easy DIY fire pit ideas

Disclaimer: I am using “easy” in a pretty liberal way in the title of this post as you will soon find out ūüôā

A little over a year ago I posted about this easy in-ground DIY fire pit we made:

diy fire pit

{you can see the full post with pictures/instructions here}…On a trip to both Lowe’s & Home Depot last week with my father-in-law {they are visiting from Canada – Yay!} I was surprised to find out they no longer stock the tree ring pavers we used to build the fire pit. When I asked about it I was told the manufacturer quit making them. I can’t find any other local supplier, but here are a couple companies that are still making them if you want to go hunting:¬† Mission Concrete Products & Bayshore Concrete. Or, feel free to post in the comments where you have found them so others will know.


In the meantime, here are some alternative ideas:

If you or someone you know has welding skills you could make something simple and sleek like this gorgeous thing the clever people over at Brick House created {just don’t lean up against in on accident, youch!}:

modern diy fire pit——–

…or you could go nuts and build forms, pour concrete and create an outdoor gas fireplace like this one:

modern concrete fire pit

take a look at the plans over at the diy network for an idea of how to make something like what is above

diy concrete fire pit{in the end they take things a little too far and add some tacky river rock and flagstone embellishment on top, but if you stop at this phase you will have something just lovely}


I love the idea of this small, portable fire that you can take with you:

portable fire column{these can be purchased from the restoration hardware catalog for a pretty penny, but you can make something similar with these diy plans from The Art of Doing Stuff}


How’s this for a truly simple outdoor fire pit {Ruhl Walker Architects}:

simple outdoor fire pit

{1. dig out a large circular area, 2. put in some edging material, 3. throw down some gravel, 4. build a fire}


And, last but not least, for those of you who have the luxury of building from scratch consider this fire pit built into the patio {and also take a look at all the pictures of this beautiful home by Goforth Gill Architects}:

built-in outdoor fire pit


As an aside: I was at Edgefield with my family last weekend – the website¬† claims that it is “a truly remarkable destination” and it is – but this came to mind as I was admiring the trees and buildings & fire pits for that matter “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.‚ÄĚ And it’s true.

DIY Raised Garden Beds

A few months ago I was feeling sorry for myself that another season was going to pass where I didn’t get to plant food (I missed last season because we had purchased our current house and spent April-July remodeling it to get it move-in ready). Our exterior has endless work to get done and building raised beds wasn’t very high up on Jeff’s to-do list. I mentioned it in a forlorn way about a goo-gillion times sort of like this: “I am so bummed that I am not planning my garden right now”, “do you really think it would be that big of a deal to put raised beds together”, “honey, what are you thinking about a garden this year?”, etc. you get the point. So, like any sensible man who wants to quit hearing about the same thing ad nauseum, he went and bought some lumber and started building. I think he was happy he did it though, because for the next few days I couldn’t quit smiling and I kept saying over and over, “I am pretty sure you making me raised beds is my love language” and it is. Some people want quality time, some people want words of affirmation, I want a garden.

as an aside, my husband is sitting on the couch while I type this and he just said: “Is there anywhere specific you’d want to go eat on Wednesday (my birthday) if I decided to let you not cook?” I laugh, and then he says “watch your attitude, because I haven’t decided yet”…laughing is also my love language.

Anyway, these pictures aren’t going to grace the cover of Living anytime soon, since I already mentioned that our exterior is our current “project” but if you want to make truly simple raised beds (Jeff says they take around 45 minutes to make and cost around $25 each for materials), so that you too can be smiling all summer here is what you will need for 1 3×6 box that is 12 inches deep:

1. a chop-saw

2. a box of coated framing nails

3. a drill

4. a hammer

5. a box of 2.5 inch deck screws

6. 3 12 ft. 2×6 untreated lumber (for sides)

7. 1/2 of an 8 ft. 4×4 (for corners)

8. scrap 2×4 for optional cleats

DIY raised garden beds

{the last 2 pictures are progress pictures, still have a long way to go…but see all that glorious food growing? Doesn’t get more fresh and local then your front yard}

¬†Here’s what you do:

