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Category: DIY

i’m a big fan of citronella: my accidental trick to getting rid of mosquitoes

If you live anywhere with mosquitoes and with any sort of outdoor space you’d like to utilize between the months of May – October, this post is for you. If you live somewhere without mosquitoes then please 1) go away, 2) stop bragging, and 3) no one likes you. The truth hurts, but does it hurt more than the emotional pain of having to scratch a mosquito bite on the BOTTOM OF YOUR FOOT?

The way this post came to be was serendipitous. Kismet. Fate. Also known as an accident. I should preface by saying that mosquitoes love me. “Molly: it’s what’s for dinner” must have been the ad playing on their tiny little mosquito TV sets every night of their little mosquito childhood because they crave me. So a couple of weeks ago when we were hosting a small group at our place, I knew I wanted to attempt to de-mosquito-ify the patio so that we could hang out there for a bit and enjoy the string lights.

I had recently opened up a box of essential oils from Aroma Foundry, including their citronella oil. I figured I’d try a two-pronged anti-mosquito approach. 1) I’d diffuse the citronella oil in my essential oil diffuser (found here) and 2) I’d set up an oscillating fan (found here) because I felt like the breeze might cool us off and blow the mosquitos away. This is where the accident happened: by chance, I placed the diffuser behind the fan. When the fan was on, it sucked in the diffused citronella oil and gently blew it all over the patio as the fan oscillated. I swear to you, I did not get a single bite during the hour or so we hung out back there!

If mosquitos aren’t a problem for you, you’re probably like… “and?” (In which case, again I’d like to BID YOU GOOD DAY SIR.) But if you get covered in bites every dang time you walk out the door, I think you’ll understand my total glee and need to shout this pretty simple solution from the rooftops. There are so many perks. You likely already have both a diffuser and an oscillating fan laying around, and if you don’t, they’re just a quick order away. I love that this solution doesn’t leave anyone covered in sticky, gross-smelling bug spray. AND it uses cool air, not hot! I love the look of those citronella torch things (here’s one, if you have no idea what I’m talking about), but the last thing any Texan needs is the addition of more heat sources on their patio in the dead of summer. 

The citronella oil from Aroma Foundry worked wonderfully, but I’m wondering if any of the other scents that I’ve heard can work for mosquitoes might work just as well and smell even better — like basil or lemongrass. Aroma Foundry has an awesome selection of unique scents, so I might have to try out some of the others. They also come in cute lil cobalt bottles packed neatly and tightly, which certainly doesn’t hurt. Check them out if you’re in the market!

I will say, this did not help with flies one bit. I think mosquitoes far outweigh flies on the annoyance scale, but I do wish the fan would have staved off the flies. So I leave you with two questions: what’s your go-to mosquito solution? And any great tricks for getting rid of flies? 

 

This post is sponsored by Aroma Foundry. Thank you for supporting the brands that support ABA.

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a post on posts

Hello and welcome to a post on posts – renter-friendly posts for string lights that double as planters, that is. Did you get all that? It’s okay if you didn’t, because I’m probably going to write another 800 words on it. That’s how this works.

So, backing up: the Blue Door House has a lovely little 10′ x 12′ concrete grill pad that we wanted to utilize as a patio with seating for loungin and cocktailin and watching Finn sniff every square inch of the backyard. But all the cute patio furniture in the world couldn’t change the cold, hard truth of the matter: our lone tiny patio light just wasn’t gonna cut it. After the sun set, the backyard just wasn’t usable – it was too dark.

blue door house patio before

And honestly, what is a patio without string lights? But because we rent, we couldn’t just dig three feet down into the yard to set up posts for lights the way normal people do. So after some Pinterest perusing on how to build temporary posts (inspired by this post, and this one, and this one), we set off for Home Depot with a dream in our hearts and a willingness to ignore the heat index for the day. 

I kind of Frankensteined all of the how-to’s I read because none of them fit exactly what we were looking for. Here’s what we wanted: sturdy wood posts about 8′ high, planters big enough to hold the post as well as to be used for actual planting, and enough stability that we won’t worry about the whole thing coming down during a windy storm. Here’s how we did it:

temporary string light posts for renters

How to Build Temporary Posts for String Lights

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 8′ landscape timbers (We used two, one for each post.)
  • Medium terra cotta pots (One for each post. We used these 10″ ones.)
  • Large planters (One for each post. We used the white version of these, which are 18″ h x 22″ w)
  • 60 lb bags of Quikrete (One for each post. We used this fast-setting option.)
  • 60 lb bags of sand (1.5 for each post. We used this one.)
  • Painters tape
  • Cup hooks
  • Gloves
  • String lights (We used these.)
  • Potting soil and plants

Okay so right off the bat, this picture is confusing. That’s because we greatly, greatly, underestimated the size our largest pot needed to be. We thought we could get away with a 16″ terra cotta pot and all I can say is: nope. It was way too small and we could tell right away that it’d be easy to knock over. So, pretend that the large pot in the below photo is much larger. If you’re me, then the actual first step of this project is to get your butt back in the car and head to Home Depot for your second trip of the day to find a larger pot. My dad says the the true greatness of your project can be measured in how many trips to Home Depot it takes you to finish it, so I tried to see this as a good thing. 

