Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I completed another DIY project today. I took a burned out light bulb and turned it into a vase. I have an ivy plant that I think is so beautiful that I wanted to take some snippings and start another ivy plant. I think most people know that if you want to start another houseplant from one you currently have, all you have to do is snip some of it off and then put it in a cup of plain old water. After awhile, it will grow roots and then you can transfer it into some potting soil and viola! You now have a new houseplant. The problem with "starters" is that they are usually just sitting in the window in an ugly coffee mug or something while we wait for the roots to develop. Why not pretty it up? If you can create a gorgeous vase out of a burned out light bulb, then why not?
Here's the how-to:
--I took a regular old lightbulb
and used pliers and a screw-
driver to take out its end piece
and insides. Make sure the light
bulb you use for this is one that
is either already clear glass, or
you can use one that has the
white powder inside of it. That's
the kind I used because we can
remove the powder very easily.
--I use a screwdriver
to lightly tap through
the center to break
loose the inside parts.
Gently shake the bulb
upside down or pull little wire that's inside the bulb.
--The next step is to get the white powder out of the inside of the bulb. Dump some salt inside the light bulb. Only salt, no water or anything else is needed. Swirl the salt around inside the bulb until all of the white powder has come off the glass. After you have removed all the white powder, you can dump out and throw away the salt.
**(If the white powder doesn't seem to be coming off then you most likely have used the wrong frosted glass type of bulb and you will need to start over again with the right kind of bulb. It's important that the bulb is clear glass for it to be safe for your plant.)
--Next, I looked around for wire to use to wrap around the bulb for decorating it and to use as the stand. The only thing that I could find was some soldering wire. It bends easy and is really simple to make a nice round shape.
--At first I tried to make the stand so it would suspend the bulb up a few inches above the base. Unfortunately the bulb was too heavy when it was full of water and kept slowly sagging downwards.
--Since I didn't have any sturdier wire, I went ahead and changed my original design so the bulb would rest on the table. and only steadied it to keep it from falling over. I took apart an old butterfly keychain and twisted it into place with more of the soldering wire.
--I didn't have to use any adhesive at all in this project. The soldering wire cups the bottom of the bulb and the concentric rings I made at the bottom steadies it. I love the butterfly because my son gave the keychain to me as a gift a few years ago, and it's like having it brand new all over again. I think it would also look amazing if the wire was strung through some colorful beads. There's so many ways that you could decorate this little vase, it just takes a little creativity!
--It's easy to keep an eye on the stems of the starters through the clear bulb. This should help to remind me to watch for the roots to develop so I can transplant the starter into potting soil.
--If you have a friend that's been eye balling one of your house plants, this would a very sweet way to give her a starter off of it. It's so much better looking than giving her a starter in a plastic cup!
I'm always working on fun DIY projects. I especially love projects that reuse or recycle something old and give it a brand new life! If you've enjoyed this post please subscribe to my blog and I promise I will keep delivering the goods! Thanks so much for reading!
Monday, April 9, 2012
The cool DIY project for today was to create a fantastic looking Vintage Suitcase Shelf. I got the idea from a Pinterest post (love Pinterest!!) and decided to give it a try. I'm absolutely in love with the way it turned out! I plan to keep looking for cool vintage suitcases and I'll probably make several more of these. Here's what I did:
--I bought this old suitcase from one of the local antique stores. It was a Samsonite and it was in really good shape so I felt kind of bad about what I was going to do to it! (But I did it anyway!)
--I decided that I wanted the shelf to be about 6 inches wide, so I marked a line all the way around the suitcase at six inches back from the front.
--I used a razor blade to cut out the material inside of the suitcase and used a hammer to knock loose any metal hinges that were in the way.
--Next, I used painters tape along side where I planned to cut. Just in case the wood tried to splinter. The tape helps prevent that from happening.
--I used one of my husbands air powered tools to cut the suitcase one side at a time with the suitcase open. It easily sawed through both the wood body and metal trimmed edges of the suitcase.
--It works best to then put the top and bottom pieces together and close the clasps. I also put a couple pieces of painters tape on the inside to hold the back part together too.
--You will need to drill four holes of the suitcase. One on each of back corners on both the top and bottom so that you can secure the suitcase to the 2 x 4's that you will use mount it to on the wall.
--I pre-drilled holes in two 2 x 4's that I had cut to the length needed to fit inside the suitcase. I also pre-drilled the holes into my wall where I wanted to hang the shelf.
--The suitcase shelf was then slid
right over the 2 x 4's. They were
spaced exactly right and the suitcase fit snuggly
--I'm lucky enough to have my
darling hubby help me install the last four screws that secure the suitcase to the 2 x 4's. He's a sweetie!
