Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reader Question: "Got a garland for outside?"

The other day, the lovely Caren dropped an email in my inbox. It went something like this:
I was thinking that maybe you could help me. I have a problem. Actually, it's more of a challenge. See, there's this pesky bird (as my son says) outside - it's a juvenile robin - and it keeps attacking its own reflection in our window. I was thinking it might help to hang some garland strips along the window, but I don't want to make it with materials like paper or cardboard that will dissolve in the rain. Got any ideas on what to make it out of?
And here is the assailant caught red-breasted at Caren's window. Well, yes, the poor little thing does seem to be a titch confused, doesn't he?

This pesky bird (photo provided by Caren)

No dear, you can't come in to use the facilities. You're a fowl for goodness sake. Pee on the car windshield like a normal bird, won't you?

I don't think he heard me.

Well, Caren, I've devised this extremely simple garland using an empty plastic shampoo bottle cut up into circles and strung onto some nylon string. It should be darn weather-resistant. If the stats on plastic are anywhere near correct, this garland will be around long after you or I.

Also, I couldn't bring myself to insult your intelligence with a written tutorial, this thing is just beyond simple to make. Instead, here's a wordless tutorial. If you have any questions, anything at all, you know where to find me!

Wordless Tutorial: Plastic Shampoo Bottle Garland

Plastic shampoo bottle garlands! These could work to scare the birdie, no? If nothing else, they're pretty and they smell good. Hope this does the trick, Caren!

I'd like to note that these plastic garlands were inspired by the many many paper circle garlands you've no doubt seen across the net over the last several years. I was trying to find the earliest instance of the ubiquitous paper circle garland (dreamer...) but the furthest I went back was 2007 and So Sage. I'm fairly certain they've been around much much longer. But who knows. If you know of an earlier case, please post the link in the comments.

I will be taking a bloggy break for the next week to enjoy some family time. The school year is over for the boy today, it's Canada Day on Friday, and our little family will be travelling up north over the long weekend to celebrate my youngest brother getting hitched. I will be back here on Wednesday, the 6th of July with more merry-craft-making. Until then, take good care of yourself, Happy Canada Day, and to my American friends, Happy 4th of July! I'll see you on the flipside!

This post is linked to The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Wonder Wall O' Photos

I have wanted a photo wall since forever. This is my very very first. I felt it was my time. Especially with the lovely new paint in the living room. The photo wall is my reward to me for doing a good job. Sometimes you have to treat yourself you know. The last 4 days or so I've spent treating myself to a photo wall. But heavens to Betsy, it is a lot of work. I can't believe how much time I spent on this thing.

Fortunately, very little money was coughed up. As I've been collecting picture frames for years, I had all the frames I needed. Goodie for me for being clairvoyant. Of course, I still had to sort through the frames, choose some winners and decide on placement. I started by setting up all the frames on the floor. Then I shuffled them around until I was satisfied with the look of them as a group.

Once that was done, we did the cut-out-paper-thing. As in, you cut out bits of paper in the sizes of your various frames and tape those pieces of paper up on the wall to ensure your photo wall is hunky-dory, and looking balanced and fabulous. I followed Sherry and John's gorgeous photo wall method on Young House Love. Lo and I worked on this paper-frame placement together. It was nice to have that second pair of eyes. We started by placing the frames as I'd had them on the floor. But we ended up getting rid of a few and then playing around with the remaining paper frames and, in the fullness of time, finding a slightly different configuration we could both live with.

Next, Lo and I spent gobs of time sifting through our many thousands of digital and actual photo albums searching for just the right photographic gems. But life being what it is, there was some debate over which photos were wall-worthy... We realized after a time that since it is our wall, and we're in control of our own destinies, we can change the photos whenever we like so it isn't absolutely critical that we absolutely adore every single photo on the wall right now. Gee.

A few more things had to get done as well. For instance, there was the matter of sizing the chosen photos and deciding which frame each would go into. And I did end up purchasing several new white mats. We also had to have 4 of the 12 photos printed over the weekend. And then all photos had to be mounted in the frames, and the frames mounted on the wall. Phewfff!... Thank goodness for the paper cutouts. They made the wall-mounting a breeze and we completed that task within minutes. I highly recommend going that route if you ever do a photo wall.

In the end, I had to work darn hard for my reward for working hard. Brilliant. I think I need an extra reward, don't you?

Needing some additional photo wall inspiration? Here are a few good links:

Well, you have yourself a fine Monday, and I'll see you again soon!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Mirror Refurb

I've started work on the collection of things that desperately need makeovers. Here is the first piece. It's a mirror.

