!

2. Height, texture, color.

There is another rule like this you may have heard: thriller, filler, spiller. Basically, you want to pick plants that have some variety for visual interest. And a good rule of thumb is to pick a grouping with three separate purposes: height, filling the container, and spilling over the lip of the container. I decided not to go with a “spiller” for this season, but I still kept the variety a priority. One larger shrub toward the back of the container is used to add height (and will grow taller over time). Another was added for texture (the hosta), and a third was chosen for bright color. The colorful impatiens will eventually need to be replaced (they’re annuals), and at that point I might replace them with a more cascading plant.

3. How to use less soil and lighten up potted plants

You may have noticed the empty plastic water bottles in the above photo; that’s actually the planter’s little secret! A few years ago, I discovered this trick for using less soil per planter. It also keeps the potted plant lighter, so I can move them around when the situation calls for it. Just throw several empty bottles into the bottom of the container, and cover the top area with newspaper. Then, plant as usual.

4. Tilt plants toward the lip to look fuller

When I first began planting containers, I thought everything had to be planted straight up and down. It wasn’t until I spoke with a gardener a few years ago that I realized that you can manipulate it a little. Tilt the plant slightly when planting so that they root at an angle, toward the edge of the planter. This is especially effective with “spiller” type plants that fall over and down the container, but I did it here with the impatiens to make the color pop a little more and make the planter look fuller.

5. Water regularly until established

Moving day is pretty much stressful for all living creatures, it seems; keep in mind that new plants tend to need more water upkeep until they have been around for a little while.

6. Easy does it

I’ve found that if I can keep my impatience in check, the better it is for my gardens. Adding slowly and thoughtfully, rather than planting too ambitiously too fast, leads to a garden style I’m much happier with.

I always get so impatient during the first year with new plants, thinking that I went too small or that I need to add more. Instead, a simple care plan for this first year is better than adding too much; it risks killing everything from having too much upkeep. The main shrub in each of these containers will grow between 3-4 feet, so while the plants needed a little something extra this year, they probably won’t need to be filled in much in the future.

Regardless, it’s nice to come home to some bright new color!

Want more outdoor DIY ideas? You’re in luck! My pal Cassity from Remodelaholic is hosting an Outdoor DIY Challenge today, and there are 12 more projects to check out!

Get Out! Outdoor DIY Projects

Covered Patio Outdoor Dining Area | Remodelaholic
DIY Outdoor Bench | Hertoolbelt
How to Build a Gazebo (from a Kit) | The Palette Muse
Sunroom Makeover | Lantern Lane Designs
DIY Solar Walkway Lights | Toolbox Divas
Wooden Welcome Sign Wreath | Lemon Thistle
DIY Washer Toss Game | Everyday Party Magazine
Backyard Hammock Area | North Country Nest
Easy Cinder Block Garden Planters | Our Crafty Mom
Funny DIY No Soliciting Sign | Leap of Faith Crafting
Simple DIY Tricks for a Covered Porch | Ugly Duckling House (you’re HERE!)
Bistro Set Makeover | Practical & Pretty
Tiered Vertical Planter Garden | Creative Ramblings
There’s also a video playlist you can catch right here too! Have a great weekend, friends!

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Simple DIY Tricks for Covered Porch Plants


Check Out Trisha Yearwood’s Dreamy New Southern-Chic Line For Kirkland’s

Trisha Yearwood is so much more than a country music star. She’s also a TV cooking host and three-time New York Times best-selling cookbook author, with a line of food products available at Williams Sonoma. And now, she’s got a brilliantly stylish new collection of Southern-chic home accents at Kirkland’s.

The Trisha Yearwood Kirkland’s collection of 23 pieces is affordably priced between $10 and $300. The collection includes wall art, accent furniture and home accessories inspired by Trisha’s Southern roots. The best part: the pieces are all mix-able and match-able in beautiful (and extremely versatile) ivories, golds and sea foam.

“Some of my favorite things about my hometown of Monticello, Georgia, are the dogwood-lined streets of spring, and everything that goes along with that time of year. Everything is fresh and new, and has a certain sparkle to it,” says Yearwood. “That’s the feeling that inspired this collection. It’s an elegant, yet comfortable collection that you can easily incorporate into your own style of decorating.”

Check out a few of the Trisha Yearwood Kirkland’s pieces:

If you want to soften your space up a bit with some muted, yet elegant shades and add a little bit of lovely texture, you’ll love her collection. The items tie in well with neutrals such as beiges, greys and whites.

All the items can be purchased online or at Kirkland’s national locations.

Have a favorite piece in the collection? Let us know in the comments!

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Dueling DIY: Before and Halfway Reveal?

My friend Charlotte and I are in a DIY battle to renovate our guest bedrooms. Catch the entire series here.

Hey folks! I’m sure you guys expected me to post this last Wednesday (sorry about that), but these last two weeks have been nuts!

My birthday was on the 1st… and like clockwork, I was hit with epic hayfever that left my face swollen, sneezing, and itchy. Not a pretty picture. It makes me feel miserable, and feel so lame, all at the same time. I think it’s the mundaneness of being taken down by tree dust. Or that I somehow manage to forget not to leave the house until June when I’m excited that spring has finally returned.

