Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY Christmas Tree Stand

This year we got our first pre-cut live Christmas tree! Unfortunately, we didn't have a christmas tree stand, so we went ahead and made our own. This tree stand supports the tree, makes it easy to water, costs around $10, and looks great!

DIY Christmas Tree Stand

Check out the instructions below to make your own.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hot Cocoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

This afternoon I got home from teaching a little early since my afternoon class was off on an ice skating field trip. Since it's Friday and the weekend is almost upon us I decided I would make my wife a little treat for when she gets home from work. (I also forgot to get her some St. Nick's Day presents yesterday so I thought I would try and make up for it today). My wife loves cookies so I thought I would make a batch of chocolate chip cookies so they would be fresh out of the oven when she got home.

 I found a very highly rated recipe from and got to work! I decided to make a half recipe since I only had half a bag of chocolate chips. However, I soon realized I was missing some key ingredients (whoops!) so I made up a different recipe on the spot. I basically simplified the recipe I had been using and added hot chocolate mix in hopes of filling in for the lack of brown sugar. The cookies turned out to be super delicious so I thought I would share my DIY improvised recipe.

The first of two batches of Hot Cocoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

Check out below for the recipe to make your own batch!

Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Wall Hanging Coat Rack

As the weather gets colder here in Wisconsin I am reminded of the multiple jackets and sweatshirts that we keep piling on to stay warm. This also means that these same jackets have just been piling up in our entryway. So I decided to build a nice coat rack that can also serve as a wall shelf. This is what I came up with! 

DIY Wall Mounted Coat Rack

Check out the instructions below to make your own!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

DIY Beeswax Wood Polish and Sealant

Since I have mentioned  DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant in many of my posts, I figured it was about time I showed you how to make it! This polish will help protect the color of your stain, seal your wood from unwanted stains, and keep the wood from drying out and cracking. It can also serve as a standalone wood sealer and stain. 

DIY Wood Sealant and Wood Polish

I first discovered beeswax furniture polish a few months ago when I was looking for a varnish alternative. The main option for sealing most furniture projects is using commercial varnishes that contain harsh chemicals. The chemicals have strong odors that lead to indoor air pollution long after the varnish has dried. In an effort to improve my indoor air quality while still protecting my wood working projects I now use a DIY beeswax wood sealant exclusively on all of my indoor furniture.

Check out the instructions below to make your own!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Make Wood Stain from Natural Dyes

A few months ago, one of my friends was talking about using natural dyes to make her own beautifully colored dresses. Then about a week ago I ran across this amazing post about making natural dyes over at the blog a pair and a spare. I believe they got their initial inspiration from a DIY Wednesday post from  This post is absolutely excellent and if you have ever been interested in natural dyes you should definitely check it out. Anyways, that post got me thinking about using these dyes for natural DIY wood stain. So last weekend I made up a recipe, and surprisingly enough it worked!!!

As usual, necessity is the mother of invention. This last weekend I was at my parents house with my brother who wanted to build a display stand for his 20 gallon aquarium. My dad has a plethora of home milled lumber and some fun power tools so there was no way I could pass on such a project.
Together a good friend of mine, my brother and I got to work build the aquarium stand. The picture below shows how the aquarium stand turned out (you can see the DIY Stain in the bottom left corner):

DIY Aquarium Stand for 20 gallon Fish Tank
Now that we had a finished project, we realized we needed some wood stain. So I improvised (using some of the knowledge from this post about making natural dyes) and I quickly whipped up a stain using beets, spinach, vinegar and flour. We went ahead and applied the stain with an old rag and this is how it turned out!

DIY Aquarium Stand with Beet and Spinach Wood Stain
I didn't end up with too many pictures as I wasn't really sure that this was going to work out. However,  given the success of this stain, I plan on doing further experiments with these natural dyes. When I create more DIY Natural Stains I will post more detailed recipes.

Read below for directions on how to make your own wood stain from natural dyes!

DIY Baked Kale Chips

After stuffing my face over Thanksgiving I found myself craving a healthy snack. I needed something salty AND healthy to wean me down from a weekend overeating. Enter Kale Chips!

I was originally inspired by a post on Kale Chips over at Wellness Mama. As Wellness Mama points out,  kale is extremely nutritious, readily available in the fall, and all around oozing with healthiness. On its own kale is a pretty dense leafy green, that can sometimes be a little bitter. Kale chips on the other hand are light, crispy and delicious. Unfortunately, in the store they are very expensive. The good news is that they can be made at home in about 20 minutes with really basic and inexpensive ingredients!

Read below for the recipe to make your own!