The mirror story. Unfortunately, I do not have a "before" photograph of the mirror. Imagine, if you will, a chocolate-brown version of the pure white one below. I bought the chocolate-brown, 24-inch (60 cm) diameter mirror six-ish years ago, hugely discounted at our local Pier 1 Imports. I didn't like it when I bought it. It was the roundness combined with the cheapness that made me do it. Had it been square, I never would have bought the thing. But, as I was into round things at the time of purchase, it fit the bill. I forked over the dough, and left with a looking-glass for which I harboured very little fondness.

Fast-forward to a year ago-ish. I gave the mirror several coats of white paint as above. Still, I didn't love it. Oh, it was okaaay... But it didn't speak to me. It had no "oomph". Disheartened, I left it. Until this past Wednesday.

This past Wednesday, I couldn't take it anymore. I broke out my acrylic paints. Painted all the dots and divets. Stained it with a black stain. Sanded it by hand. Repainted some of the dots and divets. Applied a second layer of stain. Nothing worked. Out of frustration, I took the power sander to it. It was a bold move. But it needed doing.

The sander gave it an edge. A warm patina. Which is more like it! Now I have a mirror that I appreciate. It's playful, it's swank. You know, I actually really like how it turned out. Is there a lesson here? Don't give up maybe? There's potential in everything perhaps? Definitely. These are lessons I keep having to re-learn but what good lessons they are. I am glad I kept the mirror. And now, there's only one like it in the world. Bo-nus!

Alrighty, well I'm off. Have yourself a weekend of delights. I'll see you Monday!

This post linked to The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wonderful White

Our living room walls before.

One of my New Year's Resolutions involved painting the house. We'd done the entry, stairs and hall in March. And, yay, I finally got to slather our little yellowy-beige living room (above) in white (below) over the last two days. It's not quite done. Before the painting got started, I picked up the living room and dumped most of its contents onto the dining room. So I must do something about that...

And of course, how is it that as soon as you get one big job done, 10 new little ones pop-up like mushrooms ever so suddenly? Like trim re-painting and wall stenciling for instance. How does this happen?

Our living room walls after, and me smirking.

And furthermore, answer me this. How is it that I have acquired so many ugly things? Like the ugly lamp, the ugly ottoman, the ugly mirror, and the ugly cushions for instance. And why is it, pray tell, that I must now refurbish all these things, because I refuse to replace them because they work just fine, but I cannot continue living with them as they are, because they are simply too ugly, and I must have a very bad habit of taking leave of my senses over and over again when I buy stuff? Why?

If you have any insight into any of the above questions, do let me know. Me? I'm off to refurbish or paint something.

You have a yourself a great day, and I'll see you soon!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Series 6: The Box Chain #5 - Paper Wreath

Happy Monday!

Well well well, if it isn't another installment in the Box Chain Series... I know. I keep suggesting that the end of the series is nigh. And then I change my mind. It's just that for a while there, I was making box chains with a vengeance. Box chaining at the boy's karate. Box chaining in the car. Box chaining while watching TV. Box chaining in the shower... That's a lie. I never made 'em in the shower. The point is, I was obsessed. I was a box chaining machine. I made heaps of 'em. So, yes, you may see one more teensy box chain craft in the future... Two at the very most.

Ready? Let's ride!

Tutorial: Box Chain Paper Wreath

You will need:
  • Many box chains made from junk mail, newspaper, or old gift wrap (I show you how to make box chains HERE.)
  • An embroidery hoop (I found mine in my beloved thrift store.)
  • Glue (I used carpenter's glue because it's oh so strong.)
  • Some clothes pins or paper clips to use as clamps (Not shown.)
To begin, take your box chains and make several long strands by glueing your short chains together into long ones. I made 4 long strands but you may have to make more or less depending on the width of your chains and the size of your hoop.

Take a long box chain strand and wrap it loosely around the hoop. You will have to adjust the size of the strand, either by glueing on or cutting off a box chain section, depending on the size of hoop you use.

Clamp the ends of the strand together using a clothespin or paper clip.

Wrap a second box chain strand, wrapping it around the hoop as many times as the first one. Adjust the length as necessary. Clamp the ends.

Continue adding your long box chain strands, wrapping them around and around....

... until the hoop is fully covered, disappears as if by magic, and a pretty paper wreath emerges!

Fun? Oh yes. And with so many colour possibilities too. I see a Canada Day red and white version, or a July 4th red, white and blue version, a Christmas version, a fall version. I see a lot of versions, eh? Pick one. Make it. Let me know how it goes.

To see the rest of Series 6, scroll to the bottom of the Series page.

Alright. Well, you have a fantastical day now. I will too. And I'll see you again on Wednesday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

From The Land of Blog Featuring "All Things Crafty"

For the Thousand Thanks Giveaway results, check the previous post HERE!

Do you see these gorgeous little recycled plastic greenhouse earrings? Aren't they sweet? They were inspired by these right here. But I did not make them. Mieljolie did.

