Boxwood Avenue

White Concrete Countertops Part 1

DIY, homemakingChloe | Boxwood Ave.Comment

White concrete countertops are a great alternative to traditional stone. They leave you with an organic and clean look with a much lower price tag. 

DIY White Concrete Countertops |

We hired a contracting crew to help us with our renovations, and I am SO grateful for their combined knowledge - lots of brains are better than one! While I don't doubt this would be a great DIY project, there is a LOT to consider. I have been here everyday, hands on, but it's too big of a project for myself or my dad to tackle without a crew. With something 'set in stone' as Domestic Imperfection said while doing her concrete countertops, I wanted to make sure I loved the result, and because I felt like it was a risk, we asked for help. 

I knew I didn't want the countertops to turn out gray - I wanted white, similar to how Chris Loves Julia's turned out. Before I ordered the counters I spoke with Allison at Z Counterforms about the color and the texture of the concrete once sealed. She explained that the more you sand, the less white the counters will be. 

The guys watched many many many videos all about concrete countertops. They also spoke with lots of different companies over the phone. They were surprised to see how thick the concrete looked while being poured, almost playdough like, but when they spoke with a pro over the phone he said don't add more water

Since Z Counterforms recommends concrete board, that is what we went with. Happy to have learned from Chris Loves Julia and prevent any liquid damage had we used plywood. 

Putting the forms on:

The forms are really quite simple to install, you just screw them in. It's important to cut precise 45 angles for the corners. The guys used caulk to fill the cracks where the concrete boards met, as well as the screw holes, corners, and anywhere else that concrete might seep out. After the clips and mesh were installed, Jeff glued a piece of plastic to the exterior of the corners and form seams. I saw that Domestic Imperfection had slight seam lines from where the concrete shifted the forms. Glueing plastic to the outside of the form will support them so that you don't get a seam line. Jeff is the man! 

DIY White Concrete Countertops |

The sink:

We installed the sink and then placed down the concrete board. Caulking the concrete to the sink. Then we used the sink form to create a place for the foam insert to rest against. Jeff measured the length / width of the sink and used a roll of duct tape to create the round edge on the foam insert. Like I said, he's the man!

DIY White Concrete Counters |

Test Pours

No 1:

We started the process with test pours. And I am so glad we did. Honestly, just so that I knew what to expect before we did the entire countertop. We created a small rectangular mold to test - I didn't look at it very much until 24 hours later when we pulled the forms off. 

So here's the thing: I definitely wouldn't call it white

I really liked Chris Loves Julia's counters, and wanted that crisp white look. So I was initially disappointed by the look of our test pour. I guess this could be because of photo editing / translation over the internet? Or perhaps they will lighten up over the next couple of days. However, in the videos, the concrete looks like a pure white - ours, even though the same exact kind/brand, poured out very gray (similar to a sidewalk). 

Another surprising thing about the test pours: you can see the sand speckles #aggregate. 

I was hoping for a very creamy white look, and our test pour showed quite a bit of speckles peeking through the surface. Again, I referenced back to Chris Loves Julia, and hadn't noticed until then, that theirs are the same way. 

I sanded a tiny bit just to see what would happen, and instantly, more aggregate showed through (see below). So heads up, don't sand!! Put in as much work as possible while pouring so that you don't have to sand at all. 

DIY White Concrete Countertops |
DIY White Concrete Countertops |

no. 2

Because I wasn't happy with the initial look of the first pour, we decided to mix a second test bag. The first test pour required 3 quarts of water and was slightly thicker than pancake batter. The second test required 3.25 quarts of water and was thick like peanut butter. When I talked to Concrete Countertop Solutions they said that the concrete will mix better if you don't turn the mixer off at all during the mix process (so have two-three people handy). 

This time we decided to use the magnesium float to try and bring up some of the 'cream' - this did not work. We think we overworked the concrete, and the results were much more 'peppery' than our first test. We decided we would pour, level, and work as minimal as possible. Once set (30-45 min) you can work more, filling 'pin holes'. 

Getting ready to pour: 

I spoke with a few different people at Concrete Countertop Solutions and they were all so so so helpful. Taking time to watch videos of our test pours, providing tips, etc... Ultimately, if I had the choice, I probably would have canned the whole idea, and went with a stone. But, I already paid for shipping it here, which was as much as the product, so... we will make it work.

Since our test pours weren't what I had in mind, it took me awhile to get used to the look, and understanding that we'll never be able to hide the 'pepper'. However, after looking at them more and more, and taking in the small imperfections of the concrete, I decided that it would be the perfect organic element to the kitchen. I am writing this as honestly as possible so that if you plan on adding concrete countertops to your kitchen, you will know exactly what to expect.

...So the guys removed our cabinet drawers and began taping and masking off the area; today we will begin pouring in the pantry, wish us luck! 

cost breakdown | 120 SF

  • White Concrete | 50 bags @ $29 = $1450
  • Wire Mesh | 2 rolls @ $49.99 = $99.98
  • Square Edging | $398.00
  • Z Clips | 79.96
  • 2 Gem pads | 119.98
  • Magnesium Float | $26.99
  • 2 Trowels | $76.00
  • Shipping | $1,475.02 
  • 15% bulk discount | (@455.64) 
  • Cement Board | 
  • Total cost: $3,338.29 w/o labor
  • Labor: TBD

subscribe for more updates!