Still, I at least got to go out to dinner and put on a nice dress and flowers and all the mushy stuff with K, and I also got a new power tool (because he knows my love language, ha). I’ll get to why I was outside to make matters worse at the end of this post, but I need to give you a Dueling DIY update first!

As we touched on with the last update, Charlotte (of At Charlotte’s House) was thinking she was probably going to be done with her guest room makeover by our next scheduled post. And since her room was a little smaller than mine, it’s not exactly a surprise that the challenge is ending sooner than I’ll actually finish all the big builds in the room (I still have the built-ins to finish, plus two custom-made pieces of furniture to create for the double-duty use of this room… a lot going on!).

But, that isn’t really ever the point of Dueling DIY. I still plan to fully finish this room, but the goal is always to light a fire under my ass and actually make some progress after years of stalling. I think my room has done just that! So, it’s time to toot my own horn a little, fully furnished or not. Let’s go wall to wall and cover the biggest leaps forward that we’ve seen thus far, and what’s yet to come!

Before: boring and cluttered

During the “before” tour, I showed you a freshly cleaned-out room. Lots had been donated to Goodwill, which was a start, but the room had ZERO personality.

Progress: a cozy corner

I added a beautiful sage green to two of the walls, and a super pale gray to a third. A final wall will be painted after the built-ins are complete (and will match the wall on the right). But how awesome does this same corner look now compared to before? The picture ledges turned out exactly as I imagined, and got a ton of my artwork out of boxes. Win!

I also added DIY curtain rods to the window that have a nifty hanging rod built in, which allowed me to create some hanging planters. I still like them, but as you can see, I already switched them out. K made that call, actually… he didn’t like that they were deliberately hanging at different heights. Since this room will serve as his office space when he needs it (and I’m trying to make him feel welcome in what was my house exclusively for years), I made a switch to pre-made ones from Amazon, and will pick my battle another day.

Before: cluttered TV wall, too-hot room

ugly boob light - guest bedroom
ugly boob light

Clutter and a boob light… snore.

Progress: a place for remotes, a comfortable breeze

I know I’m not breaking the mold with these two upgrades, but adding another picture ledge beneath the TV and a bright, breezy ceiling fan (with remote) has made this room so much more comfortable to even be in! We removed the old visible storage as well, and there will soon be a custom-built piece to fit right under the TV and house a set of K’s vintage speakers. He is really excited to develop a piece for the blog, so I may give him the reigns with that one for his first project to share his design from his POV.

As for the little nook o’ nothin’ right next to the door, that space will get a few easy shelves for K’s vintage records and video games. When the built-ins are finished, we may switch what’s displayed where; but with all his stuff moved into the house in odd places, getting things out of the living room will be a step in the right direction!

Before: the bed wall

Progress: still “the bed wall”, but way cooler!

The Murphy bed has been talked about repeatedly already, but in the last two weeks, there have been two significant changes:

  1. It’s painted the final color of the future built-ins; and
  2. I’m working on the art on the front!

The green tape in the photo was a way to visually see what size art I want on the wall. The two smaller vertical pieces are where the handles need to be for optimal leverage. My goal with the art piece is to make it so that the handles are somehow incorporated into the art, so when closed, it looks like a really cool wall and not the exposed bottom of the bed. So far, here’s what it looks like!

Murphy bed wall art

Ignore the plywood scraps behind the art… that’s just a flat surface to work on. This is a happy stopping point until I get some input from K on what we should do next (I’m thinking of adding some scroll saw pieces so it’s got some geometric and swooping shapes to it). And as for where the handles fit…

I’ve cut out a place on each side that should fit right over the handles once installed! I cut these using a scroll saw and then glued them to another piece to keep them stable (that front part of the wood that hides the handle is super thin, so it would never hold on its own). It probably still looks a little confusing with the plywood in the background, but I’ll have a post dedicate to the entire DIY process once I figure out how the rest is going to look, stain it, etc.

Dueling DIY Vlog #4

Since this is the official end of Dueling DIY: Guest Room Gauntlet, I made one last vlog update as well! You will now find four episodes over on my YouTube channel, and I’ll be adding each of these to a playlist on the Dueling DIY: Guest Room Gauntlet tag in case you ever want to see them in sequence. If you want to see more about how I plan to make the art on the Murphy bed work too, I have a short clip of the handle placement, and wait for Charlie’s input around the 2:20 mark.

And as for that reason I was outside, getting attacked by hay fever demons? Here’s a sneak peek:

Things are finally happening with the new shed and platform deck! I’ve been planning things since last fall, and things are now majorly underway. These are the big reasons I was trying to make headway with the guest room before spring, since I knew that it would be way too hard to try to do the bulk of the Murphy bed and all this at the same time. I’ve decided that I’ll batch out the posts as two separate series (series-es? hehe) so I can give more details on things like pre-treated lumber (such as when to use ground contact, etc.), framing the walls, and all that. It’s all a huge learning process for me, so I’ll pass on as much info as I can (we’re still talking about structural details that will likely vary a good bit depending on location and what codes to follow, so it might be hard to answer specific questions if they haven’t applied to me/my yard).

