Coffee Mug Wall Art: Trash to Treasure Series {Project # 2}

When my grandfather passed away in February this year, my dad helped to clean and move my grandmother from Arizona back to the Midwest. He brought home this large wooden crate and asked if I would like it.

It had the old name for the Indianapolis International Airport stamped on it (Weir Cook Municipal Airport) and was a really cool crate with some history to it.  The bottom part of the crate has since become a raised bed in our garden, but I saved the lid.  Below is a picture of my kids playing in the crate before it became a garden bed.


This project came about very slowly over the course of several months. I knew I wanted to make as sign but the idea that it should be a Coffee Co. sign came later… That idea was drummed up during a dinner date with my husband.

Zocrates is a screen name my husband used for video-gaming and it’s an original term (aka at the time if you searched the internet for ‘zocrates’ at the time you found nothing) and obviously it’s a play on Greek philosopher name Socrates.

So, the sign has meaning and for multiple reasons.

For my fellow DIY friends, you could make this sign from store bought wood or any lid (think a lid from an old chest,  the top of an old dresser or bookcase, or an old cabinet door).

Scour garage sales and flea markets to find a lid or top of your own to use.

I wanted to leave some of the original text so I power-sanded down everything but the words “Nautel Maine.” I thought that would work well with a coffee theme.

It was then stained in a light walnut color:


White paint was added to the border and in the middle. I used some masking tape to tape off a top corner and then added a pop of a light minty- blue color. Then I hand-sanded each area that was painted to add a distressed look.

Then, it’s was time to add  hardware. Hooks and some decorative rod-iron brackets.  Pre-drill holes and then screw in hardware.

I bought these coffee mugs at an impromptu garage sale stop:

The brown mugs were hand crafted- the initials RW are engraved on the bottom! They were a steal for only $.50 cents each. You never know what you will find at a garage sale! It’s why you always must stop at a garage sale when you see one!

The small wooden cups pictured below were sitting in my drawer for almost two years (I had bought at a grocery store and the press and stick backing never worked), so I glued on this project with some super glue. They add a little depth to the project. They are about  1/4″ thick.

I’m not the best at hand painting text, so I printed out some fonts on Microsoft Word scaled to a few different sizes.  It also helps to determine a good layout  by moving the printed text around until you find what looks best. So having moveable pieces to experiment with is my big piece of advice for any project with a lot of text or aspects to it.

This is  “Harrington” font.  For me,  it helps to see it in the right size and directly in front of me while I pencil it in.  I then outlined in a thin black Sharpie marker and painted over in black acrylic paint.   I did not worry about filling every gap with paint, it adds to the weathered look not to.


And the finished product! It’s now on the wall in our kitchen and we love it! It’s a pretty large piece and I had my doubts about that at first, but it’s a statement piece without being too overwhelming.


It also matches the apothecary shelf I refinished for my essential oils and herbs.

I hope you enjoyed this how-to! It may not be the quickest summer project, but it’s fairly easy and something that can be done in the course of a weekend or two.

Regrow Lettuce from Scraps


I wanted to experiment with the “regrow veggie from scraps” thing I keep seeing on social media. So, I cut off a head of organic lettuce and kept it in water for a few days… and waited.

The verdict:  it works. I later planted the lettuce in organic garden soil and it is happily growing in a container on my back porch for the past two weeks.

I found one great source explaining why re-growing it only in water is not going to produce a lettuce with nutrients and good flavor.  So, if you think you can just keep in a container of water on your indoor windowsill and regrow it- well, it will regrow but it won’t be nutritious.

Mine was kept in about an inch of water (filtered water or outdoor rain water is best) for 4 days until it sprouted up well in the center. I changed the water out once. I then I tore off the outer leaves and planted in a container of soil.

Per Dr. Kemble, Professor of Horticulture from Auburn University (Source is the article Can You Regrow Lettuce and other Veggies in Water?)

“Lettuce can grow hydroponically, but water itself is not a good medium to grow things in. The types of roots that form in water are very different from the types of roots that form in soil. By itself, water does not contain any nutrients.

…The taste wouldn’t be very good, because it will be greatly stressed due to the fact that it doesn’t get much sunlight, and it doesn’t have any nutrients. I wouldn’t suggest sticking it in the sun, unless you were actually going to try to provide some nutrients to the plant.”

So, my verdict is- it works. You should try it! Our kids thought it was cool to watch grow.

Okay, admittedly, I thought it was pretty cool.  Plant in well amended and nutrient-dense soil, such as an all organic soil with compost added to it.  I would also companion plant with onions or garlic to protect the lettuce from insects and pests. Strawberries and radishes also show up on most companion planting charts with lettuce.

A Few Companion Planting Charts:


Crate Herb Garden 


DIY Crate Herb Garden

I wanted some container herbs near the house  so I can walk over and pluck easily.  I came up with this crate idea. The crate was salvaged for me by a coworker from a restaurant.  It was so easy, I ended up not needing to hammer or to nail! A 2×4 plank leftover from a project was simply placed in the middle of the crate as the middle piece.

My son and I painted it all teal and added Valspar Antique Glaze and it was done!  Since it’s outside a poly coat would be ideal, but I figure it will last a few years.  Avoiding extra chemicals is always a good thing!

The terra cotta pitcher for the basil plant was an amazing find at a flea market for just a few dollars!

The crate is very cute mixed in with our landscaping:


Garden Update 2016:

The herbs I’ve had the most success with this year are cilantro and basil (watch for bolting and pluck off flowers if they sprout). We had an unusually wet spring so I ended up with a black mold on my basil plants. I plucked off all affected leaves and they are now thriving with no signs of molding.

