Nice Rack

Hey, what else could I call a post about a firewood rack? “How to DIY a Cheap, Easy, and Fast Firewood Rack?”  Nah. Too boring.

Some of you remember “Treemageddon” last spring here, here, and here.  It left us with a surprisingly large amount of free firewood which we burned last winter.

Lots of rack

Lots of firewood…no rack

We noticed, however, that the bug population where we kept the wood exploded. This is not comforting when you have a lot of wood siding 4 feet away.  In order to stop the bugs, you only need to get the wood off of the ground.  Hence, the need for a Firewood Rack.  This was surprisingly easy.  Since most wood racks on the market are $100-$300, this is an easy way to save some cash while looking like you know what you’re doing!


(2) Cinder Blocks = $2.76

(2) Landscape Timbers = $7.94

(4) Mini Fence Posts = $12.68

TOTAL = $23.38

Supplies for the Wood Rack

Supplies for the Wood Rack

Step 1:

Determine where you want your rack.  Make sure you don’t have the wood touching anything except the rack or there is a greater risk of bugs eating the wood (or your siding!).  Also make sure it’s not sitting in standing water or that will defeat the purpose of building the rack in the first place!

Step 2:

Place cinder block where you want the rack and slide one end of the landscape timber into the hole of the cinder block.

Landscape Timber in Cinder Block

Landscape Timber in Cinder Block

Step 3:

Do the same thing with the other landscape timber.

Both Landscape Timbers in Cinder Block

Both Landscape Timbers in Cinder Block

Step 4:

Place the other ends of the landscape timbers in the other cinder block (did I mention this was ridiculously easy?).  It helps to have one person making sure you don’t slide the wood out the other end!

Base of the DIY Wood Rack

Base of the DIY Wood Rack

Step 5:

Hammer in a green fence post so it blocks the hole of the cinder block using a 3 lb sledgehammer if you have one…a regular hammer works but it’ll take a while.  This prevents the landscape timbers from ever sliding out and gives you something to stack your firewood against.

A 3 lb Sledge Hammer makes quick work of the fence post

A 3 lb Sledge Hammer makes quick work of the fence post

Step 6:

Repeat 3 more times on the outside of every cinder block hole.

Notice how the landscape timbers can't slide out

Notice how the landscape timbers can’t slide out

Step 7:

Stack the wood on it.  That’s it. You’re done.  It should look somewhat like this:

Cheap DIY Wood Rack

Cheap DIY Wood Rack


Affordable DIY Wood Rack with wood on it

Affordable DIY Wood Rack with wood on it


Is it pretty? No. Does it work really well? Yep. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and saved us about $100.  Can’t beat that!  Time to go find some firewood!

What do you think?  What happens when you put a lightsaber in water?  When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs? Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii? If a bee is allergic to pollen would it get the hives?

Belly Up to the Bar Rail

Little House. Big Heart. | How to Add a Bar Rail to your Deck for less than $60

We finally, finally finished the bar rail (and it only took us a year and a half to get to it)!  We’ve already had a party with it (for my birthday) and it was awesome to have a second seating/conversation area.

The whole schebang took us less than two hours total to build and cost less than $60!  Honestly. It was so easy… if you can sand, stain, and use a drill, you can build one of these.

We started out with two 16′ pressure treated deck boards. I sanded the ends  of the boards out in our alley (no judging my painted pink Soffe shorts from high school), then we stained them with some of our leftover fence stain. This took about an hour, tops, then we left the boards to dry in the warm Texas sun (seriously, it’s not even hot yet!).

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 4

While the boards were drying, we turned our attention to attaching the brackets that were to hold up the bar.  We went with four smaller metal brackets on each of the four posts on the section of deck were the bar was to go, screwed in with coated decking screws to prevent rusting.  In order to get the right spacing between the top of the bracket and the railing, we used a scrap piece of decking leftover from the big deck project.

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 5

When the boards were dry (we gave them a full day to get that way), it was time to attach them to our brackets.  We used short (1/2″) galvanized screws with head big enough they wouldn’t slip through the holes on the bracket (learned that one the hard way).

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 3

Did I mention I can’t believe we put this project off for so long? It was so fast and so cheap and so good looking I don’t know why it didn’t happen sooner.  I mean, look at it.

