Archives for May 2012

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

It is time for some reflection on creativity, life, passion, purpose. Shall we? So, let’s get right to the tough questions we all ask ourselves. Are you living the life you want? Have you found your purpose and are you pursuing your goals with focus and passion?

I am pleased and beyond excited to say I am living my dreams, for the most part, but I admit that I still flail around and lose sight of where I’m going and what I should do with my time. It is hard to stay on course with priorities.

Take my faux fireplace project, for example. Now before I begin, I’m updating this to remind everyone that the photo below is NOT decorated to my liking. The fireplace is NOT finished. It is just tacked together because I didn’t have the right tools. Now, let’s see what I learned from this.

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

Remember this project? I was really excited about this little DIY fireplace mantel project.

For about a day.

I got only so far into it, before I stopped in my tracks and gave up in frustration. If you’ve forgotten about this project, I don’t blame you. It was AGES ago. And I’ve been too flustered to talk about it ever since. I didn’t want to disappoint you, myself, or bring DIY scorn upon myself {hangs head in shame}.

The nutshell situation was I had a real fireplace mantel that I wanted to use as an architectural piece in my entry. The wall I thought it would work best on happened to have one of those poorly placed air return vent things on it, so I didn’t want to restrict airflow, but I of course wanted to disguise the vent if I could.

So I reached out to you to see what ideas you might have that would fill up that huge area including the vent without looking silly or restricting airflow. I had ideas of my own, but I still wanted your ideas because you are pretty smart. And you didn’t disappoint.

Y’all gave me some fabulous ideas and I really appreciated your suggestions. Well, most of them. Heh heh. One of my readers told me you thought my mantel belonged in a showroom and not a home. What? OK. That one made me laugh and kind of made me feel a little sad for sharing my idea. But I got over it. I guess I’m a rule breaker and feel that if I like something enough, I can find a way to use it in my house. I happen to like architecture so I’m going to keep it, if that is OK.

While I was capable of doing something super simple here and could have finished this project long ago, I decided to try something a little beyond my normal DIY skill level, something requiring wood, sawing, nailing into solid wood, measuring and all that DIY kind of stuff. Stuff requiring special tools. Stuff I normally avoid like the plague. Hello.

I know.

What was I thinking?

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

You see, I wanted my fireplace to look like THIS (above). Awesome! One of my readers found me this perfect inspiration photo and it was settled in my mind, I (as in ME, MYSELF, with my own two hands!) was going to recreate that lovely chunky architectural fireplace. So I did what all the super-DIY bloggers do, I took a little trip to the hardware store and found some wood slat shelves that seemed like the perfect way to recreate the look. SCORE.

I was pretty pleased with the whole idea, in my head, but ladies, once I got started, I remembered why I dislike projects like this. It was pretty much a FAIL and a FRUSTRATION after that. I didn’t have the right tools. Nothing came together as easily as I had hoped.

I had no patience for the process. I asked my husband for help (looking for a rescue for my bad decision) and he reminded me this isn’t his gift either. We both stared blankly at all the wood and our insufficient tools and and we might have even had a little fight about how we were or were not going to get this done. We are no power DIY couple.

So, now I pass by this wall every day thinking I should finish it, but I just loathe the idea of going back to it. I don’t know how to proceed and I don’t care to figure it out. I don’t want to get the right tools. I just want it done, but I don’t want to be the one to do it. There. I admitted it. It was a project FAIL.

Let’s stop right there and back up a bit.

Was it a mistake to try something beyond my skill level?

It is not a mistake to take a risk of failure or to try something you have never done before if it is something you know you need to do or grow in or want to learn. I have to stretch myself ALL THE TIME in order to grow as a person, to grow my business and to achieve goals. I do things I don’t want to do. I try things I’ve never tried before. That is how we learn and that is how we succeed.

We can’t give up too easily or too soon or we’ll miss out on the reward of persistence and hard work! You can’t reach goals without a lot of hard work!


