Chalkboard Update: The Elephant that was clearly beyond my skill level.

Good luck. It’s a long one.  There’s a few seconds where basically nothing happens and it’s because I’m getting a snack aka finally eating dinner.  This elephant was wayyyy too hard.  It took basically forever and my arm is literally sore from drawing it.  Definitely headed back to words next time.


True Love Chalkboard Update

This should have been much taller so the heart looks a liiiiiittle squat.  But it is what it is.  


Click through for (p)inspiration link

And obviously I took a time lapse video because I have an addiction to that nonsense.  And I know people like Hank the best in videos and I try hard not to take in personally.  


DIY Beekeeper’s Toolbox

For Mother’s Day I built my mom a pretty cool gift (if I do say so myself!)  I took the basic plans for a nuc box (which can be found with a simple google search but also HERE) and this toolbox from Williams-Sonoma (no longer available or on their website unfortunately.)

Williams Sonoma Toolbox

no longer available 😦 but it was insanely overpriced anyways

I could have purchased one but the cost + shipping was pretty prohibitive, plus mom’s like homemade stuff right?  Even when their kid is 26?

The benefit of the nuc-turn-toolbox is that it can safely hold all your tools, AND be used to transport frames, a swarm, or a sandwich.  So multipurpose.  It’s a little heavier than a regular tackle box style container, but the added benefits are worth the few extra pounds.

I headed to home depot and purchased a nice, straight pine board that was 1″x10″x10′, a set of hinges, a hook closure, a cheap ratchet tie down, liquid nails, and some 1″ wood screws, and a can of spray paint (primer/paint all in one, exterior.)   The nice gentlemen at Home Depot cut down my wood for me so that saved me the majority of the heavy duty work!  Then I headed over to Michael’s for a few bottles of craft paint and a 2′ balsa wood stick thing.  (It’s like a rectangular dowel.)   This only cost about $35 FOR THE ENTIRE PROJECT.  MUCH better than the cheapest versions I found which cost about $75 with shipping.

I followed the directions to build the nuc, gluing the body together first before drilling pilot holes and then carefully screwing it all together.

Nuc Box

Then I added in the bottom board in the same way and painted the whole thing (not the inside of the box, but I did do the entire lid.)

Nuc box bottom

I put hinges on the top and attached it to the body of the nuc and then had to notch out the opposite ledge a bit to accommodate the latch I purchased.  I don’t have any fancy tools so I just drilling a few holes to remove the small section of wood, sanding down the edges to create a finished look.  Then I realized I’d put the latch on backwards, effectively locking the box shut permanently, and had to switch everything around.

Nuc box hinge

Finally, I cut the tie-down strap down and made handles and a strap across the front for the smoker.  (The smoker’s bellow goes under the strap and it sits on what would be the landing area if this was a real nuc box.  I used washers and screws to attach the strap and handles and then secured the handles with a bit of liquid nails and tacks.  I also cut and added the balsa wood with the liquid nails as a place for the edges of frames to rest, effectively creating two small ledges that would prevent the frames from just sitting in the box.  I’ve read a few posts where beeks have complained about queen cells at the bottom of frames being crushed in transport, but the ledges, plus the fact that this comes out to be a little taller than all standard nucs/frames, will prevent that from being an issue.

Nuc box straps

I personalized it with a fun little design, just quickly sketched lightly with a pencil.  I used a magic eraser to wipe away the pencil bit by bit after I was satisfied with how everything looked.

Nuc box design 1Nuc Box design 2

BOOM. You’re done!  I MIGHT end up finishing the box with a clear coat of acrylic? laquer? something? to help protect it from the elements, but I’d rather leave it plain as I’m not sure what might negatively affect the bees.







2nd Anniversary

This wall will probably be gone before our second anniversary rolls around on the 18th, but I thought I’d go ahead and update early.  The next few weeks are JAM PACKED which either means I definitely won’t have time to change it up OR I definitely will change it up because it’s such good stress relief.  I loved the spring wall, but I don’t consider May spring.  It’s more “pre-summer.”

