Tag Archives: DIY

The Gentleman Caller’s Homemade Miracle Gro Liquid Fertilizer

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

It’s planting season. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to go to all the trouble of nurturing my little babies, I want them to grow, grow, grow!

Now there are countless options in the realm of commercial fertilizers, but! why not round up a few household items, AND some things you were going to compost or throw away and concoct your own?

This easy liquid fertilizer will deliver nutrients to your plant progeny and won’t break the bank.

What you need:

  • 1 gallon jug (I repurposed a well-cleaned washer fluid bottle. Free.)
  • 1 tbsp epsom salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ammonia
  • used coffee grounds
  • egg shells
  • water

Using a funnel, pour epsom salt, baking soda, and ammonia into your gallon jug.

Add used coffee grounds. You can continually add used coffee grounds day after day.

Add crunched up egg shells. You may continue to add egg shells as you cook the actual insides.

Put it in a cool dry place. Allow to steep. Give it a shake every day or so.

After about 2 – 3 weeks, it will be ready to start using. If you want to be fancy, you can strain the solids out. It’s not necessary, but it’s up to you.

Add the liquid fertilizer to the dirt around plants, not to the foliage of the plant itself.

Enjoy, and watch the fruit of your labor!

 

Make Your Own $80 wreath for less than $8

Knock knock knock.
Gentleman Caller.

Know what’s expensive? Christmas!

Now don’t misunderstand, I am more than accustomed to emptying my wallet for a pair of $1000 sneakers or a ridiculously overpriced backpack, but if I can save money on something, I will. Someone I was very close to used to say, “Austin, you will drive across town to save a nickel on an orange.” Accurate! What can I say? It’s my legacy. My great-grandmother was a Scot, like, off the boat immigrant. Scots are cheap. Ahem, frugal.

So when it came time to decorate for Christmas this year, I was confronted with two realities. If you invest in artificial pine things you have to STORE THEM. If you buy real throw away pine things, you still pay an arm and a leg and then you chuck it in the bin on January 2. Both of those options seemed unacceptable.

I live next to a Whole Foods. Like there would be no asking my neighbor for a cup of sugar because my neighbor is Whole Foods. I noticed they had put up a makeshift Christmas tree lot and the guys who worked there were trimming branches off the trees and putting them in the trash. Hmm…

So I decided to ask them for branches. Worst thing they could do is say no. But they didn’t, so up to my apartment I trekked, loaded down with two great arms full of aromatic fresh pine boughs. I got out a 5 gallon bucket and put some water in it. I put the ends of the branches in the water until I was ready to work with them to keep them nice and verdant.

As pretty as my pine branches were, I wanted to amend with some other varieties of plant. Cypress, juniper, boxwoods. You’d be surprised how many overgrown shrubs you see when you are thinking about gathering branches. So I started asking people: May I trim your shrubs? An odd request, I admit. But it worked and I came home with a sack full of cypress, juniper, and boxwood. If I had been in Texas, I would have used those waxy leaves from magnolia trees. That would be gorgeous. Maybe next year.

Now to construct a foundation. I just used three layers of stiff cardboard. I turned a round table upside down and traced a big circle. I then found a mixing bowl and traced the internal circle. I had about 3 inches of width to work with.

I hot glued the layers together. I brushed on some acrylic paint, but I mixed white and dark green together as I brushed so that it had dimension.

We have arrived at the Dollar General portion of this project. So far we have spent about zero dollars, especially if you have old paints available.

Your dollar store is going to have everything else you need. Fine gauge wire, a couple feet of ribbon and a handful of ornaments.

Now let’s build. I would advise that you either do this outdoors, in your garage, or put down a plastic sheet or something. This project is messy.

Lay your foundation on a flat surface. Cut about 8-10 inches of branch and just start layering, working backward. Branch, wire, branch, wire. At first you are probably going to think Wow, this looks like some kind of shitty 3rd grade arts and crafts project. Keep at it. Fill it out as you go. If you make the circumference of the wreath and it looks anemic, get more branches and keep shoving. You can continue shoving supplemental branches in existing wire. Do that until you reach the desire fullness.

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Embellishment time. I cut 10-inch segments of ribbon and hot glued the ends to the back of the wreath on opposing sides. Then I wired clusters of ornaments together and wired them into the greenery. It’s basically like decorating a tree. Be creative.

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In all honesty, I almost pulled all the ornaments off after I put them on because the simple greenery itself was really stunning. You be the judge. Sometimes less is more.

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Time to hang. I had a hole available on my door that I could easily put a wire through. You might need a 3M hook or something like that. I am sure you can figure it out.

Here we are at the end. I spent about $4. Not bad indeed.

Now get to work! Send me photos of your endeavors!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

Walkin’ in a Winter Onesie-land – Simple Sewing of a Snuggly Onesie

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Knock, knock, knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Here we are, our first sewing challenge! Who’s pumped?

This one is a lot of bang for your buck. A soft, cuddly onesie that is easily gift-able, or you can reap the benefits of your work for yourself.

The video is very helpful, even though it moves fast. Please overlook that you can see the band of my undies almost the whole time. The camera was mounted on the ceiling and I wasn’t going to ruin my shot worrying about my knickers.

This is a quick and easy sewing project; don’t be intimidated.

  • First you need about 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for an adult onesie. I’ll do another post for a child’s onesie. I chose this funny Chicago Cubs polar fleece since the Cubs just had the big victory and all.

