DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

I’ve been wanting a potting bench for a while now - something by the back door to display some decor, use as an outdoor work station, and double as a place for UPS to leave packages. After looking around online and at local stores, I couldn’t find anything that I liked that fit the narrow space - so I did what any #woodworkingmom would do, I decided to build it myself. | This post is not sponsored but does contain affiliate links |

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

{ Note: The plans I worked from were from Ana White and can be found HERE }

I came across these Ana White plans for a Simple Potting Bench on Pinterest and thought it was perfect! It was exactly the simple, rugged style I was looking for and easy to tailor to our space too. Most of the wood needed were 2x4’s, which are sturdy and cheap - and thankfully between our garage and my father-in-law’s garage we had all the wood scraps I needed to piece together this project. Since I used leftover wood we already had, this project cost me nothing which was pretty amazing!

Since I only used what wood we had on hand, I had to make do - some of the wood was pressure-treated, some was not, some had knot holes or gashes, and not all of it was “true” (straight). But that was fine by me as this was to be a rustic piece for outside.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

Before I started building, I followed Ana White’s “cut list,” cutting and making piles of all the wood in the dimensions I would need to build the project. I carefully chose the lumber for each section to minimize how the knot holes, gashes, or crooked pieces would be seen in the final piece. For our potting bench I made it 4 inches narrower so it would fit against the small wall next to our back door and because of this I had to adjust my cut list and refigure some of the overall dimensions.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

The next step was constructing the shelves individually - attaching the outer planks first, checking for square, then spacing out the middle planks and attaching them. To build this whole project I used an Impact Driver, which made the entire project go much quicker and easier.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

To attach the legs, I laid the project on it’s side and carefully measured the distances between the legs as well as up the legs before attaching the shelves to makes sure everything would be as level and as square as possible.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

Finally to make the project look more “finished” I added some wood scraps to the sides of the project to conceal the butt ends of the shelves and make it look a little more polished.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White
DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White
DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

I also decided to add some 1x3”s to the front of the shelves to make it look a little more polished from the front as well. (I did not counter-sink these screws, but I should have as they were more noticeable than I was expecting in the finished piece.)

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

Then came time for painting - I chose to paint the whole potting bench in several coats of my favorite Valspar Stainblocking Bonding Primer/Sealer. This stuff has great coverage and really covers and seals well. My one regret was not giving all the wood pieces a single coat of paint before assembling - as once everything was assembled it was a huge pain to get in all the nooks and crannies.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

Finally I finished the project by adding a few little hooks underneath the shelf, from which I can hang tools or decor. I’m really happy with how this came out and how quickly it came together. I can’t wait to decorate it with some plants come next spring!

PS - I’m thinking this potting bench would also be great for parties and BBQ’s! It would be perfect on a patio or deck as a makeshift buffet table.

DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White
DIY Potting Bench - Based on Plans by Ana White

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Why My Blog Will Never Make a Lot of Money (and why I'm okay with it)

First off, no disrespect to my fellow bloggers and blogger friends. Blogging professionally is HARD and so much work - maintaining a following, meeting deadlines, constantly creating and promoting content, and so much more. So many people work tirelessly on their blogs every single day in order to grow it and provide income for their families - and I absolutely applaud that. However, there are a lot of common aspects of blogging that I am personally not okay with… and while it holds me back from making this blog lucrative, I’m more than okay with it - and here’s why…

Why My Blog with Never Make Money (and why I'm okay with it)

I Don’t Overshare

Most blogs with a dedicated following tend to share everything about their daily lives - what they’re wearing that day, what they did, what they ate, what silly thing their kids did, what personal roadblock they’re encountering, etc. And I like my personal life, well - personal. I won’t be constantly on Instastories narrating my life, sharing all the details throughout my day. And I confess, some of my favorite blogs to follow do just that - I’m guilty of enjoying their stories and living their life vicariously through them. It’s interesting and fun and a great way to get an engaged following - but I could never do that myself. I personally find it too intrusive and creepy to have so many people know so much about our personal life.

