What To Do With An Old Bicycle

Finished bicycle basket

I love bike riding. We used to bike for miles and miles during the summer months. I especially loved riding the long trails that are refurbished old railroad beds here in Wisconsin. You can bike through the entire state on those flat, groomed trails. They are well maintained and take you through some of the pretty countryside in the Midwest. There is no better way to see the state than to bike through it.

However, it’s been years since I owned a bike, and even longer since I took the time to go for a ride. Until now. #Iamcheap


bicycle before painting

One of my girl friends passed this bike on to me. She doesn’t ride it anymore and it was just collecting dust in her garage. It was over all in good shape, but had a bit of rust here and there. I loved the old fashioned character of it. However, it was just sort of a blah color. It needed PIZAZZ.

Rustoleum spray paint

You know me, I have a basement full of PIZAZZ fixers, including a ton of spray paint. I rummaged around and came up with some Rustoleum Spray paint in Gloss Key Lime Green and Seaside Blue. By the way, if you spray paint at all, you simply must have one of these Comfort Grip tools to add to your spray can, it makes a nice even coat and saves your fingers from getting tired. It also gives you a very streamlined jet of paint, which is a lifesaver for doing fine detail work on such as this bike. Trust me, you need it! I also use plastic gloves to protect my hands when I paint, it’s so much easier than scraping your hands til they are raw!

Time to DIY!

bicycle in progress

The first step was to cover the larger parts of the bike that I didn’t want to paint with plastic grocery bags. I covered the seat, the handle bars, the pedals and the basket on the back of the bike with bags. It’s not scientific, but it works.

3M Scotch Blue Tape

Then I started covering the finer details with 3M Scotch Blue Painters Tape. I covered the break pads, the fenders, the brake wires and a few things that I have no idea what they are but they looked important.

I found some cardboard circles in my basement that were just laying around, and used those inside the tire and wheel spokes to keep paint from getting on them.

3M Sandblaster_

The next step was to rough up the paint with a 3M Sandblaster sponge. This coarse sponge is the best tool ever, it easily fit between the smaller parts of the bike and made the sanding go really fast. Then I wiped the grit off with a dry towel and I was ready to paint.

painting the bike

I laid the bike down to paint, then waited for it to dry before turning it over. The spray paint made the painting go really fast, and it covered in one coat. How awesome is that??

I painted the basket at the very end, using the cardboard to shield the rest of the bike from the sprayer. I chose the Key Lime color for the basket, I love it!

It looks rather silly, but it worked quite well. I would say 98% of what I didn’t want to paint stayed clean, there were one or two areas that I had to scrape paint off in the end with the sanding block, but you can’t really tell where they are in the finished product.

After I started I also realized that the front wheel of the bike could come off, so I ended up removing that completely. I am sure that you can remove the back one too, but I don’t know how to do it and it seemed too complicated to bother with. #Iamnotmechanical

Blue bike finished

The blue color makes me HAPPY!

Bicycle Pin

The new color reminds me of the good old days when bikes were all the rage. Yes, I am that old! Now, I need is a tune up and I will be on the road! I can’t wait!

See you on the trail!

Lessons from the Arborist

Backyard photo with a Pin Oak tree

Buying a home in an established neighborhood is great because of the mature trees. There are a number of them in the yard and we knew right from the start that they hadn’t been properly maintained in many years.

The various sucker branches growing every which way was our first clue to their lack of maintainence. We decided to call in an arborist for a professional opinion on what to do with the trees. We are so glad we did, little did we know what was growing in our yard!

When we bought the house, we decided to take down a couple of trees in the back yard. Not only were they over grown but they took up the entire space leaving us with a full shade property.
Our lone maple tree would be the first to go (in the back corner of the lot), it was on the property line too close to the neighbors garage and killing all the lawn in its shadows. The biggest problem with this tree, is that is was inhibiting the growth of the other tree in the back yard. We hate the idea of chopping down trees, but with a small yard and awkward location of the tree, it just wasn’t practical to keep it.

The other tree in the back yard which you can see in the photo was some type of maple, however it surprised us the most. It turned out to be a Pin Oak, a rare find in Wisconsin. In addition, this tree is protected by law. We can only trim it at certain times of the year, and removing it is out of the question since it’s a protected species. Who knew? We had no idea. So glad that the arborist really knows his stuff! We will trim the tree in the fall according to law, and hope that it will continue to grow to it’s full potential.cherry blossoms

The other problem was what do with the fruit trees. We have both a cherry and an apple tree in the yard. Unfortunately, they both have been unattended for a long time and reach far, far to close to the neighbors house. They should have been trimmed back long ago, but if we do it now, they should still produce some fruit, we hope! The cherry tree is almost as tall as the house, that’s a long stretch to do some fruit picking! The arborist can reshape the tree so we can still get future growth and fruit from it. Not sure what sort of cherry it is, I sure hope it’s a sweet variety!

North facing apple tree and cherry trees

The apple tree has many dead limbs among it’s blossoms. It also has a “sucker” tree growing up inside it’s trunk. Usually sucker trees are expendable. They grow from the roots of the tree and should be trimmed back to keep the tree growing well. We contemplated cutting it out our selves, but soon thought better of it for fear that it would kill both trees instead. The sucker however, was apparently another apple tree grafted into the middle of the first, so it would produce two different varieties of apples. Apparently this was a popular thing to do in the 1950’s, little did we know!

Unfortunately, the arborist fears the apple tree is already dying, that it’s hollow inside and will not last much longer. It poses a huge liability to us, being between two houses, and we need to remove it. I am dreading cutting it down.

cherry blossoms indoors

The trees are now in full bloom. It breaks my heart to know that we have to trim them, and cut down the apple tree completely. I refused to let the arborist come and trim the trees until we had been able to experience the blossoms at least once. They are so perfect and lovely. I will miss having them outside my living room window.