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I always go to the same fabric store in New York’s famed garment District. This is Jorge who helps me out. There are several stores all on 38th and 39th Streets between 7 and 8th Avenues.

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This is my friend who helped me select a zipper.

  • You need to choose a coordinating zipper, probably 22 inches long. Get something substantial, not a dress zipper. (Remember all these measurements are approximate. Please do math.)
  • Choose a coordinating thread.
  • Find a pair of sweats and draw a chalk line (see video).
  • Chalk outline with the sweats as a guide on the fabric. Allow a half inch for seam allowances.
  • Assemble and sew. Sew the shoulder seam first, then the side body seam, and the inseam seam. Follow on the other half. Put the two inseam seams together; stitch them together and continue the seam up the back. Go over the inseam seam one more time and sew up toward the belly button area to where the zipper should end.

Sewing in the zipper is a little bit of a trick. I line the top of the zipper up with the neck line on both sides and pin. If I hear for you all that I need to post a zipper “how-to” I sure will.

  • Sew the shoulder area but don’t close up the armpit area. Wait to sew the sleeve seam till you have sewn in the shoulder. Guiding off of where the armpit seam is on the body of the suit, figure out where the arm seam should be. Sew the arm seam. Then meet the arm seam to the body/armpit seam and sew them.
  • Add the hood or finish the neck hem if you aren’t adding a hood.
  • Hem the legs and arms.

VOILA!

Readers, if this isn’t clear enough let me know. I will post some diagrams and more video. I want you to know what you are doing! Sewing is your friend, and breaking in your skills on a simple sew like this will allow you to start doing money saving things like altering your own clothes.

Thanks for joining me today!

That’s all for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

UPDATE! Kelly got a onesie too! With fur cuffs.

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Window Sill Splendor from some guy’s trash

Knock Knock Knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Honestly I should have done this one earlier in the season, but sometimes life gets in the way of best laid plans, right? So here we are in a heat wave and I am deciding it’s time to PLANT.

Right now I am in New York City and let’s face it: no one has outdoor space here. A lot of people in regular America don’t either. This project is for you. Condo people, apartment dwellers, all of ya’ll whose soul is yearning for dirt to dig in but don’t know where to find it.

Thursday night is “Big Trash Night” in Manhattan, meaning that people put out big things. It’s astonishing what you see on the streets. Mannequins, sofas, baby cribs, washing machines, tv’s, and the most useful for today’s purposes: CHEST OF DRAWERS. (Below is an example, not the actual one I got…just proving my point!)

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I was on the way to do the show and someone had put out a vintage midcentury chest. It was beat up, but looked clean. I walked on to work and thought DRAWERS. I had the intent to build out some window boxes from scratch, but why not source those deep dove-tailed drawers for window boxes? I spent the entirety of the show focusing on whether or not the chest would be there when I got home. Eureka, it was! So I drug a few drawers up to my place and thoroughly disinfected them and myself. (Note: don’t EVER pick up something with soft surfaces or fabric off the street unless you want some bedbugs.)

Let’s get to the real work.

Put down a drop cloth. Make sure your drawers are clean. If you want to hit any varnished areas with sandpaper, knock yourself out. These aren’t going to last for the rest of your life so you don’t need to be that meticulous. The moisture of the dirt is going to rot them over time so be as meticulous as you want, but don’t get crazy. Unless you ARE crazy and that’s just how you do things.

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Remove the hardware. You can save this for another project if it’s pretty.

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Paint those suckers. Or don’t. If you like the wood tone and you want people to know it used to be a drawer, that’s a valid aesthetic choice. Don’t be afraid of color here. I can be timid about color; I wear a grey t-shirt every single day. But in honor of this project I have on purple Converse. Let your house/dwelling/domicile be your grey t-shirt and your window box be your purple Cons!

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While you’re letting the paint set up, go get you some hardware. Based on what kind of ledge you have or don’t have, you can use mending plates or L brackets. I am using mending plates and shimming the underside of the drawers with some 1×6. Shimming is the process of leveling something with smaller pieces of wood that you ideally do not want to see. If you are using L brackets you might be level without shims.

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Measure out where you want them. Symmetry is sublime.

Affix the hardware. Use a substantial wood screw so you have some structural integrity. No one wants to clean up a box full of dirt. Yes, I took my shirt off – I am f****** melting. You’ll read why in a sec.

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Screw those boxes in place.

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Drill some drain holes in the bottom of the box.

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Paint out the exposed hardware if you want. And if you have exposed hardware, you definitely should want. 🙂

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A standard drawer is going to hold about a cubic foot of dirt before being planted (this is assuming you’re using plants already started from a home improvement center or nursery). Please have more sense than me and don’t try to schlep 2 cubic feet of dirt home in sacks on your shoulders through midtown Manhattan in the midst of a heat wave. I wish I had a photo to insert here, but you’ll have to use your imagination.

Plant those suckers. Be creative; flowering plants and herbs coexist peacefully. Be sure to drop some vine-type plants over the sides. Sweet potato vines are a little banal, but damn if they don’t always look nice. Vinca vine is always nice. If your box is going in a spot that gets blasted with sun, a patio tomato plant is not out of the question.

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Find out about planting combinations in the next article! Wishing you and your green thumb much success.

This is The Gentleman Caller signing out.

xoxo