I Won’t Sell Out My Kids

Promoting kid and baby items/gear is a huge market in the blogging industry. So many brands seek out bloggers with kids and growing families and hire them to help promote their products. In turn, bloggers share tons of photos of their children wearing or using the products, along with personal stories to make it more interesting. For example, a blogger may choose to take a sponsored post about a potty seat. In doing so, she may choose to share photos and stories of her kids potty training… now can you imagine being that child and having that digital footprint/history when they grow up? It would come back to haunt him in high school or if he ever ran for Congress.
Now, I do work with some select kids brands and products - however I’m particular with who and how I work with them. I only share about products and brands we honestly love or use, and I limit the photos I post of our children. Typically when I share photos of our kids on the blog they are carefully cropped or edited to help protect their anonymity - this is super important to me but definitely limits the brands that want to work with me, as most brands want tons of personable photos.

I Follow the Rules

I always do my best to follow the rules regarding sponsored content and outbound links. There are a lot of guidelines out there from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how sponsored content and affiliate links need to always be disclosed and outbound sponsored/affiliate links should be formatted as “no-follow” (in order to not falsely inflate a product or brand’s Google-ranking). Unfortunately there are a lot of unscrupulous companies out there that will solicit bloggers to create posts or add back-links that completely go against these rules. I have been solicited several times (and a few times by large companies that should know far better), asking me to add “do-follow” links or mention product without disclosures in exchange for compensation. I always turn these shady offers down (and scold them for being unethical). Many bloggers also add affiliate links as a “swipe up” on Instastories but most fail to disclose these as such. If I didn’t hold myself to these standards I could be making far money on my blog, illegally and unethically, and that’s something I will not do.

I Have Standards

I will ONLY accept sponsored posts from products and brands we honestly use or are interested in. I will never accept a sponsored post from something that doesn’t fit my blog, my beliefs, or me. I have turned down many sponsored posts for products that do not fit my aesthetic or would have me promote a product we do not like or would never use.

I Don’t Live in an Instagram-Worthy House

We live in a very average house with very average finishes and furniture. Our kitchen is still sporting it’s laminate green (yes, green) counter tops and linoleum floor and our living room still has the very bold (and ugly) burgundy wall-to-wall carpet that were installed when our house was originally built. Would I love to renovate and re-do these things? Absolutely. But it’s not in our budget right now and not a priority, so we’re going to continue to live with these less-than-beautiful finishes. Many bloggers completely re-renovate or re-decorate the same rooms in their home over and over in order to keep up with the latest trends and to continue to land partnerships. And as fun as that might be, it’s also very wasteful and encourages a “throw-away society” that values consumerism and disposable items over value and longevity.

I Don’t Stick to a Content Schedule

Sticking to a content schedule is something I really should be better about. I already keep a blog calendar over my desk and pencil in a few blog topics or content I want to create over the course of each month. However, I’m terrible at sticking to it… life gets busy. Lately we’ve been keeping busy with family, sports, appointments, and school. Keeping up with the kids is most important and so I try to be flexible (arguably far too flexible) with the blog. Sometimes I don’t do a blog post or Instagram post for a week… or three! That’s as good as a death sentence for engagement, which is already SO hard to achieve these days with Instagram’s increasingly difficult algorithms.

So in conclusion, if you want your blog to be lucrative - consider doing the opposite of all I do. I’ll be over here, not making much money but content in my principles ;)

 

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A Special Corner

I’ve had this plant cloche for awhile and just picked up a little Boston fern for it today. This is a special little corner of our dining room - my grandparents’ candle sticks, a photo from my great-grandparents’ farm, and an old photo of my husband’s grandmother.

A lot of family history in this little corner.

A special corner of family history.

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Finally Donated my Hair!

Donating my hair has been a bucket list item since Middle School and I finally did it! In the past I could never seem to get it long enough before needing to get it cut, or I had highlights at the time (most places will not accept blonde highlighted hair because of the bleach) - but finally it was long enough and highlight-free so I went for it :)

I’m sending these 10 inches in to Children with Hair Loss which provides hair pieces and wigs to children and young adults with medically-related hair loss at no cost. I hope it can be put to good use for someone who needs it.

Donating 10 inches to Children with Hair Loss.
Finally donated my hair - 10 inches gone!

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Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!  Today we stopped by the garden center to pick up some lavender plants for our deck.  Lavender not only smells and looks beautiful but it can help as a natural bug repellent.  Win-win! 

Earth Day 2019

I’ve also updated my Amazon Storefront to include a list of “Green Living” products and ideas to help you live like it’s Earth Day every day - because it is!