It was well worth our time and money to hire a professional for this job. Had we tried to do some of this work ourselves, we would have made all sorts of wrong choices. We plan to be here for a long time, so it is worth the investment in hiring a pro. I will post more before and after pics, as he is coming back to begin the trimming this week.

More to come!


DIY Cleaning Products: Drain Cleaner


It’s been about four years since I started blogging. My most popular post is my DIY Drain Cleaner recipe. I really had no idea it would be a popular post, I wasn’t even sure anyone would be interested. Thousands of views have proved me wrong!

I learned this home remedy from a late night TV show, about a million years ago. I have been meaning to make a new video for a while and it seemed like a natural thing to do, so here it is.

If you have a clogged drain, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed! I use this combination for regular drain maintenance about once a month. I do not purchase any chemical cleaners in our home, this recipe works great and is cheap and clean for the environment.

For bathroom sinks, I use the smaller amount, for larger drains like the shower and bath tub I usually double the amount given. My kids love to help with cleaning the drains, we call it “drain cleaning science”. I found out that the Cream of Tartar is a form of tartaric acid and is a bi-product of winemaking. Potassium bitartrate is derived from the crystals formed on the inside of the wooden wine barrels as the wine ages. These crystals are then refined into Cream of Tartar.

Who knew?

Here are my Amazon Affiliate Links so you can buy your supplies and get started!

I would love to hear how you like this recipe, here are some testimonials or leave me a comment!

“I know this works….I had very sluggish tub drains (very annoying), used this~~~worked great!!! We have a septic tank so I was ever so happy to find this safe way of unclogging!!!!”

“Great tips here! I like reading about natural cleaners! Thank you for sharing!”

“Your “recipe” for drain opener works great… after trying a number of things, I found this and mixed it up…. the first dose applied and I could see a difference. Through that week I used the rest of that first mix…WOW~~~ what difference… We have septic tank and I worry that the chemical store brands would harm it, so imagine how happy I am…will be using this every couple of weeks….. Thank-you for posting this”

Five Step Terrarium

Terrarium by designerssweetspot.com

I am dreaming of the garden. I am itching to plant and create anything green. I decided to settle on an easy 5 Step Terrarium. Yesterday I braved the blizzard we were having to run to the garden center and pickup the supplies.

3 little plants for the terrarium designerssweetspot.com


I happened to have 3 mini plants on hand for this project, but I could have also bought them at the garden store. Fairy gardens are hot items these days and our garden shop had loads of miniature plants to choose from. I actually don’t know what variety these are, I am sure I could Google it if I wanted to, NOT.

Truffle bowl side view by designerssweetspot.com

While at the garden center I priced out purchasing a fancy smanchy terrarium bowl. They where in the neighborhood of $40.00, which I thought was outrageous for what is essentially a plain glass container.

I opted to use the Truffle bowl my husband inherited from his Aunt. Since I have never made a truffle desert in my life, this is probably the best use for it. We love how it turned out.

Here’s the Easy 5 Step Terrarium process:

  1. Collect supplies: You will need a truffle bowl, 3 small plants in different colors, height and leaf texture. This makes for an interesting display. I chose a purple leaf, a bright green mossy type plant, and a taller darker green plant. You will also need potting soil, activated charcoal and spaghnum moss. A few rocks decorate the top, but are optional.
  2. Fill the truffle bowl with 1 1/2″ activated charcoal. This helps with drainage and keeps the plants from getting root rot.
  3. Add potting soil until the bowl is 3/4 full.
  4. Plant your little plants in the potting soil, breaking up the roots when you take them out of the container with your fingers. Press soil gently around the plants, add more to cover the roots if needed.
  5. Cover the soil with the moss, working around the stem of each plant. Add a few decorative rocks if desired.

Water gently when soil becomes dry to the touch. You can leave your bowl for display on your coffee table or near a sunny window.

Don’t have a garden center near you? Amazon has everything you need, here are my affiliate links below for this project:

How to Keep Fresh Roses

rose bouquet by www.designerssweetspot.com

The week has flown by. Valentine’s Day has come and gone. We were sick all week so we haven’t done anything special this year. I feel like I am missing all the good things in life lately, with the move, being sick and trying to catch up and get organized.

I am still not on top of things, including blogging.

Valentine Roses by www.designerssweetspot.com

Valentine’s Day came around and I found these lovely bouquets of flowers on the table along with cards and chocolate. My sweet hubby out did himself this year. The second bouquet was for my mother. She was so pleased, she said she has NEVER gotten flowers or candy for Valentine’s Day. What a shame!

cutting rose stems

There are some tricks to keeping bouquets as long as possible. Perhaps you weren’t aware that your flowers need some special treatment when you bring them home from the store.

First step is to pull them out of the vase and trim the stems at a 45 degree angle, at least 2″ or more depending on the size of your container. Both flowers and greenery should get this treatment.

Smashing rose stems

Roses do better in water when you smash the ends of the stems with a hammer. This helps them draw the best water and stay fresh longer.

Roses in the vase

Before you put them back into the vase, remove all foliage below the water line. This keeps the water cleaner and gives the flowers more room to spread out and open.

Fill your vase with water. Add your floral fresh if you have it. A crushed aspirin makes an excellent substitute  for fertilizer. Replace the water in the vase at least every other day or as needed. Your flowers should keep for up to 7-10 days.

Roses and Quote

I hope you got some beautiful flowers for your special day. However if you didn’t, I highly recommend that you pick some up for yourself. Aldi’s has bouquets for $3.99. You can’t get more joy for less money!

Have a great day!