--That was the last step to make my shelf! I've decided to use this shelf to display three of the vintage cameras I've begun collecting. Here's the finished project. If you like my DIY projects please leave a comment! Thanks again for reading my blog!
I love DIY (do-it-yourself) gift projects because you can tailor the present specifically for person it's meant for. So much more thought, time and love goes into handcrafted gifts. I've tried so many different kinds of crafts over the years. I've made everything from cross-stitch to artificial flower arrangements for weddings. I've even tried my hand at making quilts for my sons. Almost everything I have attempted has turned out really cute, but the wood keepsake boxes are... dare I say... BRILLIANT!!! I've made probably twenty or thirty of them in all different shapes, sizes and styles. My kids each have a couple of them and they really love keeping all sorts of treasures inside. Here's a picture of the one that I made for Bailey a couple Christmas's ago:
I wish I had thought to take pictures of the process I went through to make that one, but unfortunately I didn't. However, it's really fairly simple to do. Here's a brief overview: First, I bought unfinished wood boxes at Hobby Lobby. I removed all of the hardware (hinges) and sanded the boxes thoroughly. Then I spent some time looking on the internet to find a font that I would like to use. I found this beautiful font and I traced it onto regular copy paper. Then I used carbon paper to re-trace the font onto the top of the box. I've gotten pretty good at wood-burning and decided that would look amazing to wood burn the kid's names on each of their boxes. Wood burning takes some practice to learn but quickly becomes easy with the right technique. After I was done with that, I stained the boxes and followed up with a few coats of polyurethane. To finish it up, I just reattached the hardware (hinges) and glued a complimentary dark mocha colored felt liner into the inside bottom of the box. My kids love their boxes and they know I made each one to be "one of a kind" just for them.
Now, if you prefer to have some pictures to go along with my how-to instructions then you are in luck! I finally remembered to take a few pictures of the process while making a keepsake box that will be a gift for my husband, Kyle. It is very different than the ones I did for the kids. After digging around the garage in the hopes of sparking a new idea, I found the original Chevelle emblem off of his 69 Chevelle...and was struck with instant inspiration!
** Kyle loves that old muscle car and has spent lots of time re-doing the whole car's paint job, luckily for me when he did that he put new emblems on it, but he kept one of the original ones. Don't worry, I'm smart enough to ask if I could have it before I snatched it up for this project.**
Here's how I created Kyle's "Chevelle Keepsake Box":
--I bought an raw unfinished wood box at Hobby Lobby (I LOVE THAT PLACE!!). They have many assorted shapes and types of unfinished wood boxes. I picked one that would be long enough for the emblem.
--The Chevelle emblem is a chrome or silverish type of color but the hardware that came with the wood box was a yucky yellowish gold color. Icky! That just wouldn't work for me! I'm a girl, and things simply must match! So...
--I took the hardware off of the box and bought some metallic silver spray paint. I scuffed up the hardware with some sandpaper so that the paint has a better surface to adhere to. Then I spray painted the hardware and all the little screws silver. Hint: use a pizza box to poke the screws into, it makes it much easier to paint and a little bit harder to lose! They turned perfectly.
--I sanded the box until it was perfectly smooth inside and out, paying special attention to slightly round the sharp edges.
--I centered the emblem on the lid of the box, and used a pencil to mark where the emblems little pegs would need to go through the lid.
--Then I used a drill to make holes just large enough to accommodate each peg. (Check for fit at this point and make sure you drilled the holes in the right places!)
--I used wax paper to protect our table before I grabbed my favorite color of wood stain and used a foam brush to apply it to the box (and my jeans...oops!). I let the stain sink into the wood for about 15 minutes, then rubbed off excess stain with a soft cloth or paper towel. It helps to get very creative and use whatever is around to suspend the box pieces up while they are drying.
--It's important to wait until the stain is completely dry. The recommended time needed for it to dry will vary according to what the manufacturer's instructions are.
-- I wanted the finish to be very shiny, so I added about three coats of polyurethane. I used 220 sandpaper to lightly sand between each coat (after first and second application was dry) to make sure it stayed smooth and glossy. Wipe all dust off really well before each application of polyurethane. I didn't sand it after the 3rd (final) coat. Be sure to let it dry completely before you continue! If you don't, you'll have fingerprints in the finish! Meanwhile:
--I gave the Chevelle emblem a good cleaning and I tried to shine it up as best I could. It is an original piece from 1969, so it took a lot of elbow grease!
