Archive for the ‘REAL renovations’ Category

I am a member of the San Antonio Herb Society and we do several outreach events each year where we work at educating people about herbs. The display we have is called Everyday Herbs and it is made up of many examples of boxed and packaged foods that you can buy in your grocery store that contain herbs. Along with those boxes and packages we have pots of each herb to show people what that herb looks like before it is added to those foods, and educating them how herbs are a part of their everyday life. We also focus on 12 basic herbs that grow well in our area.

Herb Market 2012 006

Last year three of us worked at freshening up the display and finding more healthy and organic examples to use in our display. We used to use these neat ceramic plant marks, but they were so heavy that the 4″ potted herbs would end up falling over a lot of the time so we decided to take a normal terracotta/clay pot and use blackboard paint on them and use a white marker (to look like chalk) and write the herb on each pot. Those pots would make a nice strong and steady base to place the 4″ potted herbs in and help them remain upright throughout the day.

Herb Market 2012 002

This is a really simple way to label your potted plants. We used two different pots shapes and sizes to give the display some variety. The blackboard (chalkboard paint) paint in permanent and the white marker we used it also. We will be using these pots over and over again, so it was important that they would hold up. You could also use regular chalk, but just remember that it would wash off in the rain.

We only did the 12 basic herbs that grow well in the San Antonio area to keep the focus on what herbs are easy for people to start with if they were interested in growing herbs. The pots turned out great and the display turned out well.

The pots have really freshened up the display. This is an ongoing display as we continue to to switch out the older boxed foods with examples of more organic and healthy options.

Do you have a creative way to label your potted plants?

Sincerely, Emily

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Ever have one of those weeks where the money just beats a path out your door?

I actually have very careful plans for the money to make its way, under my control, into various repairs and upgrades. Yes, one must save for the new roof, but replacing the 50 year old piece of junk NOT an antique couch would be nice too. I have some great, fun projects on that list– I desperately need a new front door. Bet you didn’t know that a door can  break, did you? Mine is a beautiful, ancient thing with a large piece of beveled glass.

That slipped out of its mooring and can’t be either replaced or fixed, at least by anyone that I can afford. I’m terrified to try it myself, because the piece of glass is huge and heavy. So I really need a new door, and while I’m at it I’d like to just rehab the whole foyer, which is an ugly mess (very bad chi for your entryway to be an ugly mess, and I really don’t need any more bad energy right now).

I’d love a dining room rug.

I always promised myself that once the food-dropping, mud-shoeing kids were gone, we’d get a nice dining room rug.

I am very very good at stretching a dollar, and at saving for things like this, even on a meager income.

And then the gas company discovers that your stove is improperly installed and disconnects it.

And then they discover that the switch on the water heater is broken so they disconnect that too. And your daughter, who is living upstairs, makes a strong case that water pressure would be nice.

Ten minutes after the plumber leaves, the outside water line springs a leak, and then you make it worse trying to fix it yourself so you don’t have to pay a plumber.

Looks like the couch is going to be here a little longer.

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The three water gardens we put in a few years ago are doing really well. In the one that is lower to the ground, we have frogs and toads using it and singing happily on various nights. The little minnow-type fish all also happy and multiplying in all three water gardens,  keeping them clear of nasty mosquito larva. I also have one open 55-gallon drum that catches water from a leaky rain gutter that I have also put those little fish in and they are working hard in there too.

Last spring when 2 mama deer decided our fenced in backyard was a perfect spot to have their babies. They thought it was great. I thought something completely different. since then there are a few deer that frequent the back yard every day…. munching their way through this and that (including all the native and “deer resistant” plants I have back there.

Oh Deer - water garden

I know there is never a guarantee to the “deer resistant” things, what makes me so mad is that things were going along great until these two mama deer had their brilliant idea.  While these deer make their daily and nightly visits one of them favorite treats seems to be the lily pads and water lilies!  Well, I fixed that. I put a piece of hardware cloth over each water garden. HA! it isn’t the prettiest things, but the lily pads and water lilies are able to grow  and do their thing.