temporary posts in planters

  1. Nestle your 10″ terra cotta pot into your large pot. 
  2. Then, nestle your 8′ landscape timber vertically into the 10″ pot.
  3. Position your post so that it is standing nice and straight.
  4. Put on your gloves before pouring the concrete.
  5. Pour half of the concrete bag into the terra cotta pot.
  6. Pour the second half of the concrete bag into the bottom of the large pot, around the base of your smaller pot.
  7. Add water to the concrete according to the bag’s instructions.
  8. Use painters tape around the post to hold it steady while the concrete dries.
  9. Allow the concrete to dry as long as necessary. We quadrupled the drying time because it was super humid the day we worked on this. Fun!
    temporary posts in planters
  10. After the concrete is dry, pour a bag and a half of sand into the bottom of the large planter, completely covering the small pot. temporary posts in planters
  11. Add potting soil and plants. Our patio gets full afternoon sun, so I chose plants that do well in our hot, sunny Austin weather.temporary string light posts for renters
  12. Screw your cup hooks into the top of the posts.
  13. Hang your string lights, leaving room for the bulbs to hang freely as it can be a fire hazard if the bulb rests against something.

That’s it! We are so thrilled with how these came out and how they’ve held up in an uncommonly wet Austin summer. They feel super sturdy and the posts are still nice and straight. Landscape timber isn’t meant for structural use, so we probably won’t hang anything much heavier than lights on them, but for this application we really like them. They were a fraction of the price of the cedar 4×4’s we were considering, and we also really like their rounded edges instead of the square edges of the 4×4’s..

temporary posts in planters for string lights

I’m also pretty obsessed with the lights we chose. (Found here.) They put off SO much light, but it’s warm and not blindingly bright. The shape of the Edison bulb is so pretty and I don’t worry about these getting rained on or hanging out in the hot sun as they are rated for outdoor/commercial use. They also came packed so nicely and with a few extra bulbs in case one breaks at some point. A not-at-all pro tip: hang your light string first, then screw in the bulbs to avoid unnecessarily breaking bulbs. 

DIY posts for string lights

Stay tuned for a full patio reveal soon, and let me know if you have any questions or if you’re working on anything fun over at your house. What’s your record for trips to Home Depot per project? 

Instructions on how to make string light posts with planters. Great for renters!

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you can go shave your couch now: how to remove pilling from upholstery

And now, for something completely different: taking a departure from room tours, currently posts, and crafty things to sit yall down and tell you about the night that I shaved my couch. Yah. Let that settle.

You may remember that I mentioned in this post about how things are holding up that the couch is still as comfy as ever, but was showing a bunch of pilling on the upholstery. I totally admit fault to buying a sofa with an open-weave knit fabric and letting my 65 pound dog on it every single day, but I was stressing about what to do. Buy a new slipcover? Those are expensive, so should we just get a new couch altogether? 

How to remove pilling from upholstery

Blech. Thankfully (!!) an old friend and reader reached out to say that she had a coworker who had a similar sofa issue, and that person had purchased a fabric shaver normally used on sweaters and used it on her couch. At this point I need to address a couple things. 1) I’ve noticed recently that I do *not* use the interwebz as much as I should. Why wouldn’t I just Google “how to remove pilling from upholstery”?? Why did I jump right to buying a whole new GD couch? I literally have a blog that other people find by using the interwebz in a similar fashion. I do not understand why I don’t do the same thing. 2) Thank you, stranger, for your inventive use of a sweater shaver. 3) Thank you, person who invented sweater shavers. I did not know your product existed but it just saved me beaucoups of money. 4) Who knew that’s how you spell beaucoup? Not me.

How to defuzz your sofa

It was definitely starting to make my eye twitch. It didn’t look too bad from afar, but I sit on this bad boy daily. I mean it wasn’t like…ruining my day. But it was one of those things that I’d make a subtle mental note of all the time. I wanted this monkey OFF MY BACK. 

Removing pills from a sofa or couch

Here’s my claw and my claw’s new best friend, the Conair Fabric Defuzzer – Shaver. (I got the battery-operated one.) What a name. What a guy. First, I tested it on an inconspicuous part of the couch to make sure it wasn’t gonna shred the fabric to death. (It didn’t.) Then, I put it on the lowest setting so I could give my couch a close shave. Molly Richardson, Couch Barber, at your service. I tried it right there on the middle cushion of the couch to take some photos for this post, using slow circular motions over the entire cover. The after, right below, gives me SO MUCH SATISFACTION.

How to get pills of your upholstered furniture

PEACE OUT FUZZIES! Good riddance! I was not anticipating how much enjoyment I would get out of this activity. If I were a smarter blog-writer, I’d probably keep that to myself, but we all know that’s not how I roll. I’m not ashamed to admit that after taking these photos, I took every cushion out and shaved every upholstered surface of the whole couch. I was worried that the little motor of the defuzzer-shaver wouldn’t be able to keep up, but darnit if that thing didn’t happily endure the work. 

Using a fabric shaver to remove pilling from upholstery

And that, my friends, is the story of how I became a couch barber. So glad to have this little tool in my arsenal now, and to use it on my sweaters next winter! Any tools you’re loving that saved you heartache or dollars or both? 

 

This post is not sponsored, but affiliate links are used for your convenience.

Using a fabric shaver to remove pilling from upholstery
How to easily remove pilling from upholstery
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