--When the polyurethane was completely dry I installed the emblem. Thanks to the careful measuring and pre-drilling, the emblem pushed snuggly into place. I had thought about using super glue to secure it at this point, but quickly realized it was not necessary. It's an extremely tight fit just the way it is with no adhesives at all. Yay!
--I put the hardware back on and I think the finished keepsake box looks amazing. I know Kyle will love it. I'm going to try to find some type of baby blue colored material to line the bottom inside with. I'm confident that will be the best color choice because that's the color Kyle used to re-paint his Chevelle.
So, how do you think it looks? I love it! I think that personalized wood keepsake boxes make such thoughtful gifts. It's a fairly easy project to complete, and it's so much fun to try to match the keepsake box's personality to the personality of the person you are giving it to. I hope my instructions were clear enough and that I have inspired you to make a unique Keepsake Box for someone you love.
***Questions or comments are always welcome! Also, if you don't want to ever miss out on any of my new posts or projects, you can subscribe to my blog by entering your email address at the bottom of this page. If you do, you will automatically be sent an email notification in the future to let you know when I've posted something new. Thanks for reading! God Bless!***
Thursday, April 5, 2012
I'm so excited to learn that my favorite product, Scentsy, is expanding their product lines! That's important to all of us busy moms and wives, because we know that less than pleasant odors sometimes attack our house from the inside out! It's super hard to keep a handle on the odors that come from cooking in the kitchen, pets and their litter box, hubby's shoes, and active teenage boys with crazy production of testosterone! I mean, WOW! That's a lot to keep up with for any super mom. That's one of the reason's I love Scentsy so much. I am not a salesperson for Scentsy but I probably should be considering how much I love it! My favorite scent is Mochadoodle, it's like heavenly mocha cappuccino and warm snickerdoodle cookies... it's sinfully delicious! I have three large warmers, three small warmers, two plug in warmers and even Scentsy air freshners for my car, so it's pretty clear that I'm just a little bit addicted to Scentsy. Just when I thought I couldn't possibly be any more obsessed, Scentsy they added a new product line called "Layers". This line goes beyond the scents, warmers, and air fresheners that we already know and love. "Layers" includes shower gels and creams, body butter, body spray, perfume,and even laundry products. My dreams have come true, now I'm kind of excited about performing miracles with even the worst sock laundry! If you aren't familiar with Scentsy products you can check them out at this link Scentsy Website
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
My last two blogs were about the past. You now know who I was and where I came from, now let's move on to shiny happy things! My favorite thing to do in the whole world is not blog, believe it or not. It's photography! Some people might think that's boring, but if you stick a camera in their hand and send them out with me for an hour they will come back forever changed.
I purchased a Sony Mavica years ago that takes pictures to the square disks, the ones you stick in the old A drives on desktop computers. It was a good camera for it's time, and I still love it, but the pictures don't look as good when you want to make an 8 x 10 out of one of the shots. Not only that, I had to buy an external drive that you plug into the USB port to read the disks after we switched to laptops. I complained that I wanted a new camera and spent a lot of time looking around for just the right one. God bless my husband for his patience while I made up my mind, and God bless him for his checkbook once I finally did!
I chose a Nikon Cool Pix L110 and I am in love with it! I've taken thousand of shots and haven't had any problems at all. I'm actually making plans to go ahead and opening my own studio (sort of a side business) and taking portraits of customers in my home and at outdoor sittings. We have a large room in the basement that would be perfect to use. With a little research and ingenuity, I have found lots of ideas that would make my DIY (do it yourself) studio completely attainable and fairly inexpensive to set up.
I used to be the manager of a franchised portrait studio, and it was the best job I ever had. Even with the low pay at that studio, I still loved to work because it was FUN and didn't feel like work. I'm really looking to recreate that happy feeling and if I can be my own boss well...it just doesn't get better than that! Here's some of the ideas I'm going to be trying out:
*backdrops ---going to buy large inexpensive canvas drop cloths from the hardware store...I believe they come in a 9' x 15' size (for around $20) and can be dyed to whatever color I want it to be. Common backdrops are white, the ever classy black, as well as neutral colors like creme or beige. I found that light pinks and different shades of blue are also used frequently. Another good thing about canvas is you can store it crumpled up if you want the backdrop to have a rustic look. Or I can make rails out of 1.5" PVC pipe and drape them over that if I don't want rustic wrinkles.
