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Category: Home Decor

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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five ways to make moving suck less

So, as you probably know since I’ve mentioned it about 4700 times here, we recently moved. I am no stranger to moving — I’ve moved about once a year since starting college an unmentionably long time ago. Logic would indicate that this would mean moving gets easier every time, right? Friggin WRONG. This recent move was the hardest yet. So much STUFF. For a few days after we moved, everything hurt. My fingers hurt. (Well now your back’s gonna hurt, cause you just pulled landscaping duty!)

Guys. If it’s just going to get harder every time…that means we need to to it better every time. We need to be smarter than the move. Here’s five tips that have helped me — maybe they’ll help you, too. Plus, some pictures of the new house cause ain’t nobody got time for a post full of pictures of moving boxes.

1. Purge *before* packing.

KonMari the sh*t out of your home before you even think about packing. And if you don’t KonMari, at least go through room by room and get rid of the stuff you don’t use. I think the key is to do this significantly ahead of time, maybe a few weeks or even a month before your move. That way, you don’t feel pressured and can take your time to do it right. Oh, and Austinites — you can now take your donations to the Austin Pets Alive! thrift store. It’s what I call a win-win-win where you get rid of your stuff, you then don’t have to move stuff you don’t need, and you help adorable puppies get adopted. Come ON.

dining room mint windsor chairs

2. Pack yourself an overnight bag.

The last thing you need on moving day is to wake up wide-eyed like a very stressed out child on Christmas morning (just me?) and realize you packed your deodorant in a box that is now under three other boxes. Pack yourself an overnight bag with toiletries, an outfit for moving day, and other stuff you know you’ll need like scissors, tools to put furniture together, and your phone charger.  

marfa bathroom

3. Hire movers you trust (big bonus points if they also make you laugh.)

Pretty much the worst case scenario in life is your movers not showing up. I have two tricks to avoid this: 1) book the earliest time slot of the day to minimize the chance that your movers are running late or held up with another move (normally 8-9 a.m.) and 2) book a reputable company. Austinites and other Texans — I use Army Ant Moving and have for my last three moves. They are always prompt, work quickly, and they make me LAUGH. And they’re the ones doing the hard work! How?? I’m over here carrying plants to my car legit being like “ow my fingers hurt moving is hard” and they’re over there having a blast with like, my dresser on their back. Also, they are super careful with furniture, actually read boxes when it says FRAGILE!!! (must be Italian!), and they called Matt “Matteo” all day so yah, I love them. (Check the bottom of the post for a special rate if you’re in need of movers!)

midcentury patio furniture

4. Don’t forget sustenance.

I may never forget the move where I forgot to eat. You think you know hanger… ::softly chuckles and shakes head:: you have no idea. Don’t be like me, yall. Eat something. I like to run out in the morning for coffee and something protein-y (breakfast tacos), and I use that stop to buy waters for us and the movers, too. Then, after the move is done and before unpacking starts: eat something again. Might I suggest…tacos? 🙂

pastel guest bedroom

5. Wash bedding and towels ASAP.

This is my favorite thing to do. As soon as we get to the new place, I do a few loads of laundry starting with sheets and towels. (So, label your boxes and make sure you can find these as well as the laundry detergent.) Washing these right away means that at the end of the day you have a fluffy clean towel when you get out of the shower and a bed with fresh sheets to climb into. Even if everything else is a wreck, those two things really make for an enjoyable first night in your new home! I use exclamation points when I talk about clean sheets!!

So those are a few of my best tips. I’m dying to hear yours, since apparently this is only going to get tougher. What are your moving secrets?

This post is sponsored by Army Ant Moving. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support this blog. Mention this post while booking your move to receive 10% off their hourly $110 rate.

five ways to make moving suck less

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