Cedar Raised Garden Bed – DIY

Cedar Raised Beds {The Reluctant Hippie}

We overhauled the back yard last spring. The beautiful circular planters that replaced our pool 8 years ago were not working for us – lots of wasted space, paver bricks that had settled awkwardly, and trouble with weed suppression on the paths between the planters.

I wanted something simpler – raised rectangular beds, off to the side of the yard. I looked into raised bed kits made of cedar at the hardware store, but the quality of the boards was awfully low for $100 a pop. Also, the design made it so that 3 boards were stacked upon one another on each side, and the mechanism for holding them together was not very sturdy. It was clear that there would be gaps.

We decided to DIY. We would’ve needed two 4’x8′ kits to provide the space we wanted to cover, so my goal was to create two cedar planters for less than the $200 the kits would’ve cost.

Continue reading


Entryway Clutter Collector


Entryway Clutter Collector (The Reluctant Hippie}

Our entryway is a mess. Our home doesn’t have a mudroom, so everything gets tracked into our kitchen (via the garage). We installed a bench with space underneath for shoe storage a few years ago (which we LOVE), but it was constantly covered with jackets, school papers, lunch boxes, mittens, mail, you name it.

We needed a place for all of the STUFF to go. And that stuff had to go in a pretty small space. I looked into lots of products, but none of them seemed like the perfect solution. I looked up plans for building a custom piece, and we could’ve figured that out, but it still would’ve cost around $150 and taken us a long time to complete (we lack both tools and skills).

So we decided to cheat and use a pre-existing piece of furniture to create the shelving/coat rack unit. I found a bookshelf at our local furniture resale shop, sanded and painted it, added a few hooks and bins, and voila! Entryway Clutter Collector. Continue reading

Black Valentine Beans – A Perfect Children’s Garden Plant

Black Valentine Beans {The Reluctant Hippie}We had so much fun growing these beans last summer. I had never grown beans before, and I wanted to give them a try because of the benefits legumes provide to soil and because we eat an awful lot of dried beans each week. I’d love to be able to grow some of what we consume. Continue reading

What I Should’ve Said: An Open Letter to the TruGreen Guy

Dear Sir,

It has been a few weeks since we last spoke. I’m not sure if you will remember me, but here’s a quick re-cap of our exchange to jog your memory:

  • There’s a “No Solicitors” sign next to my doorbell. That probably won’t help you – you seem to have missed it.
  • I quietly said, “Hi” with an inquisitive look on my face. You said (loudly and with a laugh), “Huh. It’s like you have a baby sleeping in there.” To which I responded, “I *do* have a baby sleeping in here. What can I do for you?” Still not ringing a bell? Okay, we’ll keep going.
  • You asked whether I had a lawn care company. I used to, but we fired them this year for a whole host of reasons. I didn’t want to delve into the subject with you, so I just said, “Yes, we’re covered.” And you said, “Really? Because I’m looking around in your yard, and there are a lot of areas that are really not looking too good” as you turned and shrugged towards several patches that are, indeed, not looking too good.
  • I said that I wasn’t interested in hiring a new company, and you OPENED MY SCREEN DOOR and handed me a brochure while quickly saying that if I changed my mind, just to give you a call — your company could sort out “all this,” as you gestured to my yard. When I handed the brochure back to you because I didn’t want to waste the paper, your eyes bugged out, you raised your voice, and you said, “Well, excu-u-use, ME.”
  • You stormed off my porch as I closed the door.

That was the end of our conversation. It took less than 5 minutes, but it stuck with me, mostly because I left so many things unsaid. I feel that I need some closure, so here goes. Continue reading

Dresser Drawer Org

This is such a lame topic. It’s not nearly as sexy as recipes, but I find myself feeling mildly evangelistic about my dresser drawers right now. Also, most of the recipes we’ve tried over the past couple of weeks have been either culinary or photographic failures (I *really* need to learn how to use my new camera). For example,

Decent picture of the homemade Cheez-It crackers. The taste and texture? Not so great.

Decent picture of the homemade Cheez-It crackers. The taste and texture? Not so great.

Outstanding dinner from Jamie Oliver’s "Meals in Minutes" (Roast beef, baby popovers, little carrots, crispy potatoes, super-quick gravy) that I didn’t photograph before serving, and there were no leftovers. Because it was delicious. Next time, I promise.

Outstanding dinner from Jamie Oliver’s “Meals in Minutes” (Roast beef, baby popovers, little carrots, crispy potatoes, super-quick gravy) that I didn’t photograph before serving. There were no leftovers because it was such a good meal. Lesson learned – even if the lighting is terrible, take a picture immediately.

So today, we have the unfortunate combination of nerdy delight over organizational tactics and a lack of good food photos for the blog. Continue reading

Felted wool dryer balls: Nifty Gifties!


Last year, I posted about switching from dryer sheets to dryer balls.  As the weeks wore on, I started noticing that the little spikes on the plastic dryer balls were starting to erode. I’m not sure where the little bits of pulverized plastic were landing, but I’m fairly certain that means that the powdered particles are in our clothes and in the air. The more I read about plastic, the more concerned I am about releasing plastic particles into air and water. Continue reading

5 Wonderful Things People Did For Us While I Was Recovering From Surgery

As I mentioned earlier, I had emergency abdominal surgery in March. We are blessed in so many ways, but some of our greatest gifts are our friends and family. I cannot tell you the number of hours people spent making food, taking care of kids, helping with the house and yard, and providing support and encouragement. It’s wonderful and humbling.

I also now have a ton of ideas for nice things to do for people who are in a similar situation – serious illness, surgery, new baby in the house, etc. I wanted to share 5 of the most awesome gifts we received during this period. Continue reading