*lighting ---I can't stress this enough! Straight on light from a camera flash can cause the dreaded red-eye and nobody wants to have their portraits look demonic! I'm going to make the three main light sources that I will need. I'll use 250 to 500 watt shop lights. They come with a rounded medal "disc" that reflects the light outward very nicely and they have clamps on them so I can easily attach them to homemade posts so that I can set the light at any level height I need. (Short people need portraits too!)These lights are around $30 at the hardware store. There are different types of lighting angles that I need for the portrait photography set up I want to use. I will need a key light, a separation light and a background light. If you are wondering what exactly that is, I think I can explain. Key light is the main light, and there are several positions for that lights to be in that provide different effects for the portrait.
Positions for the key light:
--frontal light is also called glamour lighting and it creates a shadow beneath the nose and even lighting across the face
-- loop light is slightly to the side of the subject and casts shadows to the side of the nose and beneath the nose
--45 degree light is also known as Rembrandt lighting, and is places so that the use of light is more dramatic and leaves one side of face almost completely in shadows with only a triangular area highlighted on the opposite cheek
--split lighting placement leaves only one side of face lit and other side completely dark, this is extremely artistic and really dramatic
Positions for the seperation light:
--Seperation light is placed opposite of the key light
--is positioned behind the subject and points at the background, adds a glow behind the shoulders for added seperation
The background light can even be as simple as a small house lamp. You have to position it carefully so that the lamp itself is hidden behind the subject. It's a soft glow that just provides the look of the background dropping back and gives the idea of space between the subject and the background.
I also found some interesting ideas about using windshield sun (heat) reflectors as a another type of light source. They are also very inexpensive and the cool thing is that some of those fold down into small carry bags and would be very easy to take to different sights.
I'm not wanting to be responsible for having to print the photos, although I don't mind photoshoping them if needed. I'm thinking I will charge for my time and per sitting, for portraits of people and families. I can copy all of their photos to a disc for them, and allow them to have full rights to the finished portraits. This way they can get their pictures printed on gifts like mugs and calendars without having to beg me to sign a photographers release for the photos. I realize I should probably charge for things like that, but I really don't want to. It's portraits of my customers, and they should be able to put their own photos on a t-shirt whenever they want to! Plus that, it's great advertising for me when they spread it around and tell others what an awesome deal they got with me!
I'm trying to decide what all I need to do to get this studio really going, I need to make sure I can use all of the above ideas to get my DIY studio set up and working properly. I'll be enlisting the help of my husband and kids to make the backgrounds and lighting set-ups. I'm excited about what the future holds for me, and I will try to keep my readers updated. If anyone has any other ideas about photography, or just a comment they would like to add here, please do! I'd love to hear from you!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Most people have some knowledge or have at least heard of Greensburg, Kansas since the aftermath of the tragic tornado that devastated the town in 2007. People have heard of how Greensburg is "Going Green", and how they are working towards becoming a role model for other communities. This has made people familiar what’s happening in Greensburg in the five years since the tornado. However, most people don't know what the town was really like before that fateful day in May when an EF5 tornado would drastically change it forever.
I was raised in Greensburg, and I loved it the way it was. Before the tornado, Greensburg was a quiet town with familiar family names, streets, homes, businesses and buildings. When I was growing up, our big claim to fame was a hole in the ground. “The Big Well” was the focus of visitors to town, and we had some attention when the town hired divers to come and clean out all of the things that had been dropped into the well over the years. I think that a camera was found, and even a priest’s silver cross necklace. There were lots of coins recovered, too.Greensburg was calm and quiet, and the divers coming seemed really exciting to me and all my friends. So many things have changed since those days.
Sometimes, I go back to Greensburg to visit some of my family who have rebuilt their home there. When I enter the edge of town, I am always overwhelmed with a sense of loss so profound that there are barely words to describe it. Imagine the feeling that comes with the knowledge that your hometown is gone, and almost every tangible childhood memory has vanished.
The tornado changed everything in Greensburg. I remember walking down Main Street and letting my tiny finger trace the beautiful red bricks of the magnificent old downtown buildings. I used to love looking at the little concrete statues on the corners of some of the buildings. One was of a rabbit, I especially loved that one. The original drug store and theatre are also gone. Even the main street layout has changed now. Everything that was familiar is gone. A good link for viewing a few before and after pictures of Greensburg can be found here: Greensburg Before and After Photos
The brick house I grew up in, has been brutally relocated to places unknown. What was left of it had to be demolished. In the attic of that house, we had stored countless boxes of children's toys and dolls, along with a porch swing I owned but kept there until I one day had my own home with a porch to install it on. Photo albums were also lost, pictures don’t look the same after you rescue them from the rain, peel them apart, and put books on them to try to dry them out flat. Countless personal belongings will never be recovered. The tornado apparently does have a sick sense of humor though. When my father went to see what he could salvage from the debris, he found something weird on the concrete front porch steps. It was one of those smashed pennies you can buy out of little vending machines, the kind where the penny is smashed and some other image is pressed into it. This particular penny had a cyclone imprinted on it and the the words "Kansas Twister". When my dad told me what he'd found, he concluded the story by saying "See? That tornado left a damn calling card!"
