When you’re a homesteading artist, trips to the hardware store are an adventure.

There has never been an occasion when I have gone to the hardware store and not totally and utterly confused the staff. They just can’t seem to wrap their brains around why I’m doing the things I’m doing. 

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The following stories are, unfortunately, very true.

Nuts and Bolting at the Hardware Store

Bee story

Last spring we jumped headfirst into beekeeping. We were completely unprepared for this new endeavor and rushed to get everything ready in time.

After spending days purchasing equipment and gluing and nailing pieces together, it was time to paint the hive. Off to the hardware store I went for the necessary items.

At this point most of the employees know that I’m one of those weirdos that has bizarre hobbies, but the new guy at the paint center wasn’t aware…yet. I picked out some rad colors and asked him to mix them up for outdoor use.

“Oh yeah I can do that, what sort of texture do you need… matte, glossy?”

“Oh, um. I don’t really know…”

“Well, what are you painting?”

Oh, here we go…

“I’m painting a beehive.”

“…a beehive…”

“Yes, for bees to live in.”

Blank stare


“Well, not yet, I still have to pick them up, but I need to paint their hive first.”

:::::Awkward Gawking:::::


It was almost a whisper. I could tell that he was genuinely trying to understand what the in the hell I was thinking.

“We’re raising them for honey and to pollinate our plants.”

“Bees…a beehive…bees…bees…” This confused employee was now fiddling with the paint tools and muttering to himself. I’m pretty sure he forgot I was still standing there.

“I think the glossy will be just fine.” I interjected.

“Oh yeah! Okay glossy…bees…”

He continued to give me puzzled glances as he was mixing my paint, probably trying to imagine why in the world someone would have bees. At this point I was trying to figure out the same thing. This project was already turning out to be way more intense than I thought, and we didn’t even have the little guys yet.

You can read the rest of our beekeeping adventure here: Honey Bees Arrive at ImaginAcres

Gardening with Pipes

One day I was scanning the gardening posts on Pinterest and came across an interesting idea, using a PVC pipe to make a vertical planter. Hey! That sounds like fun! I thought.

Off I went to the store to pick up a PVC pipe, soil, and some strawberry plants.

Forty-five minutes later, I was still standing in the plumbing aisle, surrounded by an array of plastic piping in every shape and size imaginable.

I had been pacing back and forth between the u-bends and rubber attachments, trying to figure out exactly what was needed to make this work. I probably had an utterly dumbfounded look on my face, because sure enough, eventually a Home Depot employee happened upon me and asked if I needed help.

Oh, here we go again.

I reluctantly agreed that I did indeed need help. I told the nice man that I was looking for a pipe with a very wide diameter, and that I would need it cut to six feet.

“Okay, how wide do you need? Six inches? Eight?”

“I don’t know…” I said sheepishly.

“Well, what are you fitting it for?” He was already getting frustrated with me and giving me that look. That look that says: Why did this silly girl come to the hardware store with no clue of what she needs to get?

“Um. Well… I’m making it into a planter.” I half mumbled as my cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“…You’re doing… what?”

“I’m making a vertical planter for my garden. I want to plant strawberries in a PVC pipe.” I pointed to the 12 happy little strawberry plants in the bottom of my cart, that were dripping muddy water all over the clean floor.

He just stared at me, and blinked a few times, then all at once must have realized that he was gawking at the weirdo in the plumbing aisle and struggled to come up with some words.

“You know, we have a gardening department that’s full of planters. You don’t have to do anything to them.”

“Yeah, I know. I want to make one that’s really tall. We don’t get good sun in our yard and we don’t have much space to work with.”

At this point he must have come to the conclusion that it would be best to just give up on understanding and give the crazy lady what she wants.

He shook his head and looked at me one last, pitying time.

“Well all right, let’s get to work.”

The rest was a breeze, he got me exactly what I needed and loaded it gingerly into the cart for me, right beside my happy little strawberry plants.

Making the planter was great fun. Coming upon it after a week to find all the bottom plants eaten down to the nubs was not so fun. Somewhere in my excitement I forgot that chickens will eat anything and everything that’s at their eye level.

Paint chips are free…

I had an idea. It involved using Mod Podge and bits of paper to create an amazing pop art collage.

All I needed was a whole stack of different shades of color to cut into little pieces.

I dug through my collection of colored papers but just couldn’t find what I needed. That’s when I remembered the paint aisle of our hardware store, full to the brim of little swatches with every color ever created. So off I went.

It’s amazing how guilty you can feel when taking too much of a free thing. I mean, they’re sitting there for the taking. They’re created solely for the purpose of being taken home, held up to a wall, and then thrown away.

Even so, I felt the need for ninja-like sneakiness when taking more than my fair share of paint chips.

I sauntered up to the paint chip wall and casually flipped through a couple of home makeover books. Picking up a few swatches of color, I began day dreaming about a total makeover to my office/studio. New paint on the walls, some sparkly new office supplies, maybe a new desk…

I was quickly losing track of my purpose here. Man, these makeover books are convincing…

Back to business, I grabbed handfuls of Lavender Mist and Grandfather Clock Brown. I shoved Cool Lava and Sunset Strip into my pants pockets. Venetian Pearl and Aloe Essence went into my purse by the fistful.

All the while glancing suspiciously around to be sure I wasn’t being watched.

Judging by my own ridiculous behavior and the number of paint chip artwork found on Pinterest, I’m sure the security tapes of the paint department are incredibly entertaining to watch.

I imagined the security guard sitting around eating popcorn, watching fools such as myself shove 50 cardboard swatches of color nonchalantly into their purses.

All for the sake of art. I may be nuts and bolting from hardware stores with my pants pockets bursting with colored paper, but it’s totally worth it.

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