That’s all for now, but check in again this week. My goal is to post every other day (including weekends) until all of the goings-on have been posted about, but I have several complex tutorials in my pipeline that I’ve been wanting to share, so it’s mostly a matter of how much sleep I get until the hay fever goes away (which unfortunately after a winter of not enjoying warm weather, makes it hard to stay inside!).

So, tell me: what have you been working on or planning that you’re really excited about?

P.S. One more thing: Charlotte and my friend Erin Spain have a podcast called North South Makers, and they asked me on as their first guest interview! You can check me out on Episode 34 right here. They’re also going to be my roomies at Haven in Charleston this July. I’ll be sure to include any road trip shenanigans when we do a recap.

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Dueling DIY: Before and Halfway “Reveal”


Moving Soon? Here’s How to Pack For A Move Like A Pro

Let us show you how to pack for a move like a pro. Image: Erda Estremera

For many of us, packing for a move feels like a herculean task—and for good reason. There are so many different details to consider, not to mention the effort involved in lugging heavy boxes around. However, with a little forethought and planning, this process doesn’t have to feel overwhelming at all.

If you need a little guidance on how to pack for a move, you’re in the right place. Here’s some great tips to help you tackle this project like a pro.

Put together a schedule that works for you, and stick to it. Image: Estée Janssens

Schedule your time appropriately

Let’s be honest: the biggest hurdle most of us face when packing for a move is leaving it all to the last minute. Packing your belongings is a big task: it’s easy to procrastinate and find other things we’d much rather do instead. And we usually regret the decision.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. The first step to packing like a pro is making sure you schedule your time appropriately—and well in advance of moving day—so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by having to take care of everything at once. By breaking the process down into simple steps and scheduling a time to complete each one, you can tackle this process with ease.

The first thing to break out is your calendar. Take a realistic assessment of the amount of available free time you have before your moving day, and designate times for decluttering, packing up each room of your home (try to limit yourself to one or two rooms at a time), cleaning, and a final pack-up for any last-minute items.

Get rid of excess clutter before you pack. Image: Brooke Lark

Declutter first

After you have your schedule set, the next step is decluttering your current space. Save yourself some extra packing down the road: lighten the workload by taking the time to get rid of these items before you begin putting things in boxes.

When decluttering you home, we recommend the “three pile method.” Sort items that you intend to keep into one pile, items that are suitable for donation into another pile, and items that need to be thrown away into a third pile. That way, you’ll have a clear plan of action for every item.

If you can, schedule your donation pick-up for the same day you intend to declutter. This helps hold you accountable for finishing the task. Try to take care of your trash on the same day, as well. You’ll feel more accomplished knowing that a huge chunk of your work is finished, and you’ll truly be able to move forward to the next step.


Label your boxes to keep them organized. Image: Jon Tyson

Create a label system

Packing for a move is all about staying organized. Before you start the process, make sure you have a system in place that allows you to sort out what’s what when you arrive at your new home. The easiest way to do that is by creating a label system that helps you know, with just a glance, what’s in each box.

When labeling, it’s important to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of just labeling a box “kitchen,” you may want to write “kitchen – pots and pans” instead. Write your label on multiple sides of the box, so that no matter how it’s positioned, you’ll know which items are inside.

Some people like to take labeling a step further by writing a list of each individual item contained within in a box. You can do this on paper and stick it in the top of the box, or keep a digital master list. Whichever method you choose, it can save you the hassle of rooting through boxes to find the particular item you’re looking for.

room by room

Pack up one room at a time. Image Breather

Go room-by-room

Once you’re ready to start packing, we recommend undertaking the task room by room. Doing so not only helps you break the process up into more manageable steps, it also helps you keep your boxes organized. Start your packing in less-used spaces, such as the dining room and formal living area. Then, work your way up to your kitchen and bedroom as it gets closer to the big day.

Everyone has their own methods of packing. However, here are a few general reminders to help you stay organized:

  • Try to pack similar items together, rather than having each box become a catch-all.
  • You can use soft items as padding in between more breakable pieces.
  • Pack heavier items in smaller boxes to keep boxes from becoming overwhelmingly heavy.
  • Be sure to secure each box tightly with packing tape.

Fill an overnight bag full of irreplaceable items. Image: Erol Ahmed

Pack an overnight bag with important items

No one wants to think about it, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, a move can go awry and items can get lost in the shuffle. In order to make sure nothing irreplaceable gets lost, we recommend packing a separate overnight bag with important items and keeping it with you, rather than placing it on a moving truck.

The items you choose to include will be unique to you, but these suggestions may help you start thinking:

  • Clothes for a few days, and toiletries
  • Laptops and other work-related items
  • Family photos
  • Important documents (Passports, birth certificates, deeds, etc.)
  • Expensive jewelry

Have you moved recently? If so, do you have any packing tips to share? Put them in the comments below!

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