Any good ideas for a second anniversary gift? I’m still ironing out the details of my mother’s day gift so we’ll see how this goes.   


I’d also like to mention that this is really the first full hand lettering I’ve done without borrowing anything from something on Pinterest.  I feel preeeeetty proud of myself for that, even though it didn’t come out as well as I’d like.  I would LOVE to find a class on hand lettering and typography but I don’t even know where to start.  

Bee Chalkboard


Admittedly, this chalkboard design is not my favorite – I usually prefer a lot of text, but wanted to try something new.  I was going to do something for my birthday, but that just seems weird so I chose to celebrate getting our hives in April!  I pinned some inspiration here and got to work.  The flowers are supposed to be tulip poplar flowers – likely the trees our bees will visit the most.

I probably will erase this one in the next few days unless I add to it or it realllyyyy grows on me.  It just isn’t my best work.  BUT I am showing it to you because I made a fun time lapse video of taking down the hot air balloon and putting up the bee.  Check it out below!


Bee Chalkboard from Rachel on Vimeo.

How to: Chalkboard Wall

Chalkboard walls are prettyyyyy easy. It goes in like regular paint, there’s fancy ones you can tint any color, and you don’t need special brushes.

Tips for painting:
– don’t think you can just spray paint the wall because the spray paint is way cheaper and you don’t want to buy brushes. Unless the area you’re painting is very small, in which case cover up anything around it and pray pray pray.
– If you have crappy, builder grade paint check the wall for spots that aren’t smooth. I’ve found that a couple of passes of fine grit sand paper will fix that right up. Any uneven areas will be fairly noticeable and trap a ton of chalk.
– smooth, thin coats are best. Take your time and make sure you get good coverage.
– read the directions in your paint can. Every one is different and you may need to be prepared to wait a few days between coats or before use. I generally cut all those suggested times in half because I’m impatient and I’m sure they’re just trying to CYA. I hate letting things “cure.”

Where to add a chalkboard? Anywhere. They’re pretty awesome and are really fun during parties and great for easy decor updates. Here are some great examples and inspiration:

I painted the entire wall around my fireplace. (After checking that the heat from the fireplace wouldn’t cause discoloration or melting.) It’s a small wall (maybe 13’x10′? I don’t know) and the room gets a TON of light because and entire while is a sliding glass door (leading to a future deck.)

Our fireplace didn’t come with a mantel. New houses come with NOTHING. Which is another story for another day. I looked into purchasing one, scoured Craigslist and the nearby ReStores, but I was not willing to spend at minimum $200 for a mantel. The ones I actually liked would run closer to $400. Then I got to thinking about the fact that I don’t even have mantel stuff. No cute books, candlesticks, or vases. No seasonally appropriate framed postcards. All of that would cost $$$$ to. So I headed out to Lowes with a $50 house-warming gift card and spent about $75 total getting supplies.

I got home, started painting wayyyy too late, and totally panicked about half way through. BECAUSE THE WALL IS BLACK. It was so terrifying. But thankfully finishing was easier than the taking everything back to ugly builder “white” so I kept going. And BOOM. I love it. I use chalk from Ikea (kid section) and update the wall every few weeks. I pull inspiration from Pinterest – check out my Chalkboard Wall Board if you’re feeling a little stuck! Pick a theme and run with it. Oh and be sure to enjoy that crisp, dark black color. It will NEVER look that good again so be emotionally prepared for it. Don’t forget to prime the entire wall with chalk – get big pieces of sidewalk chalk and cover the wall before cleaning it all off. If you don’t do this, you’ll always be able to see the first thing you draw. And the first thing I drew was pretty sucky. Consider yourself warned.

My tools for updating the wall include the chalk (obviously), a square, a level, and two yard sticks – one metal and one wood. I’ve been using the wooden one more because I’m nervous about scratching the wall with the metal one. Generally I put a big axis in the center of my design to help keep things even and level. I do a lot of erasing and redrawing. It’s chalk and easily fixable so I don’t feel paralyzed by the anxiety of a potential mistake like when painting. To erase things I use a rag, an old dry erase marker with an eraser in the end, and Coke. Yup. Leftover, flat coke. It’s the only thing that will get the wall 90% clean. I clean the wall entirely between designs and use the pen’s eraser for small errors and cleaning up any guide lines (like the axis.)

