DIY Tombstones

I have always been a fan of decorating our house for Halloween.  At the same time, I will happily admit that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the scarier or more ghoulish decorations. I have a few neighbors who go all out and create amazing haunted houses every year.  I love to walk by and check out their set-ups, but there is no way I could sleep at night if I had some of the more ghoulish decorations at my house.

DIY Tombstones

A few years back, my three boys starting complaining that our house wasn’t “creepy enough.”  Apparently, my “Happy Harvest” pumpkins and scarecrows weren’t getting them into the Halloween spirit.

Zucchini, an Out-of-Control Pumpkin Plant and Rats: An Update on Suburban Vegetable Gardening

I’ve been MIA for the past few months as I’ve been up to my eyeballs in post-season Little League baseball.  Now that the Little League season is winding down, I’m excited to get back to The Lady DIY!  I’m way overdue to post an update on the progress of our suburban vegetable garden; we’re now about two and a half months in, and my intention was to post every month or so.  (You know what they say about good intentions.)

An update on suburban vegetable gardening: lots of zucchini, one out-of-control pumpkin plant, and some tomato-loving rats.

Title page for blog post Zucchini, an out-of-control pumpkin plant and rats: an update on suburban vegetable garden. A photo of the full garden.

Considering that I haven’t had much time to devote to our little garden, there are some great things happening.  We got lucky this year with the weather and actually got a few weeks of spring.  (Usually, it feels like we go from winter to 100+ degree heat within about a two-week span.)  The extra few weeks of gradually warming weather allowed the plants to get established before the heat of the summer arrived.  It also helps that my mom is an amazing gardening and has been putting in time while I’ve been MIA.

Our Suburban Vegetable Garden

Spring is absolutely, hands-down, my favorite time to get out in the yard and garden.  After a particularly wet winter in Northern California, our landscaping is looking especially vibrant and lush.  I love seeing all of the bright green, new growth covering all of the plants.

The arrival of warmer days also mean that it’s time to get our little suburban vegetable garden planted.  We have a fairly typical, suburban backyard, about three-quarters of which are occupied by our patio and pool.  We have limited space left for a garden, so I rely on container gardening and a small, raised bed garden.

Title photo for the blog post "Our Suburban Vegetable Garden." Photo of the full raised-bed garden.When planning our garden each spring, I always start with the tomato plants.  Not only do we eat a LOT of  tomatoes throughout the year, but with the abundant sunshine and HOT weather that we get during the summer, tomatoes are some of the easiest veggies to grow in our area.

How to Install Wrought Iron Spindles

This is Part Two of my DIY staircase makeover – How to Install Wrought Iron Stair Spindles. You can find Part One – How to Gel Stain an Oak Handrail – HERE.

Title page for blog post "How to install wrought iron stair spindles." A photo of the updated staircase.

If you’ve read Part One of my staircase makeover, you’ll know that our house was drowning in golden oak. It was EVERYWHERE, and I couldn’t wait to see it all gone.

Easy Closet Organization

If you have small children, you have small accessories.  A LOT of them.  Depending on where you live, that can include mittens, beanies, scarves, umbrellas, sunglasses, hats to protect from the sun, flip-flops – you name it.  If you’re lucky, like me, you live somewhere that gets seasonable weather and calls for both cold and warm-weather accessories – double the “stuff.”

Tile page for blog post "easy closet organization."

I think it was somewhere between the arrival of Kid #2 and Kid #3, that I had finally had enough of trying to keep track of all of those teeny, tiny things.  (You can only deal with so many meltdowns as a result of your three-year old not finding his absolute-favorite-can’t-live-without-it pair of sunglasses.)  I needed to figure out some sort of easy closet organization system.  We didn’t have any place for one of those cute, locker room-style mud rooms that have become so popular.  I was stuck trying to make the most of a standard coat closet.

Easy to Install Programmable Timer

I consider myself fairly adventurous when it comes to home improvement and DIY projects.  I’ve tackled some pretty big projects, such as removing the wood spindles on our staircase bannister and replacing them with wrought iron.  I’m pretty comfortable using saws and power tools.  I don’t even mind getting dirty, when the situation calls for it.

Unfortunately, my adventurous nature goes out the window when it comes to installing anything electrical.

Title page for blog post "Easy to Install Programmable Timer."

Even though I know that I can check (and double-check) that there is no power left going to the wires on which I’m working, the (totally improbable and quite possibly crazy) idea that somehow, someway, the power MIGHT come back on really freaks me out.  Like any wise woman, I save all electrical-wiring projects for my husband.

Gift Wrap Storage

Our office tends to be the dumping ground for our family.  Anything that doesn’t have a home seems to wind up getting stored in the office, leading to a large accumulation of crap stuff-I’m-sure-I’ll-need-some-day-and-can’t-possibly-throw-away.

Easy, DIY gift wrap storage solution.


One of the things that was taking over the office was a large amount of gift-wrapping supplies.  Not only was it all over the place, it wasn’t pretty to look at and was causing a large amount of visual clutter.

Me + Visual Clutter = NOT good bed-fellows

Clutter-free Kitchen Counters

My kitchen counters tend to be a magnet for clutter.  

Mail that needs to be opened and sorted.  Paperwork coming home from school.  Random odds and ends that are going to some other final destination.  During baseball season, I probably remove at least three baseballs per week from the counter.  (I’m pretty sure that baseballs are breeding and reproducing somewhere nearby – that is the only explanation for their seemingly ever-increasing numbers.)

Clutter-free Kitchen Counters

My boys come home from school and my kitchen island is instantly full of binders, books, reading logs, lunch boxes, water bottles and whatever else they pull out of their clown-car-esque backpacks.

Leprechaun Garden


I’ve loved miniatures since I was a kid.  

One of my earliest DIY projects was building a dollhouse from a kit.  I spent hours and hours painting, assembling, and crafting tiny, little accessories.  I still have that dollhouse; in true DIY style, it’s still a work in progress.

My love of gardening also started when I was young.  I loved helping my mom put new plants in the ground each spring, and watching how they grew.  We had lots of edibles in our garden (including my absolute favorites, raspberries); even as a child, I could appreciate the satisfaction of eating something that I had planted.  (And to this day, there is very little that compares to eating fresh raspberries that are still warm from the sun.) Read More



How to Gel Stain an Oak Banister

This is Part One of my staircase makeover.  Part Two – How to Install Wrought Iron Spindles – can be found HERE.


We moved out of our starter home in November of 2011, and bought a house one street over.   Literally. Our new home was less than a mile away from our first house.

I loved everything about the new house. The floor plan was perfect for our family. My kids would continue to attend the same elementary school, and our “commute” to school dropped from a mile to about a quarter of a mile. The street was full of my kids’ friends, and the backyard had room for a pool.

I loved everything about the house, except for the VAST amount of golden oak. It was EVERYWHERE. Golden oak kitchen cabinets, golden oak bathroom cabinets, golden oak laundry room cabinets. Golden oak staircase banister and spindles. The hardwood floor that covered almost the entire downstairs? Yep…golden oak.  Read More