12 Handmade Mother's Day Gift Ideas

living, DIYChloe | Boxwood Ave.Comment

Try these last minute handmade mother's day gift ideas! From sewing projects to homemade caramel - mom is sure to love something that was handmade! 

12 Handmade Mother's Day Gift Ideas 

DIY Dip Dye Baskets from Martha Stewart

1 // A woman can never have enough baskets - these dip dyed baskets from MS Living are too sweet (adding tassels would be a fun touch)! 

Framed Art from Julie Blanner

2 // Oh Julie Blanner - you are so creative! This simple framed recipe card idea is so beautiful, and the perfect addition to any kitchen. I am going to make for myself regardless!

Photo Recipe Box from MS Living

3 // I like to save tin boxes - I have more Peppermint Bark boxes than I care to admit. Adding a bit of love to them turns them into a special keepsake for mom. This idea is from MS Living, and I think it would be darling for more than just recipe cards!

Tassel Earrings from The Stripe

4 // These dangly tassel earrings are so cute - I can't believe they are DIY. From The Stripe - they are easy and would make a lovely gift for mom (or for yourself). 

DIY Studded Jewelry MS Living | Photo: Bryan Gardner

5 // Another beautiful jewelry idea from MS Living - use studs to create wearable accessories for mom. 

No Sew Pom Pom Napkins from Lark & Linen  | Photo: Heidi Lau

6 // I have quite a thing for textiles, and textiles with pom poms always catch my eye. These no-sew napkins from Lark & Linen have been calling my name for awhile, I need to sit down and make them before summer comes! 

DIY Chunky Knit Blanket from Maison de Pax

7 // Chunky blankets are the epitome of cozy, but they tend to be very expensive. I love Maison de Pax's tutorial to make your own! 

DIY Sugar Scrub with rose water

8 // This sugar scrub smells exactly like a fresh bouquet of roses. It uses rose water for natural fragrance and is a luxurious gift whose ingredients can be purchased at the grocery store!

DIY Chicken Wire Frame from Anderson + Grant

9 // Anderson + Grant's chicken wire frame is so darling! What a fun gift to make for mom - she can change out the photos seasonally. Print out a few of her favorites to gift with the frame! 

Four Ingredient Red Wine Caramel Sauce | Photo: Sarah Deragon 

10 // If you aren't so much of a DIY'er, this easy red wine caramel sauce is a simple recipe from Cake Bloom that is incredibly delicious. Pair with a bottle of wine or offer to bake a cake with her to celebrate mother's day in the kitchen! 

CocoRose Body Polish from Oak & Ashland | Photo: Sarah Deragon

11 // Oak + Ashland is one of my favorite beauty companies - based in Sonoma, I had the opportunity to learn from the owner. Danika was kind enough to share this body polish recipe with us. It's divine! 

DIY Striped Ticking Apron

12 // The DIY striped apron is one of my favorite projects - and it is the most popular DIY project on Boxwood Ave. If you've never sewn before, it might be fun to make with your mom. A double gift: time spent with you and a beautiful finished product, I think that sounds like a lovely Mother's Day. I was inspired by RedHouse VT's apron as well as Heirloomed Collection aprons (for those of you who'd rather buy). 

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of some of my favorite handmade Mother's Day gift ideas! I wish you a very happy day! 

Subscribe for more ideas!

Copper Toxicity in Goats

ranch lifeChloe | Boxwood Ave.1 Comment

Copper is a mineral necessary for healthy bone growth, proper nervous system function, and hair pigmentation. However, too much copper can result in copper toxicity. It is currently unknown how much copper goats need, and the proper amount varies from goat to goat. 

Copper toxicity in goats |

Let's start this off with: don't ever let your goats eat chicken feed!!!!!!! Ever!!! In fact, don't let them eat any supplements/feed meant for other animals. The minerals and vitamins that chickens (and pigs especially) need, is toxic to sheep and goats.

It's not that I let my goats eat chicken feed, but as you probably know, goats have a way of finding (and eating) things not meant for them. 

This all started when I went to tuck my goats into bed. I noticed dark red stains on the shavings. I had been holding Elderberry for about 30 minutes, and saw that the red "blood" stains were coming from where Buckwheat had urinated. I didn't panic, but I was very concerned. 

It was late at night, but I still decided to do some googling: "red urine from wether goat" and "my goat is peeing red". Most of the information lead me to believe that Buckwheat, being a wether, probably was suffering from a kidney stone. It seemed as if he would be okay, but I still planned on taking him to the vet. 