Friday, November 2, 2012

DIY Facial Cleanser and/or Body Scrub

I decided to make my own body scrub and facial cleanser after learning about the potential health effects of many ingredients found in conventional beauty products such as parabens and phthalates. Parabens have been linked to cancer and phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals.  Since a facial scrub or body scrub is used daily and is directly applied to the body's largest, porous organ (the skin) I figured it would be best to cease using any product that contained any such ingredient (which my old facial scrub did contain). At first I looked for products that didn't include and nasty parabens or phthalates, unfortunately such products in my price range were not very easy to find.  So as usual I did a little research and decided to make my own.

Check out the video and the recipe below to learn how to make it yourself!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cheap and Easy DIY Dark Wood Stain

Last week I made some very simple, light colored natural wood stains. This week I experimented with a few ways to make darker colored stains. I was surprised to see how well my experiments turned out. Check out the results below!

Why make your own wood stain? 

Many conventional wood stains on the market are made up of toxic and harmful chemicals. Additionally, many of these stains have high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) which degrade your indoor air quality and smell terrible. The best part of making your own wood stain is that it is super easy and it will save you money! I spent less than $10.00 to buy all the ingredients necessary to make multiple different colors and shades. You will probably spend even less as many of these ingredients are common kitchen items.

How to Make Light Stains Darker

One easy way to make dark wood stains is to just make your all natural DIY stains darker. Check out this post for all natural stains you can make in less than 5 minutes. The steel wool and vinegar will react with the other stains to produce a dark vibrant color. This happens due to a chemical reaction where the steel wool will begin to dissolve as the vinegar oxidizes the steel. With this stain you are essentially creating rust in a jar. Here is a video from P. Allen Smith at P. Allen Smith Garden Home that first inspired me to try to make DIY wood stain.

If you liked his recipe I recommend giving it a try. Keep on reading if you would like to see more variations of DIY steel wool stain!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Make DIY Natural Wood Stain in 5 Minutes!

Over the last few months I have been building quite a bit of furniture. The main impetus for building my own furniture is to save money and avoid all the off-gassing of all the glues and synthetic components that go into mass produced furniture. Most of the furniture that would be in my price range is made with cheap materials and/or wood veneers that contain many harmful chemicals that pollute indoor air quality. It is also very tricky to find any locally produced furniture whose manufacturing process does not produce a lot of waste. So, per usual I have been doing-it-myself :)

Why DIY Wood Stain?

In the upper Midwest of the United States it is pretty easy to find quality, local lumber or salvaged wood. If you can't find any inexpensive, quality lumber then wood shipping pallets can be a good option if you know where to look and how to disassemble them (more on that later). Worst case scenario you can usually find inexpensive pine lumber at your local hardware store. However, one thing that is hard to find is a good natural non-toxic wood stain. Many wood stains have high Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) -that nasty smell that remains after you stain - or are derived from petroleum products. Some extensive searching has brought up a few eco-friendly options, unfortunately not many of those options were not budget friendly. So what is a guy to do? You guessed it, I went ahead and made my own!

One of my DIY standards is that the project should be simple. So I did some research and found a couple of natural DIY wood stains that you can make in less than 5 minutes. I was also able to make each of these stains for less than $3.00, although you will probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. The recipes I will share with you today are all lighter stains applied to light pine. (Check out this post to make dark brown and black stain or this post  to make dark cherry or mahogany colored stain). If you want a slightly darker color you can apply extra coats of stain. These stains will also require the wood to be sealed afterwards. If you are looking to purchase a natural option look for linseed oil (made from flax seeds) NOT boiled linseed oil (which includes synthetic additives). A good DIY wood sealer is a mixture of olive oil and melted beeswax - check out this post for my DIY Wood Sealant Recipe

Check out below to see how to do it for yourself!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Lifestyle

Inexpensive Lumber
Have you ever seen something that you feel like you could maybe make yourself but your just not sure exactly how you would do it? Or maybe you want a product that doesn't exist or costs too much? Perhaps you want a product that is more sustainable, natural or organic?Well I do that everyday. Then I spend hours researching and designing just how exactly I would go about making it.

So I plan on sharing my DIY adventures and designs with anyone who is interested. Recently, I built my own kitchen island, an entertainment center, and a platform bed using inexpensive wood from my local hardware store! Then when I wanted to stain and seal the furniture I couldn't really find a sustainable option so I made my own natural wood stain.

DIY Kitchen Island

I love designing these projects and I love the way that the projects improve my life as well. Best of all, I usually save money and resources in the process. Over the coming months I hope to share these plans in hopes that they may help you as well. Some future projects include: making my own pasta sauce, plans for growing food during the winter, worm composting projects and possibly homemade shampoo and facial cleanser. Stay tuned for detailed instructions, pictures, and videos!