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 2

It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

Little House Big Heart Deck Bar How To 1

Here’s the cost breakdown (from Home Depot):

(2) 16′ Pressure Treated Deck Boards = $27.14
(4) 12in x 8 in Metal Shelf Brackets = $27.44
Stain (Leftovers) = $0.00
Screws (Leftovers) = $0.00
Grand Total = $54.58!

Have you finished any projects you’ve been putting off lately?

A Little On The Side (Yard)

Lately Kevin and I have been project finishing machines. We’re so anxious to start the bathroom that we’re tying up all the loose ends we have laying around as quickly as we can.

One of the biggest projects on our list was our side utility yard where our air conditioning unit and firewood live. It was starting to get overgrown and muddy, and the gate that closed it off was off its hinges.

Utility Yard Makeover



Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 3

We started by clipping all of the shrubs down to their root and digging them up so they wouldn’t grow back again.  The worse was the holly tree (by the AC) that persists on growing back no matter how many time we attempt to dig it up. If you weren’t aware, holly is evil. It’s thorny, prickly, and just plain mean.

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 1

In the spirit of using what we have on hand, we decided to use the leftover crushed granite from our patio project to rock the utility area. We’d inadvertantly bought too much last spring and hadn’t found a use for it yet, so using it solved both our mud issues (much to the dismay of our puppies) and the giant pile of granite in our driveway (making room for our bathroom dumpster!).

Kevin loaded and wheeled the granite over to the side yard while I shoveled and raked it into place.  On a side note, if you’re in the south and have had a pile of crushed granite in your driveway for over a year, beware of fire ants making it into a giant nest.  We didn’t expect it – and we paid for it. I’m still scratching bites on my ankles.  Fireants might just be worse than holly, although it’s a close one.

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 2

It didn’t take much to completely rock the entire utility area and fix the gate to keep the puppies (and any future kiddos) out of the area.  We even built a handy (and cheap!) firewood rack to keep everything dry and off the ground (Kevin will be back for a Handyman Wednesday on how to build it).

Utility Side Yard Makeover Crushed Granite 5We’ve got a few more projects to cross off the list before we can start swinging the ol’ sledgehammer (I’m looking at you, deck bar), but hopefully we can tackle them this week and be ready to start on the bathroom this weekend.



Stooling on Some Changes

Sometimes things don’t work out like you planned (especially if your plans never really get off the ground in the first place).

When Kevin and I remodeled our backyard we had plans of installing a drink ledge along our longest deck railing, as shown in our very high quality plan below.  It was going to make use of some unused space on the deck and give us another conversation area with more seating.

The New Backyard Plan

We even went so far as to buy the stools for the bar and to put them along the railing where the bar would be (in hopes, I think, of motivating ourselves to push through and finish the deck).  That was a year ago.

Metal Stools Overstock

That picture’s not from a year ago. It’s from yesterday. As you can see, the stools are still in place, waiting on the drink ledge that (still) hasn’t appeared.  For what’s it worth though, it’s on the list of projects that MUST be finished before we start the bathroom and we have the materials bought for it. So there’s that.

The stools haven’t taken their one year stint outside very well.  The clear coat on the top has started to break down and rubs off in a white powder that’s hard to get out of clothes.  The color on the top has faded, too, leaving them looking not so hot.  We don’t want to get rid of them since they weren’t exactly cheap and structurally are still in really good shape (there’s no rust, thankfully).


Metal Stool Top Problems

I was really excited then, when I saw these stools at Target the other day.  It was a serious lightbulb moment. I grabbed the stool and ran halfway across the store with it to find Kevin and show him.  He wasn’t quite as excited as me.

Target Threshold Metal Stool Wood TopAdding wood tops to our stools would hide the faded tops, while making them even more awesome than they already are. Win! I mocked it up on one of our stools at home with some cedar we had laying around in the garage last night. I really like the effect.

Wood Top Metal Stool Preview

It’s probably an after the bathroom project, but one we’re definitely adding to our list… so stay tuned.

Have any of your purchases not worked out lately? Have you procrastinated on finishing a project before (maybe not for a year like us)? Do you also get ridiculously excited over Target finds?



The Backyard Again

Remember way back this spring when every other post was an update on our backyard?