Birch Landing Home's Amazon Storefront

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Inheriting Family Recipes - Interview in The Wall Street Journal

I was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about inheriting family history through recipe cards.  I was honored to share a little bit of my Great Aunt Stefie’s legacy and love for cooking with them.  WSJ also interviewed experts on the best way to preserve these treasures!  You can find the article in print in today’s newspaper as well as online. 

Saving Memories, Dish by Dish - Wall Street Journal Interview

( If you'd like to read the full article without subscribing, the Twitter link from Leah Latella, photo editor from WSJ should hopefully get you there )

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Giving Back - Who We Donated to This Year

A tradition I started two years ago was to donate a percentage of profits from my Etsy shop and blog at year-end to Charity.  I’m so happy to say that this year we were able to help support The American Cancer Society in addition to our donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Thank you so much for all your support for my Etsy shop and blog this past year, I hope to continue to grow them and be able to give back more each year in return. 

Birch Landing Home Giving Back

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Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies + Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway!

Christmas is right around the corner and boy has it sneaked up fast! It’s always hard coming up with gift ideas for family and friends… but these days we’re personally trying to cut back on the amount of “stuff” we buy and give, and focus more on homemade items and experiences for gifts. What better gift than something made with love and the opportunity to create lasting memories? Read on for my tips to make the Perfect Christmas Cookies and then be sure to enter the amazing Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win some spectacular tickets to Boston-area events!
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Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies + Giveaway!

5 Tips for Perfect Christmas Cookies

Sift

Make sure to sift all your dry ingredients. Doing this breaks up any clumps of flour or baking soda, combines everything evenly, and helps make your cookies light and fluffy.

Parchment Paper

Always line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, this is key to getting the cookie bottoms that perfect light golden brown. If you're planning on doing several batches of cookies make sure to round the corners of the parchment with some scissors first, as the sharp corners of the paper can start to burn after a few times in the oven.

Cookie Scoop

A cookie scoop is probably one of the best little investments you'll make in the kitchen and I don't know how I ever lived without mine. Using a cookie scoop ensures you get uniform-sized cookies every time and makes the whole process of getting your cookies ready for the oven go so much faster.

Time

Always bake your cookies for the lower suggested time.  Cookies that are just cooked all the way through make for the softest, chewiest cookies.  If they aren't cooked in the middle yet you can always put them back in for another minute or two, but it's best to start with the lowest time.  

Your Secret Weapon - the "Bread Trick"

Accidentally over-cook the cookies?  Forget to cover them on the counter?  Believe it or not, the magical solution for over-cooked or stale cookies is just a slice of sandwich bread and a big ziplock.  Put all the cookies in a gallon ziplock bag, throw in a slice of bread, seal, and leave for a few hours - the cookies will get softer as the bread gets staler.  Magic!  


Boston Family Entertainment Giveaway
There is so much to see and do for families visiting Boston. We have an amazing Boston Family Entertainment Package that will mean loads of family fun for one lucky winner! Get those Perfect Christmas Cookies Ready! Today's giveaway has been brought to you by the following sponsors: This holiday season, consider experience such as tickets to a show, museum passes or a gift certificate for other fun family entertainment. Experience gifts are a great way to help families create lasting memories.

Ultimate Boston Family Entertainment Package

One lucky winner is going to receive the Ultimate Boston Entertainment Giveaway Package that includes:
  • (4) tickets to Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston (every weekend in Dec.)
  • (4) tickets to Blue Man Group (to be used after Jan. 1st)
  • (4) tickets to American Girl LIVE, a new musical featuring the iconic American Girl characters playing at the Boch Center, Feb. 22-24 (for Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 pm)
  • (4) tickets to Archery Games Boston (can be used anytime)
  • Dinner for 4 at South Street Diner (can be used anytime)

Boston Entertainment Giveaway

Official Rules and Conditions: One winner will receive the Ultimate Boston Entertainment Prize Package. No cash value. Open worldwide to adults 18+. One (1) winner will be chosen. Prize must be claimed within 48 hours of announcement or a new winner will be drawn. Prize will be delivered electronically. All entries will be verified. This giveaway is in no way associated with Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Giveaway ends 12/16/2018. Enter using the widget below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out all the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!

Click to Enter More Giveaways

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