1. Cut 2×6 into 4 6 ft. lengths and 4 3 ft. lengths

2. Cut 4 10.5 inch lengths from the 4×4

3. Cut¬† 2 8 inch lengths of 2×4¬† for cleats

4. Nail 2 boxes together separately

5. Stack on top of each other

6. Screw corner posts in (& optional cleats in the center of the long lengths)

7. Fill with good soil

8. Plant seeds and starts


If you are a beginner to gardening here are some tips that I wish we had when we first began:

1. No matter how cheap DO NOT be tempted to buy these tomato cages:

crappy tomato cage

they are awful. They WILL tip over. Your tomato plants (if you live in the Northwest) will get larger than you can possibly imagine and by the time you realize your mistake your toppled over scrawny tomato cages will be completely intertwined with your plants and you will end up doing some weird homemade reinforcement structure…Save yourself the trouble, spend a little more money and buy these:

folding tomato cageor, make these DIY tomato cages:

diy sturdy tomato cage

{click here for the tutorial to make these super-sturdy tomato cages}

you will laugh when you see your tiny tomato starts surrounded by the fort knox of tomato cages, but you will be patting yourself on the back in August when you are harvesting tomatoes.

2. Thin your seedlings early and often. It feels a little sad after you have planted and watered your little seeds to pull more than half of them out when they arrive, but you need to give them enough room to grow, so don’t be shy, pull them out.

3. Give your plants some breathing room. Everything will get bigger than you think so give it the room to grow.

4. Trellis as much as you can. Unless you have tons of space, going up is the best way to maximize what you can plant. Here is some more info about how to grow vegetables on a trellis.

5. Buy good soil. Organic is best.


Need some more inspiration? Here is an old garden post with lots of pictures of our garden at our last house. Or here is my pinterest garden board

Happy gardening.

Homemade gifts worth getting

I am not that crafty. My sister got all those genes in our family. She writes poetry for people (the good kind, that should be published – not the kind you wonder where to hide in your home) She makes things out of clay, she stays up until 3am making every item for her daughters birthdays (including homemade princess dresses & crowns)…One year the level of thoughtful personalization of gifts from my sis got so out of hand (OK, we were feeling insecure) that as my dad was unwrapping the wool sweater we purchased him from REI, Jeff commented that he was sure Katie had woven him one out of her hair (I’m sure it wasn’t that far off-base). Anyway, I shamelessly support the material, economic engine of the USA by purchasing my gifts…The truth is, I don’t usually want to receive homemade things, they are usually so…homey. My aesthetic isn’t homey. Now that I have said it and made every person past and future insecure about making me things I would like to follow-up with some home made gifts I have received over the years that were great: burp clothes from my Aunt Di, all my baby bedding from my grandma (I picked out the fabric and she made them), a few beautiful quilts for the birth of my daughters, book of wonderful parenting/childhood quotes from my friend…I am sure I have received some other wonderful things that I am forgetting from every single person that is reading this (sorry to offend). Anyway, my point is that while I can go to crafty wonderland and appreciate most everything there, almost none of it would fit in my home. That being said, my husband and I do love the thought and process of making things for other people (& have given homemade canned goods & caramels as gifts for a few years now), so I am a curating a list of things that I would love to receive from others & that seem do-able as a way to kick start the holiday crafting time of year.


¬†DIY salt dough or cornstarch ornaments {here’s a recipe}:

cornstarch and salt dough ornaments

{images found originally at 1. even*cleveland, 2. Oleander and Palm, 3. Composing Hallelujahs, 4. the woodside kitchen. 5& 6 are for those who love this look but will never get around to making anything, you can buy these white ceramic beauties from marley & lockyer}


I would be happy to have these DIY home goods at my house:

modern homemade gifts

{1. DIY lavendar vanilla soy candle tutorial found on Ruffled, 2. wooden doormat DIY compliments of Martha Stewart 3. DIY rustic US map from Girl in Air 4. if you knew how to quilt and you made me this I wouldn’t be mad. It’s the anti-granny afghan & I LOVE IT. originally found here, 5. homemade soap is a serious labor of love. Don’t EVER feel bad about spending $5 for a bar at a craft show, the person who made that soap earned every penny. One year my sister made Jeff a years worth of amazing, gritty, clove-scented soap – the real stuff, not melted and reformed glycerine – & he has been daydreaming about more ever since. For a bunch of recipes look here, 6. Pillow tutorial here}