Yeah, we’re at it again.

We took advantage of the 85 degree temps this weekend to finally  finish painting our deck railing. When last we met, it looked like this: Capture

And it’s looked like that since May, with only one section of railings painted. We couldn’t work on it this summer because the paint we chose couldn’t be used above 90 degrees and we didn’t hit 90 til mid-September. Then it rained.

But this weekend’s glorious temps gave us the perfect opportunity to breakout our paintbrushes and get busy.


It took about four hours with Kevin on the roller and me doing the trim work to finish the railings, but I think the effect is gorgeous. All we need to do now is to build in the bar and the deck will be finished.

If we keep knocking little things off here and there maybe we’ll have the backyard 100% finished by next spring (which would be the 2-year mark for the project… yikes).

What did you do this weekend?

DIY Citronella Candles

Good morning!

I hope y’all had an awesome weekend; I know we did! We spent as much time outside as possible this weekend since Dallas decided to have some unbelievable late June weather (it was only 90). Of course, we had to fight off the giant, man-eating Texas mosquitoes with baseball bats… but that’s to be expected, right?

Well not anymore.

My lovely sister Steph is back with us today doing her very first guest post on how she makes her (amazing) homemade citronella candles to send those pesky skeeters packing.

Homemade Citronella Candles Little House. Big Heart.


Hey, Little House. Big Heart. readers!  I hope you like my recipe for homemade citronella candles! The regular store bought candles weren’t cutting it for us, so I decided to make my own!

  • What you need TO BUY:
    • Glass or metal containers: I originally planned to make my own using old tin cans, but I found these at a garage sale for free. They were the perfect colors, except the now blue buckets were once pink. I spray painted them to match Jess’ Talavera-themed patio.


    • Wax: I chose soy way from Hobby Lobby because it burns slower and cleaner. A 2lb bag made 5 candles. The cost was $9.99, but I waited until they had a sale on candle making supplies and snagged it for 50% off, $4.99.
    • Wicks: I bought the thickest wick I could find at Hobby Lobby which was also in a package containing 13 feet of wick. That was was way more than I needed but it was only $2.79 and also 50% off (so I only paid $1.39).
    • Wick Sustainers: Again I found these at Hobby Lobby for $2.49 for a pack of 20. They were also 50% off so I paid $1.24.
    • Pure Citronella Oil: I bought mine here at Bulk Apothecary. Because I wanted to make a lot of candles, I went ahead and purchased a larger quantity, 1lb for $24.36.
    • Additional Scents (if desired): I researched scents that go well with Citronella and found that both Lemon Verbena and Eucalyptus were recommended as complementary “smells”. The Lemon Verbena was $2.99 at Hobby Lobby for 0.5oz (only $1.49 after the 50% discount) and the Eucalyptus was $6.99 at Hobby Lobby for 0.5oz ($3.49 after the 50% discount).
    • Super Glue or Hot Glue (if you really want to be perfect)
  • What you need FROM HOME:
    • Measuring Cup
    • Microwavable Safe Bowl that you don’t care if it gets ruined
    • Spare or plastic fork
    • Teaspoon or if you have a baby or toddler in the house one of their medicine droppers works perfect.
    • Scissors
    • Pliers
    • A few sticks from the yard
    • A tarp, trash bag, or newspaper to work on if you want

    DIY Citronella Candle Ingredients


1)      Make sure your containers are clean

2)      Measure wicks so they stick up about 1.5” about the top of the container

3)      Slide your “cut to length” wicks through the wick sustainers (the little metal discs), then use needlenose pliers to pinch the wicks between the metal and secure them in place. Be sure you do not let too much of the wick show through the bottom of the sustainer or your wick will not sit evenly on the bottom of your candle. You make have to bend the circular metal part of the sustainer to straighten it back out after to pinch the wick in place.

4)      This is the step where you would glue your wick sustainer to the bottom of your container if you wanted. I chose not to do this, because well, honestly, I was being lazy. I didn’t have any super glue and was too lazy to hunt down the hot glue. Thank goodness I had little desire to be a perfectionist while making these!

5)      Next take the sticks you found in your yard and cut (or just break) them so they are a few inches larger than the “mouth” of your container.

