Entries in DIY (2)


Learning Tower 

Ever since Lady Paloma was born, I looked eagerly ahead to when she would be able to help me in the kitchen. From my good friend Rachel I learned about Montessori Learning Towers and why they are a great choice for babes entering the Practical Life stage. Stool and chairs can be dangerous to balance on. One misstep and a fall can easily happen. Also - getting up on stools and chairs requires assistance, taking away the independence a child has in a Montessori environment.

A Learning Tower is a safe way for a child to be at counter height practicing real life skills with safety and balance. When looking at my options for a Learning Tower many of these started at the $200 mark. Beautiful and everything I wanted but way out of our budget!!

A little more looking around the World Wide Web and we found an amazing Ikea Hack for a learning tower on this blog - What the Vita. The bright yellow they painted their Learning Tower caught my eye. It is a fairly easy project which we did with a hand saw, a power drill and a paintbrush. If you had an electric saw things would move quicker and be a bit more accurate I believe. This could easily be completed on a weekend. 

The base of this project is the Bekväm Stool from Ikea. At $14.99 its a steal. The natural color is what we used as I was going to paint the entire thing after it was together. Then a trip to Lowes. We picked up a long 2x2 square board, a 1x4 and a 5/8 dowel. I used some wood putty to fill in the screws and sanded them smooth. Also you need some wood screws and medium grit sandpaper to smooth things out. To paint I used a basic wood primer and chose a lovely color and a sample size of paint was perfect for 2 coats. I also added felt pad to the bottom of the feet to protect the kitchen floor. 

For tools you will need a tape measure, a saw to cut the boards and a power drill to put the dowel hole in (5/8) as well as screw it together. 

The first step is to put the all stool together except the top step. You will attach the top guard rails to this step first. 

Next you cut 4 of the 2x2 boards in a length from the top of the stool to the height of your counter. This will be slightly different for everyone. Then screw each of these on to the corners of the top step. 

You will want to then cut 2 2x2 lengths to fit between the right and left side rails about half way down. These get screwed in on each side. 

Next - drill horizontal holes across the back two posts for the dowel to fit through. Cut the dowel so it is even across the entire tower. 

The remaining cuts are the 1x4. We used one across the front of the tower rails at the same height as the 2x2 and then cut 3 to make the rail across the top edge. The side rails will cover the dowel holding it in place. 

Finally - fill the holes, sand everything smooth and hit it with a coat of primer and 2 of paint. I let it dry for 4 days with no use to really get it dry. Then I added the felt feet. 

Take a look below and see how ours came together.

I was super excited about the color. A sort of creamy tangerine. The kitchen is yellow and white with a lot of light in the windows and this color is so pretty in this room. 

Lady loves it!! She said "wow" when she saw it and once she knew what it was for cant stop asking "up up" whenever she is in the kitchen. She is still figuring out how to get in and out by herself. She heled me bake the other day for over an hour. I gave her a few little bowls and some flour and spoons. Happy as can be.

This is a simple, fun project that can make your kitchen or work space super safe for your toddler! I hope you get a chance to put one together. 

Just remember "Small hands can!".


Tomato Supports

Mr. Ramon asked me the other day what would be the one vegetable I would choose if I could only choose one for the rest of my life. I said tomato. Oh how I love a proper tomato out of the garden - warm from the sun. I have offered to show Mr. Ramon the delights of a tomato sandwich. Just soft white bread, real mayo and warm thick tomato slices with a little salt and pepper. I am just about drooling thinking of it. For right now I will have to buy my tomatoes at the farmers market. Ours are just starting to produce and I am eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Last year we did not have the best supports, using traditional tomato cages that ended up being to small for our plants. We had limbs that were not well supported - it was a sad disaster.

This year we decided to put in 6 tomato plants in one bed. We knew we needed strong supports and I was really eyeing the colored tomato cages at the local nursery. But my budget was pretty non existent. We thought about wire fencing, regular silver cages and PVC. We eventually found a system we thought met our needs .

I call this system "string support. It is inexpensive and has worked for us this year. Basically you create alternating string supports on each side of your tomato stalks as they grow - keeping them standing upward. 

You need:

  • 2 8ft -10ft thick bamboo poles per row of tomatoes
  • 1 roll of hemp or other thick natural twine 
  • scissors 
  • rubber mallet or hammer 

Begin by planting your tomato plants in rows the suggested space apart. We planted 3 in each row and 2 rows. We have a fence at one end so only needed 1 bamboo pole per row. 

At the end of the rows of tomatoes pound in one bamboo pole deep enough that it can take the tension of the string and the weight of the tomato plants as they grow. 

Next stretch out your twine a bit. We want to support the lower part of the plant to start. Tie to one of the bamboo poles close to the bottom of the plants - where it will support the first set of branches. Take the twine and pull it tight to the bamboo pole at the other end. Wrap it around the pole and pull it tight then tie it. 

You second row of twine should be just a few inches higher on the other side of the plant. When out plants were this high we added about 4 strings - 2 on each side alternating sides to create a tension support. 

About each week as plants grow - continue to run tight alternation strings to support the plants. You will have to move the growing branches up and through the web of twine here and there. 

We now have tomoato plants over 5 feet tall and they are all very well supported with this system.

I would love to hear if you try this method and how it works for you .