This was a great quick fix. One of the water gardens has a metal cage around it and the hardware cloth is raised up above the water lever about 7″ giving the water lilies room to pop up out of the water and flower. The hardware cloth on the other water garden sits right on the top and the water lilies try to come up and bloom, but are scrunched and squished. So my husband built a quick little frame that would raise the hardware cloth up a bit so there is enough room for the water lilies to bloom.

watergarden project 2

What is great about this little renovation is that everything we already had everything that we needed sitting around waiting for just such a project! We didn’t have to buy a thing – that is always a great thing.

watergarden project 3My husband built a PVC frame that would raise the hardware cloth up higher and then he bent it down on two of the sides and trimmed excess off one end and added it to the front. That enclosed three sides so the deer couldn’t nose their way in between the top of the frame and the water garden to get at those scrumptious lily pads! So far, so good, The water lilies are able to pop up and bloom with all the room they need and we get to enjoy them.

One very small REAL Renovation success for us!

Do you have to protect something in your yard from deer or dogs? What is your solution?

Sincerely, Emily

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I had a (rather wealthy) friend walk into my house once and remark “what a cute little place!”

Which surprised me, because I’ve got 10 rooms and a full basement and “little” is not the term that comes to mind when I’m dusting them.

With my recent, ahem, lifestyle change (husband decided he needed “spark,” whatever that is, and moved out), and both kids gone (ish), I find myself with far more rooms than I need.

So I downsized. Or rather, downstaired.

My house is essentially a really nice one-story house that had three bedrooms, a bath and attic storage added on the second floor. We’ve never been entirely sure whether the second floor is original or not, as the first floor would easily fit a family of four or five. As my son put it, my first floor is a really awesome apartment.

I’ve spent the past month moving myself into it.

I now have a 6-room apartment: living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, office, and studio.  (Office for my consulting business, and the studio for sewing and art.) It’s still a luxurious amount of space for one person.

Most of the “renovation” has involved just moving furniture downstairs, but this brings its own needs. A lot of the furniture left with Wei, so there are bare spots on the walls. Or actually, shadows on the walls, where pictures have been hanging for 30 years.  So there’s been a fair amount of patching and painting.  Some of it has been less “renovation” and more “renewal” like getting rid of books and clothes and things that you store when you have the space, but that you really don’t need. I’ve been applying the “if I didn’t know I had it, I don’t really need it” rule.

Upstairs there’s now a second, rather charming “inlaw” apartment– Living/Dining room, bedroom, office, full bath and tons of closet space, and even a half-sized fridge which I’ve been using for my home-preserves. My daughter is using it right now (that’s the “ish” in the the kids are gone), but I’m thinking of renting it to a grad student or intern.

When you live in a space for a long time, you grow tentacles. Even for me, who does not tend to accumulate clutter, a lot accumulates over 30 years in a space. When you remove stuff you’ve had for a long time, it’s not that you’re getting rid of things you need; it’s that you’re relinquishing myths– the myth that you will fit into your honeymoon suit again, that your daughter will want the baby furniture eventually, that you can furnish your kids apartments from the detritus of your life, that you’ll finally sell all that art you made in your twenties.

There’s an awesome garage sale in my near future.

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Here at Not Dabbling, we suddenly realized we were all knee deep in sawdust and paint chips, so we thought we’d explore the idea of REAL Renovation. For us, that means DIY, sustainable materials, creative reuse and enhancing sustainable lifestyles.


I (Alexandra) have had renovation somewhat forced onto me; I took my husband’s departure as an opportunity to downsize, turning my house from a 10-room family manse into a one-floor “apartment” with an in-law space on the second floor (currently inhabited by my daughter). Over the next month I’ll walk you through the painting, stripping and furniture moving involved not so much in renovation of a house, as in renovation of a family to meet new circumstances.



For me (Sincerely, Emily), there is always a list of things to do around our house and property. Some big projects and some smaller ones. Since I am still unable to do so many things right now I will focus on some of the smaller “renovations” that are happening around here.



You may’ve seen the renovations I did on my kitchen earlier this year. Just wait until you see what I’ve been up to outside!

Every spring brings about several renovations here at Tanglewood farm, but it seems like this year we’ve done more than ever and still have several in the planning stages as well! Many of the renovations going on here are on a fairly large scale (well, not huge, but large). Whether it is redoing a room in our house, adding a new feature in the yard or learning and attempting a new skill around the farm, I am sure to stay busier than ever this season!


Are you planning any major or minor renovations in your life, this month?

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