6)      After your glue is dry, pull the wick up and tie it loosely to one of your sticks so they will be held in the center of your candle when you pour the wax. If you aren’t sure about the whole “stick from the yard” deal, Hobby Lobby does sells sticks that you can use for this purpose.

Wick Stick

7)      Now it’s time to melt your wax. Measure 5 cups of wax out and pour it into your microwavable safe container.

8)      Add your scents. Now, when I researched “how much citronella to add” all of the websites said 3-9 drops…… Upon “trial-and-error” I decided that 3-9 drops was no-where near enough for me. I mean, not even close. The whole reason I decided to make my own citronella candles was to make one that would definitely repel pesky bugs. With that being said, I added 3 teaspoons (or three droppers full) of citronella oil and ½ a teaspoon of either additional scent (but not both combined).

Wax and Essential Oils for DIY Citronella Candles

9)      If you want to add color to the wax, Hobby Lobby sells coloring in several different forms, liquid, wax, etc. I’ve also heard that you can add crayons for color, but I’ve not tried this nor do I think it would be the best solution.

10)   Melt the wax and scents in the microwave. It took my little microwave just 4 minutes to fully melt the wax and scents.

Melt Wax in Microwave

11)   Now use your “spare” fork and mix up your wax, be sure not to splash. Not all your wax will be melted when it comes out of the microwave, but that’s okay. Just keep stirring and it’ll all melt.

Melty Wax

12)   Pour your wax into your containers. If you can avoid it, try not to get the wax on your wick. However, if you do. It’s not a huge deal. It will melt off and the only problem it might cause is when you go to light the candle for the first time. It may be hard to get started and keep burning but once you get it fully lit there won’t be any issues.

Pour in your Wax for DIY Citronella Candles

13)   Once the wax has fully re-hardened, carefully untie your wicks from the sticks.

14)   Cut the wicks so they are just ¼ to 1/3 inch above the top of the hardened wax.

trim your wicks

15)   And, TA-DA! Light your candles and enjoy your BUG FREE outdoors.

Finished DIY Citronella Candles

DIY Citronella Candles Little House Big Heart

The candles above are for Jess (EDIT: I can’t wait to get them!), but we made lots more for home. You can make them in just about anything that’s not flammable. I hope you try them out because they’re seriously better than the ones you buy at the store!


Have you ever made homemade candles before? Do you think store-bought citronella candles even work? Do you have giant skeeters in your neck of the woods?

Finishing the Backyard

After our two week trip to Europe, and impromptu camping trip to Oklahoma for Memorial Day weekend and a bout with food poisoning, I think we’re finally back to business around the Little House.

Our main goal at the moment is to push through and finish the backyard. We’re so close to being 100% done with this project that we don’t want start anything else until we’ve finished.

Outdoor Target String Lights Over Patio

So what do we have left to do?

We’re nearly done painting the deck. Once that’s finished, we’ll be able to make the final push to the end.

Capture 3

I think that if we work at it, two more weekends can have our backyard completely finished and we can get started on our next project… the office floor!

How do you push through to the finish of projects? What projects are you trying to finish up?

Backyard Envy

Good morning! Today Kevin and I are taking in all that Rome has to offer. We’re planning on heading to the Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-The-Walls and visiting it’s chocolate making monks, then heading a little ways away to tour a catacomb!

I’m so excited for today’s guest blogger, Kristen from Popcorn on the Stove! She was one of my very first bloggy buddies and I’ve really enjoyed watching she and Joe make their NYC apartment(s) home over the last two years (wow, has it really been that long?!). When you’re done here today check out POTS for everything from book reviews and vegetarian (and not) recipes to awesome DIY and indoor gardening!


Hi everyone!  My name is Kristen and I blog over at Popcorn on the Stove.  I’m very excited to be guest posting today on Little House Big Heart because this blog is one of my daily reads 🙂

After watching Jess and Kevin transform their backyard, I developed a bit of backyard envy.  Joe and I currently rent so the backyard we have are shared with the renters of three other apartments.  That means that we can’t do anything major here, but a girl can dream, right?  Below are some of our must haves for our future backyard:



1)  When I imagine our future backyard, I imagine an outdoor sectional like this one from Target where all of our friends and family can hang out on.  I love that there’s an ottoman in this set that will provide extra seating when needed – plus, the cushions are in a neutral so I’ll be able to use different throw pillows for extra pops of colors or seasonal decor (like stars and stripes for the Fourth of July).