Even the schools (pictured above before tornado) in which I spent so many hours learning were also unable to withstand the sheer power of the tornado. Greensburg High School has ceased to exist. The county has now combined all the students in the county into one school, built in Greensburg, and it’s no longer the Greensburg Rangers. It’s now the Kiowa County Mavericks. Yes, it’s true, the tornado managed to kill Ricky Ranger.
My school mascot is only a memory of a funky paper mache head now.
As you can probably guess, the thought of going home does not fill me with the expectation of happiness as I imagine it does for most people. There is nothing left there that feels like home. It’s like a creepy episode of The Twilight Zone.
Greensburg feels uncomfortable and strange to me now. It feels like any other anywhere town filled with faceless, nameless people that I don’t know. There's a lot of new people that I've never seen before. I’ve been told a few times that some of the previous Greensburg residents couldn’t afford to rebuild within the green standards that Greensburg homes are now expected to meet. That’s so heartbreaking. I feel horrible for those people, too. It’s as though they’ve lost Greensburg twice, isn't it? Once in the tornado, and once again when they couldn’t meet the new requirements to rebuild there.
Honestly, I think Greensburg has done the best that they could considering the situation. They put a lot of thought into it and going green was an obvious choice, thus drawing necessary attention to their efforts to rebuild. As usual, being environmentally friendly isn’t always the cheapest or easiest way to go. If it’s good for you, it usually costs more, right? I hate it that they’ve caught a lot of grief from some of the neighboring towns that you would have reasonably expected to be helpful or at least sympathetic. Coldwater, for example. I was told that when Coldwater played Kiowa County Mavericks (formerly Greensburg Rangers) at Coldwater’s Homecoming game one year, the floats that Coldwater students built were less than kind. That’s phrasing it mildly. Accusing Greensburg basically of being all about the money, calling Greensburg tree huggers and referencing things like that.The saddest part is not only that Coldwater’s school system allowed these floats to be made by their students, they allowed them to be displayed at the game by the stands where the victims of the Greensburg tornado would be subjected to viewing the jokes and insults. The people in charge of Coldwater schools should have encouraged their students to learn compassion, kindness and empathy from the tragedy that befell Greensburg. Instead, they encouraged cruelty, snide comments, and bullying. Bad form, Coldwater, bad form indeed!!! One of the floats said “Going Green” and had signs on it suggesting “Save a Tree, Wipe with Leaves”. Another float actually even stooped to comparing their own team to the tornado. It read “Greensburg Gonna Blow You Away!” I would rather live in a town trying to survive and recovering from a tornado, than to live in a town like Coldwater that cultivates hatefulness. You can see some of their thoughtless homecoming entries on this youtube video:
Although I have mixed feelings about Greensburg now, I would never wish them anything but the best, truthfully I do, but to me it’s just not my old hometown Greensburg anymore. It’s not the Greensburg I remember anyway, because THAT Greensburg is gone. Part of me wishes they would have just completely renamed the town, too. After the tornado destroyed it, it would have been less painful to just sort of bury the old Greensburg and let it go. I kind of wish they could have renamed it Greentown, or Greenville, anything other than leaving it named Greensburg. Simply put, my hometown Greensburg is gone, and it feels like the new Greensburg is somehow being put into competition with the memory of the way the town was. Unfortunate, but I would bet I'm not the only person that feels that way. I wouldn’t wish this tragedy on anyone. It was horrible, tragic and devastating. Twelve people lost their lives, and everyone else lost their homes, belongings and/or their peace of mind. I pray that the former residents find fulfilling and happy lives, and I hope they achieve their dreams in their efforts to renew and rebuild their lives, wherever they may have chosen to do so. For those who have decided to stay in Greensburg, I also wish only the very best for you while you rebuild a “new and improved” Greensburg. It’s going to be very hard to make Greensburg better than it was before the tornado, those are awfully big shoes to fill. As always, countless numbers of people, including myself, will continue sending you our prayers. Cheers to your future, and tears to your past. May God bless you all!
***Note: By the way, for those readers who don't know about it yet, The Big Well is having it's grand reopening on May 26, 2012. It's worth a trip if you get a chance to go, just remember that going down the stairs is easy...it's coming back up that's difficult!