Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Yes, I’ll admit it.  I’m hopelessly addicted to Pinterest.  But there are some positives to my condition. I get inspired to create. Great for the business, and also for my yard!  I recently hopped on the bandwagon and made a vertical pallet planter. If you want to give it a try, here’s how:

Supplies needed: pallet, roll of weed blocking fabric, staple gun, staples, scissors, 2 bags of potting soil – total of 5 cubic feet, shovel, trowel, plants – in no larger than 4″ pots, water.

Also recommended: board approx. same size as pallet, 4 bricks.

And possibly: power saw, power drill, screws.

for starters – the pallet

Step 1: Find a pallet!  We had just had supplies delivered on this pallet for our basement project, so I was in luck.  But I’ve heard there are lots of places, like Comcast near me, that store them behind their building waiting for trash day. My particular pallet had a lot of space between its boards and I was worried the dirt and plants would fall right out when I stood it up.  So I rounded up some scraps of strapping, again from our basement project, cut them to 4 feet long with that power saw you see in the background, and screwed them into the pallet. My hubby suggested using screws instead of nails because they’d hold better. See the power drill?  Makes the job so easy! Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this extra step if you find a better pallet I did.

my son lends a hand with the staple gun (anything with the word gun in there and he’s game!)

Step 2: Trim the weed blocking fabric long enough to wrap all the way around the sides of the pallet (and fold under if you’re a little anal like me).  Probably 4′ 10″ or so. I got my roll at Ocean State Job Lot.  It was only 3 feet wide, but it was also only $5.  The wider ones I had seen at Home Depot were $20 something.  So I had to cut two lengths.  It actually turned out to be a good thing to overlap the fabric for a double thick layer.  Decide which side of the pallet will be the front and which will be the back. With the back side facing up, use the staple gun (I used 1/4″ staples because thats what we had on hand, but you could use longer too) to attach the weed fabric to the back, around the sides (folding the edges for a neater look if you want to), and around the bottom of the pallet.  I put a staple in every 4″ or so. Remember to push down on the back of the staple gun (like my son is in the photo) to get the staples in good and deep.

this is what it will look like – this happens to be bottom up

Step 3: Lie the pallet down with the back (weed fabric covered side) on the ground.  Note: Be sure to move your pallet close to its final position now.  Its about to get really heavy so you don’t want to have to move it very far once its planted. You may also want to consider lying it on a board at this point. All that will be holding in all that heavy dirt and plantings is a thin layer of fabric and a few staples.  It will help keep everything in tact when you tip the pallet up.

get two 2.5 cubic foot bags of potting soil

Step 4: Go grab your dirt. A pallet is 4ft x 4ft and about 4″ deep, so 5 cubic feet of soil is perfect to fill it.  I used two 2.5 cubic foot bags of potting soil.

fill the pallet with soil

Step 5: Shovel or dump (if you’re strong enough to carry the bag of soil around) the soil onto the pallet, pushing and lightly packing it under the boards too.  I left the area beneath the top board fairly empty, figuring I’d fill it after I tipped it up. I even had a little extra soil left that I stored away for just that purpose.

plan out plant arrangement

Step 6: Now get your plants.  I used a mix of flowers and herbs: petunias, impatients, begonia, vinca vine, lobelia, 2 green plants that I can’t remember the name of, rosemary, oregano, basil, mint and romaine lettuce.  I put the smaller ones on the bottom so they wouldn’t droop all over the ground when the pallet is propped up.  I put some dangly ones for some visual interest. And I mixed the color fairly evenly among the greens.  Another note: when purchasing your plants, make sure they are in no larger than a 4″ pot or they won’t fit!

all planted

Step 6: Plant everything and water generously.  You can clean the dirt off the boards too (as you can see I did not!). Leave the pallet planter lying flat on the ground for 1 or 2 weeks until the plants are established.

tip the pallet up and lean it against a wall – done!

Step 7: After you’ve waited patiently for the week or two, stepping carefully over your planter (or in my yard, playing soccer around it), its time to tip it up! You will definitely need help for this part. Its very heavy. Remember lift with your legs not with your back! If you’ve taken my advice and put it right next to its permanent spot, and put a board under it, this will be much easier.  Lift and slide.  Then fill the top with the rest of the soil you had set aside and plant the last plants.  I put the romaine lettuce here for some height and more vinca vines that hang down the sides. Done.  Just remember to keep it watered and enjoy!

Ooops! I killed the grass!

Warning: Leaving the pallet on grass for a week or two will surely damage or even kill the grass.  Something I hadn’t considered but my husband did – a little too late! His suggestion is to let air circulate under the pallet by putting a couple bricks on the ground in the corner areas before you put the board and pallet down to fill with dirt.

USPS zone map

Before we could list our products on Etsy, we had to determine a shipping price.  So we called the post office of course!  Not so fast – it depends on how much the package weighs, and where you ship it to and from, and what size box you use, etc, etc.  We had planned on then calling UPS and FedEx to compare prices, but we couldn’t figure out what to compare to!

We tried contacting a USPS rep to see if they could explain it all to us. But they just sent a list of box sizes and prices.  Yeah, we know …  we already found that on your website.  We also picked up a list of zones from our local branch office (they xeroxed the copy they had hanging on the wall!) – it didn’t make any sense at all.

Argh! If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  So I stayed up one Friday night til about 3am figuring this out.  First I had to figure out where each zone actually was, because if you go in numerical order by zip code, it seems completely haphazard.  Turns out the zones actually run in vertical bands from North to South across the country (kind of – see the map above).

Then I figured out how much each type of order would weigh – one pack of crayons, 2 packs of crayons… up to 10, party favor packs, etc, including the box and packing materials (taking into account the different size boxes needed and their weights as well).