Another way to look at this is we need to learn what our own strengths and weaknesses are and decide for ourselves WHICH ones we want to grow in and spend our time on, and which ones we can accept and be content without doing. We don’t want to run out of steam before we achieve the goals that really matter to us.

No one can be skilled in everything, but all of us can be pretty good at what we need to do or choose to do — and what we put our minds to. You can achieve your goals and enjoy almost every hardworking minute of it, as long as you are going after goals you are passionate about.

We can’t do it all. I KNOW that this type of DIY project is not really my thing. DIY is not OUR thing as a couple. We don’t own fancy tools beyond the basics. I know I would much rather pay someone to do it for us so I can just focus on being a wife, a mom, decorating, nesting and fluffing my house and my husband can do what he is gifted at. He is amazingly supportive and helpful around the house and with the kids and he is good at what he enjoys in life, he just doesn’t like to build stuff with tools.

But, I lost my mind for a little bit and set aside what I know and what my priorities are. I thought I would try to do it myself in spite of what I know about myself, my husband, and this season of my life. I set myself up to be discouraged and frustrated over something I really didn’t HAVE to do.  It wasn’t essential to our survival or happiness in life.

And so, there it sits. Undone. Mocking me. Stealing my joy. Zapping my creative energy.

Projects involving tools or unnecessary frustration are NOT my passion. I need to write that on my mirror. I could save myself some trouble.

Obviously we can’t all hire out everything we don’t like to do. I’m sure some people do that, but most of us can’t. That isn’t reality. Sometimes we just need to get tough and do it ourselves. And we’ve had to do that many times in our home.

But we definitely can to learn to figure out when we should push ourselves to grow, learn and do more to achieve our goals and dreams, and when we should simply accept how we are wired and what our abilities and capabilities are in this season of life and make smarter choices about how to spend our time.

Even super heroes have their limitations.

We need to figure out the life we want to live and go for it with GUSTO and not waste a bunch of time on things that are unnecessary or don’t propel us towards our goals. Things we might even like, but don’t fit with our goals or passion in this season of life. Things we are just not cut out for or that zap us of our creative energy. And certainly we need to let get out of the comparison game. I can gladly let someone else be the superhero of mastering tools and complicated DIY because I know my own goals and purpose.

I just have to remember my priorities and goals every day. By saying no to one thing I don’t really have to do, I’m saying YES to something I love even more.

We only have so much time in a day, how do we want to spend our daily allowance of minutes?

And in that balancing act of what to do and what not to do, we start to figure out how to live an authentic life. We can learn to THRIVE in our PASSION and LOVE what we DO in life. We just have to make DAILY choices about what we are NOT going to do with our time and the kind of life we WANT.

Lessons from A Failed DIY Project {creativity, life, passion & purpose}

We don’t all have to be DIY (do it all, ourselves) divas merely going through the motions of juggling life like everyone else does it, we can creatively THRIVE with our own unique style and way of living our dreams {with a little humor, a little grace and compassion and a creative purpose and style all our own.}

Do you struggle with the DIY syndrome? Thinking that you have to do it ALL yourself?
Are you sabotaging your own happiness and success because you don’t focus your energy on your own unique passion and gifts, and end up exhausted and worn out every day distracted by things that are not priorities or that you don’t even love doing?

It is so hard to stay on track with priorities and goals. But you’ve got this. You can do it! I believe in you!

So many good life lessons to be found in a failed DIY project! And no, I’m not sure yet how this fireplace saga ends. 

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

Tabletop & Mini-Container Gardens

You probably know my DIY limitations by now, I don’t like to spend a lot of time fussing with complicated projects inside or outside. I like to have fun in the process (and mostly, I’m just itching to enjoy the finished product!). That means any DIY projects I attempt can’t take too long or I lose interest and end up distracted by other things. Just being honest with you, am I the only one who is like this? Eeesh. I’m like a two-year old.