2)  Growing up, we would have family reunions at my aunt and uncle’s house in the Catskills.  It was in a secluded area so there was a lot family bonding time.  One of my favorite activities was roasting marshmallows around a fire pit.  No matter how many mosquitos were biting me, I would stay out there until we ran out of marshmallows.  I’d like to get our own fire pit like this CobraCo Cast Iron Copper fire pit from Home Depot.  I think the copper will look great outside, and I like that it’ll be moveable.  

3)  One of Joe’s must-have items is a hammock so I went on the hunt.  My favorite option is this Quilted Sunbrella Hammock from L.L. Bean.  I love that it’s reversible so you can have the stripe or solid green side up – it’s sort of like getting two for one.  Another bonus is that this hammock is quilted, so that means it’ll be extra comfortable.  

4)  Clear Globe Lights (like these lights  from Target, which are what Kevin & Jess have).  I love the look of them so they are definitely a must have!

5)  Another piece that we’d like to have in our backyard is a Weber Charcoal grill like this one I found on Amazon.  We currently have a small one, but it would be nice to have a taller option.  Another bonus is that since it’s wheels, we can move it around and keep it out of the way.

6)  As soon as we get a backyard, I’m going to start planning out a garden.  I’m going to have all of my favorite herbs but expand it to have a ton of fruits and veggies.  Along those lines, I’d like to invest in a lemon tree and Joe would like to invest in a fig tree.  We’re not sure where we’re going to settle down (and that will determine what trees we actually can get) but it’s nice to plan.  One option would be to get a Meyer Lemon tree from Four Winds Growers.  This one is already in a pot so I could keep it indoors during the winter.

So, let’s hear it – did you get backyard envy after Kevin & Jess unveiled their progress?  Were you caught daydreaming about your ideal backyard?  What are you must haves?

The End of Treemageddon 2013

They came for the tree yesterday. Finally.

It only took a crew of four about 2.5 hours to completely dismantle the tree and remove it from the yard.

tree removal

Now we’re almost back to normal (except for a little sawdust here and there).

No Mo Tree

Is it weird if I want to get the shop vac out and vacuum the yard?


On the upside, we won’t have to try and find firewood this summer for the fire pit (which miraculously survived). We’ve got PLENTY.


And just a sneak peak of what we hope to share with you next week: deck progress! We’re loving how it’s turning out!

Deck Progress

Finishing the deck in on our pre-trip to do list, so hopefully we’ll be able to share the finished deck with you next week. Oh, and I’m so excited about my packing post! Can’t wait to share that either!

Don’t TREEt Me Like That

The running joke around the Little House this weekend was to pause, look out a back window, and exclaim “Holy Cow, Honey! There’s a tree in our back yard!” The more we laugh about it, the less upset we are by it.

Broken hackberry

Here’s some shot of the carnage. First, the tree from the back corner of the yard looking towards the house and deck (except there’s a tree in the way and you can’t see them).

Tree From Back Corner of yard

Next we have the tree as viewed from the patio, looking towards the Little Garden. You can see the tree resting on our shiny not-so-new-anymore copper fire pit.

Tree Looking towards Garden

And what used to be a vintage antique metal rocking chair.

Smashed Antique Metal Rocker

The tree barely grazed the deck, so fortunately all of our hard work on it wasn’t in vain.

Just missed the deck

On the other hand, our garage  didn’t fare so well. The tree landed on the garage and rolled off, punching a hole in the roof and breaking all of the roof trusses. The worst part? The roof on the garage was just replaced this winter.

Broken Roof Struts in Garage

Hole in Garage Roof

If you stand at the corner of our deck and look towards the garage (even though you can’t see it), the tree takes up almost the entire backyard.

Tree from front Corner of yard

The insurance man comes on Thursday, but he said we can go ahead and get the tree removed in the meantime (something we’re going to jump on as soon as we can… we’re worried the new baby grass under the tree is going to start to die from simple lack of sunlight).

Thanks so much for all your support last Thursday! We were so bummed and you all made us feel so much better about it! Y’all rock our socks!