For today's installment of From the Land of Blog (where I usually highlight other crafters' projects inspired by some of mine), I've decided to focus. I want to dig a little deeper to see what additional treasures, besides the wee greenhouses above, we can unearth over at Mieljolie's blog "All Things Crafty". I guess you could call it an "All Things Crafty" feature.

Ready? Let's delve...

Oh look, I took a half-step and already I've found something! It looks remarkably like a hat. Yes, most certainly, that is a hat. Or is it? NO. No, it's actually a cereal box expertly transformed into this dashing hat. The eyes doth deceive. Oh that Mieljolie, she's a wily one.

Oh... and feast your eyes on this... She made this scary-beautiful witch boot almost entirely out of recyclables. In fact, she has created a whole series of one-of-a-kind witch boots from cereal boxes, newspaper, toilet rolls, masking tape and 20-year-old wall-paper paste! Do witches dress this fashionably? I was grossly misinformed.

But Mieljolie isn't the only one in the family with a boot-full of talent and a penchant for recycling. She teamed up with her husband to create this steampunk time-turner necklace from broken clock parts mostly, with striking results. The fact that they can work together and still both be alive is pretty striking in itself.

Inspired by the plastic Calico Critters Manor Dollhouse, Mieljolie's husband, who's majoring in architecture, also built this breathtaking cardboard dollhouse for their 8 year-old daughter. What a lucky little girl. The dollhouse is stunning inside and out! You must check out all the details. It's cardboard... cardboard!

Is that enough to get you going? Because this little tour is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to discover at "All Things Crafty". Not to mention that Mieljolie has two whole other blogs on top of that! One in particular is a special treat that I will let you discover all on your own. All I'll say is that it is unbelievable what some people do with recyclables. It is genius. Click HERE to have a look!

Thank you Mieljolie for sharing your talents with us on your blogs. You are artist and an inspiration. ♥

Now YOU have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday!

All photos are by Mieljolie and were used with permission.

The Winner of the Thousand Thanks Giveaway is...

First off, I want to sincerely thank you all for playing along with me in the Giveaway. Your stories were touching, hilarious, sad, crazy, fascinating! It was really special and a privilege for me to share in some of these little-known secrets of yours over the last couple of days. You are great, you know that?

Now to the winner... The winner of the Thousand Thanks Giveaway is:

#8 - Johanne who said:

It's funny, we have several things in common. I'm as well very shy, extremely shy in my childhood, it's getting better.
I'm also modest, but living in Spain with extreme hot summers has made me even use a bikini (first time last year, and I'm "only" 40!!! Cannot still believe it! And then there is the temper. I have a very bad temper, have tried to improve and soften it a little, but it keeps coming back ; )

Thank you very much!

Congratulations to YOU Johanne! Yippee! I will be contacting you by email as soon as possible with the news!

I will also be publishing my actual Friday post in a moment. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lettuce Make Garden Markers!

Thank you to all who've entered the Thousand Thanks Giveaway. Wow, you just amaze me! And if you haven't yet entered, there's still plenty of time. Go on over and have a look-see...

I've been trying to be consistent in the garden. Weeding hither. Pruning thither. It is looking better. It is slowly recovering from last year's brush-off. The boy and I decided the vegetable patch needed some garden markers. We made a batch of little signs using an old weathered piece of door trim and some pruned dogwood twigs.

To begin, I cut the door trim into pieces. I didn't measure. I just went at it like a wild-woman with the hand-saw until I had several rectangles.

Then I drew up our list of vegetables, sat the boy down, and had him write out the veggie names in pencil onto our little wooden rectangles. Truth-be-told, his handwriting puts my boring old chicken-scratch to shame. His has so much more character and richness than mine. It's absolutely unfair, but what's a girl to do? I make the best of it by putting it to good use whenever an opportunity strikes. I call it "The Boy Font".

With my handy-dandy Sharpie, I traced out "The Boy Font" letters on each rectangle...

And painted them in with liquid acrylic paint.

I gathered some teensy nails, a hammer, those lovely cherry-coloured dogwood twigs, and our wooden rectangles.

I set two nails in place in each rectangle, top and bottom...

And hammered them onto the twigs. Yay, job done! I love the look of "The Boy Font" on our rustic garden markers. It's the sweetest, isn't it?

Oh, and here's a whole variety of spiffy garden markers you could make:

You have yourself a fine day now. I'll be back Friday with the Thousand Thanks Giveaway results, eep!

I'm happily linking to Tater Tots and Jello!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Thousand Thanks Celebration and Giveaway!

This Giveaway is NOW CLOSED. Thank you to all who entered!

Happy Monday!

I'm so glad you could make it! Today I'm celebrating a truly nifty milestone: this blog's amassing of 1000 Google Friend Connect followers. Happy happy joy joy!!! It seems impossible, but there it is in black and white down there in the foot of the blog. See? I'm not even making this stuff up. I'm so chuffed about it I can't even say...

