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Flying into Fall: September in Review

I cannot believe September is over.  Summer vacation feels like it was just yesterday, but in reality, the kids have been back in school a month already!  WOW. 

A lot of my projects this month focused on getting ready for fall:

My mantles (yes, plural.. you can't have too many mantles!) My formal one:

And a tutorial on how to make the twig leaf:

A fun scarecrow mantle for the kids' playroom:


And lastly, in the spirit of fall dining, Whipped Ginger Orange Sweet Potatoes

I did tackle a couple of DIY projects in September:



Here is a quick tutorial on how to cut down horizontal blinds:
 
And I featured a cute little project that my mom made for her lake cottage:

Lucky for you, even though September is over, my $50 Home Depot Gift Card Giveaway is still going strong. I will announce the winner on Friday, so make sure you enter to win!
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Whipped Ginger Orange Sweet Potatoes


Since it is the fall and getting cooler, it is becoming sweet potato season!  This simple side-dish recipe is a winner for any time.  The ingredient list is simple:

2-3 large sweet potatoes (or yams)
1/4 cup milk and 
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp butter 
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt/Pepper to taste

Gardening in Small Spaces ($50 Home Depot Giveaway!)

I have written about this topic in the past: The pros and cons of having a teenie-tiny backyard space.

Our backyard is less than 600 square feet total, and when you are dealing with such a compact area, your choice of plants, and how you plant them becomes really important.

Last summer this is what the entire backyard space looked like:
 
 The previous owner had an obsession with hybrid roses. 

 

This year I pulled out quite a few overgrown leggy plants and replaced them with new ones.
I extended out the raised bed and stone retaining wall and replaced the huge lacecap hydrangea with a smaller mophead variety.  In order to give us a little more privacy, I added a Crepe Myrtle and an Oleander (which I am training to grow into a "tree" instead of shrub) along the fence line between us and the neighbor.

There was one part of the yard that I had trouble dealing with.

Under our citrus tree, the manifold for our irrigation system makes it impossible to plant anything in the ground.
What I really need is to plant something above it: The only solution is to grow up instead of out

This is where the Pennington Vertical Gardening System is going to save me. Because you plant on a vertical surface, it allows me to have a garden in a tiny, otherwise un-plantable space.   And even though I think my yard is tiny,  there are people in apartments and condominums with even less outdoor space than me! The Pennington System would be perfect for them.

UPDATED:  HERE IS THE POST WHERE I ACTUALLY INSTALLED THIS GARDEN SYSTEM!

Fall Scarecrow Mantle (Kid Friendly!)

Fall officially started this weekend, and I've already shared my formal autumn mantle, located in the living room.  I also have a second fireplace in the family/playroom.  Because this is the room that the kids hang out in, I wanted to make it a lot more fun and kid friendly. 
I decided to go with a scarecrow theme and featured some of my daughter's kindergarten artwork. 

Cutting Down Horizontal Blinds for a Custom Fit

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When I tiled my kitchen backsplash, the thickness of the tile made it impossible to lower the previously installed horizontal blinds over the kitchen sink.

For the past year the window has looked like this:
 

Since whenever I wanted to lower them, I end up with this:
 

Yard Sale Mirror to Personalized Magnetic Chalkboard

I credit my mother for teaching me how to sew, craft and cook.  Without her there would be no Kim Six blog.  Today I am writing about one of her projects.  She doesn't have a blog so I told her I would love to share it here so she can inspire others the way she inspired me.

   
When my mom ran across this $5 mirror frame (the mirror had fallen out) at a church yard sale, she knew she could give it new life.

Removable Scarecrow Stands (AKA Get To Know Your Drill)

I promise you, this is going to be the easiest tutorial I have ever published on this blog.

In fact, it was so easy I almost thought about not even posting it, but then I reconsidered.  If you have never used a drill, this is the best starter project I can think of.   You will learn to use your drill, how to select the correct drill bit as well as how to make a nice straight hole.  And if you screw up, oh well! Try again.  There is nothing on the line.

Okay.. Here we go.  

First you have to find your victim willing volunteer.  In my case I had a little 12 inch scarecrow from the Target dollar bin. 
 

The next thing you need is a drill gauge.  This is a great tool.  It is one of things, besides the drill itself, that I use most when doing simple projects.  If you don't have one, get one.  (My dad actually got me my first drill gauge when I got my first drill, and I thought I would never use it.  I was wrong. Father knows best!)   They are pretty hard to find.  The big box stores don't carry them.  I recently lost mine and had to get one at a specialty tool shop.. but luckily you can find them online.

Autumn Mantle

Even though the weather still feels a lot more like Summer, now that Starbucks is featuring Pumpkin Spice Lattes, it is officially fall!  That means it is time to update my mantle.  (Yes, I am even a little earlier than last year.)
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Children's Rain Boot Planters

 
My 4 year old LOVES wearing rain boots.  The irony is that where we live it NEVER rains, but that doesn't stop her.  
 
 
Needless to say, her boots have seen better days.  The toe of one is blown out and the side of the other

How to Use Trim to Update Exterior Doors and WIndows


Last month I shared my parent's boathouse makeover, and as promised, here is little tutorial on how to update plain exterior windows and doors with trim boards, to give your house (or boathouse) an upgraded look.

The windows on the main house had relatively ornate moulding.  We wanted to give the boathouse a similar finished look, but for next to no money.
 

The cinderblock boathouse had extremely plain aluminum windows and the doorjamb/lintel was painted to match the interior of the house.

We also had to deal with the large brick sill underneath the window. 
 

First we painted the areas around the windows and door the same color as the yet-to-be-installed trim.  
 

I Was Featured and You Can Be Too!

This has been a SUPER exciting week for me, to say the least.   I was stoked (wait?! Does anyone actually say stoked anymore?) thrilled to find out a few of my projects were chosen to be finalists at a couple of big contests going on in the DIY Blogosphere.

Rustic Twig Leaf (Tutorial)

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I am so excited to share this project with you today.  Granted, it isn't extremely complicated, but I just LOVE the way it came out and how easy it was!  It is a "maple" leaf made out of small sticks and twigs. (I put Maple in quotes since it isn't really the exact proportion of a maple leaf, but you could make it more anatomically correct if you wanted to.)

I was inspired by a smaller version I saw at the craft store.  They wanted $30 for it, and I knew I could knock it off for way less than that:
 
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