So, the perfect type of gardening project for me is basically a five minute small container garden.  The other cool thing about these gardens (and the freshened up pallet garden I shared yesterday) is you can have them even in a very small space, and they are perfect for renters too since you don’t have to own or dig up any ground!).

Today I’m sharing five of my own 5-minute mini-gardens!

I’m so in love with these little gardens, I can’t even tell you. They make me smile every time I see them. Most importantly, I smiled the whole time I was making them too. No melt-downs, break-downs or any unsavory words were uttered. No half-finished projects left for months because I ran out of time to complete them. Five projects that were all fun and no stress. 

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

5 Minute Garden Idea #1:

You cannot go wrong with this adorable little garden in a pot filled with Corsican Mint (which smells divine!!), and embellished with a wire topiary ornament. CAUUUUUTENESS, right? Right. It probably took 2 minutes. Tops. Took me longer to photograph and blog about it.

And if you don’t have a little wire topiary thing, try something you DO have. A little porcelain bird or critter of some sort would be just perfect perched in the mint. The pot is from Lowe’s.

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

5 Minute Garden Idea #2:

So you don’t have any ornament for your pot? Fine. Don’t use one. Just as cute without it. This is just a puff of moss (I think this one, above, is called Emerald Isle Spikemoss) in a pot. No ornamentation required. One minute. My pot came from Lowe’s.

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

5 Minute Garden Idea #3

This is a little terrarium I got from West Elm when I was at a gardening event at the Seattle store. But you could use any sort of glass jar if you didn’t have one like this.

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

This weekend I filled my container with dirt and rocks, another soft little “Stepable” type creeping plant (which I believe is called “Scleranthus biflorus, but just look for any cute creeping Stepable plants at your garden store)an adorable little metal chair I found at a local garden store and voila, my terrarium garden was born. Sweet, huh? I might keep this one inside.

Three minutes, people. That is all this takes!

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

5 Minute Garden Idea #4

This is a garden in a crate. I found my crate last year at my local garden center, but you might find something at a thrift store or flea market or in your garage. You could use a tool box, an old wood drink crate, just about anything to hold your garden! You can put whatever plants you want or other cute things in it.

I had a few random little plants like another of the Corsican Mint and Sweet Woodruff, some rocks and starfish and a blue mason jar with a summery striped candle. It doesn’t really matter what it is, if it is cute going in, it will make a nice little arrangement. Don’t overthink it, it should only take a few minutes.

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

 5 Minute Garden Idea #5

Last year I put together this little fairy garden in a wood box. This year I freshened it up with some succulents and some flowered grass that will bloom year after year (if I can keep it alive!) called “Victor Reiter Sea Thrift.” It took five minutes last year to create this little garden and to freshen it up this  year took like two minutes. Again, you just don’t want to over think it.

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

BONUS: 5 Minute Garden #6

Teacup Garden!

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

Don’t worry or stress too much about keeping these little gardens alive. I do not have a green thumb so it is all experimental for me but that is part of the fun.

Most of these plants are pretty hardy if you keep them from completely drying out. Keep them out of direct sun, maybe under a porch roof or under your table umbrella. If it is super hot, just bring them inside and put them near a window. Keep them a little moist and they’ll probably be happy. If a plant eventually dies, you maybe lost $3.99. That is like a cup of coffee that you drink in five minutes!

Five {5 Minute} Tiny Gardens You Can Make in a Crate, Pot or Terrarium

These might be “5 minute gardens,” but they should last ALL summer or beyond. Many of these little plants will come back next year too! If I can do this, anyone can. So, get out and enjoy some gardening! You’ll enjoy it, I promise.

So, what do you think?

Are you intrigued by these 5 minute gardens? They are so whimsical, fun and easy to make! I hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as I enjoyed making them!

linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Outdoor Spaces Party