DIY food/drink gifts {homemade food is pretty much always a good idea, because it doesn’t take up space for long & if the person receiving it doesn’t appreciate it, chances are someone in the household will}:

gourmet homemade food gifts

{1. recipe for these homemade peanut butter cups is from Blue-Eyed Bakers, 2. find a tutorial for homemade fruit jellies at sunset magazine , 3.recipe for candied pecans, 4. I love friendship or russian tea. It’s made with Tang which is pretty much enough reason not to love it, but I still do & you know, everything in moderation. Here is a recipe for this delish drink mix which would be so cute packaged in a little glass jar with a homemade label,¬† 5. I fell in love with pasteis de nata during a trip to Portugal & I like the idea of introducing something new to friends, 6. infused vodka can never be a bad idea and keeps forever, I made a cucumber gin that lasted years…}


If you have kiddos {or know kids you want to give gifts to} here are some of my favorites:

homemade gifts for children

{1. I would love these large stacking rings for my kiddos, such a great diy idea, 2. What child’s day isn’t made happier with a felt crown? 3. If you happen to be my husband you may have been put up to making some version of this for our daughters for Christmas – good thing they don’t read my blog – or you could spend $1300 and purchase them from Modern Playhouse, that is if tons of other parents. with way too much money, hadn’t already bought them all! 4. how about these adorable¬†sewing cards from the adorable/informative¬† handmade charlotte. It’s a free printable, so all you need to do is add a needle and chunky thread & put it in a cute box. easy peasy! 5.this would be a great semi-homemade gift to make for a child – or homeschooling mom like me – again, you don’t even have to be crafty, just download the printable and assemble. You can find it at Mr.Printables. While you are there you should look around, if you have littles, it may be your new favorite freebie website}


You now have no excuse, go make something! If you know us, you may even be the recipients of some of this fun stuff!

Fall Home Decor Ideas

I am not partial to Halloween decorations, even the magic lady herself Ms. Martha doesn’t do it for me when it comes to this time of year + decorating. I have yet to see a lawn display that isn’t completely tacky. I actually think tacky is the main theme for Halloween (which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the actual holiday, I do love having littles come to the door to trick or treat and such & we like to carve pumpkins as much as the next family). Anyhoo, I do love a well decorated home for fall & if you get things done early you can call it ‘harvest” decor and it covers the whole season until Christmas. So, here are some of my favorite fall home decorating ideas (starting with pumpkins):

white pumpkin centerpiece{this beautiful centerpiece was originally found on yourcozyhome}

pumpkin lanterns{I love these! I think they would be even cuter painted sky blue with silver “lanterns”. You can find the tutorial here}

pumpkins in cloches{if you happen to have a grouping of cake stands or cloches, like we do, this makes for a simple centerpiece. Originally found on Country Living}

gingko leaf pumpkin{I think this is gorgeous. It would take a steady hand, but I may try it this year. Originally found here}

modern pumpkin arrangement at hearth{if you don’t actually intend to use your fireplace for a fire, this would be a charming alternative. Originally found on good housekeeping.com}

gourd luminaries{we have made luminaries like these a few times. They are easy to do & pretty fool proof if you don’t think of yourself as particularly crafty. Find the how-to here}

blue pumpkin centerpiece{this lovely, simple centerpiece was originally found on the Williams-Sonoma blog}


For some inspiration for throwing a fall celebration take a look at this beautiful spread:

modern fall party decor{perfect, right? It included a cider and wine bar, baked pears & gingerbread cake to name only a few items. Please take a look at the whole awe-inspiring spread at hostesswiththemostess – obviously! And don’t worry your pretty little head that some stay-at-home mother whipped this up in her spare time, it was put on by the party professionals Anders Ruff. You feel better knowing that, don’t you? I know I did.}

harvest table decor{this lovely harvest table setting was found on paperblog}

gourd garland

{this gourd garland can be made using gourds from terrain}


OK, now I’ve inspired myself. Now to go hunt & gather some pretty fall things for my mantle. I’d love to see what you do for fall. Send me a picture!