Did you know on USPS.com there is a program that lets you type in how much your shipment weighs, where you’re shipping it from and to, and in what type of packaging you’re using (http://postcalc.usps.com/)? It then spits out a list of shipping methods and costs for each.  So, of course, I typed in all that info for each zone and each weight and made a big old beautiful and confusing chart of all the options.  From that, I created an “easy ship chart” that narrowed it down to the cheapest way to ship to each zone and which box to use.

On Etsy, you can not have the customer enter their zip code and let them know how much their shipping will be, like you can on Ebay.  You have to put a flat shipping price on each listing. So I had to figure the worst case scenario to keep us covered.  We actually use the 2nd to worst case figuring we’ll make a little extra on some (chalked up to “handling”) and take a loss on others but it will even out in the long run.

Now when we get an order, I just cross reference the ship-to zip code to the zone, weigh the package and take out my shipping bible to determine how to ship it!

BUT THEN…

The USPS raised its rates!!!! Back to the drawing board!

Last weekend I went to see my Aunt in Maine and spent most of the visit wandering around her house checking it all out.  Everywhere I turned there was something just a little unusual to see.  So I had to grab my camera and document some of its eclecticness (not sure if thats even a word).  Take a look:

the front door (see what I mean?).

you might expect to see this…

but would you expect this?
chairs as wall art!

you might expect this…

but what about this? especially in the same room.

perhaps you’d even expect this (other than the roll of bandages on the bow).

but I know I wasn’t expecting to see an antique firearm in the fireplace!

from classic…

to quirky…

to modern.

there’s even a cathedral ceilinged potting area

complete with artwork.

complete set of bound Gourmet magazines back to 1977.

hardwood inset in frames of granite.

casual gathering on the back patio – happy birthday Dad!

I’m not particularly into Mother’s Day and neither is my mother. But it is nice to get a little recognition from your kids. Who doesn’t love a macaroni necklace? I’ll treasure my 3 forever. After all its a piece of their creative youth that will soon be gone.

Usually my husband or maybe a teacher is responsible for whatever it is they give me.  My favorite is my mothers ring. Its just a plain white gold band with a little bitty diamond and 2 aquamarines in it – my kids birthstones. But every time I look at it I think of them and I get to have them with me where ever I go.

No one can explain the overwhelming love you feel once  you become a mother. You just have to become one. The way you cry because you’re no longer providing for them when you wean them, the way you literally feel their pain when they break their arm falling off the monkey bars, the worry you feel when they go on their first solo bike ride fearing you may never see them again. So all those kids out there won’t get the fact that their parents would literally die for them for many many more years.

And once you have your own kids, you appreciate your own mother so much more.  I think of mine as a single mother of 3, never getting break, having to always be the one to put us to bed, always be the one to get us dinner, always be the one to take us here there and every where, always be the one to deal with our melt downs, and always be the one to deal with every I want I want I want. With no help and no end in sight. And she never complained, she never yelled, she never lost it. (Exact opposite of me!)

Although she lives only an hour away, I don’t see her very often.  We email most (I hate phones).  But I know she’s always there to answer my questions, help out when I need her, share the goofy stories about my kids with, and just offer support. What would I do without her?

So on this mothers day, I want to wish every mother out there, but especially mine, an overwhelmingly love filled day.  And thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do!  And to all the kids out there, all you really need to do today is give Mom a big hug and tell her you love her.  What more could we ask for!

Maybe I’m just ADD, maybe I’m just over committed, maybe I’m overly interested, maybe just like with everyone else, there’s not enough time in the day.  But I seem to be having hard time keeping up with life.  I have failed at my goal of posting twice a week. I’m lucky if I post once a week these days.  In fact, I’ve not done much LeeLee related in a couple weeks.  Ok, I’ve shipped out orders and answered emails. But thats about it.  I’m supposed to be tweaking the packaging of the DIY banner, experimenting with silkscreening t-shirts, and developing new packaging that doesn’t involve our current round bags.

But I have gotten most of our basement painted. And I have gone to my kids’ flag football games. And I have organized and run a can and bottle drive for the school’s Green Team.  And I have had a meeting about the Holiday Craft Market craft show that Leslie and I run every year.

I have to keep myself in check so that I don’t take on too much.  Even though I already have.  Just yesterday, they were looking for a volunteer to be the Vice President for the PTO. You organize the fundraising events – right up my alley!  Then I got a group email looking for a volunteer to be on the board of the Centerville Improvement Society which I think would be a lot of fun.  But no.  I have to remember I just don’t have the time. I mean, I don’t even have the time to keep my house clean!

Then again, its all about priorities.  I feel its important to be involved in my kids lives, and sneak work work and house work in when I can.  I feel its important to be creatively and mentally challenged to remain happy in life.  I feel its important to do my part and help out the community.  So if my basement takes another month to finish, and the non-recyclable styrofoam trays stay in the garage a little longer, and the morning LeeLee meetings happen once a week instead of daily, while I take my boys to baseball practice in between making a sign for a food drive, and a birthday cake for my father, then so be it.  I guess.

I have to realize I can’t do it all perfectly or well enough to make everyone happy.  But I do the best I can!

Only a few more weeks until Giselle’s party on June 2!  Today we went to look at the hall again to finalize the floor plan and a few other details. Its exciting to know its all coming together.

Also did a test of the wheat grass for the centerpieces to make sure we could get it to grow.  And it did!  Leave it in the window and spritz with water occasionally.  Thats all it took!

Check out the pics of the first 5 days of life.

Pre-soaking the seeds

And they're planted

I see growth!

I see green!

Day 5