Oregano, chives, dill and parsley are also herbs that are easy to grow and maintain. We have potted planters on our porch with lemon balm, sweet mint (for tea), citronella, and lavender to keep mosquitos at bay.

I companion planted sage near the pole beans.  Basil and rosemary is planted throughout our garden to keep pests away. This year I planted these herbs very close to my plants and it seems to be deterring better.  Marigolds were also woven into the landscape at a higher rate this year and placed around the entire border.

A butterfly garden is also adjacent to attract Monarchs specifically (an endangered species) and pollinators like the honey bee. You must attract pollinators to your garden, so flowers are important. We have butterfly weed, sunflowers, bee balm,  zinnias and more planted nearby in our butterfly haven.


I did have to crack out some organic insect soap and peppermint essential oil on a few plants. We have ant issues with our strawberries and I’m starting to lose hope any will ripen without being attacked.

I’ve tried charcoal powder around the border of the container, the garden soap, and adding onions directly to the planter with no luck. There is also netting around them to keep the birds and bunnies out. I should try some different essential oils next, I need to research more about using essential oils in the garden, so far I’ve only tried peppermint.


This may not be our year for strawberries…but I’m excited for the pumpkin container garden. I need to remove a few plants, every seed I planted sprouted so it’s overrun.





I’m growing them up a trellis I made out of some scrap wood, quarter round, and twine I found in our garage. My little helper. She loves to get muddy and help mommy in the garden!



Happy Organic Planting everyone! Feel free to share your tips and tricks below. I’ll be working some of my organic compost in soon- it’s finally ready after about 3 months!

Garden Plot: Organic & Companion Planting


I wanted to outline our little garden plot this year.  We enriched our soil with organic soil, fertilizer, and earthworms.  My 4 year old had so much fun adding the worms and the kids enjoy helping us water it.

My husband tilled it up nicely (to our surprise wasps had nested there, so they were not too happy)! Of course, we don’t spray chemicals, so we let them swarm around for a few days… they have since moved on.  The honeybees are still around- so that is good!

Click here to see our 2016 Garden Plot! This is a simply PDF I created, don’t judge me too much I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time on it!   Garden Plot 2016 Final

img_0821 img_0820


We added a butterfly garden this year to attract bees, butterflies (Monarchs hopefully) and hummingbirds.  A garden needs pollinators! I try my best to companion plant and I’m sure I have a few mistakes here and there.

I like to find Heirloom Seed companies and University companion planting information and charts, figuring these are experts in their fields:

We worked in more chives, basil, and marigolds (inside the garden instead of just bordering it). I’ve added many more marigolds since these pictures were taken.

All of our seeds and plants are Non-GMO and organic- it is very important to avoid any genetically modified seeds that have been treated with chemicals!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so simply do some research, companion plant the best you can, and see what works or does not work in your garden. I worked in more fragrant herbs this year to detract pests and was less afraid to plant them close to my veggie crops.

I also avoided planting root vegetables, as our clay soil, even though well amended this year, seems too dense to properly allow root veggie growth.

We had squash vine borers last year, so I avoided planting squash-related plants this year. I will also recognize the larvae quicker this year- best to stop them sooner than later when they emerge in June.

Happy Gardening! What do you plant?

Plant dill, marigolds, chives, onions, parsley, basil and other flowers throughout the garden. Allow parsley, carrot and celery to remain in the ground over the winter. They will produce flowers the second season and attract beneficial insects. Also, plant strong smelling herbs among vegetable crops. [1]

Small Loft Space- Big Pop Art Presence!

I do appreciate a  pop and graphic art presence, especially when done “right.” In my opinion- this apartment décor nails it.  Read below for some tips on making a small space wow your guests!  Take a moment to place your vote if you love Molly and Cass’s space.

My favorite part is the eclectic use of various graphic/color pillows. Don’t be afraid of color in your home! Use neutral basics (like couches and chairs) and liven it up with wall art, interesting sculptures, plants, and textiles.


Name: Molly and Cass

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Square Feet: 645
Division: Little


What I Love About My Small Home:

The aspect of our home that is the most endearing to us is that it feels cozy yet surprisingly roomy at the same time.

At 645 square feet, we obviously aren’t going to get lost in the space, but with white walls, an open concept floor plan, large windows, natural light, and tall ceilings, the illusion of space is incredibly on point. We actually never feel as though we are on top of one another or trapped.



Three of My Best Tips and Tricks for Creating a Successful Small Space:

Don’t be too eclectic: Choosing a distinct style is going to serve you well. You can stay cohesive and not too static by adding textures and layers. Uniformity actually offers flexibility because items can be moved from zone to zone, and the overall look won’t be compromised.

Use one color palette: If each zone has a unique color palette, the zones (and the space as a whole) will seem smaller because of the lack of flow. Keeping the colors in check also gives flexibility; moving a pillow from the sofa to the bed is a beautiful and painless thing!

Resist multiple rugs: In a small, open space, it is tempting to go overboard with zoning. But when you’re not dealing with a lot of floor space, multiple rugs chop up it up. Going rugless shows off the floors and opens things up. Admittedly, some zones need a rug to ground them. We opted for a rug under the coffee table, but chose one with a fluid shape and in the same color family as the flooring. It is there, but it isn’t.



Go to You can place your vote for your favorite apartment! By the way, I personally know Molly and she is an amazing and interesting lady! I was super impressed by this décor.

I’m sure she would appreciate your vote!  There are several categories, such as International, Tiny, Little, and Small.

Happy Decorating!