And speaking of following, I also want to acknowledge my lovely email and RSS subscribers. I want you to know that I haven't forgotten you. One day you'll get your very own celebration, never fear. You too are important to me! And needless to say, you are most welcome to stay and play today, as is everyone.

So what are we doing? We're sharing. Sweet eh? I'm going to tell you a little bit about me. And, eventually, you'll do the same. But I'll get it started. Here are some things I've never told you before.

Ready? Okay... here goes nothing:

  • I'm very shy. People don't believe me when I tell them this, but it's true. I'm afraid of you. You scare me.
  • I don't do the dishes every day. Sometimes I skip a day and just let the pile grow for another day. And oddly, I really hate doing 2 days worth of dishes but sometimes I really hate doing ONE day of dishes. It's a circle.
  • I'm ambidextrous. I use my left hand for eating, writing, and cutting. My right hand I use for handling a computer mouse, playing sports like hockey and baseball, and weeding. And despite cutting with my left hand, I cannot abide left-handed scissors. They're just awful.
  • I'm not colour blind, but sometimes red is green and green is red. Unexplainable.

  • I'm modest to the extreme. Sometimes I wish it was winter all year round. That way I wouldn't ever have to wear small clothes. I've literally gone years without swimming to avoid wearing my bathing suit. Canada with its long winters is the place for me.
  • I have a temper; I've been known to get angry much much.
  • I used to do a lot of acting. I co-starred in a local children's television series in the 1990's. We recorded only one season.
  • Frequently my brain itches, and I can't reach in to scratch because it's inside my brain.
  • Warm scarves are crucial, essential, necessitous to my existence. My first few inches are permafrost so I'm cold, always cold... I'm cold right now.
Hey, that went pretty smoothly...

Okeedoke. Now it's your turn. Wanna know what you're playing for? Alrighty then!

The giveaway prize includes:
  1. A small spiral bound notebook for sketching or recording your precious ideas.
  2. A set of 8 fine-point sharpies including a twin-tip black.
  3. 10 squares of felt (4-1/2" x 4-1/2" each)
  4. 3 (10 g) spools of DMC cotton perle
  5. All of the above neatly packaged in a pretty Michele-designed reversible fabric gift box. (Note: See my tutorial and template HERE to make your own, if you just can't wait.)

The rules of giveaway-play are:
  • Anyone, anywhere can enter.
  • Have a solid email address.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me one little-known fact about yourself, anything you like.
  • If you are a follower, you get a second entry!
The winner will be chosen ever so randomly on Friday June 17th, 6 am EST, and divulged in Friday's post.

Finally I'd like to say that the blogosphere is a big overwhelming place sometimes. Yet you, my friend, have allowed me to stake my claim on a tiny piece of it, call it my own, and share in it with you. I am so tickled by the lovely comments you leave, your thoughtful remarks, and your genuine support of the work I do. I thank you for being part of this with me.

So now it's your turn. Is there anything you're just itching to get off your chest? Come on, don't be shy now...

This Giveaway is NOW CLOSED. Thank you to all who entered!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Holy Mackerel, Man, Oh Boy, Wow, Yay, Yippee!

Is there cause for celebration?
Oh yes indeed.
When's the big day?
Why, Monday of course!
Can I come?
Well it's your blog, so you must be invited right?
Everyone's invited.
I'll see you Monday then.
See you Monday!
And I hope to see YOU Monday as well! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tutorial: Cereal Box Garland

I wonder who first named the garland. To me, the word "Gar-Land" sounds like a fantastical place abounding with schools of shimmering gar fishes and pretty-flowy-hanging-things. It certainly doesn't sound like the pretty-flowy-hanging-thing itself... Language is funny, isn't it?

Oh. But I've digressed.

What I meant to say was: I made a garland. Would you like to see how? As you've no doubt gathered, it's as simple as Simon to make. But, you know, since you're here... Here's what I did!

Tutorial: Cereal Box Garland (aka: Cereal Box Pretty-Flowy-Hanging-Thing)

You will need:
  1. a cereal box
  2. string
  3. toilet roll
  4. pair of scissors

Cut your cereal box into twine. Do this by cutting a continuous strip all around the box, turning the box over and over until you get a whole lot of cereal box "twine".

Now take your toilet roll and a piece of string. Place the piece of string along the tube with the cereal box twine laying across it. Like so.

Holding your string in place, wind the twine several times around the toilet roll. Tie a knot around the twine with the string. Make a bow.

Slip the twine loop off the toilet roll.

Repeat many many times. Until you have a sizable garland.

Or several sizable garlands.

Now hang it wherever you wish. Either inside...

Or out!

For a whole collection of me-made garlands, click here and here. And here. And um... here. And again here.

'Twould appear I live in GarLand.


Have a glorious day, and I'll see you again on Friday!


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