The next morning, I called the vet and brought BW in at their first availability. I managed to contact my friend Katie who is a tech that works alongside one of the vets. She so kindly showed the Dr. a few photos - he thought Buckwheat might have Prostatitis (inflamed prostate) and would need a salt supplement and Penicillin. He said the salt would make Buckwheat drink more water which would help flush out and reduce crystals, while the antibiotic would help with the bloody urine. {Good information to know if your goat ever does have Prostatitis.}

Copper toxicity in goats |

I decided to take BW into the vet anyways. I dropped him off for blood tests and ran to get coffee. When I got back, the vet came into the waiting room and asked me if I gave the boys any supplements? Specifically, copper. I replied with, "No, but I can if I need to? Should I be?" His answer, "NO NO NO - we think Buckwheat is having internal organ failure from copper poisoning." 

At which point I burst into tears. I heard organ failure, and that was it for me. He invited me into the room where Buckwheat was waiting. I'm almost too embarrassed to tell you that I was wailing on the ground. Saying "you don't understand, I'll do ANYTHING. He is my entire life!" 

This was the first time I had ever met this vet, he is about my age, and I am sure he thinks I am absolutely 100% nuts. But he seemed to understand that BW wasn't just some ol' goat, he was my precious treasure. He suggested that I take him to UC Davis where they could perform more tests, but honestly, the stress of driving 5 hours probably would have done BW more harm than good, then tack on the stress of tests, I doubt BW would have survived. {Especially knowing that copper poisoning is a stress related disease.}

Copper toxicity in goats |
Copper toxicity in goats |

After the initial tests, they were able to determine that there was in fact zero blood in BW's urine. The urine was a deep orange color and smelled sweet, this lead them to believe that he was suffering from copper toxicity. The two doctors that were at the clinic that day both agreed that the 'red urine' was a symptom showing that Buckwheat was in haemolytic crisis.

While copper is a necessary metal for proper organ functions in goats, an overdose of copper is toxic. This is true for humans as well. Copper deficiency is a real problem for some, especially pregnant does, and can result in death; on the flip side, copper toxicity is when there is too much copper in the diet. As with everything in life, balance is key. 

The older vet said he had experienced this one time before with a heard of sheep - which are more at risk than goats are (they can even get copper poisoning from water taken through copper pipes). He said that the sheep died left and right regardless of treatment, but that goats are much more resilient than sheep. At this time I decided it was okay to panic, they didn't seem very hopeful for Buckwheat, and also asked if I could bring Elderberry in for tests since both of them had gotten into the chicken feed.

Throughout all of this, I discovered that copper toxicity is a result of too much copper in the diet, and none of us could believe that the boys had gotten that much copper, enough to cause poisoning, from chicken feed. They have gotten into the coop multiple times, and while I get them out ASAP, they may have ingested more than I know. Copper is a mineral found in the soil and hay, and most of the time there is enough copper in the diet to suffice; however, most goat caretakers have experienced copper & mineral deficiency, and copper intoxication is less heard of. Copper poisoning causes liver necrosis and results in haemolysis - when the blood turns copper colored, it's considered haemolytic crisis. DMV360 states:

"Copper is a strong oxidizing agent. It binds to proteins in the liver cells and is stored in lysosomes within hepatocytes. As long as the copper remains stored in lysosomes it does not cause tissue damage. Copper can, however, be spontaneously released or released at times of stress, including shearing, weather extremes or transport. Chronic copper poisoning is, therefore, often described as a stress-related disease."

The Doc and team at the vet clinic were all amazing. I can't tell you how grateful I am for their help throughout all of this. They called me to keep me updated, and spent time researching different drugs to treat copper poisoning. The older vet suggested that we simply ride it out, from his experience with the sheep, he said that treatment wasn't very successful. Many studies sited that D-penicillamine, a heavy metal chelator that increases copper excretion via urine, was the best treatment option for copper toxicity. We searched high and low for the drug, and were never able to locate it. 

So, we decided to wait until Buckwheat's copper test results came back to order any other drugs, as we didn't want to treat without diagnosis. We ended up injecting both Buckwheat and Elderberry with Vitamin C, and 24 hours following injection Buckwheat's urine was back to a normal color. 

While I can't be certain that the Vitamin C was the cure, it's an easy and accessible treatment that can't do harm. We will continue to keep a bottle on hand and inject during stressful times to help keep chronic poisoning at bay. A few days following the Vitamin C injections, we got the test results back - they showed that Buckwheat was at the highest level of normal before going into the danger zone...although the Doc said that blood tests aren't always the most accurate and liver biopsies are preferred. 

Buckwheat lost a great deal of weight and almost all of his hair, but he continued to eat and drink the entire time he was sick (had red colored urine). I considered this to be a positive sign and remained hopeful - and lucky for us, he pulled through. I couldn't be more happy that my sweet boy is okay. I truly thought he wasn't going to make it, and was so nervous that I would walk out to find him gone. To know that he is still alive and well is the best gift. 

I want to say thank you to everyone who gave me support. I know that a stranger might think I am completely overreacting and dramatic, but those boys bring me soooo much joy - I think anyone with pets can relate. I am sharing this story in hopes that it might help or prevent another goat from getting copper poisoning.



deficiency & toxicity | overview of copper poisoning | toxicity in goats & sheep 

Sign up for more Boxwood Avenue