Here are some instas of older wall designs:





Front door facelift

Our front door has a HUGE window.  It’s great for letting in the light, but that’s about it.  My primary concern was that I want to be able to see who’s at our front door, but at least obscure the view of me running to the laundry room in my jammies.  Our townhouse is right next to the model which creates an unusual amount of foot traffic by our front door.  A little bit of extra privacy would be a welcome thing.

When we purchased blinds for the townhouse we talked about adding something matching and blind-ish to the front door before ultimately deciding that wasn’t a look we loved.   We creeped on our neighbors to check out their solutions: most went with blinds, curtains, or nothing at all.  So I searched Pinterest, flipped through blogs, and checked out front doors on walks with Hank.  I finally found this post from A Beautiful Mess.  Their pretty yellow front door also suffered from a large glass pane.  (see what I did there?)  Their stripes aren’t my style so I decided to go for an equally bold pattern: chevron.  I know it’s trendy, but I love it.  And, at least according to the interwebz, it’s removable with paint thinner.

Step One: Clean and prep your supplies.  Hank kicks/paws the front door when we leave and then gives us puppy eyes until the car out of sight.  The entire thing is covered in nose and paw prints.  I pulled together some 1.5″ frog tape, one of those circular fabric cutters, a ruler, a pen, and my paint.  I used this Valspar Glass Frosting spray paint. I got it at Lowes for maybeeee $5.  I got the fancy spray paint top (not just the little push-down one) because A) my hand gets tired and B) I wanted to make sure the spray was as even as possible.

Valspar Paint

Click for source

Step Two: Decide on your design.  I made about 9842 (math) mistakes when doing this.  I finally figured out what I wanted it to look like so I taped off the edges to create a border.  I read a few tutorials but couldn’t find anything that really helped.  Here’s what I did.  I measured half of the width of the remaining space.  It was 18″ wide so I marked every 4.5″ along the bottom and then every 4.5″ up the length.  The added benefit of the border was that it gave me some where to make the marks.  I started in the corners and taped diagonally across the glass – connecting the first tic mark on left vertical to the tic mark farthest to the left.  I kept the “top” edge of the tape beneath the tic marks.  I regret (not really) having an square but the end result is fine.  Just keep the tape tight and make sure the squares created by the checkerboard of tape look even.    It should look like this:

Half way there!

Half way there!

Boom. Done. With tape at least.

Boom. Done. With tape at least.

Step Three: Use the fabric cutter to remove tape pieces and create stripes.  I only needed one band aid after this so that’s a win.  (Note: I don’t know what your glass is like.  Mine didn’t have any cover/sealant that I could cut with the roller.  I only pressed hard enough to cut through the tape.)

Almost there.

Almost there.

Step Four: Spray as many coats as needed to cover the window.  Mine took three – I left adequate amount of time for the layers to dry, followed the directions on the back of the can, etc…  I did them about an hour or so apart and made sure to cover up the door while I sprayed.  I should NOT have done this on a day when it was rainy.  The fumes were awful – I stood there and swung the door back and forth until the smell was less deadly.  Invest in a mask if possible.   When it’s dry (or your patience to see what it looks like runs out) pull off the tape.

I love taking the tape off after a project is over.  LOVE. IT.

I love taking the tape off after a project is over. LOVE. IT.

Step Five:  You’re done. Enjoy the door.  If there is any “build up” or thicker lines near where the tape was, you can very very very very carefully buffer it even.  Also, there was a little bleeding at one of my borders, but a straight edge took it off.  Again, I was very very very careful.

Front Door Glass

Done! #putawreathonit

Close up

Close up

It’s subtle, I like it, and it’s done…. for less than $10.  Plus it makes our builder grade, cookie cutter house look just a little more unique.

Gratuitous Instagram photo!

Gratuitous Instagram photo! Follow me @Gator_Rach